The MGA With An Attitude
CARPET And PADDING, Materials and Options - INT-100C

On 2/6/2018 +0100, Paul McKinsey wrote:
"Painter is now asking me about painting the interior of boot (trunk) in case I am thinking to fix carpet set inside. He says if I am thinking in gluing a carpet inside, he will not finish the painting as an exterior part. What do you suggest? Was the carpet originally fixed inside the boot or was any original accessory"?

A roadster is by definition is a street legal race car, intended for weekend competition, so it has as few accessories as possible to reduce weight (which is why it has side curtains and the heater is an optional accessory).

Tire cover forward of the rear bulkhead was standard issue, carpet material. Carpet on the inner fenders and battery cover forward of the rear bulkhead was optional (called "rear carpet"), but does NOT normally have carpet on the rear bulkhead (in a roadster). Most roadsters did not have rear carpet when new, because the space is hidden behind the side curtain pouch (which was standard issue for all roadsters). For a Coupe, rear carpet was standard issue, including carpet on the rear bulkhead. That last piece is rarely supplied today because it would make rear carpet for a Coupe different than rear carpet for a roadster. The rear vertical floorboard was always carpeted.

Tire cover in the boot was optional, and I would guess half the cars didn't have it when new. That was originally gray Hondura material with a blue spider web color print. Today you may find something close to the correct material, but not the right color pattern. Don't be surprised when most of the vendors supply (incorrect) carpet material for the tire cover. Boot carpet was optional, and probably most of the cars did not have it when new (more likely to find it in a Coupe). Rear side of the bulkhead was never carpeted, even when you bought all of the other optional covers and carpet kits. Roadster carpet always black, Coupe carpet was always gray, but you can have any color carpet you like as a matter of personal preference (although non-standard carpet may cost a concours point).

There was always a hand crank (starting handle) attached with three large clips to the bulkhead above the spare tire. There was always a screw jack with 3-piece handle in a large tool bag with tie ribbons, placed on top of the spare tire up against the bulkhead, and secured in place by two web straps with buckles. There was always a tool kit in a smaller tool roll bag with tie ribbons, which can go inside of the larger tool bag along with the jack. Tools were different for Disc Wheel or Wire Wheel cars. Twin Cam (and "Deluxe") tool kit was similar to Wire Wheel tool kit (with a couple minor differences for engine tools). Contents of the tool kit were reduced somewhat in later production, so there were ultimately about five different tool kits (and some minor variations of individual tools along the way).

Since all of the standard issue equipment in the boot was secured, there was nothing left to rattle around (until you put some luggage in there). As such, boot carpet was (originally) not very popular (extra cost),in which case boot interior paint is important. There was an optional (inexpensive) flat boot mat which was just a drop-in mat to cover the boot floor, easily removed (when you were removing all of the tools and spare tire for racing).

One more consideration is the forward bulkhead (firewall). Here there is a single skin of sheet metal between engine bay and passengers in the cockpit. This transfers significant heat in warm weather, and feels cold when ambient temperatures drop. The Coupe will be hot (uncomfortably warm) inside in warm weather, so for the Coupe there was an "Under Dash Pad" that was standard issue. The Coupe body shell even had some welded tabs that could be bent over to secure this insulation pad. Original material was a funky yellow foam rubber kind of material that would deteriorate and fall apart in ten years or less. No one supplies such crappy material today (all for the better), so if you're going for a concours show car this could be a minor bone of contention (for the Coupe only).

Moss Motors has an Under Dash Pad that is quite the berries. Material is felt with a heavy textured vinyl face cover, good for both thermal insulation and for sound deadening. The piece is die cut and absolutely perfect fit for all of the bulkhead holes and heater. I highly recommend this under dash pad for all MGA, Coupe and roadster (unless you are building a race car and don't want the weight). Just glue it in place but do seriously consider doing this immediately after the body is installed (or before), because it would be very difficult to install after the dash and all associated braces, wires and cables are in place. I don't think a concours judge would deduct anything for this "period accessory", even if it is not original material.

