Sunday, June 24, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Paint #7 - Some Re-Work and, Yes, More Prep

The evening (and the video) focused on some re-work, so that's what this post will focus on as well.


The re-work I focused on was revisiting the front deck where I put in a repair patch near the master cylinders. I was never all that happy with my work here as I rushed and distorted the metal due to welding heat. This resulted in a very wavy repair that also had some thin spots from grinding away so much weld bead to smooth it out.

The "finished" repair, prior to rework. Looks okay, but it's not.

I didn't want to remove the entire repair because the area around the outer edge wasn't too bad and it would have been a real pain to remove, as well as probably causing some incidental damage. So, I figured out the worst part of the repair, with the most heat damage, and cut it out in a square to make the repair patch easier to fabricate.

Just that easy.

With that, I made a template, cleaned up some metal, and cut the repair patch out.

Template taped to metal in preparation for cutting.

Patch held in with magnets, ready to weld.

I welded it in slowly, with several shots of compressed air throughout to keep it all cool. I'm happy with the repair now, but didn't take a final picture, so you'll have to see it in the video.

I also briefly worked on the dent in the rear sail plate that I dealt with in the previous post. I bit more hammer and dolly work. It needs a bit more, but it's getting better all the time.

Just a bit of light shining through.

With that, I put on my Tyvek suit so I wouldn't come home an absolute mess and continued taking sandpaper and red ScotchBrite pads to the interior.

A spider decided to use the folds in my suit legs as a nest.

The night went on that way, getting it as cleaned up as possible and ready for paint.

Under the rear sail plate. Lots of surface rust under here that didn't want to come out.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Paint #6 - Just About Final Interior Prep

For the most part, I am done with prepping the interior for epoxy primer. It still needs some attention under the sail plate and other downward-facing horizontal surfaces, but nothing that  a red ScotchBrite pad won't take care of.


I did attack an area of damage at the rear sail plate. I'm not sure what happened, but it appears that at some point the semi-horizontal seam got bent, which translated into a depression in the sail plate. The video shows it pretty well and I didn't take many (er, any) before pictures, but here's a screen capture.

You can see the gap that I started with right under the center bubble level. This was about a 0.15" gap from level.

How I left it. About a 0.05" gap from level. Lot's of work for a tenth of an inch.

Please refer to the video for more information on this (it's about half the video, at least) and how I approached it. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I did know that as long as I was gentle, I probably wouldn't do anything irreversible. In my studying of bodywork, it's more like you having a discussion with the metal and trying to convince it to form the way you want it vice beating it into submission.

Otherwise, it was more cleaning. Yes, not that exciting, but it is looking better and, like I mentioned, I think I'm only a red Scotchbrite pad scrubbing away from epoxy. I'm going to do it dry next time.

Passenger's side getting cleaned up.

Passenger's side footwell with a bit more seam sealer to remove.

About the same place with the seam sealer gone.

Driver's side footwell cleaned up.

Again, the goal here is to rough up the paint for the epoxy primer to adhere. I contacted the guys that make the primer that I bought and, while it is primarily designed as a direct-to-metal paint, as long as it's scuffed up, they said it would be good enough, which works for me!

Triumph Spitfire Paint #5 - Even More Interior Prep

More interior epoxy prep, along with minor weld repairs...will these ever end?! The film:


I really didn't do a whole lot in this visit that was worthy of update, as you may have figured out by the brevity of the video. About half of it was filling some gaps with new metal and the other half with cleaning.

First, I wanted to fill the gaps where the rear valance and wing comes together as well as the sill to A-post areas. From the factory, these were brass brazed, but I don't have that capability so I needed to do something else.

Gap on the driver's side of the rear valance / wing union.

For the above repair, I simply cut a small rectangular piece, tacked the top,  hammered it into shape, and finished welding it up.

Done, though not cleaned up.

The passenger's side's gap was smaller, but there is some significant dent repair that I need to do in that area. I was afraid that if I welded something in now, I may make it more difficult to fix that area by limiting the metal stretch, so I held off.

Gap in middle of shot, but also showing many holes where the PO used a slide hammer...ineffectively.

The driver's side front A-post to sill area, also brazed from the factory, needed some attention as well. There is a small notch cut into the sill to accept the union between the A post and front bulkhead. On this side I had enlarged the gap a bit during fitting up the sill and now needed to close it back up. I followed the same general plan as in the back and put in a small piece of metal.

Welded in.

There is still some gap here, as you may be able to see, but I'll fill this with seam sealer. The passenger's side is about the same as the driver's side after repair, so I decided to leave that alone.

Cleaned up.

This one, too.

I also filled the small hole in the driver's side rear wing that I found previously with weld metal. This came out pretty good and should require minimal additional repair.

Post-grinding. You can see the area right in the center that was filled.

The rest of the day was devoted to cleaning up the boot and the area behind the seats. I used all sorts of stuff for this: ScotchBrite pads, soapy water, lacquer thinner (remove residual seam sealer), various wire wheels and brushes and 150-grit sandpaper. I also used vinegar in a few areas that required some rust help, neutralizing it with water/baking soda after it did its job.

The goal here was to get all of the residual seam sealer out of there, clean up any remaining surface rust, generally clean the area of dirt and grime and then roughen it all up in preparation for epoxy primer. It really wasn't too bad.

Boot floor being cleaned.

Wing area. Getting inside that cutouts was a bit painful...literally.

Vinegar eating some rust in the drain channels.

Passenger's side behind seats.

Other angle of passenger's side behind seats.

That was about it for that visit.  Cheers!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Paint #4 - More Interior Prep

With the interior prep, like the underneath, I'm concerned with doing all of the required hot work before I paint.  That way I don't burn any paint, if I can help it, that I'll have to go back a retouch. Of course, I keep finding missed spots underneath, so it may all be for naught anyway, but one can hope, right? To the video:


Therefore, this visit concentrated on finishing up said hotwork. I had essentially the same spots on both sides to do; namely cleaning up (and when I say cleaning up, I mean adding weld metal) some poor welds and finishing up ones that I skipped over. The focus was on the front top of the sills where they weld, horizontally, to the  A post, the transition pieces between the A post and the sill, and just general cleanup and attention everywhere else.

Passenger's side all cleaned up.

More of the same...but closer.

It wasn't really any more exciting than that. If I wasn't such a dork, you could have watched me do it in the video, but I knocked the camera and lost the shot.

I also closed up the seam at the back of the sill at the A post. You may remember that I did this forever-ago when I thought it was a good idea. I would not, however, recommend doing this until after the sill is installed as it allows for some flex when you're trying to get it all fitted up.

Seam closed.

With all of that welding done, I was on a roll, so I decided to address that rear wing bottom trim piece. Turns out these come cut wrong from whoever makes them (I think all of the usual suppliers provide the same part) and, well, I can't have that. The passenger's side was a bit "worse" than the driver's side, so I took that one on first.

My bright idea was to "put back" what should not have been cut off. I first needed some metal and to bend it around something that was thick to provide the space  to fit around the panel seams.

Metal partially bent around my old angle grinder wrench. Worked great!

The required gap achieved. Sorry for the blurriness.

With the donor piece now formed, it was time to cut it to fit what I needed. A quick paper template provided the correct sizing.

The cut-to-fit piece. Only about a half-inch long.

With that done, it was a simple matter of clamping it on and welding it to the existing trim piece.

Voila! I'll mention that big hole that you see right next to the finisher below.

I was really happy with how this worked out. For the other side, since there was very little room, I just added some weld metal and ground it down smooth to fit.  Rarely have repairs worked out so well for me, where it just worked from how I envisioned it to how finished up. Maybe my experience is starting to pay off!

