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MG TD TF 1500 - Condenser - local source?

I need a condenser for my '55 TF. TF distributor D2A (serv #40367B)

I know that local sources have been discussed previously on the BBS, but I didn't see a FLAPS (Friendly Local Auto Parts Store) name, brand, or part number. So ...
> Where should I go
> What should I buy?
I live in Orlando.

This condenser is on order from British Parts Northwest. The lead is attached to the condenser with a nut. I predict that I will overtighten the nut and destroy the piece! So, I need a good backup.

Thanks for your help,

LM Cook

I found a suggested interchange part for a condenser for my TF-1500.

I bought a Beck/Arnley Condenser #172-5829 at Advance Auto Parts. (on order to arrive tomorrow morning)

I got the interchange number from Post #16 by Pete Motorcar Garage in this thread from The MG Experience ...
"In my case, with advice from Jeff Schlemmer, I purchased a Standard brand LU206, which Jeff tells me is intended for an MGB. It fixed the problems I was having with the TD, and I now steer clear of buying condensers from the usual suppliers.",2530382,2530382#msg-2530382

Here is a list of interchange parts for Standard brand LU206:

My distributor did not have the original solder-in condenser. The breaker plate had been drilled and tapped to accept a screw-in retainer for the condenser.

I have another condenser, #DCB110X, on order from British Parts Northwest that is advertised as for TD and TF. Requires a wire or brass strip to be attached to one end of the condenser It has a mounting clip, but could possibly be soldered to the breaker plate if you want a more original look under the dist cap.

I also ordered a no-name standard output coil with screw-in HT lead from Northwest to replace the Lucas Sport coil SP-12 dated October 1987.

I have been fighting an ignition skip and occational backfire for months. I replace the condenser with a new Moss condenser, but it was defective. I thought that the engine was gonna expode with the popping, missing, and backfiring with the new condenser.

Hopefully at least one of the two new condensers on order plus the new coil will solve my problem. I have tested, repared or replaced just about everything associated with the fuel and ignition systems. I'll install them on Saturday, set the point gap and timing, adjust the carbs, and go for a long (I hope) test ride.


WSM page C-9

LM Cook

Lonnie, any condenser will work as they are all about .25 of a microfarad.
Len Fanelli

I still haven't found a suitable condenser for my '55 TF-1500 at a local auto parts store. The condensers that I mentioned previously don't fit.

> What are you using in your TF distributor? Is Moss the only source?

I know that most .25 microfarad condensers will work. The problem is the mounting tab that attaches the condenser to the breaker plate. I searched images on the internet and my local Advance Auto Parts store without success.

My distributor (Lucas D2A, Serv #40367B) needs a condenser with hole in the mounting tab even with the "wire-end" of the condenser. And the mounting tab needs to allow the condenser to rest in the recess of the breaker plate.

The condenser is different to the one in the TD/TF WSM that I showed in my previous post. A photograph of the condenser that I need is in the 1954 "Lucas Quality Equipment & Spare Parts" book -- #418113 for TF midget. A search found that the condenser and its substitures were used in only a few English cars from 1953 to 1959.

An MGB condenser ($7.39) was recommended on a number of sites, but the mounting tab is in the rear. That's what I am using with a slip-on mounting bracket that barely holds the condenser and may slip off at any minute.

Moss sells condenser #163-900 ($15.95) that fits, but the first one I bought was defective. I bought another and haven't intalled it. I'm a little gun shy of the Moss condenser.



> TOP: Condenser #418113, 1954 Lucas Parts
> MIDDLE: The condenser that was in my distributor when I bought the car.
> BOTTOM: Moss condenser.

LM Cook

All I have seen since the 70s have been the short type that was the middle one in your pictures. Try Abingdon Spares- no clue if the same source as Moss or not. I think Doug Pelton or someone recently said in an article that they found a bunch of true NOS condensers, but many of them were defective. Since it has been about 35 years since anything was made without electronic, local supply not promising. How is the head? George
George Butz

Thanks, George -

The only problem is the mounting clip. I don't think that I am good enough to solder the clip from the middle pic onto an MGB condenser. I wouldn't be comfortable with JB Weld, either. Lovin' old cars is getting harder every year as parts dry up.

