Book: Mouse, the Man and the MGB

by Wayne Truax

Mouse, the Man and the MGB

A mouse, a man, and an old car…what could possibly happen? The following article is how I turned my encounter with a curious little mouse into a fun children’s story, and some of the challenges I faced trying to finish the book.

About 3 years ago I was working on my MGB’s engine and I felt as though I was being watched. I looked up and spotted a little mouse standing on the opposite fender watching me. I yelled and waived my arms, pretty much the same way it shows in the book. At first and he ran away, but the little mouse kept coming back. We crossed paths several more times that year and I would see him watching me work both inside and outside the car. The mouse never built a nest or did any damage to the car, and I began thinking about a story. The story would be about a mouse that wants to help but is chased away; he does not give up and develops a relationship with the man.

Over the next few years I kept thinking of the story and I finally decided to write it down in January 2020 during a 45-minute train ride to work. I had the ideas for the drawings in my head for quite awhile, and the words just flowed as I had imagined the story. When I returned home that evening, I sent a copy of the story to my friend Andrew H. Black, a talented graphic designer, who had written, illustrated and published several books himself. I asked if we could make a book out of the story and he said, “Sure!” So we started putting together details for the drawings and Andy began sketching ideas.

Unfortunately, shortly after we started work on the book COVID began to impact the US and I had to stop due to my job in emergency management. For several months I did not have the time, energy, or creativity to work on the book and believed it would not get published until 2021.

But in June work stabilized and I had time to start focusing on the book again. It became an outlet that allowed me to think about something other than work. Having time to focus allowed the creative thought processes to take off again and Andy and I were on a roll. Andy recommended I shorten the story and limit the number of technical drawings. I wanted more technical drawings, but Andy knew I was going overboard and firmly asked, “Is this a children’s book or technical manual?” I answered “Both!” We compromised.

We spent July through November proofing drawings and rewriting story lines to match the illustrations. I asked people I trusted to provide honest feedback when reviewing the drawings and reading the story. My wife Nancy and friend Lee were invaluable reviewers and editors, but in the end they both made it clear that it was “my story and everything was a suggestion.” I proofed the book over 100 times during the process to reduce the text and get everything right. I learned very quickly when editing if you are not in the right frame of mind it just creates more work.

In a stroke of luck during the final weeks of editing I discovered what a great feature the “Read Aloud” capability in Adobe Acrobat is. I began listening to the story to make the final changes. There are number of voices to select from, and I chose “Mia,” a women’s voice with an English accent that became my favorite proofreader. I would close my eyes and listen. If Mia stumbled or a word sounded off, I would tweak the sentence, and have Mia read it again until I was happy with it. No more convincing myself it sounded correct when it really didn’t.

The day the book was submitted for print I was up at 4:30 in the morning and Mia read the book to me at least 20 more times. I made 10 minor tweaks before declaring it finished, sending the final edits to Andy, and finally uploading it to the publisher later that day.

My hope is that this book will make young and old alike smile when reading the story and looking at the detailed illustrations. With luck, little ones will become more curious about our cars, memories will be stirred up, and we will share some MGB stories or old pictures with the next generations of owners.

’73 B and ’67 GT of Thomas Miller

The ’73 roadster is my 6th MG (TD, 2 MGAs, 2 MGBs). The ’67 GT is a restoration/resurrection project, starting with 2 67s, the GT and a roadster used as an organ donor (engine, transmission, various useful bits and pieces (steel dash, seats, all missing from the GT, which was essentially a shell). The GT body has been away at the welder’s for about a year and is due back around Christmas. Panel straightening will be followed by sandblasting and primer and paint, and finally reassembly. Engine is being done gradually and am doing the transmission now. As you might expect, am tithing to Moss…

Thomas Miller
Bellows Falls, VT

'73 B roadster of Thomas Miller of Belllows Falls, Vermont
'67 B-GT of Thomas Miller of Belllows Falls, Vermont

Tentative American MGB Association Meet 2021 and Chicagoland British Car Festival in Palatine, Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: 43rd Annual AMGBA Meet 2021 will tentatively be at the Chicagoland British Car Festival at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois on September 12, 2021. More information regarding this show can be found at www.britishcarunion.com .

