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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Cable Connections

Just dismantling everything on the dash prior to receiving the new loom, and a stupid question occurred to me:- what are those black rubbery sheaths a couple of inches long that people use to protect say a spade connection? they seem to fit so perfectly, tapering onto the cable. I can't find them, and I'd like to know what they're called.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

You mean these?

https://www.autoelectricsupplies.co.uk/product/2/category/2
Dave O'Neill 2

I think you may mean these ...

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/150X-Black-Heat-Shrink-Tubing-Tube-Cable-Sleeving-Wire-Wrap-Heatshrink-Sleeve/282619074248?hash=item41cd68d6c8:g:AUYAAOSwa1VZlYIX

They fit perfectly because heat (eg from a soldering iron or heat gun) shrinks them on. Just cut them to length required.
J.E. Davies

I want both! But it was the Davies proposal that I meant. So that's what heat-shrink looks like. I shall get some immediately. Thanks both.

On another dash-related topic, how tough have people found capillary tube to be? To get the dash out I would have to unravel a couple of helixes, and then ravel them again when it goes back in.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

usually OK to get capillary out, don't completely straighten it, just make the curves a much bigger radius. When removing ask the attractive assistant to feed from the engine bay while you pull the gauge or dash rearwards.
David Smith

Thanks, David. Tomorrow I'll probably feel more dexterous (?) and gentle. Though the att. asst. is galivanting all day in Shropshire, so I may have to turn to something else.

What's the tube made of?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

some sort of alloy, brass / nickel / kunifer maybe? David B will probably know.
David Smith

You mean moi? I'm not sure what the capillary tube alloy is but have broken one in the past, to paraphrase Apocalypse Now, "Nothing like the smell of ether in the morning".

For the sheath question I like heat shrink tubing and you can buy it with a sealer on the inside which melts when the tube shrinks and helps seal things if appropriate for the application.
David Billington

Ref the insulated spade ends: in my experience that is quite a shrink to be tight on both the spade end and the cable. Maybe beause I heat it with a flame rather than a hot-air gun.The pre-shaped sleeves as Dave suggests fit very well and do the job.
Graeme Williams

IIRC the shrink ratio depends on the product so search and see what is available.
David Billington

Nick

The new loom has all the spade connectors already fitted. It doesn't have the heat shrink around the bolt on connectors though. (at least mine didn't)
Bob Beaumont

If the spade connectors are already on, and haven't already got insulating protectors fitted, then you cannot add them later or fit heat shrink either. Well, not without removing the connectors. You could use self-annealing tape which is very effective. If you stretch it as you wind it round it tightens and bonds to itself pretty well and is fully waterproof.
GuyW

just to add to this, i have recently done a loom for the mini i am working on, and i used both heat shrink and spade connector insulators.. . . using both has the advantage of adding a little bit of strength to the spade connector, which are easily bent if you are a bit vigorous. I then noticed, that you can get heat shrink terminal connectors, so an all in one solution, also from A.E.Supplies. This would save time, and cannily remove the moment that you have just crimped/soldered your connector on, only to discover you have left out the heat shrink !
Ask me how i know !!
P Bentley

Bob,

Depending on the terminal and wire size you still may be able to fit heat shrink as you can get it with varying degrees of shrink, you may need to use a high shrink ratio to go over the terminals and close on the wire.
David Billington

Thanks to everybody for this useful advice.
Does the soldering iron or heat gun or flame not risk damaging the cable's sheathing or your new connection?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Heatshrink sleeving is specified by original unshrunk size versus the minimum size it will shrink to. It's usually printed on it. For example 35/10 will start off at 35mm and shrink to 10mm, or until it shrink no further because of what's inside it.

Perfectly safe to use a hot air gun on it - just don't go crazy with it. It only takes a few seconds. I sometimes use my cig lighter for small sleeves if I'm feeling too lazy to fetch the hot air gun.

Hope that helps.
Greybeard

Thanks Grey. Hot air gun it shall be.
Veering away again, I know this is a frightful old chestnut, but the back of the dash looks like this. 42280 is my chassis number, MPH is obvious, but the rest has been taken out by the later clock. What other things did they write on there? And what might 43 refer to, do you think?

BTW, the capillary came out OK, without unravelling; really, the holes in dash and bulkhead proved quite big enough to wind the bends through.

Nick and Cherry Scoop

I think (he says with some reserve) its the trim colour. There may be other numbers relating to the fitting of a rev counter/heater/washers.
Bob Beaumont

if you don't have a hot air gun you can use the attractive assistant's hair dryer, it takes a bit longer but is more controllable.
David Smith

H at the top is heater, below that is the remains of R/C, for rev counter of course: the C is unusual in that there are large loops on both open ends of the letter. Further down is W/W for windscreen washers and below that is the easily-read MPH for the speedometer.