Now, if you are not particularly concerned about racing, you may be more concerned about some minor luxury touches. Start with the under dash pad (which was standard in the Coupe). Extra carpet padding under the seats and on the tunnel between the seats is nice (but you may want to elevate the seat slide rails slightly). Rear carpet on battery cover and inner wheel wells (no padding), is good for sound deadening and thermal insulation (very noticeable difference for both). Also boot carpet (floor and wheel wells) serves as a very good noise dampener when you place loose things in the boot (like a tool box or scissors jack for instance), or if you stow the side curtains back there (with or without a bag). A loose tool box in the boot will otherwise make nasty banging noises on bumps (as well as beating paint off the floor).

I recon a spare tire cover is good when you start to stuff things on top of the spare (like groceries or duffel bags). I like (non-original) carpet cover over the tire (matching carpet in the boot). The Hondura material is quaint for originality, and fairly durable, but my carpet cover has been hanging in there for more than 30 years and nearly 400,000 miles, still in good condition, where the tough vinyl material may be fading, getting stiff and possibly cracking by that time.

If you are going for body-off restoration (highly recommended) to be cleaning and painting under the body and on the frame, then you will like to clean and paint inside the boot as well. Even when you carpet the boot space there are some surfaces that do not get covered, like back side of the bulkhead and everything under the top body cowling and back into the boot latch area in the rear tail of the boot. In for a penny, in for a pound. If you're going that far you might as well do it all up right.

As a practical approach you might ask your body and paint guy for a quote on the whole works, cleaning and painting everything inside and out and underneath with body off. Then ask him how much it might save to not clean or paint the boot space. Probably not much difference, relatively speaking. Pulling the body off and putting it back on plus cleaning and painting everything underneath is a substantial cost if you pay a pro for the service, but much less expensive if you do it yourself and do not bill yourself for the time. You can clean stuff under there with a wire wheel, and can paint it all with a brush, as it is mostly hidden after assembly.

Consider how much of this you might be willing to do yourself (without killing the production schedule), and talk it over with the paint guy to see how you might coordinate your collective efforts (like you working in his shop sometimes maybe). Quite often the painter does not like doing all of the cleaning work (which is why he may be recommending not painting the boot space), and he may be quite happy to have you do most of the cleaning before primer paint. Sweat equity can save a lot of money if you have the time to spare.

As to things being concours correct, this is not always about perfect originality. Concourse begins (loosely) with originality, then progresses to the ultimate spit shine and polish to make everything possible better than original. For instance, the chassis and heater and radiator were all originally chassis black (semi-gloss or satin black, definitely not gloss black). But most people will paint all of this stuff gloss black for "sharper" appearance, and I have never heard of any concours judge deducting points for this "irregularity" (at least not for MG cars).

It is not a sin to buff and polish the copper pipe for heater water return, or to buff the carburetor dashpots to a bright shine, or to put clear flat lacquer paint on the master cylinder casting (which was originally bare and left to rust). You might put high temperature paint or ceramic or jet-hot coating on the exhaust manifold (prefer cast iron gray color) rather than leaving it to rust as original. But it is a sin to change model of carburetors, or to chrome plate anything under the bonnet.

In recent years NAMGAR has decided that a 5-speed gearbox is acceptable in Stock class (out of sight out of mind), as long as there is no cut and weld involved, so it is reversible if someone wants to put it all back to original. They made that concession because there are so many car owners determined to do it anyway, and thumb their collective noses at NAMGAR if they were not to capitulate. MGB overdrive gearbox is not acceptable, because it requires modification of the chassis frame for the rear mount (and mods to widen the tunnel). That would put the car in Modified class, along with any engine transplant. But NAMGAR has recently opened a new judging class for MGA 1800, because so may people are now installing MGB engines.

When pulling the engine out to clean and paint the engine bay area, you may also want to pull the gearbox out for better access to clean and paint the forward tunnel area, at least the part you can see from the front when you open the bonnet. Once the engine is out, removing the gearbox is pretty easy. Drain the oil first. Disconnect bolt flange of propshaft for 1600 type (slide-out spline coupling for 1500 type). Disconnect speedometer cable. Remove center tunnel carpet piece, then extract screws and remove center tunnel metal cover. Remove four bolts, and pull off the gear shift extension assembly. Lastly, remove one crossbolt from the gearbox rear mount,and pull the gearbox out the front. If you have done this a couple of times, the whole process might take 20 to 30 minutes to extract the gearbox (twice as long to put it back in). This also gives access for cleaning and painting the tunnel from underneath.

Maybe more than you asked, but these are things to consider during restoration work, because they are difficult to change later.

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