Rambles Through a Motoring Life By Roger Bateman 250 pages 152 photographs paperback 234 x 156 mm £14.99 + p&p ISBN 978-1-3999-2920-2 Publisher: Roger Bateman
To call Roger Bateman a car enthusiast is an understatement. Completely captivated by motor cars since childhood, this book spans 73 years. An automobile engineering graduate, Roger was Manager of The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu for 16 years and then spent a further 8 years managing Fiennes Restoration, the top pre-war Rolls-Royce & Bentley specialists. In addition he has worked for Firestone, Volkswagen, Audi, Peugeot, Thatcham, Hertz and NG kit cars.
His story is told through his experiences of working in the motor industry, the people he has met and literally hundreds of vehicles. These include his own cars, those that passed through his hands at Fiennes such as the Woolf Barnato Bentley 4.25 litre, the entire Beaulieu museum collection, and driving Nick Mason’s Ferrari F40.
Along the way he has met, and in some cases befriended, dozens of interesting people including (in no particular order or importance) Lord Montagu, Stirling Moss, Paddy Hopkirk, Tony Dron, Nick Baldwin, Ron Dennis, Ross Benson, Sir Thomas Sopwith, Murray Walker, Tiff Needell, Dame Vera Lynn, George Melly, Prince Charles, Nicholas Ridley, Magnus Magnusson, Prince Michael of Kent and Nick Mason.
Roger started driving a Bond Minicar 3-wheeler at age sixteen and has owned and restored 28 classic cars, including designing and building a unique 1935 Bentley 3.5 litre Special. The culmination is the restoration of a second Bond, giving rise to the title of the book. He has owned a 1937 Riley Kestrel for 36 years which has been his daily transport. His story includes brief sorties into classic boats and vintage aeroplanes too.
He has researched the histories of several of these cars and related their fascinating stories in the book. Such as how he tracked down the 1932 Austin Seven he sold in 1969 and repurchased in 2002; or the remarkable tale of his 1947 MG TC, traced from the dealer who sold it new in South Africa to the present day, including how it came home to England in 1986 and became a film star along the way.
In Issue 69 (December 2021) Simon Robinson told us about his parents’ TF1500, registration number 36 EMG. A few years’ after buying it, Simon’s dad proposed to his mum and the TF was used as their wedding car.
Simon proceeded to tell us how, having been “laid up” a few years’ after the wedding, the poor TF had to endure some failed attempts to resuscitate it, until some 45 years after its last drive, a garage was commissioned to restore her to her former glory.
In 2015, 36 EMG emerged from the garage as good as new, but Simon’s dad covered it with a tarpaulin on the drive, using it only occasionally on a very hot summer’s day.
In 2018 Simon finally proposed to his partner of 23 years and his dad said that he could use the car for the wedding. However, due to the Covid outbreak the wedding was postponed until this May.
The ‘then and now’ photos below record the two events, some 58 years’ apart.
Simon says “Excuse the fact the picture has been reversed so it now looks like a left-hand drive but we are still awaiting the professional photos which should be the right angle so we have a matching photo some 58 years on.
We had a videographer that was more obsessed with the car than us. So, we’re looking forward to seeing that.”
Perhapsone of the rarer accessories for an everyday TD !Brian Simm has sent inthese pictures of a TD with a towbar. He says that although a towbar was originally listed as an accessory, this set-up is a1980’s? East German Stema 400kg trailer. Fully wired in for lights, tow bar is home made in plate and hollow section attached via the 4 skirt and dumb iron bolts to rear of chassis.
Brian’s car was originally exported to what was then Northern Rhodesia.
Fuel tank magnetic plug
The following from new TC owner, Chris Howe:
“I recently (May) purchased a 1945 TC, I am 68 years young and have always wanted this model.
The car was a non-runner when I purchased it from an auction, so I was/am taking a big risk. I am currently working my way through a list of repair/servicing jobs, before trying to start the engine and have just refitted the fuel tank which was very rusty along with old crud at the bottom of the tank. I used a system called POR15 which you probably have come across before. Anyway, I thought I would fit a drain plug with a magnet (like sump plugs) so as to catch any rust particles in the future, and was surprised that there was none available.
However, I obtained a small (1cm) Neodymium magnet from RS Components @ £8 and drilled and tapped, it is now installed ready to do its job.
While I had the tank removed, I fitted indicator lamps to both sides of the tank (side panels), and have now located inner side/flasher bulb holders for the front side lights.”
What is the purpose of the split pin in the hole in the bell housing?
I was recently asked this question and didn’t know the answer. What to do? Well, ask Eric Worpe! According to Eric, the split pin is there because it tends to rattle due to engine vibrations and this prevents the hole in the bell housing from being blocked up.
The same enquirer was experiencing problems with oiling the clutch after a 35 minute race.
Eric provided the following possible explanations:
“Clutch oiling up, an unusual problem. Could be due to the oil leaking through the Archimedes scroll being flung outwards due to the spinning flywheel. The oil would then hit the inside of the bell housing and then drip downwards on to the clutch pressure plate. The various holes in the pressure plate would then allow oil to enter and contaminate the clutch linings.
Such a situation could be confirmed by removing the inspection cover on top of the bell housing and seeing if any oil has been deposited on it. Make sure you replace the cover the right way up.
Another possibility is oil seeping along the 4 bolts supporting the flywheel on to the crankshaft. Would be worth using a silicon sealant on the threads as any oil seeping through would be flung outwards on to the clutch linings.”
This pic was sent to Roger Muir (Octagon CC) – is on DVLA as ‘Untaxed’ – chassis number not known. Date of last V5C is recorded as 3rd May 1996 and colour shown as ‘Green’!
TA0640 is a Special on a known TA chassis; registration number 3505 RO.
