Daily maintenance, repairs and MOTs

Oil and filter changes, greasing, checking fluids, adjusting tappet clearances and ignition, checking and possibly changing all sorts of hoses, tightening clamps, bolts, screws and brackets, keeping an eye on fuel and brake hoses and pipes, supplying (winter) tyres (in association with ‘Thoms Tyres’), keeping up tyre pressures, balancing and lining up tyres; all sorts of jobs that need regular attention if you use your car regularly. While our MOT, APK in Dutch, is now a two year occurence rather than an annual thing for so-called ‘young timers’ and has been completely dispensed with for cars that have celebrated their 50th birthday, plenty of customers ask us to give their cars a thorough check up annually anyway. If your car does need an actual MOT, we work together with local testing station ‘Borgdorff Cars’.

Highlighting some daily occurences while battling to make our customers’ cars more trustworthy, we’ll start with the quality of available water hoses. These have been below standard for quite a few years, but now that silicone hoses have become available, a faulty hose is a thing of the past. They are a lot more expensive than the regular ones, but also a lot more reliable.

Another thing we’ve experienced is that modern fuel calls for modern fuel hoses. Initially the old type hoses seemed to hold out, but given time they dissolve under ethanol enriched fuels. Both after trouble and preventatively we replace the old hoses with biofuel resistant material.

A huge difference was recently brought about by electronic ignition units. Normal contact breaker points became gradually worse over the years. Cars stranded constantly. Various electronic ignition units undergo specific treatment from Thijs before they are installed. Most of our customers’ cars have been kitted out thus by now which has simply made a world of difference. A more expensive but even better alternative is opting for the famous 123 ignitions.

If you do still end up at the side of the road with a broken fuel pump, alternator or starter motor or whatever or you can’t seem to wake it up from its hiberation, we will gladly help you either with guidance on how to get your car over to us or pick it up ourselves if you can’t get here under your car’s own power.

Are you worried by this tiny rattle you keep hearing or would you like to find out why that particular light stays on all the time? Do please send us an email with your questions or worries. From there we can decide on a way forward. Usually this comes down to us asking you to stop by, so Thijs can have a closer look and come up with a diagnosis. If it concerns a minor issue, we will always try and help you on the spot, but if the matter in hand is more delicate, we’ll have to ask you to make an appointment after all.

Is your car ready for its next MOT or servicing or do you need another job doing? Please let us have your requirements well in advance. After all, we cannot serve you all at once. A good time to get in touch with us is when you’ve received your reminder from the RDW (the Dutch version of the DVLA). We will then have sufficient time to start planning.
Usually we’re able to offer you a one-day treatment where you drop off your car in the morning and pick it up again at the end of the day. If you have a somewhat longer list of things to do, it may of course take us a little longer too. If so, it usually works well to drop off your car one Saturday between 10 and 12 o’clock and pick it up the next.

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From removing a tiny bit of rust through reviving the engine bay through a ‘body off’ restoration, anything is possible at the MG Workshop. Before any job can be taken in hand, a treatment plan, a cost estimate and a time schedule are to be decided upon. Especially the cost estimate is a difficult matter as it’s only ever after the outer sills have been cut out or, even later, when all the old paint and filler have been removed, that the vehicle in hand shows its true colours by which time there is no way back! An estimate of the ‘worst case scenario’ type can offer a lot of clarity, but still we are unfortunately unable to work with set prices when it comes to the first stages of a full restoration project.

Of course we will always do our utmost to offer as much transparancy as possible. After having decided upon the way forward, we then set about restoring your car in stages. The first one is of course the dismantling followed by the welding stage after which things move on to stripping in readiness for spraying. The final two stages consist of spraying the car and the actual rebuilding. We round off each stage with an invoice, keeping both parties on top of things.
Stripping and spraying, and in some cases (part of) the welding too, we outsource to our neighbours at ‘Van der Meer Accident Repairs’. Having a spray shop next door means we can easily walk in every now and then to keep track of the progress.

Both our personal and professional preferences are to restore a car to the original Works standard. Not only do we prefer the simple and elegant lines M.G.s naturally hold by refraining from adding superfluous chrome accesories, we also very much prefer keeping an MGB built after September 1976, the ‘rubber bumper’ model, looking as it did when it left the factory, i.e. with its rubber bumpers instead of converting such a car to the ‘chrome bumper look’. Sort of within this same scope, albeit this one has to do with safety as well, we do not fit wire wheels to disc wheel axles. If you wish to have your car kitted out with wires by us, then a properly corresponding axle would have to be fitted at the same time.

Next to rubber bumpers, we also happen to think the typical 1970s ‘pj look’ seat covers have by now claimed their right to exist, especially when they come in bright orange! Particularly post war M.G.s are timeless sports cars on the one hand, yet they also show a clear insight into different eras including matching handling characteristics and aesthetics.

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Interior renovations

With the exception of the odd 1970s orange or pageant blue interior, all seat covers, carpets and door panels are readily available. Those for popular post war models such as the MGA and B can be obtained ‘off the shelf’ through our regular suppliers while those for the somewhat obscurer models, mainly pre war but T-types and Z Magnette Series as well, are a bit harder to come by. It might well be months and months before you can expect your 1934 apple green four seater P-type interior to be ready for you! Also, a huge difference in quality can be seen from one available interior set to the next. The cheaper ones usually take way longer to install while the more expensive sets fit more readily.

With his grandfather being a joiner and upholsterer, it only makes sense for Thijs to rather enjoy this line of work. Redoing interiors are not always the easiest of jobs, yet he enjoys it, especially reupholstering MGA and B seats the traditional way, with string and such.

