Dipstick is a word you do not hear very often today. Back in the day, dipstick was more commonly used to refer to a person who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so to speak. In fact, I looked up the word “dipstick” and this is what I found.

How does one become a dipstick? Does it happen gradually over time or is it more like a lighting bolt strike, and that moment on you become a dipstick. I think one must earn the title of dipstick. It is NOT like a bolt of lightening whereas you suddenly become a dipstick and there is no turning back.

Since last week my MGB was having issues with hot starts. The car would not start easily and would require me pushing the gas peddle and then revving it to over 2000 for a few seconds to have it idle properly.  Additionally, my revs would start dropping at long idles like a red light. It also required the choke in the mornings. I called Island Automotion who rebuilt my carburetors and technician asked where in the car was the fuel filter in relation to my SU carbs. Mine was on the top of the back engine bay fire wall above the SU carbs. I assume it was like that prior to the Stromberg to SU Conversion by past owners. He explained to me that the fuel lines should be below the SU Carbs to avoid flooding the intake manifold when I turn off the engine, and that the lines appear to be too close to the manifold, thus creating more heated fuel prior to entering the float bowl.

So, at the Ottawa All British Car Day I scoped out everyone’s fuel lines to determine the norm. Most all of them routed the fuel lines around the driver’s side engine bay wall with the filter away from the manifold and fed the carbs from the front instead of from the back, as on my MGB. In fact, after returning home I opened the bonnet and used a laser temperature gage to check the fuel line temperatures and at certain points it was over 180 degrees F. 

Sunday, I spent the morning re-routing the entire fuel line, attached the filter to the side wall and fed the fuel up into the front of the carbs as you can see in this picture. I then went for a long drive to see the difference. After driving on what was a very hot day, well over 30 degrees C in the sun, the car did seem to idle better but still had the starting issues.

Monday morning, I got up and decided to verify the timing. To my astonishment, the timing had moved. Almost to TDC. I suppose I did not tighten the distributor tight enough the last time I set the timing. I put the timing back to where it should be (10 degrees at idle) and then the starting and idling was perfect once again.

I wanted to mark the position of the distributor so I could keep an eye on it but with my wrist not capable of bending appropriately, the wires and the dipstick were in my path, making it virtually impossible to access. So, I removed the dipstick to make space and I managed to mark the distributor with white liquid ink. I went into the house to get my phone and I took a picture of said marking. It was not a straight line but rather an ink blotch, but it will work.

I wanted to go for a test drive, but I decided to wait because my wife wanted to go to Casselman, which is a thirty-minute drive, to see a horse that she might purchase. An hour later we left in the MGB, and she was running perfect. It was another hot day, over 30 degrees, and even at stop signs she idled at 750, just perfect. No issues starting and no choke required on the first start of the day. 

On the way home we stopped at Home Hardware and when pulling out, my wife pointed out that there was a large puddle of fluids in the spot and I said, “can’t be mine, must be water form a previous car’s air conditioning compressor”.

We then made a stop at Foodland. My wife said to park in a spot that was clear from fluids, which I did. After getting out of the car I looked under and sure enough, oil was dripping out at an alarming rate.  It appeared to be all over the passenger side of the engine, and I thought it was the valve cover because:

  1. I changed the valve cover gasket two weeks ago when I adjusted the valves, and
  2. It looked familiar to another MGB that had a leaky valve cover on the drive to the Ottawa MG Club Picnic a week ago.

While shopping in Foodland my mind was racing over all the things, I may have done wrong. Then suddenly it occurred to me. I have a great picture of the distributor marked with a white blotch and I also pictured my dipstick sitting on my work bench instead of in the engine. Luckily, I carry oil and I added some at the Foodland before leaving, and upon arrival at home I put the dipstick back into the engine and checked the oil level. Its quite amazing how much oil can flow out of that tiny tube. One litre in sixty-minutes of driving (good grief!).

The great news is that Chantal, my wife, fell in love with that horse and left a deposit. The not so good news is that I officially earned the title of DIPSTICK.