Wheel alignment

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Winter and plenty to do

When a time deadline is coming up and you decide to sneak in "one more quick job" beforehand, you almost always know that it isn't going to end well, don't you?  This time, it was a weekender away with the Auckland chapter of the NZ MG Car Club, doing a winter lap of the Coromandel Peninsula.  The "one quick job" was checking engine and gearbox oil levels.  Engine oil was a piece of cake, over and done with in 2 minutes.  Checking the gearbox level involves removing a large rubber plug situated behind the lower instrument console on top of the transmission tunnel.  Using a technical phrase, it's a bugger to get at; involving bodily contortions as well forcing your hand partially through the opening to pull up the gearbox dipstick. There's also a risk of dropping it as removal and replacement has to be done by feel alone.  That's why I cunningly fitted a cable tie to the dipstick last time so that I could hook a finger round it for additional security.  It's impossible to photograph the hole and dipstick but follow the plastic pipe below and you'll get the drift.  This was the gearbox oil change from nearly 3 years ago.

Not a task for the faint-hearted

With a finger hooked through the cable tie, I gave it a tug and found to my horror that it wasn't the cable tie I pulled but the power lead to the overdrive unit. It had separated at the spade connection which was impossible to reach without jacking up the car and grovelling underneath.  Don't ask me how I know!

Doing the club run without overdrive would be a nuisance, as well as chewing through more gas so the car got jacked up, axle stands put in place and a 76 year old body squeezed underneath. It's a horrible job to reconnect it because of the limited space and last time, I ended up using a lot of bad language, thanks to severe cramp in my fingers.  This time, I cunningly held one end of the connector in place with a fishing hook disgorger from the boat toolkit and slid the other end of the connector in place with the other hand.  Still not easy but cramp avoided.  I should add that the overdrive power supply has now been slightly re-routed so fingers crossed, no more accidental disconnections!

Looking up from the garage floor. The gap is  about 2 cm wide

Another job not under a time constraint was a continuation of one that I thought I'd fixed a few weeks ago.  For some unknown reason, the front disc brakes on the MG started squealing when applied, but only on the first occasion they were used during the day - weird.  A quick bit of research revealed that brake squeal was relatively common on older cars due to the pads chattering slightly in the calipers.  That's why more modern vehicles have spring loaded backing shims or similar.  Anyway, a recommended fix was to coat the backing face of the pads with a copper-based grease to act as a damper. I did this and it worked fine for a while but the offside front rotor assembly started intermittently squealing again.  It may have been that I didn't use enough grease in the first place or that heat caused the grease to thin out.  In any event, I found some purpose-made high viscosity lubricant with a high melting point (see photo below).  Worked an absolute treat and hopefully, brake squeal is a thing of the past.  Another of life's learning experiences to file away!

Purpose-made disc pad ceramic grease

Replacing retaining clips and pins, greasing pad backplates

All done!

The tour with the MG club was a blast.  A warm, sunny winter weekend with virtually no traffic on the road other than us - awesome.  A great mix of MG's from 1950's T series cars through to an MG factory RV8 with the Rover 3.9 litre V8 engine.  Lovely twisty roads by the ocean and over the Coromandel Range, driving them how they were meant to be driven - pure heaven.  A great dinner together on our home turf of Coromandel Township and a photo shoot the next morning before the Auckland contingent headed for home.  Here's some photos.

Jennie and some disreputable old geezer

Near-neighbour Denise in the family '54 TF

A good mix of MG models and years

Lots more rolling in

Immaculate LHD MGA, imported from the USA

It was Mother's Day in NZ recently and Jennie wanted to go out in the MG for a picnic.  We chose a nice spot by the beach and where we parked, there was a walking/cycling track.  There were a few nice comments by passers-by of "a certain age" but one encounter really cracked us up!  We watched an elderly gentleman on a sporting upmarket mobility scooter approaching at an impressive rate of knots.  When he was really close, he banged on the brakes and slid to a stop sideways right next to us. His first words, nodding at the car were "I had one of those a few years back".   I suggested that he'd lost none of his skills which really amused him.  It's chance encounters like that which makes everyone's day!

Mother's Day picnic, Buffalo Beach, Whitianga

The knee rehab following surgery is coming along nicely.  There's more movement to come but we're now at the stage where I can venture off-road again without too much risk as long as I'm sensible.  We're fortunate through the generosity of a local landowner to have the Medlock Trail within 10 minutes of home.  It has substantial altitude changes and runs through both bush (forest) and open areas with stunning views.  Here's a panoramic taken at one of the high points, looking down over Coromandel Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.  The beauty is that you can pick 'n mix the route length and difficulty to some extent but spending up to an hour or thereabouts most days doesn't interfere with other commitments too much.

Coromandel Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf

A clay climb - slippery when wet!  

Hill country riding

Open country on the Medlock Trail

At my age, it would be nigh on impossible to ride the trail without e-assist for the steep bits but there's no shame in that.  It gives access to places I'd never otherwise see and keeps me fairly fit as long as I don't hit the deck too hard in the tricky stuff.  Some parts of the trail are best avoided when riding solo in marginal conditions as calling for help after an "off" could be a bit hit and miss with phone reception. However, having local access plus an adjoining bike skills park with a number of severity grades right on our doorstep is what I'd call a win-win. Hopefully, keeping mentally and physically in reasonable nick means that we can still behave disgracefully for a few years yet!


  1. And I always thought older cars were more accessible for maintenance! I changed the gearbox oil in my wife's MX5 as a precaution when we bought it. That task required a bit of crawling around under the car and a very large syringe, but still looks preferable to the MG.

    Someone clipped her passenger wing mirror recently, breaking it off. Because it is an electric mirror that task too was a pain, with the door trim having to come off to get at the wiring. The parts were damned expensive too. Thank you idiot driver!!

    On your knee, it looks like you are doing well. Electric bike or not, getting up those hills must take some doing. Good on you. :-)

    1. Hi Ian ,
      Plenty of space under the bonnet and even changing the gearbox oil isn't too much of a nightmare. However, I'd like to get my hands on the designer of the electrical loom. Things could have been so much easier!

      Sorry to hear about the MX5. The only problems we had with Jennie's was some ignition sensors and they were quite cheap via eBay.

      Second knee replacement in September. I'll be a whole new man 😁

  2. Geoff, I can only hope to be as fit and reasonably healthy when reaching your age (no irony intended). You are still living your life to the fullest, enjoying your hobbies and sports, and I hope this will go on for a long while. All the best from good ole Germany, SonjaM

    1. Thanks Sonja, that's very kind of you. It's always a struggle between enjoying the good thinks in life and staying in good condition 😄. I've just taken delivery of a high end smart watch for tracking cardio/ECG status to hopefully keep that side of things in good order. All the very best to you and Roland xx.


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