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Addition of a Remote Reservoir to MG TDs and TFs

3 Jan

MG TDs and TFs have a Lockheed brake master cylinder combined with a fluid reservoir. This reservoir has a limited capacity and access to check the brake fluid level and add fluid is difficult in that the cylinder is located just below the floor near to the foot pedals. To gain access the carpet must be folded back and a metal cover, screwed down onto the flooring, must be removed. This gives access to the filler plug through a small hole in the flooring.

Even with the steering wheel removed it is difficult to position one’s head to see down into the opening and pretty well impossible to add fluid and check the fluid level. The only solution appears to be one which involves a mirror, torch and a purpose made dipstick.

Ed’s note: Keith Douglas’ solution was published in the October 2010 issue of TTT 2, available to read here.

The fitting of a remote reservoir addresses both access and potential low fluid levels, eases the bleeding of the brakes, and enables the car user to see any drop in fluid level by simply lifting the bonnet.
The sketch below shows how I installed a remote reservoir to my TF.

The installation was not that easy as access is from above, and this necessitates removal of the seats, steering wheel, drive and transmission cover and the timber floor panel on the driver’s side.

The master cylinder sits in a fairly restricted space between the pedal box and a tubular chassis cross member.

These restrictions were further compounded by the additional supports on the cross member for the 5 speed gearbox fitted onto my car, and I found the best solution involved a banjo off the front of the master cylinder (photos 1 and 2) with a 1⁄4 in feed pipe up (photo 3) to the remote reservoir which I located on the outside face of the tool box under the bonnet (photo 4).

Photos 1 & 2: two views of the cramped space; the banjo fitting off the front of the master cylinder can be clearly seen in both photos.

Photo 3 showing banjo fitting and 1⁄4” feed pipe

Please note that no modifications to the existing master cylinder are required other than the replacement of the filler and cleaning plugs.

However as the work necessitates removal of the master cylinder the owner may take the opportunity to have the cylinder refurbished by a specialist, say Past Parts of Bury St Edmunds, beforehand.

Photo 4 showing position of remote reservoir

Remote reservoir
Single chamber remote reservoir by Girling.
7/16 inch 20 tpi UNF connection.
F 7/16 20 tpi to 1⁄4 inch pipe.
I purchased mine from Europa Spares on the Internet.

Feed pipe
1⁄4 copper pipe of length sufficient to wind down to a location beneath the master cylinder where it is connected to a 1⁄4 inch flexible pipe.

I used standard copper as this is easy to bend using a pipe bending tool.

Flexible pipe and banjo
13 inch long purpose made flexible pipe with a female union at one end to make connection to the 1⁄4 copper feed pipe via a 7/16 inch, 20tpi UNF brake nut and a 1⁄4 BSP banjo and bolt at the other end.

Ideal Hose and Safety Ltd at Rugby made up the flexible hose connected to the banjo and banjo bolt, but no doubt there are others who can do this.

Connection to master cylinder.

Remove the existing drain plug at the front of the master cylinder reservoir. You can drill and tap this to take the banjo bolt but the interfaces must be perfect as brake fluid leaks readily through weak points.

I replaced this plug with one from a Morris Minor restoration company and drilled and tapped this out to take the banjo bolt. Owing to the tight space between the front of the master cylinder and the circular chassis cross member I found it necessary to reduce the thickness of the head of the banjo bolt to enable a fit.

I used standard new copper washers and a big spanner to ensure a tight leak proof fit. In my case the location of the 5 speed gear box connection very much dictated the angle of the banjo.

Existing filler plug. This is a 1&1/8” 20 tpi UNF aluminium plug 3⁄4 inch deep with a vent hole. I tried sealing this but was not assured that it would not leak in time so I replaced this with a solid steel plug from the same Morris Minor restoration company who supplied the other plug. I fitted fibre washers which gave an adequate seal with the new plug well tightened down.

Filling: I left off the new plug from the original filler hole and only put this in at the last moment during filling before the brake fluid spilt over to ensure that there was little or no air trapped in the master cylinder reservoir.

Note: I then made a suitably large opening in the floor above the master cylinder so that I could see the end connections and tighten the bolts if necessary. I covered this with an aluminium plate screwed down to the floor. This being beneath the carpet, it cannot be seen.

Since fitting this system in January 2011 I have found it so useful in not only having the comfort of being able to see the brake fluid level at any time but in bleeding the brakes. It is so simple to top up the remote reservoir during this process.

Additional Note: During the course of this work I discovered that the same Lockheed master cylinder was used on a number of cars in the 50s most notably the Morris Minor. MM specialists often replace the drum brakes at the front with discs and as the reservoir is insufficient they have been fitting a remote reservoir for some time. They use standard 3/16 copper pipe and connect this direct into the predrilled plug they screw into the front of the master cylinder. They have room to do this not having a tubular cross member in the way.

Recently another MG Kilsby member has fitted this system to his TF and in this case used 3/16 copper pipe connected to a flexible pipe and a banjo. I used 1⁄4 inch to ensure I could overcome the air lock during initial filling.

Noel Lahiff

Front Cover – Barrie Jones’ TF1500

7 Nov

MG TF1500

Barrie needs no introduction to many of you, especially those with TD or TF models. He is the TD/TF Technical Specialist for the ‘T’ Register of the MG Car Club and is also Registrar for the TF model.

I expect that Barrie has lost count of the hundreds of owners of these cars who have contacted him for advice concerning a problem with their T-Type; advice always freely given and unless he happens to be away, always given in a timely fashion.

Barrie has owned his TF1500 since February 1966 and his car has covered over 250,000 miles during his period of ownership. Who better then to write a book about maintaining a TF in the 21st Century!

Barrie’s Notes, a 76 page soft-back book covering every aspect of TF maintenance has sold nearly 500 copies worldwide. We have been fortunate in acquiring another twenty copies, which are on sale in the T-Shop for £6 plus postage of £0.92 (UK), £2.39 (EU) and £3.96 (Rest of World).

Barrie’s latest book on T-Types is titled The Essential Buyer’s Guide (to MG TD, TF & TF1500). Aimed primarily at prospective buyers of these models it is nonetheless useful if you already own one of these cars. It is available through the T-Shop.

Original MG T-Series by Anders Ditlev Clausager

7 Jul

First published in 1989 by Bay View Books Limited and re-printed five times. Out of print for some years before Herridge & Sons published this edition in June of this year.

The book needs little introduction, but for those who are not familiar with it, the following reviews give a good flavour of what to expect:

“Page after colourful page of various models in minute detail ….. a must for any owner” Motor Sport.

“Goes a long way to assist the purist in his quest for authenticity…..well written and profusely illustrated” Enjoying MG (MG Owners’ Club monthly magazine).

The cover price of the book is £22.50 but it is available to order from the T-Shop at the discounted price of £18.50. Postage rates are £3.15 UK, £6.60 EU and £12.03 Rest of World. The link to purchase is here: Original MG T Series by Clausager

We do not make any charge for packing, nor do we levy any surcharge for payment via PayPal.

Just good old-fashioned service at the lowest price we can possibly give!

Also back in stock is the MG TD/TF Workshop Manual at £19.50 (compare our price with those of the Car Clubs). Postage rates are £3.15 UK, £5.50 EU, £10 Rest of World.

TD and TF Rear Axle Oil Seal

8 Mar

There has been some past debate concerning the above subject; it has been said that this is a never ending problem, but why?

The MGTD/TF does not have a flange gasket on its two mating surfaces, which also carries the oil seal in a bearing cap; this cap has to be machined to exact standards in order to control the oil flow, particularly at the two mating flanges which must be absolutely flat (and many are not) – so let us look at some of the reasons.

