Category Archives: Issue 8 (October 2011)

The Editor

Welcome to Issue 8!

I’m putting this issue ‘to bed’ in the middle of August to ‘sleep’ until the middle of September because my IT man (son, Stephen) is off at the end of this week on his travels to Japan and Taiwan for six weeks. Due to the shorter time interlude between the preparation of this issue and the last one I’ve struggled a bit with sufficient copy but we’ve just about made it.

A healthy supply of copy is vital to keep a magazine like this going and I feel for Vernon Byrom, Editor of the MG Octagon Car Club magazine The Bulletin, who, just lately, has had to make a number of requests for copy and indeed, has had to write some of the articles himself to fill the magazine. I’m in the same boat with Vernon this month in having to write some of the articles; I don’t mind doing this but it does consume more time when I could be in the garage ………dreaming up more articles!

In editing a magazine it is desirable to strike a balance between types of articles featured; in the case of this magazine, which is unashamedly biased towards the technical side of ownership of our cars, I strive to cover every T-Series model and therefore strike a balance between the beam axle models and those with coil spring independent front suspension. I have to say that I feel uncomfortable with the lack of coverage I am able to give to the TD and TF models, but I can only include what I am provided with. Perhaps TD and TF owners would like to take the hint!

Speaking of the MG Octagon Car Club, I attended the Club’s ‘Wings’ Run at the end of July. It was held at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, which is a mere 25 miles from me. I was a little apprehensive (as the photograph taken by Steve, just before setting off shows) but this was the first time I had used the car this year.


Steve, my passenger ‘shot’ a couple of short videos on the journey; the first, taken shortly after after setting off:

The second is a bit longer and is ‘shot’ in the countryside. Apologies for the squeaky brakes in both videos and don’t forget the PB has a ‘crash’ gearbox!

Encouraged by the performance of the car on the ‘Wings’ Run I took it to David Lewis’ Wiltshire ‘natter’ at Lacock a week later. Even though it entailed a drive back home in the dark, I was glad I attended because there must have been a record number of M.G.s there – at least 20. T-Types were a plenty, but also MGAs, MGBs, V8, YA and ZA.

On 11th August we posted a news item on the website to say that we had reached the landmark of 1400 email subscribers to this magazine. To have attained this number in just under a year (the website was officially one year old on 20th August!) is no mean feat. At the rate that new subscriptions are coming in (current number at 17th August is 1430) we shall soon hit the 1500 mark. Thank you all for your support!

On 14th August we launched a new section of the website for our visitors: the T-Database. Part gallery, part T-Type “wiki”, the T-Database is an opportunity for MG T-Type owners to showcase their cars on the site. Through the T-Database you may upload multiple photos of your T-Series car, and add limited non-personal information about your vehicle. Alternatively, you may simply wish to browse the records of the cars that have already been added to the T-Database.

In order to post information and photos to the T-Database you need to be a member of; membership is quick and most importantly totally free, and can be obtained by filling out the registration form here. Once you have logged in, you will be able to update your car’s record on the T-Database by searching for your car by chassis number and then by clicking “Edit this Car’s Details”.

Not ones to let the grass grow under our feet, there are more enhancements planned for the website, more suppliers and more items for the Technical Publications section – just need the time!

In the December issue I’ll publish the up to date financial situation. However, I can say with certainty that the sum total of donations is very healthy and the ‘hard’ copy account is in surplus, both due to lots of generous donations.

Just enough space left to thank Fred Weber, Bart Vandonk, Tom Thompson and Trad Harrison for identifying Denis Dunstan’s mystery item. All said that they were fitted to the tappet chest plate – more details in ‘Bits and Pieces’ later in this issue.



Totally T-Type 2 is produced totally on a voluntary basis and is available on the website on a totally FREE basis. Its primary purpose is to help T-Type owners through articles of a technical nature and point them in the direction of recommended service and spares suppliers.

Articles are published in good faith but I cannot accept responsibility or legal liability and in respect of contents, liability is expressly disclaimed.

The Luvax-Girling Damper


Original MG TC Maintenance Instruction Booklet

Ed’s Introductory Note: Each new TC was issued with a little pocket sized booklet as per the scanned copy shown (it will be noted that mine has seen better days!). Inside my copy I found two inserts; one is a single sheet which gives hints on care and maintenance of Dunlop synthetic tyres, the other is a quarto size pamphlet of four pages (including front and back).

The front of the pamphlet has the MG Octagon and the Safety Fast! logo and a note in the bottom right hand corner, which states “The M.G. Midget “TC” Series cars are equipped with Hydraulic Dampers incorporating the “Pressure Recuperation” feature. This reprint from ‘The Light Car’ explains, in non-technical language, how they operate.”

The back of the pamphlet says “WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF THE M. G. CAR COMPANY LTD.,” plus address, telephone number and telegraphic address. “PRINTED BY TEMPLE PRESS LTD., LONDON E.C.1” is in the bottom left hand corner.

The two inside pages of the pamphlet explain how the hydraulic dampers work and the re-printed article from ‘The Light Car’ starts with a sketch of a section of a double-acting unit.

Section of a complete double-acting unit, showing the cam-operated pistons, and the baffle (D) which seals off the recuperating chamber above it, except for a “pre-determined leak” past the extension of the filler cap (E).

