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The Original MG TD Midget

Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains some common questions that I have received over the years about the MGTD/TF that may not have been covered elsewhere in this site. As I receive questions that I think are generally appropriate I will post them here and/or enhance the content of a related page.

How to buy or sell a MGTD/MGTF

I want to buy a TD/TF or sell my car. What do I do?
First of all I don't post ads or announcements for cars for sale at this site nor do I keep lists of people who are looking for cars. This is done at: I would start with T-Series car clubs in your area, or the area you wish to sell or buy your car from. Start with the clubs mentioned in the Links section for ideas. If you live in a very large city you can consider using the want ads of the local paper, or even publish in a widely distributed national paper. You should also consider advertising in the newsletters of local MG car clubs. Another good source for reaching a larger audience for your car is to use a publication such as Hemmings Motor News. If you live in a major metropolitan area you will find that car auction companies will pass through your location from time to time. You can pre announce your car in flyers they send out to increase your possible audience. To protect your investment you should consider putting a reserve price on your vehicle. You can also consider advertising in publications put out by parts distributors such as Moss Motors. Another source is to contact a local repair dealer in your area. If you intend to buy a car from America and have it shipped to you, a site that offers this service may be useful. Lastly, but I don't recommend it, is to put your car on an electronic auction such as eBay or Hemmings. Rember when a car is only seen remotely by pictures, its never what it appears to be no matter how good the pictures are. Some times the car is better in person but most of the time its far from the quality you thought you saw.
I want to sell my car. How much is it worth?
That's an impossible question to answer without a buyer standing by. It depends on the condition of the car, its appeal, the scarcity of those type of cars in the buyers area, the market, and which way the wind is blowing at that time. In US dollars a MGTD or MGTF could be sold for as little as $5,000 for a basket case car to as much as $30,000 - $50,000 for a Concours quality original car. Anything that you can claim that makes the car more appealing such as original owner, tools, accessories, brochures, etc. will make the car more valuable to a collector. Remember who your audience is and market accordingly. Don't try to sell a "driver" car to a collector, nor undervalue a special car to sell to a person who just wants to have a car for weekend cruises.