Firstly, the axle bearing must protrude when fully home exactly ½” from the axle flange; likewise the bearing cap recess for the bearing must also be the same measurement and the tolerance should be -0.000”+0.005”. I know this is technical to some, but it is to ensure minimum movement of the ball bearing race, hence less oil loss and also to the flange mating faces.

Now, the bearing and oil seal cap has a very thin flange and can easily become distorted and damaged on removal and on reassembly, so check before assembly that the flange surface is absolutely flat and free from surface damage; also check with a straight edge of a rule as the flange can be bowed due to the bolts being pulled up unevenly when the cap is tightened down over the bearing. If the cap is bowed then this has to be rectified by machining in a lathe, removing only the minimum amount of metal to achieve a perfectly flat surface. This is a difficult operation to set up in a lathe and is probably best left to a skilled engineer.

Using a dial indicator clock on the lathe to set the bearing cap up, the following format should be adopted; the clock has to be set up at the centre part of the flange, near the bearing recess as this is the only part of the bearing cap which is not damaged and is perfectly flat, so that the clock reads that the surface is truly flat as you turn over the lathe by hand (indicated by the clock hand being stationary on “0”).

The cutting tool used on the lathe should also be set at this point on the bearing cap with a feeler gauge size 2 thousands of an inch between bearing face and cutting tool. Again, turning the lathe by hand, wind out the cutting tool, start up the lathe to remove any metal (which will be very small), finish off by setting the cutting tool at the centre point of the bearing cap so that the cutting tool barely touches the surface; wind out the cutting tool, start the lathe, moving the cutting tool to the centre – you will only be taking off 2 thousandths of an inch of metal and nothing at the centre of the bearing cap. Now you end up with a bearing cap surface which is perfectly flat and the bearing race recess remains correct in depth; you have only machined away the imperfections of the cap surface.

Before you assemble the bearing cap in place you should check the axle collar, on which the oil seal runs, is also perfect (no ridges etc) and is a good fit to the axle shaft (no play). It will also pay you to check the collar angle against the angle on the brake drum (or wire wheel hub if fitting new components). There could be a very slight difference, which has to be rectified because these two angles have got to match and there is no room for error.

What I do is to apply a very small amount of engineer’s blue to one part of the taper cone the complete length of the taper, then insert the cone into the drum or wire wheel hub and rotate with a little pressure back and forwards; remove to see if the blue has transferred on to the drum or wheel hub in a uniform way and for the complete length of the taper.

If this is not the case then what you have to do is to apply a very small amount of fine grinding paste with grease to the cone taper and rotate the cone in the drum or wheel hub taper angle; you will see the dull finish it leaves on the cone angles, which again, must be uniform. Remove all traces of grinding paste from both components, including the slots on the cone body and try again with the engineer’s blue. If the results are good, then all is well. If not, you will need to get out the grinding paste and start all over again!

When you are satisfied that you have got it right you can fix the taper collar in place on the axle shaft, which must be tapped right up to the roller bearing face – this is important. Assembly of the bearing cap with a new oil seal, to which low melting point grease has been added (to the seal internally over the protruding bearing race) is best done with longer bolts, which will then line up all the axle holes correctly. At this point, put around the outer diameter of the ball bearing race an application of RTV sealant and also to the axle flange. Put on the brake back plate, insert the original bolts very tightly and you will see that the sealant is now showing on the bearing flanges, being squeezed out under pressure.

You put a very, very small amount of grease on the taper part of the cone – this is to create a sliding effect on the cone. Place the brake drum or wire wheel hub on the axle shaft and torque the central nut up to 125 to 150 ft lbs (a considerable torque, which will need and extension bar to achieve it). Finally insert the split pin in the castellated nut. Hopefully, it will line up, but more often than not it won’t and you’ll need some thin shims to help.

I have tried to write this technical article in layman’s language – I hope I have succeeded!

Alan Atkins

Luggage rack for MGTF and a trolley jack to assist TF engine reinstallation

3 Mar

The author’s TF and a Tasmanian locomotive of the same era.

The pictures on this page show a prototype luggage rack that I have built for my TF.

Rear view of the completed rack

It was designed because a conventional rack loaded with a picnic basket or anything else, blocks off the rear view, which is rather inconvenient to say the least. Not only this, but new bought ones are considerably more expensive.

Side view of the completed rack

My rack is made of bits that I had around the place but I had the welding done as I’m not that good. The outer frame is 25 x 6mm, the rear tube is 25mm and the others are 19mm. Another frame could be made lighter, but that is the material I had.

The strop around the centre wheel spinner is small diameter rigging wire sleeved in garden “dripper” hose, as is the strop that goes around the back of the spare wheel.

The legs are bent slightly to sit behind the overriders and they are locked down with short wire strops to the bolts that hold the overriders on, secured with a second nut on each.

A development might be to substitute the wire strop around the spinner with a plate that the spare wheel spinner passes straight through. Whilst it would look neater and the rack couldn’t come off the spare wheel, the rack could not be locked in as firmly as with a wire strop and eyebolts (as shown). The strop behind the spare wheel would therefore be essential, whereas with the set-up as shown, I think that that strop could possibly be dispensed with. The whole centre locking arrangement is hidden from sight anyway when a picnic basket is sitting on the rack.

Obviously if it is intended to be a permanent fixture, the rack would have to be taken off if the spare wheel was needed. However, as the installation is so quick and simple, the rack can be taken on and off as needed (which is what I do).

The rack is now better finished off since the prototype photographs were taken.

Rack off the car showing method of fixing

Changing topics for a moment, I noticed Rob Dunsterville’s February TTT2 comments about having to “tilt and jiggle and sway and gently lower” a TF engine into place. The picture below shows a jack mounted on a home made trolley.

With the trolley jack supporting the gearbox, adjusting and rolling as the engine is being lowered, “jiggling” the engine into place is so much easier!!

David Taylor
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Machining the Ovality out of TD/TF Brake Drums

4 Jan

I had a very frustrating couple of years trying to find the cause of a judder transmitted through the brake pedal of my TF.

During the investigation I talked to many “experts” and followed up on several suggestions, one of which was to check the brake drums for ovality – the fronts were fine but the rears had wear ridges and a few thou of ovality. The drums were in good condition and the splines excellent – amazing really on a car some 55 years old. So I decided to machine them back to true as replacements are not available.

The solid rear drums on the TD & TF are driven by the half shafts but locate on the oil seal collar – a split cone that tightens up in a similar way to a collet. To replicate this and to machine the drums concentrically I made a mandrel as shown in the drawing and picture accompanying this article.

The shaft of the mandrel is a sliding fit in the bore of the splines. The split cone is tightened into place through a washer and by a locking nut. This arrangement fixes the drum braking surface parallel to the mandrel. The mandrel and drum are rotated between lathe centres for machining.

To remove the wear ridge and machine out the ovality, I increased the i/d of the drums by 40 thou over the original diameter of 9 inches. The drums are 3/8” thick at the outer rim and reducing this by 20 thou (approximately 0.5%) will not, in my opinion, compromise their mechanical strength.

After machining and using the original brake shoes, the adjusters ran up 18 clicks (out of 20 max.) to lock-up. I solved this issue by having thicker linings bonded to the shoes. This was done by Brake Re-Lining Services, Unit 2, West Point Industrial Estate, Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF11 8JQ. Telephone 029 2070 2900 – contact Richard who is very helpful.

