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Body Upgrades

Fitting bonnet gas struts

One day whilst buying new wipers at Welsh MG, I noted they had a very nice kit as below for a reasonable £35.00.

Obviously, there was nothing much wrong with the original bonnet support, either you had the swing down rod that you latched into position or later you got the self latching, extendable support.

The down side was that the bonnet was supported on one side only and as I have seen a number of times the bonnets sags drunkenly on the unsupported side, especially the later steel bonnets that are obviously heavier.  Apart from that, I have been spoilt on the MG ZT having the gas-filled struts that means the bonnets lifts all by itself!  So I was keen to give these a try.

It shouldn't take more than 30 minutes or so to fit these, but the pleasure of watching the bonnet rise all by itself once you have lifted it a short way is priceless, as they say in the MasterCard advertisements!

Note that this set are the type that fit at a more upright angle and other kits have the bonnet end nearer the hinge, being more horizontal and thus less in the way when the bonnet is raised.  The bonnet can be raised higher with these than as per the original strut so bear that in mind if you have a low roof in your garage.

There is a similar kit available for the tailgate or bootlid that also makes more sense if you use your MGB regularly as it aids opening the heavy tail-gate if your arms are fill of other stuff.  These kits have good instructions and work well, but as noted below, owners with the late rubber bumper cars need to take care as the in-line servo affects fitting.

So why buy this kit?  Sure, a number of sites will list the possible donor cars that could provide a suitable gas-damper strut but then you still have to make the brackets to fit, so the kit has all that done for you - worth paying the price for that alone, in my opinion.

Rubber Bumper Owners be WARNED!  This kit does not fit straight out of the box!

Well, what started as a simple enough job with relatively clear instructions soon became a major headache!  The instructions were clear enough as to which way round the brackets pointed, but that didn't allow for the conflict between the bracket and the master cylinder reservoir on the inline servo unit fitted to the 1976> B/BGTs. 

The bonnet is easy enough, mine had holes both sides, and I started by fitting the off-side strut first using the existing strut to provide support.  If you need to drill the bonnet for the brackets (3mm drill), then I would suggest the use of a stop to prevent the accidental drilling or pimpling of the bonnet skin when drilling into the bonnet brace below.  The top brackets are fitted with two self-tapping screws provided.  The holes in the bracket didn't seem to quite be the right distance apart compared to the original holes.  I managed to tighten both screws and get a good seat, but it may help to enlarge the bracket holes to ensure the screws tighten up properly. 

However, when I looked at the lack of space at the lower end next to the reservoir, I realised that by inverting the bracket it would possible just fit.  This lower mounting requires two holes to be drilled using a 6mm drill.  I made the holes slightly larger to allow for the longer, M8 bolts I used instead of the M6 provided with the Nyloc nuts.  I fitted the bracket inverted but found that it forced the bonnet to sit proud.  The solution appeared to be to keep the bracket inverted but to lower it using spacers.  This seemed to work well, so I continued with the near side.

The new gas strut on its own is insufficient to hold the weight of the bonnet so before removing the old strut, I would recommend bracing the bonnet securely!

The near side involved, after removing the old strut, the cutting off of the original metal bracket.  This was easily done with a junior hacksaw, and don't forget to clean and paint the bare metal when finished.   Once both gas struts were in place the whole assembly could be tested.  Once the bonnet drops below a point about a foot above the slam panel, its weight will overcome the gas struts and it will fall by itself.  As mine was fortunately well aligned, the bonnet now drops straight into the locked position.  It requires a reasonable effort to pull the bonnet down, but not sufficient to bend the panel.

For the price, I think it is well worth doing, although I appreciate it won't be something you want to do if you like your originality.

Watch this space, I have just bought a similar kit off Ebay for the tailgate, and from all accounts, it should be equally good fun watching that rise by itself!

If you are in the US, then take a look at The Little British Car Company for similar kits with shiney strut covers for added bling!


Self raising bonnets...

Bonnet struts MGB