Category Archives: Issue 62 (October 2020)

Lost and Found

The article entitled “Some TB facts and figures” created a lot of interest.

Francis Goosens suggested that his TB0618 might be one of the 3 Belgian TBs (yes, it is). He bought it in 2009 from a Dutchman living in Belgium.

Martin van der Merwe messaged to say that he has TB0590 in South Africa and it is awaiting restoration. This car was in Sweden in the late 1990s, coming over from England in (I think) 1997.

Erik Benson in France recalled the very rapid TB he once owned and sent me lots of pictures.

He bought the chassis (TB0593) with its logbook (BBN 243) from Terry Bone at Beaulieu in the 90s.  Just a bare and bent chassis, which was then brought back to life using a pointed tail body from Compound Curvatures in England . . . a full race, blown 1500 engine from his faithful TD racer, and a Ford 5 speed box, (as he thought he might use her on the road too); other parts from where he could find them. . . TC rear axle with TA diff in France; front axle  from a racing pal.  Datsun brake drums in California, steering box from Barry Walker.  He redesigned the bonnet, by cutting away about a foot of bulkhead and making a much longer bonnet. (ex Delahaye spare!).  He designed and made the seats, covered in grey leather from the back of a French Jaguar saloon. . and even made the steering wheel! –  and the foam-filled fuel tank was from a Citroen 2CV van!   The 18 inch wheels were made in London. It was very powerful …. Over 140bhp, and when running in at le Vigeant circuit it easily passed a Bugatti T55 racer!

The car was sold and the last time Erik saw her was with her new Parisian owner.

Erik would very much like to know how the car is currently performing.

Ed’s note: (from Erik)“I must add. . . . to all the purists out there. . . .  I started with ONLY a totally stripped chassis, so I did not rubbish an otherwise restorable original car.”

TB0336 (JPE 110)

Peter Chase from Bedford contacted me with the following introduction to his message:

“Occasionally I like to Google “MG TB JPE110” – maybe once every couple of years or so.  Imagine my shock and surprise when your August edition popped up, only to find said registration mark listed in your excellent article on the production history of the MG TB.” 

Peter’s father, John Chase, who died last year, was a lifelong car enthusiast. His last car was a Jaguar XK150S, which is now with Peter, but prior to this he owned a TF for around 10 years and before Peter arrived on the scene, a TB Tickford was his pride and joy. This would have been around 1958/1960.

Whenever John spoke about the Tickford, he was always keen to point out what a rare car a TB was, production having been halted by the outbreak of war, and being a Tickford made it even more special, he would tell Peter.

Peter takes up the story……  ”Clearly, he had fond memories of it.  Just how fond I was not to truly realise until he decided he would like a painting done of it, and in 1985 commissioned no less an artist than Dion Pears to create one.  Now, if you don’t know who Dion Pears was, he became famous for painting racing cars, yachts and aircraft in the 60s and 70s.  His clients were a who’s who of racing drivers.  According to his obituary, Enzo Ferrari, no less, had a sole painting in his study, and it was by Mr Pears.  The artist died in 1986, and my father’s commission was, in fact, his last.  Quite an honour.”

TB Tickford JPE 110 painted by Dion Pears. The car is flying past a milestone marked “Cambridge 41” (John lived in Luton – so that’s about right).

Dion Pears worked from photographs, as he was sadly afflicted by agoraphobia*.  Some of the photos supplied by John for his commission follow. *agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed e.g. open or closed spaces, shopping centres, public transport, being in a crowd….

JPE 110 comes up from a DVLA search as ‘Not taxed for road use’. The date of the last V5C is 7th October 1983, so it may have been off the road for nearly 37 years. The colour is now red.

Peter Chase would very much like to make contact with the owner for news of the car.

Peter’s e-mail is peter(at) [Please substitute @ for (at)]

MG TC? AEF 157

On my visits to Adrian Moore’s body shop in Weston-Super-Mare (which comes with a firm recommendation from me for T-type and Triple-M work, including rebuilds and painting); also modern (in my parlance) MGs – MGA/MGB, I have always been intrigued by a painting hanging in his office of a “TC”. The picture is obviously not in the Dion Pears league (a close up is shown above). I recently took the time to look up when and where the registration mark AEF 157 was first issued and find that it was first made available in 1951 by West Hartlepool County Borough Council.

I’m now even more intrigued, because the number would have been more likely to have been on a TD. Can anybody in that area of the North East help solve this mystery?

TC8208 (KNA 494)

This is a ‘last call’ for information on this car, which used to belong to Chris Keevill’s brother. We managed to find his brother’s TD and Enjoying MG traced his mother’s TF, but the TC is proving to be elusive. It’s a maroon 1949 TC and comes up from a DVLA search as ‘Not taxed for road use’. It’s out there somewhere – let’s hope that it’s a case of third time lucky of featuring this request.

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Bits and Pieces

Fuel sender unit

Kevin Rowton has been experiencing problems with the sender unit in his TC. He writes as follows:

“My sender unit on the petrol tank failed due to fuel leaking in to the float. I got another and the same problem has arisen again with the dash light staying on when there is plenty of fuel in the tank. The plastic floats simply aren’t up to the job. I think eventually brass soldered floats would give the same problem as modern fuels attack the solder joints. I have had to replace the brass floats in the carbs because of this issue.  Has anyone found a solution to this problem please?”

Your editor comments that “I have not heard of this problem with the floats on sender units, so I’m not sure if it is a common occurrence. I have a new (old stock) sender unit for sale, has surface rust, but should be OK. At 20 GBP plus postage it represents a significant saving on a new shiny one (with plastic float?).”

XPAG Oil Pump Circlip Replacement

Visitors to the website may not have seen Graeme Hogg’s comment at the bottom of Eric Worpe’s article. It reads as follows:

“Just to share my experience whilst recently rebuilding my XPAG. My replacement shaft measured 12.96mm OD and the groove 11.09mm ID x 1.31mm width. I have used a spring steel snap ring, SW12-M2400 from Simply Bearings. I replicated Eric’s test using MS test pieces I machined and easily achieved 4Tons (the “bang” came just under 5T). For that purpose, my dummy “gear” was a slip fit on the shaft, not the interference fit of the actual parts. I took care to only expand the ring just enough to ease it into the groove and avoid over stretching. Hope this may be of interest….”

XPAG engines For Sale

TC 1500cc      Late block, linered and bored 72mm and pressure tested. Late crank std/std, crack tested. Lip sealed front and back on speedi-sleeve. Steel ‘spider’ flywheel, diaphragm clutch, all balanced. Big sump, 280 deg, fast road cam, vernier timing sprocket set, stage II big valve unleaded head.

TD/TF 1350cc             Late block bored to 1350cc, lightened and balanced, lip sealed. Fast road cam, unleaded stage II big valve head; or Laystall aluminium head.

Alternatively, totally refurbished period Laystall-Lucas aluminium head offered for sale separately.

Contact Ron Ward on 01422 823649 or 07790 458386 or e-mail valerieandron(at) [please substitute @ for (at)]

XPEG engine (most of)        XPEG block (AEF 117) with new Aerolite pistons (std) mains caps and new stud bolts, new Phoenix crank, new Crane camshaft, new rocker shaft, new Crane pushrods, new crank pulley, sump with oil pickup (including sump plate, alloy extension piece and mesh filter); new water pump, oil pump with new gears, timing cover, flywheel with an additional new starter ring, dipstick, rocker cover, front engine mounting plate and one 8” clutch housing. Serious offers over £5,000. Tel: 01507 600391 (Lincs) or e-mail jj(at) [please substitute @ for (at)].

