Clutching at Straws
This is a text-only post, which means nothing good is happening.
When my clutch gave out, the next Monday morning I was on the phone to the repair shop in OKC where I had left Pearline last fall. The owner told me he’s backed up for weeks, probably a month or more.
One of the positive aspects of living where I do is I have access to a lot of people whose second job is mechanic. Every farmer and rancher in this area can strip down a GM 454 (7.4l) engine because they don’t have time to wait for a mechanic when their crops are burning under the hot Oklahoma sun. We also have a lot of general-purpose mechanics who set up shop wherever they can. These aren’t shade-tree mechanics, but they also aren’t certified like your dealership mechanics are. They also don’t bill at $160/hour.
I stopped by Tim’s shop last week and asked if he could give Pearline a look. Tim has worked on the car before, doing regular maintenance jobs. I described the problem and we looked over the repair manual that every MGB owner keeps on hand. Tim felt he understood it enough to tell me which parts to buy, so off to MossMotors.com I went. The parts arrived the following week and I took them out to the shop with the car on a trailer.
After we had the car unloaded, he looked through the box of parts to make sure everything he needed was there. It wasn’t. One piece was missing. It’s not a part of the problem, but he says any time you get into the clutch, you should change that part. So, back to Moss Motors I went. I found the part. It was $4. Because Moss has a $10 minimum, I had to put 3 in my shopping cart. Add in tax, and we’re at $14. Then to expedite the process, I paid for premium shipping.
I paid $50 to buy and ship 3 parts weighing less than 3 ounces. Nobody said restoring a 50-year old car was cheap or easy.
Update: 2021-05-21: I talked with Tim and he had Pearline on the lift that afternoon. He was disconnecting the clutch from the transmission as I called. It was about 3:00 PM on Friday, so I probably won’t hear anything back until middle or late next week. I’m itching to have her back, maybe by Memorial Day weekend.
Update: 2021-05-26: After spending a day chained to my desk, I decided to kick off early and go by Tim’s repair shop. They were shutting the bay doors as I pulled into the lot. Tim waved, with his signature straw hat in hand. I met him outside and heard the blow-by-blow of how they worked on my car.
Apparently, the MGB has so little wiggle room between the transmission and the motor that they had to remove the motor from the mounts to work on the clutch. Where he thought this was a “5-hour” job (according to the rate manual), it’s now closer to 12. I’m fine paying him and his crew what their work is worth. He says I might have Pearline back as late as tomorrow night or maybe Friday.