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Bits and Pieces

10 Mar

Film Show &Talk at Albury Village Hall- 6th May

This was mentioned in the editorial. MG J1 Salonette owner, Richard Hinton is a member of a group of lifelong motor racing enthusiasts drawn from all corners of the country, many of whom have been competitors themselves or worked in some branch of motor sport or the industry.

Three times a year the group runs “History of Motor Racing” film shows with a guest speaker at Albury village hall (between Ware and Bishops Stortford, in Herts). The next film show/talk day is on 6th May and is devoted to all things Jaguar.

The guest speaker is Neville Swales. He has embarked on a project to construct a car inspired by Jaguar’s one-and-only 1966 XJ13 Le Mans Prototype (built by the factory’s racing dept. to re-enter the Le Mans 24hrs in the 1960s).

Graham Robson, a design engineer at Jaguar in the Mk II/E-Type era, will be talking to Neville and other seasoned Jaguar personalities of that period during the day. He will also enjoy seeing the archive films of this period, and perhaps add some anecdotes of his own time in that company. As a motoring author of 40+ years, he has written several books on the marque. (and MG – Ed).

Cost for the ticket is £30 for which everything is included – tea or coffee and biscuits on arrival, lunchtime barbeque, afternoon tea and cakes. First film starts at 9.50am.

Please check ticket availability with Richard Hinton at richard(at)hinton1.fsbusiness.co.uk {please substitute @ for (at)}

PRE-’56 MG EVENT- SCOTLAND – 28th May

Dughall Leask of the MGCC Caledonian Centre has sent me the following details:

On 28th May there will be an event around Montrose for all Pre-56 MG cars (Vintage, Triple-M, SVW, T & Y types).

We plan a visit to a site which is a home to elderly aircraft and also have a picnic in the grounds of a private castle. This is a ‘get together’ event, rather than a Concours event.

The event is organised by the MGCC Caledonian Centre and the MG Octagon Car Club, but all suitably aged MG cars will be made very welcome.

In addition to the picnic, it is the intention to operate a ‘Bring and Buy’ stall at the event, for all those bits that are spare in your garage and are suitable for the age of vehicles attending. Who knows, you might just find the spare you have on your own ‘wish list’!

For more comprehensive details, including booking arrangements, please go to:

http://www.mgcaledonian.com/event/2017-square-riggers-day

Ed’s note: I hear that Octagon Secretary Pete Moore, is driving up from Leicestershire to attend the event.

XPAG rear crank seal and front seal

Further to the information in the last issue, Ian Thornhill has spoken to Eriks, who say they use a selection of suppliers and there is not a ‘common’ part number.

So, to order the rear crank seal:

Ask for a 95-120-10 ‘Viton’ R23 [this is a double lip seal, the R21 is single lip]

For the front double lip seal;

36-47-7 ‘Viton’ R23

Bill Thomson (Thomson’s of Wimbledon)

The following was received from John Douglas:

“Please give my regards to Bill’s son; Bill is one of those people I’m glad to have met as I wandered through life. I have stacks more memories of the man, some scurrilous (!). It’s incredible what you chance upon online, finding your site was pure serendipity….as ever, I wish I still had the TC; would have made a great stable mate to the Lotus!

4 years of my life were spent rebuilding BJL 116, these were the days before they became “collectable” and parts for bodywork and the wood frame became available, so lots of carpentry was done using a large baulk of ash from one of my neighbours at the time, who ran Alsford’s wood yard in Twickwenham! I only sold it because I was going through flying training in the RAF and couldn’t really look after the beast. I modified the head and fitted the supercharger…the supercharger itself cost me £7 12/6d from the Exchange and Mart….all the fittings I got from Allards in Putney.

When I arrived there and told them what I was going to do, the chap got out the drawings of the inlet manifold, drive extension etc. and took me up to the loft of one of the outbuildings…it was piled high with stuff…he said “I’ll start at this end, you at the other…these are what we are looking for!” and we set off in our search. We finally found all the bits, apart from the pulleys which they had to make.

It was quite potent with all the modifications….what a wonderful time it was, when a humble apprentice could embark on such a restoration!; couldn’t do it, these days. I’ve been up to my elbows in machinery ever since!”

Ed’s note: Sadly, BJL 116 is not listed by DVLA.


Lost and Found

9 Mar

TC0542 – BXJ 477

Jeff Brodrick has contacted me with the following request:

“For some time, I had wanted to re-acquaint myself with TC ownership having owned EVA 950, a green ’49 TC in the sixties when residing in the Solihull area. This car has also done a vanishing trick. Much later, in 2003, eureka! the US dollar was 1.90 to the pound so the quest widened to the US where I discovered TC/0542 for sale in California on the internet, in black with a red interior. The seller was Davis Dutton, who owned a chain of bookstores over there, and he was reducing his collection of classic cars. So, a deal was done, but he was not overly forthcoming about the car’s history.

I know this is a (very) longshot, but as the engine number was XPAG 1250 someone somewhere may recall the car. Of amusement when purchasing, a “four candles” conversation took place, with me saying yes, I know it’s 1250 cc but what is the engine number, as you could well imagine. TC/0542 was built in March ’46 and exported to South Africa from new, where it is said to have stayed until 1989. Then shipped to Washington state US residing in the Seattle area. Then later its move to California where it resided until my purchase in 2003, at which time it was first registered by myself in the UK as BXJ 477. “

Ed’s note: Jeff can be contacted at jeffreybrodrick(at)btinternet.com {please substitute @ for (at)}

For the benefit of our overseas readers, the following should help grasp the context of the “four candles” reference:

TC4313

Roger Roodhouse has a log book for this TC, dating back from the 1960s, at which time it was registered as MZ 245. If the current owner can be traced, Roger would be happy to pass the log book on – rogerandbarbara(at)talktalk.net {please substitute @ for (at)}

TC4610 – NI 4918

Alasdair Reid at alandlynne(at)aol.com {please substitute @ for (at)} is keen to track down this TC which he used to own. His request is as follows:

“Looking at my old photos I’m made aware that in 1967 a TC was just a student’s cheap scruffy old sports car. Nonetheless, I have many happy memories of the year and a half that I owned it.
I do remember lots of vibration from the engine, (XPAG 6022) which of course led to a broken crankshaft right in the middle of the Clyde Tunnel.
The towing fee was about £5.00 so I drove it out and home, broken crank and all.

Next day, a visit to the local Scrap yard saw me buying a Y-type engine for £3.00………Yes, £3.00!
Fitted the engine (XPAG SC 2 17446) and off we went again.

I finally sold it when I noticed a break in the O/S chassis above the front axle. Bought it for £120, sold it for £180. Happy days!

My TC started a lifelong love affair with Classics;
MGA, MGA Twin Cam, Mk1 Midget, MGB, 3 MGB GTs, Triumph Stag, Scimitar, 8 big Austin Healeys of all models.

Currently I have a MK III Healey 3000, and of course my TD.”

TA1346 – AWV 69

Geoff Davison emigrated to Western Australia 15 years ago and took his TA and several old motor cycles with him. He has some history of the car but would like to find out more. Originally fitted with engine number MPJG 1572 it was given an XPAG engine ‘transplant’ (XPAG 8849) by University Motors on the 19th July 1950. A brass plate fitted on the right-hand side of the engine records these details.

A small brass St Christopher badge situated near the grab handle is stamped “Performance Cars – the Sports Car People”.

Under the green paintwork there is evidence of cream patches, which could be the original paint.

Geoff purchased the TA on the 2nd August 1986 from a gentleman in Glossop Derbyshire, a Mr B Bell, who was a lecturer at Sheffield. He believes that the car had come from the Manchester area before that, as he has an old MOT certificate dated 19th June 1969 and issued by Normans Service Station, Hollinwood Avenue, Chadderton, Oldham.

