(as appeared in the Fall, 2014 TSR)
By Charlie Adams
Congratulations to all who intend to restore an old MG — it will be highly rewarding. If the project appears to be daunting in size, stop looking at the whole car and think about the project piece by piece. This view beings a restoration down to the manageable size in which it will be accomplished. Moreover, there is so much help available to MG restorers, I believe the work is possible even for those with very modest mechanical experience.
The following books, listed here, are helpful. The first two will take one a long way through a restoration and the latter 3 provide additional depth. These books are regularly available on EBay and Amazon.
- TD-TF Factory Workshop Manual Reprint
- The Complete MG TD Restoration Manual by Horst Schoch
- MG T Series Restoration Guide by Malcolm Green
- Original MG T Series: The Restorer’s Guide to MG TA, TB, TC, TD and TF by Anders Ditlev Clausager
- The MG Workshop Manual, Complete Tuning and Maintenance for All Models from “M” Type to “T.F. 1500 by W.E. Blower
Get organized by starting a three ring binder—it will become a thick one over a full restoration. Here you will keep all receipts, correspondence, and photos of key phases of the work. The receipts will prove to be very helpful dealing with parts returns. This binder also provides the evidence of what you have accomplished and will be highly useful when the car is passed on to its next owner. You might also consider starting an Excel spread sheet for recording the details of your costs and hours spent in the restoration.
There are too many parts to remember them all and how they were assembled, so take many, many photos of the car including every piece before you remove it. You will find these photos to be invaluable references for the reassembly. You may also find it useful to make some small drawings of parts as you go along, particular for places where you wish to record the specifics of the sizes of the bolts and brackets.
When I started my MG TD, I found the brake hoses were assembled incorrectly at backing plates. The hoses were stretched to connect to the front wheel cylinders. In this configuration, the hoses would have been quickly pulled apart if the car had made it to the road and been driven. If the previous owner had photos before the brake disassembly, he would have had a source to see the proper route of the brake hoses.
Get parts catalogs from the following vendors:
- Moss Motors – www.mossmotors.com
- Abington Spares – www.abingdonspares.com
- NTG Motor Services – www.mgbits.com
- Anglo Parts – www.angloparts.com
These catalogs are helpful beyond being sources for parts you may need. In particular, the Abington Spares and Anglo Parts catalogs have terrific illustrations and expanded views of parts which you will find to be helpful. The Anglo Parts catalog can be downloaded and its illustrations are easily enlarged on your computer screen so small details can be seen.
A quantity of medium size zip lock bags and note cards are useful for keeping the nuts, bolts and small parts organized. Use the note cards to record where the parts came from and include notes and small drawings on the cards as well if you want to remember particular features of assembly. I also use small plastic tubs for parts storage. For example, I have boxes for electrical parts, fuel system, brake system, small body parts, gauges, lights, and so on.
Also, you will find several on line discussion sites for our cars which are of exceptional assistance. At these sites, you can discuss your work with some of the most knowledgeable and helpful MG owners in the world.
Maintaining the momentum in restoration work is often the highest challenge. Milt Babirak told me he spent about 2 hours a day on his car, and perhaps a little more on weekends. This pace took him through the project somewhat more than one year, and excellent pace. Another friend with an MGA coupe, now about 75 percent restored, has also taken this approach and will be finished in under two years despite having to do a substantial amount of rust repair. The message from these restorers is one of success. Get yourself into your garage, and get your hands on the work most every day — and your restoration will soon be done.