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MG MGA - New engine ready

Hi All.
My 1860 and 5 speed are almost ready to be fitted in my 1960 coupe.My question is what is the best way to fit them both? My choice is gearbox and then engine or engine and gearbox in one piece. I do either in my racing Sprite but am not sure which would be easier for the A. I have an engine crane with load leveller so I should be able to get engine and gearbox in at an angle.I look forward to hear your experiences.
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I always do them as two separate units
Dominic Clancy

It can be done either way. As a single unit, you have to maneuver the entire bulk in at an angle which your load leveler will handle with no problem. If you install them separately you have the issue of getting your fingers in to tighten the transmission bolts.

I had no problem pulling and reinstalling them as a single unit by myself. YMMV.

Best of luck!

Larry Wheeler

I pulled one out together once, but will never do it again. Mine is the 1500 with smaller diameter tail on the gearbox and no rear flange, and it was still a squeaker. Crank pulley touches the steering rack while top of gearbox touched top of tunnel, and you have to drag the gearbox tail end over the monkey ear mounts on the frame. Crank pulley then scrapes the air pan. Tilting to high angle to bring the nose up while tail of the trans is still in the tunnel, crank pulley then scrapes the bonnet latch support. Count on scratched paint. Possibly less difficult of you remove the crank pulley.

I just helped install one in assembly last Friday. I wouldn't have done it, but someone else had already started. See here:
Scroll down to Friday, February 3, 2017 plus one more click down to see the MGA in primer paint. Photos tell a great story. This was a 1600 type gearbox with larger tail and rear flange. I took pictures, because I would grade it to be "impossible" without a big crowbar and lots of scratched paint and possibly bent sheet metal. For the 1600 type gearbox, removing the crank pulley will be absolutely necessary, and you might still have some scratched paint. Also be sure the shift extension housing is removed.

Bottom line is I always find it much easier to R&R the engine separately, and R&R the gearbox by itself (if it has to come out at all). I have very little problem mating engine to gearbox in the car. Jack the gearbox up to touch top of tunnel (and do not trap the speedometer cable). Then the engine slips right in with only a little tilt required. Put it in 4th gear, and turn the wheels or propshaft a bit to align the clutch splines. Or 4th gear and parking brake, and turn the crankshaft to align the splines. This never takes more than a few minutes, usually less than one minute before it slips together.

Install two bell housing bolts first, top one next to the oil outlet fitting, and bottom one next to the exhaust pipe. Those to positions have slightly smaller holes so the bolts serve as alignment pins. When those two bolts are in you can tighten them up, and the rest of the bolts will drop right in with fingers.

Barney Gaylord

With an existing fully mounted gearbox I always split them for engine removal and insertion.

However, fitting the 5 speed for the first time needs thought as you can only position it accurately to fit the support strut (requires chassis drilling) after it is mated to the fitted engine. If you have not already considered the speedo drive we all recommend the right angle drive adapter. This is a very tight fit against the tunnel wall and is not conducive (IMHO) to putting the engine/gearbox in together - any fore/aft restriction on the way in could knock the speedo assembly out.

Too long ago too remember precisely how I installed my gearbox but I think I positioned it approximately in place supported by blocks and jacks then put the engine in place. With the engine back end still held by the strops (or supported underneath by a jack) I nudged the gearbox forward to mate fully. Once I was happy with the combined alignment and clearances with the firewall and tunneling I drilled and fitted the gearbox support strut. I did it without any third party help so it can't be too difficult.

Steve Gyles

Agree with Steve when installing engine/5 speed box for the first time. Gearbox needs to be connected to engine, or placed temporarily in situ, as the mounting plates can only be positioned with engine/gearbox in correct position.
Gary Lock

Agree with Gary and Steve for fitting a five speed for the first time. But in any case as Barney says it's much easier to fit the two items separately and mate them in the car, whether original gearbox or five speed. Steve's comment wrt the five speed angle drive is spot on. In all cases fitting an engine is much easier if you add the crank pulley just before settling the engine onto the chassis mounts. (I have done about 20 engine changes and my old record time was 51 minutes engine out and 2 hours back in and running). With my latest tools (battery powered ratchets) and the mods I have done over the last ten years, I took the engine out last week in 47 minutes. I have fixed a gearbox oil leak and done some R&R on the wiper motor (much easier to access when standing in the engine bay), so am not yet ready to fit the new engine. But it's prepared and ready to fit and I hope to do the fitting with a time lapse camera to record how quickly it can be done.

Having installed a number of five speeds I always mate the engine to the gearbox in the car with the gearbox jacked up to the top of the tunnel so it is easy to mate the splines on the input shaft to the clutch plate. This is facilitated by a socket on the pulley nut to rotate the crank and a crowbar between the engine mount and the chassis to provide backward pressure as soon as everything is aligned. Works like a hot knife in butter.

Once the engine is in place, I add all the bolts in the engine mounts, and then relax the jack under the gearbox until everything just settles, then jack up to relieve the tension and drill the holes for the rear gearbox support.
Dominic Clancy

......and don't forget to fit a sump plug if your gearbox supplier has not already done so.

I think it was Dominic and I (and probably others) who cut an access panel in the tunnel side wall adjacent to the speedo drive off-take. I initially did this when I did the gearbox implant in 2000 so that I could fit the speedo drive cable across the driver's compartment (RHD). But I found this panel even more useful for access when I later fitted the right angle drive assembly. I lined the panel with sponge to cushion the drive unit against knocking during engine power twisting.

You will find in the archives ( "5 Speed Right Angle Speedo Drive") some photos and description where John Francis has shaved the corner off the drive unit to give greater clearance with the tunnel wall. It's something I will do when I next have cause to take the engine and gearbox out. With this mod you may not find it necessary to cut an access panel

Steve Gyles

It was me that fitted an inspection cover - make it a sensible big size as a small hole doesn't make fitting the speedo drive any easier. I also shave the angle off the angle drive and make a small bowl in the inspection cover too so there is plenty of clearance. If the mounts are all in good condition the gearbox shouldn't be twisting much anyway.

Dominic Clancy

When i fitted my 5 -speed, i took advice from Steve and also fitted access panels for the reversing light switch and oil filler holes as well as the speedo connection.

Colin Manley

Many thanks for all your comments. Food for thought.
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This thread was discussed between 06/02/2017 and 09/02/2017

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