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MG TD TF 1500 - upgrades

I have read several posts about upgrades to the TD that just work better than the origional design. I was curious to know if there was a list of all of these upgrades in one spot. I could probably find most of them in the archives, but well, I'm pretty lazy:) I am so excited about starting the restoration it is all I can do not to call in sick to work.

Rob Welborne

If you are starting a full restoration, then keep it simple.
I f the engine is to rebuilt . then do a Factory Stage 2 tuning.
At the least convert the rear en to 4.3 to 1.
Otherwise spend your money restoring the brakes, body, interior etc.
This will exhaust your money and patience.
Do the basics so you can get it in the road/

Don Harmer TF8986

Rob, I agree 100% with Don. Returning the car to origional is a handfull in itself. In its origional form it is a pretty reliable and fun package. Considering that the finished product will only be (probably) driven under ideal conditions and not exposed to the elements, it will last a long time. I would suggest, if you don't already have it, Horst Schach's book as a nice outline and reference. As Don indicates, the one basic element of the car that could stand to be modernized, is the rearend ratio. 4.3:1 is ideal and will allow you to keep up with traffic and get a much smoother and quieter ride. Seatbelts are, of course, an important addition to any old car.
The use of modern coatings on the body, as well as the chassis, is a huge improvement in itself. Unfortunately, the same doesn't seem to apply to replacement rubber parts, especially for the front suspension, where the quality of aftermarket parts is lacking. I have found this to be frustrating. The one notable exception to this is the replacement of the A-arm bushing with MGB V8 bushings. They are super, and don't break down. Also, the quality of modern repro chrome parts is not great. Where ever you can, get your origionals rechromed. Unfortunately this can be staggeringly expensive. The quality of the early chrome, is sometimes amazing. Don't give up on a part because it looks ratty. I have polished windshield frames and an old Amco luggage rack, with amazing results. Sometimes they shine up beautifully and actually looks better with some of the old patina.
Steven Tobias

Best simple and cheap upgrades I can think of are the teflon jet seals to replace the corks, and Petronix electonic ignition. These eliminate two constant problems- points adjusting/burning/fiddling, and the teflon seals seem to last for years, with an added benifit of making the choke easier to pull. Total agreement with Don and Steve and their suggestions as well.
George Butz

The teflon jet seals sound interesting. Not a moss product is it ? Were do you get them ?
GD Nijhof

Since you are doing a total rebuild, I would consider making the following modifications:

add a battery cut-off switch
change over to a spin-on oil filter
install an adjustable clutch lever connecting rod

You may also consider drilling the additional water jacket hole that is sometimes missing on early cars.

Adding rear axle buffer (chaffing) plates is also a good idea.

Several owners have switched over to a transistorized voltage regulator (looks identical from the outside as it uses a authentic regulator as a basis for the conversion) and have found this to be a helpful modification.

Turn signals may also be added to those early cars that were not fitted with signals originally.

Some folks are now also using magnetic drain plugs for the engine, gearbox, and rear end.

All of these are simple modifications that are not too expensive.

Enjoy your TD
Jeff Delk

I would concentrate on add-ons that can only be done during the restoration. That would leave anything that goes inside the engine; front suspension changes if it involves more than just drilling some holes; rear axle changes; and brake fluid changes.

So my votes would be:
1) everything Don Harmer said
2) drilling the extra hole in the water jacket
3) the front suspension upgrade Steve mentioned
4) rechroming any part that gets a paint applied (like the gas tank sides and the instrument cluster)
5) MGB spring pans and arms if you are adding an anti-sway bar the conventional way.
6) rear axle buffers and turnsignals as Jeff suggested, including the appropriate wiring loom.
7) the improvements to the brake/clutch pedal shaft
8) Sound deadening and insulation behind the panels
9) Seat padding and rodent protection
10) Scrubbed or new brake lines, components, and silicone brake fluid (dot 5)
11) Clutch belcrank hole relocation (or that could be done later, but you are going to want to do it)
12) 1/4 inch off the front engine bracket next to the steering column. So much easier to level the engine with the steady bracket, and no interference with the air inlet manifold and bonnet.

