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RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 4:34 p.m.

My normal builds are air cooled Porsches and I hang around those sites.  But this build doesn't really fit in there and I though it might be appreciated here.  I also hope to get some input on some of the issues I am still sorting.

 

The car in question is a real 1952 MG TD.  Prior to my purchase of this car it was the subject of a build by the late Dave Forman.  Dave was the owner of Pacific Topsoils in the greater Seattle area.  He was a passionate hot rodder and I am told he maintained two stall in the company workshop and three full time mechanics and fabricators dedicated to his hot rod projects.  My MG was one of those projects, but was not completed prior to Dave's passing in 2011.  A friend of Dave's took on the project and got it mostly finished.  That was how I purchased it in 2018.

The car is most easily described as a restomod.  It has the F20C motor (run by AEM Infinity stand alone ECU) and 6 speed transmission from a S2000.  It runs custom double A arm suspension up front with Mustang II spindles, a narrowed GM 10 bolt rear axle with 4 link control arms, Aldan coilovers front and rear, disc brakes all around, and Saab electric power steering assist.  The frame was stripped and powercoated and the body fully repainted in bright red.  

 

When I purchased the car it was running Torque Thrust wheels, no engine side covers, minimalist hot rod switch gear, the orignal style bench seat and no seatbelts.  To my eye it was an MG masquerading as a Model A hot rod.  It was not to my taste, but most all the work done on it was to a VERY high standard and I thought it had a lot of potential.  I've always been a sucker for a cool motor swap, I've always admired the F20C motor, and my dad had two MG TF's when I was young, so this car pushed a lot of buttons for me.  

 

Here is what the car looked like when I bought it in 2018.

 

 

 

 

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trucke
trucke SuperDork
1/10/22 4:38 p.m.

That is awesome and scary at the same time!

 

 

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 4:40 p.m.

Here is what the car looks like now.  Engine side covers on, replica Dunlop Jag D type wheels, more vintage appropriate dash and switchgear, and some vintage style bucket seats and seatbelts to hold you in place.

 

 

 

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RoddyMac17
RoddyMac17 Reader
1/10/22 4:43 p.m.

It looks much better with the replica Dunlops.  Very cool car!

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 5:27 p.m.

In 2019 the car was lightly rear ended, and I used that opportunity to paint and fit an original spare tire carrier as well.  Here are a few more pics.

 

 

 

 

 

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 5:46 p.m.
trucke said:

That is awesome and scary at the same time!

You don't how true that was!  When I bought the car it had a bench seat, no seatbelts, and downright twichy handling.  The car was scary to drive at any speed over 45 mph.  One of the first things I had to do was sort out the handling.  First was the front end.  Take a look at the steering rod geometry when I got it.

 

Notice the steering rods are angled down while the A arms are angled up.  This was a recipe for horrendous bump steer.  If you bounced the front end of the car up and down you could see the toe change significantly.  My first fix for this was to relocate the steering rods to the top of the steering arms on the spindles.  This by itself was a huge improvement.  Now I could drive the car over 50 mph without a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel.  Here are is the revised steering rod arrangement.

 

Next was to install drop spindles to get the A arms a bit lower while maintaining ride height.  Here is a pic showing the difference between a drop spindle installed on the driver's side vs the stock spindle on the passenger side.

And here is the front end with both drop spindles installed.

 

 

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 6:05 p.m.

With the front geometry in much better shape, it was time to address the rear suspension.  At the ride hight the car was running the top of the axle pumpkin only had 2" of travel before running into a frame member above it.  As a result the car had very stiff rear springs on it and and still there was evidence of contact between the axle and the frame member.  Above the frame member were a couple of inches of space and then the underside of the wood luggage floor behind the seats.  So I unscrewed the luggage floor, cut out the center section of the frame member and welded in a trussed bridge section that afforded over 4" of clearance above the axle and did not come above the luggage floor.

Here is a poor quality picture showing the limited clearance before.

Here is

 

Here is the view from above with the rear parcel deck removed.

 

Here is the cross member after sectioning, raising, and bracing to clear the pumpkin.  Notice I left the coilover pickups where they were previously.  This car is tiny and everything is so tightly packaged that I didn't want to rearrange and reegineer things if not necessary.

 

 

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 6:25 p.m.

With more clearance for suspension travel, I then swapped out the 300 lb springs (calculated effective rate of 225lbs) for 200 lb springs (effective rate of 150 lbs).  So now the rear suspension had a lot more compliance and the back of the car didn't skip around as much at freeway speeds.  Now I was able to cruise at 70 mph (with both hands on the wheel), but I was not done with the rear suspension.

The narrowed GM 10 bolt axle was located by a four link system, but it was not sufficient controlling the axle laterally.  There was not enough room to achieve enough angle on the upper bars to properly control the axle's side to side movement.  There were rub marks from tire contact on the inner fenders on both sides, indicating the axle was moving at least 1" each way (2" lateral travel total). 

