TC10178 – saved from sitting on bricks since 1967 in a Sheffield lock up garage (Part 8)

I’m so lucky… see if you agree. I started by checking the ignition timing as I had a suspicion it was 180 degrees out. It was, so out with the distributor, turn shaft and refit. Hold choke open and pull starter motor lever. It fires…. and stops. So do it again. It fires…. and stops. OK, let’s try again…..CLUNK. The engine won’t turn. It will go backwards but stops with a clunk and then forwards but stops with a clunk. Remember, I’m so lucky…..

Sump off, nothing wrong there. So after lunch engine out as I thought it may be the clutch or flywheel causing the problem. Remember, I’m lucky!

We all look at it when it’s on its side on the floor. Joint decision, remove the head. So a table is brought in and I have to stand on a block of wood as the head is now so high. Head off. And this is why I’m so lucky. A spring washer is in No. 3 bore on top of the piston. It couldn’t have been there when I fired it twice so must have been sucked in on the third attempt and hasn’t done any damage. That’s why I’m lucky!

I’ve left it all out, covered up. The engine has always had the carbs blocked with paper so it’s a mystery how a washer got sucked in…. unless….NO, that’s unthinkable.

Putting it back together……………….

I had to take the crank pulley off as the half round cord seal had come out of the timing case. Went back a treat with a bit of black silicone gasket goo on it. I pulled down the head but not fully, then dropped the engine on the sump. Did the sump bolts up but found the left hand front bolt that goes into the timing case was stripped. I tapped it out 3/8″ BSF and used a 3/8 bolt. All ready to go back in but it would not go onto the first motion shaft splines. I had the gearbox jacked up and the rear of the engine on a jack and the bell housing and rear plates were in line. Eventually one of the chaps gave me a hand to push and it went in. Spent the next 2 hours doing up the bell housing bolts, refitting the rad and starter etc. and filling with anti-freeze. Oh, I also torqued the head down and refitted the rocker shaft. You may remember that I had new rocker posts. Well the two holes are not exactly in line so it’s a real problem getting both bolts started. I stripped two of the smaller (8mm) bolts. I’ve asked Roger (Furneaux) to send me two. 

It won’t start……………

I was ready to start it. It didn’t, but sounded like it was firing. I asked one of the chaps to hold one of the plug leads to the block to see if we had a spark…. no spark. Need to investigate……….

Took a while but got it going in the end.

First I removed the rocker pedestals and drilled out the small hole by 2 mm oversize. Then refitted it and adjusted the tappets. With the hole slightly larger, both bolts went in OK. I turned up the lock tabs and refitted the rocker cover. I then wanted to reset the ignition timing so had to take the rocker cover off to ensure it was firing on number 1. Set the ignition timing and checked the coil tower lead. It was out. I’ve dropped and lost the small washer that the cable comes through, so soldered a small washer to the centre lead.

I took the plugs out and turned the engine over to get oil pressure on the gauge. None. But the oil was at the rockers (as seen through the oil filler cap) I found the oil pipe to the gauge loose, so put a small rubber ring in and tightened it again. Still loose so just tightened, hoping I didn’t strip the thread. Eventually it went tight. I turned it over and, like magic, got 20 psi pressure at the gauge.

I then refitted the plugs and put the fuel pipe into the petrol can and tried to start it. It fired and stopped about a dozen times then it ran…. for about 20 seconds. It wouldn’t start. Fired and then cut out. I checked everything, then put a screwdriver in number one plug lead and watched the spark go to the head. It seemed to be intermittent. I rechecked the coil tower – that seemed OK. In the end I took the points out, cleaned the faces and reassembled them (I had done this some time ago). They were fitted correctly with the fibre washers in the right places.

She fires and runs…….

OK, try again. After two turns, she fires and runs. I keep it running at about 1500 RPM until it gets warm. Then do a rough throttle balance and mixture adjustment. I seem to have the same problem as my friend’s TC. The jets are going right up and it still seems to be running rich. I’ll need to drop the needles 0.020″ and set the carbs up. I’ll take my balancer and SU jet spanner to do it properly. I’ll also adjust the tappets at 0.012″ hot (I’ve set them 0.014″ cold). Then I can put the air cleaners on and the bracket for the choke, starter and fast idle cable. The only problem is the flexible oil pipe for the gauge is leaking. I’ve ordered one from NTG along with a new coil washer and a 3 foot length of HT lead so I can make a new coil lead, which is a bit short.

