So you think you want an MGB or V8?
Body Brakes Clutch Cooling Electrics Engine Fuel Gearbox Heater Ignition Propshaft Rear axle Steering and Suspension Wheels and Tyres
Miscellaneous Downloadable PDFs The sectioned MGB at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon
Aerial in Front Wing
A frequent question in MGB circles is "How do I get to the aerial when it is mounted on a front wing?". After Martin Kennedy wrote and asked me that very question, having looked here for the answer and not found it, it prompted me to add this section.
Behind each front wheel there is a 'splash' or closing panel which seals the gap between the front outside edge of the footwell and the front wing, having a rubber seal between it and the wing. There is also a small panel and seal for the gap between the top of the box-section visible from the engine compartment at the rear of the inner wing and the top of the wing.
The main splash panel is bolted to the footwell with seven bolts, the lowest one being up into the front of the floor pan and not visible in these pictures. Particularly the lower ones can corrode into the nuts welded to the panels, and shear off. In bad cases the corner of the footwell can crumble away.
With the splash panel removed you have access to the aerial, and also the rear nuts for the door hinges. You can also examine the front section of the sills and the lower edges of the front wings for corrosion, and dribble oil down the very narrow gap between the two as described in 1/4 panel replacement above.
Added October 2008:
However by positioning the aerial close enough to the outer edge of the wing there is plenty of room between the side of the box-section and the side of the outer wing for any likely aerial. This means mounting the aerial on a curved and angled surface rather than a flat and horizontal surface, but all the aerials I have seen have a fitting that can cope with this kind of location.
These pictures from Paul Tegler show a motorised aerial in the process of being installed behind the splash panel.
Arm-rest Cubby Added July 2009
Fortunately it is quite easy to turn the peg and clip through said 90 degrees. The peg is easiest as it has a square fitting, just squeeze the lugs on the back with a pair of pliers and push it out, and it will snap back in after turning (it's actually a fraction off-square but will go in the new way with just a bit of a push). The clip requires a bit more work. It's a little bit rectangular, which means the sides of the slot have to be filed out slightly. The overall width of the clip is greater than the length of the hole in the console, so will cover the sides of the hole if you are careful in your filing. Only file the minimum width needed for the clip, and in the middle of the sides of the hole, which will stop the clip sliding fore and aft and revealing the edges of the old hole (as well as nullifying the point of the exercise by putting the peg out of alignment with the clip again).
Also only file enough to just be able to get the clip pressed into the new hole, if you file too much the clip will be pulled out of the console on the end of the peg.
However even if you did that (as I did on the roadster many years ago) all is not lost. There is a depression in the console that looks as if it were designed to take a mounting plate for the clip, complete with two blocked-off holes for fixing screws. It's a simple matter to cut a plate to fit this depression, drill through the plastic console and use countersunk screws to attach it, and it is much easier to get a tight-fitting hole for the clip in the plate than it is in the plastic.
Herb Adler describes making and fitting one to a pre-72 model.
I imagine it is a bit of a pain to have the bonnet release cable break. Not only have you got to get in somehow and replace it, but the chances are you were opening it for a reason, and Sod's Law dictates the reason will be you will have ground to a halt at the roadside somewhere.
The rubber bumper car is not too difficult to get into - as long as you know what you are doing. It may be possible to gain access in a similar way through the recessed grill of 70-72, it isn't through the honeycomb grill of 73 and 74 (but see below), and it probably isn't in the pre-70 chrome slatted grill.
On an RB car like my 75 factory V8 one can push a long rod or screwdriver through the inner mesh grill, in a particular position and at a particular angle, and push the end of the lock lever so releasing the bonnet pin. The positions and angles are shown in the following pictures.
The first picture shows a long rod inserted and bearing on the end of the lock lever where the cable is attached. What you are trying to do is use the rod to push on the end of the lock lever to release the bonnet/hood pin.
The second picture shows the horizontal angle of the rod, which is inserted through the mesh, right at the very top, the 4th hole from the centre mounting of the mesh. On mine the mesh makes 'diamond' shapes and the very top row only has the bottom half of the diamond, the top half is covered by the frame to the mesh.
The third picture shows the vertical angle of the rod. The end outside the car is angled down as far as it will go it is in contact with the bottom edge of the bumper.
The thing to bear is mind is that the rad is only a couple of inches behind the lock. So if the end of the rod goes too far it could puncture the rad. On mine, with the end of the rod just touching the rad at the angles shown, there is 10 inches of the rod sticking through the mesh. So if you wrap some tape around your rod, say, 9 inches from the tip, then at the angles shown as long as you keep the tape your side of the mesh you should be clear of the rad. The lock lever will require quite a push to release the bonnet pin, so be careful the rod doesn't suddenly slip and go too far.
Honeycomb Grille: (Updated August 2007) The only way I can see of doing it with these grilles is to push the out the grommet in the left-hand inner wing that the lighting wiring goes through, then insert a length of stiff wire with a loop twisted in the end, feeding it through straightening it as you go (you can't feed it straight in because of the wheel arch) then hook it round the release lever and pull. You can see to do this through the grille, but it will be fiddly. Should work for the earlier slatted and recessed grilles as well, if there isn't an easier method from the front.
Preventing the problem in the first place - all models
Once (hopefully) open, the first thing to do is give yourself a 'second string' in case it happens again. I have used a length of curtain pull cord, which is a very strong braided nylon, with one end tied round the lock lever and the free end pushed through the hole in the left-hand inner wing where the headlight wiring goes through. Tie a loop in the free end big enough to get your finger through and that will stop it working its way back out again.
Bonnet Strut: October 2016
Looking in the parts catalogue the strut itself (AHA9717) didn't change, but there was a change in the fittings for the 1976 model year. The fittings originally consisted of a cylindrical spacer (BHH298), a 1/4" v 1" hex screw and a stiff-nut top and bottom (however an original 10/74 brochure shows a round-head Phillips screw in the lower position at least). The body and bonnet brackets are offset by the thickness of the strut, with the bonnet bracket being inboard of the body bracket. Because of the position of the release lever it is the channels that face the brackets top and bottom, and not the flat side of the strut. This is why it needs the cylindrical spacers - they fit in the channels of the upper and lower portions of the strut to hold the strut away from the bonnet and body brackets so they can pivot without damaging the paint on the brackets. The spacers have a 1/4" hole, and a 7/16" diameter shoulder at one end which fits inside the 7/16" hole at each end of the strut, and means the strut isn't pivoting on the threads of the bolt (a nicety they didn't bother with for the boot strut).
For the start of the 1976 model year at chassis numbers 386601 (roadster), 391501 (GT) and 2701 (V8) the parts catalogue shows the spacer changing (BHH1933), and suppliers photos show it as being slightly shorter, together with one of the hex screws changing to a 1/4" x 3/4". Quite why this change was made to all cars - including the V8 - is a mystery. I did wonder if it was primarily for North American spec cars following the introduction of the brake servo the previous year, to give more clearance, and applied to all cars for commonality. But Clausager quotes the same chassis numbers for the strut being moved to the right-hand side of the engine compartment of all LHD cars - "to avoid fouling brake servo". Perhaps originally it was thought that the shorter spacer would be enough, but it proved not to be the case. The other oddity is that the spacers are shown for all cars, i.e. including LHD with the strut on the other side. But in that case - assuming the release lever was still facing forwards (to do otherwise would be completely illogical not to say stupid) - the flat side of each half of the strut would be against its respective bracket, so the cylindrical spacers wouldn't be required at all (but see below for why they may be needed to clear relays, fusebox etc.) and a simple washer would suffice to prevent the strut rubbing against the bracket and visibly marking the paint as per the boot strut. That would leave the 1/4" bolt rattling about in a 7/16" hole, but a 1/4" spring washer GHF331 fits that hole perfectly.
Ironically, the upper spacer isn't really required at all! Both Bee and Vee came to me without one, by the simple expedient of fitting the flat side of the upper part of the strut against the inboard side of the bonnet bracket, instead of the channel part being against the outboard side. It does mean the angle the strut makes to the brackets changes fractionally but I doubt anyone would notice, and a washer between the two would be enough to stop them chafing. That leaves the 1/4" bolt rattling about in the 7/16" hole, but again a 1/4" spring washer GHF331 fits perfectly in the hole in the strut to support the screw. Having said that the correct spacers are available from the usual suspects for a couple of pounds or so. If that wasn't enough one of the Nylocs that came off Vee's strut has a shoulder of reduced diameter (similar to this) which is a perfect fit for the hole in the strut!
Then I found this Moss US document describing an after-market longer strut, which is also self-releasing. They are 4" longer, which makes quite a difference to the height of the propped bonnet ... although you need to make sure you have the headroom in your garage to be able to use it! It shows an LHD car with the strut on the right, but with the radiator mounted in the original position, which makes it a 1976 car (the strut only moved across in 76 but the radiator moved forwards for 1977). Amongst the original hardware it quotes two spacers BHH298, but according to the Parts Catalogue one of them should have been the shorter BHH 1933 by then. Step 7 shows and describes fitting a spacer to the lower mounting point, saying "Without the spacer the support actually hit the lip of the channel in the fender up by the radiator support". That doesn't really make sense, as the only time the strut can hit anything by the radiator support is when the bonnet is closed, which is when the upper part of the strut is by the radiator support, so if anything the strut would need to be spaced inwards at the top. However it does also mention "equipment mounted to the inner fender on the RH side" and it makes more sense for the lower spacer to be needed to clear that, if not spacers top and bottom. As the strut has its flat face towards the body bracket, the spacer makes it stick out much more than usual, as can be seen in Fig. 5 of the Moss document. The story is similarly confusing regarding the bonnet bracket:
Whilst I can see the point of a longer strut and no more catching the top of my head on the bonnet pin or safety catch, I have no time for gas struts given that you need to fit them both sides, and judging by other peoples comments and pictures having had no end of trouble getting the bonnet to fit flush as it did originally.
Bonnet Seals: Updated February 2013
There are also rubber buffers in the side channels, to stop the bonnet rattling which could wear the latch mechanism and cause the bonnet to pop up at speed. Mk1 cars without the rubber bonnet seal may have had two of these each side, Mk2 and later only seem to have one, near the front.
Bonnet Fitting/removal: by John Maguire April 2019
John sent me these pictures from Oz, which need very little explanation. By way of a change, removal would be the reverse of fitting.
V8 Bonnet: October 2017
There is much speculation in various places as to whether the V8 bonnet had an increased curvature to clear the carbs, and whether that bonnet was then used on 4-cylinder cars as well. David Knowles mentions it in his 'MG V8 ...' book on page 32, but he doesn't specifically state it was for the carbs, it could equally well have been for the radiator, in place of the MGC bulge. The Parts Catalogues do show a different bonnet for the V8, but even that is confusing. The pre-77 catalogue states that HZA4015 is 'except V8' and HZA4197 is 'V8'. It lists both those as 'NLA' and 'Use with (bracket) BHH1934'. But HZA4015 is the alloy bonnet, and HZA4197 is the steel that replaced it in 1969/70. That catalogue follows the two NLA items with HZA4014, implying it replaced both of them. Could be an error, could be that HZA4014 was allocated to the V8 bonnet when used on all cars - if indeed that is what happened. Other than that there is no clear information. If the V8 bonnet did have greater curvature to clear the carbs, it would have to be very close to the rear edge as that is where the carbs are, and I don't really see how that could be done without changing the panel at the base of the screen as well. The insulation panels do have cut-outs for the carbs and the radiator, but on Vee at least the tops of the carbs have been rubbing on the underside of the bonnet, through the cut-outs. This V8 Register article sets out to measure the curvature for a V8 as against an alloy bonnet, but is inconclusive. It shows a V8 with 3mm more curvature at the centre reinforcing strut, but there is no measurement for the rear edge, which is surely more relevant. Their V8 centre measurement was 5.1cm and that at the carb cutout 5.6cm, whereas my V8 at the centre was a fraction over 5.7cm and that at the rear edge of the insulation (in order to compare with the roadster as that has no carb cut-outs) was 6cm, which is more of a difference between the two V8s than their V8 and alloy! My September 72-built roadster was a fraction under 5.7cm at the centre and 6cm at the rear, i.e. to all intents and purposes identical to my V8. However I have no way of knowing if either bonnet is original to the car. "We shall never know".
Incidentally, bracket BHH1934 is the bonnet stay bracket. The same article says that these were welded to the bonnet by the manufacturer, but when the bonnets were stacked one on top of the other it damaged the one underneath. So it was deleted at manufacture, for installation when the bonnet was fitted to the car. But more confusion: That article states it was V8 bonnets that had the problem. But series production of the V8 didn't start until April 1973, whereas two suppliers list this bracket as being for 1970 on, which ties in with the change of the bonnet from alloy to steel (and another says for 1971 on). Also if the HZA4015 steel bonnet replaced the alloy in 1969/70, that would have suffered from the same problem ... unless the bracket was never welded to HZA4015 by the manufacturer ... but for some reason it was on the V8's HZA4197!
During Vee's restoration I replaced the insulation as it had shrunk quite a bit and was very ratty. Holes for the carbs will have to be cut in the new insulation as there are no pre-cut pieces for the V8, not even for 77 and later 4-cylinder cars with the radiator in the V8 position.
I gave more thought to the rectangular cut-out in the front section. On the face of it the rectangle is needed to accommodate the raised section on the left-hand one-third (or so) of the header tank. But in that section is the filler plug, the top of which is easily 1cm higher than the highest part of the header tank. As that is twice the thickness of the soundproofing, strictly speaking one only needs another circle for the filler plug - if anything at all. If the bonnet is that close, then it's going to be hitting the corner of the plastic filler plug, and could damage it. There are brass filler plugs, but any contact between them is going to be damaging to the bonnet and making a noise, I'd rather have a layer of sound-proofing between the two. So I left that piece until the radiator and bonnet were back in, and could more accurately measure the clearance or lack of it, as well as the positioning of a hole - if one is needed.
In the event none was needed, measuring with the bonnet closed there is still 1/8" clearance from the highest part of the plug to the underside of the uncut insulation.
GT Tailgate Supports November 2012
Well, the spring covers, rather than the props as a whole. When Vee came to me 18 years ago the 'chrome' plastic covers were a bit tatty, and the domed cups that hold them on quite tarnished and a bit rusty, and the only change since has been for them to get worse. Someone on a BBS asked how to get the domed cups off, and that was a prod to me to do something about mine.
I got new covers and the two sizes of domed covers from Brown and Gammons, together with a bonnet badge for the ZS. This had faded badly in my ownership, as it was parked under a carport facing due south and so got about as much sun as it was possible to get. Now we have moved it faces East when parked, so gets the early morning sun, but much less than before (the boot gets more and that has started delaminating!). But I digress.
Getting the old covers off took about five minutes - the domed covers simply ping off, but it needs quite a hefty screwdriver to do so. You can lever the big ones off by jamming the screwdriver in, then twisting, as there is a metal piece behind the cover that you can lever against. The small ones have nothing to twist against, but if you angle the screwdriver across the centre spindle where the large one was and lever against that you can pop the small one off. After that the covers just come off the spindles.
The new covers didn't slip straight on the spindles, even though the smaller of the two holes is elongated, they aren't quite wide enough apart. I didn't fancy forcing them on only being plastic, and probably quite brittle at that. I compared the spacing on the old and new covers and they were identical, so had another go at easing them on, and that they did.
That was the easy bit. The cups were very difficult to get on. No matter how hard I pressed or squeezed with my thumbs, either square on or trying to get one side on first, I made no headway at all. I was gripping with my fingers round the back of the cover, and was wary about putting two much pressure on that and breaking it. Next attempt was a large hammer against the nut on the back, and tapping a mallet against the larger domed cap. Well that got it on, but at the expense of bashing the dome in a bit - most annoying. For the smaller one on that side I tried a folded cloth about an inch thick against the dome, and used a pair of channel pliers to ease an edge on, then worked round the edge to avoid pressing direct on the dome, but it still marked it a bit. What it needs is a concave domed surface to press over the whole surface including the edge. So I got a bit of softwood, and a 'ball' grinding wheel in a drill, and that made the perfect shape and size for the larger cap. Taped it in place, then with the large hammer on the back tapped the wood with the mallet and on it popped with no damage. I then cut a smaller depression for the smaller cap, and that went on just as well. Subsequently Ray Owen wrote to say before reading this he used a 1/4" block of balsa which deformed around the caps and also fitted them without damage.
Breakage: June 2019
Just after closing the hatch there was a bang, and I subsequently discovered the coil spring in the right-hand strut had broken, which had damaged the relatively new cover. Dismantling showed the central pivot (AHH7904 NLA) to be very badly worn, and the corresponding hole in the lever. Whether the resultant movement between the two had stressed the spring or not I don't know, but the other side is moving quite a bit so that is bound to be worn to a similar amount. Covers (AHH7899) and caps (large AHH7578 small AHH7579) are available, but not the springs or the central pivot (not be confused with the lower pivot which is available). Complete struts (AHH7901) new available from £67 to £80, 2nd-hand at £25 a pair from one source and £8 each from another. So order a single for the spring, maybe the central pivot if that is better then mine or try and weld mine up, reuse my levers (hole welded up perhaps) and caps (which came off OK), with a new cover.
Single strut from Andy Jennings arrives and is dismantled. Lever off the caps to remove the cover, and use a stout pair of pliers to grip the outer end of the spring and lift that off the post so it can be removed from the central pivot. Central pivot is worn much less than mine - a trick with that is to turn it through 180 degrees so it is acting on the unworn side. Mine being worn more than half-way through is beyond even that. The hole in the strut isn't as badly worn either, but the chrome is shot so won't use that. Can't see any cracking in the spring.
Reassembly is inevitably the reverse - checking the opposite side for the correct orientation of everything - don't dismantle both at the same time! Press grease into the turns of the spring, and apply to the central pivot. There is a crinkle washer on the central pivot between the levers, a large washer on the outside, a lock-washer and a stiff-nut. Fit a new cover and my caps, can't find my bit of wood with the recesses so make another, and this time clamp it up in the vice to press the caps on, and it's ready to fit. The upper pivot is part of the upper lever, a crinkle washer over the pivot, through the tailgate bracket, large washer, lock washer and domed nut. The bottom pivot is bolted to the body bracket, a crinkle washer goes over that, then the lower lever, a large washer, lock washer, and domed nut.
Boot and Hatch Seals February 2014Originally the main seals on both roadster boot (AHH 6535) and GT hatch (AHH 7833) consisted of a sponge core with a smooth very thin outer wall to keep moisture out, and the result was a very floppy and highly compressible seal.
I've had occasion to remove these seals on both roadster and V8 for painting. Best removed by carefully teasing out one end where the two ends join at the bottom of the opening, then pulling gently all the way round. For refitting although the T-section of the seal would appear to be a sliding fit in the channel on the lid and hatch, that only works for short lengths. Maybe easier to slot one side of the T in an inch or two at a time, then ease the other side in with a blunt flat-blade screwdriver, steadily working all the way round. Tension the seal slightly as you work round, so you are not left with a gap (refitting the old seal) at the end. Any excess can be worked back in the channel slightly, rather than cutting it off.
Moss state these are no longer available, and too expensive to reproduce, so have sourced a hollow rubber seal. However this is significantly harder than the original sponge, and can cause problems in closing the boot, and getting a good seal all the way round. This can be a particular problem in the GT hatch, where gaps can cause exhaust fumes to be drawn in. Other MG parts suppliers also seem to only have this hollow seal.
A number of specialist seal suppliers seem to have the correct item specifically for the MGB, but having obtained a sample these are much denser than the original sponge seal, and much harder to compress than the hollow seal, so I have removed the links to them.
That still leaves the problem of what to do when you have one of these new seals and you can't get the latch to click shut, even when the bar on the rear panel is adjusted to its highest extent.
Roadster Boot Seal: Originally the sponge seal AHH 6535 was fitted to the boot lid, and quite fiddly as it has to be slotted into a channel running all the way round. In March 1976 at chassis number 401000 it was changed to a seal HZA 5386 that simply pushes onto the lip around the opening in the body, and is much easier to deal with. This later seal has a completely different profile to the original, and I suspect was hollow and not sponge-cored.
GT Hatch Seal:
Unable to open:
Whilst failure of the GT hatch release is annoying it is relatively easy to open it from inside the car, but failure of the roadster boot latch is a much trickier proposition. The problem can arise here from either failure of the mechanism or loss of the key. It happened (to someone else) on one MG run I attended and they resorted to taking the affected roadster plus another car to a workshop where they proceeded to cut an arm-sized hole in the rear bulkhead. Why did they need the second car? So they could work out how to manipulate the mechanism from the inside on the affected car, of course, where they were working blind!
Some say they have removed a reversing light then used a length of stiff wire to hook into the lock mechanism, which sounds pretty tricky, and I can't see how you would get the leverage to operate the latch from the side.
Denise Thorpe has said that if you twist the lock to one side or the other as far as it will go it reveals enough space to drill a small hole through the skin that will be covered when the lock is centralised again. Inserting a narrow probe through this hole, and fiddling about, should enable you to push the latch out of engagement and so release the lid. Someone has said their lock twists nearly 90 degrees, but that sounds like the key-way has been cut away (or maybe they are thinking of the push-button and not the lock as a whole!), both of mine barely twist enough to drill the 1/16" hole so that it could be covered by twisting the lock back the other way.
Roger Parker also writes with another tip here.
December 2011: Steve Leech wrote to me after fitting a new lock and push-button fitted to his existing latch, then closing the lid to discover he couldn't open it again! He writes:
"1. cut an access hole in the rear bulkhead and subsequently reweld and repaint. This presenting a high risk of damage to my show condition shell.
"2. drill out the old button/lock mechanism and remove, thus allowing access through the void in the chrome button surround left by the button/lock. Again running the risk of a slipping drill.
"Fortunately I had the old push button with cylinder lock to practice on. With the unit in the vice I was, with care and some force, able to drill a hole right through the button/cylinder lock of a size equal to their diameter, effectively removing the lock completely. I started with a 1/8th inch bit (using the key slot as a pilot hole), and then progressed through an intermediately sized bit to one the full diameter of the button/cylinder lock. The final drill bit was soon reassuringly contained by the chrome button surround and pull tab, and I progressed with some confidence. I encountered extra resistance when I hit the steel screw that holds the release cam in place in the centre of the lock; but with time and patience I removed enough of this screw for the screw head and cam to fall away. Henceforth I encountered little further resistance before drilling right the way through the lock. The entire process took less than five minutes, and gave me more than enough confidence to try the same on the car.
"Again the process went smoothly and successfully on the car, but this time the lock material was much softer and I completed the task within a minute or two, and I was thus able to access the latch lever through the void vacated by the button/lock cylinder in the centre of the pull tab/surround and release the lid.
"And the cause of my problem:
Stupidly I had ordered by part number and expected the correct part or matching copy part to be supplied. Instead the part supplied had a release cam of a different size and shape, i.e. too short to contact and operate the latch release lever. Had I checked before fitting I could have easily replaced the new cam with my old cam; the remainder of the part being a faithful reproduction of the original. I have since wondered whether the part supplied to me was for a Midget, where logically the lock position could be closer to the latch in the scaled down boot lid.
"I have always ordered by part number, but increasingly I find that mistakes such as these are made. I suspect that the supply chain is populated by business people rather than brown coat enthusiasts these days. But enough of that!!"
I took his latch and tried it on my roadster, and my cam rests on the lever of both his and my latches, so his latch isn't the problem. Next we tried my cam against his, and both his are about 1/8" shorter, but nothing like the 1/4" gap when fitted to his car. So I remove the button on both our cars and put a steel rule down inside to rest on the lever of the latch, to find his outer skin is another 1/8" further away from the latch lever than mine - eureka! Whether this is from a skim of filler from the paint shop, or something else, is unknown. Obviously that gap can't be altered on a newly painted shell, and although I could give him my longer cam it may still be marginal (as might mine with a shorter cam!). So we opt to build up his cam about 1/4" with weld. If he changes latches in the future it will be fine, but if he changes locks he will have to remember to change over the cam.
These photos (click the thumbnail) show the features of the release mechanism including what stops it twisting very far, what comes loose/drops off to cause the usual problem, and where to pull/push to open the latch. These are taken on a GT for ease of access but the lock on the roadster is identical.
A future project is to look at the feasibility of using a bonnet or choke cable mounted on the rear bulkhead and permanently connected to the lock mechanism. Whatever you use as a one-off or a more permanent 'emergency release' needs either to pull the upper part of the release lever (the part the cam bears on) forwards (i.e. towards the front of the car) or the lower part of the release lever (that hooks under the bar on the rear panel) backwards to clear the bar. On a GT a piece of timber with cross-section up to 3/4" high and 1 1/2" wide can be pushed through the loop of the bar to push the lower part of the release lever backwards and release the tailgate. It take surprisingly little force to do so, so there shouldn't be much pressure on any permanent 'emergency release' cable used on a roadster. Such a cable obviously introduces a security risk since it is easy for someone to gain access to the cabin of a roadster, but hiding the handle should reduce that risk. Watch this space.
In the meantime, get out there and put some Locktite on the screw and tighten it up!
Added November 2009:
Given how close my pal above came to shutting his boot lid and not being able to open it again, I finally get a round tuit July 2015:
Looking at the pivoting part of the latch there is ample space to drill a hole for the cable inner to go through, in the part that the button cam bears on. It didn't take long to come up with that from bits of scrap, but I soon found that even with a relatively thin and flexible cable like on the choke the radius round the bar was rather small and the angle acute which made the action quite stiff.
So plan B was to fix the outer to the plate in such a way that it had a straight pull through a hole drilled in a different place in the pivoting part, and that worked much better. The socket for the outer was a convenient spacer with a hole up the middle larger than the inner but smaller than the outer, which I drilled out part-way through to accept the outer. It was steel, so again welded to the plate.
I have an old choke cable (replaced when it no longer locked) which looks to be an ideal length to reach the rear bulkhead. However two problems - one is that the exposed length of inner is rather short which means the cable clamp has to be adjacent to the pivoting lever, which interferes with its movement slightly, rather than being long enough to be fed through the lever and back towards the cable outer and clamped to itself as in Bruce's picture (which incidentally is how the bonnet cable is attached to that latch). I could cut the outer back, but that would shorten the cable and may impact on it reaching the bulkhead. So the lock end works, but the second problem is that I don't think I'm quite ready to lose what is after all the only relatively secure part of a roadster i.e. a locked boot. Yes I know the objective is to be able to release the boot in the event of lock failure (or losing your keys, or shutting them in the boot ...), but with the hood up the release knob is likely to be quite visible, and rather obvious as to what it is for. OK it could be covered by a flap, but I think I'll do something else even more concealed, which I don't propose to go into.
So plan C uses a longer plate, with the outer positioned further away, and a longer cable with more exposed inner so that it can be fed through the latch lever and back towards the outer, to be clamped to itself. When ordering some other stuff I took the opportunity to order a bonnet latch cable as well, which has a hole through it large enough to for the inner to pass through twice. I have a bonnet cable with a T-bar handle, which as well as having a longer exposed section is also much longer overall, which gives me more scope for concealing the handle. That still needed the outer to be trimmed back, but only half an inch.
Striker: March 2018:
What to do when you have new seals and you can't get the latch to click shut, even when the bar on the rear panel is adjusted to its highest extent? From tests inside his boot (!) Terry had come to the conclusion that his striker needed to be raised almost 1/4" before it would latch. The holes in the mounting plate are slotted for adjustment, so one could file them out, and there is about 1/4" 'spare' metal in the mounting plate to extend them. However my rat-tail file which is a good fit for the width of the slot made no impression on the metal at all, and neither did pressing down the flutes of a bit in a drill. I had already considered welding an extra piece below the mounting plate - the bars extend below it by about 1/4" - to strengthen the bottom of the extended slots. But now I think I'll have to use an angle grinder to cut into the slots in order to extend them downwards, which will mean I will definitely have to weld a strip across the bottom to close the slots.
Terry was also having problems getting his latch to engage with the striker - having to push the button in before the latch would start to move past it. It would only start to do that by itself if the striker was spaced forwards by maybe 3/16", even though the boot lid was positioned further back than it should be leaving an over-large gap to the part of the surround by the tonneau cover.
Terry's striker on my roadster had a similar problem, also with his latch, but his latch with my striker was fine. When I compared his to mine it was evident that his was twisted with one side further back than the other, both sides were further back than mine, and his had a rearward bend in the top part. Each of these factors were progressively moving the central part of his striker, that engages with the latch, probably 1/4" further back than mine, which clicks shut just from the weight of the lid - no pressing down or dropping. Not difficult to deal with, just clamp both bars in a vice, then whack Terry's with a large hammer until the vertical bars on his are parallel to mine, and then clamp up the top part of his bar in the vice to flatten the rearward bend out a bit.
October 2018: Lashing eyes.
Chrome Bumpers: Just a warning that there have been some poor copies of chrome bumpers from some sources - incorrect in shape as well as poor in quality. Whilst the latter is not always easy to confirm before purchase, you can at least check that the basic shape is correct. One problem has been in the ends of the rear bumpers. Originals are tapered in towards the wing leaving a very small gap as further back, whereas copies have them chopped off short leaving an open hole facing forwards. That's the biggest and most obvious, there are other more subtle differences such as the part facing forwards is shorter, perhaps in an effort to correct the first problem. I'm not aware that this also occurs with front bumpers, even though the ends are very similar. Bob Muenchausen has some useful comparative photos here.
Left to their own devices these get dull, rough and greyish with exposure to road dirt and sunlight.
Having tried a couple of products I used to recommend Turtle Black Chrome but it is no longer available. It is quick and easy to apply, brings tired bumpers back to black and shiny, and they stay that way for ages. A subsequent application several months after I got them to a good shine made hardly any difference, they were still so good. It has the same effect on various items of black trim of different materials on my 89 Celica although I only use it on the bumpers on the V8. It is a black almost creamy liquid, and a word of warning, if you get it on paintwork you can only get it off again with car polish, so I slip sheets of paper behind the edges of the bumpers while I am applying it. Turtle Wax Trim Restorer seems to be the current product, or maybe Black in a Flash, but I haven't tried either yet.
