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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #9 - Lower A Post Final Install / Inner Sill Install

Got over to the garage today for a bit. Finished up installing the lower A post and got the inner still installed and the strengthener fitted, but not tacked. Not too bad for a days work.

The audio on the video sounds like I'm in a tunnel. Not sure if I did something or not, but there are bits that are hard to understand. Sorry about that.

A true multi-media post - video and a write up! Fancy, I know. Anyway, after finishing up the welding on the lower A post, I took some measurements to verify that everything was still good (it was) and I welded in some angle iron on the inside of the door frame. This was something that I fought with for a while and finally decided to do. Putting the support on the inside of the door frame allows fitting of the door which, in turn, allows proper adjustments to the outer sill prior to welding it in.

Welds at the back; front similar.

What it looks like from the outside.

Once the new support was welded in, I removed my old support. Then, I put the door in to check it out and it fit, though not very well. The upper hinge had A LOT of play in it which allowed the door to sag quite a bit. I've read a few posts in my favorite forum about getting new hinges when doing this job since the pins are normally pretty worn out. Bad hinges can make proper door gaps nearly impossible to achieve. The lower hinge is fine, but the upper...not so much.

Door installed. You can see how misaligned it is looking at the pinstripe line.

I got nervous about this at first, thinking the body had flexed but after I adjusted the door for the hinge sag both physically and "in my head" it made sense to have a large gap at the top as the hinge gave and caused the door to drop. With a tight hinge, the door will rise up and then both hinges would be slid back (they're adjustable, of course) to get a nice gap. At least, that's what I hope! I have several hinges in my attic from the black car so hopefully at least one of them is good.

Definitely not concourse!

With that checked out, I pulled the door back off and got to work prepping the area for the inner sill. I cut a hole in the bottom of the B post for the wiring harness portion that goes back into the boot (tail lights and what-not) with no problems.

I did several trial fits of the inner sill, making adjustments with the body hammer as necessary. I didn't need to trim anything and the sill to A and B post fits were nearly perfect. There are a few bends in the inner sill that corresponds to mating points in both the A and B posts. Given that I needed no adjustments with these, I reinforced my confidence that the body had not flexed or bent.

I cleaned up the inner sill as there was some bubbling paint and surface rust, punched a bunch of plug weld holes in it and primed it up with weld-through primer. I also primed the areas of the body where I planned to weld.

Inner sill prepped and drying. You can see a bend at the top. This is where it mates with the inside lower A post.

Once the inner sill and body were dry, I did the final fit up. Good to go!

Fit up from the outside.

Fit up from the inside. Again, though a bit hard to see, note the bends at the bottoms of the A and B posts. 

I did a few plug welds on the inside first at the front and back, then moved to the floor to sill union and welded that.

Floor to inner sill weld.

Inner sill to lower B post welds.

The next piece to go on is the strengthener, which fits between the inner and outer sills. The reason that not all of the plug welds are completed in the picture above is because the strengthener slides between the inner sill and the lower B post in this area and I didn't want to put a big weld bead in there until I knew how much room I had.

Also, the front lower rear wing portion that is already in need of replacement needs to be cut out to gain access to the area where the strengthener welds to the lower B post. Regrettable that this is the way it needs to be done as my passenger's side in this area is in good shape. Oh, well. Maybe I can figure an alternative method.

The front of the strengthener simply welds to a flange on the lower A post. The top and bottom of the strengthener welds to a flange on the floor and the top of the inner sill. I see a bunch more plug welds in my future!

Strengthener (black piece) sitting in there.

Next visit I'll get the strengthener in and start fitting the outer sill. Getting that in will probably take another visit or two.

I did learn that the weld-through primer doesn't seem to be very weld-through. I may have been under the misconception that you could just paint that stuff and then weld - oh, I don't know - right through it?! Nope. Pops, crackles and bad welds. In the future, I will continue to use it but will take more care in prepping the areas that I want to weld to get them down to clean metal, or close to it, to avoid problems.

To clean the plug area, one trick that I picked up from Elin Yakov, who in turn picked it up from jademuttley, is to obtain the appropriate size drill bit and grind the end flat. You then drill the plug area and the flattened bit takes the paint off. Works pretty good!

Flattened bit. Simple and effective!
That's it for this post. For the two people that have already read this post, I apologize for the late write-up!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #8 - Lower A Post Repair and Installation (and Fishing!)

