Displayed in the lobby at Enclave 2022 were some enlargements of photographs of Len Lord and Donald Healey at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show taken, reputedly, shortly after they had consummated the deal for the Healey 100 to be manufactured by The Austin Motor Company as the Austin-Healey 100.
These were wonderful historic photos but what particularly caught my eye was the rubber seal between the fold down windshield and the body of that first car. The fit of the seal was dreadful!
This particular detail has been the nemesis of many Austin Healey 100 restorers because, with the curves near the ends of the lower section of the windshield frame, it is very difficult to eliminate the “buckle” of the seal at its outer ends.
The upper edge of this seal, like many others on convertibles of the day, is “T” shaped and the top of that “T” slides into a channel on the lower edge of the chromed brass frame. The problem is that when the upper edge of the seal is inserted into the channel the lower edge gets crumpled up near the ends and buckles just like the ones in the famous photographs.
Well, there is a restorer’s trick which can be used to eliminate that buckling.
Once it is correctly inserted into the channel gently stretching the outer 6 inches or so of the upper edge of the seal, the area which is inserted inside the channel, will eliminate the buckling. This process requires a little finesse to avoid pulling the seal out of the channel on the inside of the curve but, when done correctly, this stretching will eliminate the buckling completely however, when the tension is released, the seal will slide back along the channel to its normal length and the buckle will return.
Having examined quite a number of these windshield frames I have observed that the outer ends of the lower seal channel are almost always punched down slightly and that is the key.
Punching down the channel whilst the seal is in its stretched condition prevents the seal from retracting to its natural length and the buckling is permanently eliminated.
I’m not a big fan of punching down the channel as brass has a tendency to crack fairly easily when bent so I just put a couple of drops of Crazy Glue onto the seal then temporally clamp it to prevent it from retracting.
Bet they couldn’t do that at Earl’s Court