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A guide to covers for your Classics

It's a Cover-Up Published: 1st Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A guide to covers for your Classics
A guide to covers for your Classics This is how NOT to do it… if you value your classic there’s more to covering it up than tying down a few plastic sheets/tarpaulins and then hoping for the best. These days there’s a wide variety of well priced quality covers available
A guide to covers for your Classics The indoor covers offered by Cover Systems are made from a soft nylon textile. They are dust proofed, ‘breathable’, elasticated and washable, and help to keep at classic at its best when stored in a garage
A guide to covers for your Classics Simple cap covers are ideal for convertibles during the summer - this one from Hamilton Classic
A guide to covers for your Classics Soft, non-scratching, hard-wearing cotton material is employed in making the indoor dust sheet covers from Metex (Darwen) Ltd. The material is supplied in large rectangles to fit cars of varying sizes
A guide to covers for your Classics The triple layer, fully tailored outdoor covers from The Cover Company are said to provide maximum protection against sun, snow, rain, dew, dust, dirt, pollutants, acid rain, tree sap and bird droppings! An acceptable alternative to a garage for many
A guide to covers for your Classics However the ultimate type of cover from The Cover Company is the ‘stormproof’ Weathershield variety, employing tear-resistant material incorporating Nextec encapsulation technology. Water beads off the material very quickly it is claimed
A guide to covers for your Classics It is important to follow any instructions provided with your car cover. It’s helpful first to place the cover on the roof of the car - having ensured that the vehicle is spotlessly clean and completely dry. This cover was supplied packed ‘inside-out’, so it was a comparatively easy job to…
A guide to covers for your Classics … ‘unroll’ the cover lengthways along the bonnet and boot of the vehicle, then to let the sides gently cascade over the doors and body sides. Make sure that the cover is fitted ‘squarely’, and that it hangs at equal heights from the ground at the front and rear, also along the body sides
A guide to covers for your Classics Finally, make sure that the cover ‘pulls in’ as designed under the car, and secure the under body strap(s), where provided. When removing and packing the cover, ensure that the cover is clean and dry before storing it, and re-pack in the reverse order to that used when fitting to the vehicle
A guide to covers for your Classics A storage bag is often provided with the cover, and is intended to keep the cover clean and tidy, taking up minimal space when the cover is not in use. Some owners keep their cover in the boot of the car, ready for immediate use at any time, including when touring
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A car cover can really help preserve your classic and its good looks over the hot summer, but you need to choose and use one with care says Kim Henson

For classic enthusiasts without a traditional garage, or indeed for those who have a lock up but need to protect their cars from dust and moisture while stored inside - or perhaps prefer to leave it on the drive during the summer season - there is a wide array of car covers to choose from. These range from inexpensive types which offer basic protection to sophisticated varieties which are not cheap but will truly cosset your pride and joy. Potential hazards for all cars (including classics) stored outside without any form of cover include the ingress of rainwater, coating with dust, atmospheric pollutants (including ‘acid rain’), and attack by ultra-violet light (especially damaging to the paintwork, and to rubber components, also interior trim - particularly leather). The most basic outdoor covers are made from plastic, nylon or vinyl, and are intended only to protect the car from the worst of the elements for a short time, rather than for longtermcomprehensive protection. They are available as full size covers or in the form of a ‘cap’ which covers just the roof and the windows. One advantage of a ‘plastic’ cover like this is the fact that they are usually very cheap. Disadvantages include the retention of moisture beneath the cover (eventually damaging the paint - it can suffer from spotting, pinholing and discolouration), and the strong possibility of chafing of the paintwork (particularly if the cover is not securely anchored to the car, and can therefore move about in the breeze). When using a cover of this (or indeed ANY) type, make sure that the car is absolutely clean and dry before the cover is fitted (grit will carve grooves in the paint if the cover blows about), ensure that it is anchored at all four corners of the vehicle, also using a loop or two of rope underneath it for good measure. In all cases remove the cover as soon as possible; never leave a plastic cover like this in place for a long time, or the car will suffer terribly (from dampness - since moisture can’t pass through the cover - and from abrasion). Another disadvantage of covers made from pvc type plastics - as opposed to polythene (Tyvec), polypropylene, etc - is that in hot conditions, chlorine can migrate from the cover material to the car’s paintwork, and can be impossible to remove without a respray. One more potential hazard is that such covers tend to turn brittle quite quickly as they age, so they become less flexible (and therefore more likely to damage the paint), and will eventually disintegrate altogether. In addition, these covers are usually very thin, offering little or no protection against adverse weather conditions such as hail storms (and we do need rain this summer!), or from accidental impact damage. Moving up the scale of sophistication and price are outdoor covers which are made of thicker, more durable material which also allows moisture to escape, rather than to become trapped beneath it. Some covers like this are often claimed to breathe - although the definition of ‘breathing’ can vary between suppliers (correctly, it means water vapour evaporation). In reality such covers are not completely rain-resistant (meaning that in heavy downpours, some moisture can pass through the material), but - importantly - with a good quality cover, any water which does find its way through can easily evaporate through the material so that the car soon dries out. Some covers are effectively padded by the inclusion of a soft inner liner - this helps to provide a little protection against minor knocks, as well as shielding the paintwork from possible damage caused by abrasion of the exterior layer of the cover. As you can imagine it is very important to ensure that grit doesn’t get trapped within such liners…

