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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Bumper conversion springs

Hi all,

I have converted my RB to CB and lowered the front using spring plate spacers, and I think the height is spot on.

My issue is how soft the front end is.. it has always been soft, RB or CB... By my thinking, a 1500 with RB should have much stiffer springs than a CB.

So I think the 1500 springs have had it... Now, my predicament is:
do I get 1500 springs and hope that mine haven't sagged to give me the height..


Do I get CB springs and take my spacers out, however doing this i risk the lower spring rate meaning it's just at soft up front with the heavy engine and gearbox...

What's everyone else done??

Karl Bielby

I just used standard 1500 springs with the lowering spacers. I believe the 1500 springs are indeed stiffer.

Are you sure the softness is a springing issue and not a damping one? It may be that you need to stiffen your dampers to compensate for the high spring stiffness with lower weight.

I for one didn't think the coils really sagged. Not like the rear leaf springs do.

Alternative uprated spring options are available from specialists (Magic midget, Peter May?)

Hope this helps,
Malcolm Le Chevalier

Well I recently checked my dampers and one was fine, and the other had pretty much no oil in. So topped that one up but I think the oil is a little lighter than the oil in the other side as it isn't as well damped.

The reason I think springs is because with my 10st weight I seem to be able to push it down through a fair old distance of travel. Doesn't seem right to me. I may take a punt on some new 1500 springs then.. if they doesn't fix it, I will address the dampers, maybe telescopically...
Karl Bielby

IIRC the spring rate remained at 271lbs for Spridgets and 1500s. The spring height changed but late 1275s and early 1500s shared the same spring height with the following 1500s having taller springs.

As I've read, with the 1500s it was the crossmember that raised the front of the car and went higher with the later taller springs.

So as with most things Spridget it's not that clear cut, the ride height will depend on your model year and of course your particular car's set up and condition.

I can thoroughly recommend Kim Dear's uprated front springs that retain ride height whilst reducing roll dipping when braking and they are very good value.

You'll probably need to keep the lowering blocks with them to keep CB height.

You don't say about your rear springs or rear ride height as this will effect the front.
Nigel Atkins

OK that's interesting and confuses the matter slightly!

So all rates and lengths of springs are the same.. except late 1500's (mine is 79)

The rear springs seem OK, it's sat quite well and is a good ride, compared to the front it's much much stiffer. However I think one of the shocks definitely needs a top up as I can hear it squelching..
Karl Bielby

Here's how she sits, front looks a little higher than normal there, must be uneven surface.

Karl Bielby

Another from Outlton park gold cup at the weekend.

Karl Bielby

Karl, I had a 1500 S reg and that had something wrong on the drivers front suspension. If I approached a turning going downhill and turned to the right the front mud flap would contact the tarmac. I never got to the bottom of it (sold it on) but I did suspect the drivers side spring had compressed and lost a lot of it's springiness.

I suspect that towards the end of production the quality of parts got worse so that although the spring height was bigger the spring wasn't up to the load of the heavier engine.

I was at Oulton at the weekend on the MASC stand. I wonder it we met?

Rob aka MG Moneypit

Yes that wouldn't surprise me.. definitely some springs going on this month, not sure which yet though!

Ahhh cool, I'm not sure what stand it was but I was chatting to a few blokes sat looking towards the lake (can't remember the corner, druids?) I was asking about the black RB conversion with a k series engine in, never did manage to get hold of the owner! Wanted to know about the bits under the brake lights.
Karl Bielby

We did talk! The owner is Peter Vass a very seldom contributor. Anyway, the way he did it was get a lower rear repair panel which has the outer half of the bit under the lights. If you get both sides, the left side under the lights will match the missing left half of the right side and vice versa. Peter copied the shape of the opposite side to form the complete section under the lights. Simples!!!!

Rob aka MG Moneypit

Haha cool! Was it you I spoke to first or 2nd time? Did we go for a wander looking for him, when those two cars had a coming together?

Ahh that is a very good but incredibly expensive way of doing it id have thought!?

Been tempted by a k series myself, the gearbox puts me off!
Karl Bielby

I think it was the first time. I missed the shunt.

Yes, those panels for what they are are expensive. You could try a papier-mache mold and fibreglass.

Rob aka MG Moneypit

Pffft look at those arch gaps.

