Bill’s TF Gets New Duds

While Bruce’s ’52 TD is waiting for paint to be applied, I’m off to Bill Meub’s place to refurbish the interior in his ’55 TF. There’s just no rest for the wicked…

First steps were to tear out the old stuff which had started to become a bit tatty and was not particularly well done by the PO—all of the trim was missing surrounding the cockpit, seats were done up in some kind of expanded vinyl product and the like. After removing a few of the panels I discovered that they had been made from paneling (the cheap house kind), fasteners were a mixed bag of whatever seemed to be on hand at the time, door latches had bee been shimmed with stacks of cut washers…you get the idea. It was really time to bring it up the level of the rest of the car.

New dash pad installed

New dash pad installed

Once everything was out of the car I cleaned up the glue surfaces, removed any wayward fasteners left behind when I took the panels out, and made a short list of new screws and whatnot I’d need for reassembly. First to go back in was the dash roll. The Moss kit is great because they give you a good sized chunk of the matching vinyl so you can cut out the various odds and ends that don’t come prefabricated—the dash roll, rear cockpit surrounds, and the boot lid and panels foremost.

With the dash roll reinstalled, next to go in was the  windlace or cabin trim that starts at the top of the driver’s door opening (right where the dash pads stops) and goes all of the way around the perimeter of the cockpit to the top of the opposite door opening. It’s not a tough job but a bit tedious one as inside and outside corners must be relieved to match the curves nicely.

Passenger door panel

Passenger door panel

I also installed the new door panels, starting with the top trim which Moss provides in genuine leather—a small, but very nice touch. There isn’t a lot to this step, trim the top trim to fit, place the door panel, and staple in between the hide ’em trim. There’s bit of fussing necessary to get the panel squared up just right but after that you put one staple on each of the four sides, then fasten in between to finish up. Just getting those few small things done has transformed the TF. The coloring in the tan trim has just the right amount of red in it to perfectly compliment the exterior.

Next time I visit Bill’s place, I’ll be installing the new kick panels, working on the rear cockpit surround pieces and getting ready to finish up with the wheel arches and rear quarter panels. Sure is going to look sweet when it’s all done.

5/25— Thursday night and Friday afternoon I was able to install the driver’s side kick and sill panels as well as complete the rear cockpit surround. Today (Saturday) the goal was to complete the boot area, composed of eight separate pieces—the left/right rear cockpit corners, the rear bulkhead panel, left/right boot frames, front boot frame, and boot lid. I need to finish up the rear wheel arch and passenger side rear quarter before I could move ahead so those were done first.

The interior panel work isn’t difficult but it is very detailed (probably works in favor of my anal retentiveness) and requires a bit of touch to do well. It’s great to have experience in this area that I can call on for the finish details otherwise, it could have been a long afternoon struggling with corners, pulling the material taut, and the like.

After covering all of the individual pieces with new material, I began the reassembly by first installing the rear cockpit corners, re-using the original British units (a bit of fibre board and wood). The order of assembly here is critical to doing the job well. After the rear cockpit surrounds were installed, next came left/wheel arch covers, then the left/right rear quarters. Before the corners could go in, the rear rail to the boot needed to be covered, then the front boot support panel, followed by the left/rail boot rails. Next came the rear bulkhead panel which is held in by the crank brackets. Lastly, I installed the re-covered boot lid. All new hardware was used where required.

How different it looks from the old stuff!

Coming next, finishing up the various interior trim bits—door latches, the odd screw here and there—then it’s on to the seats.

Complete driver's rear quarter

Complete driver’s rear quarter

6/4 – Spent last Saturday finishing up the passenger side kick panel, fitting up the side curtains, and generally taking care of some details in preparation for starting on the seats.

I arrived Tuesday evening and started by tearing down the driver’s seat. MG TD/TF seats are pretty simple affairs—the seat tracks bolt through the bottom cushion floor and everything else is stapled into tacking strips or framing. Like most things that seem simple, getting the job to turn out well is largely dependent on technique and patience. After disassembling the two seat parts, I removed the covers, carefully cleaning up the staples and inspecting the condition of the fixing surfaces.

Bill’s seats had been overstuffed by the previous interior guy and looked pudgy and overdone. I removed the extra cotton batting he had applied to find the seat squabs in terrific condition—save the missing diaphragm on the bottom of the seat, something easily remedied.

Driver seat

Driver seat

The first step is to cover the side rails with the matching vinyl provided by Moss by gluing the inside edge then pulling the material over the rail and stapling to the tack strip underneath. The back cover goes on y lining it up to the contour of the seat, then pulling the sides taught and stapling them to the frame. I start in the middle of each side and work my way from the centers out. This gives me ample opportunity to adjust for the curves at the corners of the seat. Next is to tuck the bottom flap through to the back but not to tack it yet—that waits until the cushion goes in so you can be sure the two surfaces match. Finishing the ends takes seem practice and a strong hand to pull the welted edge tight while keeping a nice, straight line.

Re-covered seat detail

Re-covered seat detail

Next up is the cushion. These were typically installed without any adhesive but I find that a small spray where the break of the cushion is, really helps keep things lined up. Once the cover is positioned, it’s perimeter stapled on the bottom. Now we’re ready to finish off seat back by installing the bottom cushion and the seat tracks. Once in, you can make any needed adjustments to get the top and bottom pleats lined and to eliminate and gaps between the two part. Stapling the back flaps that were previously pulled though finishes up the covers. Last to go on is the back panel which is carefully staples to the seat frame right at the edge of the sewn welt (so the staples can’t be seen). The factory also secured the corners with a couple of brass upholstery tacks and I did the same. Reinstalling the metal rail on the back, completes the first seat.

Thursday, I’ll be going by to take care of the passenger seat and will take some pictures of the dis-assembly and reassembly process.

6/8 – Headed over to Bill’s this afternoon to finish buttoning up the TF. I completed the re-upholstery of the passenger seat on Thursday night (you can read about that here) but needed to re-fit the top assembly including stapling the rear skirt to the cockpit surround, bolt up the fuel tank straps, add a spacer to the passenger door latch, and a few other odds and ends. Before bolting the newly recovered seats down, Bill vacuumed out the interior and I gave it a good wipe down with Lexol…a good time to clean out the all of the little nooks and crannies.

With everything back together, it looks like a completely different car. I apologize in advance for the poor photos. They were taken with my camera phone as I had forgotten to bring my regular camera but still think they will give you the idea of what’s been accomplished…




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