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MG MGB Technical - CA Engine rebuild + odd electrical problem

That little rumble on deceleration is getting louder and louder, and at 90,000 + miles I think it's time for an engine rebuild. Can anyone recommend a good rebuilder in the San Fran Bay Area? No racing stuff needed - just needs to run!

On to my fun electrical problem. On my 69 BGT, if I flash my hi-beams or honk my horn, the radio goes out. It *stays* out for a couple of days, and while it's not working I can't honk the horn or flash the hi-beams, although I can turn them (the hi-beams) on by pushing forward on the turn signal stalk. The radio will stay out for a couple of days, and then one day I'll start the car and, ta-da, the thing lights up and pretends that nothing ever happened. Battery connection is good, I've checked the bullets and they're fine, expanding collection of new Lucas sleeves and dialectric grease in the car for good measure - any thoughts, other than gremlins?

Adam Birnbaum


Try O'Connor Classics in Santa Clara. He (Brian) runs what many call the best shop in the Bay Area.
(888) 346-3647

Your electrical issues are typical. Take some time to clean and grease all the underhood connections and connectors. That usually helps, as they tend to corrode. Wiring breaks are less common, but carefully examine them while you are checking the connections.

Tom Balutis

According to the cct diagram the radio, flasher switch and horn (albeit via the fuse box) all come from the same four way bullet connector. I'd guess that the current going through this when flashing or honking heats up a poor joint which makes the radio connection go open cct (assmuming you haven't already replaced it!).

Next time the radio is working, put a voltmeter on the radio feed (at the in-line fuse) and see if the 12v goes when you hit the horn.


Dave Smith

I heartily concur with Tom. O'Connor Classics is a great place. Brian has helped me over the phone any number of times. When I have an issue that I'm not comfortable dealing with, I bring my car to Brian O'Connor and JR (his mechanic). JR has been working on MGs for a very long time. I trust them both; and I've been very pleased with their work and advice.

Also, many other members of the Norcal MGOC have been very happy going to Skip Kelsey who has a shop called Shadetree Motors (the shop is actually the garage and addition to his house in Pleasanton) He, too, has been working on MGs for a long time--and he gives MGOC members a discount. Unfortunately I think Skip has taken rather ill, so I'm not sure that he's still doing rebuilds.

For more information on these or other rebuilders, you might want to email some of the longtime members of the MGOC. You can find the email addresses of quite a few of them at There's further information and more contacts in the newsletters, which you can download from the articles page.

I hope your rebuild goes well. Please tell us all how it works out--and how much it ends up costing you.

1974.5 MGB
J. Palgon

Thanks for the recommendation. O'Connor is a scant 15 miles away from my apartment, so that looks like a great place to start. Further than that and I'd be afraid to drive our Fiat home on the return trip!

Looks like I'll have no choice but to go over the bullets and sleeves again. I wish I could meet the PO who hacked the harness apart like this - I'd have a few words with him. I've spent *days* correcting the damage with a soldering iron and heat-shrink, but there's always more to do. I think I should consider installing a new harness while the engine is out.
Adam Birnbaum

Jeremy and all - Skip Kelesy has been diagnosed with ALS (Lew Gehrig disease) and is now pretty much confined to a wheel chair. Local club members have pitched in a built ramps so Skip can continue with his parts business as long as possible (the above was provided by Terry Sanders on the MG T series mail list), but I doubt that he is doing any actual work on cars. "We're thinking of you" e-mails, I'm sure would be appreciated from all how know Skip. Dave
David DuBois

I had heard Hodgkin's disease and not ALS, but either way he's quite ill. I know he'd love to hear from any well wishers. I'm not sure how much work Skip is doing on cars, but I know a couple of people are helping him out. I gathered that they were keeping his shop going as best they can.

J. Palgon

If the interior lights go out as well as the horn and flashers (assuming they are working in the first place) then the problem will be in the fusebox on the bottom fuse (brown to purple). Could be connections between wiring and spades, fuse to holder, and there is also a rivetted connection on the back.
Paul Hunt 2

Thanks Paul Hunt II, I was going to muck out the entire fuse box anyway, including all new fuses, per Dave's suggestion. I'm hoping it's that simple. No interior lights at the moment. I'm missing the rear header panel to which the dome light is supposed to attach!

Adam Birnbaum

Any time you have multipule electric problems always be sure to check your ground connections. A faulty ground can cause some very strange electrical problems.
John H

It turned out to be the 4-way connector at the fusebox after all. Was dirty and corroded, cleaned it up, no more problems!
As for the rebuild: I was quoted at *least* $5000 for it. I think if it comes to that a complete drivetrain upgrade to the GM V-6 would be cheaper!

Adam Birnbaum

This thread was discussed between 17/11/2005 and 23/11/2005

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