The American MGB Association’s 43rd Annual Meet – AMGBA MEET 2021 – for the MGB, MGB-GT & Midget – at the Chicagoland British Car Festival at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois – September 12, 2021

MG sports car production as we know it was discontinued in 1980 with the closing of the famed Abingdon-On-Thames works in the United Kingdom. But these modern day classics are being preserved forever here in North America by members of the American MGB Association which serves enthusiastic MGB, MGB-GT, and MG Midget owners throughout the USA, Canada and throughout the world. Each year, the AMGBA holds its National Meet.

The 1978 initial gathering was held in Chicago. In 1979 and 1980 the AMGBA National Conventions were held in New York state, in Ithaca and Glens Falls. The organization’s success led to renting the world famous Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway in 1981 for the AMGBA National Convention. In 1982, the AMGBA held its National Convention outside the USA in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In the years 1983 and 1984, the AMGBA went west for the first time in Lake Tahoe, California and Boulder, Colorado. In 1985, the AMGBA held two conventions in Santa Barbara, California and Abingdon, Illinois. In 1986, we visited Texas during its 150 year anniversary in San Antonio, Texas and in 1987 we visited the Saratoga Springs area of beautiful upstate New York. In 1988, the convention site was Kansas City, Missouri. In 1989, we visited the Great Northwest part of our country in Springfield, Oregon.

In 1990 the convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia which was a first for that area of the country. In 1991 we returned to the site of our first convention in Chicago and in 1992, we returned to the West Coast to the beautiful San Francisco Bay area in Palo Alto, California. In 1993, we traveled to New England at Keene, New Hampshire near the site of the Westminster MG Museum. In 1994, we went for the first time to the San Diego, California area at the Del Mar race track. In 1995 we went to Memphis, Tennessee, home of the blues and Elvis Presley. In 1996 we joined with all of the major MG clubs in North America for MG Indy ’96 in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indy 500 track. In 1997 we were on the West Coast in the San Francisco area at Palo Alto, California. In 1998, we were in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Lake Campus of Davidson College. In 1999, we went to Los Angeles, California.

In 2000, we went to Armagh, Pennsylvania and joined with the TRF Summer Party and in 2001 we were in Houston, Texas for the Houston MG Club’s All British Motor Vehicle Exposition. In 2002 we again went to the San Francisco, California area for the Palo Alto British Car Meet. For 2003 we visited Florida and the Space Coast in Titusville, Florida. In 2004, we visited picturesque Cape Cod in Massachusetts for the Cape Cod British Car Club’s British Legends Weekend. In 2005, we were in San Diego, California at Fairbrook Farms in Bonsall for San Diego British Car Day. We were in Maryland in 2006 at the MGs on the Rocks Show and in 2007 we went to Charlotte, North Carolina at the MGs on the Green Show. In 2008 we were in Armagh, Pennsylvania with The Roadster Factory Summer Party and for 2009 we planned for a show in the Central Valley of California.

In 2010 we went to Sussex, Wisconsin for the British Car Field Day. For 2011 we were in Ohio for the first time at Dayton in conjunction with the Annual British Car Day at Eastwood Metropark. We went to the Jersey Shore in 2012 with the Annual Brits on the Beach Show in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. In 2013 we visited Mississippi for the first time to the oldest city on the Mississippi River in conjunction with the English Motoring Club of Mississippi’s Brits on the Bluff Show in Natchez, Mississippi. In 2014, we were at New England’s largest British car show at the British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont. Meet 2015 was in South Carolina at the Britfest in Myrtle Beach. In 2016 we were in Virginia for the first time in Waynesboro at the Shenandoah Valley British Car Festival and in 2017 we made our initial trip to Alabama in Fairhope which is near Mobile and the Gulf Coast at the South Alabama British Car Festival. In 2018, we went to the Philadelphia area for the first time at the Brits in the Village Show in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. For 2019 we will be at the Grand Strand British Car Club’s Britfest at Market Common in Myrtle Beach, SC. Meet 2020 was not held due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

