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MG MGA - For the five speed men

Chris Betson has dropped off my engine today - very nice to meet him at last after seeing all his comments on the board.

Now the questions start to those who have installed a five speed:

1. Do I reuse the MG clutch lever, clutch pressure plate and release bearing ?

2. Can I use either MGA or MGB combinations of these ?

3. Which is the best place to get a Right Angle Drive for the speedo cable ? Can I use the standard MG cable with this or do I use the Hi-Gear supplied one ?

4. What is the name of the oil that goes in the gearbox ?

5. I have received the box with a drain plug. Have others then put a hole in the tunnel to get to the filler hole. If so, do you have a drawing showing where to put this?

It's going to be a week or two before I can start fitting as Chris didn't leave the propshaft or friction plate with the drop and I only discovered this later after he had gone !

I have also discovered another of the sources for the oil leaks I have - the Judson valve cover is not flat and needs to be planed - good job the main place to do this sort of thing here is 50 metres from my office ! The cover has about 1/8" bow across the length !
dominic clancy

Hi Dominic

Hope you rounded your gaggle up okay at Beaulieu. Good to see you again and thanks for the stolen chips.

I believe you will get the best deal on the right angle drive by going straight to the manufacturer, Speedograph:

You can get various ratios, so you may be able to get one that avoids you needing to recalibrate the speedo. Someone else will have to tell you what ratio you need; it's beyond me.

When fitting you can chamfer an edge off it to give more clearance with the tunnel wall. John Francis has a good photo.

With the right angle drive you retain the original MGA cable.

That's my bit for now.

Steve Gyles

PS. I think this is the one you want:

This thread from the archive says that a 1:1.14 ratio is the way to go to avoid recalibration:

Steve Gyles

Yes, go directly to Speedograph for the right angle adapter. The RGB1030 that Steves link points to is the correct one. I think Steve mis-typed the ratio though as I believe what he meant, and what was mentioned in the previous thread, was a 1:1.4 ratio. I'm using a straight 1:1 ratio adapter on mine as, prior to fitting the adapter, I had already had my speedo recalibrated. It went from 1440 TPM to 1050 TPM with the 5 speed, so 40% reduction sounds like it would've been pretty close to spot-on. My car is LHD & when installing the right angle adapter, I decided to go with a slightly longer speedo cable - 69" rather than the standard 66" MGA cable. Others have said the original cable will fit but as I needed a new one anyway I opted for slightly longer.

Yes, use MG clutch lever, throw-out bearing, and pressure plate. You can opt to use an early MGB clutch (lever, bearing, and pressure plate) but you'll have to either change the flywheel to early MGB or drill the MGA flywheel to accept three locating dowels instead of two (MGAGuru has details). You'd also need to order a different clutch arm pivot bracket from Hi-Gear as the MGB clutch arm is a different geometry from the MGA arm.
Andy Bounsall


Speedograpgh will also make you up a speedo cable which is in the original silver grey colour and is 4 inches longer than standard, i.e. 67 inches, cost me 21 in March this year. Your orginal cable will fit just but mine was fairly tight. Photo of chamfered gearbox enclosed. At this angle the chamfered face is nearly parallel with the transmission tunnel, i.e. vertical


John Francis

Installed picture of speedo gearbox. You have to make sure that the tunnel clears the 5 speed gearbox and bosses as well as the speedo gearbox when it shakes from side to side. On mine I had to file one of the bosses down to give enough clearance to the tunnel when shaking it (pulling it from side to side).

The turret is also something you need to get right. Even with the latest Hi Gear gear lever arrangement my turret fouled the gear lever. I had to bash the turret at the front of teh hole for the gear lever to give clearance. Then the lever wasn't in the centre of the hole, 10mm forward, so then had to file the hole out forwards and add a small plate around the rear of the hole, using self tappers, so that the rubber gaiter didn't jump out of the hole.
Without the hole modification the rubber gaiter pulled the box out of reverse, although now with the carpet fitted it pulls it out of 4th on the overrun!!

A bit of a fiddle but Ok in the end. My technique to give more height on the turret was to lie it upside down on two 4x2 lengths of wood and then hit it hard with a lump hammer and wooden drift and it gradually changed shape. I managed not to really spoil the paint either.


John Francis

It's a winter job for me to do the John Francis mod. I am currently using a bit of rubber as a buffer between the unit and side wall. I have become aware recently of a bit of a rattle down there at idle rpms - makes a change from whistles and jingles.

You need about 1.9 litres of grade 75W 90 semi-synthetic oil. Ford supply it if you cannot find it in your local motor shop.

Are you going to make use of the reversing light capability? If so, worth inserting the plug on the end of the socket prior to installation. It's a bit tight to do it afterwards.