As promised, here's the write up for the work I did getting the bottom A post installed as covered in these two videos here and here. I also end with a fishing report, as I'm sure that's why you are all really here. I took the sawzall and cutting wheels to the black car and hacked out its driver's side bottom A post, rear wing (front) lower panel and rear wing (rear) lower panel to use as donor pieces for Dorothy.

As I had the sill assembly out and needed to get it back in to preserve body rigidity, the bottom A post was the first logical choice for replacement. Of course, I needed to do some clean up and repair to the donor parts.

As it came out of the black car; extra metal, rust and all. I have the high beam switch removed already (top of pic).

The rear wing (rear) lower panel. Some repair is required at the bottom, but it's better than Dorothy's.

The rear wing (front) lower panel. Previously repaired, so I'll clean it up and try to make it better. Otherwise, I'll just replace the repair.

After some more cutting and drilling, I got down to the "base" piece of metal that was the lower A post. Having a new one, but from the passenger's side, helped me to know how it should look.

All of the extraneous stuff removed.

 With all of that removed, I did an initial fit-up to make sure it was going to work.

Close enough. Now for clean up and repairs.

The first repair patch was in the front, where the A post meets the floor. I had taken the floor to frame supports out of the black car assuming I would need them, though Dorothy's turned out fine. Unfortunately in doing so I wasn't very careful and over cut, so I needed to replace this metal. I used the 4.5" angle grinder and the wire cup brush to remove all of the undercoating that someone had applied at some point and also cleaned up the loose rust.

I then used POR-15 Metal Prep to prepare the metal for welding and as a general rust inhibitor. While waiting for that to do its thing, I made a template and cut up more of the trunk boot lid to fabricate the piece for the front repair patch.

The union between the patch and the lower A post towards the back (left side in the picture below) was the most difficult. I cut the patch larger than required in this area, cleaned it all up and tacked the entire piece in. I then used the body hammer to bend over the oversize part, meeting it up with the lower A post.

Initial rough fit. A bit of overlap on the left where I overcut.

Another angle of the overlap. Some hammering is done here, but nothing is tacked in yet.

Patch welded in. New panel on right for comparison. That'll do.

Somewhere along the way I had cleaned up the spotweld residue from removing the old lower A post and did another trial fit up using sheet metal screws. It all aligned pretty good and, after painting everything with some more weld-through primer, I stopped for that day.

Not too bad.

The goal for the next visit was to get the bottom A post tacked in. Now, however, I had repairs to do on the body and I also decided to do one more repair to the very front of the lower A post. Again, I used my manila folder to cut some templates and got to work.

The manila folder templates. Puzzle pieces.

The first one I tackled was the ledge area at the rear lower portion of the bulkhead (second picture down). I had to make something like a front half-section of a baseball cap to do this since both the flange and some of the metal above the flange was gone.

The front-half baseball cap, ready for tack welding.

The brim of the cap tacked in and the first trial fit of the whole thing. Pretty good.

Once I got it fabricated and tacked together, I tacked it to the body. Not my best work, but it's attached. I decided to hold off on any further welding until I figured out how everything fits up (like the outer sill) and then I'll go back and finish it all off properly.

Tacked in.

After that, I moved back to the lower A post. The front flange that mates with the bulkhead was in bad shape. I was going to try to get away with it, but I was concerned for proper weldable metal, so I cut the whole thing off the bottom A post and welded in a new piece.

The flange cut away. For some reason I didn't grab a picture before I did that.

Showing how the flange will fit up.
And done. My best welding effort to date.

 With the final repairs to the bottom A post done, I hit it with weld-through primer and let it dry.

All done, ready to weld into Dorothy.

Finally, I wanted to replace a candy-cane shaped part of the bulkhead as it had three big holes in it from removing the old lower A post.

The damaged area on the bulkhead (those three big holes)

 I prepared the final piece of metal using the template, cut out the damaged area, and tacked it in. Nothing tricky here.

Repairs complete.

Areas all painted with weld-through primer.

I did one final fit up of the lower A post once all of the paint was dry and held it in again with some sheet metal screws and vise grips. I marked all of the weld areas about every 1/2" with a Sharpie to provide a template for where I was going to pop holes in it for the plug welds.

Plug weld holes for welding the lower A post to the supports inside the upper A post. You can see the Sharpie dots running along the top.

Everything fit up nicely and aligned well. I took some size measurements to ensure I didn't have any twist or sag in the dash.

Not much else to do but weld!

With that, I started tacking it in. My welds weren't the best, but they did the trick. I have so many holes in the thing that I'm not too worried about anything really coming apart.

Some of the plug welds.

Plug welds underneath, attaching to the supports inside the upper A post.

