Back to Home

1948 MG TC

TC5624/XPAG 6378
Built June 6, 1948

SOLD December 8, 2012

Eleven years after rekindling my desire to own an MG TC, an old friend joins the Caroholic family

(Click here for detail shots)

December 8, 2012 - Adopted out - Eleanor has been a  great car, but the sad truth is I prefer Wildflower, and TC5624 has sat in the garage too much this summer.  If I had lots of money and time, I'd love to have kept her, but one of the reasons I got her in the first place was because she'd been sitting for years.  Happily, some fellow MG Enthusiasts had told me to let them know if I ever planned to part with her.  When I sent an email letting them know I had made that decision I had two emails and four phone messages by the time I got home.  Terry and Sue have known the car even longer than I have, and are very active in both the car clubs I am a member of.  They love MGs, are great mechanics, and use their MG all the time.  I couldn't have found a better home for Eleanor.  They came out and gave her a test drive a couple of weeks ago, and drover her Tuesday in the MG Club Holiday Lights cruise.  Today, they arrived with the last check in hand and Sue drove her home.  However, she'll be close, and I expect to see her a lot at future car events!
September 15, 2012 - Uneventful Drive - I sorta focused on Mildred this summer, and between the Pontiac, work, and the big trip to England the past week, Eleanor has been somewhat neglected.  However, I got her out today for a nice long drive out to Richard's and my parents'.  I was surprised to find the brakes up full - she has had a soft pedal after sitting every time in the past.  Guess she was eager to get out - the drive was great and she got many honks and waves from admirers.
July 15, 2012 - Polarity Clarity - It was indeed the battery, a yellow-top Optima with a dead cell.  A replacement of the same type was $224, and only carried a three-year warranty!  So I went with the Advance house brand that has served me well for many years at $106.  The short Optima warranty really surprised me considering the premium cost.  However, in fairness, I checked the receipts and found out this particular battery had been installed in Eleanor in 2004!  That's pretty impressive performance.  In any case, Eleanor fired right up with the new battery.  Oh, and I discovered something new about Eleanor - she has been wired for negative ground!  The swap must have been made when Abacus Racing installed her electronic ignition, also in 2004.  This makes adapting an outlet for GPS and cell phone power easier.  Glad it was a simple fix.
July 15, 2012 - Starter Woes - Poor Eleanor - she's been largely ignored since the Pontiac showed up.  So I rolled her out today, bled the brakes to bring he pedal back up to the top, and gave her a bath.  Then we set out for Richard's and a visit to sister TC5908.  However, a stop at a vegetable stand became a bit of an issue when the starter refused to do anything a all.  The lights dim when the starter is pulled, but there is no click, no movement.  Could be a bad battery, as the ammeter did not register a charge after this.  Happily, the stand owner gave me a quick push backwards and Eleanor fired right up.  I made a couple of stops but kept the engine running, and got her back home without issue.  She's in the garage positioned for starter work if need-be.
June 2, 2012 - Happy Birthday! - Eleanor rolled off the assembly line at Abingdon, England 64 years ago today.  And in answer to the Beatles' song, yes I still need her, and yes I'll still feed her. 
April 28, 2012 - Another 'Chuck' - Eleanor and I went out to the Fighter Factory, a private warbirds museum in Virginia Beach.  The reining king is a splendid veteran of WWII, and one-time defender of Eleanor's homeland - Chuckie, the B-17 Flying Fortress.  As magnificent as Eleanor is beautiful, he is also just as functional.  I think Wildflower might stop bragging about her fling with that Waco biplane two years ago!
April 28, 2012 - A loose screw - No, Wildflower, Eleanor does NOT have a 'screw loose'!  She had a loose screw, which is something quite different.  A couple, in fact that were making her driver's door rather sloppy.  The 63+ year-old hardware and receiving wood has gotten a bit worn, so I went down to Ace hardware and picked up some longer screws of the same thread.  That did the trick, bringing Eleanor's door latch back up and taking out most of the play in her hinges.
April 8, 2012 - Visit to an old friend - A nice day and nice visit - but Chuck said it best:

You looked truly spiffy.
New shoes, so shiny, and with ridges.
Sparkly eyes.
Well polished adornments.
Nice touch with your wicker bustle.
And the burble of your voice at full song
speaks highly of your pilot's considerations
for your British heritage.
your previous suitor
April 4, 2012 - Spot Removal - Eleanor came with a very nice full tonneau cover that had acquired a variety of stains and black spots over the years.  I had tried convertible top cleaner with little effect, at least using the instructions.  So I discarded the instructions, filled a large bowl with hot water and the rest of the cleaner, spread the tonneau out on the driveway, and scrubbed tit with a stiff brush.  Then I rinsed and added a cup of Clorox to the bowl and scrubbed again.  After a very thorough final rinse, I left the tonneau to dry in the garage overnight.  The results are great!  All of the stains and spots (probably mildew) are gone, and even the sun fading of the normally exposed back section is less noticeable. 
