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MG MGA - Barney needs help

See the MG Experience site. Barney needs a workshop near Chesapeake Bay. He thinks number four piston has broken off across the top!

P. Tilbury


I'm not registered on the exp site, so I sent Barney a message to his travel site. In case he doesn't get it there, I will repeat it here minus the phone numbers.

Thanks for keeping us up to date.



Peter Tilbury on the BBS posted your trouble, and I read the details on the MGExp, but I'm not registered on MGExp so canít answer there. I am too far to help with a shop, but I have experience with broken pistons on a Toyota Corona.

I believe that you need to pull the valve cover, slack the adjusters, slide the rockers to the side, and pull the push tubes out of the dead cylinder. If you don't, oil will splash into the intake manifold and get sucked into the good cylinders, which will make smoke and get you stopped by the cops, and foul adjacent plugs. I did about 400 miles this way in the Toyota, but without pulling the push tubes, it smoked and the plugs fouled.

I have enjoyed following your adventure, and would be happy to have you stop for a visit. Camping in the house or in the woods around the house is available. The house is under reconstruction so when I say, "camping in the house" it is not a figure of speech.

If and when you get near Louisville, KY, you can catch me at:
C R Huff

Okay, here's the skinny. Broken #4 piston with top of the piston stuck at top of bore. It sill runs on three cylinders, slightly out of balance. However, there is some water in the oil, so it looks like needing transport rather than driving very much farther. Currently sitting in Chesapeake, Virginia, while considering options. Looks like there will be assistance with a trailer, and a couple of options for work space and shop services. Not end of the world, just another unscheduled service call for the MGA. I would really prefer to drive it somewhere for repairs. This is embarrassing, needing to be towed every 100,000 miles or so.
Barney Gaylord

I've bounced back and for the from the MG experience and these green pages. I also am just a member here as it always felt like home. I know you are getting offers from all over but I do have extra spares such as 1600 cranks and rods (used) If you need something and it will help don't hesitate to call.

339 227 5434 Steve Devine cell phone. I hope things work out for the best.

I saw you trucked through my area (Boston and cape Ann area) but the stars did not align for us to meet!

You are living many an MG-ers dream even with the trials and tribulations.

Keep smiling! :-)
Steven Devine

Anybody know of a good machine shop near Norfolk, Virginia? Barney needs to get a cylinder sleeved, and it needs to be a quality shop because the cooling jacket has been slightly breached. He is doing repairs 60 or 80 miles south of Norfolk in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

If you do, you can contact him via his travel log web sight at:

C R Huff

Barney, can you post dimensions of the wet liner you have elected to use. What OS pistons are you going with - 0.060"?
Mike Ellsmore

Bore = 3.000"
Length= 6"
Wall = 1/8"

MGA 1600 standard bore - 2.968
1600 +0.060 = 3.028

The engine was previously =0.030
Now going to be +0.060
This sleeve will give it a good meaty wall (0.111") for a wet liner.

The sleeve originally procured from Moss had to be smaller than 2.968 ID (to be able to finish at standard size), and it had smaller wall thickness. I believe it was 2-15/16-ID with 3/32 wall = 3-1/8-OD. Boring that to 3.028 bore size would leave only 0.048 wall. That could work for a solid engine block, but not suitable for a wet liner.

I now have the thick wall sleeve and +0.060 pistons in hand. These will go to the shop at 8 AM Monday, and I believe the machining will be finished by noon. Target is for the car to be back on the road Tuesday morning. See the latest photos and notes at
Barney Gaylord

Is your friend really going to throw away that rear axle housing and brakes? He can ship it to me instead and I'll find it a home.
Steve Simmons

Barney, how do you seal the wet liner?
Art Pearse

What is the white plastic container in front of the heater?
dominic clancy

Barney got back on the road about 7 AM this morning.

C R Huff

Wet liner is sealed primarily by being tight press fit. There is also a step in bottom of bore so the liner cannot possibly slip down. The engine shop says they use a high temperature epoxy to glue the liner in place. Additionally, since there is a known breach of the cylinder wall, they fill the gouges and cracks with high temperature epoxy to fill and seal it.

The white container is an octagonal shape coolant overflow bottle.
Barney Gaylord

What wheels are you running? Are these alloys from your autocross days? Great work on overhauling the engine in slick time - I like the service in the US.
Mike Ellsmore

Very special wheels. See here:
Barney Gaylord

FYI, I just finished (almost finished) creating a separate web page for the engine repair story, but have a few more follow-up notes to add. See the complete story with lots of photos and notes here:

In summary, it went crunch late Monday night 8/18, and was running again early Tuesday morning 8/26. Rounded off to the nearest whole day makes it 7 days. That includes SOS calls, transportation waiting for machine service, and lots more. I just added up the actual labor time for extraction, dis-assembly, machining, reassembly, and re-installation. That comes to just 24 hours. I managed to reduce a two week job to one week by expediting things. Sorry I couldn't condense out the other six days of "overhead" time.
Barney Gaylord

Barney, that was an incredible bit of work. What took you 1 week would have taken me more than 1 month, and you were not in your familiar work space. My hat is off to you, well done! PS - just how do you do it...?!

Cheers, George
George G.

#1 - Tell yourself, "Failure is not an option".
#2 - Make a plan.
#3 - Don't rest until it is finished.
Barney Gaylord

This thread was discussed between 19/08/2014 and 30/08/2014

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