Some early MG adventures and another TC Twin Leading Shoe (TLS) front brake conversion completed

Well, I managed to save up £200 and buy my 1937 MG TA (DKT 634) at the age of 19 in 1971. It was in a roadworthy condition (well only just about!) with its original MPJG engine. I have only just discovered from this fantastic website that it was an ex-Kent Police car.

I drove the car everyday whilst working for BOAC at Heathrow Airport, and believe it or not, up to London on quite a few occasions on the M4. I also did a two-week tour of North and South Wales, covering over 1500 miles without any problems, except for an exploding silencer that split open with a very loud bang! I was parked on a hill so I guess fuel from the carbs ran down into the silencer. Anyway, I just wired it back together until we got home.

Driving in those days was so different, and cruising along on the M4 at 60-65mph back to London was no problem. Also, I cannot recall ever having had any issues using the brakes in those far off happy days.

I owned many other MGs during the 1970/80s and brought most of my used spares and MG cars from a breaker’s yard called Richardson’s in nearby Staines Moor. Also, from Toulmin motors in Isleworth which was managed by the well-known Tom Davis, who owned his famous MG TF with number plate FR 13. He was a real character and I got to know him well. 

I bought my MG TC from the UK in 2018, which was 50% completed and had it shipped over to Cyprus where we live permanently. After 18 months I managed to complete the restoration and she passed the MOT with flying colours. As all cars require MOT’s here every 2 years, it only costs €35. Furthermore, if any Classic car is FIVA registered, the road tax is only €31 a year for everyday use.

My TC, ‘Matilda’, has a 1350cc engine with 100 thou pistons and a 5-speed gearbox conversion, so can keep up quite well with all the boring modern plastic hair-dryers on the roads these days!

The only problem I found driving my TC was that I never felt very confident with the brakes after driving modern cars for so long. So, after reading Steve Priston’s excellent article (Thanks, Steve!) on upgrading to TLS, it gave me the confidence to tackle the upgrade myself, using Steve’s article as a guide.

I decided to use MG TD parts for the upgrade, which requires much less work than Steve’s conversion. Luckily, I managed to obtain a pair of complete front brake hub units on eBay for £250. I then had them sent to Paul Busby in the UK, so he could strip them down and just send me only the essential parts that I required. (Cheers, Paul!). Parts required like the essential backplates for templates, and the all-important TD brass pipe unions which are the next most difficult and very expensive parts to find. I bought brand new TD brake shoes, x4 wheel cylinders and x4 return springs/adjusters cheaply on eBay.

I removed my TC front backplates and stripped them down, and cut/welded up all the redundant holes just like in Steve’s excellent article, using my Lidl Parkside inverter welder which is excellent, just like all the other Parkside tools I own!

I then lined up the TD backplates as templates by clamping them directly on top of the TC backplates, making sure they were the correct sides, as they are handed (with the small redundant hole pointing to the front on TD backplates). Then marked them ready for drilling through to get the essential correct position for the TD cylinders. I then used a hole cutter to cut the centre holes for the TD wheel cylinders.  Everything lined up perfectly after a trial assembly. The TD flexible brake hoses have different threads to the TC, so I had to have some special hoses made up to fit the TC brake pipes to the TD wheel cylinders.

I also had a problem with two of the TD brake adjusters being on maximum adjustment, so had to weld on an extra 3mm thick plate to take up the free play like in the photo. This was a TD owner’s solution found on a website.

I also had to drill a hole in my Alfin front brake drums to enable adjustment of the brake shoes.

 I used some ‘Blue-tack’ on the adjustment screws with a dab of engineer’s blue on the end to find the correct position inside the drums for the holes to be drilled. I also fitted some brake shoe stabiliser pins/springs as shown in the photo. 

The TD TLS front brakes feel so much safer for modern driving conditions, and they should improve when the shoes are bedded in properly.

Kevin Morrison, Cyprus.

Ed’s note: Kevin’s TC is TC8565. At the time when he brought it over from the UK (2018) it was registered GSL 341, a non-transferable number. It is now registered 2004A The ‘A’ denotes ‘Antique’, as all imported classic cars in Cyprus need to be registered with an ‘A’.

As a former British colony (until 1960) old habits die hard and old style British brown log books are still issued in English/Greek for all classic and vintage cars.