The MGA With An Attitude

At 05:19 AM 6/21/06, David Grahame wrote:
"Your website was the first place I went to look for help. Unfortunately itís the Putting UP not the Taking DOWN that I am struggling with."

Okay, then here it is by popular demand.

Tip seats forward. Remove tonneau cover if it's in the way. Remove side curtains from the bag, and install them (optional). If you do install the side curtains, leave the doors open while you erect the convertible top. Without the side curtains you can do it with doors open or closed. Flip the window bag over the tonneau to get it out of the way. Pull folded top assembly fully forward, almost against the folded seat backs.

Lean over and grasp the assembly near the center (over the tunnel) with two hands wrapped around front and back and fingers tucked underneath. In one continuous motion, lift straight up to full height while articulating the legs as they will follow. Finish the lift by leaning the assembly forward, at which time it should lock the legs and stay put in the vertical position, leaning slightly forward. It may be teetering precariously, cantilevered by gravity and barely staying put, so be careful not to bump it rearward (in which case it may collapse). If it doesn't stay put by itself you may need to hold it with one or two fingers pressing forward in the center.

Assuming it was stowed properly the last time it was lowered, all of the fabric will be folded over the front of the top frame assembly, and nothing behind. Fold the wings out at the sides to make the three window panel (assuming you have three windows) fully extended and flat (still in front). Then flip the rear fabric panel over the top from front to back, putting the window panel in back where it belongs. Do not try to hook up the rear bar yet, just leave it hanging loose. Sometime (any time before you hook up the rear bar) you need to flip the side curtain stowage bag back inside.

Again assuming it was previously folded properly, the rest of the top fabric will be lying over the front of the assembly. Think about the wood and metal bows hiding under the fabric. There are four bows. The front one has the wood bow attached. The front one and the next two are connected with articulating links to control their final position when expanded. The rear bow (number four just above the rear window panel) is simply pivoted at the bottom ends and is free to swing fore and aft, only limited by two web straps for early style, or two screws through the top fabric for later style.

Lift the fabric in front and grasp the center of the front bow with one hand while you hold the center of the 3rd and 4th bows together with the other hand to steady things. A gentle nudge forward (at the rear) is in order along with a supporting lift of the rear bows so it doesn't collapse. Pull the front bow forward to expand the articulated frame until the front bow is at the top of the windscreen. Don't let go, because the side frames are still hanging down a little like inverted grasshopper legs and are not locked yet.

With the top mostly extended, push the assembly rearward slightly and let the front bow settle by gravity. This will keep the top level and the legs locked in the upright position, as long as you don't accordion the three bows back together again. Still hang on to the front bow near the center.

Remove hand from the 3-4 bows. Place the free hand under the side of the articulated frame at the hinged point, about in the center of the side window opening. Lift the articulated side frame to lock it in its final position. Use your open hand palm up, don't pinch your fingers in the scissors. This is where it helps to have two people, as you need to do this to both sides. -- Working alone, you lock one side, then press rearward slightly on the front bow as you lower it to settle and rest by gravity, and the assembly will stay in the raised position when you let go with both hands. Then you hike around to the other side, grasp the front bow near center with one hand, use the free hand to lift under the side frame to lock that side into final position.

Then you get to see how long your arm span is as you hook up the rear bar. Still holding onto the front bow with one hand, push gently rearward (to keep the legs locked upright) and lift slightly to tilt the frame, allowing the fabric to reach farther back. Still holding the front bow with one hand (and a slight rearward nudge), use your free hand to hook the rear bar into the nearest chrome hook on the body tonneau. Again it helps to have two people, because you need to hook up both sides. -- Working alone you might be able to connect the bar to both hooks reaching from one side. If not, then drop the front end to tension the fabric a bit, and the assembly will stay put while you let go. Trot around to the other side, lift the front of the frame a little with one hand while you hook the rear bar into the second tonneau hook, then drop the front to tension the fabric, and it stays put. But still be careful not to bump the legs forward, as it could then collapse even when the rear bar is attached to the tonneau.

