Posted by: ejag | September 23, 2012

Door and Bulkhead Side Panel Fitting

Door Fitting
To do the final bonnet fit, the doors must be fitted so we can get a smooth transition from the back of the bonnet to the front of the doors across the bulkhead side panels (which will be fitted and installed last).  To properly fit the doors it is necessary to install the latches and the rubber door molding on the A and B posts.  And this is where the difficulties begin.

It is not easy to get rubber molding (or seals as they are known) with both the proper dimensions and the proper hardness (or durometer).  Most seals are too large and/or too hard, making it nearly impossible to close the doors, let alone fit them to the surrounding bodywork.  This is why the door fitting must be done with the seals in place.  It took me (4) attempts to find a supplier that fit the bill.  MacGregor Coachtrimming in Ontario, Canada has seals that are very close to original in both fit and durometer making the door fitting, while still difficult, at least possible.  I plan to use the same seals again after painting so they are only taped in place during the fitting process.

Bulkhead Side Panels
The transition between the door and bonnet is handled by the bulkhead side panels.  These are still being fitted and will be thoroughly rust proofed and then welded in place when the fitting is complete.  The goal is to have the transition good enough to be able to block directly across the panels from the bonnet to the doors.

Posted by: ejag | September 23, 2012

Bumper Fitting

The bumpers will need to be re-chromed which is a blessing really since you are free to re-shape them for a perfect fit.  Fitting is a combination of bumper shaping and bonnet shaping, with the majority of it occurring in the bumper.  This is also a good time to fit the motif bar.  My car at some point also got AMCO bars but I don’t plan to re-install them.  They were installed by dealers at the request of the customer and in my opinion detract from the clean lines of the car.  This can be a problem since they are mounted to the over riders and removing them leaves the holes.  However, my over riders are in rough shape so I have replaced them, as well as the motif bar.

The over riders are actually quite a bit more vertical and parallel. than they appear in the photo.  A little more trimming remains to get the small pieces of rubber molding to fit exactly right–especially as the small extensions enter the air inlet.

Posted by: ejag | September 23, 2012

Sub frames and Bonnet Assembly

My original subframe shown here was full of rust and had to be replaced.

I replaced it with a very nice unit from E-Type Fabs in the UK.  The craftsmanship on this frame is extraordinary making it a piece of art more than an automotive component.  Here it is being fitted to the tub with all new mounting hardware. Note the new bonnet hinges as well.

In order to fully secure many of the fasteners, the lower control arm pivot blocks need to be in place.

Bonnet Assembly
Next comes the restoration and trial assembly of the bonnet.  On an E-Type, the bonnet is nearly half the car and is comprised of a very clever arrangement of bolt together sheet metal panels.  The result is very strong and very light—much like the race car technology of the day.

Here is a typical bonnet component before restoration.  This is the right side air duct that feeds air from the radiator inlet to the induction system.

Here are all the bonnet interior panels are blasting and epoxy priming.

The assembly hardware was in rough shape and hardly worth saving so it was replaced in its entirety.

Here are the majority of the components that make up an E-Type bonnet.

All of this was loosely assembled, mounted to the sub frame and trial fitted against the tub.

Here’s a cool shot through the air inlet to the engine room with a view clear back through the drive tunnel all the way back to the IRS bay.

Initial fit up to the firewall and sills was pretty bad—awful in fact.  But there is a ton of adjustment available with 200 or so fasteners that hold all this together.  So after a few short weeks we had a reasonable fit.  Once the fit is in the ball park, it all has to come apart again for bonding.  The recommended product is a urethane based sealer called Sika Flex 221.  The recommended procedure for bonding to epoxy primer is to Scotch-Brite the gluing surfaces, then wash with Aktivator, followed by primer, followed by the Sika Flex 221 sealant.  This is the procedure recommended by Sika.  The factory originally bonded directly to steel and while this is quite strong initially it is subject to corrosion and ultimately bond failure.  So Sika now recommends an epoxy primer first followed by the treatment above.  Of course the resulting bond is no better than the epoxy to steel bond but having had to remove a piece or two I can say with assurance these joints are incredibly strong while still having a degree of flexibility.  Just what you want in a high vibration environment.

After careful masking the joints are treated and assembled and then scraped of excess sealant.  30 minutes later the tape is pulled and nice clean bonded joints are the result.

Here it is prior to final bonnet fit and bumper fit.