Since asbestos was banned and steel drums and pads are used more-or-less exclusively on modern cars, brake friction materials have become much “harder” and consequently more abrasive when used with the cast iron drums on our cars. Richard recommended using a “softer” woven compound and I have covered several hundred miles with this material fitted to both front and rear shoes. The brakes are very positive and efficient, they bedded in nicely and the rate of wear is not excessive.

The mandrel now sits in my tool box and should anybody wish to borrow it please contact me via email at: keithdouglas1938[‘at’]

Did machining the drums solve the judder? No, but perhaps the rest of the investigation and solution of the problem will be the subject of another article.

Keith Douglas

MG TD, TF & TF1500 – The Essential Buyer’s Guide

4 Jan

Pre-order now from the T-Shop!


• Like having a real marque expert at your side – benefit from 45 years of real ownership (TF1500) experience
• Full coverage of all TD & TF models
• Advice on choosing the right model & condition
• Key checks – how to spot a bad car quickly
• Comprehensive inspection guide
• In depth analysis of strengths & weaknesses
• Discussion of desirable upgrades as well as modifications to avoid
• Market and value data, predicts which models will become collectable
• Details of Club back-up and support organisations

The Author

Barrie Jones is the TF Registrar for the ‘T’ Register of the MG Car Club and he is also its Technical Specialist for the TD/TF models. Barrie has owned his TF1500 since 1966.

Paperback 13.9cm x 19.5 cm 64 pages, 100 colour pictures.

Barrie’s book is not published until 1st February 2011, but you can pre-order your copy now from our website’s T-Shop and it will be sent out to you as soon as the copies arrive from the printers.

Price: £8.49 (£1.50 reduction on price advertised by the Publisher) plus postage (£0.81 UK, £2.25 EU, £3.75 Rest of World). Service excellence comes as standard!

Cover Story – TF4114

3 Jan

On a late Sunday morning in the summer of 1968 my life took on an MG bias which I still have. I was enjoying a cool Pimms with my parents on the lawn at their house in Wiltshire after flag marshalling all the previous day at Castle Combe (racing circuit in Wiltshire, UK). The tranquillity was broken when we heard a car approaching on the gravel of the driveway and David, a neighbour, swept up in his green 1954 MG TF and joined us. “Guess what,” he said half way through his first Pimms and before I had time to say ‘what’ he went on, “I’ve just been offered 295 pounds as a trade in on a new MGB.”

Now well into my second Pimms I absorbed this information and it trundled around my head for a moment. Then I heard myself say. “295 pounds, eh! Would you take 300 from me?” “Yes, OK,” he said hesitatingly, “but I thought you were looking for a Morgan?” “I am, or I was.” I replied, “but you’ve looked after the TF over the last couple of years and I knew it when it belonged to my flat mate, Tim, before you.” Next, I turned towards my parents to see their reaction to this sudden transaction. They were smiling at each other in a knowing sort of way.

Answering my questioning look before I had time to say anything my father said, “It’s funny how history repeats itself. “Remember I told you I had a supercharged MG when I was your age which your mother often drove very competently while we were courting?”

Two weeks later TF 4114 was mine and my first long drive was back to my flat in London. This weekend 200 mile round trip was to be repeated many times over the next 18 months in all kinds of weather. If it wasn’t actually raining the top would always be down and the side screens in position to provide protection from the wind. I had an up-market Roberts transistor radio which worked well in the car. On many Sunday nights’ drive back to London it was tuned into Radio Luxembourg for the Top Twenty. Baby Boomers will remember that! (Yes, I do! Ed.)

Subsequent investigation revealed that TF HDA16/ 4114 was completed on 17 March 1954 with engine XPAG/TF/32918, which is still giving great service today with only 20 thou oversized bores. The car lost its original black colour many, many years ago and was first registered MGG 133.

In winter the cockpit was relatively warm from the engine and, by not fully closing the rear catches of the bonnet, hot air from the engine compartment would blow up onto the windscreen and keep it clear and ice-free. Tim had also fitted an after market windscreen washer kit which still works effectively today.

I undertook a longer trip to Glasgow to visit my brother who was working there. It was a long day ‘in the saddle’ as there were only “A” roads then and no M5 or M6 motorways. A hot bath in his sports club in the evening soon removed the aches and pains ready for a serious evening’s drinking in his local pub.

Next, I went on to Edinburgh to stay with a girl friend at her parent’s home. I wish I had taken a photograph of the car with their impressive house in the background. It would have been a suitable picture for the front cover of this TTT 2!! Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Her parents were none too keen to allow their daughter to return to London in the TF but the car performed faultlessly for the entire round trip of 500 miles.

The only serious breakdown I experienced was when a half-shaft broke on the Great West Road near London Airport one Sunday night on my way back to my flat in London. I had no choice but to leave the TF in the lay-by that I had conveniently coasted into. Nobody could steal it without a trailer as it was not operational. The worst that could happen was to lose some parts that were easy to remove such as hub caps so I took those off and stuffed them into my travel bag.

I had been the navigator for a friend, Julian Beale, in his tweaked ZB Magnette on some small rallies around Surrey and Kent and he worked for University Motors, the London MG Agent, in their spare parts department. I got back to my flat by the Underground and rang him and explained my plight. He arranged for the TF to be collected early on Monday morning and I picked it up on Wednesday evening after work. I doubt that kind of service is available today.

I belonged to the South East Centre of the M.G. Car Club and my local Noggin ‘n’ Natter was a relatively new one in the City. This Centre had links through its secretary, Gordon Cobban, who was also the General Secretary of the Main Club, with the Dutch Centre. As a result a group of us in a variety of MGs caught the ferry across to Holland for the weekend and joined in their 25th anniversary celebrations.

I offered my TF to Ian Davison, who had come as a passenger with John Adams in his PA, to run in the Speed Tests. He was erroneously awarded a trophy with my time. I made a note to review times and drivers next time I was generous and loaned my car to another driver.

At the end of the winter I entered the Salisbury Trial. My father came as the bouncer but despite his expertise I failed almost every section with wheels spinning due to the wet conditions and lack of experience and confidence. I didn’t enter another one as the TF got so dirty.

I was also a member of the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC), which held race meetings around the UK. Part of this organisation provided flag and other marshals and the TF took me marshalling at Brands Hatch, Castle Combe and Silverstone on many occasions. If the timing was right before or after the races I took the chance to drive these circuits unofficially. I flag marshalled at three British Grand Prix and BOAC 1000 mile races at Brands Hatch and Silverstone and we were awarded special lapel pins as a gesture of thanks.

Each year the club organised a ‘thank you’ dinner for all the marshals and invited some high profile speakers to entertain us such as Graham Hill and Paddy Hopkirk. At one dinner, the former got up onto one of the tables and started to disrobe until he was boo’ed off to make way for the more professional young ladies to show us how it should be done!

In 1969 I entered one of the BRSCC’s race meetings at Castle Combe and my father came as my mechanic. Some of the competitors were a little astonished to see him tuning the SU carburettors by ear to suit the prevailing weather conditions as he had done on his PA before the war. Practice went alright but on the second lap I entered Quarry Corner too quickly and spun out safely on the grass as many competitors had done before and are probably still doing today.

Racing at Castle Combe, Wilts in 1969. Note new registration number (520 EMW) as the previous owner wanted MGG 133 to put on his new MGB.

As the TF was my only means of transport I decided to quit competition before I became involved in extra performance and modifications. This was just as well because I had decided to emigrate to Australia. From newspapers in Australia House, near where I worked in London, I had checked out the prices and stated condition of TFs offered for sale in Sydney. I decided that paying one hundred pounds for a shipping container to Sydney was a better arrangement than selling the TF in a known condition and buying another on arrival that I did not know anything about.Incidentally, my Government assisted emigration flight on Qantas cost me a mere ten pounds provided I stayed for two years!

