Fitting an MGA Oil Filter Adapter
Octagon Newsletter … February 1992
By Phil Winterbottom
The last time I had my MGA on the road, one of the great unwashed remarked on the amount of oil being deposited on the pavement! I attempted to explain that this is a standard feature of the MG known as a 'continuous flow oil filter' (clean oil in the top, dirty oil drips out the bottom), but he made a rude comment before walking away. I wasn't too worried about the problem, as I knew the difficulties in getting a proper fit to the oil filter gasket on MGs and I could regularly check the oil level, but I knew I was in trouble when even my wife began to complain about the oil on the driveway. Until then she had been faithful to her marriage vows to "love, honour and believe all MG stories" but I must have pushed things too far this time!
I had heard about an oil filter adapter that cured the leak by enabling a modern screw-on type filter to be fitted. A few inquiries, the exchange of a reasonable amount of Muloonies to Octagon Motors and I had one in my hand.
"It's very simple," said the Octagon man. "Simply remove the old filter, screw in the adapter and screw in the new filter."
After my family duties at Christmas were done, I set to work installing the filter. I was very careful when jacking the car, placing jack stands and large wood blocks to support the work. I have heard about people trying to bench press an MG off their chest - they don't seem to talk too much about the experience later.
Removing the old filter wasn't too much of a chore, but fitting the adapter had me puzzled - the instructions said to use various combinations of washers, gaskets and spacers depending on the type of oil filter fitted to the car, but the illustration didn't match the instructions and I seemed to be missing a spacer. What to do? "Ah ha", I thought, "call that MG Guru, Al Fraser." I was in luck, Al was home that day, not driving one of Mikey's boats. Pender Island's loss was my gain!
Driving through Mount Douglas Park to Alan's house it, occurred to me what a logical place for him to live, for surely he must have gained his encyclopedic MG knowledge on the Mt. Doug summit direct from that MG God, MOWOG! What a glorious sight it must have been - Alan struggling down from the summit, arms loaded with MG workshop manuals, perhaps even one for a Y-type! (but I digress).
I spread my parts out on the garage floor (metaphorically speaking) and Alan hunkered down over them. "Ahh …", he inhaled, "the delightful smell of old engine oil." This was new to me! I had heard of types that inhaled exhaust fumes to check the carb mixture but never old engine oil! Oh well, who was I to complain if this was how he communed with MOWOG!
"Hmm … that's strange … is that supposed to fit in there? … that's not what the instructions say …." Alan mumbled to himself. I didn't like what I was hearing, but then I realized that these were the same words I had used so perhaps I wasn't as stupid as I had first thought.
After picking over the parts like chicken entrails and even consulting the Gospel according to Moss, Alan pronounced that, yes indeed a spacer was needed and that either it wasn't in the kit or I had lost it. Probably a third 'O' ring would solve the problem and I dutifully picked one up on my way home.
Once home, I quickly put in the third 'O' ring, screwed in the adapter and screwed on the new oil filter. Eureka! It really was just as easy as the Octagon man had said!
The car hadn't been run for a while and the battery was low, so it took a bit of jiggling with the carbs to keep it idling properly, but it was no more than a minute before I was able to look at the filter. Damn! There was oil leaking down the side of the filter! And what was that strange noise that sounded like an oil pump sucking the bottom of the sump, looking for any last drop of oil it could find? Quickly I looked under the car. GOOD GRIEF!! there was oil spread all over the floor. Sniff, sniff. Oh, if only Alan could smell this now, he'd be in Nirvana, the fifth state of consciousness, talking directly to MOWOG!
Sniff, sniff, funny that smells like burning oil. HELP! It is burning oil. The trouble light is sitting in a pool of oil, smoke curling up from under the car. I quickly removed the light, uttering thanks to MOWOG and wondering what the flashpoint of oil is.
What to do, what to do. Alternatives race through my mind. What I need is a large blotting paper, rags or something, anything to soak up the mess! Newspapers - that's it - that'll do. I race into the basement where the pile of old newspapers normally sat - Damn! Today was recycling day and they're all gone! I roar through the rest of the house grabbing any bits I can find, throw them under the car and soak up the mess! Now I've got more oil on the garage floor than a hundred years of the leaks that started all this mess!
I sip a cold beer while I ponder my next step. The problem has to be the third 'O' ring stopping the filter from coming up tight to seal off the oil. I pull off the adapter and filter, remove the offending 'O' ring and reassemble.
This time I'm determined to get everything TIGHT to stop the leak! Now you monkey wrenchers know that when you start to torque something down tight either (a) the bolt breaks or (b) the wrench slips. That's right - you know what happens! SLASH, TEAR, RIP, BLOOD, PAIN, OW, OW, BL..DY H..LL. The wrench slips and my knuckles tear against the frame. Red blood splatters on the remaining pools of oil. Any more of this and my garage will begin to resemble a Swartzeneger movie 'Oilfield Terminator'.
Now for the final test! I slip behind the wheel, pull the choke, pull the starter, blip the throttle a couple of times to settle the idle, jump out, run around to the other side and slip under the car to peer at the oil filter (sort of a reverse Le Mans start, I suppose). SUCCESS!! Not a drop of oil!! Thanks to MOWOG (and Alan). Two days later I enjoyed our club's Annual New Years Day Burn and not one comment was made about oil drippings. But please don't ask to see my garage floor.
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