Posted by: ejag | September 23, 2012

Painting and Transport Stand

Once again it’s been a long time since the last post…6 months this time.  So there is a lot to catch up on.

In our last episode I had just finished painting the bottom.  With that done it was time to finally abandon the rotisserie and get onto a stand where the sub frames could be installed and the bonnet fitted.  I also plan this to be the transport stand to and from the painter.  So I want it to be rugged enough for bouncing along on a trailer and very firmly attached to the body.  And just to be sure, I also bought insurance from Hagerty should the best laid plans fail somehow.

For attachments I decided to pick up the same rear suspension supports I had used on the rotisserie and for the front, I took the advice of others and made a nut plate in the extreme corner of the foot well where 3 panels come together in a very rigid structure.  This is also the location of some pegs that are used to secure floor mats so no extra holes are needed.

For the frame itself I used 2” x 2” x .120 structural steel tubing.  ¼” thick castor plates were welded to each corner and heavy duty steel wheeled castors were installed.  The toughest part was orchestrating the move from the rotisserie to the stand.  To some degree I was using the same mount locations for both structures so it was tricky to remove one and install the other while still safely supporting the whole thing in the air.

Posted by: ejag | March 15, 2012

Bottom Paint

To finally get off the rotisserie I just need to paint the bottom.  After that, I move to a paint/transport stand that is designed to support the tub, subframe and bonnet.  Final blasting of the bottom is done with my usual aluminum oxide followed by masking, careful degreasing and then priming with PPG DP50LF epoxy primer.  Some of the more difficult and inaccessible areas are brush painted.

After that the seams are sealed with Fusor 800EZ urethane sealer.  Having the tub still on the rotisserie for these steps is very helpful.  The wood blocks in the second picture are used to protect the sub frame pockets from a buildup of Rocker Schutz.  The sub frames are a tight fit in the pockets.

I used 3M Rocker Schutz applied with a 3M schutz gun.  This product is a resilient undercoating that is paintable.  It was thinned 10% with lacquer thinner to reduce the coarseness of the texture.  Three 30oz cans were used with barely enough to cover.  4 cans might be better.  Of all the chemical products used so far, this one by far smells the worse and causes immediate dizziness if any fumes linger.

Finally the bottom is painted with the same Glasurit/RM base clear Opalescent Silver Gray that will be used on the body.

And with that, we finally leave the rotisserie for the paint stand.

Posted by: ejag | March 14, 2012

Time to pick a painter

All the major rust sites are now complete and it’s time to start thinking about final prep and paint.  I have painted one car before (a Lotus 7 replica called a Stalker V6) and it came out pretty well for a first effort, what I would call a good 10 ft paint job.  Much closer than that and the ‘new guy’ mistakes become apparent.

Problems with my first paint job had a lot to do with improper facilities. Basically my booth was too small and had inadequate ventilation.  I purchased a Hobby Aire fresh air respirator so I was physically protected but the lack of good ventilation and lighting meant after a few minutes of spraying I couldn’t really see what I was doing.  It also meant fume build up in my garage was extreme and was difficult to keep out of the house.  Considering how lethal modern paints are, I want zero fumes in the house.  Fortunately when I painted the Stalker it was summer so I could open up the booth to atmosphere and still maintain proper curing temps.  This time, I would likely be painting in winter.  Maintaining proper ventilation and the correct temperature in New England in winter is almost impossible for the DIY guy.

I also had a tough time controlling dust.  Fortunately, modern base/clear paints allow for a lot secondary cut and polish so most defects can be handled later, provided they are not under the clear coat.  Unfortunately, the airflow required for good ventilation makes dust control difficult.  I was going to have to build a much better booth this time, probably one with a good source of make up heat to compensate for the ventilation requirements.

And then there’s skill.  I don’t a have a lot of experience so my technique is not the best.  After all the work to get to this point, the only part really visible is the paint.  No one will ever see the endless efforts required for the rust and collision repair or at least they shouldn’t.  But the paint is right in everyone’s face.  It really has to be just about perfect especially for a car like this.

And then there’s cost.  The materials are unbelievably expensive.  Building a proper booth will be both very time consuming and expensive.  When you break it down, painting the car yourself will save maybe $3,000 over having it painted by a pro.  Given the cost of the overall project and factoring in the expected difference in quality and safety risks, I have decided to go for the pro this time around.

It’s not a decision I make easily though.  There is a lot of pride in being able to say you did the whole restoration yourself, including the paint.  Everyone will have their own set of tradeoffs for this decision.