Steve Gyles

Dominic...wrote this on a thread a few months ago directly after finishing the installation....covers some of the points you mention.

"For those of you who do a job like this once per lifetime and also dont have friends who share their love of oil and grease I have made a few notes below on some of the areas that gave me problems/delays/frustration and sometimes bloodloss.
The whole job stretched over 10 days and I averaged about 3hrs a day but included other car jobs whilst I had about 24 to 26 hrs on the kit incl reverse light etc.
1) Get good quality and high stands..I went cheapo and got a clearance of 35cm and struggled like I was in a straightjacket. Your life for a long time is downunder...You need another 5 to 10cm.
2) The exhaust to manifold connection is held by three short pathetic brass nuts that go round if they are coughed on. It took me three days to get one of them off. I wanted to replace with Barneys idea of two ss nuts but could not get in time ( I live in a metric world ) but managed to get long brass ones.
3) Get a special sleeve removal tool for getting the existing spigot ( brass sleeve ) out of the rear of the engine .
4)The speedo angle drive was a nightmare.. it had to go on with the gearbox in near final position as it is vulnerable and flimsy. I spent 2 hrs using needle pliers tryng to get the spring washer in place before going and buying spring loaded special pliers..even then it was a struggle and I hacksawed grooves in the plier pins to get them to hold the eyes of the washer.
I also followed recent advice on the BBS and filed off a lot of material off the corner of the drive to increase the clearance inside the tunnel.
5) I prewired the reverse switch ( see pic on recent thread ) and it ended up with about 5 mm of clearance inside the tunnel and was easy to install and connect ..I fitted a Moss unit under the rear bumper and wired it up and works well and looks natural.
6)The lower of the two starter bolts bottomed out on the new bell housing and needed 2 thick washers..I had not trial fitted this bolt outside car during trial mating of the engine and box.
7)Hi-gear recommend removing and 'locktiting' two bottom bolts (on the bell to box flange ) and part of the new support assembley after installation of the latter..but they could not be withdrawn as a transverse section of the car is in the I just made sure they were truly tight and will check after a few weeks ...
8)Avoid a backstep...I had removed the distributor cover during engine removal and during re-installation I bolted up the starter to find the rear metal clip of cover had been trapped behind the starter so ..
9) The gear lever did not interfere with the existing cover cutout but the offset bar underneath is too close to the underside of the cover and hits the cover whilst it tilts... I had bought an MGB boot as per HiGear recommendation and so I cut out the hole to an oval as per the bottom profile of the MGB boot and also raised the whole cover about 2mm by inserting a hard rubber seal strip between it and the tunnel.
The end effect..once carpeted.. is very like the original.
10) I read all about the horrors of oil filling the gearbox so I dug amongst my old boat gear and came across the 500cc syringe ( see pic) . With the wheel off you can get this in horinzontal and the plastic pipe into the box and fill without a mess. The box took about 1.3 litres. So with this method there is no need for more tunnel holes. I also find it relatively easy to screw in the plug using an allen key from underneath.

The big jobs ( engine removal etc etc ) all went well and this site and the Hi-Gear instructions were great.
...and the car is transformed..precise, positive gear changing and no crashing into 1st. Recommend the conversion to everyone !! "

Neil Ferguson

You can contact Hi Gear...Peter Gamble who is the owner. I installed his unit about 10 years ago in the US when there was no distributers here. I had it air freighted in. I would reccomend getting a MGB clutch arm and new clutch arm bracket from Peter. He has ALL parts needed to do a convertion no matter what the match up is. About 5 years ago when I changed out my engine, I had to get a new backing plate for the engine. People sure looked at me very funny when I went to Covent Gardens to see a play and had this big metal backing plate with me. Keep in mind that he has what ever is needed to convert any engine to any trans. He is only a call away. It is a great transmission and make the RPM'S drop. Also look into the quick shift gear lever arm. It fits like the original

Dominic hope its OK to attach my queries to your thread since they seem relevant. I'm fairly low down on the learning curve but I've taken the first step of acquiring a type 9 gearbox. My questions will probably come in stages since this is a winter project.
Q1: I've read that the type 9 gearbox is 'bullet proof' but I have no history with my box so are there any checks or rudimentary precautions that I should take before proceeding?
Q2: Just an observation, I'm shocked at the cost of the right angle Speedograph drive at almost 100. Are there any other alternatives?
J H Cole


The alternative to the right angle drive is to drill a hole in your tunnel side wall to accept the speedo cable that comes with the kit. You then have the cable routing under the carpet across the footwell to the speedo. The cable itself has the Ford square end at the gearbox and the MGA square end at the speedo. As the ends are a different cross section the cable diameter is a compromise and is too loose a fit in the outer cable. This results in the cable 'winding up' and jerking, resulting in a wandering needle pointer. You also need to have the speedo recalibrated, costing about 35 plus postage.

