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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Rear Drum Brakes C Clip

Ive had to replace a rear brake cylinder.

After much swearing I got the thing out and the c clip holding it in removed.

When I've come to to put this back the c clip seems to be too big and catchs on the hub assembly. Its not too big, its the same size as the previous on.

Before I took the old c clip out I took a picture of it. It's not the best picture but appears to be under the hub assembly. Is this correct? I cant turn the c clip around as it gets in the way of the bleed nipple. If it is correct do I need to loosen the hub assembly to get it in?

Bruce Burrowes

Attached is a picture of the new fitting, before Ive tightened it in. As you can see it appears to be too big. The bit on the end is specialist c clip attachment tool.

Bruce Burrowes

On some axles there is a small step machined in the flange of the axle, providing a locating notch between the backplate and the axle. Yours appears to be one of these. You locate the edge of the clip into this groove first, ensuring that the gap in the C shape will clear the bleed nipple.

I have never bothered with those fitting devices so don't know how fiddly this alignment would be. I just flip the circlip on with two broad flat bladed screwdrivers. Once you get the hang of it it takes seconds, despite the horror stories you read!

Don't be tempted to grind a flat in the edge of the c clip! It will weaken it and the clip then distorts and never provides its springy retaining property.

thanks Guy, I will investigate, i didnt think to look for that.
Bruce Burrowes

For the tool, I've highlighted the clip in red as I mix up which was round it should go -

Nigel Atkins

Useful picture Nigel. Even if not using the tool, it at least shows which way round the clip goes! Bruce, it's not terribly clear but I think it is the wrong way round in your photo.

I'm not sure that the AP tool is compatable with the versions that have the machined slot that I described. At one time I assumed all of the axle cases were like that but in earlier discussions about this it appears not all axles are like that.

it does appear to have a very small groove. (impressed you know to look for a groove!) I will locate it in first and then tghten it up using the tool.

Just to confirm the clip is fitted with the edge sticking up, so sway from the cylinder?

Bruce Burrowes

I don't think it's possible to use the tool if you locate the clip in the groove first.
Dave O'Neill 2

The tool looks like one would have to fit the C clip on evenly all the way round. Wheras with the groove one needs to hook the "heel" edge in first so the clip doesn't actually start off parallel to the backplate so I am not sure it would work.

Concave face towards the backplate.

Some earlier original factory arrangements used a Belville washer and a standard circlip which is much easier to fit. There should also be a paper gasket between the cylinders and backplate though these are rarely used.

yes my clip was fitted the wrong way round.

I fitted it that way after watching a video by spridget mania on youtube, they have one titled wheel cylinder circlip tool demo.

If the tool doesnt work i'll probably be using the screwdriver method and swearing a lot.

any other comments on how to fit please let me know.
Bruce Burrowes

Guy said:
'Some earlier original factory arrangements used a Belville washer and a standard circlip'
In my experience, which excludes 1500s, ALL cars came ex-factory with the Belleville washer and normal circlip. The circlips are easy to source but the Belleville washers have so far eluded me. I have lots of clips but only a couple of s/hand washers hence I now bolt the slave cyls in on my race cars.
David Smith

forget the tool, Andy Tilney taught me this very easy method (I hope I write it correctly now, Guy will say if I have it wrong).

. remove the bleed nipple from the brake cylinder

. find a (pan head) machine screw to fit where the bleed nipple goes into the brake cylinder

. use the (pan head) machine screw to secure the brake cylinder to its position on the brake backplate - but not tightly, see later*

(or find any method to hold the cylinder in position without damaging the backplate, perhaps a clamp)

. you now have the brake cylinder in position with both hands free

. use a suitable flat blade screwdriver to fit the E-clip (concave side of clip to backplate)

. get the tangs fitted *then place the blade of the screwdriver behind the E-clip to check for a bit of give

With just a little practice actually fitting the clip should be about three seconds and Andy can do it with his eyes closed (I've witnessed this).

Quoting Andy from a previous thread on this "... to test if its in correctly put a screwdriver between the cly and the backplate (looking at the cly drum side) and gently prize the cly to flex the clip if its in correctly you will feel it trying to retract, if its not it will fly off"

Let us know how you get on.
Nigel Atkins


Looking at your second photo again, it looks like your fitting tool is assembled wrongly. The wider part of the cone is supposed to be against the cylinder.

That doesn’t solve the clearance problem, though.
Dave O'Neill 2

Well spotted Dave, how'd we all miss that before.

Photo of the (cheaper) Mini version below.

BTW Bruce I meant to put that Spridget Mania video confused me too and I think they may have installed the handbrake lever incorrectly later in the video.

Nigel Atkins

Belleville washers are available from:-
If you know the specs of the originals (I don't) it ought to be possible to fill in their search page:-

and find out if they have a suitable size and at what price.
Buying a hundred will be a lot cheaper per pair of course - maybe an opportunity for a budding entrepreneur. A pair of Bellevilles and appropriate C clips!
Tony Wood

Gentlemen: there is no need to source replacements for the original Belleville washer and circlip - these have recently been re-manufactured to original spec by AH-Spares. Their part numbers are XBRK182C (circlip) and XBRK182W (Belleville washer). All thanks to Jon Hill at AH-Spares and the midget & Sprite Club. MASC members have known about this for more than a year. If you join up you won't miss things like this.
J.E. Davies

I didn't want to steal your thunder John!

But must confess I didn't realise that ALL Spridgets originally used this fitment. I thought that by the time the 1500s came in, if not before, they had switched to the dreaded E clips!

Had another look at the second photo. Possibly an optical illusion, but at least Nigel was seeing the same as me ;o)
Dave O'Neill 2

I still think you were right about the cone being the wrong way round - but I do have a bad eye and you got me doubting myself and you. :)
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 31/08/2018 and 01/09/2018

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