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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #10

Before I start, I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has visited. 10,000+ visits since I started this blog! Cool.

Due to a rained out soccer game, I scored some bonus time at the garage on Saturday for a few hours. I also went over there on Monday. These two days allowed me to achieve another milestone; getting the frame painted with the first coat of POR-15. But first, you may remember that I was getting my butt kicked by the rear mounting bushings of the differential. Specifically, I couldn't get them fully inserted.

One side, other similar.

Of course, my favorite forum to my rescue, as usual. When the vice didn't work, they recommended using a bolt and washer arrangement to draw the bushing through the hole. I came up with something using Grade 8 hardware because I knew it would be under a lot of strain.

The washers are the gold colored parts. Largest washer on the left as the bracing point, tightening from the right to push the bushing in.

I went at this setup with an impact wrench and it drew the bushing in, but not far enough, until the impact wrench just stopped turning the bolt. Back to the forum and the recommendation was made to use a long bolt that would go through both bushings at the same time.

After a trip back to True Value for an 8" Grade 8 bolt and a similar setup as above, I was victorious. I still need to assemble the differential, but what turned out to be the hardest part, surprisingly, is done.

Victory. Forgot to take a pic with the long bolt installed. I'll try to remember to grab one next time I'm at garage.

As for the POR-15, a long time ago, I purchased a starter kit from Amazon. It comes with a half-pint, each, of the Cleaner Degreaser and Metal Prep, 4 oz of the paint, a 1" chip brush and 1" foam brush and a pair of latex gloves. Not bad for about $20. Since the cleaner is cut with water, the half-pint did the entire frame, but I used every bit of it. You will need to buy more paint and metal prep to do the whole frame.

I had cleaned up the frame as best I could and hit it with the Metal Prep on Saturday. After the adequate application time, like with the cleaner degreaser, it gets rinsed off. The spray bottle method just wasn't cutting it this time. That's when I figured out that one person can lift the frame and move it around pretty easily. I had been moving the frame the whole time, but one end was always resting on a sawhorse. I'm not sure how much it weighs in total, but I'm not that strong of a guy. It was a bit awkward, but I got it outside, rinsed and wiped off, and back inside to dry.

When I returned on Monday, I found the Metal Prep had left a chalky residue. This is the zinc phosphate that did not adhere completely. The instructions mention that this can be wiped off or directly painted over. I chose to wipe it off, but didn't waste too much time doing it.

The residue. Not sure if this is before or after wiping it down. Like I said, I didn't spend too much time on it.

After wiping down the frame, I blew it down with some compressed air to ensure any remaining gross debris was gone. I situated the frame upside down, the front resting on the radiator supports and the back on the emergency brake cable guides. This gave me the smallest foot print of unpainted metal to minimize what I had to go back and get.

Weapons of choice. 

Then it was on to application. The paint goes on thin (directions call for a 1mm to 2mm coat) and flows very well. I started with using a foam brush, but over time, it started to fall apart and tear, mostly because of the roughness of the frame. After I used up the 4oz can, I switched over to the chip brush and completed the rest of the frame with no problems. Therefore, I recommend a bristle-based brush vice a foam one. While the 1" brush was the perfect size for getting into the tight spots, it was small for the straight runs. Being the only regular brush I had, however, I went with it. 

This was how far I got with the the 4oz can. All four sides of the frame and the bonnet supports are painted.

I got on the ground and painted the underside (top, actually) of the frame. Here I found some of the paint had run down the sides and flowed across the bottom, almost defying gravity, vice dripping onto the tarp. I moved in sections down the frame, painting about 3 to 4 feet at a time on all sides. The very front and very back were the two most tedious spots, but it was essentially brainless. I got the frame fully coated in about 3 hours. This was longer than I expected, but I am very happy with the result.

Stuff dries very shiny and smooth. It flowed out any bristle marks that I may have left as it dried.

I didn't take a lot of time worrying about the residual factory paint that remained on the frame. I may have misunderstood the instructions, but I thought the Metal Prep would adequately etch it for a good adhesion. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case.

You can see the factory paint bleeding through.

