TD Curtain Compartment – The Story


TD’s as many know are wonderful little British cars, well-built yet challenging on some design matters. Two mains for the electrical system that will allow a wiring harness melt down before a fuse will blow. Single cylinder brake master cylinders, the most confounded oiling system for a four banger, suicide doors that really aren’t meant to be kept closed at speed on bumpy roads… and finally a stowage compartment for the four side curtains that only Houdini can make things fit properly.

These are things you come to love and learn to live with until Dick Suffredini suggests having a hinged lid installed to ease the storage of the side curtains by dropping them into their cleverly designed home. Why didn’t the guys at MG figure this one out, they could have sold twice as many cars and still be in business today with this simple upgrade. So, out came the two screws on the top of the lid, about three nails nailed though the underside of the lid holding the back edge of the lid up to the wood wrapping the back of the tub and the ¼ “ plywood lid slid right out. Looking at the interior of the storage area I knew that needed attention also so all the old felt was scraped out, the interior wire brushed, rust converter Rustoleum was applied and a satin black enamel was applied as a final coat for additional protection. The decision was made to not line the bottom of the compartment but leave it well painted as the felt will simply retain moisture and continue to rot the bottom out. 1 yard of heavy black felt from the fabric shop and a can of 3M spray adhesive and the interior of the compartment was looking brand new in short order.

Back to the lid, at the bench was a 66 year old well-rotted piece of ¼” plywood wrapped in Rexine fabric that matched the rest of this crusty old interior so I forged ahead thinking we’ll make this one hinged and see how it works. That didn’t last long as the piece began to disintegrate on the table saw.

Into the wood loft for some new lumber, a 5 1/2” wide X 45” long by ½“ oak ply would do nicely. Using what was left of the original lid I traced the overall profile but left @3/4“ of additional depth along the front edge. Back to the table saw to cut the overall profile. Measuring a ½” to the outside of the snap buttons the template was marked at 90 degrees from front edge back 3 ½” +/- for the two side cuts, a line was drawn parallel to the back edge between these two marks to rip the hinge kerf. The hinge kerf lands @ 1/8” in front of the vertical edge of the tub surround which allows the hinged lid to open fully vertical. A plunge cut along the back kerf on the table saw from mark to mark and a trip to the band saw to cut the two side kerfs. This could be done with a jig saw or on a table saw but I wanted a narrow kerf on the sides.

I lined up the two pieces and matched the narrow kerf on the sides and replicated the kerf on the back. I like close tolerances, next I Installed two 3” brass hinges with 3/8” screws these were @ ¾” in from each edge of the opening. Then I marked the depth (front to back) the with the originals and ripped the ½” +/- extra off the front edge and dry fit the piece, it fit very well. Back to the table saw where a ¼ X 3/8” rabbit was cut along the front edge to create a stop for the front panel to nest inside the side frame and the lid when closed. I also cut the two ends of the top to a thickness of @ ¼ “ where the panel sits on the wheel arches. Everything lined up and I installed the two lid screws into the two side supports and used three 1¼ “ black sheet rock screws through the back edge underside into the tub surround. Once happy with the positioning and function of the lid, the lid was removed for upholstery.

I had been lucky to almost match the interior Rexine with an outdoor fabric. Using 3M spray adhesive I completely wrapped the new lid including hinges with material. I installed two oak cleats at the fixed side edges of the lid to allow the lid to be supported when closed. I installed new straps and snaps and the hinged lid delivered ease of loading those side curtains.

The Craven-Hall outing was February 20th and was when Dick made the suggestion for the folding lid. The next weekend I moved forward on the project and had it completed in about two long days in anticipation of taking it to the anniversary luncheon . So Dick’s husband Tom Rippert asks me about the project at the luncheon, he had seen some pictures I sent and I tell him it worked out really well. Tom then tells me of a more novel storage approach of removing the screws from the lid. Putting two short posts in the screw locations, (screws with the heads cut off) and sliding the whole lid up and out to open the storage cavity. When in place the front cover straps snap down on the lid and hold the darn thing in place against the two screw studs. To make matters even better is to approach this from the rear…thanks again Tom, pull the staples that hold the top on the tub and replace them with snaps he suggests so one can easily lift not only the lid of the compartment out but do it from the rear of the car by unsnapping the top and folding it forward. Ah, yet another new project for this coming weekend. So the solutions to storing four side curtains in their storage compartment seem to be endless although I have yet to find one on line. Can’t wait for the tech session to hear what else I could have done to this fine LBC after I thought I had done it all.

— Graham Gill

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