Long drives and exploding parts – Part 1

Um, well I’m glad I have included tow coverage on my insurance. Would have been an expensive day if I didn’t.The 1st 10 hours confirmed both myself and my wife on the joys of classic car touring, so it was a good day overall.

We left out place early, 6:45 and headed north on some fun roads up to the Nethercut ( a little heavy on large touring cars of the 20s/30s for my taste, but still well worth a visit. ) Really nice time. Kim was enjoying it a lot.

Saw some nice BMW’s on their way to an event at the Rose Bowl.

Stop for breakfast on the way.


(I’ll post some more pics from the museums in another thread. )

Left there and headed to thousand oaks and met up with some friends for lunch. A bit of freeway here, then we took your suggestion for the Norwegian grade section.


The car was running great, but I did notice that with that longer stretch (possibly one of the 5 longest single segments of driving I’ve done) the oil pressure seemed to be reading low. Dropping close to 10 on idle, and only get near 30-35 under load. Before, I’d typically see 40-50 under pressure. But I rarely have driven it more than 5-6 miles, so I just wasn’t sure. I also installed a new gauge this week, to fix the temperature half (which hadn’t worked since I bought the car), so I wasn’t sure if that new gauge might be calibrated differently.

Anyway, after eating lunch, I checked the oil. It looked a little high, which I still don’t understand, as I’d checked it Weds and it was just right below max, and I hadn’t added any. Anyway, the car was running great, and everything looked OK under the hood.

Headed down to Oxnard, via Potrero canyon. That’s a fun route, and a very pretty little canyon. Kim was enjoying herself.


Went to the mullin museum (wow. wow. wow.), finishing up there around 3:30.


Originally our plan was to go to Andria’s Seafood,in Ventura, but no one was hungry, so Kim and I decided to split with our friends and go to Santa Monica, via fun roads in the mountains, and get something to eat there before her dance thing, maybe walk around Malibu or something. My plan was to read car magazines at the book store while she danced, and we’d drive home late.

We headed back up Potrero, that was fun, probably the hardest I’ve pushed my MGA. She did great. Cruising back along Lynn road, looking for Decker Canyon/23 over to the coast. I must have missed that turn, and before long, realized I was getting close back to the 101. I knew I’d way overshot, and was looking for a place to turn around, when POP. I almost thought it sounded like a backfire, but not quite, and then it felt like I was running on 2-3 cylinders, the engine was still running, but not well. Damn, started to look for a parking lot. As I got close, I lost all power. Dead dead. Had Kim jump in the drivers side, and pushed in.

Opened the hood, and it was a mess. Significant oil all over the place. From the pattern, it almost looked like it was coming from somewhere near the dipstick, but it seemed to be seated properly. I’ll have to look again. I didn’t actually check to see what the oil level was.

The more obvious issue was my ignition coil. It was in pieces. It looked like it slipped backwards out of the housing (that’s bolted to the generator). The bulk of it was dangling from the wire that does to the distributor, and that was only being held together to the cap by one of the small wires in there. the other was separated completely. Doh. It felt like it was coated with a bit of oil, and there was oil inside the housing, I almost wonder if it had managed to run like this, outside the housing, for a bit? I’m thinking the oil and the ignition coil are unrelated, but if anyone has reason to believe otherwise, I’d be interested….


I almost wonder if the steep, spirited climb up potrero had caused the ignition coil to slip backwards? Not sure.

Anyway, called Hagerty’s, truck was there in 25 minutes, drove us all the way to Alhambra. Would have been a pricy tow without coverage. Got home, stuck the car in the garage, hopped in the Honda and drove Kim to her dance event. :) All in all, a good day, but i’d love to get my car sorted to where I had more confidence to drive it on trips like this.


“Lot’s of fun to drive, when it’s running”

3 Responses to “Long drives and exploding parts – Part 1”

  1. Richard Larrick says:




    • Geoff says:


      nothing too exciting. It appears I got a bum ignition coil. I replaced it with another, and it started right up and has run fine since. At least I haven’t had further issues with the ignition coil. Not long after, my generator & regulator both failed, so it’s possible that they were sending weird voltages to the coil. Not sure. I’ve replaced the generator and regulator since, and the electrical system has not been a problem since. (knock on wood).

      The oil I saw was from the ignition coil.


  2. Dan Crandall says:

    Yep, as you know now I reckon the coils have oil inside of them. Does not explain your “higher oil level” but that could have been as simple as a bit of an angle one way or the other where the car was parked either or both times that you checked the oil. The cool thing I could always say about my original 68 MGBGT is that she always got me to where I was going before she went Kaput! It was uncanny sometimes actually. Had a fan blade come off once after a drive from Arcata to Santa Cruz during the middle of the night (less traffic and more fun- made better time! (<: Fan blade came off in the driveway once I got to my destination, slit my radiator on it's way out and dinged the suspension before it hit the ground. but I was parked (<:
    Many more close calls, but never had to have it towed!

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