Category Archives: Issue 49 (August 2018)

The Editor

Welcome to Issue 49 – August 2018.

August ‘rings a bell’ because it was in August 2010 (or rather, July 2010 for the August 2010 issue) that I started out with ‘Totally T-Type 2’ having been editor of its predecessor, Totally T-Type, for the previous six years. I’m not sure where all those years have gone, but they seem to be going down at an alarming rate!

This Issue’s front cover features the TD MKII of Tom Lange of MGT Repair. Before I forget, I must credit Kathleen VanGorder with the photo – thank you Kathleen! There’s an article inside about Tom and his business. He’s well known in the US and also on the various T-Series forums, but perhaps not so well known elsewhere. I see that he has taken on Dave Clark’s very successful TD/TF axle shaft business so when the GB £ recovers against the US $ (if it EVER will recover) I may well be in the market for a pair.

Whilst on the subject of spares, the MG Octagon Car Club is now able to sell spares to members in the US. For years, members in the US complained about the Club not being able to sell them spares and no doubt the Club lost members because of this – well now it’s come to fruition with a favorable exchange rate as well. The link to the spares list is

The link to join the Club is at:

At present the Club is running its ‘Summer Special’ offer; if you join now, your membership will carry through until September 2019.

Another UK spares provider whose adverts are carried in The Sacred Octagon is NTG Motor Services Limited:

NTG sell a large range of T & Y spares and also MGA, ZA & ZB Magnette and Wolseley 4/44 & 15/50 models.

Planning for the TTT 2 Tour of the Cotswolds is gathering pace and the front cover of the roadbook is ready to go with the rest of the pages. Brian Rainbow has completed the Saturday route and checked it with Rosie and he is now well into the Sunday route, which will need to be checked. As usual, we will be hoping for fine weather, but without wishing to sound ‘choosy’ I’d prefer it a little less hot than our weather has been in the UK of late. For the last two weeks and now entering our third week as I pen this editorial (9th July), we have had temperatures of 30 degrees C – not that hot by the standards of some of you, but far too hot for me!

Inside this issue, you will find an advertisement for next year’s Octagon Car Club’s ‘Founders Weekend’ which will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Club. It is being held at the Oxford Spires Hotel, Oxford and I confidently predict that it will see the largest gathering of Octagon members since the Club was formed.

Also, in 2019 the ‘Totally T-Type’ Tour of mid-Wales is being held and the Metropole Hotel already has a number of bookings. Soon, it will be time to think about 2020 – my, how the years go by!

Oil supplies are once again under the spotlight and for various geopolitical reasons a shortage is predicted, possibly later this year. There are some wild estimates floating around of $150 a barrel.

There may also be some wide of the mark estimates concerning the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars. I note that legislation is planned in the UK to ensure that most hybrid cars, including the Prius, will not be able to be driven on the roads after 2040. However, a ‘thinktank’ is agitating for the ban to be brought forward by a decade. There are also likely to be moves to have charging points installed in all new homes built in the UK.

Just enough space for a couple of items – Chris Blood has made a number of TC brackets they are for sale at

The two pictures are from Barrie Jones’ visit to GoF(South). This was the 52nd annual gathering – Barrie was an invited guest.



Totally T-Type 2

is produced totally on a voluntary basis and is available on the website on a totally FREE basis. Its primary purpose is to help T-Type owners through articles of a technical nature and point them in the direction of recommended service and spares suppliers. Articles are published in good faith but I cannot accept responsibility or legal liability and in respect of contents, liability is expressly disclaimed.

One of the Little Guys…

Tom Lange seems to have it very lucky – he lives in one of the most beautiful rock-bound parts of the American coast, Bar Harbor, Maine, where he works exclusively on 1939-1955 MGs. Tom makes and supplies top-quality parts for T-Series cars, works on them, and helps others with their T-Series parts needs. He also analyzes and verifies engine and chassis numbers of T-Series cars, based on his copies of the original factory Production Records, from which the on-line database was transcribed.

His first car, bought in 1967, was a 1939 MG TB which he still owns (it recently received a superb and correct tub from Craig Seabrook), his second was a TF1500 which he ALSO still owns, and he has and drives quite a variety of other T-Series cars. In fact, he is the only person I know who owns one of every T-Series model made, as well as an Arnolt! 

Arnolt coupe 252, presently with a Ford V-8 fitted.

He is particularly knowledgeable about Mark II (TD/C) TD cars, and he is frequently called upon to answer detailed questions about authenticity. He’s also done quite a bit of research on the EX176 engine, a prototype XPEG engine used with great success by Ken Miles in his two MG racing specials in California, and in the very successful 1954 Bonneville Land Speed Record attempt, where a streamliner went over 150 mph. Tom is probably best known to many readers for his helpful, informative and common-sensical contributions to the various on-line forums for T-Series cars.

Tom’s business, MGT Repair, began in college when he worked with MG Guru John Twist, repairing various TD cars. He later found he needed parts that were not available elsewhere, so he began making them. Brass core plugs were the first MG engine part to be offered, since steel core plugs rusted through, often in short order. When he heard that the makers of Roadster Gaskets were no longer offering their superb silicone rubber valve-and tappet-cover gaskets, he approached the owner and took over the manufacture and sale of these excellent products, designed to reduce oil leaks from the top of the engine. These can be had in either orange or grey, as the owner wishes.

Realizing that many original head studs have stretched and been weakened in previous installations, and that many cylinder heads have been re-surfaced a number of times, Tom benefited from the engineering skills of renowned MG expert Terry Peddicord, who arranged for the manufacture of highest-quality XPAG cylinder head studs. They enlisted ARP in California, maker of fasteners for racing and high-performance cars, to manufacture exceptional cylinder head studs, re-engineered to include far better-quality steel and with 1/4” of added stud length to compensate for thinner heads. They also incorporated an Allen-hex to the top of the stud, so installation and proper torque can be achieved without a Stillson wrench or pliers!

These head studs and nuts are so respected that the racing community has embraced them, but these are not exclusively racing parts – they are the best way to stop blowing head gaskets due to poor-quality or stretched head studs in ANY T-Series car. These head studs were so successful that Tom now has ARP make equally-strong and precise XPAG mains studs and nuts, which provide total security for the bottom end of the engine, as well.

MGT Repair’s stainless thermostat housing also fills a need, and its corrosion-resistant housing has a number of improvements over others on the market. The most notable is that the stainless steel thermostat can be removed and changed from the top, unlike others that load from the bottom and require complete disassembly. Along with it, Tom supplies high-quality gaskets, proper stainless steel Fillister-head screws and washers for the elbow, and a stainless steel thermostat retaining circlip. This housing is cast and machined in Australia to a very high standard, and has been called a veritable work of art. Tom also makes a lovely stainless steel rear cylinder plate that eliminates the common rust-through situation of the factory steel plate, and comes complete with a new gasket.

Tom’s superb supercharger kit (re-sold by dealers in the UK) dramatically improves the performance of any T-Type and is available either in raw aluminum or fully polished. The kit comes complete and ready to install with excellent instructions, and customers have been very complimentary about the quality, ease of installation and performance.

