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Friday, July 29, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #2

I think I've said this in another post somewhere (too lazy to look for it) but, again, my life has been changed forever. More on that in a minute.

I haven't done a whole lot over the past week and a half, but made some progress in key areas.

I bought a "drying rack" for all of the parts that I'm going to be painting over the next few weeks. Specifically, it's a Harbor Freight (surprise, I know) Portable Work Stand. I should be able to re-purpose this in the future for working on body parts like the doors, boot lid, etc. But, for now, it just a convenient place to hang stuff.

The two lonely parts of the rear suspension that were done so far.

On a side note, wire coat hangers are hard to come by. Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place, but I found a broken pack at a Walmart that they sold me for $1. Plastic rules, I guess.

From my last post, I also promised a few pictures of removing the rear axle u-joints. From the picture below, the vice is a resting place for the drive flange and is not touching the axle shaft. I used a regular nail hammer to hit on the axle shaft just behind the u-joint cup (as opposed to hitting the drive flange). This displaces the axle shaft down relative to the u-joint, which is held stationary by the drive flange. The cup comes up as you hit the axle and gets to the point where it either pops out or can be removed by a pair of pliers. For me, all u-joints (the two on the rear axle and the two on the driveshaft, will be replaced).

If you use this method (I'm not sure there are many others) and have any intention of re-using the u-joint, tape or bag or "something" the u-joint cup because there are about a billion little roller bearing needles in there and they will fly to the far ends of the Earth if you pop that cup out on a hammer stroke! Ask me how I know.

Fuzzy...sorry. The cup is starting to come through.

Now, you see that big red thing on the left in the picture above? That's my new best friend. It's a Harbor Freight Abrasive Blast Cabinet. Now, I swear, I am not an advertiser for HF, but it may seem that way. This, however, is another great example of a tool that is going to be worth the money and is not so critical that I'm afraid to get it from HF (like a welder would be). With a 25%-off coupon that ran last week, I picked it up for $150. And, with another 20%-off coupon that you can find online at any time, I picked up blasting media. That, and a compressor, is all you need.

The finished product.

There are lots of videos on YouTube that discuss the pros and cons of the cabinet. For the most part, the biggest cons are the fact that it tends to leak and that the included light is worthless. I can vouch for the fact that the light is worthless...to the point where I'm surprised that they would actually even include it.

I took precautions during the build process with its tendency to leak. It comes with a few rolls of thin (1/4" or so) 3/4" wide foam weatherstripping tape. In addition to this, I also used acrylic caulk with silicone that I picked up at Walmart for a few bucks. I used about half of a tube.

Caulk applied around the glove penetrations.

Essentially every seam that I could put caulk in, I did. The weatherstripping on the door (pre-installed) was also in need of some help so I added a layer of weatherstripping that came with the cabinet as I mentioned.

In addition to this, I took advantage of my Rigid 12 gal wet/dry vac and purchased a good filter (I hope, anyway). It uses a standard 2 1/2" hose that usually comes with the larger vacuums and conveniently plugs into the included adapter in the side of the cabinet. Between this and the extra weatherstripping I added, I didn't have any leaks. As a matter of fact, when I turned the vacuum on (not running the blaster) the gloves "inflated", indicating that I was drawing a vacuum inside the cabinet. Pretty good.

One thing I will mention is that it sucks down a lot of air. The specs say, on average, it sucks down 9.5 cfm at 90 psi. To provide this cfm, your talking a $500+ air compressor. Thankfully, my garage mate has a Craftsman 220V compressor. I couldn't find it on line and sitting here, I don't remember it's flow rate, but it moves double-digits for 90 psi. Even so, once I started blasting, the compressor ran until I had stopped for a minute or so. But, I didn't notice any decrease in power during the entire time that I was flowing air.

As for the results, the metal comes out an interesting grey color using 80-grit glass bead (yes, from HF again). The surface is relatively smooth, but rough enough to readily accept a nice coat of paint, which I promptly applied after wiping the parts down with some Purple Power Super Citrus Cleaner (no, I'm not an advertiser for them, either).

Some front suspension parts, before being blasted.

Post-blasting. I taped the threads just in case to prevent damage.

So, moral of the story, the blasting cabinet is great and I'm sure that it will change my life and save me either countless hours as opposed to wire-wheeling everything or lots of money getting stuff professionally done. That being said, you need a strong compressor, probably more than most people have. If you have a compressor that can paint a car, you should be good. But, if you have the "normal" one, you may struggle. I don't have the experience to recommend something, but I'm sure that some of the YouTube videos discuss this in detail.

I also repaired the emergency brake clips attached to the rear brake backing plates. One had seen so much wear over the last 50 years that it had pulled through while the other was nearly there. I used the MIG welder to add some metal back and then re-drilled the hole. I'll be monitoring them frequently, of course, once I actually start using the car, until I'm confident that my repairs are adequate.

The one side that had worn through.

Filled in, pending re-drilling and grinding away extra metal. Even have that "Glamour Shot" shine in there!

Other than that, my last few days at the garage have involved suspension tear-down and cleaning. I got another quote on blasting the frame and it, too, was $400. So, I'm going to be cleaning it up as best I can with a wire wheel and then, possibly, looking into using a portable blaster of some kind (like this one from, you guessed it, Harbor Freight). We'll see once I start with the process on the frame how it turns out.

I dropped an order with Rimmer Bros. the other night for the rest of the stuff that I need to finish the frame including a fuel and brake line kit. I had most of the suspension bushings and hardware from a previous order from The Roadster Factory a while ago. Hopefully I didn't forget anything.

As of tonight (Friday, 7/29) I haven't been over to the garage since Tuesday night. I went deep sea fishing last night for bluefish and striped bass. I got a bunch of blues and one small striper (don't want to add another "p" to that word). Bluefish are a lot of fun to catch since they fight like crazy, but they are horrible (in my opinion) to eat. Tomorrow, however, I'm going out with a friend from work for black sea bass, flounder and just about anything else that bites, so hopefully that will turn out better!

Bluefish. This guy is pretty small (5lbs maybe) compared to what we were usually catching (12-15lbs).

Sunday, though. Dorothy will have all of my attention.


  1. Regarding the CAUTUON section, were you able to get all the bearings and reuse them?

    1. No, but I had no intention of re-using the u-joints so I didn't try to be careful. Now, when I put the new ones on, I'll pay much greater attention.