March 24, 2012 - A Wet But Happy Family Reunion - The wonderful weather luck I've had for the past bunch of car events ran out today.  I've been planning to participate in the Historic Williamsburg MG Touring Society's March Run scheduled for today for several weeks, but the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms.  I got Eleanor ready anyway, and it was actually pleasant and sunny this morning.  I knew the odds were good we would get wet, but it wouldn't be the first time.  So after making sure the run was still on, we made the 45-mile trek to Jamestown, Virginal and the ferry landing where the group was meeting up.  Eleanor was quite happy to roll with traffic, making use of her higher rear axle ratio.  We arrived to find one a TC, a TF and a TD waiting in a different parking lot, but we quickly regrouped and shifted down to join the remaining two TCs and another TF in the lot closest to the landing.  A flock (herd?) of new Mini Coopers had been gathering in the other lot, and rather than risking being crowded off the Ferry by the young upstarts, we got in line.  Only then did we get out and socialize a few minutes.  This was Eleanor's first tome out with the Williamsburg group, and she was quite pleased to see three sisters.  Most of her activity has been with the Tidewater MG Classics group, which tends more towards MGBs.  I had started out top down, but as we waited in line I felt the first drops.  Running with the top up was nothing knew, but this time I got really adventurous and pulled out the side curtains.  I've never even fitted the side curtains before, much less driven with them, but the wind was blowing and the rain was getting heavier.  By the time the ferry docked, all but one car had its weather gear in place.  I'd been concerned about elbow and shoulder room with the side curtains in place, but the car was quite comfortable.  And surprising dry!  Sure, there were a few drips here and there, but Eleanor did a fine job of keeping the rain off me.  We rolled off the ferry, and after a quick regroup to make sure all T-series were present, we continued on a variety of back roads.  Seeing another TC ahead of me on unmarked blacktop, winding through trees on a wet day was like going back in time - we could have been on a country drive in England.  Flowers were blooming, and the soft green fuzz of new leaves decorated all the trees along the way.  The destination was a restaurant called 'Dockside' about 30 miles away, and the group made it there with only one 'almost' mistep - pretty amazing considering the twists, turns, and weather of our chosen route.  Everyone arrived together at Dockside, where we parked the cars together and went in for some great food.  The return trip was open, and I had planned a back way home due to expected weekend traffic on the Interstate.  However, I used the GPS to get out and ended up on I-64 anyway!  Traffic was no issue, probably due tot he weather, but I still got a scare.  Eleanor's driver's door popped open at 60 MPH!  I think the side curtain interfered with getting the latch all the way shut.  No serious damage, and I was able to get the door latched and back under way in a couple of minutes.  Overall it was a really good time and I'm glad I decided not to waste the day sitting at home!


March 22, 2012 - Plucked and Bumpered - I had cleaned up the 'antenna' accessory bumpers that Richard gave me and the fronts were fine as-is.  Getting them installed turned out to be a bit more of a job than expected.  I had to get new stainless bolts to accommodate fitting the bumpers under the badge bar brackets, and the wiring for the horn and driving light had to be worked with to get them through.  I took the opportunity to redo the ground wire for the driving light, which had been crushed in two under the badge bar mount in the distant past.  I have to say I prefer her without the eyelashes.  Next step is to get the one bent rear bumper fixed so I can mount them.
March 20, 2012 - Light Duty - Eleanor's left low beam burned out during the St. Patrick's Day outing, so I dug out the new spare I have had on hand for just such an occasion.  I removed her eyelashes (enough is enough) and was able to replace the bulb in about 3 minutes without tools.  The headlight rim is held in place with a spring-loaded clip.  Once you remove the lens, the bulb has a standard bayonet base that is removed and replaced with a simple twist.  If the weather cooperates, we have another run Saturday, this time with the Williamsburg TC Club.  There are an amazing number of TCs around here!
March 17, 2012 - St. Patrick's Day Outing -   It was time to put Eleanor's brakes to the test, and a St. Patrick's Day run with the local MG club provided the perfect opportunity.  The day started sunny and 72 degrees, and we rolled out along country roads to Cecil Profitt's auto museum of automobilia and vehicles.  It's a neat place, and made for a 90-mile run (not counting the 20 miles to the start location).   The roads were just right - lots of country lanes with twists and turns that actually got a tire squeal or two as we zipped along.  Everyone else was driving much later MGB roadsters, and they were impressed the 'grand dame' was kicking up her heels so readily.  Understandably, whenever we stopped, Eleanor got most of the attention.  She ran flawlessly, and her eyelashes got a lot of compliments.  And when we got home, I was able to present her with a vintage MG Mitten car cover I picked up locally off Craig's List for $20 - it was in excellent condition, nearly new.  Just needed a wash to brighten things up. 
March 11, 2012 - BRAKES!  Naturally, the last drum proved to be the hardest to fit, but I got it on this morning and put Eleanor back together.  I still need to do final adjustments, but the car has some serious brakes now.  It doesn't make sense, really.  I didn't even pull the old shoes, just cleaned them up and installed the Alfin drums.  But I can lock up the brakes, and she stops just as well as Wildflower, except for pulling to the left.  The long drive today should help get the shoes seated into the Alfins.  I also need to adjust the back plates - the inside of the Alfins rub a little in turns.  The repaired fooling fin on the last drum turned out great - you can't see the bad spot.  The Alfins are also pretty - but the reason I spent $1300 was to get brakes I trusted and it worked!  I'll check the right rear for grease leaks after I have driven it some more.

NOTE:  Mystery solved.  The original brake drums had been turned to the point that the arc of stock brake shoes no longer matched and there was only a small spot of contact.  The Alfins restore the original diameter and full brake shoe contact!

March 10, 2012 - Three down? The axle bearing and seal conversion kit is ordered, but I might not need it.  When I pulled the hub and axle off the right rear, it had a paper gasket and hard sealant, both potential leaks issues.  So I cleaned it all up and used the recommended non-hardening sealer and fit the drum (above, left).  At worst I'll still have to do the conversion, but if it stays dry I can send the kit back.   The other side of the rear axle (above, right) was clean and dry, but the last drum has the ding in the back fin (left).  I used the Dremel tool to cut away the bulge and then mixed up some JB Weld to fill in the damaged area.  Once I get it shaped and touch it up with a bit of aluminum paint, you'll have to look hard to see the spot.  Plus, being on the back means it's almost impossible to see anyway.  I also did some work on the 'antenna bumpers.  The front ones cleaned up great, but the left rear is bent and needs to be straightened.  The bend is in the mounting area and won't show once it is repaired.
