Friday, December 29, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #42 - Boot Floor and Boot Area Repairs

Hey, everybody, it's two...two...two posts in one!


My earlier visit the day after Christmas was a bit of a milestone as I got the boot floor repair installed. I may have to undo a bit of it, but it's in there for now, so we'll see.

If you've been keeping up with my previous posts, I spent quite a bit of time prepping the repair patch. Lots of trial fits convinced me that a 40+" repair patch wasn't a good idea, so I decided to segment it at the driver's side curved area that I wanted to replace.

The initial fit up...the patch as it travels towards the driver's side is a mess!

After cutting...much easier to deal with. Note the rear valance is in here.

I wanted to get it tacked in like this while observing proper fit with the rear valance. Not quite sure how it happened, but that proper fit didn't got well, but I took another visit to figure that out.

Patch tacked in.

Once I was happy with the fit of the repair patch, I tacked it in on the boot floor side. Next up was to plug weld it in from the strengthener side. At this point, I should have taken care to check the fit, horizontally, to make sure the boot floor was "down" far enough. I was so concerned with the fit of the patch to the floor itself that I didn't care for where it would weld to the strengthener. Due to whatever flex was there, it resulted in me plug welding it in about 1/2" too high (give or take).

The plug welds. About 1/2" lower would be great!

Unfortunately, I was oblivious to this fact at this point, so I continued on. In addition, I needed to get the plug welds down from the wheel arch side. I'm pretty good with plugs welds by now, so this was easy.

Plug welds on the wheel arch portion of the boot floor. Blurry...sorry.

Following this, it was time to get the rest of the repair patch in. This involved the piece from the floor patch on the passenger's side all the way over to the driver's side.

The long patch. Welded in here, obviously.

I clamped the patch in and started going to town with the welder. I did at most about a 2-inch section of tack welds and then moved to the far side, alternating back and forth to mitigate any heat warping. What I failed to consider, and have really gotten away with up until now (though my driver's lower wing weld area should have been a clue) was my lack of adequate gap between the two pieces of metal that I was welding together.

So, even though I knew that heat would cause the metal to expand and potentially warp it, what I wasn't sensitive to was the gap between the two pieces of metal. The metal is going to expand whether you like it or not. However, with a proper gap (maybe about 1/16", but don't quote me), the two pieces of metal will expand towards each other, but never really meet. They will be joined by the MIG weld metal, instead.  If the gap between the two pieces of metal is too small (or they are touching), there is nowhere for the metal to expand into. Hence, they come together and then displace each other, moving down or up (or both) relative to each other. There was my problem.

In my case, the metal created a valley. So, when I tried to grind the weld smooth, I became concerned for grinding too much metal and causing a thin spot. Hopefully a hammer and dolly will take care of some, if not all, of my mistake.

The valley of my weld...hard to see, though.

There were several more spots where my cuts were wrong or otherwise off, but it mostly went in as I planned, so that was good.

Messed that cut up...whoops!

That was about it for that visit...on to the next!


This day was mostly involved with getting the rest of the boot area, and general rear end of the car, repaired. Lots of repair patches provided, thankfully, from the black car. I saved the commission plate from it and will put it in Dorothy in some conspicuous place as a memento.

I finally split apart the tail light area from the black car to save the tail light backing plate as well as the surrounding metal that was in bad shape on Dorothy. I drilled out spot welds in an attempt to preserve as much metal as possible.

Tail light area of black car, in the middle of the splitting process.

A bit more splitting done. All of the wing area is gone here.

I needed to recover the tail light backing plate, the inside of the boot lid area/backing plate and the outside of the wing right under the backing plate. The black car's area in all of these spots was just fine, so it was the perfect donor.

Black car donor area, after match up and cutting.

In addition, I needed to recover some of the rear valance in this area. Again, the black car's rear valance in this area fit the bill.

Dorothy cancer area.

I followed the same basic process for all of these areas. Cut down the black car's donor piece as much as possible to end up a comfortable bit bigger than the area that required replacement on Dorothy, and then compare and fit and grind and fit, ad nauseum, to get it to the proper size.

Black car repair patch fitted.

Black car repair patch tacked in.

This was my day. Measure and over-cut a patch out of the black car, then trim and grind and fit it to Dorothy.

Both sides of tail light area cut out for repair patches.

Outer repair patch in.

Inner repair patch in.

So, all in all, not a bad day. There was little rush, no pressure, and the repair were straight forward and worked. Of course, there is still final welding and fitting and all of that to do, but it worked.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #41 - Rear Wing Inner Strengthener (the other one)

Merry Christmas, everyone. Figured I'd get caught up, so here's the video:


This visit involved continued preparations on getting the boot floor patch in. As I mentioned previously, I decided that I would be better served getting the rear wing strengthener in first as access was excellent, so that's what I did. I didn't have a whole lot of time in this visit, but I got that done.