Most recently, Tom has taken on Dave Clark’s very successful TD/TF axle shaft business, which offers a high-quality steel axle of significantly-improved design, that is extremely strong. In the many hundreds sold, there has not been a single breakage!

Always on the lookout for new products, Tom and Terry are in the process of designing a new oil pump that will be indistinguishable from the original, but which has modern trochoid internals that will be self-priming and much more efficient. Still in the design stage (but quite a bit farther in the future) is a 5-speed conversion for T-Series cars, using entirely new Tremec or similar transmissions and a proprietary clutch housing, requiring no modifications to the vehicle of any kind.

Tom’s web-site lists these and other impressive parts at

All parts prices include shipping in the US; please contact Tom with any questions or shipping needs if you are outside the US.

TC 6432, a weekend-racer in the 50’s (originally Clipper Blue), fitted with Lucas magneto, waiting to be re-assembled.

Tom also owns TC 10,000, found disassembled in a back yard in Kentucky. Amazingly, Steve Baker reports that he sold TC10001 last year!

Two Stories from the late 1940s/early 1950s from Dave Aldrich

This series of pictures at the end of this brief article have two stories attached to them — one complete and the other not so much.

The complete story is about the man who owned and raced the car. The man, Marshall Green, was a Canadian of many talents. He had 13 patents for production machinery, was a national champion model airplane enthusiast and an excellent race car driver. He also had a son who was gracious enough to share the information and pictures provided here.

Green started his competition career in a TC but moved to the TD pictured here some time in 1950 or 51. The one documented competition event I could find was on October 28, 1951 at Mt. Equinox, Vermont where the car was placed second in class behind Max Hoffman (yes, THAT Max Hoffman) in a Porsche 356. Losing to what he concluded was a better car and not a better driver of the car, led Green to abandon MG and switch allegiance to 356 Porsches. His life after that, while a story in itself, does not involve MGs and will not be included.

The other story, not so much complete, is about the car. Very little is known about the car in the pictures. It is an early TD (possibly a Mk II) finished in Ivory/Cream (at the time anyway) imported to Canada where it was fitted with the rather unusual hard top pictured.

Green and an Italian immigrant, Pennante, who at one point worked for Ferrari, fitted it with a non-standard instrument panel as well as the open-air scoop on the right-hand hood, short exhaust pipe on the top of the right fender, cycle fenders, the front fairing below the radiator, and a number of other modifications unseen in the pictures. The engine was rebuilt/tuned and though still 1250 cc’s in displacement had a reported top speed of 103. Its history since 1951 is a mystery and if anyone has information, please let me know.

Ed’s note: Dave can be contacted at dgaldrich(at) {please substitute @ for (at)}.

Ed’s further note: Max Hoffman was an Austrian born, New York-based importer of luxury European cars to the US. He opened the Hoffman Motor Company in 1947 and became the supplier of Jaguar cars for the eastern United States. He also dealt in Alfa Romeo, Porsche and by the mid- 1950s introduced the BMW marque. In 1952 he became the first importer of Mercedes-Benz cars, which resulted in the loss of the Jaguar contract, albeit he negotiated a healthy buyout from Jaguar.

Two ‘shots’ of Green with his TC, locations unknown.

The MG Octagon Car Club 50th Anniversary 2019 – Founders Weekend

The following details have been received from Brian Rainbow, Chairman of the MG Octagon Car Club:

“In 1969 Harry Crutchley founded the MG Octagon Car Club with a few friends in the Stafford area. Within a few years Harry’s enthusiasm had grown the club into a truly international affair.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the club, and as such the 2019 ‘Founders Weekend’ will take place in the Home Counties over the weekend of the 10th to 13th May 2019.

The event will be based at the Principal Oxford Spires Hotel, Abingdon Road, Oxford. The format will be similar to previous years with a scenic run on Saturday and Sunday, centred on the town of Abingdon, the spiritual home of MG cars.

We will hold a gala 50th Anniversary Dinner on the Saturday night, with a number of club guests who helped found the club, and loyal supporters also invited to attend.

We have secured special rates of £270 per person for a three-night stay in a twin/double room that includes dinner (3 course), bed and breakfast. For a single room the rate will be £130 per person per night. There is plenty of parking at the hotel.

If you want to join us please call the hotel to reserve your room, the number is 01865 324324 quoting the reference ‘19398873 MG Octagon Car Club’ to get the special rate. The hotel will not require a deposit when reserving a room, just a credit card or debit card number.

Please send me an e-mail once you have reserved a room and later in the year I will send you a booking form for the event itself.”

My e-mail address is brian(at) {please substitute @ for (at)}.

Manchester XPAG Tests Fuel and Tuning – Part 3: Cyclic Variability & Ignition Timing


In the previous article I suggested steps that could be taken to mitigate the Slow Combustion problem by choice of fuel and by tuning the carburettor to improve atomisation and dispersion of the petrol. In this article I discuss how the ignition timing can be adjusted to help reduce the excess heating of the cylinder head and exhaust system, caused by the Slow Combustion problem. Ultimately, this helps to mitigate the problems caused by modern petrol as it starts to boil or evaporate at much lower temperatures than classic petrol.

The Slow Combustion problem is the result of a high degree of Cyclic Variability during the combustion cycle which causes a large spread of peak pressures, some of which occur late in the cycle. Firstly, this article discusses Cyclic Variability in greater detail. Secondly, it discusses the distributor advance and the importance of having the correct centrifugal and vacuum advance curves to keep exhaust temperatures as low as possible.

I repeat my warnings. Remember that our cars are all different and the severity of the problems experienced by owners will vary immensely, even between the same models of car. Most importantly, the suggestions in these articles should be taken just as that, suggestions for people to try; they are not intended as solutions to be blindly adopted. Finally, running an engine with the incorrect ignition timing CAN CAUSE DAMAGE. If in doubt, get your car checked by a professional tuning expert.

Ignition Advance

During the Bang (or combustion) stroke of a spark ignition engine, such as the XPAG, the interactions between the petrol, petrol vapour, air and growing flame front are very complex.

After the spark plug fires, there are three broad phases. Firstly, a fireball of burning mixture about the size of a pin head is created. This fireball grows as the flame front moves outward at approximately 35cm/sec. This speed is critically dependent on two factors: firstly, having the correct, or stoichiometric, mixture of air and petrol vapour around the spark plug and secondly, the pressure of the gas in the cylinder.

The mixture around the spark plug is determined by how well the petrol was dispersed in the inducted air, the quantity of liquid petrol thatevaporated during the compression stroke and how well the turbulence of the gases in the cylinder produced an even mix around the spark plug. Throttle setting rather than compression ratio is the main factor determining the pressure of the gases in the cylinder when the spark plug fires. This is discussed later in this article.