“You’ve read a good deal already about the Luvax piston-type pressure recuperating shock-absorber in the descriptions of new cars that have appeared in “The Light Car.” What is it? What does the term mean? How does it work?

Well, first of all, you must forget the term “shock-absorber”; it is considered to be a misnomer: the road springs are the shock-absorbers. Damper is a better term. Next, an amplification of the name: the result is the Luvax-Girling Damper and that is the name by which this particular commodity will be known in future. We must stress the fact that it is an entirely new and improved version of our old friend the Luvax shock-absorber.

The secret of the Damper is wrapped up in the term “pressure recuperating”. In essentially non-technical language, this means that when the piston returns to its “neutral” position after its initial damping movement, the cavity thus formed in the end of the cylinder is filled with oil-completely filled-for the simple reason that the oil has nowhere else to go. This is important. The piston must be “fully armed” for the next damping stroke, and it can’t be unless the cavity or chamber is fully replenished.

Now let us see how it works, assuming, for the sake of simplicity, that there is only one piston (the double-acting type shown in the sketch has two opposed pistons).

Deflection of the chassis frame partially rotates an arm, one end of which actuates a cam. In turn, that cam forces a piston outwards in a cylinder. The speed with which the piston can move outwards, however, is governed by the speed with which oil can be transferred from one side of the piston to the other. This is controlled by (A) a relief valve and (B) a “bleed,” the area of which is fixed by a restrictor pin. Both valve and “bleed” are part of the piston. The “bleed” is formed by a small flat on the top of the piston and a hole through which the restrictor passes.

A section of one of the pistons. (A) is the relief valve. (B) is the “bleed” and (C) the disc-type recuperator valve. The curved member on the extreme left is a steel spring which keeps the valve assembly in place.

On the return or inward stroke of the piston (as the chassis frame rises again) a disc-type recuperator valve permits the oil to be quickly transferred back again to the other side of the piston.

The transference is complete, because the body of the Damper, which is of course, filled with oil, is sealed by a lid or (to give it its technical term) a baffle.

The baffle has one important peculiarity in the shape of a “pre-determined annular leak,” which does, in fact, permit oil to pass to the recuperation chamber above it. The leak permits a slow flow, but is too small to accommodate a rapid flow such as that which movement of the piston tends to generate. Its object is to take care of volumetric increases due to expansion by temperature and to permit the oil to pass back again to the main oil chamber when the temperature falls.

To sum up, then, the piston moves backwards and forwards, the displaced oil on one side being squeezed via the appropriate ports and valve into the space on the other side. The manner of its regulation governs the ease, and therefore the speed, with which the piston can move, and the operating arm of the Damper can oscillate. That regulation of movement provides the damping action which enables you to drive over bumps and potholes as though they weren’t there.

These Dampers are not adjustable. The best setting is obtained during actual road tests of each make (and model) of car and this setting is adopted on the standard production model.

The new Luvax-Girling Damper is good for 25,000 miles without attention. It is not an afterthought, so to speak, but an integral part of the springing assembly: a scientific device which is the outcome of much thought, knowledge and experiment: and it has a stern task, for pressures up to 1,000 lb. per sq. in. may be generated.

It’s nice to think that you haven’t got to worry about it, but it’s worth knowing how it works”.

Ed’s note: I rather liked the reference to being able to drive over bumps and potholes as though they weren’t there! The roads must have been in better condition in the 1940s than they are now.

I spoke to Derek Stevenson of Stevson Motors in Birmingham about reconditioning of dampers. His company, founded in 1944, has been reconditioning vintage and classic lever arm and telescopic types for many years.

Derek told me that the dampers are neglected for maintenance purposes on many cars with the result that sludge forms in them and blocks the valves. A split casing renders the damper un-repairable and new casings are not currently available.

Derek’s website is at He also sells flexible steel braided fuel hoses, brake hoses and brake pipes and accessories.

Where have all the brown plugs gone – long-time passing?

Spark Plugs

Long before MGs were fitted with V8 engines, when petrol cost 39p / gallon and you could spot motor cars that had just travelled up the motorway by the fawn / white colour of their exhaust pipes, you used to go to tune your car with a rich tea biscuit. No, not to eat, it was a colour comparison for your plugs. Fawn or light brown coloured plugs were an indication your engine was properly tuned. Where has it all gone?

No comment about the cost of petrol, now around £6.32 / gallon, the white exhausts disappeared when lead was removed from petrol. Interestingly it was not the lead that was responsible, but lead bromide. Many people think the lead in petrol protected the valves from wear. In practice, when tetra ethyl lead burns it produces lead oxide and some metallic lead which are deposited in the cylinder and can cause pre-ignition. Long ago, this problem was resolved by adding ethylene dibromide. During combustion, this reacted with the lead to produce the white lead bromide that is deposited in the exhaust. It is this lead bromide that acted to lubricate the exhaust valves.

What about the biscuit brown plugs, have they gone the same way as the white exhausts? Well yes and no. Look at the picture of a plug recently taken from my TC, just the right colour. Before you rush out, remove your plugs and start to worry when they are grey or some other colour, read on. The problem is due to petrol or to be precise different types of petrol. Firstly, in the UK there are three different grades of petrol sold over the year, winter, summer and transition. Buy Brand X on the motorway from a station with a fast sales turn-over, you could get summer grade, the same Brand X from a station in a sleepy village and you may be filling up with winter grade. These grades have a different mix of additives and volatilities and may colour your plugs differently.

