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MG MGB Technical - Clutch Replacement for a Novice

I have a slipping clutch, and I want to replace it before the summer. I've been reading the archives, and looking at my shop manuals.

I have a 1976 MGB, no overdrive.

As near as I can tell, the parts for a clutch replacement, ring gear replacement (if needed), u-joint replacement, rear clunk repair, and associated parts like motor mounts and gearbox mounts would cost around $500. I talked with a local British car restoration shop, and they are guesstimating $1500 labor. A total cost of around $2000 for the works.

Here's my question - as some of you who have read my posts before know, I'm no mechanic, but I'm willing to try most anything with the right reference material (and this bulletin board). Sometimes that gets me in trouble. Do you think I ought to take a run at doing this myself? Am I likely to get stuck and have to carry everything to a shop? Will my wife kill me in the process?

Also, can anyone give me a guesstimate of how many hours it may take for someone who has never done any of this before to do a job like this? I figure I'll pull the gearbox and engine together, since I want to do the u-joints anyway. I'll also clean up the engine bay while I have it out.

I appreciate your honesty in advance! If you think I'm too stupid, just tell me - others have! :-)

Thank you.

John English

This is just plain old mechanical grunt work. If you have a workshop manual it should cover what needs to be disconnected to pull the engine and trans. (they must come out together). After you think you have everything disconnected, double check before lifting. Rent or buy an engine hoist and lifting attachment. Have an extra person available when actually removing the engine. If when lifting it doesn't want to move, recheck for components/wires still connected.I would guess it may take you six to ten hours, hopefully less to have it out. Speed only counts when your being paid to do it. Take your time, don't rush it. You may find it to your advantage to remove things like the carb/intake manifold assembly before pulling, it will be easier to see what you are doing, and you reduce chance of damage for the cost of a gasket.
John H

Well I didn't do my clutch but I had to take the engine and box out to change the OD switches. Whilst I do have experience of taking a midget engine and box out (in 1.5 hours) I had never done a B before. It did come out (in 6.5 hours) and it's a really heavy lump of a thing when you do it on your own and I have the luxury of having a pit in my garage.

It took me equally as long to put it back in again, but the job got done and I saved myself a few hundred pounds in doing it myself so I would advise that you jump on in and give it a go yourself. If you can get a mate round to help so much the better. But what better way to get familiar with the car that you own.

Would I do it again..... only with help, but yes I would!.

A I McGee


I'm self taught when it comes to automobiles. I've done all of the things you are talking about except for the rear end clunk. When I took my engine out for a rebuild and complete tear down on the car. None of them were difficult, but they did take time and some special tools Engine Hoist, Clutch alignment tool, and a good torque wrench.

I used the Haynes and Bently manuals, The DIY MGB Manual by Lindsy Porter along with this board and a video on engine rebuilding to do it all.

The video is Doc Doolings (sp) It will give you a visual for complete removal of the engine and trany from the car. It then shows how to separate the engine from the transmission and clutch removal. At the end, he shows the reversal of many of the steps giving a very good reference. I also took lots of pictures of everything before removal and any time it looked like I might forget anything, I took another picture.

The DIY book does a very good job on the clutch and u-joints with lots of pictures.

There is lots of good step by step descriptions on this site in the archives that also helped.

Times: All with my limited knowledge and 1st time attempts

Remove engine and transmission 1 complete Saturday 12 hours.

Clutch Removal and replacement: 4 hours. Does not include trips to machine shop for flywheel resurfacing and new ring gear. They installed.

Drive Shaft u-joints: 4 hours. The old u-joints were stuck had to borrow a hydrolic press to get them out. I installed the new u-joints on my 6" bench vice. Need the wide mouth to use sockets as shown by Lindsy Porter in the DIY book.

Reinsatlling everything: Another Saturday about 12 hours.

I spent a lot of time watching the video and reading the books as well as documenting what I removed from where etc. A digital camera comes in very handy here.

Cris DeYoung

John, With your attitude about diving in a getting the job done I have confidence you can do it. Actually Chris and some other mechanics prefer to remove the engine only and leave the transmission in place. It's probably more difficult to get the first motion shaft inserted into the clutch with the tranny in place. You would have to support the tranny and perhaps tie it up. It's just a thought, I'll remove the engine only if I ever need to change a clutch. The last time I did the clutch I was changing from a 4 speed to a 4 speed with OD so I had to remove the tranny. With the tranny in place you will not have to remove the console and shifter and rear tranny mounts. Good luck.

