By Mike Peake.
I’ve only gone and done it!! Yes I have. Really.
Actually, before I start, I would like to say that no owners of blue MG BGT’s were harmed in any way during the happenings of this blog. Furthermore any tales pertaining to me in our beloved Fat Controllers blog on the Gloucester steam fair were a complete fabrication. Now “Shuuut Iiiittttt!”
Anyway, back to my blog.
I’ve only gone and done it!! Yes I have. Really.
Long term readers of my blogs will know that apart from the seats, which I’ve done, the leaky gear box which I haven’t and the dodgy paint that I keep having a bash at, there is one other job that has been bugging me since about a year after I bought Poppy. Yes, the hood frame!
About a year after I bought the car, the frame broke above the driver’s door followed shortly after by the header rail bracket on the passenger side. Now I thought I’d solved this problem by buying a 2nd hand frame on the great Bay of E ridiculously cheaply.
However, it turned out that the header rail wasn’t included. So, since then, as new rails weren’t available, and when they were I couldn’t afford one, I put up with it. It was possible to raise and lower the hood but it was incredibly fiddly and a real faff.The discovery that Mrs FB’s Dad had a friend with a welder prompted me into action and I decided it would be nice to actually have a functioning hood frame.
As there was plenty of time before the Coventry meet, I stripped out the header rail and took it to my father in law. He laughed and said he didn’t think it weldable, but said he’d speak to his friend. He laughed too. Which meant that the Coventry meet left me feeling rather soggy as told in my last blog.
Then, all my Birthdays and Christmases came at once, literally! My very kind in laws purchased a new header rail on the condition that they don’t have to buy me any more presents for the rest of their lives. As they are quite old anyway, I jumped at their offer. In the meantime I repaired the frame above the driver’s door with parts from my spare frame.
The new Header rail arrived and I sprayed it black. Considering that it would be completely covered in roofing vinyl and my spraying handiwork would be invisible, I was quite pleased with the result. At least it won’t rust anyway.
As it involved the use of sharp implements, Mrs FB insisted on preparing and fitting the new header rail cover herself. Using the old cover as a pattern, she expertly cut out the new cover and quickly and efficiently had the new cover glued into place and looking like a proper job. Thank you Mrs FB. Have I told you what a wonderful and talented wife you are recently?
My superb looking new header rail was now ready to fit to the car and my bottle went. I expressed my fears in the group and I came up trumps. Enthusiastic fellow Enthusiast of British Motor Vehicles Built Before 1985 Jason Wright leapt to my rescue. Not only had he recently fitted his own Herald hood, but he was local and offered the use of his fully powered up garage and fan heater. As it was typically British summer weather and my lock up has no power, his offer of help was gratefully accepted.
So it was that I found myself outside his house one Saturday morning. The “garage” turned out to be a big grey tent in his front garden. However, Jason had run power, light and CCTV into it and insulated the sides and roof with old packing polystyrene and cardboard, so all was rather cosy and a really good place to work. He even supplied coffee! Obviously, I made him switch off the CCTV as “what goes on in the tent stays in the tent!”
Our struggle then began. 1st we loosely fitted the new header rail to the frame and riveted the cloth straps back into place on the header rail and then offered it up to the windscreen frame and clamped in into place. It fitted a treat so we tightened up all the bolts. It was time to turn on the fan heater cunningly placed in the car, and allow the hood material to soak up the warmth to become pliable .
We then unclamped the frame and folded it back to allow us to refit the old hood to the header rail. This was quite easy as the folds where the hood was previously fitted still showed clearly and the material was warm and pliable. So we applied the contact glue and stuck the hood down. The weather strip track was offered up, holes were drilled and the weather strip track was riveted into place, nicely clamping the hood tightly to the header rail.
Feeling pleased with ourselves I rummaged through the boot to find the weather strip. Imagine my horror when I found 2, a nice soft rubber one that fits into the track…and a plastic one that should be placed under the track and riveted in place with the track on top. Bad words were said, blame apportioned and blows exchanged. Needless to say, it was all Jason’s fault. (You know I sometimes mould the truth a bit for comedic effect right?)
We needed more rivets now so Jason kindly offered to take me to Machine Mart. After a long and stressful trip through gridlocked Swindon, I purchased a bag of rivets and, miraculously - for a trip to Machine Mart - we ONLY purchased rivets!
Once back at the tent, rivets were drilled out and all weather strips and tracks were fitted correctly this time, and riveted tightly in place. It was time to triumphantly raise the fully fitted hood and frame into place and clamp it to windscreen frame. …… it didn’t fit! The header rail was too far forward on the nearside. More bad words were said, blame apportioned and blows exchanged. Needless to say, it was all Jason’s fault.
Bolts were loosened again and using some “gentle persuasion” and “technical language” for an hour or so, we got it all into place and clamped down properly before refastening all the bolts.
The hood looked great! We were both feeling extremely pleased with ourselves. We decided we would leave to hood up to “settle in place”. (actually, now it fitted, we were too scared to undo it and risk being left with no roof for the Snowdon trip.)
So, Snug as a bug in a fully enclosed car, I backed poppy out of Jason’s tent and guess what? Yes, the sun came out!
Despite what I’ve said above, Jason was a huge help and I had a very enjoyable day getting this done. Any incompetence was mine and mine alone. Therefore, of course, Huge thanks are due and I haven’t forgotten that I still owe him Beer!
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