North America's oldest, largest and best club for all MGBs, MGB-GTs and Midgets!!  Established in 1975.


  Subscribe Message Board

 Subscribe Blog

  Subscribe Photo Gallery

for all year MGBs, MGB-GTs and Midgets
Established in 1975

5433 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60640 USA
Phone/Text: 773-769-7084



  MG Midget               

Home  Past Shows/Photos  Calendar of Events  Member Stories/Articles Tech Tips  Membership Benefits  Ads / Links  Join / Renew - APPLICATION  Membership Items  Email  Classifieds   Car Photos   News / Editor  Regalia / Club Store  Message Board / Blog  Ad Rates  Credit Card/PayPal Form  Secured Order Form  Members Only

What We Offer

Events Calendar
Past Shows/Photos
Classified Ads
Member Stories
Technical Section
Editor & News!

Club Regalia/Store
Message Board
Club Blog
Membership Items
Secured Orders
Credit Card/PayPal
Members Only

Ad Rates & Info
Meet Info
Contact Us


Emissions and Timing
this is an excerpt from the articles appearing in the OCTAGON

also see upkeep and performance hints on our message board at
and on our Facebook group at


Emissions and Timing

Q:     I have continued to have problems with my SMOG checks here in California on my 1979 MGB roadster. I found that when I disconnect the hose from the charcoal canisters that connects to the Zenith Stromberg carb the car checks fine. Of course this is against the rules, but the smog people didn't catch me, so I guess I have a couple more years before I have to do this again.

I have played with the timing in an attempt to get the car to pass with the hose connected and I have timed the car without a timing light. I just advanced the distributor until the engine ran at it's smoothest. It is running great and has very good power and not overheating problems.

The question is if I have timing advanced too far can I damage valves or piston even though I have no pinging and the car is running better than it has in a long time. I have noticed when idling that it will act like it loses spark and then fires normally and continues to run smoothly. I notice this only when idling. I have a new solid state ignition installed. I will call this a hiccup as it stumbles and acts like it is going to die, but catches itself and runs fine.

Sorry that this is so long, but tried to cover the basics of what is going on. Thanks in advance for your response..

Lyle Abel

A:     The MGB is a difficult car to meet stringent emission standards. The oil-damped carbs are finicky and components of the arcane patched-into-place emissions systems actually work better when removed, as you are finding out.

If disconnecting the charcoal canister helps the emissions situation, you can always stealthily plug the line (i.e.: a piece of tubing inserted at the canister end with a pencil or sealed with silicon inside the hose somewhere, so it is not visible from the outside, with a connector between the end of the current line and the canister). If allowing air into the open disconnected line is necessary, then a 'T' inserted between the plugged line and the end of the original line instead of a connector would accomplish this without being obvious.

The "T" and plugged section of line can be removed and the original connection made after it passes. On your question of timing, normally advancing the timing too far will result in pinging, higher operating temperatures and eventual engine damage. If the distributor is not working up to standard and advancing the timing results only in better acceleration, but the engine temperature remains normal and no pinging results, it is compensating for a deficiency which will manifest in other ways (the stalling/stumbling you are experiencing), but may not present any potential damage.

The timing question and what you are seeing has more interest to me than the damage you are concerned about. The 79 should have a fully electronic "Opus" distributor that had a vacuum advance system. While these where better than the previous version, they were prone to failure and have often been replaced with earlier points-type distributors, also with vacuum advance systems. I mention both these more than fully aftermarket distributors as the vacuum and mechanical systems on these were particularly prone to deterioration and failure, so the need to advance the timing becomes necessary to compensate for their lack of performance.

You might find rebuilding or replacing the distributor will help with performance, including the emissions issues.

Art Isaacs


More tech items at, at
and and on our message board at

[Copyright/Credits] [Home] [Information] [Feedback]

Members Only
Members Login
On-Line Octagons
On-Line eOctagons
Local Chapters
Parts Exchange
Technical Staff
Technical Services

Member Services
Submit Classifed

Message Board
Club Blog
Photo Gallery

Repair Shops
Body Shops
Parts Suppliers

American MGB Association on Facebook

American MGB Association on Twitter




Home  Past Shows/Photos  Calendar of Events  Member Stories/Articles  Tech Tips  Membership Benefits  Ads / Links  Join / Renew - APPLICATION  Membership Items  Email  Classifieds   Car Photos   News / Editor  Regalia / Club Store  Message Board / Blog  Ad Rates Credit Card/PayPal Form  Secured Order Form Members Only

AMGBA Privacy Policy | AMGBA Website Terms of Use

1997-2018 All Rights Reserved - American MGB Association.