Friday, January 26, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #47 - Rear Valance Installation

It's in!


Yes, after several fits and starts, the new rear valance is in. There still some final welding to do, of course, but it's not going to move without significant persuasion!

First off, let me say that I appreciate any and all of you who have visited my website and a special thank you goes to those that have subscribed to my YouTube channel. I'm still very far away from the required 1000 subscribers to maintain monetization, but I've added more than two dozen in the past week, so thanks so much for that! Second, for this specific video, I feel that I didn't edit out enough "real time" stuff and it gets pretty boring at times, so I apologize for that. It'll be a better balance next time.

In short, the biggest lesson here that I learned is that metal flexes. In doing so, it provides some added rigidity that is beneficial to the strength of the panel. The sills are the same way, from what I understand, but I have yet to figure that out for sure.  I learned this as I struggled to get the curvatures at the wing flanges to match up.

I still needed to do some final prep work to the new valance. This included taking the three remaining wire tabs from Dorothy's valance, and one from the black car for a total of four, and swapping them over to the new valance. This entailed drilling out the two spot welds on the tabs, cleaning the surfaces of the new valance of black paint, priming everything with weld through primer, and welding them back in on the new one.

One of the tabs on Dorothy's original valance.

The four (three from Dorothy, one from the black car) post-priming and drying.

Clamped in ready to weld. Yes, the closest one is upside down. So glad I figured that out before I welded it!

And done.

With that done, it was back to fitting the thing up. My initial fit up did not identify that fact that I needed to "squish" the valance. I didn't take any pictures at the time because I didn't know better, but my video makes is clear that I figure this out and you can clearly see the comparison between right and wrong.

Another area of concern, which a viewer of mine commented that he had the same problem as well,  was the overlap on the driver's side of the valance.

The problematic fit area.

More of the same area, reverse side.

It simply seems that this side is just not stamped properly, at least for the Mk2. The passenger's side was very close to correct, so I doubted myself for a while, but in the end I took my cutting wheel and made it work.

As I fit the valance in, I used several (probably 10+) clamps during the process to hold everything in place. I then put the boot lid on, its rubber seal, and did a test. It fit pretty well, but I had a bit of rubbing right at the tail light area.

The boot does taper down as it works its way towards the back of the car. When I removed the old valance, the tail light area sprung "out" a bit, towards the center of the car, as there was nothing holding it back now.  I used some bar clamps to squeeze the tail light area together and then clamped the union between the new valance and this area together, which locked it down. It wasn't possible to take pictures to show this since it was so subtle, but the video tries to explain it more clearly.

Once the top was clamped in, I worked my way down, getting it all aligned and clamping along the way. Again, I'd refer you to the video for the better images. I used a floor jack and some 4x4s to compress the rear valance to get the bottom of it and the boot floor to align properly.

My only other significant areas of concern were the tail light area to rear valance where the brazing was done. This area was not a tight fit coming out of the factory  (hence the brazing) but I wanted to get as close as I could to minimize my gaps.

Initial passenger's side gap. Way too much. You can also see the better fit between the valance and the wing.

I did this by deforming the valance up in this area a bit while trying to press down on the tail light area. There is a flange in this area as well (not pictured) on the inside of the  tail light  that I could use as a clamping area, but that tended to bend before the valance, so the gap was still a bit too big. I used a mallet to make some final adjustments to get an acceptable gap (for me, at least).

Once all the clamping and fitting was done, I went to town welding, making adjustments as I went, working from top to bottom.

Passenger's side tacked.

Driver's side tacked.

Ultimately, there's still some gaps and final stuff to attend to, beside just the remaining plug welds. The shortness of this post doesn't do justice to the amount of effort required, at least for me, to get this right. Again, the biggest lesson for me was the required compression of the rear valance required to get a proper fit. I'm not quite sure what I did that helped me realize this, but am I ever glad I did!

Mostly done for the night. Not fully welded, but solid.

