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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Damper Debate

Evening everyone.

There's a clonky noise from my rear telescopic stuff, all joints are good so looks like it's coming from the damper itself

Mine are currently an ancient Spax kit (still blue dampers) set at an angle, so the debate is do I replace like for like or go for a more vertical arrangement?

Angled might give better anti tramp characteristics but worse damping performance..

what's everyone think?
Rob Armstrong

I went from OP fitted yellow Spax to more upright Avo and thought it an improvement

you're probably well aware that I'd strongly advise if you're going to buy the conversion kit to get it from somewhere like MGOC/Moss that has proper warranty backup
Nigel Atkins

whatever the outcome, it'll be home made if it's a different system. Because if I'm buying, then 2 Spax is a lot cheaper than an upright kit.

Rumours of mini dampers in the archives. I'll hunt some more :)
Rob Armstrong

"Properly rebuilt or new lever arms", came the spooky but strangley authorative voice on the wind!

Jeremy Cogman

I thought that might come out along the way :)

The improvement from lever arms to telescopic was like night and day, yes the levers that were on the car may have been a bit old, but I can't see new ones being better than telescopics IMO. Better axle control, particularly on bumpy fast corners, and reduction in ride choppyness over the levers makes me not want to go back :)
Rob Armstrong

Rob, you would be surprised at how well a properly rebuilt set of lever arms perform. Especially in the rear, where there is not enough room for a pair of telescopics to fit properly. Your clunk noise may well be an indication of that. :)

Norm Kerr

>>where there is not enough room for a pair of telescopics to fit properly

Yes, they do!

Anthony Cutler

They've been fine for almost 3 years. In comparison to dad's midget which has decent refurbed dampers on the rear it's like a different car, his is choppy and uncontrolled feeling IMO compared to mine. he doesn't notice it because his is the only one he drives.

The lever arms give very little in sideways resistance, the thicker bushes of the telescopics seem to resist sideways axle movement better. I'd count it among one of the best mods to the car :)

Just wondered whether it would be worth changing to a vertical arrangement over a slanted one. IMO the levers aren't man enough to cope with an enthusiastically driven K-midget on a normal rough road with a heavy chap on board :)
Rob Armstrong


Lever arm dampers or telescopic dampers aren't meant to control sideways movement of the axle, it's not in their job description as by their very nature the action is transient. If you want axle location get a Panhard rod, Watts linkage or Mumford.
David Billington

Yep that's very true David, just making the point that the telescopics may well be inherently better at this than the many jointed lever arms. That's certainly not the reason I'd fitted them :)
Rob Armstrong

"decent refurbed dampers"

Is there such a thing? I tried many UK refurbished dampers and they were all rubbish hence forking out for new. As far as I know only Peter Caldwell in the States makes a proper job of it (though if anyone in the UK does I suspect it is Peter May though I hadn't come across them when I bought my new ones).

And DB is right, get yourself a panhard rod, best mod I ever made to my car.
Jeremy Cogman


I do subscribe to the telescopics are better than lever arms school just from the design point of view as the lever arm has many potential points of lost motion due to wear in the mechanism. To be fair to the lever arm though most in use have been around far longer than their likely design life and I think most rebuilds are still likely rubbish. It was poor rebuilt lever arm dampers that lead me to fit telescopics to the front and rear of my frogeye and the difference was amazing but that was comparing poor rebuilds against new telescopics. It would be interesting to see a back to back blind comparison done with new telescopics and new or Peter Caldwell rebuilt lever arms and have the results written up comparing the two before the testers knew which was which.
David Billington

Rob, if you weld then it is easy to fit mini rear dampers to a frogeye and probably any other spridget. You just have to reinforce the wheel arch where the bolt goes through and add a collar to the lever arm damper mount on the axle, to align the damper vertically. The damper actually is still not vertical but is far nearer than the spax kit, probably between 5 and 10 deg and standard gas filled mini REAR dampers have the right stroke and seem to have about the right amount of damping.

Graham P

I use mini fronts fitted between the rebound strap mount at the top and a (reversed) spring plate. The travel on the mini units is sufficient and for my car they provide enough movement on both bounce and rebound. But I know that some units either bottom out or clunk when on "hop".

At one time I was playing with the idea of fitting an inverted alloy "U" section above the rear axle. The plan was to extend it the full width between the inner wheel arches and then fit dampers at an angle splayed outwards. I thought this might help dampen lateral movement of the axle although clearly wouldn't be a firm as a Panhard rod.

I can't weld but dad can :D

I have some old mini fronts I can use for 'templates' to check for enough clearance re bump and rebound

Like the idea of the rear mini ones. Probably have some of those knocking about as well.

Rob Armstrong

I was always happy with my spax shocks when mounted upright and fixed to my new brackets. This was fitted to a 1500 , a hole was cuy in the floor and a bracket welded to the box section that runs over the axle hump

C Bintcliffe

I then made a neat cover to tidy it all up. The greater length of movement with the shock mounted upright seemed to allow me to use the softer settings.

C Bintcliffe

Spax dampers, especially the older models, are noisy. It's the valves that are "clacking", and this gets magnified by the chassis.
Allan Reeling

This thread was discussed between 29/01/2012 and 05/02/2012

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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