Featured Post


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!


  1. Freshly painted black shiny parts makes me happy.

    1. Yes, yes they do. Provides a great sense of accomplishment. Hopefully I don't scratch the hell out of it when I finally get it back together!