Again,  I highly really recommend watching the video, especially those portions where I'm speaking, if you are doing this yourself and need to "see" how it goes. It may not answer all of your questions, (you can skip me welding) but I'd stick with the speaking parts to get a full picture of what I needed to do. Until next time, cheers!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #46 - Rear Valance Prep

Getting this one in prior to the next visit!


This visit was dedicated to preparing and installing (if lucky enough) my new rear valance I picked up at Rimmers. I took advantage of their January Triumph sale  and picked it up for about $135. While shipping was about $50 (UPS oversize, it's usually not that expensive), it still cost me less than if I had purchased it domestically  (~$220 not including shipping).

First, I  got the vertical section of the boot floor painted with POR-15  to give it time to dry. I aimed my shop heater, I mean, halogen work lights at it to help it dry.

Shiny coat of POR-15.

With that done, it was time to get the rear valance ready for installation. The general shape of the rear valance didn't change for the roundtails (MK1 through MK3),  but the rear lighting arrangements did. It is up to the installer (me) to put the right holes in the right spot for their particular version of car.

Thankfully, Dorothy's valance was in good shape in these areas so I was able to make a template. I cut a piece of manila paper big enough that it would hit the top and outer edges of the inside of Dorothy's valance so that I had it squared up, and taped it down. Then I flipped the valance over and traced, from the outside,  the outline of the holes. Next, I   transferred it over to the outside of the new rear valance and taped it down.

Template on outside of new valance.

Once I was confident of the placement, I used a small drill bit (about 1/8") to drill pilot holes in the center of each circle (using a ruler to find the center) and the little hole "tabs" for the flasher light  spire nuts. That done, I used my step drill bit to drill the 1-inch hole for the rear bumper post and the 1 1/4-inch hole for the flasher light assembly. I used a piece of 2X4 on it's short side to provide some support to the rear valance so I wouldn't bend it with the pressure from the drill. While this was effective, it probably wasn't necessary. I followed the same procedure on the other side.

Flasher light hole with spire nut holes and the pilot hole for the rear bumper post. Off a bit, but should work out fine.

Next up were the holes for the license plate light and the boot lid catch plate. I was more concerned for this step since there needed to be agreement between the rear valance and the boot; two separate pieces. If my holes for the lights were off a bit, I don't think it would be noticeable. However, if my holes were off for the boot latch, it wouldn't close properly...not good!

Again, I made a template from Dorothy's valance and took several cross-reference measurements. In addition, there is a small strengthener piece in this area that the new valance didn't come with, so I drilled it out from Dorothy and transferred it over.  I did not drill holes for a license plate, however. I'll do that when I actually get one.

Strengthener liberated from Dorothy's valance.

Template for the license plate lamp attachment points and wire hole.

Closeup of license plate lamp holes and the boot lid catch attachment holes.

The strengthener plate welded in.

The "big" flick.

With that, the rear valance itself was essentially prepped. I punched holes in the bottom flange for the plug welds to the boot floor and punched a few more holes in the rear wing on the car itself for the sides attachment points.

While the paint was still drying, there was more to do. I finished up the welding around the driver's side stop lamp that I hadn't completed...

Some grinding still required.

...and made and welded in a patch for the same spot on the other side where my spot weld cutter made holes that were too big to weld back up. I punch  smaller holes in it prior to welding it in for the future plug welds.

The area to be patched.

And the area patched! Again, grinding remains. Should have welded it from the inside, though :(.

You may notice in the picture above that I primed over the POR-15. This was a lesson I learned when doing the frame. The POR-15, after it dries, is too smooth for good adhesion of a top coat. There are two options: first, you can do like I did with the frame and go back and rough it up with 400-grit sandpaper and then shoot it with primer (or a top coat) or you can do like I did this time and hit it with primer once it is almost dry, but still a bit tacky.

There is still one more area of cancer that requires attention in the upper area of the boot lid channel on the driver's side. I hacked this piece out of the black car for transplant, but didn't get to it.

Rusted out right on the seam between the two pieces of metal.

