know that the correct way to fold down the convertible roof of an MGF is by
undoing the zips inside the rear window, pulling it apart at the velcro
fastenings and laying the window down flat into the rear parcel shelf - before
you fold the roof down?
Well to be honest I also knew that - but I never bothered, because its easier
to just bend the window inwards and fold the roof down in one step, rather
than having to get into the car and do all that unfastening stuff (made
more difficult if you also have the rear fold-down windshield as well).
But the window gradually becomes stiff and more brittle with age, until one
day when you're in a hurry, and don't take care with lowering the window,
the plastic creases just once too often, and....
A split appears.
Also sometimes the hood frame seems to get itself in the wrong order when
lowering the hood, it gets stuck and this prevents the hood from lowering
Don't force it !!
The trick is to lift upwards the middle frame hoop as you lower the main
uppermost frame hoop, then it will lower nice and smoothly. So use both
your hands. Try it and you will see what I mean, particularly if you look
inside the hood as you lower it. I think what happens is that the middle
hoop sometimes gets "inside" the lowest hoop, and this stops it
collapsing down properly. So by simply holding the middle hoop up a bit as
you lower the whole frame prevents it from getting caught.
to me, just as it has probably happened to countless other MGF owners.
And I was intending to sell it fairly soon.
Another reason to replace it is simply because with age it has become crazed
and scratched, and you can longer see through it. Not that us MGF drivers
have ever really used the rear view mirror that much, and tend to rely mostly
on the side mirrors when driving!
Its funny but a split is one of the things that prospective buyers will
notice instantly and causes them to "prefer" the other MGF they saw
earlier in the day.
Well I knew it was a job that had to be done, and I wondered how easy it
would be, so I had a look around the Internet and found another couple of
pages that gave the procedure that I followed - but while I was doing it, I
took several photos for you to follow too, and hopefully my page will fill in
any gaps that were missing from the instructions that I found.
Here is a link to the original page that I found. I recommend you get that
page and print it off because it gives some additional details.
which also gives (brief) instructions, and offers replacement windows or a
complete fitting service can be found at:-
Note: My photos and instructions cover replacing only the rear
window (and one half of the horizontal zip), so leaving the other zip half
attached to its black felt covered zip retainer on the canopy frame. This is
why when you order a replacement you must make sure the zips
are of the correct type, so you can zip the new one in place
correctly. If your zip is damaged, you will need to make sure you get a
complete new zip set which includes the black felt zip retaining strip too.
The instructions at the MGFCar.de web site (1st link above) do
detail the complete fitting, but it is more involved and sounds potentially
more messy. If you can get away with doing just the first half of the job, it
will be quicker and easier.
Main Tools Required
- Electric drill capable of
slow-drilling, with 3.5mm drill and others like a 3mm, 5mm and 7mm
- Hand riveting tool with front
insert for 3.5mm blind rivets
- Hoover, brush
- Large thick work-cloth or
blanket to protect the paintwork.
Main Parts Required
- A new rear window screen
- Little tin of matt black paint
(to get rid of the shine on the new rivets)
- Pack of 3.5mm pop blind rivets
(flat head/aluminium/stainless steel) about 20 will do. Main shank of
rivet needs to be 17mm from top of head to bottom of pin before
"popping", actual rivet length must be 15mm.
Any shorter and it won't go far enough through the frame to grip
properly because it has to clamp both the metal strip plus the material
of the window. Finding the correct rivets was quite frustrating because
they aren't quite a standard size like you often get supplied in
pop-rivet gun kits.
- You might be best to have some
slightly larger diameter rivets on hand too, in case you can't help
making a larger hole when drilling out a stubborn rivet. Same rule
applies though - minimum length of 15mm.
Its best to get this pop-rivet exactly. Most rivets you get that come with
pop-rivet gun kits have the right
diameter (3.5mm), but just aren't quite long enough. You've really got to get
this exact rivet to do the job well.
Obtaining the Correct Replacement Rear Window
I found the
official MGF web site at http://www.mgf.co.uk
From there I
was able to find a dealer who supplied me with a replacement window.
I paid £80 for a second-hand window, including shipping. I
guess this was probably sourced from old stock, or a scrapyard.
This was not without its problems though. Apparently there are two
types of MGF window. The Mark 2 newer soft top from 1997 on has a
different sized zip. So make sure you ask for the correct window. A good
supplier should know the differences!
Also ask whether the replacement window you are getting is a genuine
The first window I was sent had been refurbished with inferior quality
plastic, and although it was nice and clear, it was more flimsy (thin PVC)
and I was sure that although it might be more flexible, it would very soon
get worn through. It was stitched into place in the window surround, but had
obviously been done by hand, and the stitching itself was a bit dodgy. Also the
horizontal zip on it had smaller teeth, and when I offered it up, it
would not marry up and zip into the other half of the zip still fixed into
the fold-down roof.