TA0962 previously shown in October 2021 TTT 2 as DKT 839 and ‘Not known to DVLA’. The owner asked me to get an age-related number for it as he didn’t have the log book to reclaim DKT 839. It’s now got PXS 813 and has recently been up for sale.
TA2037 believed stored in Belgium for 40 years, now in Leicestershire. Has a UK Reg – APN 746, not known to DVLA. (Information from Stewart Penfound, TA/B/C Registrar for the MGCC).
TF7973 shown as registration unknown in June TTT 2 is 110 UXM and is shown by DVLA as ‘Taxed’.
TF9005 also shown as registration unknown in June TTT 2 is RLJ 697 and is shown by DVLA as ‘Taxed’.
Ed’s note: If I have missed any updates, or if there is any new information, please let me know:
jj(at)ttypes.org [substitute @ for (at)].
Repositioning the Rev Counter and Speedo on a LH drive TD
The following has been received from Erik Benson:
“I have had quite a few TDs since 1960, and still have my lovely Clipper blue one here in France.”
“Now, just a thought for you all…
When the TD was designed, it was as much for the Left-Hand Drive parts of the world as for the Home market.
The dashboard design changed from the TC and the rev counter and speedo were now alongside each other.
Here’s the point… in the RHD cars the rev counter was directly in the view of the driver, with the speedo to the right, partly masked by the steering wheel.
Hmmm (was this someone’s image of a quasi-racing car where the rpm are more important than the road speed?)
Then!! on the LHD cars the mirror image! Again, the speedo partly masked.
It has taken me 62 years to realise the poor design of that.
I wonder how many TD’ers have spotted this, and done anything about it? Last week I swapped them around (see pic) and am so pleased that I now have the speed shown to me directly.”
Fuel tank magnetic plug (update)
Not so much an update on the magnetic plug, more on its owner, Chris Howe. He has really got stuck in to sorting out his TC (TC0537) pictured below.
Here’s what he’s done so far:
“I have now fitted an electronic ignition system inside the original distributor and it works well, replaced thermostat housing and thermostat & replaced all hoses. Serviced engine, filters, tappets, engine runs fine. Have replaced brake linings on front shoes, and brake hoses to front wheels; am about to replace brake pipes due to corrosion found in them.”
Hagerty Classic Car Insurance
Richard Acton, Hagerty UK Club Coordinator, has sent me the following. Other classic car insurance companies are of course, also out there, but if you are not with Hagerty and your renewal is due, why not give them a try for a quote?
Your vehicle is meant to be enjoyed and we encourage driving. Take a Sunday drive, travel to a car show, have fun! Our policy allows for pleasure with flexible mileage limits up to 5,000 miles per year, 90 days EU coverage, as well as roadside assistance and recovery.
Get what it’s worth
Our Agreed Value policy means if a total loss occurs, you get the value that you agreed with us less any excess. Guaranteed.
Talk to experienced car enthusiasts
Our UK- based Client Service Advisors are car enthusiasts through and through. Whether it’s making a change on your policy or guiding you through the claims process, we understand the nuances of classic vehicles.
For cars… and whatever else moves you
Think motorcycles, classic tractors, even vehicles under restoration. Your policy will fit your needs and protect what you own.
Fuelling a community of car lovers
Rarely does having a classic vehicle begin and end with simply owning it. We offer lots of opportunity to connect with other car enthusiasts through our events, daily online articles, newsletters, livestreams and video series.
Exclusive discounts for The MG T Society Members
Belong to The MG T Society? Take advantage of up to 15% off and enjoy multi-vehicle discounts too.
*Hagerty International Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA Firm Reference Number 441417). This is a general description of guidelines and coverage. Hagerty reserves the right to determine final risk acceptance. All coverage is subject to policy provisions, exclusions, and endorsements. Car Club member discount and multi-vehicle discount are applied to the net premium. You must be a paid club member to receive the Car Club discount and you may be asked to provide a membership number.
TF3616It’s nice to be able to report a success. In Issue 65 (April 2021) Andy Kirk was enquiring about a TA, TC and TF he owned at various times in the 1960s. No news yet on the TA or TC, but the current owner of TF3616 – 594 AMX has been in touch with Andy and details have been exchanged.
TC???? (FSC 837)
Derek Kitchener is enquiring about his first car. Having qualified at St Andrews University in 1955, he purchased this TC from a Dundee garage. Derek has happy memories of this “lovely little car” and wonders if it is still around.
derekkitchener987(at)talktalk.net [substitute @ for (at)]
Log book for CVD 101The editor knows of an original log book for this car (which may not be a ‘T’). Contact jj(at)ttypes.org [substitute @ for (at)].
TA0367 (CRB 539)
Charles Penny would like to find out if there is any ownership/knowledge of his car prior to 1965. CRB 539 is in fact the car on this issue’s front cover but this photo was taken several years’ ago. It would have started out life as a Derby area car (CRB is a Derby registration).
Chris Runciman’s brother met the owner of this car at a Show in Dorset. He acquired the car last year, but knows nothing of its history, apart from the fact that it was exported to the US and came back to the UK via France. Contact jj(at)ttypes.org [substitute @ for (at)].
Rob Reilly in the US asks if anyone has information on this car. If you can help, please email the editor.
This obviously isn’t a “how to” article, because no one is going to rush out and turn their TC into a daily driver, but I hope you might find this interesting and maybe give you some ideas. I drove my TC into the ground in the 50s and 60s, so I was well aware of its shortcomings.
In this part of the world, in this day and age, there is no possible way you could daily drive a standard original TC without quickly becoming a traffic statistic. Rain is heavy and lots of darkness in the winter. Of the 7 years I drove my TC daily after rebuild, I drove it 12 months a year twice; the remaining 5 years it was off the road for 1 or 2 months due to snow, slush and salt.
