Featured Post


Friday, July 29, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #2

I think I've said this in another post somewhere (too lazy to look for it) but, again, my life has been changed forever. More on that in a minute.

I haven't done a whole lot over the past week and a half, but made some progress in key areas.

I bought a "drying rack" for all of the parts that I'm going to be painting over the next few weeks. Specifically, it's a Harbor Freight (surprise, I know) Portable Work Stand. I should be able to re-purpose this in the future for working on body parts like the doors, boot lid, etc. But, for now, it just a convenient place to hang stuff.

The two lonely parts of the rear suspension that were done so far.

On a side note, wire coat hangers are hard to come by. Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place, but I found a broken pack at a Walmart that they sold me for $1. Plastic rules, I guess.

From my last post, I also promised a few pictures of removing the rear axle u-joints. From the picture below, the vice is a resting place for the drive flange and is not touching the axle shaft. I used a regular nail hammer to hit on the axle shaft just behind the u-joint cup (as opposed to hitting the drive flange). This displaces the axle shaft down relative to the u-joint, which is held stationary by the drive flange. The cup comes up as you hit the axle and gets to the point where it either pops out or can be removed by a pair of pliers. For me, all u-joints (the two on the rear axle and the two on the driveshaft, will be replaced).

If you use this method (I'm not sure there are many others) and have any intention of re-using the u-joint, tape or bag or "something" the u-joint cup because there are about a billion little roller bearing needles in there and they will fly to the far ends of the Earth if you pop that cup out on a hammer stroke! Ask me how I know.

Fuzzy...sorry. The cup is starting to come through.

Now, you see that big red thing on the left in the picture above? That's my new best friend. It's a Harbor Freight Abrasive Blast Cabinet. Now, I swear, I am not an advertiser for HF, but it may seem that way. This, however, is another great example of a tool that is going to be worth the money and is not so critical that I'm afraid to get it from HF (like a welder would be). With a 25%-off coupon that ran last week, I picked it up for $150. And, with another 20%-off coupon that you can find online at any time, I picked up blasting media. That, and a compressor, is all you need.

The finished product.

There are lots of videos on YouTube that discuss the pros and cons of the cabinet. For the most part, the biggest cons are the fact that it tends to leak and that the included light is worthless. I can vouch for the fact that the light is worthless...to the point where I'm surprised that they would actually even include it.

I took precautions during the build process with its tendency to leak. It comes with a few rolls of thin (1/4" or so) 3/4" wide foam weatherstripping tape. In addition to this, I also used acrylic caulk with silicone that I picked up at Walmart for a few bucks. I used about half of a tube.

Caulk applied around the glove penetrations.

Essentially every seam that I could put caulk in, I did. The weatherstripping on the door (pre-installed) was also in need of some help so I added a layer of weatherstripping that came with the cabinet as I mentioned.

In addition to this, I took advantage of my Rigid 12 gal wet/dry vac and purchased a good filter (I hope, anyway). It uses a standard 2 1/2" hose that usually comes with the larger vacuums and conveniently plugs into the included adapter in the side of the cabinet. Between this and the extra weatherstripping I added, I didn't have any leaks. As a matter of fact, when I turned the vacuum on (not running the blaster) the gloves "inflated", indicating that I was drawing a vacuum inside the cabinet. Pretty good.

One thing I will mention is that it sucks down a lot of air. The specs say, on average, it sucks down 9.5 cfm at 90 psi. To provide this cfm, your talking a $500+ air compressor. Thankfully, my garage mate has a Craftsman 220V compressor. I couldn't find it on line and sitting here, I don't remember it's flow rate, but it moves double-digits for 90 psi. Even so, once I started blasting, the compressor ran until I had stopped for a minute or so. But, I didn't notice any decrease in power during the entire time that I was flowing air.