On the inside of the car (upper A post to lower A post).

The back end of the lower A post. This area will be covered by the transition piece.

That was about it for the work. I was happy with how it all went and happy with my fabrication. I know it looks like I left a lot of welds in sad shape and not fully welded up. I'm doing this intentionally at this point to get everything fitted. I will go back, as necessary, and finish welds up.

I intend to get over there on Sunday and I should get the lower A post in completely and start the sill installation. The family goes to NJ for their annual trip next week so the work will pick up as I'll be able to get over to the garage every night! I'll miss my family, of course 😉

Finally, fishing on Tuesday was probably the best I've ever experienced, fresh or salt water. Black Sea Bass and Porgy caught off Montauk Island, NY. It was me and my two boys. We brought home 38 fish - 9 Black Sea Bass (the bag limit) and 31 Porgy (the "that's as much as I want" limit). We threw back or gave away at least double that. All you had to do was get your bait anywhere near the bottom and you had a fish. Thanks to Captain Greg and the mates on Blackhawk out of Niantic, CT for the awesome trip!

Boys ready to go! Leaving the dock, 7:00 sharp.

Youngest draws first blood! That's a Porgy; very good eating!

Oldest with a very nice Black Sea Bass. More yummy!

Oldest with a sand shark (dogfish). Punched his "man card" by catching a "shark"!

The "old man" (me) with a nice double-header of keeper Black Sea Bass.

 All fished out on the trip back...

5am comes early...

for both of them!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #7 - Welding In Lower A Post (Video only)

Another video I did over at the garage tonight. Same idea as before. I took pics and I'll do a write up when I get there. Big deep sea fishing trip tomorrow on the Blackhawk II out of Niantic, CT. This will be my 4th time going out (3rd with the boys) and first of the season for Black Sea Bass and Porgy. The weather looks good and I expect a good day. Hopefully the boat won't be too packed with people.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #6 - Lower A Post Repair / Install (Video only)

Did a few quick videos at the garage today showing some work on the lower A post that I scavenged from the black car. I'll do a more informative write post soon, but for note, here's the video.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #5 - Floor Install / Sill Removal / Door Check Strap Repair

Got over to the garage all day on Sunday and on Wednesday evening for a while. Most of the work I discuss below was captured in the video from my previous post but the rest is from Wednesday. Therefore, I'll summarize the work from Sunday and go into the work on Wednesday in more detail.

The rear radius arm bracket was welded in; not the prettiest. Still trying to get the welding but down, obviously. I'm struggling with welding together two different thicknesses of metal, but I did learn a little trick that I'll discuss later that seems to help the work on Wednesday night.

I added a few more beads on Wednesday. Still not pretty, though.

I also got the backing plate for the gap between the new and old floor pan tacked in. I did finish up the rest of the beads on the floor on Wednesday.

Backing plate in. I just filled the gap with weld wire.

Once the floor was in there solid, I moved on to taking out the sill. As I've previously documented, it's a three-piece design with the outer and inner sill sandwiching a strengthener in between them. These are all welded to the A post, B post and floor at various points.

Having already mangled the A post-to-sill transition piece off, I started drilling out the spotwelds everywhere. There are lots of them, so be prepared to tear up some drill bits. Since I wasn't re-using any of what I was going to remove, I was able to use my Blair Cutter. This thing drills out pretty big holes (3/8") so it's not that great for re-using the metal you drilled on. However, they cut great and last for quite a while so I was happy to be able to use it for sill removal. I went through a used one and a new one getting through all of the spotwelds that I mention in this post. Though it may not seem like it, in the long run it's cheaper than burning through drill bits, which only got me about 5-7 spotwelds each.

As I worked through the welds (sometimes using a chisel to fully break it), I pulled the sill pieces apart to get a look inside. Nothing was in catastrophic shape, but it would have taken a lot of work to get it to the point where I would want to re-use any of it. Given that I already have new metal, this isn't an issue.

Looking down between the middle and outer sill. Dirt and rust...mostly rust.

End-on view, down the length of the car. Strengthener is not pretty, but outer sill isn't too horrible. The flap of metal on the left is the bottom of the lower A post.

Sill assembly liberated. If you look close to the left, you can see the bottom of the A post - bad shape.

The casualties.

As I mentioned in the video, the bottom of the A post was too far gone and the metal fabrication too complex for me to try and repair it. Of course, I could have done a simple repair to make it work, but I've come too far already to get cheesy now. After I made that decision, I took the cutter and removed the entire lower A post. There are lots of spotwelds holding this on, too, but nothing inaccessible.

