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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Seat Restoration Part 4

I mention Harbor Freight (HF) a lot in this post. You may have an opinion of them. I've had my doubts and have gotten some items that were missing the correct parts, but all-in-all I've been happy with their products. I wouldn't buy a "significant tool there, like a MIG welder, but for basic hand- and power-tools and items that are consumables, I don't think you can go wrong. That is all.

I have a new best friend. He's been hanging around a while, but I haven't really noticed him until just this past weekend and he had an immediate and profound impact on my life...and how I live it. Yes, folks, "he" is the HF 4-1/2" Angle Grinder. There are a few different models to choose from, starting as low as $15 and going up to the "Professional" one for about $30, which is the one that I purchased (because, you know, I'm a professional). The thing has got some heft to it and it feels nice and solid but I can still comfortably control it with one hand if I need to. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like the paddle switch, having never used one, but it's much easier than using a thumb slide-switch as I can more easily start and stop the grinding while gripping the tool without having to alter my hand position.

"Say hello to my little friend!"
After graduating from the Dremel tool from my previous post to the angle grinder, I was able to completely strip the seat back and base in just a few minutes. My 9 year old (pogo-stick boy) even got a few swipes at it and he hand no problems controlling it with the included auxiliary handle (which can be mounted on the left, right or top, by the way).

I had never used an angle grinder before and I didn't do any research other than to figure out that I would want one for body work. What I didn't understand was the different types of wheels and what each was good for. I assumed that I would be using a grinding wheel for metal removal...

and a flap disk for paint removal.
The business end of a flap disk.
Nope. The flap disk was more than adequate for metal removal where I needed it while being "gentle" enough not to gouge into the metal like the grinding disk did. I used the grinding disk initially and pretty quickly swapped over the flap disk when my fear of damage became too great. I was pleasantly surprised to see the flap disk removing metal. Subsequent research confirmed that many people (at least YouTube people) prefer to use flap disks for body work down to bare metal. So, I ordered a cheap-o 10pk from Amazon. They were only about $1.60 each as compared to over $4 for HF ones. I'll compare the wear time and see which is more cost-effective. I also ordered three (here, here, here) hefty wire wheels for future use. They are all from DeWalt, so they should be of good quality. I've been using my cordless drill for wire brushing and, if the angle grinder experience is any indication so far, a wire wheel on that puppy is going to be awesome!

Back center of seat base. Holes are for the wood spikes, seat clips and spot-weld removal.

Underside of the finished seat base post-grinding. The two brackets at the bottom are what bolt to the seat rail.
After that, I cut away all of the remaining rusted metal from the bottom of the seat back, trying to make the cuts as straight as possible in the hope of making the replacement piece easier to fabricate. I've never done any sort of metal fabrication before. I'm thinking that this seat base to seat back union is probably a more graduate-level fabrication as it has curves over all three axes. From what may have been years of someone sitting in this seat with it broken, riding over bumps and potholes, slowly tearing the metal...it was in pretty bad shape. I tried to re-bend it as good as I could using the seat base as a solid template for the curvature.

Seat back post grind and metal removal. This is looking at the bottom which would attach to the seat base. It should probably be a nice smooth curve.
I visited my local True Value and purchased a sheet of weldable, 22ga steel which was the closest I could find to the original thickness (16ga, which I purchased previously to use repairing one of my outriggers was clearly too thick).

Steel sheet, roughly bent.
Next was the task of cutting down the metal sheet and sizing it to fit. I purchased a HF 3 in. Heavy Duty Electric Cut-Off Tool. This thing reminded me of the angle grinder with the same weight and feel to it. I got it for $26, but just today took my purchase receipt and a coupon that showed it for $20 and was refunded the difference (HF will do this for past purchases within 30 days with a receipt). As a side note, if you are a HF person, SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! They will take anything back within 90 days but ONLY if you have a receipt. I've developed the habit of saving all of them and they also send them to me via email, which I archive using GMail as well.

Anyway, I thought this thing would cut through the metal like butter. Not so much. I don't believe it was the tool's fault, however. Maybe the cut-off wheel wasn't the best (it came with it) but I just expected better performance. And boy, was it LOUD! I'm sure some neighbors were pretty pissed off, even though it was only around 4pm when I was doing it. I switch back over to the Dremel and got better performance and less noise. However, when I eventually cut into the '64 to get panels, I'm sure this will come in handy.

