More Bodywork

Whilst I wait for some funds to buy some big parts, I’ve started on the upper body work.  I’ll need to restore the doors, bonnet, boot and the screen surrounds.  I thought I’d tackle the front windscreen surround first, for no other reason than I saw a great YouTube tutorial (Fitzee’s Fabrications) where he did a similar repair.  Keen to put my new-found knowledge to the test. I popped out the screen in readiness. Once removed I could see that there were about a half dozen areas that would need some attention.  I started on one of the easier sections, but despite this, it was still a complex piece which curved in all three planes.  

I first made the largest piece to a rough oversize and then welded the return on.



Once complete, the third piece, the window edge, was welded on too.



All of this was done without removing any of the existing material, indeed it was used as the template for the new patch.  Many people fall into the trap of removing all the rust, then try to make a suitable replacement.  But it’s now become very difficult as you’ve taken all reference to the old piece away. 

Once I had made my new section, it was time then however, to remove the old rusty bits. It was all cleaned, rust treated and given a thick coat of paint to prevent a repeat of the damage.



A few test fits and some careful trimming ensured that the new metal was a good fit. 



After welding and a bit of grinding, I was pleased with how it turned out.  Back-in-the-day I’d have simply used some wire mesh and covered it over with filler!  No wonder none of the cars I owned in the 80’s are still on the road!



The next piece, being a corner, would be a little more difficult but flushed with the success of my first attempt, I was optimistic.



The first templated piece was difficult to hold in place as well as trying to hold the second, and the welding gun.  So I employed the help of a couple of blind rivets.  I can easily weld the holes up later.

 

To complete the piece was just a repeat of the previous repair, and it wasn’t long before it was complete.



A quick measure, and then another quick measure to be sure, and the hole was cut ready to accommodate it.  Again, the inside was treated and painted to prevent further corrosion.



Before it was welded in.



And finished.



I was happy that this too turned out well.  I’ve about four more sections to do before I turn to the next thing.  Not sure, but maybe the doors…..


I started on the OS doors first, and removed them with relative ease.  The front door is in very good shape and doesn't require any welding, but will need rust convertor and proper coating to prevent any further rusting.  The rear, too, is good and needs just a couple of areas to be repaired.  The first is a section at the rear/bottom corner. 

It didn't appear too bad from the outside, but as always with rust, most of it is hidden away.

I opened up the affected section and welded in a patch to suit. 

All good so far.  Next was an area in the centre of the door.  There's a bracket there for the winder mechanism, and to prevent the door skin from vibrating, a hessian type pad is sandwiched between the bracket and door skin.  Of course, this moisture trap has caused all of the problems.  So I cut away the door skin and revealed the rusty bracket.

It was too difficult to repair in place, so it had to be removed.  Drilling out the spot welds was straight forward enough and it popped out without an issue.  Although when I saw just how bad it was, I decided to make a new replacement. 

Whilst the paint was drying on that, I prepared the door skin patch and started the welding. 

I had an airline trigger to keep everything cool and worked really, really slowly to keep the temperatures down.  I thought I was doing really well, until about 80% of the way through, I heard a 'dong!', and knew right away what it was.  The door skin had warped. Bugger!  Then I foolishly compounded the problem.  Rather than sit down and think carefully how best to proceed, I ploughed right on.  In hindsight, it would have been better to simply over-cut the repair and start again, but I instead tried to use heat to iron out the distortion.  It worked quite well, but it really isn't good enough. No pictures as I was too busy panicking!  I will try to dolly it out tomorrow, but there's not much access to the rear.  Else, if that fails, then a huge repair section is the next step. 

So, all in all, I'm feeling pretty hacked off tonight, not only because things didn't go to plan and I have a lot more work, but more so because I didn't stop and think. Ah well, live and learn.

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Right, a new day and a new set of eyes and all that.  I made an assessment of what was required and the best way to proceed.  The original patch was removed and this released a lot of the tension in the panel.  The area above the patch was salvageable, but the section below, unfortunately not.  Well, not without a whole lot of effort and it probably required skills I don’t have.  So, because the section above was good, a slightly smaller ‘huge patch’ was measured up.  This time, rather than trying to butt weld the join and risk causing shrinkage in the joint again, I opted for a safer overlap joint.  This way, any shrinking will be in the overlap so won’t pull the rest of the door panel in.  The patch edge is stepped using a joggler tool, so that the area that fills the hole is raised level with the door.  Holes are drilled and then the panel is plug welded, using a few temporary screws to hold it tight during that process (I did originally try pop-rivets, but they weren’t ideal).  The welding all went well with no further issues or warping, so a big relief there!  A skim of filler over the top to make it flat and true and it was good to go. 



Most of it was sanded away though, along with the remaining original door paint.  With any old paint, it’s better to remove it completely rather than risk a reaction caused by laying modern paints and solvents on top. 



