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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.


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