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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - I think my gearbox is dying

It jumps out of first when the load is applied making it difficult to pull away from junctions and then it won't go up into second without a big struggle - and yes I know about getting it lined up properly with the gate. I have to double de-clutch to go up and even then it is a struggle. It has also started to be difficult to drop from third to second now too which is overcome again with difficulty by double de-clutching. I suspect it is going to need a recondition. Is there anything blindingly obvious that I could do to help this without pulling the engine and box or is it a case of get it out and get it fixed?
Stuart K

There isn't really much you can do with it in-situ other than check the oil.
Dave O'Neill 2

it will not get any better, time to fit a 5 speed?
Alex Sturgeon

Thought as much. Five speed would be nice but my budget ran out last year! Still saving.
Stuart K

the five speed Ford box option, though very (VERY) nice to drive isnt the miracle cure it feels like either [says the bloke who is soon to be fitting his third one! They aren't bomb proof either unless you can afford a complete overhaul before fitting them]

but so far I haven't spent many beer tokens on them either

£1 for no1
£30 for no2
£45 for no3

at least the increase isnt alarming, but they are getting ever so expensive on eRobbers...
bill sdgpm

Is the Ford better than the Toyota one then?

Back to the question - I would start with oil too - but, if you need to replace seals etc, then - budget included, you're probably better to go with a new gearbox - I'm in pretty much the same situation, but, mine's not that bad after another oil fill :)

get it reconed
don't be tempted by the 5 speed

a proper ribcase feels much nicer through the gears
and you can actualy shift it with you hands not your elbow (it seems to be posible to achieve proper shifter location but not easy or cheap)
and you do not have to hack your body
and you never have to worry about posibly losing you tax free status

Also the type 9 is a much heavyer gearbox than the ribcase.
not good for handeling or performance.

A good ribcase can take the power of a hot 1380 and stay in one piece for manny miles so your stage 2 1098 should not be a problem.
Onno Könemann

Stuart if you can be without the car for a couple of weeks then get your box reconned, I recommend Ken at Klassik Transmissions
he has always done a really good job with my race gearboxes, and Kim at Magicmidget uses him too.
If you need a quicker fix then buy a secondhand box and have that reconditioned, then swap.
David Smith

Thanks for that. I'm resigned to taking the car off the road again to get this fixed. I'm hoping to do this myself as I can't really afford to pay a garage to do it, but not sure if I can pull the engine and gearbox without an inspection pit or a car lift. Is it do-able using ramps or axle stands? I have an engine crane and have just finished putting the engine back in the Moggie but that is much easier as the clearance underneath is much more spacious allowing me to crawl under without raising the car. I hate working underneath even with proper axle stands.

If I do it using ramps/axle stands do I leave the car raised up whilst removing the unit or do I lower it again once I have released the prop shaft etc?

Whilst I think on, when replacing it do I attach prop shaft and gearbox mountings before fastening the engine to the engine mounts or vice versa?
Stuart K

Ramps and axle stands will do fine. You may need to put the front wheels on blocks to get the crane legs under the wishbones - see thread about engine cranes on 'general' board.
Dave O'Neill 2

I would also recommend Ken of Klassk Transmissions in his workshop on the farm! he looked after my ribcase [as it were] and it's as sweet as a nut.
David Cox

Excellent, thanks.

I checked the gearbox oil level just now and it is right to the top so can't attribute any blame to that.
Stuart K

Well knock me sideways with a kipper. I couldn't understand why it was so difficult to engage second on the way up and just wondered if the clutch wasn't fully disengaging. A few small turns of the pushrod in the pedal box and hey presto. Not only can I now change smoothly into second but 1st gear magically is not popping out any more. The car is drivable again.

Tell me this is a viable solution and that it won't go bad on me again tomorrow!
Stuart K

Lucky, but odd!
The pushrod is not *normally* adjustable, it's a plain fixed rod; you must have a PO's mod...
David Smith

in a mkII i think it is normaly adjustable (never had to do mine though)

if the clutch does not slip you've fixed it
Onno Könemann

Just returned from an hours blast down our local lanes without a hint of a problem. Gearbox and ignition both behaving themselves. At last. Bring on the summer!
Stuart K

Great stuff - here is summer, will be autumn tomorrow!

Dave, early pedal box is adjustable.

Well done Stuart.....!

Rach, don't follow the crowd with the 'fix it for life' (NOT) five speed conversion, they are not all they are cracked up to be in comparison to a nice ribcase box. LOTS of problems and expenses that folk DON'T tell you about.


M T Boldry

go fit a 5 speeder, thats two more usable gears than you have at present.
True its not cheap, its heavier, they do go wrong & the kit can be a right pain to install, but mine has lasted a lot longer than any ribcase box did, so i'm happy enough with the conversion. Plus i get to have a gearstick that Onno just adores.
Brad (Sprite IV 1380)

Byes Brad you do have a lovely wonky gear stick ;P
But some how i don't feel the need to butcher my midget
Onno Könemann

There is nothing quite so satisfying as slinging an A Series Spridget gearbox down a couple of gears as you steam into a hairpin bend - it feels very akin to working the bolt of a No4 Lee Enfield Rifle (I was an Army Cadet back in the 80's). Of course you run the risk of the thing stripping the gears as you put the power back on, but then nothing in life is perfect...