March 8, 2012 - Two down, but greasy 3rd I had to use a Dremel tool to get the other front Alfin drum (on left) to go on, but it is ready to go.  Since the last front wheel went quickly, I pulled the drum off the right rear (on right), the one that had grease in it back in July.  Yep, it had grease again.  The hubs, bearings, and seals were all new in 2005 and have almost no miles.  However, looking at the receipts, it looks like the original style bearing seals were used.  So I am going to take the plunge for a new-style modern seal conversion that is supposed to completely stop axle grease leaks.  I also want to rebuild the brake master cylinder.  The wheel cylinders all look clean and dry, and the shoes are in near new condition.  I did get a new set of shoes in case the rear ones don't clean up.
March 4, 2012 - One down Eleanor is up in the air and I have started fitting the Alfin drums.  The right front was the first - the shoes and wheel cylinders have almost no miles on the rebuild done in 2005, and are clean and dry.  I washed everything down with brake cleaner and installed the Alfin drum with some anti-seize on the hub surface.  It was snug, but I was able to remove it with a few taps of the rawhide knock-off hammer.  Since the original drum had the same tight fit, I think it should be fine.  The front wheels should be pretty easy - the back wheels are the ones where I may have to replace grease seals and shoes.  I also expect some work on the master cylinder - it has been seeping a little.  Oh, the white wrap is covering greasy knock-off threads.
February 29, 2012 - Valves adjusted -  It was nice tonight, so I figured I would  get a little work done on Eleanor.  The valves have gotten noisy, a normal side effect of lots of driving.  It should not have been a difficult job, except I could not find a usable set of feeler gauges!  I searched both garages, checked toolkits in both TCs and came up with one rusty set with no readable markings.  I was just about to give up when I remembered the Lucas 'TC-specific' feeler gauge on Wildflower's key fob.  DUH!  That's it circled on the valve cover.  With the EXACT tool for the job, I got Eleanor sorted quickly.  She runs minus the annoying rattle.  Next comes putting her up on jack stands and pulling all the brake drums.
February 28, 2012 - Brake Stuff -  Eleanor is back in the main garage now, and I am just about ready for some serious work on her.  Both rear fenders are coming off to get repainted - one got a big chip in the paint when a tow bar slipped and fell, and the other has a small kink from a parking mishap somewhere in her past.  While the fenders are off, I will also be doing a total brake system overhaul and axle seal replacement  I just got in a new set of brake shoes, and have had the Alfin racing drums.  Once I get the system apart, I'll see what needs to be rebuilt.  The master cylinder is showing some signs of seepage,, so I will plan on at least a rebuild.  Also, TC buddy Richard gave me the 'antenna'-style bumpers that came on his TC. and I was able to get a replacement lens for a period Raydyot (UK brand) spotlight that I found at the Hershey swap meet.  I also need to adjust the valves, clean plugs, and reset the timing.  When I am done, Eleanor will be ready for another summer of happy driving!
January 28, 2012 - 32 Lashes and 200 Miles -  I led a tour to the Keystone Tractor Museum in Petersburg today, and given sunny skies and 60 degrees, I made the trek in Eleanor complete with 'glamour' in the form of plastic eyelashes presented to her at our car club awards banquet.  OK, they aren't my first choice of an accessory,  but we're all in this to have fun.  Eleanor certainly didn't seem to mind - she ran perfectly up and back and managed about 25 mpg.  She also got plenty of thumbs-up, honks, and waves, plus quite a few pictures taken by passengers in other cars.  I can't promise the eyelashes (16 to a side) will be left on much longer, but they are just held on with double-sided tape.  Oh, I finally mounted the picnic basket on the luggage rack using some matching belts from WalMart as straps.  They look really good, and the leather ends even match the leather on the basket.
January 2, 2012 - Published in the TSO -  I was surprised to find out that the article on Eleanor's Classic's on the Green win got republished in last month's The Sacred Octagon, national magazine of the New England MG T Register.  They did some editing to change it from Eleanor's viewpoint to mine (you'd think they'd want it first person), but otherwise left it as-is. 
December 29, 2011 - Switching Bedrooms -  Eleanor moved into Wildflower's 'private garage' tonight.  I need to get Wildflower cleaned up and detailed for the big 'Car of the Century' show next weekend, and moved her to the main garage for extra working space.  Eleanor gets some major brake work this winter, including the new Alfin drums and Kevlar brake shoes.
December 15, 2011 - Holiday Lights -  The middle of December and 70 degrees!  This year's Holiday Lights Drive with the Tidewater MG Classics club was quite a change from past years where the temperatures have been in the 20s and 30s.  Eleanor and I not only went top down, I had the windshield down as well.  Eleanor idled through the entire event without complaint.  It's nice to have good weather this late in the year.  I have the Studebaker, Rodney, and the Aspen all ready for when it gets too cold for open car motoring, but I'll have the TCs out as much as I can manage.
November 27, 2011 - Me and Eleanor -  It's almost December, and a warm, sunny day couldn't be passed up.  Eleanor's brakes got bled out last weekend and they are still OK, so I took her out for a run to fellow TC custodian Richard's to help put TC5908 back together.  We got the hood and front valance on, and the car is looking really good!  Eleanor was a blast to drive today, as always. 
November 15, 2011 - That's the brakes -  Eleanor's brakes were soft again last weekend when I went to take her for a drive, and I needed to check the shoes and fit the Alfins.  So I pulled the right rear drum and discovered grease-covered brake shoes!  The axle seal is leaking, but the shoes cleaned up easily.  The Alfins don't quite make it all the way on - I'd been warned I may have to do some hand fitting.  She's all cleaned up and ready to drive again - I'll leave the Alfins and rear seals for this winter when it's too cold to drive her comfortably.