Furthermore, pool petrol is supplied to all distributors from refineries around the UK with each distributor adding their own cocktail of chemicals. While it is very difficult to find the exact details, it appears that both the pool petrol and additives vary around the country. Brand X in the Midlands is not the same fuel as Brand X in East Anglia. One reason why I get brown plugs and you may not. Additionally, I believe that in some areas, premium brand fuels can give a pink or purplish colouration of the plugs.

Another affect on plug colour is washdown, liquid fuel entering the cylinder and washing the plug clean. This shows clearly on the pictures of the two-tone plugs from my TC. While all the plugs are basically the same colour, the photograph shows different sides. On one side they are brown, on the other white, almost as new.

Now-a-days, the only thing you can be really certain of when it comes to plug colours is if they are sooty black, you are running too rich.

Paul Ireland

Ed’s Note: Paul Ireland wrote this article for the V8 Register of the MG Car Club but he has given me permission to use it in TTT 2.

This seems to be a convenient slot to update you following a meeting the Editor had with his Member of Parliament. The M.P. promised that he would contact the Minister at the Department for Transport and true to his word I now have a letter signed by Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department. I reproduce a couple of paragraphs as follows:

“Mr James may be interested to know that no 10 per cent ethanol content petrol (“E10”) is supplied in the UK at present. Biofuel targets in the UK Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) only require fuel suppliers to increase the average biofuel content of road transport fuel to 5 per cent by 2013/14 and later years. At present fuel suppliers supply most biofuel as biodiesel where blends of up to 7 per cent (“B7”) are permitted in normal diesel with a lesser quantity of bioethanol being supplied as E5. At present, regulations require that Super grade petrol dispensed at high throughput filling stations contain no more than 5 per cent ethanol. The cessation of this requirement from the end of 2013 appears to have been widely misinterpreted as a general “phase-out” of E5. In reality, fuel suppliers will still be able to supply E5 and even fuel containing no ethanol (“E0”) provided that on average across all the fuel they supply they meet a 5 per cent biofuel uptake level.

Bearing in mind the bioethanol is more costly than petrol, current RTFO targets provide no incentive to supply E10 and fuel suppliers are certainly unlikely to introduce this fuel until a larger proportion of the fleet is compatible with it”.

The sentence beginning “The cessation of this requirement…” has been underlined by me as I think this is worthy of being highlighted.

The cost argument is also worth noting and with Governments under pressure to scale back expenditure one wonders how much longer the current subsidy regime can last. We live in hope!

A Smidge of Midge History

“The Midge” is the mascot that has adorned the MG for many years. It is an eye catcher and head turner whenever it is sighted. But what is the history of this flying mosquito and was it really a production item offered by MG?

Automobile mascots (hood ornaments) became a very popular item in the 1930s. Many marques strove to craft a mascot that would typify their branding of grace and elegance. Jaguar had the “Leaping Leopard”, Rolls the “Kneeling Lady”, and Auburn the “Flying Goddess”. Today, the Midge seems to exemplify this same level of beauty. However, this has not always been the case.

An initial sighting of the Midge was found in an advertisement of the May 1934 issue of “The MaGazine” (see Fig. 1). The ad confirms that the Midge was produced by H.J. Randall, Birmingham, England and was designed especially for MG car owners. It was also offered in 2 sizes: large and small.

Fig.1: Copy of the advert from the May 1934 of “The MaGazine”

According to historian Mike Worthington-Williams, “The MG Midge was only found on the 1935 ‘P’ type MGs”. However, despite its intended use for only the ‘P” type, it did appear in factory literature and was primarily sold as an accessory by University Motors Ltd, London acting as an MG agent.”

Late, in the July 1936 issue of “The Sports Car”, the previously referenced ad was repeated but instead now included the MG logo and words: “Obtainable from All MG Agents”. So this seems to affirm that a privately offered Mascot had been sanctioned and adopted by MG. (see Fig. 2)

Fig 2: Copy of the advert from the July 1936 issue of “The Sports Car”

However, the Midge had a short life. According to Worthington-Williams, the image it projected was found a little undignified and was therefore only formally offered with the 1935 ‘P’ Type.

An original 1st issue Midge can be identified with the marking “Reg Applied For”. Physical characteristics include chrome plated brass body, the proboscis (beak) is horizontal, and the lettering on the left base is: “MG CAR CO.” The later production marking added RD 786849.

Above and Below: Midge identification features

The Midge has proven to be a lasting icon for the MG community. As one unidentified MG owner stated, “while the Midge is elegant in shape and form, I cannot imagine MG allowing such an inelegant, nay ugly, detail as a gnat’s proboscis to adorn their fine machinery. However, a Midge now adorns my TC.”

As always I welcome comments and corrections:
Doug Pelton, doug’at’

Editor’s Note: The Midge is once again available from Doug.

Doug Pelton
June 2011

Front Cover – TA1980

TA1980 came off the Abingdon assembly line on 30th November, 1937, the last of twenty TAs (TA1961 – TA1980) assembled on that day. It was fitted with engine number MPJG 2241 and left the Factory bound for Australia in red livery with red trim.

The first owner was Jim Ship of Wollongong who paid 409 pounds and took delivery of the car when registering it as new on 16th June, 1938. The TA has been fully registered on each 16th June ever since.