I had previously tried ArmorAll and sure enough with enough applications left to dry in the sun and then finally polished up you could get them back to black and shiny, but the effects faded very quickly, in fact they seemed to end up rougher and greyer than originally, even when not exposed to sunlight for long periods. Some recommend its use on interior vinyl but others say it dries it out and can cause it to crack in the sun. Having seen the effect on the bumpers I can believe it. About the only thing it is good for is tyres for a show finish, being better than that awful high-gloss tyre paint beloved of second-hand car showrooms. But if you are going to drive the car don't bother, after a few dozen miles the effect has worn off.
Another recommendation I have seen is black boot polish, and whilst I can believe it works I can also believe that it will rub off black on light-coloured clothes even after being polished up. I say this after having had to clean a light-coloured carpet where someone with highly polished shoes had been shuffling their feet.
The rear bumper has five studs - two each side and one centrally going through into the spare wheel space. In this case the outer corners are supported by one bracket each side. However it is not necessary to unbolt these from the body to remove the bumper, as the bumper has slots which slide off the brackets.
If you have a 72 and later car with the centre arm-rest and cubby, cut the carpet around the small access panel as well as round the gear lever hole, which means you don't have to pull the tunnel carpet back to access the gearbox switches. Keep a piece to drop on top of the panel when refitting everything. Click the links for more on the reverse light switch, and the overdrive switch.
Two strange pieces of carpet (amongst many) fit immediately in front of each rear light cluster. One flat squarish piece glues to the inside of the rear wing in the space that is bounded by the back of the rear wheel arch, the boot floor, the rear light cluster, and under the boot lid rim (roadster) or C-post trim (GT). The other is two pieces stitched together such that the natural inclination of the 'hinge' is for the pile-sides to fold together. The wider half lies on the side piece of the boot floor and the narrower half covers the back of the rear light cluster. Both pieces are handed so try them both sides for the best fit.
The narrow part that covers the back of the light cluster is held in position by a plastic trim fastener pushed through the carpet into a bracket, but neither the bracket nor the fastener are shown in the official parts lists I have. The roadster didn't have these brackets so it was always a bit of a puzzle how the 'hinged' pieces were supposed to fit. It wasn't until I got the V8 which happened to have just one of these brackets and fasteners that I realised, and I was able to make three more brackets using the existing one as a pattern. I was able to get suitable fasteners at Halfords from their range of generic trim fasteners at the time. These are black plastic, have a 15mm diameter head, 17mm overall length, 15mm shank length. The shank has serrations and a maximum diameter of about 7mm.
I made the brackets out of some bits of body panels I had lying around (Hunts Eighth Law: "If you haven't found a use for something yet, you haven't kept it long enough"). All measurements are approximate but these are taken from the one original bracket I have. It isn't critical, it isn't visible, and I doubt even a concourse judge would be looking at them.
For each bracket cut a flat strip 19mm wide and 55mm long. Mark a line across the width 15mm from each end, this is where a bend of approximately 40 degrees is made. Mark and centre-punch the centre of each 19mm x 15mm area for the hole to accept the plastic fastener. Get the fasteners and drill a hole of suitable size for them but in my original they are 6.5mm diameter. Finally make the bends so you end up with something like in the picture at the left.
The bracket is secured on the top stud for the rear light cluster and held by an additional spring washer and nut. It is angled down and towards the boot/hatch opening, as shown in the picture on the left. The plastic fastener pushes through the carpet and into the free hole in the bracket.
Cable and Pipe Routing July 2019
Cockpit Rail August 2018 - initiated by Dave Farrar
The hood frame and/or tonneau sockets and the trim panel aft of the doors will need to be removed, to remove and refit the cockpit rail.
The trim is glued to the moulding. Start at the middle and glue along the curved face, piping uppermost and flush with the back face, and work round to the ends, don't trim at this stage. A warm day or gentle heat will be needed to stretch the vinyl round the back of the moulding in the corners and glue it in place.
Slot the studs into the channel through the cut-outs, and fit the end-plates into the channel such that the exposed part is flush with the back of the moulding. Only then trim the vinyl to the ends of the end-plates as this goes under the trim panel aft of the doors.
There are nine holes around the edge of the cockpit, through which go the threaded part of the studs, then plain washer, spring washer and nut fitted. This is a bit of a fiddle as they are accessed from below inside the cabin, and you need dextrous fingers to get the washers on and the nuts started. A 2BA spanner is best for tightening the nuts in the limited space available, don't over-tighten and strip the threads.
|Car||Overall Length||Overall Width||Overall Height|
|CB Roadster||12' 9.2"||4' 11.9"||4' 1.4"|
|CB V8||12' 10.7"||5' 0"||4' 2"|
|RB GT||13' 2.25"||5' 1.75"||4' 3"|
Roadster vs GT
It's said that this is the only difference, other than that the doors are interchangeable, with the modification from one to the other relatively easy to make. Remember that there are very significant differences between Mk1 and Mk2 doors, windows and locking furniture, and converting between Mk1 and Mk2 is a very different proposition.
The 'Crack of Doom'
When I bought 'Bee' the drivers door had the 'crack of doom' which is split at the top of the door skin near the front door glass channel. After much study I decided there was a design weakness in the door skin, in that the flange that supports the outer rubber seal ends just before the front door glass channel. The MGB doesn't have much scuttle-shake - where the screen wobbles from side to side over rough surfaces - but there is some. If this is allowed to waggle the quarterlight frames from side to side, that's when you get splitting of the door skins. It's been claimed that this splitting is caused by using the top of the door to close it instead of using the internal handle, however that just doesn't hold water. If that were the case I'd expect GTs to show it more than roadsters given that there were significantly more of them sold in the UK than roadsters - 65,000 to 50,000, and they rarely do. Also if you do close a roadster door using the top of the door you are likely to be pulling on the waist rail, and that is attached to the inner skin not the outer. Whereas if you do it on a GT you would probably be using the finisher that carries the outer seal, which is attached to the outer skin. There are cases where it has happened to a GT, but that is more likely to be caused by pulling on the door by the raised drop-glass or top of the quarter-light as much as anything, or where the long leg on the quarter-light is incorrectly adjusted and it is being pushed outwards by the door seal every time you close the door.
To strengthen the skin I welded a small piece in such that it extended the flange alongside the channel and round the front, meeting up with another flange. The picture from Lyndsay Porters Guide shows the area quite well. The first shows the area that splits (arrowed), and the second where I have extended the flange in yellow and blue (false colour). Subsequently I saw a Heritage door that seemed to be constructed in just this manner (December 2018: However in this Heritage video with an unknown filming date (ignore the posted date) the outer skin is exactly the same as mine, at 4:33). I MIG-welded the crack, and used a large oval plate behind the door skin to support the door mirror. It has a slightly larger radius than the door skin, so bracing the mirror over a large area.
Update January 2005: During a thread on this subject in a mailing list Rich Chrysler posted the text of a BMC (Canada) Technical Service Bulletin from 1963 showing this problem and saying a production change was being made. My first thought was "well, they never did" but by the date of the bulletin the MGB had only been in production little more than a year and less than 20,000 had been made, so the problem must have been serious. 30 years and 500,000 cars later we know it still occurs, but most cars don't have it, so I'm thinking that they did make a change which considerably improved things, but did not completely eliminate it. The drawing in the bulletin shows three edges joining at a single point, whereas the Porter picture shows a slightly different arrangement, and the former would be more prone to cracking in my view, however the drawing may just be 'artistic licence'. For interest a scan of the complete document can be seen by clicking here.
Following repair it is vital that the way the screen and quarterlight interface with each other is correct to minimise any reoccurrence. 1. The front of the quarterlight frame must only just touch the bulbous part of the pillar seal and not depress it, and 2. there must be a small clearance between the side of the quarterlight frame and the thin part of the pillar seal. These two adjustments allow the quarterlight frames to be kept static even if when the screen wobbles.
1. The adjustment of the front of the quarterlight frame to the bulbous part of the pillar seal is done by adjusting the fore and aft position of the screen, and its rake. Other than moving the doors on the hinges (which should be done first to get the correct shut-lines) there is no other provision for fore and aft adjustment of the quarterlights i.e. within the doors. Note that old seals can be hard and shiny, allowing some 'slip' between frame and rubber. However new rubber is 'sticky' hence the need that the two only just touch,
2. The adjustment of the side of the quarterlight frames to the thin part of the pillar seal to get a small clearance is done partly with screen leg shims to centralise the screen relative to the quarterlights, and by an adjustment on the long leg of the quarterlight frame (except on early cars). This goes down to a slotted bracket at the lower front corner of the door, and the stud in the leg moves in a slot in the bracket to move the leg between the inner and outer door skins, which moves the top of the quarterlight closer to and further away from the thin lip of the pillar seal. Adjust the long leg stud to get an equal clearance all the way up, as far as possible.
Drain Holes November 2016:
There should be three drain holes along the bottom of each door - one at each end just before the carcass starts turning up, and one in the middle, all where the carcass meets the skin. The hole should be right through the carcass flange, so half of it is in the horizontal part and half in the vertical, so water in the crevice where the door skin meets the carcass flange has a chance of draining out. Unless your car never gets wet water will always get into the doors, so it's really important to use Waxoyl, Dinitrol or similar to creep into the crevice and keep water out, indeed across the whole skin including behind the brackets. Make sure the treatment doesn't block the holes!
Hanging and Adjustment
I see the objective as four-fold:
1. To get the crease where the chrome strip goes running in a straight line from the rear wing, through the door and into the front wing when the door is fully shut.
2. For the door to achieve that from open without the rear of the door being raised or depressed by the action of the lock on the striker-plate or binding on the pin and catch.
3. For the wing sill and door panels to be flush with each other all the way round.
4. For the gaps to be even all the way round.
There are no less than twelve separate steps to correct alignment of the doors and 1/4-lights to aperture front wing and windscreen.
On my drivers door the front and rear wings were not in line, so lining up the rear of the door with the rear wing and the front of the door with the front wing resulted in a zig-zag. I had to slacken the bolts holding the front wing, put a piece of timber from the top of the wing to the bottom of the garage roof, and jack the car up to press the wing down into the correct position! Sounds drastic but it worked.
Adjusting the overall height of the door is set by sliding the hinges up and down wrt the A-post. As well as the four visible Philips screws there is a nut behind the front wing which is accessed by removing the splash-plate aft of each front wheel. May 2016: The four screws go into two sliding tapped plates, which are in slots behind the trim panel in the footwell.
Getting the leading edge of the door flush with the front wing is set by sliding the hinges in and out (relative to the car as a whole) on the A-post, and getting the top of the leading edge adjusted relative to the bottom is achieved varying how much each hinge is moved relative to the other.
September 2009:There has been some discussion of this area recently on a mailing list. John Davies nearing the end of a restoration has found that the bottom of his drivers door needs to be moved out by about 1/16" or so to clear the wing. Opinion was that the hinges can't be adjusted on the A-post, even though they have sliding threaded plates like in the door and for the striker plate. Even if the screw holes for the hinge in the A-post don't give enough adjustment I can't see any reason why they can't be filed out a bit to give more movement, but of course that would leave a mark, if not a gap in the paint, around the hinge and is why this adjustment really needs to be sorted before painting. There was talk of putting a shim in the door, but the threaded plate the hinge screws go in to is boxed in so may not be accessible. Then John described a method of bending the hinges his local garage showed him, which would achieve much the same thing without actually moving the hinge relative to the A-post. Basically you put a wedge into the hinge and close the door onto it. Pushing against the door carefully should tend to bend the part of the main hinge body that the pivot is attached to (which is much thinner than the tongue itself) and will have the effect of moving the pivot and hence the door out from the body slightly. Of course you can go too far, and it is not possible to bend it back again without removing the hinge from the body and door, or revert to Plan A and move the hinge on the A-post with all that entails. Care required!
Adjusting the height of the rear of the door relative to the front is the second-easiest of the adjustments to perform. Each hinge-to-door fixing has three Philips screws that go through the door panel, through the hinge and into a sliding threaded plate inside the door. This plate doesn't seem to be a listed part and seems to have been installed during door manufacture, and is not easily replaceable if you should strip the threads, unlike the plates in the A and B posts. If you slacken all of these you should be able to imagine being able to slide the whole door forwards and backwards on the hinges, and this sets the basic fore-and-aft position of the door in the aperture and hence the front and rear gaps. With the same screws loose if you let the door go the rear edge will drop right down, the top hinge will slide out of the door and the bottom hinge will tend to slide into the door. Likewise if you lift the rear edge of the door the top hinge will tend to slide into the door and the bottom hinge will slide out and that is how you set the height of the rear of the door relative to the front. But before you slacken the screws you need to decide whether you want the top of the vertical gap between door and front wing to get smaller or the bottom of that gap to get larger. If you want a smaller top gap you slacken the top screws fully but just slightly loosen the bottom screws. Then when you lift the rear edge of the door it will pivot about the bottom hinge and the top hinge will slide further into the door. If you want the bottom of the gap to get larger you just slightly loosen the top screws and fully slacken the bottom screws, then lifting the door will pivot it about the top hinge and the bottom hinge will slide further out of the door. However if the hinges themselves are worn or bent you there may not be enough adjustment left to raise the rear of the door to the correct position. In that case you may be able to get by with swapping top and bottom hinges over (there seems to be no difference in top and bottom hinges, only RHS and LHS) or another possibility is to shim the lower hinge to get more 'lift'. However both these will disturb the 'up and down' and 'in and out' settings of the front of the door.
With the height of front and rear and the panel gaps set there are now four more adjustments left to do - yes four. You may have to twist the whole carcass of the door in order to get the rear edge flush with the rear wing for the whole of its length. The factory used a large bar that clamped onto the top and bottom edges of the door to achieve this, Herb Adler describes the principle here.
Finally you adjust the striker plate in and out so that the rear edge of the door is flush with the rear wing and up and down so the door does not lift or drop as the lock engages, and add/remove shims between the striker plate and the B-post so that the lock opens and closes cleanly and doesn't bind. May 2016 Again the striker-plate screws go into two sliding plates that are in slots that can be accessed by removing the trim panel.
A comment on a forum that amongst other problems the rear vertical edge of an owner's door was quite a bit proud. As above this is set by positioning the striker plate appropriately and a couple of us responded that this does mean that the seal is compressed by the striker plate, which perhaps might seem wrong. There is also the question of the seals themselves - whether replacements are too hard/and or too bulbous as others have reported problems here. All four of my doors (original seals) close very easily, and if only half-clicked they can be pushed fully shut without having to open and slam them. Unlike the ZS 180 which needs a good hard pull/push to close.
However if the sills and rear wing have been badly fitted, or the door skin, it will be very difficult to adjust the door to compensate - or even fit properly. For that reason you should remove the minimum of front and rear wings and door whilst fitting new sills, even though the door will be in the way. They are vital to get correct alignment.
Update September 2003: I was never happy with the fit of the drivers door which had always used the striker plate to lift the door into position slightly, which is something it shouldn't have to do. This makes a bit of a clatter when closing, and unless the lock and striker plate are kept lubricated with a smear of grease it can need a push to open and the grease can get on one's clothes. I knew this from the outset but I'm sure I originally spent ages trying to get the door-to-hinge adjustment correct so this wasn't required but was unable to do so. Finally I decided I had to try again and blow me if slackening the top hinge to door screws alone allowed me to raise the rear edge of the door into the correct position, it only taking a few minutes including removing and replacing the trim. However that moved the lock slightly forward in relation to the striker plate and the two were now binding a little. There were already three shims under the striker plate, so I used one as a pattern to make another out of even thicker plastic, and one thick and two thin have now put the striker plate in the correct position, and the door now shuts with a nice click and springs open instead of needing a push.
One of the first things you should consider doing, and certainly if repainting the doors or working on the locks, is to replace the very poor arrangement for holding the external lock in the door skin. This is nothing more than a flimsy spring clip which at best allows the lock to rotate in the door skin slightly, wearing away the paint around the hole and allowing rust to set in. At worst the locating 'pegs' in the door skin that stop the lock rotating too far can wear and allow the whole lock to be rotated far enough to unlock the car just with a screwdriver in the key slot.
There is a much better 3rd party lock fitting kit available from many of the usual suspects which secures the lock positively in the door and giving it no chance to move and chafe the paint. It is quite easy to fit once you have the door trim off, you just have to remove the existing spring-clip, ease the lock out of the door slightly to be able to fit the circular washer over the end (chamfered side facing the door skin) of the forked lever that operates the locking rod sticking out of the latch assembly, relocate the forked lever over the rod, then the C-shaped washer just slides into the groove vacated by the spring-clip. Tighten the grub-screws equally, and Bob is your Mother's Brother. Note that to remove the door trim you will need to remove the door-pull/armrest, the window winder, and whatever arrangement you have for opening and locking handles, then unscrewing or carefully levering up the concealed snaps. On Mk2 cars with the rectangular safety handles simply slide the top half of the plastic finisher upwards and the bottom half downwards, being careful not to tear the vinyl. The screws in the window winders seem prone to seizing, but if you remove the waist rail as well then once you have released all the trim panel snaps you can rotate the panel downwards about the winder handle and that will give you sufficient access. Remember to refit any polythene sheets over the holes in the inner skin to protect the hardboard trim from rain-water, and if you don't have any then fit some!
Added November 2009: Cars used in all weathers and particularly those kept outside can suffer from the locks getting stiff, as can garage locks and padlocks. You can ignore it until the key snaps off in the lock, or do something quick and easy sooner rather than complicated and expensive later. Vee was kept under a car-port for a long time with the prevailing weather against the drivers side, and that lock periodically used to stiffen-up, rather than the little-used passenger side. I've seen various recommendations for oil, silicone and Teflon sprays, and graphite powder each usually stating that only they should be used! This advice from a locksmith and safe engineer says silicone and Teflon can be used, but graphite is better, and oils like WD40 should definitely not be used. I see silicone and Teflon advertised but not specifically mentioning locks, so I'd steer clear of those. Graphite powder specifically for locks is available in small quantities, but for small quantities like a lock you can make your own (as recommended on the above site). Take a graphite pencil, and cut back the wood to expose 1/2" or so of the graphite core. Fold a sheet of paper in half and cut a diagonal, so that when opened out again the crease forms a point, like an arrow or a paper dart. With the pencil held over the crease scrape down the exposed graphite with a sharp blade held at right-angles to the graphite until you have a little pile of powder. Fold the paper and tap the pile into the crease. There should be little shutter in the lock across the key entrance, wedge this open with a matchstick, put the tip of the crease in the folded paper into the slot, angle the paper and tap it gently so the graphite powder trickles into the lock. Don't do this in windy conditions or it will simply blow away! Remove the matchstick and use the key in and out and turning it to distribute the graphite and it should soon ease up. Normal use of the lock will distribute it further. In exposed conditions like Vee's you may need to do this once or twice per year.
Keys Added November 2010: Replacement keys can be tricky. Using blanks and worn keys as a template is very iffy, I had a spare ignition key cut from the only key that came with the car which was itself a copy, which tended to jam in the lock. Subsequently the 'original' key started jamming as well, so I replaced the lock. Both lock and ignition key numbers should be on the Heritage Certificate so potentially available for purchase 'new' rather than recut, but needs the original locks to be on the car of course. Easy to check with door etc. locks as the number was stamped on original keys (unless you already have a recut), but not the ignition key. A spare door key seems to have been attached to the car - the firewall in the engine compartment, inner wing, and inside the glovebox have all been mentioned. Blanks are available from the likes of Triple-C (USA and Canada) but in all cases it is the pattern of length-wise grooves that is most important. Triple-C don't give these - you have to know the blank pattern number - but Moss US (but seemingly not Moss Europe) and LBCarCo show these patterns for ignition keys at least. The latter indicates which years have which pattern, but compare to your existing key before purchase and cutting. March 2019: Moss Europe have FS door keys.
Latch Added August 2010
I noticed Bee's driver's door button was suddenly stiffer than usual, and as it seemed to be getting stiffer thought I had better have a look as I didn't want it to suddenly fail altogether (remember Nory's wisdom: "Listen to your car, it is talking to you."). I hadn't lubricated it in 20 years, although with the door open, even with the latch pushed into the closed position with a screwdriver, it was very light to operate. So I removed the latch (remove the trim panel, but just the shoulder rail and pulling the trailing edge of the door card back should be enough to disconnect the two internal handle rods from the latch levers). The old oil was pretty sticky, but everything seemed to be moving well enough. Nevertheless I cleaned all the old gunk off and put new oil on, and the levers did seem to be a little easier. However back on the door (grease the plate the button bears on, and peer down through the window slot to engage the latch bar in the forked lever of the key lock) the button was just as stiff. Just as an experiment I eased the striker plate forward about 1/8", which did seem to help a bit. It subsequently struck me that the button in the handle may need lubrication as well. That can be accessed from above just by removing the shoulder rail with the window wound down, and pressing the button in then putting a bit of copper grease on the exposed pin has also made it a bit easier. Time will tell if that is enough. September 2010: A couple of weeks later I suddenly realised I wasn't noticing stiffness anymore, and when deliberately trying it found it really easy, so perhaps the grease has worked its way into where it was needed.
In the meantime, literally a couple of days after my initial investigation, Herb Adler writes to me from Oz having had exactly the same problem, although more severe as his was so stiff that he had broken the internal handle. However he cured his problems by dismantling, cleaning and lubricating the latch, which he describes here. He also describes installing central locking part 1, and part 2.
Door Pulls May 2011
The door pulls attach to the door using screws in nylon nuts, and trying to close Vee's door from half to fully shut while in motion just by pulling on the handle rather than opening and closing the door I managed to pull the rear screw out of its nut. So when ordering something else I ordered four GHF1027 (aka 13H2494), two to fit and two for spares for one or other of the cars.
Door Cards November 2014
Just a fitting tip really. From 1970 on the door cards or liners had plastic clips that fit in cut-outs in the back of the liners, and are simply pushed into holes in the door frame.
Before that they are attached with a series of screws and cup washers, which are OK for refitting originals, but it seems that replacement liners from some sources at least have no holes. So they have to be drilled, but have to be to the centres of the holes in the doors. You could make careful measurements, but that's not feasible for my blind pal Terry. I suggested he screw self-tappers in from the back of the door frame so the points were sticking out, then using the window winder to locate the card, and feeling round the edges for equal gap, thump the liner over each screw to leave an indentation, which he could use to drill to. That worked well, and only a thump from the palm of his hand was needed. But there were some positions he couldn't get a screw in from the back. For those he cut the head off, and screwed the stump of the shank in from the outside - brilliant!
Door Seals February 2019
A number of posts recently from people having problems preventing water ingress on GTs, particularly around the raised drop-glass. Quarter-light adjustment is a factor here, slots at the bottom of the long leg and the rear channel allow the QL and drop-glass to be moved in and out to some extent, however people are saying that they still have a gap. Another possibility is tapping the flange the seal clips onto out a bit, but that's bit crude, and could cause the paint to crack and start rusting. Replacement seals are often mentioned, and it seems these have a smooth rubber surface to the face that should contact the glass, whereas the originals have a raised rib (as in the attached thumbnail) the full length of the seal. With replacement seals there is also the distinct possibility that that are a stock item from one of the seal specialists and not even the rubber tube is to the same dimensions. Things like this, and the general poor quality of replacement parts from the usual suppliers, is why these days I only replace stuff if I have to. I replaced all the trim when I repainted the roadster 30 years ago, but for the GT in 2017 I only replaced the heater intake as the original showed some corrosion, and even that has a different curvature so I had to use some of the original spire-clips rather than the plastic sockets that I had intended to use.
Sill Threshold Plates July 2019
I'm not usually one for blingy trim but I made an exception for sill threshold plates. A nice finisher to the door opening and they do prevent the top of the painted sill from getting scuffed, stainless with a number of logos and patterns available from the usual suspects. Bee came without any so I added some after the paint job. Normally secured to the sill by stainless round-head screws, drilling the hole for the front lower screws either needs the doors to be off or a low-profile right-angle drill so I left that one out. There is also the question of whether drilling holes will introduce a rust point, and John Maguire in Oz opted to use self-adhesive magnetic strip to attach his. Vee came with threshold plates and on removing them for inspection I did find some rust underneath, but treated and Waxoyled and it didn't get any worse - which is what I did to Bee's from the outset, working it into the screw-holes. John had a different problem in that the flange on the plate was too deep for his sill step so he had to cut that down to 8mm, which put it right through the screw holes. I don't know why that should be, both Bee and Vee have about 16mm to the step, the same as the threshold plates, and whilst the edge does go right to the bottom the top surface is flush with the sill. It may have been a side-effect of Australian-produced body panels. I know the shells were assembled there, and also that at one point they modified the doors for close shut-lines but found that when the car was on its wheels they couldn't get the doors open! Lots of info on Australian cars here.
Drinks Bottle Holder Added September 2009
My first thought was to mount it above the sill in the footwell somehow, but that would probably have meant screwing through the trim panel which I didn't want to do. Then I investigated hanging it from the square-section bracing tube behind the bottom edge of the dash. Possible, but it would have to hang several inches down and not swing about. Looked along the tube towards the centre console to see the two brackets for the LHD steering column, which were a definite possibility, but again the holster would need to be lower and not swing about. Then my eye fell on the lower screw in the side of the centre console, and Bingo, the ideal location.
Repaired the frame by welding a strip between the two broken holes, and re-drilling the top one, did a test fit and it looked fine. However the water bottles are quite a bit smaller diameter than the washer bottle and if at an angle in the holster would fall through the frame. Started pondering welding more strips around the bottom, but then I seemed to remember I had replaced the water bottle as well when I replaced the frame because it was holed and leaking. Another root through the box of bits and Lo and Behold! Cut the top off the washer bottle to just below the top of the frame, perfect. Then it was just a matter of stripping and painting the frame, and installing.
Drop-glass and Regulators August and October 2017
Removal and refitting
Stiff to wind
Handles and Screws
Dating the glass
A bit of manipulation is needed to get the regulator in and out of the door, and connected to and disconnected from the glass. All the following applies to later regulators, i.e. Mk2 on, but the Mk1 probably isn't much different. Originally written with more description than pictures in August when fitting-out Vee, John Maguire from Australia sent me his version in October which consists of a number of captioned pictures and a video. What's more, with a genius bit of lateral thinking he has come up with a method that pulls the glass and top of the regulator out of the top of the door, so the glass can be slid straight off the rollers of the regulator. This results in drop-glass removal being accomplished in about 15 minutes, and refitting in not much more, so I've replaced my method with his. Drop-glasses were always curved, and handed.
... or the glass can be removed with the quarter-light in place, depending on which component(s) you need to get at.
This is really limited to the stop-peg near the top of the inner skin so that the top of the glass just tucks neatly into the rubber piece at the top of the 1/4-light frame. The bottom stop is by way of a plate welded into the door, and so not adjustable. This should have a felt pad gripped by some serrated teeth so the bottom of the drop-glass doesn't drop onto it with a clatter or rattle when fully down. Whilst the adjustment at the bottom of the 1/4-light long leg will of course affect the drop-glass, it's primary purpose is to get the correct alignment to the windscreen upright. The plain channel at the lock end of the door also has a certain amount of adjustment in two directions, but apart from pressing the channel onto the glass gently while tightening it to stop the glass jumping out as it is wound up and down, the other adjustment should be allowed to take up its natural position, which will be controlled by the front channel and the brush and rubber seals against the glass.
Don't press the rear channel tightly onto the glass as it will make raising and lowering stiff. Leave a little slack so that the glass can move back and fore slightly i.e. in to and out of both channels. but not so much that on the GT the glass touches the B-post trim.
Lower stop: This is a bracket in the bottom of the door on which sits a felt pad. The main parts catalogue quotes this part as HZA319 the roadster LH (RH not shown) and AHH7550 (LH) and AHH7551 (RH) for the GT. It indicates they are held in place with screws and spire nuts, but neither my 73 roadster nor my 75 V8 have screw heads on the bottom of the door or the inner skin, i.e. they are welded in place. The 77 and later Parts Catalogue does not list them, so I presume at some point they were welded in, maybe before 1973, or at least before the doors that came with both my cars were made! They seem to be stainless now - certainly not for appearance, but maybe to prevent them rotting-out as the originals have done. However if the remainder of the door is still painted mild-steel that's still going to rust. I've seen an eBay source for these at £29 plus £5 P&P - which made me choke. Leacy for example has them at £23 plus P&P, and if buying with other parts the P&P for that item will be marginal.
Stiffness when winding seems to be the biggest problem, so much so that people break the plastic handles and replace them with after-market metal ones. With several BL vehicles over many years I've never had this problem, but as I say many complain of it. The glass slides up and down in 'flocked' rubber inserts fitted into the metal channels of the 1/4-light frame and another plain channel at the lock-end of the door. These rubber strips can rip and cause the glass to jam, and if the flock wears off the rubber may well make the action a lot stickier. The two channels may also not be in line so are trying to flex the glass as it moves up and down, and the regulator mechanism may also be stiff from rusting or lack of lubrication. The first thing to do is to determine whether it is the regulator or the glass that is causing the problem.
There is quite a bit of lost motion in the regulator and this can be used for diagnosis. Wind the window down, then start winding it up. Now grasp the top edge of the glass and lift - it should come up at least an inch or so. Now turn the winder again in the 'up' direction. It should move easily for an eighth of a turn or so before it starts trying to raise the glass some more, then you know the problem is with the glass and the channels, and it was probably very stiff when you tried to pull it up by hand. But if the glass moves relatively easily when pulling it up by hand but the winder remained stiff while taking up the lost motion, then you know the regulator is the problem. In theory if the glass gets easier to move as it is wound up that could well point to the lock-end channel being the problem, as there is progressively less of that in contact with the glass as it rises. But note that the regulator should move very easily back and fore through its lost-motion area, this can be checked in various places between fully up and fully down, but pulling up the glass by hand will always exhibit a certain amount of resistance. Of course you could have both problems! In which case deal with the regulator first, then you will know how much of a problem the glass is. There are quite a few pivots, gears, wheels, and a large spring in the mechanism, any one or more could be seized or stiff, so you will have to work through them all. If the car is a daily driver and is regularly going to get wet use waterproof (white) grease to avoid rain running down through the doors washing it off. For 'dry' cars a general purpose grease should be fine.