POR-15 recommends at least two coats. The second coat is supposed to be applied while the first is still tacky to ensure adhesion. Depending on humidity levels (the stuff dries faster the more humid it is since it is water-activated), it takes between 4 and 5 hours to dry. In my case, the front of the frame was dry by the time I was done at the back. I didn't intend to put the second coat on that night, but it was a good data point for me.

If you don't get the second coat on in time, POR recommends (I emailed them) hitting it with 200-300 grit sandpaper to rough it up, wiping or washing it down to remove the dust and then applying the second coat. I hope when I do this I'll also roughen up the factory paint enough to get good coverage. My intention is to stop with two coats, but depending on how it goes, I may go for a third.

First coat down.

Like I said, I was happy with how the stuff went on. Of course, I cannot speak for it's effectiveness as a rust preventer yet. But, while the process was tedious, paint preparation is more important than application and I have no reason to believe that the effort will be in vain.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #9

With the completion of frame repairs, I got back to prepping the frame for POR-15 and messing around with the differential (still). I got a wonderful stash of parts from Rimmer's on Tuesday (a day earlier than expected). Like I had mentioned, the big part was the stainless steel exhaust system, including the transition sleeve from the manifold to the exhaust. The manifold itself needs some serious attention. Hopefully I won't find any surprises there.

From transition sleeve (bottom) to the tailpipe (top). Orientation is wrong here, just fit them together to see it.

Close-up of the transition sleeve.

I also picked up the back part of the differential case from the machine shop (next day turn-around) with the new tapped hole and drain plug (also from Rimmer's) installed. Unlike a "standard" drain plug, this is more of a flush-fit, so it screwed in most of the way before the taper tightened it up.

Not very exciting, but here's the tapped hole. Just a bit off-center. I'll allow it.

Plug installed. I've got another rotation or two of screwing in here before it tightens up.

The job cost $25, which I thought this was a bit pricey. However, given that I didn't want to take the chance of messing it up and that I didn't have a drill bit or tap that big, I figure I saved money in the end.

I also got two new axle shaft bearings and the six studs for the leaf spring hold down plate. By the way, the holes for these studs go straight through differential case. In other words, they are convenient alternate drain points if you ever have the differential out and want to drain the oil rapidly.

The new studs for the leaf spring hold down plate.

I also got my butt kicked by the rear mounting bushings. I put them in the freezer for a while to get them to shrink up, applied anti-seize (definitely not required) and started them in. I tried to use the bench vise as I don't have a shop press large enough to take the size of the differential. Well, I only got them in so far before I just didn't have the oomph to squeeze them in any more. Asking on my favorite forum, they recommended using lubrication (hopefully the anti-seize would do that) and a combination nut/threaded rod and washers/spacers to squeeze the thing in place. Man, I just don't know. I don't think I'll get more leverage on that setup than I would be able to get on the vise, but the forum has never let me down before so I'm going to try. Otherwise, I'll be cutting them both out and trying again. Of course, the difficulty I'm having now at least partially explains why the old ones were so hard to get out in the first place!

The one I got most of the way in. The other was not as much.

In and around all of that stuff, I took to degreasing the frame. I first started with a combination wire brush, wire wheel and Gumout degreaser and several 3M Scotch-Bright pads, the green ones. Needless to say, I literally shredded these between the grease/grime and weld slag (mostly left by the factory, I might add!). Got a lot of the gross stuff out of there, though.

Before and after. Poor thing.

The Gumout worked great for the rough stuff, but since it's not water based, it leaves a somewhat greasy film that needed to get cleaned off. So, after using the Gumout, I started using the POR-15 Cleaner/Degreaser. This is a water-based cleaner, which is nice, and has very little smell to it, which is also nice. It is supposed to be combined with water at least 1:1. The instructions say 5:1 (water to cleaner) for "normal" jobs. Given that I had already done a lot of gross cleaning, I went with 3:1. Spray it on, keeping it wet, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. I then went back with the Scotch-Brite pad and got everything nice and clean.

