Tuesday, 11 June 2013

How to install a Sprite mk3 or Midget mk2 soft top

Once I had all the necessary components to fit the soft top (see previous post), I was ready to install it.

The sprite mk3 or midget mk2 soft top is unique and different from previous and later mk’s. Later ones have a foldable structure, and early ones have different removable structure layout. The are some videos on youtube and reports on mgexperience about fitting it, but all of them cover the later ones and no one has ever made a full detailed report for my model.  

I had never fitted a soft top and although the spridget one is supposed to be a very easy one, I was not feeling comfortable doing it myself. So I searched for help from one of the most well known upholstery specialist in Madrid: Artemóvil. When I used to work at the RR & Bentley dealer, we normally used their service and knew what they are capable of, so I was confident I would get a good result. Artemóvil has been on the business for many decades, and they specialize in complete classic car retrim work. At their facilities you can see anything from very old prewar classic cars, to ultra rare or expensive modern cars.

They kindly let me help with the installation and they allowed me to make a full review of the process taking loads of photos so I could share them.



Firstly, we marked the center of both the header rail and the soft top, folding this later one in 2 in order to mark it. It's important to place a rug on top of the bonnet if you are going to work over it.




Next, the soft top was placed over the top structure, and the header rail was attached to the wind screen (with no rubber seal). Contact glue was applied with a brush just over the header rail.



The glue they always use, after trying many different brands, is Gomafer, a very well known and classic contact glue brand in Spain.


Then the soft top was positioned over the header rail for only a few seconds, taking care to match both center marks. When positioning the soft top, we had to stretch it as best as we could.

After a few seconds, the soft top was removed, revealing the contact zone between the soft top and the header rail. Then the soft top was covered with a layer of contact glue. A second layer was also applied to the header rail.



A special heat lamp was used for four minutes in order to soften the soft top front and middle part. Using a heat gun for this porpoise would be impossible in as much as it only heats one area at a time, but this lamps can heat the entire area.



Then the soft top was finally placed over the header rail, stretching the top wich was then very soft.   Placing the top is the most critical stage and you have to do it right the first time. A lot of force has to be done to stretch the top correctly, and using the center marks is important for perfect alignment. Once placed, the top was rub down  against the header rail so that the glue would sticks perfectly.





Fitting the header rail clamps was important so the top did not move.


After a few minutes the header rail could be unclamped and glue was applied to the zone where the metal strip and rubber seal was placed. Glue was applied to both the header rail and the top.



Soft top excess could now be cut, without trimming too much.



Next, the aluminum rail was placed over the header rail and a small screw driver was used to mark and punch the holes on the soft top where pop rivets would be placed.


Once all the pop rivets were placed, an exacto blade was used to carefully trim the rest of the soft top, up to the aluminum rail, making a nice finish. Then the rubber seal could be hand pressed over the aluminum rail with the aid of a screw driver.



Following, the soft top was placed again and the header rail clamps adjusted to give a perfect fit.


At this stage the hard work was done, and all that remained was installing the tenax, durable dot and eyelets. Installing this was just a matter of stretching the side panels of the soft top and marking with a pen the position of the holes. Then with a specialized tool they made the holes and pressed down the durable dot fasteners with a hand press.





The tenax  wasjust screwed in place with a special tool that makes it easy.


And the eyelet was fixed by folding down its four tabs.







After nearly 2 hours of work the soft top was finally installed. The result was superb and now I can drive the car safely knowing that in case it starts raining I can quickly raise the top and continue driving.


Thanks Juan for your help! TOP JOB!


2 comments:

  1. Thank you.... I have my new top sitting in a box waiting to get up the nerve to attempt this scary task.

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  2. I am sure with these photos you should have no problem. Good luck and keep us updated

    ReplyDelete