June 2019: I've been recommending the above for years, and since reassembling Vee after her repaint in 2017 I'd been conscious that the drivers side was a bit stiff ... then the handle broke. Really quite stiff pulling up and pushing down, so door card etc. off and I was able to move the rear channel back about 1/8" top and bottom, and now it is really easy. Don't fancy the chrome and especially the alloy replacements, so go for standard. Some sources recommend an original at about £5 and a copy for about half that, others only offer the cheap one but don't say that it is a copy. For that money it's not worth messing about with a copy, and I get a pair in case the design has changed (which it hadn't ...). Subsequently I felt that perhaps it was too loose, and a slight rattle made me wonder if the edge of the glass was chafing the B-post trim-strip while under way, so I moved the channel back in a bit. That gave me the opportunity to replace the two door-pull nylon nuts in that door as the screw pulls out of the rear one if I pull on it too hard.
I've seen silicone lubricant spray recommended for easing the glass channels, but what long-term effect it has on the rubber, and whether any short-term benefits are then replaced by a worse long-term situation I don't know. Much better is a suggestion from Mark Robinson to use graphite powder, put some on your finger-tips and you can feel how slippy it is, but it never attracts dirt or gets sticky, which is why it is used for lubricating locks. Making your own like for door locks probably isn't feasible in this case due to the quantity that will probably be required, Googling 'graphite powder' came back with several sources at under a fiver a bottle. However the point is that like metal winder handles, it shouldn't really be necessary, and it is better to fix the root cause once and for all rather than bodge it and have the problem arise again later, and adjusting the rear channel may be the answer. Examine the condition of the rubber inserts and if in any doubt as to their condition, replace them. Physical wear and tearing of these can be caused by incorrect adjustment of the lock-end channel or buckling or crimping of either channel so this should be checked before using new inserts. It's possible new non-OE rubber inserts are too fat or too sticky, which leaves you with a bit of a problem. It will be possible to open out the lock-end channel a little which should at least halve the problem, more care will be needed for the 1/4-light frame, especially the upper half.
Handles and Screws:
Bee originally had the flanged screw which was useful as when I found one of them seized in the regulator and stripped the cross-slots I was able to drill two holes in the flange and use a pair of stout pointed pliers in those holes to undo the screw. Initially I cut a slot across the head to reuse it, but eventually replaced both with the separate black screw and washer. Vee has the later chrome screw and bezel, and when removing them in 2016 for the body repaint (even though they had been off several times before) the drivers handle screw had to be drilled out as again the cross-slots stripped. This meant that the regulator needed to be drilled and retapped - preferable to replacement of the whole regulator! Fortunately Vee was at a workshop with a pillar drill at the time, so I was able to drill an accurate hole through the stub of the old screw and tap to 3/16" UNF. More recently still someone was asking about longer screws - perhaps having stripped the existing thread in the regulator so had to drill and tap deeper. A Mini site quoted CMZ312 which are 3/16"UNF x 3/4" so the length is OK, but they are countersunk and yellow zinc. You would need PMP312 for chrome pan-head, or PMZ312 and paint it black.
Glovebox June 2019
But I hate destroying things if there is another way, which is to remove the five screws holding the lid to the dash, then slide it to the left as far as it will go, tilt the left side down and the lock tongue should come out of the slot in the dash panel. The images also show how the fibre-board 'box' is attached to the dash panel.
And failing that, the lock is a very simple three-tumbler affair that should be quite easy to pick - I managed it in a couple of minutes.
And finally, if you only have one key now, get another and hide it in the car where you can get at it without any keys!
GT C-post Liners November 2014
There are two colours - cream and grey, and looking at mine I couldn't tell for sure what I had, but I managed to get a sample of each, to find I had grey. Removing the old is pretty straightforward - one screw with cup washer at the very top, two screws for the rear window latch, three screws for the rear shoulder rail that has to be slid forwards, and five spring clips. On the first side all five of these came out easily, but on the other (only started when the first had been finished) one snapped, and another fell out and hid. The old boards were quite significantly warped, but otherwise in pretty good condition.
Comparing old and new it is apparent that the size and shape is slightly different, and the foam padding is probably only a quarter as thick on the new. The spring clips lower into holes in the back-board and slide on, and on the old were all orientated in the same direction. The holes in the new boards are slightly smaller than the clips, so the open end needs to be slotted in, then a screwdriver used to open up the end so it can be slid onto the board. I orientated them the same way as on the old boards. I made sure I had clean hands before handling the boards. I was using various tools from time to time during the fitting process, and whilst they are generally 'clean' my hands still get a little grubby from using them, so I kept a man-size wet-wipe handy to use when handling the liners after tools.
Care is needed as the board has to be slid behind the bracket on the hatch opening for the spring stay. The rear edge of the upper half then has to be twisted so that it can sit on top of the rear padded section above the hatch, as will be seen from the witness marks of the old liner, so this is part of the reason for the warping in the old boards. Using the cut-out in the liner that goes round the stay bracket as a guide I peer behind the board to find the lower two clips are nowhere near the holes. I can't move them with my fingers behind the board, so the liner has to come off again to adjust first one then the other of the lower clips, and there are three more to align!
At this point I realise the new liner is showing the effects of being fitted, removed and refitted behind the stay bracket, so wrap the bracket in masking tape to protect the liner. The upper three clips are more awkward to align - I'm either having to peer down from the edge of the hatch opening through a narrow gap, or outwards from inside the load space, to get a glimpse of the ends of the clips in relation to the holes. I'm also having to push at least one of the lower clips into its hole and unclip it again each time I tweak the upper clips as that is the only way to get a consistent position of the liner relative to the body. There is some up and down flexibility of the whole board, but you have to be aware that the top fixing screw is very near the edge, and in practice the liner has to be pushed up pretty-well as far as it will go. Eventually I get all five lined up, but a couple of the upper three are now sitting in the hole rather than being slid onto the board, and pressing them into the holes in the body is leaving the square imprint of the base of the clip in the vinyl - hopefully that will vanish in time. It's obvious the positioning of the holes in the new liners is perhaps 1/2" different in various directions compared to the old.
There are no holes in the new liners for the top screw or the rear window latch screws, so how you get particularly the former in the right place as there is very little room for error, only a cup-washer? The latch is easier as there is a rectangular plate with two holes, which will give quite a bit of room for manoeuvre. Funnily enough pal Terry had asked me the same question when fitting his early front door liners, which are screwed to the door in the same way, and after a little thought I suggested screwing a self-tapper out from the back, then pressing the board against the sharp point will leave a mark which he could feel and use as a drilling reference. Terry did that, but a couple of them were not accessible from the back, so he took it one stage further and cut the head off, and screwed the shank in from the front, which still left the point sticking out to make the mark. Can't get a screw in from the back, so off with it's head. However it's so near the edge and mixed up with folds on the vinyl and staples that I can't see the mark, so use a blob of pant on the end of the screw instead. For the latch holes position not being critical I use the old liner as a template ... but when I get the liner clipped into position and with the top screw in, despite angling the screw in all directions I can't find the holes. Also even with the screws through the liner only and not through the latch, they are too short for me to be able to see the tip in relation to the hole in the body, to know how far to move the hole. However the screws I had removed from the shoulder rail are about 1 1/2" long, and with those through the liner I can see they are about 1/4" out! Never mind, the latch will cover a multitude of sins, and I can redrill with the liner in-situ. The next problem is that the new liner is about an inch or so away from the body panel, and has to be pressed in very firmly, with a screw through the latch and the liner, wiggling it around to find the hole. Screwing it in enough to bite is proving very difficult, so again I use one of the longer screws to find the hole and pull the liner in to the panel, then put one of the correct screws in the other hole and tighten, then I can remove the long screw and replace it with the other correct screw. Phew, that was a struggle, given the position and having to clamber in and out of the load space all the time, and took about one and a half hours. Still, it's kept me warm in what otherwise would have been a chilly garage.
The second side is much the same, except I opt to mark one of the holes for the latch with the painted screw stub same as for the top, then use the old liner and that hole as a template for drilling the second hole. With one broken and one missing clip I only have three, so opt to use them in the bottom two holes and the middle of the upper three, as the latch and the top screw prove to be plenty good enough for holding it in place. With that and familiarity that one only takes half the time. Step back to appraise my handiwork, looking in from the drivers door to examine it from that angle as well, and immediately espy the errant spring clip sitting on the wheelarch right in front of the seat belt reel, so completely hidden when looking in from the load space. Oh well, I'll keep it in a safe place.
Then when I lower the hatch to make sure the stay nuts are going to be well clear of the new liners, I suddenly realise that edge-on they are nowhere in sight! As well as being thicker, the old liners sat on the side of the flange around the opening, whereas the new ones are behind the flange. If there was any contact now it would be with the flange before the liners.
One of the things that put me off replacing them for so long was whether they would look like a diamond in a goat's bottom i.e. make the rest of the trim look really shabby. But I could see from the colour samples that they weren't that bad, and whilst the new liners are cleaner and brighter it's not showing the rest up too badly.
GT Headlining Added October 2009
The Leyland Parts Catalogue shows drawings and part numbers for five parts - the main board, the front and rear header rails, and the left and right cant rails. The drawings appear to show that the front header and cant rails are of a similar size and thickness to the rear header, for all eras of GT, but on my 75 V8 although the rear header was obviously a covered and padded removable board, the others were solid when tapped and could have been hard plastic. I wasn't able to find any reference to the front and side rails from any source, new or used, via Google, and only one to the rear section. Cutting a panel from sheet is definitely feasible for the main board, recovering kits are available at the rather shocking price of £40-£60. The only other possibility seemed to be breakers and abandoned projects. In jest my pal suggested I take mine out and have a look at it, and was horrified when I said I had already decided to do just that! I then remembered the sun-roof and realised I wouldn't be able to remove the main section to use as a template, but at least I could remove the rear section and have a look around.
To do that the C-post trim panel really needs to be removed, which involves removing the screws from the rear window catch and another screw right at the top. I then discovered five spring-clips which need careful levering if they are not to rip the hardboard. The plastic covering on the trim panel had pressure bonded to that around the rear window, but peeled apart without ripping with a bit of careful pulling.
The rear header is attached with two screws through the load-space light plus four spring clips. There appear to be two holes at the ends of this rail for more clips, but only four are shown in the Parts Catalogue and the top of the C-post trim panels support them anyway.
With those out the way it became apparent that far from the cant rails being rigid strips, they are part of the body structure and simply covered with headlining material glued on. The front header rail is the same, as the rear-view mirror screws into it with short screws, the edges of the holes being at earth potential when tested with an ohmmeter, i.e. part of the body. These rails form a 'shelf' running along the front and sides of the roof. My pal managed to get a set of old side and front pieces, which amazingly someone had been able to peel off the body without ripping. Comparing these to the strips in the recovering kit reveals the new pieces to be extremely thin and flimsy by comparison, even taking into account that the originals will have hardened over time and have a coating of glue on them. However I suspect the originals were heat-formed to fit round the box-sections to make attachment easier, and the ends of the front section have stepped ends (also heat-formed) for the ends of the side pieces to sit on, to make a smooth transition from the one to the other.
The main headlining on my V8 is not much more than compressed orange fluff about an inch thick, with a layer of card between that and the visible vinyl covering. When stripping Vee the mechanic said to be very careful moving it around as they can crack, although whether that was because mine has a glass sunroof to the amount of headliner to the sides is rather narrow, or whether that applies to all, I didn't enquire at the time.
I'd always imagined that the main board just pushes in from the rear above this shelf, the rear panel covering the back edge. The back edge on mine is tucked into a metal recess which is part of the body structure, that may be as a result of having slid back a bit when the sun-roof was fitted, and would need prising forwards and down for removal. As far as cutting a panel to fit goes you wouldn't want to go the full width available above the shelf as I felt various protrusions i.e. reductions in width at various points. Neither would you want to cover less than half the width of the shelf, because if the panel moved over in use it could leave a visible gap, so maybe covering 2/3 or 3/4 of the shelf is the way to go. The amount of board that is 'hidden' above the shelf is surprising - 2" to 2.5" at the sides and just over 3" at the front! However the mechanic stripping Vee said when it is slid fully to one side the other edge drops off the shelf, so it can be removed and replaced through the hatch opening tilted. But I'm pretty sure I measured the maximum available width at 43", and the visible width at 38", which means the headlining would have to be a maximum of 38" or it wouldn't fit as suggested without bowing, which he warned against.
The maximum size of the tailgate opening at the top is 39", and at the bottom is 41.25". As can be seen above the maximum width available for the board is 43", so some bowing of a board this wide would be required to get it in. Even with a suggested width of 41" it would still have to fed in from quite low down or bowed along its length, and because the highest point of the tailgate opening is lower than the shelf the board would have to be bowed from front to back at the same time. The other issue relates to the upward curvature of the roof. To follow this curve either the board has to have a 'natural' curve produced by steaming or damping and then drying in a mould, or it has to be slightly wider than the maximum available so that the board can then be forced to curve upwards. But that would require a precisely cut board - too wide and it wouldn't go in even bowed up, too narrow and it will flop down again. I don't actually know whether it is a natural bow in the board or a precise width that forces it to bow up, as I say at the beginning my V8 has a glass-panel sunroof the surround of which holds mine up against the roof as well as preventing removal without interference to the sunroof which I'm not prepared to do at this point.
GT Load-space and Rear Seat Back
There is a large flat area above the spare wheel and tools which gives a reasonable load space, especially with the rear seat back folded down which extends the flat area. With the additional carpet it is also neat in appearance while empty. Originally there was a two-piece hinged board, with a short section that screwed to the body, and a larger section that hinged up. Simple hinges (AHH 7527) were used here as well as on the seat back, and were screwed to the short section.
Then in October 1973 the board changed to a one-piece, with more complex hinges (BHH 976, no longer available) that provided the pivot for both the seat back and the board. If needing to reproduce this type of hinge, note that although the pivot and the plates that screw to the board and the seat-back are above the board, additional sections are needed to go down past the edge of the board, then turn at right-angles underneath it to be attached to the body.
Accessing the spare wheel and tool area:After getting the V8 I very soon tired of supporting the spare-wheel cover on the top of my head when getting tools out of the space underneath - I blame it for my hair-loss ... With the cover raised I noticed that the toggles that fasten it down are very close to the hatch struts and realised how simple it would be to fabricate a simple hook to hold it up. In the end I just formed a piece of stiff wire into a suitable shape and Hey Presto! Click on the thumbnails for a full-sized image.
Luggage Cover: The Navigator has always been bothered about leaving the V8 parked whilst touring as all our worldly goods are on display in the load-space. I've thought about making a cover from a window roller-blind fitted with black fabric and attaching to the top of the rear seat-back, and the free end to a couple of hooks on the tail-gate so it was lifted up out of the way, with the locking mechanism disabled. The MGOC still advertise one in their Accessories Catalogue (Part No. E015) at £55 but apparently it hasn't been available for some time. Too pricey for me anyway, and it doesn't lift with the tailgate. I think they also sell a hard moulded cover, like many modern cars have, but at some huge price several times that of the unavailable cover. Not only is that less convenient as you couldn't use it with anything that sticks up higher than the top of the rear seat, but if I were going down that route I think I'd be looking for one off a similar sized car at a scrappers even if it had to be trimmed a bit.
Then one trip away I had the idea of putting the load-space carpet over the luggage instead of underneath it and that together with the tinted windows meant you had to look pretty closely to see anything. The only drawback with that was that the luggage then slid about all the time on the shiny spare wheel cover which was irritating. However it gave me the idea of getting a piece of carpet to do the same job. Next Stoneleigh MG Spares Day I spotted someone selling load-space carpet quite reasonably at about £15, but also selling sheets of carpet a couple of metres square for just £10, so I got myself one in black. It was described as 'Volvo quality' but was significantly inferior to the load-space carpet from the same vendor and other carpet squares from other vendors, but as it wasn't for 'walking' on and only a load-space cover I reckon it will do just fine. It will also allow me to make one long enough so that with the back seat lying flat with large loads I can still cover it all.
GT Rear Windows October 2017
These were originally chromed brass, changing to stainless in May 1972 (some 5000 cars after the quarterlight were changed).
Probably as part of this change the rear lower corner of the window was redesigned from having a join to being a continuous curve, and a trim-piece added to fill in the resultant gap to the body. The hinges, catches and B-post trim strip also changed at this time.
The earlier hinges were handed, and seem to have been full-length - one per side - probably similar in design to piano hinges, and probably in brass or chromed brass. The later stainless windows had a much simpler system which was just a rectangle of thin stainless steel bent into a 'U' shape (BHH698), as the amount of movement at that end between open and closed is negligible. Two per side, and they are not handed. What follows relates to the later design.
I removed these as part of Vee's restoration. Quite straight-forward - remove the screws holding the catch to the C-post at the rear. Pull the door seal away from the flange and you can get at the screws that hold the B-post trim strip on. With that off you can remove the screws that hold the hinges to the B-post. Replacement is inevitably the reverse.
One of the hinges on the off-side was detached from the frame - I think the rivets had pulled through the hinge and were still in the frame. I've replaced a hinge on a front quarter-light opening vent, and that was quite easy, just using an ordinary pop-rivet. However the folded-over shape of these hinges means that at the very least you would need a tool with a long tubular nose, and possibly a rivet with a longer shank, to get across the folded-over part. There may also be a problem in getting into the frame, I can't recall. If replacing them, remember that the curved part of the 'U' of the hinge goes towards the inside, and the open part towards the outside!
Alternatively you might be able to do what has to be done when replacing the front vent hinge-pin, and that is to remove the glass from the frame, in order to put a screw through from the inside, and use a nut on the hinge. Bit trickier with the rear window, though, with the frame going all round the glass as it does. As I never open the rear windows, and the other hinge was fine, I opted to leave it alone. If both hinges were suspect though, there is a risk that air-pressure would blow the window out.
Hardtop Added January 2010
And whilst on the subject of numbers, see this info on how many UK cars are still currently taxed or on SORN with the DVLA.
How Strong is my Body?
This from MGBs Made in Australia.
But going back to the original strength Abingdon were carrying out impact tests in the 60s and 70s, pages 216/217 of 'MG by McComb' and 142 of David Knowles's 'Untold Story' showing the results of just such impacts into a concrete block at 30 mph by a roadster and a GT. Even now Euro NCAP only tests at 40mph (albeit as a partial frontal and not a full frontal as this is) but the damage is usually much more severe than this. Apart from the crumpled bonnet there appears to be no damage behind the front arch.
BMC crash tests a Mini, 1100, 1800 and at 9:33 an MGB. From underneath at 10:48, and steering wheel intrusion at 11:58.
See also this factory video of a test of air-bags in an MGB.
There is also this well-documented case of an MGB at Silverstone hitting a concrete barrier at an estimated speed of 90mph and experiencing a deceleration of 75G in not much more than a couple of feet. The driver was unconscious but this was from the effects of deceleration, not impact of his head with any object. And although the driver suffered a broken bone in his foot this was purely from the force of his foot flying forwards and hitting the toe-board or pedals, there was no intrusion into the footwell.
Modern cars have carefully designed crumple-zones at the front and the rear to give a more gradual deceleration than the Silverstone case, and a strengthened passenger 'cage'. However this means that even in relatively minor accidents the crumple zones will be deformed to the point where the car is declared a write-off (although there is a legal cottage industry specialising in the repair of many of these). Also, and more importantly, above a certain impact speed the passenger compartment will crumple like tin-foil. This is obviously an extreme case, and the fact the 'other vehicle' was a truck doesn't help, but remember the next time you are bowling along a single carriage-way, that even at legal speeds your closing speed with someone coming the other way is 120mph.
And nothing is going to protect you (short of a tank) if you pull out of a side turning while talking on a mobile phone.
Identification Numbers (was 'Body Numbers') Updated May 2010
Replacement ID Plates October 2013
Australian CKD MGBs
Clausager has quite a lot of information on this, but not entirely correct as we shall see. To summarise his information:
However going by actual examples it was sometime between April 65 and October 66 that the 'MGB' tag moved to what Clausager says is its Mk2 position, and almost certainly at the same time the unprefixed tag also moved, to the very front edge of the inner wing on the dynamo/alternator side, orientated vertically, between two bolts for the outer wing. GT production started in September 65 so it's possible that was the actual change point. There does appear to be an example of a one-owner, unrestored (going by its present condition) 63 roadster that has the MGB number but not the other one.
Why two body numbers? Some cars (MkII roadster bodies built at Coventry) - could have four tags - two body number plus the Commission and Chassis numbers. MGBs were built in at least three plants, possibly four, being shipped between them so some means of keeping track at each stage was required. The spot-welded, un-prefixed, steel tag was almost certainly attached during body assembly, certainly before painting. As the MGB-prefixed tag was originally screwed, but also painted, it was probably attached at the paint and trim plant i.e. at the next plant in the sequence. This could well explain why the two numbers could drift apart, for example a 1966 example has its two numbers over 500 apart. The Commission number plate was riveted to painted bodies i.e. at the trimming stage before shipping to Abingdon. The Chassis number plate was riveted by Abingdon after final assembly. This still doesn't fully explain two body numbers, but there must have been a reason, they wouldn't have done it just for the hell of it, it's simply lost in the mists of time.
Not strictly identification and Clausager doesn't mention it, but earlier bodies seem to have a Pressed Steel Fisher patent plate spot-welded onto the shelf between the battery cover and the left-hand arch, from comments it seems to have vanished sometime between 1970 and 1972. Clausager says that body production moved from Swindon to Cowley in 1970 which could be when it stopped, but an example from a 1970 is stamped COWLEY. On the face of it that seems to indicate they were still being fitted at Cowley, but then one example from a 64 is also stamped Cowley when Clausager says they were being made at Coventry! Another example was attached upside down, maybe by a disaffected employee.
Similar confusion over the plates for these, it seems. From Clausager:
All fair enough, but there has been a statement that the direction of stamping changed in the autumn of 1972 along with the plate type. However 73 model-year cars started to be manufactured in August of 1972 with chassis number 294251 for roadsters and 296001 for GTs, and my September-72 built 1973-model roadster has the MG Car Company plate (i.e. the old one) stamped from behind (i.e. the new way). So the direction of stamping changed before the plate type, which could have been as late as January 1973. I've pondered the possibility of both types of plate being used for a while during the cross-over period, as parts sometimes were. But that would mean two or more people stamping them, probably in different locations, which seems very unlikely, given the need to avoid any possibility of stamping the same number more than once.
Moss Europe also causes confusion by stating the UK plate changed from 'MG Cars' to 'Austin Morris' in 1970. The North American plate did change in 1970, so either it is a typographical error or they simply assumed the date of the change was the same for both markets. All the other evidence points to the UK plate not changing until after the start of 73 year model production.
What doesn't seem to have changed much is the fitting position. Clausager implies that until the final year of production 4-cylinder cars plates were always on the right-hand inner wing (on the left as you look in from the front), just in front of the radiator. The final year used a larger plate on the same side of the bonnet locking platform. The MGC chassis number plate seems to have been on the left-hand inner wing (i.e. carb side) behind the radiator. V8s are immediately behind the oil filter.
I've never seen a picture of a Chassis number stamped into the body of a UK-built car, and Clausager indicates this is a very confused and uncertain feature. However he states (p151) "October 79 VIN number now stamped in right-hand sidemember of boot floor on all cars" and Maurice Irwin says his 1980 GT has "a stamped number on the top of the rear offside chassis leg, just under where the boot floor board is". Australian CKD cars had a special (BMC Australia) plate with the body number as a suffix to the chassis number, as well as the engine number and body colour. On an example of a Mk2 this plate was on the inner wing in front of the radiator by the oil cooler pipes. The body number was also stamped into the actual shell, just behind the opening for the pedals on the carb side in one case, beside it in another, and the chassis number was stamped into the top of the carb-side chassis rail at the very front. There also appears to have been a 'diecast' plate behind the wiper motor giving the date the kit of parts was put together, presumably supplied by Abingdon, the actual build date being later of course.
Much less confusion over these ... but still some. It seems these were generated from the beginning of production, but Clausager states they were only attached to vehicles with the start of MkII and MGC production in 1967 - to the bonnet-lock platform of MGB and GT V8, by the chassis number plate on MGC. They continued to be generated and attached to vehicles until at least June 1976, but Abingdon stopped recording them in April 1971. This would be the only place off-car they were recorded, so if yours is lost you should be able to retrieve it from The British Motor Museum records at Gaydon if manufactured before April 71, but not afterwards.
Replacement Identification Plates
November 2016: I've just been made aware of the full range of identification plates available from MiniMail, covering B-series engines as well as A-series. Far more comprehensive and with more background information than any of the other sources.
October 2013: I note that some of the usual suspects have decals and blank identification plates of various types. Moss Europe seems to have the full range of chassis number plates but for some reason commission number plates for 62 to 69 Coventry-built roadsters ('F' suffix) and 70 to 76 Cowley built roadsters and GTs ('Z' suffix) only, and not for Swindon built 69 and 70 roadsters or GTs up to 1970 ('P' suffix). SC Parts have 'P' GT plates as well as 'F' and 'Z' roadster plates. Moss US has two types of commission plate - for what they describe as '68-69' and 'Roadster, 70 on' at almost twice the price of the first one, but the image shows one completely blank plate. Completely blank plates are also available from a Mini supplier on eBay, but you would need to confirm the size is correct. You could get an 'incorrect' plate and remove the screen-printed suffix - or a blank plate, then stamp or engrave and paint-fill the correct suffix.
For stamped plates I'm aware of three sources in the UK - and for the chassis number you will usually be required to send the old plate if legible, or a copy of the V5 registration document showing the same name and address as the delivery address: Welsh MG who can supply the plate as well as stamp it, Retro Minis and Classic Plates, plus Clarke Spares and Restoration in the USA. However Classic Plates require you to supply the correct screen-printed blank for chassis and commission plates, and although they say they can stamp plain alloy e.g. for the engine number which you could then cut to size and punch the holes, when Bill Etter contacted them about an engine number tag they didn't offer him this option! Retro Minis have blanks of screen-printed and engine number tags, and the rivets, although whether they are the correct size and format for MGBs is another matter. They give the dimensions for their engine number blanks but comparing them with my 18V their overall length and rivet spacing is slightly bigger, which is perhaps a little odd given the Mini A-series engine is smaller than the MGB B-series:
|Dimension||My 18V||Retro Mini||Note that for rivet spacing Retro Mini state: "holes on drilled at 2.64 inches 67mm centres" in addition to "holes 2.49 inches 63.1mm apart", I don't know why.|
Moss US have engine number blanks and rivets available, but indicate the plates are only suitable for 18G to 18GK engines.
All three stamping sites show embossed i.e. reverse stamped to give raised characters. However original plates varied as to whether they were impressed or embossed according to plate type, market and year, although engine numbers may have been embossed right through.
January 2016: Classic Vehicle Spares have (albeit listing ended) engine plates for what they say are MGBs up to 65 (however the 18GB ran from late 64 through to late 67 and Moss US indicate the same plate is suitable for all 18G engines i.e. up to March 71) but don't state the size although they may well respond to a question. They also have a stamping service at £10.10, which appears to show impressed characters, not embossed.
Character size also varies. Bill Etter was told by Classic Plates in his enquiry about an engine number plate that they use 5/32" stamping. However mine measure 0.193", which given that the raised characters on the plate will be slightly larger than the embossing on the die, probably equates to 3/16" or 0.1875", which is the size on another engine with an original plate that Bill has. It's also the size that Clarke's use, although Bill finds the spacing on one of theirs he has is too close compared to his original. I then checked my chassis number plate, and although embossed as well they are smaller at 0.170" which is closer to 5/32" than 3/16". No doubt a factor of engines and bodies being made in different places since time immemorial.
April 2014: Bill got his plates back, nicely stamped. However to get all the characters in they used a longer blank than the ones that Bill had provided so now it won't fit the engine! There is also the question of whether hyphens and slashes were used. Bill's contain hyphens, as Clausager shows them (although he shows one after the '18V' as well). Even when slashes between the prefix and the serial number weren't used there was a space, and where slashes were used these have occasionally been interpreted as a '1' by the DVLA.
I've also just discovered that apparently Australian CKD cars had the tag removed and the number stamped directly into the block. V8s are like this, but then they have an alloy block. How hard the stamp had to be hit to make an impression in cast-iron, and how long the stamps lasted, can only be guessed at. Or maybe they were engraved, the information I read used both terms.
Jacking September 2019
Safety First 1: Never work with any part of your body under the car when it is supported solely by the jack, always use axle stands or drive-on ramps. For that matter I would never use four axle stands i.e. one at each corner as I'd be concerned about pulling the car over.
Safety First 2: I've read that unless your car has had full replacement of the sills in your ownership, to the correct standard and with appropriate corrosion protection, you should never rely on the factory jacking point even to change a wheel. Bee had sill replacement before my time and I did try using the factory jack when I first got her, but the creaking convinced me to go no further. As part of the restoration and repaint I did ponder replacing them, but as externally they showed no corrosion I decided to leave them until they needed doing - that was 30 years ago! As well as sills collapsing the ends of the chassis outriggers that the jacking tubes are welded to can rot and the tubes tear off, there are short and long repair sections for these as well as the tubes themselves from the usual suspects. I keep a scissors jack, wood block and a telescopic in Bee (which leads me onto the 'Tip' below) and a 2 tonne trolley jack in Vee, but for long journeys Bee gets the trolley jack.
