Arden MG Club Monthly News. Previous months newsletters can be found in the Newsletter Pages.

Newsletter March 2020

Hello All

The main purpose of the Newsletter is to report on past Club events and to let you know what events are coming in the future, however we are living in very difficult times. I was going to say that "there are no events to report on, however Graham will be pleased to know the event season is just about to start"!!! How things have changed, with the current Government Guidelines it is very unlikely any Club Events will happen for the foreseeable future, so I'm not going to include any events after June and these listings will be mainly to advise on the current situation of the event.


Nothing to report this month.

Future Events:

March Madness Run – Sunday 29th March:

Walton Hall are indecisive about cancelling our event, so we have decided to postpone the run/lunch until Sunday 19th July, assuming the World is back to normal by then. Trevor has not banked any of the cheques he has been given, so if you have booked there are 3 options: retain the payment for the July date, cheque returned to you or cheque to be shredded. Please let me or Trevor know which option you would choose.


Malvern Festival of Transport – Sunday 5th April: I have just heard that the Three Counties Showground have cancelled all events at their venue, so this event is CANCELLED. Classic Shows have stated that all bookings will be automatically transferred to the Malvern Festival of Transport in October.

Club Night – Tuesday 7th April:

I don't know if the 'Cross' is going to be open but given that the 'Guidance' is for no social gatherings or visits to pubs, there will effectively be no Club Night until the Guidance changes.

Asparagus Festival – Thursday 23rd April: Nigel has CANCELLED this event.

Drive-it-Day Run – Sunday 26th April:

The Stratford Golf Club have closed their catering to groups and events. This event is therefore now CANCELLED.

Alan will shred all cheques he has received unless you request a return. Please contact Alan before 9am on Monday 23rd March if you would like your cheque returned.

Alan and Liz on: or 01789 294776.

Stratford Races – Sunday 17th May: All races have been called off, so this event is CANCELLED.

Ragley Hall Classic Car & Transport Show – Sunday 24th May:

Still awaiting information from Gemini Events.

Bidford Wings & Wheels - 25th May: No details on the future of this event.

Weekend Away 2020 – Dorset – Friday 12th June to Monday 15th June: Newlands are awaiting guidance from the Government, which will determine if we postpone or they refund deposits.

Quiz-on-Wheelz – Wednesday 24th June: TBA

Other Events:

See the Events diary but please note I will not be able to keep track of every cancellation, so please check before attending any of these event.

Other Matters:

Donations: We will delay our presentations until the current crisis has diminished and we return to 'normal'.

What Have You Done With Your MG This Month:

Now for some good news, my windscreen is back in the car and Trevor has also been successful in fitting his to his Duratec 'B'. Trevor came to see me for a training session on how to fit the 'Frame to Body' seal, so I enlisted his help to slide the seal along the groove, I managed to get it 75% of the way but my arms were not long enough to finish the last bit. Having done that Lech has lent a hand to fit the screen back into the car. Lots of lubricant on the seal and pushing on the frame got it into position where the contortionist could locate the fixing screws. Trevor had advised me he used a 'G' clamp to hold the frame in place (see photo) and we found that a useful ploy as well. All I need now is some fine weather to give it a run round, at least we can drive around even if there are no events to attend.

Before finishing the screen I had replaced the gearbox mountings What a job, getting it out was relatively easy but trying to locate everything to refit was a challenge. I could see the mounting rubbers were deteriorating from the oil leaks but when I separated them there was supposed to be 2 'Grommets' on the vertical mounting but they just did not exist but you can't see them in normal circumstances. It didn't help that I didn't realise the crossmember mounting was not symmetrical, so of course I put it in wrong way round to start with, it was very helpful being able to study the parts on the sectioned (divorce model) MGB GT at the Museum!! Anyway after a day struggling underneath the car, it was all back together.

Graham has been having some fun taking his Midget apart (well removing the battery to charge it) but the best photo he sent me was of the part that 'Pinged out at him' requesting help as to where it might have come from. No prizes here, it is the bracket that holds the heater together.

Restoration of and Installation of a Ford 2l Duratec Engine into our MGB – Part 4.

SUCK SQUEEEZE BANG BLOW (or put another way the 4-stroke process for engines)

Although details about the engine performance are not that relevant to how everything was made to fit into an MGB, for completeness and because it did present a few problems along the way, I cover some points that could be interesting. I apologise in advance if I am oversimplifying this topic for those who have a good knowledge of engine specification.

