Reader Follow-Up About Those Three MGs…

October 1, 2011 | By John Gunnell

Readers Weigh In Regarding Our Ongoing MG T Restorations, With Questions & Comments on Engines, Brake Pullers & More.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AT the beginning of this year we started a series called “The (Ongoing) Tale of Three MG Ts,” a quarterly offering that follows the stock restoration of a red 1952 MG TD, the“rolling restoration” of a yellow 1954 MG TF that’s being worked on while it’s still being driven, and a blue-and-white 1950 MG TD “parts car” that’s on its way to becoming a ratrod.

As you might expect, the series has generated reader feedback and here are some of the letters that we’ve received along with comments by John Gunnell, the author of the series.

I’ve Found a Frame for You

I was reading the article on the MG restorations in the May Auto Restorer and saw that they are looking for an MG frame. I don’t know where the owners are located or how much they would like to pay for a frame but there has been an MG TD frame and other parts listed in the Las Vegas Craigslist for many months. The listing was last renewed in March but is still shown. This is not my frame, I simply have MG TD in my searches because my dad had one when I was a kid and I always thought if I came across an affordable priced project I might buy it. If you’re interested, take a look at: 057.html. Since the ad is old and may expire, here is the phone number on the ad: .

Mike Via email

The Engine, Fan belt and Frame

I should point out one technical problem mentioned in the article—the use of shims under the rocker stands to compensate for using a Crane cam.

Even though MG originally recommended the shims, their use totally upsets the rocker geometry, and will cause even more problems. Crane—and Moss Motors—recommend using shorter pushrods, which are available with a bit of looking.

As for the short and long fan belts covered in the article, use a belt that will fit loosely without slipping. The sideways pressure of a tight fan belt will wear out a T-series generator in very short order.

The author’s reference to making a replacement frame from scratch (for the rat rod) is perhaps do-able, but why? There are plenty of bare frames on eBay for a few hundred dollars, in fine condition.

Tom Lange Bar Harbor, Maine

Here’s a reply from John Gunnell, the AR contributor who’s writing the series:

“Thanks for the input. Regarding your first point, when we ordered parts from Moss Motors, they never said anything except that they only had the “long” pushrods. We contemplated having a machine shop cut them, but later purchased the shims. Here is what Kelvin Dodd of Moss says on this issue:

‘For optimum rocker arm geometry, you want to have the correct-length push rods. That keeps everything operating the way it was intended. Installing shims under the rocker pedestals has been common practice on both the XPAG and B series motors and if you have your engine already set up that way, I wouldn’t go too far out of my way to change it. Rocker geometry will be affected somewhat, but not enough to worry about.’

“Regarding the fan belts, (a “short” and a “long” belt were available and a short one was put in use) the generator in question was on my TF and since it was generating fine, I thought only the bear- ings were bad. I wish.

“As it turned out, the whole thing was pretty ugly inside, even though it was somehow working. Fondy Auto Electric ( will have to send it out to a second shop to have the armature rewound. So the repair is going to run about $225 and since there are two (the one from the TD parts car, too), it will actually be $450. That’s about $150 more than having them do one with a serviceable armature, but I’ll have two nice and authentic generators.

“As for point three, the frames/chassis I found on eBay were all $1200-$2500 plus the cost of some long-distance trailering to bring them home. In comparison, the cost of having Rich Bickle of the Muscle Up Performance & Hot Rod Shop build a frame was going to be close to free.

“As you’ve read in later installments, some hot rodders have actually prodded me into attempting to repair the original frame (which has some severe rust problems). This is also preferable from a licensing standpoint here in Wisconsin. The latest laws say that a car built on a new frame has to meet all safety and smog regs for the year of the frame.

“We are contemplating having Rich fabricate an aluminum tube skeleton to support the “hot rod” body. If he gets involved, that might turn out very cool.

“Part of the fun of doing the car this way (as a rat rod) is that we have a lot of leeway to try different things.

“And I could probably sell some of the original bits to pay the bills, which really mount up fast when you’re fixing three cars at once.”

Tell Me About Those Brake Pullers

In your May issue the article about the three MG Ts mentions about how the front brake drums were removed using a combination of Harbor Freight pullers.

Can you please give more information about the pullers? I’d like to know the model numbers and how you hooked them together. This would be very helpful with my ’53 TD.

Mark Rotsky Somerset, Massachusetts

Here’s the reply from John: “The pullers don’t have model numbers on them. They probably had a number on the boxes, which are long gone. They were just cheap, basic 3-jaw pullers that are designed so the parts can be swapped around to attach the pulling arms in a few configurations.

“I remember that my mechanic friend Vince Sauberlich tried them this way and that way before he figured out how to make them work.

“He got the pulling arms from one of the smaller pullers set up to grab on the TD drum but we needed more pulling length, so he had three or four sets of jaws pulling on each other, using their tension against each other to hold them together. (They may have even come apart a few times before everything worked properly.)

“The pullers hooked together looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa—or like a stack of octopi on a skewer—but he finally got the job done with them.”