Safety First 3: If you DO use the factory jack, make sure the front wheels are chocked if raising a rear wheel. A pal had his car roll when raised on the jack and it speared into the sill.
Tip: When using an alternative to the factory jack make sure that it will lift the car high enough to remove a wheel with a flat tyre and fit an inflated one - I speak from personal experience! Bee's telescopic jack was fine for raising the car enough to remove wheels for cleaning, but one day bringing her back home from the remote garage I had a rear puncture. With the car lower I couldn't unscrew the lifter from the telescopic part as far as usual, so the full extent of the hydraulics wouldn't lift the car enough to get the wheel off. I was just pondering using the spare as an interim support somewhere while I lowered the hydraulic, unscrewed it some more, and jacked up again, when another MGB happened to pass and we could use whatever jack he had (also not a factory jack) to raise the car enough. I say 'pass' but I was in a residential side road, he was driving past the end of the road a couple of hundrd yards away and just happened to look down the road! You have been warned. Hence why Bee now carries a screw and a telescopic - tested! - unless we are on a long trip.
Also when using an alternative jack you need to consider carefully where they are going to be positioned. At the front under the spring pans will raise one corner to remove a wheel. To lift the whole of the front of the car the centre of the cross-member can be used, but the jack needs a raised tab positioned behind the cross-member or it will slide forwards as the car is raised. I would never jack under the chassis rails at the front of the car for the same reason - as the car goes up the angle to the horizontal increases, again with the risk of the jack slipping forwards. If working on the car axle stands should be placed under the spring pans, or under the brackets that attach the A-arm mounting points to the cross-member if working on the suspension.
At the rear I jack under the rear spring front mounting point in order to remove a wheel on Bee as when jacked under the axle the wheel is tucked up inside the arch and cannot be pulled off the hub. Under the body needs more jacking as the axle and hence the wheel drops as the car is raised of course. For Vee with the higher ride height I can jack under the U-bolt plate which lifts wheel, axle and body together and the wheel can be pulled straight off. Sometime I have jacked under the spring itself, but only ever the front half i.e. in front of the axle. If you jack under the rear half the jack can slip as the car is raised and the angle of the spring to the horizontal increases. Jacking under the axle tube near the wheel is also fine, if working on the spring. Or under the diff casing to raise the whole of the rear, but care needs to be taken in placement so it cannot slip, and again axle stands should be used once raised. Also I err on the side of caution and don't 'bounce' the car on the jack when lifting by the diff casing, i.e. lift slowly and carefully as it's putting much more stress on the axle tubes than jacking by the wheel, or in normal driving.
All the above is written with the best intentions but is subject to Errors and Omissions Excepted, i.e. I will not accept any liability for anything you may or may not do or cause, YOUR safety is YOUR responsibility.
Clausager describes three different jacks supplied with the MGB over the years: He says a red 'King Dick' was supplied originally, a stronger blue type 'from the same maker' in May 73, and a black Mettalifacture jack from Feb 74. However in depicting his three jacks the foot of the red one is significantly different to the other two - the blue and black being the same. I have blue and black jacks that came with my cars, although which jack came with which car I can't remember, let alone know if they were original to the car. As Bee was built in September 72 then maybe she should have a red one. I'm also doubtful about the change in maker as my blue and black jacks are pretty-well identical in terms of the component design and assembly method. Another poster on a forum has the same construction of blue jack as mine with covered gears, whereas Clausager's blue jack has exposed gears. There are other differences as detailed in the attached thumbnail.
Mud-flaps September 2017
After body paint and engine rebuild over 2016/17 I debated whether to refit them. Vee is used more as a daily driver than Bee, so even though I have never fitted them to Bee I decided to refit them. Vee being a rubber-bumper GT they don't look as 'heavy' as they would on chrome-bumper wire-wheeled roadster. Even though one pair of the original flaps was sound, they were very shabby, so I opted for two sets. This time with a monochrome MG octagon in white on black rather than the red and white of the originals. There are also MGB and particularly V8 variants, but I didn't fancy those.
Fitted with a choice of clamps or massive screws and washers which would mean drilling through the arch flanges, I opted for the clamps, but found only moderate resistance when tightening the screw, until the head 'bottomed' on the face of the clamp. Fitting to a curved face, there is a wide range of positioning available, but anything other than the outer vertical edge being truly vertical looks odd, to say the least, so a carpenters spirit level sliding on a metal ruler was used to judge that. A bit of a fiddle holding the flap in the right place, and the clamp going round the flange and the flap, and tightening the screw first on one then the other, and that only enough to hold the flap on while one applies the spirit-level, and slides the flap round the curve one way or the other to get it vertical.
Fitted, they stick out a bit and look quite clunky, as the flange on the flap is a good inch whereas that on the wings is about half that. So off they come with a view to trimming off a centimetre or so. But I thought I'd practice on one of the old ones first - to find they have a metal insert in the curved section that goes against the wing flange, which means that the screws can only cut into a relatively thin bit of rubber before they encounter the metal, and pressure from further tightening of the screw clamps the remaining rubber firmly between two sheets of metal - the insert and the wing flange. The new ones have no metal insert, so the screws in the clamps cut into the rubber until the head 'bottoms' against the clamp. One wonders how long it will take for the rubber to extrude out from under the screw, clamping force being reduced, and for a flap to fall off!
Hunting through my several containers of miscellaneous bits and pieces I find a number of thick 'washers' with a tab on one edge, and a small hole in the middle. Had them so long I can't recall where they came from. I find five, so four of them will be enough for one per flap, which should be more than enough to keep hold of them. Cut the tabs off, and fit them under the screws in the lower clamps.
Number Plates September 2019
Vee's rear plate had delaminated quite badly when she came to me, dirt had got in between the clear acrylic face and the adhesive backing with the characters making the number partly illegible, and it was picked up on an MOT. I had a new one made, which was constructed the same, and that started delaminating as well. After painting Vee in 2017 I pondered replacing it again, but decided not to until I was forced to as the same construction was quite likely to go the same way. However it just did not look right given the quality of the finish everywhere else, so I took the plunge. Trotted along to Halfords with my documents, and I noticed a completely different construction method. Whereas before a grid over coloured film was used to space and position the letters correctly and individual letters picked out of pigeon-holes and placed in the grid. Then a clear acrylic plate was laid over the letters and a roller run back and fore to stick the two together. Now, and inevitably, it's done on a computer! The registration is entered using a keyboard and screen, a button pushed and a laser or thermal printer produces a strip with the characters on coloured reflective film, or on clear film, depending on the specific process. With the coloured film a clear acrylic plate is put adhesive side down on top of the film and the two rollered together. With the clear film a coloured reflective backing plate is used, adhesive exposed, the film placed on top and rollered. Halfords seem to use the latter process as the backing plate looks to be alloy (Metatek?) with the numbers right on the outer surface, rather than behind clear acrylic as before. Hopefully delmination will not occur as it's one of the tests the new plates (to BSAU145d) have to pass.
The character spacing is obviously different to how it was before - so care is needed when fitting your new plates. With the previous new number-plate and backing-plate I opted to put the screws through the yellow part rather than the characters, drilled the backing-plate to suit, and used yellow fixings. Keeping the backing-plate (repainted as part of the restoration) I used the old number-plate as a template to drill holes in the new number-plate ... to discover the holes were in the characters! Easily dealt with, I just painted the yellow fixings satin black before using them, but it would have been really annoying to have drilled through the edge of a character! Had I spotted it before drilling I might have opted to drill two new holes in the backing to stay in the yellow, but I prefer this way. If the screws start peeling and showing yellow I can always splash-out on a couple of black ones.
Passenger Foot Brace (aka 'Numpty Board')
Michael emailed a sketch to me as a starting point, and I fabricated a trial unit using hardboard for the sides and an angled piece of wood for the foot-rest. The shape of the MGB footwell is quite convenient in that the side pieces can be shaped to 'dig in to' the angle between floor, sill/tunnel and toe-board so it doesn't need to be bolted in and can be removed in a moment for vacuuming or transferring between cars. As leg length varies from person to person, the seat adjuster gives quite large steps, and I like to keep the two seats in line (OK, I know it's a bit James May, and I do like to keep the dashboard fresh-air vents straight and level when closed but at least I don't carry a toothbrush to clean the slots ...) we got the basic fore and aft position of the board by her sitting in the seat and holding her feet at a comfortable position, and I stuck masking tape on the sill and tunnel carpet to give me a measuring point for the length of the side pieces. I then used card trimmed bit by bit to get the basic shape as there are several angle changes of the bottom of the side pieces from front to back, and finally transferred that shape to hardboard. Now I know hardboard isn't very strong and heavy braking (from me or the Navigator ...) is likely to break it, but this was just a trial to get the right positioning before constructing something more robust.
However whilst the Navigator found it useful she does like to move her legs and feet around which the angled wood didn't really allow for as it kept her knees and ankles at the same angle all the time, so the MkII test unit was born. This has a length of wardrobe rail as the foot rest between the side-pieces, which allowed her to rest either her soles, instep or heels against the bar, or indeed have her legs at full-stretch and the backs of her heels on top of the bar, all of which allowed her to change the angle of ankles, knees and hips as and when. As the foot-well narrows on the tunnel side as you move forwards, and the bar is the full width between the sill and tunnel, the tunnel side piece angles in slightly, hence the end of the bar that side is angled to suit. The wardrobe rail used for the bar is hollow tubing so I cut wooden inserts to slot inside for about an inch, then a screw through the side pieces into the end of the inserts expanded them to wedge tightly into the ends of the tube. That is, until the wood dried out and shrank a bit, but it's still tight enough to hold the bar firmly.
After a couple of weeks of long and short journeys she pronounced herself satisfied, so the shape of the side-pieces was transferred to offcuts of 3/16" aluminium sheet I happened to have, and the gold-coloured bar painted flat silver to match. Oddly, when installed this put the bar at a bit of angle, with the left-hand deeper into the footwell than the right-hand than the test unit seemed to be, so I had to extend the left-hand piece by about half an inch by MIG-welding a bit to it. Subsequently I made a second one for the V8.
Quarter-lights March 2013
The quarter-light frames were chromed brass until May 1972, changing to stainless.
Repair and Restoration
Dating the glass
Adjustment: This is vital to get right if splitting of the door skins - the Crack of Doom - is to be avoided, and is a combination of screen alignment and quarterlight adjustment and the way the two interface with each other. There is only one adjustment, but there are three parts to their installation and they need to be done in the right order. There are two studs that go through the top of the door that take deep nuts, two bolts that go through the front of the door into the short front upright (see below), and the adjustment stud at the bottom of the long channel. The upper nuts and studs must be tightened progressively to pull the quarter-light forwards and downwards into the door frame, while the quarterlight is being pushed downwards and forwards. Next the door is shut, and the nut at the bottom of the long channel going through the slot in the bracket tightened, so that the side of the quarterlight frame just kisses the bulbous part of the seal on the roadster screen upright, ditto the GT door opening seal. Finally the front bolts can be tightened. Then for the roadster the screen positioning has to be considered as well.
Note that early quarterlight frames do not have the short upright at the front but have a bracket on the side for two screws through into the inner door skin.
Glass: Roadster quarter-light glass (the opening vent, not the drop-glass) was originally flat, with a single part number for both sides, until the change to stainless frames in April 72 when they gained a slight curve. GTs always had two part numbers, so may well always have had curved glass and hence had a different part number for each side. The drop-glasses on both models were always curved, and handed.
Vent Seals: Some anguish about these on the MGOC Forum on a couple of occasions recently, unsurprisingly with replacements. The biggest problem seems to be that there is a large gap between the seal and the lower part of the vent frame which exposes the pivot. On my originals there is no apparent gap on Vee, and only a tiny gap on Bee if you really look for it. The gap between the visible parts of the fixed frame and the opening vent is about 7 to 7.5mm on both cars. The shape of the moulding is also different alongside the pivot along that lower edge. In front of the pivot the seal covers the vent frame as that part turns inwards as the vent is opened, but aft of the pivot the seal is flush with the bottom of the vent to allow it to open. On mine that transition is angled, whereas current replacements are cut off at a right-angle. And contrary to the usually held view that all suppliers get their parts from the same manufacturer, those from Rimmers and MGOC appear to be different to each other in this area. None of my seals are visually perfect by any means, but they don't let in rain and given the quality of replacement parts these days especially rubber I don't change stuff unless I have to.
Repair and Restoration: Not content with reassembling a GT 'All by Touch' a couple of years ago my blind pal Terry bought a 67 roadster in a similarly dismantled condition. This had most of the outer bodywork done and had been primed, but then had been abandoned for a long time, and underneath was in very bad condition in places. He had the body finished and painted elsewhere, but again is doing almost everything else himself. (He completed it to gain its MOT at the first attempt in June 2015, but by the end of July he had succumbed to cancer and passed away).
Whilst he could tell the chrome on the quarter-lights wasn't too bad he still wanted them rechromed. One has a broken top mounting stud and on the other the bottom stud plate has corroded away. Three out of the four hinge parts had broken or were missing, and a bolt had sheared-off in one of the front mount threaded plates. I found several rechromers in Birmingham and the West Midlands quite near to me, hanging on from their industrial past, and one of them will rechrome them for £70 each. They know MGB quarter-lights and do them for someone else restoring them. He wants £350 a pair for restored - exchange - with a £200 surcharge each in case your exchanged unit can't be restored! A retailer of restored units wants £250 exchange each!!
For rechroming they need to be completely dismantled, and what with that and the several repairs that needed doing it was going to be more than Terry could manage. I offered to do them for him, and he jumped at it! Terry already had the four upper stud plates and nuts which he sent up with the quarter-lights, and doing some research I found that Brown & Gammons seem to have practically everything else I might need, including small parts like the handles and pivots (expensive though!) if they can't be rechromed successfully. Fortunately the main frame, the opening frame, capping and rain channel and the glass are all in good condition, even the felt channel in the long leg. The only part that no one seems to have is the rivets to secure the rear top mounting stud and the latch plate for the handle on the opening window (but see below). The rivets for the hinge and the handle pivot on the opening window are available, but they are smaller.
Interestingly the hinge on the main frame is held on with two countersunk slotted screws, one of only two places I'm aware of where they are used (the other being used to hold the mounting plate for the distributor in the block). However on the later stainless units both halves are riveted. One of Vee's - the vent half - was broken when some scrote got inside, but each half is available separately (gotta love these cars), and I was able to drill out the old blind-rivets to get the broken-off bit out, and fit the replacement with pop-rivets.
Also interestingly the replacement top stud plates have threaded holes for a screw, the same size as the hinge screws. And whilst a screw was originally used for the front stud a pop-rivet will be perfectly satisfactory, as the only thing it needs to do is hold the stud from flopping about while the quarter-light is being fitted and the nut attached to the stud. Once tightened it serves no purpose at all. However screws are no good for the rear stud as the latch plate for the handle on the opening window sits on top of it, which is why that one is riveted. The original rivets are flush both sides, but whilst pop-rivets are nearly flush at the one end, at the other there is always the crumpled tube and ball from the end of the pin sticking out, and I wondered whether there would be enough clearance for that. There is even less clearance below, just the thickness of the gasket between the quarter-light and the top of the door.
In fact there is plenty of space in the channel between the latch plate and the bottom of the seal for the opening window. However I'm still wary about using pop-rivets as the handle closing the window against the latch will tend to bend it back and fore, which could well loosen it. The stud plate itself is fine as that is pulled down onto the bottom of the channel by the nut underneath. So a screw up through the frame, the stud and latch plates, with a nut on top of the latch plate, seems the way to go.
Ready to go to the chromers now, with the lower stud plate repaired, and the forward-facing threaded plate repaired. I removed that, thought gripping the remainder of the bolt that had gone through the plate with a pair of grips was worth a try, and with a bit of releasing fluid it just unscrewed. Refitted that with pop-rivets as again that is simply pulled against the channel when the deep-head bolts are tightened.
To be continued ...
In the meantime I'd obtained a considerable number of replacement parts, so now it was a case of very careful reassembly so as not to mark the new chrome. You have to work out the correct order of doing things, like rivet the hinge into the opening part before fitting the glass and glazing seal, which involved working out the best way of closing a blind rivet without a press. One of the trickiest jobs was getting the glass and glazing seal into each frame. Despite clamping them up it just wouldn't go in as far as it should. Eventually I realised that to secure the handle brackets in the opening frame I had used pop-rivets as the correct blind rivets weren't apparently available from any of the usual sources, and the bobble on the top was sticking up too far and stopping the glass going down and hence in as far as it should. So more research, and then I find that the correct rivets (AHA7554) are available from Moss Europe, but they are only listed for some of the models and not the MGB. Earlier I had also found that some of the parts listed by another supplier are incorrect and vary from model to model, so more research was needed to find the correct ones. (December 2017: Currently available from Moss, Leacy, and several others.) After that the glass went in fairly easily as I'd previously replaced Bee's in 1991 and repeated that process. The glazing seals (27H8705) are flat strip (although someone apparently got a profile seal under the same part number from Moss Europe) and I couldn't see how I was going to get that folded into a U-shaped channel to fit around the edge of the glass as well as go round the 90 degree or so corners. In the end I cut darts at the corners leaving just a narrow joining strip and that seem to go in fine ... then it oozed straight back out again! For Bee I left them clamped up both horizontally and vertically in a wood frame for a few days, but for Terry's I think only overnight, and they've been fine ever since. February 2019: Since then I've come across a method that avoids cutting the darts. This involves putting the strip in hot water and stretching it lengthways, then laying it lengthways along the edge of the glass, and the corners shrink back to lie almost flat against the glass as it is pressed into the frame. Probably advisable to clamp it up as before, and to leave the trimming for a few days in case it shrinks back from the edges and leaves gaps.
One of the most annoying things was the poor fit of the replacement hinges from Brown & Gammons. They attach to the frames OK but are dimensionally incorrect, mate together very poorly, and position the opening vent too close to the back of the channel for the drop-glass so the edge of the glass and the corners of the frame foul the seal. Others have said that Moss males don't fit their females. I'd previously spoken to someone else who restores these, and they said if they have to replace the hinges they don't guarantee the fit afterwards, and I can see why! I spent more time getting these to fit decently than anything else, which involved some careful 'machining' to improve the fit by over-drilling the inside of the hole while leaving the entry the same size. (December 2017: Michael Nunn on the MGOC forum said he got his from MGOC about May 2014 and had no problems. January 2018: Jim McCrae said MGOC had told him they get theirs from the same place as Moss, bought some from B&G and they were fine! So the upshot seems to be to keep buying from different sources until you get two halves that fit together and position the vent correctly!!) I got one working nicely, but the other was still binding, which I eventually discovered was because the main channel was bowed in towards the vent instead of being flat. I'd not noticed that before, as all the hinges had been broken so I couldn't see the fit before I started. I didn't fancy trying the straighten the newly chromed frame, so settled for relieving the seal instead and that is now much better. Still not perfect, but I don't see how I can improve it any more. So then it is a case of parcelling them up with copious bubble-wrap between two sheets of hardboard, hoping that they don't get bent. I'll have to insure them for at least £750, as that is the cost of replacing them if they get damaged beyond repair.
This is because they cover the end sections of the sill panel, which runs from the back of the front wheel arch to the front of the rear wheel arch, and there is only a gap of about 1/8" or so between the two panels. The narrowness of this gap means that even if they are treated with Waxoyl by spraying from above (by removing the splash panel in the front arch and the trim panel behind the doors) it will almost certainly just form a bridge across the top of the gap and not penetrate it. So even if the sill itself has been painted after fitting the back of the cover panel cannot be, and with the oxidation caused by arc or MIG welding corrosion starts eating away at the new panel almost immediately. Closing the gap quite possibly accelerates this process as it will prevent circulation of air, so any moisture that gets into the cavity from below e.g. as a result of road spray cannot dry out easily.
Eventually the corrosion will become visible on the outside of the cover panel as bubbles with rust streaks running down. This usually happens near the bottom of the cover panel where it curves round underneath, which makes it easy to miss and even easier to ignore for a while, until it gets bad enough to be worth doing something about.
Once the cover panel starts to corrode inside the cavity it actually becomes thicker - the products of corrosion having a greater volume than the original metal - and this gradually fills up the gap between the cover panel and the sill. Flakes from further up also fall into the bottom of the gap, eventually bridging it, and the rust debris comes into contact with the sill panel. The debris gets wet from the aforementioned road spray and takes a very long time to dry out - possibly never in a daily driver in anything other than a desert environment - and this starts rotting the sill panel too. If you leave replacement of the cover panels for too long, when you finally 'get a round tuit' you may find considerable corrosion or possibly even holes in the sill too even though the sill may have been protected by spraying the inside of the box sections.
In the first of the pictures here you can see that the lower part of the cover panel that was adjacent to the sill is heavily corroded bare metal, whereas the area immediately above and in front of the sill is completely covered with a waxy protective coating and has no rust at all. Although I left replacement perhaps longer than I should have, the sills were almost completely rust free with just one or two very small patches of surface corrosion, otherwise being painted a curious metallic silver-green as can be seen in the second picture. I was lucky.
I don't intend to go through the full description of replacing body panels, just a few points specifically concerning these two. I chose to cut the existing panels just above the top of the sill in an area that was rust-free, in order to keep the repaired area to a minimum. If replacing the sills at the same time you will probably have to cut higher for access. I used a nibbler in a drill and flanged the repair panel to fit behind the bottom of the existing panel to keep distortion of that panel to a minimum - that is your datum. The rear panel is easier to deal with as it is welded to the rest of the car on all bar one of its edges and this should give you the correct fitting relatively easily. The exception is the leading edge that curves round the sill. This should have a right-angle flange to it but on all of mine it was too deep and even though it fits into a recess on the sill panel it was still proud. Rather than grinding it down I choose to fold it further onto the back of the panel, carefully so as not to distort it, trial fitting it until a straight edge runs cleanly across the sill and the repair panel with no gaps. Test the coating on the repair panels with cellulose thinners. If it comes off easily then it is just a shipping coating and must be removed before welding in place. If not it is a primer that can be left, although the edges that are to be welded should be cleaned back to bare metal. In both cases coat the whole of the back of the repair panels with a zinc-rich weld-through primer before fitting. After welding, the curved join between the sill and the repair panel should be treated with seam-sealer, but do not flush it over, leave a shallow vertical groove.
With the front panel the front edge is unsupported so you have to be careful to get the correct curvature. As you want to keep a gap between the sill and repair panel I placed a strip of wood about 1/8" thick along the top edge of the vertical face of the sill for the repair panel to butt up to. Screwing along the bottom edge and welding along the top edge, then removing the wooden strip, leaves this gap. Without the temporary wood packing you could end up with no gap between the sill and repair panel which will cause problems later. But before welding careful work with angle-grinder, hacksaw and files is needed to get a good join where the horizontal welded joint meets the vertical door opening. The join between the rear edge of the repair panel and the curved part of the sill is not treated with seam-sealer but left open.
After welding, shaping, and painting we want to limit the possibility of corrosion occurring again, if no action is taken the welded edges will start rusting almost immediately. Unless you are in a very hot climate and the body panels are equally hot a product like Waxoyl, although you may be standing it in a bowl of hot water to liquidise it, will return to its normal 'tacky' state immediately when sprayed and not run down the 1/8" gaps between sill and cover panel but simply lie along the top of the gap. Either thin the Waxoyl with white spirit to a liquid and spray it in a jet rather than a fan until it runs out of the bottom of the sills (onto newspaper for example) or spray clean engine oil into the gap which will similarly run out. Get a strip of card (not metal which will scratch) and poke it into the gap to ensure the Waxoyl/oil is fully distributed along the length and height of the gap, then spray some more in. With Waxoyl you may find that it drips again in hot weather, whereas with oil it shouldn't. Don't be tempted to put the Waxoyl that has dripped out back into the pressure can for reuse, it may contain particles that will block the jet sprayer, but you can use it for brushing on behind the front arch anti-splash panel and elsewhere. Dinitrol is often mentioned as a superior product to Waxoyl, and it is true it runs much better as it is thinner, but by the same token it is more likely to run straight down the narrow gap and not spread sideways. I still prefer Waxoyl for this area, but the long cavity nozzle that is available for Dinitrol is far superior to the 'nail in a tube' of Waxoyl for other cavities, and Dinitrol comes in aerosol cans so is far easier to work with than the Waxoyl pump system, never mind standing it in hot water or waiting for a hot day. Once spraying though, Waxoyl does go on thicker, Dinitrol runs everywhere including out of the tiniest hole, although that does show it is getting into the tiniest cavities.
Don't be tempted to seal the bottom edge of either front or rear repair panel with seam-sealer or equivalent. You must allow any water or moisture to run out and not gather, and you will notice that the sills and castle rails have drain holes (see 'Sill Construction and Drainage' below) for the same reason. It is better to protect the cavities and allow some water from road spray to get in then drain freely out, than to try to prevent any getting in and end up trapping it which will accelerate corrosion.
Note: Even if your 1/4 panels do not need replacement I strongly recommend you make sure the top of the gap is clear then squirt a jet of clean engine oil into the gaps and distribute it with a strip of card. Do this even if the panels above the gap show signs of treatment to ensure it has got right to the bottom of the gap. Although Vee had been comprehensively treated these areas had been missed (although I squirted oil in them some years ago), and they aren't even mentioned in Lyndsay Porters Guide, a significant omission in an otherwise excellent reference book.
Folding the hood/top
Front bow fouls the body
Header rail seal
Replacing the hood/top
Originally as standard the MGB had a pack-away hood that was completely removed from the car and the frame dismantled into two parts, as well as an optional folding frame. The pack-away frame slotted into two sockets screwed to the inner panel aft of the doors, and the folding frame screwed to the same welded nuts on the back of this panel. In 1970 both of those were replaced by an improved folding frame, and that is the type described here.
The pack-away frame sockets can be installed with either of the folding frames to be used for the tonneau or hood cover sticks, the sockets are also used for the hardtop.
There are occasional questions from people wishing to upgrade their hood and asking if it's possible. I can understand people wishing to upgrade from the removable hood as that takes a while to sort out in a sudden shower, and apparently when the early folding ('scissors') hood is detached from the screen it flops all over the place instead of being self-supporting like the later Michelotti hood, so not quite as easy to raise and lower especially if one's Navigator is sitting in the passenger seat at the time. It's almost certainly true that any frame type will fit any body, as all use the same fixing points at the top of the B-pillars either indirectly using the tonneau sockets for the removable hood or directly for the two folding hoods, but it's after that it gets a bit complicated. For the early hoods the header rail was the same for both - BHH496 - showing that the header rail hat comes with the detachable hood should fit the early scissors frame, even though the detachable hood has no frame at the front. However the cover including header rail was different between the two - AHH8516 for the detachable and AKE5372 for the early folding indicating the tops themselves are not the same. This may only be some of the fastenings, but it could well also mean the fit is different over the two frames. Both the later folding hood complete with header rail, and the header rail itself are different part numbers again - BHH905 for the cover with header rail and AHH6437 for the header rail itself, indicating that how the header rail itself attaches to the frame may be different, and the cover itself may well also be different in fastenings as well as fit over the frames.
Octagonal Origami (or, the art of folding the MGB hood)
Front bow fouls the body
My hood/top doesn't fold low enough
I posted the following on the MG BBS in response to an enquiry, and one person was kind enough to contact me and say it had helped him, so I decided to include it here. It relates to the 1970-on Michelotti hood, not the packaway or earlier folding types for which see here.
By the way I keep seeing exhortations not to fold the hood if it is damp. Fair enough, I wouldn't put the car away with a damp folded hood, but are you going to keep driving with the hood up after a shower now the sun is shining again? Nor am I, but it does go up again when I get to my destination. In fact I always erect the hood when in the garage, just in case the roof decides to start leaking.
With all fasteners (front and rear) undone I pull the header rail back just enough for the hood to clear the slotted chrome thingies behind the cockpit, then push the header rail forward again. At this time the rear window is dangling down behind the rear seats, I lift it up and forward and lay it over the central part of the hood.
The quarter-lights are now sticking out at the sides. I lift the rear window part and tuck each rear quarter-light under the rear window so that they lie between the rear window and the main part of the hood. If you get this right the three pieces of clear plastic (rear window and two quarter-lights) will be lying flat, unfolded, uncreased and all the folds will be in the black vinyl. You can see one of the cords that pulls the rear bar into the correct position when the hood is erected.
I now pull the header rail back lift the rear bow by pulling up on the trailing edge of the vinyl (the part that hooks into the chrome thingies behind the cockpit) so that the rear bow doesn't wedge on top of the inner arches, and lower the whole thing down into the space in front of the rear cockpit rail.
Finally I drape the rear window part, complete with tucked-in quarter-lights, forward over the header rail, making sure the header rail clamps are closed. If you fold the black vinyl edges correctly it is these that lie over the screen fasteners and not the clear plastic.
I have seen two pieces of cloth employed at this point - one between the clear plastic and the header rail and the other between the tonneau cover and the hood to protect the clear plastic but personally have not bothered to do this - after nine years and 25k wet and dry miles my windows are still in pretty good condition. You should have two hood straps (or rather two ends of one strap each side) that allow the rear part of the hood to be rolled round the bottom part of the whole folded arrangement and held up out of the way of anything on the shelf, but although I have these straps I use the full-length tonneau cover as a hood cover fastened to the rear heel board so there is no need.
With the rear bow attached to the hood material using the two strips that are provided for this purpose I found the bow wasn't in quite the right place when the hood was erected, but too far to the rear. I now have two cords, one each side, tied between the middle and rear bows, and adjusted so that the rear bow is pulled up right under the seam as the header rail is pulled forward. See the 2nd picture above. Subsequently I discovered the early folding frame had something similar as standard. It was two lengths of webbing joining the front and rear bows and going over the middle bow. One can be seen clearly in Clausager on page 54, 2nd picture down, as cream webbing contrasting with the black hood material and grey frame. Also a glimpse of it in the bottom-left picture, which also seems to show the rear bar sewn or glued into hood material flaps the same as the later hood.