That done, I cleaned up and called it a day. Doesn't seem like I did a whole lot, but it was a solid 6-7 hours of work. Both sides of the sills required about the same attention, and each wing had to come off, one at a time, all sucking up time.

I still have to contend with some holes that I have at both rear wing finishers and also up at the sills. These areas were originally brazed. I don't have the equipment to braze anything, so I'm not too sure what I'm going to do yet. I mention in the video that I'm going to leave it for seam sealer, but I'm not sure that's the best thing to do. Still thinking about it, but I'll figure it out on the next visit since it will be the last bit of hot work I need to do, if I do, before paint.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Paint #3 - Interior Prep for Epoxy

In some ways (and I agree with Elin Yakov, who commented the same on my video), melting and scraping away old seam sealer is strangely addictive.  While underneath the car was was pretty much a no-brainer for me to do, as that seam sealer was 50+ years old and directly exposed to the elements, inside the car, especially directly under the dash, it didn't make as much sense.

However, given that all of the seam sealer on the bottom was gone because of all the panels I replaced, the stuff's age,  and my concern that the seam sealer may have been compromised in some areas that I wouldn't notice, I decided that removing it all was the better plan. And, as it turns out, it wasn't all that bad to accomplish!


The video pretty much tells the whole story so there's not a whole lot additional to share. I used my heat gun, a razor blade scraper, various wire brush types (manual and pneumatic) and just generally went to town on getting all of the stuff out of there. Once I was left with only residue, I used lacquer thinner to take it the rest of the way off.

Up under the driver's side footwell. You can see the underside of the patch I did on the bulkhead.

Up under the dash, looking at where the heater fan will go (that big circle cutout that I repaired).

Driver's side wheel arch, behind the seats. That corner where the B post is (far right, still black from seam sealer) is a pain to clean out.

Passenger's side wheel arch, running up towards the rear sailboard (car was up on the wings).

Fortunately, doing this work turned out to be a good idea early on because I did find a spot of rust on the passenger's side rear wheel arch where it meets the seat deck, which I have mentioned before. It didn't require any patching, but it probably would have since the driver's side required not one but two patches in this area!

Wheel arch / seat deck rust in the seam before cleaning.

Also, while generally cleaning up the area I discovered a "worm" of body filler snaking into the driver's side rear wing. Quick investigation with the paint stripper wheel on the grinder made short work of some repairs by the PO. It actually wasn't that bad; nothing a bit of hammer wouldn't have taken care of, but I guess if all you have is body filler, that's what you do. This wasn't anywhere near the amount of body filler, however, that I've found on other areas of the car, so there was that.

This was the spot covered in body filler. The body filler is still in the holes that fully penetrate the wing.

That was about it, about 4 or so hours of work. My next visit will concentrate on any hotwork (welding) that I need to finish up that would otherwise mess up the epoxy if I chose to wait until after painting that, which I don't want to do.  Following that, I still have some lingering grime and surface rust, which those red 3M pads should handle quite nicely. After that, it's epoxy on the inside, including the boot...and then...body work!

On a related note, I had another wonderful time at the 31st Annual British by the Sea car show hosted by the CT MG Club. There was north of 350 cars there, I think. A great show that has only gotten better in the four years that I've attended. I took about 50 or so pictures that you can look at here  (you need to scroll a bit; this link is all of my car show pics). Next year, I really, really hope that Dorothy gets to go!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Paint #2 - Epoxy Primer

Do you believe it?! I've finally sprayed my first round of paint on Dorothy. And, shudder to think, but I think I did a pretty damn good job, too. To the video:


There's not really a whole lot to document here in still images that I didn't better document on the video, so please watch that.  I've got a lot of words for you, though, so bear with me.

I was able to get the "paint booth" set up with a filtered air intake and exhaust (though a bit cheesy, I must say) and mixed the paint with no problems.