The main issue you have to modify your car to deal with daily driving, is the lack of visibility from the cockpit. The main issues in the order of importance are:
1) Windscreen washer – you know from your daily driver that you are instantly blinded in traffic if another car throws dirt on your windscreen in the rain. I installed a washer with the bottle and electric pump in the LHS of the toolbox. (I have lots of storage space as I moved the battery to the frame behind the passenger seat.)
2) Windscreen wipers – the justification, regardless of the period, to have the wipers only clear 2/3 of the screen is a mystery to me. It must have been based on cost. I installed a third wiper in the centre by duplicating the idler on the RHS. I never had any problem with the effectiveness of the wipers, providing you spend the time to initially set them up. The motor would get so hot you couldn’t keep your hand on it but never failed. The first time I realized how hot it got, I put a rebuilt unit on my shelf. (I never used it until the idiot owner fried the installed motor, forgetting the master switch, while changing a cracked screen)
3) Cockpit interior condensation – driving in the rain and cold, your interior windows are always covered with condensation. You can’t drive with a rag wiping only the windows you can reach. I cut slots in the scuttle on each side and used hardware from a scrapped MGB for above and below.
I purchased an air box from a Honda Civic, which fits like a glove in the TC. This has been a great unit. It moves lots of air, keeps all the windows clear and provides lots of heat that enables me to drive in shirt sleeves at near freezing outside temperature. It blocks the gearbox plug, but I replenish it through the dipstick hole.
The air box from a Honda Civic.
The Honda Civic airbox installed in Charlie’s TC
4) Rearward vision – You have to be able to see what’s coming at you from the rear, especially driving a RHD car in N.A. The first time I was parallel parked along the curb and had to get out into fast traffic without good mirrors left me permanently puckered. I have a large rear window in my hood and now I have real effective mirrors for the driver. With the above, I have no hesitation to drive my car in any conditions. I really enjoy driving my car. It doesn’t have to just be a sunny day.
Following the completion of the TF1500 exercise, I said in the last issue “I am due to analyse the TF1250s next, this will probably need to be done over 2, perhaps 3 issues”.
Before publishing Part 1 of the lists of chassis numbers and their corresponding registration numbers (where known) I thought it would be useful to explain the background to the introduction of the TF. In doing so I apologise to those (probably quite a few) readers who are already familiar with this.
The decision of the then recently formed (November 1951) British Motor Corporation (BMC) to commit capital to the Austin Healey 100 project in preference to Abingdon’s EX175 (MGA), which was on the stocks as a replacement for the TD, presented a real difficulty to the Abingdon management.
Against the background of falling sales of the TD in the USA, Abingdon had planned on the MGA project to reinvigorate demand for its sports car and to compete head on with the products of other manufacturers, the most significant of which was probably the Triumph TR2.
With scarce funding for development work, the decision was taken to ‘facelift’ the TD as a stop gap model. Its most prominent features were a raked back radiator, giving a lower bonnet line with headlamps faired into the front wings. It was built on a Mk II TD chassis, fitted with engine number XPAG/TD3/26849 and designated TF0250, the prototype. Of course, there were other changes, notably at the rear and inside, but the body tub was virtually unchanged so as to allow Morris Bodies to readily adapt to producing the new car. Completion of build was 12th May 1953.
Three months later, 12th August 1953, the second prototype, the pre-production car was built, fitted with engine number XPAG/TD2/29748 and designated TF0251.
One month later, 17th September 1953, the first production TFs were built.
Both TF0250 and TF0251 have survived and were later fitted with XPEG engines by the Factory. TF0250 is KBL 296 and TF0251 is 362 GME; both are taxed and on the road.
When you see the lists which follow, you’ll notice that the chassis numbers start with TF0250 and 0251 and then jump to 501 et seq. Again, as quite a few of you know, the reason for this was that a new unified Nuffield car number prefix system was introduced in April 1952. It was brought into use from this date on Morris and Wolseley cars built at Cowley, but did not find its way to Abingdon until the autumn of 1953, when it was introduced on the TF, the ZA Magnette and the Riley Pathfinder, which were all then going into production.
To quote from Anders Ditlev Clausager’s Factory-Original MG T-Series “The Nuffield car or chassis number system prescribed a five character alpha- numeric prefix of three letters and two numbers. The series of numbers began with 501 which was the traditional starting number for Wolseley and later Morris cars, in the same way that MG’s traditional starting number had previously been 251.”
The first two of the three letters stayed constant as ‘HD’ where ‘H’ signified MG Midget and ‘D’ open two-seater bodywork’. The third letter indicated the paint colour, where A = Black, C = Red, E = Green (to name some popular colours).
The first of the two numbers indicated the market type e.g., ‘1’ for Home market, ‘2’ and ‘3’ for Export RHD and LHD, ‘4’ for North American Export and ‘5’ and ‘6’ for CKD cars, either LHD or RHD.
The second number indicated the paint finish e.g.
‘6’ for cellulose on body, synthetic on wings (standard finish on TFs in all colours other than green); ‘3’ all-cellulose paint finish (normal on green TFs). ‘5’ for primer finish found on CKD cars.
A couple of examples:
HDE 13 (a green Home market car). HDC 46 (a red North American Export car).
Thanks to the adoption of the Nuffield car number prefix system, the TF is the only model in the T-Series for which we can identify the original colour. We could of course have identified the colours of the earlier models, had not the chassis files been destroyed in the 1960s.
Acknowledgments are due to an article in the 1989 T Register Yearbook by the author of the prototype, and to Anders Ditlev Clausager and his wonderful book Factory-Original MG T-Series.
