Tech-bits are provided as a service for our members and are compiled from a variety of sources.
This club, it's executive and the editor do not necessarily endorse any of the tips so presented and are not responsible for any damage or injury resulting from application of these tips.
Later MGBs tend to produce an annoying swishing noise through the gear lever. This may be caused by a sympathetic vibration and resonance in the plastic gear knob. The problem can be alleviated by either replacing the knob with another of a different construction, preferably with a soft rubber insert for the lever shaft. Alternatively, the standard knob can be drilled out to take a plastic or rubber insert. This noise is often mistaken for worn transmission components and thus, unless recognized early on, can result in expensive "exploratory surgery".
Concerning another annoying noise, an MGB GT owner's car suffered from a "boom" while accelerating between 3200 and 3500 RPM. Convinced that, regardless of his driving habits, it wasn't a sonic boom, the owner checked around and found others who, like himself were experiencing this annoying noise but were at a loss to explain it, A check with a local expert provided an unsuspected cure, the exhaust pipe bracket was removed from the bell housing! Ten minutes work under the car and the noise was gone just don't ask why, but it works.
Identical ZA/ZB Spares
Many ZA/ZB spares are compatible with parts from other British cars. This is particularly important as Z-Type spares are becoming increasingly hard to find on this side of the puddle. For example, "Daf" weather strip is identical in size and shape. Austin 1100 weather stripping (horizontal front) is compatible for 'Z' applications as are early Morris Minor tie rod ends (part #7H3682). Brake cylinders are the same as MGA or 1100. Rubber Tie Rod Boots are the same as Austin 1800 (part #13H1291). Front engine mountings are the same as Rover 3500 mountings (Exhaust?). Suspension arms can be replaced with Jaguar part #C3003.
Additives in Overdrive Gearbox
Gearbox additives are an important topic and are a frequent scene of abuse through ignorance. STP, Molyslip, and Wynn's are all excellent additives for the purposes for which they were designed. Do NOT put these products in your gearbox, if an overdrive is fitted. If you do, trouble will likely result. The large oil companies all make special additives for overdrive units and are usually happy to answer inquiries regarding their use.
Replacing Hub Oil Seals
On a MGB, fitted with wire wheels, it can be easier to remove the hub than you might suspect. The manual recommends a specialized hub-puller. If you have access to one, by all means follow the manual, they're the experts. If you don't, you can try this! Cut a piece of wooden dowel approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. A piece from a thick broom handle will work. Cut it approximately 2 ½ feet long. After removing the large nut which holds the hub in place, the dowel is placed against the end of the stud and the knock-off cap is tapped back onto the spline. As the cap is. tightened, the hub is drawn off.
The traditional way to locate leaks in intake manifold and carburetor mounting gaskets is to squirt oil all over the joint and listen for a change in engine speed. This is effective, but very messy. An equally effective but much neater way to accomplish the same thing is only as far away as your closet propane torch. Open the valve and direct the gas (unlit, of course) all around the gasket. When you reach the leaky spot, manifold vacuum will suck in the propane and you will hear an immediate increase in engine speed. Either test should be made with the ending idling. If your ear is not calibrated in revolutions per minute, you may find it useful to have an assistant watch the tachometer while you squirt the oil or propane all over the engine compartment.
Silicon Brake Fluid
Introduced as the answer to everyone's prayers as far as brake fluid went, this fluid is not hydrogenous (doesn't absorb water), makes rubber immortal and does not ruin painted surfaces. If you're doing a major brake system overhaul, by all means consider using it, however CHECK WITH THOSE WHO'VE USED IT FIRST. Some side effects and problems are now becoming apparent. It has an extremely low heat-induced expansion point. On some models where system fluid is exposed to high ambient temperatures, such as TCs where the master cylinder is almost against the exhaust pipe, (separated only by a thin heat shield), the fluid expands to the point where brake drag becomes a serious problem. Unfortunately the scale of expansion is such that it cannot be eliminated in the long run by shoe re-adjustment. Bleeding the accumulated pressure from the line works as a 'get you home' measure only. Think seriously before using this costly 'wonder' liquid.
It has come to our attention that some users of Silicone Brake Fluid have experienced problems with strange-feeling pedal. Since silicone brake fluid exceeds Dot-5 standards, there can be no possibility that the fluid is doing strange things when in use. The problem seems to stem from the fact that silicone brake fluid retains air bubbles more stubbornly than regular brake fluid. Therefore, some special precautions are needed when filling and bleeding systems with Silicone Brake Fluid.