A post out.

The outside of the lower A post. This is covered by the outer sill. You can see the holes the cutter leaves.

The interior side of the lower A post. The two holes on far right are for the headlight "brights" switch.

With all of that damage done and needing to order more metal, I did an assessment of the rest of the car and determined that I needed to also get a new LH (RH was good, surprisingly) rear wing forward lower piece (where it meets the back of the outer sill) and both rear wing rear lower pieces, so I put them in my Rimmer's cart for a future order. Trying to wait for a sale, but we'll see how long I can hold out.

The other things I did Wednesday night were to fix the LH door check strap spring and the A post-to-sill transition piece.

I noticed damage to the door check strap area soon after getting the car. The door check strap spring that prevents the door from flying open by catching the check strap had broken. This allowed the door to swing open as far as someone would let it go, eventually tearing some metal and breaking a few spot welds.

The damaged area. The spot welds are pretty obvious (the one on the left is broken fully). There are more on the inner A post in the interior of the car.

The check strap spring is riveted to a bracket which is in t u engine apprehended inside A post. Some of the spots welds had broken and the assembly was only held on fully by 7 of the 11 I found. Since I wanted to save metal here, I resorted to a 1/8" cobalt drill bit to cut the spotwelds (think this was the right size...it was small). The bracket ended up being much easier to remove than I was afraid of, so that was a win!

Assembly removed. You can see the broken spring (there should be a a top piece also).

Spotwelds removed. Not too bad. The cracks are evident here (top and bottom far right and far left).

I did not want to remove the rivets that held on the spring. Though I'm confident that a nut/bolt combination would work, I wanted to see how it went.

I cleaned up the bracketwith a wire brush and then removed the spring.

Spring removed from one rivet.

I struggled to get something between the two parts of the spring on the other rivet to pry it off, so I cut the spring back and then was able to use a punch to drive it out, with the bracket clamped in the vise.

The split that I was able to drive the punch between to press the spring out.

Out with the old and in with the new. The new (and original) spring is one piece, but split at one end. I'm not sure how you are really supposed to attach it, but I was able to fit the open end over the rivets, and then smack the closed end over that rivet.

Spring fitted, with the closed end easily pressed home into the rivet.

I struggled for a while after that to get the other end to work. The larger, more "hooked" end should fit over the smaller end. It situ, I had to shave just a bit of the smaller end off (using my Dremel) and then was able to fit the larger end over with a pair of pliers, locking it all in.

Ready to clamp it together.

And done!

Like I said, a small, short nut and bolt would work here as long as it was the proper size. If this is the route you choose to go, I would recommend using some blue Loctite or some similar alternative because if the nut/bolt comes lose and falls out, outside of it falling into oblivion between body panels, I'm not sure you could get fingers in there to replace it.

With that, I clamped in (there are access holes that barely allowed the clamp to fit) the bracket and plug welded it in.

Clamped, ready to go.

Welded up and most of the cracks welded up as well. Still some work to do.

And done!

Finally, I wanted to try repairing the transition piece and the bottom of the upper A post still attached to the car (you can see the large holes and some tears behind the ground clamp for the welder in the picture above). I messed up the transition piece getting it out and the lower portion of the upper A post had large holes in it from drilling out the spotwelds for the lower A post. Congratulations if you kept your upper and lowers straight!

I took the body hammer to the transition piece and it formed up very nicely. I had used a 1/4" drill bit to get the transition piece out in an attempt to save it, but I tore some of the metal in doing so, so this needed to be fixed.

Closeup after hammering. 

Blurry closeup of the torn metal at the top.

I cut a new piece of metal from my old boot lid (still have quite a bit of that left) and welded it in. Since this will be plug welded back in I didn't spend a lot of time making it pretty.

Welded in and mostly cleaned up.
Same idea for the lower portion of the upper A post; cutting another piece off the boot lid and welding it in, again leaving it mostly rough since it will get welded on (and hidden) again anyway.

Ready to weld.

And welded. I left it a bit long to give me some grinding room for final fit.

That was it for Wednesday. Oh, I almost forgot. At the beginning I mentioned a welding trick that I had learned to improve my welds. It's not really a trick, but more of a proper setup and it's called "stick out". Stick out is the distance from the nozzle of the welder to the end of the weld wire. The closer you hold the nozzle to the weld, making the weld wire shorter, the hotter the weld. For thin sheet metal, like all of this work is, a longer stick out is better (to a point...about 3/4") because the weld runs cooler, minimizing the chance of blowing through. This worked well and I hand minimal blow through.