Help at hand for Incontinence

XPAG Oil Leak Tray
Help at hand for Incontinence: a discreet offering from David Pelham

The XPAG engine is well known for its oil leaks and in particular, the one from the rear crankshaft seal. My cars have regularly dripped oil from the bottom of the bell housing on to my drive so I thought that it was time to fit an ‘Oil Catchment Tray’ so that oil escaping from the bell housing could be caught into a container, rather than being liberally dispersed on my drive and anywhere else that I parked. However, when I enquired about finding a suitable product on the market I was astounded to find nothing suitable. There were two companies supplying, what appeared to be an identical product, which consisted of a small container, similar to a square ‘Baked Bean’ tin affixed by a single bolt in the centre of the bell housing, but this appeared to be somewhat basic although costly (in excess of £62 plus P&P). I therefore decided to commission my own.

Fortunately, I had a spare XPAG bell housing so getting an exact profile, using the bottom three bolts of the bell housing, was relatively easy. However, I hadn’t envisaged quite so many problems with the prototype before production could finally commence. In order to maximise the oil catchment I wanted the tray to be as wide as possible. Additionally, as there was an obvious ‘niche’ in the market for the product, I decided that whatever I ended up with should fit all XPAG cars e.g. TB/C/D/F, Y saloons and Y Tourers.

The two main problems in the ‘one size fits all’ approach were coping with the exhaust pipe routing differences and the ‘finned’ sump on late TDs and YBs. The exhaust system on a TC and TD is fixed to the offside of the car (RHD), whereas the exhaust pipe on a Y, both Saloon and Tourer, is fixed to the nearside of the car. The location and size of the various exhausts determined the shape of the final product, as sufficient space had to be left to accommodate the various positions of the exhausts.

It is vital when fitting an oil catchment tray that the split pin hole drain in the bell housing operates freely and therefore this was also a major consideration. The split pin hole on ‘finned’ sumps, fitted to later TDs has minimal space between the side of the sump and edge of the catchment tray. The third prototype was made 67mm in width, the maximum achievable to facilitate the finned sump.

The two prototype catchment trays were successfully tested on a TD and my own YA/YT and I ordered a pre-production run of fifteen for further tests before ‘I pressed the button!”

Once I had a ‘successful’ report of a fitting to a ‘Finned’ sump TD I contacted an owner, who had seen a prototype at the MG Spares Day at Stoneleigh and expressed an interest. I sent one off to him, full of confidence that all would be well. What I did not realise was that he had a ‘Hi Gear’ five speed conversion on his TD – another variant that I had not catered for! He kindly took the trouble to explain that as the ‘Hi Gear’ bell housing is thicker than the MG one, the front of the drip tray does not go far enough forward to be under the “drip hole”. He went on to say that in order to rectify this he had cured it by bending the front face of the drip tray about 1/8th inch forward and with some other minor fettling the problem was solved!

XPAG Oil Leak Tray fitted to MG TD with 5-speed gearbox conversion
Tray fitted to a TD with 5-speed conversion

These Oil Drip Trays have now been fitted to a number of cars and orders have been received and fulfilled not only in the UK but also in Continental Europe, Australia and the USA. Response has been highly favourable. The oil drip tray is made from aluminium, weighs approximately 230 grams and has a 3/8 inch BSP drain with a 5/8 inch Hexagonal Sump plug. (Earlier drip trays had an Allen Key Sump plug).

The latest Drip Trays are first ‘Laser Cut’ to ensure accuracy before welding. They have a capacity of 250ml, which means that even with the ‘leakiest’ XPAG the drip tray should not require draining too often. They can be painted to match the sump and really do not look out of place; it could almost be an original fitting. The cost is £40 plus postage and packing and can be obtained from me at dapelham ‘at’ btinternet.com Whilst an XPAG engine is renowned for leaking, this enhancement not only reduces the amount of oil on my drive but avoids embarrassment when I park on somebody else’s!

