Letter from the Secretary

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Extract from March's MGOC publication - Enjoying MG
Written by Roche Bentley, Club Secretary

Letter from the Secretary

"People who live their life in the fast lane usually arrive in a hurry." That's today's thought from my Harrogate MG Club diary as I dash into the Club HQ to fit writing my letter to you between appointments. Life is supposed to be quiet during the winter months and normally only hectic in our "silly season" - early Spring to late Autumn - but this year there has been no respite and it's official, Britain is busy and the recession is definitely over with regards to our favourite hobby.

People are rebuilding MGs again and the spares market is booming. It's because enthusiasts are realising that a nicely restored MG needn't cost the earth and is far better value than a straight from the showroom robot built hatch back. Actually you can cancel that showroom bit, having seen the thousands of new unregistered cars exposed to the elements on disused airfields all over Britain I wonder how new exactly is a new car? An MG Midget in top condition is easily obtained at under £4000. Around £6-7000 buys a great looking, solid and reliable MGB (but do check out the "solid" part) and members who have always craved an MG TD can find a selection of good usable models for around £10,000 or just under. RV8 owners made a good decision to buy their MGs. A low mileage second hand RV8 was recently sold by a Rover dealer for £28,000, that's for an MG costing new £26,000 in 1994 and worth secondhand a year later for between £19 - £21,000. But the real bargains at the moment are standard MGB GT V8s. They dropped in price to around £6,000 for a good sound car with excellent mechanics, a rebuilt body and underside and a very tidy interior, V8 prices haven't risen yet but I think that they will. If you have a craving for an MGA roadster, the prices are still high as European enthusiasts are still finding good ones in short supply. By far the best deals at the moment however are for MGB GTs in good condition. Early rubber bumper models being particularly attractive for around £3000.

Northern Ireland members - an apology

As members in Northern Ireland are aware, motor insurance is much more expensive than in the rest of Britain. It's because UK insurers have special facilities in the province and the cost of personal injury claims tend to be much higher than elsewhere in the UK because they are awarded by a jury and not by a judge. However the club can still offer low cost MG insurance for MGOC members in Northern Ireland. Recently we discovered that the insurer who provides our Low Quote Guarantee (used if a competitor manages to undercut one of our policies) couldn't extend that facility to Northern Ireland. We are working on resolving that problem but in the meantime if any Northern Ireland members have any MG insurance difficulties, write to me personally and I'll do what I can to help.

MG Advertisements - Condition Ratings

We've had an excellent response to the scheme to have advertisers describe MGs for sale on a rating of 1 - 5 and we'll be introducing the rates and descriptions next month along with your letters, suggestions and comments. Thank you very much for the response, we should be able to help sellers advertise their MGs correctly and not have buyers travelling in vain to view unsuitable cars.

Drivers' Behaving Badly

My suggestions for a Revision Test to enable selfish and dangerous drivers to be referred for a revision test after being seen but not necessarily stopped by police brought two letters from members who thought that I had flipped. One was from an ex driving examiner who believes that it's education that helps improve driving and another was from a member who thought it would be impossible to police. I despaired at the negative comments but then I received a card from another member who praised the suggestion commenting that his pet hate is tailgaiters and we should get them off the road. Having been occasionally terrorised by arrogant Range Rover drivers complete with bull bars who love to sit three feet from an MGB's rear bumper at 70mph on the motorway in traffic I agree. But please, can we have any more thoughts from you? Would you like to see on going testing and periodic education imposed for drivers who are seen behaving badly?

Unleaded. Still Puzzled?

Member Ian Worby writes.... "I am now thoroughly confused about using unleaded fuel. I was always under the impression that I had to use leaded fuel in my 1972 MGB which has its original 18v engine. If one could not get leaded you could get away with unleaded if you drove carefully. Additives were of questionable value. Now in February's Enjoying MG is the letter from Heinz-W and Oliver Coordt which you published without comment, saying that it is perfectly safe to use Super Unleaded in an MGB and in their experience it has caused no problems and that deterioration of valve seats is a myth. They purport to clarify the situation but they have only muddied the water still further. Can we please have a clear, authoritative statement concerning the use of leaded/unleaded in unmodified engines?"

Okay, this is my personal clear "authoritative" statement. Unless your cylinder head has been converted for unleaded fuel, use low lead fuel which has the numbers 4040 on the pump, not unleaded, nor LRG, (lead replacement gasoline).

Why? Because leaded fuel provides a lubricant to the valve seats which unleaded doesn't have. However, people can and do run unleaded fuel in unconverted engines and report no immediate problems (the long term is a different story however). Others have tried unleaded and reported poor running, overheating and pinking problems (tinkling sounds under load). Practical Classics magazine conducted a test of the Powerplus gadget. Carbonflo also promised that using their tin pellets would enable leaded fuel engines to run unleaded. The case for Powerplus and Carbonflo was not proved and it is my opinion that fitting these and other "miracle" products is a waste of time and money. At low speeds and with gentle driving, a lead only engine will run on unleaded but at continuous high speeds (motorway use - not world record attempts) the valve seats wear out causing loss of power.

