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Monday, February 26, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair # 48 - Driver's Side Outer Sill Installation

For full transparency, I submit the following second try:

Now that that pain is over...finally!!!

I don't know how long I've been working on getting these things in (and I don't want to know), but I finally got the driver's side outer sill installed. It actually lines up pretty well, too!

I had done a lot of the fitment leg work already with the bonnet and the door, but that was now done and there was little left to do except get that puppy welded in. One critical piece did remain, however, and that was the front sill cap. This is a unique fit because the cap sits inside the outer sill, but outside the tub,  so getting it right can be a bit tricky. It's not flush to the tub yet, but it's nothing that  a few sheet metal screws and some welding won't take care of.

The sill cap needs to go into the  out sill first, then is adjusted to the tub from there. At least, that's how I did it. I almost made the mistake of putting the sill on first...that would have been bad.

Putting the sill cap in the sill.

Final fit! And, yes, looking at old factory pictures the gap between the bottom of the bonnet and the sill is a bit wider than the vertical door/sill/bonnet gaps.

Prepping the sill cap for installation.

Sill cap welded in. No going back now.

With the sill cap installed, it was time to get the outer sill up and clamped in.  But first, I had to repair the flange piece that I had originally made at the rear wing. It wasn't that great of a job to begin with and, as I had to grind some of it away to get the sill to fit, I ended up cutting through the welds. So, I made a new piece and plug welded it in. Thing is solid, now.

Front of the rear wing where the flange should be. Holes for plug welds punched.

New flange welded in.

Nothing left but the crying after that, so I put the sill back up, clamped it in and checked all my gaps. Of course, some minor adjustments here and there,  but once that was set, I used sheet metal screws and the clamps to help keep it secure.

Front view.

Rear view.

I was especially concerned with  the area at the upper A post since there is not place to get a clamp in there, so the sheet metal screws (and some hammering) did the trick.

Most of the plug welds done on the front portion.

I did put holes in the rear of the sill where it meets up with the B post.  I don't think they did this at the factory; I think they just did a brazing job. I don't have that equipment, so I punched holes and used some sheet metal screws to tighten it up and plug welded it in. There's still some gaps, so I'll have to figure that one out.

Rear of the sill showing the plug welds to the B post.

That was about it for the welding. Seems like a lot of time for a little work, but I can't tell you how many times I check gaps and fitment. It was A LOT! I did prepare the transition piece that forms the front of the door jamb at the A post to sill, but I didn't weld it in.

Inside of the transition piece. I definitely cleaned that up!

Transition area prepped and ready.

All in all, I was very happy with the day. Like I said, I have the transition piece to put in and  still a bit of a gap between the front sill cap and bulkhead, but I don't believe they will cause me any problems and I should be able to get both of those things knocked out on my next visit. I do regret not punching some plug weld holes in the sill cap, but oh, well.

Looking down at the sill cap, trying to show the gap. Hammer and dolly, and some sheet metal screws, should take care of that and allow me to weld it up.

On a related note,  I came into contact with another local Spitfire owner (recently purchased 1978)  via my favorite forum. He came over the garage to check out Dorothy and I went over to his place later in the afternoon to check out his acquisition. She's in really good shape for being a Connecticut car. Problems, as you would expect, but definitely seems to be a solid platform to improve!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - Mind the Gaps

So close to getting an outer sill in!

I picked up where I left off on my next visit and fought with the gaps for about half of the day. It was back to working the hinges up and down and back and forth in an attempt to achieve the 3/16" gap (5 mm) that manual calls for <yeah, thanks Triumph>.

Workshop manual directions for adjusting the bonnet.

I brought the  bonnet catch plates from home and got them installed. These are what the bonnet latches hook into to draw the back of the bonnet down and in a bit. Getting these in removed another potential adjustment issue.

Interior of the bonnet showing the catch and latch plate.

After that, I needed to take care of the passenger's side hinge assembly. As I showed in a previous post, the interior of the hinge bracket has a few spacers. I couldn't find one for the passenger's side when I put it together the first time but had since located it. That hinge bracket was also bent pretty good, so I decided to take care of them both and pull it out and get it done right. I didn't take any pics of the hinge bracket after straightening, but I did show  what and how I did it in the video.

With that, it was back to adjusting everything 50 million times until I get it all just right. It eventually came in pretty good. There's nothing difficult here, it's just that when you move one part, something else changes and you chase your tail a bit.

Passenger's side gaps. Looks like 5 mm to me!

Driver's side gaps.

The only thing that I wasn't completely happy with is that the bonnet pops up a bit in the center. I don't know if there's a way to fix this without bending something, but it's not a concern for me now. Maybe I can adjust that center support tube...not sure...future me problem.

Center moves up about 1/4" or so.