Within this scope we should also mention we fit hoods and tonneau covers as well. Especially hoods call for warm and sunny weather to be fitted in so they can ‘set’ properly, but as such weather is not the most common in this country, we are forced to fit them during the colder days as well when we simply turn up the heat a notch. Hoods and tonneau covers come in the same range of quality as seat covers, carpets and panels do: some really very good, some not so. Most suppliers supply both to an ‘economical’ and to an ‘OE’ (Original Equipment) standard with the OE quality stuff being right up our ally.

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Engine and gearbox rebuilds

If you use your car in a normal to sporty manner, a regular MGA, B or (modern) Midget engine should last you about 100 to 150,000 kilometres (60 to 95,000 miles). There’s always the exception to the rule of course; We’ve seen cars spitting out pieces of piston rings through their exhausts and still continue to run determinedly.
By the time you’ve done all these miles and your engine is up for a rebuild, the by far easiest, quickest and cheapest way to go about it is to opt for an exchange engine, a very transparent and effective operation. If you would like to retain your original engine because your car has its numbers matching still, then of course you can have your own unit rebuild. After taking the engine apart, we leave the grinding and balancing to ‘Arrows Motorenrevisies’, an engine overhauling company we’ve been working with for the past 30 years or so. When they have finished their bit, we take on the responsibility of putting it all back in.
The same goes for gearboxes: exchange units often offer the best solution, yet we also rebuild ‘in house’.

If your clutch has given in meaning the engine needs to come out and your car was not kitted out with an overdrive from new, we would normally advise you to have one fitted at this point. An overdrive quite enhances the usability of your car and as, per our example, the engine needs to come out for the faulty clutch anyway, it would save you having to take the engine out again at a later date when you decide you want an overdrive fitted after all.

The other way around is a plausible way as well: when the engine needs to be rebuild and come out, we will always fit a new clutch at the same time.

Unfortunately the exchange system doesn’t work for T-types and older M.G.s. Especially overhauling ohc (‘overhead cam’) engines the 1930s Triple-M models were fitted with at the Works, call for a very meticulous approach which takes lots and lots of time and effort. Often parts only get permanently fitted at the third go with all earlier fitments serving to make things match in the first place. Because of the way pre war M.G.s were engineered, using highly exclusive techniques, it is all the more gratifying to get an ohc engine to go properly.

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Race & Rally preparations

Where Bart experienced the racing scene through the position of team manager and engineer for ‘his’ rather successful racing team ‘MG Workshop Racing’ in the 1990s, Thijs gained his expertise through firsthand experience. At first he tried out some Minis and Midgets at the famous TT circuit at Assen in the north of the Netherlands, during the ever splendid amateur racing weekends organized by ‘MG Noord’, but he soon decided it was time for a proper racing licence. Ever since then he has been racing his 1934 P-type Special and sometimes he gets offered a seat in his friend Carst’s FIA MGB for endurance races. With the Works cars built at Abingdon as our set standard, we build to FIA specification when and wherever possible.

We are no strangers to the rallying scene either. Since the early ‘90s, when historic rallying was newly ‘invented’, not only have we entered, finished and sometimes even won, many, many events, we have also built, prepped and maintained many a rally car.

Think spot, navigator’s and rear view lamps, double fuel pumps, extra coils, roll bars or full cages, sports seats, 4 point harnesses, improved and strengthened front and rear suspensions and specially tuned engines. Anything you can think of, we’d be happy to fit it.

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Helping you buy a suitable M.G.

Because M.G.s come in all shapes and sizes and, most importantly, conditions, and because a ‘wrong’ car will only cause you grief, we are happy to guide you past the wrong ones on your way to buying a good one. From wires fitted on bolt-on hubs, chrome outer ‘sills’ to cover up the lack of actual sills, rubber bumper MGBs made to look like chrome bumper models, two-for-the-price-of-one cars, MGAs without F sections to cars converted to metric nuts and bolts, we’ve seen it all.

The first thing we’ll try and convince you of is to go and look at as many cars as you can. The second one would be to tell you not to buy any of them without bringing a specialist along. Experience has taught us that in your enthusiasm, you will easily be inclined to buy a ‘wrong’ one … If you think you’ve found the one which is right for you, we’d be happy to accompany you to go and see the car or, alternatively, you could bring it over for us to run through at the workshop. We charge € 150,- plus VAT for checking out a car within the area and € 250,- plus VAT for one outside our area.

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Spares depot

All regular MGB spares are stocked on the premises plus lots of usual bits for Midgets, MGAs and even for T-types. Whenever possible we supply spares made to ‘Original Equipment’ (OE) spec or products that excel what the Works supplied. From so called ‘aftermarket’ parts we try to source only the best available. Our various attics are filled to the brim with second hand and sometimes obscure bits and pieces, so do ask us what you are looking for as we may just have it laying around somewhere!

Due to year round busy days, our preferred method of ordering is through sending us an email with your requirements when you’re working on your car or perhaps you even have an entire restoration at hand. We will then accumulate the desired spares which you can then pick up or have sent out to you. Technical drawings of all the spares your car has been built with along with spares numbers can be found on Moss Europe’s website, our main supplier. It makes our job an easier one if you could let us have those as well when you’re ordering. Our prices are the same as those Moss charge, albeit converted to Euros of course. For now we’ll take care of any possible customs charges. Do let us know if you can’t find Moss’ website and we’ll sort you out. If you think you’ll benefit from an old fashioned paper catalogue, do shout and we’ll get you one.

In the good old pre-Brexit and pre-Covid days, we’d be supplied on a weekly basis and as a consequence we could supply whatever we did not have in stock fairly quickly. Alas, this is no longer the case. Especially the first Covid induced lockdown in England in March 2020 caused production to stop and only now are they slowly getting back on track. Post-Brexit customs issues are the cause of further delays every now and then.

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