Thursday, 10 November 2016

Light Weight Tonneau from Soft Bits for Sevens

Having been on a few 'events' where the typical British (or French!) weather has got the better of me, I though it was about time to invest in a portable shower cover for the car.  After-all driving around with a full car cover in the boot of your Seven isn't really a great use of the limited space you have!

So I thought the best place to start my search for a Tonneau would be Soft Bits for Sevens, so I rang to speak to Nick, only to be informed of the very sad news of his passing earlier on this year - which quite frankly shocked me, as I guess it did many others too.

Tristan has picked up the helm, and all my questions have been answered promptly, so it's a big thumbs up to him and the team there.  As I've got the 620R seats in my car, there wasn't a Tonneau with the correct sized seat pockets, so I had to make a cardboard template to send to Tristan, and also grab a few measurements, so they could make the tonneau to fit - so if anyone with a 620R, or super light twenty want this cover the hard work is done for you!

Here is my Fitting Guide for the Light Weight Tonneau:-
Firstly test fit the tonneau to the car so that you can see how to stretch the cover to get everything reasonably taught before you start putting holes in it for the press studs buttons.  I found that low-tack green masking tape worked a treat at keeping the tonneau taught, and didn't leave a heap of adhesive everywhere that'd need cleaning up later.
Tonneau test fitted and held in taught in place with low tack masking tape.
With the tonneau reasonably taught and securely held in place, next is to mark out where you want the press studs to be fitted, I found using a paint marker pen worked well.  Just pull the cover taught, gently press over the area where the press stud is and it's easy to feel where the centre is, and just mark this ready for cutting later.
Marking out press stud button holes prior to hole punching with a paint marker works well
Marking out press stud button holes prior to hole punching with a paint marker works well
With the holes marked out, it's just a case of punching a small hole (large enough to fit the press stud button) through, using a hole punch tool.  (picture below is of boot cover being holes being punched)
Using a punch tool makes it easy to create perfect small holes in boot covers and tonneaus too
Using a punch tool makes it easy to create perfect small holes in boot covers and tonneaus too
With the holes punched, all you need to do is put the button and eyelet through the hole you've just created and using a press stud tool, lightly hammer the top to bend the brass of the button around the eyelet and it's secured.
Use a press stud tool to fit the buttons to the eyelets
Use a press stud tool to fit the buttons to the eyelets
For the leading edge of the tonneau, you'll need to drill into your scuttle a very small hole and fit a press stud with either self tapping screw or a rivet.
Tonneau leading side edge is secured by this press stud
Tonneau leading side edge is secured by this press stud
Rather than screwing into the side of the scuttle willy nilly, I thought a nice and clean way of fitting the lower forward press stud would be to drill out this rivet (pictured below) and to replace it with another rivet and press stud.  I tried that, and made a right old mess of it, as the rivet wasn't long enough, so my recommendation is to buy some of the longer rivets before you give this a try.  The length and size required are:-
If you're going to drill out these rivets you'll need some 
When fitting a new tonneau (or building a Caterham) it's worth investing in a decent Stanley Rivet gun, as one of the heads on it is small enough to fit inside the press stud and the action when the rivet pin snaps is a little less forceful than a 'cheapo' alternative that won't fit inside the press stud too.  Anyway, you can get yourself one from Screwfix:-
Stanley 6-MR100 Rivet Gun has a head small enough to fit into a press stud - making it perfect for this job
Stanley 6-MR100 Rivet Gun has a head small enough to fit into a press stud - making it perfect for this job
At the rear of the tonneau, I used a back to back stud, so that the boot cover can press onto that - see image below.
Back to back stud used on rear of tonneau
Back to back stud used on rear of tonneau
And then it should be finished
Now time for a test run - luckily I took the car away for a weekend; and it rained!  Not sure it raining over the weekend was lucky or not, but it gave the cover a good test!
Soft Bits for Sevens Light Weight Tonneau fitted and being put to the test
Soft Bits for Sevens Light Weight Tonneau fitted and being put to the test
Overall Impressions
I'm really happy with the size of the tonneau when it's folded neatly and put in it's bag.  It weighs next to nothing and takes up hardly any room in the boot of your Seven, and as such means I'll take it me more often!  The bungee idea is a great simple way to prevent the water pooling and eventually dripping through.

The tonneau is supplied with a nice small bag, and as the tonneau folds up really small, it's not a squeeze to get it into the bag either.
Tonneau packs easily into this supplied bag
Tonneau packs easily into this supplied bag
The water tightness of it on the first test was 'ok' as it's more of a 'shower cap' than a full on waterproof car cover, but nevertheless, I'm happy with the speed you can fit the shower cap, and the subsequent protection it provides.

A link to the soft bits for sevens shop is here:-
http://www.softbitsshop.co.uk 

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