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MG TD TF 1500 - 1951 MG TD Ignition Switch

I think my ignition assembly is out the fritz, sometimes the fuel pump won't start and I have to turn the key a few times and flip the headlights switch to get it going. $99 on Moss with two keys doesn't sound too unreasonable, is this a real hassle to replace or pretty basic?

General update for anyone who feels like reading a bit more...

I had Graham at Heritage Motors in Costa Mesa, CA work on her last month, he is very well known in the Mini Cooper world and appeared on Jay Leno's Garage a few times, very familiar with MGs. Not great news. Head gasket blown between 2 and 3 which was why I was getting muddy oil in my coolant and weak performance, I was expecting that and he replaced, but there were some pretty good sized chunks of debris in the oil filter which he said was probably my engine bearings and assorted other bits. Once I'm running I'm getting a decent knocking sound from the engine. I'm guessing I need a pretty major rebuild, retooling the heads and pistons and rings and all the other stuff I know nothing about, bummer. I'm just trying to enjoy driving her around the block a few times here and there to remember my Dad, but this poor old girl may soon end up under a few tarps like it did way back in the day for him before he finally had a little fun money to get her running. If anyone has gone through a rebuild (and I think I need transmission as well) if you can let me know where to start and if I need to sell my son to the circus that would be swell.

Send me some positive MG energy :-)

Safety Fast!

SD Denham

Replacing the switch isn't difficult, just tight quarters. Definitely disconnect the battery before attempting, and make sure the wires are fully inserted and tight in the new switch. Many find it easiest to detach the center panel and pull it away from the dash to get at the rear of the switch, rather than climb underneath the dash.

If you want to rebuild the engine yourself, there are machine shops in your area familiar with XPAG engines who can do the machining for you. Contact VMG for the latest recommendations. They also do tech sessions so it may be worth joining them to be able to attend and learn some things.

There isn't anything terribly difficult about rebuilding an XPAG compared to other similar engines. Just pray that the crank is good because a new one may cost more than the rest of the parts and labor combined.
Steve Simmons

The Moss switches don't have a great rap. A while back they were responsible for starting fires in cars. Restoring a switch isn't difficult as long as the lock body cover is still serviceable. They are always full of gunk and respond well to a good clean. I can send you a 'how to' if interested. Cheers
Peter TD 5801
P Hehir

Figure $4-7K, the higher if you need a crank. Pretty much everything will be shot and need to be replaced- pistons, cam, bearings, all nuts/bolts/studs, timing chain/gears, seals, peripherals need to be rebuilt or replaced, machine work, freeze plugs, lifters, pushrods, valves, rocker shaft, re-machine and re-bush rockers, oil pump rebuild, replace clutch, engine mounts, etc, etc. That is why it costs so much. I wouldn't run with the metal in the filter and a knock, as something is ready to go bang. Tom Lange has the brass freeze plugs and ARP rod/head bolts that you would need. George
George Butz III

Steve D -

Hope your son enjoys the circus.

Ideally, choose a builder that has experience building a number of XPAG / XPEG engines and who has worked with his chosen machine shop for a long time.

George Pardee in Clearwater FL, TF race car owner and driver is rebuilding my XPEG. He was my #1 choice. See his linked album of my engine build.

LM Cook

I replaced my ignition switch a couple of years ago. I return the one from Moss Motors and bought one from Abingdon Spares.
It was two or three times the price but well worth it.
Mort Resnicoff

If you are at all mechanical, get a shop manual and start in. The thing is essentially an old tractor motor.

Regards, Tom
tm peterson

Tractor motor? It was designed as a sports car engine by the same guy who designed engines for Jaguar.
Steve Simmons

Clearly thinking of the Triumph TR / Standard Vanguard motor, which was used in tractors, despite which it wasn't half bad.
Dave H
Dave Hill

Or you might be confusing it with the MGA 1500 engine which was dieselized and used in tractors like this fine restored example.

John Quilter (TD8986)

Peter TD 5801

I would sincerely be very interested in getting your write up on the rebuilding of this switch

Please send to

Muchos gracia - - Merci and thank you
Michael Balahutrak


Due to circumstances beyond his control, Mr. Hehir has not monitored this forum for several years.

James Neel

As I remember, Hehir refused to supply any of the information he had as it was copyrighted, and would only be made available to those who paid to join his car club.

Unhelpful people have no place on these bulletin boards, where free access to information is the goal.

Tom Lange
MGT Repair
t lange

I have since been able to research all the archives and found a lot of info that Peter had posted which is indeed most helpful.

Michael Balahutrak

This thread was discussed between 01/09/2019 and 15/01/2023

MG TD TF 1500 index

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