I'm using Southern Polyurethanes  (SPI)grey epoxy primer with a Devilbiss FLG-4 Finishline spray gun.  For both of these choices, I did some research and asked some questions on my favorite forum. I never got conclusive answers, but I got enough to make what I thought was an informed decision.

The SPI guys ended up being a no-brainer. Their customer service is great (the owner gives out his personal cell phone for tech support...and he actually gets back to you).  Their forum is also very strong and I've had my few questions answered quickly and completely. They  seem to be a small business that caters to the DIY guy and people that want quality in small batches. While they unfortunately don't  mix custom paint (i.e., I cannot get Signal Red from them), they do provide all of the stages of paint (epoxy primer, 2K primer, etc.) through their "house" color topcoats (black, red, etc). I'm so impressed that I'm seriously considering going with their house red if it's pretty close to Signal Red. Not sure how I'll figure that out, but I'm going to look into it.

As for the gun, the Finishline is not Devilbiss' lowest tier gun, but it's also not anywhere near their highest. I'd call it their entry-level "I like to think I'm serious about this, but not so sure yet" gun. I did previous videos and posts on it. Do you own research, but it worked great for the epoxy and it comes with three spray tips (they run about $50 separately) so that made it economical and, hopefully, a single-purchase solution.

I took notes during this whole thing on quantities, temperatures, pressures, etc. I kick myself for not taking notes during other (or any, really) phases of this rebuild but here, it matters for future reference to minimize wastage. I was really surprised by how much paint is. Two quarts of epoxy primer and activator (so, a gallon of material total, mixed 1:1) ran me $180. Based on what I used underneath, I'm not so sure that's going to be enough for two coats on the whole car. And, as for price,  that's not too bad, come to find out. A gallon of SPI single-stage red is  about $325. The activator is another $30. I had no idea, so be prepared to spend well over $500 on just paint. Combine that with the insane amount of time it's taken me to prep for paint (granted, I'm a rookie and not efficient) and I fully and completely understand why paint jobs cost so damn much!

Enough of me waxing philosophic...do your research and make your decisions. I'm in it for the long haul and now, more than ever, want to paint every bit of Dorothy myself. The results that I got on the epoxy primer (while I'm sure are not directly relatable to doing top coat) have only convinced me that it's worth going for it.

So, while I did get a run or two, I was very happy with how it turned out and am eager to get the interior cleaned up so I can shoot that too!!






And, no, I still haven't decided on what I'm going to do, ultimately, underneath (top coat, bedliner, etc.), if anything. Cheers!

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #54 - Nope, Not Quite Done...Maybe Now??

One of the last things to fix on the body was to install new rear wing finishers, or  trim pieces. Unfortunately, they don't appear to be cut properly at the top, where the tail light mounts. In the picture below, you can see where the top of the union between the rear wing and the rear valance in cut at an angle sloping "down", while the trim piece is cut at an angle going "up". This is true of all of the major suppliers, as best I can tell, and the consensus on my favorite forum is that they are definitely cut improperly. That's a bummer and something that I left to take care of in the future.

The valance/wing angle and trim angle should match...should.

Unfortunately, while this area is somewhat covered by the rear bumpers and overriders, this particular area is not, so I'll have to come up with a proper solution. Shouldn't be too bad, though, as I'll probably just wrap metal around it.

To the video:


I started with the driver's side (the still images are all of the passenger's side, however), which ended up being the more difficult of the two, but neither was too bad. As you may expect, the trim piece didn't fit real well with the curve of the wing / valence, so some clamping and mechanical persuasion was required. I used regular vise grips and a rubber mallet to make it work.

Once I was happy with the trial fit, I weld-through primed the area on the wing and valence.

Primed and ready.

While waiting for the primer to dry, I drilled several holes along the trim piece for plug welds.  Once the primer was dry, I liberally applied some brush-on seam sealer.

Seam sealer applied. Not too difficult to work with.

I let that air out a bit, and then put the trim piece back on and clamped it down.

Final fit for passenger's side.

