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MG MG Y Type - Are spare parts nowpoor quality (part 2)

After my previous post re: heel of points breaking off, leaving me stranded on M42, I made the return journey today. The day of the wedding I travelled approx 80 miles and about 70 miles into my journey home today the exact same thing happened with the new set. I am now extremely pleased that I bought two sets. I have never heard of this happening before, and now it has happened twice in 160 miles.
J Foster

That's bad luck. Simple answer as I have mentioned before fit an electronic ignition though do ensure that your distributor is in good conditiom. if you are unsure get it rebuilt (I have mentioned H and H Ignitions but there are several other companies around and get them to fit an electronic ignition. You wont regret it!

All the best
Jerry Birkbeck


Classic car ownership is getting more & more difficult as the quality of parts are just getting worse in my experience. It's getting to a point where I am getting disillusioned with every job taking twice as long as it should, often finding when you get half way through a job, "this bit or that bit isn't what it should be" Rubber parts have a short shelf life, and most annoying thing is not having the ability to go into a shop to view bits prior to deciding if you want to buy it. For all the benefits of the net, this is one big downside to not having ability to view bit prior to purchase.

I may be feeling the winter blues but I'm seriously thinking of selling up and moving on with how frustrated I feel at this present time. Both cars have spent too long laid up in garage, which is huge shame as they are immense joy to drive on nice sunny day.

Currently I'm looking for a head gasket, I thought I was in luck having purchased one at Beaulieu auto jumble over 20 years ago and found out today that it was slightly the wrong size as the gasket covered the top of the pistons, it was sold for XPAG but was wrong, now back to trying to find a good gasket that I have confidence will fit and seal.

I've recently been told a story that an owner of a Spitfire is in the process of replacing their third head gasket as two new ones failed, and parts guy who supplies bits for Morris club also has experience of gaskets failing after 50 miles, scary stuff, if one considers the cost of labour and time / effort wasted fitting this inferior stuff.

R E Knight

I think some parts ie rubber seals may well be from old stock, as for head gasket perhaps the castings, head and block may have warped with heating and cooling over time, years ago these castings were weathered in the open for a year or two before machining. It may be worth having both block and head skimmed, in the process have 3/32" taken off the head, you will certainly be pleased with the extra performance. Have you tried 'Distributer Doctor' for advice I'm told they remanufacture parts themselves. Basically I'm afraid like any old thing our cars are a little frail - I know the feeling.
B Mellem

I understand your frustration Richard and you are undoubtedly correct in your concerns. However, having got so far then dont give up. Perhaps it might be worthwhile in looking at the non running (?) Y in you garage and deciding to liberate one or two of the parts that you may need.

Certainly a trawl of the internet may provide you with new unsused head gasket sets for around 30-35. Just ensure that its the correct head gasket that is being sold and ask the vendor to photograph each of the parts. certainly the rubber seals for the valve stems in a gasket set may well be past their sell date but the HG should be fine

If you buy a gasket set from say Octagon then ask Pete to let you know who the suppliers are. Frustrating I know but worth the extra time.

Brian is spot on about having the head skimmed. There is a view that you should use Wellseal to secure the gasket on either side. Though there is considerable debate about this (have a look at the TR Register website). The suggestion there, from the Workshop Manual,is that one should use a thin smearing of engine grease on either side of the gasket. I recall that I have seen this before and indeed I have used this many moons ago. Brian will be able to give a more thoightful response on this than I can.

Don't give up just accept that its old and frail and factor that in when dealing with it! Best of luck

Jerry Birkbeck

That's nice of you Jerry. I have probably been confronted with just about every conceivable problem in the last 50 odd years of ownership but never the contact breaker heal detaching, I just wonder if there is some misalignment or vertical movement in the lobe shaft.
You probably already know there is two different head gaskets - oval or round waterway passages depending on the age of the car. As advised by Jerry Octagon are helpful.
One more advice I was given is that to reduce the oil being sucked down the inlet valve stems you can fit MG Midget [BMC engine] oil seals, which I did some years ago, it should stop that puff of smoke after a down hill overrun. Keep it up Bryan
B Mellem


Thanks for the advice. I've had the cylinder head skimmed with new valves, guides and springs fitted. The carbs have been rebuilt by Burlen ans yesterday I managed to find a supplier who says they can get me Payen gasket next week, lets see what comes.

One thing I had received yesterday was the kit from I'm going to give this a try to remove Ethanol and see how this helps. Like us humans our cars are what they "eat" so to speak.
R E Knight

you have had extremely bad luck having 2 sets of points fail the same way in so short a time. Have you checked your distributor? It is fairly common for XPAG distributors to come loose where the aluminium body is fixed to the steel shaft that goes into the block. This allows the body to move up & down a bit and could cause your problem in that the heel of the points attached to the body is not at right-angles to the rotating shaft. Of course you could have been unlucky and purchased 2 sets of duff points.

Don't jump to the conclusion that electronic ignition is the answer. If the body is loose and you fit electronic ignition all you will do is fail the same way with a useless ignition pickup that will cost you another electronic ignition to replace and a car that is immobile. I have electronic ignition on my MGB but still carry the old distributor base with points as a backup. Sadly to fall back you will have to retime the engine statically at the side of the road, it is not a quick replacement.

I have done over 50K miles in my TA travelling all over Europe and still use points ignition. I have a spare distributor base with points/condenser fitted that I have gapped and tested on the car. If I have an electrical problem I can replace the distributor base (just 2 small screws) and be on my way in 2 minutes, no setting up required. With old cars keep it simple!

Get your distributor checked out properly, buy a decent set of fibre heeled points, new condenser and a red rotor arm and you should be OK.
Best wishes, Brian
Brian Rainbow

This thread was discussed between 06/04/2016 and 08/04/2016

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