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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Dampers

Had a good blast yesterday but the local council has installed speed humps and despite going relatively slowly over them, it seems the f/o/s damper may be shot.
It's not leaking but the bounce test shows hardly any resisitance to pushing down.
First thought is to check the oil level and hope that may be a solution. Failing that who provides the best reconditioned dampers - Peter May's are revalved, are they good?
Jeremy Tickle

...or has anyone tried this

Does the top damper mounting seem man enough to you or should it have fillets welded on either side?
Jeremy Tickle

that's quite like the kit I built for my car, however I added a control arm to the top link too.

No idea how that one behaves, but if the dampers are right (they look like standard mini ones) then it seems worth a punt?

Someone else will be along in a bit with a lever arm recommendation I'm sure

Rob Armstrong

Interesting for sure.... im liking it, ive not seen that set up before, and the price is good also

Kind of a poor mans frontline withOUT using the old lever arm,

the only issue I see is the welding for that 90 degree angle better be perfect ... if it breaks, your toast

I wonder if the stress weak point will now be transfered to the top of the shock

I think its worth a try... just make sure your seat belts work like a a champ....and if that weld looks dodgy for the 90 degree turn , have a pro reweld it or scrap it

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Okay... sorry about that!!!

I posted to quick ... it does require the use of the old lever arm shock (LA)

Sorry, im NOT a fan, its a good alt to this type of design as it puts the mounting of the shock in a better more solid spot then on the inner fender... the plus is the chamber angle will be broadened out a few degrees

But the big flaw is still retained... the lever shock its self ... if its worn out, then it wont be long before the LA has play, and thats not good

So as rob suggested, my recommendation is peter cardwell LA Shocks from world wide auto in Wisconsin usa... there a well made LA shock and you can get them in adjustable as well

As rob suggested... for this type of kit to work well it need a top control to replace the LA

Also our friend JHL, is working on a complete new front system for the midget, I understand its priccy, but well built and well thought out and fully adjustable, so worth looking into

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I have had complaints from Masc members with regard to the shock absorbers, new & recon, currently available. Not fit for use out of the box & arms pulling out are the most common.
I tested several, both new & recon, at an mg specialists and each & everyone were doubtful. With the owner we tested five on the counter.
I eventually went to Worldwide Auto Parts of Winsconsin. I cannot fault the service. I was sent the spec viz modern bearing and oil seals fitted. A pleasure to deal with.
The downside for some may be cost as you have to pay for the shocks, lose the surcharge (its expensive to return your old units) & then there is postage and import duty.
I have just fitted a pair to my Sebring having fitted a pair to my Frogeye earlier. There are even fitting instructions supplied. They seem to have everything covered.
I too looked at the telescopic shocks advertised but prefer to keep my cars original. Well apart from the T9's and maybe a few other mods.
Alan Anstead

Thnaks Rob, Prop and Alan,
have heard good things about Peter Caldwell but as you say Alan, it becomes expensive once you add it all together, especially if renewing in pairs.
I'm tempted by the Classic Converts interpretation but haven't heard of them so don't know how good (or bad) they are.
I'll email them and ask for a few more details.
Jeremy Tickle

Hi Jeremy, excuse the ignorance but are you talking about the lever arm dampers? If yes I just recently stripped the ones that have been on my car since 88 (and from the looks of them many years before that). There isn't a lot to them to go wrong and all I found was a lack of oil or sludge that had been built up over the years and believe that a good flush out and replacement of the oil is probably all they will need (and a replacement gasket for the top plate). One of the other Scottish contingent of the MASC has attempted this and the dampers seem to be good to go. My guess is that there is actually very little the suppliers do to recondition these units for which you pay a premium.... That being said neither of us have actually tested these on a car.

a reid

Thanks Alan, that'll be my first port of call!
Jeremy Tickle

Apart from lack of damping, the other problem with the lever arms, is that they develop lateral movement in the arm.

The problem with that kit, is that it relies on the lever arm that you are keeping, having no lateral movement, and not developing it some time in the future.

I too, have on my list of things to do, an intention to strip and see if I can fix my own front la's.

The 1st problem, is where can you buy parts for them?
Lawrence Slater

just so happens that id taken some pics when I stripped them down to see what was inside - Id say if you have lateral movement then game over and you need to replace but otherwise there is very little to them a gasket on the top cover and either an O ring or seal on the needle part

a reid


a reid



a reid

But that's not stripped down. You haven't got the pistons out.

Here's a pic of a stripped mgb shock. Courtesy of Peter Caldwell.

The pistons are bottom right. Obviously smaller on Spridget la's.

Lawrence Slater


If you are lucky and there is no lateral movement on the dampers as described above, you could try if a clean out and fill with new damper oil works.

Best way is to do this is to remove the dampers and do the job on the bench, making sure you keep the dampers upright and level in the removal process. Clean the outside of the dampers before taking the lid off on the bench so as not to introduce new dirt and contamination into the damper.

Look at a workshop manual for a damper exploded diagram and then carefully remove the parts that will fall out via the oil filler lid; do this before inverting the damper! (And noting their relative positions, cleaning them and storing carefully). Then put the dampers upside down on your bench to get the sludge out of the bottom. Cat litter tray useful for this. As well as clean newspaper and toilet paper/fancy blue workshop roll.

You will need to gently move the damper arm to get the last of the old stuff out - you may want to put a bit of the new damper oil in to help this at the last stage, before final syringing out and then leaving the dampers upside down on the bench overnight to drain the last of the oil out. Make sure the outside of the damper is clean as well as the small bits you removed and safely stored.

