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MG TD TF 1500 - 70 MPH

I am intrigued to read the mention of cruising a TD or TF at 70 MPH in a number of posts on this discussion forum.

Question: Do the owners of TFs who drive at this speed upgrade the brakes or drive with the original brake design and configuration?

I keep my speed no higher than 50 MPH although I know my brakes are in good working order, they are as originally configured and the wheels may lock up (have locked up) when an emergency stop is required, particularly on a damp or wet surface.

I learned to drive 42 years ago in the UK in a 1949 MGYB with standard brakes, but there were less cars on the road and no motorists distracted playing with their mobile phones or on the school run in a people carrier shouting at the children in the back. In those days other cars on the road did not stop instantly due to massive disc brakes controlled by ABS systems. It was a safer era as there were fewer incompetent and distracted drivers on the road.

Just asking

TF 9194
I Massey

Given that a panic stop by the car ahead of you might WILL be a performed by a more modern car, just leave an extra bit of space.

No matter what we do to our brakes, we will never match ABS's ability to modulate the pedal for an optimal stop.

I agree that our brakes will never match up with modern ABS braking, but that does not mean that our brakes are less than satisfactory. Properly set up and adjusted, T-type brakes are excellent under normal conditions. Other than Alfin drums for wire-wheel cars and silicone fluid, there is precious little we can - or need to - do to upgrade our brakes. Some folks use boosters, but I've never found them necessary, and just one more thing to go wrong.

Yes, I leave more gap between me and the car in front, just as I do on my Norton or Triumph - that's prudent driving, not inadequacy.

When the inspector could not fit into my 40-year-old TF being inspected in New Jersey, I drove on the brake tester - he remarked that the TF's brakes were measurably better than many current cars. Learn what they can and cannot do and you will be fine.

70 with the stock gearing is not a comfortable place to be, but with a 4.3 and a 5-speed, is eminently do-able.

Tom Lange
MGT Repair
t lange

NJ no longer tests breaks. The "new" philosophy is "if the brakes don't work the driver will leave more room."

Jim B.
JA Benjamin

Agreed, the brakes are more than adequate for the car. The only danger is following too closely, which no one should be doing anyway. Often, the brakes in old cars feel inadequate because we've become used to modern cars with fat tires and power boosters. But all that is needed is more pressure on the foot pedal, and an understanding of how to prevent wheel lock without ABS installed.

TD brakes are better than those on a TC, but I cruise my TC at about 60-65MPH all day, limited only by the gearing I've chosen. I've only had one scary moment, when there was a sudden stoppage in a tunnel at freeway speeds. But that wasn't the car's fault, and I did manage to stop it safely and then changed my underwear. ;) Otherwise I've never felt the brakes weren't up to the job, no matter what the speed.
Steve Simmons

Your question is about a TF but I will give you my TD experience. I probably drive my TD faster than most(not all)TD owners.

(Supercharged - 5 speed - roller lifters and appropriate cam - 4.55 rear.)

I have done 85 and it was not the cars limit.
I typically cruise the interstates at 70, depending on conditions.
My brakes are fine and are standard.

I learned to drive with the rule that you leave a space in front equal to a car length for every 10 mph. I try to do that with a modern car and increase the distance with the TD. Not an easy task since someone always wants to fill that gap. If traffic is too fast and dense for me to leave a proper gap I move to the right and drive slower.

You can take away anything you wish from the BBS but always drive at a speed comfortable for you.

Safety Fast,
Mort 50 TD

I've done a lot of road miles in the TF well above 70 mph with the stock brakes. I know it will not stop as short as a modern vehicle so I leave more room between me and the car ahead. Up grading the brakes (to front discs) is probably not going to shorten your stopping distance to any large degree unless you run wider tires. The value to me in changing to a front disc (which I haven't done yet) would be to eliminate the brake fade which the drum design is prone too. High speed traffic in which there is a lot of "bungie braking" (thats a term my brother came up with) can cause the drums to lose a great deal of stopping power...even to the point of no braking at all. The use of front discs would alieveate that problem to a large degree. The same fade can be an issue when decending steep long grades if you don't gear down and creep down.
MG LaVerne

Funny, I've never overheated the brakes on my TC and where I live there are very steep, twisty descents. I had the rear brakes smoking once, after a particularly nasty downhill canyon, but they still worked!
Steve Simmons

Must be turn I have pictures !


I'm with I. Massey, speeds no greater than 50 MPH, well maybe 55 at times. More in deference to the antiquarian car and engine preservation than brake considerations which on my stock braking system seem adequate.
John Quilter

I cooked my brakes going into this down hill left hander trying to catch up to the group after getting lost to go pee right before they took off. There was a lot of butt puckering going on at that corner.

