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Back Cover Photos

6 Nov

Above: Milly Player in her smart duotone red TA Tickford, TA3079 at GOF Central MK XXXIV hosted by The Vintage M.G. Car Club of Chicago in Summer 2012. Below: Bill Hentzen arriving at the GOF in TB Tickford, TB0437.


Above: Panoramic ‘shot’ of the participants at GOF CENTRAL MK XXXIV hosted by The Vintage M.G. Car Club of Chicago this summer. More than 200 came from all over the U.S.A. Below: TA/TB Tickford Reunion, Chicago 2012 – Phil Laiacona, Trumbull, CT; Jim Williams, Cincinnati, OH; Lee Jacobsen, Dearborn, MI; Bill Hentzen, Mequon, WI; Len Star, Hudson, OH; Milly Player, Lancaster, SC.
*Click photos for bigger versions*

Bits and Pieces

6 Nov

Not much room for this item this time I’m afraid.

Leaf Springs for MG TC Six pairs of TC front springs have been made with an enlarged (5/8”) front eye to take a i/16” bronze bush. The cost per spring was £90 plus VAT and those who ordered them have been separately notified. The cost of the bushes, fitting and reaming has to be added to the unit cost of the springs.

Large Rear Shackle Bushes for the TC These are now in stock and cost £4 per bush. A sachet of assembly lubricant is supplied with each pack of four (4) bushes and the UK postage cost is £2.20. EU and ROW postage is around £3 and £4 respectively. Packages have been sent out to those on the waiting list. If you haven’t received yours yet it may well be that I forgot to add your name to the list! If so, please contact me again and I’ll send by return. Tel: 0117 986 4224 e- mail jj(at) {please substitute @ for (at)}

Interleaf pads on TD/TF (and Y) rear springs Nothing ever goes smoothly! The intended supplier quoted for Acetal when he was asked to quote for Nylatron. I have to try elsewhere but there will be a delay due to family commitments.

Steel Crankshaft and rods for the XPAG I am in discussion with a Midlands based manufacturer of crankshafts and rods to supply a small batch of XPAG cranks and rods. At present I know of three (3) owners who have expressed an interest. The cranks would be in EN40B material and the rods of H section. It is early days yet but the likely cost is around £1900 plus VAT for each set of crank and rods. The contract would be between the purchaser and the supplier.

If you are interested, please contact me (phone number and e-mail address as for the shackle bush item).

TA1096 (Registration number JK 6672)

Paul Longbottom has e-mailed to say that he thinks that his car might have had some competition history. If anybody recognises the above registration number Paul would be grateful if you would contact him at plongbot(at) {substitute @ for (at)}.

TC2965 (Registration number DUJ 867)

A past owner, Robert Heppell (01386 860499) has a bill of sale (signed over a 2p stamp!) from when he bought the car from the second owner, Rosemary Newton of Church Stretton, Shropshire in 1976. It is said that Rosemary was given the car by her employer, Major Wolfe in 1961. The Major bought it from new in 1947 until he passed it on in 1961. Robert would like to hear from the present owner.

Kimber Festival Call for Papers

The New England MG T Register is seeking proposals for papers to be presented at its Kimber Festival to be held in Bennington, Vermont, USA, from April 12 through 14, 2013. The Kimber Festival brings together enthusiasts who are keenly interested in M.G. 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. Papers about the last MGB will be as welcome as one about the first M.G., Old Number One. Presenters pay all of their own expenses, as there is no budget for honorariums.

After check-in at the host motel on Friday afternoon, there will be an “in room” literature/memorabilia swap meet for early arrivals. Attendees will have an opportunity to sell, buy, and swap extra items from their collections. There will be ample time for renewing friendships as well as making new ones.

On Friday evening, April 12, the attendees will celebrate Cecil Kimber’s 125th birthday at the Hemmings Motor News museum. Along with a birthday cake there will be a keynote presentation designed to set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

The Kimber Festival moves to the Bennington Museum for all of the Saturday activities. This venue has perfect meeting rooms for the presentations while containing an outstanding collection of Vermont historical items. In addition, the museum holds to world’s largest collection of both Grandma Moses’ paintings and Bennington Pottery.

Proposals for papers on subjects related to the old car hobby will also be welcomed. A few years ago, for instance, we had a presentation about flower arranging using M.G. parts. Following the Festival, a certain number of the papers will be selected for publication in The Sacred Octagon, the Register’s magazine.

Proposals should include the title of the submission, names and affiliations of presenters, together with addresses, phone numbers, email addresses of contact personnel, proposed format (paper, panel, workshop, etc.) and a short abstract describing the content of the presentation. A computer projector will be available for power point presentations.