Geoff is at clewstroka(at)westnet.com.au {please substitute @ for (at)}

TC1682 – EBT 610

Jonathan Smith jon(at)lemoncherry.co.uk {please substitute @ for (at)} is seeking information on the whereabouts of this car, once owned by his father.

EBT 610 was restored by Arras Fiori, who we think sold it to Terry Bone, who exported it to the USA. It was last heard of in a dealer’s showroom in Dallas, Texas.

MG TA – GNU 610

Brian Rainbow brian(at)brianjrainbow.free-online.co.uk {please substitute @ for (at)} is enquiring about this ex-Derbyshire police car (chassis number not known) on behalf of Ben Gadsby of the Morris Register, whose father used to own this car.

MG TD – NNF 444

Tony Hewitt tonyhewitt741(at)hotmail.com {please substitute @ for (at)} used to race this car (chassis number not known). He now has another TD, but is curious to know where NNF 444 has ended up (it is not listed via a DVLA search).

TCs Forever – More!

8 Mar

Mike Sherrell kindly sent me a copy of the sequel to TCs Forever!

You’ll note that it is sub-titled “A companion to TCs Forever! & an aid to survival in the 21st Century”.

In “FRONT END” (Mike’s introduction to the book), he makes the point that it does not really stand alone, otherwise he would be repeating himself ad nauseam; rather, it is intended to supplement his magnum opus, not correct it. Time has moved on, circumstances have changed and we must rise to the challenge to keep our cars on the road, not stuck in the garage like a museum piece. Your TC does not have to be a Café Racer (but they have their place) and Mike is not suggesting inappropriate modification, going beyond the point of recognition; rather, the aim should be to keep these head-turning time machines fit and healthy and exercised, so that they can be enjoyed in all their Factory elegance and be driven faster and safer.

I particularly like the following paragraph and I’m sure that many of you will empathise with the sentiments expressed:

The gap between us and the Moderns is forever widening, built by robots for God’s sake. Their demand for funny fuel and zinc reduced oil is having its impact, notwithstanding their annoyingly efficient mechanicals and ever more powerful, smarty pants engines. If they weren’t so bloody boring to drive and so bossy with their warning beeps and chimes; so tacky with their snap-on, plastic everything, our game would be up, but it’s not. Oh no, not by a long shot.

Then follows Mike’s ‘call to arms’ that we must adapt and stay ahead of the game.

He pays tribute to two outstanding innovators – John Bowles of the TC Owners Club and Bob Schapel in South Australia. There is also a welcome mention for TTT 2 as being at the vanguard of this leap forward (the shrinking of the world through Internet communication).

The book is divided into eleven chapters, beginning with the first – “A FEW FACTORY FAULTS”. To name those which are examined – oil in the rear brake drums, inadequate baffle in the sump, unplugged rockers, use of little end bolts which can’t be adequately torqued up, the four holes in the inlet manifold underside.

Chapter 2 is entitled “LORE”. In this chapter, Mike traces the beam axle T-Type development from the “arresting aesthetics” of the later TA, through to the short-lived TB (Frank Langridge’s car, which featured in an early issue of TTT 2 is pictured), and on to the TC.

He discusses types of owners; the racers (drawing on pre-war heritage – Allan Tomlinson’s TA won the 1939 Australian Grand Prix), the concours men, the “hoarders” (collectors), the restorers, the runners. All contribute in one way or another to the worldwide club of TC ownership.

Chapter 3 is entitled “RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT” and covers the development of new stub axle spindles, screw on oil filters, diff conversions, higher ratio CW&Ps, tapered roller replacement for the double row bearing arrangement at the flange end of the diff set-up, cure for gearstick rattle, brakes and Datsun steering box. All food for thought.

Chapter 4 is all about “TOURING IN A TC”. Mike recounts some of his, and others’ epic journeys and draws on his experience to advise some useful spares to carry, including electrical spares. Of course, the chapter would not be the same without a picture of his and Daryl Robbins’ TCs with their huge camping boxes fitted to the rear of the cars.

Chapter 5 “CHASSIS” concentrates on this key ‘backbone’ of the car and covers building it up, having checked that it is straight and true. There are some useful notes and photos to digest.

Chapter 6 is devoted to “THE XPAG ENGINE” and is in three parts: keeping the oil in, supercharging and workshop notes. There are particularly useful paragraphs and photos on the rear main seal and the front crank seal. The importance of starting with a good crank and rods if a blower installation is contemplated is stressed. The workshop notes cover cool running, coolant recovery, air filtering and carburettors (establishing the float level).

Chapter 7 is entitled “GEARBOX”, likened by Mike as being “tougher than any Staffordshire pit dog ever bred”. Subjects covered are overrun noise, gearstick rattle, jumping out of third, and to conclude the chapter, two useful tips: one on dis-assembly, one on re-assembly.

Chapter 8 “BODY” will, I predict, be the one most avidly read (they will, of course all be avidly read!). Essential, when read in conjunction with Mike’s first book, for any keen restorer.

Chapter 9 deals briefly with “INTERIOR” and covers trim and weather equipment. The gold standard has been up to now Collingburn (but availability has recently waned). A relatively new supplier, Kimber Creek (Tom Wilson) is given the thumbs up.

In Chapter 10 “ELECTRICS”, Mike defends the products of ‘The Prince of Darkness’, stating that over half a century is a reasonable time frame for him to assess them, including 33 years’ worth of technical expertise in the electro-mechanical field. Subjects covered include, inspection sockets, horn/dipswitch, map readers, fog and panel switches, ignition and fuel warning lights, tank sender, ignition light switch (PLC6), regulators RF91 and RF95/2 – and the generator, SU fuel pump, distributor DKY4A, and lighting.

Chapter 11 gives details, including those of the owner and pictures of “MY TC RESTORATIONS” – all twenty- two of them!

In “REAR END” Mike reiterates his “FRONT END” message with the parting words get in your TC and drive it, as far, as fast and as often as you can. Time is running out on a number of fronts.

Two appendices follow:

Appendix 1 “BOOK LAUNCH OF TCS FOREVER”

Appendix 2 “A SAMPLE OF THE COMPETITION HISTORY OF TC9491”

What more can I say? 150 pages of pure magic!

If you have TCs Forever! (and over five thousand – yes, 5,000 copies have been sold worldwide) you will surely want to get hold of TCs Forever -More! as a companion.

The book launch in Perth is scheduled for 7th May and copies should be available in the UK near to this date, or shortly after. The demand has been truly amazing and Mike has already had to order a second print run. I predict that a third will not be far behind.

Copies will be obtainable from NTG Motor Services Limited, The MG Octagon Car Club and THE MG ‘T’ SOCIETY LIMITED.

JOHN JAMES

MG TB – Chassis 0274

7 Mar

Dughall Leask of the MGCC Caledonian Centre kindly sent me this fascinating account of the survival of TB0274. It was first published in the Caledonian Centre Newsletter in January 2017 and I have lightly edited it.

The story begins in the days when I was working as an Albion apprentice in 1962, in the Scotstoun factory in Glasgow. A fellow apprentice in equal penury had found a MG sports car in a scrapyard at Anniesland on the banks of the canal. He and I had spent weekends searching out elderly motorcycles and he was a dab hand at finding wrecks. This latest find of an MG was no exception.

With my then girlfriend Eileen, and funds from her Dad, we bought the car (memory says it was for £30) from the scrap man and towed it away to a rented garage in Yoker. Looking back, it seems likely that the car was within a whisker of being scrapped and lost forever. The registration was JPA 847 and the chassis was TB0274 – the 24th car built. The car appeared complete, but without batteries – the scrap man must have had an eye for the lead!

We soon were examining what we had bought. The body was seriously rotted. The inner rear wheel arches were almost non-existent and the rearmost woodwork was at the point of collapse. Very distinctively it had Andre-Hartford friction dampers visible at the front, and mounted on the radiator cap, a rather racy Flying Lady mascot.

