TD Under Dash Panel

The MG Car Company had introduced a “scuttle masking” or “wiring cover board” on the TC although I expect many owners, including me with my 1948 TC (TC6477), which I owned in the late 60s, had no such luxury. This item of equipment had long been discarded by a previous owner.

Fortunately, Doug Pelton of From The Frame Up (FTFU) has had the ‘Masking Board’ (MB) remanufactured from the specs of an original; this link will take you to one of Doug’s Tech Tips where he covers the installation of the MB.

A later slightly larger simpler design followed on the tradition with the TD and the TF, and all were covered with rexine (PVC) leather cloth.

The 1950 TD fibreboard panel, was designed to hide the view of cables and wires that were all too easily visible, and to help make the “modern MG” more acceptable to discerning post war buyers. Further benefits could include reduced engine noise and possibly heat in the cockpit, although this might be seen as a retrograde step not least because the vehicle lacked a heater!

The TC and TD under dash panels are not interchangeable due to the size differences between the two models.

It is worth noting that there are some disadvantages in neatly enclosing the under dash mass of cables and wires, not least when access to replace an instrument bulb, or to add an after market accessories that requires power, or even adjusting the steering wheel rake angle.

Nevertheless, the under dash panel was standard on the new TD in 1950, but not surprisingly, many cars have lost this item over the years. Even the part number for the mystical under dash panel is hard to find, and this item does not appear to be “listed” by any of the regular T-Type UK suppliers. (Moss may be able to acquire the kit but I believe it is back ordered on the US.)

However all is not lost for the concours enthusiast who wishes to present his or her TD as it appeared on the day it was driven away from the Abingdon factory! Kits are available that provide pattern drawings of the fibreboard panel along with the nuts, bolts, brackets, screws and PVC cloth to complete the task. The fibreboard and wooden strengthening battens are not normally supplied with the kit but instructions provide the necessary measurements.

Moss Motors US have kindly approved my referencing their Under Dash panel kit details for this article.

The following drawing, for the TD under dash panel, provides the guide measurements in inches.

Note: Final fitting may dictate adjustment to these measurements, such as the size and position of the steering wheel shaft cut-out (shown as the 3”x 2” box, or sometimes shown as a cutout circle), in the upper right quadrant of the drawing.

Three “metal brackets” on the upper (dashboard) edge of the following drawing, attach to the underside of the dashboard.

The forward (footwell) edge of the panel has a “battery box” cut out and the leading edge of this cut out is designed to rest on the lip protruding into the footwell from the battery box.

The two slotted cut outs (one each side of the board) are to provide clearance for the bulkhead “roll bar” (fitted from TD 0351).

Wooden strengthening battens are screwed to the upper side of the panel using 1⁄2” wood screws through the face of the board.

The battens (shown in dotted lines) are 11⁄2”x 1⁄2” timber cut to the appropriate lengths. The positioning of the battens should be adjusted before final fixing after checking that they do not interfere with any under dash controls or cables.

Note. The drawing can serve as a template for both LH and RD vehicles but the battens are always fitted on the “hidden” upper side and the steering wheel column bracket fits through the 3” by 2” hole in the panel top edge.

Fitting the TD Under Dash Panel.

1. Remove your steering wheel by undoing the chrome clamp below the chrome spring cover and cap, then withdraw the wheel and the splined shaft far enough to enable you to pry out the oval woodruff key that locates the shaft in the inner column. Pull the shaft completely out of the inner column. If your car is one of the rare TDs with a non-adjustable column, remove the screw holding the centrepiece in the wheel, lift out the centrepiece, and undo the securing nut, then pull the wheel off the tapered end of the shaft.

A typical masking board kit. Photo by Bud Krueger

2. Undo and remove the bolt that secures the outer column clamp to the Y-shaped bracket beneath the inner bodywork. Push down on the column so the clamp comes free from the bracket.

3. Late TDs, fitted with turn signals at the factory, originally had the switch mounted on a bracket behind the lower edge of the dashboard. The switch sat vertically on the bracket with the handle facing forwards. If your car has such a switch, remove the handle and unscrew the nut holding the switch to the bracket. Record the position of the hole in the bracket relative to the edge of the dashboard, and then unscrew the bracket from the back of the dashboard. Carefully rest the switch and its wires on the wiring at the back of the dashboard so that it is up out of the way. It is not necessary to re-use the bracket as the switch will mount through the new panel. Any other switches, gauges, etc., that may be mounted below the edge of your dashboard should also be removed at this time.

The foot well should now be clear as long as the “collection” of wires and cables is carefully pushed up sufficient to enable the panel to fit without interference.

4. The panel may now be lifted into position, above the steering column, and pushed down and forward into the footwell. It is probably best to achieve this by pushing the driver’s side down first and then straightening it when the bulkhead roll bar is reached. Now work the other side of the panel down until the passenger side cut out fits into the respective roll bar cut out.
It is important at this stage to check that the fit between the edge of the wood and the foot well side panels is good. If this fit is too tight or if it is rubbing it is best to mark up where the panel is making contact, remove the assembly and cut or shave back excessive points of contact.

On final assembly (7) the panel should fit snugly with the forward edge resting on the battery box protruding lip and with the roll bar fitting snugly into the two cut outs, one on each side.

5. With the panel correctly aligned in the footwell, and up against the dashboard, it is necessary to mark out the correct position for the turn signal switch. Using a fret saw or similar, cut out the correct size hole for the switch to pass through the new panel without interference.

The panel should be a good fit up against the inner side of the dash panel, further trimming of the panel might be necessary at this stage to achieve this important alignment. Now is also the time to ensure that the steering column clamp bracket fits through its designated hole and that it can be correctly secured.

6. When a satisfactory fit has been achieved the panel should be removed and covered with leather cloth or vinyl that is glued to the plywood with contact adhesive. Lay the wooden panel onto the vinyl and cut around leaving sufficient wrap-around on the edges to provide a firm fixing. When the fit of the panel, up against the back of the dashboard is satisfactory install the turn signal through the board with the signal lever should be protruding below the dashboard edge.

7. Now attach the three metal plates on the underside edge of the dashboard and carefully bend them up such that they lay flat against the under dash panel. The downward facing holes in the brackets should be countersunk before securing with countersunk wood screws that hold it firmly in place.

Jonathan Goddard

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