There were some painful spots, of course. Specifically, the area in front where the steering rack bolts in and the suspension towers attach. For the rear, the area around the differential front mounts and emergency brake cable guides was bad. The worse, however, was the differential rear mount. There is a lot of strengthening metal and nooks back there. I'm sure I won't get it all out in there, but I'll do my best.

Close-up of the repair area.

Same general area, other side.

Some spots I missed here, but I went back and got them. This area was particularly painful...

but not as bad as in there. I need to revisit this spot again just to make sure the next trip.

The final product...hopefully.

After the cleaner is done, you rinse it all with water. This made a mess, but it had to be done. I found some spots that I missed, of course, even on easily accessible flat areas of the frame. One of the nice things about using water to rinse is that you can see the spots you missed because the oil film causes the water to bead up. So, as I rinsed and found those spots, I hit it with cleaner, waited a few minutes, then Scotch-Brited it.

Next time I get over there I will take another looks at the trouble spots that I mentioned above. I'm sure I'll find some spots that need attention. After that's all sorted, it's on to the POR-15 Metal Prep step. This etches the metal to provide a good adhesion surface for the POR-15 itself. The process seems to be the same except it goes on full strength.

Until next time...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Repair #8 (Complete?)

For the second time, frame repairs are complete. I'm fairly confident in saying that this time (though I was last time, too) as I've been over the entire frame with a wire brush and haven't found anything else suspect.

This was definitely a more complicated repair than replacing the outriggers and the damage from those (related post). I made two intentional sacrifices to keep within my skill level. Hopefully, they won't come back to bite me.

Both significant sacrifices shown here. The obvious large hole in the center interior and the other, not-so-obvious small one on the left vertical.

The first sacrifice, and most obvious, was to treat and prime the gaping hole in the interior of the frame that you see in the above picture. I didn't assess this as a critical strength portion given the rest of the corrugation on this part. Also, the chance of messing up the repair beyond saving it with metal that was questionable to weld on, especially with my limited welding skills, I deemed too great.

The second sacrifice was a bit more subtle. Unfortunately, though not a surprise, the damage was in a bad spot. While forward of the suspension tower mounts, it's close to where the front lower wishbone mounts. Thankfully, the damage is on the lower part of the frame while the mounting hole is on the upper (the above and below pictures show the frame upside down). But, it's near the steering rack mounting brackets welded to the main frame. I made the conscience decision not to cut all of that out, further complicating the repair. Instead, I cut away as much as I felt I could, put rust converter on the rest and primed it up (weld-through) as best I could.

Backing piece tacked in. I did not further address the corrugated metal hole interior to the frame.

After priming, I put in a backing piece, also primed, to reinforce the damage and provide a better weld bed when I attached that part of the repair.

My last post covered most of the bottom and outside portion of the frame repair, so I won't repeat that. Last night I finished up the rest of the bottom, the inside and replaced the anti-sway bar mount.

As I left it the last time we "talked"

The remainder of the bottom repair, the little angled piece you can see (that's not there) in the above picture was fun. Lots of curves and stuff to worry about (well, for me, anyway) but I eventually got the repair sized and fitted. Again, grind, fit, grind, fit...ad nauseam. By the way, this was new metal, not a donor from the old frame. I used 16-ga weldable steel, which matched this part. The rest of the frame is mainly 14-ga. (thicker). I cleaned and primed the interior part of the frame and the new piece.

Final fitting prior to welding. I tried to bevel the edges on the frame and the repair piece for a better weld.


I moved on to the inside of the frame. I had tacked it in previously, but it was time to make it permanent. Not as easy to get to, but I got it done.

Not too pretty. It's in there, though.

Just grind it! I was using an air-powered die-grinder here. Worked great, but some areas were not accessible.

After getting the frame repair in there solid and cleaned up, it was on to replacing the anti-sway bar mount. I measured this up, based on several points that I took from the one that was installed already, and welded it in. This was straight-forward.

The anti-sway bar mount installed. Still beat up, just like it came out.

I also tacked back on a new front cross-member wire clip-thing. I had previously repaired this with new tack welds, but then the clip itself broke on me. So, new metal and re-tacked it in. No good pics on this.

