Friday, 31 May 2013

Preparing the soft top components: rear bar and header rail

The sprite once had a soft top, but Lady X told me it was lost years ago on a house move. Fortunately, the hood sticks where present on the boot. The sticks where very tatty, and with a broken hinge they needed some restoration that was made last year. Final result after painting them with RAL 7000mid gray, was perfect.

I have been one year driving the car with both the hard top in winter, and the tonneau cover the rest of the year, but a soft top was mandatory. To use a soft top I needed:
-the hood sticks: which I already had restored
-the rear metal plate to hold the top in place: which was lost with the top
-the front header rail: which I also didn’t have as its permanently attached to the top, and also lost
-the top its self: which was also lost

So I had to start searching for all the missing parts keeping cost at a minimum.

The rear metal plate was not available new, as it is always supposed to be reused when fitting a new top. A nice person of the mgexperience forum (thanks BillM)was kind enough to trace his plate on a long sheet of paper and send it by mail.

I just glued the paper to a 3mm and 1 meter long steel plate and with the angle grinder I cut the long shape.

Next step was to source a second hand header rail. After much searching, I got in contact with Phil from WelshMG who had in stock a good used one. Incredibly he also had in stock some new tops at a bargain price, so I made an order for both and other parts such a pair of securon seat belts. But the issue of the top will be explained later on.

Once the header rail arrived I could take a closer look. Overall condition was good, but most of the metal had surface rust. I removed the worn rubber seal, drilled all the small pop rivets to remove the aluminum plate and sent the rail to the blaster so he could clean it.

After sand blasting, the rail was primed and painted with the usual RAL 7000 paint I found to be so similar to the original cumulus gray. The result was an “as new” header rail. I was very proud for the result.

Have to note that the header rail I received, must have been new spare part on the MK4 sprite-mk3 midget era for the early mk3sprite-mk2 sprite. Why? Original tops for the mk3 sprite was a removable top, whether the top the post mk4 sprite cars where folding ones. The original header rails for the removable top had no screws to be attached to the top stucture, wheter the later ones had 3 screws on either side to attach it to the structure (see previouse image). But my header rail had plastic plugs covering the holes, so it clearly indicates that BMC had 2 part numbers for the same header rail, one for the early version and one for the later version, both comming with the holes and plugs, and if it was intended for a later version you just had to remove them.  

Now I had all the elements to fit the soft top and have it ready for a summer trip I want to make with the car.

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