XPAW block good condition with mains caps £400. Also, cylinder head casting 168422 std with slightly worn rocker arms. Contact details as above advert.

Head Gasket sets      I have two head gasket sets for TD22735 on, YB and TF1250. They are good quality sets and priced at £40 each plus postage.

Also available is a bottom end set for TB-TF (several available) at £18 plus postage. Please contact the editor at jj(at) [please substitute @ for (at)].


“Bernard had purchased an automobile in the last stages of tuberculosis”


“EH! what is that strange motion you make with your left foot—push-push, so! — when you are moving the transmission lever, mon petit fil?”

“That is the double-declutch, mon Papa. You taught me.”

In wonderment, my Papa murmured, “I did?”

“Of course,” answered I. “It was you who taught me to drive, with the double-declutch also.”

“It is as you say, Bernard,” said Papa firmly, with a glance through the wind-shield to reassure himself that we were indeed still upon the road.

After a few moments silence, “Perhaps you would be so kind as to demonstrate the movement to me—at some suitable occasion, when we are not traversing a bend at such high speed? Just to refresh my memory, you understand?”

Grasping the wheel in the approved mode for the fast circuit of corners, courteously I replied to my beloved father, “Oui, of course, Papa”.

I had that very day purchased an English automobile of sporting nature, called an M.G. TC and had persuaded my father to accompany me upon a short drive in the rain, in order that I might demonstrate its character to him.

Every time I endeavoured to overtake another car, he very courteously enquired of me, “Can you see that Renault approaching towards us from your side of the car?”

Hastening to reassure him concerning the safety of a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side—”the wrong side” Papa insisted on calling it—I said. “I can see other cars at almost the same moment as you can, Papa, for this carriage is of such fortuitous narrowness that we are almost seated in the same seat. Also, the smallest turning of the wheel produced such large movement at the front wheels that it enables me to move out to the centre of the road very quickly and return equally quickly, should another automobile be occupying the route directly ahead and advancing towards us.” Saying this, I demonstrated it to him.

When we were again upon our portion of the road, Papa muttered, “It is indeed fortunate, Bernard, that the TC is of such quick steering, for, if it was not so, that imbecile of a driver would have squashed us flat as a pancake, n’est ce pas?”

When we had turned around and were ready to return home, where Mama was awaiting us for supper, Papa requested permission to drive. With much misgiving, but allowing my filial devotion to overcome this misgiving, I allowed him to assume command. The rain was considerable and the road of much slipperiness, but, after all, he was my father, n’cest ce pas?”

After much noise from the transmission, caused by Papa mistaking 1st gear for 3rd—”Bernard, are you certain the English have not reversed the positions out of spite, revenging themselves upon us for the Vichy Government?”—we had soon attained a respectable velocity.

With great elan and, unfortunately, little style, Papa attacked numerous serpentines. Having finished these, he shouted at me over the buzzing of the engine, “It is fortunate that le bon Dieu has blessed you with muscles of great strength, Bernard, for, indeed, to persuade this minute automobile to change its direction one needs the force required to drive a very large camion.”

He then pointed the slender snout of my cheerful chariot down a road strewn with very many bumps and holes, giving this advice, “It is always wise to test the suspension, my son, in order to determine . . .” At this point he fastened his grip and said no more until the M.G. was again upon a smoothly paved road again.

“Bernard, I regret to tell you that this petite bolide is in reality not an automobile, but a small coal-cart, very cleverly disguised!”

A little later, “Intriguing! The makers of this diminutive coal-cart have made provision for the rounding of bumpy corners, without the necessity of moving the steering wheel. Observe!”

Having said this, Papa allowed the TC to glance one front wheel on the side of an oh-so-small bump and, immediately, the bonnet shook, moved and Voila! the radiator cap was pointing in an entirely new direction.

This information I stored in my memory, meanwhile noting that the manoeuvre could happen at an inadvertent moment and cause one to create a large commotion upon the wrong side
of the road.

“Also observe, mon cher Bernard,” said Papa, “the free motion of this steering device.” So saying, he turned the steering wheel through many degrees without causing any deviation from course.

“It is always wise to test the suspension”

“That, Papa, is what the man who sold it to me called ‘an inherent feature’ of a M.G. TC and can be found on my TC, if one should look.”

Do not take the trouble to look” shot back Papa. “Take my word, it is not natural.” It was possible to detect a small sigh of relief from him, when we arrived safely at our front door.

Papa was able to contain himself until dessert. Then, after much clearing of the throat, he delivered himself of the thoughts upon which he had pondered throughout supper, no doubt.

Cecile,”—it was the name of my Maman—”Cecile, our son has not, I am sorry to state, inherited my sense of the value of money.”

“But Papa . . .” I began.

“Bernard,” Papa interrupted, gently but firmly, “you will please have the courtesy to listen to your father.” He continued with the addressing of remarks to Maman, certain of my attention. “For an abnormally large quantity of francs Bernard has purchased an automobile which I can only liken to a person having arrived at the last stages of tuberculosis—angular hips, lean shanks and spindly legs.

I was not able to avoid interruption. “But, Papa, you must admit the heart is good!?

Grudgingly, Papa admitted, “That is true, Bernard. However, to return to my original theme, when a person is stricken with tuberculosis it is customary to place this person in a sanitorium, to retire from the frenzy of the outside world for a short time. Bernard, I would suggest that you do exactly this with your auto.”

“What, Papa?” enquired I.

“Retire it!” said Papa. Turning again to Maman, he said, “This Englishman’s Revenge, Cecile, of ancient vintage from its appearance, puts me in mind of my crossing of the Atlantic with my fellow Free French officers, during our last war.”

Taking a small sip of coffee, he continued. “I have not the slightest doubt but that many more ships in our convoy would have escaped the filthy U-boats, if they could have only emulated the zig-zag pattern Bernard’s car adopts, even on a perfectly level road.”

A look through the window was of reassurance to me that my TC impatiently waited. The covering of its skin by a multitude of raindrops caused it to glisten like a jewel. Sigh!

“By the by, Cecile,” resumed Papa, “It will not be a necessity to draw a bath for me this evening.”

“Why, Emile?” asked Maman.

Scathingly, Papa replied, “Because I have already bathed in Bernard’s car. So much rain entered through so many places that I was forced to wipe my spectacles five times.”

Maman giggles. Then attempted to soothe him. “Emile, it is his money and his car. From his labour came the sufficiency of francs to do so.”

“You do not understand, Cecile,” he snorted. “The beast is not safe! For instance, every time the road slopes sharply away from the crown, Bernard’s projectile attempts to attack the cows of Farmer Godet, peacefully grazing in the fields!”

Thundering on, Papa roared, “Tell me, in the name of heaven, what possessed you to pay such a fantastic sum of money for an automobile of such un-streamlined aspect, such rigid suspension that a pencil laid on the road could cause breakage of the spine, such flimsy appearance, with steering of such jerkiness and stubbornness, with a chassis that seems to twist like a pretzel and a roof that flaps the edges in the breeze like a bird allowing great deluges of water and air to enter?”

“Well, Papa,” I answered to him, on my way to the door, “I have read in a sporting magazine, that the M.G. TC is now considered to be a classic in the U.S. of A., sometimes selling for more than its original cost price.”

“Ah, well, the Americans!”

