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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Frame Leveling and More Gaps (sorry) | Roundtail Restoration

Hiya, folks. In my never-ending story, I continue my search for the perfect gaps. This time, I wanted to make sure that the body was true. To do this, at least in my head, I needed to make sure that the frame was true. It was. My thought process follows and it a bit wordy so scroll to the next bit of bold text if you just want the action.

The way I figure, if I want good gaps, among other things I need to make sure that my "base" is good. In other words, if the body is twisted or otherwise out of shape, anything I attach to that base will be thrown out of kilter and won't fit properly. Therefore, I needed to make sure the body was square. BUT, the body was mounted to the frame, so if the frame wasn't square, the body would not be square. Hence, my gaps might be off because the body wasn't square, but it may not be the body's fault. Follow?

To rule this out, I wanted to get the frame leveled. I came up with several ways to do this, but a lot of my ideas were limited by the fact that the frame was fully loaded with a motor, gearbox and suspension. So, I settled on what I think was a valid option.

I jacked the car up to get it off the tires and fully unload the suspension and remove that from the equation. I rested the frame on jack stands and shimmed the jack stands with stir sticks to get it as level as I could (from left to right, NOT front to back). This was trial and error, but not especially difficult. I got the front and the rear portions of the frame to both level out pretty close using both a laser level and a "regular" bubble level.

Level hanging off front of frame.

And the rear of the frame.

You'll have to trust me that it was level. I used metal coat hangers cut to equal lengths to hang the bubble level AND I used the laser level as a independent check.

Now I knew that, on that right-to-left plane, the frame was level. I'd argue that I could be confident that the rest of the frame was level, specifically cross-corner, but since I didn't ensure it was level front-to-back, I couldn't know for sure, but I was willing to go with it.

Believe it or not, once I finally got it all set, the body was true to the frame. This was good because I now had confidence that my extensive repairs (sills, floors, etc) didn't make the body all crooked but bad because now I wasn't going to get any help in the gap department. Oh, well. Here's the video of the entire thing.

Now that I new that was all good, it was time to revisit the gaps (which I did with the car on stands to keep it all static). I picked up new hinges from The Roadster Factory. They were having a sale ($21 vice $30 from Rimmer's) and while I was okay with the used ones that I got from Rimmer's a while ago, I wanted to start with new so I had a known quantity. The new hinges are a bit different from the originals, but probably in a good way as the A-post portion is a bit wider, spreading out the force a bit better.

New (L) versus original.

I fought that battle for a little while and then, also with new parts, put the bonnet stay back in. The upper and lower portion I picked up from Rimmer's for around $20 each side. While a bit pricey (TRF had them at near twice that, however), it was worth it to me to get something that was good based on my prior struggles. I also invested in hardware, namely spacers and washers, to properly mount it. The bonnet goes down smoothly now with no twist or interference from the stay.

That's better.

Dog-leg in the upper portion as it should be.

With that sorted, I showed up on Saturday morning (today, as I write this - trying to keep up better) wanting to revisit all gaps. I had the idea to do the doors again based on new hinges and revisit the bonnet, loosening up ALL of the pivot tube mounting points. In this way I could "float" the bonnet on the pivot tubes and move it around while mounting the bonnet attached to the pivot hinge on the frame. I'm not sure that it worked, really, as I didn't seem to get much movement, but damn if the gaps didn't work out!

As I've covered several times, it was all a matter of trial and error and moving stuff around and getting stuff all set. No magic here, just trial and error. One thing, however, needs some explanation.

The driver's side door was especially painful, as it has been. I needed to move the door back, but was out of A-post movement to do this. One way to compensate was to add shims to the door-to-hinge mounts. This would "push" the hinge forward from the door, relative to the A-post, allowing me to gain some more wiggle room. I used some thick washers to do this (more permanent solution coming soon). This gave me just enough (maybe the final solution will shim it a bit more) to line it all up "good enough".

Washer's ground flush with hinge to prevent interfernece.

I'll try for better, but it may just not be there. My major concern is the bottom portion of the door to sill gap, which is okay right now.

It doesn't look like this area was shimmed at the factory. I didn't remove any shims from the door-to-hinge connection. Something on Dorothy is off, but that's okay with me as long as the gaps get set. I reached out to my Favorite Forum to ask if anyone has shimmed door-to-hinge and I'm waiting on responses, so we'll see.