You want this sort of an arch gap ;)

Nigel's old front springs on here, and a flat set of 1275 leafs at the back.

p.s Karl, the gearbox is one of the easier parts of a K-onverson.

Rob Armstrong

to me your car in those photos looks low for a standard CB ride height. If you look at press and other photos of when the cars were new they will look high to more modern standards but this gave more suspension compliance for real world use of an everyday car at the time.

Many classics sit lower now because the springs/cars are tired or possibly by design of the owners.

As Rob knows I'm not into this fashion for low ride height and tiny gaps in the arches for road cars or very hard/stiff suspension set ups but each to their own.

Sorry to confuse you but no not all the spring lengths were the same but to keep it simpler yours not being an early 1500 would have had the taller springs originally.

Things may well have changed since I looked into it but IIRC from the 'usual' suppliers you could get either one height of spring for all Spridgets and one taller spring for all 1500s and uprated springs for both.

Below is a photo of my 1275 at about factory ride height, fitted with standard height rear springs, Kim Dear's uprated standard ride height front springs (9.5" free-length, 360lb) and some slim Michelin 145/80/13 tyres. Although the photo seems to show a slight nose dip so perhaps the rear is slightly high or front slightly low or a bit of both(?).

Nigel Atkins

Hmm yes that looks a little high for my taste. I think il get some 1500 springs (that way I know they can support the 1500 engine and gearbox properly. Then add/remove spacers and chop the odd coil off where needed to get the height I want.

Rob, I'd love that stance! But the square arch ruins that for me!
Karl Bielby

Here in the states i know you can have them tested at high performance shols because of all the popularity of dirt track racing ... ive got to think they can be tested there also

are you adding chrom bumpers or removing them completely

oddly... we dont hear much about front springs going bad... i had one but the rear springs seem to have a shelf life of around 10 years...except for that whole mess of them that was made from non treated steel about 8 years ago... now that was bad.

as to shocks ... there was referance several months back to people using an MGB lever shock with an adoptor plate ... that could be an option instead of teles due to the expense

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Yes, Merlin at Castle Combe have a spring rate measuring device and will test springs FOC if you're a customer. I was down there with 4 pairs earlier this year.
David Smith

ride height isn't just about looks it's also about practicality, I need as well as prefer the high height but as always each to their own. I know I can drive in a more spirited way down the roads I like now with my present ride height than when the car was lowered at the front - I know Rob is happy with his set up but it's different cars and different drivers and this makes for a more interesting world.

I can think of a couple of times when with my standard height ride has meant the lowered cars behind me dropping back on some bumpy country roads - but I sure having seen Rob's videos I'd be holding him up if he was behind me.

I'd love to see how far behind my humble A-series would be to Rob's on twisty, bumpy roads, I know there are many like that in North Yorkshire but we also have a few in Northamptonshire. We'd probably need to also swap cars for a run to allow for Rob being a better and faster driver though :).

The standard springs aren't expensive and front springs aren't difficult to fit (even I can manage it) so I think you can afford to experiment and certainly a good idea to start with the ones you think you'll prefer.

As others have put the suspension set up and the handling, ride and road holding also depends on other parts and the fit and condition of these parts, e.g. fittings, bushes, ARB, dampers, tyres, etc..

Btw and I'm not preaching - as I was told to put, the "shocks" are dampers, the springs absorb the shocks and the dampers ... well you know :).
Nigel Atkins

My car on 1500 springs with spacers front and rear, with slightly smaller 155/70 tyres. If it helps?


Malcolm Le Chevalier

No. 2. Looks pretty similar to what you have already Karl.

I occasionally graunch on speed bumps, even with my exhaust really tight up against the bottom of the car.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

One final thought. Are your wings 1275 wings, or converted 1500 wings?

The profile of the wheel arch was altered on the 1500 wings to a shallower curve (larger radius curve). An attempt to disguise the higher ride height by reducing the size of the wheel arch cut out. Does that make sense? This would obviously also have a bearing on what spring etc. is "right".

Although we have strayed a bit from the original question of feel/performance to aesthetics now.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Yep, I agree with Nigel

Each to their own, everyone is different and requires different responses from their cars.

Mine doesn't hit the ground any more, but has to be harder and/or better damped to stop it. Whenever dad drives it (he has an almost standard 1275 RWA) he comments on how taught and we'll controlled it is.

