Saturday, June 18, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Frame Repair #2

One hole down, one to go. Of course, I haven't cleaned up the entire frame yet, but I am fairly confident that the remaining areas that are still covered with grease and grime were appropriately protected from corrosion by said grease and grime. Still have to get that power washer over there...

I was unable to locally source 14 gauge steel from the usual suspects (True Value and Lowe's) so I decided to investigate reusing the old frame parts from the "new" outriggers. Turns out I had more than enough to do the driver's side repair (twice, actually, as you'll see) and the passenger's side repair.

The frame is made of two separate, U-shaped pieces of metal that are spot welded together at less than 1-inch increments. One of the U-shaped pieces is large and another, smaller, U-shaped part fits on the inside of this and they are spot welded to form the square-tube frame.

Showing the two parts of the frame, spot welded together. Lots of metal missing here, obviously, but I think you get it.

My garage-mate brought a drill press when we first moved over and I was able to take advantage of it today. I would estimate that it cut at least half of my time to go through the spot welds with my spot-weld cutter. The ease compared to a hand drill is something that would immediately cause you to run to Harbor Freight and buy one! So,

My new best friend!

After making sure I had the metal I needed, I cut into the frame. I'd consider this a milestone of sorts since there was no turning back after this. I used my 4.5-inch grinder with a cutting wheel to remove the cancer. I was concerned that it would be too big and I would over-cut, but I just stopped short and then pried it back and forth to break it out. It all worked out. I also used a small combination square to make the cut lines as straight as possible to ease fabrication of the replacement part.

Cut out. Those extra black lines were my free-hand attempts from a few days ago. Bubbles are from de-greaser.

Once I got the frame open, I inspected the inside. I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything looked good and that whatever paint Triumph used on the inside was fully intact with no signs of further corrosion. However, since it had been exposed to the elements due to the frame cancer, I washed the immediate inside area with Purple Power, wiped it out as best I could and allowed it to dry while I prepped the new metal.

Here, I learned (re-learned, I think, but it hasn't sunk in yet, obviously) that you cannot use the piece of metal that you pulled out as an "trace-able" template for the replacement piece. All of the metal lost due to the cutting wheel ends up making your new piece too small and the 30 minutes that you spend on getting it shaped right totally wasted when you try the first fit!

Damaged piece overlaying replacement. The very beginning of my wasted time.

I didn't take any pictures of the huge gaps I had doing it this way. I wasted good metal but, again, I was lucky to have enough to fabricate a new piece for the passenger's side of the frame. I paid some stupid tax on this one.

Once I got through that and got my new piece sorted, I did lots of dry fits. Lots. I could have (and maybe should have) made a paper template and traced it and cut it out...but I feel it's safer to cut the piece too big and grind down to size vice making one wrong cut and wasting a hunk of steel...especially when I'm material limited.

Couple large gaps on the upper right (which I burned through while welding) but not bad.

I applied two coats of weldable primer to both sides, mainly for the inside since I hope to never see it again, and did the final fit-up.

Final fit up, just prior to striking the arc.

This was the thickest metal that I had welded on the car so far, at 14 gauge. The welder didn't have a 14 gauge set, of course, but did have a 16 and 12, so I left it at the 16 gauge setting. I've been burning through more often than not, so I'm gun shy in that direction. Hopefully I got good penetration because I cannot see the inside of the welds.

Inside door chart on my welder. I needed to be between 3 / 50 and 4 /55, but I stuck with 3 / 50 and it turned out okay.

I also needed to get a good ground since the frame was either covered in grease/grime or old, flaking paint. So, I made one.

Took a flap disk, lightly, to the front crossmember of the frame.

Welded in. I'd rather those beads a bit flatter, indicative of good penetration, but I'll take them.

Lots of grinding, but solid, I would say.

After all was said and done, I was happy with the result. Since this is a "blind" weld, as I would call it, I could not hammer from the inside of the frame to keep everything as flush as possible. Because of this or because I just didn't set the piece up properly, the bottom weld was recessed a bit. It worked out okay, but it took a lot of grinding to get everything relatively smooth.

Final result. No primer since I have to weld the outrigger on now and would just have to sand it all away.
That wrapped up the first part of the day. After dinner, I was able to break away for just shy of two hours to start prepping the passenger's side. I got just about everything done up to the point of being ready to weld the new piece in. I followed the same preparation sequence, moving faster since my lessons learned and experience from the first go-around helped.

Passenger's side cut. A bit more cleaning and inspection on the inside, but still a clean interior.

This should be the final fit up. Note the drilled-out spots welds on the top that will get ground down.

I put a coat of weldable primer on the new piece and then left the shop for the night. There may be some more tweaks that I need to make before I'm ready to tack it in but it should be ready to go.

I also decided that new outriggers was the way to go. The "new" to me ones each required metal repair. Given that these are structural and given the time, effort and money I've put in so far, the $170 from Rimmer Bros. for the pair, including shipping, was a no-brainer...though not a cheap one. Oh, and since I made a big deal of it last time, getting the outriggers domestically would have cost me $200 before shipping, so I saved at least $50 getting them from Rimmer's. Kick myself for not ordering them during the sale when I got all of my other sheet metal.

Earlier in the week I cut the frame of the black car to get the differential out. I worked a bit, while I was waiting for the coats of weldable primer to dry, at getting it free from the frame remnants and while I got a lot of it, I couldn't finish it. Damn rear mounting bolt is essentially now one piece with the metal sleeve of the two differential bushings. I didn't take any pictures, but that differential will be free if it kills me. Given the problems with the one from Dorothy that I mentioned a few posts ago, it will be worth it.

That was it for the day. Outside of the obvious goal of getting that remaining frame repair done, the next step will be to get the new-new outriggers tacked in and fitted to the body. Even though new floor pans are going in, the front-most body mounting points will need to fit square so I'll set the body down, make sure it looks good, and then weld them both in permanent-like. As long as I can get my garage-mate to help me, I think I can get that done during the week.

Happy Father's Day, everyone!

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