MGB latest 004

Live and Learn: “Wisdom” from the hard way

By George Alarcon

While working at a copper mine in Copiapo, Chile, my boss saw that I was carrying a handful of nickel sized steel balls. The balls are thrown into a big tumbler, whose agitation causes the balls to beat copper-laced rocks into smaller pieces. When he saw that they were souvenirs, he recommended something other than Brasso to remove the years of rust—Catsup! We put the balls in a sandwich bag, poured Hunt’s finest in with them, would occasionally squeeze the bag to keep moving fresh catsup onto the balls, and voila! After a few days, the balls were as clean as the lunch plates in the cafeteria. So fellow Brit freaks, as you remove those one-of-a-kind Whitworth fasteners, just label the sandwich bags, pour in some of the “red” and let natural acids do their work. Two other Chilean inspired tips come to mind.

I took my MGB radiator to Romero’s Radiator Shop. The insides looked coated with brownish oil sediment. Romero didn’t have a chemical bath service but offered to remove and replace the core… for more than $300. I asked if he could remove the bottom and ream out the individual tubes. He said he doesn’t do it or recommend it, as the old tubes might get pierced by the cleaning rod. I thanked him for his time and said I’d try to clean it my way. I poured in two liter bottles of white vinegar (buck a bottle at 99-cent store), topped it off with distilled water, capped off the openings and left it alone. Several days later I poured out the vinegar solution around the garden (as weed control) and rinsed it out. A final flush showed clear water running through the radiator and engine. Only caveat is that the brass petcock has been so cleaned that it tends to drip. My solution? Either replace it or put a gob of silicon in the opening so I have to remove the whole petcock whenever I drain said radiator. Oh, I returned to Romero’s as promised and showed him my results. He was impressed.

To all DIY’ers who need a temporary way to stop leaks in the brake components, vacuum lines, even smaller water openings, use: ear plugs. Some come with a string attached and some don’t. $1.00 will get you at least a pair, and your work might provide them gratis if it’s noisy. Take the plug, roll it between your fingers, and insert into the opening. Leave enough out so you can grab it. It will expand and stop the flow or air leak while you do what has to be done. The earplugs won’t stop any measurable pressure but it will prevent or slow the medium from getting out. If that buck pains your bank account, just put the ear plugs in your pocket and wash your pants to reuse them.

Breaking Bad
With Moss Parts I had replaced the wheel cylinders, had the calipers rebuilt and was deep into the bleeding of my ’71 MGB’s brake lines. Problem was, the rear brakes weren’t bleeding. The fronts bled just fine. I went back to the rears and focused on the plugged up rubber hose that connects to the brass tee that sends fluid to the driver and passenger side brake drums. I managed to rod out the hose (with a welding rod and carb cleaner) but opted to replace it as it did have surface cracks. Of course, I would never try to bring back to life a failed flexible brake hose. I was curious to see if I could free the obstruction before I replaced it. Brake fluid now made it to the rear passenger side, but it still wasn’t getting to the Driver’s side. Releasing the brake line at the passenger drum and the brass tee, and disconnecting the tube’s band/clip, I took the entire line down. Turns out a two-inch portion of the tube was flattened, wouldn’t let fluid through. I’ll bet some of you can guess the cause… Local parts places didn’t have one, so back to Moss, and three days later I installed the new tube and bled the lines again. Did fronts, too. All good. So, DIY’ers, if you have to tow your Brit-mobile on a flatbed or trailer, tell the tow man not to chain the axle, because that’s what crushed the tube to begin with. MM


'Live and Learn: “Wisdom” from the hard way' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Please note: technical questions about the above article may go unanswered. Questions related to Moss parts should be emailed to

Your email address will not be published.

© Copyright 2020 Moss Motors, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.