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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!


  1. I continue to enjoy following along with your progress. If you had to guess, how many man hours have you invested in the project to date?

    1. Hi, John. I'd hazard to guess that since I've started the restoration in the rental garage, I've put in about 12 hours a week. It'll be 3 years in June, so that's over 1800 hours. I owned the car for about 2 years before that but didn't work on it as much. So, conservatively, my guess is about 2000 hours.