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Back Cover Photo

8 Sep

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Bits and Pieces

7 Sep

Tests on Water Pump Impellers

James Neel kindly sent me the following which was written by Geoffrey M Baker, Arizona, USA following some flow tests he did on three different types of water pump impeller.

“Here finally are the results of the flow tests I did on the 3 impellers, the standard 4 vane impeller that came with all TDs and TFs, the 6 vane impeller currently being used by most rebuild services when they offer an upgrade, and the newly designed 6 vane impeller that I had 3D printed on shapeways.com, using a design with a narrower rake and a curved blade.

I built a testbed on an outside table, using my drill press motor and a jig which held the water pump. I mounted a 100 gallon stock tank on the table and filled it. The reason for this was to avoid any vagaries of water pressure that might occur if I simply connected a water hose to the pump.

Tucson water pressure varies from about 30psi to 80 psi. With 100 gallons in the stock tank, I had a reasonable “head” of pressure that would not vary significantly over the course of the test (as we will only be removing 7 gallons from the tank each time). Before each test I added water to bring it back up to the same level in the big tank.
I then took a small galvanized tub and using a gallon bottle, measured how many gallons it took to fill to a known point on the tub. It took exactly seven gallons to bring the water up to the top of the first “lip” of the tub. Hence this is now a 7 gallon test…

I connected up the pump and the tank, opened the tank, and held the output hose from the water pump out and down, until water began flowing without the pump running (water can move easily around the impeller and out). I then raised the output hose until the water stopped flowing by gravity, then held it at that point for the rest of the test.

Then I started the pump and the timer simultaneously, and waited until the pump had filled the lower galvanized tub to the 7 gallon level. I stopped the timer and turned off the pump.

Here are the times it took for each impeller to transfer 7 gallons of water:

Original 4 vane water pump: 8 minutes, 16.21 seconds.

Standard 6 vane water pump: 5 minutes, 48.81 seconds (nearly a 1/3 improvement, not surprising with 6 versus 4 vanes this seems pretty appropriate!)

Modern 6 vane impeller pump: 5 minutes 18.7 seconds.

The curved modern impeller with a narrower section definitely moves more water, approximately ten percent more.

Beyond this, I make no claims for the impeller, and clearly a standard six vane, if you can buy it, is a good bang for the buck. But the modern impeller offers a 40 percent improvement over the traditional 4 vane, vs about 30% for the standard 6 vane currently on the market.

For pictures and links, look for the original threads on the improved 6 vane impeller. 

Here is the shapeways link:

https://www.shapeways.com/product/5Z7278JJ2/mg-td-tf-improved-water-pump-impeller?li=shop-inventory&optionId=56452364
I hope this data proves useful to people when they are looking at working on their cooling systems.”

Repair of Clocks in TDs and TFs

Further to Russell Dade’s endorsement of David Ward’s service the following has been received from Pete Dyke:

“Just wanted to comment on David’s excellent service.

Sent him an email asking if he could look at the clock on my TD, which has not worked since I have had the car (and probably long before that!) He responded very promptly indicating he would look at it, but could not guarantee success, as he has very few spares.

Sent the clock to him via ‘before 1pm’ registered post and even by the next day, he emailed indicating that the clock had a damaged component and was not sure of success, but he would try.

After a couple more days, an email indicated that he had indeed met with success!

Clock returned, fitted back into the car and working, all within just over a week and at a cost of just £20 from David, including special delivery!

Brilliant service and communication – can’t recommend high enough.”

Ed’s note: David Ward’s e-mail address is warddavidc(at)virginmedia.com Please substitute @ for (at).

Colour matching (Paint) (from Nick Fitzhugh)

“It is my belief that no two red coloured MGs are the same shade of red. TC4222 is red and was in need of a little attention to the edges of the wings. Obviously none of the standard reds matched and you suggested Brighton Autopaints who do custom colour matching.

My problem was to find a sample to send them for matching. None of the painted parts of the TC fit into a small envelope! It has taken over a year of searching to find an object that matched the car – there are so many red objects around any house and garden from supermarket carrier bags to mouse mats, but none were suitable. Eventually I found the perfect match – the red plastic sides of my Swiss army knife. I sent this off to Brighton and I am pleased to report that they sent back aerosols and a tin which were an exact match to both the knife and car. The car is now touched up and the join is invisible.

Brighton provided a prompt service and the result was excellent (they do cellulose paint).

Clearly the shade of Swiss army knife red which matched my MG would not match any other red MG on the planet!

Thanks for the suggestion.”

Lost and Found

5 Sep

The following from Tom Lange:

LOOKING FOR TD/C 15098

This is a Mark II car with engine XPAG/TD2/14957, listed in the production records as an EXLNA car, so it is probably in the US.

LOOKING FOR TD/C 25051

I am also looking for this car, an EXR car. 

An appropriate MG reward will be cheerfully paid (a set of brass core plugs) for information on either car.

Tom Lange tlange@acadia.net

Correction to registration mark for TA0875

The registration mark for this car was incorrectly quoted as CON 771 in the June issue; it should read CON 971. Apologies must go to Simon Parker, the owner. I’m not sure if this will help in tracing the history of the car?

MG TA – Registration Mark CAC 723

Kevin McCarron would like to try and trace his old TA (probably a 1938 TA) which he owned back in 1967. The photo was taken in 1967/68.

There seems to be some doubt as to which chassis number goes with the car and I have referred Kevin to the Warwickshire Records Office.

TC formerly owned by Sid (Sidney) A. Field

This is very much a ‘long shot’ but Greg Stevens is trying to find information on this car for a friend, whose father owned it. The difficulty is that we don’t have a registration mark or a chassis number (and it might have been a TA or a TB!).

BSK 635 (TD27040)

Owner, Alistair Gill is trying to trace the history of his 1953 TD. Currently registered LL-IG 248 (the car is currently in Germany) it was first registered in Caithness, Scotland. I am in touch with a Mr Sutherland who has the allocation books for the SK registration marks. If anybody knows of any of the history of this car I’d be grateful if they would contact the editor.

TC1749 (Registration marks GAD 947, HX 29175, 396 YUA).

The following has been received from Ian Robinson:

“I own TC1749, which used to belong to my father-in-law John Chilton. I would like to find out any history about the car (particularly from our USA
based friends). The car was manufactured on 6/11/1946 and exported to the USA (It was never registered in the UK). John, who lived on Long Island in NY State, purchased the vehicle pre 2005 and it bore the US New York Historic Vehicle Registration number HX 29175. However I have a photograph of the car, in New York, bearing what looks like a UK plate of GAD 947 (white letters on a black background). Or was this the original USA
registration plate prior to the historic plate being issued? The original engine number was XPAG 2506 but this has been replaced at some stage with another XPAG engine number B88390.”

Two photos of TC1749 – top photo shows it as GAD 947; bottom photo with registration plates 396 YUA and HX 29175.

Ed’s note: The registration mark GAD 947 was first made available in 1946 by the Registration Authority, Gloucester County Council. This seems to tie up with the date of production (06/11/1946) and may suggest that the car was in fact first registered in the UK before it went across the ‘pond’.

TC10178 – saved from sitting on bricks since 1967 in a lock up garage in Sheffield

4 Sep

In the June issue of TTT 2 I mentioned that Norman Verona had contacted me to say that he had found the TTT 2 website and that he had registered his newly acquired TC on the T-Database. He promised that he would send regular updates of a total restoration which he intended carrying out himself. The first update was published in the August issue of TTT 2. This is Norman’s second update.

August wasn’t the best month for progress. I have to get all the body panels stripped to bare metal. I have some very potent paint stripper, you’ll see how potent later on in the report.