The rest of my time entailed fighting to get the rear valance to line up and fit properly. I didn't cut anything, but I did bend some stuff, though nothing too extreme. Specifically, I'm having problems where the valance and the boot lid channel meet on the driver's side. It's almost like the new valance is a bit too "big" in this area, but I'm not ready to make that final conclusion yet. Also, it looks as though I'll need to use a jack and a 2x4 piece of wood to "compress" the bottom a bit to push it up to better align with the vertical portion of the boot floor for all of those plug welds. I think this may be by design, like the sills, to provide installation under tension for some added strength.

As close as I could get. Almost there!

So, all in all, not a bad visit. My next trip will focus on getting the rear valance permanently installed and I hope I can get there. After that, I'm flipping the body over to do cleaning and preserving underneath!

I'd like to thank everyone for their subscription response to my YouTube channel that I mentioned in the beginning of my video. I've picked up about two dozen new subscribers since I put out my pitch. Not nearly enough, but it's a start, so thanks! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #45 - Rear Wing(s) Completion

Another good bit of work at the garage this week. I short-cycled it and got over there on Monday. Before I offer up the video, however, I'd like to mention that YouTube changed their monetization policies today. In the past, I was eligible to earn money with my videos and while I haven't gotten a check yet, I thought it would be a good way to offset some of my restoration costs. Effective February 18th, however,  I need at least 1000 subscribers and a watch time of 4000 hours over a 12-month period to maintain eligibility.

That's a drastic change  and I don't meet either requirement as of today. While I'm confident I could meet the watch time, I need to nearly quadruple my subscribers to maintain eligibility. So, if you don't currently subscribe to my YouTube channel and you enjoy my videos, I ask that you subscribe.

Ok, enough of that...to the video!


My goals this visit were to finish up the rear wing areas. This involved making a new patch piece for the front of the passenger's side and then finishing up the welding  on the front and rear of the driver's sides.

I wasn't real happy with the status of the patch that I had for the front of the passenger's rear wing, so I made a new one in an attempt at a better product. It worked!

The patch area all primed up.

Same place, different view angle.

I used my metal brake and shrinker/stretcher to fabricate the new piece from a single piece of metal. By the way, one thing that I learned, having not really thought about it up until it wasn't working, is that the shrinker/stretcher  doesn't work well if the metal is painted. The jaws have very small grooves that grip the metal to deform it. I found that paint prevents the grooves from catching resulting in no stretching. While this happened a few times even after getting the paint off, it was much, much worse painted. Important safety tip...

New piece with plug weld holes and primer on edges.

New piece, inside view with it all primed up.

Once the paint was dry all around, it was time to do a final fit (as usual, many trail fittings and metal trimmings preceded this point) and get it tacked in.

A clamp on the flange and magnets for the top.

Clamp for the inside flange, too.

And with that, I took the welder to it and made it permanent-like. I had good success welding again, paying particular attention this time for weld area cleanliness and proper gap to prevent warpage. Worked out pretty well!

All nice and pretty.

Then it  was on to the other side, which I worked on forever ago. I finished welding that in and got it cleaned up as well. No real work here, just welding.

Final welds on the driver's side.

In addition, I finished up the small area of welding remaining around the tail light area on that side, as well. Again, no real work, just welding.

Final welds around driver's tail light.

Finally for the night I finished welding in the battery box. I'm not real crazy about how this went as my plug weld holes were really big given that I used my spot weld cutter to remove them and I developed a bit of a gap between the bulkhead "floor" and the battery box. I figure as long as I get some good seam sealer on it, it'll be fine, but I would have preferred a cleaner result.

Battery box done. The horrible picture mimics the result.

That was about it. My video goes into much more of the fabrication of the repair patch with both the metal brake and shrinker. Otherwise, I took care of a lot of small jobs. There's still some grinding to do on all of these welds areas...

Initial grinding of the rear, rear wing patch. Some of it actually came down flush!

...but the grunt work is done. I got my new rear valance from Rimmer Bros. today. It requires some work as there are no holes for the rear flashers  or license plate light nor is the license plate light strengthener in there. So, I'll have to use Dorothy's original to make templates, but that should be too bad.  In any case, I will fully document the adventure!

