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Trim Panel Upgrade

So, what can be done about weather affected wobbly interior trim panels?

They look very shabby.

You could replace them with unweathered new panels, albeit an expensive exercise, but after exposure to rain or humid weather you will eventually be faced with the same problem. You could replace the trim panel cardboard backing with 3mm framing ply, but plywood is stiff and 3mm looks a bit thick. I have used framing ply on MGB trim panels, but for the MGA, some other malleable material would be needed, especially for the doors and I did want the doors to close.

The solution was offered by Austin Blanch who prescribed 2mm aluminium sheet, as supplied by Ezi Metal Heatherbrae. Two 600 x 1200 sheets is more than enough to re trim the MGA and presumably an MGB.

I started the project by removing the trim panels from doors, footwells and arches at the rear of the door openings, being mindful of the consequent assembly time being the inverse of the disassembly time. Take courage! I carefully peeled back the trim material (in this case leather) from the misshapen cardboard backing.

The bare backing was a useful template to mark out a new panel from my aluminium sheet with a pencil. My trusty jig saw with a stainless fine-tooth blade made its way along the pencil line, the cut being on the inside of the pencil line, at least for most of the distance. Much patience is required, the going is tough but achievable. Wear earmuffs. The cut panel was then trued with a mill file, and the sharp edges bevelled.

The cut panel could then be placed on the upturned trim material over a flat bench and checked for fit. More filing encouraged greater due diligence with the next jig sawing episode. A spray of contact adhesive on both panel material and panel, a wee break in proceedings while the glue tacked and the panel was then offered to the trim material. The trim tabs were folded over and the job looked terrific.

The door trim panels were another matter. They have shape. This required the cut out aluminium door panel to be rolled at the top, particularly at the front. This was achieved with moderate force over my right knee by trial and error, being carful not to roll it the wrong way. Eventually the panel should fit snuggly against the door frame without much persuasion. The panel can then be trimmed with the covering and screwed in place. I used the old backing material as a drilling guide for the new holes in the aluminium, which mostly lined up with the original holes in the door. I think I have a few new holes in the door: I was not Robinson Crusoe in this regard.

The end result is a tidy set of trim panels which will withstand humidity and weather.

Ray Tolcher

On The Marque February 2018

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