The front wings have been done and delivered to the bodyshop. I reckoned the rest, front apron, four parts of the bonnet, the bulkhead, running boards, rear wings, rear quarter panels and rear panel would take about 2 weeks, 10 day’s work. It took all month!

The first week we had my daughter and her partner here, or as I say, Paul and his ‘floosie’. Then in the third week my son, his wife, her daughter and Malakai, our grandson visited for a long weekend. We went out every day and ate out a lot so I’ve put 5 kilos on. Strict diet and plenty of hard work will get that off in 10 days – I hope.

I was brushing the paint stripper on, leaving it for about 20 minutes and then scraping the melted paint off. However it didn’t all come off so I bought an orbital sander and several packs of abrasive discs. It still took ages. Then a friend popped round and suggested I get some scrubbing discs which go in the angle grinder. I went to Castarama and bought all they had, 6 discs. It worked a treat. In case you’re not aware what they are, think of the dishwashing sponges with the green scourer on one side. These are similar but much stronger and coarser. They lasted about an hour so I went to a different Castarama and bought all they had. Then I ran out of paint stripper, so had to go to Angers to get more.

Now, just how strong is this paint stripper? Well when I started I assume that I must have sat on the brush. My bottom felt like I had a spot on it by the evening so I asked my poor suffering wife to look. She was horrified. A patch about the size of my hand had a chemical burn. No skin left and the flesh burnt away. We started to dress it with a cream every day and it’s just, today (26th August) getting better. Lynne, my wife has called it my “sore bum – The Sorbonne”

I finally got the repair kit from Gliptone for the leather seats. I’m very pleased with the results but it was a lot of hard work.

Part cleaned and colour washed to show the before and after.

And the completed product.

I will now leave it for a few weeks to dry out then start treating it with conditioner.

The rest of the interior trim is beyond saving so I have got a complete set of trim from Tom Watson of Kimber Creek in the US. Looks good,

Four sections of bonnet. The louvres were the hardest part, took ages to get the paint off.

The inside of the bulkhead.

The inside of one of the rear wings. Note the rust hole at the front edge of the “flap”.

The worst panel is the front apron which has had a knock on the nearside. This broke the original fog lamp but I’ve sourced another. There is rust on the leading edges of the front wings, bottom of the doors, at the wide ends of the running boards and the sides of the scuttle.

The two rear quarter panels are beyond repair so I’ve ordered new ones which should be here in the middle of September.

I’ve already got new inner rear wings, front quarter panels and the side screen box. The body shop, who specialise in renovating aged Citroens, will repair the rusted areas with solder, not filler.

To get the inside of the rear wings ground out with the angle grinder I had to get Lynne to help. Poor thing, the black dust of paint and rust was blowing straight in her face. And mine….

This took some scrubbing to get clean!

Progress at last. The bulkhead down to bare metal.

As an aside, I found the manufacturers brass label on the fuel tank. From a different age.

When I got to cleaning the fuel tank found a small rust hole in the lower side panel. I have an oxy-acetylene plant I bought from the UK nearly 10 years ago. On the Sunday friends came round and Phil bought his broken plaster whisk to weld up. I was saying how long the gas has lasted. Then Monday morning I start to weld a patch on the tank and find the acetylene has run out. Off to Castarama (at the same time I went to get the extra paint stripper which is nearby) and bought a new oxy-acetylene plant:

My son and his tribe left on Tuesday 24th at 0700. I started work half hour later. All the panels I had already got to bare metal had been coated in phosphate to kill any rust (and there is quite a bit). I spent all day washing the panels to get any residual paint stripper off and skurfing the panels to get the phosphates off. Finished at 1800. And that seems to be the end of stripping paint.

Next morning I spent an hour sweeping the workshop and putting the tools away. Then I started building the car. I am getting the brakes and hubs on so I can wheel the chassis back giving me space to get the engine and gearbox stripped.

Well that was the plan but I had a nightmare getting the handbrake cable routed and the shoes on. Got the hub and half shaft on but the drum wouldn’t go on. I have got the cable incorrectly routed so in the morning I will take it all apart again, route the cable correctly and hope the drum goes on. All day and I end up where I was at about 1030 in the morning.

The assembled rear shoes. I think the cable is expanding the handbrake lever.

Start again in the morning. It’s now the evening of the 26th August so I hope we will have much better progress to report at the end of September.

Edited with Online HTML Converter.

The story of an MG TC: 1964 to 1989

3 Sep

This is the story of a 1949 MG TC which I owned from 1970 to 1989 and raced it extensively during that period. This a significant TC that has been a race car for far longer than a road car, and today has had an active racing career for well over 50 years of its 66 year life to date. For a large part of that time I was lucky enough to own, extensively modify and successfully race TC8924.

It was first raced circa 1964 by Mike Zimmerman, who developed it using a supercharger. During his ownership the car was driven on the road to and (sometimes) from meetings, and by the late 1960s it featured AC Cobra wheels and Dunlop CR65 (R7) racing tyres, a single seat and was fitted with a 1300cc high compression supercharged engine. The supercharger was a Roots type, adapted from an aircraft cabin pressurisation compressor, and fitted initially between the front dumb irons and driven off the nose of the crankshaft. The radiator always had a cut out in the bottom tank for the drive. The carburettor was mounted on the supercharger intake side, and the whole unit was later fitted to the right hand side of the engine.

Using high compression pistons with 60thou overbore was not really a recipe for reliability – I calculated the static compression was around 9.5:1 and the dynamic compression was over 14:1 – and in early 1970, I purchased the car from Mike with a blown up engine in a box! I seem to remember paying £250 for what my parents described as a heap of junk!

The basic ingredients though were all there, so I was happy with my purchase and I set about rebuilding the engine of TC 8924 which was registered as FBD 64. Initially I decided to use the

supercharger set up, with a single H4 1½” SU, and on a very snowy day in February 1970 the first attempt was made to start it. Very quickly the battery went flat, and efforts to push start it were severely hampered by the compacted snow on the road (see picture)!

The car was then towed to a local garage and eventually after much fiddling with the timing (which was magneto) it fired up. I then drove the car around most days to run it in and quickly discovered several problems with the supercharger set up. Firstly, the long single belt that drove the supercharger from an adapted front crankshaft pulley didn’t have a tensioner, so the belt rapidly stretched and it lost boost.

Secondly, when everything was working correctly it was boosting at around 20psi, so it had incredible power but for a limited time. I entered a few Curborough sprints in late March and April, as this was only about 10 miles from home, and these outings produced a moderate success as I could come second to Dave Clewley in his 1350cc normally aspirated TC.

By the time I got home after running for a total distance of around 12 miles the boost had dropped to around 5 psi and power was almost non existent! I had also discovered, thanks to a Robin Rew photograph (see picture – car number 44) of the car at Curborough, that the handling was far from ideal.

Fortunately, from inside the car it felt ok! This curious effect is known as roll oversteer and is common in racing TBs and TCs. It is caused by the front suspension being too soft allowing the car to roll too much, which causes the chassis to lift the rear axle when they come into contact. The solution was simple: stiffen the front springs and dampers, and put 1¼“ lowering blocks at the rear between the spring and the axle to improve clearance. The front was also lowered by ½ in as well.

I was also starting to realise that I didn’t really understand supercharging, so decided to build another engine, this time running on carburettors. I then had a breakthrough, when I saw and advert in the Exchange and Mart for an XPEG racing engine, which was for sale in Derby. It turned out that the engine had come out of a Buckler which had been raced by Peter Gamble (who these days supplies the Hi-Gear 5 speed conversions) and it was indeed a 1466cc TF block engine which had been highly modified with the MG Factory racing camshaft, very big valves in a highly modified head. I was told that the engine had been built by the same person that built the racing XPEG engines for the works Lotus 6 driven by Peter Gammon. I bought the engine for £65! This was to be the basis of my engines until I sold the car in 1989.

