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MG TD TF 1500 - 'frozen' engine?? Your collective wisdom desired

A year ago I received the rebuilt engine for my '54 mgtf as I believe I announced on this forum. The engine was "fogged" prior to shipping back to me. I installed the engine with a Skyhook transmission into the TF's frame about last June or July. At that time I turned over the engine by hand to check that transmission and clutch play, appeared be in working order. And they were and the engine easily turned over by hand.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago. I realized that I had not turned the engine over since installing the transmission and went out to turn it over again by hand. I put the transmission in neutral (car rolled easily as it should), then pulled the spark plugs, but when I went to turn the engine over, it was definitely frozen in place.

Question: could the engine freeze up in such a short period of time even after being fogged? Or could something else, that I am simply not aware of be the problem? I have put Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder, but after 24 hrs still no turn over. I am still surprised that the pistons could freeze up over a 6 - 7 month period. Possible?, or am I missing something else here?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated -- John
John Brickell

Depends on how much moisture there is in the air out there in WA state. My procedure is to put the car in 4th gear and nudge the chassis every day or so. I have always found, using Marvel Mystery oil and no plugs, that the car would eventually roll as the rust and the rings break free of the cylinder walls. Just takes time, as little as a day or so, as long as a few months. Patience wins out.

t lange

Thanks Tom for your comments. Obviously(?) patience is not one of my virtues, but the restoration of my TF is teaching me the importance of this trait. Washington state, particularly on the west side, certainly has an over abundance of moisture, but I'm still surprised at how quickly rust could have formed.

John Brickell

You still may just have a frozen clutch. Did the Clutch actually disengage or just feel like it did. I would put the car on jacks and turn the rear wheels and see if that will turn the engine over. If it does, your clutch may have froze up and will take a little working it to get it to free up.
Tom Maine (TD8105)

How cold is it? We'll be back near zero F again tonight. We have rain barrels full of frozen food outside. A touch of frost in cylinders may have really "frozen" it in place, rather than rust. If you can't warm up the engine, drain the coolant (even the oil, too), heat it up, and pour it back in (old technique for starting diesel engines). I remember my dad parking our car at night with a light bulb next to the block in the winter.

The XPAG engine is normally loose enough just to roll over by nudging the fan, (sometimes I have to push on the fan belt to keep it from slipping). My next effort would be attempting to roll the engine back and forth with the fan. Next, I would graduate to a breaker bar on the crank.

Following that, bumping back and forth easily in gear might free it up.

One other trick would be modifying a compression gauge hose and apply air pressure through the spark plug hole to whichever cylinders might have closed valves, squirt in heavy oil first to seal rings more effectively.

Keep us posted!
Jim Northrup

I freed up an antique tractor engine once by mixing diesel fuel and ATF at about 50/50, flooded the cylinders with it. A week later to my surprise, the engine started to move and after a couple hours of moving it back and forth with a long bar and socket on the crank, it totally freed up with no damage to pistons, rings or cylinders. Washed everything up, put in new oil and it fired right up. As far as I know, it's still running strong. PJ
P Jennings

Appreciate the input and so far it appears that using some form of penetrating oil to cut through the assumed rust deposits is the answer. Thanks for your input.

Tom, your suggestion regarding the clutch is an interesting one and I will look into that angle tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion.

I will let folks on this BBS know if and when the engine finally is able to turn over. I suspect that it is just a matter of time, but then, time will tell.

In appreciation -- John

John Brickell

I would not believe that one year would freeze the engine. Especially if fogging oil was put in it.

At most, it may have a little rust, but even that is hard to believe unless this has sat without spark plugs in a very wet atmosphere.

You can use a breaking fluid. and let it set for a few days then try rocking it, but you may want to consider just pulling the head. If this does not show heavy rust I would look to a frozen oil pump.

Problem is, if it is the pump, and it does not free with light rocking, you can do damage to your camshaft or break the pump gear.
Bruce Cunha

Thanks Bruce, and will look into that as well. This is one idea I had not even thought of. Interesting possibility. If I can't free up the engine after several days, I will think on your suggestion.

John Brickell

I'm with T Lange. Plugs out, Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder and let her sit. Once it turns over by hand, I would do the first start at night, as there will be smoke!
Always works for me. I'm in your climate.

'54 TF
Ashland, OR
Tom Norby


If you were able to turn the motor over by hand 6 or 7 months ago, I would suggest the problem is in the transmission. I had my TD motor sitting in the garage for over 30 years after a rebuild. I did turn it over with the crank once a year after putting oil in the cylinders. It never seized over that time period and the garage was not heated. I cannot believe it is the engine.

George Raham [TD4224]

John, I'm kind of curious, did you have the radiator installed over this period with coolant in it? PJ
P Jennings

Another possibilty is the starter may be jammed.
Dallas Congleton

I'd be looking at other possibilities first John. It's highly unlikely that the engine siezed up with the indoor storage over that time period.

I'd be looking at the starter first based on the fact that you were able to turn it by hand after assembling the engine and transmission in the car last summer. Turn the stater motor counter clockwise by hand using the square shaft end and a wrench. after a few turns try turning the motor over by hand using your hand crank if you have one.

have had this happen twice in Hawaii. Once from clutch plate frozen to fly wheel, the other when a helpful mechanic didnt use the proper bolts one the flywheel and they went through to the engine block, well actually to the new seal we put in
jj jones

This thread was discussed between 15/01/2011 and 17/01/2011

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