Front bow fouls body: April 2015
My hood/top doesn't fold low enough Updated July 2008 This relates to something that happened when I restored the car some 19 years ago, so I don't have any photos and it is dependant upon memory to a large extent. I'm only including it now as someone has written to me with what seems to be the same problem, although it doesn't appear to be a common one as I can't recall anyone coming back when I mentioned it on the various lists and BBs some years ago.
When I first had the roadster it came with a full-length tonneau cover with snaps half-way along so it could be used as a hood cover as well, the front half of the cover being tucked up under the folded top on the shelf. However my hood sat so high when folded that the snaps were nowhere near the posts on the heelboard, whereas pictures of cars showed the top of the hood dropped right down into the space behind the seats. But what I could do was fold the hood back with all the rear fasteners still done up, which made it very quick and easy to erect. A friends car of the same age (73) was exactly the same, and he related how he could erect his top while driving along!
When I restored the car I wanted to get the hood lower so I could use the tonneau cover as it does look much neater, and after some pondering realised that a couple of the struts in the frame were folding as far as they could, then jamming, and that was stopping the top and frame folding all the way down. After a bit of beating on these struts (time elapsed prevents me from remembering which) and changing the angles 'lo and behold' the frame and cover now drops all the way down as shown here, with the frame bows resting on top of the inner arches, and I can fasten the tonneau cover heel-board snaps and now have a neat hood cover. But I then discovered I can no longer fold the top back with all the rear fasteners in place as it traps and stretches the material. No matter, I'd rather have the neat folded appearance.
I've got the sticks, but it is a real stretch to fasten the snaps of the full-length cover when used as a hood cover, and it doesn't really make that much difference to the appearance anyway so I don't use them. I think they are mainly intended in that position to shape the separate hood cover which I don't have. Where the tonneau sticks are useful with the full-length cover is when both sides are fastened full-length, when if you position the sticks in front of the seats instead of behind it lifts up the centre of the cover so rain runs off the sides instead of pooling in the middle and dripping through the zip. I've never seen this advice anywhere else.
I don't understand why so few stick up in the air like mine did, unless it was a different manufacturer of the frames for a while, but even then I'd expect more cars to be affected. Having said that at the Stafford MG Enthusiasts run to Upton House in September 2009 I noticed quite a few of each type i.e. some low and some high. These were all the later Michelotti style, and there didn't seem to be any correlation with the year i.e. some early and some late with both appearances. No pics, maybe next year if I remember.
This 65 roadster has the (later Michelotti) frame dropped pretty-well all the way down, but also has the rear still fastened to the rear panel! However it is a later zip-out hood, maybe that makes the difference.
I've seen complaints that the inertia reels prevent the hood from folding all the way down, but if they are fitted correctly that can't happen.
Header rail seal
When closing the hood I'd always had to run a finger along the seal in the gap between the header rail and the screen top rail from inside the cabin to prevent the rubber seal getting trapped by the flange on the screen top rail, which was a pain. When I received the new seal I immediately noticed that it was slightly asymmetric front to rear in that the two 'bumps' on the seal that press down onto the screen top-rail are slightly off-set. I checked the old seal and found that this off-set was rearwards (i.e. to the left in this profile image) which could account for the seal getting trapped. Fitted the other way round the rear bump drops neatly onto the screen top rail without getting trapped. But the forward bump, instead of lying flat on top of the rail, now lies on the angle between the top and front faces. My first thought was that this can't be right, surely lying flat on the frame rail is correct, but then it occurred to me that being on an edge rather than a flat surface it probably conforms to the shape better giving a more effective seal. Since then it has never leaked even in torrential rain, whereas it had before. Someone subsequently stated that the bumps should be rearward as the original was, and they hadn't had problems of the seal getting trapped. The new seal may have been responsible by itself for the non-leaking now i.e. whichever way round it was fitted, but as it doesn't leak, and as I don't get the trapping problem either, it will stay as it is.
October 2004: Torrential rain and a howling gale on the way back from the MGOC Autumn Gold run (ditto while on the Lincolnshire Wander in 2005). Absolutely nothing came past the header rail seal.
October 2018: A certain eBay supplier is listing this seal using an image that looks like it has been filched from Leacy. Someone on the MGOC forum purchased one from eBay and found it significantly different in profile to the one pictured. Not only that but the eBay one was £8.35 whereas Leacy's is £4.26. Yes the eBay one is post-free and P&P is extra from Leacy, but if buying with other parts the P&P on that item will be marginal at worst.
Replacing the hood
Two things to be aware of here - buying a new hood, and fitting it.
I will deal with the fitting first as it may impact on which one you buy. IMHO you must read through a set of hood fitting instructions, such as those contained in Lyndsay Porter's excellent "Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration of the MGB" before embarking on the task. It may incline you towards buying a hood without header rail already fitted or indeed the other way. Personally, I feel that buying without may well result in a better fit, albeit at the expense of extra effort. Buying one with header rail ready-fitted is a lot simpler but the resultant fit may not be as good if your screen/hood frame/rear fastening dimensions are not exactly the same as the template used by the manufacturer of the ready-fitted item. You don't want something that is going to look like Nora Batty's stockings (see Last of the Summer Wine).
The hood on my roadster was replaced shortly before I bought the car and is probably one of the cheapest you can get - single thickness vinyl. Although it is waterproof in itself its fit to the remainder of the car is less than perfect in one or two places so I have been considering replacing it with something of higher quality.
In May 1999 we stayed at a hotel in Guernsey for a few nights with a group of other MG owners from across the UK so the cars were in the hotel car park overnight with the hoods erected. I was amazed to see the variation in fit amongst the cars, and even more amazed to find that mine was one of the best. On my hood the gutter rail just reaches the top of the side windows and there is a flap of vinyl that hangs down inside the glass for an inch or so. On some of the better quality and more expensive hoods this flap barely reached the top of the glass and the gutter was way above it. Furthermore the flap was bowed in leaving a considerable gap between it and glass, which meant that with the slightest breeze any rain would blow straight into the car. Others I have seen have a much deeper flap inside the car, which although it seals just fine, is probably in the way when looking to the side. At least you could trim that back. This Prestige hood seems to combine both with the gutter a good inch above the drop-glass as well as a deep internal flap, but at least it lies flat. So, when considering buying a new hood, carefully measure from the top of one side glass, over the middle hood bow and down to the top of the other side glass, and compare with the gutter-to-gutter measurement of the new hood. Hold out for a good fit, new hoods are not cheap and you are likely to be stuck with it for some time.
I've been asked a couple of times now for a diagram and dimensions of the hood fittings, so here it is. The hole to the left of the 8cm line for the rear-most peg is the tapped hole for the static shoulder belt attached with a quick-release fastener for some markets in various years. The front-most peg is measured from the front of the socket for the hood/top tongue, and has a press stud close behind it, which is for the tonneau cover.
And how to get at the nuts that secure them.
Another question popped up on the length of the retaining bar at the back of the hood. I knew it had chamfered ends to follow the curve of the hood material, and little boots on the end to stop it wearing through, but I hadn't realised the whole bar was curved, even though the pocket itself seems to be straight.
Alternative frames February 2018
The later folding frame and top can be fitted successfully to early cars, as the rear bow is 'floating' and can be adjusted to sit under the rear seam. 'Steve' asked a similar question on the MGOC forum as he was proposing to substitute a folding frame for his pack-away, and wondered which type of frame to get, and whether he would need a new top. I went through the above, he 'plumped' for the early folding frame, and his pack-away top and header rail fits just fine. However if anyone is perverse enough to fit the early removable frame and top to a later car Kelvin Dodd of Moss America writes that the rear bow - the position of which is fixed in relation to the rest of that frame - does not sit under the rear seam in the top. As the position of the seam is controlled by the attachment of the header-rail to the screen, and the rear fastenings to the body, that implies the relationship between those and the position of the sockets for the frame differ on Mk2 and later cars to Mk1.
Frame mounts February 2018
When stripping Bee for a repaint I had noticed that the nuts under the quarter-light are about three times longer than standard nuts, and given the very long screws would be an ideal match. But how to fix the nuts? Welding them to the panel would just pull out again, so I decided to weld them to a thick triangular plate, which would be held to the panel with a single screw. It's true that whilst you are fitting the three screws the triangular plate can move about a bit, but if you support the frame in the correct position while tightening the screws, once tightened - and given the thread engagement is now three times what it was before, you can get more torque on them without stripping and they are never going to move. And over the past 30 years that has proved to be the case.
Rubber Bumper Radiator Grille
First remove the two large screws from the bottom brackets and the three small screws going through the slam-panel to the plastic sockets in the top brackets then slide the whole grille forwards, keeping it vertical, just enough for the top brackets to clear the front edge of the slam-panel.
Next tilt the grille by pushing its bottom edge back as far as it will go, this should allow you to tilt it even more by bringing the top edge further forward to clear the end of the wing drain channels and the very front edge of the wings themselves.
Now you should be able to lift the whole grille up, keeping it square and tilted, with the outer edges of the grill passing through the small gap between the back of the bumper and the front face of the wing. If your gap between bumper and wing is too small to allow this, slacken the nuts securing the bumper to the chassis legs which should allow it to angle forwards increasing the gap.
This image shows the vertical edges of the grille and the reinforcing bar for the upper part of the rubber bumper. This bar sits in a channel across the top edge of the bumper, then bends back for a short distance and then downwards. There should be about 1" clearance between the edges of the grille and these bars i.e. they should not interfere with removal at all.
GT Screens: Had my GT front screen replaced due to stone damage and the fitter expressed relief that the rubber and trim were OK as it was much easier to work with than new rubbers. A couple of months later I had to go back as a result of someone trying to break in, and he groaned when he saw the mangled rubber and trim. The new rubber has a smaller recess for the trim than the old so it is more difficult to get the trim to stay in, and the rubber is very soft and sticky which means that every millimetre has to be lifted over the trim. On the old harder, slippier rubber it is possible to slide the trim in for quite a way before having to resort to lifting it. It took him three times longer with the new rubber, very little of which was taken up by removing the old rubber and fitting the new to the body. Many years later I had the 'opportunity' to fit them myself as part of Vee's restoration.
From the fitter:
When removing the trim strips make sure you know exactly which piece goes where, and which way up. They will come off looking like corkscrews, don't try to straighten them or you won't get them back in again.
Remove the rubber beading that is concealed by the trim strips. Press the top of the windscreen out from the inside using hand pressure. Lift out the old glass. Leave the rubber in the car, remove all dirt and old sealant.
When fitting the new glass get one bottom corner in firmly, then work your way along the bottom and part way up the sides lifting the rubber so that it rests on the edge of the glass, not overlapping yet. Only when you have done the bottom and part of the sides should you use hand pressure on the face of the glass to press it into the groove.
Now do the same with the top half, and when the rubber is resting on the edge of the glass all the way round, use hand-pressure again to press it into place.
Inject sealant under the edge of the rubber. If fitting glass to an undisturbed rubber then you only need to put sealant between glass and rubber on the outer face. If fitting new rubber as well, or if the old rubber was removed and being refitted, you will need to put it on both the glass and painted metal edges of the outer face.
Then fit the rubber beading (this was the only bit where he used a specialist tool, but it isn't essential).
Now to refit the trim. With all the trim, fit the paint side into the rubber first and use an implement to lift the rubber lip over the trim strip. That way if the implement slips, it goes onto the glass not the paint.
Fit the corner pieces first, then the sides, bottom and top.
When fitting the sides, top and bottom, look at the twist (if refitting old trim) and start with whichever end allows you to fit the paint side under the rubber lip first so you have to press the glass side down against the twist.
Took him one hour to replace the glass using the old rubber and trim, about three hours the second time with new rubber.
An extra on the rear seals was to punch holes for the HRW wires, using a hole punch tool. With the original HRW the wires are glued up the edges of the glass and a few inches along the top each side, and the glass has been cut back to accommodate the wire when the glass is fitted. They exit the seal through holes near the hinges. Check the top edge of the glass and measure the distance between the ends of this cut back area, i.e. where the glass has gone back to full height again. Mark that distance in the middle of your seal, and punch the holes slightly further apart than that, so the wires come off the glass and go through the seal while they are still in the cut-back area of the glass. Think carefully where the holes need to go - i.e. from the bottom of the slot the glass fits into, through to the inside!
Rear glass: With a pal helping the glass went in quite easily using mainly halves of sprung clothes-pegs to lift the seal over the edge of the glass, and Swarfega 'original' (smooth) as a lubricant. We did try cord, but it pulled away from the corners so we persevered with pegs for the rest. With the glass in, and before the locking-strip, you can inject non-setting sealant under the seal on the glass side and the paint side by running the nozzle along lifting the seal up as it goes. New locking strip for the rear as the original had vanished, and that pressed in quite easily using more Swarfega, both done in not much more than an hour.
The front locking strip is the original, it's hard and crusty, and has a slightly different profile to the new, all of which make it much harder to get started, it keeps lying on its side in the main slot instead of its side flanges going into the side slots. Pal has brought along the purpose-made tool with a wire loop which is a bit too small for the strip which was why we hadn't used it previously. But opening it out a bit, and with plenty of Swarfega, it suddenly starts going in easily, as usual the proper tool making life easier. You can get three different sizes of this tool from some suppliers, but the only difference seems to be in the width of the loop, and there is no sizing info so you don't know which one to get! A pro would have all three, but for occasional use like this you can get away with just one, either squeezing it smaller or levering it wider as we did.
Trim: Always slot in the paint-side first, so you are working on the glass side lifting the lip of the seal over the edge of the trim, to reduce the risk of anything slipping and damaging the paint. Not an easy task, the edges are so sharp it's very easy to cut the lip of the seal, which on new seals are very soft. On the plus side they are very pliable which should make it easier to winkle the lip out from under the edge of the trim. We really struggled fitting just one half of the rear trim - especially going round the upper corner as it is a tight turn, and it took an hour. After that, and one side piece at the front (the corners fitted first are easy), we had been going at it a good five hours so called it a day. We couldn't really see how we were going to cope with the long strips at the front, and wondered whether I would have to resort to taking it to a fitter, which can't be done until after the MOT. Particularly the long front sections didn't want to lie flat against the seal, but I found it very easy to carefully work along them bending a bit at a time until they did lie flat, although the top one still needs a couple of strips of masking tape to hold them against the seal until you can get a few inches in. Also when starting the very end tends to pop back out, but keeping an eye on it and going back to it, once 2 or 3 inches are in it should stay put.
The plastic levers used for the glass were too thick, as were the peg halves. So it was a case of seeing what we could find in the tool-box, and towards the end I had been getting better results using a pair of long-nose pliers. So next day I had another go on my own, as well as having another look at a YouTube of fitting a front screen we had found the previous day. Jumping in stages through the prep and the seal, glass and locking-strip fitting at one point the fitter mentioned that sharp edges can cut the seal, but you can sand them down with emery. And sure enough the edges of the old trim I was refitting were sharp, serrated where they had been levered under the lip before, and with some crusty corrosion. However when viewing the video again I realised he was taking about the glass, and not the trim, so I was lucky to spot it. But some fine wet and dry smoothed it off considerably, after that it went in quite much easier - with the correct technique, of which more later. No discussion on that or another useless video of fitting trim to a rear screen of what tool is best, but from freeze-framing the first it looked like it was round bar with the business end curved over, and a ball-shaped end. Googling "windscreen fitting tools" came up with this at £12.99, although they also have a longer version which is almost half the price! However I think the shorter the better being easier to manipulate. There are similar hooked tools with a sharp end, which might help getting the ball-end tool started, but would cause more damage if they slipped. But back to the long-nose pliers, at the ideal angle instead of having to lever the lip out a couple of mm at a time, I found I could push them along and ease the lip out and over in one smooth movement, several inches at a time, and ended up doing the second rear section, and the front second side and top and bottom, in not much more than a couple of hours. Care is definitely needed with pointed tools, at one point my pliers slipped and stabbed into the base of my thumb. Initially it looked like a couple of stitches might be needed, but plasters sufficed (with a thick glove for the rest!), and at least it avoided what could have been significant damage to paint. Bodies heal by themselves, paint doesn't! With both halves of the rear trim in place the ends were overlapping, which would affect how the finisher would sit, but by wedging a paint-scraper between the two ends, and levering, the two halves ended up end to end, and the finishers went in just fine. One oddity with the lower strip at the front was that as I got to the end I realised it was almost 1/2" too long - where has that come from? By pushing the bottom corners round a bit, and pushing the strip along to one end as far as it would go reduced it a little, but didn't eliminate it - it's like it is the opposite effect to the upper corners at the rear (see next para). In the end I could see no option but to cut a little off the end, with a thick protecting pad under the trim and above the body, seal and glass, then file the edges smooth.
However that left a small problem with the upper corners on the rear screen. It seems that as the seal has to be squashed up to get it all onto the hatch flange, it is pressed into the top corners very tightly, so much so that it describes a tighter radius than the trim, and you end up with a gap between the outer edge of the trim and the lip on the seal. Someone on one of the fora recently mentioned a problem in this area, I couldn't imagine what he meant, and no one else responded, so - apologising for the potential insult - I wondered whether he had the trim upside down! But now I can see what he probably meant. It can be reduced by pushing the seal towards the trim to reduce the gap once the trim is fully fitted, but doesn't completely eliminate it.
Whilst travelling to the 2004 Lincolnshire Wander mine developed a crack running down from the top edge right in front of the driver as a result of a stone chip. As this is an MOT failure item I had to deal with it, although fortunately the next MOT was many months away, giving me plenty of time.
Although covered by insurance without affecting No Claims bonus my first thought was to repair it myself for two reasons: One was simply for the interest and experience, but the other was the thought of some spotty youth from a windscreen replacement company making a bodge of my pride and joy given the special nature of the roadster screen, particularly removing the frame from the body and replacing it. However the benefit of having it done professionally is that any mistake on their part, including cracking from unequal stresses shortly after fitting, would be their responsibility to resolve. Spoke to Roger Parker at the MGOC who said often they won't remove and refit the screen, but require the removed screen to be delivered to their premises. That would get rid of one of my concerns (damaging the paintwork during removal or replacement) but still leaves me with the problem that if the screen cracks after refitting it is open to argument as to whether it was incorrect fitting of the glass to the frame that was the problem or incorrect fitting of the screen to the car. Seems to me that the only choices are doing it all myself, or letting them do it all, the half-way house being the worst of both worlds. I spoke to the company that would do the job and was satisfied with their knowledge of all the steps and pitfalls of doing an MGB roadster screen, including removing the screen from the car, so opted to let them do the whole job.
Preparation: Nevertheless I wanted to do any preparatory work myself so set about seeing just what was involved in removing the screen with the minimum of other dismantling. I had removed the screen back in 1989 preparatory to a full rebuild, but as part of that I had removed all trim and the dashboard which makes the job considerably easier. I didn't want to have to remove the dashboard again unless I really had to. Consulted Lyndsay Porters (Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration of the MGB' (republished as 'The MGB Restoration Manual') which says it is possible but is a right fiddle. Porter covers the whole job in considerable detail with many photos, so I'll just limit these notes to anything extra I can add.
So far so good, but then when I rang the fitters to arrange a date they said they had the screen but were unhappy with the seals and asked me to order them, which I did. By the time they had arrived I had tried loosening the screws in the top of the screen frame and found four I could not shift. Rang the fitters again to arrange a date, and they said they would order a set of screws.
Screen Removal: When the day came I rang beforehand and was told they had the screws so took the car round. Fortunately they were happy to let me hang around and assist in getting the screen out. One of the two centre-bolts was cross-threaded and stuck, turning the 'captive' nut in its cage. So we removed the centre bar, then pulling up on the frame left the bottom bracket attached to the dash top, having pulled the rivets out that were securing it to the bottom frame member.
While they were dismantling the frame I pondered what to do about this nut. Cutting the head off would still leave the thread stuck in the captive nut, although possibly that could be drilled and tapped, if the cage would hold the nut tight enough. Then one of the fitters came up with a stout slotted metal strip that just wedged under the bolt head, and the friction that created between the top of the nut and the bottom of the dash-top, together with the cage, was just enough to allow us to remove the bolt, which was a bit of luck. The end of the bolt was a bit chewed where it had been cross-threaded, but as I wanted to shorten them anyway I cut it off, ground a point back on (the point is needed to centralise the captive but loose nut under the bolt so the threads can start), and cleaned up the threads with a hacksaw blade. Shortened and pointed the other bolt to match and confirmed that both would screw into both nuts. The cross-threaded nut was a bit stiff, but with a bit of grease and working the bolt back and fore and gradually in like a tap (should have brought my taps from home) got it to the point where I could screw them in with my fingers.
Update October 2010:
Frame dismantling: They managed to remove one side piece and the top piece from the frame which was enough to get the old glass and rubber seal out only snapping one frame screw in the process although we discovered one was missing from the bottom anyway. I said "Never mind we can replace that" then they admitted they hadn't got the screws. I was not best pleased (and by then suspected they hadn't obtained the seals either) but by now there was nothing I could do about it. Still we could move one from the top to the bottom then I could replace the two (one missing and one sheared) at the top with the screen back on the car at a later date.
Reassembly: I watched while they prepared the new glass and rubber seal, and we were all puzzled as to why the cut-outs in the seal for the frame screws seemed to be more on the sides of the screen than the top and bottom, when there should have been an equal amount either side of the corner. Then I held a frame side piece up to the side of the glass ... and discovered the glass was 2" too deep! They turned over the glass and looked at the label ... and it was for a GT! I was even more displeased. They started ringing round and said they couldn't get another one until 4pm, so there was nothing more for me to do but go home. The fitting place is buried in the depths of an industrial estate and despite them saying Bee would be in the building which would be locked and alarmed and her keys in the safe, I had nightmare visions of some scrotes choosing that night to either break in or fire-bomb the place.
Next morning I went back to find the proper screen had arrived, and they were fighting with the new frame to body seal. These are a nightmare, both getting them into the bottom rail as the new rubber tends to be sticky, and the lip of the seal which rests on the body panel at the base of the screen is turned right back on itself, making it extremely difficult to get it to lie in the correct place when refitting to the car. But that was nothing compared to the struggle getting the new glass and its new seal into the frame, and the frame reassembled.
Because one corner was still screwed together the glass could only be put into those two pieces slightly offset, then slid into position. Despite most of a container of washing-up liquid (and the prospect of the thing flying across the workshop as it slid out of peoples fingers) it just wasn't going. Top Tip: The washing-up liquid was actually drying on the rubber too quickly to be of much use. So I nipped home and got my tub of smooth Swarfega (they only had the gritty kind) and suddenly things started going together. Relatively. The new frame seal seemed to be a couple of millimetres less deep (into the frame) than the old seal, and the new glass was also a slightly different shape at the bottom corners. It was not looking good for a tidy and secure finished job.
Getting the frame back together was a real struggle. Again the problem was the non-dismantled corner, trying to get the glass into this corner and then adding the top and other side was pushing the frame into a parallelogram, where the two top (and bottom) corners had unequal angles to each other. The glass also seemed to be going further into one side frame than the other, barely being in the seal on the 'loose' side. We had several goes positioning the glass in the bottom rail slightly to one side or the other before we got it more or less equally into the two side frames. They tried a rope-cramp round the ends of the screen which pulled the sides together but still left it canted over. Then I suggested looping the rope diagonally round the screen so as to pull the two 'long' corners together. Bingo! We could now get a 'square' frame, but still not pull the sides together close enough to get the screw in. From that point it was just a matter of getting 'muscles' Scott to pull the sides together as hard as he could, whilst the main fitter kept the tension on the rope, and I got the screws in. That alone was about three hours effort from three people.
Glass Variation: Updated April 2019:
Current-stock glass to fit later screens like my 1973 does seem to be different shape in the lower corners from the original glass, said to accommodate differences in the frame uprights. There are four different uprights for RHD cars (three for other markets) listed prior to 1977. For 1977 and later uprights are not separately listed, only complete frames and top and bottom rails. There are three different complete frames listed for RHD cars prior to 1977 (two for other markets) and only one frame for all markets for 1977 and later. The effect of the later glass with the cut-outs in the lower corners is that the edge of the glass can be seen from outside, as shown in these pictures of my roadster - firstly just by looking through the glass, and secondly by pulling the seal back, the edge of the glass is arrowed in both cases. I was concerned that with so little overlap between rubber seal and glass it might leak, but hasn't in over 10 years.
Cropped up again on one of the fora, and this time I've tried to find examples of the different uprights. None of the various types are available from the usual suspects for a direct comparison, which makes it a bit difficult. So I browsed pictures of late-model (post 76 going by the registrations) MGBs and did find a couple with quite good pictures of the screens, which do appear to be different at the bottom of the uprights. Then did more Googling for frames for sale, and found one with same difference ... if you see what I mean. The ad for this didn't specify the year it came off, but the pictures definitely show the same difference, as in the attached. If the channel is similarly narrower it means that if you have the later frame - which could be on an earlier car - you must get the correct glass. Of course, it's possible that only the later glass is currently available, which is why I have it in Bee.
||New body seals are a nightmare. When supplied the lip that rests on the panel at the base of the screen has to project forwards and upwards from the rest of the seal, but as supplied this lip is tucked right under the seal, you can see the 'as supplied' and 'fitted' profiles on the left. When fitting the screen to the body this lip has to be pulled out from under the frame, and sealant applied, at some point. You would need a couple of dozen pairs of hands, which there isn't room for round the car, or maybe half-a-dozen octopi. By contrast an old seal sticks out at the correct angle and even though it isn't delivering much downward pressure, unlike a new seal initially, with sealant it still doesn't leak. Unless the old seal is damaged I would recommend reusing it, as I had done when removing the screen for painting some years ago. That was a single-handed job to remove and refit and the bolt holes all came to hand easily. I suggested to the fitters that they reuse the old seal, which would have saved them the struggle of pulling out the old and fitting the new, but they insisted on using the new.|
Porter seems to indicate not fitting the seal until the frame has been reassembled, but then that means either levering it all in to the channel with a suitable implement (which John Twist shows here), or trying to slide-feed it in through one of the screw holes in the bottom channel, which involves an angle and sharp corners. The former is very long-winded and the latter very difficult with both new and old rubbers. We opted to slide it into the bottom rail with the frame dismantled as that makes it a straight pull even so it is hard enough. Top Tip: Pulling the rubber in tends to stretch it, meaning it may shrink a bit over time. As there is not much overlap by the side rail 'feet' over the ends of the body seal make sure you keep pulling and pushing the seal in towards the centre from both ends before offering up the side rails and cutting the ends (of a new seal) to suit. Even then, cut them a bit long, when you screw the frame together it will tend to compress the seal slightly, making it even less likely to shrink enough to expose the ends. Then the glass and glazing seal is fitted (join in the centre of the top), the ends of the body seal pulled out of the channel to expose the screw holes, the side rails fitted, and the ends of the seal pressed back into the channel with a blunt screwdriver - angle the seal so that one side of the 'T' lies in the channel, then push the other side into the channel. This should lock both sides of the 'T' in the channel. Give it a bit of a tug to make sure.
Reinstallation: After a short break the bottom bracket was pop-riveted back onto the bottom rail, and I refitted the centre bar, leaving it loose at this stage. It had been a bit pitted so overnight I had taken it home and cleaned it up with fine wet and dry and wire-wool and clear-coated it. It is critical to ensure the packing pieces and shims in the body sockets are selected to ensure there is no side to side movement of the frame legs in the sockets. If there is, then when you tighten the bolts it will tend to bend the legs in towards each other which can crack the glass. This is particularly important when replacing the whole frame, rather than just the glass. The shims go on the 'inside' and the packing pieces on the 'outside', i.e. the bolts go through the body panel, then the shims (qty. to suit), the packing pieces and into the frame legs.
It should also be noted that whilst new packing pieces and shims are available from the usual suspects, they have been manufactured incorrectly. The part number is embossed in raised lettering on one side, on a further raised plinth. This must be ground off before fitting or again it can bend the legs, or come loose over time as the lettering is squashed down. They are also missing the central tapped hole for the securing screw. When this was queried with the supplier they said they had a note in their system saying the lettering must be ground off (but didn't mention it on purchase), and that their drawing showed the central hole, but they "didn't know why it wasn't there". Another suppliers photo shows exactly the same part, so it is not isolated to one supplier, as they probably all use the same manufacturer. Another feature of the shims is their ability to centralise the screen across the car, in relation to the quarterlights, as part of preventing splits in the door skins, aka 'The Crack of Doom'. However this does require the quarterlights (and hence doors) to be fitted.
Because the lip of the new bottom seal is so tightly curled under the fitter decided he would add the sealant when the screen was partly on the body, rather than apply it to the seal off the body then have the very sticky job of trying to pull the seal into position which would probably remove quite a bit of the sealant in the process. Initially he thought that he would be able to do this from the back, but there was simply not enough room with the screen pushed down far enough for the lip of the seal to be in position. Put sealant under the base of the side rail 'feet', slip on the feet seals, and put more sealant under these in the grooves.
Note that when fitted the body seal lies on top of the feet seals leaving a small triangular gap as the seal makes the transition from the foot seal to the body. This should automatically ooze sealant, and hence be filled with it, as the screen is bolted into position. At least that was how mine was originally, but after the second screen replacement I discovered the body seal appears to have been trimmed round the foot seal so there is no triangular gap. We slotted the screen into the body, pushed it down all bar about 1/2", pulled the tucked-under seal out with a hook, then he got the nozzle of his sealant gun under the seal lifting it up, pulling the gun along sideways, all the while holding the gun clear of the paintwork. He had taped cloths round the body of the gun so it wouldn't scratch the paint if it came into contact, but I don't think it did anyway. An alternative suggestion has since been to use many strips of duct tape to pull the lip of the seal back, being stuck onto the glass, at the expense of having to clean goo off seal and glass.