After leaving my job I had three weeks before I was on stand-by for a flight to Sydney so I took the opportunity to employ a couple of lads, close to where my parents lived, to repaint the car a royal blue colour. I removed the gearbox and Morgan Marshall, who had maintained my father’s PA in Bristol in the thirties, agreed to overhaul it for me. It’s given no trouble until recently when, after 40 years service, the selector for third and fourth gears broke.

Like many similar projects it took longer than anticipated so I got the gearbox back and installed, then had to drive the TF to the docks at Tilbury on the Thames estuary without any of the trim refitted. I was confident that I would have time on my hands after the car’s arrival to get it back into shape with the new carpet I had bought.

Arrival in Australia

By November 1969 I had settled into a flat, secured gainful employment and waited for news of the TF’s arrival. In the meantime I had contacted the Sydney MG Car Club and one evening I was collected in a restored black TD by the T Register captain and transported to one of the monthly Register meetings. These were like a UK Noggin ‘n’ Natter but without the beer. Very strange for Aussies! I was told there were also full club meetings as well so I joined up, of course.

My first event was the inaugural National Meeting of all the Australian MG Car Clubs – now called the Natmeet – and still going strong each Easter in alternating states, so there are often long distances to travel. The first in Sydney was over the Australia Day (January 26) holiday weekend in 1970. Coming from England, and being a MGCC member there, it was assumed that I knew all about Pre-war MGs, so I was appointed to the judging team of that class.

After that weekend, news of the TF’s arrival came through and that it had been steam cleaned at my expense. So, armed with a can of petrol, as the tank had been drained prior to containerisation, I arrived at the appropriate office at the port at Botany in south Sydney with my paperwork complete. I hoped that with a push start there would be enough life in the reconnected battery to get me to a nearby service station. I was in luck and it fired up immediately and ticked over happily. I was allowed to drive on the UK number plates to my nearest service station to arrange registration in New South Wales.

The passenger side of the cockpit and behind the seats were stacked up with some spares, plus the parts that had not been refitted and these appeared not to have been touched. They probably looked worthless so the dockers had taken no interest.

I reached my flat and with confidence drove around the corner to an Ampol service station which had a workshop at the back. I found the mechanic and asked if he could check the car and provide me with the right paperwork to arrange registration. “What have you imported?” he said. “An MG TF,” said I. “Oh well, that should be easy,” he said, “I used to have one of those when they were new! G’day, mate, my name’s Peter Stokes.”

I had to have the engine number stamped onto the block as the octagonal plate was considered insufficient since it could be removed and another engine substituted.

Peter carried out the routine maintenance on the TF for the next 12 months and became inspired with MGs again. He found and bought a semi-abandoned TA with a TD engine which he worked on and re-registered.

In !970 I enjoyed a full year of MG Car Club activities including lap dashes when cars are timed over a flying lap, driving tests in a friendly farmer’s field at Leppington on the outskirts of Sydney, breakfast runs, a weekend away to Jenolan Caves and the annual concours. The TF ran well but still the re-trim had not taken place.

For 1971 I was elected T Register Captain and organised the monthly Register meetings at the British Leyland factory’s conference room with entertainment from Shell’s library of motor sport films, breakfast runs and the annual concours. This event had over 100 T Types attend for the first time. I don’t think that figure has ever been reached again. Most owners really used their T-Types then but now it seems it’s only the dedicated few who get out and about.

Driving tests on Sydney’s Warwick Farm circuit in 1970. Note NSW registration plate (AWY 681) attached to old English one (520 EMW)

Apart from another enjoyable year of club motor sport I took the TF on a trailer (600 miles each way) to Melbourne for the 2nd Natmeet and came away with third in the sprint and another third in the driving tests in the TF class. This was followed in 1972 by a similar year of fun with the TF as my only car – still without trim!. I didn’t take it to Adelaide for the 3rd Natmeet as Frank Bett wanted a passenger to ride with him for the 800 mile each way journey in his newly restored K3. Denny, who is now my wife, and I alternated with the other travelling with Peter Stokes. He generously allowed me to drive his TA in the driving tests and I won the Pre-war class.

We were married in early 1973 and Denny used the TF to drive to work as she had a parking bay. With high heeled boots, that were the fashion of the day, she could reach the foot pedals. I had acquired a hard top manufactured in the sixties and we used that during the wetter months as the soft top was not in good condition and the tonneau cover was showing signs of wanting to be retired from active service after almost 20 years.

The Natmeet was in Sydney that year and as I had been elected as the club’s Publicity Officer I was on the organizing committee as well. I competed in the TF but without any spectacular results!

Club competition was haphazard for the rest of the year as we were away in England on an extended honeymoon. While we were over there I was offered a job so in October the TF was laid up in a friend’s large garage and we headed for London.

I was provided with a company car so there was no need to buy another MG but I did represent a Sydney-based MG parts supplier and procured his requirements over the next two years as well as sourcing parts for K3016 and QAs 0256 and 0257 for Philip Vickery.

Back in Australia by 1976 and the TF was recovered from storage but we had started a family and needed a family car so it was put aside like many others. I had acquired some parts during our stay in England and continued to buy those that I knew I’d need for the inevitable total restoration.

A Start/Stop Restoration!

Then work began around 1980 with a total strip down in a workshop/garage I had built at the bottom of our garden at our home in Sydney. Re-assembly of the front and back ends was accomplished with the help of a mechanic in the club after the chassis had been checked over and the steel wheels straightened and the tyres fitted. Now I had a mobile car so work could begin on the body and later the engine.

As almost every piece of the timber body frame was too deteriorated to use again I acquired a complete kit in exchange for a bare TA chassis I had acquired earlier. TA1089 was later built into a complete car with some non TA, but nevertheless MG, parts in Western Australia by Harry Pyle – the TC owner who has driven around the world with his wife Deirdre.

Then the rebuild came to a dramatic halt. In 1984 I accepted a job in Singapore for two years but as it turned out we stayed for eight. A definite hiatus! The TF stayed in my workshop and it was dry and protected as well as possible.

On our return at the beginning of 1993 I was determined to get the rebuild finished and use the TF. All along, my aim had been to rebuild the car to original condition with some improvements. I did not want to restore it to such a high level that I would hesitate to use it. In the 15 years since it was re- registered in 1995 I have covered more than 50,000 miles including using it for five of those years for daily commuting.
I rejoined the MG Car Club in Sydney and attended most of the evening meetings but none of the competitive ones. There was a good group within the membership who were restoring T-Types and we frequently discussed problems and developments.

Professional Help Engaged for the Restoration

After a year of making very little progress I decided to engage some professional help. The engine went to Peter Stokes for its rebuild and the chassis and relevant acquired parts went to Albert Johnson – a well experienced MG body builder who had trained as a fitter and turner. This profession I think is an excellent base for anyone rebuilding bodies on T- Types.

My instructions to Peter were to fully balance the internal moving parts, lighten and balance the fly wheel so that I could hold 4,500 revs in all but first gear. The carburettors stayed at an inch and a half and the camshaft and timing gear were kept standard. I wanted reliability, not necessarily faster than standard performance. This actually came as a result of the balancing and a well re-assembled engine.
I believe the specifications set by the MG factory for the delivery of the XPAG engine were very basic and not much different from those Morris set for their own cars of modest performance. Therefore, if some simple improvements are made and an engine is assembled with more time and to finer tolerances, an increase in performance is the result, as well as an increase in miles per gallon. This is basically the forerunner to the five stages of tune that Abingdon recommended for owners of XPAG-engined cars wanting more power and speed.