Changes I would make once rolling:
1) Chroming anything that shows that looks out of place on your fresh car. Even the radiator surround and windshield parts unless they were already really ratty.
2) An argument could be made for the buffer plates on the rear axle as 'after the fact' but I think it is wise to install them. It isn't not getting the u-bolts tight, it is the deterioration of the rubber that allows the fit to slip, so some protection is nice.
3) The anti-sway bar if you did it the way I did it. It is just too much fun to have a 'before' and 'after' comparison.
4) Adustable clutch rod, not everyone needs it, mine doesn't.
5) Spin on oil filter, unless you have a butchered up canister or piped system
6) transistorized voltage regulator unless you need it
(not that you won't like Jeff's 4, 5 and 6, it is just that you may not need them. I kinda enjoy the old voltage regulator... but if mine ever packs it in I'm getting a new solid state one from Bob Jeffers.)
7) a full tonneau
8) an AMCO rack and wind wings

You know? I never got the badge bar or the driving lights. With the halogens, I just don't need them, and I do drive at night. It just requires massive bug cleaning the next day!

Dave Braun

My two bits [well, a whole lot more than two bits, I'm scared to tally the receipts]

In addition to the rest and more on the insane side:

-MGA differential for stronger halfshafts
-5-speed trans [either a Ford Sierra Type 9 [harder] or a Datsun 210 [easier]
-pertronix electronic ignition
-12 inch Alfin drums from Bob Grunau, or MGA front discs on MGA splines
-walnut dash
-shoulder belts [Schach's book has a good chapter on it, though there's a lot of debate on this site about the safety of the mounting and placement; I'm glad I've got mine]
-heater [mine's a W-type underseat heater from a 1953 Pontiac that's mounted up and under the scuttle
-negative ground
-12 volt marine-capped outlet
-heated seats
-Brooklands racing screens

All the others have been covered.

Dave Jorgensen

-Len Fanelli's camshaft
-transistorized fuel pump
-hi torque starter [Spridget?]
-if you're driving hard, a really good set of radials [I'm a Michelin man; our cars corner really well when a front swaybar is installed]
-forged crank
Dave Jorgensen

Heated seats?! What's next; power side curtains?
Steven Tobias

....funny you should mention.....

gblawson(gordon- TD27667)

Does the 1500 need a hole drilled in the water jacket? If so, where and why is this needed? PJ
P S Jennings

The 1500 already has the "holes" in the water jacket.They are usually filled with rust and crud and need to be cleaned out on rebuild.
"It makes the engine run cooler" (anon.)
Don Harmer TF8986

How about a cup holder? Ha, ha! Seriously, just getting the machine on the road is a huge task if you are starting with a messy one. Mike D.
MW Davis

Cup holder???? Hell yes I say. Plus I dodn't want ta be pitching butts on the motorway.


I also would suggest you fit a remote brake survo unit, I fitted mine up under the dashboard. The improvment to the brakes is excellent,makes the TD stop as quick as a modern car.

Regards Chris
Chris Pick

Cup holder??? The classic way of MG driving is to stop at a pub for refreshments ("a pie, a pint and a pee") or find a scenic spot where you can stop your roadster, open your trusty old thermos flask, preferably the Scottish tartan patterned laquered thin sheet metal/mirrored glass typ, and enjoy a nice cup of tea or cocoa. If you prefer tea, do remember to bring milk and sugar.


Jan Kristoffersen

Jan if I drive west from my house there is nothing and I mean nothing for the first 100 miles. No pub,pint or pie. Same for the next 100 miles after that. I take my tea straight...with ice and a slice of lemon thank you.

Now if I go east and they know we are coming.....


Will make your journey outstanding


the space between the driver's seat and the emergency brake is as good a cup holder as one can find...even adjusts to different sizes of cups....
gblawson(gordon- TD27667)

This thread was discussed between 06/09/2010 and 09/09/2010

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