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.

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