Large plastic syringes are handy for this job - get them from fibreglass supplier, chandlers etc Have one for removing the old sludge and a new one for refilling (also allows you to know how much you are putting in - the manuals give a volume). Refill in stages with 20 weight motorcycle fork oil (e.g. from Silkolene) from your friendly local motorbike shop. Gently operate the arm during the refilling stages to circulate the oil.

Replace the rubber bushes that the lever arm connects to the suspension if they are shot; clean out the threads of the damper mountings on the car body and correctly torque the mounting bolts.

If there were service parts for the damper available - that were actually needed, you could determine this, could be easily fitted with DIY tools and did not damage these parts or the damper, this was worthwhile as needed due to worn parts and the quality was good of the replacement parts - during this clean and refill of oil then do this. But the thread above suggests that there are no parts that meet these criteria.

If none of the above works then buy Peter Caldwell's Worldwide Autoparts renovated dampers. You will have seen a bit more of lever arms along the way, and got some sludgy oil over your workbench!

M Wood

PS if you had also painted the dampers as well as an oil clean out and refill you may be no worse than paying for some of the poor quality 'reconditioned' dampers available which may be still be worn out.

At least by DIY clean and refill you'd have retained your dampers of known condition to you, with just the cost of the new oil plus a bit of time, mess and gaining experience. You will need the new damper oil for the properly rebuilt Calwell dampers anyway.
M Wood

Ah yes I should have said partially stripped to the stage that I believed that if you had to go any further than this it probably wouldn't be worth your while - note to self be specific... :-)
a reid

just cleaned and replaced oil in my spare ones as one on the car was weeping out of the bearing ,swapped it over and found that the other of the spares seemed a bit weak so swapped the valve over from the weaping one and i now have a spare that seems ok and one that leaks as a spare.
mark 1500 on the road Preston Lancs

For reference Prop. Please do drop in at stand G9 next weekend at MG Live at Silverstone, where you can view all of our products.


Thanks Mike,
I took a look at the affected damper today and it seemed low on oil. I sucked some out using a syringe and it was grey.
Rather than get stuck in and remove the shock, I wanted to use the car, so the spring and valve were removed and it was topped up with Motul 20 heavy fork oil.
On the road there was a noticeable improvement so will have a scout around the garage for the old units; clean, strip, flush out, refill, replace and see what happens.
The Peter Caldwell units look fabulous but the cost (over 300 when shipping, taxes and lost surcharge are included) is for me, prohibitive.
Jeremy Tickle

Thanks JLH,

ILL start swimming up the Mississippi tomarrow and back stroke across the Atlantic....I should make it just in time


Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Will have a cuppa ready for you upon your arrival then !

Alan - can you remember how much the import duty was?

I've recent experience of VAT on imports, because last week Laura's sister over the pond sent her a jumper she'd knitted, and foolishly wrote $100 in the value box. What with Royal Mail's 'handling charge', 18 to pay for a jumper!
Nick and Cherry Scoop


Agree wholeheartedly with Alan and Mike. I replaced the stinking grey slugde within my LADs with Silkolene 30 heavy fork oil after a good clean out, and indeed found a noticeable improvement. 30 was recommended to act as a compensator for any wear in the pistons within. Try a thicker ARB and new bushes as the next stage in cost-effective handling improvements.


Mark O

Thanks Mark,
that's what I'm hoping to do; there should be a couple more of the old dampers somewhere in the garage so will 'recondition' them first, check if any noticeable mprovement and then do the same with the ones currently on the car.
Jeremy Tickle

Shockers were 227.70p
Import vat & clearance fee was 40.75
So 134.23p each.
Time will tell but if they prove as good as is said then compared against a new one from Moss at 99.95 or compared to a modern car shocker they are , in my opinion, not overly expensive.
I may, of course, take another opinion in the future.
Alan Anstead

And Alan, compared to a frontline conversion to tele's, they are a bargain I reckon.

Does Peter C, give an estimate of how long they will last in a normal road car use?

But I have to say. As a solution to the entire front suspension problem, (wishbone outer fulcrum/bushes in particular, I think JL has it sussed.
Lawrence Slater

Reference the JL Heap front suspension setup in the pic posted Posted 13 June 2015, where is it on your website JL? I can't find it here

Is it in full production/sale yet?
Lawrence Slater

Youll have to ask that one of Peter C.
Alan Anstead

I've heard nothing but good about the Peter Caldwell dampers, but I can confirm that the "new" ones from Moss are absolute crap. I couldn't even fit them because a couple of the bolt holes were so badly formed that I couldn't get a bolt through them and one had been dropped and had a burr which prevented it sitting on the cross member correctly. I took them back, got my money back and emailed a complaint to the customer service dept. I'm still waiting (three months on) for a reply. And don't even think about Moss's recon ones.
So, at 134 each the P.C. ones do look like a bargain.
Bernie Higginson

I replaced ALL of my my shocks on both my MGA after being dissapointed with the Moss versions that leaked terribly. Peter Caldwells have been in both my cars for over 15 years and Ive never had an issue. Ive been through 3 sets of tires on my yellow A and the shocks are still good! Definetly worth the money if you plan to keep your car. MGs suffer badly in the ride department with out good ones! Just my 2cents!

I rather pay once for quality then have to pay in labor and time for inferior product.

Im not a spend thrift and watch where my money goes.....but those shocks are worth it imho!

Cheers what ever you decide! :-)


Is anyone going to draw a where is Waldo!
Nigel poster?

Ha ha ha!

Steven Devine

This thread was discussed between 11/06/2015 and 24/06/2015

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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