TC10215 – Getting all the numbers right.

My fascination with the design of the classic MG 2-seater started as a 5 year-old boy living in North Wales during WW2. Very few toys were available and I exchanged my favourite ‘gobstopper’ marble for a Dinky Toy model of a PA with no wheels. From then on I was determined to own this type of sports car but it took me until 1960 when I was an engineering apprentice at the B.S.A. to achieve this. I scraped together the sum of £275 (a lot of money to me in those days) to purchase a late 1949 TC in Clipper Blue that had been first registered on January 2nd 1950 and owned by Jack Olding & Co. of Mayfair, the Rolls Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin dealers.

TC 10215 was bodily in very good order but the engine was a mechanical disaster zone. A large diameter flexible pipe had been attached to the engine breather pipe to run to the rear of the car. This enabled the driver to see where he was going while leaving those behind finding their way in an acrid oily fog. The first job once the TC was at home was to take out the engine and do a complete overhaul. With this done, the car was a delight to drive and became a treasured possession.

Motor Sport was one of my interests and it wasn’t long before the TC was entered in the 1962 MGCC Silverstone meeting, achieving a first place in the 5 lap handicap race and a Standard award in the 30 minute high speed trial. This led to an annual programme of racing, entering any event that was suitable, until in 1965 an accident at Woodcote, whilst practising for the Bentley Drivers meeting, ended up with damage to the chassis. This necessitated in a complete rebuild.



Photo 01: TC10215 at Silverstone 1960s


Although a replacement February 1949 chassis was quickly obtained, pressures of a growing family and then an overseas posting meant that the TC was stored in a lock up garage and left to the ravages of time for a few years.

Returning to the UK a rebuild was started using the replacement chassis, as a repair that had been carried out on the original chassis was not acceptable. By 1982 the car was back at MG Silverstone (its first run after the rebuild) but this time to win best T-Type in the concours event.

Despite the shoddy repair, I had retained the original TC10215 chassis through numerous house moves, and by 2008, in my 70th year, I decided something had to be done. In December 2009 Metalcraft in Bradford were given the job of stripping and rebuilding the chassis whilst retaining the left-hand side chassis rail that bore the chassis number. The chassis restoration was completed by January 2010.

With the restored chassis now available it was inevitable that a chassis swap had to be undertaken, preferably sooner rather than later, as I was not getting any younger.

The project presented two sets of problems, technical and logistical.

On the technical side I was confident in being able to handle all that had to be done and it was an opportunity to incorporate some quality checks and alterations. These were:-

– Repaint the bonnet top panels and front apron where some fading and minor damage had occurred.
– Strip and check the front axle assembly.
– Crack test front stub axles, steering arms and Pitman arm.
– Check the original steering box and consider fitting a VW conversion.
– Consider fitting a five speed gearbox or raising the rear axle ratio to 4.625:1.
– Eliminate a gearbox oil leak from the speedometer drive take off point.
– Improve rear axle oil retention by fitting ‘Mad Metrics’ rear bearing nut kit and a lip seal on the pinion.
– Overhaul the braking system and fit new ‘Alfin’ type drums.
On the logistic side there were problems of space limitation, mechanical handling and lifting to be overcome.

The logistical problems were paramount.

I have a 28 square meter garage but have to house the TC, a Mk III Midget, a lathe, bench driller, work benches and various cycles. No rented garage space was available locally and I wanted to be able to keep my eye on the Midget, but I did not want it to spend time outdoors.

I decided that the TC body tub, complete with doors, rear mudguards and fuel tank, would be kept together as an assembly, as would the engine and gearbox. It would be useful to know the weights I would be handling and lifting, and after a bit of research I decided on the following:-

Engine and gearbox: 370lbs (168kg)
Bare chassis: 112lbs (51kg)
Body tub: 364lbs (165kg)
Rolling chassis: 1204lbs (547kg)
Complete vehicle: 1736 lbs (789 kg)

I established a module size for the TC tub assembly and for the Midget. To get everything in the garage space I would have to store the tub as near as possible to the ceiling and fit the Midget under this. With an 8ft (2.5mtr) ceiling height I could achieve this but I would have no space for an RSJ beam or the lifting gear. I realised that by putting the RSJ up in the apex of the gabled garage roof and arranging for the lifting tackle to come through the ceiling this could be achieved. The Midget would then fit underneath.

Length was also rather critical. I had to have the tub positioned right up to the garage end wall to avoid it being struck by the overhead garage door when opened, which meant that to use my lathe I would have to crouch under the rear of the suspended body tub.

Opening the up-and-over garage door could only be facilitated by restricting the amount of door travel and a heart stopping moment was had when first opening the door as the door top stopped an inch from hitting the tub bulkhead and fuel pump. I videoed this and it was a bit exciting the first time!