43 refers to the week number the car was built, but the numbering did not begin with 1st January, but rather the first week after the August summer holiday shutdown.
Tom Coulthard

Also, the trim colour was above and towards the right of the radio panel. Hope in the refurbishment you can manage to keep these wonderful hieroglyphs.
Tom Coulthard

I just sprayed the back of my dash with clear lacquer as suggested to me by Alan Anstead. Yellow chalk marks remain as discernable as they were. - which wasn't as clear as Nick's, but still of interest.
GuyW

I'll have another look tomorrow. The grab handle fixes through the dash into a stout piece of wood; is that normal?

Thanks very much, Tom. The build week is a lovely quirk.

Nick and Cherry Scoop

Nick, mine has a piece of wood with an identical odd shaped notch cut in it, presumably to clear the radio.
GuyW

Are you going for a radio, Guy? I've been in touch with a chap called Vintage Radio, about mending/converting mine. I've never wanted to listen particularly, but since the radio was there, I feel I ought to treat it as more than a relic.

Tom - I did not know about the August shut-down. How long did it last?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Could never hear the original AM/LW radio above 35 MPH with the roof off........ so didn't bother with it when I restored the car. I 'removed' the hole in the dash when I recovered it. yep my grab handle wooden block was the same shape.
Bob Beaumont

Ha! Tom was right (of course he was).

Do you think the factory would have been this rough in trimming the vynide?

Nick and Cherry Scoop

Oh yes! My original covering looked like that. I thought for originality I would copy it to meet the concours regulations when I recovered it..........
Bob Beaumont

Ho ho ho.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Similar. Don't want a radio so I de-holed it. But retain the odd shaped wooden block.

Are some of these UK dashes padded with thin foam under the vinyl? Mine wasn't.
GuyW

No. Direct stick-on.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

The thing I like about the wooden block is the attractive oval shape that is routed out at the back of it. As with so much BMC stuff - why did they do that??

I think the Summer Holiday was two weeks, but I don't really know. I fancy that by the late Fifties, one week was considered a bit stingy. (In the words of the purple-suited one: "No more worries for a week or two.") TBH I try not to get involved in too much Abingdolatry - the MG-isti aren't that welcoming of Sprite folk. (Not that I blame them - we are the cuckoos in their octagonal nests, after all :-)

WER has ‘34’ on the back of the dash and we know its build was started on Thursday 31 Mar, so – if my dodgy maths holds up – that gives week 43 as being from Mon 30 May to Sat 4 Jun: does that sound about right? (WER’s chassis number is 36***, which gives a rather higher number of cars completed in the intervening period than I would expect, so maybe it’s not right. There again, I have read somewhere that production went up considerably in the months before the Summer break, as workers tried to build up their cash reserves to cope with two weeks aboard a London bus with Melvyn Hayes and Una Stubbs.

I think the pic below shows the same handwriting between Cherry and WER – that’s quite pleasantly spooky. Some people say it was a yellow wax crayon, but the line stays quite thin even when pressure is being applied, so I prefer to think it was a chinagraph pencil, the likes of which were used by RAF navigators during the war for marking up their maps. It’s perfectly possible that Abingdon had bought up some War Surplus stocks ...


Tom Coulthard

Cherry was first registered on 10 August. I don't know when she was built, but Horler's production changes table says July.

I believe most factory shutdowns in 1960 were last week in July, first in August, allowing the hands a holiday with their children in the Isle of Wight.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Works shutdowns were indeed end of July/ beginning of August and were the first two weeks of the school summer holiday. The only people who worked those two weeks were maintenance fitters/plumbers/electricians etc as it was the only time during the year that you could do major maintenance without affecting production.

Trev
T Mason

When my father worked for Rover, in Solihull, they shut down a week before the schools finished.
Dave O'Neill 2

The shutdown week, and then later or where stronger unions were involved, the shutdown fortnight was usually staggered by industry. This at a time when many towns and cities were dominated by single big industries this often meant that the whole city effectively had the same holiday, but not the same as the city up the road. I can recall being in north Wales in the summer when for one fortnight everyone spoke strong Scouse, and then on the second Saturday (change day) suddenly everyone switched to speak Mancunian!
GuyW

Mostly from The Midlands down our way. As soon as school broke up we would be down at the station on a Saturday, luggage carting. And there was plenty of time to talk to the holidaymakers as we trundled along to their guest house in the town.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Nick – do you know about the ‘MG Production Order’? Unlike the Longbridge production trace, which was written up after the event by admin staff (and from which the Heritage certificates are made up), this ledger was on the shop floor at Abingdon while your car was actually being built. It survives at Gaydon, but only from the years 1959 to around 1962, I think – from memory. It gives the start date and follows your car through its build, then shows how long it may have spent in Rectification (which can be a surprise - WER spent a week there!).

