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MG TD TF 1500 - New member. Will be asking lots of questions.

Howdy folks.

I've been asked by a friend to take care of his 1952 MG TD. I'm reasonably competent as a (hobby) mechanic, but my experience does not extend to cars of this era, or from this locale.

I have Questions ;)

Tools; Metric, SAE, or *gasp Whitworth? Same question for threads I guess if I need to replace fasteners.

Can someone point me to an oil thread?

From what I gather, worldwide auto parts is the place to have shocks rebuild if needed, correct?

Are there any naysayers here in regards to swapping points for a pertronix electronic system? The current owner has a drivability problem (backfiring under load, no power)which I think is an ignition related issue, rather than carburetion.

The other issue the car currently has is a very noisy front suspension. I have not yet looked at the car, but I suspect worn bushings. Is there anything else in particular I ought to look at?

Thanks for your input.
HDJ Dejong

Click the Archives link on top of this page. That is the best part of this forum! There are over 10 years of sage advice there. And get a work shop manual from

Details will follow, I'm sure.
Have fun!
efh Haskell

The answer to your question... Tools, metric, sae, or Whitworth is... Yes!
Nuffield Mad Metric had Whitworth head and metric threads... Throw in BA and BSF...and you are in business. And definitely expect to find US sizes on cars that have been here for sixty years... Welcome to our world!!!
Geoffrey M Baker

Welcome to the forum!
You have found the best source for questions on these cars.

Although the archives have a wealth of info on many subjects, I completely agree with Ed on "Get a manual".

What could be easier(and far cheaper) would be if you could find somebody with a collection of information you may need.

Hey....Guess what? You just found that!
Contact me "off-forum" with a mailing address and I can send you a cd with the a good start.
(see pic)
hootersvilledavid "at" yahoo "dot" com

Far as "pertronix electronic system" is a subject that has been debated here for many years with many of us on both sides of the fence.
Having run one on my TF for about 12 years with no worries, I am on the "yes" side of the fence.

David Sheward

Thanks all your suggestions so far. My friend actually has the moss motors manual to go with the car.
As far as fasteners go, I guess I ought to be prepared for some replacements being on there already. (Maybe even whole parts that are not according to the parts list?)

David, I will definitely get in touch with you.
HDJ Dejong

Take the distributor off and send it to Advanced Distributors for rebuild. After all this time rebushing and repairing knackered advance weights is in order. At a minimum replace the condenser.

Unlike David Sheward, I run points. They can be fixed in the dark by the side of the road. ;)

Dave Braun

I almost forgot the second best thing about this group:

efh Haskell

You should get a set of Whitworth wrenches and sockets; Koken and King Dick are both decent brands, and can often be found used on eBay. Shop around; don't buy the first set you see!

You should get the factory workshop and parts books; again, look for used on eBay and don't buy the first one you see. There are often bargains.

The Moss catalog is also useful; Moss has many parts as does Abingdon Spares, but it's often a matter of knowing where to get the best things - not necessarily the biggest or most obvious places. Rubber suspension pieces, for instance, seem to be better quality from Abingdon than Moss, even though Moss sells the complete kit that would seem better.

Move slowly. What is your plan? What can you tell us about your car? What do you intend to fix first?

The suspension is not too hard, and you can be walked through it. That's the time to check the front shocks and send them off to Peter at Worldwide, if necessary. Bad shocks alone can make noise; worn bushings also contribute. Other than the rebound rubber, there's anot a lot else.

When set up and working right, points work just fine. You may have a bad condenser and/or coil. Condenser first! Also check the condition of your plugs and plug wires. Try driving the car, and pulling out the choke to see if things get better. If not, it's probably electric, as most poor-running things are.

Many people are willing to help, including local club members. Introduce yourself!

Tom Lange
MGT Repair
t lange

HDJ - e-mail me at and I'll send you information on The Whitworth fastener system, along with the rather confusing system of metric fasteners with Whitworth heads used on the engines. I also have a listing of the fasteners used in the engines and suggestions of which tools to get immediately and which to get as needed. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

I'd suggest getting the car running properly before swapping parts for electronic ignition. You need to identify the cause of the problem before doing anything else. Most likely it's just a points cleaning and adjustment, or a mixture issue.
Steve S

You might also want to have a look at a web site that I author - It's somewhat oriented toward this BBS. Bud
Bud Krueger

HDJ, Where in NC are you? I am in Smithfield, one mile off I-95 at exit 90. Might have some stuff you can use. I have a 54TF with electronic ignition. Send email if you wish.... John
J Ostergren


You will find that there are a few topics that this site tends to take sides on. Electronic VS points is one. Tube VS tubeless is another, and DOT 3 vs DOT 5 (silicon) brake fluid is another.