The MG TD XPAG, with modern fuel is rather prone to vapor lock phenomenon, especially in the sunny summer days of southern France where my TD lives! The reader may find many articles about the symptoms of vapor lock and how to cure the defect from various sources. Curious readers may even find theoretical explanation related to the use of modern fuel in our ancient engines in previous editions of this magazine. Search for “Manchester project” in the archive. Also, you can read the well documented book of Paul Ireland Classic Engines, Modern Fuel: https://classicenginesmodernfuel.org.uk/
The purpose of this article is to describe one way to implement one of the solutions. Installing a heat shield between exhaust manifold and carburetters prevents overheating of fuel mixture in bowls and channels between bowls and carburetters.
Standard heat shields are available from after-market usual sources but I decided to design my own for three reasons.
– Standard heat shields are metal sheets inserted between the carburetter flanges and the manifold. This fixing method introduces an additional weak point for air leak in the inlet manifold.
– Standard heat shields may present an obstacle for carburetter access, leading to difficulties for maintenance and tuning.
– Standard heat shields only protect carburetters from exhaust manifold radiated heat. An important heat source in MGTD engine compartment is also the warm air flow blowing out of the radiator. I realized that the front bowl was hotter than the rear one.
First, a bit of theory about thermal propagation.
Basic rules: The first is that heat always propagates from the hottest part to the coolest: the second is that heat uses three ways for travelling.
1) Conduction. When the hot part touches the cool part. It is the more efficient way of propagation. When your finger (25°C) touches the soldering iron (250°C) it is burnt through conductive mode. If you are just millimeters away, you feel the heat but your finger is not burnt immediately.
2) Convection. It is a sort of conductive mode but through the flow of a gas. The flow of fresh air (25°C) continuously evacuates (dissipates) the heat from the radiator of our MG (80°C).
3) Radiation. It is the way we receive the heat from the sun (5000°C). Neither contact nor gas between the sun and the earth. It is a sort of wave. This propagation mode is very efficient at high temperatures.
Now let’s go back to our concern. The diagram at Figure 1 illustrates the heat transfers and the principles of the proposed heatshield.
Exhaust manifold is approximately 300°C whilst carburetter should not be more than 50°C to avoid fuel boiling. We can really feel the difficulty as they are only separated by a few inches.
The radiative mode is the most important mode between manifold and carbs. When driving, convection is evacuated (dissipated) to the rear of the engine bay and then behind the car. To prevent radiative mode is very easy, we just have to put a screen between them. That screen will capture all the heat from the exhaust. But this shield will get hotter and hotter and it will then radiate to our carbs on the other side. The shield now needs to be cooled also. In my design, it is cooled thanks to convection mode. The air coming from the radiator is directed to the back face of heat shield and carries the heat behind the car. This energy is now outside of the car.
The shield also protects the front bowl from radiator air flow. This heating mode is totally different. When the engine runs, dominant propagation mode is forced convection due to the fan blades. To prevent this, we need to deflect the hot air flow off the bowl.
The design is very efficient because it covers the entire exhaust manifold, from bottom outlet flange up to head ports. The drawback is that it is a rather tricky process to install it. However, once installed, access to the carburetters is as easy as if the heat shield wasn’t there.
The shield is only fixed at its bottom part with the existing outer bolt of the exhaust manifold flange and an 8 mm bolt in the centre of the inlet manifold bracket for the top. Too many fixing points and the shield could itself be heated by conduction from the hot manifold. My car has no supporting stud for the air cleaner in this bracket because of the carb insulating spacers (another trick against vapor lock). I guess, it should be easy to clamp the shield with the air cleaner supporting stud, if any. Figure 2 shows the drawing of the metal sheet.
My shield is made from a 1.8 mm thick steel sheet. Thinner material may produce vibrations at the edges of the device. The red dotted lines indicate folded flaps. Do not cut the sheet along these lines but fold it. About 45 ° away from the manifold for front flap and right angle toward the manifold for the bottom fixing part. The front flaps, enhance the air flow for cooling of the manifold and the shield itself. The three upper flaps have to be bent toward horizontal. They aim at covering the exhaust ports at head level. Adjust the upper fixing slot on the car for proper distance between the shield and the manifold. The right-hand side of the drawing is the front bowl carburetter shield. Bend and adjust around the bowl avoiding any contact. 2 cm is a convenient distance.
During several trials I realized that covering the metal with a self-adhesive insulation fabric was a good bonus. More than this, both sides are now covered with that self-adhesive protection that you can find in any car tuning shop.
How can we explain this result? My hypothesis is that at low speed, the convection mode between manifold and shield is not negligible. Other hypothesis is that this insulated fabric is very reflective for infra-red as I don’t know what is it made of. Any other explanation is welcome.
Fitting the shield is not a pleasant moment. Be patient. You will need to remove the carburetters partially. Final adjustment of flaps may be necessary when fitted. They should cover but not contact the exhaust manifold. Take care also of the throttle shaft and the command link that should not interfere with the shield. A little tweaking may be necessary for this at installation. You might even get angry when fitting the bottom bolt. Be prepared!
Ed’s note: I have done my best to ensure that nothing is lost in the translation.
Some pictures follow:
Referring back to the drawing at Figure 2, this is the upper middle flap (the one measuring 30mm with the 8mmm gap in the middle).
The picture shows the front flap covering the exhaust manifold.
This is the front bowl carburetter shield (see the right-hand side of the drawing, as mentioned in the text).
Published in the August edition (73) of Totally T-Type 2 was an interesting article from Peter Cole, an obvious enthusiast who has equally sought a solution to modernising his own pump. His article inspired me to make contact with him and share my experiences and my own solution that has served me very well.
An introduction and overview of the process leading to an alternative SU pump switch design
The original electric fuel pump fitted to many models of British classic cars has for many been a source of frustration, with the pump either not wanting to spring into life following a long period of dormancy or simply stopping operation when least convenient.