For 2021 we will be back where it all started tentatively at the Chicagoland British Car Festival at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois It promises to be a great time and a memorable experience for all that attend. For more information contact the above, write to the American MGB Association, 5433 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60640, call 773-769-7084, email us at info@mgclub.org or explore our website at www.mgclub.org.

The American MGB Association (AMGBA) is North America’s oldest, largest and best cub for all MGBs, MGB-GTs and Midgets.  It was established in 1975 and has provided continuous services to owners of MGBs, MGB-GTs and Midgets throughout North America since then. National conventions have been held annually since 1978 from New York to California and Texas to Canada. Membership in the AMGBA is not required to attend but it is encouraged. For membership info call 773-769-7084, email: info@mgclub.org , website: www.mgclub.org or write to: AMGBA, 5433 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60640 U.S.A. Membership is $35 per year or $45 per year outside the U.S.A.

History of the MG Marque – The MG 14/40 and 14/80 Models

by Karen Border, TRF Publications

I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. But here is my effort to explain how the MG was developed. Because it is such a complicated story, I am going to have to do it in installments. I have also included a list of books and web links that I used for research, so you can read more about the subject.  All of the installments can be found at https://the-roadster-factory.com/Images/POTW/MG-Origins/MG-history.html .

Karen Border, TRF Publications

The Roadster Factory
www.the-roadster-factory.com

Sales Dept. Phone: 800-234-1104 INSTALLMENT 6. THE MG EX120 and EX127 Speed Trials

I am continuing the History of the MG Marque with Installment 6, the EX120 and EX127. The last installment included the MG C-type and MG D-type cars and I mentioned that the C-type was derived from the record speed-breaking prototype EX 120. Following the success of five MG M-type cars at the 1929 Double-12 Hour event at Brooklands, The MG Car Company wanted to gain some publicity by making a car that would reach or exceed 100 mph before one of their competitors, Austin, did.

In 1929, J. A. Palmes, the director of Jarvis & Co. (MG sales agents at Wimbledon) and Captain George Eyston, a record-setting driver, went to see Cecil Kimber to see if he would be interested in creating a record-breaking speed trial car. Kimber was already working on a record-breaking car, which was designated as the MG EX120. Eyston liked what he saw, and felt that they could set the record for the class H for cars up to 750 cc. To achieve this, they reduced the capacity of the M-type engine from 847 to 750 cc. They gave the car a modified chassis and gave the car a streamlined, boat-tailed body. Hubert Charles had modified the rear suspension by mounting the rear axle leaf springs using pivots at the front end and mounted the back into sliding trunnions rather than the more common shackles. This improved the axle location and helped the car handle better. The EX120 was also fitted with larger brakes and a four-speed gearbox. Hubert also experimented with valve timing to give the engine more power.

Eyston and his engineer Ernest Eldridge took the EX120 prototype car to Newmarket for road tests because Brooklands was closed for the winter. Eyston tested the car on a straight road and the EX120 achieved 97 mph. Eldridge took the car back to the MG factory Abingdon and the compression ratio was raised. On December 30, 1930, Eyston drove the car at the Montlhéry track near Paris and captured three Class H records. The car achieved speeds of over 87 mph for 100 km before a valve broke. An Austin 7 with a supercharger had achieved 97 mph. Eyston and Kimber still wanted to achieve 100 mph, so they decided to fit a supercharger to the car. They fitted a Powerplus supercharger which was designed by Eyston.