Oh, and no sightings of my garage buddy this time...oh well.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #44 - Rear Wing (other one)

A good day at the garage. The proof:


I mention in the video that I had a garage buddy today. I think it was a mole because it was fat and slow and didn't mind walking right across the garage floor. I never got any video of it or a good camera shot, but here's one with my cell phone.

Run, Forest, run!

Anyway, first off, I  took the low-hanging fruit and used a hacksaw to cut through the partial plug welds I did on the upper portion of outside bulkhead bracket for the battery box. I talked about this in my last post in that I hadn't ensured it was flush enough to the bulkhead prior to welding and it bowed out.

Before the fix.

Once I cut through the weld metal, I was able to use a hammer and dolly, hammering from the cockpit side, to flush up the bulkhead to the bracket. I never did get back to welding it in properly, but it should be a quick and easy job once I do.


And after...much better.

That didn't take long, so it was on to the rear wing. I  tackled the front first, specifically the wheel arch. I made a template and finally got a u-shaped piece that I was happy enough with to weld in.

Installed, trimmed and cleaned up a bit.

Same piece, different angle.

This definitely requires a revisit as I think it will need to be shaved down a bit, especially towards the bottom. But, since I intend on re-doing that part of the patch that I made for the external surface of the wing in that area, I'll have quite a bit of wiggle room.

What took most of my time, as a single repair, was the outer wheel arch portion at the bottom of the rear wing on the back side. Why this gave me such a hard time as compared to the driver's side, I don't know, but it did.  After several fits and starts, I was able to come up with an adequate solution.

My solution.

From inside the wheel arch, looking at the fender flange. I fixed this large gap.

Once the wheel arch portion was done, I made a template from a manila folder that mimicked the bottom of the wing. My intention was to reproduce that and get it to fit, then transfer that pattern to the actual repair patch, cut it and get it welded in. Believe it or not, it worked!

The manila mock-up that I used to size the repair patch.

Now that I knew how much of the new wing I needed, I cut it down and fit it up. Sorry that I didn't take more pictures but I was on a roll of sorts and didn't want to stop. I document it pretty good in the video, so I'd recommend watching that (or at least the second half of it).

The wing patch welded in. Some grinding and it'll be all set!

All in all, I was really happy with how the day went. I took my time, used templates and carefully and methodically thought out each step. While it may not seem like I accomplished much,  it was a productive day for me! I just wish I had  taken more and better pictures. Always something to improve!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #43 - Even More Boot Area Plus Battery Box

In what has become a bit of a habit, this is another two-fer post:


I had a shortened day last weekend due to some kids' sports, but I got some good work done all the same.

My first order of business was fixing my mistake on the boot floor. I had gotten so concerned with the horizontal alignment of the floor that I failed to make sure it was vertically okay. This resulted in welding it to the strengthener in a rising fashion as the boot floor traveled from the wheel arch to the rear of the car.

I figured this out because when I put the rear valance up to check fitment after welding it in, I could not see the boot floor through the spot weld holes that I had drilled out. Whoops.
I used my trusty spot weld chisel to bang the welds out. This is a rather destructive tool that I've used a few times when I had to undo welds that I did with the  MIG welder. I wouldn't recommend using it, however, for factory welds but would use my small wood chisel as a second option to drilling them out.

I only took the welds out on the side of the strengthener as the ones at the wheel arch were in the correct spot. Once the welds were broken free, I pulled down on the  floor section a bit and sized it up for new plug weld holes in the strengthener. With those punched, I clamped it down and welded it back up.

Clamped up and ready for installation. This is from underneath.

Clamped down from the top. You may be able to see how much lower it is towards the right after "adjusting" it.

A quick  check with the rear valance up there confirmed that I got it right the second time around.

Much better, though a bit hard to see in this picture. No light is showing through the holes on the far right.

With that done, I moved on to replacing the driver's side rear lamp panel (as it is properly referred to) that I sourced from the black car. I still had some metal massaging to do in the area with a few dings, but I was able to get a dolly in there so it was a pretty easy fix.