Do not shake the can of fluid before opening. Pour very slowly with minimum agitation of the fluid. After filling, allow to settle for 10 minutes before bleeding.
Preferably, use a power bleeder. If none are available, depress the pedal with slow, careful strokes, rather than a violent pumping action. Continue until firm pedal is obtained, making sure that you keep the reservoir topped up slowly and gently.
With these precautions followed, you should be able to get an air-free system which will give you years of perfect operation.
Hose Clamps for Pre-70's MGs
Long the cursed bane of mechanics and owners alike, those early MG wire hose-clamps now appear to be making a come back with those owners looking for that final detail on restored MGs. Until now these were only available from specialty houses such as Moss Motors. Although they certainly looked original, they performed even worse than the originals (if that is possible) and the cost, with shipping and exchange, is a bit ridiculous. Solution an almost identical set of clamps are available from local Japanese car dealers. Apart from being readily available and cheaper, they're also reported to be better made. Need more be said?
Broken Car Needles
On a recent outing one of our members experienced a loss of power and eventual stalling of his car. While the middle of no-man's land, between Sooke and Jordan River, is hardly the place to do a road‑side carb rebuild, the problem was soon diagnosed and repaired. Here's what happened. The bell‑shaped damper piston housings on the SU carbs had not been checked before the run. The two (three on later models) screws fixing the housing to the body of the rear carb had worked loose allowing the entire housing to move about. As a result, the piston (which works up and down within the housing) was forced to operate out of line. The needle, of course, is fixed to the bottom of the piston. The resulting mis-alignment of the needle in the jet forced the needle to shear off and jam hopelessly in the jet chamber. LESSON LEARNED: Always carry a spare needle, jet and carb screws in your tool kit and most importantly, CHECK THOSE DAMPER POTS BEFORE A RUN. (PS: While most needles are available in a variety of sizes, almost any XPAG type needle will get you home if you're driving a TC TD or early TF.)
Brake Shoe Saver
The slightest amount of grease or oil will ruin a brake shoe if it is allowed to soak into the lining. Even the natural oils from your hands will do enough damage to decrease braking efficiency. To prevent contamination, cover the linings with masking tape before you handle them.
Leaf springs do not usually break under compression, but on the rebound when the main leaf takes most of the stress. To minimize the possibility of this happening to you, periodically inspect the clips which hold the spring leaves together. If you have bolt-on clips, make sure the bolts are tight and the rubber inserts are in good condition. If you have the bent strap iron type (no bolts), hammer them tight around the springs if they seem to have spread out.
No-Spill Liquid Wax Dispenser
Liquid wax usually comes in cans or bottles which easily tip over and spill. To prevent spills, transfer the wax into a clean squeeze-type detergent bottle or mustard bottle. This is more spill resistant, is easily sealed to prevent the wax from drying up and allows easier dispensing of the wax.
Recycling Head Gaskets
Generally speaking, it isn't a good idea to reuse old head gaskets. Even if the gasket isn't actually damaged, the asbestos core will be compressed and this often prevents a good seal from being obtained when the head is torqued down again. However, in an emergency situation, an old head gasket can often be salvaged by soaking it in hot water for an hour or more. This swells the asbestos and increases the likelihood of obtaining a seal good enough to get the car home.
Reviving Shrunken Gaskets
When cork gaskets are stored for long periods of time they often shrink to the point where they will no longer fit. When this happens, soak the gasket in hot water until it swells enough to fit over the studs or line up with the bolt holes in the flange.
Emergency Treatment of Rounded Nuts
When the corners of a nut or bolt head are rounded-off so badly that a wrench won't hold, vice grip pliers are the natural remedy. However, if you are out on the road and don't have your vice grips along, try an open-end wrench and a screwdriver. Place the wrench over the nut as usual, then wedge the tip of the screwdriver between the nut and the wrench jaw. The screwdriver takes up the slack and will do the trick if the nut isn't too tight.
No-Spill Battery Fill
If you have trouble pouring distilled water into those tiny battery openings, and if you don't want to spend money on a proper battery filler, then see if your wife, mother, girlfriend or whoever, has a squeeze-bulb type baster in the kitchen. It will do the job as well as the real McCoy. A squeeze-type detergent bottle also works well and has the advantage that it holds more water, but make sure every last trace of detergent is rinsed out first.