As far as the bonnet, I was also able to minimize the bonnet being higher than the forward sail plate. I put a 2x4 piece of wood at either corner and then pressed down, with my hands, on the center, to set the bonnet down a bit. In addition, I properly set the bonnet cones as these will also affect that bulge towards the bonnet center. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better!

Muuuch better.

By the end of the visit, I was happy with the gaps. I may do a final revisit on the driver's side door, but I'm not sure yet. Thanks for reading!

Down the passenger's side.

Blurry, but it looks okay. Can't get far enough away due to the size of the garage.

Same side, same reason for bluriness.

Not horrible. Better vantage point on this side.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Prop Problems and Final Gaps (maybe?) | Roundtail Restoration

As I documented in my last video (I think) I was struggling setting up the bonnet gaps and some of my problem was the bonnet prop, or stay. I had given up on the hydraulic lift kit (for now) and moved on to using Dorothy's original one, but that was hitting the bulkhead as the bonnet came down. I disconnected it from the suspension turret side, but then the gaps were different again. Really?! Frustrated, I removed it completely and carried on.

For the next visit (a short one), I had the bonnet stay for the black car to try. It worked initially, but it appears to have been repaired at some point. The key, however, was the upper portion, which has a dog-leg in it - something Dorothy's lacked.

Black car's (L) as compared to Dorothy's. 

Obvious dog-leg on the black car's.

I also don't think the black car's stay was original, as it had red paint under the black. Since these were painted body color, the red was a dead giveaway. I tried to mix-and-match the two to get something to work, but in the end gave up. I got dimensions from a viewer and neither matched, so I just ordered a new set from Rimmer Bros. instead. They upper and lower portions are ordered separately and they were only about $13 each, so worth the trouble (I hope).

The other thing I determined, unfortunately, was that my new floors were not patterned for the earlier cars' seat rails. I had this filed away in my brain somewhere but forgot to take care of it. I thought about some options, including drilling a new hole and welding in a captive nut, but haven't completely decided which way to go yet (more on that later).

In short, the seat rails are smaller, left to right. The size is the same front to back, however, so at least I won't have to change them all.

Old floor seat rail bolts.

And the new. Bolt pattern is too wide by about 2 inches.

That was a quick visit and resulted in a short video, so here you go:

The next video was easily my longest, a full 55+ minutes. Since I left pretty frustrated from the last few visits, I decided to go at the gaps all over again. I started with the bonnet, but moved on to the driver's side door at about 10:00 until about 40:00. I go into pretty excruciating detail on how I try to get my driver's door gaps set. Notice that I said how "I" am doing it. I'm not sure if this is the correct way, but it seems to be getting me pretty close.

I am not going to go into the detail here that I do in the video. I'll point out what I found to be more important, but I'd ask you to watch the video for how I did it.

The first thing I did was use stacked stir sticks to help prop the door up off the sill. The thickness may vary car to car, but for me the front stack was about 10mm thick and the back about 8.5mm thick. This allowed me to rest the car door with a good gap on the sill. Also, the striker plate was installed, but loose, so the rear of the door was also supported. This allowed me to freely move the door around.

The front shim of stir sticks.

The front and rear, showing thickness.

And installed under the door, on top of the sill.

What it looked like from the outside.

From there on out it was all trial and error. Frustrating, but in the end I got it where I was happy. The hinges, as the bolt to the car, allow up and down and back to front movement. The hinges, as they bolt to the door, allow some tilt in and out and a little bit of up and down, but not much. Of note, I worked on the tilt last, but messed myself up at first because the bolts from the hinge-to-door were too loose. As I tightened them, it drew the door forward, opening the gap at the B post that I had just set with the hinges on the body. Lesson learned. Generally, you want all of the bolts snug, but loose enough that you can move them, until you're ready to lock them down.

A blurry picture. The gaps aren't too bad here. The forward bottom of the door to the sill is a bit too tight for my liking - may chip paint.

I did a repeat job on the passenger's side door. I'm not as happy with this door, in general, because it's a bit proud of the sill at the bottom, about under the door handle, and the gap at the front bottom, to the sill, is too open (exact opposite of the problem on the driver's side).

Again, not so great of a pictures. Hard to see the problem areas, too.

I was satisfied for the time being with those, so I moved onto the bonnet. I've been through that in my last post and my approach didn't really change, but I did loosen everything up, including all three of the pivot tubes, and start all over.