It was possible to detect a small sigh of relief from him when we arrived safely at our front door

Ed’s note: This article was originally published in April 1959 in Sports Car Illustrated which ran from 1955 to 1961 and then became Car and Driver.

Car and Driver has a claimed circulation of 1.23 million and is owned by Hearst Magazines. It is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

My grateful thanks goes to Eric Worpe for bringing this delightfully humorous article to my attention and to Tom Wilson in the US for helping to secure permission to reprint it. In fact, without Tom’s help, I don’t think we would have been granted permission. I would also like to thank Laurie Feigenbaum of Hearst Magazine Media Inc. for granting permission to publish in TTT 2.

We have tried to faithfully reproduce the article, bearing in mind the original different font and different page size.

XPAG rear oil seal again

My friendly MOT tester looked censoriously at the growing oil patch deposited by my TC on his clean tiled floor and as he spread sawdust over the offending pool, commented that new regulations limit the acceptable pool size from leakage to 75mm dia. after 5 minutes of running the engine. I made a mental note of making sure the engine oil was not too hot before my next MOT.

Now that most T -Types are cherished and kept in a garage, the need for an inbuilt oil-spray chassis preservation facility is almost redundant. So, mindful of the rear engine oil seal kits available for the XPAG, I relished the chance to help a friend renew his existing oil seal and learn about any issues.

The existing oil seal had been reasonably effective for many thousands of miles even without a “speedisleeve”; however, we decided to upgrade the rear seal during the course of an internal engine inspection/partial rebuild. This inspection was brought about by the engine consuming some water due to the splash created by the front wheel being driven into a deep rain filled pothole. The ensuing steam produced in No.3 cylinder blew the head gasket and did a great job of cleaning the top of the piston.

A new “we’ve carefully selected this one” oil seal was purchased from the supplier of the original kit and, as advised, we also decided to use a 1mm spacer between the housing and the oil seal to help reposition the lip of the new seal inwards from the edge of the crankshaft’s flange. Looking at the setup certainly revealed that the seal’s lip would be running very close to the chamfer on the crank flange’s edge.

The new seal lasted a few hundred miles before a referral to a hospital urologist was evident. After dismantling the engine yet again, the seal appeared sound, if not a little stiff. However, we then noticed the absence of any “garter spring”; this helps maintain pressure of the lip on the crank’s flange. A further revelation concerned the profile of the seal’s lip. Without the garter spring, the contact point of the lip sits at the very edge of the oil seal’s profile and consequently could run on the chamfer of the crank’s flange, (see Fig. 1). Adding a garter spring modifies the profile of the seal’s lip by moving the contact point away from the edge of the seal and consequently away from the chamfer on the crank’s flange, (see Fig. 2).

Searches for a replacement imperial oil seal with a garter spring, only turned up a Nitrile 3.75” x 4.75” x 0.375” seal. However, the maximum rated peripheral velocity for Nitrile is only 14 m/sec. which roughly corresponds to 3,000 rpm and this value is probably reduced at higher temperatures.

The alternative Viton seal would be rated at 40 m/sec. but couldn’t be found in the imperial sized seal we thought we needed. Then the penny dropped, thanks to an article from the Y Register; an almost equivalent Metric seal 95 x 120 x 12 mm could be used. The crank’s flange is actually metric at 95 mm dia. which is 3.74”, some 10 thou. under the 3.75” of the imperial seal. The housing for the imperial seal is 4.75” in dia. which is 120.65 mm, some 25 thou. greater in dia. than the 120 mm dia. of the metric seal. However, the width of the metric seal is 12 mm – over 2 mm wider than the 0.375” (9.52 mm) of the imperial seal. This meant a machining operation to remove over 2 mm. from the face of the flywheel adjacent to the seal (see photo 1.)

Photo 1 – removing over 2 mm. from the face of the flywheel adjacent to the seal.

Unfortunately, such an operation would also remove the counter-bored section of the flywheel that helps locate the crank’s flange. Not an ideal  situation, although I was able to leave a thin lip about 1.3 mm thick and 2 mm. high around the edge that helped location and could be accommodated within the oil seal. The crank/flywheel dowel pins and bolts will now have to take on some additional duty of location. We decided to retain the 1 mm spacer and fit a “speedisleeve”, despite the crank’s flange being smooth, as we hoped it would provide a small extension over the chamfer on the crank’s flange.

The outer diameter of the seal was secured in the slightly oversized housing by a heavy-duty sealant.

As the lip of the seal faces forwards, there’s some concern that sliding the seal over the edge of the “speedisleeve” might damage the seal’s lip; this can be resolved by using a tube-like guide made from a thin plastic sheet to cover the “speedisleeve’s” edge. Don’t forget to lightly lubricate the “speedisleeve” with some Vaseline.

There are two widths of 95 mm “speedisleeve”, 8.74 mm and 21 mm – the 8.74 mm. wide version is suitable and is inserted with the “speedisleeve’s” detachable rim, trailing behind for this particular application. The “speedisleeve” is initially forced on to the crank’s flange using a wooden buffer against the rolled-up edge of the “speedisleeve”. This is then lightly tapped with a hammer, ensuring it goes on square. The final location of the “speedisleeve’s” leading edge just covering the chamfer needs the “application cup” to engage the underside of the rolled-up edge, which again is lightly tapped. The rolled-up edge is then cut off along its fault line with a sharp blade, not an easy task. The exposed edge of the “speedisleeve” should then be de-burred with some emery cloth or a needle file.

With all the procedures faithfully carried out, we were disappointed to observe that oil still dripped from the bell-housing, but at a much reduced rate of one small drop every 15 seconds when hot. 20 odd drops during the MOT test specified time might just be acceptable, but won’t do anything to encourage the kindly disposition of the tester. Bring some sawdust just in case.

Viton oil seal……95 x 120 x 12 mm. R21/SC Viton. at £17.34

Speedisleeve….95 mm. SKF CR99374 from £33, try Barnwell.

Heavy duty sealant…..Victor Reinz Reinzosil,  Available from e-bay at less than £5 for slightly out of date 300ml tube.

However, the drip rate soon started to increase, so out came the engine again and on loosening the two socket cap screws clamping the two halves of the seal’s housing together, the seal was found to be not that secure. Whilst we recognised that the imperial housing was about 25 thou. greater in diameter than the metric oil seal, we assumed that laying a generous fillet of sealant in the housing would secure the seal. It seems the seal should be physically clamped by being an interference fit in the housing, otherwise a loose fit could result in an offset of the seal’s axis and any induced movement of the seal could degrade the effectiveness of the sealant.

A cunning plan was hatched to introduce a 12 thou. shim around the periphery of the seal, which would set up a similar interference fit as found with the imperial seal when the housing was clamped together. This revealed a new problem due to the open end of the seal being located in the housing, whilst the robust closed end was almost 4 mm proud of the housing. The interference pressure on the open end of the seal from clamping the two halves of the housing tended to squeeze the seal out of the housing (see Fig. 3), somewhat reducing our confidence in how the seal is retained.

This rather worrying development caused us to re-consider how we might secure the seal; two decisions were made. (1) To use a thinner shim made from two 6 thou. strips of “wet and dry” abrasive paper stuck to each half of the housing with super glue and (2) To make up a retaining disk that would hold the seal in place, the disk to be bolted to the housing by 6 M5 countersunk screws, positioned to avoid the housing’s clamping fixture, (see photo 2 below).