I'll try the new Moss condenser after I install my "new" TF-1500 head and make sure that everything is working OK.

I pulled the head and chased the dirty threads in the spark plug holes. I believe that they are good to go. I'm painting the engine and detailing the engine bay. I'll re-install the head when finished. Then cross my fingers for luck when I start it.

LM Cook

Even if you could solder a clip on I would be concerned about the damage heat might have on the internal construction of the capacitor.

I would suggest the following.

Insert the capacitor,apply electrically conductive epoxy, install the clamp, allow it to cure.

The electrically conductive epoxies are not cheep, usually they contain silver.
Here is one. Its about $22 for a package.

If you mix just a tad, you can store the balance in a refrigerator (or a beer cooler) for an extended time.

Jim B.
JA Benjamin

Thanks Jim -

I agree that heat would damage the condenser if I tried to solder the clip. I had forgotten that the clip needs to be electrically connected to the breaker plate, so skip the JB Weld idea.

>> My original questions is still on the table ...
What condenser do other (TF) owners use with this breaker plate?

LM Cook

I needed a new condenser and was balking at paying $16 plus tax and shipping so I went to Advance Auto and we looked through several on their computer and came up with this.

$5.85 plus tax.

It's about twice as long as the one that was in the car but the same diameter. Once you get it screwed to the plate you have to press it down onto the plate. No big deal. I also had to bend a tiny corner of the mount back out of the way of the distributor shaft.

S J Grimm

Here it is on the car. It's a tight fit but it works.

By the way we found it by looking through different pictures on the store's computer. We looked through several MG's but then the clerk tried one for the Triumph Spitfire. And that's it!


S J Grimm

Gentlemen - If the car has been running all right when you do a tune up, do not (I repeat DO NOT) change the capacitor (condenser). Capacitors do not wear out - they either work or or they don't and if they are working when you do a tune up, it is a waste of time and money to replace them and in this day and age, you are more apt to dump a good capacitor that has been working just fine, for a piece of junk that is on the market today. A case in point - When I purchased out TD in 1974, I didn't know here to get a new (solder in capacitor), so I left the old one in place. Much later I was chatting to the superintendent of the electronics shop I was working for and the subject of auto ignitions came up. He told me at that point that instead of just automatically replacing the capacitor, I should look at the contacts of the points, and if there was no metal transferred from one contact to the other, the capacitor was working fine and was the correct value for the system (automotive capacitors have a tolerance of +/-20%, so one capacitor can be up to 40% difference between any two capacitors rated at the same value). From that point on I never gave a though about changing the capacitor in our TD up until I converted to the Pertronic unit some time around 2000. Cheers - Dave
DW DuBois

Dave, I understand and agree with what you're saying but let's suppose one had already replaced his fine legacy capacitor with a piece of modern junk and must, therefore, continue swapping in modern junk until he finds one that the manufacturer inadvertently made really good. I've always wondered whether it wouldn't be a lot easier to mount the capacitor on the outside of the distributor (originality police not always welcome here) so it could be more easily replaced. It appears that the case of the condenser needs to be well grounded and that the wire needs to be attached to the insulated screw coming out of the distributor. Electrically it would not seem that the physical location of the capacitor would matter. Am I missing something? (Disclaimer: As a ChemE I took two semesters of Betty Crocker EE but do not remember anything that I might have been taught) Jud
J. K. Chapin

Thanks for that Dave. My dad's car was running fine but it quit when I came to a stop sign and would not restart. Strong cranking but no fire. Ended up replacing the coil and it ran for about 10 minutes in my garage and then quit again. Talked with Sanders and we came to the conclusion that the Condenser was probably bad. I did not want to pay over $25 from moss or some of the other suppliers so I went to Advance Auto and after looking for a bit we found the one mentioned above.

Car started right up after putting it in and it ran for 15 or 20 minutes. I shut it down, waited about 10 minutes for the engine bay to heat soak and started it up again. Eureka! That was a pain to figure out because everything tested out OK, even the condenser.