Proposals must be received by December 31, 2012; notification of acceptance is anticipated by January 31. Proposals should be submitted to: Richard L. Knudson, 9 St. James’ Place #207, Oneonta, New York 13820 USA, email preferred to FC7900(at) please {substitute @ for (at)}

MG TC Front Axle Castor Angle

6 Nov

This summer, my TC was displayed along with other vintage, historic & classic cars at our local village fete. I got talking to someone who was staying with relatives in the area and who’d recently purchased a TC (although not available on the day). On discovering my car still retained the Bishop Cam steering box, he said he found his car had a tendency to wander on straight roads. I advised him to check the castor angle as well as checking the steering box was correctly adjusted (i.e. correctly shimmed – unless he had the aftermarket Tompkins screw adjustment cover plate), check the ‘toe in’ was correctly set and no significant ‘play’ in the king pins, drag link and track rod ends.

Since he was interested in understanding the castor angle, I recounted my own experience when purchasing my 1946 TC in 2003. I bought my car from a classic car dealer (in fairness to him not specifically an MG dealer) who simply commented “like many older cars with worm & peg steering boxes, don’t expect the steering to be pin sharp”.

As purchased, the steering was very sensitive with very little self-centring action. The steering box did need slight adjustment by removing a 0.005″ shim and with the top plate off I took the opportunity to fill with ‘Steering lube’ which is a liquid semi- grease (as thick oil tends to drain out of the box through the drop arm seal and grease is so thick the action of the follower peg in the worm simply deposits it on the sides of the box, depriving the moving parts of essential lubrication).

However the real culprit was a lack of castor angle caused by the axle being fitted back to front during some previous rebuild – and this is not an uncommon occurrence! Mike Sherrell’s book TCs Forever! and a number of other publications explain the castor angle set up. Castor is achieved when a projected line drawn though the centre of the king pin touches the road ahead of the tyre contact point and provides a self-centring action (think of the castors on a supermarket trolley).

The castor angle is simply the angle that the king pin leans backwards from the vertical to enable the projected line to be ahead of the centre of the tyre contact point. The greater the castor angle the more the self-centring effect (but also the harder it is to turn the steering wheel at low parking speeds), so MG designed the steering geometry to achieve a balance between straight line stability and ease of low speed manoeuvring.

When correctly set up and taking the weight of the car (providing they’re not worn or sagging), the front springs of a TC rise up forward by 5 degrees from the horizontal. In comparison with the king pin axis the underside of the front axle mounting pads are set 3 degrees from horizontal which means if a loose axle is placed on a flat surface the king pin axis will lean back by 3 degrees. When correctly installed on the car the total castor angle is 8 degrees (5 degrees on the spring and 3 degrees cast into the axle). But of course, if the axle is reversed by being incorrectly assembled off the car during a rebuild with the LH and RH stub axles fitted to the wrong side of the beam axle then when fitted to the car the castor angle is actually reduced to only 2 degrees (5deg minus 3 deg).

Mike Sherrell’s book states a first indication as to whether a TC front axle has been reversed is that the cast in lettering on the axle beam should be to the rear of the car (i.e. not readily obvious from the front). A number of MG dealers I talked to were slightly sceptical as to whether this generalisation applied to all TAs, TBs & TCs (to be fair Mike only refers to this with TCs) but certainly a sure fire way of confirming if the front axle is the correct way around is that the round heads of the king pin retaining cotters should be at the rear and the cotter nuts to the front of the axle. (i.e. the head of the king pin cotter acts as a steering stop with the bolt at the back of the stub axle).

On TCs built from late 1947 onwards, MG installed 2.5 degree wedge plates between the axle and the spring. Fitted from the rear of the axle this had the effect of rotating the axle forward reducing the castor by 2.5 degrees to 5.5 degrees. MG did this in response to complaints from the USA that American women were finding the TC steering heavy when parking. I and many others would advise removing these later wedge plates to regain the earlier cars’ better straight line stability with 8 degrees castor.

However, these 2.5 degree wedge plates (available from Moss and others) do have one useful function. If like mine when purchased, your car has a reversed front axle you can’t just turn the axle around since this would cause a major safety issue regards reversing the left hand and right hand stub axles & nuts even when you change over the hubs and back plates to the correct side etc. Therefore until I removed and fully rebuilt my front axle correctly, as a temporary measure I fitted these 2.5 degree wedges between the axle and the springs but from the front so rotating the axle backwards and improving the castor from 2 degrees to 4.5 degrees.

