TC6943 with original engine # XPAG 7546 was purchased 85 miles SW of Seattle, Washington State in December, 2009. The owner had started its restoration in the 1980s and many of the spares were new, still in plastic bags. Unfortunately, even sealed packages absorb moisture in the Seattle area and all the spares were rusted or corroded.
I came by this information when I received an e- mail via the website contact form from Burt Richmond. The text of the e-mail was as follows:
“I restored a rolling chassis to a finished car in eight 3-day weekends, and promptly drove it 563 mile on a wine tour from Seattle to the Wilamette Valley in Oregon and back with zero issues. It is a 1949 with VIN 6943”.
Intrigued by this claim I asked Burt to forward some photos and some text and he immediately obliged.
We start the story with a photo of the car as it started out life in Burt’s ownership.
No time was lost in carrying out a survey of all the bits and spares that came with the rolling chassis ‘tub’ and work commenced straight away.
…and it was fitted by the end of the first weekend in January 2010 with new steel skinned to the left side, doors hung and ready to go to the paint shop.
Not much room for this item in I’m afraid.
Polyurethane Shackle Bushes for TC/TD/TF
These are still selling well and I have just received another 200. Full details were in the April TTT 2.
There is some progress with the large bush for the rear of the TC and I now have a part number – SF0145 – I will continue to nag the supplier and will contact those of you who have expressed interest as soon as I have some more news.
Polyurethane Spring Seating Pads for TD/TF
These are now in stock and priced at £12 for the set of four (4) plus postage at cost. This price is actually less than a major supplier charges for rubber spring seating pads and significantly less than the price charged for the polyurethane alternative. jj(at)octagon.fsbusiness.co.uk
Lower Front Suspension (wishbone) polyurethane bushes for TD/TF
These are in stock and consist of eight (8) polyurethane bushes and four (4) stainless steel tubes complete with assembly grease. They are priced at £19.50 for the set plus postage. jj(at)octagon.fsbusiness.co.uk
New Leaf Springs In the April Issue interest was canvassed for TA/TB and TC leaf springs front and rear and TD and TF rear leaf springs. We have nearly enough orders for the TC rears (could do with one more) and are three short for the TC fronts.
I have decided to go ahead with the TC rears at a price of £100 plus VAT plus carriage. These springs will be made in England from EN45 (a silicon-managanese-carbon alloy steel). You might be able to buy cheaper but please ask yourself “Where are they made, what’s the spec and are they going to flatten soon after they are fitted?”
I have e-mailed those of you who expressed an interest to firm up this interest into a definite order and the springs can then be made. If anybody else wishes to come ‘on board’ please let me know by the end of May jj(at)octagon.fsbusiness.co.uk The contract will be between you and the supplier.
Regrettably there is currently not enough interest in springs for the other models but the TC fronts might be progressed if there are a couple more orders. As a rough guide we could be looking at a bushed spring (SAE 660 bushing material) at a price of around £115 plus VAT plus carriage.
XPAG DRIP TRAYS
These cleverly designed drip trays are offered for sale by David Pelham dapelham(at)btinternet.com substitute @ for (at). They bolt directly to the bottom three holes on the bellhousing and catch the oil (capacity 250ml). The drip tray has a drain plug with copper washer to enable emptying whilst in situ. The trays fit all XPAG engines – TB, TC, TD, YA, YB, YT etc. They weigh approx. 225gm and can be painted to match the sump. They will also fit a 5-speed conversion.
Priced at £40 plus post and packing.
At the end of last year, my wife and I took a short break in France. Worried by the UK Government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations and next year’s planned increase of ethanol in petrol to 10% (E10)-but see below- I took the opportunity to bring back 10 litres of “supermarche” E10 to evaluate the damage it might do to my TC. As a test, I immersed samples of materials, representative of those found in our fuel system, in small containers filled with E10 and stored them in my garage over winter. What I found was not what I expected.
Fortunately, in February this year the Department for Transport (DfT) invited Federation of British Historic Vehicle (FBHVC) member clubs to a Fuel Stakeholder meeting. One of the key messages which DfT were keen to put across was that E10 is definitely not going to be introduced in 2013. However, the problem has not gone away, the introduction of E10 has only been postponed and worryingly, E5 (5% ethanol blended fuel) is with us now.
To confirm that any damage to my samples was due only to ethanol, I used three “fuels”, BP Ultimate (premium 97 RON) as a control (which is ethanol free in our area), E10 with added water to “wash out” the ethanol (see the section on Contamination) and “pure” E10. I placed samples of rubber, cork, fibre washer and leather retrieved from my stock of old TC bits and different pairs of electrically connected steel, copper, brass and aluminium plates in separate small pots filled with these different fuels (see photos 1 and 2). I then left these samples to “stew” in my garage for 4 months over winter alongside the TC. In this way they were subject to the same conditions as the parts of my car to give a representative assessment of any damage.
The FHBVC has identified three areas of concern with the use of ethanol blended fuels; Compatibility, Corrosion and Combustion. My tests have added a fourth – Contamination. I apologise, in advance as my examples apply to TCs, however, many of the things I describe are common to all pre-mid 1950s MGs and most later ones as well.
So how did my samples stand up?
Compatibility: Put simply, ethanol rots anything that is non-metallic and this is the area that is written about the most. While there are various lists of materials at risk, the main concerns for us are the cork gaskets in the 2 1⁄2 gallon sender unit in the tank, cork seals in the carburettor jets, fuel pump diaphragm and two hoses connecting the pump to the carburettor and possibly the fibre washers on the float chamber lids. Originally, all the washers on the unions are copper so these are not included in this category. Early, non-ethanol resistant, slosh tank sealants are also at risk.
