Thursday, October 4, 2012

Metal master Cylinder Caps

I've developed a small obsession with the metal master cylinder caps that were used on the earliest Minis up until about mid-1961, when they were replaced with plastic caps. The plastic caps are much more sensible. They don't rust, they don't seize on and they have nice big finger grips to undo them BUT the metal caps are a unique feature of the first Minis and are one of those important details in a restoration.

The original caps. The least worst one
 has had its pinholes soldered up
The metal caps were never any good and almost invariably end up being damaged by people trying to undo them after they seize on. Typically, they look like the two that were on my Traveller when I got it. The one on the left has been repaired so that I could re-use it, but the one on the right  is falling apart and couldn't be re-used. I managed to find one good one on ebay for a price I could live with, but many of them have been selling for such vast sums that I've just stopped bidding on them. The problem is not helped by them having been used on a number of similar aged cars, especially MGs. At the prices that they have been selling for most people just use the plastic caps, although I did once own a Mini that had been fitted with a lid off a sauce bottle.

When I discovered a couple on ebay recently that looked to be in perfect condition and reasonably priced I got a bit excited and read a bit further. They turned out to be reproductions. I did a bit of googling and sent off an email to Scarborough Faire, an MGA specialist in the US. Sure enough they have had them reproduce, apparently in the UK too. Price $7.95, which was well below the ebay price, even of the replicas. Freight from the US is typically the most expensive part, so I ordered enough caps for this project and the next one (not sure what it will be yet) and they arrived today costing just on $10 each, landed.
The new repro beside my one good original cap. Pretty bloody close!

 Looking at them closely, they are very good. They have a couple of minute differences, but are way better than the plastic alternative. The inside is pretty well identical too, and they come with a sealing gasket.

Repro cap on the left, genuine on the right.
Once fitted you'd have to stick your head right into the engine bay to notice the difference, apart from being a  bit more brightly plated than the originals.

You'd have to be pretty happy with that!

A bit more investigative web surfing suggests that the caps are being made by a company in the UK called TRW who make a lot of brake components and aftermarket automotive parts.

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