Painting Wheels Contributed by Philip Sumsion
When spraying wheels, the job can be simplified by coating the tire sidewalls with dishwashing liquid and allowing it to dry somewhat before starting to paint. Any paint which strays onto the tire can then be easily removed by scrubbing with lots of water.
Fuel Pumps Contributed by Philip Sumsion
If you have cause to remove an SU fuel pump from the car, make sure that it is replaced the correct way up! The pump is marked but this can be easily overlooked. The correct way is with the outlet valve above the inlet. If it is mounted the wrong way, air locks are inevitable.
A whip in the tail of my MGB was due to loose U bolts. Tightening these cured the problem.
For newer MGBs, a larger oil filter from a Ford V6 can be used in place of the smaller standard unit. In earlier MGBs, the later MGB oil filter head can be fitted as a direct replacement. Then you can fit the V6 filter and have quicker and easier filter changes, better circulation and cleaner oil.
Engine Knocking Cured
I had a loud metallic knocking noise in my MGB when accelerating from low revs or driving in 1st or 2nd gears. It seemed to come from everywhere. The knock disappeared on removal of the fan belt. The cause of the knocking was the deterioration in the rubber grommets between the fan and the pulley. If you have this problem, the part number is 12H 1060.
Clunk from the Suspension
The clunk from the front of my MGB, at low speeds, turned out to be the play in the inner steering rack ball joints. This was cured by removing the rubber bellows, releasing the lock washer and screwing the outer ball cap inwards until the track rods just moved easily. Noise gone, wallet still full.
A balancing 'expert' couldn't balance my wheels on the car. Then he tried with the wheels off the car success.
Blocked Breather Pipes
Blocked breather pipes can cause poor performance, affect carburetion and also cause a build up of crankcase pressure. If your engine blasts oil out of the oil filler cap when the cap is on, check to see if your breather pipes are blocked. It's easy to replace them.
Removing Engine Gearbox
A useful tip when removing an engine/gearbox with lifting tackle is to jack up the back of the car as high as possible, ensuring total safety with jacks, etc. The engine/gearbox comes out at not such a steep angle and clears the front of the car much better.
MG Door Locks
MG door locks always seem to wiggle free and make the door difficult to lock and unlock and the lock key rotating can cause the paint to chip. This fault is very noticeable on MGB, MGC and MGB GT cars. A member cured it with a clever idea. He removed the plastic top from a plastic container and cut a round hole, which is a very tight fit on the lock body (after removing it from the door). After fitting it to the lock body, the plastic top was trimmed with a razor blade, thus forming a tight fitting washer which was fairly supple. Before refitting the lock, the paint around the hole was touched up and when the spring retainer was replaced, the lock was very firmly held and completely secure.
Filling an MG Gearbox
To handle that very tricky job of pouring oil into an MGB/MGC/MGB GT gearbox without spilling it over the gearbox tunnel (has to be done from inside the car), try the following method. Cut five feet from a garden hose and attach a funnel to one end and insert the other end into the gear level hole (on the side of the gearbox), crawl out from under the car and lift the funnel and hose to about window height and pour in the oil.
No Additives in Overdrive Gearbox
A very important point regarding gearbox additives STP, Molyslip and Wynnes are all excellent additives and have considerable benefits. However, DO NOT put these additives in your gearbox if you have an overdrive fitted. If you do, you will have trouble. The big companies do make a special additive suitable for overdrive gearboxes and enquiries to their respective Head Offices can provide details.
Clunk Clunk Every Trip
Clunking noises from the prop shaft universal joints are very often mistaken for worn gearbox and worn differentials. Before spending lots of money, check your universal joints properly. Many owners make this expensive mistake.
Midget Hose Warning
If buying a new hose for your Midget, be careful. There are two sorts of top and bottom hoses for Midgets, one sort for a cross flow radiator and the other sort for a vertical flow radiator. They are similar but not interchangeable.
If fitting an ammeter, be careful with the wiring. What you must do is disconnect the cable from the starter solenoid to the light switch. Run a cable from the solenoid to ammeter and then two cables from the ammeter, one using the cable supplied with the ammeter wire that to the voltage regulator, the other cable to the light switch. If the original cable is left in the circuit, the ammeter will show a charge with the lights on even if it shows a discharge with other electrical accessories working.
