Sunday, July 15, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Body Work - Door Work

Paid some more love to the passenger's side door during this visit and started on the driver's side as well. The video:


Having figured out where all the damage was and filling in the slide hammer holes, I decided to try my hand at a bit of  metal work. I picked up a door skin repair kit from Harbor Freight, mainly to get the dinging spoon to help me bang out dents with very little room behind them.

I got the door all cleaned up  and picked a dent on the interior top.

All clean. The dent is hard to see, but it's right above the left side of the top-most, triangular cut out.

A close-up (blurry) image of the dent.

A dinging spoon works counterintuitively. The object is to put a dolly, matching the approximate curvature (if any) of the panel you are trying to fix behind the dent. Then, while pushing "out" on the dolly, you  use the dinging spoon to hit (not very hard) on top of the dent.  The combination causes the dent to flatten out. Amazing. And even better, it actually works! I was able to get most of the dent out using this method is pretty short order. I was now left with a small low spot.

I cleaned the paint off around the low spot and, using a propane torch, heated it up until the metal just discolored, smacked around the dent, then quenched it with a wet rag. Damn if that didn't work, too!


I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it.

While I didn't totally get the dent out (there's a small low spot at the top), it was definitely good enough. This area is covered in vinyl on the Mk2s, as well, so this will get a light skim of filler to finished it off after it's epoxied.

Feeling confident after that score, I flipped the door over to pick my next victim. There are several dings around where the door is creased and I didn't want to play with those yet, too afraid that I would make it worse instead of better and lose the crease line.

Good ding on the crease line towards the far right of the door.

So, I chose another dent and followed the same method as before.

The darker red paint is the low spot of the dent.

I used the dinging spoon to get most of it out, then tried to shrink it the rest of the way with heat. Unfortunately, I wasn't as lucky this time and put a huge high spot in instead.

After hitting it with 100-grit block sander, the high spot right in the middle of the heat zone is obvious!

I did some more hammer and dolly work, trying to flatten it back out. It got better, but figured I wouldn't push my luck and moved on  to assessing the driver's side door.

After some hammer and dolly work. If the dent was totally removed, the heat colorization would have been sanded completely off.

The driver's side door had some of the same damage as the passenger's side, namely the dings around the crease and the bent up door handle from years of use.

Obvious gap on the bottom of the door handle as it's lifted up into the top of the door from years of use.

I took the same path and, after getting the hardware stripped off, I hit  the door with the DA sander and 80-grit. There were several areas with sanding swirl marks in the paint, indicative of body filler underneath that was not properly sanded. One spot was just bad sanding, but the other was a large area of filler.

The bounds of the filler.

With such a large filler area, I thought for sure that the door would be dented all to hell, though the inside of the door showed no damage. Turns out, there really wasn't much at all. Just a few slide hammer holes and dings here and there. Overall I'm happy with the condition of the doors, especially since there is not deep rust to speak of.

One area on the driver's side door that requires repair is the check strap attachment point. One tab had broken off completely and the other was well on its way. With this part failed, the door was able to swing freely when opened and I have dents on the front of the door and the bonnet to prove it.

Tab from the outside. There should be another one on the left.

Attachment points from the inside of the door. You can see the crack in the left-side one.

These are pretty beefy plates, 14-16 ga steel, but again, years of use. The trick here was getting them out. There was very little access to this area from inside the door, at least where you could get tools or a hand in there. Additionally, there are three layers of metal here: hinge strengthener plates on the outside of the door, the outside of the door itself,  and a strengthener plate that the hinge plates are attached to. Since the check strap tabs are spot welded to the inner strengthener plate, you cannot see the spot welds from outside of  the door. I tried a few times to get lucky, but it was hit-and-miss at best and I thought I would turn the door into Swiss cheese.

So, I fished the pneumatic drill inside the door and was just able to get my arm in there just enough to get some leverage and I painfully drilled out the spot welds and liberated the tabs.

The drill inside the door.

Tabs on the bench!

Closeup of the cracked one.

Outside of the door showing my few attempts at guessing where the plug welds were.

I didn't do much after that as it was getting late and I put some pretty sharp creases in the skin of my arm reaching through the door access holes.

I did  bring home my paint chip that I made using  Triumph's Signal Red I got from Automotive TouchUp  and compared it to the reds available from SPI. In the sunlight, the SPI medium red is closest to the Signal Red. In shade, they are practically identical, so medium red from SPI it is!

Signal red in center. Dark red on right, medium on bottom, and red on right. Dark looks closer here, but it's way off in shade. Also, picture doesn't really do the comparison justice.

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