Jim sold it to Sid Rutty, also of Wollongong, on 9th March, 1945.

The car again changed hands on 13th August, 1948 for 500 pounds and has been owned ever since by Claude Harris of Albion Park.

The MG TA body plate reads “Body type B270 Body no. 811/7054”. Its original registration number plate was DZ-815 but was changed to WR-005 in 1946 as the brother of the owner’s name was William Rutty Snr.

The car has won and been placed in many Pre – War concourses, some being against much rarer and more valuable cars such as Frank Betts’ magnificent MG K3.

Through the years Claude’s Passion for MGs has forged many life long friendships with the likes of Ted Ackroyd and Bill Rutty, who at various times have wished they still had their original new MG TCs they purchased in 1948.

The TA has never had a serious accident or been raced or taken part in any motor sports events but used in club runs and outings with the South Coast Vintage Car Club in Wollongong and the MG Car Club. It has never had a loose spoke in any of the wheels. The carburettors have never been dismantled, only the suction chambers and guides cleaned and oiled and the float levels checked. The needles and jets have never been removed from the carbs or the seals replaced. The clutch corks have been replaced and the seats are showing some signs of wear.

Starting in 1949, Claude with a group of like minded MG enthusiasts with up to 20 cars would load up with camping gear and attend the Annual Bathurst Easter Motor Bike and Car Races until their demise in 1988 and Claude still has all the programmes and photos to prove it.

This photo was taken of Claude (22 years young) driving TA1980 at the top of Mt Panorama, Bathurst on 16 April, 1949. The odometer now shows 12,000 miles; it has been round the clock once, making the total distance travelled 112,000 miles since 1938.

A very important event in Claude’s MG days was on 18-5-1957, travelling at 50 MPH on the Princes Highway in the TA and slipping a diamond ring on a young lady’s finger.

What is remarkable about the car – apart from its length of ownership (63 years) – is that it is still in its original condition, as the photos at the end of this article testify. Claude still has the original manual, the Transfer Rego and the Motor Spirit Consumer’s Licence with petrol ration tickets which expired in January, 1950 when petrol rationing ended in Australia.

Another remarkable fact is that the car has been in the same Region/Town (Wollongong/Albion Park) from the day it was imported. Claude has known the car and its previous owners since it was new, and is still in regular contact with the first owner’s son, Noel Shipp (who wouldn’t mind the car back!) Noel can recall riding in the car when it was brand spanking new.

Claude remembers vividly as a boy how he and everybody in his father’s Garage/Mechanical workshop and the Blacksmith’s shop next door would down tools and run out on to the footpath to watch TA1980 drive through town. This was back before WWII when cars, let alone bright red sports cars were a rare sight. Little did he know that some ten years later he would become the proud owner!

I am most grateful to Claude and his son, Ross for helping to put the article together and for arranging to have the photographs taken. Acknowledgment is also due to the photographer, Des Stubbs.

Above and below: view of each side of engine

Above and below: view of each tool tray

Above: chassis no. on front of n/side chassis rail
Above: view of dashboard
Above: View of interior – quite amazing when you consider that the car is nearly 74 years old and has covered 112,000 miles!
Above: Three-quarter view
Above: And to close… a ‘shot’ of Claude’s grandson, Lawson in his Replica 1938 Cream Cracker (BBL 78) Billy Cart which has been raced with some success at several downhill race meets (but that’s another story)

(Some) After Market Drop Arms Supplied with VW Steering Box Conversions

Having acquired a 1948 MG TC earlier this year with an MOT and discovering (inevitably) that it wasn’t quite as roadworthy as I’d been led to believe (How do some people acquire MOT certification?) I began to address the problems my MOT station had identified.

After replacing all the braking gear, cylinders, shoes, pipes, hoses etc and fitting a heat-shield, I felt it necessary to address the obvious cause of soggy rear shoes by contacting Roger Furneaux (roger.46tc(‘at’) for some of his cunning half-shaft sleeves. These fitted, I began to wonder how I could improve the steering.

The problems only appeared when the testing station mechanic had the front of the car off the ground. He couldn’t move the wheels from lock-to-lock and upon further investigation found that the steering had a tendency to offer resistance, as if something were jamming in the linkage, or the box. This later turned out to be a disintegrating groove in the Bishop steering box.

The trouble was that I had to go to Australia on business, so everything came to a halt.

This proved to be a bit of a blessing in disguise because on my last weekend there, I woke in my hotel room in Geelong and on the green in front of the hotel were banners and tents being erected.

It transpired that, that morning the MG Car Club of Geelong were having a show and it gave me the opportunity to crawl over about 20 MG TCs and discuss the pros and cons of the steering box. The popular solution in Australia seems to be a VW or a Datsun conversion, so when I got back to Blighty I began my search.

There were a couple of businesses offering the VW conversion and so, after getting over the shock of the cost, I ordered one. When it arrived I was immediately taken with it and to my layman’s eye, after fitting it I think it is almost indistinguishable from the old unit.

Fitting was simplicity itself. No drilling or adapting of any original parts of the car. Just bolt on a bracket. Bolt the column onto this and connect the drop-arm between the box and the tie-bar.

With this resolved and my other MOT failures addressed – like the one headlight that dipped whilst the other went onto full beam (as I said – how do people get MOT certificates?) off I toddled for a re-test.

