Restoration of TC 1366 – a 1946 MGTC

TC1366 graces this issue’s front cover. It was taken in Whitby, North Yorkshire in front of the iconic whalebones with the Abbey in the background. Readers will recall that some of the history of the car was included in the August edition of TTT 2. New owner, Chris Edwards describes how he came to purchase the TC and how he went about breathing new life into it.

My story starts with the realisation that retirement is becoming close and I have always said that those who retire without a purpose do nothing to prolong their lifespan.

Cars have always been my passion, having previously restored a Mk 2 Sprite from boxes. At this stage of my life it was essential that the car would be an investment as well as a hobby. I started looking for a TF but my son, another petrol head, convinced me that if I was going to do it, do it properly.

My initial thought was to look for a project that would keep me busy for at least five years and so a rebuild from scratch was preferred. The search started and I soon realised that, without inside knowledge, swift action was essential to pin down a reasonable deal.

My wife and son were recruited to search the web on a nightly basis. After missing a few, my wife dropped on a perfect example with a guy who we were to come to know well called Andy King. I expressed interest and as I was the first to enquire, he was good enough to agree to give me first refusal. A trip down to Andy’s proved that this was an ideal project to cut my teeth on.

TC1366 pictured in Andy King’s workshop.

I have since found out that some sterling work had been organised to the chassis members by previous owner, Richard Mascari, which involved straightening the front axle, repairing the rear axle casing and it appears that one complete chassis member was replaced. The kit of parts included a new body tub skinned with aluminium which I have since found out was produced by Naylor Bros.

Richard did an excellent job of collecting the main parts and I presume re-chroming where necessary. The bulkhead and foot ramp were either new or very well restored, but the front and rear wings were in need of extensive restoration. The front wings were off a later TC so Andy advised that the front scallop should be much deeper, which he carried out and replaced the wire edge. The doors needed reskinning which Andy organised in steel after I had trial fitted them and added a brace, he advised that steel was better than aluminium as it gave more weight for closing.

Shot and soda blasting on the parts requiring extensive renovation was carried out by Steve Green of RB Renovations who is based in Skelton, North Yorkshire; Steve also carried out final preparation and paint application to all painted parts, and an excellent job he made of it. The interesting period was examining all the parts that were available to determine suitability and future renovation requirements.

I am a person who likes to attempt to solve problems myself rather than passing on to an expert. I also like to get the best deal by searching various avenues rather than buying from a single supplier. That said, I found that one of the best sources for parts was the Octagon Club. There have been numerous complaints about quality from some of the larger suppliers but Pete at the Octagon Club supplies a good range of parts with a good quality and at a reasonable price.

This is where the lists and searching starts; what became an obsession was searching eBay every night for anything T-Type related and then the inevitable bidding war, sometimes winning a bargain, often being bid up to what the part is worth from suppliers and then the wait with trepidation to see if the part was worth it. Several successes were achieved, a working regulator, an SU fuel pump, a good quality badge bar, bags of BSF nuts and bolts, LED lights for instruments and rear lights and one of the greatest triumphs, a shock absorber in reasonable condition. So, then the real work started, the brakes needed piping up so a coil of copper pipe, a selection of screwed connectors and Tee’s, stainless protection coils and an end flaring kit.

Good information can be gleaned from various sources regarding routing and clip positions, one of the best was Doug Pelton’s’ From the Frame Up site and the other essential reference recommended by Andy King was the book TCs Forever! the TC renovators bible, expensive but worth it.

The sticking point on the braking system was the Y piece at the back of the master cylinder which I didn’t have and which wasn’t available from anyone so a review of components from Automec meant that a T piece and coupler could be utilised. I also decided to utilise silicon brake fluid at this stage.

Making progress!

Attention turned to the engine which I had no idea as to its condition. However, I was pleased to discover that it was in very good condition, virtually no wear ridge on the top of the bores with bearing shells still in as new condition. I decided that there was little point in replacing components that were serviceable so the valves were ground in and gaskets replaced and the motor was boxed up again. Even the clutch plate was in good condition so, it was fairly obvious that the engine had been renovated in its recent past.