Once back home I stripped the engine to check it all out, and only had to fit new bearings before installing it in the car. Although the car came with an exhaust manifold and inlet manifold complete with a pair of H6 1¾” SUs, I decided I needed an advantage over the other competitors, so I sold this set up (to Nick Taylor and they are still fitted to his car today) and fitted the Derrington exhaust manifold that came with the supercharged engine and I had a new inlet manifold cast that would take a Weber 45DCOE.

This move was somewhat controversial when the car made its first appearance, as the T-Type racing regulations stated that modifications must be ‘kept within period’. I argued that as many cars were now fitted with the later HS series of carburettor which were not a period carburettor for a T-Type and had been accepted as a development, the 45DCO was a period carburettor during T-Type production and the 45DCOE was a similar development. Also, just because no one racing a T-Type in period had thought of fitting a Weber as an alternative to SUs didn’t mean this form of carburetion wasn’t a period modification, and so it should be allowed!

The argument was accepted at the time and was not reversed until the 1990s! In this form the engine produced just over 100bhp when set up on the rolling road at Morspeed, who operated in a railway arch in Birmingham. We had to tow the car into central Birmingham, which was pretty scary, made more so when the tow rope got tangled around the offside steering arm as we made a left turn causing the car to turn sharp right almost into the queuing traffic at the junction. Happily the drive home was without incident.

At the MGCC May Silverstone I made my racing debut with TC8924 (see pic).

I had entered several races during the day, the first of which was 5 lap handicap. In practice the car hadn’t run cleanly with a misfire coming out of the corners which was cured by fitting another pump borrowed from a fellow competitor. Oddly this hadn’t revealed itself on the drive down but it was later found it was averaging about 3mpg around Silverstone. It was no wonder the standard pump couldn’t keep up! A Jaguar fuel pump rectified the situation which never occurred again.

The poor practice and my first appearance resulted in an amazing handicap allowance of 1m 45s, and since I was expecting the car to lap the old Silverstone Club circuit in around 1m 20sec this would mean that the competitors on scratch (no time allowance) were still sitting on the grid when I completed my first lap. I then had to do 4 laps to the flag compared to their 5 laps! On my 4th lap I could smell a bonfire, and when coming down the club straight to finish the race (although I didn’t know how many laps I had done!) I was looking for the bonfire in the adjacent fields, when I noticed the floor of the car was well and truly alight.

I stopped at the marshals’ post approaching Woodcote corner and having failed to put the fire out using a dry powder extinguisher, they found a road cone and filled it up with water which did the trick. If I had just driven around the corner I would have won my first race! This would eventually take almost another 3 years to achieve. The problem had arisen because the exhaust pipe stopped under the car instead of exiting beyond the bodywork and the hot exhaust had set fire to the wood.

At this stage I’m not going to bore readers with a race by race account of my time with TC 8924 as I didn’t keep records at the time, something I now regret.; instead a few highlights (and lowlights) of my ownership.

Initially the car was fast but very unreliable – I even thought of getting it exorcised! In 1971 I repainted the car, and changed the colour from dark green as I have always found green to be unlucky, to chrome orange with green wheels, bulkhead and chassis. This colour combination played havoc with people’s eyes including mine! So for 1972 I repainted it French Blue with yellow wheels (a la Prince Bira ERA), a colour scheme we both liked as the car started to settle down and became reliable. In the early 1970s, the T-Register championship didn’t have set rounds, and competitors accrued points depending on where they finished in class of any events they could enter. There was a limit to how many events could be counted, but it was up to competitors to find suitable events. This led to myself, Dave Clewley and Nick Taylor entering races at Cadwell Park and Croft in particular where the organisers were happy to accept entries for what were seen as ancient cars. The first race Dave and I did at Cadwell was a combined Sports Racing and Sports Car race over 10 laps of the short circuit – it missed out the Mountain section. This configuration was rarely used and after practice a Chevron B16 Sports Racing Car with Cosworth FVA power of Frank Aston was on Pole, but Dave was 3rd fastest and 6 seconds under the Sports Car lap record and I was 5th fastest and 5 seconds under the record.

Dave had blown up his engine in practice, so there was a gap in the front row of the grid directly in front of me. When the flag fell, I went for the gap, and there I was leading the race! (see pic; no.137).

This lasted until the Park Straight when the Chevron powered by. As the race progressed, I was running in the top five for some time but the brakes were fading fast, and on lap 8 the oil pressure disappeared. But suddenly the cars weren’t ancient anymore! Although I did several races at Cadwell, I never finished one as the off camber, downhill left hander at the bottom of the Gooseneck caused serious oil starvation, damaging the engine.

I later extensively baffled the sump and the problem was resolved, but by then the Championship had become set rounds of races, sprints and hillclimbs. The braking issues were never really solved, despite the use of very hard Mintex M20 competition linings all round and extensively drilling the back plates. The main issue was that the pressed steel drums couldn’t dissipate the heat the brakes generated and distorted. Skimming them made the problem worse as the metal was even thinner and more likely to distort. In the early 1990s many started to use Datsun 240Z rear drums modified to fit TB/TC hubs and these were cast iron and finned. A little later came the use of twin leading shoes, achieved by using a second wheel cylinder, which improved things even further.

The change to a championship having fixed rounds was a suggestion that I put forward at one of the annual drivers’ meetings with the idea of focusing all the cars to fifteen or 16 rounds each year and put on a good show for the organisers and spectators alike. I felt this was especially important at race meetings and we could then have our own race rather than being a sub-class with other cars. This was accepted and by 1973 the T-Type racing Championship was being welcomed by race organisers around the country.

However 1972 was a really hard learning year for me, as the limits of the mechanical parts were being pushed more and more on the cars at the front of the grid. I entered 38 meetings that year, of which almost 50% were races and I didn’t finish a single race! I had two engines on the go, one in the car and the second at a machine shop being rebored, linered, crank regrind, etc etc. I developed a good relationship with my bank manager, who on one occasion when I went into the branch (of the National Provincial Bank), came around the counter and enquired ‘How’s the racing going?’ I replied that I had blown up four engines in the last month, to which he simply said ‘I thought so as your overdraft has increased – again! I thought it was important to maintain a good relationship with the bank manager, who inadvertently had become the sole sponsor of the car.

By the end of 1973 the breakthrough happened, and with further engine development pushing power figures up, and the car being seriously lightened (it was down to a little over 13 cwt), plus more understanding of reliability, led to me winning my first race. This was a London Motor Club meeting at Mallory Park and after a titanic battle with Dave Clewley and Gerry Brown I crossed the line in first place. The picture shows how close the three of us were which lasted for the entire race, with me sandwiched here between Dave (No. 211) and Gerry.

Through 1974, the suspension was further developed by fitting radius arms and a panhard rod both front and rear. Also the front axle beam was de-cambered so the wheels were vertical or in my case ½° negative camber. Sadly the XPEG based engine blew up on the approach to Copse during a race at Silverstone when the crank broke and a con rod also failed. Fortunately the very special cylinder head survived, but a new 1350cc, low friction engine was built as a replacement. As the pistons were better quality (Hepolite Powermax), the con roads were lightened, polished and tuftrided, as was the crankshaft, together producing an engine that would rev to well over 8,000rpm quite reliably.

I did suffer one engine failure at the 1975 MG May Silverstone meeting when a big end bolt failed, but other than that it ran reliably and produced 125bhp after a 4 hour rolling road session.