Now I don’t know how many of you reading this live around West Kent, but if ever in need of a garage that specialises in classic cars, go visit Sergents in Station Road, Goudhurst. There was no charge for the re-test, even though over a month had passed. They adjusted the brakes so they pulled more evenly. Something I had not been able to do with no mileage under my belt since fitting new linings and cylinders. They were complimentary about my purchase and proudly I was on my way for the long drive home – with my new MOT certificate.

The only problem was – the banging and crashing coming from somewhere around the scuttle.

What had I done?

Was something loose? Had I left a spanner somewhere? – No.

Was it coming from the steering column? I checked the fixings. I re-aligned everything. I even took it out and put it back in again; same problem. Every time I drove over anything other than a smooth surface there was a clatter from somewhere under the dash.

I contacted the supplier of the column. They had ‘never heard of this problem before’ (funny that!).

Anyway, they agreed to exchange the unit without fuss, so it was sent off and another arrived. I fitted this one. Off we went for a test-run. Bang crash!

What the heck could it be?

The following weekend I was to meet a pal at Brands Hatch, so I decided – what the hell! – and took the MG. The drive was fantastic, everything I’d wanted it to be – except the bashing about under the dash each time I hit an uneven bit of tarmac.

The next morning (after attending to my chores), determined to see if I couldn’t find the cause of this malady, I wondered into the garage. I inspected everything, twisted and turned the steering wheel and while lying beside the car and turning the steering wheel I noticed paint had been chipped from the tie-bar.

On further examination it became clear that the replacement drop-arm was only about 10mm away from the tie-bar. Obviously – every time the car’s suspension moves, so the gap between the drop- arm and the tie-bar closes and – Bingo!

I removed the offending drop-arm and photographed it alongside the original and the next day I e-mailed the supplier. Part of my comments were aimed at helping him to resolve the problem (that he’d never had before) and ensuring that, if he was selling as many of these conversions as he claimed, he could avoid future problems and address the problem I was having.

No response to my e-mail, – so I phoned.

“No”, he said. “We’ve never had this problem. All MG TCs are different and there’s no telling what improvements and amendments they have had over their lifetime”.

I then began a trawl through the few MG contacts I’d picked-up since my purchase.

The Editor of this journal, Totally T-Type 2, passed my e-mail to others and copied me in, and with a little networking I established that the original VW conversion used to come with a converted VW drop-arm (see picture).

The drop-arm I’d received was almost straight, a purpose forged piece about an inch longer than the original. (see picture)

With no help from my supplier I explored the viability of either having a shorter version made or bending my replacement drop-arm, which is ultimately what I did.

I am happy to report that, having bent the arm so that the bottom end (the one that connects to the tie-bar), is 30mm (an inch and a qtr. in old money), lower, allowing enough clearance between the two components, the problem is resolved – even over the potholed roads of Kent.

Mike James

Ed’s comments: I’m really pleased to have been of assistance with this one. To reiterate the purpose of the website and TTT 2:

The over-arching aim of this website is to help owners to rebuild, or if rebuilt, to maintain and keep their cars on the road ….

If I can’t help with a query I usually know “a man who can”.

The attitude of the supplier was not acceptable. It reminds me of the riposte which my engine builder delivers to the “never had this problem before guv” brigade – which is “well the original part fitted!”

Yes, there are rogue MoT stations – I have experienced one of these myself. More is the pity that they don’t get found out!

Finally, this article might have solved a problem for me with my friend’s L2 as he has similar (but not as severe) noises emanating from his scuttle.

T-Type Overheating: Part 1

Inspired by an article I received from Alan Atkins, I thought I would run a series of articles on this subject. Alan’s article was very useful but it was a bit of a “catch all” on overheating and I wanted to be more focused in separate articles, as well as wanting to catalogue my progress on TC0750. Nevertheless, his article has given me lots of good information and has served to assist me with a framework within which to work.

Alan made the point that overheating is not a new complaint with older vehicles, many of which did not have a thermostat to control the engine temperature and whose cooling systems ran on the thermo-syphon principle. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the thermo-syphon set up – it works perfectly on my PB – but the problem comes when one encounters a traffic jam and the temperature gauge climbs and climbs, giving one palpitations!

I can recall family days out in the late 1950s (yes, I can remember back that far, but can’t remember what I did yesterday!) to Weston-Super-Mare in the old Series 1 Morris 8 (EMU 419). Living on the south side of Bristol we came back on the A38 and had to climb the (then) notorious Redhill, south of Bristol Airport. Redhill wasn’t (and still isn’t) very steep, but it was a long upward pull, which ‘found out’ many an old car with a poorly maintained cooling system. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that just over halfway up the hill and all the way to the top, the roadside was littered with old crocks with their bonnets up and clouds of steam pouring forth.

Looking back on this, I’m inclined to conclude that the cause of these boil-ups was, more often than not, the radiator. My conclusion was reinforced by experience a few years later when our 1952 Hillman Minx broke down with an overheating problem in Belgium. It seemed to take an eternity for the garage to remove the radiator and flush it through, but once done, the car ran fine and took us on through The Netherlands and into Germany.

Fast forward to 2011 and in between keeping a PB on the road and rebuilding a J2 I have been doing some work on TC0750. Having decided to get the engine rebuilt with a new steel crank and rods and a few other ‘bells and whistles’ I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to remove the radiator and get it pressure tested and flow checked, which would be a start towards the engine rebuild (for which I am currently saving my pennies).

