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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Rear Wheel 'Clunk'

Hi, my first post as an owner new to classic motoring with an MG midget Mk3 from 1968.
Having driven on somewhat elderly tyres since purchasing the car last summer I decided to invest in 5 new tyres today, which were fitted to the wire wheels (splines) by a local mobile tyre fitter.
Taking a drive afterwards, I noticed a distinct "Clunk" coming from the rear offside wheel when I take my foot off of the accelerator.

I have checked that the wheel is secure and all was well before the new tyres were fitted. Also checked that nothing has obviously come loose around the brakes/hub area.
Having now moved inside since it's dark, I realise that the wheels got swapped around during the tyre fitting and so wonder if I have ended up with a driving wheel that is a rather more worn on its splines than some of the others.

Looking for your thoughts?

R Saxton

Hi Richard, I also had this issue and it turned out to be that the spinner wasn't hammered tight enough.

This may not be the only reason for the knocking.

For worn splines remove the wheel and check to see if they have been worn to a point. If they have this could be adding to/causing the noise.

Hope this helps
Mark Whitmore


Yes, if it appeared just after the tyres were changed it will be the wheel nut not tight enough. The tyre shop was obviously a bit gentle on it. (Probably because they couldn't use their rattle gun!!) In about 1966 the pitch of the thread was changed from 12TPI to 8TPI, presumable because some owners were belting hell out of the nuts and stripping the thread. The change to 8 TPI meant that you have no choice but to hit them REALLY hard!
Paul Walbran

Most important part is only bang the spinner when the wheel is in the air!
This way the wheel can seat properly center.

You should be able to hold the wheel with one hand and bang the spinner.
Don't be gentile!
and rotate the wheel while banging
Onno K

Or instead of beating the crap out of it, use a spanner.

Lawrence Slater

Laurence now you're being silly, that little spanner will never do the job :0)
G Lazarus

Not even if you hit it with one of the hammers, or both? :)
Lawrence Slater

The wood will absorb a significant amount of the blow and so it won't tighten as much as a direct hit on the ears. It might be OK for normal driving, if so it's worth it to protect the ears of the knock-on, but for spirited driving I can assure you that it isn't!
Paul Walbran

I am with Paul, the wooden spanner is no use whatsoever, the wheels and spinners were designed to be thrashed with a copper mallet that is how they are designed. If the spinner is not tightened correctly the splines will wear prematurely. This business of trying to protect the spinner from bruising is probably the reason for most wire wheels being loose!

I used to use a bit of alluminium plate between the hammer and the lug of the spinner, that tended to protect the spinner although I then decided to get concours and needed bruised spinners to look authentic!!

If I were a judge you would definately lose points if your spinners had not been hammered tight!!
Bob Turbo Midget England

I thought the point of the spanner, was not to hit it with a hammer, but to use it as a spanner. The length allowing leverage instead of hammering. I hadn't realised they were made of wood. That's crap. Or at least I thought it was until I read the following.

All those advocating thrashing the spinners with a mallet, might find this interesting.

I would have cut and pasted it, but the author, Wilson McComb, specifically ask that not be done.

Lawrence Slater

Very true for 12TPI. Unfortunately owners didn't heed this advice, and continued to overtighten. This, I understand, was the reason for the cange in thread pitch to 8 TPI, on the grounds that if people are going to hit them hard then make the pitch such that it won't cause damage. As a result, with 8TPI you have to hit them hard.
Paul Walbran

agreed Paul; that article was I think first written in the late 60s when the 8tpi version was still relatively new. I also wonder who owns the copyright now, since Wilson died over 20 years ago. The important bit is - "Hammer them tight" means the application of a lead, copper or hide mallet, and a little common sense, with the wheel locked up. Not a murderous attack with a blunt instrument when the wheel is on the jack.
David Smith

Thanks for your comments.

The "Clunk" was indeed caused my initial reluctance to hit the octagonal spinner nuts hard enough.

Now after removing all the old grease, applying a liberal quantity of new copper grease and hitting the spanner rather harder all is well,

R Saxton

Pleased all is well, but out of interest, I had always understood the spinners tighten as you drive. I have never tightened mine up particularly hard, but they are always pretty dammed tight when I take them off.
If that is right, then why did Richard's not tighten up themselves? Or have I missed something?
Graham M V

With a little more patience and a few miles on you are probably right, the problem would have fixed itself.
R Saxton

This thread was discussed between 20/03/2012 and 22/03/2012

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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