YT 4265 - a restoration
How & why it happened
I guess this story starts in the early 80’s. The Ballina
Vehicle Restorers Club had just been formed and I was a foundation member but
had no vintage or classic vehicle – most important if one is to really feel part
of the old vehicle movement. I had always had a real desire to own an MG TC
but even then this marque was beyond my moderate means. Through word of mouth
I heard about an MG YT located in Parkes some 600 miles away. I didn’t know
what a YT was but a little research revealed it was a 4 seater MG tourer with MG
TC mechanicals – somewhat over simplified but somewhere near the truth. The
rest is history and after much effort YT 3779 was restored and in 1985 was
placed 1st in her class in the MG Nationals.
For reasons I won’t go into the car was sold with me being
totally convinced that this was a finished chapter in my life and I would never
be the proud owner of another YT –even so I never stopped furtively following
the for sales in the various club magazines. Then, lo and behold, in the
August 1995 issue of “Hit the Road” (the newsletter of the Central Coast
Historic Car Club) the following add caught my eye: MGY Tourer…ring
D.Chant …(AU)$6000 o.n.o. … ring 065 599212.
An immediate phone call without much thought gave the
response that “the car is probably sold but anyway I am going into hospital
for an operation and can’t do anything yet”.
Not expecting to ever hear from Des Chant I sent him a get
well card and some photos of YT 3779. A few weeks later I received a phone
call – “the YT is yours if you still want it.”
The deal was done over the phone sight unseen and YT 4265 was
mine with only the knowledge that she was totally dismantled and Des had done a
lot of work on her.
My mate Tom Shepherd and myself headed off to North Sydney
with car trailer in tow and loaded up 4265 – totally stripped resplendent in
patchy grey primer and rust along with numerous boxes of bits and pieces (all
not labelled), motor, gearbox, instruments, hood, side curtains, bumpers etc..
All this was tempered by the knowledge that Des had done considerable work on
the car such as new sills, new firewall, new boot and spare wheel compartment.
This he had undertaken at Tech while he was doing a panel-beating course by
loading the car onto a trailer and taking her to Tech once a week and working on
her. This all sounded great (how wrong can you be) but it was impossible to
properly assess the work or tell if anything was missing from the assortment we
carted away. More about this later!! Unfortunately I have no photos of my
acquisition as the jumble was hard to photo.
At this time I
was still working and YT 4265 went into storage for a little over 6 years until
I retired. The motor was reconditioned during this period and I began sourcing
the bits which were obviously missing. Then in October 2002 I retired and the
restoration was able to commence in earnest. Much of the work on my previous
YT was done professionally but not now being in the workforce with no income
other than my superannuation, I resolved to tackle as much as I could myself
other than the trimming. This would of course mean some reduction in finish
quality as I was certainly not a proficient panel beater or spray painter but I
felt would be compensated for by the satisfaction of personal achievement. This
was a much bigger task than I expected as the cars bodywork proved to be fully
representative of years of exposure and its early history of competition work –
especially demanding trials over some of Australia’s rough outback roads.
The pre-restoration stage
gearbox and clutch were reconditioned between the time of my acquisition and
when I retired. These works included:
Bore and re-sleeve No 1
cylinder, hone block, polish crankshaft, new rings, new timing chain,
recondition head including new valve guides.
New bearings & seals in gearbox,
substitute parts from spare gearbox, manufacture new layshaft, new clutch,
repair clutch throw-out shaft and bush bell housing.
The camshaft was also
re-profiled, the head skimmed and ported and polished and valves reshaped and
polished by Waggott Cams.
A modified rear crankshaft seal
utilizing a modern lip seal was fitted to obviate rear end oil leaks.
Unfortunately the sump had been so badly damaged throughout the cars previous
life that extensive welding repair was necessary and I am still repairing pin
hole leaks in the aluminium sump which were not detected at the time of the
major repair .
Over this period of minor activity I tried to sort out what I
had in all the assorted boxes of bits and began sourcing what was obviously
missing from swap meets, the MG Centre in Sydney and NTG in the UK. It was not
until I commenced restoration in earnest that I discovered the Y Type Register
and it’s excellent web site on the net – thus giving access to Y type
enthusiasts worldwide, their knowledge and help in finding spare parts.