The bad news is that the panel man wants me to take the body off so he can fit the front quarter panel between the bonnet shut timber and the main body frame. That will help me as it will be a lot easier to get the Thackery washer on the brake pedal in the right place and fit the new petrol pipe.

I didn’t take any pictures but did video the engine running….. Now to see if I can load it. …. hang on, it’s coming, some conversion work needed first. Here it is……MG TC – It lives

48 years after the engine last ran, and 10 months after Norman Verona started the rebuild of a 1949 MG TC, the engine runs!

I asked the TABC group if anyone had ever had the need to lower the needles in the piston to avoid the jet being wound up to the top to get the mixture correct. I got a lot of answers about the float levels being too high. I have been around SU carbs for 55 years and know the difference between flooding due to float chamber being too high and what I was getting. I took the dashpots off and took a very close look, not easy when your eyesight can’t see fine, close up detail. I reset the height of the needles to the bottom of the ali piston instead of the brass insert, about 0.040″ lower. Refitted the carbs and started. Much better and got the mixtures correct starting with the 7 flats position (not two and a half turns someone quoted). Got the engine hot so I could check the tappets hot. Tappets were set 0.014″ cold and only needed two taking up a gnats cock to make them all 0.012″ hot. Refitted the rocker cover and then the air cleaner and fitted the three cables. I’ve no idea why I did that as…. wait for it…. OK, bet you guessed, I have an oil leak from the rear main. So the engine will have to come out. I’ll wait until the body is finished and do it at my workshop.

The bad news today is that it’s been confirmed that the body has to moved back so the quarter panels and scuttle can be tacked to the tub before the bonnet shut panel is fitted. To make things worse we’ve found that Moss sent two left hand front quarter panels in August, but with the correct part numbers on. Carl is sending one from Bradford and I’ll send the incorrect one back to London, whence it came. It’s Murphy’s law that says if it can go wrong it will. Hello Murphy.

Moving the body back……

First I removed the battery and all 18 bulkhead to tub bolts and the six that hold the tub to the chassis. I asked Jean-Maurice to help me move the tub back and see if it came back enough for him to undo the screws that hold the bonnet shut panel to the tub. He was happy.

Not good enough for the boss – he wants the tub removed……

Jean-Luc, the boss explains he wants the tub right off so Jean-Maurice can panel it off the car. He suggests we cut the lower part of the centre dash mount out so we can feed the wires and cables through and leave the dash on the car with all the wires and cables connected. I’ve thought about it and I’m going to take all the wires and cables off. Having spent all this time and effort, let alone money, I don’t fancy cutting the tub as a short cut.

As mentioned before, the pedal shaft needed to be removed to move the inner Thackeray washer to the correct side of the brake pedal, thereby allowing the pedal to sit behind the stop bar. It’s very hard to get the split pins out and back in with the exhaust on and the body in the way. But that wasn’t the real difficulty; the main problem was that the sun was shining through the windows straight into my eyes so I couldn’t see anything. Never mind, got it done in about an hour. Then cut the screws holding the pipe clips to the chassis and painted the clips and screws. I had a sneaky feeling I’d put the new fuel pipe on the wrong way around but checked the tank and it’s ok.

Keeping track of the wiring…….

Multi plug connectors with the male and female spade connectors that fit inside the plastic halves. I solder the connectors to the wires.

The labels for the wires. I have made up two sets. The black and red letters are for the two centre connections which can’t be marked. However, I’ve coloured both sides red and black.

The blocks are labelled A-L and M-X. I do this as my orientation is non-existent and I’ll put the wires in from different ends if they’re not marked like this.

Next few jobs…….Finish plugs on loom and then, after body is off, reconnect the dash. Fit the new flexi oil pipe and a longer HT lead then start up and determine where the oil leak is coming from. I also want to do a final adjustment of the carbs now that the air filter is on. I’ll pull the head down again as well.

Get to the bodyshop at 0800. Label and cut the wires from loom to dash. Solder the terminals to the loom end and push terminals into the plastic block.

Loom having been cut is having the terminals soldered on.

The terminal blocks with the terminals installed. There are 25 wires in the loom in total. I also cut two from dash to dash which I will refit with bullet connectors.

The wires on the dash.

I labelled up the first multi plug A-L correctly. The other one I labelled one side left to right and the other right to left. The clue was no ignition and the panel lights coming on without the lights on. Took about 10 minutes to pull them all out and refit them correctly.

