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Friday, November 17, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #35 - Boot Area Repair Preparations

I'm trying really hard to do a quality restoration. While my main focus is returning the car to as close to leaving the factory as I can (being a purist and all), a very close second is making sure that the work that I  am doing now is not so shoddy that I have to redo it in a few years. I'm confident in my purely mechanical work (i.e., the motor and chassis) but not so much in the body repair area. To the video...

I think back to the minor body work that I did on my 1976 MG Midget when I was in high school. It had a bit of cancer on the front of the driver's side rocker, what I now <properly> call the sill. I did a really horrible job repairing that (fiberglass and bondo) and, within a year, the  hole was back and bigger than ever. I don't want to repeat that. So, while I'm now cutting away as much cancer-riddled metal that I can find and replacing it with new, you never know.  Only time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, with the rear valance removed, it was time to dig in to repairing the whole lot. I decided to start with the driver's side since it was the more difficult repair (including the rear wing flare and rear tail light plate) with more metal loss. This would also afford me a less damaged reference using the passenger's side.

The first victim. The marks denote the extend of the repair part, with the cut line (bottom line) and the top of the repair part (top line) giving me my extents.

Much like the sill replacement, I needed to work from the inside out, but I had to cut away from the outside in. So, first to go was the lower portion of the outer wing, which I have the repair patch for.

Lower wing cut away. Looking towards the wheel well at the rear inner wing.

With that gone, I gained good access to the  rear inner wing, which I often refer to as the strengthener. The inner wing and the outer wheel arch are one piece coming out of the factory. Since the repair pieces are separate, this presented a bit of a problem in trying to make a clean separation, or cut, between the two. I have yet to fully come through this to see if it ends up being a challenge or not, but I think it will work out fine.

Now I could pull and prod on the whole assembly to assess the damage.

From inside the boot, looking out at the lower inner wing.

As I suspected,  it wasn't pretty. Additionally, I had some minor damage to the area where the boot floor and inner wheel arch mated up (I previously identified that on the passenger's side as well). While minor, it would require removing metal.  Again, removing metal out to in, the inner wing was the next victim of the cutting wheel.

Most of the spot welds were gone, so at least the inner wing was easy to get out. Almost detached here.

A bit different angle showing the boot floor with the flange that starts out sorta there and then disappears as it makes its way down and towards the rear of the boot.

With the inner wing removed, I cleaned up the area between the inner and outer wheel arch since the repair part will be sandwiched in between them instead of being one whole piece. This will require more prep than you see here, but it should be an easy fit.

The gap between the inner and outer wheel arches where the inner wing will slide in.

Now it was time to cut out the damaged boot floor to get a new flange in there and to repair the small cancer spot near the wheel arch / floor union. The wheel arch flares up at the boot floor, so I bend this back down to more easily access the spots welds and drilled them out within the bounds of where I wanted to remove the boot floor.

View of wheel arch to boot floor spot welds from inside the wheel well. Easy to see the spots welds.

Same spot but from below the boot floor looking towards the front of the car. The cancer hole (and a water stain, I guess) is easily identified.

I marked about where I wanted to remove metal, drilled out the spotwelds and got to cutting.

Looking down on boot floor showing obvious metal loss.

With the damaged metal cut away, it was time to fabricate replacement pieces and get them sized properly. I tried to be smart and save the metal that I cut away to provide a basic template for the repair patches.

Metal cut away and sizing up the first repair patch.

Due to the complexity of the repair patches (concave and convex curves) I decided to do the patch in three pieces and will weld them all together once the are all properly sized.

Side view with the rear patch clamped in. The flange will be reproduced along that entire length.

Doing the repair in several parts also makes the flange fabrication a bit easier as I intend to cut a piece of metal to shape and then weld it to the edge of the curved bits to make it as easy as possible, much like I did for the front part of the rear wheel wells.

Two of the three repair patches (right) still requiring some modification for size. As usual, I oversize, then trim down.

That was about all I got through, which wasn't too bad for a "school" night. Unfortunately, family commitments and a calculus college course are taking up a lot of my time right now so garage time is getting squeezed pretty hard. But, during the next visit I hope to finish the boot floor repairs and then start working my way back out to the outer lower wing.

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