Compatibility appears not to be something to worry us. Firstly, none of my samples showed any degradation, including the cork gaskets (note: cork is listed as ethanol safe by some articles). The only problems I detected were with the Perspex spacers I used with the pieces of metal and with a silicon sealant used to seal the lid on an old float chamber. The latter is a concern if you have used modern silicon based gasket sealant in your carburettors as this was affected just by the vapour.
My advice is to listen to the ticking of your electric fuel pump when you switch on the ignition. It should start “enthusiastically” as it fills the float chambers then stops- dead. Slow initial ticking and you may have partially blocked fuel pipes due to the rubber swelling or blocked filters. If the clicking does not stop you may have leakages in your fuel pump diaphragm, valves or hoses. The bottom line is that compatibility issues are easy to detect and simple and cheap to fix. However, do watch if your tank has been slosh sealed for softening or blocked filters in the tank or fuel pump.
Contamination: In particular by water. Ethanol absorbs water from the atmosphere and once a certain level is reached it can “phase separate” with an alcohol/water mixture settling at the bottom of the tank with the remaining hydrocarbons sitting on top. While it is unlikely that absorption of moisture from the air on its own will cause this, a sudden temperature change or even a drop of rainwater entering the tank can result in phase separation. If a petrol tank filled with 5 gallons of E10, undergoes phase separation, you end up with 1⁄2 gallon of alcohol/water and 4 1⁄2 gallons of petrol, no matter how little extra water enters the tank. Worse still, you will probably not know this has happened, as an engine will run weak on the pure alcohol and as this is used as an octane enhancer it will probably pink as it burns the remaining fuel.
The second effect is of more concern. As the fuel sloshes about in the tank or is stored, droplets of alcohol/water condense above the fuel (Photo 3). This will result in rusting of an unprotected fuel tank and is probably the cause of the rust spots reportedly seen in tanks used to store ethanol blended fuel.
Practically, this is more of a worry than Compatibility and you do not have to wait for E10 to arrive for it to become a problem. It is with us now. Photo 3 was taken with current UK supermarket petrol, probably E5.
My suggestion is to get your fuel tank slosh sealed with an ethanol proof sealant to protect it from rusting and avoid storing large quantities of ethanol blended fuel in your tank – so even if it does phase separate, there will only be a small quantity of fuel present to damage your engine.
Corrosion: What compatibility does not get, corrosion will, anything metallic! This shows itself in two ways; oxidation and galvanic corrosion between different kinds of electrically connected metals. The steel, brass, copper aluminium metal plates were used to test both these corrosion mechanisms. To maximise the probability of any oxidation, the plates were abraded, cleaned and degreased prior to storing in the fuel. The different pairs of metals were spaced about 1/8” apart and electrically connected to assess the effects of galvanic corrosion. This gave 18 pairs of plates, 6 for each of the different fuels that were being tested. The choice of metals was to represent those found in the fuel system of a TC, sorry TA owners, no bronze.
There are many places in the fuel system where these different metals are in sufficient contact to allow an electrical current to flow. The fuel sender is aluminium bolted with steel bolts into the steel tank, the fuel pump has an aluminium body with brass valves and the float chambers are aluminium with a bonded steel rod to name a few examples. I also tested an old float chamber by sealing off the holes and filling with pure E10. This is still under test.
The FBHVC has also been running oxidation tests with polished steel probes to evaluate the effectiveness of additives. Unfortunately, these have been plagued by contamination problems delaying the results. In my tests, with the exception of a very small area of minor corrosion on a steel plate in the E10/water mix, where the ethanol had phase separated, none of the other samples were affected by corrosion. This suggests that the French E10 already contained an inhibitor that prevented any oxidation. Additionally, if your tank has been slosh sealed the only steel part at risk is the fastening bolt in the float chamber and this is unlikely to be damaged by minor corrosion. My conclusion is that oxidation is not a worry and there is no need to spend money on additives.
The story with the galvanic corrosion was somewhat different. Before electrically connecting the plates, I measured the potential difference between them. As may be expected, in the BP Ultimate 97 RON (ethanol free) and E10/water samples, I could not detect any voltage. However, in the E10, I did detect a potential difference between the plates. This is direct evidence of galvanic action. At the end of the test, the potential had risen significantly suggesting the corrosion affect had become worse over time (see table 1). The most affected samples were aluminium, particularly when connected to steel. The aluminium plate from the steel – aluminium pair was visibly marked with numerous corrosion pits. Photo 4 shows the aluminium plates paired with steel from the BP Ultimate (no ethanol) and E10 clearly showing the classic corrosion pits.
Worrying, as these have resulted from only 4 months immersion in E10.
Table 1 – Measured voltages (mV) – E10 only
Galvanic corrosion between steel and aluminium is a real issue. Unfortunately, the use of die cast aluminium with steel parts is common in the fuel systems of most vehicles, modern cars included. Furthermore, stainless steel appears to be worse than mild steel giving a greater potential difference, leading to a higher rate of corrosion. What is more worrying is that I measured a significant voltage between steel and aluminium plates using our own UK supermarket fuel which probably contains 5% ethanol. The aluminium parts on your car may be slowly dissolving even as you read this article.
In pre 1956 MGs the main parts at risk are the fuel sender, aluminium in a steel tank and the float chamber with its steel bolt and steel union bolts. Fortunately, unlike modern cars whose aluminium bodied high pressure fuel pumps are manufactured to very tight tolerances, the main risk to these parts is that they become porous. It is possible to avoid this problem when storing your car by ensuring there is less than 2 1⁄2 gallons of fuel in the tank (i.e. it is below the level of the sender) and installing a switch to switch off the electric fuel pump. Rather than switching off the ignition to stop the car, switching off the fuel pump and this will empty the float chambers before the engine stops.