November 7, 2011 - Alfins arrive -  The Alfin drums arrived this weekend and look great.  One had minor damage to a rear fin, but I can fix that with a bit of Dremel tool wielding and some metal fill.  Next step is to inspect the brake shoes to make sure they are not metallic.  If they are, I'll have to get them redone with non-metallic material. 
October 24, 2011 - Hounded -  The car club did a vehicle display at a local retirement community today, and I took Eleanor out.  She was very popular, and got me a quick date with Layla, the Great Dane.  Very quick - while i fit OK, Layla was a tad too big to fit on the passenger seat.  A shame, really.  If the car broke down, she could pull it!
October 17, 2011 - What's it all about, Alfin? -  It's about good braking.  One major disparity between Wildflower and Eleanor is their stopping ability, and the only things different are their brake drums.  Eleanor still has her red-painted factory pressed-steel drums (below), while Wildflower has Alfins (ALuminum FINnned) on all four corners (pictured on left).  How big a difference do they make?  I just sent $1300 to get the next to the last set from Bob Gruneau in Canada.  I don't casually drop that kind of money, but you'd have to drive the two cars to believe the difference.  And as far as I am concerned, the way a car stops is way more important that how fast it goes.  Especially when somebody cuts you off on the interstate and you get reminded that you have 4.5 x 19 inch tires!
October 16, 2011 - Prep for Tour -  I'm signed up for our local car club's Fall Tour in two weeks, and Eleanor is the vehicle of choice.  About the only thing she has needed is to get the right rear bleeder valve replaced.  I've had it in stock, just didn't have time to do the job.  Which is silly, because it took all of 15 minutes.  The old bleeder was not quite seating properly, and I could feel a little softness in the pedal.  After installing the new valve from Moss and bleeding out the line, the pedal feels nice and full again.  As long as the weather stays good, she'll be motoring to Petersburg on Oct. 29 and 30.
October 4, 2011 - TMGC Meeting -  Eleanor has been inside the past few weeks due to bad weather and other cars getting some attention.  Tonight was clear and pleasant out, so we rolled out for the Tidewater MG Classics club meeting.    She did wonderful as always, and I ended up getting a TC owner's manual reprint out of the club raffle because the guy who won it didn't want it! 
September 18, 2011 - Eleanor's Big Day -  a 30% chance of rain turned into 100% on the way to the show this morning, but the faucet got turned off for the actual show.  Eleanor handed the 80-mile trip with nary a complaint, and we were soon on the field amid about 230 beautiful imported autos.  There were two TDs and another TC in the Vintage MG class - including 'Maggie', one of the most perfect TDs I have ever seen.  No worries, since I didn't expect a trophy this time anyway.  After checking out Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, vintage racing cars, and scoring new door panels for BOTH MGB-GTs at the silent auction, I got aboard a hot air balloon set up at the show.  We weren't supposed to go anywhere, but as the balloonist was trying to decide when to deflate the bag, a wind gust decided for him and blew the balloon and basket on its side.  No harm done, and after helping get the balloon safely, I went back to wait on the awards announcement.  To my great surprise, Eleanor won first place!  Guess her innate charm and classic style compensated for the signs of wear I couldn't clean up.  After the awards ceremony, we had another wet, but uneventful ride home.  A great day for Eleanor!
September 17, 2011 - Ready for the Green -  Tomorrow is the Classics on the Green show in New Kent, VA.  I decided to drive Eleanor despite the potential for rain.  I have the top up and RainX on the windows - we'll go unless there's a downpour in the morning.  I spent most of the day cleaning her up.  On very happy surprise - the 16 year-old leftover paint from her restoration turned out to be still good, and I was able to touch up some minor scrapes and nicks.  I did find a small wicker basket for the rack, and  have it stocked with repair supplies.  She is looking very spiffy, and should turn some heads at the show tomorrow.
August 6, 2011 - Ready for a Trip -  The rack did look nice in the daylight, so I went ahead and installed it this weekend.  Eleanor also got a thorough cleaning.  I'll look for a nice low wicker basket I can attach to the rack.  We went for a nice ride in the afternoon, but some scattered rain and dark clouds showed up about the time I was heading for the show, so I took the Aspen wagon instead.
August 2, 2011 - Cleaning Up -  One of the 'goodies' that Eleanor came with was a factory-style luggage rack, but it looked so rusty and corroded that I stuck it in the corner of the garage and almost forgot about it.  However, I pulled it out today for a closer look and attacked it with some super-fine steel wool and Mother's Metal Polish.  It came out really nice!  It's hard to tell indoors at night, but while there is some light pitting in the chrome, I think most of it will be facing in.  I'll put it on tomorrow night - I'm planning to take Eleanor to an informal car display on Saturday.
July 25, 2011 - Loose Parts -  The odd noise from the back wheel turned out to be a nut and washer that had vibrated loose from the brake shoe pivot assembly.  Luckily, I caught the noise before any damage was done to the drum or shoes.  The hardware is British Whitworth, which would normally mean having to order the replacement parts and waiting a week.  However, Wildflower (TC5308) came with a box of new spare Whitworth hardware, and the correct nut was waiting inside!  I used Loctite and a new lock washer and got the car back together in under an hour  A whole lot nicer to deal with than having to replace a rear bearing!  Unfortunately, there was some axle grease in the drum.  The seal is leaking - possibly from sitting, in which case it might seal back up with use.  I cleaned everything up and will check it later.