Clifton Gordon

I appreciate everyone's confidence. I'm leaning toward doing this myself - for $1500 I can buy a LOT of tools, including a hoist and engine stand! :-)

Cris - Moss has an MGB Engine Rebuild Video listed, but they don't tell if it's Doctor Doolins (I found the correct spelling at another site). Did you get yours from Moss? I would really love to have the video to watch before I start this.

Clifton, are you saying you WOULD NOT remove the gearbox? In they archives there seems to be a lot of discussion about which is best.

Do I need an engine stand if I'm going to pull the engine with the gearbox, or do I just need to build some kind of platform so the engine isn't sitting on the oil pan?

I'm sure the video will answer most of my questions - I have Porter, Haynes and Bentley, and while they are very good, nothing beats watching somebody actually doing it.

Thank you!


John English

Just a warning, the thing is after you get the engine out you'll start thinking I might as well check this and tweak that. Things like 'well the carbs are off so maybe I should rebuild them' or 'the engine is out so I could take the head off for a peek inside or check the bottom end bearings'. Next thing you know the whole thing is in bits and all sorts of new parts are going in. Obviously engine out is the best time to do such things of course :)

Simon Jansen


In an MGB (as opposed to an A) the engine/tranny come out together pretty easily. That being said, I seperate them. Everyone has their reasons for why they do it whichever way- you'll soon develop your own.

If you're just doing clutch work the engine stand is unnecessary. I don't have a problem letting the motor rest on the pan as long as it's not getting dragged around the garage on it. If you're uncomfortable or want to make the motor easily moveable I've found that a padded furniture dolly works well. You'll want the motor close to the ground anyway to reattach the tranny.

Nothing you're about to do is hard, I pulled my first motor at 17. Just clear your weekend schedule and if you think you might be doing something wrong, stop and ask questions on the BBS. The one thing to remember is that this job is a pain and you only want to do it once, so make sure you are doing it right the first time. I reccommend replacing the disc, pressure plate, throwout bearing, front tranny seal, and possibly the rear engine seal. If these seals fail in the next couple years they'll prematurely end the life of your new clutch and you'll be doing this again.

PS- DO NOT be tempted to use a roller-style throwout bearing.

John, I plan to leave the gearbox in if I ever have to change a clutch. No experience doing the MG with the tranny in. I worked on a Chevy race car for several years and never considered pulling the engine and transmission out together. Chris Betson doesn't remove the tranny when replacing a clutch. I do know from experience that you have to tilt the engine a lot to remove it with the tranny even with the rear jacked up. The combined package is rather heavy so I will try it as Chris does the next time. I know about 90% will tell you it's easier to pull them out together. I suggest you do it the way you would feel most comfortable with. I mentioned it as an alternate method. I do know there are less parts to disconnect and remove if the engine only is pulled. As Mark said an engine stand isn't necessary. One person that frequently posts here doesn't use an engine stand for rebuilds. I do but I suppose that's a personal preference and for me it's more convenient to use a stand.


Clifton Gordon

John. OK, a lot of information here. Much of it is personal opinion based on our own experiences and our perceived opinion of you from your current and past postings.

In my opinion, any individual of average intelligence, and with good mechanical work habits, can pull an engine and transmission (yes, I fall into that camp) and do the necessary work. I, firmly, believe that you can do this job if you desire.

The comments about renting an engine hoist and tilt mechanism are "spot on". I purchased mine because of the number of cars we own and go through. (Five MGs owned and three parts cars taken apart over the last several years.) The engine hoist and tilt mechanism was purchased at Checker Auto Parts for about $300. The local price to remove and replace an engine is between $450-$500. The hoist I purchased has removable legs and occupies a space of less than 3'x3' in the garage. I have used it, about a dozen times, over the last eight years on my MGs. We have also used it when a friend needed to replace the engine in his Scout and two friends needed to replace engines in their Broncos. We have also used it when moving milling machines and lathes. If you may have a need to use an engine over the years, the initial purchase will be well absorbed by the first job you use it for.