As for the results, the metal comes out an interesting grey color using 80-grit glass bead (yes, from HF again). The surface is relatively smooth, but rough enough to readily accept a nice coat of paint, which I promptly applied after wiping the parts down with some Purple Power Super Citrus Cleaner (no, I'm not an advertiser for them, either).

Some front suspension parts, before being blasted.

Post-blasting. I taped the threads just in case to prevent damage.

So, moral of the story, the blasting cabinet is great and I'm sure that it will change my life and save me either countless hours as opposed to wire-wheeling everything or lots of money getting stuff professionally done. That being said, you need a strong compressor, probably more than most people have. If you have a compressor that can paint a car, you should be good. But, if you have the "normal" one, you may struggle. I don't have the experience to recommend something, but I'm sure that some of the YouTube videos discuss this in detail.

I also repaired the emergency brake clips attached to the rear brake backing plates. One had seen so much wear over the last 50 years that it had pulled through while the other was nearly there. I used the MIG welder to add some metal back and then re-drilled the hole. I'll be monitoring them frequently, of course, once I actually start using the car, until I'm confident that my repairs are adequate.

The one side that had worn through.

Filled in, pending re-drilling and grinding away extra metal. Even have that "Glamour Shot" shine in there!

Other than that, my last few days at the garage have involved suspension tear-down and cleaning. I got another quote on blasting the frame and it, too, was $400. So, I'm going to be cleaning it up as best I can with a wire wheel and then, possibly, looking into using a portable blaster of some kind (like this one from, you guessed it, Harbor Freight). We'll see once I start with the process on the frame how it turns out.

I dropped an order with Rimmer Bros. the other night for the rest of the stuff that I need to finish the frame including a fuel and brake line kit. I had most of the suspension bushings and hardware from a previous order from The Roadster Factory a while ago. Hopefully I didn't forget anything.

As of tonight (Friday, 7/29) I haven't been over to the garage since Tuesday night. I went deep sea fishing last night for bluefish and striped bass. I got a bunch of blues and one small striper (don't want to add another "p" to that word). Bluefish are a lot of fun to catch since they fight like crazy, but they are horrible (in my opinion) to eat. Tomorrow, however, I'm going out with a friend from work for black sea bass, flounder and just about anything else that bites, so hopefully that will turn out better!

Bluefish. This guy is pretty small (5lbs maybe) compared to what we were usually catching (12-15lbs).

Sunday, though. Dorothy will have all of my attention.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #1

The first of many, many posts regarding chassis restoration, I'm sure. I bit of a dry spell between posts since I only got to the garage on Monday this week, and only for about 3 hours. Didn't do a whole lot then, but I got a full 7 hours over there today and, while there wasn't a lot of quantity, I was happy with the quality.

Back to Monday, I took apart some of the rear suspension parts and soaked them in Purple Power for future restoration (which I started today). I also replaced the last of the broken hold-down tabs. For this, I used another piece of my old boot lid from my battery box repairs. I drilled out the one I was replacing (it rusted through about half-way down) and traced it out on the new metal. Then I simply hand-cut it to size, drilled two holes for the plug weld, and welded it down. I still struggle with the welding, but it worked. I bit wider than the original because I forgot, again, to take into account the extra width that tracing an object provides, but it will work just the same.

Broken one ready for tracing.

All nice and shiny.

First fit up. I took all of the pain off on the frame and tab and also applied the weld-through primer.

Done deal. Got a little overzealous with the grinding wheel.

I also took the 4.5" grinder, with wire wheels, to the frame to see how that would go. It works, but it's going to be time-intensive. Unfortunately, the two quotes that I got for blasting the frame is more than I wanted to spend (~$350). I'm going to try at least one other place and then make my decision. Since there isn't much other than surface rust, I'm not sure that blasting it will really get a me a lot. Future me.

