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MG TD TF 1500 - Does anyone else ever get discouraged?

I've said it before, that working on the TD is like swimming in molasses!....Just when I think I'm moving forward, I find another aggravating problem, and I have to go back and fix it , before I can go on....
If it only happened occasionally , as on other MG and car projects, I wouldn't feel so bad...But "Rocky" is different...It's like the car is laughing at me...Taunting me to think that things are improving...and then WHAM, another problem rears its ugly head.
I'm not going into detail, as it hurts to think about...I just need to vent.
Before starting on "Rocky", I thought I was a pretty good mechanic....I'm now seriously thinking of retiring after this one, and looking for a friendlier fishing, or comic book collecting.

E.B. Wesson


It is easy to get discouraged. When I brought TF 5110 home, I thought this woul be an easy restoration - paint was stripped and mostly disassembled. Then I got to the engine- disaster. An early XPAG (#824) and siezed up very badly. Put together by some one that did not know these engines. Block is cracked so I had to source a block. Engine is finally back together - built to the TF 1250 spec, nd will go into the frame next week. Still lots to do, but looking forward again.

RG Taylor

Don't know what is discouraging you Edward, but your Rocky is a nice TD. It looks like you've made a bunch of progress.

It can be tough to do, but try to look at each new problem as something that shows you what needs doing to make it the car that you set out to have.

Take a break, come back with a fresh outlook and keep the good energy flowing.

Bobby Galvez

Been there done that. Most of us have. I walked away many a time out of pure fustration. But I always went back and finally it came together. They are fun once together.
Tom Maine (TD8105)

Oh, yah!! I've been fighting with 'the53' for 7 years now. And I was just trying to keep it from being parted out! It's consumed virtually all of my free time and money. If I'm lucky, I may be able to recoup about $6-7K. Has it been worth it? He$$ NO. Bud
Bud Krueger

Edward, I think most of us have felt that same way at some point during a total restoration. Think of yourself as Rocky's doctor and he needs your help since he cant do it himself. Tom Maine is right on target. You are doing very detailed work from that which you have accomplished. Hang in there!!!
Jim Merz

Edward, listen to all these guys, DON'T GIVE UP. I think the majority of folks that restored these little gem have gotten frustrated beyond belief more than once. These cars look quite simple until you try to fit doors line up hoods, sort out electronics, try to stop oil leaks etc. etc. etc. Keep the faith, go forward and the day will come when you will have a big ole smile on your face when you look at your reward.

Bill Brown

Edward -- Over the past four years, I have been frustrated, challenged, irritated, angered, confused, and emotionally drained, while doing the complete restoration of my '54 mgtf. But, I've also been rewarded, enlightened, pleasantly surprised, and happy enough, at times, to hear myself joyously laugh out loud.

I have learned more than I expected about these cars and even more interestingly, I have learned a lot about myself, during this process. If I didn't have an abiding passion for this, like others on this BBS, I would have quit long ago. Hang in there, as you are in good company, expert mechanic or novice like myself.

John Brickell

Hang in there, I figure five years; some good days some not so good. There will be times that you'll spend two or three days trying to remove a stud or something similar. But it feels pretty good when you finally get it out
David Werblow

They are difficult cars, for sure...versus the simpler American cars. I have a TF just "finished" but the rear main leaks a lot and the doors have gaposis. I decided that perfection was not going to get it done, so there are some things I'll have to live with. And DeNile is a nice river in Egypt, when it comes to oil leaks! Hang in there...they take a lot of hours. Mike
MW Davis

Hang in there Edward, Rocky is just testing you to see if you are worth ownership (you may have gotten it backward - Rocky owns you, not the other way around). Real discouragement is throwing a rod in the replacement engine for the one that threw a rod at 4200 rpm, scattering the original engine all over I5 in Olympia Washington due to a stupid mistake when tightening the gudgeon pin pinch bolts. The real discouragement was the realization that I did exactly the same thing on the replacement engine. Finally got it all sorted out and the TD has been running fine ever since. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

I was lucky enough to get hold of a running TD in good condition, so I can only imagine the frustrations of restoring a wreck.

But I've done enough on the car (rewiring, for instance) to know that you reach a point where you're sick and tired of it and have to walk away. It might be for a day or two or, in my case once, 3 months.

Eventually a spark of enthusiasm (or is it cussedness or curiosity?) returns and you're back on it.