But youth is ever blind. With the help of another pal, we were soon dismantling the remains and plotting a rebuild.

Remember that in those days there were few if any formal MG restoration businesses in existence, unlike to-day, nor was there any easy access to spare parts, the like of which abound now to support the enthusiast.

The car was complete but with no battery, so we did not know the potential of mechanical problems. However, on the positive side, the hood and side-screens were very serviceable, and all the instruments were present. The windscreen bottom frame brackets were obviously broken and there were several broken spokes in the wheels. The rear spring trunnions were very worn, as indeed were the chassis tubes that held the bronze trunnions. In an earlier life, someone had dismantled the reserve fuel tap (they had a bad reputation of leaking) and thus had eliminated the possibility of a fuel reserve.

When the rotted trim was removed from the rear wheel arches it became obvious that there was very little left of the inner wheel arches and the hidden portion of the rear wings – they were in an advanced state of rust/rot. The sidescreen cupboard at the rear had terminal rot in the wood and the metal floor pressing. We would have to remake and refit. For some reason, we removed the front wings and found that the chassis had a crack on the driver’s side, on the top flange immediately above the front axle bump stop. Even to me this seemed a serious fault. With the help of an older work colleague the crack was vee’d out and electrically welded to effect a repair.

The rear wings and inner wings were rebuilt with fibreglass, reinforced with expanded metal and Eileen still remembers the smell of the resin in her house as her Dad applied the repair materials! The slab fuel tank was cleaned out and re-painted and stored for many months under Eileen’s bed.

Photo 1- shows dismantled rear of TB0274.

The three parts of the seats were in poor condition and then Eileen’s Mum bought red vinyl leather cloth and made a set of pleated covers for the seats, although a poor quality form of white plastic piping was used, due to the ignorance of the apprentice as to what to use for piping. These recovered seats were to be important fifty years later!

Gradually the car was re-assembled. A friend attended to some wiring defects and put a new veneer on the dashboard. The gearbox rear mounting bracket was broken and was removed to repair. The footwell floor panels were very rotted and new were made and fitted. We obtained another 19″ road wheel to replace the wheel with broken spokes. Quite a lot of the car was repainted in black by hand and the underside of all four wings were repainted in light blue – which gave the car a racy look, or so the apprentice thought – shades of WW2 fighter aircraft in mind perhaps!!

During the work the engine block was found to be cracked from the centre core plug in the driver’s side water gallery, immediately behind the exhaust manifold, but a chemical preparation sealed the light leak. Months later. after many hours of work, a new a battery was fitted and we had a running motor car. The apprentice drove the car from Glasgow to Aberdeen to William Leask’s garage for final checking (about 150 miles) where the windscreen frame was fitted with new bottom corner brackets and rubber seal, The sump was dropped to fit a set of big-end shells – and thereafter the car was handed over to Eileen as her first car.

Thereafter, the car was her daily drive and she participated in some MGCC Edinburgh Centre events. I guess that would have been registered to her in September 1964, according to the documents.

Photo 2 – Eileen at a MGCC driving test at the dried pond at Doune.

In the summer of 1968 Eileen and the apprentice were married, and models of the car – made of icing – decorated the wedding cake. The recently married couple were in need of something like a front-room carpet and so it was that the TB was sold to a girl Student at Aberdeen University. It must be remembered that this was still at a time when two-seater MGs were cheap and attractive to student poseurs. This young woman had an accident with the car and a new fibreglass wing was fitted and painted. And soon the car was lost to view. Where did it go?

Fast forward 50 years!

It is 2014 and the apprentice is by this time now the retired Journeyman. As is the wont of so many retirees, he reflects on past matters as any retired soul might do. What would have become of JPA 847 and if indeed it still existed?

Do we all not wonder what became of that first car?

The T Register had a single picture of a barn-find yellow TB with the registration JPA 877. Now that was close. Eventually, an American website featured several more pictures of the same car and by studying these closely, that red upholstery looked familiar with its white piping and the front end was showing Andre Hartford dampers.

The MGCC T Register secretary was able to tell me that this car had been recently sold to a new owner and was kind enough to put me in touch with Mike Bartell in Doylestown PA. And yes – the yellow car’s registration was confirmed as JPA 847 and the published number had been corrupted with a typo. Mike was overjoyed to find someone who was able to provide a history of the car from 50 years ago, with pictures and a movie made at the time. The car itself was now in Ohio starting a complete rebuild with Tom Metcalf who runs Safety Fast! Restoration. According to Tom, the car was in an advanced state of decay and starting from the chassis up, there was a great deal to do.

Mike Bartell had already researched as much as he could on the car and he had the name of the lady owner who bought it from Eileen and had a similar note of the previous owner’s name from whom the car had been destined to be scrapped. This name had never featured in our original restoration. It simply had not been of interest.

The journeyman took up the challenge to trace this earlier owner and after several blind alleys traced a retired gentleman in Bearsden – only a mile from where Eileen presently lives! To say he was startled to hear news of his own student day car was an understatement. He was able to provide a photo of himself as a young man with the car which he had used to travel from Dundee to St. Andrews to pursue his studies.

The restoration was planned to be completed in September 2015 and Mike Bartell carried on his correspondence with Scotland and with news of progress on the car. Then in early 2016, Mike was able to bring the completed car home to Doylestown and begin to show the car at events in the States, where unsurprisingly, it has gone on to win several prizes.

Just prior to its completion the gentleman in Bearsden passed away suddenly and it was a great disappointment to Mike and to everyone involved, that he did not live to see his old car completed.

From the picture of the green/green T-Type, ‘anoraks’ will note that Mike chose to fit a double spare wheel carrier to the rear and also a rather fine pair of headlamps. This may not sit comfortably with those for whom originality is the be-all and end-all, but it has produced a rather fine looking TB, for which Mike now has a good file of history.

Mike Bartell would love to bring the TB to the UK on a visit and I daresay the car might feel quite at home parked outside the University in St. Andrews.

Footnote:

The Flying Lady mascot is well looked after these days in a place of prominence, with Eileen in Bearsden.

JPA 847 still has its Hartfords.

Quality never goes out of style” is the theme by which Tom Metcalf’s company lives by and it is admirably demonstrated by these ‘shots’ of TB0274. http://www.safetyfastrestoration.com

Modern Petrol and Classic Cars: Comments

6 Mar

John Saunders has sent the editor the following comments on Paul’s article entitled “Modern Petrol and Classic Cars – The Manchester XPAG Tests”

With regard to the article by Paul Ireland in TTT 2 for Feb. 2017, and specifically about the graphs of Percentage Evaporation versus Temperature for current petrol compared with that from the 1930s and 1960s.

The values quoted in the diagram are very interesting, and important. I have long realised that modern fuel is more volatile than petrol of the 1950s and 60s for instance, but the magnitude of the difference in fuel volatility (or percent evaporated) is surprising and on its own is quite enough to explain the reported overheating problems that some users of XPAG-engined cars are experiencing with modern fuel.

Paul does not reveal the source of the information but the numbers, if valid, strongly suggest that current petrol will burn much richer, and thus more slowly, than fuels used when the XPAG was first designed and produced (i.e. 1937 to 1955 and beyond), if the original design settings, or close, for the ignition and carburettors are employed. A slow combustion will cause significant engine overheating as the fuel/air mixture “end gas” will still be burning when the exhaust valve opens.

According to the diagram, over a range from 15% volatility (percent evaporated) to 95%, the extra mixture richness (difference between the red and blue lines on the graph) varies from 122% at 15% volatility to 7% at 95% volatility, with a mean over the range of 53% and a midpoint of 34%. This is a very substantial offset of an engine variable that should optimally be controlled to within 2 to 3% of the mean. The carburettors are capable of this accuracy.

Note that, on ignition, the entire bulk of the petrol/air mass from “2% evaporated” to “98% evaporated” will burn virtually instantaneously (within 3 milli-secs) and all at once. The graph notations “front end components” and “back end components” are meaningless in this context.

