Danny Hopkins and the Practical Classics hard at work on the Riley - will it get done?

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show 2018 | NEC Birmingham | Danny Hopkins and the Practical Classics hard at work on the Riley

Danny and the Practical Classics team are hard at it in the workshop, making sure when it comes to the live build, they’re not left with egg on their faces...

Talk to any RM restoration veteran and the subject of the vinyl roof will produce a knowing look. Fitting a new roof covering and the drip moulding (guttering) to an RM Riley looks like a difficult task and guess what, it is! Getting it right is the proof of the resto pudding, a badge of honour worn proudly on top of the car… or not.

There are many different theories as to the most effective method. Most agree however - use quality materials and do it on a hot day – the roof has to be hot, and this is why it meeds doing before November and the live stage build.

I bought my kit from the RM club. The vinyl roof is attached to the body around the edges and the back window aperture. Stupidly, I removed the original roof covering ages ago. I say stupidly actually it wasn’t a bad idea… I needed to see if the wood under the metal honeycomb was sound. It was, but I lost the ability to use the original vinyl as a template. The book says that the seams should both be 20 inches from the centre line of the car. In the real world I used my judgement by standing away from the car and squinting a bit.

First the wadding was cut and glued on then trimmed. Then we spread the bedsheet over the top. This serves as a barrier between the wadding and the vinyl, helping the vinyl slide more easily as we pulled it tight and adjusted the fit. We had already prepared the roof (see previous sagas) so we knew were working over a sound base.

We cut the blanket or wadding just above the line of nail holes which held the old outer cover on. By the time we finished on day 1 the blanket/wadding was smooth with no lumps, bumps or dips – although my fat fingers were fatter and more bruised than they were in the morning.

Next day was hot… we laid the new cover over the roof and got it into position – then we rolled the RMA outside to ‘bake’ in the sun. We tacked it loosely in place with a few nails half knocked in and the seams as close to perfect as we could manage. The heat in the material made it ever so slightly pliable, which meant we could pull it and get the wrinkles out.

The hardest place to get crease-free was around the rear quarter curves especially along the creases (imaging a bathing cap with a seam… that is where the wrinkles happen). David Gough’s suggestion that we clamp the vinyl with two pieces of wood at each seam end worked wonders. We could pull hard enough to take the crinkles out. It took several hours of nail removal and refixing but before the end of the day we were happy. The roof was on… now we needed to fix it.

On day three we fitted the new drip moulding which came in three sections. I can’t lie, the corners were tough, leaving me with semi-arthritic fingers and thumbs. Two sides done the third piece of moulding was fitted across the back of the roof under the rear window. The following hours were spent masking, sealing and paint the sections… at the end of which, we had a watertight RMA… ready for the NEC.