Some parts were also re-chromed during this period.
Restoration begins in earnest
finally arrives and I am fully retired!! Time to start the restoration. This I
thought would be a snack bearing in mind the fact that much of the body work was
already completed, the fact the motor and gearbox were now reconditioned and I
had a fairly good shed for a workshop and a reasonable selection of tools and
equipment including welder, compressor, spray gun etc.
What I lacked
in the necessary skills I hoped would be made up for by stacks of enthusiasm and
what I had learned and hopefully remembered from the restoration of my former YT
- how wrong or how optimistic can you be?
Also in my
restoration arsenal were two essentials: a Factory Workshop Manual and a copy of
“Let there be Y’s “ written by David Lawrence. Anyone contemplating the
restoration of a “Y” without these is truly an optimist, particularly if the car
is a basket case as was YT 4265.
optimism and a desire to see 4265 once more shipshape I donned the overalls and
got into it.
My first task
was to remove the body from the chassis to give access to the chassis – this was
easy as it had obviously been off before during the restoration works already
completed and the fact that the car was completely stripped of all components.
The body was laid on the garage floor behind the chassis and the chassis was
cleaned down and painted - this was not terribly demanding as Des Chant had
obviously broken the back of this work some 7 or so years before. Of interest
is the fact that prior to removal of the body from the chassis braces were fixed
across the door openings to ensure that the tub would not bend in the middle.
These were left in place until the tub was finally bolted to the chassis.
the first task was to carefully sort through the jumble of bits and pieces and
attempt to identify the components and store them in some semblance of order so
that I could lay my hands on them as required. As part of this process the
various parts were cleaned and de-rusted. Fortunately I owned a degreasing bath
which helped immeasurably. Rust removal involved a combination of wire brushing
using a circular wire brush mounted on one end of my bench grinder A wonderful
time and effort saver but be sure to protect your eyes with safety goggles as
numerous bits of flaky rust and small pieces of wire from the brush continually
fly off. This rust removal process was augmented by soaking rusty components in
a 10-1 solution of molasses and water. This involved placing the rusty parts in
a large fibreglass vat for a period of about 2 weeks. Miraculously rusty parts
came out shiny clean but it was essential to thoroughly clean the parts and
paint before rust reappeared. Most of these items were recoated with an epoxy
black paint that did not require pre-priming.
The chassis & running gear
Front and rear
suspension components were checked and replaced as necessary – shock absorbers
were unearthed and caused me some confusion as I had far too many components
including telescopic shocks and brackets that had been a one time fitment on the
rear (supported by the holes that had been cut in the body under the rear seat –
I guess to allow travel for the telescopic shocks?). There were also a pair of
rear lever type shocks more heavy duty than the originals with shortened arms so
they could be fitted to the Y. All of this supported the fact that the car had
been used extensively in trials and competition in it’s past life. I fitted the
original type rear shocks to the rear and the front suspension. I departed from
original specifications by fitting auxiliary telescopic shocks to the front
suspension. I used this modification on my previous YT and also a fairly warm
little Morris Minor I had restored and it worked well on both of these
The back axles
proved to present a real conundrum – at some time a strange assortment of a
polyurethane sleeve and retaining spring had been fitted to the axles –
definitely not standard – maybe a previous attempt to prevent oil leaks. I
consulted Fred Magnay, a retired mechanic friend with years of experience,
member of our local car club and a near neighbour but he could throw no light on
this modification so it was discarded. Time will tell if it was necessary.
I managed to
find the brake cylinder and master cylinder in the assortment of bits and pieces
in the boxes and gave them to a specialist to re-sleeve and re-rubber.
