TC 8365 – A Painstaking Rebuild

Geoff Fletcher has been sending me photos of his rebuild as it progresses and I thought I would share some of them with readers; they might be particularly helpful to those currently engaged on rebuilds.

Geoff is no stranger to rebuilds, albeit not with MGs. His Healey pictured below, which he has owned for 40 years, has been restored/rebuilt by him twice now, the second time needing a chassis replacement.

The car was a chance barn find and the owner, a local farmer, took some persuading to part with it. Geoff told me that admirers of the Healey sometimes think he is rich owning such a car, but he originally paid £350 for it. At the time of purchase, a marque expert’s advice was to scrap the car and to let him find one in better condition for Geoff. This offer was politely declined.

Geoff first e-mailed me back in October 2017. He had read my article on bushing front leaf springs using SAE 660 bronze and had contacted Brost Forge to make a pair of main leafs (leaves) with oversize 5/8 inch ‘eyes’.

Ed’s note: Sadly,Brost Forge ceased trading in June 2019. I always found the proprietor, Chris Wann, to be most helpful and his springs were extremely good. Yet another old established supplier, who has decided to call it a day.

Chassis TC8365 obviously needing a good clean and paint. (October 2017)

That’s much better! (October 2017)

Above: Cylinder block before work started Below: looking better (October 2017)

Condition of the gearbox (October 2017)

By March 2018,thegearbox had been stripped and cleaned, components, gears etc rebuilt onto shafts with new bearings. Synchro’s were very good showing little, if any, sign of wear. Everything was stripped and cleaned, including synchro hubs. The whole lot was covered in what looked like varnish, but it was the old oil that had dried and had coated everything inside and out. Degreaser wouldn’t move it, and it was necessary to use a solvent based degreaser/cleaner. 

Also, by March 2018 work had commenced on building up the chassis, with the front and rear springs fitted and the front axle in position.

Shackle plate arrangement at the rear of the rear spring and front of rear spring is fitted with a silentbloc bush suspended on a ½” diameter ‘pin’.

Shackle plate arrangement at the rear of the front spring and front of front spring is suspended on a ½” diameter ‘pin’. Front axle is in situ.

By August 2018 Geoff had rebuilt the gearbox with great attention to detail as the next picture shows and all but rebuilt the engine. As part of the engine rebuild, he cleaned the head studs with a die nut, but got so far down and it started to cut into the threads. A good way of finding out that your studs have stretched. New studs were purchased.

March 2019 – backplates, kingpins, hubs, shock absorbers, hydraulics, fitted.

March 2019 – more work on the engine and radiator now fitted. Wiring started.

Geoff bought the extractor manifold when he first purchased the car and was told by the dealer who sold it to him that it was a direct replacement. However, it was nowhere near as it fouled the steering box and would have needed to be modified, which Geoff was reluctant to get involved with. He therefore decided to revert to the standard arrangement, as shown in the next picture.

By April 2019 Geoff had changed the exhaust manifold back to standard and fitted the carbs and a heatshield (next picture).

Geoff sent me an update towards the end of July. At the time, he was just finishing making and fitting the brake pipes “not my favourite job, getting the bends right etc” he said. He’d also ordered one of Tom Lange’s stainless steel thermostat housings and is very pleased with it: https://mgtrepair.net/Thermostat.html

At the time his differential was with Roger Furneaux for rebuilding and fitting with a higher axle ratio; he now has this back from Roger. He’s also received a 20 thou oversize sector shaft from Andy King and bought some new Blockley tyres. Having sent the wheels away for truing and finishing, he is hoping to soon have a rolling chassis and will send more pictures then. To close, here’s a couple showing work on the brake pipes.

4 thoughts on “TC 8365 – A Painstaking Rebuild

  1. Jan Mazgaj says:

    Reading this rediuld and Normans TC rebuild one recognizes and reaffirms the time and dedication needed to do justice to a TC restoration. It makes me wonder whether the `48 TC I`ve had landuishing in my workshop awaiting the task will ever get done by me.It seems a shame but already with 2 TFs I will admit although your pictures have to a certain extent revitalized me as to what is possible at 74 should I be realistic?

    • Geoff Fletcher says:

      You are right about the time and dedication and sometimes I do feel like throwing in the towel with the cost of parts and specialist services etc as they are now. I am a sixty seven year old pensioner who has always had an interest in restoring old cars, it keeps me active and the pleasure of seeing the completed car is very satisfying. The comments I also get from the public that attend the shows I go too are usually very complementary. The pleasure for me is knowing I restored it myself and that I possibly saved a car from disappearing that would never be seen again. Older and slower I am, but that does not necessarily mean it as to be detrimental. I have become more meticulous with age and I have more patience which must be a positive, just getting up and down as got a bit harder.

  2. Geoff Fletcher says:

    I am 67 and retired older and slower it seems, but more meticulous and have greater patience. Being older is not all negatives and there’s a lot of pleasure in the doing and the running after it’s finished, plus it keeps me active.

  3. John Hall says:

    Guys, you both raise an interesting point. I’d say many of us reading Totally T Types are of a similar vintage, and of course “restorers” includes men and women. Like Geoff, I’m 66 and recently retired; in my case I’ve done several half-restorations over the years, squeezed in between full time careers, children (now adults) and “life”. I’m merely a keen amateur, so my standard of work has ranged from “reasonable” to “good”,but never concours. I marvel at what I see achieved by far more skilled people. I also shudder at the expense of some restorations with wholesale replacement of T series parts with new. I simply couldn’t justify it. So in my case there’s a fair bit of compromise. For example, nuts and bolts are re-used where feasible; chrome parts are cleaned and polished and pitting “overlooked” if possible; original dashboards patched up with veneer in preference to buying a remanufactured new one; and I laboriously strip and prep the bodywork rather than pay someone else to do the “donkey work”. BUT, and here’s the rub – I absolutely love my “car time”, even as an amateur; I can’t wait to get into the shed, and having just retired, I frantically knock of my wife’s other tasks around house and home so that I can get back to whichever car I’m working on at the time. Mercifully I have no arthritis, back pain, vertigo or anything else other than old age to slow me down – and like Geoff, I find my skill set is gradually improving with practice and a bit of pig-headedness. So Jan, you’re not alone, there are lots of us enjoying our wonderful hobby despite the inevitable setbacks along the way. With generally better health and nutrition, I think what we can expect to do well past retirement nowadays, is far more than in the past. No longer is retirement age necessarily when we do less … rather, we have the time to devote to doing a better job! Oh – and it’s not just young kids who can hardly sleep because of what the next day brings!
    Yours,
    John.

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