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MG TD TF 1500 - Radiator removal/replacement

Hey guys...I need some information.

I was helping a new friend/acquaintance yesterday who'd bought an older restoration and needed some help removing his gas tank (it's full of crap...deteriorated sloshing compound and rust). After we got that off he asked if I could help him remove his radiator. The reason for the removal was there was no petcock and the only way to drain the anti-freeze was by removing the bottom hose - the petcock had come unsoldered and a patch had been soldered over the hole

Thinking it was the same as a TC I said sure...then quickly found that it wasn't. There is VERY LITTLE access to the two bolts at the bottom. I didn't want to take a chance of scratching paint by removing the splash apron so we removed the grille shell and with that out of the way we were able to get to the two bottom bolts with an open end wrench. About two thirds of the way loose we had to lift the radiator up to finish unscrewing them but managed to get them off eventually.

Question. Is there an easier way to do this? I'm not sure we'll be able to replace the grille shell with the radiator in place because one of the brackets that goes to the headlight has been jury-rigged to fit. We could get it off but not sure we'll ever be able to get it back on. We didn't have a jack yesterday so couldn't try accessing the hold-down bolts from the engine side...if the car is jacked up and on stands can you get to them from the engine compartment?

Another question while I'm typing. Before he had met anyone with T-type experience he'd taken his car to a mechanic since it had stopped running (probably gas tank related). The mechanic kept it for 4 months (supposedly working on it off and on) and said it had some bad valves. After I met him, I went over to the mechanic's shop and saw the car...the mechanic wasn't there. I looked at the head and couldn't tell that anything had been done other than possibly a pressure test. I told my friend that, he called the guy, and a few weeks later the car was delivered back to him - running now via a plastic tube connected between the fuel pump and a three gallon plastic gas can. The mechanic *claimed* he'd replaced the bad valves and done some other work on the head. Now the question. Have any of you ever removed the head without removing the radiator? I imagine it could be done by removing the water outlet but I'm not sure, especially since you're going to screw up the paper gasket in there. I'd appreciate some feedback since I think my friend got screwed (not sure what he paid but I'm damn sure it was substantial). I know the radiator wasn't removed until we removed it yesterday.

Gene Gillam

I always remove the radiator by removing the two locknuts and nuts, washers and rubbers, by reaching in from the front with a combination open-end and box wrench. It's close, and yes, you do need to lift the radiator half-way through to continue to have access to the nuts, but it works for me. One mechanic - who had never worked on a T-series car before - removed the entire radiator support rather than just the radiator. He complained just as much as I did!

Yes, I have removed the head by un-bolting the water outlet and thermostat. A friend blew a sparkplug right out of the head on the way to an MG meet, so I ran a spare head over to him by the road. I would doubt that a mechanic with a shop would do it that way, though, and your friend's mechanic sounds suspect. He should have replaced things like the rocker shaft lock tabs and the head gasket, but I suspect he did not. In the mechanic's presence I would offer to remove the head and see what it looks like, and see if any work has been done! If not, I'd take further action.

Tom Lange
MGT Repair
t lange


Did you remove the splash apron? I don't see how in the world you could get to the nuts if you left the grille shell on...there's no room at all.

I sent him an email telling him to check the heads of the bolts at the water outlet to see if there's any indication they were unbolted. Since the engine is painted I doubt they'd have escaped getting scraped up a bit.

Gene Gillam

I have remove the radiator from our TD numerous time without removing the grill or the splash apron as Tom did. It is awkward, requiring laying under the front bumper (with the front jacked up and on jack stands), but it can be done. I would loosen the nuts and run them down as far as the would go, then lifted the radiator/grill assembly and placed some 1/2" shims under the bottom of the radiator and then removed the nuts completely. This is not without its dangers - one time the wrench slipped off the nut when trying to break is loose and I caught my thumb between the wrench and whatever the nearest obstruction was that stopped the travel of my thumb and the wrench. Lost the thumb nail and gained some wisdom on not applying force without knowing where thing will stop and making sure that no appendages are in between the wrench and the stop. Cheers - Dave
Daved DuBois

Gene, I've use the same technique as Dave quite a few times. I seem to recall that I have an old SAE 5/8 open end wrench that I cut down to give myself more swinging room. Shimming the radiator up as Dave mentions is one of the greatest things to learn about. Bud
Bud Krueger

Dave and Bud....are you working from the engine side or from the bumper side when you're *swinging* that wrench?
Gene Gillam

Gene, I don't see how you did it w/o removing the splash apron. That gives you plenty of room. If the radiator support was at some point removed and is backwards, getting to the nuts is a royal pain. No need to remove the shell,do it on one piece. See if the support has flat lower edges with a pretty much round hole, or is angled down from the edge. I work from the bumper side. George
George Butz

I've taken it off by removing the nuts underneath. Not easy, but do-able.
D. Sander

Gene - I do it from both sides, as I can reach, although it's usually from the front. Cars are different, some cars have no radiator rubbers, the rubber settles, some use small washers, some DPO's cram SAE nuts onto the metric threads. It helps to remove the splash apron, but it's not mandatory.

Hope this helps. Tom
t lange

I use the same method as Bud. I made a cutdown open end wrench...either 5/8 or 7/8... can't remember which. I was able to work from the engine side. When I first got it removed I cleaned and lubed the nuts and support bolts so I wouldn't have to fight with them later. I had a worse time starting the nuts on re-install than anything else.
C.R. Tyrell

I found that the best way to start the nuts on the TD or TF is to shim the radiator so there is room to start the nuts on the studs, then I got one hand on either side of the steering rack, one from the front and one from the back, and started the nuts with two fingers. Remember also to start the lock nuts before you tighten down the main nuts all the way, because if you don't you won't be able to get the lock nuts on! Ask me how I know...

Tom Lange
MGT Repair
t lange

Lock nuts????

I don't think so!
Gene Gillam

I've always worked from the engine side and used the shim routine in reverse for reinstallation. Shim it high enough to get the nuts started. I don't recall ever having to remove the splash apron. Bud
Bud Krueger

Back when, I followed the same procedure as Tom but unlike Bud, I worked from the front side as I remember.There was more room to see and work with the rad mounting bracket in place with the droopy side facing forward.
Jim Merz

always have done mine with radiator shell and splash apron in place. shims are the key. regards, tom
tom peterson

Lock nuts=jamb nuts.
D. Sander

Now I'm beginning to wonder about front or back. Best way to answer that is crawl under and take a look. But not until tomorrow morning. Bud
Bud Krueger

Dave and Gene - I have always used "lock nut" to refer to double-nutting; I see I am wrong. According to Wiki, lock nut is ANY kind of nut that makes loosening unlikely - Nylok nuts, castellated nuts, jam nuts, etc.

I should have said, as Dave Sander virtually correctly identifies, "jamb" (i.e. jam) nuts. And yes, there should be double-nuts on the bottom of the radiator.

Tom Lange
t lange

Just took a look at the radiator mounts of the53. The splash apron is not in place, but even so I can't imagine myself working on those nuts from the engine side of the steering rack housing. I'd say that I do it from the front. Bud
Bud Krueger

Next time I pull a TD or TF radiator, I'm going to put both nuts on the threads and run em down and cut off the remaining stud. I see no reason why the need to be so long. Makes it a PIA to get them back on as it stands.
L E D LaVerne

The easiest way to remove the nuts is to not put them on in the first place. With the hoses and stay rods, that radiator isn't going anyplace.
Lew Palmer

This thread was discussed between 03/03/2013 and 06/03/2013

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