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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #33 - Outer Sill Installation (temporarily)

Reached a milestone on the last visit...the passenger's side outer sill is installed...and needs to come back off <grrrr>

As with most of the stuff I've been doing lately, there was a lot more iterations of fitting and adjusting, repeat forever.

I faced two big challenges. One was getting the sill placed in the right spot back to front. But before I could get that right,  I had to conquer the other - the front cap placement. This was not very easy and it appears as if the factory just beat the heck out of it all until it fit.

Area, primed, where the cap fits over.

My attack plan here was to bang out the bulkhead (it looked like it had been banged in) and make it as flush and straight as possible, then bang it in to get the proper fit. A bit easier said then done, but I eventually got it. I did bend the cap itself a bit, but I started to tear the metal at a crease and stopped (I point this out in the video).

After putting up the sill and doing a bit of hammer work. Nothing permanent, yet.

I used sheet metal screws to get the cap fit in place and once I was happy with that, I did a few plug welds to get it set.

A few plug welds to get it set up.

With that set, fitting came down to the vertical direction, especially around the door sill. The metal on the sill was sprung in this area and I had initially straightened it out, but went back and sprung it again to avoid interference when the door shut.

Other than that, like I said, it was just a lot of adjusting and fitting. I also put a bunch of holes in the sill for the plug welds.

Holes that I made with my manual punch.

A gap that I need to do hammer work on.

Once I was satisfied, I did a few plug welds to get it set in. I was struggling quite a bit with the plug welds getting good penetration and the first several I did just popped right off.

The three plug welds on the left are crap; the far right one finally grabbed.

After I posted my video, a viewer commented that my holes were way too small for the plug welds. He believed that I was filling up the holes with weld metal before enough heat was generated to provide adequate penetration. This never dawned on me and I just figured smaller welds would be easier to clean up.

I did a bit of research and found that the holes were too small,  hindering my welding. I had punched a bunch of 1/8" holes in the metal. Way too small. From my research on the internets (and this handy website), I should be doing something more like 1/4" or so. Whoops.

Given that I've struggle with getting good penetration on some other plug welds (using my HF hole punch that provided  3/16" holes) maybe the holes have been too small all along.

Look Ma, no clamps! Unfortunately, not for long.

I did get about 3 or 4 welds to hold, but next visit I'll go back and take it off, punch larger holes in there and try again! While I never like to go backwards, I very much appreciate that comment by one of my viewers as, in the long run, I'm sure it will result in much better welds. Cheers!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #32 - Outer Sill Preparation

So close, and yet...

I still had quite a bit of preparation work to do before the outer sill was ready to go in - more than I thought. The first thing was to get it fit and take measurements between my marks that I made before everything came apart.

This resulted in cutting off just about an 1/2" from the rear of the sill. In doing so, I lost the slightly rolled edge that is back there, but I'm going to try to reproduce it.

A small cut.

Also, the edges where the sill curves up to the door area  were not that "sharp", especially towards the back, so I took care of that by putting the sill in the vise and making some adjustments. I did the same for the angle where the sill welds to the upper portion of the A post. This helped with fitting it up to the strengthener/inner sill.

The rear of the outer sill before...

and after.

That done, I needed to close the gap towards the front where the sill steps out from the A post. This seems like a manufacturing limitation, but it was easily remedied with several small tack welds.

The gap as the piece came.

Clamped down, ready to weld. Guess I didn't take a post-welding pic.

Then it was on to fitting the sill along with the sill front cap. Since mine had suffered so much rust damage, I wasn't exactly sure how it went together, but there weren't too many options, so I figured it out pretty quick. I also needed to shave the front of the new lower A post piece so the cap would fit properly.

Trying to show where the lower A post fits "inside" the inside bottom of the front cap.

iew from the front on how the cap goes in there.

I also needed to shave back some of the new floor. Need to fix that gap, too.

Again, this was a lot of remove and refit and adjust and all that. I used sheetmetal screws to hold the front cap to the sill for ease of assembly.

View from inside the sill looking towards the cap. You can just make out the black front "tab" of the lower A post.

All of that took most of my visit. There is still some areas that require minor patching before I weld it all in, but it should be relatively straight forward.

This will need more attention.

Unfortunately, that was the last work that I got done; over a week ago. My Honda Fit broke the driver's side CV axle last Saturday. As I write this, I'm waiting for a new one coming via FedEx so I can get it replaced. I've never done one of those before, but it doesn't look too bad.

