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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Dampers - frogeye

Do the dampers on my Mk1 Sprite need occasional topping up? If so, how please?
I have Haynes, but it doesnt mention it, in fact the maintenance section is very poor - is there an owners handbook published anywhere on the web? Thanks
Graham M V

All lever arm shockers need topping up from time to time. There is a small plug (usually BSF spanner size) at the highest most point of the resevoir, take it out and top up with what ever oil you choose.

Penrite do a shock oil but I use a light engine oil. Be sure all shocks have the same oil otherwise you'll get unbalanced damping.

M T Boldry

And. . .
A useful way of adding the oil is with a small plastic syringe with a 3" length of windscreen washer pipe attached.

>>is there an owners handbook published anywhere on the web?<< paper copy is best, see -
N Atkins

according to Peter at Worldwide Imports in the USA who specializes in rebuilding these dampers, they do not need periodic topping up unless they are leaking, and if they are leaking then they are probably ready for a rebuild anyway (there is no seal on the lever arm, it just runs directly on the zinc housing of the damper body).

the little "tombstone" shaped portion at the top of the damper, where the little fill plug is, that Mark mentioned, that is the air expansion chamber and should not be completely filled with oil

topping up lever arm dampers it is possible to fill this air chamber up and then the oil will be forced to leak out somewhere during use (due to thermal expansion)

His advice is to confirm that there is no freeplay in the lever arm, and that there is no leaking anywhere, and if so, then it is fine. In fact, he spends more time talking people out of getting new dampers!

I liken this to the dashpot on SU carburetors, we are told to "top it up", so we do, and overfill it unknowingly because the illustration in the handbook is a little bit unclear until you study it really closely. Once you've over filled it, that level goes down pretty quickly and you "top it up" again, not realizing that all that is happening is that excess amount above the working level of the piston's inner cylinder is getting ingested and burned in the engine. But once it is explained, and you don't fill above that level, then you see that the level almost never goes down!

Norm Kerr

Thanks for feedback, certainly the near side is as dry as a bone so I should presumably leave that well alone. The offside is a little greasy but I cant tell if that's from the damper or not.
The dampers seem to function OK using the bounce test, so I assume advice is to leave them alone.

Also thanks for link, I have ordered the handbook
Graham M V

>>Also thanks for link, I have ordered the handbook<<

well done on ordering it, I bet on fully reading it you learn, or have your memory refreshed, just a little more than you expected
N Atkins

Thanks. Learning rather than refreshing in my case.
Cant find anywhere to grease the water pump. Is it possible it is sealed?
Graham V

Actually, if you're topping up the damper oil with the dampers in situ, you can't overfill them. The location of the plugs ensure that when you add oil until it runs out, you've reached the proper level. Filling them on the bench is another story.

That said, topping up dampers is actually quite simple, and can provide some peace-of-mind if you aren't sure about what's in there.

Gryf Ketcherside

>>Cant find anywhere to grease the water pump. Is it possible it is sealed?<< I'd have thought so, as I remember the screw plug where the grease goes for the water pump is quite obvious

you can learn a lot from the Handbook and it's a great basis to start from however with more time and experience you'll find more variances between your car and it's replaced components and the book originally written about 50 years ago as things have changed and more modern components need less maintenance

the Handbook still has great value though, how many others remind you to grease and oil the (original style) dissy
N Atkins

Ha ha. The manual arrived. Its a great piece of history! It even describes how to put the car in first gear, and explains releasing the clutch and increasing accelerater, etc ..... Amazing people needed to be taught how to drive
Graham M V

does it say about double-declutching?

it also reminds me that many new to Spridgets wouldn't know about non-synchro gears and on cars as late as mid-'70s - I keep forgetting this as I've now got a 5-speed box

and many new (and existing) owners of the later cars don't know how to adjust(!) the heater or fold the hood properly so the Handbook is usefull for these too
N Atkins

No it doesnt go into as much detail as double -declutching. It literally tells you the basics of changing gear. Amazing there was a need for that.
Graham M V

This thread was discussed between 10/06/2011 and 15/06/2011

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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