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Author Topic: Stuck Key Problem  (Read 3471 times)

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  • Message Board Member not current AMGBA Club Member
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Stuck Key Problem
« on: September 13, 2015, 11:14:25 PM »
After sitting on my stuck-key problem for some months after we last exchanged emails, I decided to try the grab-the-key-with-pliers approach you suggested, and see if I could work the key loose. First I applied WD-40 liberally as you advised. Then I tried regular pliers to rotate the key. Using regular pliers didn’t work, I couldn’t exert enough turning force to overcome whatever the key was hung on. So, out came the vise grips. I figured if I broke off that stuck key, no big deal — I was probably going to have to take things apart and replace the ignition-steering lock assembly anyway. Well the vice grips worked! I was finally able to force the key clockwise past where it was stuck, and I got the car started.

I then drove the car down to a locksmith near me. He used a Dremel tool with a small grinding disc to undercut the edges of the key a little, so the key can be pushed slightly further into the switch. Now you can rotate the key easily, without needing vice grips to force it back and forth.

However you still can’t turn the key fully counterclockwise to the “zero position”, where the key can be removed and the steering lock engaged. But the car has had that problem ever since I bought it. I don’t mind the key staying in the car, as long as the key rotates OK back and forth between the ignition-off position, the ignition-on position, and the start-engine position. To secure the car when I park it somewhere away from home: I open the bonnet, remove the distributor cap, grab the rotor, and put it in my pocket! No one can now start the car. (I doubt the average car thief would have a rotor for a ’79 Midget handy).

The locksmith is of the opinion that the key currently in the lock is NOT the correct key to the car. The car was a barn find, and likely it did not have a key in it. So the person who found the car probably grabbed a Brit Leyland key that seemed to fit in the switch “somewhat OK”, and then forcibly jammed it in there. And that’s where the problems came from — wrong key! It was just a matter of time until things jammed up at the ignition-off position.

Anyway. I’m good to go for now, without need for taking things apart to replace the steering lock. Appreciate the advice you sent me! If the key / steering lock gives me any further problems, I’ll follow your tips and replace the steering lock.

Bill Fortenberry
Warner Robins, Georgia


  • chfwrench
  • AMGBA Club Tech Staff
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  • Membership Number (if known): 91-10014
  • MG information: '73 red B roadster
Re: Stuck Key Problem
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2015, 11:30:19 PM »
I would actually start with the battery and connections.  What you describe sounds like a weak battery or corroded connection or cable sapping power to the starter. The '67 had twin 6 volt batteries hooked in series to create 12 volts .  The number of cables and connections with those as well as the limited availability of the right 6 volt replacements created issues.  Add to this that most LBCs tend to “leak” power even standing idle, the batteries drain and damage unless disconnected. 

Most of us added disconnect switches to protect the batteries (as well as the cables from corrosion ) while the cars stood idle or in storage ad well as switched to single 12 volt batteries.  And while the technology has improved over the years, those are still more compact and, because of the smaller cell size, they do wear out, even with limited use.

After checking the battery and cables, I would look at the mechanical side of the ignition switch and it’s connections to the starter before moving on to rebuilding or replacing the whole starter.
I hope that helps you.  Good luck and keep me posted on what you find.

Safety Fast!
Art Isaacs
Art Isaacs
AMGBA Tech Staff


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