 

I thought this to be less than ideal, so I designed a panhard bar for the car.  Stock MG TD's have a deep, skinny compartment for storage of side curtains that extends below the load floor behind the axle.  This would have to be eliminated to make room for the panhard.  Here you can see the storage box just behind the rear coilovers.

 

 

With the box removed, I welded a bracket to the passenger side frame rail (with multiple mount points to allow vertical adjustment) for one side of the panhard.  For the axle connection point, I purchase an LPW reinforced differential cover for a 10 bolt axle that is designed to be a stressed member.  I machined an arm out of 7075 aluminum that bolted to the differential cover and extended as far to the driver's side as possible to allow the longest panhard length I could reasonably accomodate.  This was to minimize the side to side movement as the panhard swings through its range of motion.  The bar itself is 1" DOM tube threaded at both ends (left hand thread one side right hand thread the other) with a couple of flats machined in for a wrench and rose joints at each end.

 

 

 

With the panhard locating the axle laterally, the car can now comfortably be cruised at 70 with one hand on the wheel.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/10/22 6:36 p.m.

New wheels and dash are soooo much better. And you've improved the dynamics quite a bit. Well done!

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/10/22 6:59 p.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

New wheels and dash are soooo much better. And you've improved the dynamics quite a bit. Well done!

Thanks!

One of the little interior improvments that made a big difference was the relocation of the shift knob.  The car had the stock S2000 lever and knob that came straight up out of the top of the tranny and in this car that meant you had to reach under the dash to shift.  I bent up an S shaped shift lever to move the knob rearward and out from under the dash and located a wood Nardi shift knob with the correct 6 speed shift pattern (with reverse to the right and down) from a special edition Miata.  Then I added a little leather shift boot for the nice vintage look.

You'll notice I also swapped out the stock steering wheel the car came with.  While the wheel was correct for the car, it was way bigger diameter than was needed with the electric power assist on the steering, and the stock MG TD steering wheels are SO spindly and flexible that it's really disconcerting.  So a smaller diameter wood wheel gives more room inside the car (again, this thing is TINY and space is at a premium), feels better, and is still looking period correct.

And if your motor revs to 9,000 rpm, you better have a 10,000 rpm tach.  I had one made up in a vintage style.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/10/22 7:25 p.m.

One more vote that you've improved an already cool thing immeasurably with the wheels, dash, and hood sides!

Also, nice work getting the details straightened out. It's incredibly neat, and it would have been a shame for it to limp along with such serious oversights hamstringing so much potential.

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 1:38 p.m.
Jesse Ransom said:

One more vote that you've improved an already cool thing immeasurably with the wheels, dash, and hood sides!

Also, nice work getting the details straightened out. It's incredibly neat, and it would have been a shame for it to limp along with such serious oversights hamstringing so much potential.

Thank you.  The car gets big smiles and lots of waves everywhere it goes.  The general pubic just think its cute as hell, but gearheads appreciate the subtle performance cues and the full build details.

In general the car drives really well.  Its happy to loaf along at sub 2000 rpm or rip to 9000 rpm redline and almost anything in between.  I say "almost" as there is a fair bit of vibration around 3000 rpm.  I believe it is just natural resonance of the motor, not something wrong, and the very compact motor mount setup does not handle all of the NVH.  In reality the motor wants to run at higher RPM's and is smooth everywhere except in the 3000-3500 range.  The rear end is a 4:55 R&P which equates to a little shorter gearing than a stock S2000.  The motor spins about 4000 rpm at 70 in 6th gear (a stock AP1 S2000 runs about 3700 rpm at 70).

A couple of assorted other items that had to be fixed were the coolant temps getting too warm at low speeds because the radiator fan was wired to run backwards, and the old fuel tank clogging the fuel filter with rust.  I'd cleaned the tank, but that didn't fully fix the problem.  With the rear ending of the car I had to repaint the fuel tank anyway, so I had it dipped and relined, which fixed the problem.  I had wanted to put the spare wheel carrier back on for aesthetics, but also the carrier and spare provide a lot more protection for the fuel tank on the back of the car. Notice that that they rear "valance" had been modified to remove the scalloping to clear the spare tire.  So I found and original piece to replace that along with the spare carrier. 

Interestingly, the MG was rear ended by a VW Golf R, which faired much worse in the accident and had to be towed away due to ruptured radiator.

jfryjfry
jfryjfry SuperDork
1/11/22 2:50 p.m.

Looks really good.  
maybe it's just how I'm seeing the pics but the bridge you put In looks like it is the same width as the piece you cut out with two gussets. 
 If so I'd get a piece of square tubing long enough to have 3" or so of overlap on either side and weld that in, and close off the ends of it as well. 
 

maybe overkill but that looks like it could be a lot more strong

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/11/22 3:02 p.m.

This is very good work! Thanks for sharing it. I'm loving those wheels.

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
1/11/22 4:33 p.m.

I cannot get over how much you've improved that car. Awesome job! I'm impressed you could even figure out what needed done to correct the handling, much less take care of it all. I love the finished (so far) product.

