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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #11 - Door Fitment Problems

My frustration with the door continues.

I wanted to take some more measurements to try to conclusively find where the fitment problem lay. I positioned the door as properly as possible on the B post and looked at the hinges. By putting the door catch assembly on both the door and the B post, I was able to hold the door in pretty good position. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than when I locked down the front of the door in my last post.

Like I said, not perfect.

With the B post set, I moved to the front of the door and set that as good as possible and then snapped some pictures of the hinges to see how close the holes were. They were not pretty pictures.

How far the top hinge is off, give or take.

And the bottom hinge. Not good.

I also grabbed a picture of the top of the door to the top of the dash fitment.

The vertical gap between the top of the dash and the top of the door is the concern here.

At this point, I was essentially convinced that I had reattached the bottom A post in the wrong spot and that it was, indeed, causing the dash to "droop", which translated across the two-and-a-half feet of the door to unacceptable gaps at the back.

Studying the pictures, it seemed that, quite simply, the A post needed to move up and back. The bracing that I put between the A and B posts was not capable of providing vertical support - face palm in hindsight.

While I contemplated the significance of this, I tried to get the bonnet up there to see how that was going to fit. In the end, however, it was too heavy to get in the proper position by myself. But given that I knew the bonnet required nose repair, I blew some time by seeing how much Bondo really was up there. It was a lot.

No holes for the T R I U M P H letters and badge. Must be some Bondo under there!

With the evident hills and valleys in the nose and the lack of holes for the Triumph letters and badge, I was confident there was damage. Given the amount of Bondo I had found elsewhere on the car, I was also confident of Bondo. With that, I took my paint remover disk on my 4.5" grinder and went to town. These paint remover disks are nice, by the way, because they won't take any metal, so they are great for, umm, investigative work. As an aside, the ones I use are from Harbor Freight, but I couldn't find them on their site, so the link is to a generic Amazon offering.

I used the paint removal disk to find the "Bondo Line" and worked my way in to expose all of the damage.

I've bounded the damaged area, finding the Bondo "line".

The last little bit.

Some wild animal was walking through here! Lots of Bondo dust...garage is still a mess.

The end result was damage that was not as bad as I thought it would be. No random holes or rust damage. Some pitting, but nothing a lot of hammer and dolly work won't take out, I don't think. It'll be great practice! Besides, I have a spare bonnet (with similar damage) from the black car so if worse comes to worse, I can always swap metal.

Craters of the moon! The link is to the national park in Idaho. Been there...cool place.

After that, I decided there wasn't really anything else I could do constructive at the garage until I had come through all of my options in my head, which would require sleeping on it. One final measurement I came up with was to check the droop in the dash as it fell from the center out to the door. I figured this would be a slick way to see how the two sides were different assuming that they really shouldn't be.

To do this, I used a 24" I-Beam Level with the far end resting on the center of the dash (using the instrument cluster panel mounting holes as a reference for center). I lifted the level until it indicated level and measured the distance from the dash top (right at the windscreen frame mounting hole) to the top of the level. For the driver's side it was 4-14/32" (yes, I know I can simplify that fraction...I have a elementary school child that does fractions!)

Results of driver's side (the side in question). About

For the passenger's side, the unmolested side, however, it was only 4-6/32".

And the passenger's side. A good bit of difference.

Because of the way I was measuring it, this meant that the driver's side dash height was 8/32", or 1/4", too low (assuming the height of the passenger's side was proper, that is). While a 1/4" may not seem like much, this difference is translated horizontally by the 2ft+ distance of the door. While I'm not sure the correct angle (if I was, we could solve the expected gap using simple geometry), hopefully you can see that the 1/4" difference at the front of the door would be exaggerated at the back of the door; hence the huge gap.

With that, it was settled in my head that I had messed up welding in the lower A post. Now I had to figure out the best way to correct it to minimize potential damage and limit re-work, all while taking into account that I've come too far and done too much good work so far to cheat.

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