Member Submissions

The Kanga Cover ™ - Peter Mittler

  

   

Have you ever looked around for a shade tree when parking your car?  


Just like a mob of Kangaroos, a herd of cattle or a flock of geese, we all gravitate towards the shade trees. At the park, the beach, a car show, Bunnings car park or, like these four, on the edge of Death Valley enroute from MG2017.  We seek shade always trying to locate that ‘cooler’ spot. Simply put, the Kanga Cover™ gives you that shade and protection WHILE YOU DRIVE from spot to spot and especially when you are stopped at those infernal, interminably,  long  Perth traffic signals! 


My interest in sun protection started some years ago through a family history of skin cancer on my wife’s side.  This was followed by a trip to the North American MGB Register (NAMGBR) MG2006 convention in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where I literally cooked from the heat and decided to run with the top up, back window down and still felt like a baked, soggy wet noodle from perspiration and humidity. I arrived exhausted.



Later I saw an article on an MGB “Bimini Top” [MG Driver Nov/Dec 2012]. It looked like a promising solution to an ongoing problem: I want the top down whilst Patty wants the top up!

My wife hates “hat head” and will avoid wearing a hat at all costs.  Basically her attitude was ‘let's take the comfortable car’ and so, with marital deference, the B often sat at home.  To be honest, she was a trooper for club events and wore a hat but it was out of love for me and not the car.   I needed to solve this problem: improve  the B’s comfort whilst maintaining visual appeal and top-“down” experience.  



I ordered a Bimini top to give it a go and experienced dramatic results. Now I know why boaters use Bimini Tops and where the colloquial term “made in the shade” comes from! In fact, if you look at these photos of my MGB, you can see the temperature difference on the seats with and without the shade.

Temperature

  

As you can see there is a significant temperature reduction benefit. Furthermore, according to a UK burn centre: 


Burn is damage to your skin is caused by a temperature as low as 44 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit) for a long time. The photo are close to this range already and that was on a 33C degree day in direct sunshine.”


  

Sitting in a car that has been parked for a while in the sun and then touching a metal seat belt buckle will make it obvious that providing some sort of shade cover in an open cockpit will have huge potential safety benefits.  So we have a temperature reduction benefit. 


What else?

A huge bonus with the Kanga Cover™ for my navigator is that she does not have to wear a hat that messes up her hair. What more could you ask for? A top ‘down’ experience for me with heat and UV sun protection for her (and me)!


But there is even more. On one trip home I saw a thundercloud in my path. Anticipating hail, I preferred to not take the time to stop and remove ITCH’s Bimini to put up the hood.  Being only a couple of kilometers from home I pressed on.  The myth in sports car circles is that if you drive fast enough the rain will just go over the windscreen and you will stay dry.  Well, on the highway, maybe;  in the city? no way!  Three or four turns from home the skies opened up. With wipers and lights on the Bimini was working!!!  I got a few drips but managed to make it into the garage in relative dryness.  

Kanga Cover™ really does improve the B’s comfort and appeal. Mission accomplished!


Things to consider before acquiring a Kanga Cover™:

     

What its like      Why that’s good

 

Packs own into a bag 5” D x 39” long (130mmx1000mm)


Fits nicely in the boot. When rolled up the intrinsic curved shape works well with most small   sports car boots.

 

Installs in less than 2 minutes


On or off in any short pit stop!

 

Shades your head 


No need to wear a cap to reduce UV skin damage

 

Shades the interior surfaces


Helps to avoid skin burning temperatures

 

Stable at all speeds


No wind noise, no flapping

 

Works with rear wind blocker guards


Sun shade without losing the wind blocker

 

Width narrower than a full sized hood (top).


Getting into a sports car with the hood/top up usually   strips off your cap. The Kanga Cover’s narrower width permits easier entry and egress from the car.

 

Made from water resistant fabric 


Rain protection from a brief shower  

 

Sun resistant canvas


Sun shade, fade-resistant.

 

Comes in Black, Tan, Biscuit


Match your car’s paint or the interior.

The RV8 Kanga Cover™ prototype to production

  

Bimini tops are available in North America for MGB, MGA, MG TC, MG TD and Miata MX5 1990 up to 2006. There is no demand for MG RV8 Bimini’s because those cars were never exported to North America. 

To prove concept and get some acceptance feedback from RV8 owners here and before spending a lot of time and money to replicate the header rail, we used an old RV8 hood and some PVC pipes.  


· The Mark I prototype utilised PVC pipe for the support frame and the original hood from the RV8 donor. Figures 6-9


· The Mark II prototype used the donor’s steel header rail and black fabric with a  stainless steel support frame from an MGB Bimini top as seen in Figure 11.


  

Everything was looking fine but now we needed to figure out a way to make the header rail so that it could be repeated at a reasonable cost.

The question came, how to do it? The complex compound curve of the hollow header rail, made of two parts of steel welded together, had to be duplicated, be light enough to maneuver but still be strong and easy enough to make multiple copies. 

· 3D printing was dismissed because the ~$3000 price tag was out of the question. 

· Wood was dismissed because that would take many days of hand carving with a Spoke Shave tool or similar. 

· We decided to opt for a two-sided silicone rubber mould, which would be supported by a mould box and later a “buck”.  This would facilitate either a solid pour of resin to make a copy OR a two-sided fibreglass cloth “lay-up” to make a hollow copy.  Being familiar with fibreglass work from doing auto body repairs and re-building a canoe,  we opted for that method. It was also the least expensive and would yield a light-weight replica as long as we moulded in some sort of anchoring material for the hood clasps and fabric hold-down strip.  The donor header rail was purchased from Peter Dever in Sydney. Peter had a hood left over from converting an RV8 to a RV8 GT.

The silicone rubber is very expensive at $300 per gallon so in order to minimize the material required it was decided to make a wooden frame from bendy-ply to match the two compound curves, then pour the underside whilst supporting the upper half mounted upside down into modeling clay, then flip it over, remove the clay, use a release agent on the other side and pour the second half. [Many thanks to Will Huntley at Kirkside Products in Osbourne Park for guidance during this process]. 

Mould and Header Rail fabrication in pictures:

Many Pictures to come....

In conclusion

  

We now have a working prototype and have made two production MG RV8 Kanga Covers™ for members cars. If you are interested in one for your RV8 or indeed for your other sports car please send an email to mymgitch@gmail.com and we will see what can be arranged.