Information on finishes/finishing

How can I tell what color my car was originally?
Starting with the MGTF in 1953, MG's were coded with the color of the body on the ID plate. Prior to that there was no code on the cars. Also starting at the MGTF model the factory records are available for the history of the cars production and colors. This is not true for the MGTD. Therefore the only way you have a chance to tell what color your car was is to take it apart. Hopefully if it has never had a complete restoration that included stripping all of the paint off, you may be able to find traces of the original color. Best places to look are on the fenders where they mount to the body or frame, the interior of the firewall, the firewall where it rests against the 'A' frames, and sometimes under the hinges. Be careful you don't confuse the black paint that was painted on all non finished surfaces as your color. This is why it is especially difficult to determine if your car was black or not.
Was white an original color?
White was never offered as an original color on the MGTD. The closest original color to white is Ivory.
In what year was Cream and Cracker offered as a color?
Cream and Cracker (cream body with brown fenders) was never offered as an original factory color. There may have been factory sponsored race cars painted in this color scheme but is was not offered as a standard production color. According to Chris Harvey's book, Great Marques MG, "Car manufacturers were not supposed to enter teams - so that private competitors had a fair chance - but the events were so prestigious that M.G. backed three top drivers to the hilt in 1934, providing them with PA Midgets painted in the works colours of brown & cream. They soon became known as the cream crackers as a result and scored many successes in a highly competitive field."
I like light blue as a color but I have a 1953 MG. Is it OK to paint it that color?
While Clipper Blue was offered as a standard color it was not available in the 1952 and 1953 production years. In these years the color was replaced by Silver Streak Grey, a metallic paint.
Why are the two bolts on the side of the tappet cover painted black?
These bolts were only used on the earliest MGTDs to sercure the oil cap chain. Their main purpose was for other cars. This cover was also used at the same time on the MGYB. That model had an air cleaner that attached to these bolts and was painted black.
Should I paint my car in enamel or lacquer?
Generally I find that lacquer will give a superior looking finish, especially for the novice painter. You can paint lacquer in a less than perfect environment, and the paint drys quickly so there is less chance for runs, sags, bugs, dust and other undesirables. The lacquer finish, if done properly, will look better than any other. The downside is that it takes a lot of time and hard work to do it, and that the paint is much more brittle than enamels. I would say that if you plan on driving your car a lot go with an acrylic enamel, especially if it is going to be painted professionally. If you want to do the painting yourself, or you want the best possible finish and have the time, go with a lacquer. I have painted a number of cars where the exterior surfaces were painted in lacquer but the under/inside surfaces were painted in enamel.
What color primer should I use before painting my car?
It is generally recommended that you use a primer color as close to the final body color as you can. For example red cars should use red oxide, black cars dark grey or black, ivory and Clipper Blue cars should use light grey, etc.
I was told I must remove all the paint from my car before I refinish it. Is that true?
That depends. In most cases if the car has had a number of paint jobs on it or you are putting on dissimilar paint types, it is recommended that you strip the car first. Be prepared to refill any synthetic fillers that were used as these are generally removed with the paint as well.
If I use a synthetic body filler such as 'Bondo' to make repairs on my car will I be disqualified in a car show?
The answer should be no. First of all you should try to use as little of any filler as is possible by straightening the body work first. Filler should only be used to finish any areas that could not be fixed by body work. With this small amount of filler used it would be about impossible for anyone to tell that you had used filler anyway. Technically, since synthetic fillers were not available during the production of the MGTD, lead would be the preferred filler material.
What should I do with the empty holes on the firewall? Should I have them filled?
You should not fill empty holes unless you know that they were not original. It is best to check old pictures, manuals, other cars, etc. before filling an empty hole in the car. Many of the parts on the MGTD were used on other cars or in a different steering configuration. This resulted in extra holes in various places. As a rule if you find an empty hole look for a corresponding hole on the other side of the car. If there is one that is being used, then don't fill the other one. Also holes that have jagged or rough openings are also a candidate for filling as all the factory holes were punched and not drilled.
Did all cars have a TD or TF stenciled on the rear end?
While some cars did have TD or TF stenciled on the rear end it was not universal. There is enough evidence though that it was fairly common. There is still speculation why some cars had this feature and some did not. Some speculation focuses on the fact that Nuffield, and later BMC, was making multiple cars on the assembly line at the same time that used similar rear axles and it was necessary to mark these to insure they were applied to the correct car. Others point out that the manufacture (Rubery Owen?) was making similar axles for different brands and models and that they marked one or more at the factory to ensure that the correct rear ends went to the customer. There is not documentation to indicate either of these theories is accurate. At least one car also had the ratio of the rear end stenciled on it, which to me makes more sense. During the production of the TD there were three rear axle ratios available with two being standard for the regular TD and the TD Mk II or TD/C.