The blueprint for this project was to have an MGB that had more usable power, comfortable cruising speed, reasonable fuel economy, handling like an MGB should, drivable in traffic and at low speeds and I suppose mostly, a good well-mannered all-round tourer. Time will tell if any of this has been achieved.

More power was already achieved by installing the Duratec engine. In standard form they produce 150 bhp with 136 lb ft of torque at 4500 rpm. We chose the figure of 210 bhp only because if you are going to risk a mental breakdown, make it worth it. Doubling the power output from 95bhp to over 200 bhp, just sort of appealed. Plus, I did have prior knowledge that this is doable without major internal engine changes, which always equals selling your sole to pay for it.

The Duratec engine is very tuneable and being all aluminium, the racing fraternity have taken it to their hearts so there are many cost-effective tuning parts readily available. There is no mystery to producing more power from any internal combustion engine, as they all rely upon an explosion to produce power. Now the bigger the explosion, more times per minute in a controlled way, will give oodles of extra power until of course it just explodes and about £20,000 worth of your hard-earned cash has just spread itself over four counties. In terms of performance 4-cylinder race engines, £20,000 is quite a modest figure. I must point out that for the power we have settled on, you do not have to spend anywhere near that figure. Angie would have me disappeared if I even thought about it.

So how do we get a bigger explosion? The explosion happens because a mixture of petrol and air is put into a tight space and in petrol engines, this is then ignited by a spark plug. Put simply the more petrol and air we can get into this tight space a bigger bang will be the result. Getting it in is only part of the story, you also need to get it out of this space very quickly so that you can get a fresh mixture in.

Suck, this is the method of getting the optimum mixture of petrol and air into the explosion chamber. A poor ratio of petrol/air will not give the biggest bang. The velocity of this mixture when being sucked in is also very important, get it wrong and the petrol can migrate to the outside of the inlet manifold, resulting in a weak mixture and pre-ignition. Have you ever noticed that on some cold damp mornings your car goes along a bit better? This is no accident, cold air is denser, so more gets sucked in for the same time frame. This is why that for turbo engines fitting an intercooler gives a good increase to power output.

Squeeze, Now that we have the petrol and air in our explosion chamber, if we squeeze it till it squeals it will burn hotter, bigger bang, happy days, or maybe not because if the mixture is poor it will just melt the top of the piston, which equals no power and a week in the doghouse. Compression ratio plays a big part in how much time you could spend in the doghouse. Standard Duratec compression ratio is 10.8:1, a good race engine compression ratio can be 12 or 13:1. (this means it squeals very loud)

Bang, this is the easy bit, or is it? The spark plugs through some electrical trickery produce a spark just at exactly the right time, to cause the explosion and push the piston down the bore, and via other bits, turn the rear wheels. The standard engine component modification options that are available to have the biggest bang possible without exploding the whole engine, is why when it comes to tuning engines for more power, money can disappear quicker than Tommy Coopers rabbit. (showing my age). Even with a standard MGB engine just having the correct mixture, good compression and the spark just at the perfect time, can pay dividends. You would be surprised how much power can be lost if any of these parameters are not spot on.

Blow, this is the bit that very often gets overlooked in engine tuning. Some people think the exhaust system is just a metal pipe to get exhaust gases from the engine to the back of the car. Oh no nothing as simple as that. We have just caused an explosion and we have left, lets call it smoke, in the combustion chamber. But that is no good because this is taking up space that within a nano second, we will want to fill with as much as possible of new fuel/air mixture, to give another big bang. (it’s all about the bang) A well designed exhaust system should in addition to the piston pushing the smoke out, suck the smoke from the engine. This can be achieved in two ways, creating a vacuum (venturi effect) and producing a shock wave caused when the hot gases within the exhaust system escape to the atmosphere. The latter is the hardest to achieve. We have 4 pipes leaving the engine, but only one at a time is taking the exhaust gases to the back of the car. We can use the other 3 create a vacuum to suck the smoke out. On this engine 4 pipes into 2 pipes into 1 pipe works best for our needs. On some applications 4 pipes into 1 pipe would be best. The biggest enemy to a good blow, is back pressure. In this I mean any restrictions to stop the hot gases escaping as quickly as possible. Some back pressure is needed, but too much is detrimental in our search for power. For this reason, a straight through system is required, i.e. no baffles. I love exhaust systems, again having designed some from scratch, I could bore you just as much as my talk on suspension design.