Once that's all sorted, I'll hopefully be back to my normal routine with Dorothy. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #31 - Sill Strengthener

Made some actual progress again. The video:

Getting the strengthener in is rather straightforward as it is just a relatively flat piece of metal that gets sandwiched between the inner and outer sills to provide added rigidity. Therefore, it is easy to get it installed and aligned.

Getting it lined up.

If you remember from a previous video in a recent blog post, I had drilled out the holes for the plug welds vice using my Harbor Freight Air Punch and Flange Tool because it ceased to function properly (it was donated to me, so I can't complain). This caused the strengthener to bend quite a bit, but I wasn't concerned since it would get welded straight.

A bit wavy!

I aligned and clamped down the strengthener using several vise-grips and started welding it in. I alternated top and bottom and left and right with the plug welds, moving my vise-grips as I went to ensure I kept the two parts (strengthener and inner sill) as tight together as possible to minimize the waviness introduced by the drilling process.

Lots of plug welds...that'll do.

With that done, I moved next to getting the rear radius arm bracket welded in. I followed the same process as on the driver's side with hammering and/or bending it to fit flush with the heelboard, and then bolting it in tight to weld (link to video at time I show this).

I struggled again with welding it in.  As the welds cooled, the metal of the bracket would not flex at all and, given that I wasn't getting good penetration, they popped off. I think I did about a dozen welds and they all gave one loud "pop" and I was able to take the bracket right back off with no effort. Not good.

I cleaned it back up, drilled some new plug weld holes and adjusted my welder settings (hotter, with a bit more wire speed) and tried again. Worked this time and I ran some beads for good measure.

Bracket installation - take 2.

After that it was time to prep the lower portion of the upper A post that I stole from the black car. This involved a lot of cutting and grinding of the repair patch to get it to fit, but it wasn't too bad.

After cleaning it up and cutting it down on the bench.

Getting it fit up. Still some adjustments to do.

After a bit, if was ready to tack in. You may notice some rust pitting in the piece. I thought about this and my assessment was that it wasn't significant enough to scrap it. I applied some POR-15 Metal Prep to convert the rust I didn't fully remove and went with it.  I may regret this decision, but it was a chance I was willing to take.

A few tack welds in.

The indentation near the bottom door hinge attachment points  on the donor piece didn't quite line up with the  but I was able to hammer it flush.

And done. Not too bad. I'm getting better at the easier stuff.

That was about it. There are a couple of extra nuances in the video, but that was the most of it. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #30 - Boot Assessment

Yuck. That's all I can say. Yuck.

With the Rimmers sale ending Sunday, it was time to figure out all that I needed so I could take advantage. To do so, I put my knotted wire cup brush on the angle grinder and went to town.

RH side of boot floor to rear valence union.

LH side of union.

I stayed inside the boot and determined that the strengthener inserts were gone at the bottom as well as the immediately surrounding area of the floor, as I believed. I ordered patches for these. Once it transitions into the fender well area, it appears to be good.

RH side damage.

LH side damage. A bit worse here to go with the more damaged wing bottom.

With that done, I moved outside the boot to determine how bad the wing bottoms were and to do a bit of exploratory work. A few surprises awaited me!

The first was a small area of bondo that also held a hole that appears to have been used in a slide-hammer repair attempt. I say attempt because the final result wasn't that good. Maybe it was much worse before this.

The little spot of things to come.

How it cleaned up. Some hammer and dolly work to do.

I then moved on to the wing bottoms. I needed to  bound the cancer problems and determine if the repair patches for the bottom of the wings would be sufficient. I knew those areas were shot, just not how badly. I'm confident that the patches will work for both wings as they look to come just under the hole for the rear bumpers.

RH side damage.

LH side damage. Much worse on this side.

Another area that I found while cleaning up the LH side was up the wheel arch. I took the wire wheel to the entire wheel arches on both sides just to be sure and this was the extent I found.

Pretty bad. Going to try and steal this area from the black car.

That was about the extent. Lots of work back here, obviously.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #29 - Inner Sill Installation

I continued with the sill replacement and got the inner sill installed most of the way. Still a few welds to do, but otherwise it's solid. The video:

I started with verifying that the door was going to fit, gap-wise, based on the new lower A post, which warmed my heart. Otherwise, as with fitting the lower A post, there were more iterations of measuring and marking and remeasuring.

