John Twist holds MG Tuning Seminar at All British Car Repair

John "The MG Doc" Mangles and John "The MG Guru" Twist

            On a very nice Saturday in late September, NAMGBR Technical Coordinator and famous MG Guru, John Twist of University Motors, held a class on MG tune-ups for twenty eager enthusiasts in St Louis, Missouri.  This was the seventh “road show” technical session for 2008.  The first was at Connell’s Service Ltd in Indianapolis on April 12 (fittingly on Cecil Kimber’s birthday). The next was at the big swap meet at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, then a T-series club event in New Hampshire, both in May.  June saw him at MG 2008 with his famous rolling tech sessions.  He held some seminars in August and a trip to Altoona, Pennsylvania, for the Central Pennsylvania British Car Club in early September. 

            This session was focused on teaching the attendees the art of the complete MG tune-up.  Hosted by John “The MG Doc” Mangles at his shop All British Car Repair, Twist kicked off the session with introductions all around and having everyone talk about the cars they owned.  He then went into the four major components of a tune-up:  1) Emissions, 2) Engine, 3) Ignition, and 4) Fuel. 

            Over the course of the next eight hours, John meticulously covered each major component and how they worked together to make a car run right.  He brought a van full of parts for hands-on demonstrations, many of them cutaway for showing how they work.  Two lucky attendees were able to have their cars used for the class to provide John with live examples (a 1952 MGTD and a 1977 MGB).

            As the class progressed, the students learned how to adjust valves, gap sparkplugs, clean and grease a distributor, how to determine top dead center, set static and dynamic timing, check for vacuum leaks, clean and adjust carburetors, and how to get everything to work in concert together. 

The TD he used for the demonstration had been running very roughly for a long time.  John discovered that the dashpots on the carbs had been switched so the pistons were not moving as freely as they should be and that the weights in the distributor were stuck in place.  After switching out the dashpots and cleaning the distributor, plus finishing the rest of a standard tune-up, the car sounded so quiet upon start up, everyone thought that it wasn’t running.  When the owner came back from a test drive, he had what may now be a permanent smile plastered on his face.

The 77 B wasn’t so lucky.  The owner has been driving it for a long time now and the car has run very well.  However, John uncovered a number of vacuum leaks that is robbing the car of a lot of power.  The most surprising one was the leak between the brake master cylinder and the power booster.  When he sprayed carb clearer in that area, the car almost stalled completely.  He said that there is a special gasket that goes between there that a lot of kits don’t have and many illustrations don’t show.  (He sent the owner one of those gaskets the following week and it took care of the leak.)  However, since this car was completely original, John was able to demonstrate how all the emissions equipment worked and how to adjust the ZS carburetor.

Everyone felt like the session was great and that they learned a lot.  I would recommend this class for both beginners and those that would like to sharpen their skills.

If you or your club would like to organize a class with John Twist, contact him at University Motors (see his ad next to his column in the back of this issue).  If you’d prefer to attend one of his “MG’neering” classes, the next series will begin in February, where one seminar and three workshops will be presented throughout the first weeks of that month. 

John Twist and Carl Heideman of Eclectic Motorworks will lead the weekend seminar "Tuning for Speed."  Participants in this three day event will learn how to properly tune an MG; what techniques and products actually work (and which do not!); all designed to show how to extract the last few horsepower from that gallon of gasoline.  This seminar is informative, dynamic, and fun filled! 

Of the three workshops offered, the first is the rebuild of a T-Series XPAG engine.  John Twist will start with two tables of cleaned parts, assemble sub units, and will finish assembly of the engine and start it on the bench.  Another workshop is the gearbox rebuild.  Each student brings his own gearbox, disassembles it, cleans and inspects it, and rebuilds the unit within two days.  The last workshop is for carburetors/ distributors.  Again, the participant brings his own carbs and ignition system and rebuilds them under the watchful eyes of the University Motors staff. Contact University Motors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at (616) 682 0800 or through their website