“Don’t despair!”

When the true horror of the condition of his purchase of an ostensibly sound TC was revealed, Ray White vowed to completely rebuild it – he’s got off to a very good start…………

“I had just said good-bye to my 1926 Dodge Brothers tourer, the restoration of which had been a big part of my life for the past seven years, and I was suffering from the usual withdrawal symptoms. Then one morning, my wife noticed an advert on the internet. “What about this?” she asked.  

Under a photo of a shiny red MG TC was an intriguing description.  “Genuine rust free 1949 matching numbers car. Only 25,000 miles.  £18,000.”

TC10030 on arrival at Ray White’s home – looks good, doesn’t it!

It sounded too good to be true but I simply had to find out more. I arranged to see the car that afternoon………much to the surprise of the owner, who had just placed the advert and had not expected such a quick response!

The MG worked its magic.  They do that, don’t they?  I overlooked all the warning signs and latched onto every word the owner said.  He was a most convivial elderly chap, quite disarming in a way and I believed every word he said. The engine had been re-bored, the crank reground and he had fitted all new wood.  I just wanted it all to be true.   But it wasn’t.

When I got the car home and started to investigate some of the more obvious problems that I had previously dismissed, the truth began to dawn on me.  I had bought a ‘lemon’. Underneath the smart new leather trim, the wood had indeed been replaced … but with firewood.  The body had been basically bodged and painted straight over rust. It was scrap.

Worse was yet to come.  The engine had good oil pressure but then gear oil has that effect!  The crank had been fitted to a dirty engine and would need a regrind.  The block had not been re-bored – in fact there was 0.027” wear in the bores, one of which had been relined as a result of a seizure at some time in the distant past.

Some things were original. For example, the tyres and the oil filter were genuine 1950s items still in place! The gearbox had been run with no oil and the rear axle could at least be sold for scrap.  I won’t bore readers with more tales of woe; the list is far too long.

Every cloud has a silver lining.  In the case of TC10030 it was an opportunity for me to build an MG TC from scratch – but to my own design.  Fortunately, the chassis is pretty much rust free and reasonably straight.

Once the car had been stripped down, the chassis just required prep and paint – although one of the scuttle mounting brackets needed replacement and Pete at Octagon spares service went out of his way to find me one!

When it comes to bodywork, I am happy to entrust the job to Andrew Denton of MG Ash Frames in Yorkshire.  Andrew is a qualified pattern maker with many years’ experience working on MG frames.  He knows his stuff!  He will be supplying a complete body including doors and a new dashboard. He is also making new floor boards.

I have so far renewed the king pins and bushes. but instead of the usual thrust washer I have fitted needle roller bearings. Having crack tested the spindles I will be fitting the front hubs with taper roller bearings.  I will also be replacing the drop arm and track rod ends.

Other parts that I have bought ready to install are a new bronze master cylinder and bronze wheel cylinders with Alfin type drums all round. A Panhard rod from Roger Furneaux will stabilise the front axle and the springs will be refurbished with poly bushes.  The rear springs are to be renewed and the Luvax shock absorbers are currently with “good bloke” Raj Patel in Leicester.  

I am awaiting new “improved” brake shoes from Peter Edney.  He is restoring my engine which will have a +0.030” rebore and quality pistons; a reground crank and new bearings; cylinder head shaped and ported with bronze valve guides, TF valves and springs and converted to unleaded.  I have ordered an Eaton M40 supercharger from Steve Baker which will be mated with a stainless exhaust system including an extractor manifold. I also have invested in a Peter Edney fast road camshaft with new bearings. The fly wheel will be slightly lightened and everything balanced. 

As the electrics were incorrect, I am fitting a new wiring harness from Auto sparks and a 45amp dynamator with electronic distributor with sports coil.  The loom has indicator wires included.

I recently collected a five-speed gearbox conversion kit from Peter Gamble of Hi-gear Engineering near me in Derby. I have opted for a modified higher first gear and reversing light switch.  On dismantling the axle pinion assembly, the front bearing cage collapsed and ball bearings fell out all over the bench!  I also discovered a broken pinion tooth.

A replacement crown wheel and pinion kit with taper roller bearings and thrust bearings has arrived from Roger Furneaux in Devon.  I have opted for the TA 8/39 higher ratio. I will also be fitting his ingenious sealing hub nuts….  the half shafts need to be crack tested.

It may not suit some people but I am changing the layout of the dashboard.  The original board has long since been replaced with a “best guess” version so I will have a new one made and as I don’t like the original vinyl covering, mine will be wood.  I have bought a new bronze coloured dash panel from Andy King and intend to fit cream switches and knobs. A new 151/2” cream Bluemels Brooklands steering wheel will complement.

My original instruments are being restored by John Marks of Vintage Restorations in Tunbridge Wells.  He owns the British Jaeger brand. In addition to a dual water/oil gauge, I am having a boost gauge for the supercharger and a petrol gauge which will complement the low-level warning light.  The sender unit is a dip tube type that will fit in the top of the tank at the opposite end to the filler.  I have ordered another filler cap that can be fitted over the sender unit to disguise it.  The effect is a dual filler tank……quite sporty, I think!    John will also be modifying the ammeter to handle the 45 amps alternator output. There will also be improved back lighting. 