Once the fireball has grown to approximately the size of a pea, the second phase begins, when turbulence takes over and spreads these ignition points throughout the volume of the cylinder, rapidly igniting the remaining mixture. The temperature and pressure of the gases quickly rise, reaching a peak when the majority of petrol has burnt. During the third phase, the high temperatures, around 1,000oC, complete the combustion by vaporising and burning any hydrocarbons that remain.

As the piston is pushed down, the pressure and temperature of the gasses fall, reaching around 700oC when the exhaust valve opens and they are vented from the cylinder.

Maximum power is produced when the peak pressure occurs about 17o after Top Dead Centre (TDC). On the timescales experienced in a running engine, the combustion process takes a very long time. For this reason, the spark plug must be fired before the piston reaches TDC to allow sufficient time for the second phase of the combustion process to complete by 17o after TDC. This is called Ignition Advance.

After the spark plug fires, the time taken for the pressure to reach its peak is virtually constant and independent of engine revs. For this reason, as the engine runs faster, the spark plug needs to be fired further before TDC to give sufficient time for the petrol to burn. To achieve this, the Ignition timing must be advanced as engine revs increase.

In a mechanical distributor, the ignition advance is achieved by the bob weights situated underneath the baseplate. As the revs increase these weights fly outwards. The weaker spring at the top in thephotograph should always be in tension. It allows the weights to fly out quickly at low revs. When the thicker springs with the looped ends at the bottomof photo engages, the rate of advance is slowed.

Finally, when the weights hit their stops around 3000 rpm, there is no further advance. This creates a 3-step curve called, the Centrifugal Advance Curve. It is very important this mechanism is working properly otherwise the engine will be running with the incorrect amount of advance through the rev range.

Measuring your Centrifugal Advance Curve at home is relatively easy. All you need is an assistant and a timing light with an advance facility such as those found at:

Early MGs have a notch in the crankshaft pulley and a pointer on the engine cover to show TDC. Clean both of these and add a dab of white paint. Disconnect the vacuum advance (if there is one fitted) and block the pipe. Start the engine, leave it out of gear and ask the assistant to set the revs to 1,000 rpm. When the engine is running steadily, adjust the advance setting on the timing light so the mark on the pulley and the pointer on the engine coincide. You can then read off the ignition advance for that revs from the timing light.

BE VERY CAREFULto avoid any moving parts such as the fan, fan belt or dynamo pulley.

Repeat at 500 rpm intervals up to 3,500 or 4,000 rpm if you are brave enough. At these revs the engine will sound very noisy. Ear defenders are recommended. With this data, you can plot advance against engine revs either using a software package or a piece of lined paper.

This is a very useful exercise as it both checks your centrifugal advance is working and lets you compare your advance curve with the results from Manchester or other published curves for your car.

Adjusting the Ignition Advance Curve

There are two ways the ignition advance curve can be adjusted.

The first and simplest way is by bodily rotating the distributor. This either advances or retards the centrifugal advance curve by the same amount over the whole rev range. On some cars there is a Vernier underneath the distributor to do this, on others it is necessary to undo the distributor clamp bolt and CAREFULLY rotate it by a very a small amount. Rotating in the direction of rotation (anti-clockwise on the XPAG) retards the ignition; conversely, rotating against the direction of rotation (clockwise) advances the ignition.

If you adjust your timing in this way, it is important to recheck it afterwards using the timing light.

In order to alter the shape of the advance curve it is necessary to change the weights or the springs, alter the stops, or even prise apart the coils on the springs. However, should you think your advance curve needs to be changed, it is advisable to get this work done by a specialist such as the Distributor Doctor

The advantage of the programmable electronic units described later in this article is that the advance curves can be set or changed on a computer.

Manchester Advance Curve

One aim of the Manchester tests was to measure both the optimum centrifugal and vacuum advance curves (the vacuum advance is discussed later in this article). The graph shows the centrifugal advance curve from the Manchester data (green curve) and that measured using the rebuilt DKY4A distributor fitted to the XPAG (red curve). (The distributor model number is stamped on its side). The DKY4A distributor was set with an additional 5o advance compared with the factory recommended settings by bodily rotating it.

It can be seen that the curve from the rebuilt distributor advanced by 5o is correct for modern fuel up to 3,000 rpm. However, beyond that it becomes too advanced. This is not ideal at the rev range where the engine is probably being run at full throttle and when pinking may occur.

It is also worth noting the need for the 5o advance up to 3,000 rpm as it provides additional supporting evidence of the Slow Combustion problem. The ignition must be fired earlier to offset the effect of those cycles that are burning late.

Damage to the Engine

The time when the peak pressure is reached is very important. Should it occur too early it can cause a phenomenon called pinking or knocking which can damage the piston or big end bearings, too late and it can burn the exhaust valves or even crack the cylinder head.

Pinking is a mechanical tinkling sound that occurs typically at full throttle and low revs andis due to multiple ignition points in the cylinder, rather than

just the one created by the spark plug. The noise is from these separate flame fronts “colliding”.

There are two possible causes.

First, and the most probable, is because the ignition timing is set too advanced. Should phase 2 of the combustion process, (i.e. when the ignition points have started to spread throughout the volume of the cylinder) occur before TDC, the increase in pressure caused by the burning fuel, coupled with the compression from the piston rising up the bore can spontaneously create secondary combustion points.

The second cause is glowing carbon deposits on the crown of the piston or around the valves, heated by the previous cycle, that are still sufficiently hot to ignite the mixture during the compression cycle. Ironically, this can be made worse by retarded ignition or the Slow Combustion problem.

Beware, pinking is not necessarily due to an over advanced ignition, it is also possible the ignition could be too retarded or the engine needs de-coking.

The higher the octane of the petrol, the less susceptible it is to spontaneous ignition and the creation of secondary combustion points. However, once ignited, it burns at the same rate as lower octane petrol.

After peak cylinder pressure has been reached, the heat energy from the gases push the piston down the cylinder, cooling in the process. Combustion cycles that occur late have less time to cool before the exhaust valve opens and these hotter exhaust gases are released from the cylinder. They can also result in hot gasses blowing back into the inlet manifold when the inlet valve opens. Setting the ignition too retarded increases the number of late cycles and exhaust gas temperature.

Both an over advanced or over retarded ignition may cause damage to the engine.

Cyclic Variability

The slowest part of the combustion process is the initial growth of the fireball. This is critically dependent on having the correct mixture. A mixture that is too weak or too rich can slow this growth significantly. Unfortunately, a slow initial growth has a double negative effect. The piston will be going down the cylinder as the flame front starts to spread. This increases the volume occupied by the mixture and the flame front has further to travel. Furthermore, as the piston drops, the pressure in the cylinder also drops and as a result, the flame front will grow more slowly. Both these factors add further delays to the timing at which the peak pressure occurs.

The mixture around the plug depends on a number of random factors such as theatomisation of the petrol in the carburettor and turbulent mixing. It can vary significantly between the individual cycles in each cylinder. As a result, even with a correct ignition advance, not all cycles will deliver a peak pressure at 17o After Top Dead Centre (ATDC).

The diagram below shows five cylinder pressure measurements taken from a running engine. It can be seen that they all produce peak pressures at different times, or degrees after TDC.