I'm up for that challenge Nigel ;) We'd be best to have the same driver drive both our cars :). If dads car is representative, then a standard road A Series car will be a tiny spec in the mirror :D
Rob Armstrong

I agree with Nigel too. Everyone is different and has different ideas!

As I say, the height as it is is perfect, never hit the ground on anything! Just that the springs feel incredibly soft. Really wollowy, I'm pretty sure with my 10st weight I can push it through over 50% of its travel...
Karl Bielby

Another thought... more of a bodge short cut

if the ride hieth is to high... you could add some ballst weight to the frknt to lower it back down

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Nope ride height is good, and last thing I wana do is put more weight in!

Il order some 1500 springs and chuck them in and see how it sits/drives after a few months I think.

Just ordered a rear seal and bearing kit from you Malc, that should keep me busy next time I'm off hopefully do at least one side Monday..
Karl Bielby

The uprated lower front springs (the ones before the springs Rob had) certainly sharpened things up but it put the car out of balance to my mind as I could carry a bit more speed on bends but didn't have the acceleration out of the bends to match (in my Midget).

Once the car is fully serviced, regularly driven over reasonable distance journeys and all components in good condition then IMO the best value improvement in this area is a slightly thicker front ARB (possibly after new(ish) good tyres).

When I had Rob's springs on and the telescopic dampers set at about 5/6 clicks (out of 14) up from softest, with I think 155/80/13 tyres at 24/26psi, the ride was so hard it made me wince, a lot.
Nigel Atkins

I saw Karl. Dispatched yesterday so should be with you tomorrow, all being well with Royal mail. Thanks for buying. If you need more get in contact using the details in your box. I can then pass on the savings from not having to pay the eBay fees.
Malcolm Le Chevalier

I think the average classic doesn't go as well as it should for the reasons I've repeated many times so it depends how much above average your dad's car is. Mine is above average (obviously this isn't the proud boast it should be) so perhaps mine might be a bit less of a tiny spec sometimes.

Trouble with having the same driver in both cars is they'll not necessarily know how to get the best out of each car being relatively unfamiliar with them, no it's swapping seats or each to their own car :).

As I'm in a multi-marque club I've swapped drives with various cars of those in the club as well as friends but I must admit this hardly ever happens nowadays and even swapping passengers around doesn't happen now (older readers don't interpret anything in that last bit).

I miss the multi-marque runs where you have a mix of cars and drivers where you could find your own level to have fun with - nothing stupid or racing I'll quickly add - just spirited driving at your own level.
Nigel Atkins

You know Malc, as soon as I clicked buy it now, I thought I should have been in contact... It was pay day and I got all giddy!

I have, however, just massively confused myself... Why does it seem that the bearing is on the OUTSIDE of the seal??

Just watched this video.

Karl Bielby

Super tidy rebuild in that vid.

The oil in the axle also lubricates the rear bearing. The oil seal stops the "bearing oil" leaking out the back of the hub. The o-ring seals the front hub-halfshaft interface, with the gasket acting as an extra seal and also a shim of sorts for the bearing.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

So the bearing isn't oiled by the axle oil? Or does the oil seal stop it leaking fron the hub-axle join and the gasket is stopping it leaking from the bearing outwards?

Looking forward to having rear brakes again!
Karl Bielby

Gone off topic here a little, but oh well! The bearing is lubricated by the oil.

Does the attached rubbish but colourful cross sectional drawing help? Oil comes out the end of the axle tube and runs down onto the bearing but is stopped from leaking into the brakes by the oil seal.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Hang on, my half shaft wasn't right at the top! :-D

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Dad's is OK. He has my old marina engine as a gift in exchange for welding. It made 75bhp on a rolling road. My K is pretty savage in comparison.
Rob Armstrong

i know, i didnt want to make another thread! yes that clears it all up nicely! Hopefully rip into it Monday. wondering whether to change the wheel studs while im at it, someone had over tightened the fronts and stretched them! so they were replaced!
Karl Bielby

(warning thread drift again)
yes you're making things difficult for me to remain more than a tiny spec in the mirror, your dad's engine sounds healthy and yours savage in comparison - but - on tight twisty bends the speed and power differentials aren't as great, there's only so much power and speed you can lay down, so I need a very twisty road with no, or very few, very short, straights and then allowing for differences in driver skill (I have very little of that) my car might be the spec :).

