Abingdon Spares at the 2022 Kimber Festival
Abingdon Spares attended the 2022 Kimber Festival in Buffalo, NY this past week. The Kimber Festival is sponsored by the New England MGT Register. The Kimber Festival brings together enthusiasts who have a keen interest in MG history. Organized as an academic conference, the program consists of presentations about all M.G.s with topics that may include design and production, technical discussions, competitors, and competitions. This event had been cancelled the last two years do to the restrictions of the pandemic. This year's program was a combination of a visit and guided tour of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, and a day of presentations by MG experts on many historical and technical topics related to the MG hobby. Careful planning by the organizers and some last minute substitutions in staffing still resulted in a very well presented weekend event.
Friday afternoon we toured the museum. The Pierce Arrow Museum is a must see for anyone interested in the history of transportation and industry in the Buffalo area, and especially for Pierce Arrow folks. They have many very impressive displays of not only the Pierce Arrow company and its automobiles, but of products manufactured in Buffalo. They also have an outstanding collection of bicycles, from the "high wheelers" right up to the present, most of them manufactured in the Buffalo, NY region. Along with the autos and bicycles, there are huge numbers of signs and other automobilia and what is said to be the second largest collection of automobile mascots in the world. While at the museum, at the conclusion of the Pierce Arrow tour, there was a bit of MG for the attendees. Tom Metcalf of Safety Fast displayed and discussed his ongoing restoration of the N type Airline Coupe. Tom has done an amazing amount of work on the restoration and on documenting history of this rare car. Truly a 'work in progress'.
The centerpiece of the museum's showroom is an automobile gas station that was originally designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, well known for his many groundbreaking designs, for both houses and larger buildings. This gas station was designed by Wright, and, if I followed the museums owners tour correctly, was never actually built. The plans were discovered years later and obtained by the museum's owner. The museum decided to construct the gas station exactly as Wright had designed it, inside the museum. The finished station has won numberous awards for its design and construction.
On Saturday, the MG presentations covered many interesting topics. The morning started with a discussion by Richard Atwood of Lord Nuffield and his medical philanthropy. This showed a different view of Nuffield than the automobile side we are more familiar with. Nuffield was the original owner of Morris, and Morris Garages, know as William Morris before he became Lord Nuffield. Morris suffered from health issues all his life and was a most gernerous benefactor to many hospitals and universities in England. This was followed by an interesting presentation by Fred Horner on date coding of the SU carbs, a topic that I never knew existed. You can check the manufacture date of your SU carbs to see that they were manufactured before you car was. Fred had done a lot of research on this topic and is continuing to add to the knowledge base.
The afternoon schedule started off with an interesting and sometimes amusing discussion of Tom Lange's "Wall o' Speed". Tom brought along a fascinating number of aftermarket speed products for the MG T-Types from his personal collection. There was a booming aftermarket for adding power to the T-Types back in the day. Tom had examples of many of the products, from different cylinder heads, and magneto ignitions, to a large collection of intake manifolds. These intake manifolds were designed to adapt many different carburetors, Carter, Stromberg, Solex, and many others, so American mechanics would not have to deal with the dreaded and baffling "SU". This was followed by a more modern and technical presentation by Blair Weiss on LED lighting for vintage MGs. Blair explained the technical workings of LED lighting. He had with him several examples of of LED headlights, and was able to show us the differences in beam patterns, and what to look for in selecting LEDs. His knowledge, research, and testing allowed him to present the optimal system for vintage headlights.
The afternoon concluded with John Twist presenting his explanation of the the Lucas charging systems as found in MGs. John covered charging systems from the 30's to the 60's, from the Dynamo to the Alternator. John's drawings and explanations helped to simplify and explain this often mysterious system. Much of the mystery was clarified by this enlighting (no pun intended) presentation.
The day's activities concluded with socializing and a very nice dinner buffet. This interesting program should be on any MG enthusiast’s calendar. Here are a few photos of the event.