If we were to produce what is called a peak pressure frequency plot for these 5 cycles by counting how many cycles occurred between 15o and 19o after TDC (marked in blue below), 20o to 24o (marked in orange) and 25o to 29o (marked in green), we would get plot like this.

A similar plot for a running engine covering many thousand cycles would look like the following graph. The red areas, marked pinking and late combustion show where the cycles may cause potential engine damage. The blue area shows the timing where peak pressure should occur to produce maximum power. The orange curve represents an ideal situation where the engine is running with low cyclic variability. The solid blue curve, probably more typical ofthe XPAG, where there is a high degree of cyclic variability.

The first thing to note, is that when cyclic variability is high, there are a large number of cycles occurring in the late combustion region. Remember it is not that the petrol is burning more slowly, it is due to some cycles “getting off to a bad start” when the plug fires. The second thing is that there are less cycles occurring during the maximum power timing than with the low cyclic variability case (the height of the blue line is lower than that of the orange line in the blue area), a high degree of cyclic variability reduces power output.

Finally, with high cyclic variability, when the engine is advanced (i.e. the curve is moved to the left) as shown by the dashed blue line, two things happen. Firstly, there is a very small change in the number of cycles in the maximum power band, i.e. the power output of the engine changes very little as the engine is advanced. Secondly, the number of late cycles are dramatically reduced at the expense of only a small number occurring too early.

This is exactly what we saw at Manchester when we measured the power output as we advanced the ignition.

Once peak power had been reached (next graph which follows the shape of the pressure frequency curve), power output fell very slowly as the engine was further advanced. However, advancing the ignition timing dramatically reduced the exhaust temperature (next but one graph).

When setting the ignition timing, providing you are not experiencing pinking, it is better to err on the side of being too advanced than being too retarded. This will help reduce exhaust gas and under bonnet temperatures with only a minor loss of power.

Cylinder pressure

Earlier in this article, I mentioned how the growth of the initial flame front depended on cylinder pressure; this in turn depends on throttle setting. The less the throttle is opened, the lower the cylinder pressure, the longer it takes for the flame front to grow. More ignition advance is needed to ensure maximum cylinder pressure occurs at the optimum timing. This can be achieved by adding a vacuum advance to the centrifugal advance.

The centrifugal ignition timing is set to be correct at full throttle this is when the flame front grows the fastest. However, further advancing the engine at low throttle settings can significantly reduce exhaust temperatures without the risk of pinking. This is especially important for road use where the engine is working at part throttle in the rev range where the Slow Combustion problem is at its worse.

The Z Magnette, MGA and the majority of later MGs were fitted with a vacuum advance as standard. This consists of a vacuum pod on the distributor connected by a fine tube to the inlet manifold or carburettor(s). At low throttle settings, the pressure in the inlet manifold is below atmospheric causing the vacuum pod to advance the timing by rotating the plate on which the points are mounted. Usually, the pods are marked with three digits, e.g. 5-13-10. This indicates that vacuum advance starts at 5 inches of mercury (inHg), ends at 13 inHg, and produces 10o of distributor advance. The distributor rotates at half the speed of the engine, so this corresponds to a maximum of 20 o engine advance at 0.43 Bar. The different degrees ofadvance for given pressures is called the Vacuum Advance Curve. This is typically a straight line going from 0o at atmospheric (full throttle) to the maximum around 15 inHg (closed throttle).

The cylinder pressure, when the plug fires, depends on compression ratio as well as throttle setting. For this reason engines with different compression ratios are fitted with different advance pods. The optimum maximum vacuum advance for the XPAG with a 7.25:1 compression ratio, as measured at Manchester, was found to be 15 o at 15 inHg.

With a mechanical distributor it is possible to vary the vacuum advance by changing the pod. On programmable electronic distributors this is done on the computer.

If your car is fitted with a vacuum advance, it is important to check that it is working properly. A simple check is to re-measure the advance curve, as described above, this time with the vacuum advance connected. You should get a curve that runs 5o – 15o in advance of the centrifugal one.


A warning for those cars fitted with superchargers.

Superchargers INCREASE the pressure of the gases in the inlet manifold above atmospheric. This causes the flame front to grow more quickly requiring LESSadvance. Setting the vacuum advance on these engines is more difficult as the pod on a mechanical distributor may not cope with positive manifold pressures.


This article has described how Cyclic Variability during the combustion cycle affects the timing of the peak combustion pressure and how it can result in a significant number of cycles occurring late. It is these late cycles that cause the Slow Combustion problem and ultimately the high under bonnet temperatures that make the volatility problems of modern petrol worse.

The importance of ignition timing has been discussed and how, by advancing the timing, it is possible to reduce exhaust temperatures suggesting the importance of the correct centrifugal and vacuum advance curves. The Manchester data showed the standard XPAG centrifugal advance curve for a rebuilt distributor was around 5o too retarded below 3,000 rpm due to the Slow Combustion problem.

It is important the ignition timing is set correctly or the engine will be damaged, too advanced will result in pinking, to retarded burned exhaust valves and damage to the cylinder head. It is advisable to check your advance curve using a timing light and check the centrifugal advance, and if fitted, the vacuum advance, are both working correctly.

It is suggested that owners of other models arrange for a typical car to be taken to a rolling road to measure the ideal centrifugal and, if possible, vacuum advance curves. These would provide a good baseline for other owners.

The next article will discuss fitting a vacuum advance to an XPAG. The indications from my own car and others is that it makes a significant improvement to running, keeping the engine cooler in slow moving traffic and improving overall performance. Paul Ireland

Editor’s note: I have a keen interest in fitting a vacuum advance to my XPEG. Having spoken to Barrie Jones (MGCC T Register Technical Specialist for the TD/TF models) he told me that he has fitted a 45D4 distributor to his XPEG and it is the best mod that he has ever done. The specification was standard rubber bumper MGB, complete with vacuum advance.

Martin Jay the Distributor Doctor supplied the distributor and also supplied and fitted an XPAG drive gear to it.

More on this in a future issue of TTT 2.

The MG Octagon Car Club’s Founder’s Weekend 2018

The MG Octagon Car Club’s Founder’s Weekend 2018

The event took place during the weekend of 11th to 14th May and was held in the Peak District of Derbyshire. It was based at the Rutland Arms Hotel which is situated right in the centre of Bakewell, a busy little market town, famous for its Bakewell tart: and Bakewell pudding:

These weekends are growing in popularity and getting on for half of the participants also take part in the ‘Totally T-Type 2’ weekends held annually, usually in the third week of August.

For what was probably a record attendance, 35 cars and their crews made it by 5.00 pm on the Friday and were ‘shoe-horned’ into the hotel car park, which was conveniently situated on the opposite side of the road. I say “conveniently” because the car park is mis-used by the Bakewell locals, who “conveniently” leave their cars and pop into the town to do their shopping – but it was out of bounds for this weekend as any attempt to ‘steal’ our reserved parking was met with a polite but firm, “No”!