At the end of 1974 I bought a set of Formula Vee racing tyres at the Dunlop end of season sale. A chat with the Dunlop people suggested that they would be very good for Sprints and Hillclimbs but the T-Types were too heavy for them to be used in races. However, at £40 for a set of 4 they were around 25% of the price of a set of the Dunlop L section CR65 tyres we had been using – and were required by the Championship Regulations. One problem was they were tubeless, and of course the TC had wire wheels, but Dunlop recommended using MGB road tubes in them, so the tyres were purchased. Nick Taylor also bought a set. A week later, the annual Drivers Meeting was being held, where I proposed a rule change. The wording on racing tyres was ‘Racing tyres may be used but must be Dunlop L section tyres’. As some competitors were using Dunlop M section tyres which had a lower profile and therefore a wider tread, my proposal was to amend the wording to ‘Racing tyres may be used, but they must be Dunlop’ reasoning that this allowed those using M section tyres to be legal. The change was accepted, but when I turned up the following week at a Silverstone Sprint meeting with the very low profile Formula Vee tyres, there was something of an uproar, which never went away. This was mainly because the cars looked odd with such a low profile tyres (see picture), and with hindsight we should have bought 4 rear tyres, which were higher profile (and wider!).

At this sprint I found out just how sticky the tyres were. I had a spin and the car stopped very quickly after it had rotated through just 90°! Later at Brands Hatch, where the picture was taken, the car had so much grip that it two wheeled through Paddock Hill. Scary stuff!

At about this time I undertook a modification that had mixed results. Nick Taylor’s family ran a garage and whilst changing the differential on a customer’s Ford Anglia van, he compared it with a TC differential. The results were startling. The Ford diff had practically the same dimensions to the TC diff. The hole in the banjo had to be opened out by about 1/32in to accommodate the Ford diff and a new bolt pattern drilled and nuts welded onto the inside of the axle casing. The half shafts were different as the Ford items had a fine spline to go into the differential cage, and the outside end had a ‘top hat’ flange that bolted through the brake drum. We went to the local Ford agent, and bought 6 Cortina halfshafts (which cleaned them out of Cortina halfshafts!). We then found a machinist that could soften them (they are extremely hard) cut the top hat off and machine a TC hub spline onto the outer end. They then thought they would be able to harden them again. So we now had 3 halfshafts each which would connect a Ford differential to a TC hub.

The Ford car differential ratios were not much use for a TC as they ranged from 3.54:1 (RS 2000) to 4.1:1 (Anglia and Escort saloon). The Ford van diff was also too high at 4.4:1 although I did try one at Croft but it moved all the corners down one gear, so third gear corners were being taken in second. It was the rally ratios that were particularly interesting as these ranged from 4.7:1 in 0.2 steps to 6.1:1, so there was ample scope to find something suitable for the TC.

I was running a TA 4.875:1 diff so I bought a 5.1:1 Ford diff to supplement it. Using the Ford differential also meant a Salisbury Limited Slip differential could be used, so I bought a whole unit that had been used in a rally car from the advert pages in Motoring News. The first race using the Ford LSD was at Mallory Park, a circuit that really suited the T-Types as the straights are not long enough for the aerodynamics to hamper performance, and the car was a revelation. The hairpin was a big tail slide to get round thanks to the LSD, and the lower ratio gave it much more punch out of the corners. BUT, along the straights it was slightly slower so the overall effect was that lap times were not improved significantly. I put this down to the fact that the TC diff had less drag due to its design, but the hypoid Ford diff was tighter and this slowed the car on the straights.

During practice, Nick’s car broke a halfshaft and seriously twisted the other, and my car had one badly twisted halfshaft (through 30⁰), but the other was ok, so for the race only my car made the grid. It survived to the end, but on the Monday after I pulled the halfshafts out; both were now badly twisted. The local Ford agents were staggered when we were at the counter for another 6 Cortina halfshafts, and had to order them in. A phone call to Ford Technical Department led us to a company called Induction Hardening on the A45 Coventry bypass, and after having the machining done, they hardened the shafts back to Ford specification.

This largely solved the problem, but I still felt the end result was inconclusive and at some races afterwards I used the TC 4.875 diff; at others the 5.1 Ford LSD. Incidentally, in an effort to stop the back axle oil getting onto the rear brakes, I vented the differential housing, and fitted a flexible long tube taped to one of the back stays of the roll bar. I was amazed at how much smoke the LSD generated around Brands Hatch, which of course doesn’t have any truly straight pieces of road.

The 1975 MG Car Club May Silverstone meeting produced one of the most memorable races in T-Type history – and is still remembered in T-Type Racing circles. This meeting always attracted a good entry for the 10 lap T-Type race, and for this year there more competitive cars attending than ever before, with 6 or 7 cars able to win the race. After practice it was clear that the front runners would be Dave Clewley (1500cc TB), Gerry Brown (1500cc TC), Chris Jones (1360cc Supercharged TC) and myself (1350cc TC) as we had all broken the existing lap record in practice and were in the 1m 16s bracket around the old club circuit. Nick Taylor (1500cc TB), Paddy Willmer (1350cc Supercharged TC) and Ron Gammons (1500cc TC) were lurking around to pick the pieces if the front runners struck a problem.

When the flag dropped the race quickly settled into a slipstreaming battle with two cars side by side leading and two cars slipstreaming them about a yard behind! At the end of each lap as the four cars approached Woodcote corner, they fanned out sometimes negotiating the corner 2 by 2, other time 3 and 1 (see photo) and on other occasions 4 abreast!. For lap after lap this battle raged on but for me it was not to be.

I was running on the Ford diff and the low profile Formula Vee tyres and coming down the Club Straight the engine was pulling nearly 9000 rpm in the slipstream. No racing driver will back off in the heat of the race, but clearly this couldn’t last and starting the 9th lap (of 10) the engine went onto 3 cylinders approaching Copse and I pulled off onto the grass going up the hill towards Maggots Curve. A quick look under bonnet didn’t reveal anything amiss, but once back in the paddock I noticed the block had a bulge on the offside underneath the manifolds.

Back home, when I took the head off I discovered 3 pistons at the top and where the fourth piston and bore should have been there was just a hole. The piston crown and a very distorted con rod were found in the sump; examination showed a big end bolt had failed. The race was won by Chris Jones, his first win for some time, but an engine splutter mid Woodcote Corner meant Gerry ran into the back of him and pushed him over the line! The saving grace for me was that all 4 cars were credited with the same fastest lap at 1m 15.4s, a new lap record, and one that stood for some time until Ron Gammons lowered it into the 1m 14s with his highly successful TF 1500. A lowlight though was when I ran into the back of Gerry and got my nearside front wheel stuck between the rear chassis and wing of his car resulting in a cut around the sidewall of my front tyre.

More modifications over the winter of 1975/6 involved fitting an undertray. I had read an article on vehicle aerodynamics and realised that although the TC is very upright, it does have a relative small frontal area when fitted with cycle wings. More importantly something like a 30% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency could be achieved by improving the airflow under the car.

A few measurements of the car were taken and I bought a sheet of 18 gauge aluminium and set about fitting it as an undertray to the bottom of the car. This had to be easily removable for service, so brackets were made up to accept DZUS fasteners which were fitted through the sides of the bodywork. Similarly a sheet was fitted along the chassis rails between the rear wheels terminating at the end of the chassis at the back.