Welcome to the group. As mentioned, the archives have a ton on most topics, but please don't be afraid to ask. You will not find more expertise on these cars anywhere else in the world.

The current rubber bushings for the suspension are not lasting all that long. If you do need to replace bushings, poly bushings would be my recommendation. I use superflex bushings from the UK. They cost a bit, but they are machined and not molded or pressed. They also use stainless steel tubes to prevent/reduce rusting.

While in the front, check the steering to see if the previous owner filled the steering rack with grease (there is a zirc fitting on it, but it is supposed to be filled with 90 wt oil).

Pictures are always appreciated. We like to see what others are working on.
Bruce Cunha


I had a drivability problem (backfiring under load, no power) and tried everything, before I discovered that the system voltage was too low.

Cleaning the contact in the regulator solved that.
Willem van der Veer

"The T-series Handbook" is a great reference. Great articles on tuning, carbs, ignition, nuts/bolts/threads, originality, etc. The factory manual is useful, but you can't take parts to the local Lucas agent anymore for repair. The best info is on this site. There are never opinions here, just facts- make sure you take your points and throw them as far as you can and replace with electronic! Haha. George
George Butz

Boy you guys are active. I appreciate all the responses so far.

About the car, It is a daily driver (well, semi daily, but it gets driven a lot. Mostly just stints around town.) Cosmetically on the rough side. The car receives very little attention, and maintenance status of different components is unknown.

My plan is to go through the whole car, and fix whatever needs fixing. (Everything but cosmetics)

I have a limited window of opportunity (about 3 weeks) to do major things that would keep the car from rolling, which is why, instead of troubleshooting a points system, I'd rather not waste my time, and just upgrade to electronic. (Something I feel should be done anyway.)

I'm likely to buy a bushing set for the front suspension, even without evaluating. I can't begin to imagine when these were last looked at anyway.

I'll check the shocks by a scientific bouncing method, and I'll evaluate the movement, and check for leaks. (what is the turnaround time for worldwide?)

besides this, change all fluids, check valve clearances, replace/ clean all filters. Check carb bowls/jets. Check wheel bearings, brakes.
HDJ Dejong

The wheel cylinders are unsealed, collect moisture, corrode get stuck and are almost always shot. Moss has a set of 6 for really cheap $ now. Change the flex hoses at the same time. Maybe master cyl too. Order and replace all of the cylinder and hose copper washers to avoid leaks. Search archives about oil and required additives to avoid ruining the cam.
George Butz

My view is, why waste money on an electronic ignition replacement when you don't know if the problem is in that area. You could go through all that trouble and expense to find out it's a wiring issue or similar, and have the same problem even after the EI installation. Or perhaps voltage is weak, and while the car will run better with the EI, it may dramatically shorten the life of the unit. Remember... when EI fails, it fails suddenly and without warning. It won't typically sputter its way home like points will! I'd make sure everything is tip top before going that route, but that's just my view.
Steve S

If you're thinking of going to a Pertronix system you might want to see . IMHO, if the car that you're working on is positive ground I would forget about installing a Pertronix system at this time. Bud
Bud Krueger

I love this site. Did yo ever notice that eager new guys to the site are like the new hot girl at the gym? Every other enthusiast likes to help them out with whatever they need:)

Rob Welborne

Steve: I agree with you that I need to positively identify the failing part. Given that the current owner is not mechanically inclined, I'd really like to set him up with a lower maintenance ignition.

Bud: Thanks for the link, but the way I read it is "follow the instructions, and all will be fine". Unless I've missed something?

Rob: You now made all of you guys look like sweaty, horny old men. I'll have to work to get that image out of my head ;)
HDJ Dejong

You're right, HDJ. But, there's more to it. If you're thinking of using a test lamp, or meter, for timing - forget it with a positive ground system. Inductive pickup strobe lights are fine. Good luck. Bud
Bud Krueger

Wait, who's old?
Rob Welborne

I don't know if anyone has directed you to the Clubs in NC but there are three that I know of that cover most of the state, I'd join one of them soon...there is a wealth of knowledge in most Clubs and usually an extra pair of hands or more...for the modest cost of a good English ale!