We then pushed the frame right down, causing loads of sealant to ooze out as expected (and some out the back onto the dash top). I checked the position of the holes in the frame legs through the holes in the body but they were miles out. It took quite a bit of downwards and fore and aft pressure from the two fitters just to get the bottom two holes visible, and I got the bolts in. Another breather.
However the upper holes are much more difficult to see with the dashboard in-situ, especially on the drivers side, and just manual pushing and pulling wasn't going to get them lined up. Fortunately just a few weeks earlier I had seen pictures where someone had used a G-clamp to press the frame down far enough and mentioned this to the fitter. They have a similar clamp to hold the modern bonded glass systems in position while it sets, and this was enough to get the passenger side top bolt in position. On the drivers side we had to resort to that clamp plus 'muscles' Scott, but eventually we were there. With slack bolts to allow final positioning I wasn't very happy with the side-to-side alignment with the doors as it seemed to be much closer to one 1/4-light than the other whereas before it had been almost equal to both. The 1/4-lights themselves are adjustable in the door frame so I resigned myself to some final fettling at home, but by the time I had got the fore-and-aft position to my liking, and the four bolts tightened, the 1/4-light gaps miraculously fell into position. We took a step back and looked at the glazing seal, to find that too and the glass had seated properly and evenly all the way round, much better than we had expected.
Whilst the fitters cleaned off the excess sealant I tackled the two centre bolts. As I mentioned before one of the reasons that people say that these bolts have to be completely removed last and partially fitted first is that they are too long and also need to be at right-angles to the dash-top to start to screw in. The captive nuts are loose in their cages and can be angled, slid fore and aft, and raised or lowered so that if the bolt is short enough it will screw in at an angle to the dash top with the screen fully in position, and once it has started and gone in far enough it straightens up to lie vertical to the dash top for final tightening. I removed the two fresh-air vents (although I could actually feel the cages and nuts from through the glove-box hole) and screwed a 7/16" bolt in from the bottom a couple of turns, which allowed me to angle, slide and lift the nut into the correct position. However whilst I found I could get an 'ordinary' bolt in, I couldn't get either of the proper chrome-plated bolts in either side. It took me a while to realise the point I had reground onto the end of the bolts after shortening them was fouling the end of the bolt I had screwed up from underneath before any of its threads could engage. The point is there to push the captive (but loose) nut into position so the threads can start, without this or any other way of positioning the nut it would be pure hit and miss. Because I was positioning the nut with another bolt from underneath I didn't need that so ground most of the point off, and bingo got both bolts in. However I think I cut the bolts a bit too short as I couldn't get them in with both the chrome plain washer and the split lock-washer fitted, so omitted the lock-washer. But I had always felt the lock washer looked 'clumsy' so was happy to leave it out. Time will tell if it shakes loose in which case I shall try Loctite or something. I tightened the centre bar not going mad, just enough to make it 'ping' when plucked. It only occurred to me then that the function of this bar is probably to stop the header rail tending to pull the top frame rail up off the glass when the top is fastened down, there is considerable upwards pressure on this from Bernoulli Effect at speed.
Finishing-off: After final positioning of the screen and tightening down the centre bolts there was a bit more excess sealant to clean off, then putting back the fresh-air vents, glovebox, fuel gauge, overdrive switch and trim panels. I can't emphasise strongly enough how important it is to get the alignment of the screen to the 1/4-lights correct. Get too tight an engagement between the two and you will almost certainly get the 'Crack of Doom' in your doorskins. Too loose an engagement and they will leak, but that is minor in comparison.
Lastly the windscreen stickers went back on. I had managed to recover all but three. One of the missing being a small paper sticker from the one and only 'MG World' show at the NEC (the second year it was 'MG and Triumph World' and then it died altogether) from the very early days of my ownership, so early I didn't record the date, and the sticker itself had faded to nothing. The other two were from Gaydon, the first being from the inaugural Arden Heritage run to Gaydon the day after its opening in, May 1993, the other from a run from Gaydon to Donington to celebrate the Centenary of the motor car in September 1996. Both these were fluorescent paper and stuck to the outside of the screen, and not only had they faded to white but the rain and washing had removed all the paper and just left a disc of adhesive! But I'm sorry to lose them just the same.
"Why didn't Frame 2-with glass fit in the car? The bottom rail and it's mounting looked to be the culprit. There looked to be a difference with the amount of bow between the two extrusions and the location of mounting holes in the rail and the L brackets. The dimensions and geometry of all the bits doesn't have to vary much before the error accumulation bites you in the butt. I suspect F2 had it's glass replaced sometime during it's life and they couldn't get it into the car and if it was, they cut the XXXX out of the car to make it fit."
Quarter-light seals: I had taken the opportunity when buying the screen seals to get new 1/4-light seals for the side rails of the screen as I felt these had been cut a little too short in the past, and a new header rail seal as it had been damaged by the Navigator's clip and that was where water usually came in. The old side rubbers pulled straight out of their channels, which were in fair condition, and with a bit of tweaking of the channels and using a pair of long-nosed pliers to pull them down into position rather than pushing, the new ones went in without any lubrication.
It was then a matter of cutting the bottom angles bit-by-bit so that they lie flat and filled the gaps when the doors are fully shut, and the tops to match the header rail when fastened. Note that some distortion of the rubber from the chrome piece on the leading edge of the door capping rail occurs during closing, but everything drops neatly into place when fully closed. However the new rubbers are fatter than the old ones which have been compressed over many years, vibration and heat/cold cycles, and the surface is not so hard, shiny and slippery as the old rubbers. These combine to prevent the 1/4-light frames from dropping into their natural position and are pressing them outwards. My concern is that this could be yet another factor in the 'Crack of Doom'. A thin smear of Swarfega acts as a lubricant allowing the frame to take up its natural position but dries out after a couple of days. I'll see how things go over the next few weeks but may have to reposition the screen forwards a little to relieve the pressure (I did). With the old rubbers the frames only just touched them, which actually allowed a little rain past them if running in rain with the hood down. But with the hood up and the Bernouli Effect on the hood pulling the screen frame back, the seals were pressed onto the frames and didn't leak. Design or serendipity, I wonder?
Update October 2004: Torrential rain and a howling gale on the way back from the MGOC Autumn Gold run (ditto while on the Lincolnshire Wander in 2005). Absolutely nothing came past the header rail seal or the glazing seal between glass and frame, the only disappointment is that a trickle seems to be coming past the square seal between the bottom of the frame side-members and the body each side. Shouldn't be too difficult to fix by lifting the frame a bit and applying more sealant, probably my fault for not putting enough on.
Update May 2006: Having heard that new bottom seals retain their tight curve for some years I decided not to remove the screen, but instead just slackened everything off and managed to slide the whole screen forwards a fraction so that the 1/4-light frames weren't so tight a fit to the screen frame side seals. Had three days of rain on the Dales Trail later in the month, but despite that only a little came in between the bottom corners of the screen frame and the body. What was a bummer was finding the new screen cracked in the bottom left-hand corner after we had got home. We did hear a sharp impact just after running into some infernal top-dressing over the Pennines even though we had already dropped back from the car in front, but I can't believe we spent the rest of the weekend and Monday in the car and didn't notice it. I consoled myself with the fact it could only travel a few inches before it reached the side of the glass from the bottom, but then a few hours later I noticed a second crack coming off the first at a right angle and this time heading right up and across in front of the Navigator! I can't face changing it again just yet, I'll wait and see if it becomes an MOT failure. Subsequently it did get worse, with first one then a second subsidiary crack coming off the main crack at right-angles across the navigators view hence a potential MOT failure. I can't say the fitters were pleased to see me again. The process was very much as before, although I'd say the re-installation at least (I wasn't there for the reassembly) did go easier, and I was able to get the correct clearance to the 1/4-light frames right first time. One slight concern is that the bottom rail seems to be higher on the uprights than before, as if the glass were not quite to deep as it should be. This left gaps in the corners between the bottom rail and uprights particularly on the drivers side. Putting Comma StopLeak screen sealer in at the front came out the back indicating a major leak source. I pressed the black sealant into the gap, then used StopLeak, which no longer came through. In overnight rain on the Memorial Run in September none dripped through on the drivers side, although some did on the passenger side, so I did the same thing there although the gap was smaller and the StopLeak didn't run through to the inside. Since then rain has to be heavy and persistent for any to come through at all, and drips 'harmlessly' down the door cards and not on the occupants.
2016: That just left two sources round the passenger's drop-glass - one at the top and one at the rear vertical edge being blown despite internal air pressure from the fresh-air vents being open or heater set to Interior or Demist, which gets onto the Navigator's shoulder. This one was solved by carefully shaping a length of clothes-hanger wire that slots up inside the double skin of the hood material and hooks over the hood frame at the bottom, which presses the rear vertical edge of the hood firmly against the glass. The one at the top, even though there is only a very small gap between the glass and the flap that hangs down inside, remains for the time being and is subject to further pondering.
Parts Changes: March 2014 The Leyland Parts Catalogue indicates the screen assembly changed in December 72, but also indicates the two types are compatible. However the top rail changed in September 69 when the rear-view mirror moved from the vertical bar to the top mounting, so they certainly weren't identical. It changed again for rubber bumper roadsters, and in September 76 i.e. four types for the UK plus two different types for North America and Sweden. However Clausager also has a change to North American windscreen assemblies in Feb 69, saying change points for non-North American cars is not known. As far as I know all are interchangeable as far as installation of a complete assembly to the body goes, although the component parts i.e. top, bottom and side rails almost certainly will need to be compatible with each other. What will vary is the positioning of the interior mirror - originally on the centre bar, then as part of the centre-bar top mounting and the provision of sun-visors - with Mk2 cars for North America, Sweden a year later, but not until the 77 year for the UK. The MGOC and Moss web sites indicate these changes were in 1969 (for the 1970 model year) and 1974 (presumably 1974 1/2) respectively. The same body and screen upright seals were used throughout.
Again according to the Parts Catalogue part numbers there was only one glass throughout production, although Clausager mentions a change for the 77 year which may have been related to the use of thinner glass and compatible seal. There definitely are 'early' and 'late' glasses in the field, the 'late' having cut-outs at the bottom corners, whether this is the change that Clausager refers to I don't know. These do fit the earlier frames, but some say early glass may not fit the later frames. MGOC and Moss have clear and tinted glasses available but tinted aren't indicated in the Parts Catalogue. MGOC talks about 'up to 1969', '1970 to 1975', and '1976 on' for glasses but doesn't explain the differences. Moss talks about 'up to 72' and '72 and later' glass, the difference being the cut-outs. However whilst this ties up with one of the frame changes in the Parts Catalogue, my 73 roadster didn't originally have the cut-outs in the glass, and the Moss glass change doesn't tie in with their frame changes.
I wrote the above in response to a question from John Wynne Davies, and subsequently he happened to mention that his screen has press-studs at the base of the screen uprights and asked what they were for - which is the tonneau cover.
Seat Removal & Refitting: July 2013
They can be a bit of a fiddle, but recently on a bulletin board someone wrote that they couldn't gain access to the rear runner bolts 'with his smallest socket as the instructions in the manual were wrong'. They subsequently wrote that they had found a better way on an Australian RV8 web site, but never came back with that method or a link to it despite being asked. Both my Leyland Workshop and Haynes manuals basically say "Release the seat catch and push the seat fully back to gain access to the front screws. Remove the screws and push the seat fully forward; remove the rear screws and lift the seat and seat runners from the car". I can't see much there to be 'wrong'.
On both my cars sliding the seats fully forwards exposes the rear bolts more than enough to get a socket on a long extension on them. However the front bolts are covered by the front of the seat frame just enough to prevent a 3/8" wobble extension and socket, or a 1/4" straight extension and socket, or the ratchet on a socket directly from locating on the hex head, so a ratchet ring driver needs to be used. These are worth their weight in gold in the common sizes of 7/16", 1/2" and 9/16", and if you don't have one you will be fiddling with an open ended or a fixed ring for some minutes!
However there are a couple of things to look out for. The first is the seat-belt buckle, that it isn't preventing the seat from sliding fully forwards, or the seat back ditto - this should be obvious. Less obvious is if the front of the seat is hitting the tunnel as it tapers outwards, before the end-stop is reached, and both these may prevent the rear bolt heads from being exposed. For that reason it is probably best to do as the manuals suggest and remove the front ones first, as that will then allow the front of the seat to swing across a bit as it is pushed forwards, and so clear the tunnel to move fully forwards. Earlier seats and runners could be different, the Mk1 tunnel is narrower, and with non-standard seats you are on your own.
The next thing to watch out for when lifting the seat out, and replacing it, is that the tunnel-side floor rail doesn't fall off the seat rail and ding your paintwork, the sill-side runner is retained by the adjuster mechanism. The easiest thing to do is take the loose runner off before lifting the seat out, and only refit it after the seat has been lifted back in, as described here.
Refitting: People seem to get equally exercised about refitting them, saying to put the rear bolts up through the floor first to locate the runners on the threads, before removing first one then the other. If you have the correct slats and large spacers, and if the spacers are in holes in the carpets as they should be and not sitting on top of it, then refitting shouldn't be any problem at all, as the holes in the floor pan should be clearly visible through the runners and large spacers. Maybe a little more difficult with new carpet. The spacers should be held in position by the carpet, so it's just a case of positioning the carpet over the holes, inserting the spacers and fine-positioning them and the carpet, placing the wood slats over the spacers, then dropping the seat in. If you are struggling then a spare bolt (or two) with the head cut off and screwed in a couple of turns from above makes more sense than screwing up from underneath, or simply a cross-head screwdriver to wiggle the carpet, spacer and wood slat into position. The front floor-pan nuts are concealed in the crossmember, so you would only be able to use headless bolts or screwdriver from above anyway. If you get the easy rear ones in first (i.e. the reverse of removal as the manuals suggest), but not fully tightened, then with the seat pushed fully back on the runners the front holes must be at the correct fore and aft distance for the floor pan bolt holes, and it is just a matter of pivoting the front of the seat and runners sideways a bit to locate first the hole in the spacer, then the hole in the floor pan.
Slats & Spacers: September 2016:
August 2018: As well as some people with longer legs having to position the runners further back on the floor, some have found it necessary to remove the adjustment mechanism altogether and bolt the seat frame directly top the floor to gain an extra inch or so headroom. Some of these have fallen foul of their MOT tester because there is no adjustment on the seat. The regulation gives reason for failure as "fore and aft adjustment mechanism not working as intended" see DVSA MOT manual section 6.2.5 Driver's seat Defect para b i.. If the intention IS that there should be no adjustment, by the seat being bolted directly to the floor, then it is working as intended. The DVSA have apparently said that this failure for a fixed seat gives grounds for appeal, if 'discussion' at the station fails.
There have been a couple of questions recently about measuring up new floor pans for the seat rail mounting points. I'd expect Heritage panels to come with the holes and captive nuts already attached, after-market panels certainly don't or at least not always. The following measurements were obtained from my two cars, both sides, which although showed they slight variations from panel to panel there was a consensus.
The distance between the hole centres for the two rails, i.e. across the width of the car is 12 5/8".
The fore and aft distance between the two holes for each rail should of course be governed by your rails!
The front holes are above the fixed cross-member, about 1" behind the centre-line of the jacking point in two raised pads. These pads are in a flat area between the front and rear flutes, which coincides with the cross-member underneath to give a flat surface for welding. For what ever reason the pads seem to be neither central to the flat area, nor central to the seat mounting points, the holes are displaced rearwards. If you use 1" behind the centre-line of the jacking point you should be OK, there is plenty of fore and aft adjustment of the seat after all!
The distance from the holes to the inner sill panel is 2 5/8" this should be enough to give a small clearance for sill carpets and not rub. It is important this spacing isn't too great or it moves the seat closer to the tunnel which causes two problems: 1) The seat can't be moved as far forward as it will foul the tunnel, and this also has an impact on accessing the rear bolts. 2) Depending in what type of belts you have the seat back may foul the buckle, which will also limit how far the seat can be moved forwards as well as how far the seat-back can be tilted forwards.
The distance from the holes to the tunnel is about 4 1/4" at the rear and 3" at the front, the reduced front measurement being due to the widening tunnel at this point. This occurs on both cars but may be different on 3-synch to my 4-synch cars.
August 2009: There are often questions about what to do about the front holes/nuts when replacing the floor or part of it. I had the same question after welding in a part floor and failing to mark, drill and weld the fronts before welding the floor in! I opted to weld the nut to a 1" strip of metal the width of the nut, cut a slot in the floor slightly more than the thickness of the nut plus strip, then with a bolt in the nut I was able to fiddle the nut through the slot, turn the strip at 90 degrees to the slot, and weld. But after reading other suggestions of a long bolt that goes right through the floor and crossmember (distorting the pan/crossmember if overtightened), or welding a drilled and tapped plate to the top of the floor pan (OK if it replaces the alloy spacer, but doesn't give enough thickness in my view), and how drilling holes in the rear crossmember to allow insertion of a socket to make installation of the gearbox mounting rubbers easier, it suddenly occurred to me that surely the easiest method is to drill such a hole in the front crossmember, plugging it afterwards with a rubber bung (never mentioned in the case of the rear crossmember) to prevent water ingress and corrosion, although that box-section is hardly water-tight anyway, and drainage and air circulation might be beneficial.
Seat Rails by Les Bengtson
The MGB seat rails are made of a combination of wooden rails and two aluminum spacers directly under the four bolts (two per side) which hold the seats to the floor. The basic set up for bolting the seats in is thus:
There are two "L" shaped steel tracks with a curved over lip at the top of the upper arm of the L. These are the seat adjustment rails (Seat Slide set in the Moss Catalog). These adjustment rails have an upper section that is bolted directly to the base of the seat frame. This is the part with the adjustment locking arm, located to the front of the seat, which is used to allow the seat to be moved forwards and rearwards. The lower section, which has a series of square notches towards the front end for locking into by the release tab of the upper seat adjustment rail, is bolted to the floor of the car. Both the seats and the adjustment rails are "handed"--there is one for the right side and one for the left side and they are not interchangeable. The lower adjustment rail is bolted to the floor using two 1/4"-28 TPI bolts on each side.. Depending on the year of the car, and whether the bolts are original or not, they vary from 1" to 1 1/4" in length. These bolts pass through the aluminum spacers and, hence, into the floor of the car where they are engaged by captive nuts (nuts welded or otherwise secured to the frame of the car to hold them in place). These aluminum spacers (about 1/4" thick and 3/4" in diameter) are sitting in two holes in a wooden spacer strip (Moss "packing strip") which is a strip of wood 1/4" thick, 1 1/8" wide and 20 5/8" long. It has four holes bored through it, the innermost two of which are used for mounting the MGB seats.
These packing strips and their associated spacers are a problem. The wood tends to attract and hold moisture. This is especially true when rain or other liquid spills get onto the floor of the passenger cabin. This retained moisture in turn, promotes rusting of both the floor and the seat adjustment rails. Under certain conditions (constant humidity and not allowed to dry out), the packing strips can rot and come apart. To do away with these problems, I decided to make up some packing strips out of aluminum bar stock. It is relatively easy and can be done with simple hand tools.
First remove the seat from one side of the car. Slide the seat fully backwards and use a 7/16" box end wrench to remove the two front bolts holding the lower seat adjustment rail to the floor. Then, slide the seat fully forward and use either a wrench or socket to remove the rear two bolts. Carefully lift the seat from the vehicle. The lower adjustment rail which does not have the adjustment locking tab will tend to drop off as you move the seat. Remove it when you can by sliding out the rear of the upper rail. Then remove the other lower adjustment rail by releasing the locking tab (adjustment handle) and sliding the lower adjustment rail to the rear. Examine these rails for rusting. If rusted, clean them with either some form of media blasting, naval jelly or wire brush. Prime and paint them. (Priming helps the paint to stick better.) Set aside to dry.
Then remove the old packing strips and aluminum spacers. Use a 1/4"-28 Unified National Fine (UNF or NF) taper tap to clean up the holes for the hold down bolts. Clean up the bolts as necessary. They can be replaced if too rusty by using standard 1/4"-28 hex head bolts, 1" long. If you can find stainless steel bolts, they probably would be the best, reducing the likelihood of the bolt and captive nut rusting together.
After tapping the holes, lay down the new packing strips, re-assemble the lower adjustment rails to the upper adjustment rails (use a little grease to lubricate the mechanism) set the seat back into the car and bolt down. Then, check to see that the seats move forwards and backwards easily. If they did so when you removed them, they should do so now.
MAKING REPLACEMENT PACKING STRIPS OUT OF ALUMINUM BAR STOCK
You can purchase aluminum bar stock from several sources, including many hardware stores. You want a piece 1/4" thick, 1" wide and at least 20 5/8" long. This bar stock is most commonly found (in hardware stores) in lengths 4' long. One of these strips will serve to make two packing strips. Or, you can choose to purchase your aluminum strips from a metal retailer and have them cut to exact length, saving you from having to do this. Metal retail outlets are listed in the yellow pages under several headings including machine shop supplies.
First, assuming you have a four foot length of bar stock, measure 20 5/8" from each end and make a small mark using a Sharpie, magic marker, etc. Use a machinists square, tri square, etc. to draw a line across the bar exactly 20 5/8" from each end. Cut on the lines. Then, use the uncut end (the end that was cut at the factory) as your reference point for all future work. Measure from the end 2 3/8" and make a cross mark, then measure from the same end 18" and make a cross mark. The end you are measuring from is now the front end of the packing strip. Then, use your square to mark a thin line all the way across the strips at these points. Then, use a set of dial calipers to measure .400" in from one side of the strip and make another mark on top of the cross marks. If you only have a normal rule or tape measure to work with, measure in 3/8" (.375") and this will be close enough. (Note: The original wooden strips seem to have two holes at one end as the mounting points can differ, some need 17" for the second measurement and not 18". Check against the old packing strip, or if that is too badly rotted use the runner itself or floor tapping dimensions themselves.)
At the intersection of the two marks is where you will drill your two holes. Use a center punch to make a mark for the drill bit to start into or, better yet, use a center drill. Drill two holes of about 9/32" or 5/16". These slightly larger holes will allow some slight adjustment of the packing strip when being bolted in. Then, lay the strip into the, car and make sure the holes align properly. If you have done your work carefully, they should. If not, use a round file (chain saw file works well) to enlarge the holes so that they mate properly with the holes in the floor. The end that you originally measured from goes towards the front. The holes are off center in relationship to the centerline of the long axis of the packing strip. Put the short side to the inside of the seat and the slightly longer side outwards. This is easily seen by holding the packing strip against the lower adjustment rail. In the proper position the rail and packing strip will fit perfectly, while in the wrong position, they will overhang each other.
The new packing strips may be painted or left raw. I painted mine black using Rustoleum and allowed them to dry before assembly and installation. All of this work can be done with hand tools. It will result in a packing strip that is stronger and longer lasting than the factory wooden strip. It will also allow you to examine the condition of the seat adjustment rails and repair or replace them as necessary.
This article is copyright 1999 by Les Bengtson and may be reproduced for personal use as long as the copyright and authorship is acknowledged. Please direct any questions to: email@example.com. Happy MGing.
In Bee's seats there is a friction arrangement inside the frame which is supposed to keep the restraint at the desired position. It consists of what looks like a coil spring made out of swarf, in a tube going across behind where the headrest tube goes down, held in place with a wire tie. There is also a spring-clip that locates in a slot in one side of the restraint tube, which hooks under the bottom of the hole in the frame, which only allows you to pull the headrest up so far. Be aware that this has very sharp corners, particularly the part that sticks out of the slot in the tube. Some recovering instructions say to cut a hole in the back of the cover so you can release this if you need to pull the restraint out altogether, which you wouldn't want to do if planning on refitting. But you should be able to peel the cover up from the bottom turning it inside out as you go, with the restraint fully extended, and expose it that way. I had great problems getting the restraints moving in the tubes when I first recovered Bee's seats, to the point on the passenger side that I had to use a hydraulic bottle jack sitting on the floor, with a piece of timber wedged underneath the headrest, and jack it out.
Covers and Foams
When planning to replace seat foams and/or covers pay particular attention to the shape of the foams and the covers. Despite reading three sets of instructions, including Lyndsay Porters otherwise excellent 'Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration of the MGB' and the set that came with the covers, I only discovered that the base foams and covers for the 4-synchro cars, at least, are handed after I had glued on the first set while restoring Bee in 1990/91.
My seat base frames, foams and covers are all tapered on the inside edge - the front is narrower than the back - I assume to take account of the shape of the transmission tunnel. Once glued on I did not want to risk damaging my new covers by ripping them off again. Fortunately the difference is not great, and although one can see the mistake if one looks for it, at least it does not stick out like a sore thumb. I've looked at early and late seat frames at Stoneleigh and they all seem to have the same taper, but the early covers seem to be square.
December 2014: This started out as a few tips I discovered along the way when recovering Bee's seats for the second time that aren't in the supplied instructions. As you see there are quite a few!
November 2017: Recovering Vee's is very similar, any differences have been added to the appropriate paragraph. Things like it suddenly struck me that it's easier to leave the loose runner in the car, than try and lift the seat out and replace it still attached, and have to tie it, tape it or hold it in position to prevent it dropping out at the wrong moment. The out-board runner is fine as the adjuster holds it in position. With the bolts removed, tip the whole seat back and you can disengage the runner sideways i.e. without having to slide it out along it's length. Likewise on refitting the seat put it by the slat, lower the seat in, tip it back, and slot it onto the seat runner. With the seat back down pull both runners to the rear to expose the fixing holes, insert the bolts, then slide the seat back and do the fronts as normal. Tighten the rears to a turn short of tight, then when you have the front bolts fitted, and can no longer slide the seat forwards enough to expose the rear bolts, there is just final tightening to do with your spanner.
I recovered Bee's seats in 1991 but was disappointed with the quality of the new covers, noticeably flimsy compared to the OEM grey 'deck-chair' covers that she came to me with. Some 25 years later they have gone into holes in various places on the back and wearing thin on the seat. OK, quite a long time, but only 55k miles, whereas what look like OE covers on Vee that were definitely not new and have now done 100k and 20 years with me, and maybe 200k and 40 years overall, are in far better condition. Given the disappointing quality of the previous set I spent some time before deciding which ones to buy this time. Of the people that were able to supply samples only one had the original pattern of fabric and vinyl, but I (and others) have had too many problems with them so won't use them anymore. Other than that I was able to see some ready-made covers at Leacy, which looked good to me, so were the ones I settled for, again opting for the black GT cloth over the roadster vinyl for summer comfort. Comparing old and new the old fabric seems to have a woven appearance and quite thin surface texture, and is backed by a very thin layer of foam, whereas the new have a much thicker brushed outer covering with more texture, and a much thicker layer of foam backing. Conveniently the base covers are marked 'right' and 'left' although the included instructions still don't mention the difference, but I'm not likely to get that wrong again! Vee: I used the same supplier again.
My new 7/16" ratchet ring spanner made removal of the front bolts a doddle - with those out first the seat can be pushed further forwards than normal to expose the rear bolts to a socket. The drivers seat came out easily, but one rear bolt on the passenger side was turning but wouldn't come out. Oddly this had a 10mm head, in the end I used my drill-driver to spin the bolt while I pulled up hard on the seat and it came free ... with a tinkle as what was obviously a free nut under the floor fell onto the ground! I don't remember, but previously I must have used an under-sized bolt and additional nut for some reason. Stripping starts with removing back from seat. There are nuts on the inside of the frame where the back pivots on the base, as well as the bolt being screwed into the base bracket, and 'penny' washers between the two brackets. Took no more than an hour (each seat, although I didn't start the passenger side until the drivers was completed), and that was with carefully peeling back the old covers from the foam where they had been glued to see if I could save the foams again. Ended up usable, as was the card backing. Vee: Unlike Bee's composite foam backs Vee's are one-piece, and in near-perfect condition as is the card backing.
Recently someone somewhere was asking if anyone knew of the availability of pivot covers, as his were broken and they were unavailable from the usual sources. Then while looking for something else on eBay I came across them, recognised them from somewhere else but couldn't remember where. Until I happened to get both cars out and there it was, large as life, on the V8. It attaches with a screw, which goes into a spire clip, and needs a hole in the base bracket, which Bee doesn't have. So sometime between 73 and 75 this cover came in, and Clausager gives it as September 73 at car number 329770, but no reference to them in either of the Parts Catalogues or at any of the usual supplies as far as I can see. They are handed, and need a bit of thought and persuasion to refit. Slide the slotted part over the seat base bracket, then pushing the covers and foams out of the way they can be swung back and down into position. Make sure the spire-clip is in the correct position over the bracket hole first.
As far as removing the head restraints goes Bee's drivers side only slots in loosely, as I used to remove that altogether to fit the tonneau cover that came with the car as that had no pocket (the passenger side was OK as that folded right forwards to be under the cover, the drivers side can only go so far because of the steering wheel). No longer an issue as I have replaced the cover with one with pockets. As previously I couldn't shift the passenger headrest, but was able to peel the cover up and remove the backboard to expose the bottom of the tube, then used a hammer and drift to drive it out. Neither headrest has it's upper 'stop' fitted, but I do still have one of the originals from 25 years ago! With both headrests out the friction device can be removed, which consists of nothing more than what looks like 'coiled swarf'. Only a short piece and some broken bits on the drivers side, more complete but still damaged on the passengers. I shan't be putting those back in as they jam the headrests altogether. However they do need to be raised to act as head restraints, so I may put spacer tubes over the existing tubes to hold them at the right height, as only we two are ever in the car and always in the same seats. Vee: Vee's won't shift so again I pull the cover inside-out up and off the back to expose the friction mechanism. which is quite different to Bee's. Tapping the bottom of the restraint tube with a hammer and wood drift gets them out.