The principle by which these pumps operate is by repeated strokes of a solenoid, the one end of which is connected to a rubber diaphragm. At the other end is an electrical assembly made up of sets of points that are operated by the action of the solenoid’s movement. In the main direction when the solenoid is activated, points closed, current flows through the solenoid coil, this causes the armature of the solenoid to be drawn into the body of the pump housing, and in so doing sucks fuel via an inlet valve from the fuel tank. During the course of the stroke the points open, current now stops following in the coil and the internal spring fitted around the pump diaphragm now starts to push the fuel out of the pump via the outlet valve towards the carburetters.
Each operation of the pump causes a certain amount of sparking across the points, which eventually leads to wear; this wear not only inhibits the ability of the electrical points to carry the current to the pump coil but eventually upsets the mechanical settings of the pump.
The design of the pump coil included with its winding, a resistive coil that was included to help limit the back EMF generated when the operating current to the coil was interrupted. This resistive winding used very fine wire and I suspect that in many cases this winding has become damaged, either electrically or mechanically. The most likely cause being as a result of an overload condition or damage caused by poor handling of the coil connections during servicing of the pump. Beside the electrical challenges associated with the points themselves, there are also the mechanical challenges of the switch rocker mechanism that requires careful setting. These settings can only be achieved when the pump is pulled apart so that the pump diaphragm can be manually operated during the setting process. The process itself is well documented, but still presents a challenge. There are the levers themselves, with their adjustments, the pin that secures the mechanism to the pedestal and the springs that influence the throw over of the levers as the diaphragm shaft oscillates to and fro; quite a clever arrangement considering when it was first conceived.
The switch rocker mechanism
My own experience with pump problems goes back many years, and first became an issue when I owned an MGBGT V8. The pump in this car had plenty to do keeping up with the demands of a much younger throttle foot and the V8 engine.
At the time, alternatives to the mechanical switching mechanism within the pump were limited; there was an offering from a gentleman who was based in Liskeard in Cornwall, England, the place of my birth as it happens. His offering was based on replacing the electrical points with an optically triggered transistorised switch that utilised the switch rocker mechanism as its operating platform. The advantage of this solution overcame the problems of arcing points but still relied on the carefully setting up of the optical vane on rocker mechanism. My own opinion is that the pump’s reliability is a two fold problem, the points together with the intricacies of the switch rocker mechanism.
Alternative ways of extending the life of the points have included components that help to suppress the sparking at the points; devices ranged from transient diodes, metal oxides varistor (MOV), to zener diodes, all to limit the voltage being exposed to the points.
My own solution back then was the use of a transistor to bypass the bulk of the current away from the switch contacts, whilst still maintaining a small current to keep the point contacts clean. The circuit below certainly helped to resolve my issues with the MGBGT V8, but still relied on the mechanical rocker mechanism.
My next encounter with a stubborn fuel pump was on the inaugural run of my fully restored MG TD in 1996. The restoration had started with a basket case of an MG that I purchased 1986. As part of the restoration the fuel pump was completely overhauled, set up according to the workshop manual and tested. However, on the very first test drive the TD came to a stop, resulting in the car being pushed back to its garage. Being the first run of the car, I was not sure what had gone wrong. Only once back at the garage was the fault traced to the fuel pump. The pump was removed, the mechanical settings readjusted, together with the fitting of the contact bypass arrangement as illustrated above. The TD was no longer 100% authentic, but I had piece of mind and IT operated well for many years.
Pictured is the simpler approach fitted to my TD in 1996.
Fast forward to 2003……
In 2003 on a long journey home, my very trusty TD started to falter. Then came a challenging mountain pass that took a number stops while ascending the hill to attend to the fuel pump. By the third stop a replacement pump was offered, but was rather tired and more fuel leaked from it than went to the engine. A second replacement from a very dear friend who carries with her many spares, included a new fuel pump, which got me home. The delays and inconvenience to others had me thinking all the way home, there has to be a better way.
The problem was that the switch rocker mechanism had worn to the point that normal adjustment no longer provided reliable operation. What was needed was a method of switching the pump solenoid, simple enough with a solid-state switch, but also a method of triggering it that did not utilise the switch rocker mechanism. What I designed is the arrangement in the picture below. It is a thin printed circuit board that lives under the original pedestal. It switches the pump’s coil without the need of complicated or sensitive mechanisms to determine when the solenoid should operate. On the end of the diaphragm shaft is a boss which maintains its alignment, as well as providing a means of knowing when the pump is to be energised. The rest of the circuitry supports the sensing and protection. The behaviour of the pump is very similar to an original pump, it ticks fast until fuel pressure is achieved and then when required to maintain fuel delivery.
First unit fitted to my TD in 2004
The unit has been in operation now for more than fifteen years, without need of any attention, other than to take pictures. The pedestal and connections have been removed in order to visualise what is buried beneath.
My own TD also benefits from other innovations such as a solid-state voltage regulator that lives neatly inside the original cover. Again, it has given many years of dependable service and it compensates for added loads without resulting in battery voltage degradation, even when driving long distances at night. With the original two pole regulator, getting the balance right was quite a challenge.
I have owned my 1949 MG TC since 1967, buying it with help from my mother when I was only 16. It was in such a poor state that my father negotiated to buy it for £60. When he had driven it home, he said “you are not driving this, it’s a death trap”. Working as a mechanic’s assistant for my father, we stripped the car down to the chassis, made good all the running gear and re-wired it. A brush coat of paint, but still with a clapped-out engine, I had a car that looked reasonable and at least steered and braked OK.
By 1976, I was working as a Researcher at Manchester University and had earned sufficient money to rebuild the engine and do a better job on the body. My mother stripped all the paint. I spent a few weeks with an adze and spoke shave replacing the rotten timbers, finally respraying it with an electric paint gun. My TC was now a more reliable car I could use every day.