How to determine what was original on your car

How can I found out when my car was produced?
The MG Car Club Ltd, Kimber House, POBox 251, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 1FF may have information on your TD's production date. They can provide a copy of the page from the factory log book which states the chassis number, the engine number and the date the car left the factory. In the letter, they recommend contacting John Dutton, Milestones, Row Dow, Otford, Kent TN14 5RY "who is the Registrar for the TD's." They also recommend the book entitled MG T-Series, The Complete Story by Graham Robson. They sell the book. Michael, Seattle, from the MGTD-TF BBS. There is an online tool available from the T Register T Type Factory Production Records.
How can I locate the original or prior owner of my car?
That is a good question. I certainly don't have the list of all TD/TF cars and their owners. The New England MG T Register attempts to catalog as many cars as people send them information on. You might also want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a similar agency, where your car was registered. Sometimes they will keep records of vehicles and their owners over a period of time. In California you can find the DMV here.
I remember white and black tops and tonneau covers when the TD's and TF's were new. Aren't they original?
No. The only type of material offered by the factory was the standard tan canvas. Almost every dealer would sell you different options for the tonneau covers and the hood. Also the hoods did not last long in many climates and were quickly replaced.
Why does my car not have a heater?
Heaters in sports cars of this time were quite rare. In fact one of the design elements for the MGTD/MGTF was to offer a heater as an option. Due to the fact that most cars were not sold with one attests to the hardiness of the original MGTD/MGTF owners.
Why does my car have so many more tonneau snaps and studs than other MGTDs or MGTFs?
The original tonneau only covered the boot area. This is the space behind the seats. Because of this the only 'lift the dot' snaps that are original to the MGTD are the two behind the seat and the three in back above the gas tank. Since most cars now (and then) were fitted with a full tonneau cover, the placements of the snaps forward of the seat were at the discretion of the installer. Each obviously had their own thoughts on how many were used and where they should be placed.
My car is missing a water temperature gauge. What was provided originally?
If your car is a 1952 or 1953 model then you should have a water temperature and oil pressure combination gauge. The earlier models were not provided with a water temperature gauge as standard equipment. Your options at the time were to install a Motometer, which was a type of thermometer in the radiator cap, or to install a separate water temperature gauge somewhere on the dash in a new hole. The factory did provide a separate water temperature gauge as an optional accessory at the time.
What type of seat belts were offered with the MGTD/MGTF?
None. Seat belts were not an option offered by the factory. This would have been a period accessory.
How many different types of engines were offered on the MGTD?
At any time during the production of the MGTD there were at most two different types of engines offered, but they came as part of a complete car. Engine choices were not offered seperately. These were the standard MGTD and the sport modified MGTD Mk II. The first cars offered did not have the sport package and their engines were labled XPAG/TD/. Later general production cars changed from a 7¼ inch clutch to an 8 inch clutch and these engines were designated by the title XPAG/TD2/. Later Mk II MGTDs engines were designated as XPAG/TD3/. Do not confuse the TD2 engine type with the Mk II car type. Mk II cars were labeled TD/C.
How many different types of engines were offered on the MGTF?
The 1954 MGTF had a 1250cc engine. In 1955 the engine was updated to a more powerful 1500cc's.
Whats the purpose of the two "L" shaped brackets behind the dash on the MGTD
The purpose of the two "L" shaped brackets behind the dash on either side of the glovebox was for supporting an optional radio, both factory and aftermarket. See a set of installation pictures here.



What does MG stand for?
A common misconception is that the name "M.G." stands for "Morris Garages". This however is not the case. M.G. stands for itself and is not an abbreviation. It is a name. The letters were chosen as a tribute to William Morris and his company, Morris Garages. Cecil Kimber, after working for Mr. Morris, started his own company called The M.G. Car Company. The 'M' was chosen as a tribute to Mr. Morris himself and the 'G' in honor of the company Morris Garages. You can read more about this here.
What does NOS mean?
NOS means New Old Stock. It is a term for a part that was built as a spare during the original production period but has never been used before. This would generally serve as an original part. There are exceptions though. At times parts may have been changed even during the production period so a NOS part may not be original to your particular car.
What is a GoF?
GoF stands for Gathering of the Faithful. An event held by MG enthusiasts. These events are generally limited to pre 1956 models. First started in 1965 by Dick Knudson, GoF's are now put on on both coasts of America each year as well as other locations worldwide. In the East Coast there are two major GoF's yearly while in the West Coast there is one. There are also many 'Mini GoF's' put on by individual clubs during the year.
What is a "Gold Seal Replacement Engine"?
Gold Seal Replacement Engines were primarily offered during the production of the MGTC but there were some offered during the early days of the TD and many of these may have made there way to MGTDs in later years. During the early days of imports there were shortages of trained workers and parts to perform major repairs or rebuilds to the XPAG engines that MG used. Because of this the factory created a set of spare engines that could be swapped out for the original, instead of repairing it. The factory would exchange your worn out engine with these replacement engines. These engines were painted gold in color instead of dark red and came with a special ID tag designating them as such. The tags were made of brass and were affixed to the block stating that it was an original factory replacement engine. Sometimes these tags were affixed to the same location as the engine ID tag. In later years of TD production the same sort of process was carried out by dealers and engine rebuilding facilities who would have a set of spare engines on hand. In this manner they could swap your tired engine for a rebuilt one and in a matter of hours, or a few days, get you back on the road. Your engine would then be rebuilt at their leisure and wind up on some other MGTD later on. In fact if anybody has my engine, ID 19988, I would appreciate an email.

From the MGCC: A large number of cars with XPAG engines have had BMC replacement engines (Gold Seal) fitted. These usually had no XPAG on the octagonal plate, but instead a letter prefix (A to E have been seen) probably denoting the over-bore sizes, followed by a larger than usual number (E99794 has been seen). With replacement engines, the original number of that engine can sometimes be deciphered just above the octagonal plate, stamped on the block. Be prepared to find, however, that your engine might have started life on a Y-type!
What does the term CKD mean?
CKD - "completely knocked down". A term used to describe cars that were exported in kit form to be assembled "in country". This was sometimes used to claim that the cars were manufactured locally to get by import tax situations. Cars were finished in primer only.


