New product report: Original Tooling Located MGB Triplex Windshield
By Pat Fewell, Moss Motors Corporate Purchasing Manager
Photography by the author
When customers began to complain about fitment issues on our MGB windscreens, Michael Grant, our Product Quality Manager, alerted me to the issues our customers were struggling with. As we reviewed the reported issues he test fit Moss Motors windshields without problems but realized that most installers saw so few MGB’s that they lacked the requisite experience to install the glass and its rubber channel correctly. Moss had sourced glass from all available sources but each seemed to have its own variations in thickness, curvature or clarity. I set out to find the original MGB windscreen tooling so that Moss Motors could provide the highest quality glass available. Michael then researched and wrote a comprehensive instruction document to accompany it.
After an exhaustive search I found that upon changing hands four different times, the original tooling, dies and Triplex logo are under the ownership of Pilkington Classics, a division of Pilkington Group, a leading producer of flat and automotive glass around the World.
I traveled to Pilkington Classics and met their staff of fourteen
employees in the town of Queen-borough, on the Isle of Sheppy, in the county of Kent in England. If you are imagining a scene of emerald green grass where snow white ewe lambs graze on rolling hillsides then wake up. The Isle of Sheppy is in the Thames (pronounced ‘Tems’) estuary, which is the place where the brown water of the River Thames meets the grey water of the English Channel to form a sort of murky soup. It’s like Cleveland without the charm. They have been making windscreens there since the 50’s and have almost never thrown away any tooling. They don’t do mass production but do have a treasure trove of windscreen tooling for classic British Automobiles.
I went there in search of the perfect MGB Windscreen. We have had complaints about the quality of our windscreens for years and have tried sources from all over the globe. But let me back up. I was wearing my feet out at Automechanika last year and came across the huge, very impressive booth of Pilkington Automotive. Usually I walk right on by these kinds of displays because a company the size of ours typically can’t do business successfully with massive enterprises. What caught my eye was a little brochure at the bottom of a display case that advertised Pilkington Classics, OE quality, low volume windscreen production. I knew I had to go see this place for myself. For one reason or another it took me a while to get in touch with the General Manager, Peter Swann, but eventually we set up a time when we could meet and I could get a tour of the factory.
It was completely charming, Peter Swan was gracious and funny, and he took me all around the shop. I saw the tooling rooms, the cutting area, the bending dies, the oven, the autoclave and the testing room. There is a wealth of experience in the staff. As I said before, they have a huge stockpile of old production tooling for classic cars. Pilkington bought all the old Triplex tooling from the Kings Norton factory in Birmingham. For the MGB owner these tools, and therefore these windscreens, are the most original available anywhere. They are making the early windscreens in clear and the late ones in both clear and green tinted, they will have the Triplex logo, and should be available by this fall.
Original templates called “run rounds” are used to cut inner and outer layers of MGB windshields from flat glass stock. These bending dies are coded to match the run round pattern. When heated in the oven the die ensures the correct windshield curvature.
Original test fixtures confirm that the glass produced matches the original pattern. For the finishing touch, Original Triplex logo is sandwiched between the glass layers and poly butaryl safety layer.