Once I got those gaps done, it was time to throw up an outer sill and see what I could do  with that. Again, nothing technically difficult here, but a lot of moving and adjusting and fidgeting to  get it to fit. Once I was happy with the fit, I pulled it back off and punch lots of holes in it for the plug welds and also removed paint from outside in preparation for welding and painted the inside seams with weld-through primer.

Bonnet up here, but here's the fit in the front.

One thing that was gratifying was the fit of the sill under the bonnet. Once I got it where I wanted it, I looked a bit closer and found that the spot welds that I drilled out seem to be in just about the same exact position as my holes for the plug welds. Guess that means I'm pretty close!

Almost a perfect alignment! By luck, I'm sure.

Once I got the outer sill set, I did the sheet metal screw thing again and got about 8 of them in there all around. Much like the rear valance, the outer sill goes in under tension, so you get the bottom set and then press down pretty hard on the top (in the door well) to get it even with the top of the inner sill. I'll take some better pics of this next time.

One thing that remained was the support bracket that goes between the body and the outside of the outrigger. These were still floating, so I needed to get it locked down before I put the sill in and covered access. I drilled two holes in the bottom of the A post and plug welded it to the bracket. This is not my final solution, but it will prevent the bracket from moving around on me when I pull the body back off.

Plug welds done. I left that repair patch portion of the A post long on purpose just to give me something to grind off. Clean-up work.

I was getting close to put the sill in, but I was to use some seam sealer on the joints. The stuff that I bought  is brushable and it sets up  in about 15 minutes. Since I was running out of time for the day, I was afraid that I wouldn't have the time to get all of the plug welds done. I didn't want the seam sealer to set up between flanges that were not tight together and have to deal with that in the future when I was ready to finish welding. I'll do it all in one shot on my next visit,  assuming I get that far.

That was about it for the day. I did note that, with the all new front suspension, the front of the car is really high up off the tires.

Man, I really hope this settles down. That's a bit crazy. I don't think there will be much more weight up there. Maybe some good road bumps.

In hindsight, it was a darn good thing that I decided to wait on welding up the outer sill. I had completely forgotten about the front sill cap, which needs to go on the outer sill before it's welded in. It came to me on my way back home and and shouted out "the sill cap, you dork!" I would have been really, really upset!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - More Bonnet Alignment

Ummm, yeah, tricky...

I got over the garage on Tuesday (2/13) and have had a few days to stew over what I found. I concluded the video above with my thought that I can rotate the bonnet on its support tubes to align it properly to the body. The more I've considered this, however, the more doubtful I've become. But, I did look up those tubes on Rimmers and they are called...wait for it...bonnet support pivot tubes, key word being PIVOT, which is exactly what I think I need to do. Here's hoping...

As far as work goes, the first thing I wanted to do was get the bonnet locating brackets in. These provide some height adjustment for the rear edge so that I could get it level to the body at that point. The original ones from Dorothy were trashed, but the black car's were just fine...transplant!

Prior to cleaning up and priming.

Hanging to dry.

After a good cleaning and priming, they were ready for installation. I still had to remove some spot weld remnants from the tub, however.

Pre-grinding. You can see the dirt outline of the old bracket, which I used to help me locate the new one!

All shiny and ready for primer.

And primed. Blue tape is just to protect the door hinge screw plate threads (yes, this is the other side).

Once all the  areas were primed and the bracket was positioned, I welded it up. I continually struggle with good weld penetration so this time I turned up the amperage a bit (one click) and let her rip. One small blow through, but otherwise it worked like a champ.

In there, though of course, grinding remains.

Now that those were in, I lowered the bonnet down and adjusted the locating cones to the correct height to level the bonnet with the sail plate. I didn't document this, but you just adjust the height of the cone for the correct vertical height and then tighten down the nut to lock it in.

The real test came with properly aligning the bonnet front to back. On the passenger's side, I could easily get a good gap. The driver's side, however,  not so much, like I talked about last post. I thought it may be the flare, or lack there of, of the wheel arch that, but that wasn't it.

Passenger's side wheel arch. Note the flare at the top inside of the arch.

And driver's side...no flare.

So, I used my sheet metal seamer pliers and put a quick flare in it, but it didn't make a difference.

There's your problem...still.

As I left it in the video, my intention is to try to pivot the bonnet on pivot tubes in the hopes that it's crooked due to accident damage or something. Based on some input from my favorite forum, however, I'm not sure that I'll get enough movement to make a difference. And, the more I run it through my head, I'm not sure that it will work.

In the worse case, I did something during my repairs that skewed the bulkhead so much that the bonnet no longer fits properly. One thing that gives me hope  against this, however, is that scrapping damage on the bulkhead (I point this out in the video) from the bonnet was there when I got the car.

Comparing the two sides, you can clearly see the curved scraped paint on the driver's side vertical bulkhead. This was obviously before I started any real restoration work.

Therefore, the bonnet and bulkhead have been getting cozy for quite some time.  I just need to play with it and figure it out, so we shall see!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - Bonnet Installation & Alignment

Got the bonnet on. Actually wasn't too bad...

I showed up not really sure what I was going to do. Well, I had an idea, but not a clear path. After some decisions, I went with landing the bonnet first. I used the engine hoist again, like the body, and used a few ratchet straps to  support it at both headlamp holes and in the rear center. The thing doesn't weight that much and wasn't too cumbersome with the hoist supporting it, so it made it easy to handle.


I found the long-lost pivot bracket from the driver's side and got it all cleaned up and arranged to make sure I had it all and it was ready to install.

Hardware for one side. Note the slots for adjustment in the pivot bracket (more on that later).

The hardware consists of the pivot bracket, one larger and two smaller bolts, various nuts and washers, and tube-spacers to prevent collapsing the whole thing when it's tightened.  This portion of the car was obviously assembled prior to shooting it with Signal Red paint as the attachment hardware left their outline where the paint couldn't get to.  Interesting insight into the order of assembly for the car.

The passenger's side pivot bracket was stuck to the bonnet as the bolt has rusted itself to it's tube-spacer. I used some heat and WD-40, but ultimately it required  my trusty Harbor Freight ball joint separator to pop it free.

Not the first time I employed this method successfully.

I got that hinge assembly all cleaned up also and attached  both of them to the frame. The pivot bracket itself provides three-degrees of motion for the bonnet. It it attached to the frame with one bottom fulcrum bolt, then another bolt a bit further up that allows the bonnet to "roll" back and forth. The last bolt goes through the bonnet support frame and this allows the front of the entire bonnet to move up and down.

All three bolts installed on the passenger's side.

With the hinges assembled, I tried to adjust its fit but had some difficulty, especially with moving the bonnet back towards the body. Contributing to this, I had previously removed the bonnet locating brackets (they are near the front of the doors) as Dorothy's were in very bad shape and needed replacement. I got donors from the black car, but had yet to weld them in. This prevented me from properly supporting the rear of the bonnet vertically and I think it limited my mobility with pushing it back (i had pulled it off the hoist by this time). Installing those locating brackets will be one of the first things I do on my next visit.

One of the donor locating brackets from the black car.

One of Dorothy's bonnet locating brackets. Yuck!

Front view with bonnet on. Haven't seen this look in a while!

Gap between the bonnet and tub. Needs to come back just a bit more.

After that, it was time to put the doors up there and try to get those aligned. This didn't work out too well and, while I put the sills up there, too, it really didn't matter as the doors never really fit properly.

Driver's side door gap - not good!

Passenger's side door gaps - meh.

I got some advice from Elin Yakov  (his YouTube Channel) on the process for fitting this stuff up and getting it right after I posted the video on it. Simply put, it's a pain in the ass and takes a lot of tries, but there is a process that can be followed.

In short,  the body is pretty much there and can be considered static.  Align the bonnet to the body, shrinking up the gap between the front of the  body and the back of the bonnet (the gap three pics above, that is).  After that, align the doors to the bonnet.  Then, the sill to the door. In other words, get something static and use it as a template to move down the line.  I am concerned with the gap that I have near the top of the door at the B Post (I mention that in the video) because I have it on both doors, but, I've got other beasts to conquer before I get to those.

I spent an hour or two with the doors and then stopped. Like I mentioned in the video, I had some welding to do and would save that for the end, which is what I did, getting the floor cross-members welded in.

As I had already prepped them with plug weld holes, it was simply a matter of bolting them down and aligning them. I used a square and the inner sill as my reference to get them running across the floor perpendicular (assuming that was how it was supposed to be, of course)!

Squaring one up.

I then marked and drilled several holes for some sheet metal screws as I don't have any clamps that I could have used to keep the cross member tight to the floor.

One sheet metal screw in there (top right-ish). I used about 8 per cross-member, give or take.

Once secure and happy with the alignment, I welded them in.

Not pretty, but effective. You can see two screws in this picture.

That was about it for this visit. Like I said, my next visit will focus on gaps, as this is really all I can do. I'll get the bonnet locating brackets installed and then get down to it. If I get totally frustrated, I'll clean up the garage and organize stuff. There are a few parts that I'm looking for anyway. Cheers!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - Aligning the Tub

The video:

The goal of this visit was to get the body fully aligned and secured to the frame to weld those outer sills on.  Additionally, I need to get the bonnet  on there, though that didn't happen this night.

A bit of Spitfire construction so we can all be on the same page. The body is held to the frame at a dozen connection points.

Body-to-chassis mounting hardware and points.

Nothing too complicated here, it's just a bunch of bolts and spacers, but the tub, being so light, is rather easy to manipulate and get positioned. Armed with the knowledge of where and how the body mounts to the chassis,  it was time to get it aligned and secured.

First, I needed to verify that the captive nut that I believed broken on the inner mounting hole in the passenger's outrigger was indeed broken. I used the floor jack to push up on the body right under the A-post, putting tension on the captive nut in an attempt to hold it in place against the inside of the outrigger. It worked and I was able to remove the bolt, the captive nut (or threaded insert, really) dropping to the bottom of the outrigger with a depressing "clink" when the bolt was removed.

The black hole of a missing threaded insert.

For now, I'll just use a clamp to hold the body in place in that area until it comes back off and I can fix it properly.

Next, I needed to take care of the misalignment that I put into the inner attachment point for the body on the driver's side outrigger. For all of my care, I was off by about 3/4 of a bolt width front-to-back.

Not easy to see, but this pic attempts to show my bolt to threaded hole offset.

In my defense, I had several moving targets here. First, the outriggers were new and I tried to properly align them way back when I originally started frame repairs. Second, the  mounting bracket in question needed to come off for one of the first body repairs I did fixing the cancer in the lower front bulkhead. Outrigger placement impacted the bolt hole front to back while the bracket placement impacted the bolt hole side to side. Guess I nailed the bracket's location,  but the outrigger, not so much. In hindsight, I probably didn't get the body properly aligned when I set it back down to help line up the outriggers. But, considering I was only off by about 1/4" overall...I'll take it!
My solution for that was straightforward, however, in elongating the hole a bit with a metal burr as this was the only good option.

The next thing I needed to do  was drill holes and get the floor cross-members  installed. With time getting away from me, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get these welded in, but I was confident I'd get them fitted.

I got the body aligned and bolted down using the bolts that I could. Specifically, the two inner outrigger bolts and the four rear-most bolts (refer to the diagram if you need to), snugging it all up to prevent inadvertent body movement.

The frame has what I call intermediate outriggers, shorter ones about half-way back that have two bolts per side. This is what the floor, through the cross-members, bolts to right in front of the seats. The outriggers have a threaded plate that is captured to it, but with the ability to move a bit, that accept the bolts through the cross-member (again, look at the pic above if necessary).

I moved the threaded plates until they were about centered in their attachment, and then drilled pilot holes, from the bottom, up through the threads and through the floor boards.

I didn't take proper pics of this process, but you can get an idea, hopefully, using this one.

I did both sides, and then mounted the cross-members to make sure they lined up properly and as expected. They weren't perfect, but not too far  off. I did both sides and got those bolts tightened down as well to ensure a proper fit.

With those done, it was time to address the outer mounting points on the main outriggers. There are some heavy-duty brackets that weld to the floor bottom and A-post that go between the outrigger and the floor in this area. I wasn't really sure how these were going to fit in, so I figured the best way to drill another set of pilot holes through the floor, using the outrigger holes as a guide. Again, drilling from the bottom, I put the drill bit up through the outer outrigger hole and drilled through the bottom of the floor on both sides.

Here's the hole drilled in the passenger's side. You can see the red of the outrigger.

The real test now was to get the support brackets in there and see if the holes still lined up. This required loosening and/or removing all of the eight bolts that I had holding the body down to enable me to lift it enough to slide the brackets in. Thankfully, the brackets fell right into place and the holes aligned, allowing me to then bolt it all back up!

Same shot, but now with the bracket installed and the bolt through all of it.

Again, my measurements were not perfect and the bolts did not fall right in the center of the "groove" in the floor that was there for that purpose, but it was close enough for me!

I moved to preparing to do some welding. The majority of this involved punching a bunch of 1/4" holes in the cross-members for the future plug welds. My manual punch did just fine, but it got a bit painful (literally and figuratively), so there's a lot to be said for a pneumatic version.

Cross-members all punched up and ready for welding...except for paint removal, of course.

I got the cross-members back in and sized up and prepped the area for welding by removing the existing paint and then spraying weld-through primer, that being about it for my progress.

All in all, a good night. It may seem like I didn't get a lot done, but it was rather tedious and I was checking and re-checking the body fitment each time I did something. This sucked up a lot of time but I think, in the long run, when I go to make my final welds on the outer sills, those  door gaps will be much better than they would be if I just rushed through this. Again, I've taken this much time already...what's another few garage days?

Since I didn't record the final result, I edited it out my comment in my closing of the video that I wanted to put the driver's side door up (the one I was having all my fitment problems with) to see how it looked.   I did it and I'm happy to say that I was very pleased with the gaps on the door. This was without the outer sill in there, but the problems that I was having with the door gaps between the back of the door and the B post seem to have worked themselves out with bolting the body down. SO happy that I took my favorite forum's (and YouTube viewer's) advice and waited on welding the outer sills in until the body was back on the frame that it was really being bolted to!!!

Cheers and GO EAGLES!!!