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Old 08-08-2012, 10:58 AM   #1
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Setting up an MG-B as a Toad/Dinghy

There is very little information on setting up MG's as a Toad, so I wanted to document my journey in doing so. First lets establish a ground rule or two for this thread. If you want to discuss the use of a LBC (Little British Car) as a toad let's use a separate thread and not this one. If you would like to discuss the merits of using a dolly, or trailer, again that is a different thread.

When I decided to set up my 1978 MG B as a dinghy, I did an extensive web search, and found only about three threads (although I saw the same information repeated many times over and over again) that there was on the subject. Most of the threads were people's opinions on british cars/roadsters and whether they would use them or not for 4 down towing. However there was very little information on how to do it with a car that hasn't been produced in 34 years. So I wanted to document my project of setting up my MG as a dinghy.

For those that are unsure what an MG B is the first picture is a side shot of the car. Its a 4 speed manual transmission, 1.8L inline 4 cylinder 2 seat roadster with a GVW of about 2400 Pounds.

The first problem was a tow bar and baseplate to attach the car to my DP MH. Looking head on at photo #2 you can see there is no really good way to attach the mounts without ruining the looks of the car when not attached. If you look carefully at the bottom of the Air Dam to the right of the white stripes you will see a small bump. This is a tie down ear that was used to secure the car to the deck during its ocean cruise from the factory to the US. This is welded to the frame and very stout and unused and one person mounted his base plate to these. I chose not to use this method, as I considered the point too low for the baseplate. Driveways, uneven road surfaces, bumps etc could provide abrasive and abusive wear on the mounting mechanisms/tow assembly.

We attended the Good Sam Phoenix Rally this last spring, and after looking at all the tow bars I selected the Demco Commander. To date this has been an excellent choice, as I have bothered the poor customer service and engineering departments to death, and they have given me better than excellent support.
They helped me select the materials I used for the baseplate, and other good advice.

The MG attaches the bumper to two flat plates welded on the ends of the frame. I decided to affix the baseplates there, and with the advice of the factory selected 1996 and earlier Jeep CJ mount points. These were designed to mount directly to the bumper of the CJ. As you can see in Photos 3,4,and 5
the bumper uses two SAE 3/8 in fine thread studs to mount the bumper to the car. With plenty of clearance for the bolts I figured that a 5/16" un even angle bracket would drop below the bumper and provide a place to secure the mount points. Another angle bracket welded to the first one to provide a z-bar (lightning bolt fashion) would allow the mount points to be welded so the would extend just below the bumper.

There is a national discount steel place here in Minneapolis, and so I purchased enough A36 Structural Steel Uneven L brackets for the project. They cut the material for me on a bandsaw. Total cost to get 4- 5"x3"x5/16" brackets was about $50. I then found a local machine shop to mill 0.70 wide slots x 1" long to fit the bumper studs. I left the material and the bumper at the shop to ensure that the slots would fit. They then welded the two angle brackets together in a Z bar fashion (offest about 1/4" front to back) and welded the mount points to the Lower L set down about 1-1/2" from the top. They also cut the excess steel off below the mount points with a hacksaw. Cost about $90

I originally was going to leave these just bolted in place, to allow the car to be restored to original If I no longer wanted to use it as a toad. I realized that the bolts were going through two 18GA (approx) pieces of plate steel. While this is fine to hold the bumper onto the car, and would provide compression support, in my situation, nothing would provide tension support under load, but these two plates. My next choice would be to weld the brackets to the plates, and then reinforce the plate/bracket to the frame member itself thereby providing both compression/tension support. With the advice of my daughter's boyfriend, a structural engineer who designs cranes, this will perform more than adequately as a baseplate mount, in fact a bit of overkill.

I have test fitted the assembly by bolting it in place until I can get the car over to have the welding done to the frame, and with the plastic covers over the mount points if you notice them at all it looks like some bumper riders that were common in the late 70's

More pictures as we progress
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:44 AM   #2
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Good luck on your project your looks great I had a MG B and a MG C at one point great fun cars. Now I have a 90 Porsche 944 S2 Cab as my toy for the road and a 2012 VW GTI as my toy for the track. I pull them behind my MH on a Demco SS460 dolly.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:00 PM   #3
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A word of caution. Make sure the gearbox lubrication system runs off the output shaft. A long time back, we moved from Tidewater Virginia to Seattle. At the time we had a Mercury Colony Park wagon and a UK Ford Cortina GT. I thought "stick shift, no problem four-down". Somewhere around Bozeman Montana, running about 85 mph, the Merc suddenly started slowing down for no obvious reason. I looked in the mirror and saw smoke coming off the Cortina's rear tires.