Proposed modified settings (MG TC)

IGNITION

1). Static ignition point set ——– 5 to 7 degrees BTDC

2). Maximum ignition centrifugal advance ——– 32 degrees at 3,600 to 3,900 rpm

Note 1Changes to the centrifugal advance mechanism are not simple and involve new lighter distributor springs. This is a longer term and more permanent improvement than item 1).

CARBURETTORS

3). Change carb needles to FH, or better FK to lean out the mixture from standard.

Note 2 — FH is a little rich at piston positions 2, 3, and 4, compared with FK.

4). Discard the carburettor blue springs, these only serve to increase the carb richness still further and are counter productive.

5). Discard the acceleration damper in the piston rod, or at least pour away the damping oil. It is not necessary and only causes more unwanted richness.

6). Weight the carburettor pistons to be equal and within the range 175g to 185g. The standard aluminium piston weighs around 110g. Do not go below 165g.

Note 3 — Pistons of 175g to 185g are 15% leaner than the standard piston plus blue spring combination which gives 240g maximum on each.

Original MG TC design settings

IGNITION

7). Static ignition set ——– TDC, or 0 degrees BTDC.

8). Maximum centrifugal advance ——– 32 degrees at 4,420 rpm (too slow for modern petrol).

CARBURETTORS

9). Standard needle ES, far too rich for modern fuel.

10). Blue carburettor spring added effective weight to the piston; when piston closed an extra 73g, when full open an extra 130g. This is counter productive with modern fuel.

Note 4 — Total piston weight then is 110g + 130g = 240g, 15% rich compared with a recommended 175g to 185g on the square root relationship which is required by the physics.

John Saunders

Manchester XPAG Tests: Modern Petrol – Volatility

5 Mar

Introduction

Petrol is not a single substance, it is a mixture of many different hydrocarbons and additives. This mixture is very different from that supplied in the past, changing petrol’s physical properties and the way it behaves in an engine. One change is a difference in volatility which appears to be the main cause of the difficulties some people encounter using modern fuel in their classic cars, namely Overheating and Hot Restart problems.

Overheating & the Hot Restart problem

How many times have you heard people say “modern petrol makes my car overheat in traffic”?

In years gone by, when driving in slow moving or stop-start traffic, the temperature gauge would slowly creep up. As it reached 100oC the water would start to boil and the engine misfire, eventually coughing and spluttering to a stop. With modern petrol, this can happen long before the temperature gauge reaches 100oC. While the symptoms are the same as classic overheating, it occurs when the engine temperature is still well within its normal running range.

The Hot Restart problem is related to Overheating. With a warm engine, after stopping for 5 minutes or so, the engine will refuse to restart, it just coughs and splutters. Wait for 15 or 20 minutes, the engine restarts without any difficultly. Both these problems are caused by the low boiling point of modern petrol.

The dilemma is that not all vehicles suffer with these problems to the same extent. Sometimes you see, apparently identical models, one stopped with fuel problems, the other running perfectly well, suggesting these problems can be avoided.

This article describes what causes these problems and what steps can be taken to alleviate them.

Petrol Distillation Curves

Petrol consists of over 300 different hydrocarbons, each with its own boiling point. If you heat a sample of petrol, the component with the lowest boiling point will boil first. Once this has evaporated, the temperature will rise until the boiling point of the next component is reached, and so on. Measuring the volume of fuel that evaporates as the temperature increases, gives a distillation curve for that fuel. The components that evaporate at the lowest temperatures are called front end components, those at the higher temperature, back end components.

The way an engine starts, ticks over and runs, depends on the shape of the distillation curve. However, just because two fuels have the same distillation curves does not mean they are chemically the same.

The Federation of Historic British Vehicle Clubs sponsored distillation tests on samples of the fuels used at Manchester.

The graph (below) shows how much of the 95-octane forecourt petrol (blue line) evaporated as the temperature was slowly increased. It also shows the curves for 1930s and 1960s “classic” petrol (the red and purple dotted lines). They are both very different from modern petrol. At a temperature of 75oC 20% to 30% of the classic petrol would have evaporated. While at 75oC nearly twice that volume of modern petrol has evaporated.

With over 40% of modern petrol evaporating at typical under bonnet temperatures, it is surprising classic carburetted engines manage to run at all. Carburettors can only deliver the correct mixture when running on liquid petrol.

Engines and heat

A petrol engine produces colossal quantities of heat. Unfortunately, only around one third of this heat energy is converted into power to move the car forward, the remaining two thirds is waste heat energy. A normally tuned XPAG engine produces 40 Kilowatts of power at full throttle (one third of the heat energy) and 80 Kilowatts (two thirds) of waste heat energy which just gets the engine bay hot. Imagine a room in your house with 80 electric fires all switched on, it would certainly get very toasty!

In practice, approximately 55% of this waste heat is lost via the exhaust, heating the exhaust manifold, exhaust pipe and vented as hot exhaust gasses, 35% to the cooling system, 8% to heating the engine block and oil and 2 – 5% through other means.

Manchester Temperature Measurements

Heat transfer to the carburettors and to the petrol was one of the measurements made at Manchester using 8 thermocouples attached as follows:

1) Fuel pump outlet to measure the temperature of the petrol flowing into the carburettors. Typically, this was 22oC room temperature, corresponding to a warm summer’s day.

2) Two thermocouples, one in each carburettor, were placed in the air inlet to measure the air temperature. Typically, this was 30oC. Again, representative of an engine on a warm day.

3) Two thermocouples, one in each carburettor, at the bottom of the transfer pipe connecting the float chambers to the carburettor body (shown in photo 2 and photo 3). Typically, this was 42oC, which was surprisingly low considering that this part of the carburettor is positioned under 1” away from the 400oC exhaust manifold.

Photos 1 & 2

Photos 3 & 4

4)Two thermocouples, one for each carburettor, embedded into an aluminium gasket that was fitted between the carburettor and the inlet manifold to measure the heat entering the carburettors from the engine. Typically, this was 36oC. These plates (photo 4) were also fitted with vacuum gauges to measure inlet manifold pressure.

5) Finally, one thermocouple was fitted to the cylinder head between cylinders 2 and 3 (see photo 2). Typically, this was 170oC heated by the exhaust gases passing through the cylinder head.

When the engine was running, the highest petrol temperature of 42oC was in the transfer tubes. At this temperature, less than 10% of modern petrol will evaporate, insufficient to cause any problems. The low temperatures of the carburettors are shown more dramatically on the thermal image of the XPAG running at 300rpm at full throttle.

The 20oC to 42oC carburettors and float chambers, shown blue, are silhouetted against the white (300oC plus) exhaust manifold. You can also see the pipe, also blue, that links the two carburettors looping over the top of the very hot exhaust manifold.

Despite being so close to the exhaust manifold and with no heat shield protecting them, the carburettors do not get excessively hot. The reason for this is simple. When the engine is running, especially under power, a large volume of petrol is flowing through the carburettors keeping them cool and this is why they are able to work with modern petrol.

However, looking again at the thermal image, the two choke levers below the carburettors are hot and shown as yellow with a red outline. Probably around 80oC. As these levers are connected to the bottom of the jets, they will certainly contribute to heating the petrol, particularly after the engine stops. Unfortunately, these did not have separate thermocouples fitted to them so it was not possible to track their temperatures.

Overheating & the Hot Restart Problem

When the car is in slow moving traffic or stopped, two effects work to increase the temperature of the petrol. Although the engine is running at low power and producing less heat, the rate at which heat is lost is greatly reduced as there is less air flow through the engine bay. The under-bonnet temperature will rise. In addition, petrol is flowing more slowly through the carburettors and has more time to heat up. When the engine is switched off, petrol stops flowing and its temperature will continue to rise as heat soaks out of the engine, exhaust and radiator.

