The MGA With An Attitude
SIDE CURTAINS Panel Replacement - TT-113

Once upon a time I had a broken panel in my slider type side curtains. The fix is simple enough with a little time and patience. Bow the panels a little and they will pop right out.

Pick up a sheet of 1/8 inch thick Plexiglas, Perspex, Lexan, or whatever is your favorite clear polycarbonate plastic material. Use the original broken or scratched panel as a template to trace the shape onto the new sheet. Cut it out with your favorite implement of destruction, a circular saw, band saw, saber saw. coping saw, router, heated wire, or a pocket knife if you like whittling. File and/or sand the edges smooth and de-burr the corners. Repeat for each panel you wish to replace.

To make the small handles for the slider panels, cut a rectangle of the same plastic material and clean it up by sanding and buffing the edges. Apply a thick film of acetone to one side with a small brush or swab and set it in place on the lager panel. Put one edge down first, then lay the part down and press gently to distribute the liquid acetone and expel all air from the joint. Get the position right the first time, and do not try to move it once it is set in place. Do not get a drop of acetone on any surface you want to keep clear. Place a small weight on the part to clamp it gently in place for an hour, and it will be fixed forever.

Assembly is the reverse of disassembly. Set one edge of the panel in the lower track, bow the panel with fingers and thumbs, nest the other edge into the opposing track, and let it relax into final position.

In November 2006 I decided it was time to replace all of the panels at once. This time I bought a complete finished set of Perspex panels from Clarke Spares and Restorations. These parts are configured to fit the original MG factory slider type side curtains as used with the aluminum hardtop. I believe the rear panel is the same for the 1600 style single slider type units. They also fit some of the aftermarket dual slider side curtains (including the Moss Motors aluminum frame units). This 4-panel set is nicely detailed, including the original "Perspex" brand stamped into the lower front corner of the front panels. They should be a simple snap in installation, when a couple of small exceptions.

Original dual panel side curtains, as used with the factory aluminum hardtop, have the front panel fixed and the rear panel sliding. The Moss dual panel units have both panels sliding, with a bit of felt in the tracks for the front slider panel. I have found with time and much use that I would seldom ever open the front panel, and would in fact often be irritated if it happen to open itself from vibration or wind buffeting. At one time I had pressed a small rectangular aluminum shaft key in the track to hold the front panel in place so it could not slide open. The Clarke replacement panels are designed to have fixed front panels, which are just a bit taller than the sliding front panels. It is necessary to remove the felt anti-rattle packing from the outer track in the Moss dual slider units before installing the new Clarke fixed front panels.

Having done this on one side I found the replacement front panel to fit a little loose, While removing the felt packing on the second side curtain I was careful to leave the felt in place in the top track for the length of the replacement panel while removing the felt the rest of the way around. This worked out well leaving just enough space for the new panel to seat and slide with a firm push with no rattle space. I suppose individual installations may vary slightly due to assembly tolerances.

I did have one small problem with the Clarke panels. The angled front edge of the front panels did not align properly with the frame, leaving a small wedge shape open gap at the front near the bottom. This has an easy fix. I installed the panel and pushed it full forward as far as possible into the front slot, then scribed a mark on the panel using the front frame as a straight edge. I then removed the panel, clamped it down with the edge slightly extended beyond the edge of a table top, and used a circular sander to remove excess material outside of the scribe line. After de-burring the edges it was a perfect match to the frame when installed.

The last step of installation is to fix the front panel so it will not move. The easiest way to do that may be to pinch the edge of the track at the back corner of the front panel to keep it in place. My prior method also works, installing a rectangular aluminum key in the slot to hold the panel in the forward position. If you put this in the top slot it hides well. You may still need to pinch the frame slightly to make the key secure. This time around with more time and patience I applied a little clear silicone sealant in the slot on three sides before installing the front panel. Immediately after installation any excess sealant can be cleaned off with mineral spirits and a soft rag (or soft paper towel), followed by a wipe down with window cleaner.

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