Having sorted the space problem I then had to figure out how to lift and support the tub. I needed a fixture that would support the body at ceiling height, give a range of different heights to facilitate work on the body, be moveable when laden (i.e. on castors) and be wide enough to accommodate the Midget underneath.

I decided that with the use of suitable spacers I could support the body tub on two 30 x 30mm square tubes fitted cross-ways and bolted to the tub using the body to chassis mounting holes. These in turn would be incorporated into a structure of angle iron and square section tubes that would permit the body tub to be lifted off the chassis and securely positioned at ceiling height (windscreen removed) and allow for the Midget to be parked underneath.

With the logistics sorted out in theory at least, the whole project started to look viable, so in July 2011, with the help of my 15 year old grandson, Josh, we started by fitting a suitable RSJ in the strengthened roof gable and getting the lifting tackle in position. As well as lifting, the RSJ beam would allow forwards and aft movement of the body to give us more flexibility.

Using 30x30mm, 40x40mm and 50x50mm angle iron and square steel tubing we created a structure that would meet the parameters mentioned above.



Photo 02: The frame work to support the body tub being assembled.




Photo 03: Frame work ready




Photo 04: Midget tried for size.


To lift the body tub, shackles and lifting straps were attached by brackets to the body frame and this and its supporting framework slid vertically on four upright square tubes that in turn were attached to castor mounted horizontal tubes. Cross drilled holes and bolts enabled a variety of different working heights to be incorporated. When the Midget was stowed underneath additional padded bracing was added to give rigidity and for peace of mind the lifting tackle was always kept connected. This exercise considerably honed Josh’s workshop skills as he took on the task of cutting, drilling the iron work and assembling the structure. Later he was also very useful, lying under the car on the concrete floor dismantling and assembling!



Photo 05: Anchorage of lifting straps.




Photo 06: Four straps in position.




Photo 07: Lifting the body off.


Trellises made of small section square tubing, on which I had rebuilt the Midget some years earlier, were used for supporting the ‘new’ chassis, as parts were transferred to it. These too were castor mounted to give ease of movement.



Photo 08: Body lifted to storage position.




Photo 09: Engine and gearbox removed from chassis.


The ‘old’ rolling chassis was kept on its wheels as long as possible and four Machine Mart ‘dollies’ were used to allow mobility.

I used a hard cover exercise book to record notes on all work done, all measurements taken, hours spent and to log where all parts were stored.

My wife Linda also agreed that some household and gardening jobs would take second place so that I could spend maximum possible time on the project. I was determined to see the job through and not allow TC10215 to end up as a ‘garage find’ for someone in the future.

The Strip Down

With all fixtures and fittings ready on 4th August 2011 Josh and I took the final decision, with some trepidation on my part, to start by stripping off head and side lights, radiator and bonnet, front mudguards and apron, seats, inner trim and floorboards. By the end of the first day we had reduced a very smart TC to something that looked a bit of a wreck. In five working days we were ready to lift the body tub complete with rear mudguards, doors, fuel tank, folded hood, coiled wiring harness, and control cables and stow it at ceiling height.



Photo 10: Josh starting to strip down TC10215


The next job was to remove the engine and gearbox as a unit. Originally I had planned to lower the tub assembly in its fixture and wheel this to another part of the garage whilst we lifted the power unit from the rolling chassis. I found however that I could turn the rolling chassis round and wheel it back underneath the elevated body assembly, lower the block and tackle through the centre of the body, hook on the engine lifting straps and lift the engine and gearbox off the rolling chassis.

With the chassis rolled away, and the engine and gearbox still hanging underneath a rather surreal image emerged of a mid-engined TC with the power take off pointing forwards! (see photo 09). The engine and gear box were stored on yet another castor mounted fixture.

By the sixteenth working day the ‘old’ chassis had been stripped and was ready for cleaning and repainting. To get to this stage had taken 100 man hours. The easy part completed!



Photo 11: The ‘old’ rolling chassis ready for final dismantle.


At this stage some time was spent checking alignment and condition of both chassis. I devised a marking system covering such things as wear, past corrosion, condition of brackets etc and marked each chassis accordingly. Fortunately the ‘new’ chassis passed muster.



Photo 12: Midget and TC body stowed.


The Body

At this point it was interesting to assess what depreciation the body and chassis had suffered since the last rebuild in 1982, some 32 years earlier. The chassis required a good clean to remove years of road dirt, oil deposits and a hardened layer of ‘Dum Dum’ filler that I had used to seal off any gaps between the front mudguards and the chassis. The body showed no signs of rust and the wood frame no signs of rot or water ingress. Some paint touching up was required on exposed edges of inner mudguards and a good clean under the wheel arches showed that all was in an unspoilt condition. This was not surprising considering that the car had always been garaged and its use in wet and salt covered roads had been kept to a minimum.

