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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Removing Engine

Hello All,

I'm taking the engine out at the weekend to begin the rebuild.

Simple question - will my life be easier if I remove only the engine and leave the gearbox in situ, or would it be easier to remove engine and gearbox as one and split them on the workshop floor?


I think 6 of one, half a dozen of the other!

I see yours is a '73 and therefore 1275. With my 1500 I took the engine out first, then the gearbox seperate. The reason for this, however, was I couldn't be bothered renting a crane. I just got a strong mate and we lifted it out by hand! There was no way we would have managed engine + box together.

I think a lot of people will agree it is just personal preference which way you go.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Malcom. Am very impressed. Good work.

C L Carter

Hands down engine only.

The exception to this, is if you have both a decent high lift, and an intention or need to work on the gearbox as well.

I can whip my engine out pretty quickly 1275. Taking both out doubles the time. For starters, you have to drain the g/box oil, unless you don't mind it spilling out in the gear box tunnel.

Putting the engine back on it's own, and coupling to the g/box is very easy too. Just be patient, and it slides right in.
Lawrence Slater

My back hasn't been the same since! :-) Also, I should note that things like the front panel, radiator, steering rack were removed.

I would expect you would need a crane Mark, but still either way is possible.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Personal choice; I always remove both together. Takes me about 1 1/4hrs out and 1 1/2hours back in. Always work alone, and use a chain hoist and trolley jack.

On a slightly related/unrelated note... people were talking about copper head gaskets being superior to the composite ones you can buy. Where can I source these copper head gaskets from for the 1500?

C L Carter

Christian, its a myth. Modern composite ones are just as good, if not better. And a lot cheaper!

yes I believe that was the case 20 years ago and I don't think it seems to have changed

I once had an'improved' exhaust manifold gasket fitted as apart of an engine rebuild it lasted about 300 miles - it was replaced with the cheap standard one which gave no problems at all after many thousands of miles
Nigel Atkins

Engine and box together!
Did a record time last year somewhere just above the 30 minutes mark on a mate's midget(can't remeber exactly)

It was the 3rd time of the day trying to find a weird clutch problem (one weak pressureplate return spring) so no trouble getting the bolts lose.

You can use a plastic bag over the tail of the gearbox to avoid spilling if you are to lazy to drain it
Onno K

Wow Onno, 30 mins is fast! Especially if you mean the full job. I timed mine from driving into the garage, to engine sitting on the floor. And the reassembly includes adding oil and water and starting up. I don't think I could better my listed times, although I keep meaning to slot the front engine mounting brackets which would help!

Wasn't this a question very recently? Maybe just before christmas?

If it goes on long enough there will be more in favour of together, and more against, and in the end it will all come down to personal preference. Tea or coffee?

I'm not as practiced as I once was, but in my prime, I would race you Onno LOL. You take both together, and I'd do mine singly.

I once did mine on a Cretan building site, using a hoist improvised with scaffolding, whilst bemused and ammused cretans looked on and chuckled, and the girlfriend went to find me beer. God I was good then LOL. Happy days.

Lawrence Slater

Bonnet was off already and there where 2 of us, so we did cheat a bit.
But other than that it was from a drivable car with all fluids to engine on the floor.

Boy where we happy to have found the problem!
Onno K

Impressive! The key, I find, is to work in a set sequence so you are not continually moving between working from one place to another and back. And knowing exactly which spanner to reach for for each thing to be undone. It helps too to have new good nuts and bolts that will spin off their threads once loosened and to have some "short cuts" like the radiator mounts to speed things up.

Even so, Onno, 30 minutes is exceptionally fast! At Sprite50 there was a demonstration of installing a race car engine quickly. From what I remember there were 3 doing it and it took, I think, 28 minutes. And that was with a lift-off one piece front end, slotted engine mounts and various other non- standard arrangements.

The key was .
2 people who know midgets.
Having done it several times that day.

We left every ancillary possible attached to the engine.
To bad it did not have the original manifold because then you would only need to loosen one clamp there.
One started at the front and one started at the rear.

Oh and we where pissed because we thought we had just fixed the clutch problem.

Installing would take longer I think (and it did then)
Onno K

Why remove the bonnet? Just loosen the holding-up-thingy-stick so it opens just a teeny bit further. Saves the effort of removing 8 bolts.
And mind the wipers.
Alex G Matla

Is there a comprehensive list somewhere of the engine removal process?

I can remove a MINIs A series with my eyes closed, but never tackled a Midget A series.

