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MG MGA - Shock absorber refurbishment.

I have the usual leaky lever arm shock absorbers on my car - not massively leaky but annoying nonetheless. Can anyone remind me of the contact details for an American refurbished who has been highly praised in past posts, allegedly doing a “proper” job with better than new techniques to sort these shock absorbers.
Perhaps there is someone else doing an equally good job in UK, which would obviously be more convenient for me, although I have yet to hear of anyone over here who has been recommended. Maybe someone knows better?
B Mayo

I've literally just posted a link to them in the MGA section but also do a search of the B and midget and Sprite sections on here for ideas and information, some of it will be from Peter Cadwell who's company it is IIRC.

AFAIK the new and reconditioned LA dampers you get from the usual suspects over here remain very doubtful.
Nigel Atkins

I have used various european suppliers several times over the last 30 years, but two years ago I bit the bullet, bought a set of cores on eBay and had them shipped to Peter Caldwell, who shipped the exchange recon units to me. I like the buyer-lifetime guarantee that he offers, it shows that he has confidence in the longevity of his work. The ride has been much better since they were installed. And they don't leak.

Coincidentally, the last of the units that came off my car two years ago left here ten minutes ago and will be fitted tomorrow to replace a front shock where the seal is sitting loose on the shaft and can be rolled around between body and arm with finger pressure. The failed unit is a unit that came from a UK repainter (cleaned, filled with new oil and blown over with black paint = refurbished).

Dominic Clancy

There is a new reconditioner in Oz. All Lever Shocks based in Somerville, Victoria. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.
Mike Ellsmore

I have seen many "reconditioned" units supplied by the usual suspects that have just had a bit of sponge rubber fitted to the shafts between body and arm to "seal" the shafts from leaking oil.

I have long considered stripping a unit ( I have plenty! ) and seeing what could be done to improve the design.

Maybe now I am retired I might actually get round to it!
Chris at Octarine Services

Thanks for replies. So, no UK recommendations - that sounds like the only way forward for me is the recommended USA route with all the complications of shipping and cost. Still, perhaps I need to bite the bullet and get it done, after all a lifetime guarantee sounds good. I don’t suppose any friendly MGA contributor on this site runs an airline shipping business to the USA?!!!! Too much to hope for.
Dominic, did you just use a standard DHL or similar service? Or is it cheaper just to buy the refurbished shock absorbers outright and avoid shipping the leaky ones to USA?
Grateful for any advice.
B Mayo

PS. I assume Twin Cam shocks are standard as on any MGA?
B Mayo

I remember reading someone (can't remember who) didn't bother sending the leaky ones to avoid the hassle and cost, $30 each.

One thing I wonder is do you have to add the oil or not I assume not but we all know what happens when you assume.
Nigel Atkins

I have used Stevson Motors a number of times.

It might be worth giving Derek a call, as the website doesn't work too well.

0121 472 1702

Dave O'Neill 2

A couple of years ago I bought a pair of adjustable rear shock absorbers which had just been reconditioned by Brown and Gammons.

They work really well, the adjustment feature works fine and they don't leak.
So it may be worth enquiring at B&G to see if they still re-con shock absorbers.

Colyn Firth

Don't bother using the World Wide Auto Supplies website to try to get a cost for shipping.
Email Peter Caldwell of World Wide Auto Supplies.

He can issue a PayPal invoice for the damper(s) you require with core charge and shipping to you.
It is straightforward to pay it on-line, you don't need a Paypal account.

In my experience shipping from them is quick, but then a few more days while UK Customs handle it.

Parcelforce will demand the import tax and a handling fee - totals about £ 24 for a pair of dampers.

It is still worthwhile sending the old units to Peter.
Shop around for return shipping, various agencies offer reasonable rates, with options of drop off at a Post Office or home pick up etc.