That summer, while on a European holiday, I saw a Triumph TR4A driving along with UK number plates. Two very happy looking occupants were enjoying driving with the hood down.
Some readers may remember that back in the 1970s, there was rivalry between MG and Triumph owners. The MGs were the first sports cars and had led the drive to sell 2- seater sports cars in America. From a MG owner’s perspective, Triumph had “jumped on the bandwagon” and their cars lacked the MG’s prestige. Without a visible chassis, they were not properly “bolted together”. Triumph owners, perhaps with some justification, felt that the MGs were outdated and had not moved with the times. As a MG owner, my first thought on seeing this TRIUMPH in Europe was, “how has it managed to drive so far without falling to pieces”. My second thought, “if a TRIUMPH can make the trip, certainly a solid, reliable MG TC can”. This was the motivation for my European tour.
The following year, I managed to persuade my wife-to-be that touring Europe in a nearly 30-year-old, open top sports car was a really good idea. Needless to say, her father was vehemently against the idea. Fortunately for me, she agreed to come with me. To Christine’s credit, over the years, she has travelled many miles in the TC on various tours and trips. Her only complaint is that I never put the hood up, unless it is pouring with rain.
In 1977, the European Union did not exist. Countries all had their own currencies and driving rules. In France you still needed yellow headlight adapters. You also had to be very careful on the roads because of the “Priorité a droite” rule. In Italy, tax on petrol was so high, that as a visitor you had to purchase “vouchers” in the UK to use when you bought petrol.
I still remember the argument when buying these vouchers from the Post Office. In Italy they had 2 grades of petrol. “Cheap” about 88 RON for their motor bikes and Apes and 95 RON for the cars. With little money, (we were saving to get married), and before I realised the difference between MOM and RON, I tried to buy the vouchers for the “Cheap” petrol. At the Post Office, I argued, “my car will run on 82 octane petrol!” (oops! MOM that is, about 92 RON!), “running on the Cheap grade will wreck your engine”, was the response, “in all honesty, I cannot sell you them”. In the end, a compromise, 50/50 cheap and normal vouchers. Very lucky for me. Read on to find out why.
Ed’s note:The “Apes” referred to in the text, one of which is pictured, is the Piaggio Ape, a three-wheeled light commercial vehicle manufactured and marketed by Piaggio as an adaptation of the company’s Vespa scooter and introduced in 1949.
In 1977, there were no mobile phones, credit or cash cards. You had to order currency and traveller’s cheques from the bank. When you collected (or cashed them in), you had to arrive with your passport and sign them all in front of a cashier; something I do not miss! To make matters worse, in 1977 there was still a limit in place on how much money you could take abroad with you. So, we started our European adventure with a relatively meagre, fixed budget.
Armed with expensive European breakdown cover, a carefully stashed wad of currency notes, traveller’s cheques and petrol vouchers, we were ready to go. Saturday morning at 5am, luggage rack fitted and part loaded with my case and a tent, I set off to collect Christine. She was ready with her small suitcase, as ‘instructed’, but had a large pillow under her arm. “There’s no space for that”, I protested. “No pillow, no me”, said Christine. I reluctantly accepted. Christine travelled all the way sitting on her pillow.
We were booked on the afternoon Hovercraft crossing, reached by travelling from Manchester to Dover on the M1, North Circular, Dartford tunnel and A2. No M25 in those days. A journey I would not consider now, even with my 5-speed gear box.
For those who have never used it, the Hovercraft was a real experience. You were treated like aircraft passengers and greeted by stewardesses as you got out of your car. The one meeting us, peered at the number plate and said “it is a really old car, it does not have a letter at the end”. By 1977, most cars had a letter K or one later in the alphabet at the end of their number plates. It is somewhat ironic that an “old fashioned” car has outlived, what was then, leading technology, the Hovercraft!
Half an hour or so later, we disembarked in France. Back in 1977, very few people in Europe attempted to speak in English. To make matters worse, neither Christine nor I spoke Italian, French, German, or for that matter any European language. Our only hope was a smattering of “school French” and a stack of phrase books. The first problem arose when we tried to get accommodation for our first night. A mistake with our currency conversion and the tendency of the French to use a “,” rather than a “.” to denote a decimal, made us think one night would cost most of our meagre allowance.
We soon realised our error and settled down to a pleasant (and dry) drive south through France. Stopping at hotels. Christine, an excellent navigator, quickly managed the art of folding large maps in the slipstream of an open car. Keeping us on the small scenic roads, avoiding motor ways was a real challenge, especially in the towns. SatNavs did not start to appear for another 20 years.
We occasionally found ourselves on roads with the sign “chasse deforme”, not easy to drive along with the TC’s legendary steering. We did not realise at the time, that some 40 years later, it would become a feature of most of the roads in the UK!
We reached the Alps – the TC performed impeccably, climbing the St Bernard pass with little difficulty.
We had calculated the cost of the petrol in Italy, with the vouchers, was cheaper than in France. With a nearly empty tank we coasted most of the way down into Italy. Something, not recommended with modern cars as you lose both the power steering and servo assisted brakes.
Aren’t old MGs wonderful?
Our first real problem of the trip came when we coasted into an Italian petrol station. It had two attendant operated pumps, “cheap” and “normal”. I stopped next to the “cheap” pump, opened the tank and gestured to the attendant to fill it up. No luck, not even when I showed him the vouchers. Just a torrent of Italian, accompanied by a great deal of hand waving. Even Christine with her phrase book achieved nothing. Eventually, he strode over to the “normal” pump, took the nozzle out of its holder and rather forcefully indicated I should reverse the car. I followed his instructions and he filled up the tank with petrol, no problem. Fortunately, thanks to the man at the post office, we also had some “normal” petrol vouchers we could use. The “cheap” and “normal” petrol vouchers were not interchangeable! That evening we decided he had been telling us that a “beautiful car”, like a MG TC, “should only be run on normal petrol”.