On February 16, 1931, the EX120 reached a speed of 103.13 mph for 5 kilometres and 101.87 at 10 miles and became the first 750 cc car to exceed 100 mph at Montlhéry. To celebrate this success, Kimber created a racing replica of the EX120 and called it the C-type Midget, or as it better known the Montlhéry Midget. It was available with or without a supercharger. You can read about the C-type MG in Installment 4.

In addition to the speed records above, Eyston wanted to see if he could hold a speed of 100 mph for an hour. In December 1931 he took the EX120 back to Montlhéry and ran 100 miles at an average speed of 101.01 mph, but soon had a problem! When taking just one extra lap the engine caught fire. Eyston steered it into the infield all the while sitting on the tail of the car. The speed slowed to around 60 mph and then before the car hit an embankment, Eyston jumped off the back. He rolled as he fell, a technique he learned while riding horses for fox hunting, and made a landing without getting seriously hurt! (Some sources say he jumped from the cockpit and not the tail of the car.) However, he did suffer burns. A French test driver in a Citroen saw the wreck and carried Eyston to his car and took him to a hospital. In the meantime, the MG mechanics came to the wrecked car and were confounded when they could not find Eyston. Wikipedia then says that Eyston filed a patent for fireproof asbestos overalls. If you click on this link, you can see a photo of Eyston in EX127 wearing his asbestos suit. William Morris, Viscount Nuffield is standing second from right behind the car. https://www.mgcc.co.uk/on-this-day-in-1931/.

EX120 was set aside and the EX127 was built by Reg Jackson with Eldridge supervising. It had a low drag and the transmission was offset seven degrees to the left and the driver sat beside the driveshaft. The driver’s seat was only 6-inches off the ground. The streamlined body of the car was very narrow, only wide enough for Eyston to get into. They gave the car a specially tuned C-type engine. In September 1931, Eldridge drove the car at Montlhéry, as Eyston was still recovering.. Eldridge did 5 kilometers at 110..28 mph. To see a photo of the EX127, please use this link: https://www.mgcc.co.uk/articles/those-ex-numbers/ .

When Eyston was fit again, he oversaw the installation of a Powerplus supercharger that was driven by pinion instead of a chain into the EX127. He went on to drive it at Montlhéry on December 22, 1931 and the car achieved 114.77 mph and took four records. Eyston wore his asbestos overalls. The EX127 was called the Magic Midget.

The car went on to more speed trials at Pendine Sands, and achieved 122 mph but that timing was not official. The official mph was only 118.39 mph. The cockpit was enclosed and they set out to break some more records at Montlhéry. In 1933, with Bert Denly to help Eyston with the first 12 hours of driving they finally made the 120 mph goal that Kimber had asked for. They also raced a Sports J3 with Tommy Widsom co-driving, and they took all Class H records up to 24 hours. These records were unbroken for several years. Eyston broke some sprint records as well, with a speed of 120.56 mph.

In 1935, EX127 was sold to Bobby Kohlrausch and he went on to get a 140.6 mph on a flying start mile on an autobahn.

https://www.mgcc.co.uk/articles/those-ex-numbers/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Midget
https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/december-2001/76/midget-gems
Use this link to see a photo of Captain Eyston at the wheel of the MG EX127. William Morris, Viscount Nuffield is standing second from right behind the car. https://www.mgcc.co.uk/on-this-day-in-1931/
Great Marques M.G., by Chris Harvey, 1983
MG Past & Present, by Rivers Fletcher, 1985
MG by McComb, by F. Wilson McComb, Revised Edition by Jonathan Wood, 2004

Getting Old Together – My MGB

by Kevin Rooney

According to the door-plate, my blue MGB convertible rolled off the production line in the fall 1977, coincidentally within a few months of my wife and I being married, just over 80 miles away from the factory. I’ve actually owned the vehicle since 1984, bought used, so the three of us have actually been together now for 36 years. The three of us also immigrated to the same state, California; I was living in Los Angeles, while the MG started out its life of service in Palm Springs. This would explain its total lack of any rust, but why also it required a respray in about 1986, having been baked and sandblasted for the first 6 years of its life! Fortunes and the fates have conspired to find us collocated in the Nevada desert, now 43 years after the two simultaneous events of marriage and manufacture. I’ve tarted the car up with a couple of headlight stone guards, and a lovely rosewood dash, but apart from wear and tear items, she is basically “OEM”.

