Restoration of 1952 MG TD 2

Author: Bob McCluskey
First posted: 1 Sept 2000
Last amended: Dec 2015
Please email Bob McCluskey
Car No TD/11935
Engine No XPAG/TD2/12333
Body Type 22381
Body No 11301/78948

Peather Equipment In the interests of clear communication, and because this is an English car and deserves to be spoken to in English, first a bit of terminology:

The hood is the canvas bit that keeps some of the rain off the driver; the bit that covers the engine is the bonnet.

(And since I've started on vocabulary, it's probably worth clarifying that the bits that cover the wheels to stop them from flinging up stones and mud are mudguards; fenders are either the bits you hang off your boat to protect the wharf, or the bits at the front and rear of your car to stop you from damaging it too much when you drive into other obstacles (also known as bumpers) source: Concise Oxford Dictionary).

I procrastinated for several years over the hood. When it came to me, the car had a hood, but it was made of black vinyl, which shrank over time because it was hardly ever used. When eventually I did try to put it up, it missed the windscreen by several inches, and was never tried again. When I came to it as part of this resurrection, some fifty years after after it was last erected, it had gone brittle and cracked. Moreover the hood irons were in pretty bad shape, being badly rusted, the rivets were mostly unservicable, and the front timber was rotten. The sidescreen irons were likewise unservicable, and one had been stolen while the car was still a daily drive.

I had a stroke of luck with the hood irons: a long-retired member of the car club was clearing out his garage, and along with the usual junk there was a set of irons clearly destined for my car, and which came to me for a trifling sum. I had a little less luck with the sidescreen irons, but still much better than I deserved. Peter was facing the same problem as me, and we made a deal: I would supply my unservicable parts as templates, and pay for material, Peter would make up a jig and we would make two complete sets (well, Peter made two sets: I helped by keeping out of his way). We had to make a mirror image of the stolen part, but it all worked surprisingly well.

Having done the upholstery course at tech, it did seem that I should make my own hood. But it is such an important and visible part of the car that getting it wrong would be disastrous, and that would almost certainly mean having two or three tries at it. The cost of material would be almost equal to the cost of the hood, so in the end I swallowed my pride and bought one, ready to fit, from a supplier in UK. When I had my Morris 8 almost 60 years ago, there were several suppliers and hoods were available off-the-shelf. Indeed, they were advertised in the classified ads in the Sunday papers - my memory tells me they cost around £8 for the Morris, and very little more for MGs. I was tempted to buy one, as my existing hood had had hard use, but since the car cost only £10, it would have been an extravagent bit of overcapitalisation. This hood was made-to-order, and cost about £450 - a fiftyfive-fold increase in about 60 years! That's inflation! - much greater than the 30-fold increase in starting salaries for electronic engineers (£850 pa then, £25,500 pa now in 2019) but still less than 80-fold increase in the price of beer, which I track carefully as a measure of the health of the economy, necessitating frequent checks - about 1/- a pint then, about £4.00 now.

The first issue was where to fit the hood irons. There was no consistency here. One source said they should be fitted so that the distance from the door to the hood iron was 20.5 inches (521mm); another said that that was wrong. Cars I measured were 500 - 510 mm. Most sources said just use the old holes, but as I had completely re-upholstered the car - and used new wood - there were no holes. As I thought about it, and looked at other cars, I realised that the best looking hoods were defined by the sidescreens: the edge of the hood was level with the sidescreen strips, and the sidescreen itself tucked into the hood underneath the seam. The bottom strips were horizontal, front and back, and were in line. The back edge of the rear sidescreen iron is defined by the hook on the rear mounting: it hooks into the fitting in the timber, and there is no adjustment. In fact that little fitting defines the position of all the sidescreens, and through them, the hood. So the first step was to put the rear sidescreen frame in place, and ajust it so that the bottom rail was horizontal, and the next step was to fit the front sidescreen frame and adjust it so the bottom rail was horizontal and in line with the rear frame. I put the sidescreen stud plate on the bracket with the wingnut, and fixed with only one screw to allow adjustment up and down. The front frame still needed a bit of adjustment, but I decided that it was good enough for this exercise and could wait until later.

I bought a piece of Tasmanian Oak for the front edge of the hood irons, and planed it to the correct shape, as determined from my existing rotten timber and the timber already on my new irons. I made it so that it had a little less shape than the windscreen, so that it would press firmly on the windscreen when the thumbscrews were tightend, to make a better weather seal. The width was initially 1040 mm, extending beyond the hood irons by 7 or 8mm each side. I could see no reason for it to extend beyond: the effect would be to hold the front of the hood a few millimetres out from the hood iron, and since the sidescreen is intended to tuck into the hood seam, it meant the sidescreen itself would be held proud. Also it made an ugly fold in the hood itself. Later I trimmed it to finish level with the irons, which were themelves level with the edge of the windscreen.