Holding the boot of earlier MGBs and MGAs open while you fiddle with the support bar can be difficult with an arm full of shopping. Better to fit the stay from the later models, also fitted to 1100s. These fit perfectly and are cheap from the local scrap yard.
If the brakes keep locking on, it could be a sticking piston in the servo. As a quick repair, disconnect the hose from the manifold to the servo and block off the hole with tape, etc., to avoid a weak mixture. However, more "ooomph" will be needed on the brake pedal.
Tired of juggling with the wooden shelf on my MGB GT, when removing the spare wheel, I fixed a bolt which slides behind the tail gate stay. So simple and effective.
If your MGB hose needs replacing and it's the one which is between the hose and the pipe which runs along the rocker box cover use the hose as supplied for the A40 part no 14A 5756. Being convoluted, this hose does a better job, bearing in mind the movement between the engine and fixed heater.
MGC Accelerator Cable
When having to replace the throttle cable on an MGA, obtain a back brake cable from a push bike and a fastener from a Mini two sizes are available, you need the larger. Remove the old cable and start the new one from inside the car. The round metal end originally meant to fit into the brake lever will butt up against the split pin on the accelerator cable. Pull the cable tight from the engine compartment, ensuring that the pedal is up as far as it will go. The excess cable can be cut away with a very good cold chisel against a metal plate. To finish, fix the Mini type fastener into the hole in the linkage where the other one came off.
Overdrive Gear Lever
The gear lever from a Triumph Dolomite has an overdrive switch built in to the gear knob. Very smart and many owners have fitted them.
To improve lighting on MGs without having to buy those expensive, although superb Cibies, try Carello replacement units at about £15 per pair. Alternatively, the quartz halogen Marina GT lights cost a little more than £16 with discount and slot straight in.
Broken Carburettor Spring
If you break a carburettor spring on the road, remove the choke spring, it's the same. Refit the choke spring a.s.a.p. Carry a spare!
Water in the Boot
If water leaks into your boot, check the seal around the petrol filler cap and seal with Bostik or Evostick.
Midget Mk III rear brake cylinders can be replaced with those from a Mini. They are the same and easier to get.
Bottom Hose Buy Rover 3500 hose and cut off 3".
Thermostat cover, water aperture flange Jaguar V12s are the same.
Mk II rear lights Mk I lights fit if the top light hole is enlarged.
Wipers Ford are the same but a little longer.
Air filters Chrome ones are best. MGB filters fit if the fixing hole is widened to 1 ¾".
Choke cable MGB cables fits exactly but have a different knob.
Throttle cables are getting scarce Taormina have them for about £2.25 plus VAT.
Heater hoses Some are available, others are not. It is best to buy length and cut.
Water bottles not really big enough Jaguar ones hold ½ gallon.
Tyres For better handling and comfort, try 28 p.s.i.
Tape players are usually negative earth Install, well insulated with wood.
800 revs gives good tick-over and cures overheating.
Tuxan renovating polish gives a great shine.
Paint rust-proofer or under-seal on inside of wheel arches A vulnerable spot.
Later MGB consoles DO fit earlier MGBs. They are easy to fit as the screws are in the right places and the gearshift turret screws are long enough. The console comes in two halves and isn't cheap. Console base about £10.00. Ash tray £2.00. Padded armrest £14.00 (yes £14.00). The console has no switch blanks and needs BLMC switches.
If you drive all year round and get a small split in your steering rack gaiter, make sure that the complete rack is drained, cleaned and refilled. This happened on my TD and after changing the gaiter, thought no more about it. Then one day, trying to take a corner, the steering was found to be totally solid. Examination showed that the pinion was totally enclosed in ice in each tooth space caused by water draining down from the split gaiter. I had to dry the gaiters with a hair dryer and also the rack after removing the cover to the pinion.
Midget Front Suspension
If you hear mysterious knocks on your front suspension, even when the shocker is still good, and the bearings sound, then what you may have is a worn fulcrum pin bush. This is the revolving pin at the base of the king pin that allows it to hinge on the suspension bottom plate. To test for the fault, jack up the front of the car securely then jack up the suspension bottom plate, following a workshop manual as in disconnecting the shocker. Remove the wheel and disconnect the shock absorber arm at the suspension reunion link do follow the manual. Take the top of the King pin which is now free and try waggling it from side to side, (i.e.) towards the front and back of the car. There should be a little movement, but if the movement is excessive, then this will have been producing the clunks that you have been chasing.
