Magnette ZA/ZB & Varitone-Front Screen Fitting

Front Screen Fitting on Magnette ZA/ZB & Varitone

Stage 1

From what I've read and seen, the process of fitting the front windscreen, its seal (reproduction) and trim (original chrome piece) seems to be quite a diabolical process for most restorers/rebuilders. At some time or other most of us end up doing it or having it done. As the front windscreen relates to all ZA/B and Varitone Magnettes, I thought I'd post it here initially and then later overlay it into my Coupe project. The procedure can also be used on the 4/44 & 15/50 Wolseley as they share the same body shell.
Here's my take on the process.

The procedure is broken into 3 tasks:
1. Fitting the seal (new or second hand) to the screen and joining the
ends if applicable.
2. Fitting the OEM chrome trim to the seal.
3. Fitting the screen with seal and OEM trim to the windscreen aperture
of the car.

I also fitted a Wolseley 4/44 rear windscreen seal and the rear OEM MG Magnette chrome trim to my car simply because I had both of these components in good order.

The rear screen on a Varitone Magnette is write-up/project for someone else.

For this task patience will be required. There will be aggravation, a modicum of blood, the occasional expletive and sore thumbs.

As for tools & equipment I used the following:
1. Duct tape (x2)
2. Electrical tape
3. Super glue (for rubber)
4. A small blunt ended screw driver
5. A small hammer
6. A pin punch
7. Scissors
8. A pair of multigrips
9. Plastic brake hose clamp pliers (or similar)
10. An old blanket or similar
11. A good sized flat working surface
12. Whiteout pen
13. Angle grinder fitted with a 1mm slitting disc.

Fitting the New/Used Seal to the Windscreen

Place the blanket on the table and the screen on the blanket. Fit the seal to the windscreen using the duct tape to hold the seal in place as you progress around the perimeter of the glass. if you don't use the tape the seal won't sit firmly around the perimeter of the screen.

Once this is done, mark the seal at the appropriate place (whiteout pen) in readiness for the cut. Ensure that both ends are cut square. (I use a slitting disc on my angle grinder for this. Be careful.

As the seal is taped around the perimeter it should be reasonably taught. Butt the cut ends together and then add some superglue to the join (open the join with a screwdriver if needed. The ends must butt; super glue is not gap filler. Place some duct tape over the join so that the join does not open. Do this on both sides. Place masking tape under the seal at the join whilst gluing so that it does not adhere to the glass.

Refer to the pictures below.

Stage 2

Fitting the (OEM) Chrome Trim to the Seal

A few things to consider before doing this.
1. I have several original chrome trim moldings; not all are exactly the same with respect to the manner in which they lock into the appropriate channel on the windscreen seal. The difference is slight, but significant as one has a hook and the other doesn't. Look at the pictures below to see the difference.

2. Before fitting the trim piece, bend, tweak and twist it as much as possible to make it conform to the correct shape and profile of the screen seal. The screen is curved so the trim must also curve where required. It is made of brass so it can be done, but take care and be gentle!

3. Always start at a corner and work down the long straights towards the 'sliding' locking clip. When finally in place the clip is tapped or moved gently with a drift over the 'free' end. Initially it should be flush with the section it is residing on and then moved half its length over the 'free' unrestrained piece of trim to lock both pieces.

4. Tape the trim and all other sections down at regular intervals as per photos with duct tape.

* You will have very sore thumbs by the time you have the trim fully in place!

The following pix should assist:

The first image immediately below shows the back/interior face of the screen ready to be fitted to the car. Note there is no tape on this side as the seal lip needs to be pulled over the front windscreen body lip/flange.

* (As an aside, also visible is a pink sticker/label. Take a close look at the date on the second image below. The screen was a lucky find on EBAY several years ago in Sydney. The original owner had stored it under a bed)

Stage 3

Checking the Seal & Interior Wood Trim for Clearance

A brief note regarding the internal wooden trim/molding. Don't assume that the internal wooden trim will fit back in place with the 'new/repro' screen seal. It may and that could purely be luck. What if it doesn't? The windscreen with the new seal will have to be removed again, perhaps damaging something in the process.

Unless the new/repro seal has precisely the same dimensions as the OEM seal, the trim will not fit to its original position. I allowed a 5mm gap between the edge of the trim and the windscreen lip/flange when it was screwed into position, based on dimensions I derived from the new seal.

Don't assume things will be correct. When the windscreen is out, refit the trim and measure the distance. I used a disc/belt sander to make adjustments.

As my pieces were fire damaged, they were repaired and sprayed with black acrylic lacquer rather than with clear varnish. Either way check the dimensions before progressing.

Below are a series of pictures illustrating the process:

Once satisfied that the windscreen seal and the internal trim have adequate clearance, the final stage is to fit the windscreen to the car.

Stage 4

[size=large]Fitting the screen to the car[/size]

Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't. "Murphy's Law" always seems to intervene!

To fit the screen you need the following:

1. Jar of Vaseline.
2. Heavy duty cord or string. (Enough to go around the perimeter of the windscreen seal)
3. Duct tape.
4. Rags.
5. Dremel and small cylindrical grinding stone. (If the windscreen for some unaccountable reason,
just won't seem to fit into the windscreen aperture)

During the course of this exercise I actually fitted the windscreen twice. The first time failed as I couldn't get the last corner to go into place. (If this happens to you, strongly resist the temptation to force/hit or tap the windscreen into place. I did this in my early 20s; and it will lead to tears. If it doesn't fit using just firm physical pressure, then stop and remove the screen, as something is wrong)

After some work with my trusty Dremel, the screen went into place with relative ease on the second attempt.

Whenever you attempt to fit a windscreen ensure that you coat all the surfaces where the seal comes into contact with metal or the windscreen aperture, copiously with vaseline.

I fitted the screen without any assistance. It can be done, but be careful and tape the top external points to the car body using duct tape or it may just fall out and break!

It took me about 3/4 -1 hour to fit the second time. If you have a good original seal there should be no issues. My new repro seal was slightly too thick where the glass seats into its cavity. This is something you won't really be aware of until you attempt to fit it. The windscreen almost went into place. It would have been easy to force it at this point but the result would have been disastrous; and good screens are hard to come by!

In retrospect fitting a screen with the correct size seal is straight forward and not difficult. The really hard, fatiguing part is fitting the OEM chrome trim to the seal.

Here are some pictures illustrating the process:

Method used to fit the screen to its aperture

That's about the finish of this little tutorial. I'll add a couple more pictures of the screen once it's been cleaned and sealed properly. For the moment though, I'll just allow it to settle into its housing.

Here's the last pix.


#1 Ed Grant 2015-07-29 08:36
When I used to fit these type of windscreens many years ago we used a length of electrical pvc covered wiring as it didn't stretch or break as you pulled the inner rubber lip into place. Also being pvc covered it slipped easily out as the screen went into place.

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