I looked at the HF Heavy Duty Metal Shears but figured that, even at HF, they were too expensive for how often I would use them. So, I went with basic HF Aviation Snips instead and they worked great and were much quicker for what I needed to do than either the Dremel or the cut-off tool would have been and, of course, much quieter!

Still doing some trimming in this picture.
Finally, I un-boxed my Hobart Handler 140 and got it ready. Ready for what, I'm not sure, but ready all the same. I'll have to do some practice, of course, before I try to make it count. My only welding experience, to use the term loosely, was using an Oxy-Acetylene cutting torch when I was about 12 years old under the close supervision of my Grandpop ("hold that there, wait a second, and then press the handle. It's going to be bright, loud and hot, so don't burn yourself...or the garage down"). Coincidently, he had a Triumph TR2 (though it may have been a TR3...it was a "small mouth" grill) that was a total rust bucket but had some salvageable parts. He let me cut it up. Given that, I've been studying YouTube videos and reading some stuff. Figure I'll give it some practice shots and then try and tack-weld that piece in there. Pretty sure I'm going to have to "adjust" it as I go, so that's probably the best.
Front of the welder. 115V only, but, if you remember, I have dedicated 20A service so hopefully that helps.
Welding, however, will have to wait until Sunday...I hope. Taking the boys fishing tomorrow and then to the Speedbowl for some racing. My father-in-law is in town and I like to take him to catch some racing when he comes. Cheap family fun and all that, as I've said before.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Seat Restoration Part 3

I'll have to start combining these posts or it's going to run into the dozens, I think! A little bit of work today. I went for a run earlier in the morning to avoid the heat, but I didn't avoid it too much. By the time I was ready to start working the seat, the temperature had climbed well into the 80's with humidity at around 230%, I think. I was sweating into my safety glasses. Painful.

But, I was able to start the clean up of the seat bottom. I drilled out all of the rivets that were used, in combination with spot welds, to attach the seat back to the bottom. I then took a grinding stone to the remaining stuff to remove as much seat back metal as I could. All of the work was done with my Dremel using their EZ Lock cut off wheels (expensive, but they do work good) and aluminum oxide grinding stone. Turns out the stone, however it is attached to the shank, it heat sensitive. I got it so hot but not stopping that I caused the adhesive to melt away, wrecking the bit.

This is the metal rod part that broke. Notice the end of one rivet to its right.
I think this is the seat hook attachment, but I'm not positive since I don't have them. I had to drill out one of the spot-welds to get it off.
All rivets drilled out and most seat back metal removed.

This is the seat back metal behind that seat hook bar-thing. Need to grind this out still.

Again, still some grinding to do.
That was all I got done before the heat became too much and I went inside. I guess I could have done this stuff in the garage, but it makes a real mess and, with an attached garage, I didn't want to suffer the wrath of the wife for making too much of a mess!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Seat Restoration Part 2

Just a little bit of work today. The boys and I were tearing up the bluegill until around 2pm, so I got a late start. But, I did make some progress on the seat frame restoration. Well, I cut it apart, I should say. Hopefully I won't regret this, but I figured it was the best way to ensure that I could properly repair and then reupholster the seat frames.

I split the seat back from the seat bottom. I intend to cut away the damaged portion of the seat bottom and weld in a repair. For the seat bottom, I'll grind or otherwise remove the portions of the seat back that weren't rusted away or that I couldn't get off.

Do all that, clean it all up and put some POR-15 on it. I bought their inexpensive starter kit from Amazon a while ago and I figure this is a good opportunity to try it out.

The ragged bottom. I used a cut-off wheel on my Dremel. That's all surface rust, by the way, post-vinegar.
The seat bottom. I have to do a bit of research on the center piece with the holes...think it's for the seat clip.
I did get to use my Harbor Freight 7-Piece Body and Fender Set on the seat bottom to flatten it out so I didn't cut myself. It worked pretty well. Of course, the seat bottom is neither a body nor a fender, but there you go. It was exciting all the same. Ah, that Harbor Freight smell!