With that done and fit, it was time to weld. Seam sealer is quite flammable. In hindsight, and if I were to do this again, I would have used an adhesive made for metal bonding. I probably would have been much easier and prevented what I'm sure is compromised seam sealer in the area of the welds (it did catch on fire, after all).

Underside showing it welded in.

Outside, all welded in and ground down. You can see the smoke marks from the burning seam sealer.

And that was about it for those. There's still some work to do back there, but the most important thing was getting those on because I wanted them attached before I epoxy-primered the bottom of the car, since I was going to weld them in. Again, if I had used an adhesive, I would have epoxied first to take advantage of it's great corrosion resistance and sealing properties - lesson learned for next time...I never do this again!

The last hour or so of the visit was dedicated to errecting a paint booth. It required some more work, but it would be effective.

First prototype.

That's about it. On a separate note, tomorrow (6/3/18) is the  31st Annual British by the Sea  car show hosted by the Connecticut MG Club at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, CT. The weather forecast has steadily improved over the last several days and I should be there around mid-morning. If you are reading this, are local, plan on attending, AND you recognize me, please say hi! Cheers.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - "Just About Done" Epoxy Prep

Getting close now. The video:


Nothing all the exciting, really, but I got some old seam sealer removed and lots of the general area inside the car all cleaned up. I did find another area of concern, but it wasn't enough to replace metal.

This is the wheel arch / rear seat deck union. Picture rotated 90-degrees left because car was up on wings.

However, it did clean up quite a bit. I'll do the same here that I did with the rear valance panel and hit it with some vinegar, clean it up real well and get epoxy on it.

After cleaning. Not great, but it will get better.

Otherwise, it was just a matter of going around with my heat gun and wire brush to remove old seam sealer and the red Scotchbrite pads to remove seam sealer residue (with the help of some lacquer thinner) and general dirt and grime. There was also some old carpet adhesive to remove, but that was easy.

Passenger's side looking back into the boot. Cleaning up okay, but need to get that seam sealer out of there.

Cleaning up the dash area.

In addition to that, I also solved (as of now, anyway) my air moisture problem. Here comes a bit of technical explaining, so bear with me.

Dry, clean air is very important when painting a car. Since the air provides motive force for the paint, anything entrained in the air will come out with the paint. Dirt particles are obviously bad since you'll get dirt specs in the paint and/or clog the gun. Something less obvious, however, is moisture.

Essentially, automotive paint is oil-based (sort of). Since oil and water don't mix, high water content in the air will result in imperfections in the paint. Not good.

In a perfect world, I'd have thousands of dollars and be able to employ a large desiccant air drying to dry the air on it's way to the spray gun. Since that's not an option, another solution is to allow the air to cool after leaving the compressor motor. The idea here is that hot air holds more moisture than cold air (hot and humid in the summer, cold and dry in the winter). One way to  do this is making a "radiator" of copper pipe with drains in the bends.

Example of a copper pipe air cooler.

I was going to go this route (~$150-200 in supplies), but I found another solution that seems to be working and is much cheaper (and less labor intensive).

Motor Guard.

That solution is a Motor Guard  air filter. It's essentially a steel housing, with 1/2" inlet and outlet connections, stuffed with a roll of toilet paper. At about $60, it's a very simple and cost-effective solution. You can really use rolls of toilet paper to replace the internal filter, so it's really cheap to operate, too. Along with that, I purchased a desiccant solution for at the gun itself, also by Motor Guard.

Dynamic Duo. You can just barely see the filter in the housing of the Motor Guard.

I did some testing, albeit in relatively dry air, and it worked great. I'm sure if I get to painting in the middle of the summer, I'll have to pay special attention to ensure that the solution continues to work, but I'll also run the A/C in the garage to help dry the air.

Otherwise, that was about it.  The final thing to do before I was ready to paint the underneath was to replace the rear wing/valance finisher pieces, which, of course, had their own unique challenges.