I sprayed on a nice layer of etch primer using a paint gun kindly donated by my uncle Robert (Cheers Rob!).  I chose etch primer rather than epoxy primer as it has better anti-rust properties and for this reason is often used for classic restorations.  I’d never used a spray gun before but have watched many YouTube tutorials in preparation for today’s work.  The type I have is a LPHV (low pressure/high volume) gun and I set the controls according to that type of gun at around 25psi, but the spray mist was very blobby, and the paint wasn’t atomising at all.  I cranked up the pressure until at around 50 psi I started to get an acceptable mist.  I’m sure I can dial in the settings far better when I get used to using it, but I was quite pleased with the results.  At least I can cut-my-teeth with the primer on the doors to gain some experience and knowledge before the ‘proper’ paintwork needs to be done.

There is some ‘orange peel’ to it, but that’s absolutely fine, this is only the first coat of etch primer.  It will be wet sanded out before the sealer, primer, base and clear coats.  My main concern was that the panel was flat and true without any wavy bits, and as you can see here by the straight line reflections, it’s absolutely spot-on. 



Next up is a job I’ve been putting off for quite a while.  It’s the two sections between the grille and the radiator.  I should have done it when I was doing the underside bodywork but I never seemed to get around to it because I knew it was going to be a PITA.  The issue is that the car has, at some point in its chequered history, had a small front-end bump.   This resulted in the bodywork getting a bit out of shape (which I have 90% rectified), and also the structure behind it getting crumpled.  Here are the two sections which I cut out a while ago, to enable me to pull out the body. It’s probably difficult to see where they fit, but you can see that the one on the left is crumpled, and the one on the right has been straightened.



Unfortunately despite straightening it, it was still deformed and they also had a lot of rust damage, so it was far easier to simply replace them with some from my usual supplier.  Well, that was the plan until I saw the price of them.  Over £220 each plus delivery. I needed another plan.

Whilst I considered my options, I removed what remnants were left after hastily cutting out the damaged bits a year or two ago.  Mostly involved prying apart the spot welds and grinding to clean the surfaces up ready for welding. 

 

Well, there was no way I was going to spend £450 + on a pair of panels that would never be seen again, as they are completely hidden when fitted.  Also I didn’t have £450.  My only option was to try to fabricate some myself.  There is no way to make these in a single piece as they are far too complex a pressing.  So, I started with the largest (and easiest) piece and after a couple of templates, I committed one to metal and test fitted it.



I became a bit engrossed after this and forgot to capture pictures of me making the next few sections, but you can see how they went together here -



The box bit was a folded piece and then welded to the flat triangle bit.  Then a repeat of the process for the nearside.



Again, I forgot to take more pictures after completing the welding and dressing it, before I knew it I’d already started on applying the rust prevention.



I have to say, I’m extremely pleased at how it came out in the end.  It isn’t perfect by any means, but it was very difficult to fabricate two mirrored pieces and get them to fit precisely, but it’s certainly good enough. Also, nobody will see it ever again.  I gave it a coat of brushed on paint to finish.  When this dries, I need to drill some holes for drainage and make the small plate that covers the access hole at the bottom, which will be bolted into a pair of rivnuts either side. 




Scuttle Panel & Vent.

The scuttle panel/vent on my car was by far the worst part of the upper body and I've been dreading tackling it. For a start, the piano hinge is inaccessible as it was welded in the shell prior to assembly and also they thought it would be a good idea to make it out of plain steel. Mine, like almost all of resto Jags, had seized. So to gain access to replace the hinge, I needed to chop out the part of the body between the scuttle and the windscreen, which ironically wasn't rusty at all.



You can see the piano hinge spot welded to the body and the interior flap and the cut I’ve made to enable me to remove it. I needed to cut off both sides and carefully remove the spot welds from each side trying not to make too much damage.  Here’s the flap with the seized piano hinge which has now been cut away completely.

 

So, after carefully praising apart the spot welds, I attached the new hinge.  I can’t weld it in place because my MIG welder can’t weld stainless steel, so a bolted arrangement was the only answer.


I've put it to one side for now, ready for reassembly.  I could see that inside of the plenum was also rusted through. I made a patch and welded that in along with a new edge to the letterbox hole. It's not pretty as it was very difficult to weld 3" down inside a hole. Also, it's inside the heater duct so will never be seen again. You can see it in the centre of the photo below.

Also here is the end surround of the scuttle. Again, it was very rusty. Cost aside, there are no replacement panels made for this section, so I have no choice but to make my own. I've made one for this side and it turned out quite well, just need to do the same on the opposite side. Then it was just a case of welding it in.



There are a few pinholes after grinding and dressing the weld, but I’ll leave those until I get the welder out again.

 

 

More soon!