The disk was cut out from hard aluminium 4mm sheet and then machined on a lathe, (see photo 3).

Photo 3 – machining the disc which had been cut out of hard 4mm aluminium sheet.

The inner dia. was shaped to cup the outer edge of the sleeve and assembled with a fillet of sealant in the cup, (see Fig.4 previously shown alongside Fig. 3). The additional projection of the disk meant further machining of the flywheel to give clearance.

After the engine was reinstalled and the oil pump primed, we ran the engine until its operating temperature was achieved, what a relief when there were no signs of leakage. After the bonnet, ramp plate, floor boards and seats were put back, the engine was run again but this time a steady drip every 22 seconds developed. We were banking on being third time lucky as we felt all the possible issues had now been addressed, such as selecting the Viton oil seal with a garter spring, using a spacer and speedisleeve and fitting a retaining/sealing support.

As you can imagine we felt bewildered, where have we gone wrong? There are conflicting views on the oil seal conversion, so what are the variables that decides its effectiveness? Others have been successful with some kits, often mentioning attention to detail.

Could the oil held back by the oil seal, overload the “bleed hole” that allows oil to drain back into the sump? Such an overload, caused by a worn rear main bearing, may be too much for the oil seal.

The latest offering for the oil seal is based on a graphite loaded PTFE version, which is capable of handling 12,000 rpm.

At 12,000 rpm, oil leaking from the rear oil seal would be the least of your problems!

Eric Worpe


After the above whimsical aside we had hoped to forget things, but the frustration from the poor outcome encouraged further investigation. We discovered that the oil seal housings fail to replicate the Archimedes scroll facility previously provided by the Mazak “oil thrower”. The reason being the need to allow some oil to lubricate the oil seal. As if that was ever going to be a problem!

Looking up specifications on oil seals, we found that SKF have taken over Chicago Rawhide and offer a 223 page technical brochure in which we learnt that PTFE seals can tolerate dry running but need a hard surface to run on such as a “speedisleeve”. Given that the Archimedes scroll, even on its best behaviour, still allows some oil through and this combined with the tolerance of PTFE seals to run dry, the retention of the full Archimedes scroll facility now looks promising. This would need only a small change in the design of the seal’s upper housing.    

The second area of concern is the location of the bleed hole that allows oil to drain from the cavity formed by the seal and its housing into the trough in the rear main bearing cap, down the tube and into the sump. This 3/16” dia, hole is pitched just above the seal as opposed to being adjacent the seal. This means that when static, the lower part of the seal sits in an oil bath. However, more concerning is the dynamic situation. The crank’s flange sits between 1 and 2 mm away from the housing, so what effect has the whirring flange, so near the bleed hole entrance, on the ability of the bleed hole to drain away any oil? We also wondered if the seal could be overloaded by the whirring flange centrifuging oil into the chamber formed within the seal itself.

Unfortunately, the location of the bleed hole is constrained by the dimensions of the rear main bearing cap Fig. 5, so improving this issue is unlikely. Perhaps future housings for PTFE seals could reintroduce the Archimedes scroll.

Paul Ireland compares his two M.G.s

I am fortunate to own two classic MGs. People often ask me which I would keep if I had to sell one. These are very different cars and both are well used, touring in the UK and Europe. They were also used as the testbeds for the recommendations in my book Classic Engines, Modern Fuel – the Problems, the Solutions ( So, which would I prefer to keep?


Approximately 2000 RV8s were built between 1992 and 1994. Rover’s aim was to keep the MG brand live. The RV8 is based on a modified MGB heritage body shell fitted with the Rover V8 engine. Some 85% of the production was sold in Japan but these cars have started to appear on the UK market. Mine is a low mileage Japanese import.  Approximately 10,000 TCs were built between 1945 and 1949. Mine is one of the last off the production line.   The TC was built during a time of austerity after the war. It is basically a pre-war MG TB with a modified suspension. The reason?  Apparently, the factory was unable to source phosphor bronze for the sliding trunnions.

The RV8 is a poor man’s Aston Martin. A very fast, smooth and comfortable two-seater tourer. There are not enough “o’s” in smooth to describe the RV8.

The TC is the archetypal two-seater sports car. A super car of its day. Un-modified road cars were often raced on the track or trialled on hill climbs. This was the car that introduced two-seater British sports cars into the USA in the late 1940s.

Engine and Performance



Capacity:3,950 cc.Capacity:1,250 cc.
Cylinders:8 in 90 degree Vee formation.Cylinders:4 in-line.
Fuel system:Lucas multi-point fuel injection.Fuel system:Twin 1 ¼” SU.
Max. power:192 BHP @ 4,750 rpm.Max. power:54 BHP @ 5,200 rpm.
Max. torque:235 ft lb @ 3,200 rpm.Max. torque:64 ft lb @ 2,600 rpm.
Performance:0-60 mph (100 kph) 5.9 seconds.Performance:0-60 mph (100 kph) 18.5 seconds.
Max speed :135 mph (230 kph).Max speed :78 mph (126 kph).
Weight:2822 lbs Gross weight.Weight:1847 lbs Gross weight.
BHP / Ton:152 BPB / ton.BHP / Ton:66 BHP / ton.
Gears:5 forward gearsGears:4 forward gears
Gearing:28.97 mph / 1000 rpm in 5thGearing:14.7 mph / 1000 rpm in 4th

Both the RV8 and TC engines have the reputation for being robust. They have flat torque curves and rev freely. They accelerate well over the rev range and can be driven without excessive gear changes. 1st to 4th gear ratios are well suited to driving on country roads. Both have a throaty exhaust note.

In its standard configuration, the RV8 has a flat spot around 2,500 rpm. This can be fixed along with improving fuel consumption by fitting a Tornedo engine management chip. (

The RV8 is very fast. Floor the accelerator at 40 mph in 3rd gear and before you can take a breath, the speedo has rocketed up to 85 mph. Frighteningly, the fuel gauge drops just as fast. Fortunately, this is mainly due to the petrol sloshing to the back of the tank rather than just increased fuel consumption. Unlike the Starship Enterprise, the RV8 is not fitted with inertial dampers.

The TC is much slower than the RV8. However, with its flat windscreen and low-cut doors, the TC “feels” much faster than it is. For example, 30 mph in a TC is more like 60 mph in the RV8. This makes the TC’s “perceived” acceleration and top speed seem like that of the RV8. Hence it has been given a similar mark.

The RV8 is an effortless cruiser needing only 2,500 rpm for 72 mph. With its hood down and windows wound-up, wind levels and noise are acceptable, making 65 – 70 mph a reasonable cruising speed. The TC was built before motorways. While the top gear ratio of 14.7 mph / 1000 rpm is perfect for driving on A, B and C class roads, 3,500 rpm gives a rather low cruising speed of 51 mph. Many owners have now fitted 5 speed gearboxes ( This This can be chosen to give virtually the same 1 to 4 ratios as the standard box. It does not change the general feel of the car. The 18 mph / 1000 rpm in 5th gear gives a more acceptable cruising speed of 60 mph at 3,200 rpm. Without the hood or side-panels fitted, driving a TC at this speed is a very windy experience. A cruising speed of 55 mph is far more comfortable. This is also fast enough that you do not get passing lorries blowing you off the road.

If the RV8 is driven gently it is possible to get 30 mpg. However, fuel consumption is very “right foot” dependent. 18 mpg is easy to achieve. This coupled with a measly 11 gallon (51 Litre) fuel tank makes regular filling stops a necessity. When touring, this usually means every 200 miles or so. This is why the fuel gauge is the most important instrument.