I know you can't compare an A-series with a more modern 16v but you get the pleasure from the engines in different ways but when I saw my mate's (wife's) S2000 I did wonder about asking for a drive to remind me what the high revving engines are like again and her S2000 is pre-face lift when mine was post, her's was much more on edge than mine but not as edgy as I was told the very early ones were, even on post-facelift the powerband was 7,500-8,300 with rev-limiter at 9,000. I still preferred the torque of the Rover V8 which you also know about.

Nigel Atkins

The V8 is lovely. Riding on a wave of torque is brilliant. Likewise dad's car is really nice to drive. easy. From a flat out clutch dump 0-60 thrash the A series would probably get off the line faster (assuming everyone's half shafts stayed in one piece!) but the K will reel it in very quickly - it does about 8.5 seconds to 60.

Coupled with tele shocks all round, RTL keeping the back in line, triangular top links and uprated ARB on the front, plus very big brakes and 185 tyres and a 7400 rpm red line it covers the ground rather well. But as you say, realistically there's only so fast you can go before things get silly.

This "speed and power differentials aren't as great, there's only so much power and speed you can lay down" is right, and means I can keep up with cars with a lot more power (other K-midgets) on our road tours.

Always interesting though to see the real-world differences. Knuckled down and concentrating the V8 P6 is a storming cross county monster, but takes an awful lot of concentration to go that fast. So does the Midget actually - but that all adds to the excitement of driving it. Forget about either of them in the wet. Dear me. no. The p6 will keep up with dad's 2.5 Subaru legacy in the dry, in the wet, well, I'm the speck.
Rob Armstrong

My Midget has the type 9 box with very short first gear so 0-60 dashes are out. Not that I like the idea of 0-60 dashes as I couldnít afford another clutch repair after the last two plus I wouldnít want to change my half-shafts or tyres. Iíve never been a fan of 0-60 even when I had cars with (claimed) sub 5 secs, they could have been quicker with higher first gears. But thatís the point the 0-60 has a lot to do with gearing especially if first gear will get you over 60. I remember reading (or did I dream it?) about Lotus busting their Elises (I think) to get the best 0-60 time - and that the engineering wanted skinny wheels and tyres, based on the weight of the car, but the marketing department knew it would put off buyers as they wouldnít understand as fashion was/is for bigger, wider wheels and tyres.

So it sounds like my Midget would be behind your dadís let alone yours from the start! Still be interesting though.

You also campaign your P6 more than I did mine although on one tour I was held up by a big Healey that needed both sides of the road.

I always take things steady when itís not dry and would sometimes prefer a modern boring car then. Bear mind with the Scooby that despite all it still depends on four small patches of rubber to be in contact with the road, I know of a couple of serious incidents with Scoobys (Imprezas) in the rain.

Actually remembering your videos Iím not sure my Midget or my nerves could take your style of driving :D.

But perhaps one day we'll see . . .

Nigel Atkins

I do remember when I fitted coil overs to my Nissan 200sx, it ruined the drive on anything with a slight bump in.. it was too stiff and just skitted about everywhere. When I got my BMW 5 series i could push it loads more at the suspension was much more complaint. That was Msport flavour too.

I think next month I might invest in springs and a telescopic damper conversion...
Karl Bielby

once again (and thankfully for you the last time) I'd strongly recommend you contact Kim Dear about springs. I'll again also recommend that you don't upgrade anything, unless it actually needs replacing, until you've driven the car for a good while, to know what needs doing, you'd like to change or can accept or put up with or grow to like.

I used to have the urge to get everything changed ASAP but learnt that priorities change with time with the car especially the more you use the car.

Whatever you decide we'll be pleased to hear how things are going.
Nigel Atkins

Agreed, I'm trying to save to get in in the body shop to have bits sorted and a re spray.

All I know is, something isn't right. Can't be sure what it is until I start replacing stuff!
Karl Bielby

Infact, (back to hub seals) if the actual hub seal was leaking, it would leak in the outside of the drum back plate wouldn't it? Not the inside? The fact that mine is filling the drums would mean that it's just the gasket and O-ring?

Or am I wrong?

