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MG MGA - Another way to break down

Took the car out for a short errand this morning. As I was turning into the Post Office parking lot, the car lost power and the accelerator pedal went to the floor. Got safely parked using the choke cable to provide some additional power. I knew immediately that the throttle cable had broken. I suspected that it was at the carb end but it turned out to be at the pedal linkage end. Luckily, it was less than a 1/4 mile to walk home (and down hill at that) where all my tools were located. I was able to lengthen the inner cable enough to thread it through the cable anchor and secure the cable end using channel lock pliers. It sounds crude, but it got me home!

One thing that I did notice during all this was that the cable anchor was really "stiff" in the pedal linkage. I suspect that the cable anchor should rotate slightly as the gas pedal is depressed and threfore requires some sort of lubrication.
Don Carlberg

This happened to me as I was backing out of the garage to begin a 2 day drive to GT28 in Mt Hood, Oregon, from Vancouver, BC. Fortunately I had some screw-on cable nipples in the garage so I was able to fit one to get me there.
It worked fine until I put my foot down to overtake a bus somewhere in Washington, and the nipple popped off! The bus driver must have thought I was mad as I came alongside him, and then dropped back to park on the side of the road.
I purchased a new cable from Cecilia at the GT, and fitted it to get me back home. Having fitted a new cable to my coupe, I now carry the old one as a spare.
P. Tilbury

Don, the cable linkage (at least on the LHD models) is not ideal. The return spring pulls off-centre and cocks the pin, stopping it rotating, and this will "work" the wire each time. I'm thinking of how to modify mine ... any ideas anyone?
Art Pearse

As I was reading your message, I pictured you tying your shoe lace, in a Heath Robinson way, to the surviving end of the throttle cable, and lifting your foot up and down - would have worked a treat! :)
Graham M V

Graham.. Shoelace and foot bobbing reminded me of a like problem. This was not MG but a VW fibreglass special thatI built in France in 1960. Two years later I returned to Canada and was driving from the Port of Montreal to the great north of Quebec. Part way through the national park the throttle cable broke at the very front at the pedal. 180 miles to go before any service area . I pulled out the cable / threaded it directly throug the firewall from carburettor to the hand brake lever. I loosened the brake cables and lifted the handle straight up/ wound the broken end of cable around the lever and proceeded to my new home.My right elbow was used to operate the throttle cable.
It did the trick.
The glass body was by Falcon UK and mounted on a shortened 1960 beetle chassis
S Sanders

I had the same problem years ago when I had a throttle cable break, at night, miles from home with no spares except a screwdriver.

Working with the moonlight available and from memory, I used the screw driver to speed up the tickover to 2000 rpm and drove home with no real problems.

It makes for a brisk take off but once you are on the move you can control the speed by changing gear and the 2000 rpm limit prevents the car from running too fast.

Colyn Firth

Brilliant! I was only joking of course but am sure there have been lots of other ingenious get-me-home solutions like yours.
Graham M V

Graham, that would have been difficult with left hand drive and a right hand throttle cable.

If I would have been unsuccessful with the channel lock pliers, my next move would have been to move the choke cable to the throttle. I suppose that the heater control valve cable would have worked as well.

Luckily, I had to only go a quarter of a mile to get home. Of course, once I got it home, I realized that I could have used a small cap screw and two nuts to keep the cable within the cable anchor similar to what Peter did when it happened to him. The end sticking through the cable anchor was too short to tie a knot in it.

Any other ideas out there?

Don Carlberg

Sandy, My dad had the same issue on his VW Bug. He put a clothes pin on the throttle linkage in the engine bay to get to the repair shop. That was an easier fix than the problem I later had in the same car. The trans linkage jumped out of the the gates between 2nd and third, keeping the car locked in 2nd. Had to remove the engine to fix that one.

Throttle linkages are relatively easy to get by. As a kid, I had a go-cart where the throttle cable broke. I tied a string on the carb, laced it over my shoulder and held to end in my hand. I had no real control. It was either full bore or idle.
Chuck Schaefer

I've had several throttle cables break in the same place over the past 25 years. I guess then last about 25K miles (+/-). The first one the cable was long enough that I tied a small knot in the back end of it. The next time I clipped a small pair of locking pliers onto it. After that I usually carry a spare cable in the tool kit, and I can install it in about seven minutes stop to go.

It is an ever irritating issue though. I suspect the answer is to solder the last 2 inches of cable so it can't bend near the trunnion. I will try that next time I have the cable out. I always solder the free end so it won't unravel.
Barney Gaylord

Correction to my first post. I used vice grip pliers not channel locks to keep the inner throttle cable in place.

Also, my car is fitted with a Weber so there is no easy way to increase the tickover the way that Colyn did.

Still waiting for a duct tape solution...
Don Carlberg

Another wacky option perhaps: If you have a toolkit with you, disconnect both the throttle and choke cables at the carburettor, then attach the choke cable to the throttle linkage. You then have a hand throttle to get you home. If it is a long cruise home you can also lock the 'choke' to give you cruise control!

Steve Gyles


Sorry for your mishap, but now I'll be sure to add a spare cable to my kit in the boot.

Not a "duct tape" solution, but his reminds me of my brother coming home one day holding a rope tied to the carb in his '53 Ford. The linkage broke and his quick fix was to just tie a clothesline he had in his trunk to the carb and thread it back through a hole in the firewall. He said it took a bit getting used to, between steering, shifting the "3 on the tree" and feeding gas via the rope, but he made it home about 10 miles that way!

- Ken
Ken Doris

It looks like the cable that controls the air flow to the heater would be long enough to reach the throttle linkage. It is certainly the easiest to get to when looking at the choke cable or the heater control cable.

Ken is right. It is probably better to keep a spare in the trunk as they are under $7.00 and don't take up hardly any room.

Don Carlberg

My replacement cables have always been push-bike brake cables. They are readily available and cheap - bicycle shops are everywhere.
Barry Gannon

This thread was discussed between 02/03/2011 and 03/03/2011

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