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
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.
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.
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
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.
I fitted in the inside flap with the new stainless piano hinge, hopefully this will last longer than the old mild steel version. So if the mild steel one lasted 55 years, and the stainless lasts twice as long, then I’ll be 165 by time it needs replacing again. That’ll do. So here it is installed.
And finally, the last two sections welded in to complete the job. Although it doesn’t look too great because it’s not shiny where I applied the anti-rust and it was before I ground (grinded?) the last of the welds off.
Got slightly side-tracked with car, although still car related, I bought some wood to make these jack-stands to raise it up by 14”. This will enable me to finish off the things left underneath.
Also, as the car is so much higher, it makes it an awful lot easier to access and also the panels will be at the right level for me when I’m doing the paintwork prep.
I’ve now started on the interior. The headlining was one of the last things to remove, and underneath was in a right state.
I knew it was going to be bad because the rust had penetrated the skin and there was a hole about 2cm in diameter, although after cleaning, it was about 4cm in diameter! Luckily that was the only damage. I was really concerned about repairing this because of the potential to distort the roof if I welded it. I did even consider using a fiberglass patch underneath and fill over the top. But, after giving it further consideration, I know I’d never be happy with that, so out with the welder again. I took it so slowly and cooled each tack before continuing to reduce the chance of warpage. I also made the metal patch the same size as the hole, rather than slightly smaller, this would reduce the amount the weld would shrink. Well, good luck or good judgement, who knows, but the repair went perfectly. So after welding, sanding, rust-proofing and painting, it looks a whole lot better.
Next I wanted to sound deaden the interior. The car originally had a jute/hessian soundproofing material installed which can cause damp. I will use more modern materials and I started with the anti-vibration layer made of bitchimen with a thick foil top layer. The stops the panels resonating like a drum skin.
I started with the newly finished
roof, and then the rear seat area. Next
is the floorpan which I’ve prepared with a final coat
of paint to completely seal everything before fitting.
The off-side doors have been restored, so time to tackle the near-side. Unfortunately these were not in great shape, far worse than the opposite side. Previously I needed to tackle only the skins, but now I’m faced with having to replace parts of the frame too. The drain point has clearly blocked here, and the metal around that has suffered.
I drilled out the rivets, removed the drain plate and made a template of the area I identified as needing replacement before committing to metal.
And welded the first joint.
Now that’s complete, it’s out with the old…………
………..and in with the new.
Quite a bit of crud on that door skin inner panel, but I cleaned it all off and other than one or two pinholes, it’s quite solid. A layer of rust convertor and some paint and because the metal is quite thick, I’m sure it will last for enough years for me not to worry. I cut a little slot in the bottom and made a replacement drain clip. This holds the door rubber away from the frame so that any water in the door can run away freely. The door is not finished yet and will need further work in the paint prep stage, but at least it’s mostly solid now. Just a little patch required where the black sharpie is marked out.
So that’s the rear of the door done, now the front corner. I chopped out all of the unsalvageable bits, and this is what was left. The door skin also needs attention too, but I’ll look at that after the frame has been completed
The previous corner was a bit difficult to weld because it meant I was working on an inside angle of 90 deg. It’s difficult to make a neat weld, so for this one I adopted a slightly different method. I first made the base plate which I beat over a dolly to get the curved lip.
Then I made the rectangular bit to fill the remaining hole. This time all of the welds were on flat, butt joined pieces. This was far easier to both weld and dress. I will use this method by default in the future I think. The hole has been made in the bottom as a drain for rainwater. A spacing piece will be added later to stop the door rubber closing it off.
Not the best photo, but here it is completed.
The rear door needed a repair panel all across the bottom of the frame, and was the worst of all four.
For this repair I used another new (to me at least) technique to replace the rusty section. It’s called a ‘cut and butt’. I cut out the majority of the old rusted panel, but left a generous edge. I then placed the new panel, again oversized, on top of the existing section. I then used a grinder to cut through BOTH panels at the same time. This way the excess from each panel is cut away, and the new panel pushed flush into the gap, ready to weld. You need to do this in small sections so that the pieces remain tight together until they are welded. It’s hard to explain, but if you imagine you had two sheets of paper, and overlapped them generously, then you got a sharp knife and cut both sheets at the midpoint of the overlap. Because you are cutting both pieces together, once you remove the excess, the join between the sheets will be perfect because they were cut together.
Here, I’m half way along. Cutting as I
go, then welding afterwards.
The end result was quite pleasing.
The corner section was a bit tricky as there is a contour towards the rear. I used some packing pieces and pressed it together in a vice. Not ideal but I don’t (or rather didn’t **) have a hydraulic press.
I got a bit carried away and forgot to take progress photos, but it turned out quite well. Here it is, although not yet completely finished, and it’s sat on top of the front door which is now complete.
The door is not yet complete, but when I struggled with using the vice to make the previous part, I got a little side-tracked and decided to make a homemade hydraulic press instead. It’s complete now and the paint is drying on it, so I’ll include some images of it next time. Hopefully some more real car work will be done and get those doors finished at long last.
Update June 2022
So, I’ve been side-tracked with a few things lately, but here’s a quick update on the work completed beforehand. I’m finally getting close to completing the welding. It’s been a long time, but the end really is within sight. It’s just the boot and boot gutter to do now, and a few little spots around the car to tidy up the loose ends. But before I tackle that, I decided to refit the doors as I was fed up of tripping over them. They were bare whilst I was doing the welding on them, and I refitted just the components that would allow the doors to close and lock. I needed this so I could tackle the panel gaps and door alignment. It’s a two/three man job, but as I’m only one man (well, probably one and a half with that belly) it was really quite a struggle. The doors, even with all the glass and furniture removed, still weigh a fair bit. Well, heavy when you need to hold, balance, guide and refit the screws all at once, on your own. It’s not a job I’d tackle again on my own, and definitely not if the doors were painted. Anyhow, they’re on now and I’m reasonably pleased with the fitment and gaps, although not so much with the colour scheme.
Here’s the damage to the boot gutter. It was mostly around the boot hinges, and also the lipped strip between them.
The lip edge had gone completely and needed
to be fabricated, and the area above the hinge was cut out and rust treated.
The repair patch for this wasn’t too difficult, but it was tricky to see where the lip angle would be, so I just made it without bending, planning on doing that in-situ later.
Once welded in, I used a slotted rod to gradually tease over the lip. Time consuming and not as accurate as bending in a vice, but this will eventually be inside the rubber boot seal, so hasn’t got to be perfect. But it did turn out quite well anyway.
Next to replace the lip. It’s one of those sections which curves in all three dimensions. Luckily because some of it is so narrow, I was able to bend it around quite easily. Although where the wider sections were, it did need some darts welding in.
Next the final bit – the boot lid!