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Re: Texas winters and MGA's - no fun - reply (long)

Subject: Re: Texas winters and MGA's - no fun - reply (long)
From: Mark Moburg <>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 00:33:05 GMT
At 02:40 PM 12/18/96 -0600, you wrote:
>This is a "love-hate" story, and I usually tend to get a bit windy,
>so...continue reading at your very own risk!

<<big cut>>

>Why on earth was that engine so hard to turn over? It's got Castrol 20-50 in
>the crankcase. I used 10-40 in my Firebird and it would start in 5-degree
>weather in Colorado. Maybe the "50" is too think for the MGA in the winter??
>Any suggestions??
>That episode was sufficient to warrant my reconsideration of a purchase of
>another MGA. If I never have an experience like that again, it'll be too soon! 
>And why all the smoke from the exhaust? The engine just purrs. Sounds great.
>Will we be looking at a carb rebuild, or just a carb tune-up?
>Thanks for sharing in Carol's Perils!!

Hi Carol!  Fairly new to the list & enjoying yr postings.  I'm jealous.  Why?  
Because you're having all those wonderful MGA tribulations, whereas I'm
sitting here in New York City & Morris (my '58) is all lonesome in a 
garage in Seattle.  Work transfer (temporary . . . like going on 3 years

Anyhow, as I know 50,000 others will be telling you, change to 10W-30 or
10W-40 for the winters.  Lord knows the 20-weight is way too thick, 
when it gets cold out.  Plus, cold weather does the double-whammy to cars:  
First:  the oil gets thicker, thus harder to turn the internal parts until 
        it warms up (thus the lighter weight oil in winter);
Second: batteries have less cranking power at low temperatures (if I
        remember correctly, at 32 deg. F, 1/2 the power as at 72 deg. F, 
        and at zero deg. F., one-quarter as at 72 deg. F.) (SWAG).

A couple of solutions for the second problem; I'd consider 
replacing the battery-to-starter-switch, switch-to-starter and battery-to
ground cables with the heaviest gauge wiring you can get (like double-zero 
("00" or "double-aught)).  If you do this, you will have to have the cable
ends replaced with suitable types.  The longer a wire, the higher the
and you've got a long way for a diligent electron to go from those batteries 
in back to the starter in front.  Heavier wiring carries more current, so that 
will make up for the trip.  

Second, if you're not concerned about concours originality, replace
those rotten 6-volt batteries with a single 12-volt.  This gets a little 
difficult because the battery boxes are about this much (I'm holding my thumb
and forefinger a teeeeny ways apart) too small.  I've found that a Sears 
DieHard (I think group 70) side-terminal (standard replacement for early-80's 
Chevettes) makes a dandy replacement, you kind of have to wedge it in, 
but it fits.  Besides, you don't have to fiddle with all the cabling that
those crummy 6-volts require.  You do have to replace the ground cable
(if you put the new battery on the RH side) or the battery-to-starter 
cable (if you put it on the LH side) but see above re:  good time to
replace with heavier cable anyway.  Problem is the dreadful 6-volt cables
won't reach a single battery.

If you go that route, you can either replace the standard cable ends with 
side-terminal ends, which I hate because they're a pain to jump, and always
seem to corrode into place; or buy some side terminal adaptors, which are just
posts that screw in to the side terminals that give you posts that your 
ordinary cables from those awful 6-volts can attach to.  If you do this, 
don't screw the posts in to the battery until you get the battery into the 
tray, otherwise you risk a big fat short as you're maneuvering the battery 
past the (metal) shelf behind the seat.  

I've done this for the 12 years or so that I've had Morris, and have been
very happy.  For the price of one of those nasty 6-volts, you can get a 
great battery (made with technology more recent than the '20s that the 
stinking 6-volts are made with) with about twice the cold-cranking amps, 
and a five-year warranty to boot, which is about five times longer than 
I've seen anybody warrant those cheesey 6-volts.  Just one thing:  
take very careful measurements of your battery tray, and of the potential 
replacement battery.

Also, watch out when putting the battery retaining bracket back on, so you 
don't short the terminals.

Sorry about the length.  

PS:  Standard disclaimer about Sears.  I've measured other batteries, and 
even though they were the same group size, they all were fractionally 
larger or had a lip on the bottom.

PPS:  Did I mention that I really hate the 6-volt battery setup? :-)

Mark Moburg

'57 Jaguar MK VIII
'58 MGA
'70 M*rc*d*s-B*nz 300 SEL 6.3 ($350 for a replacement battery???!)
'85 XJ6 VDP

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