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53 TD - Oil Drip from "Flywheel Drain"

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Subject: 53 TD - Oil Drip from "Flywheel Drain"
From: "James Fischer" <>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 09:16:47 -0400
We have a newly rebuilt mill in a 1953 MG TD, rebuilt
by a competent specialist with a good track record and
lots of happy T-Series customers.  (The rebuild revealed
why the car had the "shakes", as the crank had a crack
that had been welded at some point, and had never been
properly balanced from that point on.)

While working to get the car adjusted to run smoothly,
we noticed a not insignificant oil leak coming from the
cotter pin that is just behind the oil pan in the area
where the clutch flywheel should be.

This stuff is very dark/dirty-looking, and both the
engine oil and the gear oil in the transmission are clean.
(To me, this oil looks too "thick" to be engine oil,
but we have yet to take a sample to someone who might
be able to tell us for sure.)

Jiggling the cotter pin increases the flow to about one
drip per second, and enough oil has collected after
much less than 1 hour of running the engine at idle
to keep the drip going for several minutes.

As neither fluid level is too high, we think that
we have either:

a)  A rear main engine seal leak

b)  A front main transmission seal leak

Both nasty enough problems to force us to drop the
tranny down to fix the problem before doing anything
else (how ELSE might any sort of oil get into that area?).

We do not recall EVER seeing any oil dripping from this
point before the rebuild (years of driving, including
the "Lap of New England" rally/parade/Bataan Death March
with a successful climb up New Hampshire's Mt. Washington.)

But a search of the archives and FAQs yelled this semi-cryptic
gem from a 1999 posting by a Mr. Bob Howard
in response to a question about a TD shaking when backing up:

> There is the possibility of oily clutch.....
> one hopes not.....   Is the cotter pin in the clutch
> housing free to jiggle and keep the drain hole open?

Which supports the impression that oil is EXPECTED in this area
as a "normal" event.  (Why else would the hole and cotter
pin be there? To drain off condensation?)

I am not a big expert on TD specifics, as I drive an '72 Midget.

Anyone have a clue to lend before we rent a tranny jack
and drop the tranny?


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