As with all British cars (and wives, I’ve discovered), personality and some stubbornness are in-built features, requiring extensive maintenance to preserve the relationship – Hurrah for Victoria British, with whom I am on first-name terms! (Note to self: should have taken shares out in that company 25 years ago!) Take for example the electrics (the car, not wife). The original Palm Springs owner, being apparently overly paranoid, had installed a sophisticated security system involving seat pressure-sensors, battery current monitoring, and lights-on detection, etc. The problem was that prior to sale, this system was completely ripped out (literally), leaving trailing wires, loose connectors, and bypassed boxes in several impossible-to-reach nooks and crannies. Hence the first 10 years of ownership were fraught with persistent short circuits and fuse-frying; none of which could legitimately be assigned to the fault of Mr. Joseph Lucas! (Yes, him of much anti-British-car humor!)

For many years, the lovely blue MGB was the daily commuter car for my wife, with the number plate surround proudly claiming “Wench Mobile”, but these days, with on setting retirement, the MG is just our weekend zoomer-about-town. And of course she is our primary contribution to rallies out with our friends in the British Auto Club of Las Vegas, where several MGs of various ilks can get together and doubtlessly chat about their varied life experiences. A big advantage of living in Nevada compared to California is the ability to register the car as a “Classic Vehicle”, thereby avoiding the arduous and nail-biting biannually enforced smog-testing ritual, whose stipulations had gotten more much stringent over the years. Even so, after a mid-90s catalytic converter replacement, she managed to squeak through every time (except once due to a technicality when I hadn’t noticed that the vacuum advance tube had fallen away from the distributor!)

One feature my MGB and I have in common is to note the changes in our chassis over time: one of us has become a lot stiffer and less flexible over the 36 years of ownership, while the other has become a little more pliant. Hence my transition from avid self-repair enthusiast (perpetually-scraped knuckles and concrete-scraped bald patches due to under-car experiences to evidence) to employer of necessary garage services for most discovered foibles.

For the period of time in Los Angeles, I was supported in my maintenance of the vehicle by an expert but dour ex-RAF master mechanic who offers at-home mobile service, and without whom the MGB and I may well have parted company a few years back. These days in Nevada, I am still searching for the ideal compatriot in “keeping her on the road”.

But overall, the 36 years of MGB Roadster ownership (more like “partnership”) has been fun, exciting and rewarding. She costs virtually nothing to keep right now, we do about 1,000 miles a year, I keep her on trickle charge at all times, and when she is not garaged, I have a nice protective heavy-duty waterproof/sun proof cover for her. And despite numerous gasket-replacements, she still insists on marking her territory with a current mix of hypoid, DOT-4 and 5W30. Would I part with her? Never. At least not till she decides to embarrass me by letting me down far from home on an upcoming rally!

'77 B of Kevin Rooney from Las Vegas, Nevada
'77 B of Kevin Rooney from Las Vegas, Nevada

’68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York. Here is the story:

My MG Story

My first car was a Sunbeam Alpine that my father bought from a guy he worked with for fifty bucks so I could learn more about car mechanics. Learn I did; about hydraulic clutches, valve adjusting, synchronizing carburetors and Truck repair was in charge of the wiring.

With that experience I definitely learned about mechanics but I also learned to love British sport cars and spent the next seven years driving only two seat British roadsters. That was in 1970.

During that time I used to always search the classifieds for suitable cars. Sometime around 1974 or 5 I noticed an ad for a ’68 MGB with only 19,000 miles for a very reasonable price.