So why worry about picking a painter now?  After all, I’m still a long way from finish paint.  My reasoning is if you’re having a professional paint job done, the painter really needs (and wants) to take responsibility from the bare metal stage.  This means he does the final sanding, degreasing, priming etc. with products that are all compatible with the choice of paint system.  And that’s why it’s time to pick a painter.  I’m nearly at the point where the external surfaces will get their final media blast quickly followed by epoxy primer.

After considering a number of painters I have chosen Ron Randall at Metal-Morphous.  Ron has been in the business for 30 years and has become the go to guy in New England for replica Cobras.  But with so many years of experience, his roots of course are in steel cars and he’s anxious to do the E-Type.  It’s important to have someone truly excited about doing your car.  He’s also willing to work with me on my schedule allowing me to do as much prep as possible without compromising the final result.  And finally, you just have to respect someone who has a Cobra in his office!  BTW, the paint on this car is 16 years old and it’s still perfect.

So the plan is, I will do all the metal work and media blasting on external surfaces.  Ron will take it from there.  The exceptions are the interior and bottom.  I’ll be priming these and in the case of the bottom, I’ll be applying the body shutz and final base/clear.  The reason for this is mostly logistical.  The bottom paint is best done on the rotisserie whereas the rest of the paint will be done on a transportable paint stand.  I also need to be off the rotisserie for subframe and bonnet assembly.  So this means I have to choose the final color now—long before the bonnet and bumper fits are done.  Hopefully those jobs will be relatively straight forward.  Sure…

Posted by: ejag | March 13, 2012

Rear Hatch Gutter Repair

I take it as a good sign the repairs are getting smaller now.  I have a rust though site in the rear hatch gutter that contains the rubber weather strip.  Here’s the location on an old photo prior to blasting and priming the interior.

No doubt water pooled here due to a leak somewhere or perhaps the drain in the bottom of the gutter channel was plugged.  Fortunately everything here is more or less single curvature so the construction of a patch panel should be straightforward.  The only slight complication is the sheet steel has to be folded to double thickness before forming.  In this first picture (below) taken from the inside, the double wall is clearly visible.  In the second picture, the damage appears limited to the inner edge.  This should allow me to stay away from the highly curved and highly visible external surfaces.

Here’s the blank with the fold completed.  The only moderately fussy thing was to get the folded height correct, as that can’t be adjusted once the fold is made.

Now to match the curvature of the hatch the stretcher is used, followed by the shrinker when you go too far.  And then the stretcher again…these Eastwood devices work very well by the way.

The match is pretty good at this point so the outline is scribed onto the body and the cuts are made.

Then comes the usual tack welding and rough grinding.  Final smoothing comes later.

Posted by: ejag | March 12, 2012

Tail Light Surround Repair

Sometime in the distant past, the left rear had been hit.  Since this area has strength and stiffness like the end of an egg any deformation becomes very difficult to undo, although someone once tried rather unsuccessfully.  Here’s how much deformation we’re talking about compared to the opposite side.  Doesn’t look like much but it’s really difficult to remove due to the stiffness of the surrounding structure.

Since the taillights and bumpers have to fit here I want to get it as good as I can.  Complicating this is the fact that the collision also moved license plate well forward too.  This area is incredibly strong.  You can see what looks like a minor crease from upside down and inside the trunk (vertical red line).  So to start, I will try to move this area aft.  I could just bang away on the crease from the inside but I’m sure I will buckle the panel that contains the cutout for the marker lights.  So, to in effect pull the panel aft I cut an access hole through which I can insert a drift.  It gets REALLY LOUD when you’re doing this!  Once again, glad to have a rotisserie.

After straightening  the bulkhead/license plate well as best I could, I moved to the outside.  After blasting away all the bondo, I’m left with an unsalvageable mess.  Lots of crumpled and corroded metal.  Most of it is too thin to be saved so I will cut it out.

Here’s the rough cut I intend to make.  It will be final trimmed after I make the patch panel.

For the patch panel, I made a hammer form to generate the rather tight bend radii that develop.

Here’s the part prior to trimming and forming.

After a few more hours with the stretcher/shrinker and the shot bag we get this.

This yields the reference edges necessary to complete the much simpler panel under the bumper which is the top in this view since the car is inverted on the rotisserie.

After grinding and touch up with the slapper we get this.  As usual, not perfect but as close as I can get and easily handled by a little filler.  Note: the black areas are the remnants of guide coat indicating the slightly low areas remaining.