The front was more awkward because the springs were underneath the chassis rather than on top, so the front section was covered with sheet aluminium over the front dumb irons, and the front of the undertray attached to this with DZUS fasteners, and at the rear of the front springs a u-shaped bracket with a pin fixed the undertray to the springs, allowing it to move up and down with the suspension. The exhaust was fitted below the undertray just in case it set fire to something again, but otherwise the bottom of the car was smooth. And it worked! The result was an extra 5 – 8 mph along the straights for the princely sum of £8 for the sheet of aluminium. Also on cold days the cockpit was nice and warm, but on hot days it cooked my feet!

At the 1976 MG Car Club May Silverstone meeting I had my first (and only) racing crash. The T-Type race settled into its usual slipstreaming battle and I was chasing Gerry Brown who was leading. Entering Copse Corner, which by now was flat out in a TC (at about 100mph!), I was about a car length behind Gerry when we caught up a backmarker who moved off the racing line to let us past. As he did so he started to spin on the dirty surface and went between Gerry and myself! I hit his car midships, rolling over and pushing it out of the way by my momentum. Lots of body panels flew off and I can remember crouching down inside the car, and switching off the engine. As it coasted to a halt I was able to steer it onto the grass and stopped by the next marshals’ post which was half way up the hill to Maggots Curve, about 150 yards from where the impact had occurred. Needless to say the damage was considerable (see picture) and the nearside front wheel had taken the brunt of the impact.

The front axle was badly bent and the dumb iron on that side was bent downwards. The brake flexible hose was severed and the headlight, radiator shell and passenger door were all badly bent. I was completely uninjured but the other driver wasn’t quite so lucky. His car wasn’t fitted with a roll bar or seat belts and he was thrown from the car suffering bad abrasions to a shoulder. These became infected later the next week and he spent a few days in hospital. I don’t believe he raced again.

Once back home the car was stripped from (and including) the bulkhead forward. The chassis was straightened by putting the front end on a substantial axle stand, heating it up where the bend was and hammering it back into line with a sledgehammer. A new door had to be made but the radiator shell was straightened and so was the headlight, although I couldn’t at that time get a new 8” glass for it so I used a piece of Perspex. I was given another front axle by a fellow competitor, but for the next race which was at Croft two weeks later the camber angle hadn’t been reset, so it was quite a handful to drive. But I won the race! What was somewhat unsettling, and occurred about a week and half after the accident was a short report about it in Autosport, which claimed I had been killed! You can imagine the reaction from other competitors when I turned up at Croft.

After the win at Croft I won the next 3 rounds of the T-Type Drivers Championship held at Snetterton, Brands Hatch and Curborough, and of these the win at Brands was the best race I won because for once I raced tactically. Gerry Brown initially led, but retired with a misfire when the coil lead came out of the distributor, and Dave Clewley took over the lead. For nine laps Dave and myself were inches apart (or so it seemed), but starting the last lap Dave made a rare mistake and ran wide going through Paddock Bend. I managed to pass him on the run up to Druids Hairpin (see picture) and hold the racing line all the way to the flag.

As we crossed the line I could see the radiator of Dave’s car level with the passenger door of my car as the extra power of his 1500cc engine started to show an advantage. The results showed I got fastest lap at 1m 00s which was another T-Type record and the overall race time would have meant myself and Dave would have been 1st and 2nd in the MGA race as their race time was 10 seconds slower than ours, despite their fastest lap being 0.2 seconds faster. I use this result in a talk I do to illustrate the importance of consistency. The race was headlined in Motoring News “Creswell takes third straight T-type win” – my surname is often misspelt – but it is a cutting I am immensely proud of. I also

sent a copy to my bank manager thanking him for his continued support. He was very appreciative of this gesture and increased my overdraft limit!

The Curborough meeting was also full of drama. Gerry Brown was leading the championship by a slender margin and needed a good result to consolidate his lead. After unloading his car from the trailer he attempted to start it and it sounded decidedly sick. A quick diagnosis showed a lobe had been wiped off the cam, a problem that occurs sometimes when starting highly tuned racing engines (of any type) from cold. I offered him a drive in my car, as for sprints and hillclimbs two drivers are allowed. I then spent the rest of the day trying to beat him! I managed a second run just 0.1 seconds faster to take the class win, leaving another record of 39.4 seconds. Gerry was 2nd in class with Dave 3rd.

When Gerry first drove the car he complained it was dying leaving the line, so I explained that with the racing clutch I used (a Cortina GT racing clutch from AP Racing) it just gripped, and the tyres gripped causing it to almost stall. My starting technique was to rev the engine to 6,000rpm and then feed the clutch in whilst in first gear, using it to control the wheelspin. As the acceleration increased then increase the revs up to the normal limit of 7,500rpm before changing into second. When he tried this he also found that the starts were very rapid. Incidentally the car could accelerate to 60mph in around 7 seconds and had a top speed of around 110mph. All this performance of course came at a cost, and fuel consumption at the fast circuits was about 5 mpg! Gerry returned the favour and let me drive his car at MGCC Silverstone end of season sprint, by which time he had won the Championship. I must say it was a very impressive car, and had a lot more torque than mine.

For 1977, there were a few more rule changes, but in particular the use of the Formula Vee tyres was banned, and L section tyres only reinstated, despite some competitors continuing to use the wider M Section tyres. I put the set of Formula Vee tyres up for sale for £40 and they were snapped up by a Morgan racer, so remarkably I had free tyres for two years, and despite Dunlop’s fears that the TC was too heavy to race on them they were actually fine once the levels of grip they offered were understood. They got very hot under racing conditions – so hot in fact that they sizzled if water was dropped onto them after a race – which probably helped the grip levels. Braking distances were also considerably shorter, again as there was more grip. Incidentally, the Morgan racer who bought the tyres was also a sports car dealer in the West Midlands, and he turned up in a nice MGC GT. After we had done the deal on the tyres, we chatted about the C GT which was for sale, and we did another deal of my MGB roadster for the MGC GT.

As soon as the 1977 season started it became obvious that everyone else had moved ahead over the winter in terms of power, with the 1500cc engines getting closer to 150bhp on carburettors, but still with standard cranks and rods. I could still finish second or third quite easily but the car just wasn’t fast enough to challenge for the wins without a lot more development (and money!). This was unlikely as in August I got married so towards the end of the year racing was having to take a back seat for setting up a home. I then took a break from circuit racing until 1981, although I did a few sprints. I also did a road rally with a Maxi, finishing second to a Triumph 2.5PI in a special class for standard production cars. By 1981 I could still get 3rd places but by now the costs of racing were escalating rapidly and having sold a nice Mark 1 Ford Escort RS2000 (and bought the Maxi as a Tow/Family car) the money raised bought just 4 races, so each time the car went out of the garage it cost over £600. 1981 also saw the birth of our first daughter so money became even tighter. In 1982 I did my last race with the TC, which was at Mallory Park. This was the year Ron Gammons introduced his very fast TF 1500 which was set to dominate racing by winning every race for the next 2½ years. The TBs and TCs fought back but had to resort to supercharging to get a power advantage to make up for the poorer corning ability. This was really the end of my story on track and the car languished in the garage until 1989 when I sold it to Paul Smeeth. Paul had a supercharged engine built and the car became a front runner once more, along with Dave Clewley. Engines were now very special with steel cranks and rods and alloy heads.

TC 8924 is still racing today, and I was reunited with the car at Mallory Park on 29th March 2015. Over the intervening years the car changed hands from Paul Smeeth to Peter Greenaway when a change in T-Type Racing Regulations outlawed the use of efficient modern superchargers, which effectively limited the power and speed, not to mention the spectacle of the front running cars, several of them being retired to just occasional use. With Paul Smeeth and Peter Greenaway, the car was raced abroad on several occasions, particularly in Denmark and at Angouleme in France. It changed hands again at the beginning of 2015 with Graham Meyer becoming the latest owner. At Mallory Park the car was driven by well known restorer Peter Edney and finished 2nd overall in the Iconic 50s race being beaten by an MGA Twin Cam. It is now finished in dark green, its original colour, and it certainly looks fit enough for another 50 years of racing.