The distillation curve for 95 octane petrol (pictured at the beginning of this article) shows a rapid rise in the volume of fuel evaporating between 45oC and 70oC, the typical temperatures reached in the engine bay. As the petrol in the carburettors gets hotter, more of it boils. The pressure of this vapour forces petrol out of the carburettor jet, which collects in the inlet manifold making the mixture temporarily richer. The vapour bubbles in the jet then cause the carburettor to deliver a much weaker mixture when the engine is running or cranking. This is what causes the engine to stop or prevents it from starting.

The only solution is to lift the bonnet and wait for the temperature to drop. However, if the problem is not too bad, it is possible to nurse the engine back into life using the choke to enrichen the mixture. Although it will run very unevenly, driving a short distance will bring cooler petrol into the carburettors from the tank and the increased airflow will help reduce under-bonnet temperatures.

Modern cars do not suffer from these problems for two reasons. Firstly, the petrol in the pipes and injectors is held under high pressure, which increases the boiling point. Secondly, as soon as you switch the ignition on, the hot petrol in the engine bay is recirculated back to the fuel tank, allowing the engine to start on a new charge of cold petrol.

What can be done to address this problem?

There are basically four ways to address the Overheating and Hot Restart problems:

  • Change the petrol you use

  • Decrease the amount of heat generated by the engine

  • Increase the heat removal from under the bonnet

  • Reduce the amount of heat reaching the parts of the fuel system

Change the petrol you use

When I have suggested using a different brand of petrol in the past, I have met with comments like “all petrol is the same, how can using a different brand resolve my problem?” Nothing could be further from the truth, the composition of petrol from different sources is anything but the same. Not only does each brand use different additives, many also sell different grades of petrol. To further complicate the matter, the composition of petrol varies across the United Kingdom and over the time of year.

The UK fuel distribution industry is served by around 14 different refineries which supply petrol to their local area. Many of these came on stream in the late 1950s and early 1960s, reflecting the post-war demand for petroleum. The result is that no two refineries are identical. Petrol of one brand in one part of the UK most probably differs from the same brand in a different part of the UK depending on which refinery supplies those regions.

In addition, three different grades of fuel are sold throughout the year:

  • Winter fuel – October to April. This has the highest front end components to ease cold starting and is what was used at Manchester

  • Intermediate fuel – April to May and September to October

  • Summer fuel – June to August. This has the lowest front end components and is the best fuel to use in a classic car.

In practice these dates are not fixed and will vary with ambient temperature and the turnover at any one filling station, making it virtually impossible to know what grade of fuel is being sold.

The chart below compares the distillation curves of some of the different fuels used in the Manchester tests.

Fuels with lower front end components are less likely to suffer from the Hot Restart or Overheating problems, additionally, the test engine at Manchester also ran better on these fuels, reducing the amount of waste heat produced.

The evidence suggests that the best fuels for a classic car are Sunoco Optima 98 from the Anglo-American Oil Company and Avgas (a fuel for use in aeroplanes). Both these have considerably fewer front end components, more closely matching classic fuel below 100oC. Unfortunately, it is not legal to use Avgas in a road vehicle. While Sunoco Optima 98 is expensive, it could be considered as the fuel of choice for low mileage vehicles.

More practical solutions are to use Super grade fuels, or add kerosene (paraffin) which is legal for vehicles built before 1956 (a licence from HMRC is required). While these do not reduce the front-end components as much as Optima 98 or Avgas, they still improve the way the engine runs and make the petrol less susceptible to vaporisation. The curve shown above is for a 5:1 95 octane / kerosene mix. A 10:1 super grade / kerosene mix is preferred as this gives a greater reduction in low temperature volatility and a better overall match to classic fuels above 100oC.

Changing to a petrol that has lower volatility in the 45oC to 70oC range will result in less petrol evaporating at typical under-bonnet temperatures and is probably the most effective way to reduce the severity of the Overheating and Hot Restart problems. It is worth trying different brands, grades and filling stations to find out which petrol gives the smoothest performance and reduces petrol vaporisation problems. Perhaps regional car clubs could share members’ experiences to provide practical local advice.

Regardless of which petrol you use, it is best to avoid filling your tank on the first run of the season, probably in April or May, when petrol stations are selling winter fuel. Only put in the fuel you need and fill up as soon as summer fuel becomes available. Otherwise, you could end up with a tank full of volatile winter or transition petrol on a hot summer’s day, a recipe for problems!

Decrease the amount of heat generated by the engine

You can keep under-bonnet temperatures to a minimum by ensuring that your engine is properly tuned and runs at optimal efficiency. Remember cyclic variability from the first article? This can reduce an engine’s efficiency by a few percent. Not sufficient to notice in everyday use, but a few percent of the 80Kw of waste heat is a lot of heat!

This will be covered in future articles.

Increase the heat removal from under the bonnet

35% of the waste heat is lost through the cooling system and it is important to make sure that this is working to its optimum efficiency:

  • Flush out the radiator

  • Remove the flies and other debris from the radiator fins

  • Check all the hoses are in good condition

  • Ensure the thermostat is working properly

  • Use a cooling system wetting agent

  • Check your fan is fitted the correct way around. If the blades are dished, the convex face (outward bulge) should face the radiator

  • Ensure your fan belt is in good condition, driving the fan properly and not slipping

Ensure air can flow freely through the engine compartment:

  • Remove leaves and other blockages such as badges from air intake grilles

  • Ensure ancillary equipment such as the horn, wiring, etc. are not blocking the airflow, particularly around fuel pipes and carburettors

Electric radiator fans help to keep air circulating but may make matters worse. In slow moving traffic, they are drawing hot air, probably in excess of 80oC, through the radiator and blowing it into the engine bay. Not ideal. It may be better to fit the fan at the bottom of the radiator, where the air is cooler, or in a position where it can suck in cold air from the front of the car. I understand some people have also fitted 12 volt computer fans to blow cold air directly onto the carburettors.

One important point to remember is that hot air rises. Any fans, ducts or baffles intended to move cooler air through the engine bay should encourage this, not “fight it”. Blow cold air in at the bottom of the engine compartment, extract hot air from the top.

It is also worth fitting a timer or equivalent circuit to ensure any electric fans continue to run for around 5-10 minutes after the engine has stopped, as this will help alleviate the Hot Restart problem.

Reduce the amount of heat reaching the parts of the fuel system

Anything that can be done to keep the fuel system, particularly the carburettors, cool will help reduce the severity of the problems caused by the volatility of the low end components in modern petrol.

Solutions worth consideration are for example:

  1. Fitting electric fan(s)

  2. A heat shield between the exhaust and carburettors

  3. Thermal spacers between the carburettors and inlet manifold

  4. Insulating parts of the fuel system

  5. Adding baffles to redirect hot air around carburettors or fuel hoses

  6. Insulating the exhaust manifold and front part of the exhaust system to reduce the heat they radiate under the bonnet

Unfortunately, insulation does not stop the transfer of heat, it only slows it down. Once the engine has stopped and the petrol is no longer flowing, the petrol will heat up, no matter how well insulated the parts of the fuel system are. Benefits will only arise if the heating is delayed for a sufficient time to allow the under-bonnet temperature to fall below 45oC.

Again, unfortunately, not all “obvious” solutions are effective. At Manchester we insulated the bottom of the carburettor, the float bowl and transfer tube which are closest to the inlet manifold. This had no measurable effect on reducing the temperature of the petrol. After the engine was stopped, temperature measurements were taken every 30 seconds from the thermocouples on the fuel pump and carburettor to give the graph below:

Three readings are the fuel pump (green), average of the two transfer pipes between the float chamber and carburettor (red) and the average of the temperature of the junction between the inlet manifold and carburettor (blue). As can be seen, the temperature increases of the pump outlet and transfer pipe were small.