July 23, 2011 - Visiting 'Magnolia Park' -  -  Temperatures over 100 proved not deterrent for Eleanor.  We rolled out to my parents' and then Richard's in a mix of stop-and-go traffic and Interstate driving with no issues other than a little vapor lock when Richard tried to start her.  I wanted him to drive Eleanor, as she has the Bishop steering and is more like his.  We finally got her going, and had a nice drive (keep those RPMs up, Richard!)  However, when I went home I ended up skirting the edge of a ferocious thunderstorm that took down trees near my house.   Luckily, all I got was a few raindrops on the receding edge.  As I got close to home, I began to notice an odd sound from the back.  It isn't the brakes, and sounds like it is coming from the left rear - probably an outer axle bearing.  I'll have to investigate further, but I do have a bearing and carrier in stock, and I don't think it is a bad job.  Oh, 'Magnolia Park' is Richard's name - he just trimmed the lower branches of a huge Magnolia next to his garage, and I was the first person to park in the newly-exposed area.
July 17, 2011 - Up and Running -  I took the advise of some of the T-ABC group members (Terrific online resource if you have a T-type!) and located some socket-head bolts for the starter.  The stock bolts do not allow room for a socket or box wrench, and access is so tight you are lucky to get a quarter-turn at a time.  As you can see in the photo at the upper right, the socket-head bolts are not only smaller, but allow the use of a socket-style hex key.  It makes the job a LOT easier.  I also installed the cable bracket (bright silver on left) that Richard made for me.  It routes the power cable neatly.  With the new starter switch and the rebuilt starter all installed, I tested the starter a few times to make sure it was OK, then put the exhaust back on.  So far, she starts every pull, and the new starter switch engages sooner and doesn't require the helper spring to pull the knob back.  I also have the accelerator bracket (just visible in the upper right) and spring installed, eliminating yet another jury-rig.  I want to adjust the valves, and need to find the ^%$#@! clutch spring bracket I bought from Doug Pelton.  I put it somewhere 'safe'.  REALLY safe.  Oh, well.  If it doesn't turn up in a week or so, I'll order another one.
July 15, 2011 - Back from RCS -  Got a call from RCS today that the starter was ready - a very pleasant surprise, since they hadn't even looked at it yet yesterday afternoon!  An even nicer surprise was the bill - $61.  They cleaned the starter, installed new bushings, and said it was ready to go.  I'll get it installed tomorrow afternoon and see how things work out.  Be nice to get her on the road again - I have some treks to the Williamsburg group planned.
July 10, 2011 - Much Ado about Nothing -  I decided to get busy on the dreaded start removal task - only to find it wasn't so bad after all.  I pulled the starter switch off the end, dropped the headpipe from the exhaust system, and undid the starter bolts.  A couple of wiggles, and the starter dropped right out!  I'll try to get it to RCS Electric, the shop that reworked Richard's (TC5908) starter, tomorrow morning.
July 9, 2011 - Worth a Try -  I had already ordered the new contact kit and had a new starter switch on hand (bought before I ever had a car that could use it!), so even though I suspected the starter itself was bad, I replaced the switch and contacts today.  The internal contact that the battery cable connects to was loose, and there was a chance all I was dealing with was a bad connection.  As you can see by the photo on the right, there wasn't much room to work with.  I had to use offset tools and a lot of patience, but was able to get the new switch and contacts installed.  Unfortunately, it did not fix the problem.  Also obvious in the photo is the closeness of the exhaust and steering box - both have to be removed/moved to get the starter out.  Oh, well.  At least it died at home, and not 120 miles away a few weeks ago!
July 2, 2011 - Starter Woes -  I drove Eleanor over to her old homestead Thursday night to pick up some more goodies that Chuck had found.  I think she misses him, 'cause she didn't want to start when I got ready to leave.  Playing with the starter switch got her going again, and we went over to eyeball another TC that has been in boxes for over 25 years for a friend in my car club.  When we went out, she did not want to turn over again, but more fiddling with the switch got her going again.  I checked the starter today, and figured out that the ignition light dims, indicating a heavy load when the starter switch is pulled.  So it looks like an internal issue, not a switch problem.  I'll be pulling the starter this week and getting it tested, and if necessary, rebuilt by the place that reworked Richard's.
June 29, 2011 - Spring Cleaning -  Well, how about spring replacement?  Eleanor's various throttle and pedal springs were all jury rigged sometime in the past - either during her restoration or when the drive train was rebuilt.  Most of the little brackets were lost, so what springs remained were hooked anywhere they would fit.  I picked up a couple of the missing brackets from Doug Pelton's From the Frame Up, TC buddy Richard made a battery cable bracket for me, and I made the accelerator spring bracket.  I got the accelerator bracket and the correct brake return springs on tonight - the brake lights had been staying on because the brake light switch was being used to be the main anchor for the brake return spring.  Now the brakes lights work properly.  Unfortunately, the accelerator spring was not part of the pedal spring kit, so I'll have to order that later.
June 26, 2011 - Shiny Stuff -  I had received some chrome parts from Doug Pelton, but had to hold off on the brake handle chrome until I got a new actuating rod to install it.  The handbrake chrome is an ingenious bit of slight-of-hand created by Joe Curto.  To actually rechrome the handle, you have to disassemble most of the middle of the car and deal with a bulky assembly.  Joe came up with a thin brass tube that just barely fits over the handle.  You simply cut it to length, put some Locktite on the handle and slide the chrome-plated tube over it.  Let it sit for a few hours and then install the slightly oversized new actuator button.  About 15 minutes worth of work for a beautiful brake handle.  Unfortunately, the new shift lever will have to be put in the normal way - sweat and time.