A final thought relates to a set of pictures taken by Gerry Brown during a meeting at Snetterton. The first is my favourite picture of the car, and it the one I have used to illustrate the car on the T-Database. It shows the car approaching the Bomb Hole in a lovely 4 wheel drift, with headlights on so I must have been coming up to lap some back markers.

I had entered two races that day, one for T-Types and Morgans (in separate classes for the respective championships) and the second for (I think) Pre 1965 Sports Cars.

In the T-Type/Morgan race the TC was quicker than most of the Morgans over a lap with only the full race cars being quicker. Although the TC was slower down the straights, it was much quicker through the corners and I ran into the back of a couple of Morgans because they were so slow. I won the T-Type class in that race, (see second picture).

In the Sports Car race I had a great scrap with an ex-Works Healey 3000, which had raced at Sebring. It had over 200 bhp, 4 wheel disc brakes and alloy bodywork. In practice we had been circulating together and both did the same lap time, so were alongside each other on the grid. As with the Morgans the Healey was faster down the straights, but slow through the corners, and each lap we crossed the line nose to tail, with the Healey always leading. So for the race I decided to take off the cycle wings and headlights as I only needed another couple of mph to get the better of him. This wasn’t strictly within the rules but nobody complained. It was very strange driving a car where some of the reference points (i.e. the headlights) were suddenly not there. It didn’t work either as every lap we crossed the line nose to tail with the Healey in front, and at one point going through the Bomb Hole I put a big dent in the alloy back wing of the Healey (See 3rd picture taken just before in The Esses).

After the race I saw the driver striding across the paddock, obviously looking for me, so I was worried that he was really annoyed about the coming together. As it turned out he wanted to congratulate me on the great scrap we had had for every one of the 10 laps and he was amazed at how fast the TC was. He wasn’t the first or last to find out!

Long live TC 8924!

Pete Cresswell
(Most pictures by Robin Rew and Fred Scatley)

Ed’s note: Thanks Pete for something of a marathon article which we finally managed to get published!

Rebuilding the TABC Brake Master Cylinder

2 Sep

The master cylinder is the “heart’ of a safe and functional brake system. It is also a common item that requires routine servicing and sometimes even a rebuild. After 70 years, the elements have taken their toll and suddenly you find the MC body leaks or the brake pedal jams. The following information will help make a major repair a minor event.

Removal begins with draining of the reservoir. Remove the 2-way end fitting and pump the pedal. This is required to allow the internal piston to fully depress and provide clearance of the pushrod when unscrewed from the brake pedal. Also, remove the nut from the MC extension to give a little more wiggle room to remove the pushrod. Use a 1 1/8 US wrench for the nut.

There may be occasions where you still may not be able to get the pushrod out. If so, you will have to remove the pedal shaft to remove the brake pedal. Remember to do so; you have a cotter pin on each end of the shaft next to the flat washer. Then the pedal shaft can be driven out through the hole in the chassis frame.

Disassemble the MC and inspect all parts for serviceability. As a minimum, you will need a rebuild kit (rubber parts) and new copper washer. The internal bore of the MC is critical in that it should not have any pitting. Simple honing is often enough to clean and polish. If not, replace the MC body, particularly if the can is rusty. Before assembly do a “drop test”. This is where you drop the piston into the cylinder. It should drop freely though with no binding or lodging. If it stops in the cylinder, further hone or polish the piston edges.

When complete, gather all of the parts and lay them out in proper order. Then, using brake fluid as a lubricant, assemble as follows:

1. Screw the nut onto the extension and then tighten the nut in a vice with the extension vertical. This will hold the MC and allow you to freely use 2 hands. Also consider using a long nut for the extension, it is much easier to remove or install on the car.

2. Place the flat copper washer in the top of the extension. Then screw the MC body onto the extension using your hands to torque tight. Just a strong grip and turn of the hands should be adequate.

3. Load the remainder of the parts similar to loading a musket. The first item is the rubber washer. It should lay flat in the bottom of the barrel.

4. Push the rubber valve into the valve body (looks like a top hat) and make sure it is fully seated. Then the rim (“brim”) of the top hat should lie onto the flat rubber washer.

5. Next load the spring which fits around the top hat and rests on the rim. Then the rubber cupped washer fits on top of the spring.

6. The piston is next. However, first install the rubber seal on the pushrod end of piston. Then use a screwdriver to hold pressure on the piston while folding the edges of the piston seal into the cylinder.

7. The last item is the circlip. Continue compressing the piston into the cylinder with the screwdriver and then insert the circlip retainer.

The final test is compressing the piston by hand using a screwdriver to make sure it moves full travel and releases to static position. If all is well then reinstall the master cylinder and “take a brake” (pun intended).

Doug Pelton
www.FromTheFrameUp.com

The Birth of the MG TC Midget

2 Sep

September 17 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of TC production. Of the 10,000 TCs made, more than half still survive – a significant percentage for any car; a remarkable one for an inexpensive open roadster.

Few records survive about the development of the TC – at least as far as this author has found. Piecing together what happened from different bits of documentation produces this story, an excerpt from a soon to be published book – the story of how the TC Midget came about. If there are inaccuracies, please correct me!

Most written accounts of MG’s decision to make the TC follow the simple line of “Well, we should just continue on with what we were making before the war; better find out what was wrong with it, fix those things, then get on with it.” When boiled down to the most basic, this statement is reasonably accurate. As with many things in business however, the process and decision were much more complicated.

In early spring 1943, Managing Directors in the Nuffield Organisation started serious discussions and plans to return to car production after the war ended. The group recognized that Austin would have a big head start on Nuffield in the new car market after the war, as Austin was allowed by the Ministry to continue selling new cars in limited quantities during the war.

A March 11, 1943 letter from Miles Thomas to the Managing Director of each Nuffield car company (Morris, Wolseley, Riley, MG, Morris Commercial) queried them about what models they would be able to first produce after the war. “Would MG start with the 1½ Litre or something else?”

H.A. Ryder replied: “. . . the type of vehicle which MG would want to put on would be the one similar to the car you are now driving, which has not yet been properly christened, but is known as the 1¼ litre Saloon four-door Sliding Head Saloon (Cowley D.O. 811).”

This was the prototype 1¼ litre Y type, which Miles Thomas had been driving on an extended basis for evaluation.

H.A. Ryder (Harold Ryder from Morris Radiators) took over as Managing Director of MG upon Cecil Kimber’s departure in 1941 and steered the company through much of the war. Ryder was a Nuffield man through and through; his ‘director responsibilities’ included overseeing Radiators Branch and Pressings Branch during the war. He left most of the day-to-day MG operations to George Propert (MG General Manager), performing his “Managing Directing” from afar. So while responsible for the company, Ryder wasn’t immersed enough into The MG Car Company to really understand its culture, and what made it a market success.

Ryder, like Thomas, accepted but didn’t appreciate the value of the “sports car” image to the MG brand. He was a sharp businessman and skilled engineer, knowledgeable in sheet metal work. It has been written countless times that he saw no use for or benefit in auto racing or sports cars; I wonder what the real truth is? Actions reflect ideas and opinions, and his recommendation of the new 1¼ litre sedan as the ideal starting place for MG after the war could be a result of his preferences. But part of his thought process certainly included the loss of all the Midget body jigs, tools, and body fixtures destroyed in the Coventry Blitz, the devastating German bombing of Coventry in November 1940. Miles Thomas alluded to this loss in a letter to automotive journalist Marcus Bourdon dated May 18, 1945 in response to a request for info about post-war car programmes:

. . . We are not making any announcements about post-war programmes at the moment. . . . Broadly speaking, Morris and Wolseley will proceed with improved editions of their 1940 types; Riley and MG, because the jigs, tools, and body fixtures were destroyed in the blitz, will offer new models.”