The delivery packaging is fine for the returns ( I drain them first ! ), shipping a few days, and core charge repayment is prompt.
J N Gibson

Just heard from Peter at WWAS. He is conducting a tech session at GT-44 in Dubuque, which we are attending, and he has offered to bring a set of front shocks for me to take back to Australia. Interesting, he tells me he has an Australian Austin 1800 ute that he uses for trade advertising and attending shows.
Gary Lock

Bruce, I just bought a set of cores on eBay US and had them shipped to Peter to avoid the core charge and two sets of transatlantic shipping, the ones I then took off my car have been gradually used up to fix other cars, so it ended up costing me about the same as a UK sourced set.
Dominic Clancy

Had Peters adjustable shocks on our midget, high quality, easy to adjust.
Sucked up the core charge with his agreement but still worth the cost. Will probably change to his when the present ones get bouncy.
David k Brenchley

I have used Peter's shocks on several MG's and would recommend them highly.
Bill Haglan

Thanks again everyone. Yes, Peter Caldwell certainly comes highly recommended by everyone. Just for interest I phoned Stevsons yesterday and spoke with a lady there (wife or daughter) who refurbs brakes and she referred to Mr Stevson as ex-Lockheed shock absorbers and does a full refurb of all parts including the proper oil, not fork oil as everyone, wrongly, uses! . Around 47 plus VAT, presumably on exchange. I shall speak to him Monday and try to get a comparison with the Caldwell USA comprehensive refurb job. It would be nice and simple to stay local but only if it seems to be comparable.
B Mayo

Did she say what the "proper" oil is?
Steve Simmons

Steve. I too was intrigued about the oil, having always just used a very light motorbike fork oil. She seemed insistent that "proper" oil was needed. I will find out when I phone the owner today.
B Mayo

How World Wide Approaches Rebuilding Lever Shocks…

First. What fails in a lever shock? Almost all of the (non-traumatic) failures result from lack of oil in the shock. The manuals always recommend Checking or topping-up your shocks in various intervals 3000 miles or so. Why? Because they leak!.. what a surprise! They don’t leak just because they are British, they leak by design (now there’s a bumper sticker). Speaking here of the rear shocks... the shaft that protrudes from the body of the shock is rotating in the body without a bearing. To ensure sufficient lubrication there is often a channel or groove in the shaft bore. At the outside there is a rubber packing retained by a thin metal washer. A packing needs some lubrication to work at all and the weeping of oil acts as a deterrent to dirt getting in. Dirt getting in will score the shaft at the seal area hastening the demise of the packing and wearing the bearing surface in the body.

The solution that all of us rebuilders use is to machine the body and install a bearing. We use Delrin, others use bronze. Bronze requires oil, Delrin doesn’t. We also machine the body for a rotary oil seal (others don’t) (in fact we use a double lip seal with dust excluder). One guy does use a rotary single lip seal and the others use several rubber washers held in place with a steel washer or two. To solve the pitted and scored shaft problem, others sand or grind the shaft down (you don’t need to be precise with rubber washers) We have manufactured for us, to our specs, stainless steel sleeves that allows us to have a 3 micron finish and consistent diameter and concentricity of the shaft. After many years, we have found this to be very reliable. Our shocks don’t leak.

The process... step by step. Receive grimy old shock, tumble clean in a deburing/tumble cleaner. Glass bead blast entire shock. Disassemble. Tumble and hot wash internals. Bead blast the rest of the arm. Machine for the bearing and for the seal. Wash again. Press in bearing and seal. Press on sleeve. Inspect and repair/replace as necessary the pistons and the valving. Reassemble components using all new hardware of proper thread and style. Fill with oil and bleed. Compare valving with NOS shock, adjust if necessary. Wash AGAIN. Paint 2 coats primer and 3 coats high heat black enamel. Date code and ship.

There you have it.
Peter Caldwell president. 800 362-1025
Dominic Clancy

This thread was discussed between 06/06/2019 and 11/06/2019

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