MG LaVerne

If you keep the thing geared down and crawl off some of the grades I travel on , then it's not an issue. But with a lot of 7 or 8 percent grades miles and miles long, staying up close to the speed limit of 35 mph, the engine will not hold back enough to keep your speed under control unless you gear down to hold it at around 15 or so. Even then you will use plenty of brake along with the engine to hold it back. Too much use and your brakes will become useless.
MG LaVerne

Thanks all for your comments.

I do keep a safe, and much greater distance from the car in front when driving my TF than I do when driving my other toy with massive computer managed disc brakes that will stop on a dime. However, I have had a few nasty moments with vehicles changing lanes on the freeway (I 95) and cutting me off without any warning signals in dense, but fast moving traffic, when driving my TF.

LaVerne - there are no hills of significance here in the Jacksonville Florida area so fortunately brake fade is not a problem for me. The highest hills the TF has experienced to date under my ownership are the bridges over the St. John's River.

I will stick to my 50 mph maximum speed rule. I must be getting old as my thinking is I conditioned by my experience as an engineer trouble-shooting equipment failures around the world. I have seen the results of catastrophic failures where people have been killed. TF 9194 is 60 years old - I know, it is young compared to other T series cars owned by many of you on this T series discussion forum.

Thanks again, all

TF 9194

I Massey

There are roads between me and where I work that average 12% grade in sections, and some sections get up to to 30%(!) grade. And they have more turns per mile than that tail of the dragon thing everyone talks about. ;)

Fun, fun roads for a T-Type but a workout to drive at speed.
Steve Simmons

When anxious to get from point A to Point B on an Interstate Highway I have been known to regularly cruise along at 70-75 mph. My 52 TD is probably at about a Stage 2+ with a set of 4.3 gears in the rear end. I must admit that I have a power booster in the brake system, but that's more for my 80 year old wife's benefit than anything else. I follow safe driving practices and know the limitations of the TD's braking system.
I just returned from one of my regular trips driving a snowbird's car (fairly new Volvo) from Massachusetts to Florida on I95. Greatest hazard is the darned idiots who lock themselves into the left lane and wouldn't dream of going over 65mph. Bud
Bud Krueger

I can always lock the wheels under braking, if I'm a little enthusiastic, so feel that short of fatter feet etc the drums are OK. I do have an MGA master cylinder fitted, so the smaller diameter gives me a little boost.

NZ has a 'two second' rule for the space you allow between yourself and the car in front (I suspect a lot of other places do, too) which allows you a pretty good margin at pretty much any speed.

David Provan

50 MPH max is a nice rule,,, but if you do get to an area where you have to be on a highway, and the traffic is doing 60+, 50 MPH is very dangerous,,

Steve Wincze

I don't believe I've ever exceeded 55mph, but then I've not put a lot of miles on my car yet.
This spring, with a rebuilt engine, I hope to get her back up to speed. I have a 4.3 diff waiting to put in which will help some, but I never expect to regularly do 70 mph. I do hope that in a pinch, I can do highway speeds though...
Geoffrey M Baker

I am with Lavern, my car with the 4:1 rear end will do seventy around 4000rpm I hit about 70-72, and LeVerne, that photo shows my car kinda hidden by the post, but believe that was GOF Central in Sheyboygan at Road America? I have the disc brakes on my car because I like em and I do drive fast. Did so before the disc brakes also, these cars were ment to get out and go, even country roads are 55 and even then that is slow. you can get killed by haveing someone, truckers come to mind coming up behind a 50 mile hour car.
TRM Maine

I rarely go over 55. And stay away from other cars.
What scares me are the cars that don't seem to see me and they pull out right in front of me. The wheels lock up and I skid farther than you would expect. On new vredesteins.
Peter Dahlquist

I find they work just fine, but I did get mine pretty hot once when coming down from mount constitution on Orcas Island in Washington once. It was such a beautiful road and a calm peaceful day, that since there was hardly enough strait to need the engine, I would drive it soap box car style. After shutting off the motor, I started to smell the brakes and could tell more "shove" was required. After about 1 mile on the flat at the bottom, they were back to normal again.

I too drive quite fast and regularly drive on the freeway. Since I can lock them up with out much trouble, having a booster is only going to make that easier to do. It just takes a bit of getting used to them and they work pretty darn well.


Alex Waugh

This thread was discussed between 06/11/2015 and 09/11/2015

MG TD TF 1500 index

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