When I called the gentleman that owned it he explained that he was in the Navy and only drove the car when he was home, resulting in the low mileage. Needless to say I was excited. His house was only about 25 miles away so some friends and I rode out to have a look.

Angus lived with his wife in a new log cabin house that he had just built. The MG was in the garage and when he opened the door I was a bit shocked. While the car was totally rust free (something I insist upon even in the northeast) it appeared to have been painted with a brush! When I questioned Angus he explained that he had put some dents in the front and rear and decided to try his hand at bodywork. Hopefully Angus was a much better sailor. Other than the horrible paint job the MG was fairly unmolested, ran well and really had only 19K miles.

The deal was made and I drove my latest acquisition home. After licensing and insuring the B I began to enjoy top down motoring around our central New York home. That was in the spring. After putting a few thousand miles on the car, sometime during the summer my girlfriend and her close friend took the MG to do some errands. Less than three miles from home, on the main street of our small town a pickup failed to notice the girls slowing, smashing into the back of the poor car.

The unfortunate mishap left the MG with a crumpled quarter panel, trunk lid and the area housing reverse lights and license plate. Fortunately the pickup’s bumper was high enough to leave the trunk floor unblemished.

The girls and pickup driver exchanged insurance information and called the police. Thankfully no one was injured. I don’t remember if the driver of the pickup received a traffic ticket but he was clearly at fault.

Sometime shortly thereafter I called his insurance company and made arrangements to bring the injured car in for an appraisal. Because MGs were probably a bit foreign (no pun intended) to the insurance adjuster I brought plenty of documentation of the car’s value and the cost of parts needed. The day of the “adjustment” he looked at the car for maybe thirty seconds and said to me “The car’s totaled. We’ll give you $1,000 and take the car.” He really rubbed me the wrong way! I quietly explained to him that my car was not a common vehicle and he was probably unfamiliar with the value. I was trying my best to not tell him what I really thought. I showed him the price of parts, explained the value of the car and told him that I was keeping the car and he was going to give me some money towards fixing it. He must have seen how serious I was because without much discussion he agreed.

At the time of the accident MGs were still in production so I was able to buy new sheet metal from British Leyland. With the money from the settlement I had a body shop replace the crumpled panels and at that point ran out of money. I had another MG to drive so I found dry storage and figured I would fix it as funds allowed.

As is so often the case with projects such as that something always took precedence over the funds.

As time passed I would start and warm the car and even take it up and down the road occasionally. Months turned into years and the MG sat. At least it was always inside, under cover and dry.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’m confined to a wheelchair and fighting a horrible disease. Thankfully I have a wonderful wife and friends who have made this experience bearable, and my love of all things mechanical. As my condition worsened I wasn’t able to care for the MG like I had been so it sat in the barn. Unfortunately some critter decided that the interior would make a good retreat for the winter and took up residence, destroying the seats. I figured that having a car restored was out of the question so I placed an ad online. I had one gentleman and his friend look at my car but he wasn’t interested. During a conversation with a friend from high school she mentioned that her husband worked with a guy that was once the president of the local MG club and restored cars as a hobby. When I called Dave he said that he was the guy who came to look at my car and explained that he liked to have a project for the winter and would do my car.

So in the fall of 2014 I hired a rollback to drop my car at Dave’s. After forty years my MG was going to get the attention it deserved! I was beside myself with excitement.

I believe it was the spring of 2016 when our driveway filled with the unmistakable sound of a British roadster. The pictures didn’t do it justice. The MG was absolutely beautiful, better than anything I could have imagined. It only took forty years! Right after I got the car back there was a car show in Syracuse and my brother took the MG. It won Best of Show Foreign.

One hot summer day, with the help of a Hoyer lift I was able to get my only ride to date. Maybe someday I’ll attempt another ride. In the meantime the MG sits in the garage, covered and trickle charged. When the weather’s nice I peel back the cover and think back.

'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York

American MGB Association – for MGB, MGB-GT and MG Midget owners

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