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MG MGA - Oil cooler for 1500

Hello Everyone,
I am considering installing an oil cooler on my 1957 1500 roadster. I understand they were optional in that era, and I have been trying to keep my car as original as possible, and yet I like to drive it, especially to the MAMGAR GTs. I think an oil cooler would help it to keep a better hot oil pressure and help keep the oil viscosity higher, and be a help all around in our hot weather.
My question is: would the Moss Oil cooler kit- original type 235-925 be correct for a 1500 (or as correct as possible), and where does it mount. I assume on top of the duct panel somewhere between the rad and the grille. Would it impede air flow to the rad in that area? It looks like you have to drill holes to mount it and maybe large holes for the pipes to fit through? (Drilling the holes will be a traumatic experience.....)
If anyone has a picture of an original type installation and any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Oops, I mis-spelled NAMGAR I apologize!

Ralph (I can't type )


I think that the first thing you should do is to really determine if you need an oil cooler.
Looking at the mean temperatures for Ottawa on the Internet at:

The mean summer temperature is for July 26.5 degrees C (79.7 degrees F) and for winter in January it is 4.2 degrees C (-15.3 degrees F). Of course you get higher peak summer temperatures.

When I lived in Adelaide, Australia and drove my 1500 and Twin Cam they never needed an oil cooler. Instead I fitted an oil temperature gauge. This confirmed that I did not need an oil cooler. Peak temperatures in the 1960's in Adelaide would go as high as 43.0 degrees C (110.0 degrees F).

I fitted an oil temperature gauge by drilling a hole on the banjo bolt of the oil filter and welding on a threaded extension so that the oil going to the engine would pass over the sensor without any impeding of the flow.

What you should be thinking of is poor oil circulation due to cold oil. Oil flow rate is more important than viscosity.
Also, corrosion and bearing problems in the engine due to the build up of moisture in the oil, because of the oil not being hot enough.

For less money and effort you can have peace of mind with an oil temperature gauge.

Mick Anderson

My previous post is not clear. The Adelaide temperatures given are for the weather, not the oil.

Mick Anderson

One way of resolving the cold oil circulation at start up or at low temperatures is simply to install an oil thermostat then hopefully you can have optimum conditions in hot or cold weather.
J H Cole

I thought modern multigrades were designed to address temperature variations.

Steve Gyles


That is the theory, but in practice it can be a different story. The standard test for viscosity is to allow a ball bearing to fall through a set depth of fluid. This fall is timed at various temperatures. You can try it yourself and I am sure you will find that multigrade is only partly true.
My modern VW uses 5W/30 oil and yet the engine designer still saw the need to put a water/oil metal plate heat exchanger in the system. This directs warm water, held back in the engine water passages by the water thermostat, on to the heat exchanger.
So much for the 5W specification.
When fully heated the water which has now been through the radiator is sent to exchanger to cool the oil. The designer doesn't believe the 30W either!

Mick Anderson

Ralph, the mounting dimensions and loacation for the holes are shown in the factory service manual.
J Heisenfeldt

Ralph, you might want to read the thread I started early May: "Oil Cooler Question." Don't know if it will help your decision, but I added a Moss cooler in front of my radiator and my engine coolant ran hotter. Ultimately, I remounted the cooler beneath the air pan and coolant temperature returned to pre-cooler levels. I don't know what has happened with respect to my oil temperature. The installation of the cooler was easy, even to remount it. However, I don't know if I'm getting any benefit from having the cooler. Also, I should note that I originally mounted it about 4 inches in front of the radiator. If I were mounting one above the air pan, I would mount it more forward, hoping to minimize restriction of air flow to the radiator. Good luck.
gdp poe

Thanks guys,
You have given me lots to think about.
Mick,I know we Canadians sound like wimps compared to Ausies. I live near Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit, Michigan. This area will get up to about 35C, but we have high humidity, due to the Great Lakes. Of course humidity is not temperature, but we also like to go to events in Michigan, which will quite often lead to lots of idling in border crossing traffic in sweltering heat. Traffic in Michigan is sometimes grid lock also until you get past the outskirts of Detroit. The traffic is hard on MGAs, and really most vintage cars that are to original specs. My car desn't do too bad in those conditions, but I had thought that an oil cooler might be a good addition, but I was wary about affecting that precious airflow from the grille. I will look into installing one below the air pan. Thanks gdp and everyone

Hi Ralph,

The problem is that oil coolers (and radiators) are not very effective at idling and in gridlock in traffic, and this is when you need them most. You could install an electric fan, but that can also increase obstruction front of the radiator.
Some people recommend fitting an oil cooler below the panel in front of the radiator, but it would not benefit from an electric fan, if you fitted one.
Also, for most benefit you could cut an opening in the body in front of the bottom mounted oil cooler, but you said that you wanted your car to look original.

I still think that you need to quantify the problem. Sometimes what is actually happening is not what you think is happening.
I still believe that the first, and easiest, step is to fit an oil temperature gauge.
Note the earlier post from gdp poe, you can easily get confused and not know if anything has improved, in fact the result may be worse. Only the combination of water and oil temperature gauges will give the full picture of all options.

Mick Anderson

Ralph - for the traffic conditons you describe - standing traffic at 35c in high humidity - I agree with Mick and don't think that an oil cooler would help . You would definitely find that a Kenlowe style electric fan will help when queuing ( I have one but not fitted it yet) but my colleague in our club has one on his coupe and never has problems with temp rising in queues for shows (mine rises to over 200F from normal 190 after about 15 mins) - he hasn't noticed any increase in running temp on the motorway either - cheers Cam .
Cam Cunningham

Ralph,I live in Wisc.(USA)and have a 1956 MGA Roadster.
I was concerned about anything in front of the radiator
that would block air-flow to the radiator. I mounted my oil cooler below the pan using spacers so I could still use my crank to start if I had to. My MGA 1500 would over heat as well so thats why I added a cooler.
I also tuned both the carbs and the timing and that helped to. No more over heating and there is more then enough air flow or movement under the car as well so you should not have to cut holes.If you would like photos, I can do that. I also added a MGB recovery tank. Sincerely, Tom
Tom Peotter

Ralph, don't cross at Detroit, take a ride a little north and cross at Port Huron, less traffic and almost no trucks as compared to Detroit.
J Heisenfeldt

For those looking for the original steel and rubber oil hose combination at a reasonable price, I have finally located the guys that make them for most of the normal retailers, and they do sell direct too.

The item is available from, part number is MGA1 (page 19 of their catalogue). If you want to add a thermostat in the oil lines, just specify this when placing your order, and they will add the extra connectors for just the charge for the connectors themselves. Price for the standard kit is GBP105, sales taxes are added to EU sales.

This works out at around 230US plus shipping - 35% less than AngloParts for the same thing.
dominic clancy

This thread was discussed between 06/06/2008 and 09/06/2008

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