I’ll admit that whilst I was planning improvements to enable my TC to keep up with modern traffic I considered fitting the Datsun or VW steering box conversion as well as the 5 speed HI-Gear Ford gearbox etc. But in truth, since I’ve got a tubular extractor manifold on my stage 2 engine the modern steering box wouldn’t fit. Therefore I’ve kept a correctly adjusted standard Bishop Cam steering box, which together with NDT crack detected drop arm, reconditioned front springs, John James’ polyurethane shackle bushes, new stub axles and Roger Furneaux’s taper roller front bearing conversion in new hubs, the steering is precise with good straight line stability.

A final modification I’ve carried out recently – more for fun than any real need on a road car (and a possible thought of club hill climbing at some future date as it’s normally a track conversion) – is to fit a new rose jointed drag link and track rod and a front Panhard Rod which better locates the front axle and takes out the sideways lateral movement inherent with the bushed shackle spring retainers.

This makes no – or only very marginal – difference under normal driving conditions but the car is better poised under hard cornering. The TA and TB’s front springs were retained at the rear by sliding trunnions which gave a better lateral location (being developed from MG’s racing experience through the 1930s), but as these tended to wear quite badly on higher mileage road cars they were changed on the post war TC to the harder wearing bushed shackles.

Mike Harvey

Ed’s note: The 2.5 degree packing pieces were introduced at chassis number TC4251.

The castor angle at the axle base is 3 degrees for the TA, TB and TC; this seems to indicate to me that the front axles were the same for the TA/TB/TC.

The (total) castor angle on the TA and TB is 6 degrees, 3 degrees at the axle base and 3 degrees on the chassis. So the difference in (total) castor angle (6 degrees, compared with 8 degrees) must be due the difference in spring mounting at the rear of the spring from a trunnion arrangement to one of shackles.

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Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

6 Nov

About 18 months ago I restored the engine of my TA. After a few hundred miles, water started to disappear from the radiator; maybe half a litre a fortnight. I tightened the clips on the hoses but the leakage continued unabated. I then noticed brown water run marks, apparently from the cylinder head, down the driver’s side of the block just below the front head stud. I took off the cylinder head, terrified of finding that I had cracked the block in tightening down the head. TG it was OK.

I replaced the head, using Wellseal on the head gasket and filled the radiator. After a day or so, water drops could be seen down the side of the block in the same place as before. There were also water runs down the side of the block beneath two other head studs.

I then noticed drops of water on top of the nuts which bolt down the head, and finally the penny dropped. On my engine at least, the head studs protrude into the water jacket. Water was oozing up the thread, through the stud holes in the head gasket (I obviously hadn’t put enough Wellseal around them), past the studs through the head, up the thread of the nuts and out into the world. The reason that it didn’t leak at first was that I had used plenty of grease on the stud threads and it had taken some miles before the grease had melted away.

Next time the head is removed (hopefully long after my time) it would be advisable to remove the studs from the block and put them back with an appropriate water sealing compound. Pending that, I removed the nuts one by one (including the ones inside the rocker box cover), wrapped PTFE tape round the threads, selected pristine new washers and replaced the nuts. They haven’t leaked since and that’s about 2,000 miles ago.

Realising that water could also have oozed past the nuts inside the rocker box cover and into the oil, I loosened the sump plug and sure enough, quite a bit of water came out before any oil. The inside of the breather pipe was also thickly coated with an unspeakable, slimy grey oil/water emulsion. It was a narrow escape; the engine could so easily have melted main or big end bearings or seized up entirely.


Some time later I replaced pitted cam followers with newly ground ones. This entailed removing both cam follower blocks. When the front one was taken off, water came out of the front bolt hole. If I say it pxxd out it will give the right idea. On my engine at least, the bolt hole obviously breaks into the water jacket. I sealed the bottom of the hole with an araldite/PTFE plug and it seems to be OK, though I now keep an eagle eye on the water level in the radiator. To be looked into next time the engine is out . . .

So, you MPJG owners, if your water level drops, check the two obscure leakage paths I’ve discovered before doing anything more radical !


Lastly, when first started after a few days of not being used, the clutch sticks and it is impossible to engage gears without a terrible grinding. With the ignition off, I have to push the clutch fully down, put the car in gear, brake hard and pull the starter. The car twitches, the clutch un-sticks and the engine spins over. Thereafter it’s fine. However, it doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

Adrian Sheppard
Isle of Wight

Manchester University XPAG Project

6 Nov

The XPAG Project Team Members

Newsletter – November 2012

This is the first of a set of planned monthly Newsletters to all involved in the XPAG engine trial. The research project is being run by a team of 4th Year MSc Undergraduate students of the Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering Department (MACE) at Manchester University (formerly UMIST) under the guidance of Professor John Yates and Dr Rob Prosser. The six students undertaking this research project, work with the minimal of direction, and have access to the excellent departmental engineering facilities, an engine test cell and can call on the expertise of the Lecturers and Technical staff.