Although the interior is complete; the seats don’t match so I will be recovering them in matching’ biscuit’ leather.  I have also taken delivery of a new hood and side screens finished in matching ‘Stay fast’, but although the frames are present it is a job that can wait.

The chrome plating will be farmed out but I shall be painting the car myself.  I have chosen Reno red cellulose but the biggest challenge will be all the preparation.  I hope to have it all done by this time next year.

TC 10030 was built in November 1949 and exported to Australia.  The first owner is not known but what we do know comes from Allan Gallard  of Woolamara who owned the car for about 10 years.  He bought it from one Les Johnson of Mount Colah, nr. Hornsby, NSW.  Les had inherited the TC from his brother Don who had raced it.  When Alan bought it, the car had been off the road since being totally dismantled in 1960.  The registration number back then was BGZ 773 and this is confirmed by a registration sticker that is still on the windscreen.  (A great piece of history!).

Alan advertised the dismantled TC on Ebay as being suitable for restoration or spares.  “Not for the faint hearted” was how it was described.  The remains were purchased in 2016 and repatriated to England. An age-related registration mark was obtained for the car once it has ‘so-say’ been rebuilt.

I purchased the car on June 6th this year. I had been looking for a TC for some time and when this one appeared in ‘Classic Cars for Sale’ I jumped in.  I was the first to see the car and believed the story I was told of the ‘rebuild’! 

I was pleased when Allan Gallard came to look at the car on a visit to England.  He had been in contact with Les Johnson and I am hoping that a photo of Les’ late brother Don with the TC will be sent to me. Evidence of the car’s competition history is a photo of Don with Stirling Moss back in the 50s which would be another nice bit of history to go with the car- if I could get hold of a copy!”

Ed’s Note: Since sending me the article Ray has invested in a new pair of half shafts and hubs with taper fit from Roger Furneaux (he found the originals had been stuck together with glue!!). He’s also replaced the front hubs and fitted taper roller bearings.  The chassis, back axle and back plates are all now in new paint.

Also renewed are the rear springs and shackle pins with the front ones having been stripped, sand blasted, refurbished and installed.

The track rod and drop arm ends have been replaced and a VW steering box conversion sourced. A heater will be fitted.

8 thoughts on ““Don’t despair!”

  1. Chris Parkhurst says:

    Ray I would seriously consider upgrading the brakes with either a servo hidden in the space behind the drivers seat and in front of the rear axle or a twin leading brake shoe conversion on the front by Andy King otherwise you might never ever stop it !! As we say in the Austin 7 world.

    Chris

    • Ray White says:

      Chris, thanks for the sound advice. As you may recall I own an Austin Swallow Saloon (which to the uninitiated has an Austin Seven chassis with coupled cable brakes) so I am well aware of the limitations. As it happens I have invested over £2000 on the brakes alone! In addition, I will be sporting new wheels and tyres. As you know, you can only stop as well as the tyres will permit and locking all four wheels is not a problem for a well set up TC.

      As a time served member of the IAM you may rest assured that I will not be taking any risks.

      Ray.

  2. William Kennard says:

    Boy, I just read the story of TC10030. I also believed what I was told by a very convincing slick salesman. I bought TC8931 last August. I did not like the color so my “Big” investment was going to be a new paint scheme. In starting, the perfectly good looking tub was almost all bondo and chicken wire. All the wood was either gone or rotted. The interior seats and back did not match the door and quarter panels. Who knew “Biscuit” had so many variations. The Hood looked great and good color, but stupid me just assumed it was canvas and not vinyl. The car is down to the frame. The engine at least did not have gear oil in the sump. A new tub should be fitted this month. I am shooting for a completion date in April. Thank you for an enlightening story. Will

  3. ABEY STEVENSON says:

    Well done Ray, a lovely article.
    As I am Ray’s neighbour,I am keeping a good watch on his progress to help me finish my TC Reg: GTC997 1946 ex police car. My car has had all the metal work painted Old Reno Red and is awaiting reassembly. The wiring loom does not have the corrugated metal shroud so I am contemplating getting a new loom. I was shocked to see that the steering wheel has sort of melted!!!! Drips of a lacquer like chemical has made a mess of the running board. Not sure what has caused this but the surround has shriveled dry. Can it be saved???
    I am still having problems removing the steering wheel on my TF. Reg: ULG 338 1954. It is jammed tight. JJ has sent me a workshop manual page on the removal. Thanks to him and I will give it a try soon.
    I’m new to this forum and already love the format and articles.
    Cheers

    • Ray White says:

      Hi Abey. Thanks for the kind words. I have a usable 17″ steering wheel that you are welcome to use in your restoration. It would be great to have two TC s rattling up and down our lane!

      Ray.

  4. Geoff Barlow says:

    I know Allan Gallard well. He lives in Woollamia about ten minutes drive from my place. He and I are both members of The Shoalhaven Historic Vehicle Club which is based in Nowra three hours south of Sydney. We meet for coffee every Friday locally. He’s told me about the TC and his subsequent trip to England.
    Cheers Geoff Barlow TC 9573

  5. bloodysalmon says:

    Hi Abey, Ray will know I too live within a stones through of you in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. I too have a red TC XVV960 which is an oily-rag for sure. Perhaps we should meet up when we can next, especially if you have your running Abey? I have an X police TC as well, TC2686, along with TC4245 both under full restoration

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