Today, after a run and some breakfast, I made it over to the garage around 10:45. I stopped at Walmart to get some more primer and black spray paint, some water and a pedestal fan. It's been hot here the last week or so, with little rain and no end in sight, so I wanted to move some air around. We do have an A/C unit in the garage, but I don't want to run it if I don't have to. However, I was happy to note that even during the hottest part of the day it stayed very comfortable.

Since I'm still deciding on what to do with the frame, I decided to not do anything at all with it today. Instead, I focused on some chassis parts. Specifically, the passenger's side rear suspension that I had taken apart on Monday.

First, I removed the U-joint. Can't believe I didn't take any picture of how I did this (I'll be sure to get the other side). It would be much easier to show than explain so I'll reserve it for the other side. They were rather painful, but I coaxed them out with my 3-lb sledge hammer.

The aftermath. Needle bearings were EVERYWHERE!

After that, I removed the bushings from the radius arm. This was made very easy using my little bench press.

I was able to hold the other end against the pressure of the press and get the bushing out. No, I'm not strong.

I cleaned the radius arm as well as the newly-liberated drive flange with a wire wheel.

The cleaned up radius arm.

Before I primed them, I used some 50-50 mix of degreaser and water to clean all of the parts up. I wore fresh latex gloves to prevent me oiling them up with my hands and primed them up. Two coats of primer followed by one coat of gloss black. The cure time on the gloss black is rather long, so the second coat will have to wait for another day.

Drive flange. I taped the inside of the U-joint holes and the bottom to keep the mating surfaces clean.

Radius arm primed up.

I set my timer for about 20 minutes to allow the paint to dry enough to handle and went to work on the vertical link. Lots more surface area and nooks and crannies, so it took me a while to get at everything. With some patience and perseverance, however, I got all but the most hidden stuff.

After soaking and some minor cleaning.

After more intensive cleaning. Still some spots, as you can see, that I did attend to.

After cleaning, I went through the same process using the clean latex gloves and 50-50 degreaser to clean it up, then applied the two coats of primer.

First primer coat. Note that I taped off the threads where the bottom of the rear shock attaches.

While waiting my 20 minutes per primer coat, I shot the radius arm and driver flange with their first coat of gloss black.

Coat #1 of black.

Since, as I mentioned, the handle time for the gloss black is so long, I'll have to come back another time to finish up the second coat of black. To keep in context, just before I left for the day, I was able to get the first coat of black on one side of the vertical link. I need to get a hanger arrangement for future painting or it's going to take me literally 14 hours of waiting to paint one vertical link using the "lay-down" method.

Black coat #1 on vertical link.

During all of the wait times for drying, I started in on the driveshaft/hub/brake assembly. I've read lots of horror stories about pulling the rear hub. Basically, unless it is obvious that the rear hub is a goner, leave well enough alone. I'm all about that. However, I would like to make this assembly look nice, so I have some questions to ask on my favorite forum for recommendations.

There are some parts, however, that are more easily taken care off. Specifically, the inner hub trunnion. Thankfully, the trunnion sleeve came out without issue, though it was rather nasty looking. A harbinger of things to come.

The sleeve pushed most of the way out. Not pretty. And, there's something missing here...

However, I had a heck of a time getting the trunnion bushings out and, once I did, the rust made it obvious why.

Not the best picture, but I think you get the point.

I mentioned that something was missing in the above picture. There are more than two parts to the trunnion assembly. What I took out was the sleeve and the bushing (which is actually in two pieces). What I should have taken out was a metal cap, rubber seal, the bushing, sleeve and another cap.

What I took out. I destroyed the other bushing getting it out hence the reason it's not pictured.

This is what I should have removed from the trunnion. Guess the lack of rubber seal explains the rust.

I'm under the impression that the rear suspension, in part most likely, was rebuilt at some point. First, in the workshop manual in the picture above if you look close you can see the trunnion assembly part numbers circled. Second, a lot of the bolts that I removed were zinc coated or otherwise obviously not 50 years old. I guess, however, that the PO didn't do that great of a job. Fortunately, the inner part of the trunnion is not excessively pitted.