The next thing was to fit the front rail to the wood. First offer the hood irons up to the windscreen to ensure that the thumb screws fit correctly onto the posts on the windscreen. May need to cut and weld the front iron - neither my original nor my "new" irons fitted correctly (why was that? the windscreen frames were original, and I know the old hood did fit at one time. It's still a mystery.). Screw the iron onto the timber using only a couple of preferably stainless steel flathead woodscrews. Mark out the postholes, and the flat area to be chiselled out to accomodate the flat portion of hoodiron. Remove the screws, and drill out the postholes and chisel out as necessary. If you decide to use those copper sockets this would be the time to fit them; I didn't, since neither set of hood irons I had seen had them. Screw the hood iron firmly back onto the front timber, and verify the fit against the windscreen, tightening up the thumbscrews.

Now you get to work on the fabric itself. The first step was to cut out the notches for the windscreen wipers, then lay the weather strip along the top of the windscreen, and mark and cut the holes for the windscreen posts.

Now cover the timber. You need to have the front timber pretty well in place, and because I didn't have the irons fitted properly yet, I suspended them from the rafters in the garage. Lay the weather strip in place, fitting it over the windscreen posts, and ensuring that the notches for the wipers are in place. Then fit the hood iron and tighten the thumbscrews. Pull the inside (trailing edge) flap against the hood iron so that the weather flap with the wiper cutouts fits snugly against the windscreen where it will look as though it might keep out some of the rain. Pull the flap over the wood, and fix it on the top. I used glue for this, although knowing that originally it was tacked. Mea culpa - I don't think it will be noticed. Trim it so that it doesn't overlap at the front, then pull the leading edge back over the timber and tack it.

Trim the material so that it can fit around the timber, then stretch and tack the front (leading) edge to the top of the timber. Now you can trim it again, and fold and glue it around the ends. Next step is to fit the hood itself in place. Of course this can't happen if it's still tied to the roof, so I held it up with internal props.

Lay the hood over the hood irons.At the rear, make sure it is centred, and put one screw in place at the centre, making sure that the material will cover the tacking strip.Go to the front, and make sure it is centred. Now go back to the rear, and stretch it around the corner, satisfying yourself that when the final press stud is fitted, it will fit snugly up to the sidescreen. Maybe consider clamping it in place, each side. Now, working from the centre, fix it in place. I used stainless steel screws and cup washers. Others have used lift-the-dot fasteners or press studs, so they can remove the hood in order to get to the sidescreen stowage, or to fit luggage etc.

Screw the hood to the tacking strip. At the same time, the webbing should be in place at the rear, and fixed to the tacking strip. Making sure that the material is still centred, make the penetration and bolt the hood to the rear hood bow, using the hole that should be in the bow. There isn't a lot of ageement about how this should go. Some say it should go through the long seam on the top, to avoid wear and punch-through. Others say it should go underneath the flap, else why would it be there? That's the view I took. Also the holes in the bow were not equally spaced, so the bolt couldn't have gone through the seam. Now pull the fabric forward, and adjust the height of the hood irons to match the sidescreens nicely. When you're satisfied with the height, screw the bracket in place, and possibly use only one screw initially to allow final adjustment of height. Then, keeping the fabric centred, tack it with a few tacks to the front edge of the timber. Pulling it forward will automatically tighten the rear panel. The final picture here shows the unpleasant crease due to having the front timber rail a bit too long. Not only did it make the crease, but it would have meant the side fold would not have covered the front sidescreen as it should. I took out the tacks, and trimmed the timber to align with the hood irons - about 7 or 8 mm each side - and re-tacked the front rail.

I still can't believe I nearly did this. It would have been a disaster, either leaving it seriously wrong, or necessitating another £450. As it was, I was lucky, because if I had cut another millimetre, it would have been unrecoverable. So, finish tacking the front edge, where it will be covered by the hidem. At some stage here, the webbing must also be tacked in place. Trim the front edge just as far as the side seam - no further at this stage. Pull the side around and fold it up to the trimmed edge, and mark along the fold, as shown.This is the line to cut to, and then you can finish trimming the front edge. Tack it in place, and then cover the trimmed edge with the hidem. The fold is supposed to go all the way round to the long seam on the top. Mine was a couple of inches short: this was not my fault, but the problem was that the hood wasn't long enough. How much would it have hurt the supplier's margins to have made it a couple of inches longer? One of the references I have given has an identical problem. The trimmer there blames it on shrinkage: he thinks his was old stock, and moreover he kept it for several months before fitting. I'd be pretty sure that mine was made to order, not old stock, and although it did sit in my garage for several months before fitting, yet I don't believe that shrinkage was the cause: it is now several months since it was fitted, and the minor wrinkles have not yet disappeared, as they would have done had the problem been due to shrinkage.

Here is the nearly finished hood: by no means perfect, but a lot better than many I have seen. The front sidescreen frame needs a bit more work to straighten it, and the rear corner of the hood will come into better shape when it has the press stud fastener in place - I couldn't do it myself, because I didn't have the tool, but a friendly trimmer did it for me in exchange for a bottle of prize-winning home brew.

References: Some good information here, but also some pictures of truly awful installations: The Complete M.G. TD Restoration Manual by Horst Schacht Copyright Horst Schacht 1996 ISBN 0938253-02-6

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