While there was observable corrosion to the aluminium when paired with brass and copper, there were around half the number of corrosion pits in the aluminium than with the steel sample.
The parts less at risk are the fuel pump with its brass valves in a die cast aluminium body and the carburettor body with its brass jet.
These tests suggest galvanic corrosion is a far more serious issue than oxidation and not only does it pose a serious threat to all classic and many modern vehicles, there is very little that can be done to mitigate this effect. Checking for the possibility of galvanic corrosion is relatively easy, place two samples of different metals in ethanol blended fuel in a non-metallic container, ensure they are not touching each other and measure the voltage between them. If a voltage is present, they will corrode. Interestingly, when I tested my samples with a 10% kerosene / E10 mixture, the measured voltages dropped by 40% suggesting that adding kerosene may be a route to reducing the rate of galvanic corrosion. Certainly more research in this area is needed.
Combustion: There are a number of differences between ethanol blended and modern fuels in general and the classic fuels our cars were designed to run on.
Enleanment: This is a problem with ethanol blended fuels. As the alcohol contains oxygen, less air is needed to burn the mixture. Running with the carburettor set for normal fuel will result in the engine running lean risking overheating and valve damage. This is a simple problem to detect and fix. Your plugs should be a biscuit brown colour and with an SU carburettor the mixture can easily be enriched by screwing the mixture adjusting screws down by 1 or 2 flats.
Specific gravity: A problem with all modern fuels is they have a higher specific gravity than classic fuels. This causes the floats in the float chamber to “try” to float higher, depressing the fuel level in float chamber and jets. This, in turn, leads to a poor air fuel mixture distribution in the carburettor, poor starting and rougher running. Set the forks in your float chambers using a 3/8 bar as per the manual, remove the dashpot and then add weights to the float until the level of the fuel in the jet is 3/16” below the top of the jet. To do this, I pull out the choke to drop the level of the jet by 3/16” then set the fuel level to the point it just overtops the jet. Additionally, a higher specific gravity fuel enriches the mixture which again with SU carburettors is easy to adjust for. Unfortunately, there is no relationship between ethanol content and specific gravity so these effects do not cancel each other out.
Vapour pressure: All fuels consist of a range of different components with different boiling points. The vapour pressure at a given temperature is, in effect, a measure of the percentage of components that will boil at or below that temperature. To improve starting, modern fuels have a higher vapour pressure than classic fuels. The FHBVC suggest, in a running engine, this causes vaporisation in the fuel system which in turn leads to a weak mixture and hot running. They advise fuel system components should be insulated to avoid this problem. While the higher vapour pressure is certainly a cause of difficulty in restarting an engine when it has been stopped for a few minutes after a run, I believe this vaporisation is only a symptom of a more fundamental problem that causes hot running, namely slow burning.
Slow burning: The evidence for this has come from two sources. A few years ago I had my car tuned on a rolling road and the only change was to advance the ignition to 11o advance at tickover. After rebuilding my distributor, the acceleration and exhaust temperature tests run by David Heath and myself, “Modern Fuel on Trial” (see TTT 2- Issue 2 –October 2010), showed best performance occurred with the ignition set to 13o advance at tickover. Compared to the original setting of 4o advance at tickover it shows that modern fuel is taking longer to burn and reach peak pressure in our engines. The speed at which the fuel burns depends on the turbulence of the gasses in the cylinder. Unfortunately, in each cylinder on each stroke, minor variations in the initial conditions can have a major effect on the time it takes for the gasses to fully burn and reach peak pressure. This effect is called cyclic variability and shows itself as rougher running. The slower burn of modern fuels gives more time for the amplitude of this effect to increase. Cyclic variability can be thought of as “smearing out” of the ignition timing, for example with my engine running at 2000 rpm with 25o advance the actual timing may vary between 20o to 30o advance due to cyclic variability. Obviously as the amplitude of this effect increases, the risk of some cycles causing pinking or the fuel still burning when the exhaust valve opens is increased. My recommendation is that you ensure there is as little slop in your distributor as possible and the centrifugal advance is working properly so at least wear in the distributor is not adding to this effect. I also recommend you ensure your timing is set as accurately as possible, either by visiting a rolling road or by measuring acceleration as David and I did.
I also have made measurements that show there is a significant difference in the way different brands and grades of fuel burn. Analysing these measurements is complex and is still on-going. Because petrol from the same distributor differs when and where you buy it, I suggest you try different brands, including the super grades, try adding up to 10% kerosene and choose the one your car runs smoothest on, i.e. with the lowest cyclic variability.
I have found my standard tune TC runs best on an ethanol free super-grade fuel with 10% of heating oil, returning a very healthy 35mpg on a run, suggesting the engine is in a good state of tune. My understanding is that in the UK “Super” (95 RON) is likely to contain up to 5% ethanol and “Premium” (97 RON) is probably ethanol free. However, there will be exceptions in certain parts of the UK due to distribution logistics.
With no added insulation or a heat shield, my car does not run hot and I have not suffered from vaporisation problems since I rebuilt my distributor and advanced the ignition. Further evidence that the lower vapour pressure of modern fuel is not the root cause of this problem.
So what of ethanol blended fuels? My conclusion is that with care our pre 1956 classic cars are probably better able to cope than more modern vehicles. The main area of concern appears to be galvanic corrosion of aluminium and while compatibility may still be a longer term problem, it is easy to detect and cheap to fix. For me, combustion is still a worry because of the risk of expensive engine damage and my car certainly runs better on ethanol free fuels. John Saunders has fitted an MGB distributor with a vacuum advance to his TC which improves the timing accuracy. He reports significant improvements. My next steps are to investigate programmable distributors (123ignition.nl) which will both improve timing accuracy and allow me to map both the centrifugal and vacuum advance curves. Watch this space!