After that, I took the wire wheel and a wire brush to the whole thing and did some clean up. Since I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do this completely, I didn't spend a lot of time at it.

Definitely better than it was!

After that, I decided that I was going to get the frame bits removed from the black car's differential or I was going to kill myself trying. A couple different approaches, some grinding and a cutting wheel, and it was finally liberated!

Freedom!! The bolt (right) is in several pieces now, as well as the frame (background).

I still could not, however, get the bushings out. Not sure about that. I should have hit them with WD-40 before I left, but forgot. Another future me.

Curse you, bushing!

I have some lawnmower maintenance to do tomorrow. I've had the thing for 13 years and it finally won't start. The lack of rain is helping me out here and troubleshooting has determined it is a fuel delivery problem. For a whopping $13, I bought a new carb. Probably could have done more to the old one, but it was too cheap just to not get a new one. I'll also change the oil, plug and air filter as well. I forgot my oil pan at the garage so I'll have to run over and get it...a great excuse to put another coat of paint on the suspension parts!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Frame Repair Completion

Caution dictates that I temper my title with some reservation. I do know that I have one more hold-down tab (what are these things really called?) to replace, but otherwise I do believe that significant frame repairs are complete.

Needless to say, I got some time at the shop today; about 5 hours. The first thing I did was get the outriggers off to apply weld-thru primer to the areas. I used painter's tape as boundary markings and applied two coats, following the can directions for drying time.

The tape was only to mark the boundaries of where I needed to paint as I didn't care about over-spray.

First of two coats. I waited 10 minutes between coats, then 15 after the final and checked it dry.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I prepped the outriggers themselves by removing the black paint at the weld boundaries. I didn't apply primer to them, however.

Paint scrapped away in weld area. The foldable tabs on these are different than original (picture later).

After applying the second coat of weld-thru primer, I started in on Fuel Pump the Good from Thursday while waiting for the primer to dry (more on that later). Parallel paths, as we used to say in the Navy.

After the paint was dry and ready for welding, I carefully placed the outriggers and bolted them down snug at both the exterior and interior body mounting points. The exterior mounting point has a thick shim and that went in as well. I figured doing it this way helped to keep the outriggers stationary while also ensuring that they were properly aligned.

Driver's side mounted up. You can just see the shim under the exterior mounting point. The dash mounting bracket is also visible at the right edge of the outrigger.

I also used my 12-inch F-style Welding Clamp that I got at Harbor Freight to clamp the metal ends of the outrigger tightly to the frame for a proper lap weld joint.

This pic was from Thursday, but you get the idea.

After that, there was nothing left but the crying, so I ran a few short beads on the easily accessible spots of the outrigger so as to avoid the body.

Passenger's side. Weld in back (top in pic) isn't too bad; front ones are pretty proud, though, indicative of poor penetration.

And driver's side. Better overall, I think.

The welds weren't too pretty, but they are good enough (I hope). I used the recommended settings from the welder for the metal thickness but the welds were a bit caterpillar-like (or proud, as the Brits say). From what I understand, this could be caused by poor penetration as the wire material just lays on top of the metal or by moving too slow. In my case, I think the current was too low. However, I was afraid of burning through the frame so I lowered the wire feed speed instead to allow for more heat. In the end, I think enough of the beads were good to make the entirety okay.

Probably my best overall weld. I found pushing up, fighting gravity, worked best for me.

My father-in-law was coming to see the shop and I intended to have him help me move the body off so I could finish the welds. In the meantime, I went back to the Fuel Pump the Good. I didn't run into any surprises and it cleaned up well. I still need the rebuild kit, but that should be easy to put in. I put it back together to keep everything in one piece until I get the kit.

Nice and clean. A bit of surface rust on the priming lever and cap, but should be easily remedied with more attention.