The books suggested--Bentley and Haynes manuals and the Porter book, are all excellent. They all say the same thing, but in slightly different ways and with slightly different emphasis. I have all of them because it is difficult to know which one of them will say something in a manner which will "click" with you. Sometimes, someone will explain things in a manner which clicks for an individual. Oly Stephanson did a write up of modifying the transmission cross member to allow easier installation with an overdrive transmission. I had read of this procedure several times, but, did not understand it. Oly's write up and photos "clicked" for me and I have done two of them now with great success.

Photos of how the system fits together are a good idea. (Sorry, do not remember who suggested this, but it is an excellent idea.) I also lable all of the wires that are disconnected and any hoses that are disconnected. I got some of the labels that are available at most office supply stores, or at Walgreens, and bag the various bolts in ZipLock bags, label them, and note anything which may be of use--i.e. the starter bolts, on the Mark II and later cars, have different threads on them--I note that the coarse threaded bolt (from memory) goes on top (check this yourself before trying this). Bagging, and labeling, parts is an excellent idea.

The flywheel has a 1/4 marking on the outer, forwards, edge. This should be uppermost when the pistons in cylinders one and four are fully up. (Set the timing mark to TDC.)

Consider replacing the rear main oil seal on the rear engine plate while the engine is out. Also, consider replacing any other gasket which shows signs of leaking such as the tappet cover gaskets. I also take the opportunity to replace the front cover seal on the transmission and to re-shim as necessary. Often, the shims in the front cover are broken and need replacement.

The best way to align the clutch plate (driven plate) is to use an old first motion shaft rather than the less effective plastic tool. Chris Betson (Octarine Services) and Bob Schaulin ( can supply a used first motion shaft for this purpose. Replace the pilot bushing. (See my tech article on this at for information on how to do this.)

The bolts holding the flywheel to the crankshaft need a specially modified socket to be removed without damage. Again, there is information on this on my website. I would suggest that you use a new lock tab when installing the bolts and use some blue LocTite on the threads.

This is not a difficult process, although it may seem to be so the first time it is done. If done carefully, it is fully within the grasp of the average hobbyist.

Les Bengtson

Thank you all again! Great information!

I'm sold - reading these posts has caused me to be excited about doing this job!

Regarding an engine hoist - which I'll probably go ahead and buy - will this one suffice for an MGB?

Thank you again.

John English

<<<<<<will this one suffice for an MGB>>>>>>>>

Ummm yes - you could lift two entire cars with this lift! :-)
The Wiz


Yes, I bought it from Moss but it was about 7 years ago. The engine hoist you show is excellent. Lots of strength and it folds-up.

Cris DeYoung

John. That seems an exact duplicate of the one I have. If so, the "one half ton" setting, 1,000 pounts, is more than sufficient for the weight of the MGB motor and transmission.

One problem that I had, when using this system, is that the legs would not fit under the car when the engine was in place. True with a Rubber Bumper car and more true with a chrome bumper car.

My procedure is to raise the back end of the car up, quite significantly, and place it on jack stands under the rear axle. I, then, jack up the front of the car and place two 2"x8"x 12" boards under the front tires. This allows the engine hoist to slide under the car for engine/transmission removal and to slide out from under the car after the engine has been replaced.

In the "while I am at it" mode. replacing the flex hose for the clutch slave cylinder and rebuilding the clutch slave cylinder are a good idea.

You may also wish to replace the dust boot on the clutch fork and the bushing in the clutch fork while the engine and tranny are apart.

Please be so kind as to e-mail me, preferably though my website as it has a better server.

Les Bengtson

With every clutch change I also replace the rear
main seal as well as the transmission input shaft
seal and the transmission front cover gasket.

The parts are cheap enough and they help
minimize those pesty oil drops appearing on
your driveway in later months.
Daniel Wong

It's not that tough of a job if you have a good place to do the work and have some tools. I wanted to be the first to say that you'll probably get the urge to do other work while the engine's out, but others beat me to it. So I'll add encouragement with the thought that you can justify spending at least $500 more on new parts than you would have if your mechanic did the work. Give the engine bay a good cleaning before and after the engine is out. Buying the hoist will give you lots of time to take care of the details without worrying about another day's rent, then sell it after you're satisfied the job is done - if you want. Or hang up your shingle as an MG mechanic, your wife would love that.

I kid.. I'm not a great mechanic, but I have fixed a lot of things because I'm fascinated by the way things work. And I hate to pay the labor rates! But I've never hesitated to take something to the experts when I'm in over my head. Kinda like hiring a lawyer when you know you need one.

