The Story of the Mother Goose

1 Nov

“It all started one day in late February of 1960 when I received a phone call from my friend Gary Blew asking if I was interested in buying an MG TF. He said that an insurance agent he knew, told him about a TF that had gone through a fence after sliding off a road during a snow storm in the mountains of Southern Oregon, which could be bought at a reasonable price. Other than knowing that the right rear fender was damaged and the right front fender and one wire wheel had to be replaced and it was drivable, I knew nothing about the TF. I decided to make an offer low enough to be able to recover my purchase price by selling parts from the TF if it was damaged beyond repair. My offer was accepted and I found myself the owner of a red 1954 MG TF 1250 (pictured below with Dale driving and friend Gary Blew alongside).

After taking possession of the car, I found that the cowl had been damaged, causing the windshield to slope toward the passenger compartment, making the top not fit properly. I also discovered indications that the car had been wrecked at least once before. The left side panel of the engine compartment contained a label from a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania auto parts house, indicating it had been replaced, and also there was some damage to the right front chassis extension, that fortunately had no impact on handling.

It took several months to get the Michigan car title straightened out and get the car registered in my name in Oregon, so I was unable to get any work done on the TF before I entered the Army at the end of the summer. In my absence my parents had the body work required to fix the damage done in the accident done in Southern Oregon and replaced the top at their upholstery shop. The TF (pictured below in Dale’s garage before it left for the restorers) was painted dark green at that time.

The next spring, I went home to Southern Oregon and after my visit, started driving the TF to Maryland, where I was stationed. The trip was uneventful until, on U.S. 40 in eastern central Ohio, the piston rings in the number two cylinder gave way and allowed oil into the combustion chamber, fouling the spark plug and leaving the TF running on three cylinders. Having to be back to Maryland by the time my leave was up in a couple of days I had no choice but to keep on driving.

Although it lacked power, the MG kept on going on three cylinders until I reached western Garrett County, Maryland in the late afternoon, where the engine suddenly started to hardly run at all. I pulled off the road and found that a push rod for an exhaust valve had broken and the combustion chamber of the cylinder with the broken push rod was under pressure when the intake valve opened, putting a back pressure into the intake manifold, making the engine hardly run.

Replacing the broken push rod with the push rod from the intake valve of the cylinder with the fouled spark plug got the engine back to running on three cylinders by the time it was dark and I made the rest of the trip without any problems. Not having the money to hire any work done I bought an MG TD-TF shop manual and got my introduction to XPAG engines by repairing the damage to the number two cylinder in the base hobby shop, which I later used to replace a broken axle shaft. Several years later, after I could afford the parts and machine shop costs, I used a friend’s garage to overhaul the entire engine, replace the clutch and overhaul the brakes.

I remained in Maryland after my Army tour of duty was completed and it was there that two of my friends and I discovered we had birthdays within two weeks of each other. We decided to hold a joint birthday party, with anyone having a birthday in August eligible to host the party. In order to not leave anyone in our circle of friends out, we then decided that anyone who had a birthday within six months of one side or the other of the date of the party would also be eligible to host the party. As a host of the party you were to receive a cheap inappropriate birthday gift from each attendee. 

One of my birthday gifts one year was what the giver said was a “Shop Manual” for my British Racing Green 1954 MG TF 1250. The “Shop Manual” I received was a small Little Golden Book of Mother Goose rhymes. From that my friends started referring to my MG TF as “The Mother Goose”. Over time the name of the green TF morphed into “The Green Goose”. 

After making two additional trips across the U.S., each with its own story, and over 97,000 miles on the odometer, followed by years of neglect, (see photo of engine bay) it was time for the TF to be restored.

Years of neglect!

After searching for a restorer that had a good reputation for restoring MGs and was located at a reasonable distance from our Southern Maryland home, we settled on Vintage Restorations in Union Bridge, Maryland following a trip to the facility.

In the fall of 2015 when Vintage Restorations started doing the restoration John Tokar asked us what color we wanted the car to be painted. My wife Carol and I felt that, since the car was essentially being rebuilt from the ground up, it should be painted its original color of MG Red.

When the restoration was finished in late spring of 2017 we received an email from Vintage Restorations asking us if the car had a name. Carol and I did some thinking about what the name of the car should be, as the name of “The Green Goose” did not fit a red MG TF 1250. It was then we thought that in a sense our MG is not a Goose at all, but a Phoenix as, with the talent of the staff of Vintage Restorations, it arose out of the ashes. Unfortunately, neither of us could come up with any name with Phoenix in it that had the ring of “The Green Goose”.

As it now is the same color it was when it left the factory and is no longer green, Carol and I came to the conclusion its name should revert back to its original name of “The Mother Goose”.

The Mother Goose is now being driven around Southern Maryland. It is a pleasure to drive and draws comments wherever it goes.” (Pics of Dale’s restored TF taken in the driveway of his house follow).

Dale Flowers September 2017

Ed’s note: TF3559 (HDC46/3559) was built on 25th February 1954. Red with red upholstery, it was exported to North America along with the rest of production (38 cars) on that day.

Ed’s further note: For those not familiar with the Nuffield car number prefix system first introduced by Abingdon on the ZA Magnette, the TF and the Riley Pathfinder in 1953, the following information is contained in Anders Ditlev Clausager’s Original MG T Series :

Dale’s TF (HDC46/3559) can be ‘de-coded’ as follows:

H for MG Midget, D for open two-seater bodywork.

The third letter ‘C’ signified paint colour (Red, MG Red). The other colours are:

A – Black

B – Light Grey (Birch Grey)

E – Green (MG Green or Almond Green)

H – CKD finish (primer) found on CKD (completely knocked down i.e. literally a kit of parts) cars

P – Ivory

The ‘4’ after the ‘C’ indicates the specification class, in this case North American export cars, usually LHD where:

1 – RHD home market cars

2 – RHD export cars

3 – LHD export cars

5 – CKD cars with RHD

6 – CKD cars with LHD

The final number indicated the paint finish, in this case ‘6’ – cellulose finish on body and synthetic finish on wings (normal on all TFs other than green) where:

3 – all-cellulose finish (normal on green TFs)

5 – primer finish, found on CKD cars.


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One Response to “The Story of the Mother Goose”

  1. Bee Hobbs 30. Nov, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    What a Great Article and a Great restoration. Love the pictures.

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