In contrast the TC has a 13 ½ gallon (61 Litre) fuel tank. It will regularly return 35 mpg or more on trips, giving a range of nearly 500 miles. This is why a fuel gauge on the TC is less important.




Both cars have firm suspension that is not harsh. The ride is comfortable on even Britain’s, potholed roads. Their chassis are robust and give the driver plenty of feedback through the seat of their pants.

Unlike modern cars, the RV8 does not have ultra-low-profile tyres. While the 65% ratio radial tyres give good grip, they do not deliver the pin sharp steering of a modern car. They do however give a more comfortable ride and you are less likely to curb the attractive alloy wheels. The back axle is not referred to as “live” for no reason. Hit a bump when cornering hard and the back end will jump out of line. You also need to be very careful with your right foot! Too much enthusiasm and the back-end will try to overtake the front. Unlike the TC this is more dramatic but can be corrected providing you act quickly.

The RV8’s steering is very heavy at slow speeds, a weight training course before driving one is recommended. An alternative is to have power assisted steering fitted (Contact John Cummings via the RV8 Register). This transforms the car at slow speed without removing any of the feel from the steering.

The RV8’s brakes work well despite having drums rather than disks fitted at the rear. They are progressive and well weighted. The handbrake is conveniently located and works well.

The narrow cross-ply tyres of the TC offer about as much grip as a duck has on ice. Mine is fitted with Blockley tyres ( which, despite their looks, grip well in all conditions. However, push a TC and the back end will break away. For example, 10 mph in the wet on a roundabout. The TC “speaks to you” and gives you plenty of notice before it starts to slide. When the back-end does go, it is gradual and with almost perfect front to rear weight distribution, the TC handles flawlessly. Body roll is minimal despite the lack of anti-roll bars.

The worm and peg steering box on the TC is legendary. This coupled with spring loaded track rod ends and drag links make the TC’s steering like no modern car. You do not so much as steer a TC, but proceed down the road in a direction mutually agreed by the car and driver. With its low geared steering, the TC is a delight to drive on winding country roads (when cornering, the steering is at one end of its play). More of a challenge, is trying to keep the TC in a straight line on dual carriageways or motorways.

The TC’s brakes work well. When setup correctly, there is minimal pedal travel. Once engaged, there is virtually no pedal movement, the harder you press, the faster the car stops. You do need to take care as the drum brakes can fade on long, steep descents. The fly-off handbrake is fantastic. You can lock the rear wheels with ease. Early MGs were fitted with cable brakes front and rear. The TC’s handbrake is the remnants of the earlier rear cable brake arrangement. The fly-off handbrake makes rapid hill starts a doddle. You can put the car in first gear and take the handbrake off at the same time – single handed.




Both cars have comfortable driving positions and good visibility with the hoods both up and down.

The RV8’s driving position is reclined, the small steering wheel, short throw gear stick and hand brake all conveniently located. There is room for the taller driver but you sit high with the top windscreen rail in your forward vision. This is not a problem with the hood down but can be claustrophobic with the hood up. The pedals are offset to the right. In practice this does not cause any problems. The seats offer good lateral support. The Japanese cars are fitted with air-conditioning which significantly reduces the passenger foot-well space.

The clear white on black rev-counter, speedo and all-important fuel gauge are in the driver’s direct line of vision. The warning lights are mounted low on the centre console and very hard to see, especially with the hood down.

In the TC you sit in an upright position with the large steering wheel close to you. It is comfortable to drive as long as you do not try to cross your hands when steering.  The short throw gear stick and handbrake are well situated. Getting in via the rear-opening “suicide doors” is an art for both passenger and more so the driver.

With a single seat back, lateral support is non-existent (not that the TC can produce much cornering force). It is worth briefing new passengers with the use of the grab handle, especially on left hand corners. Trying to steer a TC while fending off your passenger with your left elbow is not easy. On right hand corners, the low-cut doors and the instinct for self-preservation encourages the passenger to use the grab handle. Fortunately, I have not had one fall out yet.

Foot space for the driver and passenger is excellent. Finding somewhere comfortable for the driver’s left foot can prove difficult. I usually twist mine on its side and wedge it between the tunnel and clutch pedal. I have quite small feet.

The brown on green instruments are reasonably clear. Those most needed by the driver, the rev-counter, oil pressure gauge and optional temperature gauge are clearly visible. The observant reader will spot the speedo is on the passenger side. This is a significant benefit on organised runs. The navigator does not have to keep asking the driver how many miles to the next way-point. Unfortunately, it makes driving on roads peppered with speed cameras a challenge. Both the rev-counter and speedo are marvels of clockwork engineering. The needles move up and down in “steps” and their readings lag reality by about ½ second. Knowing your exact speed is based on inspired guesswork. If stopped by the police, I am not sure how well a plea of “officer I was only doing between 2,100 and 2,250 rpm” would be accepted.

The one and only “driver’s aid” in the TC is a light on the dash. When switched on, it illuminates between 15 – 30 mph. I don’t use mine.

The TC is not fitted with a fuel gauge. It has a 2 ½ gallon warning light in front of the driver. This coupled with the trip meter and dip-stick are perfectly adequate given its long range.

Luggage Space



Two-seater sports cars have never been known for their luggage carrying capacity. Both the RV8 and TC do not let the side down.

Internal stowage in both cars is limited. The RV8 has a small lockable glovebox and two seat pockets behind the front seats. The TC has two door pockets. The pockets in both cars are really only suitable for maps or navigation instructions.

Although the RV8 has a generous but shallow boot, it is mostly occupied by the spare wheel (top photo). A small aircraft style suitcase will fit, leaving only sufficient room for a soft bag and a few items “stuffed into the gaps”.

The RV8 also has a space behind the seats, this is small and only practical for coats or other small items. Matters can be improved significantly if you are prepared to follow the example of modern cars and replace the RV8’s spare wheel with a tin of emergency  tyre  repair, such  as  Tyreweld (bottom photo).

For its luggage, the TC has a reasonable space behind the seats. Like the RV8, this will only take a small case and soft bag. Fitting a low-level luggage rack, stocked by NTG Motor Services in Ipswich dramatically increases the amount of luggage you can carry. With the spare wheel removed and low-level rack, both the RV8 and TC can easily manage sufficient luggage and camping equipment for two people for a trip to the Classic Le Mans.



Weather proofing

Both cars are provided with a half-tonneau that covers the hood and area to the rear of the seats. While these look very smart, they do not give any significant practical benefit. I rarely use mine in either car.

More useful are the full tonneau covers. These are easy to fit on both cars and will keep out the sticky hands of interested children. The RV8’s tonneau has been given a lower mark than that of the TC for two reasons. Firstly, there are no “pockets” for the headrests which means the seats have to be tilted forward before fitting the cover. Secondly and more importantly, it is not totally waterproof.



The TC’s full tonneau (with a cane used to “lift” the centre to stop water running through the zip) is the best way to keep the car dry in wet conditions. While the RV8’s cover is waterproof, water can run in through the front windscreen air vents. A TC can be left with confidence in all weather conditions with its tonneau fitted. Should it look like rain, it is better to put up the RV8’s hood.

An added bonus with both cars is the tonneau can be unzipped down the middle allowing the car to be driven with the passenger side covered. A real benefit when travelling alone.