XPAG Oil Drip Tray - Bottom

8 thoughts on “Help at hand for Incontinence

  1. Erik Benson says:

    Hi there. . . I like the devotion to the old problem. For what it is worth, here is my penny’s worth.
    In the 60s and 70s when I was one of the great T racer group. I would swoop down from Scotland to race at all the circuits we competed on in those days. The drip problem came seriously into focus as I sat on the grid at Silverstone in my TC waiting for the start and a beady eyed marshall decided he didn’t like my drip, and sent me off ! At all subsequent race meetings I would issue to wife and 2 children some chewing gum to chew at about Towcester. By the time we were installed in the paddock, I had the wherewithall to stop the drip ! By lap 2 or 3 the gum had gone and no-one was any the wiser !
    Of course we all fiddled around with the scroll and epoxy, which did work, but was a chore. About that time someone in the States worked out that you could use a Chevy oil seal. This was adapted and sold by some of the the worthies who supply to our passion.. . .but not with a great success rate
    Being always conscious of time/effort/money I had a go at another idea. . .a catch tank. . .not a drip tray. I used one of those pint oilcans which , being flat, fits neatly in the gap between sump and bell housing. I took out the split pin and widened the hole to fit a short tube down into the uppermost side of the can. As these cans have a screw cap, I reckoned I could easily drain it when it needed it.
    THEN. . . .I discovered what no-one had actually realised !. . . . . . .This is an area of low pressure as you drive along. The difference in pressures between the inside of the engine and the outside via the scroll is tiny. . .so. . .the oil is encouraged to leak out.
    How did I discover this ?. . .After a whole season racing. . . .when I came to drain the can. . . . .NOTHING !!! as the low pressure area was now filled by the can
    Problem solved. Fairly quickly our “worthy ” suppliers cottoned on to the idea and I saw their versions being marketed at high prices.
    So there you have it. . . . .like all things MG. . . .you CAN do it yourself.- cost ? nothing !
    Sorry I have no pics, but am happy to explain it more to anyone. . .it is fairly self explanatory though. . . . . Hoots toots. . . .The Butler !!

    • Mike Fritsch says:

      Erik, understand the low pressure effect will draw the oil from the bell housing, but are you saying it will actually stay inside the engine with the oil can covering the opening ?? Then closing the hole should have the same effect which I dont believe would be a good idea ?

      Rgds mike

  2. Jacek Skibinski says:

    Hello TT-Riders,
    I got one of those “Drip Tray” for my TD and I am very satisfied,less oil on garage floor and pavement. I should need one for engine front before replacing oil seals by modern one.
    Jacek // Geneva

  3. Erik Benson says:

    Hi Mike. . . . . I remember that I let a couple of wee holes into the top of the can, and also the fit between tube and can was not a seal fit. I suppose that the effect of having the can filling the low pressure area was enough to do the job. Really though . . I was amazed when I came to empty it and there was nothing in it !
    So ,it works. . . . . !
    Give it a try .
    cheers. . .Erik.
    By the way -front seals as standard should ALWAYS work. . .well mine have on many T types since 1957.

  4. David Provan says:

    I used a home made drip tray for a while, but during a rebuild (broken crank) I had the motor machinist fit a Moss seal about four years ago. I know there have been reports of mixed results with these: the machinist thinks it is because they are fitted to a part of the block that’s not machined, and the seal needs to be perfectly aligned to work.
    The results are great: no drips whatever, and on a subsequent strip (don’t ask) the front face of the flywheel was completely dry.

    More than I can say for the front seal, but that’s a different story.

  5. Murray Shantz says:

    Higher pressure at the bell housing. Very interesting….

    From your description I understand that the oil can created a higher pressure at the bell housing vs the engine crankcase. In your experience was this high pressure generated by the wind while driving. If this was the case then I expect that the oil would leak when vehicle was not moving??

    Would it be possible to get a sketch of your installation? I am thinking that a combination of tray and “higher pressure generating contraption” may solve (or at least reduce) my leaking rear seal on my 1950 MG TD.

  6. Erik Benson says:

    I reckon that the oil-can destroyed the potential low pressure area when moving… At stand still, there would not have been a pressure imbalance unless the engine breathers were blocked. It seems the oil is induced to come through the scroll by the low pressure effect when moving.

    I will have a go at a drawing, but it’s not that hard to fit. All I can say is… it works !! I’ll get back to you when I can.

    Luckily. I have not needed to fit one on my ’51 TD – as yet !
    Cheers, from sunny Cognac, France… Erik

  7. David Taylor says:

    I made someting very similar for my car (TF) but instead of a screwed plug, I put a small brass bayonet fitting (cut off a small brass pipe fitting) in the bottom of the tray, connected to a plastic pipe then to a small plastic bottle strapped (with long jubilee clips) to the chassis rail. This bottle holds a lot more than the drip tray, it rarely needs emtying and is much easier to empty because you don’t have to get under the car to do it. It is important to ensure the necessary fall from the bell housing to the chassis rail.

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