MG TC Tools: The Great Debate

The original tool set seems to be pretty clear cut for the TC. All you have to do is look at a factory picture of the tool set. However, there are some differences depending on which picture you look at. So what is correct and what would an original TC tool set look like?

To chronicle the correct tools for the TC, let’s start with the pictures as available from the illustration of tools in the Brown Book on page 7. Although this is the most common reference to the TC tool kit, it is only representative of the very earliest tool set for the TC. The photo was actually taken in 1939. The photo is wrong in that it includes the jack with the wooden handle which was used pre- war and had limited application for other than the earliest TCs. The Brown Book reference also has an extra box spanner compared to later sets.

Another source of tool originality is Factory Specifications #259, 1945, sheet #25. It also confirms that a list of pre-war tools was used in 1945 as a starting point for TC tools. This is known because the rubber tool trays were originally listed for the TC but were then deleted with a “pen and ink” change. The same specs also show only 3 box spanners listed.

The first printing of the TC Illustrated List of Service Parts, June 1946, also shows the pre-war jack. However, the 2nd printing, 1948, Plate V, there is an updated picture of the TC tool set with a new jack with a square cross-section handle (2 parts plus separate tommy bar). Close scrutiny shows a number of other changes, some subtle and some obvious. For example the later photo now only had 3 box spanners.

The quest for the perfect tool set is further compounded by differences in the manufacturer names of Shelley, Abingdon, King Dick, and Dunlop on similar tools and varied markings from none to BSW to BSF on spanners. And what about the length of the handcrank? The TC had 3 different length hand cranks.

The most heated debate often occurs over whether the TC open ended spanners were hex or round jaws (see Photo 1 below)

Photo 1

You can make an argument for each depending on which picture is viewed or which original tool set is viewed. But whatever you profess at the gospel for originality with tools, you will be wrong. To illustrate the point, look at the pictures of the open spanners in the 2nd Edition Illustrated Parts (see photo 6). You will see that 1 end has hex jaws and the other end has round jaws. I have to assume that the person who drew the illustration in 1948 is still laughing today at those who think they know which style was correct. I have never seen a spanner with 1 style jaw on each end. However, I have seen original tool set with of each style.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no exact answer. Whatever the factory had to make a complete tool set was used. Shelley and non-Shelley, round jaw and hex jaw, Enots and Tecalemit and other variations were all used. If you are trying to assemble a complete kit, I would suggest a proper period tool to match the category needed.

If you would like more information on the specifics of each tool and a detailed summary, you can find it at: look under Tech Tips / Tools.

Doug Pelton doug’at’

Ed’s note: Due to lack of space I have not been able to reproduce the tool kit illustration from ‘The Brown Book’ (TC Instruction Manual).

Photo 2 – various cylinder head spanners
Photo 3 – Distributor screwdriver and feeler gauge for points
Photo 4 – ‘Shelley’ hammer
Photo 5 – ‘Dunlop’ tyre (tire) levers
Photo 6 – this is a scanned extract from the 2nd Edition Illustrated Parts List which shows round jaws at one end and hexagon at the other on the ‘open enders’ as mentioned previously in the text
Photo 7 – this is one of Doug Pelton’s restored tool kits

Ed’s Note: Perhaps we’ll have a look at tool box lining in a future issue?

3 thoughts on “MG TC Tools: The Great Debate

  1. Barry Bahnisch says:

    I am glad to find out that I am not the only TC toolkit freak in the world! I have had my TC nearly 50 years and most of the tools came with it! I generally agree with your pictures/comments but I think that my tool roll was split leather. Quite a few spanners and suchlike (probably from Nuffield products of similar vintage)turn up at car boot sales (which we call “trash and treasure”). There was a firm in Melbourne which made repro TC tools (even jacks!) some years ago. The tool compartment in my car was lined with off-white engineers felt. Since the tools were supplied with the car I consider them to be just as important as any other component and have tool kits for my other MG’s!

  2. Paul Barrow says:


    You are by no means alone – there are many other like minded saddos out there (and I count myself definitely as IN that august body of men) who take great pride in showing their tool kits along with their cars at shows! I have also had the wonderful pleasure of having to use one or two of them to effect roadside running repairs so they are not merely ornamental … but intensely practical to have! Maybe this is the reason modern piles of junk do not come with tool kits – as there is nothing you can do except go trade it in on them! For example, my lovely ZT-T that waits for our visits to the UK failed to proceed the other day when my wife was on a visit. Nothing important failed … just a sensor, but the sensor failure shut down the engine! This is no reflection per se on the ZT-T … more a reflection on the poor design and our reliance now on junk sensors!

    As a side note, hearty congratulations on a job well done to John James in setting up both this excellent site and also a great magazine. The proof of the success is in the number of members and subscribers, that this forum really is a club now run by members, for members … and not some vested, private racing interests! Roll on John!

    Keep the wheels turning!


  3. Ron Nicholson says:

    I just purchased a 1949 MG TC Midget I would like to find out more about the things I can put on like a small wind screen when I put the big windscreen down because it’s a 12-volt system is there some type of radio I can install with a kit be nice o have one with a CD player I’m sure I’m just dreaming. I need the tire pump, front and back bumpers if available and a few other thing can’t think of at the moment. If anyone has information on any or all of the about, please e-mail me with pictures of the items and price you’re asking and if there is shipping involved Thanks guys and Gals. Ron (Nick) Nicholson

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