Friday, December 29, 2017

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #42 - Boot Floor and Boot Area Repairs

Hey, everybody, it's two...two...two posts in one!


My earlier visit the day after Christmas was a bit of a milestone as I got the boot floor repair installed. I may have to undo a bit of it, but it's in there for now, so we'll see.

If you've been keeping up with my previous posts, I spent quite a bit of time prepping the repair patch. Lots of trial fits convinced me that a 40+" repair patch wasn't a good idea, so I decided to segment it at the driver's side curved area that I wanted to replace.

The initial fit up...the patch as it travels towards the driver's side is a mess!

After cutting...much easier to deal with. Note the rear valance is in here.

I wanted to get it tacked in like this while observing proper fit with the rear valance. Not quite sure how it happened, but that proper fit didn't got well, but I took another visit to figure that out.

Patch tacked in.

Once I was happy with the fit of the repair patch, I tacked it in on the boot floor side. Next up was to plug weld it in from the strengthener side. At this point, I should have taken care to check the fit, horizontally, to make sure the boot floor was "down" far enough. I was so concerned with the fit of the patch to the floor itself that I didn't care for where it would weld to the strengthener. Due to whatever flex was there, it resulted in me plug welding it in about 1/2" too high (give or take).

The plug welds. About 1/2" lower would be great!

Unfortunately, I was oblivious to this fact at this point, so I continued on. In addition, I needed to get the plug welds down from the wheel arch side. I'm pretty good with plugs welds by now, so this was easy.

Plug welds on the wheel arch portion of the boot floor. Blurry...sorry.

Following this, it was time to get the rest of the repair patch in. This involved the piece from the floor patch on the passenger's side all the way over to the driver's side.

The long patch. Welded in here, obviously.

I clamped the patch in and started going to town with the welder. I did at most about a 2-inch section of tack welds and then moved to the far side, alternating back and forth to mitigate any heat warping. What I failed to consider, and have really gotten away with up until now (though my driver's lower wing weld area should have been a clue) was my lack of adequate gap between the two pieces of metal that I was welding together.

So, even though I knew that heat would cause the metal to expand and potentially warp it, what I wasn't sensitive to was the gap between the two pieces of metal. The metal is going to expand whether you like it or not. However, with a proper gap (maybe about 1/16", but don't quote me), the two pieces of metal will expand towards each other, but never really meet. They will be joined by the MIG weld metal, instead.  If the gap between the two pieces of metal is too small (or they are touching), there is nowhere for the metal to expand into. Hence, they come together and then displace each other, moving down or up (or both) relative to each other. There was my problem.

In my case, the metal created a valley. So, when I tried to grind the weld smooth, I became concerned for grinding too much metal and causing a thin spot. Hopefully a hammer and dolly will take care of some, if not all, of my mistake.

The valley of my weld...hard to see, though.

There were several more spots where my cuts were wrong or otherwise off, but it mostly went in as I planned, so that was good.

Messed that cut up...whoops!

That was about it for that visit...on to the next!


This day was mostly involved with getting the rest of the boot area, and general rear end of the car, repaired. Lots of repair patches provided, thankfully, from the black car. I saved the commission plate from it and will put it in Dorothy in some conspicuous place as a memento.

I finally split apart the tail light area from the black car to save the tail light backing plate as well as the surrounding metal that was in bad shape on Dorothy. I drilled out spot welds in an attempt to preserve as much metal as possible.

Tail light area of black car, in the middle of the splitting process.

A bit more splitting done. All of the wing area is gone here.

I needed to recover the tail light backing plate, the inside of the boot lid area/backing plate and the outside of the wing right under the backing plate. The black car's area in all of these spots was just fine, so it was the perfect donor.

Black car donor area, after match up and cutting.

In addition, I needed to recover some of the rear valance in this area. Again, the black car's rear valance in this area fit the bill.

Dorothy cancer area.

I followed the same basic process for all of these areas. Cut down the black car's donor piece as much as possible to end up a comfortable bit bigger than the area that required replacement on Dorothy, and then compare and fit and grind and fit, ad nauseum, to get it to the proper size.

Black car repair patch fitted.

Black car repair patch tacked in.

This was my day. Measure and over-cut a patch out of the black car, then trim and grind and fit it to Dorothy.

Both sides of tail light area cut out for repair patches.

Outer repair patch in.

Inner repair patch in.

So, all in all, not a bad day. There was little rush, no pressure, and the repair were straight forward and worked. Of course, there is still final welding and fitting and all of that to do, but it worked.

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