I sent it back (extra postage costs) and asked for the proper one! The guy
was quite apologetic and it was no problem to send the older style with the
larger zip, and this time it was also the genuine article.
Also if they are sending the window in the post ask the sender to
pack it well to avoid it being bent or damaged in
the post, i.e. preferably carefully rolled up and sent in a large tube, or
protected by plenty of bubble-wrap, cardboard packaging and
If you decide to get a professional window replacement company do it for
you, I would expect a top-notch job and the condition of the window to be immaculate.
You should ask to see the quality of the window before it is fitted. If it
has scratches or appears to be a bodged reconditioned window I would try
web site: http://www.mgf.co.uk
window replacement page: http://www.mgfcar.de/softtop/replacement.htm
replacement windows or a complete fitting service: http://www.softtopwindows.co.uk
Very useful MGF
Maintenance site is Tony's Green Bullet, which provides a wide
variety of maintenance jobs, complete with photos: http://www.apttony.co.uk/
start here are a couple of tips:-
- Choose a day with good
weather. The job from start to finish took me about 4 hours, but this
was partly because of faffing around when I didn't have the right
rivets, so might take less time for you. Not a problem if you have
enough room inside a garage, but I prefer to spread out and did the job
on the drive.
- Get a good thick blanket or
dust cover to prevent swarf (from drilling out the old rivets) from scratching
- Also as you lean over
the back of the car while working, don't lean too heavily or
you may dent the boot.
- You may find like I did that
the previous owner had already replaced the rear window, so the
pop-rivets have been drilled out once already - so particular care is
required when drilling the rivets out, not to widen the holes even more.
- You need the help of a mate
(its a no brainer so a wife or girlfriend will also do, te he), simply
to hold the rear frame up while you are drilling the old rivets out, and
to make a mug of tea at regular intervals! :o)
Inspecting the rivets revealed they had been drilled out and replaced once
(2 rivets to the left, if they were original they should be black)
of the windows and open the doors wide. Turn on the stereo with some good
Release both the front hood catches at the top of the windscreen just to
release the tension on the roof, but don't lower it down yet.
well carpet covers the retaining clips.......
Notice in my
car the original rivets are silver, indicating they have been replaced once
one retaining clip......
the rear edge of the hood well carpet to reveal the 5 clips......
Just lift up
each clip to release, then drop it down. Make sure ALL the clips
are properly released.
outside the car, and you should find that the rear of the hood will now
fold/pull upwards to release it from the body. It may require a bit of a firm
but gentle tug........
evenly across both sides, it should now freely lift up and down.......
car again, undo the window zip......
now be able to lay the window flat down inside the hood well (just like you should
do normally when lowering the convertible roof - but probably didn't coz its
too much trouble and which is why the window split in the first place!). Now
the whole rear canopy is free to lift upwards......
get started, take a look at the existing rivets to see what needs removing.
In this photo you can see 3 rivets, two in the middle of the photo, and one
just below my thumb.....
Here is the
same piece, folded down where you can see another silver head rivet just to
the left of the velcro strip.....
it all up with a good thick layer of cloth......
Now you need
to drill out the old rivets. This is actually simpler than it sounds, but it
does require a lot of care because if you widen the original holes, the new
rivets will not be able to grip properly, and you will have to use a larger
This bit is also best done with someone else firmly holding the rear canopy
frame up, while you drill.
I used about a 7mm drill bit, and I set my drill on a very slow
speed. I mean about 1 or 2 turns every second which I can do
because it has a smooth power trigger. All you need to do is drill off the head
of each rivet, so go real slow and gentle, press very lightly - you
DO NOT want to go all the way through with this 7mm!!!. Its only
alumnium, which is a nice soft metal and each head should come off quite
easily after only a few turns of the drill. If you do not have an adjustable
speed drill you might be better just to use a 3mm drill because if the larger
drill bit bites and goes through you would end up with a widened hole - not
what you want!
The idea is that once you've "beheaded" each rivet, you can simply
use a punch or screwdriver to knock them through. However you may encounter a
couple of stubborn ones which will require drilling through. So swap
to a smaller drill like 3mm, and just be extremely careful when doing this
not to widen the hole more than necessary.
In this pic you can see the head of a rivet still stuck to the drill
rivet has been beheaded, and knocked through, so releasing the metal clip
holding the hood. Now you can get at the steel retaining strip......
Caution: Note that the metal
retaining strip is made of steel and may cause your 7mm drill bit to catch.