It is possible to run unleaded fuel in your engine Ian. If you find it overheats or pinks, try retarding the ignition a few degrees and whilst you'll suffer a slight loss in performance your MGB may run quite nicely. If you drive sedately and don't do any long distance 70mph work, your head might go on for many more miles but if you regularly use the MG on motorways and keep up with the company reps, then don't cry if you need your cylinder head replaced in a few months time.

With regard to Carbonflo and Powerplus, thankfully they have seemed to cease their advertising and multi level marketing techniques. But we have seen adverts for what seems to be a Carbonflo replacement called Broquet and the claims are similar. If you ask if we recommend Broquet, the answer is no, if you are considering becoming a Broquet distributor and taking an advertisement in Enjoying MG, the answer is also no, we wouldn't accept it.

The Driver's Survival Handbook

"Every driver should have this book" claim the publishers and offer it at 19.95 with a ninety day money back guarantee. Fascinated by motoring law and attitudes of police officers I asked for a copy to review. The publicity seemed enticing and as a result of reading the inside tips of an ex policeman I would be able to ensure that I could have penalty points removed to my licence legally. How to have fixed penalty tickets overturned, how to combat radar traps, a "clever trick " to cancel parking tickets and how to receive a warning from a policeman rather than a booking and in addition from a few other enticements, the "truth about MoT certificates" and what it really means if you don't have one.

The advertisement attracting orders reads much like one of those offering "be a Millionaire in three months, my book shows you how. Money back if not delighted" type publications. I therefore eagerly awaited the arrival of my Driver's Survival Handbook ignoring whether the apostrophe meant that the book was for one driver or for all, and I was mildly disappointed when I tore open the envelope to find a small, fairly thin 56 page A5 booklet which would cost a couple of pounds to print. Still that didn't bother me too much, it's information that counts and if you offered me a small piece of toilet roll with next week's winning lottery numbers for a mere £50,000 I would snap up the bargain, especially if you guaranteed a refund or if I didn't have to pay you until after I'd won!

I'm not, of course, a dangerous driver nor even a bad one. Well I don't think so but I could get caught doing 38 mph in a 30 limit as my wife did and berate the unfairness of it all, or I could be involved in a minor accident and suffer a careless driving summons. Could this ex bobby really tell me how to get off - Well er. . . no, he can't. But boy can he teach me how to grovel.

It took me a hour and a quarter to read the book from cover to cover and I learnt that once penalty points had expired I could legally get a clean licence by saying I'd lost it, or washing it in my jeans pocket and paying the relevant fee and completing a standard form. How to combat radar traps? In two words, you can't, except of course to slow down which is the advice offered if you pass over one of those white painted squares on the road and see a policeman timing you to the next white square. There are explanations as to how speed traps work and the news that they must be tested properly, but can I honestly expect to insist on copies of test certificates when being booked or later? Perhaps not. The "clever trick" to cancel parking tickets was eagerly read. I got a ticket recently in Cambridge having overstayed ten minutes on a pay and display. At last, this book would save me the 20 fine. But the advice was to write in offering a excuse and hope that the clerk would think that it's not worth proceeding. I'd actually done that anyway as the machine failed to accept my pound coin and only took my 50p so maybe I will get off. I'll have to wait and see. Aha! Here's a good tip worth the cost of the book. If I park my car illegally and you collect it, if a policeman or warden books you and takes your name and address, don't tell them that you didn't park the car, let them think it. Then later send in the ticket with the revelation and as two tickets cannot be issued for one offence, we'll both get off. That sounds good but suppose there was already a ticket on the car, the dodge wouldn't work then. Having read that it's best to be polite and reasonable to police officers and not to antagonize them by saying "come on don't you ever speed" I wonder if I'd feel more confident next time I see a flashing blue light in the mirror. I think not.

The Driver's Survival Handbook is an interesting read and if you are the sort of offender who berates policeman "Haven't you got any real criminals to catch?" then I advise that you cough up your £19.95 and become more philosophical. But if you'd like a really cheeky tip a police friend of mine once told me that the best comment he received to his "Anything you say will be taken down..." was "Please don't hit me again officer!" But I don't recommend that you try it. The Driver's Survival Handbook is published by Streetwise Marketing 01709 820033 at £19.95 with a 90 day money back offer if not satisfied.

In Closing

Apologies to men with small err, willies as thousands of us - I mean them - were conned recently. It also made the "inventor" a millionaire. An advertiser offered a device guaranteed to increase the size of a man's you know what and he offered a full refund if not delighted. Thousands of men sent off their cheques and they received an apology in return stating that due to technical difficulties the device could not be marketed. However they did receive a cheque for a full refund. But, and here's the rub (ouch!) the refund cheques were made out to the recipients personally and were signed for and on behalf of the Penis Enlargement Company which appeared in large letters below the signature.

Needless to say, very few customers cashed their cheques.

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