The new clip installed, with the frame flipped. You can see the heat transfer through the metal. Guess that's good!

That was about it. This weekend is a bit packed with family things, but I hopefully will get at least a few hours. I bought some Gunk Original Engine Degreaser today at Walmart ($3) to start the "gross" cleaning of the frame in preparation for POR-15 application. There are still some spots that are pretty bad and I didn't want to waste the POR-15 degreaser on them. Once I get it as cleaned up as I can, I'll start the entire POR-15 process. This is in three steps: degreasing, metal etching and painting.

I don't suspect I'll get to any of the "official" POR-15 process this weekend, but I do hope to get the frame ready for that point. My Rimmer's order is scheduled for Tuesday delivery, so I'll probably put up a nice "ooooh, ahhhh" post on my shiny new exhaust. Otherwise, still crossing my fingers that I'll be frame complete by the end of October!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Repair #7

I went over on Monday night and got the donor part ready to weld in. I still had some prep on the internal portions of the frame to accomplish. I did cut some patterns using card stock. I envisioned this grand pattern that I could measure twice and cut once with the patterns that I made...

Inside (top) and outside patterns.

But in the end these served as a gross guide and most of my time was spent fitting and grinding and fitting and grinding.

Finished piece, ready to weld in.

Other side of same piece.

In the top picture of the finished piece, you may notice a large notch cut out towards the left. This, though not totally intentional, is not a big deal as there is another piece, which is not shown, that will be welded on top of this. In short, the notch/holes that you see were filled in during the welding process.

This completed Monday night. In the interim, I took advantage of a Rimmer Bros.' sale and the advantageous exchange rate to place another large order. Highlighting, I got an exhaust system, including the pipe from the exhaust manifold to the main exhaust...the only place I've found it for sale. I also got some new inner axle shaft bearings for the differential (figure since I'm taking it apart again, I'll replace those), gaskets galore for the motor and a bunch of other odds and ends. The exhaust system was the lion's share of the order.

I visited my local True Value store on Friday after work to get some hardware. In general, I find that the local stuff is cheaper than the parts houses...and much more convenient. I got the nyloc nuts for the studs for the leaf spring, new case bolts and oil seal retainer screws (Allen-head type).

Pretty much the nuts and bolts of the differential hardware requirements. I don't picture the cotter pins.

Of course, there are some things that you need to get that are British-specific, but nuts and bolts and stuff...I've been learning that it's all available for about half the price locally. The trickier parts were the Allen-head screws that hold the oil seal retainer to the differential body. Over the last 50 years, the design of these items has obviously changed. The heads of the new screws are much smaller.

Old on left, new on right. Much wider screw head on the old (left) design.

Not a big deal except when you want to also replace some of the spring-steel (e.g., lock washers).

Sorry...this picture really is bad. However, you may be able to see how much the old lock washer extends beyond the new screw head.

My concern was that the heads of the new screws where not as broad as the old and that the contact area between the new screws and the lock washers that were specified would be insufficient.

New lock washers that are metric sized. Better, but not perfect.

I got over to the garage for a while today...about 5 hours or so. The focus was on finishing up the frame repairs that I prepped Monday. I was able to get most of it welded in with the exception of the inboard side of the frame since it was tight to get the MIG wand in there.

With some advice from my brother, I put in three "support" pieces in there. This provided reinforcement where the metal was thinned and it also provided some forgiveness for overly aggressive heat application!

First reinforcement plate. There was some rust-induced metal loss here, from the original frame, so this spot really needed it.

The "bottom" two pieces. More reinforcement than anything else.
After the support plates, I put in the donor piece, got it tacked in and slowly worked by way around.

New part in, viewed from inboard (hack job).

Lots of tacking and moving around to spread the heat load, but it all seemed to go well. A couple of spots of burning through, but nothing to extreme. Besides, grinding it out makes it all better!

I need to fabricate an angled-part for the left side there, but otherwise done (except for inboard, of course).

I'll finish up the inboard side of the frame and that small angled part, then move on to prep and POR-15 paint. I think I'm on track for finishing up the frame by the end of this month...we'll see!