When I was younger, I took a couple of classes at the local community college's auto shop. Made lifetime buddies and fixed a few cars to boot. Just an idea, they already have good tools.

Hi John,

Agree with everyone that pulling engine is not difficult. I'm in the engine only camp having helped a fried do both at once it seemed a lot easier to me just to pull what is needed. I'd do the UJ's seperately once the engine is back in place. It's a personal choice!

One thing. Be sure about how you fit the parts. I've just heard of a guy in the UK that fitted the clutch release forkl the wrong way round and had to pull everything back out again! The first time I did it I was given a clutch kit by a fried with the words "I'm pretty sure this is correct, I got it at an auto jumble". It wasn't and I had to pull the engine a second time! So take care!

I reckon it takes me about 3 hours from running to having the engine on the ground (resting on cardbosrd on the garage floor, if you want to move it get the hoist out, but it can be dragged if the floor is even!). Probably 4-5 hours first time. Generally the flywheel does not need resurfaced and the ring gear will be perfectly useable. I have also never bothered to replace the pilot bush. I'm in the "if it ain't broke" camp, so I deliberately tried not to get caught up doing extras. For example the hydraulics on my clutch worked fine, so why change the hoses, provided they look OK (no signs of cracks etc). Mine is a CB car and I did have an issue fitting the hoist under the cross member. A couple of pumps with a trolley jack (litterally, no where near enough to lift the wheels) were sufficient to get the clearance and once the hoist is in place and takes the strain of the engine then the jack can be removed.

I put a webpage together the first time I did it.
I was putting a temporary engine in while I rebuilt the original, but that all went a bit wrong! It's all sorted now though!

Good luck
I D Cameron

Iain, nice to hear from you again and I just wondered if you would pipe up here. You boys across the pond seem to be making a heck of a meal of this by tearing half the car apart. Taking the engine out on its own is much easier and avoids going near the rear crossmember with its awkward mounts. Lift the front of the car about 12" and then remove the bottom bolts around the clutch housing. Lower the car again and place a trolley jack under the bellhousing. Now remove the carbs and then manifold bolts and withdraw the inlet manifold with all its bits. Also withdraw the exhaust manifold but leave it attached to the downpipe. Drain the coolant and remove the diaphragm panel complete with radiator oil cooler and hoses then disconnect all wires and sling the engine. In my opinion, a rope around the rear of the engine just in front of the backplate up and round the hoist hook a couple of times and then round the front pulley is all that is necessary. Undo the engine mounts and lift the engine following up with the trolley jack to support the transmission. When the transmission contacts the body you can pull the enghine forward and lift it over the slam panel. As Iain says you can do it John in three hours easily. Now replace as many of the suggested bits as you wish and then replace the motor by reversing the procedure. Note that you must accurately align the clutch disk as you tighten the cover. I prefer to use a turned mandrel here so that I can exactly align the inside diameter with the pilot bush and also ensure that as you bring the engine and transmission together the gap between the bell housing and engine backplate must be parallel in both vertical and horizontal directions. This is done by adjusting the jack. To finally enter the gearbox shaft into the clutch splines it may be necessary to turn the crank pulley slightly with a socket (ensure that transmission is locked in gear)as you push the engine back. A garden spade is very useful for placing between the front of the block and the rear of the crossmember so that you can push the handle and locate the engine. Fit the top bellhousing bolts and lower the engine. Lift the car and replace the bottom bolts.

One final tip, the leading edge of the gearbox shaft has a rather blunt end and does nothing to aid easy fitting of the engine. With and angle grinder produce a 1/16" at 45 degree chamfer on its nose and this will greatly help.
Iain MacKintosh

