Friday, November 24, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #37 - Boot Floor Patch - Take Duex

Finally, success!


I got a few hours at the garage this afternoon that turned out to be rather productive as I fixed my ill-fitting boot floor patch and got the lower inner wing strengthener tacked in as well.

My choice for a solution, with a brilliant recommendation from my brother, was to cut the few tack welds near the rear of the repair and pry it away a bit, then fill the gap in some way. Okay, that sounds good, let's see if it works!

Tack welds cut and the repair patch spread out a bit.

Tack welds ground down and the patch clamped to the strengthener.

So, yeah, that worked out surprisingly well and, after clamping it down, I put a tack weld near the "front" of the patch where the gap was small to hold it in place.

Obviously, however, the gap towards the "rear" of the patch was too wide to fill with weld metal, so I cut a small backing piece, primed it, and welded it in.

Backing piece from the top.

Backing piece (primed) from the bottom.

With that sorted, it was time to get the rest of the patch actually welded in.

Some grinding left to do, but it sure is pretty!

With that done, it was time to get the strengthener fitted and cut and made ready in all respects. This was done with lots of clamps and random installations of the rear valance to ensure proper spacing. All in all, it went pretty well.

Adjusting strengthener fit, with rear valance in there, too.

Outside shot, also showing plug weld holes that I punched in at some point.

Once I was happy with how it all fit up, I did a few tack and plug welds to get it all set up.

It's in there!

One thing I noticed during the repair was the relative attachment points between the boot floor and the strengthener. The new strengthener extended quite a bit beyond the bottom of the boot floor. Since it was all rotted away, I had no good point of reference to ensure this was correct. However, I looked on the passenger's side and, sure enough, I was able to see the mostly rusted mating lines between the boot floor and strengthener and, thankfully, my repair appeared to be correct.

What it looked like on the passenger's side. Yuck!

While waiting for the weld-though primer to dry and what-not, I also removed the rear tail light plate (or whatever it's properly called) in preparation for repair, or replacing, it and fixing the dent and cancer around it.

Definitely some work to do there.

That was about it. Not bad, considering, for about 4 hours of work. I was happy to come through the misaligned patch and now I know better for the other side. There are still some significant challenges remaining, of course, most notably the gap in the wheel well that I speak to in the video. But, nothing that I think is too bad!

Again, I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading! Cheers!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #36 - Boot Floor Patch

Though I may have some re-work, I got the boot floor patch for the driver's side in.


Because of the relative complexity of the repair patch, I made it in a total of 5 pieces. There was a convex piece from the inner wheel arch that shifted to concave as it made its way back towards the rear valance,  followed by a straight piece to the rear valance. Additionally, there was a flange that also needed to be reproduced. Since I don't have a shrinker or stretcher, I built a multi-piece solution.

Fit up including the "finger" piece.

The convex and concave pieces are now one.

I added the finger piece and checked the fit with some minor adjustments required.

Fit up with everything welded together.

Then it was time to flange the curved pieces, which I made out of two separate pieces.

Flanges showing (hopefully) the two pieces. Sorry for the blurriness.

Another test fit and it was time to tack it in.

Final test fit. Not too bad!

I tacked it in in several spots but, like most of my welds so far, I left it unfinished, which appears to have been a good decision.

Continuing the work in to out, the next piece to fit was the inner wing strengthener. Only the bottom part of this was gone (you can see it towards the bottom left of the picture above) so I wanted to save as much good metal as possible.

Rough cut and fit of the new strengthener.

I also attached the new rear wing bottom, though this didn't fit too well since I had not cut enough metal away. It was good for a rough idea, though.

Lower rear wing clamped in.

At this point I figured out that my boot floor patch is probably too skinny. The flange of the floor attaches to the flange of the lower rear wing, with the strengthener sandwiched between them. To get a good fit, however, I had to push the lower rear wing and strengthener towards the center of the car about 3/4". Since the rear valance is sandwiched between the left and right lower wings, it pushed that far in, the rear valance was too wide for the gap.

You can see the gap between the strengthener and the boot floor.

How much I had to push it over to get the strengthener and the boot floor to mate.

The funny thing, however,  is that the curved piece to the immediate right of my pointer finger (where the boot floor takes a 90-degree turn towards the floor) in the above picture is original. The few pictures I found of the original part with this area intact shows this curve being the edge of the boot floor, so that's the line I followed.