The original tool set seems to be pretty clear cut for the TC. All you have to do is look at a factory picture of the tool set. However, there are some differences depending on which picture you look at. So what is correct and what would an original TC tool set look like?
To chronicle the correct tools for the TC, let’s start with the pictures as available from the illustration of tools in the Brown Book on page 7. Although this is the most common reference to the TC tool kit, it is only representative of the very earliest tool set for the TC. The photo was actually taken in 1939. The photo is wrong in that it includes the jack with the wooden handle which was used pre- war and had limited application for other than the earliest TCs. The Brown Book reference also has an extra box spanner compared to later sets.
Another source of tool originality is Factory Specifications #259, 1945, sheet #25. It also confirms that a list of pre-war tools was used in 1945 as a starting point for TC tools. This is known because the rubber tool trays were originally listed for the TC but were then deleted with a “pen and ink” change. The same specs also show only 3 box spanners listed.
The first printing of the TC Illustrated List of Service Parts, June 1946, also shows the pre-war jack. However, the 2nd printing, 1948, Plate V, there is an updated picture of the TC tool set with a new jack with a square cross-section handle (2 parts plus separate tommy bar). Close scrutiny shows a number of other changes, some subtle and some obvious. For example the later photo now only had 3 box spanners.
The quest for the perfect tool set is further compounded by differences in the manufacturer names of Shelley, Abingdon, King Dick, and Dunlop on similar tools and varied markings from none to BSW to BSF on spanners. And what about the length of the handcrank? The TC had 3 different length hand cranks.
The most heated debate often occurs over whether the TC open ended spanners were hex or round jaws (see Photo 1 below)
You can make an argument for each depending on which picture is viewed or which original tool set is viewed. But whatever you profess at the gospel for originality with tools, you will be wrong. To illustrate the point, look at the pictures of the open spanners in the 2nd Edition Illustrated Parts (see photo 6). You will see that 1 end has hex jaws and the other end has round jaws. I have to assume that the person who drew the illustration in 1948 is still laughing today at those who think they know which style was correct. I have never seen a spanner with 1 style jaw on each end. However, I have seen original tool set with of each style.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no exact answer. Whatever the factory had to make a complete tool set was used. Shelley and non-Shelley, round jaw and hex jaw, Enots and Tecalemit and other variations were all used. If you are trying to assemble a complete kit, I would suggest a proper period tool to match the category needed.
If you would like more information on the specifics of each tool and a detailed summary, you can find it at: www.fromtheframeup.com look under Tech Tips / Tools.
Ed’s note: Due to lack of space I have not been able to reproduce the tool kit illustration from ‘The Brown Book’ (TC Instruction Manual).
Ed’s Note: Perhaps we’ll have a look at tool box lining in a future issue?
The original Luvax shock absorbers are increasingly difficult to source and repair, and become problematic quite quickly thereafter. This applies to both front and rear units. In fact, my original Luvax were useless so I had them rebuilt for around £300 several years ago by an “expert”. Despite replacing most of the internals, one seal leaked and I could not get similar damping rates despite adjusting the internal screw. My car already had telescopics on the front and they are excellent.
This article describes suitable brackets for installing telescopic shock absorbers to the rear of the TA. I see no reason why the same brackets and shock absorbers should not fit the TB or TC in a similar manner. No modifications are required to TA original equipment and it would only take an hour or so to replace the original Luvax units.
The drawing (Figure1) shows the bracket measurements for one side, the other side being a mirror image. Details of the suggested shock absorbers are shown on this drawing, and cost around £85 the pair delivered (Jan 2012). As I received two different units initially (one black, one grey, different serial numbers) please check you receive two identical units, preferably painted black. The kit for one side is shown in Figure 2, and the lower bracket assembled in place in Figure 3. The finished rear axle compartment is shown in Figure 4.
The bolting can be bought from your usual supplier and does not have to be BSF, but I bought these anyway, at around £5 per set of bolt, nut and plenty of thick washers. Any competent blacksmith can make the brackets, mostly from offcuts lying around his shop. The bolt head welding position is not critical, but the bolts do need to be approximately perpendicular to the angle brackets. I suggest you do the drilling yourself, preferably with a pillar drill, use sharp drill bits and be patient.
You should be able to do the whole lot for under £200, and much better they will be too.
(1) The lower brackets could be shortened by one inch, but 6″ looks just fine. If you want to shorten them, after offering them up to study clearances from all other equipment, cut off the excess with an angle grinder before drilling the holes. Note they are assembled on the outside row of bolts. (Inside bolts causes interference with the chassis and petrol pipe). Also, the lower plate on my car curves slightly due to the fixing bolt tension, and this provides just the right amount of angle to align the bottom shock absorber bushing.
(2) Don’t tighten up the large nuts until everything is assembled on the car. This allows the rubber bushes to take up the slight out of vertical remaining after all the thick washers are added.
(3) I did consider re-using the existing lower mounting bracket but this would mean the top of the shock absorber would be 90 degrees out from the bottom. I don’t know much about shock absorber design but this can’t be good practice, can it?
(4) There is an alternative method, with the mounting bolts pointing along the car rather than across. This is possibly a more elegant solution, but the geometry and fabrication is more complex. I cannot see that it makes much difference. Whichever method is used there is very little room to do anything and avoid everything else.
(5) Please note that telescopics are not acceptable for VSCC events, should you be thinking of this. I’m not in to competition, just road use.
I hope all the above is clear enough. (Polite) comments are welcome, to improve the breed!
Exporting the M.G. Series T.C. Midget
M.G. was aware as early as 1944 that when the company returned to car production they would be expected to export a fair amount of their capacity. In 1944 and 1945, the British government’s Ministry of Supply set a minimum export quota of 25% of all production – a number that was attainable. However, by mid-1946 the Ministry recognized it would need to be much higher than that (especially exports to “hard currency” countries) if Britain were to stave off financial ruin, and increased this to 50% for motor cars and 33% for commercial vehicles. Here is some of the back story of MG’s export activities – gleaned from document archives of MG and The Nuffield Organization.