Peter and I were delighted to find that the bores were only 20 thou oversize and in good condition so that only a line bore for the crankshaft was necessary. This made me think that as the odometer showed approx 19,000 miles, perhaps the TF had only done 119,000 miles since new, as it was in better shape mechanically than a car that had done over 200,000 miles.

With the engine installed and running and the body painted and fitted, the TF came home for finishing, which was still two years away as I was to do the work at weekends and in the summer evenings. This, I am sure, is a familiar story to most T-Type owners.

The TF was originally a black car with red upholstery and I wanted to return it to that colour but I was persuaded to paint it Old English White and I am glad I did. I didn’t want to paint it TF Ivory as I had seen so many cars of different shades of white/ivory and all of their owners proclaimed theirs was the correct colour! Now 17 years of garaged-life later, the TF’s OEW has ‘cured’ to an ivory colour which I think is very close to the original ‘fifties colour!

I installed a new wiring loom and the refurbished electrical components, then recruited an auto electrician to test all the circuits for me. The registration authorities require some sort of red reflectors at the rear of all cars. I had used a strip of reflective red tape attached to the bumper bar when the TF was first registered in Sydney but that didn’t seem appropriate for the rebuilt car. I solved the problem by fitting TF 1500 reflectors. Next, the seats and double hump above the dash board, that is peculiar to the TF, came back from the trimmer who had used part of the Collingburn kit I had acquired earlier.

Restored instruments were refitted and the dash board secured in place. Essential re-chromed parts were added and the windscreen re-assembled with a new piece of glass. I followed good advice and first assembled the windscreen frame without the glass to observe the length of all the screws and made adjustments as necessary. Even so, I was cautious when tightening the screws after the glass was fitted to ensure a breakage didn’t occur and that the packing around the glass was going to be water tight. The windscreen washer jets had been refitted and these were realigned. The hand pump which is a ‘sixties period accessory, fits where the auxiliary switch is and the bottle fits neatly in the tool box.

When this was installed, the owner at the time also fitted a three switch panel under the glove box on the driver’s side. This operated the reversing lamp through an indicator light, also on the panel and the driving and fog lights mounted on the badge bar that was a TF accessory.

Dashboard showing smaller and easier to use steering wheel using a TF enamel spare wheel badge in the centre, windscreen washer pump handle where the auxiliary switch is and neat and handy bank of switches for spot and fog lights and wipers after modification.

When I bought it, the TF had an odd looking circular mirror attached to the right hand windscreen support arm. I fitted a standard rectangular one which, of course, is in easy reach for adjustment and melds in with the windscreen support. I cannot understand why some T-Type owners fit extra mirrors to the front mudguards near the side lights. They don’t give as good a view of what’s behind and they upset the flowing lines of the square rigger body. If Cecil Kimber had meant…

One area where I struggled to get a good fit was that of the transmission tunnel and floor boards. I had acquired the new floor boards with the rest of the timber a long time earlier and although I had the old boards the whole alignment and water tight fit was a tedious task for me. My advice is to very carefully note each screw and bolt during a dismantling process and reproduce the old boards very accurately.

Surprise, surprise and the rest of the interior trim was not fitted, neither were a hood, side screens nor tonneau cover. Just in time for my 50th birthday in August 1995 I managed to drive the TF to a workshop that issued test certificates to cars that have been out of registration for more than six months. I was dismayed when the car was knocked back for no trim on the doors. I queried this with the Roads and Traffic Authority and when they realised that there was no window wind up mechanism on the car now, or when new, they allowed registration to proceed and hence the number plate TF 1995.

I began using the TF regularly and had a nasty experience a few miles from home on a long stretch through a national park. I was driving along at about 60 mph when I started to smell something burning. I pulled over, switched off the ignition and lifted the bonnet to find the forward carburettor alight. I stripped off the parka I was wearing and doused the flames. After the carburettor had cooled down I found the banjo on the fuel line was loose. Using the parka for a better grip I tightened it as much as I could and then wedged the parka under the carb to prevent any more petrol leaking onto the hot exhaust manifold. I drove slowly to the end of the national park and borrowed a spanner from a service station to tighten the banjo until it didn’t leak again. I have had the same leakage problem out of the blue recently, and so has a local friend with an MGA, so my advice is to check the fuel line more frequently and replace the fibre washers as they get brittle as they expand and contract with heat.

An oil pressure scare, the diagnosis & solution

A few months later I was enroute to visit a friend when the oil pressure took a dive south. I pulled over, switched off the ignition and sat there wondering what the cause could be. I restarted the engine but still there was no oil pressure, though it sounded alright. Better safe than sorry I thought and called the NRMA (same as AA/RAC). The patrolman couldn’t diagnose the reason for the loss of pressure and advised calling a flatbed tow truck to take the TF to my nearest garage.

After some checking and coming up with nothing obvious, the mechanic suggested dropping the sump to see what the bearings looked like. On my advice he eased off the sump to protect the gasket which came away from the block in one piece; and there was the problem. The hole in the gasket that allows the oil to be drawn up from the bottom of the sump into the pump had not been cleared out properly and the circular piece was still hanging on by a whisker of cork. We came to the conclusion that for several thousand miles after the rebuild the circular piece had been forced aside but now for some reason it had partially sealed off the oil flow causing the drop in pressure. I fitted new bearings to be on the safe side despite the crankshaft showing no signs of damage. I have been told that mechanics unfamiliar with the different XPAG sump gasket don’t worry about clearing the holes as the sump bolts punch through any remaining circles of the gasket. My advice is to check that ALL the holes in the sump gasket are clear before fitting.

I continued driving the TF on a daily basis taking cover from rain showers until I was caught out in a storm and got drenched. I sought out a retired trimmer who I had been told fitted replacement hoods etc to cars in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties. I persuaded him to make the hood, side screens and tonneau cover as he needed the money to pay for the materials he required to trim the car he was restoring himself.

It was well worth it as he did a tremendous job. He fitted a top quality zipper to the tonneau cover which still works well today. He made cut-outs in it for the lugs of the rear side screens and an overlap near the top of the door so that the tonneau cover stays fixed and looks very neat when the front half or quarter are rolled back and stowed behind the seats.

Another modification which I have found particularly satisfactory is to fit studs and buttons around the rear of the hood for attaching it to the wooden trim. It’s better than nails which rust and it allows the hood to be folded more easily and stowed better under the tonneau cover.
In 2000 we moved from Sydney to Green Point on the coast 300 kms to the north and the TF continued in daily service with the luggage rack proving useful to carry my golf bag and buggy. From factory pictures of the TF it appears that this is an original luggage rack. It’s a shame that the parts suppliers in the ‘sixties didn’t reproduce an original like this rather than make up new ones.

The Re-trim is completed at last!

Then in 2002 came the big day. I had collected together all the red trim pieces of the Collingburn kit and the carpet that had still not been fitted and with help from a friend we completed the re-trim in two days. What a difference it made. My wife had never seen the TF with a smart and complete interior before!

On purpose we omitted attaching the hinges on the lid of the side screen compartment. I had remembered struggling with the lid while stowing and removing the side screens all those years before. Now the lid sits in place and is secured by the buttoned down flap, but is easily removed for better access to the compartment.

In the compartment itself I had earlier rearranged the screws that hold down the wooden floor so that the one panel of three that sits over the petrol pump could easily be removed. This provides much easier access to the pump when necessary and is far better than crawling under the car, particularly in wet weather or at night. The middle panel is similarly easy to remove to check the back axle oil level and for topping up.