Hi All,
under the guidance of a mechanic friend (time served etc), myself and a friend did this clutch replacement to his 1969 MGBGT, US spec - we only removed the engine though. This, believe it or not, was done on the hoof as the car was going nowhere, and we had no capability of getting it moved to a convenient location (its a long story, not very pleasant, whole job done in cold winter day, hellish to be honest!) what intrigiued me/scared me/fascinated me at the time was the way we lifted the engine. now, i am sure everyone will tell me that this was the worst thing we could have done, and it looked it to me, but our 'proper-mechanic' mate reckoned no sweat. i would appreciate your opinions, as i might do it again, or maybe not. we had very limited lifting gear (a half-knackered hydraulic thing that was all or nothing on the way down!) , no decent sling etc - he made up a small sling with eyelets and bolted this to the the rocker shaft bolts - accordint to him they will hold anything! this way, thanks to a click adjuster on the sling, we could angle the engine very accurately for the in and out manouveres. to align the clutch we used a socket drive handle bulked up with tape. the whole job (engine in, clutch off, new clutch on, realigned - first time- engine in, all reconnected and drive home) took from 7.30am until 9pm. though i was very worried about the lifting method, the engine has now done many happy miles, and there is no obvious rocker play etc that there wasnt beofre - so - is lifting by these 2 bolts actually okay, or was it an emergency job that we got away with and should be avoided (i got fed up with asking at the time due to the 'what, dont you trust me' looks i kept getting!.
the tip above above raising the back of the car is a good one - this also helped us a lot.
will appreciate any comments
m rae

I like it Mick and think it's brilliant. Sometimes you are forced to do these things and make the best of the very limited facilities available. Sometimes we think far too much about doing a job rather than getting on with it when we have enough information. The more we think about it the more arms and legs the thing grows. You have just emphasised once again that the way to go about this is to remove the engine on its own. Just imagine trying to remove the engine /transmission as a single unit, it doesn't bear thinking about.

Now, you had to make do with what you had and I know that replacement Leyland engines used to come with the lifting lugs already fitted to the rocker cover bolts but frankly I wonder whether or not they are robust enough and I prefer the simple sling round the engine. Maybe that's just me but using these brackets certainly provides a good central lift
Iain MacKintosh

Great comments from the UK!

Iain C. - Thanks for the link - the pictures give me an idea what to expect.

Iain M. - You're right about my excessive research - I tend to spend so much time researching something that when I finally do it the research was more painful than the actual job - but, maybe all the research is why the job wasn't as painful - hard to tell. Thanks for the great advice!

What I really love about this BBS is the encouragement a person gets to try to do this stuff on his on. Two days ago I was thinking "just pay somebody to do it so you can drive it." Now I'm thinking, "why let somebody else have all the fun of taking it apart - you'll have plenty of time to drive it when its back together."

John English

There has been many an MGB engine pulled using the valve cover studs. That said, I'm not too keen on it.

Good luck, John. Work careful & watch those fingers.
Carl Floyd

The most useful thing I found when trying to get the gearbox and engine back together was aligning the clutch using an old first motion shaft my mechanic kindly lent me. Trying to align it with anything else didn't seem to work for me.

The other thing probably mentioned already is you might want to check the bearing (is it called the pilot bearing?) in the flywheel the shaft end fits into. I replaced mine when I did the clutch. Getting that out is fun. I used soggy toilet paper, a wooden dowel and a BFH! Plenty of tips on that one in the archives.
Simon Jansen

John, hope the comments were helpful. Re your research this is of course vital to enable you to be aware of every diffiiculty you might meet and to work out how you will deal with it because we all have individual solutions but as you have realised when you think you have worked it through then it's time to get on with the job.

Now, not wanting to put the fear of death in you but in my opinion the most feared part of the job is mating the engine back to the gearbox. I've described how to do it and also suggested chamfering the shaft. Now Simon suggests using an old first motion shaft and I've done this on many cars before and it is spot on but just because I didn't have one I turned a steel mandrel in which the end was a very close fit in the pilot bearing and the next step a close fit on the spline internal diameter. That way there was no possibility of the slight float which is possible using a first motion shaft so you can be confident that the disk is spot on. In addition, you can actually get your hand in to guide the nose of the shaft into the splines and really provived that the gap is parallel the engine will go straight home
Iain MacKintosh

FWIW Whilst I'm sure an original shaft is the ideal, I've had no trouble getting boxes and engines to mate together using the cheap and cheerful plastic "clutch alignment tool" that Moss and others sell. An extra pair of hands and some careful consideration of getting an even gap top and bottom as the two come together makes the job pretty straightforward. Or maybe I've been lucky so far! Either way, I like your thinking and I'm sure you'll get great satisfaction from having done the job yourself. Even better, next time you want to pull the engine you'll have all the tools to do it for free.
Steve Postins

Thanks again for all the comments - I just printed this thread out - 10 pages of great information!