The biggest problem that I found was to remove the parts for repair. At first I tried to leave the brake calliper alone and in situ, but this is a mistake. By far the best course is to remove the brake assembly from the axle and them remove the entire suspension bottom plate, king pin, etc., as one unit by unbolting the two bolts that hold the suspension bottom plate via the metalastic (rubber) bushes, to the chassis. Remember first that you have to remove the spring to do this, which is possible using slave bolts.
Now two real problems present themselves. First the cotter pin in the base of the king pin is immovable and that having removed this, that the Fulcrum pin will have seized where it goes through the king pin, although theoretically it should screw out. A couple of hints to help here are for the cotter pin - drill it, or place the bottom of the king pin on an anvil or something similar and try punching it out, upwards in the position as when fixed in the car. With the fulcrum pin you may find that the same anvil principle will work, if carefully applied. (Do not damage the suspension bottom plate.) Lots of Plus Gas has a marginal effect and heating the bottom of the king pin may break the bond. One good method is to drive a spike into the hole at one end of the pin and then keep this hot for fifteen minutes. This will heat and expand the fulcrum pin, again possibly enough to break the bond when it cools down and contracts.
Having segregated the suspension bottom plate and fulcrum pin, both of which will probably need replacing, you will have to decide on buying a new plate (expensive) or having your own re-conditioned.
When replacing the suspension, check all the rubber bushes, which are at least 50 pence each. Whilst they are out, it's best to replace them rather than having to do so later after a MOT failure. Do follow the manual when doing this repair, as methods of replacing and removing brakes, etc., need to be carefully followed and are not detailed above. Finally two things, I had to do this on a 1969 car and secondly, do obtain all the necessary new parts before you start (whilst your car is still on the road) and do drive the new cotter pin fully home or you will have problems later.
PS - With re-conditioning, have your own plate re-conditioned. It means that your car is on blocks for a day or two, but at least you know where your own plate has been, so to speak.
Venting MGA Carburetors
The carb damper chambers, or dashpots, must be vented. The venting is most commonly effected by a small hole in the damper cap (whether plastic or brass). But, in dust proofed SU carbs, the ventilation hole is drilled in the boss at the top of the suction chamber. It is imperative that the dashpot is vented by one method, but NOT both!
Because many MGAs were supplied, with dust proofed carbs, and over the past twenty years suffered incorrect part exchanges, many MGAs have the ventilation hole both in the carb damper cap AND in the suction chamber boss. This tends to defeat the effect of the vacuum transferred to the top side of the floating piston and causes the carbs to provide a rich mixture.
It is important that MGA owners inspect their carbs for proper dashpot ventilation and make the necessary changes. If, in fact, both methods are used, the damper cap is the most easily modified. Use solder for the brass caps or a drop of glue on the plastic caps.
Faded Convertible Top???
Has your black ragtop gone gray? Want to make it as black as the inside of your oil filter? Here's how. Obtain a tub of artist's acrylic paint Mars Black. This will cost about a dollar, but the amount you will use will come closer to 14 cents, more or less. You'll also need a clean coffee can, a kitchen sponge, and about a quart of water.
Squeeze out about two inches of paint from the tube, mix it with a small amount of water, using a small brush to get it completely dissolved, then add water to fill the can about 2/3 full. Swish this around until it's all nicely mixed, then apply, with the sponge, to the top. Rub it around a bit as you apply it and don't worry about getting it on chrome strips, because it won't stick to them.
Use maybe half the mix for the first coat let it dry, then give it another treatment if it isn't black enough. Or, you can use more paint in the initial mix.
In case you wonder about using acrylic paint and what it does to your fabric top this is a paint that's used to paint on canvas in many instances and will help to preserve the material, if anything. It's completely waterproof when dry, and quite flexible. Acrylic paint will stick to practically any surface except a highly-polished one, so it'll come off the chrome easily. It does not come off the fabric. Or your shirt. Or the driveway. So don't spill it!!
MGB & MGB GT Tuning
Those fitting a 450COE carb would be advised to fit a fuel pressure regulator and ensure that the carb is flexibly mounted on rubber 'O' rings, with Thackeray washers under the mounting lock nuts (not tight). The reason for this approach is that this type of carb is sensitive to vibration which will cause frothing of the fuel and fluctuation of the float valve resulting in flooding.