Whilst new-stock back foams are probably OK the base foams are too high and/or too dense. I've sat in a GT with those and the wheel was brushing my thighs and my head was against the sun-roof surround. In the event I reckon both will last another set of covers, saving getting-on for £100. The hessian is like Swiss cheese, so order some off the internet, it prevents the edges of the webbing in particular from cutting into the foam. The backboards are still usable, and the webbing still has plenty of tension after a dozen years or so. Vee: Seat foams, webbing and hessian also in very good condition, but for the cost - £2.49 per square metre, I order new hessian to use a double-layer as I did with Bee. Except for the covers it's all in surprisingly good condition. Given the amount of what looked like decomposing foam dust that had been gathering on the carpet under the seats, I expected them to be in very poor condition. Quite possibly recovered with new foams, card and hessian before my time, but the only thing that looks like it could be a date code on the foams has what would be an '04' year number, and I've had her since 1995!
Something I've been wanting to do for 25 years was have a look at Bee's drivers reclining mechanism. When refitting the seats after the previous recovering a metal pin fell out, which looked like it had been welded somewhere. After that, I found that if I leaned back hard to get something out of a trouser pocket the seat would shoot backwards - so that pin was probably something to do with the recliner. I kept it, but it's got mislaid somewhere along the way. Examining the frame carefully there is another welded pin that guides the recliner handle mechanism - at least it should be welded, this was quite loose which allowed additional movement of the handle mechanism. I wonder if that is the problem and the other pin is a red-herring. Then where the seat back pivots during reclining I could see a hole with some weld around it where something had obviously broken away - that must be it. There is a plate underneath that with another hole, and when the two holes are co-located with a pin it locks the teeth of the reclining mechanism together until the reclining handle is operated. Without that pin the seat back is 'free' (against considerable spring pressure it is true) to move without use of the reclining handle and disengage the teeth of the reclining mechanism, which allows the seat to shoot backwards. I find a bolt with a plain shank that just fits the holes, cut it to length, and weld it in place, as well as welding up the loose guide pin. I could put the seat back in the car and lean back hard to test it, but that's a bit of a faff, so I wedge the corner under the full length ramps, which have the weight of Bee on them, and push hard on the back, and it shows no signs of moving. I'll leave it at that, if it still collapses I wouldn't really know how to fix it, so I'll just live with it and not lean back hard!
The irony is that when I had fitted the new cover I could clearly see my repair to the pivot, so could have reattached the original pin - if I had known where it came from at the time - when it fell out all those years ago!
The back foams on the drivers side have torn a bit where they rest against the outer frame uprights, so I lace three strips of gaffer tape round the outer uprights and behind the rear uprights to give it a bit more support. The backboard goes back on with two screws and large washers at the bottom, and a few pieces of gaffer tape to the frame sides and top. Sprayed glue round the frame and corresponding parts of the foam. There is a rectangle of vinyl that I have left glued to the top of the back foam around the headrest hole, so I position that over the hole in the frame. Another 'supposed to' is to glue polyethylene over the shoulders of the foam to help the cover slide down. I did that last time, but never liked the crinkling sound it made ever after. Other instructions say to put a plastic bag over the foam, then rip it out after pulling the cover fully down. That is preferable, but I decided to glue a strip of cling film over the shoulders and down the sides, which allowed the cover to slide fully on quite easily, and doesn't make a noise when using the seat. Vee: No such problems with the foams, and the back-boards are in good condition, but I'll probably do the same.
After a trial fit I pulled it back up again to fit the half-moon cards (provided with this set, unlike the previous where I had to make my own) into the pockets at the bottom of the sides. It's worth spending a little time teasing the stitched edges inside the pockets onto the inside face of the card, so the cards are fully seated in the pockets and the outside face of the vinyl has a nice flat appearance. Glue them in place as they can get dislodged while fitting the cover to the seat and the stitching ends up on the wrong side again, although this needs doing before the cover is fitted to the seat. All work so far has been done with the back re-attached to the base as that holds the back upright while pulling the cover down. Vee: Vee's half-moon cards are not ideal, one is OK, but the other had been glued into the pocket which pulled some layers off on removal, leaving it a bit thin and floppy. However the previous set came with new cards so hopefully these have as well.
Next the ears need to be screwed to the brackets on the seat back, as this helps to keep the cover tugged fully down when you come to clip the vinyl to the bottom of the seat back. Easiest done with the back removed from the base. Finding the existing hole for in the brackets is tricky. You could cut the head off a self-tapper, screw it into the bracket point outwards, then tap the outside face of the ears with a hammer so that the point of the self-tapper pierces the car and the vinyl, then remove the self-tapper and fit the screw and cup-washer. I opted to make a 'puller' out of bent coat hanger wire, which hooked over the straight edge of the card in the ears, held in position with a bar wedged across the frame to keep the ears tugged down, then drilled through from the outside. You only need to be approximately in the right area as the bracket is plenty big enough. I did this the last time, and there were already two holes there then so whoever had fitted the covers that Bee came to me with had obviously done the same thing. There are now four holes, but that doesn't matter as they can't be seen of course.
As pulled on the cover will take the shortest route across the seat back above the face of the central section of the foam between the side bolsters, but it needs to be glued down with the vertical stitching on the cover positioned in the angle between the central foam section and the side bolsters. The outer corners of the bolsters need to be as near to the join between the cloth face and the vinyl sides of the cover as they can be, but left to their own devices they will be a couple of inches away under the cloth face. Push down on the face of the cover while simultaneously pushing the edge of the foam towards the join, and the stitching will reach down to the angle between the central and side bolster sections of the foam more easily. After practising that with no glue, spray adhesive into the angle between the foam back and side bolsters, and onto the vertical stitching on the back of the cover that needs to fit into that angle. A couple of applications is probably best as both surfaces are absorbent, then repeat the manipulation of the foam towards the join between cover face and sides, before pressing the vertical stitching down into the angle between foam back and side bolster, while trying not to stick yourself to either part. With both sides done press down with the forearms up the line of stitching until the glue takes.
Apply adhesive to the inside of lower back of the cover and the 'angle iron' that this piece attaches to with the flat clips. Wrap the vinyl round the angle iron, leaving a triangle folded back at each side where it is attached to the vinyl sides, pushing the horizontal edge behind the foam, and fit the flat clips. This is easiest done before tackling the vinyl strip at the bottom of the face of the seat cover, that goes round the large tube, attached with four round clips. Note that the clips you took off the tube will probably be larger than the ones taken off the base frame having opened up a bit, so if you haven't kept these separate pick the four biggest to refit to the tube. These have to be lifted over the tube, simply pushing them on will probably tear the vinyl from the 'teeth' on the clip that hold it in place.
Finally tap with a hammer on the vinyl where it lies against the edges of the square bar for the reclining handle, to cut out a neat square of vinyl, and replace the handle.
For years the Navigator has been complaining about a rattle somewhere behind her, and whilst I could just about hear it myself when she was in the car I couldn't when I was on my own. The toolbox lives in the boot immediately behind the bulkhead her side, but despite removing that and everything else it was still there. But when manoeuvring her seat back on the bench during recovering (but not mine) I heard a rattle, which on investigation turned out to be the recliner folded torsion-bar spring inside the large tube at the bottom of the seat back. I stuffed some strips of hessian in there, time will tell if that has done the trick (it didn't).
The base is relatively easy. I had a metre of hessian and the width was enough for a double thickness on both seats. Apply glue to the foam and one side of one sheet first, then stick that down, then more glue on the top of that piece and the second piece, and stick that down.
The instructions say to make identical marks on the base foam and cover at the front, but I found with these base foams with the raised sides and flat front it only goes on in the correct place. If you have the humped front foams and apply glue to the hump you probably will need to mark foam and cover first to get it aligned. What is very important in all cases where the seat back can tilt forwards is to get the rear of the foam, where it goes under the seat back, in the correct position. It is tapered in that area between the pivot brackets because part of the back frame drops down either side of the foam and cover there. Get it off-centre, and the back frame will come down onto your new cover and foam, crushing it, and perhaps eventually ripping it. Re-attach the back to the base with just a couple of turns of each bolt, drop the foam on the base and position it between the relevant parts of the back frame. I used pieces of tape on the base rear tube to mark the position. Check that the angles between the central flat parts and the side bolsters of the seat foam line up with the vertical stitching on the back cover and adjust if necessary. With the seat back removed again glue the foam and hessian to the front and side rails of the base using your marks. Trial-fit the cover to check all is well, apply glue to the central section of both foam and cover, and fit the cover pulling it down at the front and the rear before pressing the central section down to bond. The stitching should lie in the angle between the flat part and the side bolsters, which should mean it will line up with the vertical stitching on the seat back.
The instructions talk about cutting the vinyl sides by the pivot brackets, but they also need to be cut either side of the uprights at the front that go down to the runners. Cut at the front down the inner side of these uprights, and again on the sides in line with the rear edge, and fold the vinyl back on itself, then you can neatly glue and clip the front and sides to the frame. At the pivot brackets cut in line with the front edge of the bracket and tuck the rear part of the vinyl behind the brackets. I applied glue to the sides of the foam at its narrower section behind this bracket to keep the cover from getting trapped under the metalwork of the seat back as it is folded back. Tuck the spare vinyl between the webbing and hessian.
Also necessary is to cut the rear vinyl strip in line with the end of the bar that is welded to the rear tube, that the tipping seat back latches behind. If you try to wrap the vinyl round that it won't lie flat and can't be clipped there anyway. That allows the vinyl to be neatly glued and clipped to the main tube, with the surplus again being tucked between the webbing and hessian.
And that is basically it. Reattach the back to the base, with penny washers between the two brackets and the smaller washers under the bolt heads. As soon as the bolt thread starts coming out of the inner bracket, position the lock-nut on the inner face so that as you screw the bolt into the bracket it screws into the nut at the same time, much easier than trying to fit the nut afterwards. Tighten the bolt just short of nipping the small washer up, then hold the bolt while you tighten the lock-nut.
Finally refit to the car,
But after using Vee for a couple of days, I'm finding that with the new covers the belts are slipping off the shoulders of the seats when getting in and out, instead of staying there and being easy to grab hold of to fasten before driving off. They wouldn't stay there at all on Bee so I made some retainers/guides some time ago, so make another pair for Vee.
Both my cars have webbing. On the face of it the diaphragm ought to be preferable as it is far less likely to lose its 'stretch' over time, which is what happens to webbing, but I had these on another car and the wire that the hooks go round ripped out of the rubber. Also Sven Hinrichsen writes that on his the wire was so thin that it bent simply under the tension of being attached to the frame, not even being sat on, and he had to retrieve the much thicker wires from his old diaphragms (which had ripped out of the rubber) to reuse.
I changed the webbing on both seats when I restored the roadster in 1990/91 and the drivers side again about 10 years later. A few years later sitting in the passenger side I realised that side needed doing as well. The webbing hadn't broken as before, but had lost its tension. As such it came off relatively easily, but I remember some difficulty in fitting new webbing on both previous occasions, getting enough leverage to stretch the webbing enough to get the 2nd hooks into the frame, and doing it on my own. Previously I had used a length of timber and some rope, levering the timber against the frame with one hand, to pull on the rope looped through the main wire frame of the webbing, using one foot to hold the seat steady on the ground, and the spare hand to press the clip into the frame. It was a bit of a fiddle tying and untying the rope each time and getting the right length of loop, this time I decided to try something different, and it was much easier.
Remove the seat from the car by undoing the front bolts first (with a 7/16" ratchet ring). This then allows the seat to be moved right forward so you can use a socket ratchet on the rear bolts, which is much quicker. If you undo the rears first you will probably have to use a spanner on all four. When lifting the seat out of the car watch the tunnel-side 'fixed' rail doesn't fall off and hit your bodywork, it is now only hanging on the sliding lip. As recounted above with the bolts out tip the whole seat back and detach the inner floor runner, and don't replace it until the seat is back in the car. The outer rail should be held securely by the seat-locking mechanism. Remove all the spring clips holding the seat cover onto the frame and peel the cover back as normal, and remove the old webbing. Don't chuck it yet, one of the hooks on the new webbing was missing when I received it, and another pinged off somewhere, the old ones were fine as replacements.
Take this opportunity to clean and grease the sliding parts of the rails, making sure they are straight and flat. Also replace the wooden slats and alloy spacers if they are missing or (in the case of the slats) rotten. If the seat lock wasn't working properly, now is the time to tweak that as well.
Refitting the seat is the reverse of removal,
again watching the inner rail doesn't fall off not attaching the inner floor runner to the seat runner until the seat is back in the car, and tipped right back. I've not found it difficult to locate the bolts (rears first as they are easier to see) by wiggling things round until they line up, but some recommend putting bolts up through the rear holes first (you can't get at the fronts) as locating pins. With the back bolts in just short of tight, and the seat pushed right back on the runners, you only have to wiggle the front of the seat from side to side a bit to locate the first front hole, then the second should be in the correct position.
Seat Belts Updated April 2009
Mounting points: Quite a lot of confusion over seat belt mountings from time to time.
Clausager states that MGBs always had mounting bosses for three-point lap and shoulder belts. The lap belt mounting points were always on the tunnel and sill either side of the seat, but the shoulder belt mounting point moved about a bit, and it is this that causes confusion. Belts were dealer-fitted to North American Mk1 cars - possibly locally manufactured, and lap only. On North American Mk2 cars the shoulder belt mounting point moved from the inner wheel arch to a quick-release fastener on top of the tonneau panel. Even though seat-belts became compulsory for UK cars on 1st April 1967 they continued to be dealer fitted and charged separately. In January 71 other markets got the tonneau panel mounting and static belts were factory-fitted. In December 71 North American spec got inertia reels and the mounting point was moved back to the wheel arch - the lower rear corner. From May 1972 UK cars got static belts which allowed one-handed operation by dint of a plastic sleeve over the floppy belt, current replacements uses a stiff cable as for inertia belts. In early 1973 inertia reels were available as an optional extra on GTs with the reel mounted on op of the rear arch, were always fitted to V8s, and soon after V8 production started all GTs had them as standard. Despite them having been compulsory for seven years it wasn't until October 74 that the seat belts were included in the list price of the car! In May 77 RHD roadsters had inertia reels as standard, so the mounting point moved from the tonneau panel to the inner arch as on LHD cars. The type and manufacturer of belts - static and inertia - changed several times in addition to the above.
Very very early cars seem to have had two 5/16" studs near the middle of the lower edge of the inner arch. Both these should be used with an adapter plate, one stud is not going to be enough if you really need the belts at any time.
After that a single larger threaded boss was fitted to the rear arch, low down and about mid-way from front to back.
On Mk2 North American roadsters up to December 1971, and on roadsters for other markets from January 1971, mounting points on the tonneau panel were used which necessitated a quick-release device so the belt could be detached each time the hood was raised or lowered or the tonneau cover fitted or removed! The fastening utilised a plastic button, most have probably broken by now and been replaced by inertia reels. When I received my roadster it had inertia reels - but fitted to the tonneau panel. Very inconvenient as these had to be unbolted to raise and lower the hood! This picture was taken on the 2007 New Forest run and shows a metal button which seems to be the only type available now. The Driver's Glovebox Handbook indicates that this quick-release fastening was used on GTs as well as roadsters, with the fastener mounted on top of the rear arch. Quite why isn't known, whilst the roadster did need it to raise and lower the hood that isn't the case for the GT. A friend's 72 GT had these belts but with just a plain bolt on the arch, which meant the belt bracket could come off the bolt without having to depress any locking plate. I first thought this was an error and somehow his car had got roadster belts, but maybe not, maybe it was just the fastener that had broken, and in any event he fitted inertia reels. For those roadsters that have them but unused there is a blanking plug to prevent water ingress.
It seems that when the tonneau mounting point was provided the wheel arch boss was deleted - but only from roadsters, so these cars from November 67 to December 71 only have the tonneau panel mounting point. Presumably this was only on North American roadsters as UK roadsters didn't get the tonneau mounting point until January 1971, when the arch mounting point was deleted from those as well. To use static belts with a fixed shoulder point where your quick-release type are damaged and you can't get replacements, you will have to provide a mount on the inner arch. Probably the easiest way to do this is with 1/8" steel plates either side of the arch panel and bolted through. The belt should come with a spacer/boss that the belt end will rotate around even when the bolts are fully tightened. Only when North American cars got inertia belts as standard in December 1971 and RHD cars in May 1977 was a mounting point reinstated to the inner arch, however now it is right at the back of the arch and just above the chassis rail. The tonneau panel mounting points were probably deleted at this time.
To fit inertia reels to roadsters built prior to the above dates you will need this fitting kit (item 2) from the MGOC (maybe other sources). This shows Bee's inertia reels fitted to the later position using the kit, which entails drilling a hole in the panel. Fitted in this position they do not prevent the hood from folding fully, as some have complained. Securon reels can bolt directly to the vertical panel and be adjusted for correct operation, but this means the belt exits vertically and has to twist through 90 degrees between there and the shoulder and can suffer retraction problems with other stuff in the area, and they cannot be fitted to the top of the GT arch without additional bracketry which compromises security in an impact.
GTs kept the boss in the lower position, but did they always have one on top of the arch as well? It is classed as a four-seater, and late Mk1 shells at least had them, but perhaps not very early models. I've also heard of the roadster-type quick-release static belts attached to those points in a UK GT, but that may have been done by an owner.
If that wasn't enough the tunnel mounting position also seems to have moved, being further back on early cars compared to later. The earlier position can cause problems with inertia belts with a fixed-length tunnel stalk, being almost behind the seat. Some suppliers do have longer stalks to overcome this.
Various tunnel stalk types - floppy (statics) and stiff of various types to enable one-handed fastening.
Sill mount position.
From Feb 72 there was what Clausager describes a 'New seat belt parking cover instead of parking buckle'. However it looks like a socket that the tongue would slot down into, although I can imagine an inertia reel belt could pull it out.
Another fabled gadget - the seat belt hook, fitted from Feb 77 to roadsters and GTs with new Kangol inertia reel belts. This is on a GT, mounted on the rear waist rail, with an enlargement of the actual hook inset. On a roadster the hook was mounted much lower down on the trim panel, below the folded hood frame.
Types: As well as static and inertia types, and different locking features of the latter, there have been a number of different fastening arrangements on both.
As far as inertia belts are concerned Vee came to me with the original belts, and the tunnel part is a fixed length of webbing in plastic sheath that holds the buckle in a relatively fixed position to enable easy one-hand fastening. However over the past 43 years the plastic by the buckle has gradually been breaking away. This isn't a safety issue as long as the belt itself is still sound, but it does mean the buckle flops about and recently one-handed fastening has been getting more of a fiddle. By contrast Bee came to me with PO-fitted inertia reels replacing the original statics. I suspect they came off a late model i.e. 77 and later as the tunnel parts have wires for the seat-belt warning system. But these tunnel parts are a semi-stiff cable encased in plastic, which can be bent and twisted into various positions, and once positioned it more-or-less stays put making one-handed fastening very easy. Interestingly both sets are Kangol Magnet ... without the magnet arrangement used on the statics.
Eventually I'd had enough of groping around trying to orientate the buckle and push the two parts together with one hand. Looking around on eBay I did find the odd tunnel part of the same type, but zooming-in it looked as bad as mine, so I decided to replace the tunnel parts with stiff stalks the same as Bee's. Something to be aware of is that the lengths of the stalks vary, and also the tunnel mounting position was further back on earlier cars meaning they need a longer stalk. Get the wrong length and they will either be too short on earlier cars and hidden beside the seat back, or too long on later cars and the hard plastic socket will be lying across your hip. Found a pair of those OK, the length was given in the advert and was the same as both Bee's and Vee's existing belts (32mm) so I knew they would be correct. But when they arrived I 'discovered' the tongue is different - the originals are rectangular with a square hole and the replacements take a longer narrower one! I should have realised as the differences between Bees and Vees have been staring me in the face for 24 years, but there we are.
So more eBaying found a single belt with the correct tongue. Complete with bracket for mounting on top of the GT rear arch which is just as well as the existing one is completely different. This is L-shaped as the bolt into the reel is horizontal, whereas the new reel needs one that is basically flat as the bolt through a tab on the real into a boss on the bracket is vertical. Both types of bracket are handed with a slight angled kink to position the reel horizontally in both orientations, as the bolt into the rear arch is at a slight angle from the vertical in two planes. Get the angle wrong and the pendulum device that is one of the two locking mechanisms on these belts will be such that if the car is parked other than on a level surface the belt may lock when you try to pull it out. Although the bracket was marked 'RH' in red felt-tip it was shaped incorrectly for the right-hand side, but a moment in a vice with large grips soon altered that. The original GT brackets were never listed separately, but several suppliers list BMH9514/5 which is a different design and only suitable for the later reels with black plastic housings and not the earlier hammered grey metal housings, and are sometimes supplied as part of a new full belt kits. BHI UK have a number of brackets of various types including flat and angled. They look flat, but also look thinner than either of the brackets I have so will bend easily enough - hopefully not too thin.
As received the belt was fully in the reel, which it normally never is of course, and it just wouldn't pull out when trying it before fitting. With repeated attempts sometimes it would work then lock, and sometimes not at all, which was rather annoying. After much pondering and trying I realised that in my hands, even though I was holding it in the correct orientation it wouldn't work, but held down on a flat surface it did. So even slight wobbling about when hand-held was enough to lock it.
Then onto the main event - the stalks. Went to fit them and realised there is a stepped spacer on the old belts which fits into an oversized hole in the original belt tab, but the hole in the new stalk is only just big enough for the bolt. I didn't want to fit it like that as it would mean several less threads engaged, and if I left it out altogether the bolt bottomed before tightening onto the stalk. Cut the flange off? Or enlarge the hole? For better or worse I enlarged the hole. Fully fitted it pulls out easily, lock with only a slight yank, and more importantly one-handed fastening is now a doddle.
You may well decide to go for a new set complete rather than messing about as I did, but there are several things to watch out for:
In any event these reels are much smaller, neater and less obtrusive than Vee's originals. But at the end of the day you can pay nearly as much putting together second-hand parts of variable condition as for new. The MGOC M061 (available singly) come with the stiff stalk (not shown, but they have confirmed it) and fitting kits for roadster and GT are available. Watford Classics shows a kit (pair with brackets) for the GT, and Chase MG one for the roadster (pair with brackets, albeit with red belts), both with stiff stalks.
Inertia mechanism: There are two types of locking process - one that responds to sudden changes of speed and direction i.e. inertia or at severe angles from the horizontal, and another that responds to 'snatch' i.e. if the belt is suddenly yanked out of the reel. Vee's originals only had the inertia function i.e. didn't respond to snatch, but Bee's (retro-fitted) and the ZS respond to snatch as well as inertia. The snatch function can be checked with the car stationary, but the inertia function can only be tested under harsh braking or by tilting the car significantly.
The reel has many turns of a 'clock' spring which is tightened as the belt is withdrawn, and retracts the belt when unfastened. When Vee's first replacement belt arrived above initially I had great difficulty when checking it to get the belt to come out at all. Eventually I realised that even though I was holding it at the correct orientation the little bit of movement while hand-held was enough to cause it to lock. It was only when pressing it down onto a flat surface to keep it still that I could get it to reel out consistently.
But by that time I'd decided to investigate. Two covers on the sides secured with cross-head screws, one of the covers was embossed 'DO NOT REMOVE', but when did that stop me? Undid the screws, carefully lifted the cover a bit ... and SPROING!!! ... out spills a 'clock' spring. That's all there is that side so it didn't need removing anyway, and I pondered how to put it back.
But first, looking at the spring, it started spiralling out from what had obviously been the tightly wound middle for about a quarter of its length, then it turned back on itself to spiral in the other direction for the remainder of the length to the outside! Eh? The spindle has a slot for the inner end of the spring, and when I was able to pull the belt out that spindle was turning in a clockwise direction, so that obviously has to tighten the spring and so determines which way round the spring fits at that end. Looking at the other end of the spring there is a cut-out on one edge about 1/2" from the end, and was a corresponding projection in the slot in the cover, so again the spring can only fit that way round. However slotting that end into the cover and curling the spring into the cover, I realised that would put the inner end the wrong way round in the spindle, i.e. pulling out the belt would try and unwind the spring, not wind it up! It's not helped by the outer end being held in the cover and the inner end on the spindle, and trying to look at both halves at the same time and work out the 'logic'. At the same time I came to the conclusion that the bulk of the spring was curved the 'wrong' way when it was out of the cover. But even then, it meant that the outer end instead of following the curve of the bulk of the spring, must fit in the slot in the cover, then turn back on itself, as well as being wound into the cover against its natural curve, as that was the only way that the inner end would be the correct way round for the spindle. Fortunately the spring was well-behaved and could be fed back into the cover quite easily, and stayed there once complete.
That done I wound the belt all the way back in manually, and refitted the cover with the inner end of the spring in the spindle slot. By this time I had discovered the cover had a section over the end of the spindle that could be removed to help refit and remove the inner end of the spring to the slot in the spindle. I then pulled the belt all the way out, and released it, but of course it only retracted about a quarter of the way even being 'helped'. So removed the cover again this time careful to pull the inner end out of the spindle slot so it didn't sproing out again, and manually wound the belt the rest of the way back in counting turns of the spindle, and got to ten full turns. So the spring needs to be pre-tensioned by something approaching that amount, to retract in use. It doesn't need to retract all the way under its own efforts as there is still a couple of feet of belt from the reel to my belt-guide, and from there to the sill, in normal 'use' when not fastened. I refitted the cover, then very carefully lifted it up as little as possible leaving the inner end engaged ion the spindle slot while I turned it anti-clockwise (the spindle turns clockwise when the belt is pulled out remember) through a series of half-turns to pre-tension it. After five full turns I refitted the cover and tried it, but even helping it retract there was still a couple of feet or so that wouldn't go in. So unscrewed the cover again, carefully turned it another full turn. Better, but still some left, and another full turn plus me helping it got all the belt in, I reckon that will do.
Subsequently I came across this page covering the same job on a Kangol Reflex belt (which is almost identical to Vee's original grey-bodied reels), and some of the photographs and comments are very interesting. The first is that the 'curl' of his spring changes direction part way along just as mine did; the second is that the spring has to be wound back in against the natural curve of the spring as mine did; and the third is that before being slotted in, the fixed outer end of the spring turns back on itself again as mine did. As mine was back together and installed by this time I didn't want to take it all apart again to take my own pictures, so have used some of the author's pictures even though the construction of his cover and body is slightly different. Pre-tensioning this spring would be more involved as both ends are retained in the body, and you would need some way of lifting one end or other out of its slot, and rotating it to add tension, before slotting it back in - potential for slipping and sproinging, I would think. He describes pulling a pin out from the other side, which is what locks the belt to the spindle, and at that point one could turn the spindle independently of the belt to add tension, however it needs complete dismantling of the locking mechanism to do that. With the later black-bodied it's just a case of turning the cover relative to the body, which keeps both ends of the spring firmly in place. On the other hand his mechanism was more straightforward than mine in that if dismantling is required, conventional circlips are used. This enables removal of the webbing from the reel, and is something I pondered doing to both old and new belts to enable me to change the tongues over. But my new one has one of those 'single-use' Spire clips which I was reluctant to break, lose or damage, hence decided to use the new belt complete.
On the other side is the locking mechanism, a much safer area to investigate. Basically a pendulum hangs vertically and is free to swing in any direction. As it does so it pushes a latch into engagement with a toothed wheel that initiates the locking action. On the later reels there is also a friction mechanism that performs the same function if the belt reel spins at more than a certain speed i.e. if the belt is yanked.
Belt guide: Added April 2010:The Navigator has always moaned she can't find the belts every time she gets in Bee (personally I just feel around on the floor behind the seat, but what do I know?). Many years ago we met up with a couple who had some very neat purpose-designed clips attached to the seat, but he knew nothing about them. Browsing on the web showed some for the new MINI at about £60 (and break, apparently) and for BMW and Mercedes at a couple of hundred (what's that about pricing things for what you can get for them?). Pondered it on and off for years, and this Spring decided to do something about it.
All it really needs is a flat strip under the headrest, turned back at the end to retain the belt when released, but allow it to be unhooked easily if needs be. After a bit of thought I realised I could attach the clip to the bottom of the headrest using the tube and one of the screws. Experimenting with card templates showed that something following the curve of the seat back was the most pleasing and effective. I'd been cutting up some square drain down-pipe recently to use as cladding for my wooden garage door frame and had some left over, which seemed as good a material as any. 60mm sides, I shaped and angled the template to fit into a length of that, the end is angled to line up with the main piece when turned back. Using a block of wood either side and clamped in a vice, and a heat-gun, it's quite easy to get a reasonably tight bend for the turned back end, using another block of wood on the back to press it down (it gets hot!), then when you have got it to 90 degrees whip it out of the vice and press it back a further 30 degrees or so.
It certainly holds the belts up and makes them easy to find over one's shoulder, but with the hood folded it does need to be lifted up and fed through as you remove the belt as the inertia reel isn't strong enough to pull it round the folded hood, and without feeding it back it drops over the sill when the door is opened. The opinion of the Navigator is awaited!
June 2010: Showing a roofer pal the garage door cladding made out of guttering down-pipe I happened to mention I had used offcuts to fabricate the belt hooks but was planning to paint them black. He just happened to have replaced some guttering that morning, in black square-section, and dropped me off an offcut so I made two more from that which look much better.
GT rear belts: August 2013
There are two mounting points centrally behind the rear seat back which can only be for rear belts.
However the side mounting points are not so straightforward. There are bosses on the side of the wheelarch, but these were originally used for the shoulder strap of static belts on both roadsters and GTs. Originally they were quite near the front of the arch, then on roadsters (like my 73) they moved right to the back, but not on GTs (like my 75 V8). Whilst they are usable for a rear lap belt, that half would only go across the front of a child and not curve round them like the central belt, so may allow them to move forwards more in the event of a frontal impact. I think I would prefer to provide another mounting point further back.
