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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Clutch gone - on holiday with few tools, ideas?


Went out today, and the clutch felt a little bumpy, and coming back it was very difficult to get into gear - about ten miles later I pulled up at a junction and couldn't stop it stalling, and then couldn't get it started after that.

I've had it recovered, but any suggestions as to what it might be, and what I can (or should) do would be gratefully received.

A couple more details - the pedal goes right down to the floor with some resistance, but not as much as I'd expect, and the reservoir is about 2/3 full.



N K Baker

Sounds like hydraulics to me. If so, you are in luck. Check under the dust boot on the slave cylinder for fluid. Otherwise, could be an internal leak in the master cylinder.

I had a carbon release bearing disintegrate once in the midget 750 miles from home. There was no choice but to sync the gears as best possible and to drive it through the snow until I reached home. 1st gear in the ribcase had a distinct rattle after that.
Glenn Mallory

LOL - give up on your holiday - isn't this the second thing that's happened so far?!?!?!?!

Don't give up Nigel but also you have to recognise your abilities and tools available.

The problem does appear to be the hydraulic side of the clutch which should be relatively easy to overcome.

If you are competent/confident you need to bleed the clutch system, start by pushing the clutch cylinder all the way in whilst you have your partner operate the pedal. whilst you hold the clutch slave cylinder in you then open the cylinder nipple whilst assistant pushes pedal DOWN. Close nipple with pedal still down and once closed allow pedal up,
After you have done that 3 or 4 times hopefully clutch will be good.

If you do not have the ability to do this then call at a local garage and have them do it. A small outfit would be best as a large dealer based outfit or someone like kwikfit will have no idea.
Bob Turbo Midget England

Yes, but the other thing was a filament going in one of the sealed beam units, so not so major.

I'm going to have a look today to see if I can get the parts and fix it. Need to work out which parts first!

N K Baker

OK - flippant comments over - where exactly in Wales are you? If you're near some of the people here, could you go visit them and borrow some more tools to get the jobs done - and they'd know the local suppliers too - and the better garages?

If you're staying over a couple of days - you can always order online from Moss or something, know they aren't the cheapest, but, they are usually the quickest at posting, so, worth it to know you're going to get the parts to get home ...


Treat working on the car as a part of the holiday. People spend good money on these "special interest" holidays - usually something like golf of landscape painting but no reason why it shouldn't be Spridget Repairing.

Sounds like hydraulics, and it can be bled to work again on a get-you-home basis. But if it is this then there must be an underlying problem that needs sorting out if just bleeding the clutch is going to last for more than a few miles. If it has leaked at the slave it presumably needs new seals or a new slave for a long-term solution.
Guy Weller

I'd have a good look through the inspection port on the bell housing. make sure nothing is amiss with the relase bearing or fork as much as you can aswell.

(maybe I'm just paranoid because I've had more issues with the clutch itself and release bearings than the hydraulic side)
Dean Smith ('73 RWA)

I'm a gloomty pessimist too, when release bearings collapse the give exactly the symptoms you describe - plus (usually but not always) a silight swishing sound (cast iron housing making contact.)

So I agree, peer into that bellhousing to confirm whether or not the carbon protruding from the release bearing housing as it should be.
Paul Walbran

Ok, a bit of an update. I've just had a look and can't see any leaks. If I vigorously pump the clutch for a bit, I can get it to release enough to turn over, but if I don't, it doesn't turn over at all.

I'm hoping it is hydraulics at the moment...

Good idea about local members, Rachmacb. I'll post the question in general.

Thanks all,

N K Baker

Is there any sign of a shimmy when you rest your foot very lightly on the pedal? An out of true release ring can cause the release bearing to be pushed back a bit with the result that the first part of the clutch action is used getting it into place.
Paul Walbran

I think I'm with Paul on this one. Nigel, you mentioned that your clutch was feeling a bit "bumpy," which suggests the release bearing to me. Seems that if it were hydraulics only, you'd still have a smooth pedal, but it would work poorly, if at all.


PS - Many thanks to Bob (Turbo) above. My clutch has recently been rather grunchy getting into first, and I've wanted to bleed it. Your suggestion to remove the cylinder and restrain the piston sounds very interesting, and I may well give that a shot.
Gryf Ketcherside

Mine went "bumpy" (accepting its a subjective term) as the surface the release bearing presses on (ring attached to the clutch diapraghm) had parted company with the rest of the clutch and was rattling around the shaft. So it was all a bit hit amd miss whether the clutch worked on any give stroke.
Dean Smith ('73 RWA)

Shirley and I were just starting vacation a couple years ago and about 200 miles from home when the pressure plate in our TR6 failed. The symptoms were very similar to what you have experienced.

Had learned to drive without a clutch many years ago so we continued on our vacation and made the repair after we returned home.

Think how much petrol money you'll save by being recovered home? You do have full breakdown cover?
Daniel Thirteen-Twelve

Thanks guys,

By bumpy, I meant at full depression I could feel a pulsing through the pedal, which felt like (to me) the gears not disengaging completely.

After a lot of clutch pumping, I got it to be driveable again, so took it down the local garage, and it appears to be the slave cylinder.

Fingers crossed.

Tomshobby - it didn't occur to me to take it out of gear when it went pear shaped the first time. I couldn't start it after that.

Daniel - It was an option, but I need a car for the rest of the week!


N K Baker

Garage have just got back - it is the clutch :-(

N K Baker

Oh Jez.

Im so sorry to hear that Nigel,, will you be able to fix it where your at, or will you tow it home an fix it there

I feel for ya, I really do.

Pro P

Local garage managed to fix it just in time.

This is what was left of the thrust bearing...

Cheers all,


N K Baker

I dont know Nigel, I think you got gipped, You could have easily gotten another 10 miles out of it (coasting down hill),,,,tis tis tis, what a waste of a perfectly almost worn out part...LOL

Thats scary...Im glad its sorted, youve been in my thoughts

Pro P

Hmm.. wonder if the thrust bearing is the problem in my clutch problems. See my tread :clutch biting point.
MM Madsen

This thread was discussed between 16/06/2010 and 20/06/2010

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