Driving about in open sports cars has one advantage, you do not hear all the rattles and groans of your car with the wind in your hair. Get out of a ‘T Type’ and into a ‘Y Type’ and see the difference. Both have virtually identical running gear and under-pinnings, but the one fitted with a steel roof sounds totally different. Why? Well, it is simple really, all those noises are caught inside the sealed cockpit. You hear everything, every gear change, every beat of the engine, every suspension action. Alas you also hear things that worry you and need investigation. Over the years of running a YB I’ve had my fill of seeking out odd noises, some proved to be minor though annoying, other were signs of imminent danger.
I’ll start with the worst ones first. Back in 1995, the first year I ran the car, it developed a squeak every time the nearside front wheel went over a bump, or into a hollow. I thought little of this until I investigated it more closely. It proved to be a seized top-trunion and instead of the bearing surfaces inside it moving, it was gripping the bolt and twisting it instead. This suspension was also used on the MGA and MGB, but a rubber Silentbloc joint was used instead of a Morris brass trunion that required greasing every 1000 miles. The car had been standing for years when I took over ownership, and I assumed greasing every nipple would sort it all out. Alas this joint had been dry for years and the grease just passed straight through. Had I continued to ignore the squeak (which was the bolt trying to twist inside the damper arm ends instead) the bolt would have eventually sheared and a serious accident result. I’ve dubbed this top trunion on the front suspension the Achilles Heel of the XPAG ifs cars. A strip-down and thorough clean and a new bolt was the cure, along with regular greasing.
Of course this has led to me always investigating any unusual noise now, just in case. A rattle at the very front of the car over rough roads proved to be worn anti-roll-bar rubber bushes, an easy thing to fix. But a jingle from the front of the engine ended up as a new water pump. The bearings were on the way out even though the pump did not yet leak, proved by being able to rock the fan blades. Guess who now often gives those fan blades a check? Another odd squeal at idle rpm proved to be the dynamo brushes. The dynamo works perfectly well but I assume the carbon brushes were harder than usual. A little puff of talc cures it. This goes for a creaking fan belt, again a tiny puff of talc stops it, not enough to ruin the belts grip on the pulley’s though.
My rear springs are after-market ones, so they have no rubber blocs at the leaf ends. This means the leaves rub directly on each other and require a bit of graphite grease. Otherwise they creak and groan away under the floor. Leaf springs require a bit of resistance so they can act as their own damper, but when things get to loud cracking noises as one enters the car and the springs deflect, because they are dry and sticking, I part the leaves and inject a bit of grease with a flattened end of a tube fitted to the grease gun. This is done once a year. But a groan from under the rear passengers floor needs urgent investigation as it indicates the rubber bush at the forward end of the leaf spring has disintegrated and the spring is bearing directly onto the bolt. It is not difficult to change this bush in-situ. Drop the front end of the spring (you may need to loosen off the ‘U’ bolts on the axle), with a long threaded bolt draw in the new bush as you draw out the old one, with a washer between them to cope with the longer centre of each. Refit but do NOT tighten up the bolt until the car is resting with its full weight on the axle. This means the bush is ‘relaxed’ and not ‘twisted’ as it would be if you tightened everything with the axle hanging. A ‘twisted’ bush has a very short life.
A loud ‘clang’ from under the car as you engage reverse, or after reversing engage first, is usually an early sign of worn universal joints in the propeller shaft. This is a shaft-off to the bench job and is covered in the Y Register website ( www.mgccyregister.com ) under ‘Tech Stuff’. Not a job for the inexperienced. A loud thump from under the gear lever when negotiating sleeping-policemen may indicate the little eye-bolt under the rear extension of the gearbox is either broken, not there, or the rubber washers have disintegrated. This well-hidden item is often overlooked and alas the cast iron bridge it fits into can break off; an easy repair is on the website but it does mean removing the gearbox.
A very similar creak to those dry rear springs but appearing to come from the dash either side, can be the bonnet hinge either side rubbing on the edge of the dash/firewall. On my car even though the rubber blocks are OK the near-side hinge just touches the dash. I put a tiny bit of grease there to lube it (the creak is due to the body being flexible and the radiator following suit, the bonnet sits between the two so often moves slightly.) When it dries out, you get this odd creak. It sounds awful and the first time I pulled the n/s front suspension to bits trying to find it, to no avail. It was by rocking the car a tiny bit and listening I found the minor fault.
If you do not adjust the door hinges, on their brass balls, correctly, you will get quite a clatter as the door jumps about. A hint is the bottom of the driver’s and front passenger’s door touching at its base on the frame, wearing away the paint. Another odd noise from the rear proved to be the boot lid! At the top corners it can touch the body, on my car it is the offside top that groaned away except when it rained, which was the hint. When the car has its major body restoration in 2009, the boot lid was rebuilt with 90 degree edges, alas at the two top corners it requires that bit more bending over due to the curve of the body.
A rattling sun roof means the little plates at each side at the forward end, hidden behind the roof lining ‘draught-excluder’ edges need adjusting. There is a Phillips screw there that has about a half-inch adjustment on a little plate (see the website for more on this). Ensure there are felt pads glued to the ‘feet’ that run on the sun-roof sliders, and that they are greased, or you will just grind off the paint and cause corrosion on the sliders.
Creaks from the very rear of the car are usually dry rear spring shackle rubbers. WD40 cures this though they may be well overdue renewing. Again only tighten the nuts once the weight of the car is on its wheels. Loud clunks from the door post by the passenger’s ears will worry them. Tell them all about semaphore-trafficator solenoids.
Passengers only use to modern cars will be terrified by the noises of your gearbox and engine. It is worth reminding them that there is virtually no sound insulation fitted to such an old car and that the gearbox is right under the gear lever and not miles away under the engine behind about six-inches of insulation. Likewise, the tappet clatter that one does not hear in the open cars is very obvious in a Y Type, it all adds to the experience I think, as do the smells of hot oil, noisy cooling fan, gearbox wine in the intermediates, and blipping the throttle as you double-de-clutch because the synchromesh is worn. Ignore their left hand groping away trying to find a seat belt.