MG exports were handled by Nuffield Exports Limited – the company within the Nuffield organization that handled all exports of the various Nuffield Marques and products. Thus, MG didn’t set out to create an export market for themselves, but followed policy established by the Nuffield Directors.
The real problem facing MG – and Nuffield Exports – was the lack of relationships with distributors and dealers in many non-commonwealth markets. The entry into the Australian market was easy – Nuffield already had an established presence there; the quantity of cars Nuffield sent to Australia speaks to that. But the Ministry wanted manufacturers (MG included) to shift exports away from “soft currency” countries (i.e., Australia, India, South Africa – colonies of past and present) to “hard currency” countries – specifically the United States. That would help with the war debt repayment. Some Nuffield companies (Morris, MG, and Morris Commercial) recognized the sales opportunities in North America, so along with the Ministry’s demands, there was incentive to find a way to enter and exploit the non-commonwealth market.
Key staff members of Nuffield Exports made several trips to North America in 1946-47 that are well documented in archived letters. Reginald Hanks (a Managing Director of Nuffield Exports) and Donald Harrison played key roles in finding companies to function as distributors and dealers in the U.S.A. and Canada.
In an October 29, 1946 letter from Hanks to Miles Thomas (Vice-Chairman of Nuffield) during one of his trips to the U.S. Hanks writes:
“. . As you know, we have not attempted to adopt the Austin and Standard policy, because there have not been enough cars available to exploit the American Market properly, except at the expense of many of our pre-war and loyal Distributors. My intention is to send Donald Harrison over to the U.S.A. and Canada just as soon as we have anything to offer in these new models, and we have several very useful contacts which are worthy of close investigation.
Perhaps the best of them is under the auspices of Hambros Bank. This may sound rather queer, but Hambros have already taken the James Auto-Cycle in hand, and their sales figures are impressive. They set about organizing the job State by State, and build up good Sales-cum-Service depots before moving on to the next place.
Incidentally, Hambros, too, support the notion that a small car like the Mosquito (author’s note: the proposed replacement for the TC), and a unique production like the M.G. Midget, are the only lines worth pushing.
Please do not take our present M.G. sales policy for the U.S.A. seriously. Collier Brothers are just enthusiastic amateurs, and we shall carry on with them only so long as we have such a few cars to offer. I see they have had ten to date…..“
Of the 1,700 TCs made in 1946, 20 were exported to the U.S. – all to Collier’s Motor Sport dealership.
While this was all going on, MG was still doing “war contract” production – all through 1946. Work continued building and modifying tanks, Merlin engine overhauls, and other projects. Car production at MG was still a very low volume affair, the result of inability to obtain materials; hence, there were no cars to export. Another group of letters within MG and the Ministry of Supply speak about obtaining more material allocations so MG could make cars to sell to the U.S. market. The Ministry wanted MG to abandon their existing “commonwealth” country business and focus solely on U.S. Dollar markets; MG saw that as a death knell for existing, though small, markets. The tussle went back and forth on this for quite a while.
Car production continued to increase, though material shortages were a constant problem. The Nuffield companies even had specific employees whose sole job was to drive to suppliers and pick up enough parts to keep production running for the day. But the shortage problems were worked through, and the majority of production increases were directed to exports.
One year later, Donald Harrison of Nuffield Exports wrote to Thomas from a U.S. trip in October 1947. He indicated there was no real opportunity for Wolseley, Morris, Morris vans, or Riley. Right hand drive sedans were problematic in the market, and their price put them out of consideration. Though Nuffield people thought the TC (always called the Midget in their letters) as being old-fashioned and too expensive (it was!), the nature of it as a sporting car created a market – and a buzz! But there had to be sufficient quantity of cars available to make it worthwhile for distributors and 15 cars per week was not enough.
He writes: “. . . In Southern California we have come to an understanding with Gough Industries of Los Angeles. . . their initial order is for 100 Midgets through Hambro. . . .
. . . In San Francisco we have seen a firm by the name of Qvale; they hold the Willys Dealership. . .
…In Texas we have fixed with S.H. Lynch & Co, a firm of considerable wealth who handles James Motor Cycles; they also have a large business in musical instruments and a beer agency. Lynch will handle MG in Texas and other areas. . . . they have already started an intensive advertising campaign for M.G….
. . . So tomorrow we start things all over again in Vancouver. Before I get there I know they are going to press for Midget deliveries. Isn’t it curious how these people will talk of this model to the almost exclusion of all others! It makes me cross at times.
Kind regards, Donald H. (Jock sends his regards to all, too.) “
Hambros Bank turned out to be a key financing and import arm for MG in the North American market, and led them to successful distributors. It’s interesting to see read about the frustration Nuffield people had over the intense excitement the TC generated; it obviously overshadowed all other vehicles they were trying to export. Cecil Kimber really did know what he was doing!
The Water Pump
There are water pumps and there are water pumps – “yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice!”
To quote the following from Barrie Jones, TD/TF Technical Specialist for the ‘T’ Register of the MGCC:
“The original water pumps had a shaft with a shoulder in the middle, so the bearings were positively located each side of this built-in spacer. The impeller position was set during manufacture and it could not be altered. The castle nut on the end only held the pulley on, so you could tighten it as much as you liked to hold the pulley secure.
