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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Bonnet

Guess this goes for all midgets, but of late, the poor shut line of my bonnet has been bothering me a little of late. Having done a fair bit of work on the car, the things that at first were down the list are now top of it. It seems fine at the bulkhead and reasonably flush at the front end atop the grill, but about half way down the wing edges it is definitely pround - by about 20mm in places. Spoils the lines a little I feel. It also wobbles about a bit at speed. Nothing dramatic, but perceptible nevertheless.

In all probability, it has been changed from the original, so given the er ..unique way MGs were assembled - probabaly not surprising that a different bonnet does not fit quite correctly. I've tried several different heights of the front latch pin - no improvement.

Any clues - short of bashing it with a big mallet - as to how to improve matters.

Many thanks


Mark O

Are the front wings original?

I'm sure I heard that replacements were a bit flatter than original...or maybe they have become flattened from extended periods of leaning on them ;o)
Dave O'Neill2

Dave - who knows! Car has been extensively restored, so unsure. I am thinking I will just have to live with it.......
Mark O

I had that problem too. This is what I did:

I got a piece of 4" X 4" fencing post and cut it to length to fit tightly as a prop under the middle of the edge of the wing gutter and down beside the chassis rail to the ground. I then bounced up and down on the front of the car for several minutes, pushing down hard on the slam panel and around the front of the wing by the headlamp cowl. Then removed the post and carefully closed the bonnet to see how it would now match to the curve of the wing. It made no difference at all! I gave up!
Guy Weller

That edge would need a lot of force to bend it methinks and probably unseat the fixing bolts for the wing if they are as badly corroded as mine.

Isn't it more likely someone had a light front end shunt and it bent the bonnet? 3 corners and a few other bits of mine have been bent or have rusted away over the years as I found over the last couple of years but fortunately the bonnet fits acceptably. I seem to remember my early driving years in the 70's front ends of shunts had bent bonnets as a matter of course. (not my shunts may I add but mates in their parents cars ho ho).
Dave Squire

I don't think it is caused by front end shuts as that would almost certainly cause creased or ripples in the bonnet. I think that the real culprit is the positioning of the bonnet stay. And after years of use it adds some extra curvature to the bonnet. Mine is certainly worse on the driver's side where the stay is.
Guy Weller

20 mm in inches for modern day civilized society is just over 3/4s of an inch...and thats alot

so im pretty thats way out of factory spec of whats excepetable even by 40 year old standards

I have to think its been hit in.front end damage at sometime in its past to be that much out of wack

bondo ??? happens

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I seriously doulbt thats a relaxing flex...the steel is still fairly strong and.those rain channels... are really stiff

do you have photos we can see
Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Mine has a Heritage shell.... and the same bonnet line problem.
If you use a support strut to one side the bonnet acquires a twist, just to make matters worse.

Fit an HIF44 - you will be glad of the extra 20mm!
G Williams (Graeme)

If I read that correctly then the middle of one side of the bonnet stands about 20mm above the edge of the adjacent wing. I would look for any wrinkles in the lower edge of the bonnet flange in that area as flattening them would flatten the bonnet which is what you want. Otherwise if the edge is straight then stretching the lower edge of the flange will achieve the same result and can be done by hammering the flange on its lower edge to stretch it. Easy does it as on such a shallow curve little stretching should be required to correct the problem. Of course a picture of the problem would be useful. BTW been a while since I saw a spridget bonnet edge so are there any stiffeners at the side along the length to hamper such an operation.
David Billington

Guy - Indeed it is most pronounced on the driver's side - where the bonnet stay is. What could be done here? Reduce height of the folded stay somehow???

David - yes appreciate what you are saying. May give it a bash!

Oh and HIF44 installed but no fouling issues - hurrah!


Mark O

So perhaps someone used to lean / rest / slipped and used the open bonnet by hanging on it when it was on the stay and bent it? I do hang onto the bonnet on the modern but that has a very curved strong bonnet that does not twist. There is no way I would hang on the midgets bonnet in case I broke it because it seams so flimsy. Was always worried about bending it when it was off the car for a few months.
Dave Squire

Dave - Indeed. I always use a length of 4x2 as a prop at the front of the bonnet to hold it open. The stay always seems as if it will collapse under the weight of the bonnet at any moment.
Mark O

Having said all this Mark, I would think carefully about any bending that could be done cos your paint job could become cracked and that would be a shame on your very nice looking motor.
My motor is still a work in progress original celly (3rd respray at least) type dull / underseal in places vermillion with the dinks associated with an uncaring 90s driver (PO) so I would have a go on bending mine before the paint is applied. Don't think I would want to if mine wasn't being sprayed and had your paint job.
Dave Squire

I think the first thing is to try adjusting the bonnet fit as far as possible to minimise that problem. Adjust at the back with the hinges, using washers to alter the angle between the hinge bracket and the bonnet to raise or lower the bonnet relative to the scuttle. Then adjust the front locating pin and the 2 screw down rubber buffers. Then assess the amount of curvature at mid point down the side of the bonnet and decide whether you want the hassle and risk involved in doing anything about it.

In theory would be that you stretch the downwards facing flange along the edge of the bonnet to flatten the amount of curvature. However I doubt that this could be achieved effectively on a DIY approach by simple hammering. The flange is double thickness being a spot welded seam between the bonnet skin and the edge reinforcing and I doubt that hammering would work. I think the only way it could be stretched would be with a professional metal stretching machine.

But I do think that it could be done by cutting a series of small slits in the flange, recurving the bonnet edge to match the wing gutter and then welding up the now slightly opened up slits. Clearly not something you would want to do with a nicely painted bonnet!
Guy Weller

Yep, Guy sounds about right methinks. I wouldn't risk it unless I was respraying or had the colour to match and it was simple to do. Your car is much too nice to risk bending and cracking the paint unless you are respraying I think.
BTW just a long shot but the rubber buffers on the sides of the wing gutters on my car made a big difference to the bonnet alignment and fit. (They were long gone when I got the car). I replaced them to reduce rattle and found bonnet now sits in place properly with a nicer thunk rather than clang rub rattle.
Dave Squire


Many thanks - Yes would not jepardize the paint job for the sake of a slightly pround bonnet, but some useful pointers nevertheless.

Mark O

This thread was discussed between 18/02/2013 and 20/02/2013

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