Just about the time I was finishing up the pump, my father-in-law showed up. I showed him what I had accomplished so far and the plan ahead and then put him to work helping move the body. Thing is still just as light as the first time and it came off without a problem.

Back to its resting place, awaiting work hopefully starting in late fall or early winter.

Without the body in the way, I easily finished up the top and front and back vertical welds. The back vertical welds were pretty tough for me and neither came out very nice. No pictures of that nastiness. Before I flipped the frame over to weld the bottom, I drilled out and primed the area to replace two of the hold-down tabs that had broken. I got the donors from the old outriggers that I was originally going to use. I have one more to replace and will get the donor from the black car's frame.

The broken tab on the front cross-member. The headlight wires are held in place with this one. Note the punch holes over the spot-welds for guiding the drill bit.

Donor tabs, prior to cleaning and priming.

I followed the same two-coat priming with weld-thru primer and waited until it was fully dry.

Finished products.

After that, I flipped the frame over and finished up the bottom welds on the outriggers. I used the F-style clamp again to keep the lap joint tight. I took a grinding wheel to everything to smooth it all up, but don't intend to grind it down much more than I have. One, I don't see the point and two, the factory didn't clean up their welds very good, either, so it will be in keeping with the general condition.

Passenger's side all done.

Driver's side all done.

Dishes are done, man.

The only other thing I wanted to get to was getting the front pinion oil seal out of the differential, if possible without extensive tear down. I'll look at the workshop manual and determine if it will be easy enough to replace.

As for the frame, I'm going to take a wire wheel to it and see how that goes. If it looks like the job won't be good enough, I'll get quotes for blasting it. In either case, I have decided that I'm going to use the POR-15 system to get it painted. They sell a "safety red" top coat...wonder if I can get a sample to see how it matches the signal red and try to make it closer to factory.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Frame Repair #4

Got back from vacation on Wednesday and got to the shop Thursday night. Took apart the old fuel pumps that I got in Rhode Island, did some differential work and landed the body to get the outriggers all lined up for attachment. This ended up being a rather lengthy post, so reader beware.

First, I had to re-arrange my corner of the garage to be able to wheel the body back over to the frame. My garage-mate was coming over later to help me land it back on the frame to align the outriggers. I took a break to scarf down a sandwich after that and moved on to the fuel pumps.

Lined up and ready to land (one of many more times, I'm sure).

I think both are salvageable, though one is in much worse shape than the other. The rebuild kits are still readily available from the usual suspects and this will allow me to use an original AC (that's the company) fuel pump, as the car came with an aftermarket.

Fuel Pump the Good. This is the one to rebuild.

Though it did have a lot of debris in it, it all came out cleanly.

Fuel Pump the Bad. This one was on a whole different level. The screen is still in place. Reeked of stale gas.

The diaphragm from the good one. Still rather stiff and torn in a few spots, so a definite replacement.

All of the pieces are soaking in some Purple Power to break up the more stubborn stuff. We'll see how it looks afterwards and go from there. But, I'm confident of another successful saving of an original part (maybe two)!

Next was the tear down of the differential. Since I was pretty confident that Dorothy's differential was in worse shape, especially the spring mounting stud holes, I'm doing the inspection on the one from the black car. I had never taken a differential apart before and looking through the workshop manual and reviewing some stuff on my favorite forum, it appeared as though I would have no desire to totally tear the thing down. Lots of special tools and measurements and such...so I'm not going there. However, I do want to replace the oil seals (there are three) so I'll try to do at least that.

I started with trying to finally divorce the frame parts from the rear mounting point, but was again unable to do so. There isn't a whole lot of room to get the sawzall blade in there without starting to cut into the differential case. Of course I don't want to do that. Though I gave up on that, it didn't prevent me from disassembly.

This was my before cleaning picture. You can see the frame part attached on the rear mounting point.

First, I pulled both inner axle shafts out. This involved removing the four hex screws that hold them in.

The hex-head cap screws attaching the inner axle shafts to the differential case.