Some replacement water pumps have a straight shaft onto which the bearings are pressed. There is a nyloc nut on the end which must be adjusted to ensure there is a .020” gap between the impeller and the pump body. This must be done off the car. If you over-tighten the nut, the impeller will be pulled into contact with the pump body, causing the pump to seize solid, but if you don’t tighten it enough, the pulley will be able to wobble on the shaft. Obviously, the pump must then be fitted to the vehicle with the pulley already attached to it. It gets worse – if you do this more than two or three times, the bearings become a sliding fit on the shaft, and then it is impossible to get the adjustment right, so basically the pump is scrap.”
The following article has been provided by Steve Turner of Racemettle. Steve responded very promptly to my request for details of his product and I hope that TTT 2 readers find the information useful.
XPAG/XPEG Water Pump Re-Design
In the late summer of 2006 the company that manufactured most of the classic car water pumps in the UK decided to close, probably due to the influx of cheap imports. At this time Racemettle had already re-designed and was manufacturing aluminium water pumps for the Triumph TR range of cars and had come to an agreement to buy up the drawings and patterns from the company. As part of this transaction, we obtained drawings, patterns and a box of castings for the MG ‘T’ type water pumps and this box of bits languished in a corner of our workshop almost forgotten.
During 2008 Mr Alan Atkins walked into our offices asking about one of our products he was interested in purchasing and as we talked, putting the world to rights, the poor quality of his now leaking water pump came up in conversation. Alan bemoaned the fact that whilst the pumps were cheap to buy, the effort involved in changing them every couple of years was disproportionate and he would rather pay more for a reliable pump. Alan also told us that when motoring in Europe, in the hot weather, his MG had a tendency to overheat when standing in traffic. We specialise in re-design of automotive components so suggested we could probably do a better job and produced one of the forgotten castings to talk over the issues; the seed was sown! Subsequently an old sample pump was provided by Alan and the work started.
First consideration in the pump re-design was availability of components. The bearing manufacturers produce special pump bearings that comprise a shaft and two bearings all in a sealed for life shell. This is very durable and easy to assemble but unlike a few years ago when they were available in almost any size you wanted, now the manufacturers will only make a limited range and then only if you purchase 500 or 1000 off.
The best scenario would have been to use the same bearing and seal as the TR pumps we were already manufacturing but unfortunately they were just too short to do the job. When we located a bearing with the correct length shaft it was too small in diameter to take the existing seal we were using. Nothing is ever simple!
We managed to persuade both the bearing and seal manufacturers to make us a sample so that we could re-design and test the pump. This was a major step forward and allowed us to design the casting internals and the impeller as a reasonably straight forward job.
It is important that the seal is under the correct amount of compression so careful consideration must be given to tolerances. In the past we had used monobloc seals that can be arranged to grip the shaft so the compression of the seal is obtained during fitting. However we were told the new two part seals supplied for this type of application required the correct compression from the impellor. This arrangement was less prone to failure due to its ability to tolerate some eccentricity in the shaft rotation to absorb vibration and bearing wear. We decided to use this arrangement. We had already designed a centrifugal impellor blade for the TR pumps which was effective and so this basic design was used again in modified form to suit the MG pump.
The only problem left was the pulley. It would not fit and the bearings were not available for a keyway pulley as they were designed to be used with a push fit pulley. Due to the eccentric design of the fan attachment it was considered that manufacturing new pulleys from scratch would be too expensive. When we looked around to purchase pulleys we could only find 5 in the UK available for sale so it was obvious we were going to have to re-use old pulleys whenever possible.
Fortunately existing pulleys could be re-bored to fit the new pump as a push fit unit.
Finally we had a design that improved the original in every area. A sealed for life modern purpose built bearing that pressed into the casting and was mechanically contained; a modern high speed two part seal placed under the correct compression with tolerance to bearing wear and vibration; a redesigned impellor that would increase the volume and pressure developed by the pump; a push fit pulley that was not prone to wear on the keyway or over or under tightening of the attachment.
First consideration was that we only had one seal and one bearing so we could not afford to make a mistake. Whilst we had lots of castings, the bore of them was too large to take the new bearing and the pattern would need modification. The cost of this modification and casting new bodies on an untested pump was a risk, so we decided for the development pump to sleeve one of the existing castings. Drawings were produced and arrangements made with our machine shop to modify a casting and manufacture a rig so that they could be pressure tested.
The first unit was very carefully assembled checking and double checking all dimensions. When we were satisfied that everything was assembled correctly it came to the moment of truth as the pump was attached to the test rig and 15psi was applied; no loss of pressure was apparent so it was pushed up to 20psi and left for 30 mins. resulting in a satisfactory pressure test.
Mr Alan Atkins had agreed to performance test the unit for us so after a phone call the unit was on its way to him. We expected Alan to just test the pump on his car but unbeknown to us he built a small, unsophisticated but effective test rig. By pumping water over a fixed amount of time Alan determined that the pump would produce about twice as much volume as the old pump. By fitting a pipe and holding it up in the air to see how high the pump could raise the water he also determined that the pump could produce over twice the head of the old design.
As with all centrifugal pumps, they produce only sufficient head to overcome the resistance imposed on them. The volume produced varies and is determined by the head developed. A centrifugal pump will normally be provided with a graph showing a curve that determines what volume they will pump against the head developed. This curve is affected by a number of other factors including temperature and NPSH or net positive suction head (amount of pressure at the inlet).
Probably available by now are complex computer simulations but for most of us the only practical way to determine this curve is to use empirical data. As the equipment and effort to produce this data is out of proportion to the application it was decided it was unnecessary and as Alan had shown, the new pump was capable of out performing the standard pump in all areas.