First, I had to cut the old stuff out. I went a bit lower all around this time as this side wasn't quite as bad as the other.

What I cut out. Bottom few inches is gone.

Cancerous portion removed.

As with the other side, of course, the strengthener and outer wheel arch are all on piece, so I had to try to make them one piece again. For this side, I chose to not separate the flange from the inner wheel arch quite as high as I did on the driver's side. I was also smarter about the amount of original (non-damaged) metal I cut away and was able to make it work.

Rough fit. Note how the front edge slips under the flange.

View of front union from the wheel well.

Same view, different angle.

Once I get fit right, I tacked it in, running a bead along the remaining portion of the lower outer wheel arch and the new strengthener.

Closeup of the bead.

Once that was done, I bent the flange back as flush as possible and gave it a few good plug welds to replace the drilled out spot welds.


Full shot of the repair. Much better, though some weld cleanup remains.

In addition to this repair, the upper strengthener where the rear valance attaches, on both sides, had some cancer and were also damaged when I was removing the rear valance. This required two rather small triangle repair patches.

Closeup of one side of the damage.

The two damaged pieces, one from each side.

Damage removed. Tight fit for the cutting wheel in here.

I had to use a hacksaw blade to removed the triangle as it was tight for my 3" penumatic cutoff wheel. I made it work, though.

Thankfully, it was much easier to weld the replacement pieces in than it was to remove them!

Passenger's side done. Need to remove the point of the triangle, obviously.

Driver's side done.

That was about it for the visit. Still mulling over my approach to the repair for the rear taillight. But, the next visit should decide which way I go and I should also get the boot floor patch in. We'll see!  Cheers.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #40 - Boot Floor Repair Preperation

Got another two-fer for everyone today. A longer post this time, so be prepared!


With most of the rear wing sorted, it was time to move on to the boot floor. Specifically, the portion as it takes a 90-degree downward turn and welds up to the rear valance. If you remember, this area is almost completely gone on Dorothy. Fortunately, the black car's boot floor wasn't in nearly as bad of shape (though not quite as good as I had originally thought). So, as I've  done several times in the past, I removed the needed area from the black car.

Biggest repair patch ever!

I loaded the rear 18" of the black car in my Honda Fit and headed over to the garage to see what I could do. My intention was to use the rear valance as well, but upon closer inspection, it was in similar shape to Dorothy's with some additional dents that would need to be worked. Most importantly, the bottom flange that connects the rear valance and boot floor was just as rusted out as on Dorothy, so only the boot floor would be used.

The flange area that is just as bad. The rear valance on the left, the boot floor on the right.

As for the boot floor, a PO had attached a 1/4" plate steel on both sides of the vertical portion of the floor to act as a support for hanging what was probably a dual-pipe exhaust...or something similar. Of course I removed those, but that left two big holes in the vertical portion of the floor, on either side of the factory 1" hole.

The holes. Not pretty. The 1/4" plates are in the background.

I separated the rear valance and the boot floor with the cutting wheel (sacrificing the rear valance side) and used the grinding wheel to remove the remaining bits of the rear valance flange from the boot floor, grinding through the spotwelds and taking off metal as required. I came home looking like a coal miner that night from all of the metal, dirt and rust flying through the air!

The boot floor ready to start repairs.

In addition to the already mentioned cancer repairs, I needed to address what I called "boils" directly above the rear bumper support brackets that are spot welded to the bottom of the boot floor. On both sides, the boot floor metal had corroded directly above the bracket, leaving a rather large hole.

The dreaded "boil". This is the passenger's side.

The solution for this was to drill out the spot welds to get the brackets off, repair the hole, and weld the brackets back in.

Same side with the bracket removed and the extent of the cancer revealed.

Just like the driver's side, the boot floor on the passenger's side, after the curves upward to meet the wheel arch, was corroded and required repair at that union. Since this area was fine on the repair piece, I wanted to maintain it intact, hence the reason for repairing the boil around the bracket. I figured it would be a less complicated repair if I could just use the black car's floor than to fabricate another complex repair patch like I did on the driver's side.

One additional area that would require repair was the driver's side where the boot floor turned to the vertical. Much like on Dorothy (wonder if this is coincidence?), this area was cracked (vice corroded) and would need to be weld repaired.

The crack. That's one of the bumper support brackets that I removed underneath the floor.

With the areas requiring repair identified, I moved on to fabricating repair patches. Thankfully, each of these areas was flat and mostly square, so the fabrication was about as easy as it gets.

The "holes" area cut out...including some heavily pitted areas around them.

The boil patch clamped in and ready for welding.

Boil patch tacked in.

Cracks tacked back together.

Hole patch piece installed, with new "factory" hole drilled out.

In addition to the areas that I mentioned, I had to recreate the flange on the vertical side of the boot floor where it welds to the wing strengthener. Again, this was just a straight piece of metal so it was easy to fabricate and attach. That was a good day at the garage.

Flange installed.

