Bug Out!

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    edward ericson


    So I got on the road around 6:45 a.m. for the two hour run to Manassas for Bug Out. Beautiful morning, cool and no sign of rain. I was very psyched to check out the show and get Bridget judged for the first time, and to see Dale Schuman, Greg and some of the other Speedster peeps.

    Ride was easy and fun, several horn honkers, and I was cruising along at 65 on 66 about a quarter mile from the last highway exit when the car died.

    At first I thought I did what Mossberg did two years ago on the way to Carlisle. When I had took to the road, I noticed the volt meter was reading lower than normal (usually it’s 11, today it was 10. Also, the oil pressure was just a bit low. But I’d topped her up with half a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil the day before, so I chalked it up to thinner lubricants).

    Pulled to the shoulder & popped the hood. Dipstick is cool, plenny oil, no signs of trauma. Tried the key. She turns over and, above the roar of the highway I can just about hear and “feel” there’s normal compression happening.

    Tried my phone. Too much ambient noise to get anyone I could actually hear. Three tries before I got Cory Drake, one of the best Speedster guys, to alert Schu and Greg to my predicament.

    So I checked the fuel filter and lines and, finding nothing amiss figured I maybe burned up my new Pertronix module. Set about putting the points back in and pulled one of the wires out of the crimp on the coil’s + side.

    By this time I’ve heard back from Schu. They’re at the show, 10 miles away. It’s 9:30 and there are VW mechanics and parts venders all around. And they’ve offered to rustle up a tow bar and come get me, if necessary. Just call if it’s needed.

    (A nice lady in a Honda Accord had also stopped. She was awesome. She says, “We have a Morgan; they’re the same thing.” I was like: A Morgan is the same as this car?)

    So I re-crimp my wire and Hah! she starts right up. I pack up my mess, hop in and merge back onto the road for the last quarter mile to the exit. Hit the exit and she dies again.

    Now I’m stranded in a better spot at least–inside part of a curve, wider shoulder, and blessed shade. Figured the same wire. But no.

    Then I looked at my rotor. The silver dot in the middle is gone.

    So I swap in a new(er) rotor and cap.


    Now I’m scratching my head. I also notice that my air filter rig has failed–the silvery pipe I have between the K&N and the carb has torn in half. But that’s not the problem.

    I proceed with the points reinstallation. What was the gap again?

    Get that done and remember that, when I put in the Pertronix, I had to turn the distributer about 30 degrees to get the timing set. So I’m futzing with that, turning it just a little, trying it, turing the dizzy another two degrees, back to the key switch, as several VW people stop. First guy says he knows not much about the mechanix, but helps. With him cranking and me turning the diz we still get no love.

    So I call back Greg, tell him I think I maybe got a bad coil, and he agrees to come get me.

    While I’m waiting a guy pulls up in a diesel VW van on big tires, with a huge bunch of equipment strapped to the front of it (bolt cutters, a winch, etc.)

    I’m telling the van guy I’ve got a tow arranged. He’s like–yeah, but what’s wrong? So I told him. He dives into the job. Wants to know if I got spark. I said I think not, but not perfectly sure. (Didn’t bother telling him I’d forgotten to check that first when the last guy came to help). Van guy insists on holding the wire while I crank her over, instead of vice versa. And verdict: no spark.

    Takes Greg two hours. But that’s because he had to go home, get a different hitch, get a second tow bar–the one he custom-made for his Speedie–and figure out where I was. He also brought me a new coil which, if I’d had the gumption to install when he showed, would have saved us the tow.

    Turns out it was a good thing Greg brought his custom tow bar. The stock one he’d borrowed did not quite fit on my bone-stock beam. I’m sure we could have persuaded it, but it was much easier with Greg’s.

    Massive traffic jam for the last two miles into Bug Out. Not sure if the 24th annual Bolivian Fest across the street at the fairgrounds was the main reason.

    So we pull in about 12:30. Too late for judging (and with Schu’s MG and Syl’s Porsche there I could’ve hoped only for a 3rd place anyway). Good crowd, though I’m told it was a bit smaller than in year’s past.

