Monday, March 27, 2017

Little British Car (part 2)

In my last post, I started the tale of how I acquired a new project car. I'll complete the story today. I left off having just arrived at the PO's house, in the outskirts of Molalla Oregon.

Well... there it is
As we pulled up, the property and car owner walked out. We started talking about the brief history of the car since his son picked it up. Since the real info about the car was buried in the head of someone living in Arizona, I had no alternative but to take what he said at face value. Meaning... it might be true... The convertable top was gone, leaving only the metal frame. The interior smelled like animal, and the carpet was trash. The seatbelts didn't retract anymore and the radio didn't work. Did I mention the top was just a frame? And, it had a 10 foot paint job (meaning that it looked good from at least 10 feet away). Long as the list appears, that really seemed to be the end of the bad news. The body didn't have rust on the panels, rockers or wheel wells. The interior and engine bay seemed to have handled the weather worse than the body, making me think that the car sat outside under a tarp rather than in a barn. Or, it sat next to an open window. Later, once I got a better look at it, I think it was the barn window theory since the driver side interior and engine compartment were in worse shape, leading me to believe the car was parked with the driver side next to the window. Oddly enough, the accessories (brake master cylinder, alternator, water pump, etc) on the top of the engine had more dust-rust than the underside. Perhaps an oil leak / grease was protecting the lower half of the engine? Regardless, the rust wasn't cancerous, so we kept going.

Test Drive
The owner's father and I jumped in and fired it up. The engine sounded good, but it had been running earlier that day when he drove it out of the barn so, again, face value. I revved the engine and when pulled my foot off the gas I could hear pop-pop-pop noises. That's an exhaust leak. Otherwise, it ran well. No weird noises. So, we took a spin down the drive and out onto the country road. I hadn't had much experience driving a tiny sports car like this, so I didn't have a whole lot to compare it to. I knew it was fun, and for the price it was probably worth it. It held corners, responded to the gas pedal well, and shifted firmly. Most of the accessories worked (fan, wipers) as did the lights. The dash lit up correctly with the idiot lights flashing before starting, so I had reason to believe it was a pretty good little car.

Which Way Is Out?
We settled on a price, we signed the relevant papers and the Little British Car was mine (cue the Bottlerockets "Thousand Dollar Car"). T agreed to follow me to make sure there weren't any mechanical failures on the way home. It was about this point that I started asking the now previous owner if he thought it could make it an hour away and whether the gas gauge worked. We put a couple of gallons of petrol from a red can into the tank and the seller started to give directions for finding a gas station. The directions were an instant classic containing such favorites as "take the second or third right after the big bend" and "you're gonna cross the river a couple times before..". Of course it had a couple landmarks too, like "the house without a porch" and "the place with really good pie". I'm sure if I could have understood the directions, they would have delivered us to a gas station. Instead, we ran some math, and figured that with 2 gallons of fuel we'd be most, if not all, the way home before we were in trouble.

Roadster in the Rain
As ominous as that sounded, the MG handled fine. As we passed through Molalla, T waved me over to let me know the brake lights weren't working any more. Neat. This was when I also discovered that the windscreen washer didn't work either. Note to self (you can use it too): check all the systems and write down your findings. Driving into a setting sun with a filthy windscreen wasn't how I wanted to start this relationship, so I dumped my water bottle onto windshield and rubbed it clean-ish with a towel we found in the Subbie. It sufficed. With T following, we put the little car through more paces, testing it's acceleration, braking and steering. The brakes grew soft, indicating an issue there, and the steering held well, but it felt like there could be more precision. The car's get up and go, however, had no problems. Once we hit the Interstate, the little car was able to cruise at 70mph and dip/dodge in traffic. T stayed right behind me, acting as my brake lights until we were in our neighborhood. We completely forgot to get fuel. We didn't need it anyway.

That's about it for today. I've since done some work on the MG and I'll post about that in the future. In the meantime, thanks as always for following along-

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