This was not the last encounter we had with the “excitable” Italians. At one camp site we had parked outside the café waiting for the site to open. As we were sitting there, drinking our beer, a group of Italians gathered around the car. It soon became clear an argument was brewing. A great deal of hand waving and shouting. Attracted by the discussion, the group became bigger. When it had got to about 20 people, somebody pointed at us through the café window. Yes, two English people in Italy do “stick out like sore thumbs”.
And yes, a large posse came over to the café and almost dragged me outside to the TC. One of them pointed at the bonnet and signaled for me to open it. I felt I would be risking my life if I did not. I obliged. A large, ferocious looking man pointed at the air filter and shouted “compressore”. The, more friendly looking man he had been arguing with, shook his head and said equally forcibly, “non compressore”. They both stood and looked at me expectantly. Guessing they meant “supercharged”, I meekly said “non compressore”, fearing the worse. All that happened was the second man patted me on the back and the group dispersed, apparently now discussing the benefits of Italian sports cars over classic MGs. We had been warned the Italians could be quite excitable, even so, it gave us quite a scare. We did not know it then but the worse scare was still to come!
The next problem was in Rome. I’m sure you have heard the phrase “All roads lead to Rome”. Well, yes, they did when we visited….even from the centre!
The picture shows the TC parked outside the Coliseum. Despite Christine’s best efforts at navigation, we must have gone around the same junction in the centre of Rome 5 or 6 times! Finally, we gave up and based our navigation on the sun (fortunately, there were no clouds). At every turn we just kept the sun behind us, eventually emerging from Rome to the North East.
I am sure the “oldies” amongst us will remember the problems with traveller’s cheques. You had to pay a fee to cash them in, and you got a very poor exchange rate. Any notes left at the end of your trip could be changed back to £££s, at an equally exorbitant rate. The net result was you could easily lose a considerable percentage of your money in exchange costs. One way to counter this, was to get low value cheques and only change the minimum into local currency. A good strategy? Normally, yes – except when you have used most of your petrol driving round and round Rome and you are getting low on local currency. Even though it was a Monday, all the banks, petrol stations, shops, indeed everything, was closed. A religious holiday.
By the time we left Rome, the 2.5 gallon warning light had been on for some time, coupled with very little Italian lire, we were getting more than a little concerned. ‘Mr Confidence’ (me) said “we will be OK” and we drove on. Amazingly, we found a camp site before we ran out of petrol.
Lesson number 2 in Italy… the cheapest item on the menu is not always the least expensive! At the restaurant we ordered a steak to share. The menu suggested it apparently only cost a few lire. Problem was that it was horse steak and the price was per 100g. As we chewed our way through what was apparently half a horse, we worried whether we had enough money to pay the bill. In the event we did, but it only left us with 50 lire, (about 30 pence).
That evening we were stranded. No petrol, no money, in a camp site just North of Rome. Remember, no credit or cash cards to bail us out. To be continued…
Having previously restored TC2628 (UXS 717) to pretty much an original specification, the chance discovery of TC2287 (ERY 627) in a poor state presented a restoration choice; the same again, or perhaps more interestingly as my interpretation of a cafe racer.
The restored TC2628 (UXS 717) and TC2287 (ERY 627) as discovered.
The term café racer, coined more from motorcycling in the 50’s, I think of as a still road legal vehicle but with styling and performance enhancements more akin to a circuit racer. So that’s what I settled on, with:
Registration digits applied directly to the front apron
Deletion of badge bar and fog lamp, with horn hidden under the apron
Wire mesh grille insert
Headlamp stone guards
Alfin front drums
Cycle front wings
A new valence panel to fill the gap between the bottom of the bonnet sides and the top of the chassis rail
Windscreen folded flat
Racing roundels to bonnet and doors (low tack to avoid paint damage)
Deletion of running boards
Ram pipes replacing air cleaner assembly
Exhaust constant diameter from down pipe to tail pipe.
…but all to be achieved without drilling any new holes or modifying existing panels so that the car could easily be taken back to original.
The majority of the changes would be straight forward, but the valances and cycle wings would require quite a bit of design and fabrication work to achieve the desired look. I am pleased to share how this was achieved in case anyone else wishes to go down a similar route.
First the valances, purchased from a well-known supplier; they were very well made and a good fit, but as I expected, came without mounting brackets. I chose 5 attachment points, perhaps overkill but mindful that retaining the original bonnet catches would stress them.
The top edge of the valance goes behind the bonnet side with a reasonable overlap; at the front, its bottom edge profile dictates that it sits on top of the apron and can share its rearmost 5/16 mounting hole and captive nut. Whilst the bolt head would be visible, just as it was before when securing the apron, I was determined that the other new fasteners would be out of sight; difficult but aesthetically worth it.
Shared front mounting point
Towards the rear of the panel the lower 2 bulkhead bracket bolts provide a neat opportunity when longer ones, washers and nuts are fitted, to extend through a simple bracket flanged for stiffness and spot welded to the valance. Similar to how the top bolt also supports the radiator stay.
Bulkhead bracket mount
The rear edge will be secured by a countersunk screw in the top corner hidden behind the over-lapping bonnet and by a tab for a second wood screw from underneath.
Tab for a wood screw
The valance then joins that list of panels which require gapping prior to paint. Mine perhaps intentionally a fraction too long was easily addressed by shortening the rear edge to follow that of the bonnet side. I chose to retain the top wired edge for strength and cut the bonnet rubber to accommodate at the rear and grind the wired edge to a taper at the front to fit tight against the radiator shell.
The front wired edge has been ground to a taper to best fit the radiator shell.
I chose to retain the original bonnet catches and handles for their attractive style. The fact that I couldn’t work out how to disguise the 3 holes that would remain was also a consideration! Additionally, I have a dislike of leather straps or springs and hooks, as so often the original is the most elegant solution.