There was a good selection of T-Types; 3 TF1500s, 8 TF1250s, 11 TDs, 4 TCs and 2 TAs. Also, 1 MGCGT, 1 MGC, 1 MGBGT, 1MGRV8, 1 J2 and a couple of ‘moderns’. It was almost a trouble-free weekend for the cars, but more of that later!

Having collected our roadbooks and studied them, we learnt that the Saturday run would take in the southern half of the Peak District whilst the Sunday adventure would, after visits to Eyam Museum and a coffee stop at the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club in Abney, explore the Dark Peaks via Hathersage and Castleton before returning over Winnats Pass.

We learnt more details of the arrangements for the weekend at a briefing from organiser par excellence Brian Rainbow, who with his wife Rosie had mapped out the routes with invaluable assistance from ‘locals’ Kevin and Melanie Howe.

The first of the two cars to ‘misbehave’ was Geoff Wright’s TF1500. He had driven down from Middlesbrough on Friday with Margaret without any sign of trouble, but when it came to Saturday morning the car would not start. The usual checks were carried out by some enthusiastic members, and on investigation it was found that the carbon brush and spring in the distributor cap was missing. How it came to be missing, as it had been running satisfactorily the previous day, was a mystery.

The ever-resourceful Kevin Howe proceeded to cut about an inch of copper wire from his box of spares and wedged it where the carbon brush and spring should have been and Eureka! the car fired up. It was then driven a short distance to Milford Garage, the home of Mellors Elliot Motorsport. The proprietor, an old rally friend of Brian Rainbow’s, took some time out from development of a Proton IRIZ RS rally car for Proton Cars to cannibalize a spare distributor cap and rob it of its carbon brush and spring in order to fit it to Geoff’s. Job done!

The second of the cars to ‘misbehave’ was my recently acquired TF1500. On the journey from Stow-on-the-Wold, where we stayed the night, to Bakewell, the car ‘coughed’ a couple of times. I was a little nervous about this because it was happening on the first trip of any distance.

The car started OK on the Saturday morning, but after a few miles it started to ‘play up’. The symptoms were akin to petrol starvation, but equally it could have been electrical. As the problem was obviously not going to go away, we took the decision to only cover half of the day’s route and to get back to the hotel early to see if the cause of the poor running could be diagnosed. Several members offered their services, but nothing could be found, apart from two loose carburetor bodies.

We decided to attempt to cover half of the Sunday run but soon wished we hadn’t! We did actually manage to get to Castleton and take in the beautiful scenery, but from there it was touch and go whether we would make it back to the hotel.

These weekend tours are an opportunity, not only to exercise the cars, largely on roads which they would have been driven on when the cars were new, but also to visit with like-minded owners, places of historical interest. The Tour of the Peak District certainly fulfilled our expectations in this department and although we missed half the tour on both days, we were fortunate to be able to visit the village of Tissington in the morning on the Saturday run and the village of Eyam in the morning on the Sunday.

Tissington is known as the mother place of well dressing and visitors come from all over the world to witness the annual well dressing ceremony. As luck would have it, our tour coincided with the weekend of this annual event.

The well dressing takes place on Ascension Day, when five attractive wells are dressed, together with a children’s well. Dressing consists of erecting boards covered in clay, onto which are pressed thousands of flower petals to create an elaborate tableaux of some biblical or topographical scene. It is probable that well dressing took place in 1350, in thanksgiving for the village’s escape from the Black Death, which was attributed to the purity of its water. Wells have been dressed ever since, but not in unbroken succession.

The precise origins of well dressing are unknown but may date from before the Romans.

Eyam – its museum, which we didn’t visit, preferring to explore the village, tells the story of how the village suffered with the black plague in 1665. As it turned out, we were able to see Rose Cottage and Plague cottage on our walk around the village each with a plaque in their front garden.

From Eyam we managed to get to the Derbyshire & Lancashire Gliding Club, albeit the car did not enjoy the long climb up to the airfield at Camphill. However, once there, we were suitably refreshed with coffee and a cake in beautiful surroundings.

We then needed to get back to the hotel on a wing and a prayer and quite a few stops. Such a pity, as the scenery was absolutely magnificent.

We called the RAC breakdown at 9.00am on the Monday morning and finally arrived home at 8.30pm. The car is booked in with Classic & Sportscar Essex to fix the rear main oil leak and to diagnose the problem with led to us having to call the breakdown truck.

A most welcome visitor to the hotel car park was a Club member with his K3.

This K3 has continuous history from 1934 to date. The period up to 2007 was fully documented by Society member Len Goff, when in his ownership, in his book Magnette-ised THE PEDIGREE OF MG K3015-2 FROM 1934 TO 2007. The car went to Germany after Len sold it but is now back in the UK.

The Humble Drum Brake


The modern drum brake was first used in a car made by Maybach in 1900, although the principle was only later patented in 1902 by Louis Renault. While drum brakes have mainly been replaced by disk brakes, they are used on all the classic MGs. Even some modern, high performance cars such as BMW and Porsche still use drum brakes for their handbrake.

Drum brakes probably reached their pinnacle in the 1955 Mercedes Le Mans car which had massive inboard front drum brakes, nearly as big as the wheels. Even so, it was still out braked by the Jaguars with their new disk brakes.

1955 Mercedes Le Mans car showing the massive inboard front drum brakes.

My reason for writing this article, however, is not to give the history of drum brakes, it is in response to a problem I suffered with my TC’s brakes.

After 30 years since relining the brake shoes, I decided it was time to replace the now dry and cracked linings. I sent my shoes off to a reputable company where they were quickly refitted with new bonded linings. Unfortunately, when you gently applied the brakes the new shoes grabbed, violently pulling the car to one side, and tended to stick on, especially at slow speeds.

Despite my best efforts and the advice of T-Type experts on Bill and Sally Silcock’s spring tour, it took emergency maintenance in the hotel car park to spot the problem. It is this I want to share with other classic MG owners.

I would also like to thank Barrie Jones for his contributions to this article.

Drum Brakes – How they Work

The following diagram shows the orientation of the brakes on the MG TC and earlier cars; on other cars the pivot may be at the top or side of the brake but they all work the same way.

The operation of drum brakes is very straightforward. There are two shoes covered with friction material inside a drum. Each shoe is pivoted at one end and they are applied by an outwards force at the other end pushing the shoes apart and against the drum face. The pivot carries the whole braking force. When the brake is released a return spring pulls the shoes back.

The outwards force may be applied by hydraulic pistonsor mechanically via cables or rods acting on cams or levers. On the MG TA and later cars, the rear wheels use both a hydraulic piston for the foot brake and a cable-operated mechanical system for the handbrake.

Drum brakes are not perfect. The outward movement of the brake shoe decreases towards the pivot as shown in the diagram. Until the top face of the friction material has worn sufficiently, the lower face will not even contact the drum. As a result, new shoes are more likely to feel spongy or overheat until they have properly bedded-in.

