All posts by universityltd

California 2017 — 3/30 — June 12, 2017

Left Claremore, OK, about 11:00 am at 46193 on the odometer and arrived in Elk City, OK, at about 7:30 pm at 46485.  We traveled 292 miles in about 8 ½ hours at about 34 mph.  But we had lots of breaks.

Our first stop was the J M Davis Arms & Historical Museum.  They don’t advertise that they own an example of every gun made (just most of them).  Drat.  Immediately foiled.  Open Tuesdays – Saturdays.

Right outside the Arms Museum was a Will Rogers monument with his famous quotation:  I never met a man I didn’t like.  That triggered a memory from my time with the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1969.  There were only a few flush toilets on base.  One of those was at the headquarters where I worked as chief clerk in the offices of the G-3 (operations).  There was so much graffiti on the walls that our sergeant major affixed a whiteboard on the stall wall with requisite markers so the walls would not continue to be defaced.  One day I added my own line: “Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like.  What would he have said if he were in the Army?”  The first reply was: “I never met a lifer I liked.”  And under that was penned: “Rojer that.”  The next entry was: “Fool – Roger is spelled with a ‘G’.”  And under that:  “Rojerg!”

We passed Patti Page Avenue.  Much later in the day we passed under Garth Brooks Highway.

Into Tulsa to view the Golden Driller.   Then onto the Sapulpa Rock Creek Bridge – a steel truss with brick deck, built 1921.

In Bristow we circled the 1920’s recently restored building of the Bristow Motor Company.   Bristow was a lively town in marked contrast to the ghost town of Depew.

Beautiful brick buildings all lay empty save two gov’t offices which were apparently not staffed today.  Depew, with its deserted main street, was bypassed when Route 66 was rerouted about a quarter of a mile north in 1928.  It and has suffered terribly.

Look carefully for the shoes!

Just down Route 66 we viewed the Shoe Tree and the Shoe Tree Trading Post but there was no trading today.   Look carefully at the image on top to see dozens of shoes hanging from branches.  Mary says there’s a tree like this on US 131 up near Mancelona, MI.

Into Stroud and the original Rock Café.  The staff was very friendly and the food very good.  The Rock Café opened in 1939 and has a throng of visitors from across the world every day.   “Rock” has no reference to music but to the rock used in construction.  Love the toilet facilities!

Mary James
John Twist

Posing in the Rock Cafe.

As we were exiting Chandler, we spied the Chandler Armory, a WPA project used until the ‘80s by the National Guard.  Once abondaned and nearly lost, it is now repurposed as the Route 66 Interpretive Center.  Purchased some Route 66 memorabilia.

Throughout the day I take tech calls.  As I was talking to Ross Baker from Chicago about his MGB charging circuit but also about the Episcopal Church in the USA, we came upon the

Round Barn in Arcadia.  It was built in 1898 the  to store loose hay, prior to the introduction of  baling.  We stopped here on the recommendation of Steve Hull, an MG owner who lives in Arcadia.  Steve!  We would have loved to meet up but our schedule was so uncertain.  We simply didn’t know when we’d be there.

Mr Sam, just 90, entertained us and signed our Route 66 tour guide. We signed the guest register immediately below a couple whose home was in France.  Mary and I walked up the stairway and into the hayloft.  OMG!  My acrophobia took over and I had to sit down even though we were standing on a very sturdy and octagonally designed floor – that ceiling is something like 45 feet high.  My head spun and my legs weakened.  I laughed out loud the sensation was so intense!  Mary is standing in the center for perspective.  Arcadia is just east of Edmond, OK, home of the late Don Peery, MG collector.

The land in western Oklahoma is flat.  This view is from the hayloft in the round barn, looking SW.

The things you see!  The lettering on the back of this truck reads “Fresh Squeezed” but the cargo is bottled water.  Go figure.

As we drove into Oklahoma City, Mary began searching for her Garmin.  Somehow this little device, the size of a modern I-phone, was lost in the small space of the front seat, cluttered with maps, books, and paper.  It was not to be discovered.  We finally pulled off the road and STILL couldn’t find it.  Then Brian called from Wayland MI about his 1974 MGB ignition light and we discovered the Garmin on top of my ringing cell phone in a cubby in the dash.  We paralleled Route 66 for miles – sometimes it was on the north side, sometimes on the south.  Sometimes it was still in use, sometimes it was dramatically overgrown.   Mary spotted Lucille’s 1941 gasoline station as we passed by Hydro.

The Garmin needs an update.  It would not deliver directions to the Hampton Inn.  This occurred last night, too.  Both of these hotels are very new and apparently opened after Mary’s last update.  We overran Elk City then doubled back, exited, finally found the location on my cell phone, and arrived about 7:30.  Another long day – but what fun!

We passed through several Indian nations and spied numerous casinos.  The car was pushed about by the wind, especially west of Tulsa.  Every tree is bent and waving.  The American flag outside the Hampton is flapping loudly and jangling its cables.  We were buffeted every time we exited the car.  The clerk on the front counter here says it’s always like this – well, sometimes it’s blowing harder.  No wonder some of the 19th century prairie brides quit and returned east!