My next visit was a quick one after work mid-week.



Most of my time involved finishing up repairs to the areas that I already started. I additionally identified another area of excessive pitting that required another patch much like the "hole" patch.

Another patch to the left of the "hole" patch.

Also in preparation for removing the corroded areas of Dorothy, I removed the exhaust pipe bracket (?) from her for preservation and re-installation. This bracket connects between the bottom of the boot floor and the vertical portion and is spot welded to both areas.

Spot welds drilled out and the bracket cut out.

The bracket...this was mostly gone (intentionally?) on the black car.

With the new patch welded into the boot floor, it was time to  get it ready for POR-15. This is the stuff that I used on the frame forever ago to provide for corrosion prevention. Given that this area is especially susceptible to water collection (why would you design what amounts to a water trough into the boot floor?!), I decided that a coat of POR-15 was warranted on both sides of the boot floor in this area. So, that meant a good dose of POR-15 Metal Prep.

POR-15 Metal Prep applied and working.

While I let that stuff do it's magic, I turned back to Dorothy to cut away corrosion and metal that was going to be replaced. Specifically that area near the wheel arch and that side of the boot floor.

Drill out spot welds for the boot floor from inside the wheel arch.

With the boot floor disconnected from the wheel arch, I took my cutting wheel and cut a straight line back from there to the back of the boot floor.

All gone!

Another cancerous area removed!

Since I cut a much larger portion of the  boot floor out on this side, I assessed that it would be easier to replace the bottom of the wing strengthener piece now instead of after repairing the boot floor. That way, I have access from the inside of the boot and won't need to cut away as much of the rear wing to gain access from the "outside" of the car.  I don't know yet if that assessment will hold, but that's the way I'm going for now.

That was about it for the night. There is another portion of the boot floor that I should replace. I mention it in the video but I decided at that time not to do it. However, after sleeping on it for a bit, I probably really should.  I'll look at it first thing on my next visit and make the decision at that time, but I'm leaning towards it.

Until next time, cheers!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #39 - Lower Wing Prep and Installation

Time to get caught up a bit here. The first video and write-up:


I fought with the lower wing patch for a while. For one, I had cut too much of the existing wing away and had to add a strip of metal back in, which is never a good thing. Second, the flex of the two pieces was different so it become nearly impossible to properly align the repair patch. I would adjust it in one area and it would shift in another. Frustrating.

I finally did figure out the trick for the flex, however, and it was to clamp the leading edge to the fender flare area and then push in on the rear flange where it attaches to the strengthener and rear valance. This cause the repair patch to bulge out a bit in this area, lining up nearly perfectly with the remaining wing. I would say that without putting the rear valance back up there, I'm not sure that this would have gone so well. So, I'd recommend clamping that back up if you are going this route.

Clamped up for trial fits.

Once I was confident on the path ahead for that, I needed to tie up the loose ends, namely the bottom portion of the outer wheel arch where it connects up with the strengthener. These are one piece coming out of the factory, but the patch means they are now two, so I had to "reconnect" them.
I kind of cheated a bit and just folded over the strengthener onto the outer wheel arch and then applied some tack welds to make it permanent.

Strengthener folded over.

Bunch of tack welds and general final attachment.

The rest of my efforts were mainly devoted to finishing up welding everything in, like the rest of the outer wheel arch and the strengthener.

Outer side of the strengthener welded in.

And the inside.

With that all done, it was time to do the final fit of the  lower wing repair patch. I still had the fender flare to fix, but I stole this piece from the black car and it required cutting to fit properly. Also, I figured it would be better to install this last as I could more easily modify it to fit the new lower wing than the other way around.

Fender flare repair patch prior to fitting, just to see what it would look like.

Having saved the part of the original wing that I cut too much of, I tacked that right back in.

Old wing part back in.

Then, I arranged the  lower wing as best I could and used a piece of painter's tape to identify the line of its flange to get an idea of how much of the original wing that I just added back really needed to come off.

Faint <very> black line marking the repair patch's flange location.

Armed with that knowledge, I cut again and primed the whole thing in preparation for finally installing the patch.

Primed and ready.

How it will fit up.

That was about all I got done for that night.

But, I took the day off on Friday and was able to get back over there for a  while to get the lower wing welded in. Here's the second video and write-up for that trip.



Since I had done most of the work for fitting it all together during my last visit, there was just some light final fitting and it was ready to weld in.

Tacked in several areas, including a few plug welds along the bottom.

With the lower wing finally tacked in, I moved on to fitting the fender flare. Again, this was a tedious matter of cutting, fitting, cutting and fitting to get it just right.

The final product prior to installation.

In the end, I was happy with how it turned out.

Tacked in. Yay!

And that was about it. There's obviously still some welds to finish and grind and painting to be done and all of that, but  this side is pretty well sorted. The tail light plate is next before I move over to the passenger's side, I think, but I have to take the cutting wheel and sawzall to the black car for that!