Having never used a set before, we'll see. Lots cheaper than the pro stuff, that's for sure!
I intend to start on the seat bottom first and get that as cleaned up as I can, removing all of the left over seat back. Then, make a template, somehow, for the seat bottom, cut a piece out of the old boot lid (still have to compare metal thickness), and then tack it on! Piece of cake. Oh, and I have to figure out a way to repair the broken wire since that's where all the weight focuses when you lean back. Maybe not so piece of cake, but I do have some ideas!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New London-Waterford Speedbowl (and a little bit of Spitfire)

I may or may not have mentioned it in previous posts, but several times during the spring-summer-fall, me and the boys go to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, which I'm lucky enough to have about 20 minutes away from me, to enjoy some short track racing. It's cheap entertainment. My ticket runs around $17 and the boys are free (under 13 is free, 13-16 is $5). Heat races start at 5pm, the main events at 7pm, and racing wraps up around 9:30, all times based on cautions and other delays. Concessions are very reasonable (beer is $5.50, ice cream $3.50 (with jimmies, of course), a hamburger is $5, soda is $2.50). However, in keeping with NASCAR tradition, you are allowed to bring anything in that you want as long as it isn't in a glass container. For me and the boys to go for a night, get a beer and some ice cream (we usually pack water and other snacks) and enjoy around 3-4 hours of racing, it costs me under $40. Not too bad, I say.

Saturday, they had their annual Wings and Wheels event. This is their biggest show of the year with car classes that you normally don't see. This race had SK Modifieds (my personal favorite...and they race just about every week), ISMA Supermodified (the big ones), Valenti Modified (a northeast racing series that, as far as I can tell, uses SK Modifieds), Pro-4 Modifieds (mini-SK Modifieds...it was this car class' first visit to the 'Bowl), NEMA Lights and NEMA Midgets.

It was very entertaining and fortunately there were very few accidents so the racing was good.

Well, except for this accident. That's an SK Modified.
The ISMA Supers are wild. They have big wings on them (as you can see in the picture below) and they have everything offset to the left side...the engine, the wheel track. They are funny looking from behind but, then again, they are the fastest short-track car in competition, using methanol for fuel. I was timing them at about 110mph for a lap average on the 3/8-mile track. I don't know how the drivers can react so fast, but they obviously do. The top wing is sprung so as the car slows for a turn, it comes up to help with cornering, then dips down as the car picks up speed. Something you need to see to fully appreciate.

They don't have batteries, transmissions or starters, so push-start only.
The video is unedited and a bit loud, so you may want to turn your speakers down. It runs about 30 seconds or so. It's pretty shaky, but you may be able to see the fins dipping as they come out of the turns. Of note, in the first few seconds of the video you'll see a sign on the track fence. It says "Family Section: No Alcohol, No Profanity, No Smoking". Love it!

The other cars that don't often visit the track were the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lights. The differences are the horsepower and weight, as the Lights are not really lighter as they have gearboxes and starters. Because this track is paved, you don't see the sliding like you may have seen on dirt tracks (Tony Stewart), but they do seem to get a little shaky at times. The Midgets were doing about 105mph averages and the Lights just shy of 100mph.

A little blurry, but you get the idea.
If you get the opportunity and there is a track near you (look here for NASCAR Home Tracks), I'd highly recommend going. I'm not a big NASCAR guy, but it's fun to see guys out there, doing it because they love it with little hope of real monetary reward. And, like I mentioned, it's cheap and fun family time.

As for the whole point of this blog, I unfortunately haven't done much. The bathroom re-model has taken longer than I thought and the family is coming back earlier than planned. However, I did replace the driver's side motor mount with an actual Spitfire one. The spares that I had, I quickly discovered, were not from a Spitfire, but it did fit.

My spare engine mounts. That's a SpitBits sticker on the bottom one. Spitfires have only one stud, not two. Still fit, though.
To put the correct mount in, I just lifted the motor a bit with a jack and a piece of plywood about 10" square to help spread the weight so I didn't collapse the oil pan. Worked like a charm.
New mount, all pretty-like.
I also put a new pair of horns in. Impulse buy here, obviously, but the look nice and I didn't have any. Think you need those to drive legally.

