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MG MGA - Engine and Transmission Removal

Gents....I bought a Sierra 5 speed box and the conversion kit from Hi-Gear a short while ago and after looking and chatting to a number of local mechanics here on the South Coast of NSW I have decided to do the work myself as they were not inspiring. I note in much of the correspondence that some of you guys have the whole thing out and in like a fiddlers elbow so there is a wealth of experience out there in the ether. The Hi-Gear instructions are good but the actual lift and removal and reversal is the area I need advice on..I have bought a 1400kg rolling hoist ( I have also read Barneys site and will use his short chain on two studs lift arrangement)
Some off the cuff queries but all advice welcome....

Do I need to remove the bonnet ( hood? )?
Is it best to have two bites engine then transmission?
If one big bite and using Barneys chain method what angle ( no of links for and aft?) is the correct angle for lifting ?
Are there any special access problems getting the transmission and engine separated before removal..any special tools required?
I have no pit or big lift ( who has !) and will lift the car onto 4 stands so what min clearance /lift should I have under car for access..?
Should I put the assembley back in together?
Do I need to remove the oil filter ( orig type )?
If I put a spin on filter adapter when I reinstall can I put on the filter before reinstalling engine?
Many thanks in advance...
Ps I have the speedo rt angle adapter and the reverse switch so any commenst on these would also be welcome.
Neil Ferguson

You do not have to remove the hood. Simply tie it back to your rear bumper with a piece of cord.

I wouldn't try lifting engine and gearbox together - it's a bit tricky unless you can get some elevation on the car and some help in steering the unit out of the car. In my experience (when doing a one man job) it's easier to prop the gearbox and remove the engine first.

I would not lift an engine on the tappet cover studs. They will bend especailly as the lift angle steepens. Better to make up a sling (or buy some from a lifting eqipment shop - cheap eg 1M 2 Ton sling about $ 20) that goes around the complete engine in a figure 8 wrapping. Then lift at the crossover points. With some adjusting you can set the crossover points a little forward of centre to get the right angle of tilt.

You will have to remove the oil filter - make sure to plug the ends of any oil cooler pipes so that crawly things or dust doesn't get in. I refit oil filters and other peripherals when the basic long motor is back in.

That's my 2 bobs worth hope it helps,

Brian Woolmer

I recently changed my g'box/clutch using the lifting arrangement in the photo - 1.5" angle iron drilled with 4 holes (2 used for the rocker studs).

My experience.
Take the bonnet off.
Do engine and transmission seperately.
Use a tilt mechanism ($40 from Hare & Forbes)
The engine hoist I used had trouble fitting under the front suspension - (had to lift the car using a trolly jack to get it under - no big deal).
I removed manifolds, starter motor, generator and oil filter first (makes the job easy)

Good luck

Mike Ellsmore

Engine hoist arrangement

Mike Ellsmore

I have found it easier to pull the engine and transmission seperatly. Perhaps because my 1962 MK-II has the flange at the back of the transmission for attaching the drive line. That flange seems to hang up on the crossmember making removal of the whole assembly as a unit a very tight squeeze. You have to pull the engine and transmission forward slightly and tilt the front up before seperating them.
Put a block of wood between the bottom of the transmission and top of the crossmember to support the transmission. I also use an engine leveler with my hoist. I worked without one for many years but once I used one I would not be without it. It is so much easier than trying to fiddle with shortening chains and moving straps about. I did lift using the rocker cover studs. Just be sure that you tighten nuts down onto what ever lift adapter you use, otherwise you might bend the studs. I always fit the transmission to the engine while out of the car just to make sure that everything goes together easily. Then I seperate them and install each seperatly. I should have put a 5 speed into my car when I rebuilt it but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. Now it's twice as much so I guess I'll never do it.

Ed Bell

Having done it both ways, as two separate pieces and as a unit, and single-handed and with help, I find removing and replacing the engine and transmission as a unit to be easier. I have the earlier transmission with the sliding joint and no flange. Something like the Oberg Tilt-Lift makes it much easier to adjust the lift angle but requires a little more ceiling clearance. I have always removed the hood, but I like the idea of tying it back.

k v morton

When I installed the five speed in mine, we pulled the engine and trany out as a unit.
Took the radiator, trany tunnel and floor boards out first. The back of the car needs to be higher than the front.

David Werblow

Hi-Gear/engine unit ready to go back in car.

David Werblow

Back in place!