The project started formally on 5 October when the students were briefed by John Yates and Rob Prosser after which, as the client representative, I met with the group. It was clear that even at this early stage, all the members were very keen, knowledgeable and already aware of many of the problems faced by classic car owners using modern fuels. I spent time explaining the operation of two of the key components of the XPAG engine, the distributor and carburettors to help them when the time comes to getting the engine running. It is hard to believe such important parts to a classic MG owner probably went out of use before these students were born!

The project will use an XPAG engine loaned by Andrew Owst, a long-time member of the MGCC from the Bristol area, delivered to Manchester by David Heath. It will be fitted with a fully rebuilt distributor on loan from the Distributor Doctor and a pair of gleaming new carburettors on loan from Burlen. The XPAG engine was running when it was removed from the car, however, since then most of the “external” parts, such as oil pump, filter, etc. have been removed. I showed the group the engine, a box of replacement parts lent by NTG in Ipswich and the engine test cell they will be using. One job for them will be to remove the diesel engine currently in the cell before their tests can be run.

As part of their academic assessment, the next task for the group is to produce a plan, budget and milestones for presentation to John Yates and Robert Prosser. The Group are planning to come up with engine mount designs to allow the XPAG to be installed in the test cell which will be submitted for manufacture towards the end of October as soon as the dimensions are finalised. They are also in the process of deciding what tests they will be carrying out.

Peter Cole has kindly agreed to act as treasurer for the project. Please could the sponsors either transfer their donations to:

Manchester XPAG (Account No: 73699250, Sort Code: 20-44-51) and email Peter pcoleuk(at) {substitute @ for (at)} once this has been done.

Or post a cheque made payable to “Manchester XPAG” to: Mr Peter Cole, 8 Aldbourne Drive, Bognor Regis PO21 4NE

Time now for you to book a place at T Register Rebuild 2013 on 23 March to meet with the Group and discuss the project yourselves. See for further information.

Paul Ireland

Ed’s Note: A cheque for £500 has been sent as a contribution from TTT 2.

Distributor Doctor

The test cell with diesel engine currently installed. This engine will be removed to make way for the XPAG engine.

A Tale of Two Ts

6 Nov

This short article has come about as a result of the Editor mentioning the registration number MG 4950 in the TA Airline article (August 2012 TTT 2). The original registration number of the Airline was MG 4952, chassis number TA0355; MG 4950 is chassis number TA0352.

John Masters in Wichita, Kansas, USA noticed mention of his car and e-mailed this article.

I have long been an aficionado of antique cars – and anything else with an engine. I am a 20 year veteran of the US Air Force and spent my entire career in automotive maintenance. To that end I currently own four antiques. For some strange reason, I have always acquired cars that are out of the ordinary. Unique body types and limited edition models have dominated. My first MG was a 1952 YB Saloon. Only a few thousand were built. My Model T Ford was a 1926 Fordor, again a limited production body type and rarely seen. Ever heard of a 1954 Ford Comete Monte Carlo? It was built in Poissy by Ford of France. Only a few in the US and I had one of them. Other cars were similarly acquired, driven and passed on to new owners. Today, half of my antiques are vintage MGs.

In 1992, I was offered an old MG by a local friend. He had owned it for several years and his wife no longer drove it. She wanted it out of the garage to make room for her modern car. I agreed to take a look. It was a red MG roadster, the same year as my first MG – 1952. I drove it, liked it and bought it. Then I started researching. This was before Internet access. I had questions about some of its equipment, especially the two fuel pumps and the extra shock absorbers that were not shown in the Moss catalog. I called Moss Motors and was discussing the car with the salesman. He asked me for the chassis serial number. When I told him TD/C-xxxxx, he said it was a rare Mark II model. A Factory competition machine.

Since then it has been on numerous tours, shows, parades and displays. It has had its share of difficulties as most vintage cars do. I had driven it to a show at the state fairgrounds about 60 miles from home. Round trip was uneventful. The next day, I decided to take it to the filling station to top off the tank. I got 100 yards from my driveway when it suddenly lost power. Engine was running and speedometer registered, but it was not moving. One rear axle shaft had sheared. A few weeks and numerous phone calls later, it was back on the road again. In the late 1990s, I acquired he 3rd member of an MGA and installed the 4.3:1 ring and pinion in the original TD axle housing – quite a job, but not nearly as difficult as some have indicated. I have undone numerous “improvements” by previous owners and maintained the car as it should be. It is not a 100 point show car, and probably never will be. I like to take it out for an occasional spin, parade, car show or trip to the ice cream parlour. It always draws a crowd.