The hoods on both cars are very easy and quick to put up, they are held by two fastenings on the windscreen. The RV8’s hood is then secured with 6 additional push on fastenings, the TC’s with two. Putting the hoods down is only a little more complicated as they need to be carefully folded to avoid trapping them in the hood frame.

The “ancillaries” are more complicated and time consuming to fit. The rear window on the RV8 needs to be zipped in. This is a fiddly process, especially in the rain. The TC needs to have 4 canvas side panels fitted. While slotting these in and tightening the screws is very easy, extracting them from the stowage bin behind the front seats is not.

More difficult is replacing the TC’s side frames in their stowage box. This is like a Christmas cracker puzzle! If my calculations are correct, there are 192 different ways the side panels can be stored. They only fit ONE way.

The hood on the RV8 is excellent. I have used it at 85 mph in heavy rain in France and not a drop of water has come in. The air-conditioning on the Japanese cars can be used to stop any condensation on the windows. The rear window can be partially unzipped to provide additional ventilation.

The TC is a different matter. While the hood will keep you dry, the front side panels can “bellow out” at higher speeds allowing the “odd drop” of rain to get in. The inside of the car can get very damp. It is advisable for the driver to keep a cloth close to hand. They can use this to wipe the insides of the windows which mist up. It can get very stuffy. However, it is possible to remove one or more of the side panels to encourage the air flow, without getting too much rain in the car.

As standard the TC had no indicators, relying instead on driver hand-signals. The front side panels have flaps for this purpose. Trying to steer the car while unclipping the side panel flap and sticking your hand out is not easy. As most modern drivers probably do not know the meaning of hand signals, it is advisable to fit flashing indicators to a TC, avoiding this problem.

The heater on the RV8 is good. The massive V8 engine generates a lot of heat. You can always keep warm in the car even with the hood down. The downside is that the foot-wells can get rather hot. Even with the Japanese cars this is difficult to address. The only use for the air-conditioning with the hood down is to increase fuel consumption.

The TC was built before the era of central heating, GORE-TEX and warm fleece clothing, people were much tougher. The TC is not fitted with a heater. I have driven it with the hood down in sub-zero temperatures and kept perfectly warm, thanks to my ski suit. However, the controls were somewhat difficult to operate with the thick ski gloves. With the hood up the TC’s cabin is quite “toasty”.


While these are very different cars, they both scored an excellent 84% in the above evaluation. They are cars for the enthusiastic driver. If driven with respect they are guaranteed to put a huge smile on your face. After all, they are both MGs. While neither car is perfect, their minor issues do not lessen driver enjoyment they are what give both of them their special character.

The question. Which one to choose?

The head says the RV8. This is a very capable modern car, missing only those annoying “driver aids”. It is fast and comfortable yet still oozes a classic car character. Spares are mainly easy to find, depreciation non-existent, running costs very reasonable (providing you are not too heavy with your right foot). What is there not to like?

The heart says the TC. This is an astoundingly attractive and practical car. While it looks like something from the 1930s it drives like a 1960s car. It certainly turns heads. Spares are very easy to source. Like the RV8, depreciation is zero. An added benefit, it is very easy to maintain. Unlike modern cars, it has an engine you can see.

I think I will keep them both.

Paul Ireland

Editor’s note:

Paul has made reference to his book Classic Engines, Modern Fuel – the Problems, the Solutions ( at the start of this article and he has decided to use the royalties from the book to support children’s education in Tanzania. He has been communicating with a person in Tanzania, who has direct contact with a rural village there and through this source he has been finding out what the teachers and their pupils need to support education. Their list is modest; such items as pencils, rubbers, pencil sharpeners, books, a bag to put them in – things which many of us would take for granted, but which would make a huge difference to their learning opportunities.

If you buy a copy of the book, you will be contributing in a small way towards this project. Any additional money you can give will make a tangible difference. The link that goes into a little more detail and tells you how to make a donation is at

The book bags are going to be made by the women in the village and Paul sent out money to buy two sewing machines. These were bought in Tanzania to save the cost of carriage from the UK. Paul was expecting to see pictures of nice shiny sewing machines, but when he received the photos, they were foot treadle models – far more practical as there are frequent power interruptions!


The 97th International Oliver Arkell day has recently passed us by; it was on 11th August 2020.

This celebrated the occasion in 1923 when Oliver purchased directly from Cecil Kimber at the Queen St. Oxford showrooms, his Raworth-bodied Morris Garages Super Sports registered FC 5855, the earliest properly documented sale of an M.G.

The six cars carrying Raworth coachwork on specially modified Morris Cowley chassis were considered by Cec Cousins, who was responsible for building them at the time, to be the first sports cars of the M.G. marque.

Cousins, who died in 1975 spent a lifetime at M.G. He would have given Wilson McComb plenty of accounts of the early days at the various Oxford premises and fortunately for us, McComb got them down in his book The Story of the M.G. Sports Car, first published in 1972.

With the Centenary of M.G. approaching in 2023 the debate as to whether it should be celebrated in 2024 or 2025 seems to have abated. However, there are still some who are in the 2025 camp with “Old Number One”. To quote from a recent posting by Keith Herkes on the MMM forum:

The inscription in “Combat” by Barrie Lyndon, “To Wilf, my first passenger in my first MG, from Kim, Christmas 1933”, has for many years fuelled the myth that FC 7900, now known as Old Number One, was “the first MG”.

The car was a “special MG” built for Cecil Kimber by Morris Garages and registered at the Oxford Records Office to “Kimber Cecil, Woodstock Rd, Oxford, Morris Cowley Sports Grey 11.9 HP on 27/3/25”.

So, it’s safe to deduce that this was CK’s first M.G. and not “the first MG”.

If further corroboration of the 1923 date were needed, The M.G. SALESMAN’S HANDBOOK, issued in January 1928, which contained a personal message from Kimber, states that:

“…. the M.G. Sports Cars were first introduced in 1923….”

Thanks must go for help in compiling this short article to Chris Keevill, Editor, The Early M.G. Society, Keith Herkes, member, The Early M.G. Society, and Malcolm Robertson Editor, The Pre-war M.G. Register of Australia, for posting the announcement of the 97th International Oliver Arkell day on the Register’s Facebook Group (and this ditty …)

Although your town is all locked down,
There’s good reason to be jolly,
Fill your glass with Speckled Hen,
And drink a toast to Olly.

A TA on The Isle of Man

When John James asked me to pen an article regarding the restoration of my MG TA (chassis number TA0732, registration number RD 9263), I was a little hesitant as I wasn’t sure where to start.  Having reflected, I think that the place to start is with me as that will put the story into some sort of context. 

I am a sixty-one-year-old recently retired solicitor.  While the law provided me with a living and the ability to indulge my hobbies, it was not a profession that gave me very much satisfaction.  What has always interested me, since a small boy, is old cars.  My first exposure to these was my uncle’s 1937 Riley Kestrel-Sprite. This was a car that, as a three-year-old, I thought wonderful; in fact, I still do.  The beautiful lines of the six-light body; the magical sound of the whining pre-selector gearbox and the enigmatic tick of the chronometric speedometer and rev. counter will never be forgotten.  Every Saturday I would pester my father to go to my uncle’s to “see the Riley”.  Both my father and uncle were very kind and quite happy to encourage my interest.  It is because of them that I have had a life-long love for things mechanical and making things.

The first car I restored, with much help from my father and friends, was a 1934 Riley Kestrel It was a complete basket case and without the assistance of my friend Ken Woodham, a gifted engineer and woodworker, it would still be a heap in the garage.