If you're feeling that way and the TD isn't co-operating, take a break and leave the car to sulk. It'll be more appreciative of you when you get back.

- Tom.
Tom Bennett - 53TD 24232

Edward, You may not remember but a few years back you emailed me personally to help me with a very practical solution on a repair that I needed. The repair was driving me crazy and I have never forgotten your help and how you viewed that situation from your "practical (no BS!) Standpoint. Somehow I find it inconceivable that this setback will slow you down. Go for a beer, tell the barman how the love of your life has once again, broken your heart - then get back at it. Good luck! ....Chris
Chris Malcolm (TD 29228)

....don't give up...
I was no mechanic (at all) and towed a non running TD home...sat and looked at it for a few days, picked up a wrench, ..... and broke off the first nut i tried to undo.
That would not be the first time i would say WTF am I doing.....

then one day i put on the last 'bit' and started it up and that was 25,000 fun miles ago......

gblawson(gordon- TD27667)


I would tell you what Confucius would say in this instance but who cares, he never had an MG 'T' baby. Never had the feeling of driving down the road, top down, with the wind blowing through his strange looking and oddly long and thin beard. Not to mention that dress he wore, yikes! Now don't you feel better about your situation? Soon that will be you. Minus the dress I hope. Your car looks great. I am actually stripping all the paint off of mine at this time. Five coats of paint really cover up a lot of damage on the wings. I always thought the metal was in great shape but there are lots of places it looks like someone took a hammer to. I wish I knew how to paint but after all this work I want it to look great and last for years and years.

Enjoy your car.

Rob Welborne

I had several moments where I got frustrated. Don't really recall the details now but I just had to walk away for a few hours or in some cases a few days. Usually after something broke that shouldn't have or where I screwed something up I shouldn't have. Almost always when I was tired and should have been having a beer instead of turning a wrench. Walk away and hit it with a clear head at a later time. When I take on a project like that I get possessed and it eats at me to keep at it until it's finished. The now departed MGAs broke me of sucking eggs in combination with the health issues. I think my resto days are done. I am going to to at a 53 Victress today but with my brother inlaw. Google it...I had never heard of one either.

In a word, Yes!
Those of you who know me know the tale of the restoration of the TD. it was a process that lasted just over 8 years. There were times when I was so overwhelmed, and had to walk away from the car for a few days, or even weeks. It took up half of my garage and all of my free time.
When the engine started for the first time, I broke down and cried. I was overcome with emotion, fell to my knees and cried tears of joy. When I went for the first drive I had to pull over and wipe the tears from my eyes.
There will be tough times. My advise? Take your time and don't rush it. You'll be much better off doing it once, and doing it right. No regrets. There is nothing I would have done differently. It still amazes me when I think that I did everything myself, and somehow it all worked out well.
D. Sander

You and I look to be at about the same point in our restorations, mine being a 1955 TF.
Actually, you seem to be a little ahead of me with the interior looking good!
As you can see from my picture, I have yet to tackle my interior other than laying down the carpet. (check out my deivers seat) I can now back out of my garage and drive back in under power.
I know your frustration, and I can't help but think about all the things I have done 2 or 3 times when they didn't fit right or didn't work right or I messed them up.
On the bright side, it's so satisfying when something major goes well and the car progresses to the next point.
I'll bet if you take a little break, you'll be looking forward to resuming the project.
Dave B.

DW Burdette

Stop your bellyaching.

You ain't restored a MMM car. Car is simple. Try finding affordable parts !!

I spend more time researching replacement parts then I do on the car, a PA ... but I'm getting there.

Gord Clark
Rockburn, Qué.

Gordon A Clark

Rememeber you are likely doing things never done before. The wood drove me crazy. Repro parts don't bolt right in, you are repairing/restoring old and worn things. We are (except for Len F ?) not professional techs or restoration people. Like David S, I too cried when my rebuilt engine started, but that was because all of the oil was running out between the bearer plate and the block. The next time, no leak, but minimal oil pressure (then I took that project over myself, another whole story...) Body shop #1 sort of went out of business, which delayed things a long time, etc., etc. Best to figure some things will not go well, and be greatful when they do. take your time and it will be worth it! George
George Butz

