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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!

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