Things to find out…

Sadly in this feature it has not been possible to test all the various covers on offer – realistically this would literally take years and in any case the conditions of use vary from one car owner to another. However, the following notes should help you to identify which type of cover you need to suit your specific requirements. In any event always ask the suppliers about the various ranges they offer, and advise them of the type of use you are envisaging for the cover(s). This will help them to help you.Do you require an indoor cover or an outdoor one? Some types can be used in either application; most are specifically designed for either outdoor or indoor use. The indoor covers vary from rectangles of soft material to ‘semi-tailored’ types (essentially, these are designed to fit a range of vehicles of approximately the same shape) to fully tailored, model-specific covers. Often these incorporate such useful features as pockets to accommodate original equipment wing/door mirrors, plus zips enabling the car door(s) to be opened (check that the zip has a protective cover on the inside, to prevent damage to the car’s paintwork). Car covers for outdoor use vary enormously, and are also available in ‘semi-tailored’ or fully tailored forms. Remember that the closer-fitting the cover is, the less likely it is to flap about in the wind, so causing damage. The best covers allow moisture to escape readily, feature soft internal linings (again, trapped grit can be a problem), and incorporate non-damaging hooks, plus a built-in strap (sometimes - and preferably - more than one) to run under the car, thus helping to anchor the cover in place. Some outdoor covers incorporate a zip (or two) to enable the car doors to be opened easily (if not, make sure that the corners of the coverare easily lifted), and a few have see-through ‘windows’ so that the tax disc and/or parking permits can be viewed without having to remove the cover. Another useful item (for both indoor and outdoor covers) is a storage bag/holdall - often these are included within the cover price (but ask when you order). ALWAYS give the supplier your car’s dimensions for which you need the cover, and remember that pre-War style cars (for example) are generally taller than later models, and that estate cars naturally have a much longer roof than saloons…Some covers are specifically designed for long-term storage. The indoor types keep dust and moisture at bay (at the very least avoiding the need for washing the car when it eventually emerges from storage) and the outdoor variety protect the car from ingress of rainwater, plus a variety of atmospheric pollutants, and grit. An interesting alternative to the conventional car cover is the folding garage, such as the type supplied by Cover Systems of Rushden. These comprise a flexible cover attached to a foldable metal frame, and by their very nature permit a gap between the vehicle and the cover - so that air can flow around the car.A comparatively recent innovation is the ‘encapsulation’ of the vehicle within a blowup cover, such as Carcoon. These are available for both indoor and outdoor use, and constant movement of air around the vehicle is ensured by the use of a fan or fans built into the assembly. Naturally these are comparatively expensive, but considered by many enthusiasts to be the ultimate type of car cover

Conclusions

First consider the specific type of use to which your car cover will be put (ie occasional or regular use), and make sure that the one you eventually choose fulfils your criteria. If you are unsure of the type of material employed in a particular product, it can be worth asking for a sample of the material. If you choose carefully, a car cover should prove to be an excellent and costeffective investment in helping to preserve your classic for a very long time.

  • And if you want to protect your classic car…
  • Don’t put any cover onto a damp or gritty vehicle. Before fitting a cover, wash, rinse and dry the car; allow it to stand so that all moisture has evaporated before the cover is fitted. (Note: I once made the awful mistake of covering a pre- War car with what I thought was a ‘breathable’ cover, before the car was completely dry, following comprehensive washing of the vehicle. Two months later, when I uncovered the car, the paintwork had extensively micro-blistered and mould had started to get a grip everywhere).
  • Don’t use inter-layers of cotton material or a woollen blanket (etc.) between the car and a plastic cover. Cotton absorbs water, and the open weave of any natural fibre textile means that dust and grit can easily lodge within the weave, scratching the paint if the cover moves…).
  • Don’t place a cover over sharp protrusions, such as bright trim strips, aerials and so on. Make sure all such items are fully padded (in each case a soft cushion can help, if secured in position over the offending protrusion).
  • Don’t allow the material of a car cover to flutter in the wind. Depending on the type of cover and inner liner (if any) employed, it may ruin the paintwork. Always tie down the cover as tightly as reasonably possible (subject to not damaging the car by making it too tight…). Except where it cannot be avoided,
  • Don’t use a car cover if the vehicle is standing on grass, gravel, soft earth, and similar groundings.


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