Only one slight problem occurred fitting the pump to the car. The car had been modified with a 5 speed gearbox and a steady bar had been fitted under one of the bolts that secured the pump. As the pulley was already fitted on to the shaft it was impossible to get the longer bolt that had been used under the pulley because of the decreased space. A quick call to the gearbox supplier confirmed that the steady could be reversed with the thinner end at the pump and consequently the bolt could now be inserted. So with the pump fitted Alan set off for the south of France. On his return, a tanned and more relaxed looking Alan called to see us and reported how well the pump had performed throughout his trip and how he had none of the problems previously experienced with overheating when standing in traffic.
The pump had proved itself to out perform the original design and probably just as importantly, it had been designed and manufactured with modern bearings and seals that should last for many more miles than the original pump with little or no maintenance.
We have only been manufacturing the MG pump for 4 years (and Rolls Royce pumps, that use the same bearings and seals for 3 years) but we have been manufacturing the TR pumps that are essentially the same for 15 to 20 years and we have not had one in service seal or bearing failure reported to us yet!
Every pump has a pulley pressed on and before despatch is pressure tested to ensure it is performing up to design specification. Purchasing one of these newly designed and better performing pumps should be the last time the customer ever has to replace or repair such an item.
We have just obtained a supply of standard pulleys and very shortly will be able to supply every pump with a newly manufactured pulley. Recently we had been asked by a customer for a pulley for use with an electric fan. Always eager to oblige we have designed and can now also supply the pumps fitted with a new aluminium pulley without the fan boss.
Steve Turner, Racemettle
Ed’s note: Racemettle is a trading name of Racetorations. Some comments and photos follow.
I started this article with the saying “yer pays yer money………………..” Yes, you can buy a new water pump for a lot less than the cost of the pump offered by Racemettle and it may well give you excellent service if you are careful with the fitting, albeit this was not Alan Atkins’ experience, hence the moves to get a new pump designed and manufactured.
To put the quote from Barrie Jones into context it was in response to a number of complaints that had been referred to him as the MGCC ‘T’ Register Technical Specialist for the TD/TF models about reproduction XPAG water pumps and loose pulleys. As a Technical Specialist he was giving his opinion on what might be the cause of owners’ dissatisfaction with their purchase.
Another option to replace your water pump if it is giving you trouble is to send it to EP Services in Wolverhampton for overhaul. A friend of mine with an L2 sent his leaky pump to them and is pleased with the service offered. I intend to contact them to see if they are prepared to let me have an article for publication in a future issue.
Whilst on the subject of cooling, Barrie Jones, who has read the article before publication, has come up with a couple of suggestions for other cooling issues as follows:
“May I suggest that there is also an opportunity to re-design the thermostat (as fitted to the TB TC and TD) so that it used a modern wax-stat?
Also, the water outlet pipe on the TF is made of an alloy that seems to have a life of less than 2 years. Re-manufacturing these from a better metal and with a thicker flange would probably be popular”.
Bob Butson continues with the account of his rebuild. Bob’s writing is fast catching up with progress but there will be more for future issues.
Skinning the Body
I have been asked about skinning the body, in particular the forward side panels. My starting point was Chapter 4 (Bodywork) in M.G. T Series Restoration Guide by Malcolm Green. The section on skinning commencing on page 49 gives a very good description of the way to replicate all panels except the scuttle top.
I used steel approximately 1mm thick, sourced locally. It was cut from a sheet into appropriate sizes by the supplier. For the forward side panels I used a sheet metal folder to form the vertical and horizontal folds, starting with the front edge 90 degree fold. Then by clamping the panel to the frame I marked the lower edge, I cut off the surplus and folded again. This gave a panel with folds on two sides which when clamped and checked for the correct fit enabled the door aperture to be marked out. Some say that this curved part can be done on the frame after trimming the surplus metal but I made formers from blockboard and worked off the body. Some work on the panels can be done on the wood frame with care but the frame can ‘spring’ or be dented.
Information about tools and techniques can be found at allmetalshaping.com
Ed’s note: Malcolm Green’s book is available from the T-Shop at £15.95. This price, like all our book prices, is extremely competitive.
Lacquer to finish the dashboard
Also I have been asked about what lacquer I used to finish the dashboard. I used Rustins Clear Plastic Coating obtained from Longhorn. Tel: 01228 511511. Web: longhornonline.co.uk. The final polishing was done according to the coating instructions.
The headlamp wiring
With reference to the original TA wiring diagram (a copy of which can be found on the ttypes.org website under ‘Publications’), the PLC lighting switch in the Head position is connected to the headlight (main beam) through a blue/white wire to the H fuse in the CJR3 cut-out, through it to a blue wire to the offside headlight.
The dip is achieved by the dipswitch earthing the solenoid in the offside headlamp to effect the dip, which also removes 12 volts from the nearside. The wire used is red/black from the headlamp solenoid to the dipswitch via no ‘7’ terminal on the CJR3 cut- out. This arrangement is now illegal.
As I will use double filament bulbs I altered the wiring as follows. The PLC switch Side/Head position ‘H’, is connected to the H fuse as before (Blue/White). A new wire (blue in my case) is connected from the other side of the H fuse to the dipswitch terminal ‘7’. Two extra wires from the dipswitch unnumbered terminal and terminal ‘33’ on the diagram are used. The earth wire is removed from the 33 terminal. I used Blue/White as main and Red /Blue as dip, to feed to two of the unused terminals on the CJR3 cut-out between number ‘7’ and number ‘12’. From these the feed is to the main and dip headlamp filaments using the colours red/blue and blue/white on the new loom. For original looms this could be the yellow/ blue wire (main) and the red/black (dip) existing wires. Also an extra wire will be needed between the headlamps for dip.
Years ago I thought I would have two mechanically dipping reflectors. Now that better bulbs are available I bought another plain reflector from Keith Ardley Tel: 01353 778493 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (the spelling ‘kieth’ rather than ‘keith’ in the e-mail address is correct!).