A decision had already been made to simplify the line-up of cars in the Nuffield companies. Nuffield learned pre-war of the real benefits of commonality in parts and components across the different car brands, though the organization continued to struggle with the problems and challenges this created. The big move planned was the “Mosquito” project, Issigonis’ design of what eventually became the Morris Minor. On the drawing board throughout the war, the design was to be the basis for a group of “badge engineered” cars for Morris, Wolseley, and MG with differentiation created through body shapes and interior appointments. That it would come to market had been decided; when was a different story.

The strategy for returning to market was mostly finalized in early 1944. Nuffield directors knew that in the period immediately following the war Austin, their main competitor, would have both production and marketing advantages in the car market, as they were allowed to continue with “non-military” car production and sales through the war. Austin had a real head start, and it was crucial for all the Nuffield Companies to rapidly get back up to speed to protect their market share. The best strategy seemed to be continuance of pre-war models, outlined in a “Car Production Policy” dated February 2, 1944 for Morris Motors and carried through to the other Nuffield companies:

. . . That in view of the special conditions likely to exist at the cessation of hostilities, the need for getting quickly into car production with cars that were known to function satisfactorily, that it is known can be produced, and of which delivery can be more accurately promised, outweighs any possible benefits likely to accrue from the attempt to put on to the market immediately after the cessation of hostilities either entirely new models or fairly extensively revamped versions of the pre-war products. And it is deemed propitious for the Company to confine itself at the beginning of normal peacetime trading to the production of the 8 h.p and 10 h.p models which were current at the time of the outbreak of hostilities.

(Author’s notethe 8 & 10 h.p. were Morris models.)

Early Post-war Period – the Cowley Designs office shall forthwith begin active investigation into, and development of, a 3-Car Series Programme for the earliest possible sequence introduction in the post-war era. . . . the basic designs of the models in this range could be used as the fundamental foundation of both Wolseley and M.G. Cars, but that it should be accepted that no attempt should be made to make these marques conform to the exact outline, appearance and finish of the Morris range, and that those Companies should be free to adapt the basic design for use in conjunction with the features specially associated with their product.”

Discussions then went from the boardroom to respective car companies. Morris and Wolseley pretty much went along with the decision, while Riley continued their streak of independence, going so far as to want to make their own bodies (wood and metal). That was quickly shot down as there was only so much independence allowed in the organization. As to MG, here is what Ryder said in a February 10, 1944 letter:

MG POST-WAR PROGRAMME

. . . I thought it wise to have general discussion with the Executives at MG on what their views were with regard to the marketing of models immediately after the war. I must admit they made a very good case for the inclusion of a Midget.

I think you will appreciate that this Company was built up on a Midget car, and I feel that, providing we run a ‘bread and butter’ line, which is an improvement on the standard, we could economically produce a Midget car at least for a few years after the war in order not to give the public the impression we were falling out of the market which had given us such a good name.

I have, therefore, contacted Mr. Oak, and he informs me that the chassis of the 1¼ Litre can be readily used for a Midget, and he is investigating the possibility of body styles and types, using as much as possible standard panels.”

Thomas replied the following day, agreeing with the recommendation that the MG range should include a Midget. He noted the planned new small chassis-less Morris (aka Mosquito project) could be used as the basis of a Midget, and wondered if the 1¼ Litre chassis would be too heavy for a Midget.

Thus we have the beginning of both the TC and the TD – in February 1944! It’s interesting that at this point Ryder would even consider using a new chassis for the Midget, as it would entail significant development to prepare it for production.

Ryder’s comment about ‘MG being built up on the Midget line’ is also telling. Here he seems to grasp the importance of ‘sporting image and racing success’ to MG’s market reputation – something that Thomas and Ryder didn’t appear to appreciate. Perhaps this isn’t as important as one can make it out to be – Ryder may be just figuring that highest volume of a popular model car is the most important.

Meanwhile, back at the Nuffield board level, another discussion started in Spring 1944 regarding how to best utilize the MG factory in Abingdon. Talks centered around making it a metal job shop factory instead of a car manufacturer. During the war, MG developed a good reputation for their skill in manufacturing small quantities of sheet metal and machined parts in their Press Shop. It was a small area, utilizing a rubber type die system that was quick and inexpensive – ideal for short runs only. Their expertise in making small quantities on a moment’s notice for immediate delivery became well known throughout the munitions suppliers, and the work MG did in this area kept many larger projects going. Rather than return to making cars, the Directors considered having the Abingdon factory just keep on with this business rather than return to making cars. Ideas were offered and discussed; ultimately the decision on what to do was made by Ryder and Thomas.

H.A. Ryder wrote to Miles Thomas on July 5, 1944:

“MG Cars. During the war we have built up, in addition to our assembly technique which covers Tanks, Albermarles, and very shortly Tempest, a sort of odd job manufacturing section, which makes metal containers for Tanks as well as a certain quantity of machined parts.

Whether it is wise to develop this side I have my doubts because I feel that, with
MG’s name and reputation and the type of car they manufactured, we should concentrate 100% on this car producing side, and I have in mind aiming at a target of 10,000 cars a year made up of two models, in which case we should not require to develop our machine side.

In any case, I am at the moment giving very full consideration to this policy, and when determined, will control the type of plant we shall require.”

Miles Thomas replied the following day:

I wholly agree that it would be unwise to associate the name of MG with sheet metal and similar production. I think your target of 10,000 cars out of the Abingdon factory is appropriate on pre-war computation, and I would reiterate that, in my opinion, it is much better to concentrate on two smaller models, as you propose to do, and eliminate the 2 and 2½-litre types, which, in my judgment, are not typical MG models.”

(Author’s note: 2 and 2½-litre types are the SA and WA).

Considering the highest annual output of MG before the war was about 3,000 cars, a target of 10,000 cars a year on the surface seems quite a goal. Ryder certainly thought of volume and processes differently than Kimber, and Ryder was much more production and profit oriented. With the MG war staff at 1,400 workers (350 was staff level before the war), simple math suggests MG could easily make 10,000 cars a year if staffing level was maintained post-war. MG’s advancement in production process and efficiency would also impact their abilities, likely increasing output per employee. But the intensity of labor at wartime production levels would be difficult to maintain, and the future market was unknown.

The key decisions about MGs immediate future were made, setting the course for post-war development. MG was to:

• Continue producing the Midget, the best selling model of all MG’s period

• Start development – in concept, at least, of what became the TD – a Midget on the 1¼ Litre chassis.

• Discontinue their presence in the upscale sporting sedan market niche, dropping the SA, VA, and WA models.

• Start the 1¼ Litre sedan into production when possible.

TC0251 – the Prototype

The way forward for MG was set once the decision was made to carry on with the Midget and start production of the 1¼ Litre. The Midget was the easier project of the two, as tooling and development time was faster and easier. Body jigs for tub production at Morris Bodies would need to be remade, though that was a matter of reproducing what was done pre-war with minor modifications.

Development of the 1¼ Litre had continued during the war, though on a limited basis. The prototype was used quite a bit as a general runabout during the war, but much work remained to prepare the model for production. Hence work started on the TC. The project was assigned Design Order 913, with a Sub Order 11/186 by the Experimental and Design department, located at the Morris factory in Cowley, about 12 miles from MG in Abingdon.

