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Friday, March 16, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Restoration - Poor Man's Rotisserie (Wings)

For the longest time I had visions of making myself a rotisserie to more easily get to those pesky spots on the car. Instead, using an idea  I found from ChefTush on YouTube, I decided to make wooden bucks (which I'm calling wings) instead. While not as slick as a rotisserie, the wings allow me to roll the car on either side to get at the underneaths. Works pretty good, I'd say, and much cheaper and less complicated for sure!

First off, here's a list of the materials that I used. You may find other things that work just as good, or better.
(2) 2' x 4' by 3/4" sheets of plywood
(6) bolts to go into B post (I didn't use original screws)
(8) bolts to go into A post (I did use original door bolts)
(16) 2 1/2" bolts (for  attaching the wings to the tubing)
(16) Lock washers for above bolts
(32) Flat washers for above bolts
(~8ft) 1" Square tubing
(~2ft) 2" Angle iron for door hinges at A post
(~12ft) Angle iron or flat iron for stability "struts"
For my angle iron I was able to use an old bed frame, which worked out really well. I think the angle iron you would purchase may be a bit thick, but you could make it work.
As I had mentioned in my last post, I had made paper templates that roughly traced out the body at the A and B posts.

Rear template that will attach to B post.

First up was to rip the plywood in half, giving me two equal pieces of 1'x4'. My cuts weren't perfect, but they were good enough. I marked the center of the board and then put the template on there, also marking it's center and aligned them both to each other. I traced the template to copy the contour of the body.

With that done I started on the angled part that the body will "roll" onto. I didn't have any measurements for this, but knew that I wanted a relatively shallow angle for the resting position. Armed with that minimal knowledge, I forged ahead.

On the "outside" long side of the board (which will rest on the floor when the body is rotated), I marked off an inch on either side of center.

"Flat" spot I created between the shallow angles.

Then, I marked lines at 1 1/2" and 3" from the end.

Side marks. I'll discuss the rest of the pencil lines in a bit.

I then marked three spots on the "outside" short side (which will rest on floor when the body is flat) at  5", 7" and 8.5" from the top. Again, these were arbitrary numbers, but they looked good to me. This would give me a 3.5" base of wood that the car would rest on when not rotated.

Marks are as referenced from the top, long side of the board.

Then, to get my angles, I connected the dots, so to speak.

Everything above and to the right of the lines is cut away.

This may be a bit confusing, but after copying what I did on the other side and cutting everything out, I ended up with what looked like this:

The body is still on stands here, not on the wing.

Once I got the B post wing done, I traced it for the outside portion of the A post wing, trying to match them up, and used the A post template for the inner, body side of the wing and got it cut out as well.

With the general shapes done, it was time to figure out attachment points. I used my original door supports that I made forever ago as donor parts. Specifically, I had the 16-gauge sheet metal plate that I used for the B post attachment, screwing it in to where the door burst plate attaches. I then used the 1" square tubing and made two extensions, diagonal to each other, to run out to the wood. I  got the fit up all set, welded the tubing to the sheet metal and marked and drilled holes for attaching the tubing to the wood.

The B post attachment arrangement.

Moving to the A post, I was originally going to use a set of old hinges that I had from the black car, but located some angle iron from an old bed frame that I used instead and was happier for it. I cut the angle iron to mimic the hinge and used a step drill bit for the holes for a two-point attachment to the top and bottom hinge mounts.

Angle iron with bolt-hole cutouts. I used the old hinges as a template for the holes.

Final dry fit.

I came straight out with more square tubing, welding it directly to the angle iron. Much like the B post, there were several dry fits until I got it the way I wanted it with no wood-to-body interference.

Close-up of the attachment. The pencil line is not being used for anything here.

All bolted up. Need to cut the tubing down.

There were several dry fits for making sure everything fit as good as possible. I had to cut away some wood several times to prevent direct contact between the wood and the body so that I wouldn't bend anything. I also had to use some thick washers as shims in various places as I wanted the wings to be as level as possible.

Once I completed the driver's side, I essentially copied it for the passenger's side but I did several more dry fits just to make sure I didn't have any major differences between the two sides.

The "wings" supporting the weight of the body.

Once everything was bolted up, I wasn't too happy with how wobbly everything was. So, I cut a few more long pieces of bed frame and bolted it to the back of each board to provide some vertical stability. This made a huge difference in stability.

Supports. Should have centered them on the wood, but they were effective.

With that done, all that was left was to roll the car and see how it felt. One thing that I wasn't prepared for was the added weight in the back caused by the boot. Without the "front" of the car, the wings aren't at the center of gravity, so the car wants to fall on it's rear a bit when you lift it. Applying proper counter torque, I was able to easily lift the  and get it on it's side.

It really doesn't weight much at all.

Because my cuts weren't perfect between the two driver's side pieces, I had to put a ~1/4" shim of wood under the A post board to prevent some rocking. Once I did this, it was pretty solid. Some additional cutting of wood was required down by the rear wing, but otherwise, the body and wood did not come into contact.

All in all, this took me two visits and about 8 hours of work. Like I said in my video, I had no plan other than a general idea and was winging (ha! get it?) it the whole time. I'm happy to say I like the way it turned out.

I spent my most recent visit working on cleaning up the "underneath" and the  wings held up nicely. I wasn't gentle using the grinder and stuff, so I was happy with the access and the stability.


Some of the gunk gone.

Some more corrosion to fix under the boot floor.

After...well, the "top" half anyway.

The pile of debris from 3 hours of work. It's about 3-4" high at its peak.

Next visit will be more of the same. I looked like I crawled through a coal mine when I was done so I invested in Tyvek suits and a 3M respirator to keep me a bit cleaner, and probably healthier, too! Cheers!

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