In 2005 my wife bought a clipper blue Y Tourer which had been unused for 20 years and needed some TLC. I brought it back to life and registered it for daily use by both of us. The TF took a back seat for a couple of years until Denny decided to sell the YT as she wasn’t using it is much as she anticipated and the hood was very cumbersome to erect and stow.

So you’d expect that the TF would feature again in daily use but that was not the case as we bought a 2002 sienna gold MGF!

For a long time I had been an advocate of a T- Register weekend but as I was now no longer a member of the MGCC I couldn’t organise it. To my rescue came some stalwarts of the Canberra Centre of the MGCC and they set the date for October 2010. Early in the year I decided that to drive the 1200 km round trip to ‘TYme’, including another 300 km over the weekend, I had better prepare the TF in advance.

Now was the time to convert the engine for unleaded fuel and to attend to a number of other issues. Clutch operation and gear selection had become gradually more difficult and there were oil leaks to attend to. I also thought that 50,000 miles on from the mid ‘nineties rebuild, it was time for a thorough inspection of the engine.

A retired mechanic agreed to carry out the work with me. We attached a block and tackle to the beam in the garage over the TF and after dismantling the entire front bodywork we had the engine and gearbox out and set on a pallet in a box trailer as a work bench.

The head went off to a local expert who specialises in large pre-1920 car engines for the valve treatment and machining if necessary, which fortunately it was not. We took out the pistons and found three top rings were broken but all the parts were still in the grooves. There was no scoring of any of the bores. The easiest and cheapest option was to acquire a new set of pistons and rings rather than machine out the grooves and fit oversize rings.

The mechanic read through the T Register article on modifying the clutch linkage and liked the concept so tackled that operation. In the meantime we had found that the rear engine mount under the gearbox was adrift. The welded corner seams of the bracket that holds the rubber blocks had broken, allowing a great deal of unwanted flexibility!

The head came back needing only the necessary work to convert to lead free petrol, the pistons arrived and reassembly took place rapidly. We remembered to check the new sump gasket thoroughly! We refitted the same neoprene rocker cover gasket very carefully, and especially around the cylinder head bolts, to ensure a seal all the way round.

The complete engine compartment had been cleaned and painted and we were ready for reinstallation. I don’t think this is ever an easy task on a complete TF, as opposed to a rolling chassis, and there really is no modus operandi. You have to jiggle and tilt and sway and gently lower all at the same time! It was quite a relief when the engine was finally relocated and secured under the gearbox and the front mounts with the stay tightened up. With the fresh coat of paint the engine looked ready to go.

New hoses were fitted along with the refurbished generator and starter motor and radiator. Then we fitted the refurbished and polished carburettors and it was time to fire up the engine. Everything seemed fine until we spotted some water leaks but tightening the clamps fixed those.

With help from various friends over the following month I reassembled all the front bodywork of the car, including the re-chromed false radiator cap. This is much easier with two people with one holding the parts in the right position while the other relocates the bolts and tightens them up. Also reconnecting the wiring is quicker when done by two people.

In advance I had inserted new fittings from Stafford Vehicle Components in the front torpedo side lights that have an amber bulb for flashing and a white one as the normal side light. There was no need for any extra wiring. I think this is a very good modification from the safety point of view as other motorists recognize an amber flashing bulb instantly while a white flashing bulb makes them wonder what is going on.

From the outside you cannot see the modification, so owners should not lose any points at a concours! In my opinion all T-Types should make this modification and do away with the (awful) variety of mainly motorcycle parts that have been used for flashing indicators in the past.
For the rear I have repeated what I did to the YT which had no indicators of any sort. From SVC I purchased two reversing lights with amber bulbs and I have fitted these to the rear bumper dumb irons. I removed the appropriate wires from the rear side lights, lengthened them and attached them to the reversing lights. Hey presto, flashing indicators! Not only are these flashing indicators, larger than the standard TF indicator within the side light but they flash amber and not red which is a double improvement.

The reversing lamp with an amber bulb wired to flash as the indicator rather than red incorporated in brake/side light

Regretfully we didn’t drive to Canberra for the ‘TYme’ event for T and Y series cars due to medical reasons but if it’s held again there or elsewhere we will again be the first to register.

In one way it was fortuitous that we didn’t go because in December on a short trip into Forster, the local town, the TF got stuck in top gear. This would not have been a nice experience on the way to Canberra.

I nursed it home and called the mechanic. Out came the carpets and off came the top of the gear box.

“You’re a lucky lad,” he said, “it’s the third and fourth gear selector that’s broken so there’s no need to remove the gear box.” In five minutes the two pieces of the selector were in my hand and a week later, a replacement came from Barrie Jones despite being snowed-in in the depths of Cornwall.

The part was quickly fitted and the TF was running again. The clutch linkage modification has proved to be very successful. It feels easier to operate and obviously there is less strain on the components.

TF 4114 has now completed 65,970 miles and some minor jobs are on the ‘to do’ list which almost every T-Type owner has on paper or in his or her mind.

The doors need adjustments to the hanging, some chrome parts need replacing or re-chroming, the choke needs to be refitted, despite it being unused in this climate, and new air filters need to be inserted in the air cleaners.

I am thinking of refitting the front anti-roll bar just because it’s sitting idle in the garage. I fitted it in 1969 and it was great for improving the handling before the body was rebuilt. After the rebuild the body was stiffer and it didn’t seem necessary to put it back on, especially as I didn’t intend to undertake any serious motor sport again in the car.

I have also decided to carry out the modification to the wiring that permanently connects the wipers and then routes the wiring through the switch below the driver’s glove box. I shall use the one with the red warning light as I no longer have a reversing light.

I have included a couple of personal comments about T-Types in this narrative and here’s the last one. Replacement parts that are chromed are offered by the suppliers but the quality of the chroming is appalling and well below the MG factory standard for T-Types. I think these parts should be sold without chroming and then buyers can spend as little or as much as they like to obtain the quality they desire.

There are chromed parts on TF 4114 which I purchased in the ‘nineties during the rebuild that are now in worse condition than the originals (which I have retained) and they lasted for the first 40 years when the car was not always garaged!

I shall continue to use the TF as frequently as possible in my daily life. My children have already told me never to sell it. I think that means they endorse my idiosyncrasy and secretly think the TF is still a cool car!!

Rob Dunsterville, Green Point, Forster, NSW AUSTRALIA

and finally, Rob says of this photo….

“In 1973 we drove away from our wedding reception in the TF but a pic of that is too embarrassing!

This pic is exactly 30 years later in the same car after a re-enactment of our vows at the Green Cathedral which is an open air church on the edge of our Wallis Lake (same lake as in the background of the front cover). We were promoting the B&B in those days (2003)”.

Bits and Pieces

16 Nov

Sorry about the title, but this page is full of miscellanea! First out of the traps is the following from Ted Hack:

“A 1953 film called ‘Heights of Danger’ has recently been released on DVD. It’s really a film for the older child and the star of it is, without doubt, the TD (GRX 960 I think). It’s black and white but shows glimpses of some interesting places back in the 50s including Prescott.

The film itself is only 57 minutes long but there are MG publicity films as bonus features after it, which are well worth having.

Safety Fast 1948 9 mins.
Goldie Gardner EX-135 at Bonneville 1951 3 mins.
Stirling Moss EX-181 at Bonneville 1957 3 mins.
MGA Twin Cam Production Model 1958 3 mins.

It was priced in one catalogue at £14.99 plus postage, but I got mine ex-stock at Amazon, free postage, for £9.99!”