North Carolina MG Club in the Raleigh/Durham area

Metrolina MG Club in the Mint Hill area

British Car Club of Western Carolina
Bob Dougherty

Points for me. A properly rebuilt distributor (see Dave Braun's recommendation on Advanced Distributors). Points will always get you home, but once the electronic fail, you had better have a cell phone and a AAA card. Eventually the electronics WILL fail, but never when it is convenient. Ask a Pertronics user what they use for a backup, and they will always say they carry a set of POINTS.
Fix the problem, don't mask the symptom.
Lew Palmer

Now, Lew, be nice. Yes, as a backup I still carry the points plate that I removed 17 years ago when I installed the Pertronix system. It's a simple swapout if I need it. (Negative ground). What does a pointer do if his points go kaput? Or the condensor sees the end of its days? Bud
Bud Krueger

Technically speaking, he waits until he gets home to address the problem. With EI, you can't do that unless you have the car towed. ;)

Disclaimer: I do have one car on EI and the rest on points.
Steve S

Ditto: "Yes, as a backup I still carry the points plate that I removed".
Have loaned them out a couple times to fellows when their points failed! LOL
Murphy's Law:
Carry a spare & it will not fail, Leave it at home, forget about it!
David Sheward

And don't forget the local MG "T" Register Club

Tarheel State MG'T' Motoring Club
Dan Amey #9017
6 Middlesborough Ct.
Durham, NC 27705

SPW Wincze

Welcome HDJ. I have my original dizzy with points, weights, springs etc complete with leads, rotor & cap as a spare but will be running the 123 EI (with 16 curves!) in an "as new" reconditioned original dizzy from Holland, Magnacore leads, original caps (almost), suppresed plugs & an aftermarket coil, for reliability. And it looks just like the original! Cheers
Peter TD 5801
P Hehir

Points don't "fail", they may deteriorate if not properly maintained. Condensors can fail (start to break down) but do so after years of use and neglect but can usually get you home. Electronica fail catastrophically.
Lew Palmer

This is like arguing religion or politics. There is no right answer for everyone and you'll never get anyone to change their mind on the basis of argument.
Lew Palmer

Lew: Or units of measure :-)
Christopher Couper

HDJ Dejong, Where in North Carolina are you? My '51 TD and I live in Wilmington. We also have a car club here, the British Car Club of the Cape Fear.

The gentlemen on this site have been a great help to me in the seven years that I have owned my car.
Bob McLeod TD 5618

Funny Chris
Dan Craig

Now don't get me going on this ... like the number of zeros in 'one billion'.

Gord Clark
Rockburn, Qué.
Gordon A Clark

Well, I finally had a chance to look at the car.

1. The banter about EI or points can stop. He's already got EI in there :)(BTW, the car is positive ground)

2. One of the rear shocks is connected to... Nothing at all! That may explain a handling problem. The other link has a washer welded on the end to keep it from coming off?

I found a leaking fuel level sender, and complete deterioration of all rubber in the front.
None of the shocks are leaking, and have very smooth linear motion. I will leave them alone for now.

battery voltage was lower than expected. 12.25V after sitting for a week. The electrical system will need some attention.

Can anyone tell me the exact composition of the "Major suspension kit" from Moss motors? (Or is there a superior kit available from a different vendor?)


HDJ Dejong

"Can anyone tell me the exact composition of the "Major suspension kit" from Moss motors?"

As I remember in the printed Moss catalog there are references ("*"'s, etc.) to footnotes that say "included in major suspension kit" for all items so included. I went through and highlighted all of them in my catalog as I remember. Not sure if the online catalog shows this or not?
efh Haskell

If the car has handling problems, it is not likely due to the shocks. If the bushings are rotten, that's a more likely case. Or something in the steering system, or perhaps a loose axle.
Steve S

HDJ - you are missing the entire shock link arm. For the Girling shock that you appear to have you need Moss part no.:


You'll also need fresh bushings, you may as well order 6 of them. You'll need 4, but get an extra 2 because of what comes next.

Bushings - Moss part no. 282-710

And you may want the bush installation tool kit. The job might be done without it, but I don't know how. That part no. is 385-890. It's expensive, but worth it. You need a good press of some type to do it as well.

More information on that here:

Hope this helps.

Bobby Galvez

This thread was discussed between 22/05/2014 and 31/05/2014

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