I must say I found it quite moving to view WER’s entry in this record, as it was part of the manufacturing process and written up by ‘the men who really did the job’ – or at least the foremen (er ... forepeoples??).
Tom Coulthard

No, I did not know about that, Tom. How did you get to see it at Gaydon?

Just one last dashboard item: I've cleaned it as best I can, and the result is a covering which is intact and stuck down everywhere, but with a few dark marks where 58 years of fingers have e.g. turned the lights on or flicked the indicator switch (while very properly looking at the road). I'm going to call this historic patina, and put it back without further work. What do you think?

Nick and Cherry Scoop

AFAIK you can just mosey along and ask to see the Abingdon shopfloor log, but I'm sure it's probably better to phone or email first:

https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/archive/access-the-archive-records

I got shown it by Anders Clausager when I was doing the research for Sp-Yrs, but that is a millennium ago now. However, I have been in slightly more recently and they are still a friendly bunch and very helpful.

As for the dashboard, Nick - that is genuine 'historic patina' and wonderfully rare. The fact that so many frogeyes have been slavishly 'taken back to standard' and restored to how the Originality Police dictate they left the production line is a source of some sadness to me.

I hope you can refresh the extra gauge and the clock and maybe even - in the fullness of time - be reconciled to Cherry's scoop: vestigial though it may have been, it was an object of great charm and silliness. It is also emblematic of how frogeyes really were ...
Tom Coulthard

I didn't have the option of maintaining the wonderfully rare genuine 'historic patina' on my dash - or rather the patina had gone rather too far with rips and unwanted holes. Although I did retain the yellow chalk markings on the back. The dashboard covering will be replaced with material to match the other interior trim panels which I am also making myself.

There has been some recent discussion on Frogeye trim (which I now cannot find!) so I am now confused. Should I be ordering stretchy vinyl, non stretchy vinyl or Vinide? I think the latter is also sold as Rexine.
GuyW

Non-stretchy. I made the mistake of buying the wrong sort, which is very thick and the wrong colour (AH Spares). Though it might be easier covering a curved dash with stretchy, now I come to think of it. What's your colour?

It's your thread, Guy. Frogeye Interior Panels, still current.

(I knew someone would take the mick)
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Thanks Nick.
I have always had difficulty with the BBS Archives, but when its one's own Topic AND still current, there really is no excuse other than too many birthday celebrations!
Sorry for thread hi-jack!
GuyW

Ah ha It must be Rexine I have a roll of . Its non stretchy and has a pattern which is identical to the original. Is it still made??
Bob Beaumont

This web site:
www.martrim.co.uk
sell what they list as Vinide and say it is called Rexine. They look good but a little light on technical detail about their material - assuming you know what the different terms actually mean.
GuyW

Good range! And reasonable prices, too. A metre of Old Red would complete my trim panels. And they've got the old-fashioned Carr Fasteners carpet hardware too (though their dimensions are dodgy).
What colour is your dash going to be, Guy?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Nick, definitely go with the patinated look.

Also, I'm with Tom on the scoop. You could always use some of this magnetic tape

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/132405968848

although it says it's 'elf adhesive', so I don't know if it would work on a Sprite ;o)
Dave O'Neill 2

Dave and Tom, I've never really liked the scoop. Not against scoops as such, and it's quite well-made, but it doesn't please me aesthetically. The back end isn't resolved. And it has no function.

Tell you what - I'll get it painted, just in case.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Do you really like it? (sorry - couldn't find a good picture quickly)

Nick and Cherry Scoop

I seem to be posting an awful lot at the moment, but had to share the arrival of my new loom. For ages I have been looking for cable markers that won't come off, and this is how Autosparks does it. Though I don't like to think of all those clipped-off cable ties going to landfill.

Nick and Cherry Scoop

My frogeye dashboard grab handle has the original ply backing support, with the original L shaped notch cut to go around the (non-existant) radio. Just like yours Nick.

But why the oval routed recess as well as the notch? Are they all like that as well?

On assembling the grab handle to the wooden backing piece, but without the dashboard in between it is apparent that the oval routed recess seems to be designed to very conveniently clear one's knuckles when grabbing the grab handle. Only of course this doesn't apply when fitted through the dash. I wonder if the wooden pieces were made for some oher application where knuckle clearance was needed and they had over-ordered ?