I tried to center the bonnet up side and side and get it about set for gaps everywhere as well, but with it all unattached. Both of the pivot tubes seem to fade to the outside a bit and I couldn't adjust them into the center of the pivot on the frame, so I got them as close as I could.

Driver's pivot area. Pivot tube is obviously set to the right in the hinge.

Passenger's side is a bit better.

With that all done, I supported the bonnet and installed the pivot hinge and hardware. I got new nuts and bolts since I've been tearing the heck out of the old ones.

Supported for putting on the pivot hinge hardware.

Then it was more of the same for adjustments. I still have some reservations about how it finished up and I still don't have that center tube figured out yet, but that's for another visit. All in all, I did gather more experience about getting it set, so there was that.

Driver's side. Work in progress.

Passenger's side. This isn't actually too bad.

A look down the driver's side. It's okay. 

I decided to take the high road and order new door hinges from The Roadster Factory (they were on sale for less than Rimmer's) which should be here in time for my next visit. That means that I'll be doing those gaps again since I need to do them with the hardware that I'll be using in the final assembly. There are some new methods that I would like to try, so I'm okay with that. The next visit is a weekday one, so I'll devote it to more gap work. After that, however, I'm going to be wanting to pull the car back apart and make the final preps for paint. We'll see how that works out for me.

At the very end of the visit, I tried one solution on the seat rails. It involved using a peice of strapping, bolting it to the existing hole on the seat rail, and then using it as a transition piece to go out to the existing hole in the floor pan. I didn't take any measurements so, while I could bolt it down, the seat rail wasn't adjustable since it was now crooked. That's obviously something I'll want to get perfect.

Holes don't line up to well, do they.

One potential solution, recommended to me by a viewer, was to use one piece of strapping at the front and back, going across the whole span of the floor pan. This way the seat isn't tilted to one side (the strapping raises the seat rail about 1/4") and it ensures it won't be crooked side to side. Of course, I may just end up drilling a new hole and using a bolt and nyloc, so we'll see. I'll need to have that square to the opposite side bolt as well, so measurements will definitely be required. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Final Gaps (Or Close Enough) | Roundtail Restoration

I didn't wait as long between my visit and my write-up this time posts so I didn't forget anything. I've got a relatively quick video of what I did on Sunday. In short, with the exception of the passenger's side door, I'm pretty happy with all of my gaps, or know what I need to do to get them where I want them. I think I'll be okay on that door, too. Please note that some of my pics below are not really time sensitive, so they may have been taken before or after what I'm writing, in case you notice some inconsistencies.

I decided to revisit the bonnet pivot tubes and the transverse support tube. I still wasn't convinced that these were properly set. I had measured how far the pivot tubes stuck out from the bonnet on the black car and they were both about 2.5". Dorothy's were shy of that, with the passenger's side was being worst. Given how far back I had to push the hinge, this made sense. I loosened it and pulled it as far forward as I could, but I ended up only get about another tenth of an inch or so. Better than nothing.

I also remounted the transverse support tube. I used two wood shims to spread the passenger's side wing out from the tube and then tightened it down. It worked, surprisingly. I really didn't need to do any adjustments to the driver's side in this area. After these adjustments, the wings sat real nice with the sill. This was also without having to pull down on the tube, which made me feel better. I'm not so sure now that I understand what this adjustment point was designed to accomplish (more on this in a  bit).

An older picture of the center tube and the wheel arch (driver's side) as an example.

Now that the wings were correct, it was time to set the gaps between the bonnet and the bulkhead and the bonnet and the sill. I wasn't that concerned about the gap between the bonnet and the doors yet since I hadn't tried to get the doors properly set.

The bonnet is able to move back and forth at the hinge (Fig 15 below, items #2), which obviously would open or close the gap the bulkhead and the vertical between the bonnet and the doors. However, since the hinge is at the bottom front of the bonnet, it also causes the bonnet to tilt slightly, affecting the gap between the bonnet and the horizontal of sill.

You can compensate for this by then raising or lowering the bonnet at the hinge (item #1 above). But, again, being at the bottom front of the bonnet, it also introduces a tilt. So, it's a fight between the fore to aft movement and the up and down movement to get all of those gaps correct. And, yes, if you sneeze, they all go to shit!

Driver's side. This one is about perfect. Maybe a bit wider gap between the sill and bonnet (these are wider than the other gaps).