Thanks all, for your good will....
Funny thing is that "Rocky" was a driver when I bought it, so I thought it would be an easy redo....
Deeper I went, more stuff that I found...Not major, but enough to be truly aggravating....
I have re-done 5 other cars, but this is the first that I took all the way to the frame (others were unibody type).
Engine just needed "sprucing" up, and new sealing gaskets, as it had been rebuilt less than 4000 miles earlier. (hopefully it will restart!).
The standard stuff, like clutch and throwout, were pretty straight forward....
The real aggravation started with the pedal box (you all know about that fun project!), and moved on to rotted floorboards, un-exptected body damage, really dangerous wiring, rebuilding springs, etc.
Now into paint , and thinking that it would be a small car, and an easy job, but forgetting that the body is in 30 (or so), different pieces, that all have to be painted separately.
Temperature, humidity, all play a part in the process.
Anyway, thanks again for helping me vent....I'm off to the garage to kick the tires!
E.B. Wesson

Edward, careful with that kick so you don't do any ankle damage.

Bill Brown

Thats the spirit...
Tom Maine (TD8105)

OK, Sounds like you have tackled the hard stuff (Pedal box is rated as one of the toughest). As stated. Most of us have been there. It helped me that when I ran into a tough issue, I would stop and work on an easier part. This usually would give me the confidence to get back to the hard work.

Hang in there and keep us posted on the progress.

BTW. Looks really great.
Bruce Cunha

Hi All,

Agree with the above on the points of restoration on TDs and TFs.

Last Thursday night I attended a Club meeting in the Port of Fremantle here in Western Australia.The night weatherwise was about as perfect as you could get.Cool and clear.

What a joy driving the TF down the highway with it purring like a cat.

During the drive I certainly did'nt think once about any difficulties encountered over the years involved in the car's restoration.In fact,at the meeting I remarked to a fellow Club member that the five years work on the TF (often with accompanying frustration!)was worth it just for that one trip to the meeting!

Keep at it!

Rob Grantham
Rob Grantham

I had many different "sub projects" going on at the same time. I was working on things like the seats, the starter and generator, the carbs, the grill shell and radiator, suspension parts, steering collum, windshield assembly, steering wheel, gauges and dash board, wood pieces, etc. When I would have problems with one component, there was always something else to work on.
When the final body work was done and it was time for final assembly I had the rolling chassis done and most of the sub components ready for instillation.
It was as easy as adding the finished dash, seats, bumpers, windshield assembly, etc.
This not only streamlined the process, but gave me enough to do at a good pace to make real progress. I followed the same process with the TF too.
D. Sander


Discouragement is not the word, aggravation is closer to the mark. These cars are custom made no two are alike nor are two sides of the one car alike.

What you inherit when you buy someone elses discard is a venture into the unknown. What new supplied parts you have to modify to make them fit is for the brave.

Fitment of doors and side curtains are guaranteed to result in severe hair loss, the solution is to walk away take on something that will produce a tangible result and come back to fight another day.

I am yet to be exposed to the rush of blood that everyone informs us they feel when they drive the finished product, maybe next Aussie summer will bring this to fruition.

G Evans

I think the key to this is not to tackle the whole job at once.

On mine I took it in phases. That way I could see progress.

Phase 1, get engine running
Phase 2, fix brakes and running gear so I could drive it
Phase 3, fix tranny
Phase 4, strip front half of car off to paint frame etc.
Phase 5, strip back half off to do frame etc
Phase 6, strip tub and paint
Phase 7, Interior
Phase 8, top and side curtains.

After many of these phases the car was at a point where it could be test driven to make sure all still worked and I was on the right track. I was done with all but phase 8 in 2 years, took another year to save the money for the top and side curtains and install so 3 years total.

You see so many projects that people start in by completely tearing things down and have a pile of parts, too much all at once for the average joe IMO.
L Rutt

Discouraged? Just because every 5 minute job takes 5 hours, A few burned pistons until I set the fuel level height at the jet, (thanks to this list), more distrubutor issues than I can count, never the same twice, except for the Petronix, 3 times? At least the fuel pump failed the day after my daughters wedding using wedding cars sevenoaks in Manhattan! We went to the church in the TD, yes she was in her wedding dress!
This car is a blast to drive! When I get discouraged, I relax and drink a home brew!
Len Fanelli

The very first job isn't starting the engine it's reconditioning the dash board or getting the seats recovered in leather. You then store these in your dining room. When everthing is going wrong just go and look and feel them and suddenly the depression will be lifted.

Jan T
J Targosz

This thread was discussed between 29/05/2012 and 04/06/2012

MG TD TF 1500 index

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