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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Planning a front suspension rebuild

Hi, all.

My 1500 passed its recent Missouri state inspection with flying colors, but with the advisory that there was play in the "front ball joints". Meaning, the trunnion replacement I've been putting off for years will need to happen before the next license renewal.

So my question for you, the Council of Sages, is, what's the current best option and source for the Midget front end rebuild? I'd like to go with double grease fittings on the lower trunnions, etc.

Thanks in advance. I'd like to go with good quality parts, but without breaking the bank. Meaning, Frontline is out, but well-done factory spec is in. I ask mainly because I've seen numerous pics of shabby-looking new wishbones.

Gryf Ketcherside

It's an enjoyable job, Gryf, so long as you've got time to think about each bit as you go along, and proceed methodically. Let's hope the internal threads in your wishbones are still good: like you, I've been frightened by the spate of horror stories on here recently, and in the past I've bought wishbones whose threads were only just there - worse than what I was taking off - but with nice black paint.

The Council of Sages will be along soon on the parts supply question. After that, you'll have to do some dismantling
Nick and Cherry Scoop

"Frontline is out, but well-done factory spec is in"

Good man! A smart move in my oppinion. So many ditch the standard suspension for mega bucks "upgraded" versions when a good service and refurbish of what they already have would work well.

FWIW, if I were to refurbish my front end I would do the following. There are some non-suspension jobs in there that are worth considering whilst things are apart.

- Self-refurbish a set of good second hand lever arms. New gaskets, seals, oil etc. Check/balance valving and maybe fit stiffer valve springs from an MGB or something.
- Negative camber and/or dual grease point wishbones if they can be found. I don't know if they are still available.
- Check wear of king pin and associated bushes. Clean up and inspect before deciding whether they need replacement or not. If yes, check whether a new king pin is sufficient first before getting involved in bush replacement.
- Stiffer road springs (depending on budget/driving style).
- Replace FWB and hub seals only if there is an obvious defect/play. Repack with some fresh grease if not replacing.
- Fit new (longer?) hub studs whilst everything is apart. Easy and cheap to do and they are normally bent.
- New discs (if worn), new uprated pads of some sort.
- New bushes. Poly if budget allows.
- All new nuts, bolts etc. (good practice really).

Malcolm Le Chevalier

I modified my wishbones to double grease nipples. The blind end isn't really thick enough to take a threaded hole so I welded on a steel disc, drilled and tapped, and that was 15 years ago. Perfectly sound today.

I've looked at refurbishing the lever arms but found that you need a huge press. Or does anyone know different?

While it's all apart I'd suggest poly bushes all round. Much better steering precision, but there is a little more kickback on potholes.

When you reassemble you will of course use copper grease won't you? I learned that the hard way.

Curious about 'play in ball joints'. The only ball joints are the track rod ends (and of course inside the steering rack), and I've never seen any play in these. I wonder if the tester knew what he/she was looking at. You would notice play via the steering. Replacing the track rod ends is a half hour job anyway - unless they are seized in the tapers because the last owner didn't use copper grease!

L B Rose

Malc, where do you get the gaskets and seals for your lever arms if you don't mind me asking?
Jeremy MkIII

Gryf, you know that Peter Caldwell is the man here in the states. Give him a call: (800) 362-1025
Trevor Jessie

Stevson Motors might sell you the lever arm parts as they overhaul them.
David Smith

Are Stevson Motors any good David? By coincidence I rang them this morning for a quote - 47.50 for front and 37.50 for rear shockers (plus VAT & P&P).
Jeremy MkIII

Certainly in the UK if a tester doing a Spridget test said the ball joints were worn he would be referring to the Track Rod Ends, not the suspension trunnions. There are no other ball joints on a Spridget and any passable engineer testing these cars should know that, whichever country they are in.

not used them myself but they are highly rated by others. Just about the only place that do rebuilds on the rare adjustable lever arms.
David Smith

Jeremy, I make the gaskets myself. CNC cut.

I do kits on occasion (when I have time outside of real work). I have a few "in stock" at the moment after an article in MASC magazine.


Malcolm Le Chevalier

Refresh kits example.

It doesn't include the shaft seal, as if this is leaking it tends to be a bigger job than a DIY-er can manage.

Malcolm Le Chevalier

Thanks David. I got the impression it's an old fashioned family run firm.
Jeremy MkIII

Sorry Malc,
didn't see your post whilst typing mine!
If you sell the kits I'd be interested.
Email is firstname (no space or dot) tickle at ymail dot com.

Gryf sorry for the thread drift!
Jeremy MkIII

Thanks for the feedback! I'm sure that the inspector was referring to "ball joints" not knowing that this is an ancient design with trunnions instead. The tie rod ends are fine, as I replaced them myself a few years ago. I already have Peter Caldwell dampers and poly bushes... I also replaced the studs a while back when I went to Minilite-style wheels, and I also replaced the bearings. So as far as I know, the trunnions are the only trouble spot. Knowing full well that a can of worms may await...

Gryf Ketcherside

There is likely wear in the lower fulcrum pin (I think this is what you are calling the trunnion) For the amount of time and headache involved I would likely replace the a-arms, fulcrum pin and king pin. Peter can install and ream bushings in the swivel axles.

Regarding the a-arm quality. I've had good luck with the standard repos. I know some people have had some quality issues, but I suspect the bulk of them are fine. Just ask Peter to inspect them closely before shipping them to you.
Trevor Jessie

This thread was discussed between 17/07/2018 and 20/07/2018

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