The greatest temperature rise was seen at the point where the carburettor was joined to the inlet manifold. This was heated by conduction from the 170oC cylinder head through the inlet manifold and the hot gasses travelling back up the inlet from the valves. After 4 minutes, this raised the temperature of the carburettor to 70oC at which point 50% of the forecourt 95 octane petrol would evaporate. Sufficient to cause the Hot Restart problem.

The thermal image on the right below is taken looking down the inlet tract after the piston in the carburettor had been lifted with a screwdriver. It shows the hot gasses in the inlet manifold. The light blue area within the circle, the carburettor needle, is at an average of 61.1oC, the green area is hotter. This shows how the heat from the inlet manifold is significantly increasing the carburettor and petrol temperature.

This finding is not what would be expected and explains why the thermal insulation, mentioned above, had no effect. On the XPAG the reason why the carburettors get hot after the engine has been stopped is not because of their proximity to the inlet manifold, but because of the hot gasses escaping back up the inlet manifold.

A solution may be to blip the throttle and switch off the ignition while the engine is still revving as it will allow the hot gasses to be vented and cold gasses to enter the cylinders as the engine runs down.

The tests at Manchester were performed in a test cell, where the conditions are very different from an engine bay. For anybody wishing to investigate potential solutions, an infrared thermometer or, better still, a thermal imaging camera are the ideal way to identify hot spots. However, remember that as soon as the bonnet is opened, the temperature profile will change. As an alternative, digital multi-meters with thermocouples are now inexpensive and provide the means to allow your passenger to accurately measure the temperature of parts of the fuel system, even while a car is moving.

Conclusion

The Manchester tests clearly demonstrate that one of the problems of modern fuels is their low temperature volatility. While there is no magic solution to the Hot Restart or Overheating problems, it is possible to reduce their severity. While this article suggests steps that can be taken, there are be others that will be covered in later articles.

By using summer, super grade fuel with 10% kerosene added and ensuring the engine is optimally tuned, my TC does not suffer from the Overheating or Hot Restart problem, even though I do not have a heat shield, insulation or an electric fan.

Paul Ireland

TC10178 – saved from sitting on bricks since 1967 in a Sheffield lock up garage (Part 10 – Final Part)

4 Mar

We last left the rebuild story at the point where Norman was in the process of fitting the upholstery. Over to Norman………………

I then set about cutting and gluing the rear vinyl trim in. Having finished that I decided to leave the wheel arch covers until my daughter, Tanya is here week after next. She was a seamstress and will get it right, I’ll cut in the wrong places and get it wrong.

Now what idiot has put the lighting conduit over, instead of under, the chassis? The idiot routed them correctly in about ten minutes, having cut the square out of the driver’s carpet it fitted correctly over the brake pedals and under the rubber fluted boot. I will fit the “lift-the-dot” fasteners later, it isn’t essential now. Robin (apprentice) helped me fit the squabs into the back rest and I them screwed the seat brackets down. If anyone needs to know, the front of the three holes in the bracket nearest the door is 61 cm from the wheel arch. As I had no sleep last night, I was feeling a bit tired so just plodded on steadily and, sitting in the car for the first time ever, not counting sitting on the seat with legs outside when it was taken of the transporter nearly 13 months ago, asked Maurice to photograph the event. So, the interior is finished apart from the wheel arch covers being glued down and the carpet studs fitted.

Above: A grinning gnome sitting in a car. Could be Noddy. Below: The rear trim showing the wheel arch covers yet to be glued in.

I started the rebuild on 28th April 2015. If it’s finished on Thursday, 27th it will be exactly 13 months. If the bodyshop had done what they’re doing now three months earlier it would have been finished weeks ago.

Started work getting the dash ready to refit. I have made two extension looms for the multi-plugs so the dash can be pulled well away without having to undo wires. Problem is I only have 3 multi-plug ends so the fourth end is spade connectors to push onto the male end of a multi-plug. I had a nightmare trying to reach under the dash to refit a black wire that has come away. In the end, after an hour of struggling, I gave up and will ask Robin to do it.

The two extension leads. They are on the boot of an MG F. So this Citroen dealer has two TCs and an MGB and MGF in his workshop.

Dash fitted and steering wheel on.

Running board on.

Piping in and all bolted up

Maurice, drilling for the screws for the rear wing.

Tank on. The two top bolts need painting. Maurice will finish them and the apron bolts with a brush. Spare wheel carrier next……….

And I finished fitting the spare wheel and the rear plate with lights and number plate. I know the rear plate isn’t straight, I’ll sort that next week. Now you now why Lynne calls the car Cassidy.

Maurice has fitted one door and is doing the other as I take this picture. The one and only time you’ll see the hood on. Oh… and the windscreen is fitted.

See, I said the hood wouldn’t go up again. Headlights, horn and spot fitted. I know one headlamp has no lens. It broke in transit and another is on its way. Held up due to petrol strike in France. One side light is partially fitted. I was so tired and the bloody thing has a double filament bulb making it hard to store the wire that I gave up and will finish it in the morning.

The tonneau isn’t fitted yet but the mirrors are. Maurice thought they were transposed so we tried swapping them over. Found the width between the screw holes are different so put them back this way.

Does look good……..even without the bonnet!

So that’s it for the penultimate day. Bonnet, inner door trims and locks, the rear light to wire up and the front sidelights. Should be finished by lunchtime with three of us working on it…. plans again.

We fitted the hood and Robin held it tight over the screen. We put masking tape where the stanchions go and positioned the screen so the hood would be taught. We marked the three holes with a pen and then drilled one side. Maurice then measured the height above the join and distance from the front edge, marked the three holes and drilled. Remove tape and fit new screws. It’s a good fit. Easy.

To say I’m furious is a huge understatement. I’m at least ten levels above furious. I bought the side and rear lamps from Moss. The rear lamps are £98.xx plus VAT, so just under £120. They are complete and utter xxxxxxx. They would be complete and utter xxxxxxx if they were only a fiver.

Ed’s note: I don’t think Norman was very pleased with his purchase!

I ran the rear loom into the O/S rear lamp, temporarily connected the wires and the side light flickered and went out. I wiggled the wire and they came back on. I then went to fit the wires permanently. The connectors in the lamp are held to a brown board via a common ali rivet. This ali rivet was not holding the wires on and the thing fell apart when the ali rivet came out one side. It would not hold the contact and connector for the bullet. I took the lamp off, drilled the rivet out, made piece of plastic and fixed the contacts and connectors to the plastic.

The offending rear lamp. You can see my home-made mods.

Close up. It works OK.

Gave everyone two bottles of wine as a ‘thank you’ for putting up with me over the last six months and refitted the rear lamp and wired both up. This entailed cutting the loom short as it was far too long. So, I now have four side lights but no brake lights, or no headlamps. I have noticed the petrol pump isn’t working so dash down and after a lot of pushing and wire following find the white ignition lead is out. Eventually I get it back in its correct socket but it keeps falling out. So, I get it in and cable tie the multi-plug to the wire cable tidy to stop it pulling on the wires and all is well, except me. I’m exhausted. I tidied up the rear loom then fitted the two door interior panels. Maurice fitted the locks. The doors shut with a slight touch, no movement, marvellous!

Door trims, very nice and easy to fit.

Can’t find the bonnet slide so I’ll order a new one. The bonnet is on but the locks need adjusting On one side the bonnet isn’t fitting very well so I’ll have to sort that in the morning. Maurice is going to paint the exposed bolts with a brush in the morning, I’m fitting the half tonneau and the interior mirror. Then a wash and hoover and home. See, I’m still making plans, will this fool never learn?

Confession time, apart from the cable tie under the dash, I’ve used Philips screws for the rear number plate. I’m going to make a temporary plate for the front number plate and order the correct one on Monday morning.

Maurice fitting the bonnet – the car will be as good as finished in the morning.

