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MG MGB Technical - Brake Wheel Cylinder Clip/s

It's been a few years since I last replaced the brake wheel cylinders on our B/GT, and now have the lovely task of fastening the retaining clip/s between the cylinder body and the backing plate. After spending an hour in the garage without any luck I realized I was having way too much fun, and gave up! Anyone here have any suggestions?


Larry C. '74 B/GT & '69 midget
Larry C '69 Midget

Larry, I used the purpose-made tool that Chris Betson sells at Octarine Services. Only way to go -- works great.

Tom Custer

Larry, A few years ago someone posted a solution that uses a pair of vicegrips to hold the brake cylinder against the axle shaft while your hands are free to install the c clip. RAY


Some of the replacement cylinders come with poor quality retaining clips that make the job harder, and then they don't work after you get them on because the installation springs them so that they are ineffective.

So, if you have the original clips, consider using them instead of the new ones.

Then, the second thing to consider is that the clip gets stretched less if you shove/pry it over the boss horizontally rather than from the bottom.

I can't think of an easy way to describe this in words, in spite of the fact that the concept is simple. What I am trying to say is spread the clip and push it over the diameter of the boss that protrudes through the backing plate. This would be similar to the way you would put piston rings on. Don't try to slip the tips of the clip into the groove and push it home, or it will spread the clip too much.

Once you have the hang of it, and have a quality clip, it only takes a minute.

C R Huff

Throw those horrible clips away and use high quality CIRCLIPS
t burnett


I knew their was something I was forgetting about what I did last time. I did use the vicegrip method, and it did work. I will give it another try this evening.


I'll keep your suggestions in mind this evening on my second attempt, including the circlips.


Larry C.
Larry C '69 Midget

I made a tool, see and click on 'E-clip fitting tool'.
Paul Hunt


Thanks for the tip, and the link for this tool. I somehow missed this when I was looking through your web page a few weeks ago when working on my front calipers.

Great page, and always a big help.


Larry C.
Larry C '69 Midget

Circlips are so much easier, takes about 2 seconds to put one on. Speaking of using them does anyone have a source for the thin wavy washer that shold go behind it?
MK Mike

As Charley suggests, use the old ones (or NOS) if you can. New ones I bought looked the same but must have been slightly smaller in diameter.
You need to spend an hour or so, give up for a day or 2, then go back to it. Then it takes a couple of minutes. I just used a small screwriver to ease the clip on and then a larger one to lever the clip down so that it snapped into the groove. Charley is right - you need to minimise the amount of stretching.

The tools others have made are probably very good if you need to do this often, or if you feel like being generous and lending it to others!
John Minchin


You'll need:

a) one 3/8" x 24 (NF) x 2" bolt, nut, and washer.
b) a small screwdriver.
c) medium-sized Vise Grip pliers.
d) a socket that'll slip over the threaded brake line boss on the wheel cylinder. The lip of the socket must be able to reach slightly past the groove that is on thread brake line boss on the wheel cylinder. I use an 11/16" socket.
e) a lightweight hammer and a long drift.


Here's how: (it is actually easier than it sounds as written, here)

1) Clamp the pair of Vise Grip pliers onto the axle wheel flange - so that the back of the Vise Grip braces the wheel cylinder against the brake backing plate and holds it there.
This'll free both hands for the "real work".

2) Hold up the E-clip so that the center tab is nearly seated in the groove on the wheel
cylinder - while using the small screwdriver to pry on one of the ear tabs onto the groove
that is on the wheel cylinder.

Be gentle, and try to do as little bending as you can get away with.

3) Try as best as you can to pry the second ear tab into the groove. You'll never be able to get all three tabs seated fully home - but do as best as you can - then step away and relax.

4) Place the socket over the brake line boss that is on the wheel cylinder.

5) Thread on the 3/8" nut fully home onto the 3/8" bolt and slip on the washer after it.

6) Install the 3/8" bolt & nut & washer assembly onto where the brake line would normally go on the wheel cylinder (this will all be placed through the 11/16" socket). No need to torque the bolt tight.

7) Once the bolt is seated, turn the 3/8" nut & washer against the socket. This will push the E-clip home. Do this until you see all three tabs engage the groove on the wheel cylinder.

8) Give the E-clip a few gentle taps with the lightweight hammer and drift in order to
ensure that all 3 tabs are fully seated and properly engaged.

9) Whoila! Finis. Remove the 3/8" bolt and socket, and Vise Grips.

Michael Beswick


Thanks for your input. I have one clip in place, and as you suggested I used a small screwdriver to position that clip over the boss in one motion. I'll attempt the second one this evening now that I have the basic method to follow (I need to write this down in my repair manual). I'm also discovering that I'm not as nimble as when my car was new, and everything is taking much longer for me to do.


Larry C.

Larry C '69 Midget


Watch John Twist's video on how to rebuild your rear brakes. Excellent info. I've used his videos to rebuild my Z-S water choke on my 77 w no problems.

S.L. LaPaugh


Thank you, and did review John's video before I started, and must say he makes everything look so easy. Ran into another problem with the locating pin placement on my second new wheel cylinder. Looks like I have one for a Tourer which has the pin located higher on the cylinder body than the correct one for the B/GT. Will have to wait now until next week to exchange for the proper unit.


Larry C.
Larry C '69 Midget

Check the archives...I used a circlip...easy as 1-2-3...I think it was a 5/8ths but not sure...I'll never try that damn E clip again...
Bob Doc
Bob Dougherty

Found it in the is a 5/8ths external C clip (circlip)
Bob Dougherty

I would add that I pull the roll-pin on my slave cylinder and tap threads into the hole (10-32 IIRC or possibly 12-32). This allows me to be sure that the slave cylinder sits fully against the backing plate in the absence of the wavy washer. Without the screw, there was enough movement that the drum was cutting through the dust-covers on the slave. I use the vicegrip method as well, but I had not tried the socket. Next time...
David "patiently waiting before touching the rear brakes again" Lieb
David Lieb


After obtaining two correct wheel cylinders both were installed yesterday evening in less than an hour. I used the original style "E-Clip" using a small flat screwdriver to start the clip over the "boss" and then press on with a larger flat blade driver. I added a note in my service manual for next time.


Thanks for finding the "C-Clip" info in the archives, I did look but couldn't locate it. It sounds like all that would be needed to make this a much easier project would be the size for a proper "Shim" to fit behind the 5/8" circleclip to insure a tight fit to the backing plate.

Thanks to all,

Larry C. '74 B/GT & '69 Midget
Larry C '69 Midget

I used 2 circlips on one side to tighten it up...on the other side one circlip held it tight...
Bob Doc
Bob Dougherty has "wave washers" in a wide variety of dimensions (as well as many other arcane parts). Thanks to Chris King for pointing this out on another web resource.
David "just passing it along" Lieb
David Lieb

This thread was discussed between 08/10/2008 and 17/10/2008

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