Anyone wanting a smoother, more powerful and more economical engine, should consider a modified cylinder head from a reputable professional tuner. I suggest standard size valves with a raise in compression ratio to the region of 9.5-1. This I have found to be the single most effective bolt on modification that can be made. (A more efficient engine will burn its fuel more efficiently which will in turn produce more power. If the power isn't used, then the same power and performance is achieved as standard, using less fuel.)
Incidentally, the later type of standard cylinder head is a more efficient design than the earlier heads and will produce a slight power increase on its own over an older head. Note: Check the oil feed drilling position to the rockers as these heads are drilled differently and require a different rocker post.
A plastic rear window of a soft top MG, which has become dull (opaque) with age, can be restored to at least 80% of its original transparency by spraying and wiping it with 'Sparkle', made by Johnson. I found that it worked miracles on my thirteen year old window after I had tried many other things unsuccessfully.
When attempting to determine the exact moment of contact breaker points opening (adjusting ignition timing, etc.), have a nearby radio turned on but not tuned to a station.
With the car ignition switched on and the distributor cap removed, turn the engine over with a spanner on the crankshaft pulley. When the points open, an audible click will be heard through the radio speaker. Probably more precise than the 'lamp and lead' method.
Midget 1500 Brakes
Whilst renewing the front brake pads on my Midget 1500, I inadvertently allowed the level of the brake fluid in one half of the master cylinder to drop, leading to the activation of the brake warning light.
The workshop manual advised bleeding the other half of the split system, the result was the waste of a large volume of brake fluid. The mechanic, at the local British Leyland garage, advised striking the valve with a hammer still no result. After dismantling the valve, the remedy became clear. This was simply to slacken slightly the switch on the pressure differential warning valve, thus releasing the shuttle valve piston, and then re-tightening the switch no dismantling and no loss of fluid.
MGB Fuel Pump
Most faults with the SU electric fuel pump can be traced to the points. !f your pump stops running, have a go at repairing it. The points are very easy to replace, most workshop manuals include a very comprehensive breakdown and detailed description an how it's done. I bought a contact set made by Intermotor Auto-Electrical Products, Nottingham, Set No. 222. I was able to buy this from a local motorist shop.
Avoid dismantling the valve end of the pump, especially the flow smoothing device, as test equipment is required once this has been disturbed. The diaphragm can be easily replaced if you can locate one.
Whilst working in this area, take a look at the flexible pipe from pump to engine feed. Mine was in a sorry state. The pump end has a banjo fitting and the braided hose is permanently attached. Therefore an expensive hose with fittings is required. It is possible to remove the hose from the banjo fitting by carefully cutting across the hose collar at an angle and prising the end apart. You will be left with a perfect banjo connection to which a length of flexible fuel line can be attached, with a suitable clamp. Dip the fuel line ends in hot water to aid fitment.
MGA Hood Release Submitted by Phil Winterbottom
Remove the front grille on your MGA before re-fitting the bonnet (hood) after major engine work. Chances are the bonnet won't line up exactly the same as before and the release catch won't unlatch! It's DAMNED difficult trying to unlatch the bonnet using coat hangers, screwdrivers, etc. and working through the grille slats! With the grille removed, its no trouble to simply reach through the open grille and pull the release catch!
Music to Your Ears
I have found a way of fitting an expensive radio cassette in an MGB Roadster without worrying about it being on view to thieves and without spoiling the originality of the dash.
By making two L-shaped brackets, the radio can be mounted slightly further back into the dash instead of flush with it, therefore allowing the radio cover to clip back on, as normal, when the radio is not in use, making it look like there is no radio fitted at all.
The speakers can also be hidden from view under the dash. This will give you piece of mind when leaving your car parked with the top down.
Worn Out MGB Engine? Perhaps Not!
If your engine is burning a lot of oil and drivers behind you are hard to see for the clouds of blue smoke, don't automatically assume that it's time for a major engine overhaul. On earlier MG engines (up to 1971) a crankcase breather valve is located at the top of the engine beside the valve cover. Pry off the spring wire clip and carefully remove the cover plate and the thin rubber diaphragm. Wash the diaphragm carefully in a benign solvent such as varsol (not lacquer thinner). Inspect the rubber for wear and damage. Hold it up to a bright light and look for signs of any holes. If any are noted, it's possible that you have just done your engine "overhaul" for a couple of dollars!
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