A second problem with drum brakes is heat dissipation. As the friction material covers virtually the whole area of the inside of the drum, the only way for the heat to escape is by conduction through the drum. If used for long periods, e.g. when descending hills, drums can get overly hot causing the brakes to fade. In contrast, the friction material on disk brakes only covers a small area of the disk, the remaining part is open to the air allowing the heat to escape.

The final problem with drum brakes is brake dust produced as the friction material wears. This collects inside the drum and can cause the brakes to squeal and wear to moving parts such as the pivots, adjusters and mechanical linkages.

Self-servo Effect

There is one advantage with drum brakes, they self-servo, i.e. the braking force is increased on the leading shoe by the rotation of the wheel as the friction between drum and shoe “pulls” it on. Unfortunately, the braking force is also reduced on the trailing shoe.

The self-servo effect is the cause of the brakes grabbing or pulling to one side. When Adjustment is by two large bolts on the back plate that set the closed position stops at the top of each shoe. The problem with this arrangement is that it is not possible to set the position of the bottom of the shoes. Hence it is the friction material on the leading shoe touches the drum, the self-servo effect increases the braking pressure and, in extreme cases, it can over-brake that wheel or grab. Any differences between the brakes or adjustments on each wheel can be exaggerated by the self-servo effect and can cause the car to pull to the side as the brakes are applied.

The TC and earlier cars have one leading and one trailing shoe per drum. It takes the same pressure on the brake pedal to stop the car when it is going forwards as backwards.

The TD and later cars with drum brakes had twin leading shoes on the front wheels. On these cars there are two pivots and two hydraulic cylinders generating the outwards force. As a result, it requires less brake pedal pressure to stop when they are moving forwards and by the same token more pressure when reversing. Something pre- MG TD drivers need to be aware of when swapping to more recent models.

The Pivot and Brake Adjustment

The early cars had a pivot pin bolted onto the back plate and a hole in each brake shoe (as represented in two previous diagrams – but not the one above, which is a twin leading shoe diagram).

The shoes were held in place by a spiral spring and horseshoe clip, rigidly locating them. It was problems with this pivot arrangement that causedmy brakes to grab and lock on. More about that later.

Adjustment is by two large bolts on the back plate that set the closed position stops at the top of each shoe.

The problem with this arrangement is that it is not possible to set the position of the bottom of the shoes. Hence it is important the lining is the correct thickness (3/16”). Too thin and it will take a long time for the brake to bed-in, too thick and it will bind.

The TD and later cars had a more satisfactory arrangement. Rather than a pivot, the shoeswere fitted into a slot, so that they could self-centre themselves within the drum. There is a second return spring at the bottom of the shoes to hold them into the slot.

On the TD, TF and the MGA the adjusters are of the “snail cam” variety.

On the MGB an adjuster is built into the pivot. This has an adjustment screw with a pyramid-shaped head and when screwed in, it “clicks” every 90 degrees pushing the bottoms of the brake shoes outwards. An advantage of this system is that it allows the bottoms of the shoes to be adjusted to give a better “fit”.

The main disadvantage of the pyramid adjuster is that the casting is made from aluminium and the adjusting screw, which protrudes out of the back of the brake, is steel. Exposure to water and salt under the car causes the screw to seize in its housing and coupled with its small square head, this makes it virtually impossible to turn. When I owned an MGB GT, my practice was to remove and grease the adjuster screw and after refitting, put a tight-fitting plastic tube filled with grease over the exposed threads to keep out water. This certainly helped kept it free.

There is a problem with some replacement adjusters. Barrie Jones reported he had I had a catastrophic failure of a brand-new pyramid adjuster when he rebuilt his V8. The original is made of alloy with two square-headed bolts cast into it to provide the locating studs. In the new adjuster, these were “replaced” by two 6mm lengths of studding tapped into the alloy. The first time the MoT tester stamped on the brakes these ripped out of the alloy. Something that could have happened in a real emergency stop. As a result, the brakes collapsed inside the drum causing the hydraulic system to fail and preventing the handbrake from working. A total brake failure.

Return Springs

It is important these are in good condition and properly fitted. They should not catch on any part of the brake fittings and especially not rub on the hub. They are probably the hardest component of a drum brake to fit and I have never found a satisfactory solution.

On the TC and earlier cars, a shoe has two riveted-in posts, one on each side, the larger is the brake stop (see photograph) and is fitted on the inside. The smaller has two notches around it where the springs fit. Before fitting, ensure the brake stops are set at their minimum position to reduce the amount you have to stretch the springs. I also find a rope pulled tight around the shoes also helps keep them as close together as possible.

My current practice is to use a pair of pointed nose plyers to hold the spring as close to the loop on one end, put the other end of the spring in place then using the fingers of my other hand with my thumb on the brake shoe pull the plyers to until I can get the spring in place. I start by fitting the springs over the outer of the two notches. When fitted, slide them over to the inner notches closest to the shoe. On the rear shoes ensure the middle of the spring goes behind the clip on the handbrake mechanism.

On the later cars the springs fit through holes in the shoes and the shoes are held in place by anti-rattle spring clips that pass through the shoe and back plate. On my MGB I found I could fit the return springs first then leaver the shoes into place with a large screwdriver. The problem here is you need 4 hands, one to hold each of the shoes and the other two to fit the anti-rattle clips. Again, it is useful to ensure the brake stops are set to the minimum position before starting.


Brakes are probably the most critical component of a car, so maintaining them is essential.

Depending on how much you use your brakes it is worth cleaning out the brake dust every 2 years or 5,000 miles. Remove the brake drum from one wheel at a time. It is safer to wash the dust from the drum and around the shoes using a fluid such as Halfords Brake Cleaner rather than an air hose which can create a lot of potentially dangerous dust. The brake adjusters should be freed off before removing the drums, which also checks they are working properly.

It is worth greasing the pivots, adjusters, backing plate where the brake shoes touch, mechanical linkages and/or ends of the hydraulic pistons using copper grease or a high temperature ceramic grease. BE CAREFUL not to get any grease on the friction surfaces. If you do, brake cleaner will remove small traces.

Check the brake return springs are in good condition and properly located. Check any hydraulic hoses and pistons for leakage or weeping. If the pistons have dust covers, they can be carefully pulled back to inspect the pistons and confirm that that they move freely. When a car is left standing, hydraulic fluid can, over time, make these pistons very stiff. A small amount of rubber grease around the piston and under the dust cover helps.

It is also worth checking the shoes have a chamfer on the leading and trailing end of the friction material as this reduces the chance of them grabbing. In practice the chamfer is only needed on the leading end, adding one to both ends makes it easier to reverse the brake shoes at a later date to even out wear.

Finally, before refitting the drum I check that each brake shoe can move freely using a screwdriver against the hub as a lever and check nothing is rubbing on the hub.

Replace the drum and press the foot brake hard to position the shoes before re-adjusting. Screw the adjusters until the drum is binding then backing them off one or two clicks or a fraction of a turn should be sufficient to allow the drum to rotate freely. If a brake still rubs in places as the wheel is rotated, then you need to check the drum is not oval. It may need to be skimmed. The maximum oversize for later cars is .060 inches, beyond which the drum must be replaced.