TA Oil Filter Article in the October Issue

Those of you who read the TTT 2 Issues directly on the website (by browsing the contents on the left of the TTT 2 page) will be aware of some follow up correspondence between Brian Rainbow and Bob Butson concerning oil filter and fuel filter housings used on the MPJG engine. Following receipt by Bob of the correct oil filter bracket, kindly sent by Brian, Bob has updated the correspondence as follows:

“Brian Rainbow has sent me an alternative Tecalemit filter bracket. It is identical in external appearance to the one in my article. This one was also removed from an MPJG engine but it has no drilling for a relief valve. I had no idea when I wrote the article that such a bracket existed. As Brian has pointed out, using this version will be much safer……….”

The Essential Buyer’s Guide TD, TF, TF1500

This book, written by Barrie Jones, ‘T’ Register Technical Specialist for the TD and TF models will be available in February, 2011 and will be stocked by us. We will offer the same excellent quality of service and competitive pricing as we have given to Jonathan Goddard’s book on the TD, which, at the time of writing, has resulted in us probably selling more copies than our competitors.

Head and Bottom end gasket sets for the XPAG

I still have some head gasket sets for the early and late XPAG engines and also bottom end sets for both. The cost is £47.50 plus £5.41 (UK) postage for the head gasket sets and £21.50 plus £5.41 postage for the bottom end sets. Both sets can be sent for £5.41 postage. These sets are offered on a non-profit making basis and are therefore considerably lower than dealers’ prices. Payment can be accepted by PayPal, but I would have to ask for a surcharge (otherwise I would be losing money!). Details from John James 0117 986 4224 or email me via the contact form of this website.

Replacing T-Type Brake Pipes

14 Nov

The brake pipes on T-Types were originally made from steel and later replacements from copper. No doubt some cars still have their original brake pipes or copper replacements today. Steel pipes are liable to corrosion, of course, and it is now widely recognised that copper pipes have a tendency to fracture over time as a result of metal fatigue. So if you are rebuilding a car or refurbishing your brakes, it makes sense to use the best material available today, which is Cunifer tubing. Cunifer gets its name from the chemical symbols of the metals of which it is an alloy, namely, copper (CU), nickel (NI) and iron (FER).

Cunifer tubing is widely available on both sides of the Atlantic. A Google search will reveal plenty of sources. It is available in 4.8mm, 6.35mm and 8mm diameters. 6.35mm is correct for the TABC, being the metric equivalent of the ¼ inch tubing used originally and 4.8mm is correct for TDs and TFs. It is typically sold in 25 foot lengths, which is ample for a T Type.

Whilst ordering the tubing, it is probably a good idea, (but not essential), to order a new set of nipples. Alternatively, these can be reclaimed from the original brake pipe set. The correct size for TABC is ¼ inch x 7/16 UNF and 3/16 inch x 3/8 BSF for the later cars. 7/16 inch nipples are available with 7/16 or ½ inch AF (across flats) heads. The latter perhaps allow more purchase when tightening. You need 12 nipples for a TABC and 16 for the TD/TF. Whilst ordering material have a close look at the date code printed on your rubber brake hoses. If your hoses are any more than ten years old you may want to consider replacing them at the same time. There are three hoses on T-Types, two at the front and one at the back, but they are not the same across the range of cars. The least expensive source of these flexible hoses is, in my experience, the Octagon Car Club who will sell you a set for little more than some suppliers charge for one! If you live in North America and Octagon won’t sell to you for fear of litigation I can only apologise on their behalf.

If you have a TABC the final item on your shopping list will be the wire to make the armour coils that slip over the tubing to protect them from potential damage in their vulnerable position under the car. Most commercially available brake pipe sets that I have seen for the TABC use wire that is too thin, the turns are spaced too far apart and the coils are never long enough to replicate the original arrangement. All of the pipes on the TABC, except the longest one that connects the three-way union at the front of the car to the flexible hose at the rear, have armour covering. Most are completely encased, and one is encased for part of its length. Fig 1 shows a section of original pipe encased in its armour coil. This is a picture of John James’ TC0750, ‘The Vicar’s Car’, before restoration began. It shows the section of pipe that crosses the brake pedal shaft on the driver’s side of the chassis.

Fig. 1 An original brake pipe and armour coil on ‘The Vicar’s Car’, (complete with 60+ years of accumulated dirt, oil and no doubt some corrosion too).

It took me a long time to find a suitable source of wire to make these armour coils. Stainless steel is the obvious choice to avoid the tendency of plain or plated steel wire to rust, but it needs to be soft enough so that it can be wound easily into the spring-like coils that slip over the pipes. Wire from most sources in the thickness required, 1.2-1.4 mm, (0.048-0.056 inches) is too hard to allow a tight coil to be made using a realistic tension. Eventually I hit on the idea of using ‘tying wire’, which is used in the construction industry to tie reinforcing bars together before they are encased in concrete. I have found this to be ideal. It is sold in two kilogram reels, and comes in a handy cassette dispenser, designed to be worn on a belt around your waist, so leaving both hands free during the winding process.

These cassettes can be bought from the manufacturer Reelfix from their Ebay store: see this link.

Fig. 2 The Reelfix Wire Cassette

I wound coils for my TC using a lathe and a mandrel consisting of a piece of ¼ inch piano wire, about a metre long. If you don’t have a lathe I’m sure your local machine shop will wind the coils for you.

Start by making a means of fixing the wire to the mandrel. This can be as simple as several turns of masking or gaffer tape, or a more elaborate fixture as shown in Fig 3. Fit the mandrel into the lathe chuck, with about 150mm protruding from the chuck, the remainder of the mandrel being inside the headstock as shown in Fig 3.

Fig. 3 Winding the Armour Coils

Now fix the free end of the wire to the mandrel, engage backgear, reverse and the slowest speed. Using a pair of tough leather gloves grip the wire tightly, and turn on the lathe. As the wire is pulled from the cassette keep it under tension and guide it from right to left to form a spring-like coil with adjacent turns touching. When the coil has progressed to within about 10-20mm of the chuck, stop the lathe. Release the chuck, and pull out the next 150mm of the mandrel. If any more than about 150mm of the mandrel is exposed at a time there is a danger that the mandrel will bend due to the tension required to form the coils. Repeat the winding process until you have produced a coil of sufficient length as described in the table on the next page. Beware when cutting the coil from the remainder of the wire in the cassette as the spring will uncoil somewhat as the tension is released. Hold the end of the wire as it is cut and let it unwind slowly to minimise this effect. This slight unwinding is essential to allow the coil to be removed easily from the mandrel and allow it to be fitted over the brake pipe. Fig 4 below shows a length of armour coil taken straight off the mandrel before trimming to length.

Fig. 4 A Length of Armour Coil Ready To Be Trimmed To Length

With a little practice you will be able to produce perfect coils in no time at all. Once you have gained confidence you can increase the lathe speed to quicken up the process. It is a wise precaution to wear safety glasses during this operation, as it is when using any machinery. Make the coils a little longer than specified so that the start and finish can be trimmed off. Keep adjacent turns touching so that the coils can be teased out later as they are fitted to the car. The coils cannot cover the whole length of the pipe with adjacent turns touching because a gap is required at one end of the pipe for the flaring tool to grip it whilst the second flare is formed. This gap is covered by stretching the coil after the second flare is formed and is unnoticeable in practice, except possibly on the shortest pipe on the TABC, which connects the rear three-way union to the driver’s side rear brake cylinder.

Now that you have perfected the production of armour coils it is time to try your hand a pipe flaring. T-Type pipes use double flares, so called because the flare is formed in two separate operations. An example of a double flare is shown in Fig 5 below.

Fig. 5 A Double Flare formed on a piece of ¼ inch tube.

Again it is a good idea to practice on a short length of tube to gain confidence, before making the actual pipes that you will fit to your car. It is not difficult; it is just a matter of gaining confidence, which comes after a couple of attempts.

There are many flaring tools on the market which range in cost from about £25 for a basic tool, up to around £100 for a ‘professional’ version. I have used a model sold by Automec, whose list was included along with Brian Rainbow’s article in August’s TTT 2 (Page 19). The tool is shown in Fig 6 below:

Fig. 6 The Automec Flaring Tool suitable for both 4.8 and 6.35mm tube.

Again, the internet comes in handy here, this time in the form of YouTube:

Above you can watch a video demonstration of one of the many types of double flaring tools. It gives you an idea of how easy it is to make a perfect flare.

Now for some tips – I learnt the hard way:

• When making brake pipes it is a good idea to start with the longest one first. That way, if you make a mess of it, you can cut off the flares and use the remaining tube to make the next longest pipe. If you start with the shortest pipe and make a mess of that, it is scrap.

• Another useful tip is to make absolutely sure you have the armour coil and both pipe nipples (the correct way around) on the tube before you form the final flare. It is not easy to fit either the armour or the second nipple once the second flair has been formed! If you do forget (and I have to admit to doing so myself) again you can cut off one of the flares and use the remaining tube to make the next shortest pipe.

• Note that as a result of forming the flares at each end of a pipe the tube ‘shrinks’ in length by a few millimetres each time. When making your practice flare, measure the length of the tube before and after forming the flare(s) and note how much it has shrunk. Add this amount to each pipe to obtain an accurate finished length.

• Finally, it is important to remove all the burrs from the cut end of the tube; otherwise you won’t get a good flare (see next para for advice on how to do this).

• This is the method I use. Firstly cut the tube to the length specified in the table*, plus a shrinkage allowance determined by the tool you are using (see note above about calculating the shrinkage). Use a fine-toothed junior hacksaw, keeping the cut square to the tube end. Then with the tube horizontal, file the cut end with a fine file to remove the saw marks and the burrs from the cut. Then de-burr the internal wall of the tube with a drill bit.

• Finally suck out any debris left inside the pipe with a vacuum cleaner. This should be done from the end of the tube being worked on, to avoid drawing the debris along the full length of the tube where some of it could remain.

* Table follows.

Table 1: Brake Pipe Lengths for TABC

From – To Finished Length Armour Coil
Front 3-way union to rear hose 1890 mm None
Master cylinder to LH hose 1020 mm Full length
Front 3-way union to RH hose 765 mm Full length
Rear 3-way union to RH rear wheel cylinder union 740 mm 340 mm*
Master cylinder to front 3-way union 740 mm Full length
Rear 3-way union to LH rear wheel cylinder union 395 mm Full length

NB: LH & RH as viewed from the front of the car.

* Only the RH portion of this pipe from the wheel cylinder union to the fixing clip is fitted with an armour coil. The section looping over the differential is unprotected.

Before fitting the armour coils and forming the second flare it can be helpful to form the bends in the end of each pipe that is to be bent around the tightest radius. This is generally the ends of the pipes that connect to the three-way unions or the rear wheel cylinder unions. For really tight bend radii use an external bending spring to stop the pipe collapsing as it is bent. The larger radii can be formed easily by hand after the pipe is complete. This applies particularly to the TABC, which uses the larger diameter tube. The smaller tube used on the TD/TF is much easier to bend as they are fitted. Don’t bend any of the pipes closer than about 100mm to the end before the final nipple is fitted because the nipple will not fit onto a curved pipe. Fig 7 shows an example of a finished pipe with nipples and armour fitted.

Fig. 7 A finished pipe complete with armour and nipples.

Making your own brake pipes is a satisfying job and can be less expensive than buying commercial brake pipe sets, especially if you can borrow or hire a flaring tool. You will know the tube is indeed Cunifer, there is no debris left in the pipe to damage the delicate brake cylinder seals and the coils look just like they did when your car came off the end of the line in Abingdon all those years ago.

Please note: Brake pipes are a safety critical part of the braking system of your car. Do not attempt any work on your braking system unless you are competent to do so. Check for leaks after bleeding the brakes before you use your car on the road. If you are unsure always seek professional advice.

Eric Lembrick
ericlembrick ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com

Ed’s Note: Thanks Eric for a really useful article and the links you have given are particularly helpful.

Whilst we are on the subject of brakes there has been some off-line correspondence arising from Brian Rainbow’s article in the August issue (Issue 1). This has centred around the mixing of Glycol (DOT 3, 4, 5.1) and Silicone (DOT 5) brake fluids, and the use of methylated spirits for cleaning the system.

Who better I thought to seek advice than from Barrie Jones, TD/TF Technical Specialist for the ‘T’ Register!

Barrie commented as follows:

“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that old rubber cups impregnated with DOT3 or DOT4 can swell up if they come into contact with DOT5.  Therefore, it is important to replace them when converting to DOT5.  Even then (according to my friends at Nelson Brovex*), you run the risk of slight swelling.

Five years ago I converted my TF from DOT3 to DOT5 as follows:

1) Flush out the entire system with denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) in order to remove all trace of old brake fluid.

2) Blow out the denatured alcohol with compressed air, leaving the system open to the air for several hours so that any residue can evaporate

3) Strip the entire system down, replacing every rubber component
-Master cylinder cups
-Slave cylinder cups
-Flexible brake hoses

4) Fit a slightly thinner main cup inside the master cylinder

My TF tends to hibernate over the winter, and every spring I had the ritual of `freeing off’ the brakes. Since converting to DOT5 I have never had any problems with corroded pistons. 

It really was `fit and forget’.”

*Brovex Nelson is a supplier of automotive components (including brake hoses and brake cylinder repair kits) based in Camelford, Cornwall.

Ed’s Further Note: If you’ve renewed the brake pipes on your car you will probably have renewed or overhauled the wheel cylinders and master cylinder.

A couple of years back when I was plagued with leaking wheel cylinders on TC0750 and a wheel cylinder repair kit did not do the job, I decided to buy some new bronze ones from C & C parts in The Netherlands. You can also buy them from the MG Octagon Car Club.

The original wheel cylinders were left on the shelf in the garage (never throw anything away!) and it occurred to me that this was really a wasted resource, since if I was to get them refurbished, it might help somebody else. So I boxed them up and sent them to Past Parts in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – Telephone: +44 (0) 1284 750729. They arrived back in ‘as new’ condition. Within a matter of weeks an ‘e-mail pen friend’ of mine in Poland needed some for his TC so I was pleased to be able to help.

The service provided by Past Parts was very good and the price for refurbishing four wheel cylinders was £185 which included the postage for getting the cylinders back to me. The postage for sending the cylinders for reconditioning was around £9.

So that’s most things sorted with the notable exception of brake drums. Cast iron brake drums for TA/B/C machined from a modern drum still in production (a Nissan Vanette) can be bought from Brian Thomas of Engineering Solutions in Bexley, Kent. These are the same drums as advertised in Issue 1 (August 2010). Brian’s website can be found at Each drum costs £85, which includes an amount for postage. Brian also does VW steering box conversion kits, so he’s a handy chap to know.

Up to now, brake drums for the TD/TF (disc wheels) have been unobtainable. A while back I made some enquiries about getting some produced but there weren’t any manufacturers ‘busting a gut’ to take the job on. I hear that the MG Octagon Car Club are looking to get both TA/B/C and TD/TF drums produced. Those of you who are Octagon members will already know this; those who aren’t will learn of developments through TTT 2.

In the February issue of TTT2 there will be an article about skimming TD/TF brake drums and fitting oversize brake linings.