    Schu gives me a much needed bottle of water plus some socket wrenches–very helpful in changing the coil.

    And Greg’s crusty old coil works. Bridget starts and Schu and Greg show me to a mechanic on the field they said would help us get her timed. The dude listens to the car and says “that’s pretty close.” Then he proceeds to take a screwdriver to my carb!

    I didn’t have the energy to stop him. And he did her no harm. He tells me my points are too worn to gap so I buy another set and gap them at 016 as per spec. Tighten the diz, and look for a new pipe to try to re-rig my air cleaner back for the ride home.
    Schu supplies me with an excellent BBQ sandwich, Syl and Carol(?), who own the magnificent white Speedster throw in a soda, and I’m grateful.

    There were some wild Bugs there. Guys were running 6-seconds on the eighth mile drags, and hey were starting up the road course (apparently anyone can race?) around 4 p.m.–just about my scheduled departure time. With Syl’s help I got an airfilter setup I hoped would last 150 miles, and set out for home.

    I got to say, after all that, the ride home was not as delightful as the first 95 percent of the ride down. It was a lot hotter, and more traffic. But the main thing was: what if this happens again? What if she dies in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel?

    She didn’t, of course. And I’m ashamed to say I was worried about it. The only real morals of his story are: change out your coil when it’s 20 years old, whether it needs it or not; and Carry an extra coil.


    Dale Schumacher


    Glad you made it home – it is an adventure – later you will remember the

    good parts and the bad tends to dim w/ time.



    Sounds like you had a memorable trip. Later on the good trips will make this trip fade away into the what notto have happen on a trip. Glad shes running and you got home safe.

    Allen Caron
    VW based 53MGTD - "MoneyPenny"
    "If one thing matters, everything matters" - from the book The Shack

    Montie Henderson


    Ed glad to hear you made it home safe.  I’ve limped home a couple times too.  But none the less still had a good time.



    Good story and I’m glad you made it home safely, too.

    I have a computer issue though. This post requires me to scroll far right in order to read everything.  It doesn’t seem to wrap to fit my screen.  Is that my screen setting, or a function of this site?

    edward ericson


    Somehow the pictures I get with my Nikon camera scan big. There was a time when re-sizing them with the jpeg slider made them smaller. Now they just lose resolution.

    Sorry about that.

    I know there is a way to re-size them for real with software, but I didn’t bother.

    If it’s any consolation, everyone has to scroll with this post. My apologies.

    Paul Mossberg


    Scrolling? What scrolling?

    Actually Ed, it’s a veri hi-tech solution. Once thepicture are loaded, open tehpost to edit it, click on a picture, use the scroll bars to find the lower  right corner, and just point, click, hold the mouse button down and drag the corner of the picture.

    I think I got the proportions right when resized your pics.

    Paul Mossberg
    Former Owner of a 1981 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to https://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    Richard Wobby


    Ed glad to hear you made it home. Any ride is a good ride. I in the middle of desaster recovery needed a get away. I pursuaded Mrs Wobby to join me for a jaunt up Mt Washington. Guys I’ve done this on my bike, a Opel GT, a model A, But never with Mrs Wobby or with Ally. I will say at sometime in the next year or so this is the place for a TD replica meeting. What a blast. I found God. You can’t see over the hood. 8 miles if windy skinny road. I’ve driven a lot of snakes but rarly  up hill and with Mrs Wobby. Never counting on VW brakes. She kept popping out of gear. Cleaned the soul.

    Paul Mossberg



    I did Mt. Washington in my Jovi Mercedes (a Chrysler LeBaron based Mercedes SL 600 reproduction). It was about 75 degrees at the base and snowing at the top of the mountain!

    Like Wobby says…good for the soul!

    Paul Mossberg
    Former Owner of a 1981 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to https://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    edward ericson


    I’d be very into that. Been thinking about an epic Bridget road trip for a while. But not sure how to convince Karen of its utility and enjoyability. Will work on her.

    Dan Rosa


     Gee we bought reliable kit cars , modern and reliable,, but have just as many troubles as if they were early 50’s British iron but at least they are affordable ……I now keep parts under my seat and a tool kit just short of a rebuild kit Dan

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