It might be wise to swap to a smaller drill bit. You do not want to
widen the slotted holes in the steel retaining strip, because the new rivets
would not be able to hold it when popped in.
Carry on beheading the rivets all the way around the hood frame......
at the other side. You can see clearly in this photo the slotted steel strip
and the beheaded rivets. Like I said be careful when drilling out not to
widen the slots when drilling......
of one of the central rivets that was holding the steel strip in place.......
Once all the
heads have been drilled off, the metal retaining strip can be lifted clear
and the rear window can be released from the velcro strips at each side, and
pulled clear of the car...........
Now you see
it, and now you don't.......
So far, so good - Take a break!
Now the next
steps if you were completely removing the other zip-half as detailed in the
MGFCar.de instructions involve the black felt strip. I did not need to do
this step. You might not need to either. However I have included
these photos for reference in case you need to do the complete job.
My finger is pointing at the position of the first of 7 nuts hidden
underneath the black felt. This is where you would slit the felt where the
nut is located in the hood bow. You can feel it by pressing on the felt.
And here my
thumb is pressing where another nut is located.
sure why I've put the next photo in! Maybe its useful?
shows some of the roof tensioning webbing passing through the bow frame.....
And this is
Bobby next door trying to be helpful.....!!!! He's a wag isn't he?!
Tea-break over, time to get on.
First I recommend you clean up because we're about to fit the new plastic
window and you definitely don't want swarf scratching that shiny new
window. Remove the cloth with all the swarf on it, and shake it well
somewhere that you can sweep it up. You don't want your dog or kids to go
treading on it with bare feet.
Its also best to hoover any swarf out of the rear hood well too.
Make sure there is no swarf still stuck to the cloth, and put the cloth back
in place to cover the car again.
Put the new window in place. You may need to use a sharp pointed instrument
to punch holes through the new window cloth material in alignment with the
steel retaining strip. It might be best to do this with the window out of the
car, on the ground. But it may already have suitable holes in it. Mine did.
Once everything seems ok and lines up, start pop-riveting the new rivets into
place, starting at the centre of the frame, and working outwards to
each side. This way you ensure an even tension.
Learning to Pop-Rivet
pop-riveted before? If not, well its dead simple. I recommend you try popping
a rivet into nothing first so you see how much pressure you have to apply to
actually pop it.
First make sure the correct nozzle size is installed in the gun for the size
of pop-rivet pin we are using.
Keep your fingers out of the way of the handles when popping
the rivet or you might trap them.
Its quite a considerable amount of pressure because you are effectively
trying to stretch the pin to breaking point. You will also see how the pin
squeezes up into the body of the rivet causing it to bulge and expand. When
it has gone as far as it can, the pin reaches breaking point, and
"pops". Don't point it at anyone when you do this because the rivet
might fly off (because its not actually in a hole yet).
Just put a rivet in the gun (slide the pin of the rivet into the nozzle of
the gun), grip the lever gently and squeeze just sufficient so it grips
the pin of the rivet. Push the body of the rivet into the retaining
strip, and through into the hole. Push it nice and hard to make sure its
squeezing the parts together. Do not squeeze the handle to "pop"
it just yet.
Get a hammer
and give the top of the gun a couple of knocks to make sure the rivet
is as far into the hole as it will go....
holding the gun firmly against the parts, squeeze the gun handles together
hard. As explained above this takes considerable pressure because its got to
pull the pin up into the rivet, which squeezes the rivets sides outward to
grip the hole, and then you keep on squeezing until the pin under extreme
tension, "snaps" off, so releasing the gun from the rivet.
Finally you pull the handles apart to release the spent pin, ready to insert a
Here is the
side clip all riveted up......
everything neatly riveted together, you can lift the hood right up, remove
the blanket, and hoover the hood well carpet again....
Lift up the
hood well carpet and give a good hoovering under there too.
lower the rear hood (paint the outside of the rivets beforehand if necessary)
and do up the clips on the inside, making sure the hood carpet edge is pushed
back neatly behind the rubber flip seal again. Check all the way around to
make sure its all neatly in place.
Note: Inside, the shiny new rivets stand out against the black frame, so you
might want to paint them with a small modelling brush and matt-black paint so
they are less noticeable.
rivets even show up from outside, so you might want to give their outer faces
the same matt black treatment.
On my car
the zip fastener hangs down at one side, and when travelling at speed with
the windows open this would tap annoyingly on the metal frame........
fastened some velcro to it so as to hold it up out of the way.
LAST THING -
DO UP THE FRONT HOOD CATCHES BEFORE YOU DRIVE !!!!
Hooray - job
Now I can
valet the car, and get it sold.
What a pity
- She looks so damn good!
gone now :-(