No MGs seen today.

California 2017 — 2/30 — 11 June 2017

California 2017 2/30  11 June 2017

We left Rolla, MO, this morning about noon, at 45893 miles.  We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Claremore, OK, this evening about 7:30 pm, at 46193.  That’s 300 miles in 6 ½ hours – about 46 mph avg.

Leaving Rolla, MO, this morning proved especially difficult.  First was the hour-long phone conversation with the reservations people at a hotel I had booked for next week.  They’d already run my card and told me that cancellation was prohibited – or that I’d suffer a penalty equal to the length of my stay.   They were adamant that they WERE the hotel but it sounded like a bunch of third party malarkey to me.  Several years ago I’d booked a flight with Captain Kirk on Priceline.  The flight was cancelled because of a snowstorm.  Neither Priceline nor the airline would refund the ticket amount EVEN THOUGH I’d purchased “flight insurance.”  I swore I’d never use a third party again.  But something’s going on here that will take another morning to sort out.  The young man on the phone was named Riley.  He’d never heard of the Nuffield automobile by that name.

Then it was off to get gasoline.  The pump wouldn’t accept my card and displayed “See Cashier.”  There were about a dozen people in line so I went to the station across the street.  I got out, went to insert the card but was stymied as a printed paper across the pump read “Not Accepting Credit or Debit Cards.”  So I backed up to another pump which gladly accepted my card but delivered the gasoline at about the same rate as an SU fuel pump.  It took about five minutes to dispense 14 gallons.  But, then, finally, we were on our way!

I-44 parallels the original Route 66, sometimes as closely as fifty yards.  I found it fascinating that while Illinois and Oklahoma line the interstates with fencing, Missouri does not.  One twitch of the steering wheel and those 18 wheelers would be in my lane!  We passed through Hooker’s Cut

and then past the Devil’s elbow in Hooker where we hazarded upon a score of motorcycles parked along a bridge, no doubt following Route 66 as we were.  In St Robert we encountered the Uranus Fudge Shop.  No doubt it was thusly named before the pronunciation police shifted emphasis of the seventh planet’s name to the first syllable.  The mental image was too much — we didn’t stop.  For all the comments in the tourist books about the great numbers of sightseers along the route, we found it very lightly travelled.

We passed Fort Leonard Wood and through a bevy of small towns.  Mary toggled between a tourist map, two tourist books, and some printed instructions I found online.  We were usually able to keep on the route but among some poorly written instructions and a lack of signage we made several wrong turns.

Gascozark was not the picture of a flourishing municipality.

We encountered another photographer shooting the marquee at the Munger Moss Motel and

Wrink’s Market interestly on Wrinke in Lebanon.

The Route 66 Car Museum in Springfield was closed, as it was a Sunday.

The Sinclair Gasoline Station in Paris Springs Junction was a hoot.

I was hindered from taking a full face-on picture of the beautifully restored courthouse in Carthage by a young woman in a halter top spray painting the rear bumper of her car.  Still, I was able to get some good views.

Dropped down I-49 from Carthage to I-44 and headed towards Claremore OK at expressway speed.  As such, we missed the Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma Tri-State marker by 800 feet.


Took a tech call from John Giannasca, co-founder of the American MGB Association, about an overdrive gearbox.

MY MG SUMMER 2017 1/30

On our way to the tech seminar in Solvang, Saturday, 6/17

To the NAMGAR GT-42 also in Solvang

And to the NAMGBR MG2017 meet in San Diego

Thus begins my blog for this summer’s MG events:

We left Grand Rapids, Michigan, this morning about 11:00 am in the Dodge Journey, rented from Enterprise at the Grand Rapids Airport, at 45321 miles.  We trust that today’s driving has aired out the cigarette stink or inured us to the odor.  Arrived in Rolla, Missouri, this evening about 9:00 pm, at 45893 miles.  That’s 572 miles in about 11 hours (we started on EST, spending the night on CST)

Took I-196 from Grand Rapids to Benton Harbor, then I-94 to I-80.  Used the EZ Pass for the FIRST TIME as we whisked along I-80 past Joliet to I-55 south.  Armed with Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 Guide for Travelers, we left I-55 and picked up the original Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois, where we immediately spied the “Gemini Giant.”   At Braceville we were stopped for ten minutes while some 100 tractors of all kinds crossed the road in front of us.  The deputy let us continue, but as I looked east, there were another 100 tractors coming toward the same intersection.  Old men, young men, women – What a sight!

In Odell we saw the restored Standard Station and in Pontiac we viewed an incredibly beautiful courthouse.  For miles we paralleled the crumbling and weed infested southbound lanes of the now abandoned Route 66.  We missed the Bunyan Giant in Atlanta but stopped at the Octagon Library, perfectly suited for each of us.  Mary is a librarian; I am an octogenarian (oops – octophile).   We climbed back onto I-55 and headed for St Louis.