Clamped in and ready to go.

With most of the holes already there, being left over from when I drilled out the spot welds previously, it was a simple matter of the getting the panel fit and aligned. I clamped it down and welded away. A few passes with the grinder and the job was done. Definitely one of my better repair efforts.

Welded up, but not "pretty" yet.

Ready for paint...well, maybe some primer.

My next visit didn't go all that well...


Rimmer's is having a sale that goes until 1/14/18. As I'm a sucker for their sales, after careful consideration of this and the condition of my rear valance, I determined that buying a new one would save me both  time and money (and frustration, I'm sure) so that's what I did (it should be here Tuesday).  As I documented in another post when I bought my major repair pieces, Rimmer's is a great way to save some significant money, even with the shipping cost across that Atlantic.
With that decision made, my intention was to repair the front and back of the rear wing on the passenger's side. Be it laziness or lack of experience or what, I did not use a template to make my patches and, hence, made some that just didn't fit. This quickly (too quickly, probably) frustrated me as I wasted metal and time.

It wasn't that I made the conscience decision to use a template...I just didn't. Again, being relatively new at this stuff and also being spoiled with being able to afford and use new body parts, I haven't had to make too many repair patches, so I just forgot.

I did get to use the shrinker/stretcher combo, though and they worked great. If you are in the U.S., I'd recommend getting them from Harbor Freight as they only ran me about $110 after a 25% coupon. Well worth it, though I'm sure there is a bit more of a learning curve there.

I also go to use my metal brake (also from Harbor Freight, ~$30 with a 20% coupon) and this worked well, too, but it's not as cool.

The stretcher effect.

Anyway, after that fiasco, I moved on to something else. That something else was coming back around and welding in  the dash support brackets  for the battery box.

Most of this work was already done, but I did have two small holes to fill with weld metal (backed by my copper spoon) in the bulkhead where I drilled through removing the spot welds. That and some cleaning up and aligning and I was ready to weld.

Holes filled and paint removed; ready to weld.

I tacked and then welded in the right (or inside) one first, though  I don't think it really mattered which one I picked. The plug weld holes were really large on the brackets because I used my spot weld drill bit. As I've mentioned in the past, this is a great tool and I highly recommend it, but it does leave big holes and is better used, in my opinion, when you are not going to re-use the part you are removing. However, having done this long ago, I didn't know that, so there you go.

Because of the large holes, I needed to apply a lot of weld metal, which also meant a lot of heat. My concern was for the bulkhead since this was just regular 20 ga. body metal and I didn't want to burn through it. The battery box side was less of a concern since I had two layers of metal there, but I still wanted to be careful.

In this case, I filled the holes in stages, jumping back and forth until all of the holes were filled.

Inside bracket in.

The inside bracket, for whatever reason, did not go in exactly as it came out as far as alignment, so I got it pretty close. My concerns were that the bracket stayed on top of the battery box and that the bulkhead side did not interfere with the holes for the various wires and such that come through the bulkhead. No problem.

The finished product...well, close.

I got the outside bracket tacked in but, unfortunately, the bulkhead side did not side very flush against the bulkhead itself. I will look at this on my next visit and re-do it if I feel it necessary, but it's another instance of lack of experience and probably rushing a bit. Contributing to this, I did not have a clamp that would have worked here to help me keep it tight.

That was about it. As I said, and I mention in my video, a rather frustrating night. Maybe not my worst, but it was close. I had big plans to get a lot done and was excited having just ordered the new valance. But, in my excitement I rushed and let my lack of experience hurt me. Instead of recognizing this and taking appropriate action to minimize it's impact, I decided to barrel ahead.

However, while I may have wasted a significant portion of the night, I'm happy that I didn't do significant harm and, if I do decide to revisit the dash support bracket, that's was it. Tomorrow is a new day and I love that little car too much to not to give it my best restoration efforts, even if they aren't great. They will be good enough and that's all I can give Dorothy.

That night was not my best; my next visit will be better. Cheers!