Passenger's side. It rises towards the front, which means I need to play with the vertical adjustment (and then the fore/aft, of course).

Another area that requires attention is the center of the bonnet at the sail plate. I think this area may be impacted by the flex of the transverse tube as well as the washer stackup in this area (or lack thereof). I did vary the number of washers, but I didn't really notice a difference. Like I said above, I'm not sure that I fully understand this adjustment.

Here's the center mount point for the transverse tube. This is in the center of the bonnet and about 4-6" from the the bulkhead edge.

Here's the rise. This is about a tenth of an inch or so. I haven't figured out how to adjust this out yet.

The rear vertical height, towards the outer edges, is set by the bonnet cones. These screw in and out and also will slide side to side a bit, but there isn't really much adjustment to them. But, as with everything else, they impact gaps elsewhere, specifically between the rear of the bonnet and the horizontal of the sill, along with the top of the bonnet and the front sail plate.

Confused yet!?!? Pain in the ass...but fun at the same time.

With the end in sight on the bonnet, I moved on to the doors. As I previously discussed, I drilled out the holes in the driver's side door hinges where they mount to the A post. This gave me some more wiggle room and I was able to adjust the door where I think it's good enough. I have a mild concern for some rubbing near the bottom forward edge, but I think I can get that out of there. Otherwise, I may have to do something because I'm afraid a good bump will cause the paint to chip.

Driver's side door. Damn if I could correct the gap opening towards the top.

I moved on to the passenger's side next and it kicked my butt for a while. I never got it set right, but I had done it in the past when I was welding the sill in, so I think that I just need to find the sweet spot. Right now it's twisted so it sits proud of the sill. This results in a gap between the inside of the door and the rubber seal in that area. I don't have this problem on the driver's side. Initially, like with the bonnet, I thought I might have damaged the door, causing it to flare out. But, if that was the case, I wouldn't expect to see the gap on the inside. Next visit.

Close up, from the inside, of the gap between the rubber and the door. Between the blue lines is the gap.

One other thing about the doors is the difference in contour between the top trailing edge on the door as compared to that area of the B post. I didn't put my contour gauge on it, but I don't think the curves are the same. You can kind of see it on the picture above but I think it's more obvious on the picture below. Above the level of the door handle, the B post rises more vertically than the door, which seems to cut in a bit before moving back vertical. I'm sure I could fix this by welding in a metal rod or some body filler or something, but I don't think so. I believe the car was built like this and it's not an adjustment problem, so in my mind there's nothing for me to fix.

The gap on the rear edge of the door. I can probably lift the front a bit to get rid of some of this, but I don't think all of it.

That was about it. Gaps are not fun, but I'm gaining some experience so it's making sense to me what I need to adjust depending on the gap I'm looking at. Eventually, I'll get them all set where I want them. The only thing that concerns me is the driver's side door because of the self-induced (maybe) droop in the A post. That one may still be tricky, but I'm rolling with it for now.

Minutes before I left for the day, I threw the windscreen frame on there. Though I forgot the front valance, she's actually starting to look like a real car again. Of course, I've got to take it all apart, but better messing up and learning now then when I've got nice shiny paint on there.

Which reminds me, if anyone has some tips on how to mark everything so I can put it all back in the right spot (or close to it) when I get it painted, I'm all ears. Right now I'm thinking scribe marks around the hinges and such so that the metal is gouged a bit and the paint doesn't fill it in. I've heard about drilling small holes, too, but this doesn't make sense to me, so maybe I'm not understanding this method.

On a final note, I'd like to thanks several of you who have reached out, both here and on YouTube, to provide help and pictures and the like as I come through this part of my restoration. Simply amazing support and I'm sure it's going much better because of it. So, thanks so much!


You go, Dorothy!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Mind the Gaps | Roundtail Restoration

Got some catching up to do here. I got several visits, some short, over at the garage while I jumped back into fighting the gaps on the bonnet. I've said this several times and I'll say it again - I'm so glad that I did this before the car was in paint. I would have just totally messed the paint up if I hadn't as the gaps are just not an easy thing to get. So, with that, I've got three videos worth of information to get to here, so let us begin.

As a disclaimer, I'm writing this upwards of a week after I did some of the videos. If I make a big deal out of something in the video but barely mention it here, chalk it up to time and experience and, in the end, it wasn't that big of a deal. The opposite may also be true. I also will cover this in a more concise way, not necessarily how I discovered my mistakes in the video. You'll see.