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 6:43 p.m.
jfryjfry said:

Looks really good.  
maybe it's just how I'm seeing the pics but the bridge you put In looks like it is the same width as the piece you cut out with two gussets. 
 If so I'd get a piece of square tubing long enough to have 3" or so of overlap on either side and weld that in, and close off the ends of it as well. 
 

maybe overkill but that looks like it could be a lot more strong

I find your comment a little amusing because I have a strong tendency to overbuild things and make them stronger than they need to be.  However, I can understand that the bridge section looks spindly.  My thinking on that mod is as follows:  That cross member is not part of the original MG TD frame and was added to mount the tops of the coilovers.  The coilovers carry about 800 lbs of load at the rear of the car and impart it through that cross member.  If I had sectioned out the middle of that frame member and not replaced it, the short sections cantilevering off each frame rail would be strong enough to support the loads coming from the coilovers (about 400-450 lbs each).  My only real concern was the tendency of that vertical load to use those cantilever extensions as lever arms and try to twist each frame rail upwards and outwards.  I see that center bridge section as only needing to tie the two frame rails together to prevent rotation due to the loads imparted by the coilovers.  Thus the bridge piece is primarily in tension and sometimes sees some compression loads, but sees virtually nothing in the way of shear or torsional loads.  I believe it is more than stout enough for what it has to do.

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 6:52 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

This is very good work! Thanks for sharing it. I'm loving those wheels.

Thanks.  I chose the replica Dunlops as they are a period correct performance wheel that I could see someone fitting to a hot rod MG back in the day.  Also they have a strong visual resemblance to the original stamped steel wheels that came on the TD, so they don't look out of place either.  Here is a stock TD with its stamped steel wheels for reference.

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 7:07 p.m.
dculberson said:

I cannot get over how much you've improved that car. Awesome job! I'm impressed you could even figure out what needed done to correct the handling, much less take care of it all. I love the finished (so far) product.

Thank you.  I have been a machanic, tinkerer, modifier, and practical engineer all my life.  I grew up working on outboard motors with my dad and worked in Ralph Meaney's Porsche shop right after high school.  Later I was a merchant marine engineer working on ships all over the world.  I have been maintaining and modifying cars since I started driving at age 16 (I'm in my 50's now).  And still, I have had to educate myself on new systems and concepts (especially suspension design theory and practice) while working on this project.  I tend to just dive in and figure it out as I go.  It's all part of the fun.   

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/11/22 8:20 p.m.

In reply to RSwannabe :

Lovely.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
1/11/22 10:13 p.m.

I grew up riding in my parents TD, and have worked on more stock ones than I can count and several engine swapped ones for customers. This is by far the best one I have seen documented. Overkill in places perhaps, but really fixes the TD's shortcomings as a car without damaging the esthetic at all. So where do the side curtains store nowdevil?

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 11:43 p.m.
Woody (Forum Supportum) said:

In reply to RSwannabe :

Lovely.

Thank you.

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/11/22 11:48 p.m.
TurnerX19 said:

I grew up riding in my parents TD, and have worked on more stock ones than I can count and several engine swapped ones for customers. This is by far the best one I have seen documented. Overkill in places perhaps, but really fixes the TD's shortcomings as a car without damaging the esthetic at all. So where do the side curtains store nowdevil?

Coming from someone who knows TD's intimately, I take your words as high praise.  Thank you.  As to the side curtains, they usually stay on the shelf in the garage.  For a light shower I just raise the top, and if its looking like real rain I can throw the side curtains on the rear shelf (or more realistically the TD just stays at home).  I still haven't figured out a good windshield wiper system for the car.  The one on it now is a brand new TD style wiper motor and it is frankly pathetically weak and insufficient to actually keeping the windshield clear.  This is one of the items on the car I still need to find a better solution for.  Any suggestions?

RSwannabe
RSwannabe New Reader
1/12/22 12:03 a.m.

With old cars, I like to modify and improve them, but I like to do it so it either looks stock(ish) or looks like it could be a period modification.  So when I was redoing the dash layout I wanted to use a stock TD center panel.  I ended up being offered the one in the car now that was perfect for my taste.  It is an original TD center panel from the car of an old aircraft mechanic who did the machine turning on the panel himself.  I've always been a sucker for machine turned parts (used in moderation), so this was a no brainer for me.  Its a lovely extra detail for the car and a little added history.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
1/12/22 5:00 p.m.

Sounds like your wipers are in perfect condition. I have never tried, but I think it would be possible to improve the power output of the wiper motor, either with a stronger magnet, or a rewound armature, or both. This is a kind of "lost art" of electric motor rebuilding. There might also be a modern (not wiper) motor that would sneak into the original case. I had a few of those apart in my youth, but I can't remember how they changed rotation to oscillation any moreangry  I do remember assisting them many times by hand while riding in Mom's car though!

Stealthtercel
Stealthtercel Dork
1/12/22 8:46 p.m.

To the OP: That's a beautiful car! Could you tell us more about the seats, like where they came from and how you made them fit? (TDs aren't that big inside, right?)

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