A Rare Axle Fracture on my MG TC 976

It was a nice summer evening, and I was just starting the engine at a green streetlight, when suddenly, with a loud bang, the left backside sagged downwards and stopped.

Obviously my surprised face at this situation amused the already watching passer-bys, but fortunately some people, who couldn’t watch this agony helped to lift the car in the back to push it to the side of the street.

First everyone skillfully examined the car, and soon it was obvious that the axle was ripped off and that I would not be able to continue my journey.

After a break in a close ice-cream Café the service car arrived and took us home, luckily only a few miles.

But what happened?

The perforated connecting element had ripped off between the leaf spring bracket and the axle tube (see red lines in picture). Because of this the car sagged down so far that the back wheel rested on the upper side of the rear wing. The wheel was blocked and the car could not roll anymore.

So I demounted the rear axle and welded new and more solid panels on both side of it to be sure. While I was working on this problem I noticed that it must have been an old fracture, which had developed continuously. You could see corrosion on the surface of the fracture.

Also the original weld seamed had been executed very sparingly – maybe they had to save money on this part of the production back in 1946? Only in the book “TCs Forever” I could find a similar accident, seems like they had the same issue.

The new plates are a bit longer, just to be sure that there is a better support on the leaf spring packet. In the process of reassembling everything I asked myself why the catch bracket caught neither the axle nor hindered the blocking of the back wheel- since this is what it is supposed to do.

Actually the catch bracket is 4 cm too long- so it is not able to catch the rear axle before the back wheel blocks in the rear wing! Which guy measured this? If the axle fracture had happened at 80 km/h it would have been a really dangerous situation!

With this thought in my mind I did not want to drive anymore- hence I shortened both catch brackets, so that in normal condition a gap of approximately 7,5 cm is still maintained, this is about the space which the wheel still has in the wheel arch.

Maybe I should have shortened the brackets by another 1 cm, however they should now fulfill their task in a case of emergency and catch the axle. Then it would still be possible to hobble home, though considerately lowered and without suspension…and maybe this would prevent an accident with serious consequences as well.

Manfred Brausem MG TC 976

Ed’s note: I am not sure if the catch brackets would be up to the task in the event of a catastrophic failure as experienced by Manfred – they are relatively flimsy. I think their function is one of ‘bump stops’ assuming that the axle is attached to the springs, not when it has broken away.

Another weak point to be wary of is that of the holes for the spring fixing bolts being too near the edge of the spring hanger bracket. The way to overcome this (and probably to strengthen the whole assembly so as to minimise the possibility of bracket failure) is to weld a 1 inch wide strip of 1/8 inch mild steel to the base of the bracket as is shown in the following photos:

Photo 1 shows the former to shape the strip
Photo 2 shows the strip in position before welding
Photo 3 shows strip now welded
Photo 4 shows underside of the spring hanger bracket – note holes not now so close to edge

5 thoughts on “A Rare Axle Fracture on my MG TC 976

  1. David Egar says:

    While I have not heard of too many of these failing, I have heard of it happening to others and in fact was the second thing that broke on my TC after purchasing it 45 years ago. I did add plates under the bolt heads but not welded in back then to help distribute the load on the bolt heads. That is one area I inspect for cracks and so far so good.

    Nice write-up to warn others.

  2. Peter Jones says:

    This was a common problem. The received wisdom If it happened to you simply jack up the car and wedge a bit of 3″X2″ timber in then let it down and drive home carefully.

    I did this once only to have the other side collapse with all the extra braking effort ! Then I had a real problem.

    The strengthening process described can save you all that bother.

  3. Neil Sharpe says:

    If you are concerned regarding possible failure, then an alternative, without dismatling the car, or welding anything is to make four u-bolts out of steel bar, thread the ends and shape them to fit over the axle. Four such bolts have been on my TA for 36 years.

    • Ian Theobald says:

      Hi Neil,Imagine my shock/horror when painting and cleaning my chassis on my TC that I discovered my car does not have any catch bars at all. If you have any pictures to explain your method of security would be most apreciative as i dont fully understand how you have fitted these u bolts.
      There are only 2 holes I can see on top of the Chassis.
      My car is fully road going and discovered also there are no bump rubbers above front beam axle either.
      I purchased the car as was advertised for restoration at a good price but really only needed a tidy up and think will be a case of preservation at the momement as appears to have been restored many yrs ago and body is quite solid.
      There are lots of chips around door and dash from side curtains fitted to lose doors and bonnets missing rubber buffers but otherwise paint is quite good .

      Another worry is cracks to stub axles and will soon be repacing front bearings so will have those checked out as well.
      I,m used to these things as owned a 21/2 ltr Riley for 30 yrs and had similar problems such as wheels departing from riveted hubs almost and broken half shafts and engine mounting that gave way.
      Guess there will be more to learn about the TC . Ian

      • Les Green says:

        I have just re-read this article with interest having just suffered the same problem only I was travelling at 55 mph when it happened! Two days ago we were descending the Wenlock Ridge,Shropshire in our TA and in convoy between two prewar Rileys, all well spaced out and enjoying the sweeping bends and lack of traffic, when there was a bang and a lurch downwards from the right hand rear immediately followed by the sound and smell of a screeching, locked tyre. Not knowing at that point what had happened I only gingerly applied the brakes whilst I brought the car under control. We eventually ground to a halt by the grass verge. After the event we paced out the skid mark at 150m!. Luckily our friend following behind managed to avoid ramming us up the rear end and stopped short. On investigation we discovered, of course, that the spring hangar had parted company with the spring. We managed to wedge the axle down clear of the underside of the rear wing and pushed the car 300m in to a convenient pub car park. There’s always a silver lining! Recovery was part of my insurance with R&H and was very efficient as within an hour the car was loaded into a covered car transporter and was on its way to the our designated workshop in Surrey. We then became passengers in a Riley! The repair is now underway and my wife still likes MG’s. Les Green

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *