Restoration Tale: 1954 MG TF

As the owner of a 1954 MG TF, I wanted to offer some tips for a successful MG restoration.

For better safety, if you have wire wheels, use a wax crayon to make an alignment mark from the wheel hub across the wheel nut. In case it loosens, you’ll be able to see if the alignment marks have “shifted” and if your wheel is coming loose. The crayon easily wipes off and it is bad news if your wheel comes off while you’re driving! If this continues, check for wear between the splines in the wheel hub and the splines from the axle.
When restoring a car with wood framing, soak the wood with linseed oil, which will also leak between the metal skin and the wood. This will preserve and nourish the wood (if it’s not rotted) and prevent rust between the two. Use brass or stainless steel screws on the wood, rather than steel, which will rust.

  • When assembling metal sections or panels that have a beading or squeak strip between them, you’ll get a tight factory fit between them if you fold some duct tape around the bottom edge of the strip (have it sticking out a couple of inches so you can get a grip on it). After that, put a little amount of weatherstrip cement on the base panel that you want to bolt onto – just enough to hold it in place while you put holes in the strip for the bolts. Then put your panel (fender, etc.) in place, place the bolts in and allow enough looseness so you can pull down on the duct tape strips while you snug up the bolts. Try a hair dryer to soften the squeak strip if you have a tight corner or angle that causes it to wrinkle. When you have the strip snug, tighten the bolts, tear off the duct tape hanging down and you’ll never know it was there. In doing so, you can forget about the tape left between the panels because you will never see it.
  • With Lucas ignition systems, or any other that might have electrical corrosion, clean every electrical connection in the car with fine sandpaper for a clean, bright finish, and then put a light coating of Di-electric Silicone Grease on the connection. By doing so, you’ll have no more corrosion, your voltage regulator and lights will not flicker, and your lights and starting will be more dependable.
  • I also recommend putting water pump lubricant and rust inhibitor into the cooling system to avoid problems of scale and to enhance the life of the water pump. You can get this small can at any superstore auto section or auto parts store.
  • Finally, if you have an MG with warped doors, loosen the diagonal metal strap between the upholstery and wood frame (take the top screws out), hold the door at the desired bend (so that it’s flush with the mating panel) mark and drill the new screw holes, screw them in tight, and your door will be flush when you close it.

– John Barton, Clarksville, OH

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