The front mudguards were cleaned of any road dirt and one or two spots on the edges were rubbed down and touched up with cellulose paint that I had stored since the car was repainted in June 1980. Interesting to note that the cost of a ‘body shop’ to spray the finishing coats of cellulose at that time, with the car dismantled, was £173 including materials!

I had decided before starting this project that I would not be tempted to repaint the complete car but only the bonnet top panels which had cracked on the corners near the hinges. The front scuttle also had some minor damage. These parts where sent to HDW Banbury Ltd for repair and repaint. In order to match the colour a sample (the battery box cover) was spectrographically analysed. The repaint was carried out using twin pack not cellulose. This was chosen as I was looking for improved durability of the paint for the bonnet top. I had found that the clipper blue was very prone to fading in strong sunlight and drying with pale blotches after rain. There was a risk that whilst the colour may match the different finish achieved would be problematical, although this proved not to be the case.

With the body sorted and panels stored away, work started on the mechanical jobs with the front axle and stub axles considered one of the major areas for attention.

Front Axle Assembly

After stripping off the ‘old’ chassis everything was cleaned and checked. Leaf springs were stripped, cleaned, inspected for wear and damage (especially the mounting eyes) and reassembled.
The front axle was carefully checked for straightness by mounting longitudinally on a length of 60mm square tubing and measuring for differences end to end. Mounting 0.75 inch diameter bars in the kingpin eyes enabled kingpin inclination and castor angles to be checked with a magnetic spirit level having angle indication.

Steering arms, stub axles and Pitman arm were crack tested at NDT Consultants Ltd in Coventry. http://www.ndt-consultants.co.uk/Newwebsite

One stub axle was found to be cracked so a pair of Bob Grunau stub inserts was obtained through John James and these and new kingpins and bushes were fitted by Paul Myatt in Trysull, Staffordshire. http://www.classiccarconsultant.co.uk/about-paul-myatt

Ed’s Note: Bob Grunau in Canada is a long time Triple-M and T-Type enthusiast. He is one of the best technically competent persons for T-Types that I know. He supplies a range of T-Type parts including stub axle inserts (supply only or fitted for you), TA/TC tapered half shafts, front/rear hubs, oil filter adapters for modern spin on for TA-TF), Alfin type brake drums, rolled rim wire wheels and more. E-mail him for a complete list to: grunau.garage(at)sympatico.ca {substitute @ for (at)}.



Photo 13: Refurbished stub axles alongside discarded material.


Front hubs were fitted with new taper roller bearings, spacers and seals. To assemble these, as I had no suitable press, I made up a jig comprising an angle iron base (that I could mount in my workbench vice) into which was fitted a vertical 0.625 inch threaded rod. This, together with a variety of spacers did the job of a press and enabled me to assemble the hubs and easily check the pre-load after assembly. This angle iron jig was particularly useful for a variety of assembly jobs and could be easily modified as required.



Photo 14: Front hubs on assembly jigs ready for pre-load test.


With all rectification work complete the front axle assembly was fitted to the ‘new’ chassis with new spring bushes and taper plates. Care was taken to ensure that the axle beam and taper plates were correctly oriented.

Steering Box

The original steering box was still being used, and I had some thoughts of fitting a VW conversion. Whilst I accepted that the VW conversion would give some advantages such as lighter steering loads especially whilst at low speeds, I was concerned about weight and some conversions I had seen seemed rather heavy with cumbersome pitman arms.

On inspection, my original steering box seemed in good condition with no end float on the steering column. Wear between the sector shaft and steering box, when measured, proved to be negligible. The sector shaft peg showed little wear so the box was reassembled with three 0.003 inch shims removed from under the top plate to achieve an acceptable feel. I had fitted a lip seal on the sector shaft in the 70s so oil loss was not a problem. The Pitman arm had passed crack testing so I decided to reuse the original steering box and see how it felt on road testing.

The Gearbox

The car was fitted with its original gearbox which was working well except for some oil loss, mainly from the speedometer drive take off point. I had driven an MGA fitted with 5 speed conversion and was very impressed with the way it transformed the car into one that could be used comfortably in modern traffic conditions. With the benefit of this experience I concluded that I needed to raise the overall TC gearing to allow more relaxed driving.

In weighing up the advantages of a 5 speed conversion against the work of conversion and the loss of originality I decided that, as my original gearbox was sound, I would stay with it. However, I decided to raise the rear axle ratio to 4.625:1 by fitting a 37:8 crown wheel and pinion supplied by Roger Furneaux roger.46tc(at)virgin.net {substitute @ for (at)}.