I'm not sure what happened, so I have some more investigation to do but something is obviously not right. I'd hate to have to start a new patch all over again, so I may attempt to patch the patch, so to speak, if necessary.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and spent it with loved ones. I was lucky enough to have my brother visit (he makes a mean apple pie) so that was a nice change. I don't think I'll need to eat again for about a week!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #35 - Boot Area Repair Preparations

I'm trying really hard to do a quality restoration. While my main focus is returning the car to as close to leaving the factory as I can (being a purist and all), a very close second is making sure that the work that I  am doing now is not so shoddy that I have to redo it in a few years. I'm confident in my purely mechanical work (i.e., the motor and chassis) but not so much in the body repair area. To the video...


I think back to the minor body work that I did on my 1976 MG Midget when I was in high school. It had a bit of cancer on the front of the driver's side rocker, what I now <properly> call the sill. I did a really horrible job repairing that (fiberglass and bondo) and, within a year, the  hole was back and bigger than ever. I don't want to repeat that. So, while I'm now cutting away as much cancer-riddled metal that I can find and replacing it with new, you never know.  Only time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, with the rear valance removed, it was time to dig in to repairing the whole lot. I decided to start with the driver's side since it was the more difficult repair (including the rear wing flare and rear tail light plate) with more metal loss. This would also afford me a less damaged reference using the passenger's side.

The first victim. The marks denote the extend of the repair part, with the cut line (bottom line) and the top of the repair part (top line) giving me my extents.

Much like the sill replacement, I needed to work from the inside out, but I had to cut away from the outside in. So, first to go was the lower portion of the outer wing, which I have the repair patch for.

Lower wing cut away. Looking towards the wheel well at the rear inner wing.

With that gone, I gained good access to the  rear inner wing, which I often refer to as the strengthener. The inner wing and the outer wheel arch are one piece coming out of the factory. Since the repair pieces are separate, this presented a bit of a problem in trying to make a clean separation, or cut, between the two. I have yet to fully come through this to see if it ends up being a challenge or not, but I think it will work out fine.

Now I could pull and prod on the whole assembly to assess the damage.

From inside the boot, looking out at the lower inner wing.

As I suspected,  it wasn't pretty. Additionally, I had some minor damage to the area where the boot floor and inner wheel arch mated up (I previously identified that on the passenger's side as well). While minor, it would require removing metal.  Again, removing metal out to in, the inner wing was the next victim of the cutting wheel.

Most of the spot welds were gone, so at least the inner wing was easy to get out. Almost detached here.

A bit different angle showing the boot floor with the flange that starts out sorta there and then disappears as it makes its way down and towards the rear of the boot.

With the inner wing removed, I cleaned up the area between the inner and outer wheel arch since the repair part will be sandwiched in between them instead of being one whole piece. This will require more prep than you see here, but it should be an easy fit.

The gap between the inner and outer wheel arches where the inner wing will slide in.

Now it was time to cut out the damaged boot floor to get a new flange in there and to repair the small cancer spot near the wheel arch / floor union. The wheel arch flares up at the boot floor, so I bend this back down to more easily access the spots welds and drilled them out within the bounds of where I wanted to remove the boot floor.

View of wheel arch to boot floor spot welds from inside the wheel well. Easy to see the spots welds.


Same spot but from below the boot floor looking towards the front of the car. The cancer hole (and a water stain, I guess) is easily identified.

I marked about where I wanted to remove metal, drilled out the spotwelds and got to cutting.

Looking down on boot floor showing obvious metal loss.

With the damaged metal cut away, it was time to fabricate replacement pieces and get them sized properly. I tried to be smart and save the metal that I cut away to provide a basic template for the repair patches.

Metal cut away and sizing up the first repair patch.

Due to the complexity of the repair patches (concave and convex curves) I decided to do the patch in three pieces and will weld them all together once the are all properly sized.

Side view with the rear patch clamped in. The flange will be reproduced along that entire length.

Doing the repair in several parts also makes the flange fabrication a bit easier as I intend to cut a piece of metal to shape and then weld it to the edge of the curved bits to make it as easy as possible, much like I did for the front part of the rear wheel wells.

Two of the three repair patches (right) still requiring some modification for size. As usual, I oversize, then trim down.