New Lucas high- and low-note horns. Of note, the new ones are plastic.
And, finally, work continues on the driver's seat. Well, I guess I can call it work. More like soak. I'm soaking it about two days at a shot per "area" as I rotate it through the vinegar. Tonight was the last night, so I'll pull it out tomorrow and clean it up. I have the old boot lid still since I just couldn't bring myself to through it away. I intend to compare metal thickness and use the old lid to repair the seat. Kind of like a skin graft, I suppose.

The seat continues to soak. That white vinegar works wonders, though it's not too white anymore. Takes the paint off, too.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Restoration Items

I know the blog has been dry lately. I have been busy, just not so much on the Spitfire. I have been making slow progress on the seat and I continue to put other random things back together.

The wife and kids are down in southern NJ for the next several weeks for their annual summer "last hurrah". Over the years, not being able to sacrifice vacation time this close to the Maine trip, I've stayed home. This year is no different. What's also no different is the "honey-do" list that I willingly take on as my pound of flesh for making her take care of the kids all by herself.

This year, that pound of flesh entails re-doing my master bathroom. Now, "master" in this usage is a stretching it a bit as the only reason it's a master bath is because it's attached to the "master" bedroom. I'll just say that we don't have a very big house; it tries. That job is the competition for the car. We'll see how it goes.

Hard to adjust the belt tension when you forget to properly mount the dynamo!
I bought a new battery box a while back since the bottom of mine was eaten away from the battery acid over the years and subsequently repaired by the PO with fiberglass matting. I haven't decided if I want to fix that quite yet (welding), but I did remove the windscreen wiper motor as interference because I can make some money cleaning up some surface rust in the general area. The motor will, obviously, require some attention before I put it back in.

Yummy 50-year old grease. It did work, though, that last time I tried it! I think I have a few spares, too.
As for the seat, due to the damage and extensive rust, I decided to soak the whole thing as best I could. It's going to take some skill to repair the seat properly. Since I don't want to have to do it again, I want to get it as cleaned up as possible. The repair will involve welding, probably requiring some good quality and...yea, still no practice there. The vinegar soak to remove the rust has been incredibly effective. This is the largest impact of this method to remove rust that I've observed so far. Then again, it's by far the largest thing that I've soaked but still...impressive.

Seat damage before soaking. The wire rod on the far left is broken...that's unfortunate.

This is post-soak. Looks like one of those infomercials where they dip a penny in something. The broken wire is circled.
There is a wire (more like a non-braided cable...chain-link fence wire?) that goes from the seat bottom frame into a channel that runs around the edge of the seat back and back to the other side of the seat frame. I've got to properly repair this or it's just going to break again.

Another interesting thing that I learned is that the seats are "handed". In other words, the driver's and passenger's seats are not symmetrical. Not too cost-effective for these days, but the days of Triumphs were definitely a different era.

I found this pic online at Totally Triumph Network. You can see the "lop-sided" seat.
The seat that is broken is, as expected, the driver's seat so I guess that's a good incentive if I want to be able to drive the car again. On a side note, I had taken the seats out when I first got the car to inspect the floorboards and put them back in swapped, ignorant that they were different. So, they will go in "backwards". Just sayin'...

Most of my time lately, like I said, has been taken up with re-doing the master bath. The master bath rebuild entails a new tile floor (my second), paint and cabinetry. When I did my first tile floor (that was a whopping 30 square feet), I bought a wet saw to cut the tile. It's a cheap Black and Decker, but it does the job. It's only rated for up to 8" tiles, but I pulled the guard off and it's good enough to get the job done. I would have not done it any other way and would highly recommend this $65 investment (if you buy the essentially same thing at Harbor Freight) or you will drive yourself crazy.

Almost before. The linoleum floor and sink are out. Like that "blue sky?!" paint?
It's coming along okay, but tough to get too far when I'm trying to accomplish stuff after work. If all goes to plan, I should be ready to lay the tile on Saturday...maybe even tomorrow, but I don't want to start and not be able to finish based on curing time of the thin-set.

Painting done, roughing in the tile.
That's enough of that. Re-doing a bathroom is no where near as fun and exciting as working on the Triumph and I don't intend to provide any "how I did it" notes. I will include a "after" picture, though, since I started it.

Once the bathroom is done, I should be able to focus exclusively on the car. "Stuff" happens, of course, but hopefully I'll get some quality time to devote.