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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Triumph Spitfire Metal Work #2 - Front Valance

Decided to take on the repairs to the front valance on my last visit. I'd like to get several things ready for epoxy - front valance, bonnet and maybe the rest of the body, but we'll see about that. To the video:

First off, I decided to treat myself to some new tools and dropped some cash on a good set of body hammers and dollies. These are by Martin Tools, their 7-piece set. I found a new set on EBay, cheaper than the link I provide (though from the same retailer) so shop around. The difference in quality is, well, as you would expect between these and my Harbor Freight set, so we'll leave it at that.

Gotta love new tools!

The front valance, being in the nose of the car, and down low, is closest to the road, parking spot barriers, speeds bumps, curbs, etc. If you've never looked at the front valance of your own car, unless maybe it's a truck or SUV, I'm sure you'll find the plastic pieces under there, if not the bottom of the bumper, too, all marred and scratch. Well, there were no plastic bumpers in 1966 so the 20ga sheet metal took a beating.

In addition to several dings and dents, the two outer interior support brackets were corroded as well as the area that they were spot welded to on the valance itself. Surprisingly, this was one part of Dorothy that was in better shape than the black car, so repairing the original valance was the way to go.

The bottom of one of the interior support brackets.

The valance where that support bracket welds up.

I took on the support brackets first. These were identical, but mirror images of each other. The bottom was a rather complex shape, but I really didn't care that it matched since it was not going to be seen and was only a support bracket. So, I cut off the cancer-riddled metal, made a template, and cut out a piece of 16ga metal to match.

(R-L) Damaged piece, template, new metal tracing.

I played with fabrication for a bit, trying to get it to fit as best as I could, and got my butt kicked a few times. I finally got it good enough, mounting the bracket where it goes to the valance and then tack welding the new piece in to make sure it fit properly. The video does a better job at showing this.

The opposite side bracket, but you can see how I have it clamped in prior to welding.

All welded up!

With both brackets welded up and ground smooth, it was time to move on to the big holes in the valance itself. I started (and only got to) the RH side. The damage was rather extensive and extended most of the way to the bottom, including where the newly repaired brackets would weld up. I decided that "new" metal all around was preferable, so I cut out the damage in full.

Line showing where I intend to cut. Tried to get all of the craters.

Cancer removed.

With the cancer removed, I cut a donor piece out of some scrap sheet metal I had - the black car's sill - and got it welded in. The piece is a complex shape, with curves both N-S and E-W. I used a trick that had worked for me in the past and tacked the metal at the corners and then forced it to match the contour of the valance, tacking as I went. It worked good enough, especially considering you will have to get on your hands and knees to see this repair.

Not too shabby!

Like I said, that was about all the time I had for the night. Next visit I'll finish up the other side and rough out the dents as best I can. I don't intend to weld in the brackets until I get it all in epoxy, then I'll clean up the spots and weld it in. I've really grown to hate the weld-through primer and this is what I've read up on how others do it, so I'm going to give it a shot.
Until next time....

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