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Fair Weather Friend

Fair Weather Friend Published: 30th Jul 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fair Weather Friend
Fair Weather Friend Yes, you can drive in the wet, hood down, but it’s best to dry it off before erecting
Fair Weather Friend
Fair Weather Friend
Fair Weather Friend
Fair Weather Friend Old trim strip needs to be removed by drilling out rivets but check condition
Fair Weather Friend Top part needs detaching from frame and re-rivetted
Fair Weather Friend Saving old zip, it is sown to new screen so can marry up to old hood.
Fair Weather Friend If all goes well the new window will simply zip into place
Fair Weather Friend Look at the difference a new screen makes!
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Okay, so the weather has been a bit of a washout lately – but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your classic’s soft top

01 Age concern
Hoods don’t last forever and it’s common to replace them every fi ve or six years, especially if it is made of vinyl. But by treating it with proper care you can make it last a fair bit longer. This means keeping the outer skin clean and supple, folding the hood down properly and making any repairs in good time before they worsen.

02 Man made vs natural
Essentially hoods are made from Vinyl, Mohair, Stayfast and Double Duck, although unless you own a real oldie the latter won’t concern you. And it’s that order in terms of ascending price and quality. There’s nothing to stop you up or downgrading to suit your budget, although bear in mind if you go the latter route it will hurt resale values of certain classics.

03 Use your head
There’s nothing worse than poseurs who buy a convertible and yet drive around during a heat wave with the hood still up. Similarly, there will be days when you will be caught out when the hood has to be put up in the rain – and down again. And this is where the problem starts because you shouldn’t lower a wet hood and certainly not leave it like that over long periods (such as overnight) as it will lead to creasing and shrinking, especially vinyl types. For this reason the hood should be fully erected and secured as you would to drive along to keep the skin tight as you dry it off, not simply with a cloth or chamois but some heat, too if possible.

04 We’d throw in the towel…
Not literally but certainly carrying one around with you will certainly prolong the life of your classic’s hood. Simply folding the hood back and allowing the plastic rear screen to fold will lead to creasing and marking; a towel separating the screen will prolong its useful life. Also, many hoods feature a zipped rear screen and many enthusiasts wrongly assume that it’s for ventilation. Actually it’s also there to allow the screen to stay flat when the hood is lowered!

05 Skin care
A tatty hood is like dirty wheels – it spoils the look. Normal soap and water (don’t use washing up liquid -it contains salt) only goes so far as some detergents can dry out the skin. For vinyl, a normal bumper and plastic dressing not only gives it that ‘new’ appearance but also feeds the top keeping it pliant. Fabric hoods such as mohair are best cleaned by first brushing to agitate the dirt before hovering. It can be washed with mild soap and water, although a specialist cleaner is best. Actually car care expert Autoglym even says its normal engine cleaner spray works fi ne on this material would you believe!

06 You’ve been framed…
Don’t be – look after it and it will look after you. Rough handling can damage and mal-align it. Regularly inspect the frame, checking for wear, rust and general ageing. Apply some lubricant on pivots etc and work the hood regularly as inactivity is a real harmer, especially on power operated ones where any problems with the hood can burn out the motor. If you are buying a car with a power hood, check it works properly as repairs are usually expensive as sometimes only a main dealer can help in this matter. But if looked after, a frame should last virtually the life of the car.

07 Use it or lose it!
Remember that old adage of if you don’t use it you’ll lose it? The fact is that the longer any roof, be it hood or sunroof, is left inoperative, the more chances there are of it jamming and failing. Open and close it at least once a month to keep the mechanisms free.

08 Open and shut case?
But are you opening and closing the roof correctly? Sounds silly but isn’t. Modern hoods are so light and easy to operate that they are one-handed wonders. Not so older hood designs fi tted to the likes of MGBs and Triumph Spitfi res where if you don’t unclip the rear first of all, it can jam or rip the hood. So if you are buying a rag top, ask to see how the hood operates – could be that the seller has been doing it wrong and trouble possibly looms!

09 Stitch in time
Unless you cosset your classic or are extremely lucky, there’s a good chance the roof will become damaged at some point. Some repairs can be done at home while others are best left to the pros, but either way the critical thing is not to let any damage linger as it will only worsen. Localised repairs can be effected by all sorts of materials; Duct tape (we’ve all seen hoods plastered in this), and even tyre puncture repair patches but it’s all a bodge.

10 The right fit
Installing a new hood can be done at home, but really we’d sooner entrust the job to an expert as the secret is in making the hood a tight fi t to the frame to avoid leaks, create excessive wind noise and even the roof making a bid for freedom at speed. Also a good specialist can match the hood to the frame; remember on an oldie it may have a pattern skeleton or perhaps one from a later model. Bodge the job at home and you may damage the hood and its assembly. The same can be said for sunroofs where the right alignment and tension is critical.

What about my hole in the head?
If you are buying a classic with a sunroof, carry out these simple checks. Press down on the front and rear plinths; if you hear and feel crumbling then the frames are past it and will at some point need replacing. Now press down on the fabric at the centre; it should be as tight as a drum.

Glass sunroofs are very simple in comparison; they either work or they don’t. Just beware of leaks and water traps causing the roof to corrode, although like a sliding sunroof, operate it at least once a month and keep the working channels dirt free. Don’t use grease as a lubricant as it can mix with dirt and form a sunroof-destroying paste; use WD40 or similar instead.

If you’ve a folding sunroof, then parts may be a problem for some of the many brands that have disappeared. The good news is that the most common failing, the front and rear frames, can be remanufactured, usually from rot-proof aluminium at around £40 a go. A new sunroof usually works out from £300 for a full re-roof with new frames and headlining. In contrast, a full-on instalment involving making a hole in the car’s roof costs the thick end of £1000.

Clear rear
If you have a plastic rear screen, then the chances are that it will deteriorate over time, to leave a scratchy, milky surface hindering visibility and spoiling the looks. The obvious option is to simply replace the screen but that’s expensive and needs to be done right or it will leak. Try cleaning fi rst. In days of yore, T Cut and Brasso were just some of the substances used to restore a plastic rear screen with mixed results; now there are dedicated screen renovators such as Hindsight that is said to remove the scratches and milkiness leaving a clear rear view plus protection against further deterioration.

But they’ll inevitably come a time when you’ll need a new screen and these are readily available at keen prices and can be fi tted at home although you need to be aware of some points.

Depending upon type and design, the screen will be zipped or permanently stitched in place; on our MGF it was the former but replacement isn’t as easy as it sounds because the hood and its window ‘frame’ still has to be riveted back in place which means it has to be removed and attached to the top part of the new rear frame. You can get lucky by marrying the old and new ‘zip halves’ and utilising the original boarder. Our rear screen assembly came from BAS International and is made to OE standards but the zips weren’t compatible. A crafty dodge was to have the old zip stitched on to the new frame and we enlisted the help of ace classic car trimmer Carl Trim of Southend-On Sea ( did the necessary and thus saved a lot of time and hassle in the process. You could do the manual work and have a trimmer carry out the stitching work because it’s a skilled job and you do need an industrial swing machine. Otherwise it may cost between £50-100 to have the entire job carried out.

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