June 18, 2011 - Eleanor's Big Day -  Today was a very busy and happy one for Eleanor.  She started off at 7:30 AM, rolling out to lead the local car club contingent from Chesapeake all the way to the Richmond International Speedway for a big car show and swap meet.  The oldest car in the group by almost 20 years, she performed flawlessly - and provided tools for one of the newer American cars that wasn't quite so reliable.   Despite a restoration that is now 17 years old, she was awarded a second place trophy!  First place went to a really nice 1953 Jaguar XK140, so there is no shame there.  After the car show, we rolled out to a little church outside of Richmond and the wedding of Eleanor 'Claire' Hudson, previous co-owner and name-sake of Eleanor the TC.  The human Eleanor used the TC for all of her high school landmarks, and had hoped to drive it from her wedding.  Alas, her gown and high heels did not allow for driving a stick-shift, but the TC was used for a number of wedding photos before and after the ceremony.  The car travelled over 275 miles today in conditions ranging from 70 mph to 10 mph crawls on the Interstate, and a nasty thunderstorm that caught us just ten miles from home, all without any fuss and a solid 25 MPG!
June 14, 2011 - More Shiny Stuff -  I took the afternoon off from work to take advantage of good weather and found the order from Doug Pelton on the porch.  First on was the new gas cap.  The old one had a strange mottled finish, and was a cheap aftermarket copy.  Doug's looks great and was a correct replica.  I had a meeting and decided to take Eleanor out.  We visited Abacus Racing, the shop that did all the work on her back in 2004, and poked about town.  She did great.  When I got home tonight after the meeting, I attacked the badge bar.  Besides being rusty and worn, the bar on Eleanor was just a plain piece of pipe.  The correct badge bar has a center bracket for the hand crank.  One of the clamp bolts was barely in due to an incorrect thread, but I found one that had the correct thread and matched the other side.  Some polish and elbow grease cleaned up the badges very nicely, and the wind-worn mounting brackets only had to be flipped around to display the like-new backs.
June 13, 2011 - Something old, something new - Eleanor's parking lights were looking a little tired, with light corrosion on the bodies and plating mostly gone from the lens rims.  I had a new set of lenses left over from when I was fixing up Wildflower, and dug them out.  Some polish and steel wool took care of the bodies, and with the shiny rims, the lamps look new again!
June 12, 2011 - Gaskets, rivets, and floor mats - I decided to work on the windscreen today - the side mount gaskets had split apart and looked pretty rough.  By doing one side at a time, I was able to replace the rubber and clean and wax the paint underneath without removing the assembly.  Then I cut some wood supports to put between the body and the windshield frame and installed the Auster windshield tag with drive-in rivets and a hammer - VERY carefully. All minor detail stuff, but it all adds up.  Then my parents surprised me tonight with an early birthday present - fitted  floor mats with embroidered MG logos.  They fit great and look wonderful.  I hope Eleanor is willing to share with Wildflower.
June 10, 2011 - Eleanor gets canned - Oil-canned, that is.  Most TCs left the factory with a firewall-mounted can of NOL oil.  I bought this reproduction set for Wildflower two years ago, but her restorer had done such a nice job of filling the mounting holes that I decided not to drill them out.  Tonight, I thought to check Eleanor's firewall, and found the mounting holes open and ready.  A few turns of a 7/16th wrench later, and Eleanor gets another bit of glitz, this time something she had when she was new!
June 7, 2011 - TMGC Meeting - Eleanor got re-introduced to the Tidewater MG Classics club tonight at the June meeting.  There were 15 MGs present, including two TDs and two MGAs!  The last time she was at a club meeting was about 2006, the last time her precious owner brought her.  She started easily and ran great - the more i drive the car the better she gets.
June 6, 2011 - Midge Mounted! -   One of the treasures that came with Eleanor was a limited edition 'Midge' radiator ornament created in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MG TC.  This one was #56 of 251, and came all the way from Australia.  Unfortunately, the beautifully engraved radiator cap had unfinished threads and would not begin to mount.  Not being able to use the Midge really (pardon the pun) bugged me.  Tonight, I decided to try chasing the threads out with an advanced, specialized tool - the pointy end of some old heavy-duty scissors. I had resistance the first couple of times, and started to get brass shavings sprinkling the inside of the cap. After about 5 times down the entire length of the thread, the blade slid smoothly. I tried the cap on the radiator and it threaded on perfectly, even lining up properly when it was tight!
June 2, 2011 - Eleanor's 63rd Birthday Party! -  Although it was really a pre-planned Ice Cream Run for the Tidewater MG Classics group, we had an appropriate gathering of MGs for Eleanor's 63rd.  She got quite a good run tonight, probably 80 miles all told, and did great.  The idle speed tweak seems to have greatly improved her starting.  Before I left for the ice cream run, I went digging in the parts that came with her and found the new grab handle I remembered seeing.  The mounting holes were too small, which is probably why it had not been installed before.  I worked on it with a drill a few times, and got it just right.    So she got a nice sparkly bit for her actual birthday.
June 1, 2011 - Early birthday presents -  According to factory records, tomorrow is Eleanor's birthday!  She rolled off the Abingdon assembly line on June 2, 1948.  So tonight she got a bit of brightwork in the form of a new Made in England badge, something for her health (ZDDP additive for her oil), and a tweak of her idle speed.  The reproduction badge needed just a bit of tweaking to fit - the mounting holes were just off enough that the screws wouldn't go though, but a bit of elongating the holes took care of the issue.  Another Moss part, though it came by way of Doug Pelton.  The discrepancy is certainly forgivable, as the modification is invisible and the plate looks excellent and correct.  Oh, on the patent plate, Moss contacted me and has stopped sales of the incorrect plate.  They asked for, and I sent them, high-resolution scans of my patent plate so they can work on getting a correct plate made.  I have a bunch of stuff coming from Doug Pelton, mostly more shiny bits.  Also got a Whitworth tap and die set off of eBay today - that way I can clean up old fasteners and make new ones if I have to.