Now, as many of you who have worked on our cars know, jobs invariably turn out to be not as straightforward as one hoped. In my case, the removal of the radiator and shell and the subsequent separation of the shell to reveal the radiator and its surround in all its glory turned out to be a bit of a challenge – so much so that this article is more about the problems I faced rather than a contribution to the overheating debate.

The job started well and the bonnet (hood) tops and sides were removed quite easily. I removed the hinge from each bonnet side with the help of my IT man, who agreed to leave his computer for a short while. These were carefully stored (for heaven knows when they will go back!) and I was able to lift both bonnet tops off in one go with the centre hinge intact.

Next it was the turn of the radiator to bulkhead stay tubes to be removed and be suspended from the roof of shed number 3 using tie wraps (whatever did we do before they were invented?). At this point I ought to mention that the wings (fenders) had long been removed for repair, as had the headlights.

Having cut through all the hoses, which were well past their ‘sell by’ date and which will be replaced by a set of silicone hoses, it was just about time to have a go at taking the radiator and shell out as one unit. The two 3/8” BSF nuts securing the radiator to the support cross member were a little obstinate but gradually gave up the fight with the aid of some penetrating oil. As each nut was removed I was heartened to note that the flat washer which was positioned between it and the lower mounting rubber was exactly as per spec in the TC Factory Specification Book i.e. 3/8” x 1-1/4” x 0.72” Pl. washer (Rad. Securing Stud). No doubt some readers will think I am slightly mad but I like these little touches of originality!

Note: I’ve just remembered that there were two 3/8” BSF half nuts to undo, which were acting as lock nuts, before the BSF full nuts could be attacked.

So, the moment of truth had arrived, but nothing would budge. Experience over the years has taught me to be patient and not resort to ‘metallic torture’ as there is usually a reason why parts refuse to submit. In this case it was RUST; eventually, with some judicious wiggling and shaking it was possible to lift the radiator and surround out. The support cross member is very, very rusty and will need to be removed and be blasted and treated with POR 15 (by which I swear).

Next it was the turn of the radiator shell to be removed to get down to ‘brass tacks’ with the radiator itself. The radiator tape (total length 5’) needed to be threaded through the twenty four 1⁄2” drilled holes in the shell in order to gain access to the six (three each side) countersunk 3/16” BSF x 3/8” countersunk machine screws which hold the shell to the radiator casing (you could, I suppose call it the radiator sub-frame?). When these were released the radiator shell separated from the casing (sub-frame) quite easily.

Photo 1: The radiator tape being removed

A point to note about locating the 3/16” countersunk machine screws when reuniting the radiator shell with the casing is that the holes are elongated, which provides for some adjustment.

I was quite pleased with progress so far, but I had now reached the point where I would need some professional help. The radiator casing (sub-frame) was extremely rusty as can be seen by the following two pictures.

Photos 2 and 3: Two ‘shots’ of the rusty casing – worse was to come!

Clearly, I needed to remove the casing as I couldn’t leave it in the state it was. As will be noted from the pictures shown, it was only possible to undo one of the four 1⁄4” BSF x 1⁄2” set screws (two each side) at the bottom of the casing – the other three sheared.

I’ve gone a bit out of sequence here because the purpose of the aforementioned four set screws is to locate the bottom of the casing shown – having been removed – in the next picture.

Photo 4: Bottom of radiator casing showing ‘torture’ inflicted.

At this juncture I have to confess to the use of ‘metallic torture’ in that I hack sawed through what seemed to be a couple of layers of rusty metal between the inside of the bottom of the casing and the bottom of the radiator itself. In fact, steel strips on the bottom of the casing are soldered to steel strips on the bottom of the radiator to locate it in place.

Having removed the bottom of the casing, there was still a need to unsolder it at each side of the top of the radiator and underneath the header tank.

Photos 5 and 6: Two views of where the casing is soldered to the top of the header tank – it is also soldered underneath.

I had previously experienced good service from Raysons Radiators in Yeovil, but as they are situated 40 miles away and I wanted the casing to be unsoldered for me to arrange repair before taking it back with the radiator to be pressure tested and flow checked this was not an attractive option. I then recalled that fellow TC owner, David Lewis had received excellent service from a company called Advanced Autocooling (Bristol) Ltd ( As luck would have it they are actually situated on my doorstep (within two miles).

They couldn’t have been more obliging and un-sweated the casing from the radiator while I waited! The picture below shows the two side pieces of the casing after un-sweating from the radiator.

Photo 7: The two side pieces of the radiator casing after they had been un-sweated from the radiator.

Three of the captive nuts had also rusted out and needed to be repaired. Fortunately, a PA and PB owner (Fred Wheeler), who lives about 12 miles south of me not only brazed in new captive nuts, but also grit blasted the two side pieces of the casing. I immediately applied some POR 15 to the bare metal pieces.

Photo 8: A bit of a sorry sight with captive nuts no longer captive!

Fred also repaired the bottom of the radiator casing for me so that it was all ready for Advanced Autocooling to solder it on to the bottom of the radiator, along with the two side pieces that I had painted.

All was now ready to take the radiator and the restored casing to Advanced Autocooling but before doing so I ‘dry assembled the casing to the radiator to check everything fitted.