At this point it is a good idea to connect the rear most LTD fastener on each side, just to be sure the rear bar and fabric are centered before you put a lot of tension on the top fabric. With some experience in getting the rear bar centered you might skip this step, especially if you're alone and don't want to hike around the car again to do the LTD on the other side (or if you're in a hurry in the rain). You might intentionally position the rear of the fabric a small bit toward the opposite side when you hook up the rear bar. Then grasp the edge of the fabric beyond the end of the bar and pull to the side until the rearmost LTD is aligned and attach it to the peg.

Once the rear bar is attached to both tonneau hooks you can align the rear bow (if necessary). The early style top may have the rear bow free swinging with a pair of web straps over the top of the frame under the fabric. If so, then push the rear bow backward to tension the web straps, and position the rear bow directly under the transverse stitching seam of the fabric just above the rear window. Later cars have a pair of screws attaching the fabric to the rear bow for permanent correct alignment, and no internal web straps required. For concours show on the early cars you may omit the screws. Otherwise life is much easier if you retrofit the early cars with the screws in the later style to attach the fabric to the rear bow.

With the rear tonneau bar attached and the rear bow in correct position, you should find the front bow hanging above the windscreen and slightly forward of the attachment point. The fabric is only gently tensioned, and the legs may now be free-forming, still upright, but not necessarily mechanically locked at the knees. Grasp one front corner of the frame (end of the front bow) with the palm of one hand outside. You may need the other hand inside on the wing bolt momentarily to be sure it is backed off enough to go over the peg.

Then push the front bow rearward and downward to engage the socket onto the peg. With your free hand reach over the top and use your fingers to pull the rain flap out of the joint above the windscreen and out in front of the windscreen top rail. Start with fingers under the rain flap at the side and slide your fingers toward the center of the car to progressively pull the rain flap out all the way across. I'm somewhat short in stature, so I find it convenient to step onto the body sill for more height as I reach across the top at least as far as the center of the car or farther. Again it helps to have two people, as you need to do both sides. -- Working alone you will need to screw up the one wing bolt gently to keep the corner attached to the peg. Then hike around to the other side and repeat the operation, press back on the end of the front bow to engage the peg, pull out the rain flap while you press the front bow down onto the peg and firmly down against the windscreen frame, and tighten the wing bolt securely (yup, full tight this time).

Take a few seconds to look at the front end of the weather flap that hangs inside of the side curtain near the top corner of the windscreen. If this fabric is tucked into the side frame you should pull it out and lay it straight down along the side of the frame to be properly in contact with the side curtain when the door is closed. If you are alone and had only connected a single LTD on one side after hooking up the rear bar, this is the time to grasp the edge of the fabric outboard of the rear bar and pull hard to align and attach the rearmost LTD fastener. While you're still standing there, do up the remaining LTD's and the turnbutton, and you will be finished with that side. Close the door (optional).

If you're alone, then hike around the car to finish the LTD's and turnbutton on the other side. Also press down firmly on the front corner and secure the remaining wing bolt. If you have the 1600 type center latch, that will be the last thing to fasten. You can reach in from the side to do that, or do it after you're seated in the car.

With two experienced people the side curtains go on in 10 or 15 seconds, and the top goes up complete in about one minute (faster if it's raining).

When working alone, with a little practice you may reduce the number of times you need to hike around the car. You may be able to hook the rear bar on both tonneau hooks reaching from one side (maybe easier if you hook the far side first). After locking the side frame on the first side, you may be able to connect the front corner to the first peg, all before going to the other side of the car. Then you make only a single trip around to finish everything on the other side and close the door. Returning to the first side finish everything else, having only run around the car once.

When you get the hang of it, putting the top down is the reverse of putting it up, and this may also require only a single trip around the car (except for flipping the wings in). Practice makes perfect.

For the late 1600 (beginning with chassis number 78249) and all MK-II cars, the procedure may be a little different. For those cars the metal frame will articulate in a different manner. See next page for a procedure for erecting that top.

Thank you for your comments -- Send e-mail to <Barney Gaylord>
© 2006 Barney Gaylord -- Copyright and reprint information