Excluding some springs and brake drum retaining screws I found the remaining
brake components including a new set of brake linings and rivets. These parts
were cleaned up and I fitted the new linings to the shoes with brass rivets and
assembled the components on the chassis. Some of the brake hydraulic lines were
badly corroded so new ones were made and fitted to the chassis along with new
flex hoses and brake line fittings such as banjo joints which were missing and
had to be sourced. Then followed several episodes of bleeding the brakes until
all leaks were found and rectified and finally a hard pedal was obtained and
control link was refurbished and fitted to the chassis with new rubbers as per
the workshop manual instructions.
The fuel tank
was cleaned and tested for leaks as somewhere in the past it had been the victim
of some brutal treatment as evidenced by several dings. Two small leaks were
found and repaired by soldering with a soldering iron (no flame). The fuel tank
was then fitted to the chassis – a lesson well learnt during my last YT
restoration as on that occasion I had replaced the body on the chassis before
fitting the fuel tank – a bad mistake as it can’t be done.
rack was cleaned, painted and checked and fitted to the chassis with new rubber
boots - I have used a mixture of grease and 140 grade oil in the rack – any
comments on this would be appreciated.
In with the motor & gearbox
Now was the
time to fit the motor and gearbox which had been reconditioned some 5 years
ago. They were mounted on new mounts and the engine steady bar fitted and
adjusted. All ancillaries such as carburettors, water-pump, generator, starter,
oil filter etc. were fitted as well as a new exhaust system. Here I deviated
from standard by fitting a larger tail pipe. All of this was very
straight-forward, and I was now the proud possessor of a restored rolling
chassis - being totally unaware at this juncture of the dramas in store for me.
I don’t have the original oil bath air cleaner so I have fitted two nice pancake
filters which are embossed with the MG logo. I find these are more convenient
for tuning than the oil bath cleaner.
“Y” web site I met Geoff Meller another Y enthusiast who was restoring a YT. As
it turned Geoff lived near Grafton only about 140 km from Ballina. Geoff was
further ahead with his restoration than I was and offered me the loan of a
trolley he had fabricated to mount his YT body on during it’s restoration. This
trolley is really excellent and facilitates body work and painting of the tub.
It consists of a frame with mounting brackets to match the mounting points on
the chassis and body. The whole contraption is mounted on 4 castors situated at
each corner of the frame. Thus as well as raising the tub one metre above the
floor it is very easy to move around while working on the body, particularly
good if working in a somewhat confined space.
What I should
have mentioned was that before installing the engine and gearbox in the chassis
I bolted up the unrestored body to the chassis and fitted mudguards and doors to
check that they all bolted together OK. Just as well as the doors were an
abomination of a fit. As far as I can tell the problem goes back to the new
sills that were fitted to the car before I acquired it. The door gaps were not
correct and for some reason were skew whiff resulting in very poorly fitting
doors. I was not about to remove the sills and try again and besides which I
did not have enough expertise to undertake such a task so I decided to make the
best of a bad thing. After much packing of the hinges, trial and error and some
bending under a 25 ton press the result is passable.
By way of
comment if you follow the manual and try bending the hinges with a wooden block
behind them you’ll pull the side out of the car before the hinge bends – this
may work with a sedan body but certainly not with a tourer body.
discovered that some of the fouling was due to warping. This was fixed by
fixing a strip of metal diagonally across the door into which I had fitted a
small turnbuckle. By tightening the turnbuckle the warping was removed and a
much better fit was obtained.
I am still not
totally happy with the fit of the doors but it’s as good as I could get it!!
fitted well but the running boards posed a problem as when the new sills were
fitted no provision was made for the captive nuts that are used to bolt the
running boards to the sills. Holes were drilled in the sills at the appropriate
places an a modified modern mudguard bolt was welded into the sills – Lord
Nuffield would probably shudder but it is hidden so no one will know the
sure that every thing would bolt together satisfactorily the body, guards, sills
and doors were dismantled, the body removed from the chassis and mounted onto
Geoff Meller’s trolley. The hard work now began. Rust and paint were removed
mechanically and the repair of guards, doors and sills began. As each component
was repaired it was undercoated and numerous coats of spray putty were applied
followed by sanding to get as good a surface as possible. Even so the finish is
not really comparable to a professional job – but I have the satisfaction of
personal achievement. Spray painting was carried out in the open air on still
fine days as I do not have the luxury of a spray booth. The body was first and
was sprayed on the trolley. Body colour is sequoia cream mixed to the original
formula. The manufacturer of the originally specified tints was no longer
producing them but was very helpful in advising modern substitutes. Paint is
acrylic lacquer. The underside of the tub was painted gloss black followed by
an application of black body schultz which is fairly chip resistant and a rust
preventative. The inside of the boot was painted black. The tub was then
placed on the chassis with insertion thick rubber placed under each mounting
point and bolted down.
At last I was
starting to get a little more room in my garage and could actually see a little
floor space and had a little room to move!!!
painted one at a time and bolted to the car. This is a fairly awkward process
on ones own but with the use of a floor jack to support one end of the guard and
lots of old blankets it was managed without scratching them. The mudguard
piping was made up by my trimmer using sash cord and the green vinyl which was
to be used on the internal trim – not original but I think it looks smart. The
piping was inserted before I tightened up the guards. I cut out a section a
little larger than the bolts instead of punching holes to match, and in this way
was able to hold the piping in place while bolts were tightened. A bit tricky,
but it had to be dead right, as it would affect the finished appearance if not
boards came next, but first I added new formers and rubber strips sourced from
NTG. The formers were attached using small nuts and bolts but in hindsight I
think I would use pop rivets if tackling this again.
The doors were
next and were painted and fitted to the car using the hinges and packing that
had previously been sorted out. I letter-stamped the hinges before having them
re-chromed so that the I could be sure they went back in the right spots which I
had so painstakingly determined before.
The boot lid
and spare wheel cover were repaired and painted and fitted to the car. This in
itself proved difficult as previous replacement panels to repair the rear of the
car where it had rusted took quite some work to allow the boot and spare wheel
cover to fit reasonably well.
the radiator and surround the radiator was re-cored and the surround
re-chromed. The radiator slats had to come apart as it was not possible to
polish them if still in the assembled. They consisted of 26 separate parts
riveted together and I had no option but to drill all the rivets out and after
plating re-assemble using pop rivets. The end result looks just like a bought
While all this
was going on the instruments were sent to the Bill Ritchie at Olympic Instrument
Company in Sydney for refurbishing and repair. He did an excellent job and they
were fitted to the dash panel which had been recovered in the green vinyl to be
used for the trim. The behind dash wiring loom was still in good condition so
the panel was wired prior to fitting it in the car. I had purchased a new
wiring loom but unfortunately this was for a Y sedan and did not include the
small loom for the YT dash. I laid out the loom under the car and proceeded
with the wiring which all went swimmingly with the exception of the stop
lights. This proved to be a problem with the switch and was subsequently
replaced with a hydraulic switch obtained through the Y Type Register.
Start the motor & try the
I was now
ready for the moment of truth – see if the baby would start. The motor and
gearbox were filled with the appropriate lubricants, the oil pump primed and the
battery installed. With fingers crossed I pulled the starter switch – success
it roared into life after a couple of turns of the motor. My elation however
was short lived – no oil pressure showed on the gauge. The line to the oil
pressure gauge was checked and found to be free, the pump was reprimed in every
conceivable way and as the gauge had been reconditioned this was assumed to be
OK. With panic rising I called for help from my old mechanic friend, Fred
Magnay. Fred repeated all the checks I had taken including a check of the
pressure relief valve and finally concluded it must be the oil pump. No option
but to take it out - a job easier said than done as the motor has to be jacked
up to allow the oil pump to be precariously eased out between the motor and
chassis. The pump after being removed was pulled apart and inspected but showed
no sign of any problem. Fred was scratching his head and when I about to
re-assemble the pump he said “give that so and so thing to me - there’s no hole
in the gasket “. It turned out that the gasket in the pump did not have a hole
at the suction gallery. When the motor was reconditioned the gasket must have
been made incorrectly - a trap for tender players. Re-assembly saw 60-70 psi
oil pressure when the engine was started - a big sigh of relief from me.