In 2009 a local friend asked me to evaluate a Model A pickup for a friend of his. Since I have had Model As for about 20 years, I agreed. In the background of a few of the photos, I could see a red roadster with the recognizable shape of an MG. When I asked about it, I was told it was a TD. Not interested as I already had a red TD. The owner then responded with a group of photos and said; “No, it is a mid-30s TA, it runs, and is for sale too.” A few e-mails and a couple telephone calls later, I was planning on a weekend trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I checked it out, it would crank over, but would not fire up. Price was re-negotiated and I loaded it up in my truck and headed back to Wichita. I later discovered that the carbon centre of the distributor cap was missing! It was not inside the distributor housing. It took a while to locate another cap, but when I did and tried to crank, it immediately started! I was able to drive it a bit, but kept it off the streets until I was able to license, insure and register it. It still had both of the original British license plates (MG 4950).

When I started to evaluate the overall condition, I was concerned. Although the car was complete, it was in rather poor condition. Body wood was OK. Seat risers and floorboards were only good for patterns. Although a challenge, I was not deterred. My father was a carpenter and passed along most of his woodworking skills. Many chassis rubber pieces were in poor condition.

Although the TA has a different engine from the TB and later MG T-series, all of the motor mounts were the same. Most of the chassis was serviceable, but needed cleaning and lubrication. Shock absorbers had been converted to tube type. Radiator hoses were nearly rotted away. The oil filter was sealed with duct tape. A previous owner had bored holes in the rear fenders and mounted taillights, a reflector and turn signals directly on the fenders. Headlights had been converted to sealed beams. I suspect that the modifications were done before the car came to the United States as all the lights and bulbs are Lucas brand. Exhaust system was a mess of flex-pipe and an incorrect muffler mounted on the opposite frame rail. Air filter and fuel pump were generic parts store items. The dashboard had been changed to one with a straight edge on the bottom, like a P-series and had also added chrome octagons behind the tachometer and speedometer, also like a P-series. Tachometer and speedometer had been reversed. Recently, I had to repair a flat tire and found a red, Dunlop inner tube inside the tire. 2 previous patches carried the Dunlop and Made in England logos. How many years had that tube been in the tire?

TA0352 proudly displaying her British MG plate

TD/C18895 still with its original engine XPAG/TD3/19184

Today, the TA is still undergoing repairs, upgrades and restorations. Universal joints were replaced. Tail lights have been replaced with British style “D” lamps and the holes in the rear fenders welded up and fenders repainted. A correct exhaust system is in place. The new, correct dash is currently being prepped for installation. The broken MG nosepiece medallion has been replaced. Seat risers and floorboards have been replaced. Fuel pump and air filter have been replaced with correct items. The British license plates have been restored and reinstalled. I have no aspirations of making it a show car, but rather a driver for local shows, parades and the occasional tour.

John Masters
Wichita, Kansas, USA

Ed’s Note: John’s TD MK II is TD/C18895, an export model (as the overwhelming majority of this model was), which was built on 19th August 1952. John has the vehicle history for the TD from about 1959 through to the present day and has owned the car for 20 years. In 1959 it was in western Kansas. There was an MG dealer in the early 1950s in Denver, Colorado from where it is assumed that the car was originally purchased.
Mention of TD MK II chassis numbers reminds me to correct an error which crept in to the previous issue of TTT 2. In the feature article on TD/C29478 I said that as far as I knew, this car was the third but last Home Market TD II produced. Eagle- eyed Tom Lange spotted this mistake and sent me the following:

TD/C 29478 was followed by 29479, 29480, 29438 (out of sequence but indeed made on 7/17/53), 29607, 29792 and 29908, all Home cars.

Unrelated, but 29867 was described in my ledgers as EXL/FL, which I take to be Finland (?????).

He added that he has a copy of the original Production records for the TD model and can help with queries related to date of production and engine number fitted as well as technical queries relating to the MK II model as the following answer he recently gave to a MK II owner illustrates:

Later cars did indeed use a larger internal- diameter air intake (snorkel), and a larger oil- bath air cleaner. But earlier cars used the stock 1-1/4″ intake, with slightly modified carbs to suit. If you remove the 4 bolts and take off your air cleaner unit you will be able to see the outer flanges of your carbs. If the bolt holes for the air intake are round then you (very probably) have a later car, and the larger manifold and air intake are indeed right for your car. But if the holes have been filed horizontally oval, then your car (very probably) came with the stock 1-1/4″ air cleaner.