You can fit the right angle drive with an appropriate gearing ratio that obviates the need for a recalibration. Effectively then, your Speedograph right angle drive costs you 60 (100 less 40) and you get the correct cable size, no cables across the floor and a smooth speedo reading. Well worth the investment.

Steve Gyles

Steve, just had a rummage through some of my old Healey spares and found a right angle speedo drive. Accepting that the square end of the drive may have to be sleeved where it goes into the gearbox does this look as if it might screw into the type 9, it looks about the same dia as the MGA speedo drive? Can't see from the photographs how the speedograph drive screws to the gearbox.
J H Cole

Forgot pic

J H Cole


It does not look as if it will fit a Type 9. Have a look at the first of John Francis' photos above. You will see that it is a flat, thin plate with the square drive running through the centre of it. It is a simple push fit into the hole and held in place by a circlip (second John Francis photo). It does not screw on.

Steve Gyles

Well I have the bell housing on the box and have spoken to Hi Gear as well as Chris Betson.

1. The entire clutch assembly from either A or B is used, but always with the B friction plate. The bracket used to mount the clutch levere is a different thickness according to whether a B or A clutch is used. The B bracket is 20mm thick, and that's what I have, so it's on with the B clutch assembly again.

2. The Ford oil I can get from a friend who is a Ford dealer

3. The Right Angle Drive is going to be a bit of a pain, because I can't figure out what Ratio I need for a standard MGA speedo. Does anyone have the standard Ford T9 with a 1:4.3 back end and this arrangement ? I'd be grateful for a tip or two.

4. The drain hole is in a really stupid place, it is right above the support bracket for the gearbox, so draining the oil will involve removing the bracket! No points for the rebuilder here, but I am guessing he didn't have the bracket to spot this. I may just put a second plug somewhere else - anyone got any experience with doing this - photos too?

Still hoping someone can provide a measurement for where to put the filler hole in the tunnel, otherwise I will have to get my tape out and compare the two boxes quite carefully.
dominic clancy

Dominic. A suugestion for the drive ratio. When recalibrating my speedo with a 1:1 right angle drive I had to measure the number of turns on the speedo cable for 10 turns of one of the rear wheels and also sent details of tyre size to Speedograph. If you speak to Speedgraph I am sure they will be able to advise on the correct drive if you give them those details and know the exact type of speedo you have. However to be absolutely sure you might send them your speedo for reference.
Tim is the contact there on:


John Francis

Dominic, in response to your question #3...Unless you're also changing the rear-end, the differential ratio is irrelavant as it's only the speedo drive gearing that's going to be different from your old gearbox. I believe the old thread that Steve Gyles referenced earlier had info from someone who'd sucessfully used the 1:1.4 ratio right angle adapter. As mentioned in my previous post on this thread, my speedo was recalibrated from the original 1440 TPM to 1050 TPM which is pretty darn close to that same 40% difference. I hope that helps.
Andy Bounsall

Dominic, in response to your question 3; I ordered my angle drive for the T9 Sierra box from Speedograph Richfield and got great service. I calculated what the ratio should be and ordered one with a ratio of 1:1.4 and it works great and the speedo reads the correct speed without any other device. The 1:1 ratio will read slow. I also ordered a longer speedo cable from them, 4" longer than the original which fits great.

It's possible to calcualte the difference between the original gearbox drive shaft revolutions to the speedo drive revolutions against the Sierra T9 and order an angle drive which will correct the speedo calibration. According to my research on the original MGA gearbox, in fourth gear (direct drive) there are 12 driveshaft revs to 5 speedo drive revs a ratio of 2.4 driveshaft revs/speedo rev. On the T9 there are 7 driveshaft revs to 2 speedo drive revs, a ratio of 3.5 driveshaft revs/speedo drive rev. Therefore with the T9 the speedo will show a slow speed. If you divide 3.5/2.4=1.46 you should get the correct ratio for the angle drive. Speedograph Richfield make an angle drive with a 1:1.5 ratio that should work. However on my car I'm using a radial tire, 185/65R 15 which has a smaller diameter and rolling circumference than the origianl crossplys. The origianl tires were 25.5" dia and my new ones are 24.4" dia. This is a reductioin of 0.96 which changes the ratio to 1.46x0.96=1.4. Therefore I ordered an angle drive with a 1:1.4 ratio, part # RGB1030-09A 1:1.4 NR. You can find all the differnet ratios on their websit

Good Luck, and I hope you enjoy your new gearbox.

Andy Preston

This thread was discussed between 14/09/2010 and 20/09/2010

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