Friday, January 12, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Repair #43 - Even More Boot Area Plus Battery Box

In what has become a bit of a habit, this is another two-fer post:


I had a shortened day last weekend due to some kids' sports, but I got some good work done all the same.

My first order of business was fixing my mistake on the boot floor. I had gotten so concerned with the horizontal alignment of the floor that I failed to make sure it was vertically okay. This resulted in welding it to the strengthener in a rising fashion as the boot floor traveled from the wheel arch to the rear of the car.

I figured this out because when I put the rear valance up to check fitment after welding it in, I could not see the boot floor through the spot weld holes that I had drilled out. Whoops.
I used my trusty spot weld chisel to bang the welds out. This is a rather destructive tool that I've used a few times when I had to undo welds that I did with the  MIG welder. I wouldn't recommend using it, however, for factory welds but would use my small wood chisel as a second option to drilling them out.

I only took the welds out on the side of the strengthener as the ones at the wheel arch were in the correct spot. Once the welds were broken free, I pulled down on the  floor section a bit and sized it up for new plug weld holes in the strengthener. With those punched, I clamped it down and welded it back up.

Clamped up and ready for installation. This is from underneath.

Clamped down from the top. You may be able to see how much lower it is towards the right after "adjusting" it.

A quick  check with the rear valance up there confirmed that I got it right the second time around.

Much better, though a bit hard to see in this picture. No light is showing through the holes on the far right.

With that done, I moved on to replacing the driver's side rear lamp panel (as it is properly referred to) that I sourced from the black car. I still had some metal massaging to do in the area with a few dings, but I was able to get a dolly in there so it was a pretty easy fix.

Clamped in and ready to go.

With most of the holes already there, being left over from when I drilled out the spot welds previously, it was a simple matter of the getting the panel fit and aligned. I clamped it down and welded away. A few passes with the grinder and the job was done. Definitely one of my better repair efforts.

Welded up, but not "pretty" yet.

Ready for paint...well, maybe some primer.

My next visit didn't go all that well...


Rimmer's is having a sale that goes until 1/14/18. As I'm a sucker for their sales, after careful consideration of this and the condition of my rear valance, I determined that buying a new one would save me both  time and money (and frustration, I'm sure) so that's what I did (it should be here Tuesday).  As I documented in another post when I bought my major repair pieces, Rimmer's is a great way to save some significant money, even with the shipping cost across that Atlantic.
With that decision made, my intention was to repair the front and back of the rear wing on the passenger's side. Be it laziness or lack of experience or what, I did not use a template to make my patches and, hence, made some that just didn't fit. This quickly (too quickly, probably) frustrated me as I wasted metal and time.

It wasn't that I made the conscience decision to use a template...I just didn't. Again, being relatively new at this stuff and also being spoiled with being able to afford and use new body parts, I haven't had to make too many repair patches, so I just forgot.

I did get to use the shrinker/stretcher combo, though and they worked great. If you are in the U.S., I'd recommend getting them from Harbor Freight as they only ran me about $110 after a 25% coupon. Well worth it, though I'm sure there is a bit more of a learning curve there.

I also go to use my metal brake (also from Harbor Freight, ~$30 with a 20% coupon) and this worked well, too, but it's not as cool.

The stretcher effect.

Anyway, after that fiasco, I moved on to something else. That something else was coming back around and welding in  the dash support brackets  for the battery box.

Most of this work was already done, but I did have two small holes to fill with weld metal (backed by my copper spoon) in the bulkhead where I drilled through removing the spot welds. That and some cleaning up and aligning and I was ready to weld.

Holes filled and paint removed; ready to weld.

I tacked and then welded in the right (or inside) one first, though  I don't think it really mattered which one I picked. The plug weld holes were really large on the brackets because I used my spot weld drill bit. As I've mentioned in the past, this is a great tool and I highly recommend it, but it does leave big holes and is better used, in my opinion, when you are not going to re-use the part you are removing. However, having done this long ago, I didn't know that, so there you go.

Because of the large holes, I needed to apply a lot of weld metal, which also meant a lot of heat. My concern was for the bulkhead since this was just regular 20 ga. body metal and I didn't want to burn through it. The battery box side was less of a concern since I had two layers of metal there, but I still wanted to be careful.

In this case, I filled the holes in stages, jumping back and forth until all of the holes were filled.

Inside bracket in.

The inside bracket, for whatever reason, did not go in exactly as it came out as far as alignment, so I got it pretty close. My concerns were that the bracket stayed on top of the battery box and that the bulkhead side did not interfere with the holes for the various wires and such that come through the bulkhead. No problem.

The finished product...well, close.

I got the outside bracket tacked in but, unfortunately, the bulkhead side did not side very flush against the bulkhead itself. I will look at this on my next visit and re-do it if I feel it necessary, but it's another instance of lack of experience and probably rushing a bit. Contributing to this, I did not have a clamp that would have worked here to help me keep it tight.

That was about it. As I said, and I mention in my video, a rather frustrating night. Maybe not my worst, but it was close. I had big plans to get a lot done and was excited having just ordered the new valance. But, in my excitement I rushed and let my lack of experience hurt me. Instead of recognizing this and taking appropriate action to minimize it's impact, I decided to barrel ahead.

However, while I may have wasted a significant portion of the night, I'm happy that I didn't do significant harm and, if I do decide to revisit the dash support bracket, that's was it. Tomorrow is a new day and I love that little car too much to not to give it my best restoration efforts, even if they aren't great. They will be good enough and that's all I can give Dorothy.

That night was not my best; my next visit will be better. Cheers!

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