After getting all of the body panels on, I went about setting gaps. I started with the boot lid since I figured this would be easiest. There really isn't any adjustments with this - you just bolt it up and that's about it. I'm glad I took the time to do this while welding on the replacement rear valance so this time around it went right in and the gaps look fine.

Passenger's side front gap.

Driver's side. The boot lid tapers at the ends: No choice here.

On a side note, I got the front valance on before this but subsequently took it back off to allow easier access for setting the bonnet gaps.Speaking of which, they still weren't playing. I continued to struggle with the gaps and the driver's side wheel arch continued to rub against the bulkhead.

The worst of it.

At some point, someone had cut down the passenger's side wheel arch to round it off a bit. I wasn't having any rubbing issues on that side so maybe they were on to something.

Passenger's side arch. You may be able to tell how the driver's side seems more square in this area.

The difference between the passenger's side (manila template) and the driver's side.

To help with my rubbing issues and to make the two match up, I decided to cut down the driver's side wheel arch using a cutting wheel. As a good piece of data, the Raptor Liner did not discolor or bubble up during this process even though I'm sure it got pretty hot.

What I'm cutting away.

Now right around this time I started to figure out that I had some misunderstood problems. First, the passenger's side bonnet, near the front sill, was way inside of where it should have been...almost 1/2" depressed.

Well, that's not going to work.

Because I had done extensive work in this area, including removing, repairing, and replacing the bonnet cone support, I was sure that I had messed this portion of the wing up. A few things, however, should have told me otherwise, but I didn't recognize it. First, the driver's side was sticking out a bit (like the pic above, but opposite and not as bad), which should have told me that it was an adjustment thing, at least to a point. Second, I used my contour gage to compare the contour of the bonnet to that general area of the door (they should match since they are gapped together) and they were essentially the same, arguing against deformation.

Driver's side showing it proud a bit.

But, convinced that I messed it up, I tried to bend the bonnet out a bit and almost immediately caused some damage. Easy to fix, but damage all the same.


Turns out, the center transverse support tube was where the problem lie. This tube, depending on how it was mounted, could put outward pressure (or not) on the wheel arches because of where it was mounted. Depending on where it was attached, it would flex the arches out to match up with the sill.

Center tube mounting on wheel arch, driver's side.

Center tube mounting, center of bonnet, relaxed. If you pulled down on tube, it would flex the wheel arches.

The center mounting point for the tube was also adjustable. If it was pulled down, it would put outward pressure on the on the wheel arches. Unfortunately, it was equal pressure, so you had to make sure you had the arches equally aligned. In practice, this never really worked and while I thought I had the magic adjustment, it turned out not to be. I ended up hammering wooden shims between the wheel arch to wing support bracket and the end of the tube, opening up the gap shown in the picture above (two up) on the passenger's side. The driver's side came in okay without adjustment.

Another thing I fought with was my bonnet lift kit. Now, I love this thing and think it's a great improvement. However, I found that it was stressing the bonnet and/or wheel arches and just wreaking havoc on the gaps. I had only one side on at first, causing the bonnet to twist. I put the other side one and, unfortunately, it still messed it up. I ended up completely removing the kit (for now, I'm haven't totally given up on it).

Bonnet lift kit...makes me sad.

With that, I went back to the original bonnet stay, though I had to re-drill the hole that I had filled a while ago.

New bonnet stay hole (inner wheel arch).

Bonnet stay from the inside.

Once I got that all figured out, stuff went much smoother. I didn't get it perfect, but I got it pretty close.

Passenger's side looking down the bonnet...still needs just a bit of tweaking.

Same view, but on driver's side. This one is good.

Driver's side again. Gap is a bit tight. The bonnet to sill gap is wider than the others (about 7mm vice 5mm).

And passenger's side. Rises up towards the tire.

Following all of that drama, I got on to the door. It looks like the hinges on the driver's side are going to have to be drilled out a bit, making the holes bigger. Like I've mentioned previously, I'm near convinced that I let the upper A post droop and just missed the adjustment tolerances. Oh, well.

Driver's door in, working the gaps.

As a tease, my next post will almost finish up the gaps. I'm happy with the driver's door, but still have a bit of work on the passenger's door. Final tweaking on the bonnet is also required, but I am confident that it's just that, tweaking, and I'll get it with minimal effort.