The Amal catch is a very clever design in doing its two jobs at the same time. Closed under tension the little stop dictates the horizontal position of the handle whilst independently the spring provides tension for the hook. The trick is to position the catch plate the correct (original) distance below the hook, made easier for me by having a witness mark worn over many years when in the closed position.
My procedure was with the valance fitted to pull the bonnet side down tight and run a 5mm drill through the lower of the 3 catch holes and drill the valance. Then with masking tape applied project the centre line of those holes down onto the valance. They are all at different angles to clear the dynamo bulge and louvre patterns.
Remove the valance and bolt the bonnet catch to it through the new hole and at the correct angle, then make a reinforcement plate with flanged sides for stiffness and a cut out to clear the catch. By rotating the catch until the hook part aligned with the witness mark and clamping in place, I could drop on the catch plate, mark where its 2 mounting studs will be required and remove to drill 2mm holes through the reinforcement plate only.
The studs are made by facing the heads of 1/4 BSF bolts to remove the lettering but leaving a 2mm pip for location.
Braze the studs in place, remove any distortion and spot weld the reinforcement plate in place. Finally, remove metal to make a cut out in the valance to match the one in the plate. For a tight bonnet fit the catch needs to clear both the valance and reinforcement plate when finally fitted.
Repeat for the other 3, which will all be different.
The studs brazed in place and the reinforcement plate spot welded. A cut out in the valance has been made to match the one in the plate.
The choice of spot welding means that the slight marks on the outer surface can be easily dressed and filled to give a smooth finish for painting.
Rubber pads will still be required to prevent the two overlapping panels from touching with resultant paint damage.
I chose a simpler solution which I will describe in part two, together with how I mounted the front cycle wings.
Ed’s note: Bob sent me a picture of the finished item in place – difficult to photograph, but here it is:
The finished item in situ.
Ed’s further note: Bob will need to pay a little more for his cycle wings than the ones on offer from Vic Derrington….but then, it was circa 1954!
Fronts in steel cost 18 shillings for 6” width, 20 shillings for 7” and 22 shillings for 8”.
If you wanted them in light alloy, it would set you back 30 shillings for 6” width and 32 shillings and 6 pence for 7”. 8” in light alloy were not available.
Rears in steel were a little more expensive at 20 shillings for 6”, 22 shillings for 7” and 24 shillings for 8”.
If you wanted them in light alloy, they would cost you 35 shillings for 6” and 37 shillings and 6 pence for 7”.
Wing stays and valances were not available, “owing to variations of different models”.
However, in another of his lists Vic says, under the heading of ‘Coachbuilding’:
Our special department under the supervision of a skilled practical coachbuilder and designer, can design and make special panel work, conversions or build complete bodies of lightweight construction. Repairs, renovations and pre-fabricated sections and assemblies made.
I must not let this issue go by without mentioning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. To most of us below a certain age, she was the only monarch we ever knew. Throughout her reign, prime ministers and governments came and went, but she was always there and brought a sense of stability and continuity to us all, R.I.P.
How times have changed from the immediate post-war Britain! Although only six years of age at the time, I can clearly remember the black and white television installed in the parish hall of Christ the King Catholic church in Knowle West, Bristol for a few hundred parishioners to view the Coronation in 1953. I think it must have been a 14 inch screen; no colour television back then and few had televisions – certainly not in the area in which I was brought up.
Paul Ireland’s article later in this issue about a trip to Rome in his TC in 1977, reminds us that even then, there were no mobile phones, credit or cash cards and foreign currency and traveller’s cheques needed to be ordered from the bank. I would add, not any old bank, but one that dealt in foreign exchange, usually in the centre of largish cities.
Nowadays, you can obtain your foreign currency from most local post offices, travel agents and your local Tesco! …………and quite a few kids seem to have a mobile phone and a TV in their bedroom.
Enough of this reminiscing – I’m not quite at the stage of “stop the world, I want to get off!”
I’m constantly reminded what a ‘close-knit’ community we M.G. owners are. My DVLA registration work requires me to ensure that chassis stampings are verified for the applications I submit to DVLA. I’ve not ever failed to find a willing volunteer to undertake this task for me and to sign a certificate of inspection and I’ve done a few hundred to date. If you are one of this willing band of volunteers who happens to be reading this, you are a star!
Now some bed-time reading for you before you nod off and dream. This comes in the form of a new book by Roger Bateman entitled FROM BOND TO BENTLEY AND BACK. Roger has contributed to the debate in TTT 2 about 19 inch radials for the TC. He also wrote a fascinating article for Issue 46 February 2018) on how he tracked down the history of his TC (TC2456) which was exported from new to South Africa. To anyone wanting to trace the history of their car this is a “must read”.
However, back to Roger’s new book …there is a full-page synopsis of the book at the end of this issue with the link to his website for its purchase, www.bondtobentley.uk
The front cover of this issue features ‘TIZI’, Charles Penny’s TA. Charles has looked after ‘TIZI’ since he was 17. She was given a much needed ‘facelift’ from the car you see in ‘Lost & Found’ later in this issue by Adrian Moore of Finishing Touch bodyshop in Weston-Super-Mare. An article about ‘TIZI’ has been promised, hopefully for the December issue.
When I first mentioned the Centenary of M.G. in this column, it must have been three or four years’ ago; now it is almost upon us!
Just to recap, it is on Saturday 27th May, 2023 at the British Motor Museum, Banbury Road, Gaydon, WARWICK CV35 0BJ. www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk
There is a lot of work going on ‘behind the scenes’ and I hope to be able to provide full information in the December TTT 2.
Pre-war Prescott, which is being held on 15th July 2023 will have a mass ascent of the hill by M.G.s.
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