Subsequently, I restored a 1965 Riley Elf and a 1972 Triumph GT6 to show standard. 

Andrew’s first restoration, a 1934 Riley Kestrel.

After the GT6 was finished in 2013 I was without a project: I knew I needed something to keep me sane.  What I would have loved to restore is a Riley Imp, the two-seater version of the Kestrel.  Imps are, however, very rare, very expensive and I have never seen one advertised for restoration.  If I could not restore an Imp, what would be the next best thing? How about the MG equivalent to an Imp?  I googled “1936 MG for sale” and what came up first was an MG TA advertised by a dealer in New York.  From the pictures it seemed to fit the bill in that it was in awful conditiofvn, but largely complete.  What really intrigued me, though, was the fact that the car still had its 1969 tax disc and English number plates.  I telephoned the seller who informed me that he had bought the TA from “an old English guy” who knew he would never get around to restoring it.  After some haggling on price, the car was despatched and it arrived in England in January 2014.

Before I started to strip the TA, I contacted Mike Worthington-Williams at The Automobile to enquire whether he could suggest any organisations which I might contact to obtain historical information concerning the TA.  He very helpfully suggested that I contact an organisation called The Kithead Trust which holds many of the paper registration records of the various Local Authorities which were responsible for vehicle registration pre-DVLA.  The Kithead Trust doesn’t hold all the paper records, as some were destroyed before the Trust could acquire them, but they did have the records for my car. 

These revealed that the car was first registered in Reading on 19 January 1937; the supplying dealer was Julians and the first owner was a Mr H E M Kingdom who lived at 80 Worthing Road, Basingstoke.  The information from the Kithead Trust, together with the continuation logbook issued in the mid-fifties, not forgetting the 1969 tax disc, was the sum total of the history which I ever thought I would have for the car, but I was wrong. 

One Sunday evening I picked up the IPAD of ‘her indoors’ (i.e. Linda my other half) and idly inserted the registration number of the TA in google.  I was somewhat amazed to see that an image of my car competing in the Edinburgh Trial of 1938 appeared.  The next day I contacted the National Motor Museum and ordered a copy of the photo.  When I received it a few days later there was a handwritten caption on the back confirming that the picture had been taken on either the 3rd or the 4th of June 1938 at Addleston Shiels, Hawick and the driver was H E M Kingdom.

TA0732 competing in the 1938 Edinburgh Trial

I was delighted to discover that my TA had trials history, but there was another surprise in store.  Some months later, I was reading an erudite article in The Riley Register magazine by a gentleman whose Riley had been a participant in the 1938 Edinburgh Trial.  A picture of his car was reproduced in the article and it was quite uncanny: the photo had been taken in precisely the same spot as the one of TA0732, kindly sent to me by The National Motor Museum.  Even some of the bystanders in the Riley photo were in my photo. 

Enthused by this new-found history, I contacted Jeremy Bennett, who wrote the article for the Register magazine and explained to him that my M.G. had also been a participant in the same trial as his Riley.  Jeremy, it turned out, is a leading light in The Motorcycling Club, which organised and continues to organise various trials events, including The Land’s End Trial.  He very kindly went to the trouble of sending to me photocopies of the programme for the 1937 ‘Land’s End’, together with the Instructions for Competitors and the results: it all made for fascinating reading, especially to learn the H E M Kingdom won a Silver Medal for his efforts.

In due course the TA was stripped so its condition could be assessed.  The engine was matching numbers and didn’t look too bad, although I didn’t bother trying to start it.  The gearbox looked OK and all gears could be selected.  The back axle was alright, but the half shafts were both stripped.  Unfortunately, there was not one piece of woodwork that I could save; the woodworm had done their work well.  The only pieces of steelwork which I could re-use were the bonnet, which was pretty much perfect and the front wings. Although the latter were a bit frilly in places, my friend Ean managed to save them.  To my amazement, the chassis was in excellent condition and only needed to be cleaned, shotblasted and painted. 

The body tub of TA0732 as removed.

The cleaned, shotblasted and painted chassis, sitting on axle stands in the garage.

The first job that I tackled was the front axle.  It was so badly caked in mud, presumably as a result of its mud-plugging activities, that I originally thought that the axle forging was circular; it was only once I had cleaned it that I could see it was of H section.  The kingpins were badly worn as one would expect, but the nice folk at NTG supplied a new set which was fitted to the crack tested stub axles.  The front springs were re-usable after some light fettling and it was a lovely feeling to attach the springs to the new trunnions in their housings and to the front anchor pins. 

The front wheels were checked, re-spoked and enamelled by James Wheeldon in Salisbury.  He very kindly also agreed to swap the 16” rear wheels for 19” wheels, suitable for an early TA.  This made my day as I had no wish to retain the small rear wheels which don’t look quite right to my eye. 

I then turned my attention to the rear axle.  NTG supplied replacement half shafts and modern seals and Barry Walker supplied a complete set of new old stock Ransome and Marles bearings.  I very much enjoyed setting up the rear axle with the help of my friend Ken.  Once painted and attached to new springs and the correct Luvax dampers remanufactured by Vintage and Classic Shock Absorbers the car was on its feet, so to speak.

The brakes were overhauled and Past Parts in East Anglia bored the brake cylinders and inserted stainless steel sleeves: they were returned quickly and looking like new.  The handbrake assembly was useless.  There was so much play in it that the worn pawl could easily be overridden.  Because of the less than wonderful design of the handbrake unit I needed to cut the shaft and have my friend Brian who runs a local engineering company make new bearings for the handbrake lever and the handbrake shaft.  The handbrake lever was re-chromed by Derby Plating and it was then fitted with a new pawl and welded the two halves of the shaft welded back. 

The costs to this point in the project were high, but I would soon learn that they would become much higher once I turned my attention to the engine.

Hamlins in Bridgewater had previously done some work on my Riley engine and I was very happy to get them to do the necessary work on the TA engine.  The first thing I asked them to do was to look at the cylinder head.  As I had feared, it was cracked, but Hamlins told me that it held pressure and their advice was to use it.  As they said, it had probably been cracked soon after it was sold to the original owner and the succession of subsequent owners had continued to use and enjoy the car.  With some trepidation I took their advice and had the head checked for flatness and new guides and valves fitted.  I did buy from NTG a second cylinder head that I was assured is uncracked, just so that I do have a back-up if the cracked head fails in service. 

I sent the carburetters to Burlen Fuel Systems who did their usual lovely job of rebuilding them.  Although not cheap, I have used them for rebuilds on all my projects and their restored carburetters have always worked perfectly straight out of the box.

A new water pump and camshaft was supplied by NTG. 

Hamlins determined that the block was fine and reported that it had never even been rebored or skimmed.   Unfortunately, the crank was badly cracked and was scrap.  (It is now mounted on a piece of mahogany and is used as a door stop). Mike at NTG didn’t have a replacement crank, but gave me the number of a chap who he thought had a spare one that he might sell to me.  I rang him out of the blue, but he informed me that he had sold it to a friend some time ago, although he doubted that his friend would ever use it.  He very kindly gave me the number for his friend and again I rang a complete stranger and explained my situation.  He concluded that he would be unlikely to use the crank and as my need was probably greater than his, he agreed to part with it for a modest sum.  He also very kindly agreed to reimburse me half the cost of the crank if Hamlins determined that it was cracked. 