Photo 15: New CW&P on being assembled.


To stop the oil leak from the speedometer drive I removed the speedometer pinion housing and gear and measured up the parts. By machining out the housing (drive take off end) to 0.53 inch bore 1.086 inch deep, a 10×1.0 mm nitrile rubber ‘O’ ring can be accommodated to run on the pinion shaft. This I held in place with a 0.53 OD x 0.42 ID x 0.164 inch long spacer, slide into position and retained by Loctite. This modification depends on the space requirements of the individual speedometer drive cable so dimensions may need to vary from car to car.

Rear Axle

Apart from replacing half shafts from time to time, oil changing and the fitting of a 4.875:1 ratio CW&P in the 60s the axle had been untouched for about 45 years. No damage was found when disassembling the crown wheel and pinion assembly apart from the break up of the cage containing the double row bearing at the front of the pinion, which fortunately, had not led to other damage. The CW&P assembly was rebuilt with a 4.625:1 ratio, taper roller bearings and a lip seal in a modified pinion bearing cap, following the procedure outlined by Roger Furneaux.

The axle casing was cleaned inside and out, checked for damage and the two bronze reverse scroll bushes removed. The half shafts were fitted with stainless steel sleeves and the axle assembly rebuilt with ‘Mad Metric’ lip sealed nuts obtained from Roger Furneaux. The original wheel bearings were reused as they were good condition.

The axle was fitted to the ‘new’ chassis with the original springs and dampers (all cleaned, checked and repainted) using new bushes.

Brake pipes although in good condition were replaced with a set made in ‘Kunifer’ (copper/nickel alloy tubing) together with new hoses for good measure. Wheel and master cylinders were sent to Contract Auto Engineering Ltd in Stourport on Severn for fitting with stainless steel bores, and the brake shoes relined.

I decided to fit a new master cylinder push rod as the original had high wear in the ball joint. I bought two push rods from two different suppliers and neither was anything like my original and neither could facilitate the fitting of the master cylinder to the chassis. I resorted to significant modifications to one of the push rods in order to achieve a useable component. Two examples of suppliers supplying products not fit for purpose!

New ‘Alfin’ type brake drums were fitted (at last getting away from the pressed steel type as fitted originally). I decided to stay with conventional brake fluid and the complete system was assembled on the ‘new’ chassis.

Final Assembly

On 8th May 2012 the body tub was lowered on to its new chassis and the final phase of the project started. To get to this stage had taken 580 man hours.

The wiring harness which had been left in situ on the body tub had to be rethreaded along the chassis and up through the wing braces to the head and side lights. This proved to be a difficult job with care being taken not to cause damage to the harness.

Front mudguards, running boards, radiator assembly, front apron and bonnet all took time and patience to reassemble but slowly it all came together so that by mid June 2012 after fitting a stainless steel exhaust system the car was ready for its MOT, which it passed on 18th June.

Conclusions

I found that the car drove well in a straight line, did not wander as it had done previously, steered well enough to dispel the prospect of a VW conversion, and stopped well and squarely, with short pedal travel once the brakes had bedded in.

The whole project, to re-establish TC10215 with its correct chassis number, had taken from August 2011 to June 2012, with a total of 700 man hours being worked.

It had been an opportunity to see how well the car was keeping and to carry out some useful repairs and modifications. It had also provided my grandson Josh with some experience of working on old vehicles and the opportunity to earn some useful pocket money.

TC10215 is now complete with all its correct and original numbers.

The ‘old’ chassis is cleaned, painted and hanging from the ceiling of my garage.

Many thanks to Josh for all his hard work and to Linda for being very tolerant and supportive.

Jim Pielow
March 2014

Ed’s note: Thanks Jim for a very informative article. Your space utilisation has given me ideas on how I can make the best of my own cramped facilities.



Photo 16: A crowded garage! (the ‘old’ chassis can just be seen stored above the body).




Photo 17: New chassis rolled out.




Photo 18: Meet the workers, Jim and grandson Josh.




Photo 19: New rolling chassis completed.




Photo 20: Nearly back on the ‘new’ chassis.




Photo 21: Ready for the road – job done!


2 thoughts on “TC10215 – Getting all the numbers right.

  1. douglas croft says:

    a meticulous report and hopefully an inspiration to at least a tidy up and replacement of the original engine in kph 971, my 1946 tc (1331)which I have owned since the mid sixties

  2. Jim Pielow says:

    Douglas,
    If you have the original engine for your TC then I would recommend you spend the time and effort to refit it to its original chassis.
    Be sure that you have the sufficient help so that the project gets finished. I was most determined that I would not create a ‘garage find’ for someone in the future. Best if luck.
    Jim Pielow

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