dramas did not end there. The next thing was to engage the gears and check that
the clutch and gearbox were OK. Start the motor, push in the clutch and engage
a gear. No go just a loud grating noise from the gearbox. Over the 5 years
elapsed since reconditioning the flywheel had stuck to the clutch plate. All
recognised means of loosening it were tried to no avail. No option but to
remove the gearbox and free the clutch. This was a step backward but
necessary. Re-assembly saw it working fine – another sigh of relief.
earlier I am still having problems with the sump leaking despite the fact that
it was supposed to have been repaired and tested. I have been persevering with
this and repairing the holes by drilling and tapping the sump and inserting a
small bolt with liberal quantities of Devcon. This appears to work but of more
concern is the fact that the front seal which I had modified has sprung a leak.
I have replaced the seal once but it still leaks. I am now about to replace the
sump and timing chain cover and revert to the standard front seal arrangement.
Fortunately I was able to obtain another sump through Alf Luckman and hope to
fit it shortly. All this is very frustrating, as I had paid professionals to
repair, fit and test the sump as well as doing the modification to the seals.
Here I can
recommend the modification to the light bar as detailed by Alf in the “hints
and tips” section on the Y type Register web site. This modification
significantly reduces the time to remove the radiator and I modified my light
bar last time I had the radiator out.
Back to the
restoration saga. New floor boards were made from formwork ply and I fitted new
black carpet which I bought from NTG. These were an excellent fit and can be
recommended to any “do-it-yourself” crank. I cut out new backing boards for the
doors and internal trim making sure that they were a snug fit by actually
fitting them to the car and marking the outline before finally cutting them
out. These were given to the trimmer along with the remains of the original
trim . He did an excellent job and I brought them home and fitted them to the
Trim,hood & side curtains
originally hoped that an old trimmer friend, Tom Shepherd,of mine would do the
trimming as he had trimmed my previous YT and being from the old school knew the
ins and outs of the old trimming methods. Unfortunately ill health did not
permit this but I was lucky that Bill Gough who had trained as an apprentice
under Tom set up business in Ballina. He is also an excellent tradesman and I
know that Tom was looking over his shoulder. I would recommend him to anyone
for this sort of work and apart from that he is a nice bloke. My budget would
not allow me to stretch to leather trim but the vinyl I used has an appearance
like leather even if it doesn’t smell like leather.
I had the
windscreen frame re-chromed and in my impatience during assembly I forgot to put
the wiring in the frame that supplies the wiper motor . A trap for young
players and a real pain in the backside as the assembly requires more than 2
hands to juggle the frame, the glass and the sealing rubber.
The hood bows
were straightened, rivets replaced where they had become sloppy and painted
along with the side curtain frames. A new timber tacking strip was made for the
front of the hood bows and the lot along with the car was taken to the trimmer
to have the hood, side curtains, hood bag and tonneau cover made and fitted. I
used a tan hood material which I had imported from America as the original salt
and pepper material is no longer available. I am more than satisfied with the
I had the car
registered on Historic Club registration at the end of December and am working
on doing the finishing touches and fixing my oil leaks.
Along with my
wife, Geoff Meller and his partner we are planning a trip to Warwick (Australia)
in Easter to attend the MG National meet where we will enjoy the company of
other MG enthusiasts.
And there is
the story of my restoration saga, one that had its trials and tribulations but
has reaped a lot of satisfaction to me. Out of the experience there is only one
word of advice I can give potential restorers – do not start with a car that is
in pieces as it is impossible to assess from boxes of bits what is or is not
Still a little
more to do – but do you ever fully complete a restoration ?
Finally I would like to acknowledge
the assistance given to me by the following:
Geoff Meller for the loan of his trolley, his advice
and his help with parts.
Alf Luckman for advice and help with parts
Also all other members of the Y Type Register who
helped with advice and sourcing parts.
Fred Magnay for his help when the going got tough.
Bill Gough ably guided by Tom Shepherd for the trim.
Linda Pastfield from NTG who always promptly and
courteously assisted with the supply of parts.
And finally my wife, Toni, for her patience and
And apologies to anyone I have forgotten.
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