(why is this here on a "Cable Connections" thread? - Well its because this is where Nick displayed his grab handle too)


GuyW

I was going to suggest that it may have been from another vehicle, but you’ve already covered that. Big Healey, maybe?

Rather than over ordering, it's probably that it was just cheaper to use something that was available.
Dave O'Neill 2

No, Dave, I haven't checked out any other vehicles. I am not sure if this is a one-off that a PO has used on this car. But the other side with the notch, looks identical to Nick's photo a while ago. In that photo, I cannot make out what the reverse side looks like and if it is the same as mine. I was waiting for Nick to comment.

The "over order" comment was tongue in cheek, though it has been known. A friend once thought he had ordered 2000 metres of wooden fence rail, but when the wagon turned up he found he had 2000 rails, each one 3.6 metres. He had a bit left over!
GuyW

I should have checked how closely the guages fit the holes in the dash, before I glued the vinyl on!

Now I am not sure - do I trim the vinyl to the hole size for each of the guages, or do I cut and fold the vinyl through the holes and glue the fingers on to the rear of the panel, star fashion?
GuyW

No vinyl goes through, on mine. Worth buying the rubber rings, though, so that it's well held down.

I just thought the oval routing was so that you didn't have two supposedly flat surfaces of quite large area fighting each other to be flat.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

I guess you are right there Nick. A larger flat block of wood clamped behind the dashboard pressing could crease the metal. Especially if the handle was gripped and leant on too firmly by an anxious passenger.
GuyW

From Anders Clausager’s “Original Austin-Healey”, it appears the frogeye’s grab handle was indeed first fitted to the big Healey, to the painted metal dash of the 100. (Curiously neither A-H Spares, SC Parts nor Moss UK’s websites confirm it was the same part – but Moss Motors does, and adds that the handle was also used on the XK150 OTS.)

By the time the 100/6 came along in 1956, a chromed escutcheon plate had been added, with an indentation for the knuckle-clearance envisaged by Guy. This required a corresponding dish to be stamped into the dash pressing and hence the bathtub-shaped routing in the wooden backing piece. The pic below from eBay shows the escutcheon plate with the backing piece.

Incidentally, the radio cut-outs must have been done at the dealers, were they not? There may have been a service bulletin, though I haven’t seen it if there was. As desirable ‘up-to-the minute’ tech, radios must have had quite a high mark-up, so I’m sure the dealers would have made sure they kept that to themselves.


Tom Coulthard

Guy On my dash the original vinyl was cut neatly round all the instrument holes and not 'folded' through. The holes were quite a close fit. This is how I replaced the new vinyl.
Bob Beaumont

Lovely piece of research, Tom. It's always satisfying to find a rational explanation.
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Thanks Tom. That's a nice explanation and a little bit of extra history. Also nice to know l wasn't too far adrift with my original observation!

Now, what about the radio notch. Why isn't the cut out corner a right angle? That's not a camera distortion, the angle is quite a lot less than 90 degrees. I did think this was just careless work at the garage but l see that Nick's is also like that.
GuyW

Why, thank'ee kind sirs - and thank y'all for provoking that fragment of research. I, too, have been looking at WER's wooden block for years wondering what the cut-out was for and doing exactly the same sort of surmising.

As for the radio notch - if it wasn't a BMC Service Bulletin, it could be one particular radio manufacturer's dedicated fitting instructions for the Sprite that included a badly-drawn diagram. It is certainly odd that two should be so similarly wrong.

Here's a pic of the original Sprite prototype Q1, with its Healey Sport Boat steering wheel (said to be from a Standard 8/10 though tarted up a bit), its big Healey gearlever gaiter and that grab handle ...


Tom Coulthard

More work in progress:
Vinyl dash to match my new seat covers.

GuyW

What a thrilling sight. I love the colour, too. Did you get it from Martrim?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

Yes, l sent them a snippet off the seat covers and they matched it exactly. I am hoping the interior doesn't end up just too blue!
GuyW

Looks smashing. I think the dark blue interior will look just fine with the baby blue paintwork
Bob Beaumont

Guy - you surely don't mean they found a non-standard match?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

The covers were ones l bought at the NEC show from chaseMG who also sell through eBay. I liked their blue, it's slightly brighter than the other suppliers' offerings. The match appears to be spot on, same colour, same grain.
GuyW

This thread was discussed between 15/04/2018 and 11/06/2018

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

This thread is from the archive. The Live MG Midget and Sprite Technical BBS is active now.