I ran into some technical difficulties with my Harbor Freight Metal Punch and Flange Tool  where it would not fully pop a hole. This thing had some abuse before it was donated to me so it's been slowly degrading.  I did get the holes in the inner sill but decided to drill holes in the strengthener plate. Also, my welding helmet auto-dim also stopped working for a mysterious reason, but it started again after I took it apart and put it back together.  If you've never struck a MIG weld arc before, let me tell you, it is not pleasant looking at that thing head on. There's a reason people use MIG helmets to look at the sun during an eclipse. But, who knows, maybe the batteries just needed some attention.
I got the inner sill  lined up and adjusted and clamped it in to take a look.

Initial fit. The crooked floor starts to become obvious as you move rearward.

This lined up fine. A bit proud of the B post, but nothing a hammer won't fix.

Again, a bit proud of the A post, especially at the top. This will take a bit more banging.

I was all set to weld it in and I had a thought...what if I could move the floor in somehow. Then it occurred to me that if I used my grinding wheel to cut a slot in the floor board, I could bang it to close the slot, moving the floor board inward. It would then be a matter of running a weld bead to close up the small gap in the floor.

This would hopefully accomplish two things: (1) make the floorboard and the inner sill line up better, and (2) close the large gap at the heelboard that developed and which I somehow failed to take a picture of.

Throwing caution to the wind, that's what I did...and I was happy with the result.  I wasn't very aggressive and could have taken more, but I didn't want to push my luck.

A poor picture showing the slot that I cut.

The view from the back, showing a nearly zero gap which seam sealer will fix nicely! (sorry so blurry)

The view from the outside, behind the rear wing.

With that sorted, I tacked in the inner sill.

Inner sill tacked in.

And, outside of the strengthener which I drilled and primed, that was about it. I probably lost at least an hour to the technical difficulties and with all of the fittings and markings, well, that's how long it took.

One other thing I did accomplish was a partial assessment of my boot damage. Rimmer's is having their 15% Off Fall Sale on Triumph parts so body repair pieces are even cheaper than usual. The sale ends Sunday so I need to know what I'm going to order!

RH inner boot floor. Bottom 1" of that outside piece with the big cutouts is gone, though not horribly. This part is still available.

Same spot, but other side. This one is a little worse to go along with the worse lower outer portion of the wing in this area.

Where the floor meets the rear outer valence is pretty bad, but it's just a straight piece so shouldn't be hard to repair. I didn't get a good enough picture of that where it's obvious, but you can look at it in the video below if you would like.

Shot of the LH rear lamp panel. These are not available new, but I should be able to either patch it or steal it from the black car.

I made a quick video documenting the damage in order to ask on my favorite forum what their opinion is. I intend to get over there for just a bit tomorrow and get the old paint and seam sealer off to fully assess the extent, and then place the Rimmer's order based on that.

Here's the boot video - no work here, only visuals.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #28 - Lower A Post Installation (RH Side)

I have finally made some actual progress and got the lower A post installed (a new repair piece from Rimmer Bros. (they're having a 15% off sale, by the way...my cart is already full!)). First, the video:

Even though there was progress, I don't really have a lot to explain or say. It was a day filled with many iterative fittings and measurements and what-not to make sure that I didn't repeat the problems I  made for myself on the driver's side on the passenger's side. I'm confident that I did not.

What is boiled down to  (the video gives a better view of the process) was fitting up the pieces, locking them in with vise grips, and making marks. I ended up cutting down the bottom of the new lower A post piece by about 1/2".  I was really leery about doing this, but the support inside of the upper A post only went up so far, so I was pretty confident it was correct.

Once I was happy with the fit, I locked it in with vise grips and plug welded the corners. I had my son with me today, so I let him finish the job (which you can see in the video).

And in. Still need to do interior portion.

The plug welds for the inner supports in the upper A post. Not pretty, but they should hold.

Interior welds yet to be done.

Realize that fitting  the lower A post was not done in a vacuum. I went as far as to fit the entire sill assembly (inner, strengthener and outer sills), fitting the door and verifying measurements. It wasn't perfect, but it'll do.

Marks on the outer sill to ensure I get back to this point when I'm ready to weld it in.

This process literally took me 4 hours. Yes, four! Like I said, I'm a bit gun-shy now with making sure everything fits properly, so I wanted to be extra sure. But, with that done, and with limited time left before a soccer game, I revisited the driver's side door.

In short, I made no progress. It still fits as poorly as before, but I wanted the extra set of hands to help me maneuver it just to be sure. I'm still not positive what I'm going to do on this side...

Still minimal gap at the bottom. Frustrating.

That was about it for the day. Again, the video gives a better account of what all we did, but it is what it is.