The, as good as finished, car. I’ve taken this with wide angle so you can see the MGC behind and the other TC on the right. There is an F on the right but not in this picture.

Ed’s note: Here are some pictures taken in the sun on the garage forecourt……

The list of work to be finished is:

-Refit n/s interior trim panel (removed by Maurice to fit door lock)

-Fit the side screen box

-Fit the clips to the battery box lid and fit to car

-Fit the Half tonneau. Fit the full tonneau (daughter,Tanya is bringing it next week)

-Open horn and repair. (It doesn’t work but has a short inside, according to the ammeter)

-Fit new headlight bulbs and one lens (on order, should be here next week with Tanya)

-Fix rear number plate brackets properly. (Only held on with one bolt)

-Fit clips to rear loom to hold it inside chassis. Fit clips to rear loom to hold it to rear number plate.

-Fix non-charging

-Connect wiper motor wires.

-Adjust brakes and clutch

-Petrol warning light not working

-30 mph light not working

-grease and check oil and water.

Oooh, June tomorrow and summer will arrive in a few days. June is the last month of this blog but I’m starting a new one, by popular demand. There will be plenty of cars for the next few months. My friend’s TC engine has to come out, mine has to come out, the Mini engine and car is to be renovated. I have the small ride-on to fix, the mower on the tractor, grass to cut (if it stops raining I might sit down for Christmas).

So, I guess that’s it for the TTT2 edition. I would like to thank John for entertaining me and all you for reading it.

The full blog can be read at www.frenchblat.com (MG TC, bottom left) After June it carries on in the new blog: LIFE AT LA FOIE-DAILY BLOG

Ed’s note: Thank you Norman for entertaining us, it’s been a challenge editing your blog but I’ve done it with a smile. Most of all, well done for saving TC10178 from sitting on bricks in a Sheffield lock-up garage since 1967.

MG TC rear number plate brackets

3 Mar

To complete my restoration of TC2628 I still need a few small items including two of which have so far eluded me as originals, disappointed me as reproductions and intrigued me by their construction, they are the rear number plate (stand-off) brackets. Intriguing because they incorporate a ‘bird’s beak’, the metal forming name given to a notch pressed into a fold at right angles to add significant strength, by reducing flex and the opportunity to stress crack.

So, I decided to make them, an interesting little project.

An original example.

Armed with a borrowed nice original, but even that had an additional hole drilled into it, and Mike Sherrell’s book open at his drawing on page 117, I guillotined the blanks from 1/8 inch mild steel sheet slightly over length. I marked out the first fold measured from the number plate end and with that same end clamped tight folded it on and around the line to give the correct internal dimension for the leg length, but the second fold has to be made from the opposite end and has to be marked out to allow for the metal to stretch. If not the stand-off length will be wrong.

My solution is simply to fold a test piece on the second marked out line to reveal by how much the fold creeps, allowing me to compensate when I fold the actual ones and trim the chassis mount leg to finished length.

Drill the holes and elongate with a ¼” cutter in a milling machine, remembering that they are not handed so you cannot back to back drill all of the holes.

Now for the bird’s beak; make two form tools, the first from square bar with the female form of the notch filed across a corner, which has also been radiused to match the inside of the bracket fold.

The second is simply an old cold chisel the point ground down to a tight radius, sufficient to crease the metal without cutting it.

The two form tools.

Mount the square bar very tight in the vice, balance the bracket on it and heat the first area to be notched to yellow. Quickly position the chisel centrally by eye and apply a heavy hammer blow. I had to repeat twice to move the metal all the way.

For the second one, the bracket will not balance on the form tool, so I secured it in place with bolts through the chassis mounting holes.

Clamped to form the second bird’s beak.

The finished result is very satisfying and I imagine that I have recreated the original manufacturing process when perhaps it was a job for an apprentice.

My finished bracket.

Ed’s note: The M.G. TC Factory Specification Book which lists virtually every nut, bolt, washer, screw on the car lists the rear number plate brackets as 81744-z.

My MG Experiences (1964-2017)

2 Mar

In France in the early 60s one never saw an old car on the streets, but my frequent stays in England made me fall for all those black (unknown to a foreigner) cars lining up. It had also convinced me that I should go for an old MG as they were beautiful, plentiful and cheap.

In July 1963, whilst staying with a family, they took me to Richardsons at Pease Pottage in Sussex and I still remember seeing the front of a very old dark racing MG in a barn. I felt instantly for her, but it did not go any further. Why? – because I phoned my father and he reminded me of the “rule”; no car before leaving school for university. He knew he could find nothing better to motivate me.

By the way, I never knew what MG model that car was and it will always remain a mystery.

My first MG

A year later, aged 20, it was done! As my father had always said the stamp collection was mine, I sold it discreetly. However, he was most unhappy when he heard about it, especially the sale price!

With my new-found ‘wealth’ I went to a hotel in Earl’s Court and having bought the 18th June 1964 edition of Exchange & Mart as soon as it appeared on the shelves and armed with a pocket full of coins, I started calling the sellers from the hotel public telephone. I still have the page that starts with a very original K-type for £85 o.n.o. or you could prefer a v.g.c. J3 plus many spares for £50. It makes you dream now! T-Types, being more recent, tended to be more expensive, around £150 for a TC and over £200 for a TD.

For my first rendez-vous, a girl handed me a car key, saying the car belonged to her boy-friend who had emigrated to Australia and had asked her to sell the car. She told me where the car was parked and would I go for a test-drive? It was a Tickford d.h.c., a good opportunity to drive my first T-Type alone.

In 1964 I bought GLJ 54 a 1946 TC for £165, probably because it was the cleanest MG I saw and I loved her black paintwork with green leather interior. The radiator slats had been painted red, so they remained and I later also painted red under the wings and the brake drums. You did not know what was original or was to be avoided in those days. The only book on old MGs I knew was Maintaining the Breed, hardly a book about restoration.

A few days later, I had a puncture and stopped at the kerbside. As I was attempting to change the wheel a City gentleman stopped by and, obviously aware that I wasn’t very sure of the procedure, he gave me some advice. It turned out that he owned a TB which had been badly damaged by some falling scaffolding. His insurance company had offered him next to nothing, so he took them to Court and after a lengthy battle he won the case. Bravo!

Following his advice, I had the wheels trued up by the Pentonville Wheel Company in North London.

Two years later (September 1965), I went to the annual MGCC meeting at Beaulieu. As usual I had no money (because of the car) and before visiting Beaulieu I stopped at Knott Brothers, the garage in Bournemouth that sold the car new in 1946 (according to the dash plaque). The garage was still there, but now was all modern.

Jean’s TC (TC1371) parked outside Knott Brothers’ showroom with a MK IV Magnette inside. Knott Bros. had been M.G. Main Agents since the 1930s and supplied M.G.s including MGAs and MGBs into the 1960s.

I took a photo as a souvenir and before proceeding onwards I asked a policeman for directions to Beaulieu. He did not understand my “Bowliu”. I explained the name means nice place in French, a very old Norman name, but he did not understand. Only when I mentioned it was a car museum he said “Oh! Biulee” and that was it.

Arriving there, the marshals waved me on and I found myself in the centre of a field amongst the cars for the Concours d’Elegance. Mine had come straight from the Pyrenees without a wash and quite non-original at that. The judges did not spend much time with her!

A month later (17/10/1965), we won the first French MG Club Rally. The entrants voted and I feel we had the prize for having driven all day with the windscreen flat.

Maximilienne, as I called her, never let me down (well, almost). One day, about 50 kms from home, the fuel pump stopped pumping and it was the beginning of a very long afternoon; stop by the roadside, unscrew the windscreen bolts and lift it up, undo the two bonnet belts, open the bonnet, unscrew the SU fuel pump cover and ‘help’ with a finger the Y-shaped contact to pump. The carbs were full when it stopped pumping. Then screw back the pump cover, close the bonnet, strap the belts, fold the windscreen flat, start the engine, speed up steadily so that, when the engine stops fuel-less, you can free-wheel and are about 1.5km closer to home.