We were so excited about viewing the “Gateway to the West” arch that we missed our turn for I-44 but were able to ease back onto it within minutes.  From I-64 I could just see the tower of the St Louis train station, the only building it St Louis worth saving, according to Frank Lloyd Wright.  It was still another hundred miles to our first evening’s night away from home.  That gave us another hour and a half to solve the world’s problems.  The fellow on the front desk at the Hampton Inn here in Rolla is a nuclear engineering student.

I only took one technical call today while on the road.  It was from Henri Dopierala of Northport, NY, who traded a running British Motorcycle for a 1950 TD (pictured).  Henri told me of his time working for the UN in Egypt (source of the British motorcycles he restores), Syria, Gaza Strip, Central African Republic, and other fascinating locales.  He ended up with an XPEG engine along with the original XPAG with the trade.  There’s a lot of work on that trailer!

John Twist & Mary James

I’m  now scheduled for a  Tech Seminar in Tacoma, Washington, September 16th, Saturday, at Matt Graham’s Brooklands British.

I will present another Tech Seminar preceding the Hunt Country Classic in Washington, DC, October 7th, Saurday, sponsored by the Washington DC MGCC.

AND!!  Perhaps another next winter in Tallahassee FL — stay tuned.

TECH TIP:  Replace two prong flashers with the EL-12 and the three prong flashers with the EL-13 (negative earth only) from NAPA.  These will work with LED lights AND give a steady rhythm to the flash rate.

Merry Christmas Fellow Enthusiasts!

Friday, December 23, 2017

University Motors Ltd has now transformed into University Motors Online.  Although I will no longer work on your MG in my shop, I will be available for consultation, technical advice, and technical shows and seminars.

I became aware of MGs in England on a trip with the Boy Scouts in 1962 when I was 13.  By 1965 I resolved to own an MG and purchased my first MG in 1968.  I was first paid to work on another’s MG in May,1971; resolved to devote my life to MG in Nov 71; spent a year in England 1972/1973 at the original University Motors; and in January 1975 opened my own University Motors.  I was joined in the business by my future wife, Caroline, in early 1977.  We operated UML at two locations for 34 years.  In the summer of 2009 I shut down the business (the economy was terrible and Caroline was dying of cancer), only to reopen in the spring of 2010 after Caroline’s death.  We soon moved to our present location and operated from our Patterson Avenue address from April 2011 until the first of this month when Forrest Johnson of Rusty Moose Garage assumed the operations.

It has been an incredible run!  In my 46 years in the trade and operating as University Motors for 42 years, we’ve enjoyed many successes and met so many great and wonderful owners!  We sponsored 30+ Summer Parties; 30+ years of on-site Technical Seminars; formed up the North American MGB Register, the British Motor Trade Association, and the West Michigan “Old Speckled Hen” MG Car Club. In addition, we serviced thousands of MGs.  Now it’s come full circle.  I travelled to England in October of this year to present tune-up seminars at the MG Owners’ Club near Cambridge.  Further, I have been named as a charter inductee at the Moss Motors British Sports Car Hall of Fame.  But, I’m not really re-tiring – it’s more like re-treading.

I had seriously considered another auction for equipment and memorabilia but that is now unnecessary.  The heavy shop equipment was sold to the firm moving into this building (Corvette and muscle car restoration).  Forrest has the used parts.  The new parts were sold as a package.  The specialty tools I’m selling within the trade.  Some of the memorabilia will appear on eBay.

Instead of an auction, we are celebrating University Motors’ 42nd Birthday and John Twist’s Retreading on Saturday, January 21st.  It will be a PARTY, not a wake!

Freed from the daily business operations, I shall have more time to dedicate to MG technical publications and presentations.  My website will remain active.  I will continue to make YouTube videos and attend the various MG events throughout the country.  I am available to present technical seminars for your club, organization, or business.  A brochure describing lectures and seminars will soon be posted on the website.  You will always be able to contact me via the website or email.  I shan’t be far away!


University Motors 42nd Birthday and John Twist’s Retreading Party – Saturday, Jan 21st, 2017, at our Patterson address in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from Noon to 4pm

Gearbox Workshop (MGB 4 synchro) – Monday/Tuesday, February 20/21, 2017

Gearbox Seminar (MGA/MGB 3 Synchro) – Monday/Tuesday, February 27/28

Gearbox Seminar (TD/TF) – Monday/Tuesday, March 13/14

Carburetter Workshop – Monday/Tuesday, March 20/21

All workshops are limited to five participants.  Cost for the two days is $400.  Email me for the registration / hotel information.  I can schedule an additional date if more than five people wish to attend.

John Twist

University Motors Online

616 301 2888




University Motors On-Line

As of December 1, 2016 University Motors no longer services vehicles.

John Twist is going to continue in the community, and will continue to offer technical advice and put on seminars.

Forrest Johnson (University Motors Mechanic) has absorbed the customers and the work, and is moving the business to Grand Haven, MI.  You can get in touch with him at this link: Rusty Moose Garage Also note that Mike Blackport(University Motors Manager)  and Curt Saunier(University Motors Mechanic) are going with Forrest, so the quality of the work will still be exemplary.

Call John for technical questions and seminars, 616-307-6737

Call Mike or Forrest for service work, 616-301-2888

Keep an eye on this site, we’ll update with new events soon!