The down side of that is that with the 1-1/4″ air intake the engine is no doubt somewhat strangled.

The Saga of TC4332 (Chapter 3)

6 Nov

The Soda blasted and painted chassis was collected and returned to the garage where it was elevated onto axle stands and cuts from old railway sleepers. Assembly to a rolling chassis could hopefully now commence.

The front and rear springs were dismantled, mechanically cleaned and painted in a primer prior to being reassembled, the leaves being lubricated with Graphite grease all as the excellent article in TTT 2 by Eric Worpe and John James. New polyurethane bushes were purchased along with new rear spring front silent block bushes and the rear springs mounted on the chassis. The front springs followed again with new polyurethane bushes and new front pins supplied with certificate of quality by John James.

The front beam axle was mounted on the front springs using new long hexagon bolts, six being purchased at Stoneleigh and two from “From the Frame Up”, care being taken to ensure it was the correct way round.

The stub axles were re-bushed and new king pin assemblies bought and assembled on the axle. When dismantled, a number of very thin washers came off the stub axles; enquiry with Doug Pelton at From The Frame Up (FTFU) showed these to be associated with tapered front bearings and not needed with the new standard bearings fitted.

In the intervening time the front brake back plates were sent to a machine shop in Birmingham, (yes some still exist!) and repaired, the unwanted holes being filled and re-drilled to accept the correct brake cylinders. These were fitted and the front hubs bolted on. The track rod was fitted with new ends and connected. The dampers were refurbished by Raj Patel of Recon and Return in Leicester, new bushes were purchased and attempts made to re-bush the damper arm and damper link, my advice is “don’t try this at home”. I enlisted the aid of a local independent garage who installed the bushes for “buy me a pint”. All now appeared complete at the front end.

Attention now turned to the rear end. The differential was refurbished recently according to the previous German owner, although no proof was provided. I decided to accept this as fact and bolted the differential casing in place on the rear springs using new bolts. The rear brake back plates were bolted on; the inner hubs were fitted with new bearings and the hubs bolted to the casing using a new seal and 50mm diameter nut kit supplied by Roger Furneaux at Mad Metrics. These are a massive improvement on the original castellated nuts, much mangled in my case, and good value for money.

When I dismantled the rear hubs the outer hub and the half shaft came out separately; in my naivety I assumed this was correct. When I came to reinstall the half shafts it soon dawned on me that there was nothing to prevent the half shafts moving laterally inside the casing. Enquiries revealed that the half shafts should be a high force (140 KN being quoted) press fit into the outer hubs with approx 3mm of the shafts showing inside the hub. More £ signs started to flash! I managed to locate two second hand half shafts and hubs but these had badly deformed 42mm spinner threads and the spinners would not run on, so I bit the bullet and purchased two new half shafts and hubs.

The refurbished dampers, bushes in place, were bolted to the cross member, now reasonably straight and the re-bushed link connected.

The amount of time, let alone the money, to arrive at this current state should not be underestimated. The cleaning and painting of all the individual parts was very time consuming and very messy. In hindsight it would have been easier, if not cheaper, to have had all the ancillary parts soda blasted and primed ready for painting by myself using “rattle tins”.

A better looking newly painted TC4332 chassis (upside down for ease of spring pin replacement) than the one shown in Issue 14 of TTT 2.

The existing brake linings were about 50% worn so I decided to have new shoes and linings, whilst retaining the existing shoes and having them re-lined for future use. I therefore purchased a complete set with new pull-off springs from the Internet. More problems! When I came to fit the new shoes the combined thickness of the shoes with that of the compressed Thackeray washer could not be accommodated on the bottom pivot pin. A comparison with the existing shoes showed that the shoes were identical except for one important detail, the way the offset at the pivot pin end of the shoe had been formed. On the original shoes the offset had been made by reducing the thickness of the metal around the pivot pin hole at the base of the shoe. The new shoes had simply been folded, the original thickness being retained. Also the new shoes were 0.75mm thicker than the originals, this causing a total greater thickness of over 2mm. More expense, as the shoes had to be sent for grinding, because I was not confident of achieving a good surface using a normal grinding wheel.

The replacement shoes were an inferior copy of the originals no doubt manufactured in the Far East; the moral is clear be careful what you buy!

A similar problem was encountered with the handbrake cables, but more of that in the next chapter.

lestc4332(at) {substitute @ for (at)}.