My Grabbing and Sticking on Problem

Needless to say, when I replaced the shoes on my TC I had followed all the maintenance steps. Everything appeared to be OK, but when the car was moving, a gentle touch on the brake pedal and “bang”, on came the brakes, hard. Even when the brake pedal was released, the brakes on one wheel stayed on. Why?

The problem was due to wear on the pivot pin and the pivot hole in the brake shoes. The shoe with the most wear was able to move up and down by around 30-50 thou, very small, but sufficient to cause the problem. Unfortunately, I had inadvertently fitted this shoe as a leading shoe on a front wheel, which also had the pivot with the most wear.

When I gently applied the brake, the self-servo effect pulled the brake on and moved it down on the pivot, putting it on hard. Because the shoes are firmly located with a spiral spring and horseshoe clip, the return spring was not sufficiently strong to pull the brake off, hence it stuck on.

The solution, I re-manufactured the brake pivots, which can be easily replaced as they are bolted into the back plate and replaced the 4 most worn shoes with new ones. Now the brakes all come on “as one” with no grabbing or uneven braking of the wheels.

The lesson, if you own a TC, YA or earlier car, always check for excess movement of the shoes on the pivots before fitting the horseshoe clip. There should be virtually none. On later cars, after fitting the return springs check the shoes can move up and down relatively freely.

Paul Ireland

Ed’s note: Regarding the brake pivots (original description and part number from TC Parts List “Anchor pin for brake-shoe 66832”) I don’t think they are available from the usual parts suppliers, but as Paul says, they are easily made. The horseshoe clip (“Circlip for anchor pin 66388”) is available from NTG Motor Services for £3.66 plus VAT (ref K933). The spiral washer which Paul mentions (“Thackeray washer for anchor pin 39382”) is also available from NTG (described as spring washer, ref K934) for £3.40 plus VAT.

Lost and Found

Quite a lot of activity for this issue. First, some success!

TC2277 (SX 5836)

This early 1947 TC was featured in ‘Lost & Found’ in the April 2015 issue. Current owner, David Whitely has recently e-mailed to let me know that now, three years later, he has been contacted by a lady whose late uncle owned the car in the 1980s. She said that she has a lot of information and bills from the 1960s and also the old log book that was found by the executors. David is naturally delighted!

TA1888 (LFC 329)

The current owner is interested in finding the history of his car, which he has owned for over 45 years. An enquiry made with the Oxfordshire History Centre has provided the date of first registration (15th October 1946) and that the car was registered by Laytons of Oxford (Motors) Limited of New Road OXFORD. The colour was green (it is now red).

Interestingly, although the date of build was 15th October 1937, it must have remained unsold before the War and was not registered until after the War. This is the only explanation I can come up with.

The certified extract from the records is on an A4 page, which gives details of registration numbers LFC 321 to LFC 330. Of these, only the TA appears to have definitely survived. LFC 323, which was originally on a Royal Enfield 350 cc motor cycle, is now on a 2014 Ford Diesel 2198 cc. The bike may have survived with a different registration number given after the transfer, but equally, it may have been scrapped.

TA1478 (BWN 568)

This TA is largely in bits and has been like this in the same ownership for at least 40 years. WN is an old Swansea registration and it looks as though the Kithead Trust probably has the record card for the vehicle

It seems likely that BWN 568 would have started out life in the Swansea area and with this information, albeit sparse, the owner is wondering if anybody can recall anything about the car (via the editor, please).

TC2140 (FWW 938)

TC2140 has recently come back from the US and I have been assisting the owner (through the MG Octagon Car Club) with an application for an age-related registration mark. Whilst the application was being processed by DVLA, enquiry was made of the West Yorkshire Archive Service as WW is an old Yorkshire West Riding registration mark. Fortunately, the archive service was able to come up with both the chassis number and registration mark which was sufficient to reclaim FWW 938.

The West Yorkshire Archive Service holds the records for the former Licensing Authorities of Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield and Yorkshire West Riding. The Service appears to have more comprehensive records from the aforementioned Authorities than many of their peers and I have found them to be very helpful.

A recent exchange of e-mails revealed the following information about the various holdings:

Register of Vehicle Registrations

These registers typically list the registration mark and give the date when the registration number was allocated to a person or company.

Index Cards

Index Cards were made out for each vehicle registered and they record the movement of vehicle files to other authorities or to Swansea or the central licence repository at Llandau. Some also record the destruction of files when vehicles were scrapped, the cancellation of registration marks, and the transfer of marks to other vehicles. The information on vehicles given by the cards is copious in some cases and negligible in others.

Vehicle Files

Bound registers of vehicles were superseded in 1921 by individual files for each vehicle. These normally record full details of vehicles, with changes of owners etc. Files were normally destroyed after the vehicles in question were scrapped, and a great many more files were destroyed in the late 1970s as part of the centralisation of records on the Department of Transport’s computer in Swansea. As part of the same exercise, files were transferred to the Department’s central licence repository at Llandau. Those which were subsequently still found to be ‘live’ were transferred to the computer, the rest were destroyed.

BKW 798 (TC????)

I’ve had an enquiry from Christopher Walsh in Palermo, Sicily, Southern Italy about a chassis he’s trying to identify.

At present he’s having difficulty in identifying the chassis number, which looks as though it has been ground off, so I’ve sent him a copy of Keith Beningfield’s article (in TTT2, Issue 46) about using a substance called Fry’s Reagent,a mixture comprised of Hydrochloric acid, Copper (II) Chloride, and water, used by metallurgists or forensic scientists for etching ferrous metals,most commonly for the visual recovery of ground-off stamped serial numbers on cast iron, steel, engine or firearms parts.

The registration mark is assumed to be that of the car as Christopher has one of the plates, but this may not necessarily be the case as it seems to be a ‘bitsa’ with a B270 body type plate and an Austin engine of unknown vintage!

I have offered (and Christopher has accepted) to request a search of the Bradford registrations by the West Yorkshire Archive Service and it will be interesting to learn what they come up with.

TA1008 (AJB 71)

The daughter of the late Graham Ash sent me this photo of Graham’s first MG.

The car has been in the US for some time and now sports a V8 engine! The current owner might like to see how it looked in Graham’s ownership.

Graham’s daughter would like to make contact with the current owner of a VA Tourer owned by Graham. The car went to Australia around in 2008.

I can recall persuading Graham to sell it, as it was pretty apparent even back then, that with a TA in pieces to rebuild, that he would never finish the VA. As matters have turned out, the TA (TA2445 registration mark DAD 337) is still in pieces, so even though the VA was sold reluctantly, it was the right decision.

If this catches the eye of one of our many Australian members with knowledge of the VA, the editor would love to hear of any news.


Bob Little has quite a lot of information on this car, which he rescued off the streets (a complete wreck) in Georgetown, Washington DC. Bob restored the car in the 1970s and has details of the TC’s UK and US history, including original colour and import date.

