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Extract from MGB Driver Jan/Feb 1999, the NAMGBR official publication

Confessions of a Roadside Assistance Engineer

By David Deutsch

First let me suggest that its well worthwhile to belong to some kind of roadside assistance program. There are many available-Allstate/Sears, Nationwide Signature Club which handles AARP, Montgomery Ward, Amway and many others and of course AAA. The first thing I handed my son, upon getting his license, was a club membership card.

Upon calling for assistance, you need to know how these cars are best towed because a lot of the operators out there do not have a clue. Here are a few tips:

  1. If you have wire wheels or minilites with spin-offs, NEVER allow the car to be lifted from the rear and towed with front wheels on the ground. Spin-offs are designed to tighten while traveling forward and consequently will loosen while going in reverse.
  2. Spin-offs: if it's a short distance, your best bet is a wheel lift from the front. For longer distances-use a flatbed.
  3. Disk wheeled cars are best wheel lifted from the rear and towed-distance doesn't matter. I would prefer having my cars lifted by the tires and towed than any other method and that goes for other than British cars as well. Why?...
  4. -Sling trucks, which are the trucks you see with the two straps and winches. They're almost obsolete and are very difficult to operate with damaging the rubber and urethane bumpers found on the road today. Even the Chrome bumpered MGs were not designed with sling lifting in mind.
  5. Flatbeds have the potential to do the most damage to your car. You know those guys who go nuts with the air impact gun on your wheels. The ones that you curse when you try and change a tire? Well there are lots of guys that get a little carried away with the winch tightening and the resulting damage is not always immediately apparent. On MGs the most damaged item is the rear brake lines. This happens where the lines run along the rear axle housing and the hold down strap or chain was thrown over them and cinched down.. There are more MGs on the road with crimped rear brake lines due to them being hooked on a flatbed than there are with out these lines crimped. The best way to secure the rear of an MG is with tire slings or hooking the spacer between the springs and the rear end housing. Do not trust the flimsy hold down brackets that are on many of the later Bs. It is always best to secure the suspension rather than the chassis. I have had several cars become unsecured by a couple of good bumps bouncing the car on the bed enough to give the T-hook or S-hook enough slack to become undone. Secure the front on the lower arm and make sure the operator doesn't over tighten the winch. It just should be snug. The chassis can just bounce on the suspension this way. If you're doing a brake line replacement in the rear consider relocating the lines to the rear of the housing. This will also cut down on wear or damage from road hazards like rocks and ice.
I hope that this helps a little. As for price, the standard in my area (Long Island, New York) is $50 for the pick up and first mile plus $3 a mile beyond that. GET THE RATE WHILE YOUR ON THE PHONE. Middle of the night and holiday rates will be slightly higher.

I drive 60 hours a week for a very honest company. The less scrupulous companies pay better but I would not be able to sleep nights if I had to rip people off all day. The majority of our calls are club calls and the company also has a contract with Bell Atlantic, a large local cab company and school bus company. I do between 10 and 15 calls per day including the jump starts, tire changes and lock out calls.

Safety Fast,
David Deutsch
Long Island Tow Truck Operator AKA Roadside Assistance Engineer

North American MGB Register
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