But I will not do that here, and I have only written all the above (sorry there is so much) to tell you what our engine needed to produce our chosen figure of 210 bhp. To move from the standard 150bhp/136 lb ft of torque to 210 bhp and about 172 lb ft of torque we only needed to improve suck, bang and blow. Because I have had the engine fully rebuilt, I took the opportunity to have some lightening and balancing carried out. It will now rev to 7500/8000 rpm. As I have already mentioned race engines, a top 2 litre Duratec engine, normally aspirated can give 275 bhp with 190 lb ft of torque. After this figure you would need to fit a turbo to take it over 300 bhp.

Remember in part 2, I said that size was important when it comes to suck i.e. fuel/air mixture. Our needs required single point fuel injection via tapered throttle bodies (jenvey) ram pipes (trumpets) and a properly designed free flowing air filter/air box. All of this is called the inlet tract, and it needs to have enough length to allow correct velocity and for the petrol to mix with air, giving best mixture. A throttle position sensor is fitted, so that the ECU knows the position of the throttle body air flap.

The bang is a bit more involved. To give the best fuel/air mixture through the complete rev range and to make the explosion happen at the perfect time a programable Engine Control Unit (ECU) is required.

There are many on the market, but we have chosen an MBE 9A4 being their latest generation. This on its own has enough computing power to put an MGB on the moon. We only want it to do 2 things – always give best fuel/air mixture and always make the explosion happen exactly at the right time. It must do this for all temperatures and throughout the complete rev range.

So how does it do this I hear you ask. The answer is it must be taught on a rolling road (mapping). A rolling road is a device which will allow you to drive the car as if you are belting down the motorway, but you go nowhere. The rear wheels are dropped into rollers just like the brake test for your MOT. The difference here is that there is a known resistance at the rollers that can measure how much effort if being applied to turn them.

The ECU will only have 4 inputs from the engine -throttle position sensor, crank position sensor, temperature and rpm. Whilst on the rolling road a lambda sensor is fitted to the exhaust manifold. The lambda sensor is measuring how much oxygen is present in the exhaust gases. All modern cars have a lambda sensor to ensure strict emission limits are maintained to minimise the risk of poisonous gases reaching the atmosphere. On modern cars the lambda sensor is close looped to the ECU, constantly adjusting for best emissions and fuel economy. On our engine it will not be closed looped. It will only be used on the rolling road to monitor when we are getting the best controlled bang which equals power and hopefully reasonable fuel economy. This is very important because as stated earlier, a weak mixture, i.e. not enough petrol, will melt pistons.

The engine will be monitored and held at 500 rpm steps or less throughout the complete rev range to check fuel/air mixture and effort applied to the rollers. This is where the skill of the technician kicks in, he or she will give instructions to the ECU to make adjustments via the fuel injectors and spark position to give optimum power throughout the rev range. If you think of your MGB there is a vacuum pipe from the inlet manifold to the distributor, to advance the ignition and there are also “bog weights” to give a pre set “power curve” profile. These and changing the jets in carburettors were and still is used to give best bang when using carburettors. The rolling road will be the first time the engine will run because the ECU will have no data. A map will be provided at the rolling road, that will at least allow the engine to be started. Then like a new born, it will have to learn how to crawl, walk, run and then run very fast.

It will probably take a whole day to map our engine. We are not going for max bhp because we will use this car as a daily driver, so reasonable fuel economy would be nice. At the end of the mapping process, a printout of the results will be produced, this is where fact meets fiction.

Finally, the blow, for this part I called upon the experience of a Leeds company called Tony Law Exhausts to make the exhaust manifold. They made a great job of bending the four 11/2-inch pipes as close as possible all the same length, before becoming two pipes in the space that was available. The two pipes become one 2-inch pipe, and this is where the exhaust system starts. The exhaust manifold ends about halfway down the car, leaving not a lot of length to silence all the raw power we have generated. In Stratford upon Avon there is a company, that sell all the parts you need to make a bespoke exhaust system. My problem was, how do I fit a straight through system with enough silencer capacity to not sound like a boy racer, make it fit into the space available, and get past the fuel tank on a car with little ground clearance. I have managed to fit two expansion boxes/silencers as long and as big a diameter as I dare. I may have to raise the ground clearance a tad to clear speed humps. I think it may be a bit loud, but I hope a nice tuned sort of loud. Then again, I could be deaf the next time you see me.

Thanks Trevor and we know the windscreen has gone back on the car, what is in the next instalment?

Stay safe, stay well