I'm hoping I don't need to remove it ( not had a chance to drive it yet ), but would be nice to have a sequence of events list on hand if I do.

btw...Can the transmission be removed leaving the engine undisturbed? ( for clutch work etc. )
Matthew T

Dead easy

Remove rad water pipes and bonnet
remove temperature capiliary
Remove manifolds carb and exhausts
Drain oil and unbolt the gearbox bellhousing.
I always remove the dissy to ensure it does not get damaged
Remove engine mounts and lift up forward and out!

To change the clutch the engine has to come out!
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

Mathew. The engine is in the way. The gearbox has to come out through the engine bay, not drop down under, unfortunately.

But as Rob says, easy.
Lawrence Slater

Gearbox can not be removed with the engine in place.

Simple procedure

Inside the car
-remove carpet and shifter cover (4 screws)
-remove shifter (3bolts)
-disconnect reverse switch and if possible remove switch (otherwise you might bash it against the heater tray)
-unbolt the bolts on the side of the tunnel (2)

under the car
-drain gearbox oil
-drain coolant
-unbolt the gearbox mount (2 bolts straight up)
-unbolt the slave (only mechanical leave the hydraulic line in place)
-unbolt the fwd exhaust mount (fixed to the 2 botom gearbox to engine bolts)
-unbolt the earth strap.
-unbolt the power to the starter

in the engine bay
-unbolt one engine mount at the body
-unbolt the other at the rubber piece
-disconnect all hoses (don't forget the gauges)
-disconnect all wires (don't forget the gauges)
-unbolt the clamp connecting the exhaust to the manifold (if it is a tubular manifold remove the manifold)
-remove the radiator

You can now remove the engine and gearbox.
If you want to make it a bit more easy remove the manifolds, dynamo, starter and ignition.
Onno K

Sounds pretty straight forward really.
I'm hoping I don't have to get at the has a new slave and hose, having a bit of trouble getting it blead.

Just put all new hoses on and water pump.
Have carbs and manifold off at the moment ( bastage of a flange bolt made removal necc. )
I dry fit a HIF44 carb on a MINI intake with a K&N cone filter . I closed the hood and there is no clearance issues.
Is there a reason this isn't done more often?
I may just fit the HIF.
Matthew T

Usualy there are clearanc issues!
But plenty of people have modded or got a good manifold an use a hiff
Onno K

My HIF44 fitted perfectly until I fitted new engine mounts. The result was a ding in the bonnet because the new mounts had raised the engine by 1/2 inch. You may have no clearance issues because of the mounts you have at present but watch out if you change them. Genuine Rover mounts seem a little thicker than the repro versions (good if you are not fitting a HIF). In any case, when assessing clearance, you need to take account of the engine rocking side to side and thus raising and lowering the carb.
Chris H (1970 Midget 1275)

Good points.
Perhaps I will get some pasticine and place on the top most parts of carb/filter.....close the hood and see how much compression there is.
Matthew T

Bonnet (hood) location also affects the possibility of contact - before my rebuild I got an occasional contact between the K&N filter on the front carb and the bonnet, but during the rebuild I sorted out the bonnet fit from rubbish to something half decent and have not had any hint of a touch since.

I've also got a HIF44 which will now be going on as part of the rebuild. It came with a Mini manifold which i trial fitted and does not allow the bonnet to close.

I've bought the flat-topped dashpot cover from a dolomite sprint which gives about 12-15mm more bonnet clearance than the standard dashpot cover, though I'm not sure if I'll need to take a bit off the top of the piston as well to allow it to rise to fully open. I'm also planning to wedge the phenolic spacer between the manifold and the carb, as suggested and carried out by Lawrence in a previous thread. I think these two relatively simple changes will allow the clearance I need, but will need to suck it and see.

I could just lash out for the right manifold when one next comes up on ebay, but I like a challenge :-)


I just realised the manifold ( hif44 ) I may use only has a take-off for a brake servo. Can this be adapted by way, to fit the dizzy vacuum advance?
Matthew T

The hiff itself has a takeoff for that
Onno K

Not all HIFs have the vacuum connection. But you can fit one according to Keith Calver.

Vac pipe take-off -
"On some HIF carbs, the vac take-off sighted just after the butterfly - that's between the butterfly and the carb to manifold mounting flange - has been eliminated."
------------ -----------
--------------" The solution is easy "- --- "fit it back to just in front of the butterfly where it should be. If you need to drill a port to accept the vac pipe take-off it needs to be sited 9/16" back from the carb to manifold mounting face, offset slightly to one side. I.e. NOT at the dead centre, or 'peak' of the butterfly bore. And usually set off away from the crankcase breather port. Usually the vac pipe take-offs fit a 1/8" diameter hole - but measure whatever you're going to use before drilling. You're looking for an interference/air tight fit."

See the above link for the whole text and explanation of HIF carb connections.

Lawrence Slater

This thread was discussed between 21/02/2012 and 24/02/2012

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