Had a XR4x4 Sierra for a while - great car (managed to get it round the Nordschleife in just under 10mins...)but a horrible gearchange - puts me off any idea of a 5 speed conversion...
James Bilsland

LOL - with all due respect to Onno, I'm not sure that having a gearstick that he adores is necessarily going to assist in making up my mind ...!!!!!!!!!

A couple of questions though - won't it fit in the current transmission? How much cutting would be required? What are the actual advantages then ...?????

Mine isn't totally on it's way out - but, hey ho - I was bored with her at the start of the week, so, I might as well start a whole new load of changes :)

Rach you have to cut the crossmember inside the trans tunel and a hole at the top to poke the gearstick through.
the crossmember has to be restrenghtend with a plate wich also mounts the gearbox.
And as Guy keeps telling me you can shorten the remote to get the gearstick in the proper (non elbow operated)position.

Then it is in position then start thinking how to operate the clutch cable or hydrolic both have their up and down sides.

As you see i have looked in to it and have seen some conversions done (and driven them) i just think the bonus of having 5th gear is not a big ehough benifit to molest the body and have all the other down sides
Onno Könemann

Not to mention if it's cutting and the new possible law ...:(

Maybe I shall just concentrate on getting her sorted for her trip in September as it looks like she won't be emigrating now! I don't want to change her too much - just to be good to drive alot!!

dont forget Rach has a 1500 too

I LOVE my 5 speed

but Mark (and Onno) isnt wrong

it isnt perfect

[But a damned sight better than the A-series box that knackered me up]

not pretty

do not open this if you are of a genteel constitution

bill sdgpm

No hills in holland, so you can make do with out a first gear, also lots of speed cameras so you don't have to worry about going fast either.
Brad (Sprite IV 1380)

Hi Rach,

My 2 cents

I have to say that I did a Ford 5 spd Conversion in my 1500, cost a lot but I have never been happier!

Recon'd a type 9 with Gloucester Rd gearboxes @ £300 (sameday service)
Purchased a strengthening plate, propshaft and mount from Frontline @ £200 (though can be made easily if you wish for about £30 + the cost of a custom Prop (about £80)
Shortshift gearstick from Burton Ford @ £100 (A luxury but well worth it for a positive gear change)
Plus one day under the car @ 3 scraped knuckles and a bit of swearing!!

In my case a hole was cut in the adaptor plate for the slave cylinder to protude into the bellhousing, secured by an allen headed grub screw, making the slave easier to remove than ever before so no more annoying clutch bleeding when removing/replacing the engine/gearbox! I believe this is the same with all 1500-type 9 adaptor plates.

Yes I had to cut the crossmember, easy in a 1500, only 2 cuts required through the crossmember as far back as the access hole. And yes one 3" hole about 2" rearward of the current apature for the gearstick.

As yours is a 1500 you don't have to worry about the lack of free tax by too much modification, the 5th gear makes long journeys a joy as opposed to a chore, If you need to remove the engine and box in the future prop just slides out without the need to unbolt from the gearbox, and with the burtons shortshift no more punching the stereo when you go for 3rd!!

Each to their own and everyone has an opinion, for me, I couldn't go back to 4 gears now I have 5 and would personally recommend it for a 1500 certainly less sure about earlier models though.

One final note on recon gearboxes, if you are concerned about BHP in your midget, mine made a 4.8bhp increase in wheel BHP when fitted with a recon box even though flywheel figures within 0.2 BHP of each other (Both runs done at same Rolling road with gearbox being the only change from 2nd hand type 9 to recon type 9)

Hope this is worthwile info

D Prince

Ok, so on second inspection the hole was a bit bigger than 3inches!!!

D Prince

But they do look good together don't they ;)

D Prince

they look like sh*t and shift like stiring a bucket of mud with your elbow ;P
Onno Könemann

Have you tried sliding the seat forward or using a booster cushion so you can reach the pedals properly?
Brad (Sprite IV 1380)

Thanks Dave for such a great answer

There are lots of journeys that would be easier and I think I'll make a decision after MGLive when I can have a look at lots of different ones and see what they look like and if you really have to wrap your legs around your head and sit on your shoulder to change them!

Rach, can you really do that?
Brad (Sprite IV 1380)

sure she can!
Onno Könemann

What a girl...
Brad (Sprite IV 1380)

Lol and yet - according to the mgf Seat thread - I must be old and decrepit ;).




not sure about legs heads

and shoulders though
bill sdgpm

don't forget the end play on the 1500 engine will affect the clutch releasing properly. The pulley on the crankshaft will pull in and out if the thrust washer is badly worn, or fallen out.
vj jacobs

This thread was discussed between 20/04/2010 and 08/05/2010

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