Modifying the car from original

Why are people changing the rear end to one from an MGA
MG TD's standard differential ratio was 5.125 to 1. That's pretty low but gives good performance starting and running through the gears. Great for racing and windy roads. Also offered during the 50's were gear ratios of 4.875 (standard on the MGTF and TD Mk II) and 4.555 to 1. These ratios were intended for cars with more power (i.e. the Mark II and using blowers). In the past few years some folks have found it a good trade-off of performance for long distance freeway driving.

Some will tell you that you are defeating the correct ratio of the power train and are losing performance and causing undue stress on the system by using these higher gears in standard powered TD's. The biggest driver for these ratios is to be able to drive the cars at a higher top end speed with less impact on the engine.

MGA's had higher 4:3 gear ratios as standard, and more power. There is a book put out by the Vintage MG Club of Southern California and available from Moss Motors (212-350) on how to swap the TD ring and pinion gear in the original rear end with MGA parts. In this manner you will still have an mostly original appearing rear end but it will perform as a MGA ratio would. The MGA pinion is slightly different. Ideally it would be great to get a set of TD ring and pinions but these are hard to find.

There is a great article from Dick Lunney titled Virgin Rear End Conversion that is perhaps easier to follow and execute.

Moss Motors sells a 4.55:1 ring and pinion for the MGTD that does not permanently modify the rear end. The part number is 267-185.

Some people chose to swap the complete TD differential for an MGA differential, to get the 4:3 ratio or to add wire wheels. Some modification is necessary, and changing the complete rear end out to a MGA may devalue the car though for those that want to retain the purity of the vehicle. A disc-wheel MGA differential will look odd in a TD since the MGA diff uses 4-lug wheels, rather than the 5-lugs used on TD and TF cars.


Showing and judging your TD/TF

How will a concours judge know what is original on my MGTD/MGTF?
This is a very good question and there is no simple or correct answer. Basically it comes down to what is accepted in the particular show you are entered in. One source would be literature such as Original MG T Series, A Restorers Guide to MG TA, TB, TC, TD and TF; Anders Ditlev Clausager, Published by MBI Publishing Company, 1989. Other sources would be period articles, brochures, factory photos, magazines, etc. Also important, but rather subjective, is the judges personal experiences and exposure to other MGTDs. I would like to think that more judges would refer to these web pages in the future for standards of originality.
Can I talk to a concours judge while restoring my car?
In most cases the answer is absolutely. There may some issues with talking to a judge that will be reviewing your car in a few weeks. Concours are very political. I have been to shows where the judges had financial ties to the entrants. Not very fair but then this is a subjective event. Keep in mind that not all judges use the same criteria. This is why it is important to document as much as we know about the cars and get that information out to the world.
How can I be assured that I am using valid information to restore my car?
In that past this has been done via publications such as books and newsletters. Books seemed to be most reliable because the author had to go to great lengths to get the material published. Also there was generally a fair amount of collaboration between the author and other authorities sited in the references. Newsletters from MG clubs also provide good information but do not have any where near the level of review that a book would have. In the future it will be done more electronically like this site. There is a problem for the reader to determine if the information is valid, do to the fact that anyone with a computer and a little time can create a web page. Look for evidence from the author as to their level of knowledge, and who they site as collaborators or references. Also look for documentation or some sort of proof for their claims. This is one of the values of the web type of media. I can point you to various sources of proof via hypertext links that a hard copy source cannot do.


Installation/maintenance questions

When you work on your engine do you remove the hood?
I generally don't take the hood off my car to work on the engine. I think the MGTD has a great deal of room with the folding hood open, and in fact is one of the greatest features of the car. I prop mine in the open position by using the tool box lid as a brace. Just put a shop rag at the top to keep it from scratching anything and rest it just under the bottom lip of the hood.

