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.

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