After we stopped and disconnected the tow bar, I found the Cortina's gearbox very hot and jammed solid. If I'd had any gumption, I'd have unloaded our stuff and set it afire. Instead, I rented a flat-bed trailer and continued.

After I got home, I pulled the gearbox out and took it to a foreign car repair place. They took a quick look and declared it a goner. That was when I found out that the gearbox oil pump was driven by the input shaft. It was a testament to its ruggedness that it had survived 2500 miles at speeds the Cortina couldn't get to under its own power.
I got another gearbox off a fairly new, wrecked 1600 Pinto and was back in business.

I'm sure the technical experts in the MG Car Club will know if flat towing is OK. Good luck with your project. I'm giving some thought to getting a late 60's London Black Taxi as a toad.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:44 PM   #4
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Late model MG Gear boxes

I discussed this issue with one of the better and respected British Car Wrenches in town. He verified that the gearbox is lubed off the output shaft. That said, most likely I will get one of the light weight aluminum hydraulic racing jacks and two jack stands. While connected to the MH, I will remove the 4 bolts that attach the Differential to the prop shaft and bungee it over to the battery box frame to keep it from flopping around. The flanges have uneven spaced holes so it can only be put on two ways. That said a small chisel to mark the flanges and some white paint will generally ensure I mate them they same way they were when the factory put them on.

I have pulled the drive shaft off before, and it will probably take longer to attach the front end to the motorhome, than it will to jack the car up and remove/attach the drive shaft to the diff. about a 8 minute job, unless I attach an air line to the MH and use a pnuematic rachet driver -- then it will take about 5 minutes to do

It's nice to know that if the area to hookup the toad is muddy or crummy, I can tow it in neutral though until I can find a dry/non-muddy surface to crawl under the car and do the magic wrench twist
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by landtrv View Post
Good luck on your project your looks great I had a MG B and a MG C at one point great fun cars. Now I have a 90 Porsche 944 S2 Cab as my toy for the road and a 2012 VW GTI as my toy for the track. I pull them behind my MH on a Demco SS460 dolly.
Love the 944 great car too bad they can't be towed.... what do you use for supplemental breaking?
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:02 AM   #6
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I'm giving some thought to getting a late 60's London Black Taxi as a toad.
You might want to check out the Austin FX4 which was the civilian version (Like the checker car was to the american taxi) if you can find one. Not quite as stark as an older cab would be. Another variant is the Austin FL2 which was produced up to the 80's. It was the "hire car" or the limo version of the cab. If you can find one they were a stretched version (abt 18 inches) of the cab. Some had burled wood trim, and even a bar for the customers. Both the FX4 and the FL2 used petrol engines instead of the diesels at least in the later models. The other advantage is a full width front seat instead of a meter. The actual cabs may be hard to find.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:25 AM   #7
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I'm watching!
Keep the photos coming. I have a 74 CB GT with OD, and a 75 RB 4 sp. I am thinking of useing the RB as a toad. I want to see the tow bar attachment points. I have a Demco Excalabr tow bar.
The 4 speed is sump lubed and has a sprial gove on the output shaft that will lube everything.
Mark of the Escapees fame tows a CB.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:54 AM   #8
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Don't want to burst your bubble, but...

As an MG owner ('45 TC, '52 TD, '65 B) for 41 years, I really wouldn't bother. Unless it was a chrome bumper car, but still probably not. The R/B cars, with their 4X4 stance, and so little power, I would just go with a Miata. Just so much better of a car, and much easier to set up to tow. Or, if I just had to have a B, I would simply trailer it. I think removing and installing the driveshaft every time would get real old, real fast. Plus, flat towing it will ruin the paint job in no time. And you still have the braking aspect to figure out. You HAVE to have brakes, both legally (most places) and common sense safety. Comes back around to: why lug around a 75 hp MGB? Best bet is to get a trailer and do it right.

Our next trip will have our stacker trailer loaded with our MG TD on the upper deck in front, our '64 Spitfire race car up top behind the MG, on the lower deck our '71 GT6 race car and a scooter. Plus a ton of spares, tools, tires, etc...
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:21 AM   #9
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Love the 944 great car too bad they can't be towed.... what do you use for supplemental breaking?
I tow either car with my Demco Tow Dolly. I need to put down a few boards to get either car on the dolly without scraping their noses. The dolly has surge brakes and they work fine
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:09 AM   #10
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Regarding brakes. Check out the "Ready Brake". It shouldn't have any trouble working on anything that has a brake pedal. Agree anything flat towed should have some kind of protection to prevent eventual paint damage. You may get away without for a few trip, but your luck WILL run out eventually.