Time to start my "clutch research notebook and checklist." I'll let ya'll know how it goes.

John English

I've replaced clutches 3 or 4 times. Also, I've had to do it overnight when my MGB was the only car I owned and needed it for work the next day. You can actually drop the transmission and replace all from under the car. It takes less time and gives you a couple of hours sleep before you have to get up for work, but is awkward because the transmission is very heavy and difficult to line back up from underneath. Very hard to "get a handle on" when you're on your back. I measure the distance from front and rear points of the transmission to the floor when the car is supported on stands and support the transmission when putting it back in. It's impossible to just lift the transmission and align it (maybe the "governator" could do it, but I can't). A transmission jack would be beneficial, but if you're going to make an investment, better to get an engine hoist. You'll have achy muscles in the morning that you forgot you had. The pilot shaft tool is an absolute necessity any way you do it. I have a plastic one like some others mentioned. I don't really recommend this method, but if some of you are pinched for time, it doesn't take as long as other methods.
Rick Penland

Can i possibly just check with Rick Penland that i am not getting what he means wrong..........are you saying that the clutch can be replaced from underneath, that is, without disturbing the engine? reason i am so interetsed is that my mechanic mate (see my tuppence worth to the thread above) insisted that it should be possible to replace the clutch without complete removal of anything, that (this is from memory so i may be mis-quoting him) the gearbox should be able to be moved away from the engine, the clutch replaced in a very small place (using a small, flexible, well trained monkey i presume!) that can be made between engine and gear box, then the gear box brought back into position and job done. he added that the joggling about to realign it all could take some time, but insisted it was easier/faster than engine removal, particularly if you had access to a pit. i argued him down (from a point of total ignorance - terrible isnt it!), saying that this may be possible on most cars, but had never heard of it happening on a B. but clearly, i am totally wrong if i understand your thread Rick. so my next question has to be - why dont we all replace our clutches that way, it sounds like a much better, nay, genius move to the likes of me, who frankly still fear the engine removal job as lots of unforseen things can and tend to happen to me with big removals.
now i am really interetsed, is there a step by step idiots guide to this 'new to me mate' method anywhere online?
thanks again
m rae

Here is a link to a guide for clutch change without engine removal.
They say they are not sure if it would work on early cars or cars with OD fitted. Never tried it myself and wouldn't bother personally. I'm betting most people would be far quicker pulling the engine!

I D Cameron

M rae, it's been years since I did this, but I don't recall having enough room to remove and replace the clutch components unless the transmission was dropped out of the way. Seems to me that I did all that turning and such and still never cleared it enough. It was a 1970 MGB. It's quite easy to disconnect the driveshaft and there's not much to the transmission crossmember. The real trick is getting it all lined up correctly when you replace it. If you're out of alignment and try to push it or manhandle it, you'll have to realign it again with the alignment tool and start over.

For those of you that try it this way, remember the transmission isn't light. If you try to wiggle it out and expect to catch it by hand and lower it, you will probably get hurt in the process. It's imperative that you support the transmission. I use a creeper and some strategically cut and placed blocks of wood to build a sort of dolly to remove it and replace it.

If I owned a shop, I'd invest in a transmission jack and do this easily all the time. My simple experiments above are the ways of my youth. We used to say "poor men have poor means".
Rick Penland

I must admit that I knew about this method and also that it would only work on later non O/D cars and I'm also all for taking the shortest route to a satisfactory job but this is not a route I'd go on an MGB. We used to pull boxes out of all manner of cars change the clutch and put the transmission back in but not where things are stacked too much against you. This is a heavy transmission with not too much space to work in and quite frankly I couldn't be bothered lying on my back if a pit or lift was not available. I don't know how long this method would take but would assume that it could be 3 - 4 hours of pain and sweat. Now to remove the engine and do job would take somewhere between four and five hours. I'd say allow five but at least you would spend very little time under the car and you would work in reasonable comfort without the risk of having difficulty aligning the shaft or even twisting the clutch centre plate. The final call is obviously yours John but either way we'd like feedback on how you did the job and how you got on with it.
Iain MacKintosh

I truly appreciate the suggestion regarding leaving the engine in. However, I'm 6'5" tall, weigh 250 pounds. I don't have access to a lift or pit, and without them I'd have to find some pretty tall jackstands to allow me to lay under the car! And at 52, I might just decide to stay under there rather than trying to wiggle my way out. :-)

I'll be pulling the engine - I may do the gearbox too, since I'd like to change the mounts, but I haven't decided yet.