David Werblow


Seems everyone has their own preference on separating the engine or combining, and each can argue the merits. I have had my engine in and out about 6 times since installing the 5 speed box 10 years ago. For me, preferring to do the minimum possible, I leave the hood on and tied back as mentioned above. I split the engine from the gearbox. I find it easier to uncouple the bellhousing bolts than having to raise the car high enough to get underneath to disconnect the gearbox fixings. For alignment when putting the engine back in I place a jack under the bellhousing and adjust the height as necessary to aid alignment.

With the RHD car and high starter position I have to remove the spin-on oil filter first to get the starter motor out. On assembly, the reverse is also necessary so I leave the filter out until fully installed.

I am able to remove the engine single handed in about 2 hours without rushing. I tie ropes round the engine. Works for me.

Steve Gyles

Gents...a truly excellent range of techniques.. I am an engineer so need to work up a step by step based on above : I will be doing on my own so I will split at bellhousing to motor and have just bought a tilter and a good garage hydraulic jack...will also drill a piece of angle spacer bar for the lift to limit the bending moment on the studs.
Steve sound like you can do it sleepwalking!
Neil Ferguson


South coast of NSW where are you located?
S P Rossetto

Neil Ferguson


I certainly know the proceedure! Surprisingly, I find the radiator bolts the most awkward on my car. I think I need to run a tap through the threads. Also, when putting the engine back in I put the 2 top bell housing bolts in before mating the engine. I found that once mated, there is not enough clearance between the bellhousing and bulkhead to locate the 2 bolts - probably just my car. Might not affect others.

Yes, it's been in and out a few times. Original installation and removal of the 1500 unit. Then replacement with the 1800 engine. After that installation 10 years ago I had a massive rear engine oil seal leak so out it came. Turned out to be a split seal (brand new seal). I think the machinist who adapted the rear plate to take the MGB oil seal put a screw driver through it. Later on I had a tachometer drive failure in the 5-speed box. The engine came out twice in that episode. Subsequently, in an effort to solve the problem I also stripped the entire inside to tackle the gearbox in situ - not recommended. Easier to take engine and gearbox out. The problem ended up being a cable issue, not the gearbox. The inner cable was not seating properly in the offtake shaft! I took it out about 3 years ago, I think for a general cleanup in the engine bay. Then 2 months ago it came out for an inspection, light overhaul and repaint.

I look on engine removal as a routine procedure and not a major task. If pushed I can do it in a day, but usually spread it over a weekend so I can inspect all the bits and pieces.

Steve Gyles

I hear they are going to have some new Olympic sports.....
Golf,mga engine removal etc
Three queries..
How high do I need to get the car off the ground for good access?
I have bought an angle drive for the speedo....have you any advice on the best route to get the cable up to behind the dash?
I also have bought a reversing switch for the gearbox ..any wiring recommendations..and do I need a relay near the back of the car?
Neil Ferguson


I raise the front end enough so that I can access the lower bellhousing bolts, starter motor, spin-off oil filter and exhaust to manifold studs. After that I lower the car on to its wheels, remove my trolley jack so that I have room to wheel my engine hoist legs under the car.

That said, on my original gearbox install I put the car on axle stands as I had to drill the chassis for the gearbox mounts and remove/replace the propshaft.

For the RHD car I threaded the cable up the tunnel into the engine compartment and then a "U" bend and through the No.2 hole (see diagram) in the bulkhead. I used an original length standard cable. It was just long enough. If you have the luxury of the longer cable then so much the better.

Not fitted the reversing light switch but you will need to connect one terminal to a suitable ignition controlled power source. The other terminal to the reversing light. The other light terminal to earth. Let me know how you route it all for when I eventually do it.

Steve Gyles


I'm in Nowra would am thinking of doing the same conversion. Like to talk sometimea bout it


S P Rossetto

Shane....My engine hoist ( Supercheap auto...$200) and tilter (Hare and Forbes...$38 ) have just arrived and fantastic value...dont know how they can make such goods at this price. I am awaiting two things..
..arrival of a trolley jack from Supercheap...$50
..departure of two visitors from Italy
and then I will get stuck into the lift out using the arrangment by Mike Ellsmore above.
I started a thread some time ago about the actual Hi-Gear unit...imported it my self and Hi-Gear in UK were extremely good with very low cost transport.Exchange rate is very good right now comppared to the pound.
There is loads of experience out there and accessible via this site. Send me you email address and I can advise more and we can exchange tel numbers etc.
Mine is ..
Neil Ferguson

This thread was discussed between 10/02/2010 and 27/02/2010

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