Make sure you use the correct stepped spacer so the bolt (7/16" UNF/20, it seems) can be tightened but still allow the belt ends to swivel, and use a wavy washer to stop the ends rattling. Both fit over the narrower section of the spacer. The wheel-arch boss isn't a through-fitting like the central mounting points (for obvious reasons I hope) so check the bolt will go in far enough to tighten onto the stepped spacer before it bottoms. If it bottoms first then shorten it by the minimum amount. If the buckle half belt-end is angled (like on the Securon) then even though it might seem more logical to angle it into the car, angle it the other way i.e. towards the side of the car so it doesn't jut out and stick in junior's side.
Only a few minutes and a neat installation, to help bring the next generation of enthusiasts along. Strictly speaking the buckle half should be adjusted such that the buckle lies against the hip of the passenger on the buckle side, and the tongue half is adjusted to reach round the front of the passenger. But using the original boss would probably put the buckle across the lower abdomen which is not a good idea, so that half should be adjusted to reach around the passenger and the tongue half adjusted to be much shorter. If a new mounting point for the buckle half is provided at the back of the arch, or even behind the seat back like the central points, the buckle half could be positioned correctly.
Did the MGB ever have air-bags? January 2017 It's fairly well documented (although the ARONLINE site that originally carried a summary of all the SSV vehicles has gone offline, it can be found here) that the MGB SSV shown at the Washington DC road safety conference in 1972 had air-bags as well as a wide range of other safety features, less so that they were crash tested in at least one North American spec car. A pal recently sent a link to a 1995 film about the MGB produced by the MG Car Club of Holland in which there is an MG film clip (with Dutch commentary) showing just such a test. You may be surprised to see just how far forwards the 'driver' is thrown - knocking out the screen, but it has to be remembered that originally in the USA air-bags were designed to be used as a stand-alone restraint device, and not in conjunction with seat belts as they have always been in the UK.
Once you have the nuts and washers off the studs you can lever the trim off the other fastenings. For the wings start at the stud end and with a combination of lifting away and twisting you should be able to pop the trip off each fastener in turn. If taking strips off good paint watch it doesn't jump off the last one and scratch the paint. For the door strip i.e. no stud-plate at one end lever carefully with a screwdriver against a wood block resting on a cloth to protect the paint, and with one end free you should be able to lift and twist it off the others as before. Drill out the old fasteners, which are held on with aluminium pop-rivets of about 2mm in diameter. You may have to hold the cup-shaped washer in a pair of pliers to stop it spinning round with the drill.
|Fitting kits are available containing the full complement of pop-rivets with cup-shaped washers attached and six studs and nuts, sometimes washers too sometimes not, as shown in this picture.|
However I have found that if a panel has been replaced from the trim down there can be a double-thickness of metal plus filler, and the pop-rivets as supplied are not long enough to go right through. Consequently they expand inside the hole and can work loose, sometimes when trying to refit the trim. Also if a panel has been skimmed, painted and drilled a couple of times or more the holes can become large and uneven, so again the pop-rivets don't expand behind the holes but inside. I bought some long-reach rivets and transferred the cup-shaped washers over, then used an appropriately-sized washer behind the panel, so not only did the pop-rivet go through a skim of filler two panels and a washer, but it also secured firmly behind the washer no matter how large and irregular the hole was. The cup-washer removed from the original pop-rivet, a long-reach rivet, and a suitable washer can be seen in the picture.
When preparing to fit new fasteners to the body hopefully the painted holes will be large enough to accept them. But if not, slightly overdrill the hole and put some paint on the bare edges. In any case dip the fasteners in Waxoyl before putting them in the holes in the panels - to protect against rusting, but with the rear section being riveted into the boot/hatch space it should also seal against water ingress. Even if you have a long-nose pop-rivet gun its nose may be too big to go inside the cup-washer. Don't be tempted to fasten them like this as the rivet gun may expand the washer and make it much more difficult to get the trim on, slip a small nut over the pin on the rivet so the gun bears on the nut and the nut on the cup-washer. Have a supply ready as they jump off and get lost as the pin breaks.
August 2018: Polishing Vee I discovered the front of the rear strip on the passenger side was loose, and it was the fastener that was loose in the body. It didn't take much lifting away to pull it out altogether ("It'll never get better if you pick it") so the whole strip had to come off - and another two fasteners came out of the body as well. Never had this problem with Bee as the holes were so bad I used long rivets and washers from the word go, and these holes seemed good enough so I used the fasteners as is - obviously a mistake. But I had rivets and fasteners left over from the reassembly a year ago so it didn't take long to replace the three, dipping into Waxoyl as always. It was only re-reading this afterwards I realised I hadn't used the little nut as a spacer, and they came to no harm. One new tip concerns the point at which the pin shears. Initially one has to use the tool to press the fastener against the body while squeezing the handles. But if you are still doing that when the pin breaks the tool can jump off the fastener and hit the paintwork. There are many ways to prevent this, but I found that as I progressively squeezed the handles I kept testing the fastener to see if it has started gripping the body. When it is, i.e. it isn't loose, I carry on squeezing but now I'm gently lifting the tool away from the fastener. So now when it breaks the tool jumps away from the body, instead of towards it.
Before attempting to fit the trim to the car go carefully over the edges and make sure there are no sharp flashings that will cut into the paint, and paint the backs with Waxoyl.
To fit the trim put the top edge on top of one of the middle fasteners, and with a block of wood to spread the load resting against the strip over the fastener strike the wood with the flat of your hand and the lower edge of the strip should pop over the fastener as well. Having done one, check the ends are where you want them to be relative to the vertical edges of the panel, and for the front and rear strips at least fit and tighten the stud plates to hold the strip in place while you do the rest of the fasteners, working out from the one you have already done.
Sill Construction and Drainage Added January 2008
Chatting to someone about treating the very narrow gaps between the lower wing sections and the front and rear of the sills (see 'Quarter-panel Replacement' above) we got on to the subject of sill construction and drainage, which lead to me making a drawing and taking some photos, click the thumbnails.
Herb Adler puts twin speakers in the early centre console.
Sun Visors August 2019
Tonneau Cover Rewritten March 2014:
Note 'Tonneau cover'. Strictly speaking the 'tonneau' is the space behind the front seats, or sometimes the whole of the interior. From the French 'tonnel' for a cask or barrel. Early vehicles sometimes had rear seats fashioned from barrels standing on end with part of the side cut away. Also where we get 'tun' from i.e. a large brewing vessel as in 'mash tun'.
There are many variations in the tonneau covers and how they fasten to the car:
Someone on the BBS asked about heelboard stud positioning - my inner pair are at 267mm centres, the outer pair at 983mm centres, all four being about 20mm down from the top of the shelf.
The positioning of the fastenings around the rear of the cockpit ...
... and how to get at the nuts that secure them.
Tonneau bars: Aka 'hockey sticks'.
These slot into sockets screwed to the inner panel just aft of the doors. These sockets are also used for the pack-away hood frame and the hardtop and can be installed with both types of folding hood frame.
The handbooks I have seen all show the tonneau bars positioned behind the seat backs. Whilst this makes for a neat installation of the hood cover, or the full-length tonneau cover when used as a hood cover, it occurred to me that when one wants to use full-length cover as a cockpit cover against rain, then the bars should be positioned in front of the seat backs. In this position they raise the cover and the rain runs off the sides.
At least they did with the cover that came with the car which is fairly tight. That didn't have headrest pockets whereas the seats have the headrests, so I had to tilt the passenger seat forward and remove the drivers headrest which was a pain, as I use the cover every time I park the car to guard against bird strikes more than rain and always have. Proved wise as on one occasion a Golden Eagle dumped on the cover right over my seat, a real messy one splashing onto the top of the dash and even under the screen! But the faffing with the headrest and the seat was annoying so eventually I got a used replacement from Stoneleigh. However that is looser, and even with the tonneau bars in front of the seats rain pools a bit instead of running off, but still doesn't drip through the zip.
|Car||Overall Height||Minimum Ground Clearance|
|CB Roadster (hood erected)||4ft 1 3/8in||5in|
|CB GT||4ft 1 3/4in||5in|
|V8||4ft 1 31/32in||4 1/4in|
|RB GT||4ft 3in||5in|
Vehicle Weights (Updated September 2008)
|4-cylinder Mk2 - 1971||Roadster||GT||Front||Rear|
|Kerbside Including full fuel tank, all optional extras and accessories||2303lb||2401lb||1127lb||1162lb||1176lb||1239lb|
|Normal Kerbside weight plus driver, passenger and 50lb luggage||2653lb||2751lb||1235lb||1269lb||1418lb||1482lb|
|Maximum Normal weight plus towbar hitch load||2753lb||2851lb||1193lb||1231lb||1560lb||1620lb|
|4-cylinder 1971 - 1974||Roadster||GT||Front||Rear|
|Kerbside Including full fuel tank, all optional extras||2394lb||2446lb||1216lb||1198lb||1178lb||1248lb|
|Normal Kerbside weight plus driver and passenger||2694lb||2746lb||1332lb||1314lb||1362lb||1432lb|
|Gross Maximum weight condition including tow hitch and roof rack (GT)||2814lb||2866lb||1285lb||1267lb||1529lb||1599lb|
|Kerbside Including full fuel tank, all optional extras||2442lb||1207lb||1235lb|
|Normal Kerbside weight plus driver and passenger||2742lb||1317lb||1425lb|
|Gross Maximum weight condition including tow hitch and roof rack||2892lb||1288lb||1604lb|
|Kerbside Including full fuel tank, all optional extras||2448lb|
|Normal Kerbside weight plus driver and passenger||2748lb|
|Gross Maximum weight condition including tow hitch and roof rack||2868lb|
|Kerbside Including full fuel tank all optional extras||2529lb||1268lb||1261lb|
|Normal Kerbside weight plus driver and passenger||2829lb||1383lb||1446lb|
|Gross Maximum weight condition including tow hitch and roof rack||2979lb||1338lb||1641lb|
|Maximum permissible towing weight||1680lb||1680lb|
|Maximum towbar hitch load||100lb||100lb|
|Maximum roof rack load||50lb|
Incidentally the weight of the fully-fitted GT tailgate is said to be 90lb.
Added October 2008
|Drive train component weights|
|Engine, dry with clutch, 18G/GA||358lb|
(OD or non-OD not specified)
|Rear axle, banjo, disc wheels||117.5lb|
|Rear axle, banjo, wire wheels||123lb|
Washing & Polishing
As far as polish goes Mer is quite popular in the UK, especially with the concourse brigade it seems, but I find it leaves white powdery traces in the crevices of my less than concourse but rust-free black-tulip roadster and these only seem to appear over time several hours or days after polishing, so I keep finding new bits, and keep polishing them off makes me look like an anorak. The benefit of Mer is that it doesn't take any colour off onto the cloth. Turtle Wax does take a little off onto the cloth, which implies it is a mild abrasive, although I have been using it two or three times a year for 12 years or so and haven't worn through yet, but is much easier to apply and polish off and gives a good deep shine. T-cut and other 'paint restorers' should only be used to remove very fine surface scratches, as part of the process of repainting a panel, or on a body that has not seen washing or polishing for many a long day. More frequent use will wear paint down to the primer.
Tree Sap: I haven't needed it on either MGB but my Son's Celica that had been street-parked in London for several years was covered in thousands of very tiny clear raised spots which no solvent I had including WD40, Plus Gas (penetrating fluid), white spirit, petrol, meths plus cutting paste, bug wipe tissues etc. would touch. The only thing that did was 1000 grit wet and dry, but I didn't fancy doing the whole car in that! In the end I found another kind of 'abrasive' in Halfords which was clay-based and like a harder than normal Plasticine. This took the lot off without that much effort and left the surface in perfect condition, and although you could see the 'dirt' from the sap (or whatever) in the clay and had to keep turning it to a clean surface, it removed no paint. Two years since then and it has been fine. Subsequently I get my Son's BMW Z3 M Coupe to look after as well now they have a son and a 'sensible' car and the BMW was languishing unused and getting bashed on the streets of London. This had the same spotting, and the same clay block removed that as well.
Update 2007: The packaging and formulation of Turtle has changed. Whereas it was a creamy liquid it is now almost like water. It doesn't give the depth of shine on the roadster that it used, and incidentally takes on no colour either. It seems fine on the ZS so is probably formulated more for today's water-based paints than the older cellulose. I have some fairly recently purchased Autoglym Super Resin Polish and that seems to have the creamy consistency that Turtle used to, and gives a better shine than Turtle does now, so that is my product of choice for the moment. Autoglym also sell Paint Renovator (amongst more than 40 products just for retail and cars, plus others for trade, motorcycles, PSV and others!) which is a mild abrasive. This should only be used if the resin polish doesn't remove any surface marks, but is good for removing over-spray on a partial panel respray. An even stronger abrasive, but still less than 1000 grit wet-and-dry is Halfords Cutting Compound. Neither this nor Paint Renovator contain silicones like the Resin Polish do so can be used before painting as well as after.
Update 2008: Looks like what I have is Turtle High Gloss Wax (NLA from the manufacturer), but Turtle Wax Original is also still manufactured so maybe that is the one to go for - when you can find it.
Update 2009: But then again ... while I was using the Turtle High Gloss I noticed the finish was gradually getting duller and viewed at an angle with my glasses on (never a good idea) the bonnet was showing fine surface scratching. "Oh well" I thought, "I never expected the paint to last this long (20 years) anyway". But when I started using the AutoGlym the shine immediately came back and the scratches went, for several outings anyway. I had always been concerned that the original Turtle showed a lot of colour on the cloth, i.e. it was taking a microscopic layer off each time, although it hasn't worn through (yet!) anywhere. The Turtle High Gloss didn't take any off at all, which on the face of it is better for the paint, but as I say the finish suffered. With the AutoGlym, whilst it does show some paint on the cloth, it doesn't seem to be as much as the Turtle original did, but gives a much better finish than Turtle High Gloss. So on balance I'll be sticking with the AutoGlym.
I've never been a fan of WindStops or 'hair nets' as 'wind in the hair' has always been part of the enjoyment for me - as long as I'm wearing a hat to stop my hair from flaying the skin off my face (when I had more hair, and longer) - but the Navigator finally nagged me into doing something about it as she finds the buffeting at 60 or so for long distances wearing, and the alternative is hood up which is no good at all. Having seen them advertised for £170 or so for the solid plastic ones - and where do you put them when you aren't 'wearing' them? - or up to £250 for fabric ones (which still have a solid frame) I thought I could do better myself.
But first I wanted to see how effective they were. I bent a couple of brackets from aluminium curtain track to slot in the tonneau bar sockets and wired a piece of old plywood to them. Couldn't see behind me using the interior mirror of course, but it was good enough for testing on a quiet road. I was surprised how effective it was. At 40mph there was no buffeting at all, whereas you can feel it start from as low as 10 or 15mph without, and at 70 mph there was still hardly any, so the solid ones certainly are effective. But I had in mind a fabric one that I could fold up and tuck away when it was not in use.
A neighbour had given me some aluminium sheet many years ago - her husband had been in the car industry in design even further back and this was some 3/16" thick stuff he had used for chassis and body frames, it was the ideal thickness for a snug fit in the tonneau sockets. I cut and shaped a pair of brackets that plugged in the sockets and more-or-less followed the line of the folded hood frame behind the seats nearly to the horizontal line of the tonneau cover over the folded hood. These ended in a vertical post about 10 1/2" high that was going to be the support for the fabric. I say 'vertical' but they are inclined in towards the centre of the car to follow the line of the screen side rails when viewed from the rear as the adjacent pics.
I drilled holes at the top and the bottom of these posts to thread 'shock cord' like bungee or those spider things used to secure suitcases to roof-racks, but much thinner at about 3/16" diameter - about £3 for 3 metres. These were going to run across the car to support the top and bottom of the fabric. A length of poly tubing to go over the vertical posts to act as a smooth support for the sides of the fabric to stop fretting and wearing through of the fabric - about £1 The bungee runs vertically through these tubes to avoid having any knots at the top and hence clearly visible.
Black veiling material seemed close to what I had in mind, although the holes were a little bigger than I would have wanted and the threads 'holding them together' a little thinner, but for £1 for enough for four single thicknesses, two double, or one quadruple it was cheap enough. Before cutting the material I did test runs with one, two and four thicknesses held on to the frame and bungee with clothes pegs to check effectiveness. As I suspected even four thicknesses was not as effective as the solid board, but was beginning to affect visibility. So I decided to opt for a double thickness with clear polythene in the middle.
After the test I noticed that the brackets had tended to work their way out of the sockets a little. I didn't think it would come out altogether but neither did I want to risk it, so I drilled and tapped the tongues of my brackets for a cheese-headed screw, which I then ground off at an angle. This would enable the tongue to slide in without difficulty, then the high edge of the screw head would engage in a convenient hole that was already in the socket. To remove the bracket from the socket one has to pull against bungee tension to disengage the screw head from the hole before the tongue can come out of the socket, which isn't going to happen while on the road.
I had trouble finding some polythene that was clear for distant objects (most 'clear' stuff is fine when wrapped around something but opaque when looking down the road through it) but eventually found a large bag that had originally contained a folding garden chair - £0. Rolled the top and bottom edges of this around a length of dowel to form a tube to thread the bungee through, stuck down with double-sided tape. The same neighbour who had given me the aluminium was very interested in how I was planning to use some of it, and used her machine to sew up a double-thickness of the material so that it slotted over the verticals and I could thread the bungee through from side to side to make the finished article.
So for a fiver and some time I had something the Navigator declared herself well pleased with during our recent visit to the New Forest, but there are a couple of areas for improvement. Both concern the polythene which is very thin and was chosen for its visibility: Because it is so thin the buffeting that it is now stopping reaching us is causing it to flap which is quite noisy, it also bows out under the air pressure and this can result in reflections from the sun which reduce the area I can see through, so the hunt is on for a stiffer but equally transparent substitute (hood rear window material perhaps?) for MkII. I might also extend the screen to the tonneau cover to reduce the draft behind the seats ... or is that going to far?
Update: Put a couple of thin metal rods vertically between the top and bottom bungies about 1/3rd the way in from the ends. This keeps the bungee at the correct distance apart and supports the front of the screen, both of which reduce the bowing, flapping and reflections.
Update May 2005: In very blustery conditions on the A14 passing Cambridge the bracket my side broke where the horizontal strut is turned upwards, but at least the remaining half still sheltered the Navigator. I tried welding it but it wasn't going to work so I fabricated a new one out of the large amount of aluminium sheet I still have from when I originally made it. If I get another breakage I'll get another pair of tonneau sticks and modify those.
Update May 2007:
The part of the old strut that goes into the tonneau sticks socket and horizontally rearwards seems strong enough, it is the angle where the horizontal section turns upwards that has broken each time. So I shortened the horizontal section by about half and with a bit of swaging fitted it into a length of the larger diameter tubing, cut to just before the turn upwards.
I was going to use the bar for the turn from the horizontal and the vertical section and it had to be small enough to go through the netting and plastic tubing along with the bungee, which made it too small to fit into the tubing used so far. But with more swaging I used the smaller tubing as an intermediate, and the three were welded together.
I bent the bar to the appropriate angle, cut it to length, welded a couple of brackets for the bungee where it turned across the car, fitted it and the plastic tubing and netting, and job done. A couple of quid and a few hours fun in the garage, with plenty more bar and tubing left over for when the other side breaks again.
Which it did June 2008 on the Bridgend Vales and Valleys Run. Another couple of hours using the passenger side as a pattern and the drivers side should now be OK. However the internal plastic membrane needs a bit of attention as the corners have come unglued and are wrinkling up, but I'm pretty amazed both it and the material have lasted as long as they have given the battering it gets on long journeys.
Update July 2009: No further problems yet but whilst the mesh fabric is holding-up the plastic inner sheet is getting a bit ratty and opaque. Idly Googled 'windstop fabric' one day and this link to a document explaining how to repair an MGF/TF windstop comes top of the list. Not a lot of use to me in itself, but it includes a link to Ikea for some apparently suitable fabric (FLYN LILL) at only £1.36 a roll! Not dead handy to me, and not available online, but worth a look the next time I'm passing.
Update March 2010:Bought a roll of the Ikea FLYN LILL fabric towards the end of last year, so now it's time to do something with it. The MGF frame is solid tubing with a slot and filler strip, so it is relatively easy to clamp a single thickness of material in the frame. I want to be able to fold mine up as before, i.e. keep the side struts and the top and bottom bungee so have to have a double-thickness folded over the top bungee and sewn together below the bottom one. I made a hardboard template to fold the fabric round, cutting to have a couple of inches of spare in each half at the bottom and several inches at the sides. Pin at intervals along the bottom, then slide the hardboard out and start stitching, just the 44" between the bottom of the uprights, and use a line of household glue along the stitching for strength. Slid it onto the assembled struts and bungee, attach to the car, and trim the ends to be a couple of inches long following the angle of the uprights.
The big question was how to attach the sides, short of more stitching and glue, which would be a 'no going back' operation. I thought of sliding some split tubing down over the uprights trapping the material, and browsing B&Q found a length of white plastic plumbing pipe intended for 'push together' fittings (Speedfit), which looked about the right internal diameter. I slit this lengthways with a sharp knife, ran a screwdriver blade up and down the slit a couple of times to open it up slightly, and slid it down over the strut trapping the fabric. All went well until annoyingly the edge of the slit on the second tube caught in the fabric and tore it slightly. Cut a slight 'V' in the bottom of the slit to remove the corners and it slid on just fine this time. Oh well, it's double-thickness so not easily noticeable, and is worth running with to see if the overall thing is OK, plenty more on the roll to make another if needed. Trim off the excess from the bottom of the split tubing and we are ready to roll. I've kept the wire struts positioned along the fabric but had to angle them slightly as the pocket in this version ended up not quite so deep.
On a quick test-drive it prevents the buffeting as before, but as it is fabric with holes some air does get through so there is a slight feeling of diffused breeze around the back of the head which wasn't there with Mk1. However that also means there is no noisy flapping of the material, so as such there should much less strain on the material and struts than before. This material has smaller holes closer together, so is more opaque than the previous version. I've only tried it on a dull day, i.e. things less visible anyway, so we shall have to see how it goes. I may paint the tubing (tricky being plastic?) and struts black to match the material, hood frame, tonneau cover etc. in the same area.
June 2010:Happened to find some plastic primer I had bought in error some time ago thinking it was normal metal primer, also had some satin black, so relatively easy to paint the removed tubes. With them back on very pleased with the result, but then realised the framework between the bottom of the windstop and the tonneau sockets was still silver, so painted those satin black as well - even more pleased with the result!
That left the rear visibility. I had an old blind-spot mirror kicking around, and what looks like a convenient space above the existing mirror to position it, where the higher position as well as the convex construction would allow me to see 'behind' the windstop. The big question was how to mount it? Eventually I settled for a strip of black plastic (cut from the side of an offcut of square-section guttering downpipe ...) as wide as the additional mirror, cut and shaped (with a heat-gun) to clip onto the back of the existing mirror, with the new mirror stuck to that.
Observations on a commercially available product by Michael Beswick, June 2012
Fitting is more difficult than the instructions show!!! It rather presupposes there are speakers in the side trim that can be removed, as there can't be a B on the planet where the hood nuts are still captive. Alternatively the hood folding plate has to be fitted direct to the (metal) side and the trim fitted afterwards. (In truth the same problem would apply to adjusting the hood). As always with the hood fitting the position of the raised hood it critical to get to the screws. Re-fitting is simply the usual nightmare of everything moving about and needing 6 hands and 2 people!
The hood needs to be eased past it when being put down or the hoops catch and force the windstop backwards. My hood is not glued to the "rear" hoop so it can be lifted up out of the way to allow access to the hoops.
The bottom tube of the windstop is threaded to take the "knurled nut headed bolt". Mine was a bit rusty so I added Vaseline, but the quality of the "threading" will determine the life of the kit!
Fitting is more difficult than the instructions show!!! It rather presupposes there are speakers in the side trim that can be removed, as there can't be a B on the planet where the hood nuts are still captive. Alternatively the hood folding plate has to be fitted direct to the (metal) side and the trim fitted afterwards. (In truth the same problem would apply to adjusting the hood). As always with the hood fitting the position of the raised hood it critical to get to the screws. Re-fitting is simply the usual nightmare of everything moving about and needing 6 hands and 2 people!
The hood needs to be eased past it when being put down or the hoops catch and force the windstop backwards. My hood is not glued to the "rear" hoop so it can be lifted up out of the way to allow access to the hoops.
The bottom tube of the windstop is threaded to take the "knurled nut headed bolt". Mine was a bit rusty so I added Vaseline, but the quality of the "threading" will determine the life of the kit!
April 2019 - Repair:
Walking round the car during servicing I was vaguely aware I had bumped the passenger side door mirror slightly but didn't take any notice. The when reversing her back into the garage noticed the mirror was too high, went to adjust it, then discovered the whole mirror was tilted back as the rear edge had become detached from the 'wedge' and plinth that is screwed to the skin. Lucky it hadn't fallen off, as I broke one that way many years ago. The taper at the rear edge of the plastic wedge had broken off, and in fact when unscrewed it fell apart into several pieces ... there was a clatter as something fell down inside the door ... and I remembered that 30 years ago the holes in the passenger skin were too big to grip the plastic pins of the plinth when the screws were in, so I had to make a plate that the screws could go into more firmly, and it was that which had fallen down. So waist-rail, pull-handle, window-winder off and trim panel removed to retrieve the plate. The wedge is quite a simple shape and I reckoned I could make one, but did some Googling and found repair kits for TEX mirrors such as this M99985. But is it the right size? Also I only need the block, £6 seems expensive for that, and it's still plastic.
I have a sweetie jar of assorted metal and plastic bits garnered over the years, and rooting through that for a likely chunk of metal to make one from, and found one I vaguely remembered having broken many years ago. I had in mind a square-section spindle that goes through a door latch between two handles, and found one, but although plenty thick enough it wasn't really wide enough given the size of the screws. The old broken one is metal so theoretically stronger, but a relatively thin flap at each end to form the taper and one of those had broken off just like the plastic one. But at least it can be used as a pattern for the shape, size and drillings as it is the same basic size and shape. Nothing else suitably in the sweetie jar, but I have an old washing-up bowl full of larger metal off-cuts and know at one time I had in there some really chunky slabs that had been used to hold the inertia reels to the tonneau panel when Bee came to me ... which needed the reels to be removed and re-attached each time the hood went up or down! I soon replaced that with purpose-made brackets on the inner wings. I know I'd used chunks of at least one of those slabs for various things in the past, and found the remains of one of them just big enough to cut a wedge from. Marked out the new wedge, no way was I going to hacksaw through something almost 1/4" thick so cut it out with the angle-grinder. Used the broken metal one to mark the holes, and drilled and counter-sunk those, and ground tapers at each end. To check the fit I screwed it to a block of wood, fitted the mirror, but the grub-screw was proud by quite a bit, so ground back the tapers and trial fitted a couple more times until the screw head was flush.
By this time I'd refitted the reinforcing-plate behind the skin with just the screws going through the plinth, discovering in the process that I'm probably not as flexible as I was 30 years ago! At that point I was more concerned with whether I would be able to fit it or not, forgetting that I'll have to remove the screws to fit the new wedge. But maybe by removing one screw and fitting the wedge with that with the screw going back into the plate, I can use that to support the plate while I remove the other screw, swing the block round, and refit the second screw. In the event it was easier than I thought - the first screw through the new wedge just nipped up, with the wedge at an angle to clear the second screw. Remove second screw, then with a screwdriver back in the first screw preventing it from turning, and maybe turning the reinforcing plate with it, swung the wedge into the correct position and fit the second screw. When fitting the mirror after tightening the screw I slowly slackened it again while trying to lift up that end of the mirror from the plinth. You are looking to see if the mirror slowly lifts up as the screw is turned, but if it pops loose as soon as the screw starts turning it's not fully locked in place.
Adjustment: I find most people adjust these so they can see more or less the same as in the interior rear-view mirror which includes quite a chunk of the side of the car. As someone else almost said "If you are in the car you should know the sides are there even if you can't see them". I have mine adjusted so that by moving my head one side or the other from my normal driving position I can see the sides of the car for manoeuvring, but not in normal driving. This means that the rear of even small cars is still visible in the interior rear-view mirror when the front appears in the side mirrors, and is similarly visible in the side mirrors when the front appears in my peripheral vision, and should be to most people when glancing in the side mirrors. Close Encounters not-withstanding you should also be regularly checking the internal rear view mirror for people coming up behind you, including other lanes of multi-lane roads and it shouldn't normally be a surprise to see someone for the first time in a side mirror, or your peripheral vision. But of course other drivers can often do silly and unexpected things which is why you do need side mirrors, and need to use them before indicating to change lanes or overtake. FWIW I also glance to the appropriate side before changing lanes as well, there is always the chance that someone on a uni-cycle is about to overtake you.
If that isn't enough you can get small, convex stick-on blind-spot mirrors that can be attached to a flat-glass door mirror e.g. as here. They are called 'blind-spot' mirrors but some of them are so convex that you can see almost as much as in a flat mirror, but everything is made exceedingly small. They should be fitted to the outer upper corner of standard mirrors. And of course most cars these days come with the outer edge slightly convex anyway so don't need them. My Toyota came with one on the drivers side, but I took it off as adjusted as above I found I didn't need it and it just reduced the clarity of what was in the mirror.
Recently someone took the rather superior view that Americans always have their mirrors adjusted correctly as they can be passed both sides. For a start what is important is to be sure there is no one in the lane you want to move into before you move into it, which side you can be passed is irrelevant. But Americans have those annoying 'bifocal' door mirrors, which are fitted precisely because they are no better at adjusting their mirrors than anyone else, and nanny state has decided to intervene. These mirrors use a convex lens effect on the outer portion so that even when they are adjusted such that the plain part shows what is behind the car the convex part shows what is on the rear quarter. Hopefully. Of course that gives a distorted view across the mirror as a whole, so they also need to be shouted at with 'OBJECTS IN MIRROR CAN BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR'!