Ed’s Note: Raj Patel of Recon and Return is at 39a Avenue Road Extension, LEICESTER LE2 3EP. Telephone: 0116 244 8103.


I’d wish I’d known the following when I made an octagonal GB plate to go on my PB:

– Make sure you have a calculator and a measuring device on hand.
– Start with a perfect square i.e. all four sides of equal length and all four inside angles a perfect ninety (90) degrees.
– Measure one side and multiply that by 0.2929, then take that dimension and measure from each corner, both ways and place a mark. Join the marks to form an octagon. Easy!

I have to admit to ‘stealing’ this from a paragraph written by Dick Knudson in a past copy of The Sacred Octagon.

The Editor

Reconditioning the XPAG Water Pump

6 Nov

In the October issue of TTT 2 I mentioned that I’d just had my XPAG water pump reconditioned by E.P. SERVICES of Wolverhampton (Tel: 01902 452914). When I sent the pump I asked the company if they would take photos of each stage of the operation and they duly obliged. So here’s what they sent me!

Photo 1 shows my water pump as supplied, ready for reconditioning.

Photos 2 and 3 show old unit after stripping down. Photo 3 is a close up of photo 2 to show worn parts and worn seal face on impellor.

Photo 4 – new bearings, larger modified seal and impellor face, shown machined and polished

Photo 5 – body and pulley de-greased, bead blasted and painted shown with all new parts.

Photo 6 shows the body, newly machined with larger seal housing to take large much improved pressure balanced seal.

Ed’s Note: I think that the original seal is virtually unobtainable albeit they do come up from time to time at autojumbles. Having said this it surely makes sense to modify the housing and use an improved seal.

Photo 7 shows larger seal unit fitted in place.

Photos 8 and 9 show different views of the water pump re-assembled and fitted with all new parts.

Photo 10 shows pulley now fitted to fully reconditioned pump after running in and testing.

Ed’s Note: My thanks to Paul of E.P. SERVICES both for a super job on my old pump and for providing the photos and captions for the rebuild. Tel: 01902 452914
sales(at) [substitute @ for (at)]

Front Cover – BBL 80

6 Nov

BBL 80 lives just a hop, skip and a jump from me, but until recently I had not seen this historic TA ‘in the flesh’.

As the front cover caption indicates, BBL 80 competed as one of the four Works supported 1938 ‘Cream Cracker’ trials team cars. The four cars were:

Why ‘Cream Cracker’? – some background

Two of the ‘BBL’ drivers, Maurice Toulmin and J. E. S. Jones, competed in J2s in the December 1933 Exeter Trial and won Premier Awards.

Maurice Toulmin was later (March1934) to acquire one of the new P-type models with swept wings and was joined by ‘Mac’ Macdermid, who acquired his PA at the same time; both cars were blue in colour. Toulmin and Macdermid were joined by Jack Bastock, who bought his (green) PA the following September. These three drivers formed the basis of the 1934/35 ‘Cream Crackers’ team.

The cars were given comprehensive support by the Factory, with lightening (inter alia, cycle type aluminium wings and bonnet) and various mechanical mods. Indicative of this support was the fact that they went back to Abingdon to be prepared for both the December 1934 Exeter Trial and the Lands End Trial, held in April 1935. At this point it was decided to paint the cars cream and brown and they were nicknamed ‘Cream Crackers’, some say after a biscuit, but nobody knows for sure.

The decision to adopt this colour scheme was almost certainly for publicity purposes. The one hundred consecutive ascents of Beggars Roost by an M-type in May 1930 was celebrated in an advert by the Publicity Department of the M. G. Car Company, with much emphasis being placed on the fact that this was a “perfectly standard model”.

For the 1935/36 season the three PA Midgets were replaced by Marshall ‘blown’ PB Midgets with further lightening (more aluminium panels) and detail improvements from experience gained with the normally aspirated cars. The improved power to weight ratio, together with better damping (shock absorber) characteristics must have been welcomed by the drivers.

The overhead cam ‘Cream Crackers’ had been enormously successful, but what was to come?

The Arrival of the TA Midget

The introduction of the T-Series Midget in June 1936 must have raised doubts in the minds of some in the MG sporting fraternity as to whether the new model would (a) be competitive and (b) if it was, would it receive support from the Factory?

For a start, gone was the free-revving overhead camshaft engine which had powered M.G. to so many competition successes – to be replaced by a push-rod engine; and had not Leonard Lord closed down the Competition Department on his arrival at Abingdon?