Fortunately, Hamlins pronounced that the crank was usable and it is in the engine as I write.  The reason why I recount this tale of the crankshaft in some detail is to highlight the kindness of strangers, without whom I would have been stuck.  Once returned from Hamlins, the engine was painted, mated to the gearbox and installed by the local motor engineer Orry Teare and me; Orry also corrected my schoolboy errors with the wiring.

The gearbox required new seals and bearings only; this was a bonus after my experience with the engine.  Raysons   in Yeovil re-cored the radiator efficiently and at reasonable cost.

I couldn’t really put the bodywork off any longer.  The first pieces of the body that I tackled were the ramp and luggage compartment floor. 

The parts that I ordered from NTG went together well and, flushed with minor success, I ordered the rear body panels and the sidescreen compartment components.  Again, all seemed to proceed to plan.  However, when I tried to fit the side rails, rear door pillars to the parts already installed, they didn’t line up.  I was extremely concerned, but found that if I loosened all the screws and relieved the joints at the top of the rear door pillars and the elbows, the parts would fit quite snugly. 

I’m sure that an experienced body builder would have enjoyed the experience of building the body, but never having done it before, I found it quite stressful.  At the back of my mind was the worry that if I couldn’t get everything to fit and look right, I would have wasted a great deal of money and wouldn’t feel like having another attempt.  I admit to being very fortunate in having a first-class joiner who lives near me who on a couple of occasions popped around to help me and get me back on track: thank you Barry. 

The fitting of the steel panels I found easier than the woodwork and forming the shapes around the bottom rails and the front pillars was very satisfying.  The doors were purchased as complete units from NTG and fitted into the door apertures perfectly.  NTG supplied the scuttle top as the original was in a shocking state and although I tried to weld it, my friend Ean, who has always painted my cars, pronounced it scrap: he was right to do so.  With Ean’s help, the scuttle was fitted with a minimum of drama.

The same could not be said of the rear inner wheel arches.  Although I managed to fit one satisfactorily, the other I misaligned, but didn’t discover this until I had secured it by about thirty one-inch annular groove nails.  My attempts at getting these out proved fruitless, but Barry the joiner came to my rescue.  He seemed to look at the offending nails and they popped out; that’s the difference between an enthusiastic amateur and a professional.

The floors were purchased from NTG and needed a lot of fettling before they would fit, but when they did, I was very pleased with the results.

I had hoped to save much of the upholstery, but having discussed the matter with Brett, my local upholsterer, he didn’t think that there was very much he could do with it. 

We bit the bullet and decided to install new leather seats in the same colour, or as nearly thereto as we could manage, as when the car was new.  Brett thought that he could reuse the seat bases and seat back, but when he had stripped the seats it was clear that the over-enthusiastic wood worm had made inroads into the ply and they would have to be binned.  They were useful as patterns, however, and I very much enjoyed making copies from marine ply.

Brett made a wonderful job of the leatherwork and Linda did an excellent job of dying some calico to the correct shade of burgundy so that Brett would have material to cover the seat back.  I am delighted with Brett’s efforts.  In addition to making the upholstery he made and fitted the coverings for over the inner wheel arches and last but not least made the hood fit beautifully.  The door cards were made by a trimmer as a favour to NTG; they don’t usually make door cards of the colour I needed, but they did a lovely job.  I have not fitted these yet, so fingers crossed that the templates I made for them were correct.  The rest of the trimming was done by Linda and me and we loved doing it.  Trimming is good because you don’t get filthy dirty.

The dashboard was cut out of ply by my nephew, Harry.  He made three because I found it very difficult to get the dash to fit the contours of the scuttle snugly.  I am pleased with the results of my third attempt which Linda varnished with a small household roller.  The finish is just what I wanted: I didn’t want it to look perfect as I don’t think that’s the way it would have looked when it left the factory. 

Vintage Restorations brought the instruments back from the dead and they look wonderful.

As I write, the TA still needs to have its wings, doors, bonnet and hood fitted.  I hope to have the car on the road later this summer.

TA0732 takes in the fresh air out of the garage. This picture was taken before the bulkhead, dashboard and the engine and gearbox were fitted.

It will be apparent from this piece that on many occasions during the course of the TA restoration I have been touched by the generosity of enthusiasts in helping me with advice, parts or encouragement: to all of them I extend a heartfelt Thank You.  I owe particular thanks to my Dad, Linda, Ean, Ken, Orry and Brian and Brett.

Andrew Baker

Ed’s note: I first exchanged e-mails with Andrew back in 2016. If I remember correctly, he had a query about the method of fixing the seats to the floor. There was also a query about the sidescreen box lid and the battery inspection board, which Brian Rainbow was able to answer.

As I write this note (3rd week in August) the Octagon Car Club’s Isle of Man Tour has been postponed, (now 10th – 15th May 2021), so Brian won’t be able to have a good look at Andrew’s rebuilt TA. Andrew is hoping to move back to the mainland soon and when he does, I will have the pleasant task of recovering RD 9263 number plate for him.

The Editor

Welcome to Issue 62 – October 2020.

The nights are well and truly drawing in, here in the UK, as I start to pen this editorial on 13th September.  It usually seems to be the case that the weather and daylight hours are OK here up to the August Bank Holiday.

Thereafter, Autumn (‘The Fall’) creeps up on us to arrive almost overnight; that is, of course, unless we have one of those rare late ‘Indian summers’.  But wait! the ‘Indian summer’ has just arrived and temperatures of 30 deg. C are forecast for Monday 14th.

I was saddened to hear from Sergio Pagano in Italy of the passing of Bill Hentzen. Bill was a leading light in the Tickford Register, owning TB0437, carrying registration mark MG 6450, which he displayed at shows in the US.  The car won ‘Best TA/TB Tickford in the World’ award at GOF 60 in 1995.

As a tribute to Bill, I hope Sergio Pagano won’t mind me quoting from the e-mail he sent me, as follows:

“I am very, very, very sorry to know that Bill is gone. I didn’t know Bill directly, but since 2011 it’s been like I’ve known him for a long time. He drove, helped and supported me during 7 long years of restoration of my MG TB Tickford, with his great knowledge of this car and with great patience, grace and affection. Since then it’s like we’ve known each other for years.

We shared a great passion.

I am very sorry that I have never been able to meet him.  I will always remember Bill’s kindness and gentleness.

Goodbye Bill”

Whilst I am normally a “glass is half full” individual, rather than a “glass is half empty” type, there isn’t much to be cheerful about these days. We are at loggerheads with our European neighbours over BREXIT and notwithstanding whether one is for or against the path the UK Government is currently taking us down, we should all be uniting to fight the dreadful virus which has engulfed us and shows no sign of going away any time soon.

We face an extremely bleak winter with indications that the virus is again taking hold and with unemployment about to increase dramatically by November.

Covid 19 has all but decimated classic car events in 2020. One has to sympathize with Brain Rainbow, who has had to postpone the Octagon Car Club’s trip to the Isle of Man twice (from May 2020  to September 2020) with the latest (hopefully third time lucky!) date of 10th to 15th May 2021.

Talking of events, Christian Bianco is again organizing the annual MGs in the Dolomites event. The dates are 30th May to 2nd June 2021.For further details the website is at

In closing the editorial to this issue, I would like to thank all those members who sent donations in August and the first part of September. I was staggered by the response from all around the world. At the last count, the total was just shy of 1,000 GBP.

I even receive a monthly donation by standing order!


‘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.

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