Photo 9: The restored and painted side casing pieces (compare this with photos 7 and 8!)
Photo 10: The restored and painted bottom casing (compare this with photo 4!)
Photo 11: The tested radiator – still to be painted

Advanced Autocooling repaired four small leaks in the radiator and did a flow test (good flow reported) for £60. It’s good to have reliable professionals on one’s doorstep and capable M.G. friends like Fred Wheeler.


Overheating Part 2 in next issue.

TA1521 – Quite a Rescue!

Unlike TA1980 featured earlier, TA1521 has had a very hard life.

The car was brought home from England at the end of WW II by a Polish Serviceman and was reputedly raced in the early fifties in Upper Silesia (Katowice area).

The father of the current owner, Maciek Peda, bought the car in uncompleted condition around 1975. At that time Poland was behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ and there was little or no opportunity to acquire literature and spares. As a result, the TA remained untouched in the state you see it in the photo above.

With the collapse of communism in 1990 the time was now right to rebuild this car. Spares were sourced in England and in Germany and the restoration was completed by 1996. Then disaster struck – to quote Maciek, “sadly after five years, first MPJG ‘passed away’ – in past he had broken at least two conrods. Block was repaired, but had not the right stiffness. After five years of use came inside of block cracks and water was going to oil”.

Knowing that another MPJG block would be extremely difficult to find, Maciek seriously considered replacing the expired unit with an XPAG or VA engine. Surprisingly, around 2005, an incomplete MPJG engine with block, conrods and crank in premium condition was found…………in Poland of all places!

Nice ‘shot’ of the completed TA1521 with Maciek at the wheel.

Maciek is quite an M.G. fan and also owns this magnificent WA (chassis number 0406)

Clearly a man of many interests, Maciek supplies spare parts for Lanz tractors via his website at and apart from collecting cars, he also collects the remains of crashed or ‘belly landed’ American aircraft. Maciek says he collects them “as a tribute to those young airmen – they flew and fought with those aircraft.”

Recently a large military event was held in Maciek’s area of Poland; he decided to exhibit a small display of some of the surviving parts from the remains of the five Boeing B-17 Bombers which he has collected.

Maciek standing with TA1521 in his display tent at the military event.
TA1521 in use as a ‘duty’ car at the military event with Maciek and a friend dressed in military uniforms.

The Lucas Starter Switch – ST10

Diagram 1

Like most things electrical, I guess, we take them for granted until they go wrong. This article by Jerry Austin, which first appeared in Octagon Topics, the journal of the Vintage MG Club of Southern California, in 1984, will help you in the event that you have a problem with the starter switch on your TC. I am grateful to Jerry and to the VMG for allowing me to reproduce it.

“Not much has been said about the lowly but important starter switch used on the TC and some earlier models. The Lucas, model ST10, is designed, of course, to be mounted on the commutator end bracket of the starter. It is operated by a Bowden cable to the trunnion on the switch itself.

If a malfunction of other than the starter motor itself is suspected, connect a voltmeter between the switch terminal and ground. If the reading is zero, there is a flat battery, broken wire or loose connection. Use the voltmeter and an ohmmeter to find the culprit. Check that the pull-cable itself is doing its job and is not broken or disconnected. If the switch moves properly and does not actuate the starter, then, after removing first the ground cable from the battery, then the heavy cable running to the solenoid, undo the four screws that hold it to the motor. One of them is viewable only by moving the rubber bootee aside. Pull the switch cover away from the starter to expose the internal contacts. See the illustrations for details.

The contacts must be clean and smooth where the contact disc meets them. Any raised material caused by arcing must be removed and the surfaces smoothed. It is important too that the two fixed contacts have equal levels so the disc contacts them evenly. Not many places have the once available repair kit any more. It is possible to find them occasionally however, at swap meets, car shows, garage sales and so on. Look for Lucas part # 255912.

Keep your eyes open also for the little bootee, part # 764272.

Diagram 2
Diagram 3

Do not remove the contacts unless they require more attention than can be given them while still attached. If they must come off, take off the starter and remove nut B, that holds on the field coil connection, and the three screws C, and the insulating tubes. To refit the repaired or new contacts, set them into place over the insulating plate, fit the insulators over the securing screws, fit and secure the screws. Lastly, fit the nut onto the field coil connection. Take care not to twist the connection while tightening the nut! If this occurs, the whole starter must come down and the connector will have to be silver soldered back on. If the contacts are new and even if they have been reworked, the faces must be ground so they are dead even and flat. The diameter of the grinding wheel or rotary file used must be 1”, and the depth of the machined surface must end up at .245” +/- 0.005” from the edge of the starter end plate.

To remove the contact disc from the switch for replacement or repair, first remove the jump ring C, from the end of the shaft. The return spring with its end caps will fall off, so don’t lose them. In replacing the disc, note the correct position of the disc relative to the switch fixing plate. To secure the disc, replace the spring and end caps. Affix the jump ring and be sure it locks on the shaft.

The only thing left to do now is to fit the switch cover back on the starter. Note the proper positioning of the battery connecting cable when it is attached. If the cable end cuts through the rubber bootee, watch out!”

Diagram 4

Ed’s note: Bearing in mind that this was written over 25 years ago and even then, spare parts were difficult to come by, it is a real bonus to find original examples nowadays. They come up on eBay from time to time and Paul Beck ( sells “Part number 76428 Starter Switch” described as “as Lucas ST10 style start switch”. Doug Pelton carries a Lucas style switch (and has NOS) as well as individual items, such as the starter switch grommet and the contact set, copper.