I just put this out so if anyone else needs one this is local and only $6
S Grimm

" I've always wondered whether it wouldn't be a lot easier to mount the capacitor on the outside of the distributor (originality police not always welcome here) so it could be more easily replaced. It appears that the case of the condenser needs to be well grounded and that the wire needs to be attached to the insulated screw coming out of the distributor."

Stuart - See the article, written by Steve Mass, Condenser Failure in Conventional Ignition Systems, on Bud Kruger's Ttalk web site at Steve addresses the use of an externally mounted condenser in the system. One is far more likely to find a quality capacitor that is used in electronic equipment than finding on designed for the old conventional automotive ignition system.

Stuart - Conventional automotive ignition capacitors are still readily available, as you found, at automotive parts houses - that is not the problem. The problem is finding on that will last over time. All new cars having been built in at least the past ten years, all have electronic ignition systems that don't use points and a capacitor. The result is that the capacitors are not selling well and in order to keep the price down, the ignition capacitors being manufactured today are suffering from shoddy workmanship, that often fail upon installation or shortly thereafter, Your idea of using a conventional capacitor mounted external from the distributor is an excellent way to insure that you can purchase a quality capacitor and is advocated by Steve Mass in his article. Cheers - Dave
DW DuBois

If you use a non automotive capacitor, just makes sure its a high voltage one - like 400V or so. The system may be nominally 12V but you get spikes much higher than that.
Dave H
Dave Hill

Read the Ignition article in the new issue of Totally T-Type 2, horrifying about the current state of condensers, complete with pictures. George
George Butz

George - Did you read the article by our own Steve Mass in Bud's Ttalk? He says the same thing long before the article in Totally T-Type. Both should be required reading for anyone with a MG (regardless of the year) with the original ignition system installed. Cheers - Dave
DW DuBois

Yes I did, interesting both found the exact same things. The T-Talk article great for the long forgotten physics of how it all works. George
George Butz

A year ago I bought an MGA that had an outside condenser on it. It was very neatly done with a copper strip mounted on the distributor, and the condenser mounted on that. The condenser was a larger American made one. I took that off and went with a Moss Lucas condenser. There was no name one condenser, looking at the box it came with, it says Licensed from Lucas. So it is probably China made. I will most likely put that back on this winter. ( the outside one) I think the copper strip might of been for cooling. If I can get my Grand kids to help me I could send a picture
DL Rezin

Gawrsh, I'm flattened.

Keep in mind, you don't have to mount the capacitor inside the distributor. One lead goes to the wire between the distributor and the coil, the other to ground. If you score a modern capacitor, or some other cap that won't fit inside the distributor, you can mount it inside the footwell, if you wish, and just run one wire to the coil be sure to get the right terminal!) and the other to any good, convenient ground, although I'd suggest a ground point on the distributor body or at least the block. Be sure to disconnect the old capacitor; you don't want a bad one running in parallel with a good one.

I thought the article in Totally T-Type was pretty good. I think the writer had a good idea for making a replacement capacitor out of a modern one.
S Maas

I'm chasing an electrical issue with my TD, will the BWD condenser mentioned above also work on my car? I have no idea how "car specific" you have to be with a condenser. Joel
Joel Schofield


The condenser is generally NOT car specific. However, there is a wide variation in the mounting methods. So if it fits or you can get it to fit, it will be fine. Of course, there is the old issue of quality. I have had to replace my condenser in both my TD and PA twice this summer - and I'm still looking for a good quality one.

As I understand it, and in everything I've read, Condensors are somewhere around 20uf to 22uf.

If you are burning points you can tell if your condensor is to high or to low depending on what side of the points the deposits are.

that is the real tell tale sign. Can't find my reference now on how to tell by which side the deposits are on but a quick google search should find one.

A condensor / capacitor will drift. It's not a matter of instant failure, the capacitance can and will drift over time given the type of construction of these particular caps.
L Rutt

I think you may have missed a decimal point. I seem to recall that they're more like .22 microfards. BTW, they are not polarized. Bud
Bud Krueger

This thread was discussed between 07/05/2014 and 20/08/2015

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