Completing jobs listed earlier……

I fitted the new flexible oil pipe and a longer HT lead from distributor to coil I then made some straps to go around the battery (from rope) so as to make it easier to lift it in and out. Took a while to work out how the fast idle return spring went but got it fixed after some head scratching. I then connected the can of petrol to the petrol tank pipe at the rear and the battery via jump leads. Full choke and it started on the button. I got it warm and started adjusting the carbs. Problem. The rear carb jet wouldn’t return home. Turned out to be the connecting rod between the two choke levers was too long. So adjusted and carried on. The carbs are as good as I’m going to get them until the engine’s run in.

There was a slight leak from the oil filter but tightening the bowl a tad stopped that. This is a modified filter with a paper cartridge.

Ok, bad news and good news. The major leak is not from the rear main but the front of the gearbox. I finished the day by polishing the bulk head, air filter and radiator. All nice and shiny.

I was thinking, a very dangerous occupation for me.  When I left the bodyshop on Thursday night the tub was on the floor. I had asked the boss to get the car finished in 4 weeks, (giving me time to finish the interior by 28th April, one year after starting). I want to paint the inside of all the “skins” with POR15 so as to prevent rust forming. This is where the thinking comes in. I’m not due back to the bodyshop until Wednesday morning. What if he finishes the skinning in the meantime and the inside of the panels are not treated with POR15?

So, after physio I drive to the bodyshop…. and just as well. The near side is nearly fully skinned, He will then take all the panels off, paint them and fit permanently. I have asked him to paint with the POR15 and given him a tin. Good thinking, Batman.

Skins. All cut to perfect shape.

And from the rear. He’s even got the inner wheel arch in. Tunnels and light….

As Jean-Luc, the boss, had asked me to clear up my work area at the bodyshop I got there at 0800, dropped the car onto four wheels and pushed it out of the way. I then put sawdust down on the oil spills and swept like a ‘loonie’ to soak up the heavy gear oil. Then commandeered another bench and put all the parts and books on the new bench and laid the tools out on the big bench. Pushed the car back, jacked it up and back on axle stands. Was awarded three stars.

Had a good day. Got to the bodyshop for 0800 and got the gearbox out. Took the bell housing off and removed the seal from the bell housing. It was loose on the shaft so I prised the leather open and then boiled it a cup of water in the micro wave. It was now a tight fit on the shaft so I put it all back and refitted the box.

I also fitted the new ignition warning light, what a job, took two of us, one to hold the cup and spring down the other to put the clip in.

Refitted the dash and started the engine. It ran for half hour and not a drip from the gearbox. But the filter is still leaking so I tightened it a bit more. I think I’ll have to remove the cap and see why. I suspect the O ring isn’t seated properly.

Now for the bad news. The little red light comes on …. but doesn’t go out. It’s not charging. Job for tomorrow.

A picture of the bell housing/gearbox casing joint. No leaks.

So, I got to the bodyshop for 0750, before the boss! He turned up at 0800 and opened up and let me into the workshop. I took the cover off the dynamo wiring and looked. The wires have different size tags which go on different size posts so that must be correct. Best way to find out is start the engine and see which has 12v. Problem, the battery is too low to start the engine so I reconnect the charger.

I then fit the radiator stays to the bulkhead then take some vinyl tiles, the 12″ rule, a Stanley knife, the drill and drill bit to the machine shop to make new packing pieces. It was about 1degree C and my poor little fingers were frozen. I made sure my fingers weren’t sticking out when I drew the knife along the tile using the rule as a straight edge. Never mind, the knife slipped off the edge of the rule and went straight across two fingers. OUCH! Actually I didn’t feel anything as my fingers were frozen. But it bled, and bled and bled…OK it was bleeding. I put two plasters on but it was still dripping blood. I took some white paper roll and wrapped the fingers in it. It still bled. I finished the packing pieces and, eventually decided it wasn’t going to stop so I left to go to the hospital in Segre. They don’t have an “urgence” department and suggested I go to Chateau Gontier. I decided to go to Chateaubriant but on the way thought I’d call in to my doctor. He saw me with about a 10 minute wait (whilst he finished with the patient he had in the surgery). He dressed both fingers putting those little strips over the sliced off tip of the index finger.

Oh, by the way, the battery charger isn’t working. I’m typing this at 1030 on 1st April but it’s not an April fool joke.

You can read the whole of this daily blog on the renovation, and other matters, at

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