Some folks open the hood vertically and brace it by putting the hood just behind the radiator stays. Protect all touch points with rags. See the tips and techniques pages for more information.
Is the hood (bonnet) half supposed to lay over and fold flat on the opposite side?
No. It is supposed to be suspended above the other hood and not contact it. If yours lays flat you need to make sure that you have both an inner and outer hinge cap at each end and that they are secured to either the radiator or wood frame appropriately. Many times loose hinge supports or the missing inner hinge cap will cause the hood to lay flat when open. This will damage the hood.
Cutting the Cowel Rubber
On original TD's and TF's was the rubber moulding that goes across and down the fireall to protect the bonnet edge cut trimmed as it flexes around the corners near the widscreen posts or was the original rubber moulded to shape unlike the current replacement item? The replacement is just like the original. No cutting is required. See the tip on installing here.
What attaches to the bracket on the tappet side cover?
Many parts of the MGTD/TF are used on other cars too. The bracket is used to secure the oil gauge line on the Y series, the tube is attached to the bracket and is looped to dampen out vibrations as it travels up the fire wall and through to the gauge.
What is the most authentic mounting location for the accessory mirrors mounted on the wings?
Since there are no holes in your fenders there is not an official placement for the mirrors. Some like them outboard of the parking lights while others like them behind. One thing to consider is how they may be knocked about if they stick out beyond the fender. Mine are constantly being torqued by folks who get to close. They could even damage the fender if hit hard enough. You need to make the call on where to place them.
Determining the TD Camshaft Type
Two different camshafts were supplied as original equipment for the XPAG and XPEG engines. The earliest type, part number AAA5776 (earlier numbers MG862/171 or X24084), was used in all TB and TC engines, and in TD engines up to engine number XPAG/TD2/24l15. This early cam requires a valve clearance of 0.019 in. The later type, part number AAA3096 (earlier number 168553) was used in all later TD and TF engines and requires a valve clearance of 0.012 in. Unfortunately, now that even the newest TF is almost 40 years old, the engine numbers quoted above are not necessarily a valid guide for purpose of camshaft identification. Engines originally equipped with AAA5776 may have been fitted with AAA3096 in the course of an overhaul. With the engine cold, remove the rocker cover and turn the engine over with the crank until #1 intake valve (2nd valve from front of engine) is wide open. At this point, #4 intake valve (7th from front) will be fully closed and on the exact center of the heel of the cam lobe.

Set #4 intake to 0.021 in. clearance. This is the correct checking clearance for both cams, regardless of whether you use the degree wheel and dial indicator method or the simplified method which follows. Now, wipe all the accumulated gook off the crankshaft pulley, and get out your measuring tape and a piece of chalk. Measuring around the rim of the pulley. make one chalk mark between 1/32 in. and 3/64 in. to the right (as seen from the front) of the top dead centre mark on the pulley. This corresponds to 5° BTDC, which is when the intake opens on the later cam (AAA3096). Make a second chalk mark 23/64 in. to the right of the TDC mark. This corresponds to 11° BTDC, which is when the intake opens on the earlier cam (AAA5776).

Next, turn the engine over with the crank (its easier with the spark plugs out) until the pushrod for #4 intake valve just barely locks up enough so that you can't spin it between your fingers. At this point, the timing pointer on the timing chain cover should be more or less aligned with one or the other of the chalk marks. If the pointer aligns with the 11° mark, then you have the early cam (AAA5776) and you should set the valve clearance to 0.019 in. with the engine hot. If the pointer aligns with the 5° mark then you have the later cam (AAA3096) and you should set the valve clearance to 0.012 in. hot. If the pointer does not align with either mark, go back through the entire procedure again to make sure you did it right. What effect does the wrong valve clearance setting have on the engine? This is a bit difficult for the novice to pinpoint unless he can compare performance to a properly set up car. In general, however, an engine equipped with AAA5776, but with the valve clearance set at 0.012 in. will be very low on power. An engine equipped with AAA3096, but with the clearance met at 0.019 in. will be slightly down on power and will produce a really awful amount of valve clatter. You should also bear in mind the fact that while clearance which is too large is noisy, it doesn't necessarily produce any mechanical damage. On the other hand, burnt exhaust valves will almost surely result from unduly small valve clearance, as in the case of an AAA5776 cam set at 0.012 in.David DuBois


Where can I find information on the MGTF

Is there a site like the Original MGTD Midget dedicated to the MGTF?
The companion pages for the MGTF can be found here. Also you can check these links for more specific TF information.

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