Jean Vignau with windscreen flat competing in a School of Commerce Rally in Fraance.

Two ‘shots’ of TC1371 parked outside in the snow in the late 1960s.

On the road in France with its French registration plates and pre-war Fiat rear lights.

My second MG

In 1967, I decided I wanted a Triple-M car to restore and I bought unseen for £5 a 1929 M-type. The poor thing had a big hole in the crankcase, the rear cheaply built a la J2, no weather equipment, no nothing, a true barn find before the term was used. I had a call from the Dieppe harbour where she had landed. I paid the Customs the equivalent of £35 for the boat travel/landing and the Customs officer asked me to show him the chassis number. We could not find it so he sent me to the Dieppe Peugeot garage, told me to give the man 10 francs and come back with a hammer and 3 hand-punches to the 3 digits of the number (it was 423, according to the paperwork). Three knocks at the front nearside dumb iron later, and the numbers were not really legible, but he was happy. I always thought that he often did this trick and, on the evening, drank the francs with the garage man.

Dieppe-Paris is 200 kms and no longer could you do what we did; a rope around the M front axle, my best friend at the wheel and off we went. The M had no engine, no brakes you could speak of, so, when I left my foot, she came along the TC’s side! There is a God for the innocents and the rope never went around the wheel of the M.

My friend kept shouting and I finally stopped. He was furious and told me to go driving the M to see how dangerous it was. To his credit, he stopped soon after, went back to the M and I drove more slowly. Believe it or not, we are still friends!

Living in Paris, I had nowhere to park the M so it languished here and there until Alain Moitrier, now a cartoonist and sculptor of vintage cars, bought it from me a year later during my Military Service.

Ed’s note: The M-type is listed in my out-of-date copy of The Triple-M Register as 2M 0423 with UK registration mark OF 3247. Jean still knows the current owner. The car has remained in France and still in a dismantled state for over 50 years! Now, back to Jean……………..

I started work and sold the TC in 1969. That was the end of my MG days…………until I retired in 2005 and tried very hard to find her without success. At last, I found my buyer, who said he had used her for a short time, then the engine had frozen and seized and she remained so for a few years. One day, a man saw her remains, came in and bought them on the spot, but he had no memories of who he was or where he lived.

That’s the second end of my MG story.

My third MG

I bought on eBay a LHD TD MKII. I loved her louvred bonnet and wings ‘cut’, making her look like a Frazer-Nash. Road holding, comfort and braking were far superior to that of a TC and you really felt the extra BHP offered by the TD/C engine. However, I soon sold her as it was so difficult to get the right spares you needed, many original parts having been replaced by American Bosch or others and I was fed up with sending parts back to the UK.

Jean’s TD MKII – TD/C19732EXLNA built on 11th September 1952, fitted with engine number XPAG/TD3/20018 and exported to North America as the EXLNA designation indicates.

…………..and finally!

John James knew that I wanted to buy a TB, he also knew that Jim and Betty Manning were looking to sell theirs. So, it was a case of matching the seller and the buyer and quite recently I became the proud owner of TB0592 with XPAG 843, built 13/10/39.

So, that’s my fourth MG and I have plans to supercharge the XPAG.

 Ed’s note: Amongst the photographs which Jean handed to me at Stoneleigh was this one of TC3207 taken at Beaulieu on 11/09/66. This car is on the DVLA website as “Tax due 01/01/85”.

Jean Vignau

The Editor

1 Mar

Welcome to Issue 41, April 2017. Profuse apologies for the unavoidable delay, but the June issue will not be far behind – just like the proverbial London bus you wait ages for one and then two turn up together!

I recently had my bus pass renewal and see that the expiry date is 2023. For the benefit of overseas readers, when you reach State retirement age in the UK, you are issued, together with your retirement pension, a bus pass, which entitles you to free bus travel in your local area (which can be quite large).

So, what’s the significance of 2023? Well, of course, it’s the centenary of MG sports car production which commenced in 1923. The first cars were the six Raworth-bodied MGs advertised as the M.G. Super Sports Morris, one of which was first registered on 16th August 1923 as FC 5581 and delivered to John Oliver Arkell on 5th September 1923. Already there seems to be a head of steam building up for a centenary celebration in 2023 with a recent mention in the MG Octagon Car Club’s Bulletin and a proposal from The Pre-War MG Register of Australia to be put to the delegates of all the MG Car Clubs in Australia at the MG National Meeting in Adelaide on 18th April. Full details were reproduced in the April issue of Enjoying MG, the monthly magazine of the MG Owners Club.

The front cover features Jean Vignau’s TB0592 with, in the background, the castle of Saint Jean-Poutge, built during the 13th century when the kings of France and England were fighting for the sovereignty of Gascony. Jean has penned a fascinating article about his MG experiences, going back more than 50 years.

Michael Sherrell has published his sequel to TCs Forever! which is aptly titled TCs Forever-More! I have written a review of the book, which you will find later in this issue.

We enjoyed a most successful Stoneleigh event in February, both with the sale of books from the T-Shop and with donations totalling £90. Since we launched THE MG ‘T’ SOCIETY LIMITED our donations total is £311. This total includes a couple of novel ways of making donations with a collection of UK stamps sent from the USA and some TD spares sent from France; both raised useful sums. We do, of course, rely totally on donations for our existence and we now have a PayPal account to receive these. The account is paypal@ttypes.org

Peter Cole tells me that he now has entries from 35 drivers for the TTT 2 Tour which is based at the Chichester Park Hotel, near Goodwood in Sussex. In addition, he has received 5 requests from drivers in the local area to join the Tour on a daily travel basis.

It is not too late to book for the Tour but it might be a good idea to first check with Peter. His e-mail address is as follows: pcoleuk(at)gmail.com {substitute @ for (at)}.

I have received notification of a couple of events in May. The first takes place on 6th May at Albury Village Hall (between Ware and Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire). It is a film show with a guest speaker and the theme for the day is The Jaguar Car Company History. Full details are given in the ‘Bits & Pieces’ section of this issue.

The second takes place on 28th May in Scotland. It is a pre-’56 event, organised by the Caledonian Centre of the MGCC. Full details are given in the ‘Bits & Pieces’ section of this issue.

I made two mistakes in the last issue. I referred to Brad Purvis’ car as a TF. I ‘pray in aid’ that the ‘F’ and the ‘D’ are next to each other on the keyboard. I also referred to Sergio Pagano’s car as a TA Tickford. It is a TB Tickford (TB0362). I apologise for these errors.

Since the last issue, Sergio has sent me a selection of photos of the rebuild. I’ll reproduce some of these in the next issue, along with a few more pictures taken by the professional photographer, Daniele Bilotto from Marano Principato (Cosenza) – Italy.

Now for some ‘domestic’ issues. I recently learnt that Orange UK is to ‘wipe’ the ‘fsbusiness’ e-mail addresses by the end of May. This means that my well known jj@octagon.fsbusiness.co.uk address will be no more. In due course I will change to jj@ttypes.org and expect to do this by the end of April.

I have received reports of difficulty in adding details to the T-Database. After inputting your car’s chassis number a new screen appears with the prompt “Edit this car’s details”. The first click on this prompt invariably fails, so the solution is to click again and it should work fine.

Finally, we notified you in the last editorial that we intended to wipe the old registration process from our website, this included the facility to receive an automated e-mail whenever a new issue of TTT 2 is uploaded to the website.

This has been actioned and only members who have signed up for membership of the MG ‘T’ SOCIETY LIMITED will now receive this automated e-mail. Joining the Society costs nothing and there is no annual membership fee, nor will there ever be one.

To join now as a member please go to http://ttypes.org/ttt2/join – it only takes a couple of minutes. On receipt, we will process your application and confirm your membership.

JOHN JAMES