If the current owner would care to get in touch with the editor at jj(at) {please substitute @ for (at)} I will put him or her in touch with Bob.


Sherman Kaplan has owned this TC since 1982. He purchased it in boxes from a dealer in San Diego, California.He has no idea of any of its history so any information would be helpful. Replies via the editor please at jj(at) {please substitute @ for (at)}.

1952 TD (Chassis number unknown)

Mike Goode is trying to help his dad find out if his uncle Jack Wilner’s 1952 MG TD still exists. Mike accepts that without a chassis number or license plate number, the chances of tracing the car are pretty slim. The only document that Mike has is this State of Illinois passenger car identification card. He adds that the TD was restored by his father and his uncle Jack and the car was painted at Earl Scheib in Chicago in a metallic blue, finished with a white top from J.C. Whitney. The car was sold to the owner or an employee of a gasoline station in the Ravenswood neighbourhood in Chicago.

JYH 520 (TC????)

Chris Blood is trying to find out any history attached to this car. YH is a former London County Council registration and all their records were destroyed. However, the photo below might yield a clue? (both these lads are now 72).

Bits and Pieces

MPJG Cylinder Head Work

Gordon Norman reports that he had the MPJG head on his TA skimmed, new hardened valve seats fitted and re-cut, along with the fitting of new valves and springs that he supplied, by Genesis Engines in Hull recently. The workers took over from a company called Alex Carr who had been in Hull for 99 years before going bankrupt in 2017. Genesis did a great job and the cost was under £300. Gordon says that the company deserves a plug as it also carries lots of classic car engine spares and is looking to expand the business into the classic area.

Clocks 4 Classics

William Howard in Germany recently sent the following ‘thank you’ to Mark, proprietor of Clocks 4 Classics

“I’d like to say you do a great job on these clocks. Over the last years I had tried various ways of getting the thing to tick for longer than a few months and that included getting an exchange reconditioned clock from USA. Nothing worked. Then during one effort, the minute hand dropped off, never to be seen again. Nobody could help (I remember asking JJ if he knew of one) so not only was it stationary, it didn’t even look good!

I sent it to you after reading John James’ article in TTT 2. You kept me informed on progress and returned my clock well packaged and in perfect order. You even found a suitable minute hand and fitted that. Several months have passed, it ticks away happily and has not needed to be adjusted once. Highly recommended.”

Dave’s ‘Doughnuts’

These were featured in the December 2017 issue. They are a ‘fix’ (which seems to last) for the clunk experienced if your rear wheel splines are worn.

Simply, it’s a foam rubber ring which fits between the brake drum and the wheel. As you tighten the spinner, the ring is squashed tightly in the space. The rubber forms around the drum 1/2 nuts on one side and the spoke nipples on the other, stopping the wheel moving to and fro.

Do they work? – well, they certainly work on David Heath’s TA and have lasted for years.

Renaud de Villeneuve from Belgium, who bought a pair, reports that after a test run, “It seems the klonk has disappeared”.

Since the December article, the “doughnuts” have been sent all around the world, not only for TA/B/C, but also for TF. There are no reports of them not working.

Cost of the ‘doughnuts’ is £15 per pair inclusive of UK postage. Please order via The Editor jj(at) {please substitute @ for (at)}.

They can be sent worldwide for a relatively small additional postage cost and payment can be accepted by PayPal.

Stocks from the initial batch are now running low and David Heath (the inventor) is wondering whether to obtain some more. There is an up-front cost for these items to be produced and they are sold on a non-profit making basis. We will see how orders come in over the ensuing weeks, but I have agreed with David that if it proves necessary to source some more I will fund them through my part-time polyurethane bush business. They will continue to be sold on a non-profit making basis.

CKD TDs supplied to South Africa

Clausager, in his book Original MG T Series records that 345 CKD (Completely Knocked Down TDs – essentially kits of parts) were supplied to South Africa, most of them in 1950.

Ed’s note: Clausager’s book is now out of print and the Publishers (Herridge & Sons) have none left (neither does the T-Shop). An updated edition is in course of preparation but is not expected to be come available much before November 2019).

I have had recent correspondence with Pierre van Hell in South Africa about his TD (TD 1328). The Production Records list chassis numbers 1328 to 1337 as CKD cars (probably produced around April 1950 – exact date not given in the Production Records) and Pierre confirms that his TD was built by Motor Assemblies in Durban and that it was the 31st TD built by this company (see picture below of the plate affixed to the car).

Pierre has asked whether I can help with an answer to his query regarding the three split pins fitted to the front of the rear wheel arches on his CKD TD. He says that they are also fitted to Mike Johnson’s TD in Cape Town.

I fear that it is going to be difficult to solve this mystery, but if anybody can help. Please contact the editor.

Pierre also owns TC4511 which he restored 10 years ago. He sent me this rather unusual picture of the car.

It was taken in front of a huge wall poster. French Toast is now a restaurant close to the Hartebeespoort dam in the Magalies mountains.The owner is a film director and developed this property with a French flair to shoot parts of the movie “French Toast” as an alternative to doing all the filming in Paris.


Tom Lange has drawn my attention to the following advert:

He points out that the advert includes these statements:

“Back in 1965, the owner was working at a boatyard in Greenwich CT when he was approached by BOD member of British Leyland, sailboat racer and fellow resident of Greenwich, Graham Whitehead. (Graham had worked in the automotive industry starting back in 1959 where he trained at Wolseley Motors and later in leading positions at BMC, Jaguar Rover Triumph and eventually Jaguar) Whitehead said he recognized the car as possibly one of 50 specialty cars tweaked during assembly for “special friends” of BMC/British Leyland. 25 stayed in England, 25 were imported to the US into the port of Norfolk. All were painted Silver Streak Gray and wore red wheels. He took some notes of engine number and “VIN” and said he’d let our then young owner know what he dug up. In seeing him again, Graham stated that this car met all the standards of those 50 “tweaked” MK IIs, however, there was no official factory record of these cars being built.

Years later, 1998 to be precise, the engine was pulled apart for a rebuild and it was found to have fully polished and ported head and manifolds (this was NOT stock and the owners had never had the engine apart). The car was always known around town among those who noted such things, as the quickest TD they had ever seen and it would regularly, easily pull away from other TDs and British cars of the day.” 

Tom asks “Has anyone else heard this story about special Mark II cars? I find it plausible for a couple of reasons:

  1. when the original owner re-did the engine for the first time, he found it had already been ported and polished, which is unlikely to have been done anywhere but the factory, and

  1. Graham Whitehead would be in a position to know and would have no reason to invent such a story out of whole cloth. 

The Production Records are silent on any special preparation done to this or any other Mark II car. But there cannot be too many Silver Streak TDs anywhere, and I would be grateful to learn any further information on the subject.”

Ed’s note: I fear that this may well remain a mystery because with all the T-Type records having been destroyed, getting on for 60 years ago and with very few survivors left from the time that TDs were being built in the Factory, all we have left is the pages of ‘The Build Book’ (original Production Records) – but you never know!

Drive safely! JOHN JAMES Editor