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MG MGA - MGA starter when installing 3 main B engine?

This question has probably been covered in the past, but Ill ask it anyway.

When installing a 3 main B engine in an A, do you use the original A starter, or one from a B? (I am using the original A transmission, and it is a 1961 1600 car)

Early B engine use the same starter


The B one will not fit, use the A backplate and starter

Terry Drinkwater

Do not waste your time install a gear reduction starter.

What would be the waste of time using the A starter and where would be the best place to order a gear reduction starter?

The larger spring assembly on the MGB starter will foul the trans case bit it can be easily relieved.

The original MGA starter will crank the MGB engine just fine.

Some people insist that speed is all and that only the new high torque starters are worthwhile. In fact the original starters do the job just fine (unless you have a race engine with 12:1 compression) and I wouldn't bother buying a high torque unit unless you have to replace the starter anyway. If that is the case, the difference in price is now small, so you may as well go for the HT version, but be aware that some of them fit the MGB but not the MGA as they apparently foul the frame.
Bill Spohn

I don't know why I would need a new HT starter as my original starts the car on the FIRST revolution. If the car was not tuned correctly and I had to keep on cranking the engine, I would a good tune up first so either starter will fire up the engine quickly.

For an early B and an A, the starters are identical. You can't use the A backplate until you have it modified for the rear crank seal required for the B engine. The early B backplate will fit the 1622 gearbox just fine, and the A starter will fit too (and turn the engine over quite well enough to start it if it's tuned correctly.)

If things are not set up correctly then any car will be a pig to start, regardless of putting different starter motors in place to rectify the problems.
dominic clancy

I am using the A backplate and have already had the mods completed. I'm to the point of re-installing the engine and gearbox, but I didn't know which starter I should use.
When thinking back, we bought our A in 1966 and stopped driving it in 1976. We had the same old starter and never had any problems with it, or it's function, so I guess I'll go with the original instead of the High Torque.

Should have kept my mouth shut. My starter burned out today! Still, the modification I made with a custom Judson crank pulley paid off - as I kept the original crank dog nut, I was able to demonstrate the art of using the starter handle a few times today.... Had I gone with the standard Judson piggy-back arrangement, I'd have been in need of a number of push-starts today (before someone asks no, it's not always possible to park on a hill in Switzerland..)
dominic clancy


I'm impressed, I tried a couple of months back to start the car with the handle; not so easy - gave up and charged the batteries. The car hadn't been run for a bit; now I hear it's possible I might try again for fun (and future reference)! Is there a knack or tips you can pass on?

Neil McGurk


You are fortunate, the holes in the bumper etc on my car do not line up with the dog nut. My crank handle is just for show!

Steve Gyles

Jones SEZ -

> Do not waste your time install a gear reduction starter.

I'll go even farther than that. Just buy a Miata and paint MG logos on it. What could be nicer?



Advice is one thing, mockery is another.
David Breneman

I see you did the same thing I did by keeping the origianl dog nut with the Judson. I had my machine shop take a stock dog nut and added about one inch of threads. I too have had to use my hand crank to start the car and it was quick and easy.

I drove this same MGA in the early 70's while in school. I couldn't afford to buy two new 6 volts, so I always used the hand crank. Most times, it started right away with no problem.
One day, I broke the tips off the original hand crank while trying to figure out why the engine was stuck. Turns out, the low output of the old 6 volts let the gear on the starter go into the flywheel when I tried pulling on the starter, but wouldn't turn fast enough to let it come out. I towed it to a master mechanic, Tom Styles and he put a jumper on the 6 volts and the gear flew out freeing the engine. I had spent several hours and broken bits trying to figure out why the engine seemed frozen, when all it was, was the starter and a poor electrical system.


I had a one-piece three groove pulley made up from aluminium stock. It uses the standard dog nut which is set deep inside the pulley.

The guide to hand cranking is to keep all your fingers together and NOT wrap your thumb around the other side of the starter handle. Then if (when) the engine kicks back, you avoid breaking your thumb. Take up the compression, and then a 1/8 sharp swing of the handle is all it should take. On my Judson equipped car, I also prime the inlet manifold with fuel by pressing the accelerator pedal two or three times (accelerator pump on the Holley then blasts a squirt of fuel into the manifold), but this will have no effect on a standard car.

Every time I have used the handle in the last few days, it's started on or before the third swing.

New starter is on the way so hopefully this will be just a short term form of excercise!
dominic clancy

This thread was discussed between 16/06/2007 and 19/06/2007

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