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MGA Starting up the MGA after 20 years [applies to other MGs too]


Freshman Member
While talking to a guy at work about the MGB font suspension I need to get from him for the MGA, the conversation turned to how the MG was doing.
The MGA sat in a storage garage for a decade or so and has now sat in the carport for another 10. It needs a full restoration, but is complete. The left front spindle sits in the trunk with a stripped out swivel pin thread. The MGB disc brake suspension will go in.

I don't know how we got around to the topic, but he asked how it ran. I have no idea since I never tried to start it. And then the wheels started turning. I should get it running! There's at least 3 project cars ahead of it in the restoration order plus a race car to feed, but this sounded interesting.

The oil was full but rather black. An oil and filter change was in order. But need I bother? I grabbed the fan, gave it a twist and the crank turned. Ok, we can move forward. While the oil was draining the plugs came out. Hey, that distributor has no vacuum advance. It's got dual points! Huh. The DCOE weber is there and it looks impossible to squirt gas into the throat. But I digress.
Squirt some Marvel Mystery oil into the cylinders and get back to the oil. Yuck...very black. Let it drain for an hour or so.
Then onto the filter.
The oil filter adapter dropped down and since I had 3 O rings, one must be for the block. I removed the adapter. Judging by the shape of the other O ring, this would be hard as kryptonite too. And it was.
At first I thought I was poking my awl into the block. But the black thing up there had a slight amount of give. But the point of the very sharp awl would not penetrate the ring. Hammer on the awl -- nope.
I went back into the house to check the mg guru site and yep. There is indeed an O ring up there. And they get hard. Is this O-ring 50 years old? Might be.
I then got out the dremel and put a straight rod into the end. I figured at the speed the dremel turns it would friction burn itself into the O ring. And the rod would not damage the block. I finally got a few holes in the O ring and went back into the shop to build a pry tool. I sourced a 1/4" rod and bent the end into the shape of a claw hammer. I ground the width so that it would go into the groove of the block and gave the claw end a sharp tip. A few taps, a little wedge action and out came -- 1/3 of the seal. The rest came out fairly easy. In went fresh oil and filter.

The next day I decided to spin the engine with the starter.
But MGAs use mechanical starter relays and I wasn't going to mess about trying to pull on the rod while testing other things.
Went back into the shop and sourced a Ford starter solenoid. Moved the starter lead to the electric solenoid, hooked up a battery pack to the solenoid and ground, ran a ground to the solenoid and a remote starter button to the solenoid. Hit the button and engine turned over just as if I had run it last week. OK, the plugs were out, but this thing sounded real good for having sat this long.

Next week I'll hot wire the coil and rig up an electrical fuel pump from a gas can. I'm not messing around with an old fuel tank or a Lucas fuel pump ...


Mickey Richaud

Staff member
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