May 26, 2011 -Original Plate -  I taped off and repainted Eleanor's original Bluemels front plate and a mounting base that came with Rodney this week, and got them installed after work tonight.  Then I had time for a run to my parent's and Richard's.  She has some vapor lock issues after a long drive in hot weather, apparently a long-term problem going from the receipts.  No real worry - just takes a bit more patience to start.  One happy irony - the only bad chrome on the car so far is the badge bar, which turned out to be just a chrome tube (no crank bracket).  I'll order a new one from Doug Pelton.
May 21, 2011 - Eleanor's Admirers - I got back late from taking photos of a friend's horse, but there was still plenty of May sunshine left so I hopped in Eleanor and away we went!  A cruise around the block turned into a run to Virginia Beach and the Genro's show I took Wildflower (TC5308) to last weekend.  Eleanor drew her own crowd of admirers (below, left), with kids in her driver's seat and some adults wishing they were.  Then it was back home, where the night's project became removing the old double-sided tape from the battery box lid (lower right).  The tape used to hold a rubber mat in pace, but has long given up that task.  I was able to use my fingertips to 'roll' the old adhesive off the lid (top right), exposing undamaged paint underneath.  I polished the original brass ID plates and they came out really nice.  (center)
May 20, 2011 - Moss mucks it up - I got the backordered parts today, including what was SUPPOSED to be a reproduction patent plate for the TC.  Compare the original (top) with what I got (bottom).  Come on, Moss!  Who do you have buying these 'reproduction' parts?  FIRE THEM!!!!  Obviously done on a computer with no regard to font, style, or even keeping words in one piece, the average 10 year-old could do better!  On the plus side, the oil pressure issue has not resurfaced - she rolled out about 30 miles tonight and kept her oil pressure up fine.
May 19, 2011 - AACA Debut - Tonight was the monthly dinner meeting for the Tidewater Region AACA, and I try to always drive an antique to the meeting.   Despite the threat of scattered showers and thunderstorms, I figured Eleanor was ready and rarin' to go.  Besides being the oldest car there, she was a big hit and got plenty of compliments.  She ran great, though there was a curious problem with the oil gauge showing very low pressure.  It has been great before, and she was right to the full mark.  Pressure was fine on the way home (60 psi), and even after letting her sit for a few minutes to heat up and restarting, the pressure was 30 psi at 800 RPM.  All I can figure is the oil pressure gauge got some air in the line.  She drove great and rolled along the interstate at 60-65 with nary a twitch.  And the driving light worked tonight!  It wasn't coming on before, but I took it apart and cleaned it last night as part of my goal to do SOMETHING on the car every day.  I checked it again tonight and she came right on!  I made a small order of parts from Doug Pelton (From the Frame Up) to gets parts for her and Richard's TC5908.
May 17, 2011 - Sparkly bits and on the road - I got the new driver's side mirror today and installed it - she just didn't look right without it.  Then I did a quick cleanup of the inner fenders and wheels. and put her back together.  The Studebaker is getting used as a Prom Limo Friday and I had to be able to move the TC.  Naturally, that led to a short drive.  It's amazing how much difference a solid brake pedal and fully-inflated tires make in a car's drivability.  OK, maybe not so amazing.  However, Eleanor was a treat - once you get rolling, she has plenty of zip and a lovely exhaust note.  And she handles and steers incredibly well.  The original Bishop steering box is far more sensitive than the VW unit in Wildflower, but has none of the wander detractors warn against.  I'm looking forward to some driving time this weekend.
May 16, 2011 - Spit and polish - well, polish, anyway -  Eleanor is already pretty well sorted out mechanically, so I got busy cleaning.  Tonight I focused on the back end.  Her tail lights were lightly corroded and the lenses had been knocked out of place, the gas tank had some stains on the paint, and the chassis was dirty. The tail lights came out like new, and I was able to repaint the faded British license plate.  Polishing compound and some wax brought the gas tank to a high sheen, and the frame ends got some fresh paint.  All little things, but they make a big difference when you add them up.  The order from Moss is due in tomorrow, but naturally, the brake bleeder valve that I needed most is backordered from another warehouse.
May 15, 2011 - Getting to know you.... -  Now the real work begins.  I got Eleanor up on jack stands Friday night and pulled the wheels for better access.  The brake trouble was traced to a seeping bleeder vale on the right rear wheel cylinder.  I have ordered a new one, but with Chip's help I was able to get the pedal back up solid.  Then I started cleaning.  No, not the car.  My garage...  well, let's just say that navigating it was an adventure.  It was more a case of deciding what you were willing to step on rather than finding clear spots of floor.  With Wildflower enjoying her own private garage, I felt guilty sticking Eleanor in a pig-pen that she has to share.  So I spent a large part of yesterday and today cleaning out the garage.  I took a good-sized load to the dump, sorted most of the stuff I wanted to keep and boxed it up, and THEN spent some time cleaning Eleanor.  So far, first efforts are very encouraging.  Some of the brightwork was starting to corrode, but a combination of polish and superfine steel wool shined things right up.  I have the wind wings back on with new stainless hardware, and have started cleaning her inner fenders and frame. 
May 12, 2011 - Home and Mine! -   I went over last night with the cashier's check and got the title and a license plate release from Chuck.  He had all of the TC treasures packed up, so we loaded most of them in the truck and I headed home.  It wasn't until I had unpacked most of the boxes that I realized I'd left the title sitting on Eleanor.  So it was back to Chuck's - I went ahead and got the rest of the TC items, leaving only the car to be collected.   Chip went with me tonight and we brought Eleanor to her new home without incident.  She obviously has a taller rear end, as RPMs are substantially lower at 55 than Wildflower.  I still need to do some more brake bleeding and the tires are low, and lots of cleaning.  One wind wing was crazed, but I happen to have the exact match in very good shape left over from the BCW TD replica I had a few years ago.  And I was able to remove the faded and peeling Union Jack from the cowl without damaging the paint.  Supposed to be a rainy weekend, but I have plenty to keep me busy in the garage now!