Final check with the marker light to make sure it still fits.

Posted by: ejag | March 11, 2012

RH Outer Sill and Rear Wing Repair

Once again, it’s been a very long time since my last post.  However work has continued steadily.  Next up is the right hand sill and the adjacent rear wing.  This sill was in somewhat worse shape than the other requiring a few patches to the inner sill and complete replacement of the fore and aft sill stiffeners.

After the usual fettling they were cleco’d in place, all surfaces blasted and primed with either Weld Thru primer or self etching primer, depending on the exposure to subsequent welding heat.  After that came the laborious outer sill reshaping, fitting and punching for plug welds.   Then a final blast and prep with primer(s) and CRC marine corrosion inhibitor.

Here’s some of the torture devices to hold the reluctant sill in place.

Now to the rear wing.  Here’s an exterior shot.  Doesn’t look too bad.

But as well all know, Jags rust from the inside out.  Here’s the inside.

Since I will be removing both the inner and outer arch, all curvature reference will be lost, so a set of measurements are taken every 6 inches or so along the arch.

Now a first exploratory cut.  Not only is there rust but collision damage too.

To get past the rusted area and the worst of the collision damage I used most of the Robey patch panel—reshaped for compound curvature and extended to cover the sill seam.

With the inner arch peeled away, I have access to the collision damage and can scribe the fit of the patch panel.

Patch panel gets the traditional blast and prime treatment.

Random tack welds in progress.  You may recall on the left hand side wing I fabricated and welded the inner arch and then the outer.  This had the advantage of establishing the arch curve with the inner panel and leaving a good edge for clamping the outer arch.  The disadvantage was once the outer panel was welded I lost access to the inside so any heat deformation could not be effectively dealt with.  So this time I’m doing the outer panel first, so I can get behind it after the welding for additional shaping.  I can also verify I’m getting good weld penetration.

After post weld shaping, comes the usual grinding, blasting and priming.

Next an inner arch panel is fabricated from sheet stock.  I tried to re-use the flap of original inner arch steel but it was hopelessly distorted from bending it out of the way.  I had hoped to bend it back and weld but it came out terrible.  So I cut it back out and started over.  Live and learn.

The welding access gets pretty tight but the rotisserie makes it reasonable.  I can’t imagine doing this project without a rotisserie.  The shop vac is there for fume extraction.  Weld Thru primer creates a LOT of fumes.

After endless hours with the slapper, shot bag, hammers and dollies, I settle for this.  Not perfect but not bad and quite a bit better than the left side where I had no post weld access.  Of the two approaches, this is far better in my book—which maybe I’ll write someday.

So that’s it for the sills and wings.  This brings us up to about mid September 2011.  Next up is fairly extensive collision damage near the taillights.

Posted by: ejag | May 16, 2011

Rear Wing Repair (part 2)

Back in October2010 I started working on the left hand side (LHS) rear wing which had a combination of collision and rust damage.  The exploratory part of that repair was posted here:

Further work was postponed until the sill replacement was complete.  With that done it was time to fit the MR patch panel.  Unfortunately, it didn’t fit at all well and needed extensive modification.  In retrospect, I believe it was intended to weld directly to the sill seam.  This leaves a monster channel to be filled with lead/plastic or another small custom panel.  Instead, I chose to add an extension to the panel and bend it for a flush fit.  The next (4) pictures show the progression.

Martin-Robey wing patch panel

Closeup of gap left by MR panel

Extension panel added to fill channel

Next it was time to re-make the under quarter panel after discovering more extensive rust beneath when the lead was melted out.  Starting with flat stock and an Eastwood stretcher/shrinker a new panel was fitted.

Next the inner arch panels were cut away and replacements fabricated from flat stock.  Getting all these 3D curves to line up in space proved extremely difficult and time consuming.  God only knows what I would have had to pay to have this done.  In the last picture you’ll see a stack of washers I welded in to take up the space between the inner and outer panels in the area of the forward bumper bolt.  It proved easier to thicken this area with washers than to add more complication to the sheet metal.

And finally the outer panels were re-fitted and welded (with a mock bumper bolt in place).

The only step left is to cut the inner/outer arch flanges to the proper width.

I would like to fit larger tires someday so I need to research areas of possible interference and size the flange accordingly.  Obviously I’ve left out a LOT of tedious steps.  I’ll save those for a book some day:-)

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