Love the British stuff. Ex Triumph GT-6 owner. I'm not sure I could even get in that car today....
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Brakes and paint considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by landtrv View Post
The dolly has surge brakes and they work fine
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahicks View Post
Regarding brakes. Check out the "Ready Brake". It shouldn't have any trouble working on anything that has a brake pedal. Agree anything flat towed should have some kind of protection to prevent eventual paint damage. You may get away without for a few trip, but your luck WILL run out eventually.
Actually looked at the M&G liked the concept but when I checked with the factory their engineer said they don't have anything less than 3 inch spacing on the studs to the Hydraulic Cylinder to Vacuum Booster and the MG is 2-7/16. They quoted me for a custom job, but it was double. I like the Ready brake. and am considering it.

Landtrv: Your dolly only adds I am guessing about 300-500 pounds more than the car alone.

Will the surge brakes pulling on the unassisted brakes be enough to provide adequate stopping? Should I look into their auxiliary vacuum pump to provide brake boost? I am also wondering if the vacuum boost provides some balance between the pressure needed for the front disc brakes and the rear drums. I know the brake master balances them out some, but never ran with the vacuum boost inop. I have it figured out already to only run the vacuum boost when the umbilical is connected, so nothing to switch on or off to have to remember or forget (my usual status).

Also looking into their breakaway connection should the MG & the MH decide to go their separate ways.

As far as paint protection When the baseplate is done, then I will assemble the Demco Sentry for the front end. The only job I hate on the MG is changing/replacing the front window. Done 4 of them now for myself and friends and I hate it - even with the dash removed its a pain I am considering something for the windshield as well, maybe high density polyethylene as well.

When everything is complete I estimate the MG rear bumper to be about 20 feet behind the MH Rear Bumper. I know the MH has a sizeable slipstream but not sure of the effects and where on the MG it will hit. I originally planned to use just the Tonneau cover but think now i will put the full top up for the tow. I plan to put some yarn tags on the MG and have a friend in a chase car observe the slipstream when I am driving at highway speeds to see where on the body additional protection will be needed. With a little tuning I think the airflow can be adjusted to leave the LBC in a bubble -- maybe. But for now I am counting on the Sentry
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:01 AM   #12
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More photos

I have assembled the base plates and done a temporary fit using the bumper bolts to hold the thing up. When I complete the mounting these baseplates will be welded to the frame, but this rig up is so i can drag the car over to the machine shop to weld them. Its only about 5 miles, so I am not worried, and I wont be going fast. Don't want to drive the MG over as it will take quite a while for the welds to cool, and I don't want to have to figure out where to put the bumper while I drive it home.

The first view is head-on, I put the towing pins in the mount points so it will be easier to see them. As you can see they are hardly visible. After they are welded to the frame, some black paint and I doubt of anyone would really notice. I also see where I need to patch and touch up the air dam from parking curb run ins.

The second is a side view I put my white oil container behind in the hopes it would give a better view not so sure it helps. The black at the top of the screen is the underside of the bumper. You can see where the upper L Bracket comes down below the bumper and the lower bracket is offset forward about 1/4 inch to give some clearance to the air dam and provide a better weld seam

This is looking like it might work out real well.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgvtexan View Post
I'm watching!
Keep the photos coming. I have a 74 CB GT with OD, and a 75 RB 4 sp. I am thinking of useing the RB as a toad. I want to see the tow bar attachment points. I have a Demco Excalabr tow bar.
The 4 speed is sump lubed and has a sprial gove on the output shaft that will lube everything.
Mark of the Escapees fame tows a CB.
Still to be cautious I will disconnect the driveshaft from the diff. Like I said earlier it will probably take longer to hook the MG up than it will to jack it up, crawl under and remove 4 bolts and bungee it to keep it from flopping around. Beside if its at all level ground you can push that thing around for a mile or so without even braking a sweat.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:32 AM   #14
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Landtrv: Your dolly only adds I am guessing about 300-500 pounds more than the car alone.


I think my dolly weighs about 600 lbs. The Porsche weighs about 3000 lbs and the GTI is just about the same so I am well under what the dolly and the RV are capable of towing. I usually do not tow the porsche that far maybe 100 miles max on a trip. I will tow the GTI much further. BTW VW says you cannot flat tow the GTI even though it is a manual transmission. This only applys to what I have heard the 6 speed manual transmission.
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