Then, a few pries with a screw driver and they came free. Well, maybe a bit more than a few pries, but I didn't want to damage anything so I didn't rush and didn't use a lot of force. Realize, however, that they are in there pretty tight, with an interference fit between the bearings and the races.

Cap screws removed and starting to pry out the shaft. The bearing is visible just starting to slide out of the case.

The assembly liberated from the differential housing.

The differential side of the equation.

Next up was to get the old oil seal out for eventual replacement. This required removal of a circlip and the bearing. The circlip came out easily using a small flat head screwdriver and a scribe. Unfortunately, my circlip pliers didn't close enough (the tips didn't come close enough together) to get inside the small gap, so I had to improvise.

Close-up of the circlip. Ask me how close I was to trying to pull the bearing without removing it.

Once that was out, I used my Harbor Freight Bearing Puller to pop the bearings off. The first one went fine, but the second one was a bit trickier. The angled cut on the bearing puller is not in the best shape anymore (not as flat and sharp as desired) and it was coming out from under the bearing. Since the bearing seemed in good shape, I took my time to prevent damaging it and eventually succeeded. Realize that it takes a good amount of pressure and they come out with a pretty good "pop".

Once the bearings were out, I knocked out the oil seal with a few light taps of a small hammer and punch.

Oil seal on right, retainer cap on left.

You'll note in the above picture the one side of the retainer cap is cut in a curve. Since it worked for me, I'll assume it's there to allow removal of the bolts that hold the inner axle shaft to the outer axle (drive) shafts. I'll also be replacing those bolts, by the way, as the threads were not in the best shape and the shoulders were a bit rounded and beat up as well.

After that, I removed the eight or so bolts holding the differential case together and cracked it open. Everything looked good to me with no chips or obvious scoring to the gears. The bearing also felt fine so, like I said, I'm going to leave well enough alone with all of that stuff.

One other thing I do want to do is replace the front oil seal. I didn't look into how complicated this is, however, though looking at the exploded diagrams, it doesn't look bad. I'll look at doing that the next time I'm at the shop.

Where the magic happens.

My garage-mate showed up about 7:30 and we landed the tub and aligned the outriggers. The passenger's side lined right up and required no adjustments, but the same could not be said of the drivers side. The mounting point of importance was the front body mount since this is essentially set in stone (though maybe not depending on required body repairs...future me). Since I'll be replacing the floors, that mounting point can be coarsely adjusted. Anyway, I had to do a good amount of grinding of the outrigger to get it all lined up, but it finally came in.

Passenger's side outrigger all set.

Passenger's side floor mount. Off, but these are my holes to cut on the new floors.

Driver's side outrigger lined up.

You can see in the above picture, focusing on the horizontal hole in the outrigger closest to the frame (brake (and maybe fuel) line passage) and comparing it to the same hole on the passenger's outrigger, the amount of grinding I had to do. I made sure, at least twice, that all of the holes for the rest of the body mounting points were centered up, including the four for the radio tower and everything looked good. Still makes me a bit nervous, but so be it.

Driver's side floor mount. Better alignment here, but given all the grinding, it better be.

That was about it for the night. I was back and forth so many times between the grinder and the fit tests that time just melted away. Now that both outriggers are fitted, I will pull them back off, do a final surface clean up, and prime the area. I have the zinc weld-through primer, but it has poor adhesion because of the high metal content, so I may do a mix of regular and zinc primer. In any case, the area will be provided corrosion inhibitor of some sort and then I'll tack the outriggers down in several spots. The top and bottom are lap welds so that's where I'll tack it. The front and back will be butt-welds (of varying gaps due to inconsistencies in square-ness) so I'm going to pull the body back off before I attempt to do that to provide the most room.

After that, it will be on to final cleaning and paint stripping and then paint preparation. Still haven't made a final decision on paint method but POR-15 is still in the lead. Cheers!