Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Yes as the others have said, the original material is an asbestos woven mat - if it is intact and not powdering, then it's about as stable & inert as it's likely to get - years of dirt, oil & grime helps to bind it together. If you do clean it, then try just spraying a degreaser onto the mat & lightly washing it while wearing a face mask. Asbestos is nasty stuff if reduced to powder form and spread about in the air where you are breathing. In this matting & old roof sheets etc, it's basically inert until you start fiddling with it. Once you start scratching at the matting you will break down the fibers and release powdered asbestos into the air - this is illegal in your country & mine.... the laws and costs involved in disposing of asbestos are onerous, this is a case of "if it is't broken, then don't fix it" Please do take all precautions around it anyway.
I remake these from aluminium sheeting & use a modern self adhesive heat reflective & protective matting on the rear which is then further held into position by crimping over the edges. Yes it's got quite an S curve, it needs this to get around the exhaust branches, but when new the aluminium was quite soft so easily bent into shape by hand. 60 years later it's work hardened due to heat & vibration so not so easy to bend, whereas the new ones are soft and bend really easily. They will work harden over time.