Polyurethane Bushes (At Last!)

Several months ago (it was either December last year or January this year) I gave a well known poly bush supplier all the data he needed to get a mould made to have some poly bushes produced.

From time to time I made the odd enquiry as to progress and frankly, was beginning to give up hope when the following reply came back to the latest e-mail enquiry:

“We should have some for you to look at next week”

True to his word the sample bushes duly arrived and here they are:

First a “history lesson”………..

For whatever reason – some say it was due to cost, others claim it was due to shortage of phosphor bronze after WW II – the excellent set-up used on Triple-M cars and the TA/TB whereby the rear end of the main leaf of each spring (front and rear spring) was located in slots in bronze trunnions, which were enclosed in housings – was discontinued in favour of shackle pins and rubber bushes.

The rubber bushes were made by ‘Harris Flex’ and were patented. I still have examples of these originals (which are rather the worse for 65 years of wear!) on TC0750 and these have proved to be invaluable in getting correct modern reproductions made.

The bush (one of a pair) which locates in a tube at the front of the TC chassis was ‘Harris Flex’ number CW8505. The part number given in the TC Factory Specification Book was 95050 “Shackle Bush -Top Ft. Sprg. Rear” (4 off). This part number was later given a BMC part number ACA5242 and this is the part number which appears in the TC Parts List.

The nominal diameter of this bush is 0.875” and the width inside the flange is 0.75”. Therefore, two of these bushes fit the tube in the front of the TC chassis. Two of these bushes also fit the rear spring eye of the TD/TF rear leaf spring as, at 11⁄2” the TD/TF leaf springs are wider that the 11⁄4” of the TA/B/C.

The bush (one of a pair) which locates in the spring eye of both front and rear springs on the TC was ‘Harris Flex’ number CW719. The part number given in the TC Factory Specification Book was 99557 and was described under the “Front Springs” heading as “Shackle Bush” (4 off) with an entry in the remarks column “Bottom – Frt. Spring, Rear” and under the “Rear Springs” heading as “Bush – shackle” (4 off) with an entry in the remarks column “Top – Rear Spring – Rear”.

The nominal diameter of this bush is 0.875” and the width inside the flange is 0.625”.Therefore, two of these bushes fit the rear eyes of the front and rear leaf springs on the TC.

One can deduce from the above that ‘Harris Flex’ bush numbers CW8505 and CW719 are essentially the same bushes, the only difference being the width of the bush, which is 0.75” and 0.625” respectively.

Fast forward to 2011 and if you look up the MOSS Europe catalogue you will find under the TA/B/C Front Suspension section, item number 45 “ACA5242”, which reads “Bush spring (standard)” and underneath there is a note which reads “Note: Lower bushes should be trimmed 5/8” shorter, prior to installation.”

The entry “Bush spring (standard)” refers to the rubber bushes, which retail at £0.55 each. The entry immediately below (still under item number 45) reads “280-625 BUSH, spring” and there is a note underneath which reads “Note: uprated polyurethane”

This bush retails at £8.15 (August 2011 price).

I have not yet agreed a final price for the bushes I am having made, but I would hope to sell them on a non-profit making basis for around half the price charged by MOSS Europe. This includes allowing for the recovery of the cost of having the mould made and assumes that this cost is recovered over 25 car sets (300 bushes) – so I need your support and would welcome expressions of interest!

I am not going to comment unfavourably on a commercially available bush I have inspected and measured but I make the following points about my bushes:

• the bushes I am having made are as close to the original as possible

• these bushes will be black (as original) and will have the correct wide flange at the ‘top hat’

• the bushes will be cut to size, so that they will be available in two sizes – one size for the front tube in the chassis of the TC and for the rear eye of the TD./TF leaf spring, and the other size for the rear eyes in the front and rear TC leaf springs.

Before returning to our “history lesson” I just wanted to pass comment on the note in the MOSS catalogue with reference to trimming the ACA5242 bush to fit the lower bushes i.e. the leaf spring eye. Instead of saying “Lower bushes should be trimmed 5/8” shorter” I think they should say that they should be trimmed so that the bush measures 5/8” – not 5/8” shorter.

Back to our “history lesson”………………..

The large bush (one of a pair) which locates on the large (bottom) shackle pin at the back of the rear spring location was ‘Harris Flex’ number CW8506. The part number in the TC Factory Specification Book was 99955 and was described under the “Rear Springs” heading as “Shackle Rubber, Btm. Rear Spring” (4 off). A “Washer” – material, “Hard Fibre”, part number 99956 was fitted between each pair of bushes and this was presumably to keep any moisture out.

Well that’s the end of the “history lesson”!

Just a couple more photos to show as follows:

Three of the original ‘Harris Flex’ bushes – the large one on the right is CW8506 and has picked up some rust from its housing.
The sample bushes fitted as a ‘mock up’. The sleeve at the top is there to replicate the chassis tube.

Finally, as I am writing this in the middle of August I would hope to have 100 of the TC chassis tube/TD and TF rear spring bushes and 200 of the TC front and rear leaf spring bushes available by the end of October. I shall also put in hand forthwith, arrangements for making a mould for the large bush pictured with the original bushes above.