Friday, April 22, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Tub Tear Down #2

I changed the oil in the Odyssey yesterday. Ask me how that went. This is the second application of floor dry.
Got a bit more work in on tearing apart the '64 tub today. I had originally asked on my favorite forum if it would be worth investing in a little gas welding kit by BernzOmatic. The answer was a pretty solid "no".

When I was young, my Grandpop and I cut up a rusted out TR2 (it had a small grill opening, so maybe it was a small-mouth TR3, but I didn't know any different back then). He wanted to save some of the suspension and other parts for the '59 TR3 he had in the garage. He was a mechanic from way back in the day and had a oxy-acetylene set up. I remember him showing me how and letting me use the cutting torch and I thought I had the power of the sun in my hands. We made very fast work of that TR2.

Remembering that, I figured that maybe something similar would help me efficiently cut the tub up. However, there are some drawbacks to this little kit. First, the tanks are obviously small. If you read the instructions on the site, using the torch for cutting gives you enough oxygen for about 8 minutes...much worse than I thought and way too much money in the long run. Second, using the cutting torch would tend to warp and otherwise damage the metal and result in deformation and slag. Since I wanted to take care and save a lot of this stuff, it would probably end up making things worse than better.

Instead, I stuck with my Harbor Freight 4.5 inch Angle Grinder, 3-inch Cut-Off Tool, my cordless Milwaukee Sawzall and Drill, a flat head screwdriver, hammer, pry bar and various other implements to try and separate some metal.

I didn't mention the beer in my list of tools, did I? I don't condone drinking and using power tools, by the way...so I only had one.
The PO that I got the car from (here's the post on it) had done quite a bit of work on the body, including putting in new outer sills (partially) and patching a lot of other normal areas where Spitfires rust. He had spot and stitch welded and this made it difficult to drill out since the welds are so hard. I did use those carbide bits and they did seem to work much better, but because of the stitch welding that he did, it was easier to use the cutting wheels, so the jury is still out on whether they were worth the money or not.

Underside of the driver's sill showing the spot welds. This is looking up and towards the front. The darker stuff is the floorboard.
I used the flat head screwdriver to open up the seam between the sill and the floor board. I then put the grinder in that gap and cut the weld away. It took time and was very noisy (sorry, dear neighbors) but it was effective.

Driver's side outer sill removed. You can see the big weld seam that runs down the length of it.
Seems like the PO just cut away the rusted parts of the body and then stitched in the new sill. While this may have made for a quick repair, I would think it will result in a more difficult finishing job having to grind and fill the huge weld seams right in the middle of a body panel. I personally would think to use a "natural" seam to help hide the dirty work.

Anyway, I'm not sure that I will be able to use the sills on Dot (the '66) because of these trade-offs. I tried to cut the sill out as it was spot welded in at Coventry, but I messed up and didn't leave the lip where the door sits, so this may have screwed me.

Here are some shots of what was on the inside after the sill was removed. I shudder to think what this looks like on Dot, espcially on the passenger's side.

Upper and lower A-post.  You can see the new metal that the PO spotted in.

This would be the sill strengthener, I suppose. I've never seen what this looks like from the factory, so ???
All in all, the driver's side came out pretty easily. The passenger's side, however, instead of being only spot welded was more stitch welded. This resulted in a much bigger pain with a bead of weld to remove vice some spots. Since I needed a better vantage point and some more leverage, I decided to go out of the box.

Crazy how light the tubs are. I did this by myself with no problem at all.

Another view. Those are the tires that came with the car, too. A bit of padding, though the ground probably would have been fine.
The passenger's side, like I said, was more painful but it did eventually come off (again, sorry neighbors). Since it was more of a weld seam instead of spots, I took the Sawzall to it and ran it down the mating of the sill to the floor board. This seemed to work okay.

The mating of the sill (top), strengthener (middle - kinda) and floor board (bottom). The floor board you see is new, patched metal by PO.

Looking down the car. This lower A-post is virtually missing (rust) on Dot, so I need to recover this one. Some of it is patched, so we'll see.
Once I was done with all of that, it was starting to get towards dinner time and I didn't want to disturb anyone during that time more than I already had. I rested the body back down on the frame and cleaned up for the night.

All in all, I was happy with how it went. My weapons of choice all worked as I needed them to and they each served their unique purpose. The angle grinder was good for brute force work that was needed removing the hard metal spot welds. The cut-off tool was good for getting in tight when I wanted to minimize collateral damage, though not as powerful (slower) as the angle grinder. The Sawzall was good for more rapid, straight cutting like I did on the passenger's side. I tore that blade up good, though.

Heat damage to the blade (the black / blue part). 

Got a bit crooked, too!
Tomorrow I may try to get that passenger's A-post out of there. Eventually, I'm going to take the floors, too, but I'm concerned for the tub loosing too much strength and buckling on me, so I have to think about how to best do it. Also, the wife and boys get back after a week in Naples, Florida for their Spring Break, so the trip to the airport will curtail my time. I'll put another post up if it's worth it.

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