Having no faith in the earthing of the headlights (and all the other lamps) via their mechanical connections, I have run an earth wire from the lamp fittings to a sound chassis earth.
The air filter
Years ago when I was collecting parts for the TA I had obtained what I thought was a reproduction air cleaner. The original was the same size but with turned over steel ends. This cleaner looks like an original but has cast aluminium ends, I have no record as to who made it. The ends have been turned to fit the casing with the filling being steel wool wrapped in foil mesh (see photo).
In the Octagon Car Club Bulletin for February 2012, John Mansell describes how he made aluminium ends for an original TA filter casing and fitted an MGB filter.
For TC owners this page shows how to fit a K&N filter into the original filter casing and which filter to use. The ends of the filter casing in this latter article are similar to the one which I have.
Research for a filter to fit any arrangement can be done at the K&N website knfilters.co.uk. Not having to make ends, I found a filter to fit which is K&N RC-9280. This filter is obtainable at a discount from cottonfilters.co.uk. The filter is pre oiled and is good for 10.000 miles. An oiling/cleaning kit is available from Cotton Filters.
It was necessary to drill a small hole in the top of the filter to accommodate the fixing screw and to insert a rubber sealing buffer inside the recess in the casing end. For this I used a cut-down shock absorber bush which provided an air tight seal.
The indicators switch
I am using a two bulb conversion to the sidelamps. The arrangement for the rear lamps has yet to be decided.
Some will favour the Lucas lever operated self-cancelling switch no. 54033231 for the indicator switch. I am using two period style push/pull switches as I have yet to find a Lucas switch. The arrangement is one each side of an ignition style dashboard lamp with the indicators relay located under the toolbox. If this is not noisy enough I will use a beeper. As my speedometer is not fitted with a 30 mph terminal I am using the green dash lamp for an indicators signal.
The red ignition lamp between the L/H and R/H indicators switch will now be the intended low oil pressure warning lamp. This makes the two way plug from the dash shown in the last article redundant and is removed. I hope to show the fitted dashboard in the next article and my arrangement for a low oil pressure warning.
Ed’s note: Bob’s notes on skinning the body have reminded me to let you know that Steve Gilbert is making TA and TC complete body tubs, skinned in 1mm steel or 1.5 mm aluminium. Photos are on his web site sjgilbert-vintagecar.co.uk
Steve made me a body tub for my J2 and I am very pleased with it. I’ve said before that I like “one man bands” and I can recommend Steve without reservation.
Steve is also making batches of TC stainless steel tanks with original brass neck, which was found on the early cars (see photos).
Mike Collingburn is known the world over for his M.G. interiors. He specializes in Triple-M and T- Types and has patterns for just about every model.
How did he start in business? Well, back in 1966 Mike bought a TC in Retford, Nottinghamshire for £70 having been told about it by a friend. Mike also knew of a TC for sale in Sheffield but plumped for the car in Retford. As luck would have it, Mike did well to steer clear as the Sheffield car was bought by his friend and almost immediately ran a big end!
Looking back, £70 was probably quite a few quid under the going rate for a TC at the time and consequently the car needed a rebuild. When it came to the interior Mike thought he would save himself a few bob and bought a sewing machine for a fiver. Unfortunately it proved to be the wrong type of sewing machine as it was actually a cobbler’s patching machine for doing runs on the inside of shoes.
Undaunted, Mike persevered and obviously made such a good job of his TC’s interior that he was approached by a fellow owner who asked “Can you do my interior?”
Yes, this really was the start of things to come as Mike was becoming increasingly disenchanted with his job at the time as a manager of a Men’s Outfitters for the Co-op. (There are only so many times you can kneel at groin level and ask a man to cough whilst measuring his inside leg…..ahem!) He was getting more offers of upholstery and car trimming work so he decided to take the plunge and start up on his own. He has never looked back!
A welcome (and profitable!) distraction was in repairing Waltzer seats whenever the travelling Fair came to Richmond in North Yorkshire. As well as being paid for the seat repair there was often the added bonus of finding money down the back of the seats!
Over the years Mike has managed to acquire patterns for virtually all Triple-M and T-Type models, including the rarer ones. Readers might remember that he restored the interior on a P-type Airline Coupe, the rebuild of which was featured in MG Enthusiast a few years back.
He has always dealt solely with M.G. interiors, the principal reason being that restoration supplies have to be specially made. For example, spring units have to be made to order but the biggest issue is the leather, which has to be right as original colours are offered (the list can be viewed at wmmcollingburn.com) with the grained pattern and the darker shading within the grain on most colours. Therefore, the PVC has to be a good match and complement the leather, and as both are sourced separately, all this takes time. It is not unknown for ‘brick walls to be hit’ i.e. if the PVC isn’t a good match for the leather then it is next to useless, it ends up as dead stock and it’s back to the drawing board. Mike argues that he doesn’t see why he or his customers should compromise on perfection, and ‘getting it right’ in a world where not enough producers strive for excellence, is a constant challenge.
Nowadays the workforce has doubled with eldest son James employed on a variety of tasks to help promote the business and keep the waiting list down to size; however, due to the need to source materials mentioned previously, delays are inevitable as Mike and James are completely reliant on good raw materials with all interiors being made to order.
The only ‘off the shelf’ items offered are ready to sell goods such as the reproduction oilcans and panel kits etc. The artwork for these was produced by James with most of it being hand drawn and the labels are rolled onto the cans ‘in house’.
Over the years, Mike has exported far more than he has sold in the Home market (in keeping with the MG export statistics!) and he reckons that at its peak the percentage going abroad was as high as 70%.
Mike’s aim is still the same as it was 45 years ago, which James articulates as:
“We strive to make the best quality interiors we can, that are as original as possible, so that the finished interior looks beautiful and impressive in your lovingly restored MG”.
A selection of Collingburn seats