Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Battery Box Installation #1

With the family getting back from Florida and Mystic Little League opening day for my youngest, I didn't get much time to work on either car over the weekend.

I also did some asking around on my favorite forum and though I didn't get a whole lot of replies, the few I did get recommended purchasing new sills vice using what came off the '64. Regardless, I intend to continue cutting the body up, taking what I need or want and offering everything else to whomever else. I've already put the bonnet up for the taking, so if you or anyone you know may want a bonnet for a pre-Mk3 Triumph Spitfire, please let me know.

The red bottom is new metal, the black is original This is the outside of the driver's sill.
My continually changing plan now is to get the black car torn down as much as possible and then get Dot's body off and moved to the back yard so I can concentrate on the frame / engine repairs and rebuilds. But, first, I wanted to actually accomplish something on the body so I decided to break back into the battery tray replacement.

Once I pulled the tray (pertinent post), I discovered some cancer on the top bulkhead underneath the tray. Not surprising, of course, and it will be replaced.

Need some new metal. You can see the outline of Sharpie where I'll cut away the rusted stuff.
I dug into this with some gusto, cutting away the metal that was thinning and ragged back to good, if pitted, metal. I broke out the usual suspects here (Harbor Freight (HF) 4.5-inch angle grinder, HF 3-inch cut off tool) and also my Dremel rotary tool for some of the tighter spots. I was thinking about using my sawzall, but that thing is just a bit too heavy for this...I was afraid I'd rip the thin metal apart (only 20 ga for this stuff). Unfortunately, I found some brass where a hole had been brazed up. I hated to cut into this stuff one, because I think it's cool that they used to do that back into the day and two because I'm pretty sure I'll have to do something about the reason they had to braze in the first place.

Brass braze just as the metal curves to the right and heads towards the center of the car.
Since I didn't really care about saving the metal, I used one of the carbide drill bits that I bought at Lowe's. Again, haven't really put it to the test, but I think I'm past the number of holes that I drilled with the non-carbide one and it's still cutting just fine. I also remembered to use lubrication this time!

To minimize the chance for collateral damage, I pulled the intake manifold and carbs (all in one piece) from the head. Better safe than sorry since that rear float was only about 1/2-inch from where I was cutting and grinding. Since it had been so long since I had gas in the car, it had all evaporated so I didn't have to worry about that. Thankfully the nuts (and studs, in some cases) came off with no problem.

Now there's an exhaust manifold looking for a paint job! I put rags in the intakes to prevent foreign material entry.
You can see in the picture above the vent tube coming out of the block between the rear and next forward pipes. This is unique to the open crankcase ventilation of the Mk1 motor before emission controls cared about discharging crankcase fumes straight to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it interferes with the Mk2 exhaust manifold and it looks like the PO just banged at it to get it too fit. I'm hoping to convert the motor to a closed ventilation so I'll have to figure out something to do with that tube. Future me.

Intake manifold nuts, studs and and manifold clamps. Got a 50% success rate on only pulling the nuts.
Once the interference was gone, I simply cut the cancer out following my Sharpie trace and used a screwdrivers to gently pry where it hung up.

Damaged top bulkhead removed. Have some repairs to do to the front bulkhead as well, obviously.
Side-on view of the metal cut.

Metal that was removed. Those round metal dots on there are where I drilled though the tray with the spot weld cutter.
I traced and cut out a new piece of metal to replace the piece I just removed.
Should have flipped this over to save a cut and some metal...oh, well.
I set that piece aside and cut a piece for the bottom layer since I figured I needed to do this first. Being such a small piece, this was pretty easy to fabricate. Fabricate properly? That's a question that still up in the air.

Small half-D shaped piece cut. I traced from under it to get the curvature of the cut on the left, or inside, of the curve.
Since I had also lost some metal going down inside the curve a bit, I left some of the metal on the inside and then slice up to the curve line, so I could bend those pieces down, like tabs, to cover where the metal was missing.


Tab cuts set up.
New piece in very rough fit, giving the idea of the tabs.
Once I cleaned everything up, I removed a bit more metal to make the curved piece more like a puzzle piece to give me some interlocking stability for the welding process. The tabs, as it stands now, are just going to layer over the metal that's there. I'll have to worry about preserving this spot and prevent future water intrusion to prevent rust in the years ahead. I shot the area with a coat of SEM Weld-Thru Primer. Don't know if it was me or the paint, but it goes on very thick. It's zinc-enriched stuff that allows you to weld and maintains its integrity, unlike "regular" primer. Not sure if this was the best choice, but it's what I got.

A bit more metal removed.
I also coated the replacement metal with the weld-thru primer. I let both dry and finished with them for the night. When I get back to it I'll revisit this idea and make sure that it still makes sense to me to perform the repair this way. I may decide to just fill the little bit of metal that's missing inside the curve with MIG welding wire...we'll see.

The puzzle piece primed and drying.
As a final note, I discovered that I was a bit over-zealous on some spot welds when I was taking the battery tray out and had drilled through the "middle layer" of metal (the battery tray is top layer, the top bulkhead is next, and the front bulkhead is last...all of these are spot-weld-sandwiched together). So, I went back to where the two bulkheads were still firmly attached and cut the piece off just before that point. I'll rosette (plug) weld this back in once I get all the other repairs done.

Metal removed. No damage here and it cleaned up well.
I wasn't quite ready to quit for the evening so I pulled the passenger's side bonnet cone bracket. You may remember from Tub Tear Down #1 that I took both of these off of the black car since they are in sorry shape on Dot. I did use the spot weld removal tool this time since I wanted to save the underlying metal of the upper A-post.

Bracket removed. Clean this up, grind it down flat using a flap disk and it should be close to spot welding it back on using rosette welds.

Blurry picture of the removed bracket. You can see the torn metal on the right. The driver's side is much worse, but I didn't get a picture of that. Will when I pull it.
That was it so far. My wife asked me what I had done on the car since I was making lots of noise with the grinders and all. I told her I was fixing body cancer around the battery tray. I received the expected "what are you talking about" look. So I came up with an analogy for her that I'm pretty proud of. I told her something like "Imagine you have this 3000-piece puzzle that you hold near and dear so much that you glued it together, framed it and hung it on the wall. Well, one of the puzzle pieces had become damaged and you need to cut it out, very carefully. Then, you need to make a new puzzle piece from scratch and glue it back in. Oh, and do this so that no one ever knows you replaced the piece in the first place!"

I can only imagine how many times I will re-live this process. Cheers!

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