John English

I might need to apologize for bringing the issue up, but it is possible to do it from underneath. Like Lain noted, it is probably safer to pull the engine. It's safer to not be under a ton of metal if something goes wrong. One advantage of pulling the engine and refitting, in my experience, is that a properly balanced engine on a hoist will align and "clunk" into place better than it will from beneath. You may have to "wiggle" the engine a bit, but when it finds the sweet spot and all the splines line up, it will fall right into place and you can bolt it together easily. MG engines aren't light either. When I was younger, I bought a '62 Mark II engine for my '58 MGA from a friend who wanted to put a 283 chevy in his Mark II. He worried about added weight on the front suspension, but found that the 283 weighed 40 pounds less than the Mark II engine (1798 CC forerunner to the MGB engine).

Although I've brought this "underneath" method up, let an old man err on the side of safety and suggest otherwise with the wisdom of age. My LE has been on jackstands for a couple of months while I rebuilt the entire front suspension. No, it wasn't that time consuming, but as several noted, you fix one thing and find some others and decide while you're in this far, why not fix that too. I travel all over the US and keep busy so not that much free time anyway. Sometimes when I'm under it on jackstands with my creeper, I have this vision of my wife coming down to the shop and finding me under the fallen vehicle. Sort of like getting into the water after watching "Jaws".

Let's make this a comment on safety and stay "above" the vehicle rasther than below it.
Rick Penland

Aye, on balance i am inclined to think that the under-car method may now not be so attractive as i first thought when Rick mentioned it above. however, its been good for one thing - the 'i bloody told you so' look of smug victory that came over my mates face when i admitted it to him over a pint last night. i will soon wipe that smile away when i next break down and require assistance again.
thanks everyone for whats is a really interesting and informative thread within a thread, and for taking the time to reply to my slightly off-thread request.
m rae

John, just a further suggestion in that if you decide to pull the gearbox as well I still pull the engine first and then unbplt the gearbox crossmember from the body and drag the whole thing out from under the car. Now replace the mounts with the gearbox and crossmember on the floor and replace this as a unit just putting the four crossmember bolts back into the chassis rail. You've no doubt heard much gnashing of teeth over the crossmember mounts but this way makes it easy.
Iain MacKintosh

Thanks, Iain.

Yes, I've been reading about the dreaded crossmember bolts. I think someone mentioned a modification to make that easier, but I probably won't do that.

Will removing the gearbox also make it any easier to change the front gearbox seal?

Just a thought - is the gearbox crossmember too wide to go through the engine bay? I could see another reason for pulling the gearbox being easy alignment of the engine and gearbox.

John English

John, the crossmember mountings and bolts on a car with no overdrive aren't so bad. You do have some space there to get to things. I always just do everything up loosely first then get it all into place and start tightening things up.

Oh, and take careful not of how all the bits on the crossmember fit together because they can go several ways and it isn't always obvious which is correct. When you're under the car trying to get it to all bolt together but you've got the centre bracket in backwards it isn't always easy to see what's gone wrong.
Simon Jansen

Have a good friend on hand to help where needed on the project and lay in a good supply of adult beverages to keep him entertained and interested. Count on it taking 4-5 hours to reinstall, then you'll be pleased if it takes less. The MGB motor and tranny is a bit on the heavy side, but not in the park with a Jag XK motor and that's a chunk of iron.
Wayne Hardy

John, if you take the gearbox out complete with crossmember there is no real need to carry out the modification as changing the mountings becomes quite straightforward. It's quite easy to change the front seal with the gearbox either in or out. If you leave it in then you just have to climb into the engine bay to do this. Now the box won't come through the engine bay with the crossmember still attached and you will have drag it out from under the car as the crossmember is too wide.
Iain MacKintosh


Where abouts in Atlanta do you live. I'm in Roswell. If you can wait a couple of weeks I can give you a hand. I've done clutches in all kinds of cars and trucks but never an MG. We can learn together.

My email show on the message so drop me a line if you're anyhwere near Roswell.
Bill Pilon

Bill, you've got mail.

John English

This thread was discussed between 23/01/2006 and 28/01/2006

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