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!
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!