That was about all I got through, which wasn't too bad for a "school" night. Unfortunately, family commitments and a calculus college course are taking up a lot of my time right now so garage time is getting squeezed pretty hard. But, during the next visit I hope to finish the boot floor repairs and then start working my way back out to the outer lower wing.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #34 - Rear Valance Removal

Before I get into the post, let me say that it's been a while since I've done anything on Dorothy due to some family commitments, professional commitments, and my Honda Fit breaking an axle shaft. On Thursday I got back from about a week of business travel during which my birthday passed. While she may not understand, my lovely wife (and the kids, too) have always supported my unique and expensive "hobby".  They continue to do so and this year, as with the first year I owned Dorothy, my birthday cake celebrated Triumph (I'm eating a piece as I type this).

Happy Birthday!

So, after about two full weeks, I finally got back over to the garage to get some work done.


Based off of recommendations from a kind gentleman (and Navy veteran) <thanks, Frank!> who offered some lessons learned advice after reading my posts,  I decided to stop the sill work pending landing the body tub back to the chassis. The idea being that I can get the tub bolted back down and set properly, then also put on the bonnet and the doors and everything else and get it all aligned before I do the final commit to the outer sills by welding them in.

Given that, I started the morning with removing the passenger's side outer sill. If you remember, I had tried to attach it last time but the plug weld holes I made were too small. This resulted in the holes filling up with weld metal before I got good penetration and, hence, the welds were...well, crap. I educated myself with the help of one of my YouTube viewers and pulled the sill back off with the intention of punching larger holes in it (about 1/4") in the future.

1/4" hole (far right) versus what I used. Not to be confused with the large hole above which is a factory drain hole.

Because the welds were not so hot, that was an easy chore. With that, I spun the body around (it's on dollys) for the better lighting and got to work removing the rear valance (which I cannot remember the name of in my video).

This is the typical job of drilling out a whole bunch of spots welds. I try to concentrate on the few points of interest in the video. In short, the rear valance is attached to the boot floor along its bottom (from right to left) and the  inner wing lower strengthener  on both sides. Lucky or not, depending on how you look at it, most of Dorothy's boot floor and rear valance were no longer were attached, so most of the welds that I drilled out were along the wings.

Slowly separating the wing, strengthener and rear valance (passenger's side).

Since most of the bottom was already detached, I only drilled out a few and just used my chisel to get the rest.

Part of the area of the boot floor to valance separation.

The trickiest part was around the taillight area. First, it's hard to get at and see. Second, there are at least two separate areas of attachment that are difficult to get at. I try to show this in the video...you get an idea of how hard it is to see given how poor of a job I do at accomplishing this.

The problem area. This picture doesn't really do it justice.

I didn't go back and take post-removal pictures, but I think these may be best left to pre-replacement pics instead.

Otherwise, it was not a complicated removal, if tedious. Just make sure what you are drilling through and you should be fine. After about 4 hours, I got the rear valance off and on the bench.

Now I have a Spitfire pickup!

On the bench. I used the Sawzall to help at a few points, which I didn't document.

Needless to say, I have a lot of repair work and fabrication ahead of me.  Of the areas of concern (there are many) my greatest, from a technical standpoint, is repairing the wing strengtheners. I'm not quite sure how to approach this yet, but you may be able to understand what I'm looking at below...how to get the new patch in properly while minimizing disturbing the existing, good metal.

Driver's side.

Passenger's side.

I think that's about it. Looks like I'm going to get back over there tomorrow for my weekday visit, so I'll need to make my decision rather quickly on how to proceed. Until then, cheers!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Roundtail Restoration Update

Hi, everyone. Yes, I am still alive. Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way over the past several days that has impacted my ability to get over to the garage and work on Dorothy. Between my Fit breaking an axle shaft, soccer games, starting a calculus college course (what was I thinking!), and losing power for a few days due to a fall storm, it's been a real challenge to carve out time for restoration work.

Unfortunately, the trend will continue into next week as I go on a business trip on Sunday through Thursday. However, come next weekend, I will hopefully be able to establish my garage routine again and get back to work.

Based on some feedback from a few people on here (thanks, Frank!) and my YouTube channel, I've decided to remove the passenger's outer sill (re-work based on a lesson learned in my last post) and move on to repair of the rear lower wings and boot area. Following that, I intend to land the tub on the fully rebuilt chassis and get it all aligned and set, then fit the doors , the bonnet and the outer sills to ensure that I have a good fit-up all around. That way, if there are corrections to make, I can do it using the outer sill before it's welded up.

That's the plan, anyway. Until next time...