May 9, 2011 - Ready to Roll -  With a car show taking up Friday-Sunday, Eleanor had to wait until tonight for the last tinkering to get her ready for the short drive home.   While the oil was clean and up to the level, I didn't know how old it was.  I painted a new oil filter aluminum  to match the rest of the adapter, and it looks like an original filter setup.  I also bled the brakes, and pulled the interior apart to get a light dusting of mildew off the leather and reposition the seats all the way back. Saturday looks potentially damp, so her trek home may happen Thursday night instead. 
May 3, 2011 - SUCCESS! -  I went back over after work and installed the fuel pump.  It pumped up quickly, and only took a couple of pulls of the starter to get her going - I had to play with her a bit until she warmed up, but then she was smooth and steady.   (CLICK HERE for a video) Chuck gave me the OK to take her out for a short run, so I went cautiously to the gas station to get some more gas.  The clutch needs adjustment, and the brakes need bleeding, but she did quite well.  The steering is very different than Wildflower's (TC5308) VW box, but no trouble to get used to.  That was enough excitement for one evening, so I parked her back in the garage, cleaned up, and came on home.  With a big show coming up this weekend, I guess I'll wait until Monday for the next visit.  I want to bleed the brakes, change the oil, and adjust the clutch before the drive home.
May 2, 2011 - Had a productive, if not fully successful, night tinkering with Eleanor.  Best Bud and fellow MG-ite Chip came with me to flush the fuel system and get the bad filter replaced.  You can see the difference in the new and old filters - the old one had been internally ruptured from air pressure.  And that dark stuff in the container was gas at one time.  Now, I'm not sure what you would call it, except bad news.  However, with everything cleaned and tight, the fuel pump still refused to pull fuel.  We tried swapping out the old pump, but it was no good.  So we pushed her back in the garage (after a quick bath) and I brought the pump home.  There, in the high-tech fuel pump lab shown  below, I was able to clean and test the pump, only to find it worked fine.  With fuel getting to the forward filter and no leaks, that indicates an air leak - and guess what?  There is a soldered pipe repair in the inlet fuel line right where it goes into the pump.  (photo below right) Next step - replace the fuel line!
May 1, 2011 - Eleanor's fuel pump is not pulling fuel through the system - it's a new pump, and while the gas is starting to smell bad, it hasn't been long enough to go seriously bad.  She had the same problem a couple of years ago, prompting the replacement of the pickup tube filter and the external fuel filter that is located by the rear axle.  However, as I was going through the detail shots I took yesterday, I spotted a second fuel filter up by the transmission, hidden inside the frame rail!  It is not visible normally, but I had stuck the camera under the car and shot photos blindly.  It looks totally clogged.  I may be able to go over with fresh gas, a drain pan, and a couple of new filters and drive her home!
May 6, 2000 - First Introduction to Eleanor - Back at the turn of the millennia, I got my first-ever ride in an MG TC courtesy of a generous member of my MG club.  This was not a slow cruise around the block, but a whole day of autocross racing at a local military airfield!  Chuck's pale blue 1948 TC sparkled and snorted with equal aplomb, and my life-long interest in TCs got stoked back up.  We tore around corners fast enough to pop the doors open (happily, he had competition seat belts installed) and we were both grinning like idiots the whole time.   It made enough of an impression that I still have the photos I took that day, along with happy memories.  It took almost another full decade before I got a TC of my own, and the memories of that day of racing provided the incentive to DRIVE the car from Day 1, not keep her as a modern art sculpture hidden in trailer. I saw Chuck again a few times at club meetings, but that was my only encounter with Eleanor for almost eleven years - until...


April 30, 2011 - Hey there, remember me? - This past February, Chuck got in touch with me to let me know he wanted to sell his TC - not that he didn't still love the car, but he could no longer comfortably drive it.  I offered to do a photo shoot and set up a web page for people to 'inspect' the car, something I've done for a number of car club friends.  Between weather and other activities, he just listed the car this week.  The asking price was extremely reasonable, and I found myself pondering - not completely seriously, but enough for me to contact my credit union 'just out of curiosity.'   I arrived at Chuck's at 10 AM today for the photo shoot and got  my first look at the car since that race back in 2000.  She's been kept safe and dry in a garage, but seen little use over the past few years.  It turned out that she hasn't been started in a year and a half, and the gas wasn't something we wanted to run through the carburetors.  Instead of trying for a drive, we pushed her out into the sun.  Eleanor's dazzle was somewhat dimmed by dust and cobwebs.  She has a couple of minor dings and scrapes, some of the chrome is showing early signs of corrosion, and there are faint spottings of mildew starting on the red leather seats.
However, it was still  easy to the Eleanor of eleven years ago, anxious to sparkle and snort again.  Maybe Chuck remembered my enthusiasm for the car, because he did some light (and thoroughly unnecessary) arm-twisting to sweeten the deal.   He showed me an impressive collection of receipts for the 1994 restoration as well as a tremendous amount of work done by the leading local British garage in 2004 when he told them to make the car 'bulletproof.'   Then he said to make him an offer -  he would like me to buy the TC because he knew I'd take care of her.  I couldn't quite manage the asking price, and went home to work things out.  After adding up immediate costs, I called back this afternoon with my offer, which he immediately accepted!  Between work and a big car show next weekend, it looks like it will be a couple of weeks before I can bring her home.  Richard has already volunteered his services and trailer, and I am excited at the prospect of getting her cleaned up and running again.  Stay tuned for progress reports!

Back to Home