Edit, just looked again at your drawings Malc and I am wrong!
Karl Bielby

Hey Karl, are you only planning on doing the one side? as you only bought the one set.

Just curious, in case you want to do both I can get another in the post 1st class and all being well it should be with you Monday.
Malcolm Le Chevalier

"Iím not sure my Midget or my nerves could take your style of driving :D"

No idea what you're on about!! ;) :D :)
Rob Armstrong

You certainly believe in keeping your rear tyres warm. You have a funny shaped head I hope it's nothing serious.

I'm never usually a nervous passenger but I once went out as a passenger, on the road, in a Marcos LM400 and although I didn't say anything there was something about the driving that made me think that I wished he'd slow down a bit. Halfway through showing the driver the 10-mile route I asked him if he was a Traffic cop, "yes" he replied, on motorbikes I asked, "Yes," he replied "how did you know?". It was because the only other time I'd felt a bit uneasy as a passenger was when a motorcycle cop was driving the car.

I hasten to add, not that either was doing anything wrong (I didn't look at the speedo) it was just their style I didn't take to.

Surprisingly going out for a passenger ride on the road with (some?) track instructors can be a little tame because they can be so smooth regardless of speed.
Nigel Atkins

Smooth is the key!

I did intend on doing both Malc, I could do with the other one too! Howie won't be able to do anything on it this Monday now, itl be next Monday/Tuesday now.

What's best way to order another?

PS, I assume the hub nut is 1 7/8"? I pinched a socket and step down from work, il have to pinch it again when I have time to do it!

Karl Bielby

Can anyone comment on the quality of the magicmidget dampers??
Karl Bielby

Magic Midget quality is extremely high - got Kims' springs on several cars - and his customer service is exceptional.

Rob - any time - I'll take the challenge with lil blue ..... bog standard as any of our cars :) :)

Can also vouch for magic midget though haven't tried the lever arms.

Bring it on Rach :) I firmly believe that there's no way a standard car would keep up with mine with the same driver.

Who wants a BBS track day?
Rob Armstrong

Tempted to try them... But then £100 more and I get telescopic! Going to suck the fluid out and stick some diff oil or something in my current dampers to see if there is any difference to help diagnose more than anything.

Also, definitely definitely up for a BBS track day!!
Karl Bielby

I filled the front LA dampers on my A40 Farina with EP90 and it sorted them out nicely. It had been recommended to me in the late 1980s and seemed to work although others later say it's too viscous. For some reason although the dampers were full and couldn't be topped up they had hardly any damping and the front bounce test would continue to oscillate far longer than it should. The dampers were sweet though and tight and so apart from the lack of damping the suspension was fine and sorted with the EP90. I note many these days mention 30 weight motorcycle fork oil as being an improvement over standard. I've not looked at the charts recently but many of these specs are from different standards and overlap in reality in terms of viscosity.

Regarding telescopics the A40 Farina, MM van and pick-up had telescopics at the back as standard so what was that about as they existed in the day they were built but were only fitted to the rear. Maybe something to do with the potential load they would see at the back being better handled by telescopics rather than LAs.
David Billington

The rear dampers were just that, whereas the fronts doubled as the top link.
Dave O'Neill 2

Yeh the fronts do 2 jobs. Damp, and make up part of suspension linkage.

Yeh I'm pretty sure that 30w fork oil I out in was lighter than what was in there..
Karl Bielby

Well I sucked what I could of the old oil out and topped up with diff oil and it has definitely stopped some of the bounce. But it is definitely still too soft so it must be springs. I shall order next week!
Karl Bielby

Seeing as my daily car's insurance is due I need to hold tight thus month, but in the name of experimentation, I will cut a coil off my current springs to see if it helps. If so nthen it's a definite for stiffer springs!
Karl Bielby

I use a 50% mix of STP and 20/50 engine oil in my front shocks.

Did the dampers, not a huge difference, however... I quite accidentally found that it is most likely the springs.

I was sat on the front wing, and my dad pushed down to bounce it, and it felt spot on. Much stiffer and less bouncy. So it seems that the first bit of spring compression is much softer, probably because the weight of the rubber bumpers arent preloading them as they should be..?

So some new springs on pay day!
Karl Bielby

This thread was discussed between 31/08/2016 and 20/09/2016

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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