The doubts over competitiveness were answered by the reliability and performance of the MPJG engine used in the 1937 Team cars and as far as support from the Factory was concerned, Leonard Lord had departed from the Nuffield Group by 1936, albeit the tight rein over which he had held Abingdon prevailed long after his departure.

A typically muddy West Country trials track

Against this background support for the Trials teams was maintained, but from now on it was to be on altogether a more businesslike basis. For example, there was a formal agreement for the duration of the Trials season which entailed the driver purchasing the car at a special price (for the 1938 season the price was £210 with a buy in price at the end of the season of £170).The supply of the car and the beneficial terms within the agreement – e.g. certain expenses, tyre allowance (18 tyres and tubes inclusive of tyres and tubes issued with the car), and bonus payments for winning awards – was on the strict understanding that the number of trials to be entered should not be less than twelve but not more than eighteen so as to form a calendar of events to be approved by Abingdon.

The 1937 TA “Cream Cracker” team of Toulmin, Crawford and Jones, driving ABL 960 (chassis no. TA 0930), ABL 962 (chassis no. TA0932) and ABL 964 (chassis no. TA0934) respectively, competed in eighteen events, including all the major Motor Cycle Club (M.C.C.) trials and won the coveted 1937 M.C.C. Team Championship.

The cars were not without some teething troubles, but this was surely only to be expected of a new model.

For 1938 the team of four (cars and drivers are listed at the start of this article) used 1548 cc VA engines, which, by March of that year were bored out to 1708 cc with 73mm WA pistons being fitted. Once again the team won the M.C.C. Team Award.

Continuing on to the 1939 season the team was still going strong despite a bit of a rumpus over what tyres could be used which caused a distraction with ‘Mac’ Macdermid penning a critical letter aimed at officialdom in the December 1938 issue of ‘The Sports Car’; but this was to be academic with the onset of hostilities looming.

BBL 80 – History

Derek Pearce has owned BBL 80 since 1989; the previous owner was John Barnacott. John wrote about the car as part of an article on the TA ‘Cream Crackers’ in the January 1973 issue of Safety Fast magazine. There is a photograph of the rolling chassis, which might well have been the second rebuild as the caption to the photograph says BBL 80 as she was at the time of writing.

The first rebuild might have never been! We have Julian Ghosh, a past President of the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) to thank for rescuing this Historic Trials TA. As part of my research in writing this article I telephoned Julian and he was most helpful in sketching in the background to the discovery of the car.

BBL 80 climbing Blue Hills Mine on the Lands End Trial. Derek collected a Gold Medal award in the 1995 Lands End Trial with the car.

Julian was an apprentice at Jaguar Cars in the late 1960s/early 1970s and ran a TC for his daily travel to work. One day, one of the chaps in the Experimental Department told Julian about a friend of his who was selling some MG parts for which he wanted £5. Spares being difficult to come by in those days, Julian went along to have a look. He found a bit of a motley collection, but there was enough to warrant parting with a ‘fiver’ and the deal was done………..except that the vendor said “but hold on – you’ll have to take the rest of the car!” However, there was a bit of a snag as “the rest of the car” was in a lock-up garage and the vendor hadn’t paid the rent so it would be necessary to come and collect it after dark.

Buoyed up by his new found good fortune, Julian duly arranged to collect the car after dark on a trailer and take it from Coventry to his home in Sutton Coldfield. Later that week another of the chaps in work said “I’ve got the log book for that car” and added that he was looking for £5 before he would part with it. Julian steadfastly refused to pay anything for the log book and the ‘would be’ vendor finally relented.

Upon seeing EX155/4 in the log book Julian realised that he had acquired something special and started the restoration in earnest. Restoration was found to be more than a little problematical because our friend who rented the lock-up garage had started taking parts off the car and was quite handy with a hacksaw for parts he couldn’t easily remove.

So, incredible as it may seem, here is yet another MG, and an important historic one at that, which was saved just in the nick of time!


Ed’s Note:
My thanks to Derek for providing me with much background information to help with the preparation of this article. The following were the principal articles/books/booklets consulted:

• MG T-Series – The Complete Story (Graham Robson)
• M.G. Trials Cars (Roger Thomas)
• Safety Fast article January 1973
• The 1995 Trials Car Reunion (Roger Thomas)

MG TA Rear Telescopic Shock Absorbers (Update)

5 Nov

The June issue (Issue 12) contained an article by Ian Linton describing suitable brackets for installing telescopic shock absorbers to the rear of the TA. The article was accompanied by a drawing. Following a number of comments, Ian has revised his original drawing to reflect these comments and further measurements and this is included in this issue.

Ian is grateful to all those who contacted him.

Telescopic Shock Absorbers
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