The gearbox was examined without stripping beyond taking the top plate off and all appeared to be well with all gears being selectable, I have found in the past it is difficult to assess the serviceability of gearbox components such as synchro cones visually; in actual fact it turned out that when it was run it jumped out of third, so some attention is going to be required. Looks like a winter job. New engine mountings were utilised and the engine and gearbox remounted into the chassis.

Around this time thoughts turned to seats and interior trim, Mike Sherrell in TCs Forever! talked about Mike Collingburn being the best in the game so a search of the internet turned up that Mike was based in Richmond, North Yorkshire, not too far from me. A few e-mails and phone calls found me visiting his premises where I learnt that his son James was now running the business, Mike suffering from ill health. James took on my commission for a complete set of seats and interior trim in biscuit, the colour he convinced me was nearest to the original MG Colour. James warned me that it would not be quick, being up to a year’s wait which I accepted as I thought the rest of the renovation would fall in line with this timescale. The seats arrived about on schedule but the interior trim is still awaited.

A recent conversation with James revealed that he was not doing any more T-Types but was concentrating on MMMs. However, he promised that he had enough material to complete my order. This may mean that I will probably be the last T- Type to have a Collingburn interior – I will have to put a plaque on the dashboard!

A new wiring harness from Octagon was the next challenge, From the Frame Up gave a routing and the TC instruction manual gave a wiring diagram. The dashboard was the greatest challenge, trying to get several meaty wires into a small screwed terminal. I found that a touch of solder stiffened up the wires and gave a much more positive connection, I also decided to convert to negative earth at this stage.

There are very few jobs that I will not attempt, a challenging one was renovating the shock absorbers. A search of the web gave instructions and a source of the correct sized lip seals and welch plugs. A friend machined up a rubber bush insertion kit and after a few false starts an acceptable quality was achieved. The bushes, links and screwed posts were obtained from Andy King’s ‘tame’ shocker man, Raj Patel.

Ed’s note: Raj Patel of ‘Recon & Return’ is at 39a Avenue Road Extension, LEICESTER LE2 3EP. Telephone 0116 244 8103. In the words of one of our subscribers “Raj is a good guy”.

The tub, wings doors etc were returned from paint and assembly started at a pace. A good fit of the doors was achieved by packing the tub mounting points but before final mounting the floor templates were produced by slipping thin ply, which had previously been cut to fit around the gearbox and transmission tunnel, under the tub and drawing round the tub, much easier than trying to produce floor boards after the tub has been fitted.

Almost there!

A good job was made of the windscreen by Autoglass Special Projects who used the correct grade and thickness of laminated glass and mounted it in the screen surround. They even etched a BS number in the corner.

The car started looking good and the engine ran well with oil pressure above 60psi cold and holding 40 psi when running at operating temperature.

Virtually there – just awaiting interior trim.

All the instruments came with the car, the speedo and rev counter having labels showing that they were renovated in 1992 by Vintage Restorations and never used. I jokingly rang John Marks and asked if they were still under guarantee, he said unfortunately not but that it would be advisable to have them cleaned and re oiled, which I did. I even have a working clock, which I understand is quite unusual.

One of the last jobs I tackled was the renovation of the Altette horn, the coil was in a poor state so I again searched the web for advice, bought the correct grade of varnished copper wire and wound a coil, I set this in the body and filled it with Cataloy. A few adjustments and trial and error with gaskets and I managed to get a working horn. Don’t know if it has the right noise but I like it.

The car is now settling down with about 700 miles under its belt. The engine is going well but the gearbox jumps out of third. There is a fair amount of play in the steering even with a Tomkins top on the box but I want to make sure that I am not losing movement in the sprung steering rod ends before doing anything with the box.

I have bought a nice full tonneau from Don Hoods and intend to eventually buy a hood from them.

All in all, a very enjoyable restoration.

Chris Edwards August 2017

Yes, I wanted to be in the picture – after all I do stand guard over the cars!”