Experimental (as the department was known) was responsible for all design, development, and testing of new and existing models. They issued a monthly report from logs recording testing and the petrol used for each project. Ministry rationing rules required companies to account for fuel used, and these reports served that purpose as well as reporting to management general testing activities.

The first appearance of D.O. 913 in these logs is December 1944 for an 81 mile round trip in an MG 2-seater with registration number CJB 59. The test work is recorded as “Journey to Bodies Branch, Coventry in connection with work on D.O.913”. CJB 59 (a Berkshire registration number issued about July 1940) was the registration number carried by the TB that is often seen in MG publicity photos taken in the 1939-1944 era. It’s also the registration number carried by TC0251 – as evidenced by some factory photos. This TB was used by the factory through the war, and all evidence indicates it became TC0251. It was used for all the initial TC press photos, and details in these photos indicate it was a modified TB. The back rear spring shackle mount is attached to the chassis by bolts rather than rivets, suggesting a development modification (see picture).

TC0251 photograph from July/Aug. 1945 Note the bolts holding rear spring shackle to the chassis; in production these were riveted. (Click photo for bigger version).

The logs show entries for the project from February through August 1945. February lists “397 miles for General proving and testing after modification.”

TC0251 Press Photo Fall 1945 Mr. McMahon in the first TC. He appears in many TC photos – who is he?

TC0251 photograph from July/Aug. 1945 Looking quite beat up, though with a fresh interior and new tan wigan top!

The body drawings were completed in December 1944 (ever notice the hexagonal radiator cap in the large drawing?), and it’s reasonable to assume the tub for TC0251 was built shortly thereafter.

TC0251 is known to still exist (as of this writing) though its present owner and caretaker continue to preserve their anonymity.

The first 100 TCs

By mid May 1945, MG obtained license from the Ministry (i.e., permission) to make 1,500 cars in 1945. As it turned out, a permit to make cars was the easy part; Ministry approval to acquire the materials needed for production proved to be much more difficult. Initial allocations allowed for only 25. Lack of wood and rubber allocations were the main obstacles in 1945; in 1946 and 1947, steel allocation was the big problem. By the end of the year, 100 TCs were complete, a mere 7% of the goal.

Many parts used originally on the 1945 TCs are different than later cars, and make for interesting trivia and originality notes. That’s a subject for another article.

Production continued increasing bit by bit, and by March of 1946, Sir Miles Thomas was urging Ryder to increase production. “We really need 60 cars a week” he wrote. To which Ryder replied “We can do it if we can get the parts.” At that time MG was making eight cars a day. War munitions work continued at MG until the middle of 1947, when the factory finally returned to exclusively making cars.

Copyright © Tom Wilson 2015.

Ed’s note: A huge ‘Thank you’ to Tom for this fine article. A couple of photos of early TCs follow:

TC0252, the first production TC, shown here at a June 2015 GOF in Saratoga Springs New York; TC0252 is currently owned by Pete DeBruyn.

TC0272, 0273 & 0279 – the 21st, 22nd, and 28th TCs in Tom Wilson’s driveway

The Editor

1 Sep

I’ve not long come back from the TTT 2 Tour of the Lancashire Lanes and Yorkshire Dales. A good weekend enjoyed by all and most returned home in the dry. We weren’t so lucky and had to put the hood up for the last 85 miles. This was only the second time in 17 years of owning the car that the hood has been raised so we haven’t done badly!

Thanks must go to the organisers, Grant and Barbara Humphreys, the route checkers, Graham and Sonja Walker, the rally plate manufacturers, Brian and Rosie Rainbow and last but not least our sponsors, NTG Motor Services and Hagerty International Insurance. A special thank you goes to Paul and Christine Ireland for the video of the Tour, and to ‘guest stars’ David (Paul’s son) and Kerri, who opened and closed the video.

For those who have not seen the video it is at: https://youtu.be/SZSMi-C4QBU

Next year’s tour is filling up nicely and two thirds of the rooms allocated to us are now booked. The details from the previous issue of TTT 2 are as follows:

“If you weren’t able to make this year’s Tour why not come along to next year’s Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour, which is being held from 26th to 29th August? The rate negotiated with Bells Hotel in Coleford for the dinner, bed and breakfast package is £57 per person per night and the reservation number for bookings is BK07359 (£25 per person deposit).”

Perhaps this is an opportune moment to ask if Ms (or Mrs.) Sessions, who has booked a double room in the hotel, will contact me because I’m afraid that we don’t know who you are and the hotel does not have any contact details for you! Please phone me on 0117 986 4224.

For 2017 (there’s confidence in the future!) Peter Cole has provisionally booked 50 bedrooms for the nights of 18th, 19th, and 20th August 2017 in the Chichester Park Hotel Chichester, West Sussex. The rates confirmed are as follows:

Thursday: (for those who want to arrive a day early) £100.00 per room based on 2 guests sharing to include dinner, bed & breakfast

Friday: £135.00 per room based on 2 guests sharing to include dinner, bed & breakfast

Saturday: £135.00 per room based on 2 guests sharing to include dinner, bed & breakfast

Sunday: £100.00 per room based on 2 guests sharing to include dinner, bed & breakfast

Single Occupancy rooms will incur a supplement of £25.00 per night (so £92.50 for Friday or Saturday, £75.00 for Thursday or Sunday) but the first 3 single occupancy rooms will not incur this supplement.

It was remiss of me not to mention in the last issue that the superb TF1500 owned by Neil Wallace which graced the front cover, won 2 “best in show”, 2 “best in class”, and one “3rd in class” accolades at major shows during 2014 in the North West and North Wales. 

Neil is the 6th owner, having owned it since October 2013. It is an all matching numbers car with original tub and interior although the seats were refurbished in 1971. The car was repainted and re-chromed in 2010. 

Turning to this issue’s front cover, Jonathan Goddard’s painting of his first, fondly remembered, TC, GGA 949, Jonathan has penned a brief history of the car in the hope that it might just jog someone’s memory:

“MG TC, GGA 949 was purchased on the 26th April 1967 for £55. Originally black, it was repainted in letterbox red and served as a not always reliable transport, around Chislehurst during its owner’s apprenticeship at “Aquila”. This Ministry of Technology site also housed a “modern” Apprenticeship school and workshops. 

The availability of a full engineering workshop on ‘hobbies evening’ was a real blessing enabling us apprentices to keep our old cars on the road and mostly legal. At the end of the apprenticeship, in 1971, it was time to move on from a very tired, but barely road legal, MG TC and to replace it with an ‘updated’ and more modern MG Midget. Mr. B.C.Walker of Bromley in Kent paid £210 for the TC and its previous owner romantically invested this sum into a diamond engagement ring, which his wife still wears!

The TC was sorely missed but its owner had learnt much about automobile engineering, and the MG Midget was a reliable replacement, just like the wife!”

The cutaway illustration of the MG TC (GAD 518) on the back cover is reproduced by kind permission of Phil Bell, editor of Classic Cars magazine. It appeared, probably as an insert, in Classic Cars magazine in 1993 to mark their 20th Anniversary (1973-1993). The magazine first published an article on the TC in June 1974, which seemingly drew much of its inspiration from the road test originally published in The Motor. GAD 518 is chassis number TC1601.

Just enough room left to let you know that I met up recently with Georg and Angela Rahm from Stuttgart. They were holidaying over here and we arranged to rendezvous at the Tollgate Tea Shop, just a few miles from where they were staying in Lacock, Wiltshire. Georg owns a TF (proper TF, that is) and having lived in New Zealand (where he purchased the TF) their English is perfect.