I did not really get a good start on this until fall of 2009, taking spring for soccer and softball with the kids and then summer off due to family stuff and fall soccer starting I was coaching most of the teams the kids were on, so I was tied up usually 2-3 nights per week and at least one day on each weekend.
By this time I had obtained some new tools that are specifically for this phase of the project:
- Lincoln SP175 240volt Mig welder and Co2/Argon tank and cart.
- A 240vac spot welder from Harbor Freight (first one shorted out and I got a free replacement 1 week prior to the 1 year warranty ending).
- 4 1/2″ grinder.
- Die grinder.
- Air cutoff tool and air chisel (awesome for removing the old panels without having to spend a lot of time drilling out spot welds).
- 36″ metal brake for making new panels for the damaged flanges.
I started by repairing the front bulkhead/firewall. My plan, which worked out actually really well considering the amount of new panels I was putting in, was to get all the original sections repaired enough to get the new panels attached. When I completed all the repairs to each sub piece, I got the whole car put back together in a matter of 3 months (August to November of 2010).
I rebuilt the lower flanges of the A-panels where they meet the rockers on the outer side and the lower a-panel repair sections on the inner. The front flanges (along the firewall) meet up with the floor pans. I wasted some time trying to fill pinholes in the metal and should have followed modern technique by using a high strength waterproof filler like FibrAl to do that. For one it wasted a ton of supplies and time and secondly, welded areas have been proven to rust faster than non welded areas. At this time I also put in a new battery box in. I then put this section away for the time being and started repairing the rear. I do not have a lot of pictures of this work, not sure why.
I then moved to the rear part of the car, which all I had left to work from was pretty much the rear deck and wheel arches and one partial rear quarter. By this time the metal was all sandblasted and I cut out the damaged sections while trying to record the dimensions as best as I could. One thing to note, I kept EVERY PIECE I removed and will not discard until I am done. This is so I always have a reference to go back to and it turned out to be needed in a few cases. I wish I had the original heal board from the previous owner for just this reason, as you will see below I lost a weekend putting the flange on the rear deck facing down rather than up.
With the help of my friend Rick Martyn, we spent a Saturday fitting the new lower inner vertical trunk sections, trunk (boot) floor and rear valance. I used the spot-welder for most of the work with metal clamps holding everything tight (which is important for the spot-welder to work right).
This is the new inner sections fitted. I kept referring back to the original ones I cut out to make sure I got these fitted exactly like the originals. I did both sides, with these new panels before moving on to the new boot floor and valance.
Here is a great shot showing the car ready for the new boot floor. I was going to try putting in partial panels and I even bought a metal roller to make the channels, and then chickened out and just went with a whole new panel.
Here is the floor fitted with the valance. I would later have to cut the holes for the rear flashers and the center plate light and backup lamp. I decided not to bother to put the two red reflectors back on since I think Triumph only put them on to cover the holes from the two backup lights that were there on earlier models.
There were several steps here that took some time that should be mentioned. I had to install an outer wheel arch panel on the driver side and then make some filler pieces from where this panel did not cover the entire arch area. I also had to repair small sections on the passenger side arches where I was putting in lower replacement panels only. I should have just put on an entire rear quarter but decided to keep a little of the original car. The bodyshop had to spend several hours skimming and block sanding the rear quarter and I would have saved all that time (and cost) by just putting on a complete panel.
If you remember earlier before shots, you will notice I cut out a replacement panel the previous owner put in from 18awg stock and I put in the proper replacement panel. I also redid the mating surface for the heal board. I added flanges to both the top and bottom sections, but as shown below, the flange for the top was supposed to face up, creating a lip in the final floor. If I took it apart myself, I would have know that and not wasted a weekend going back and forth.
Week of 2/10/2010: Working on repairing the heel-board and cross-member area. I have a new heel-board, but the previous owner had removed it so I did not know what it originally looked like, so I assumed (wrong) that it sat flush to the top of the rear deck, when it actually as a 3/4″ lip sitting up. I am not sure how this is handled by the carpet, but I found pictures online from another Mark II restoration showing the lip (Adjacent Right shows a partially restored MK II with the original cross-member mostly intact).
I had repaired it as shown below, which I will need to now add a lip to the top to add support for a welding area for the upper part of the replacement heel-board
I also installed new B-pillar repair sections as shown in the red primer part, both on the passenger side and the driver side. As can be scene on the arch, the previous restorer had simply cut straight across removing the entire lip, rather than removing the spot welds to preserve the lip. This was another area that was hard to fit since I had no decent reference to know how low these had to extend.
Note: I coated the interior of the cavity with rust-converter to deactivate any oxidation that had occurred since I had the parts media-blasted. I will then give a few coats of Cold-Galvanizing compound to seal it from future corrosion and be able to weld through it as I add the heel-board.
With the heal-board section done, I then went and finished up the B-pillar repairs so they were ready for the new sills supports and inner and out rocker panels. I put both the passenger side quarter panel repair panels on last, which I was fitting the doors. I wish I held off on the whole driver side quarter for the same reason since the doors are not always they same size. I picked up a second driver side door and it was a different shape than my original and I could not use it like I wanted. Here you can see the repairs to the front section of the wheel arch and the new lower B-pillar panel.
I then was at the point of putting all the new panels together with the repaired sections. At this point I had to mount the car on the frame (luckily I had pictures to indicate where the spacers and rubber washers went, since the assembly drawings all showed multiple configurations). I then attached the doors to give me the proper spacing. I also used the mounting holes in the new floor pans as guides to help place them correctly, making sure to keep all the holes centered around the mounting bolts. I made steel supports to go from the top of the A-Pillar to the top of the B-pillar (welded to the A pillar and bolted to the B using the roof frame mounting holes). One thing to note is that all these panels needed to be trimmed in one way or another, so it is best to clamp and test fit multiple times, only trimming small sections off at a time. I triple checked the door gaps and panel fittings before even doing tack welds, never mind the final welding. One thing I learned when final welding is that I should have done more stitch welding along the sills and rockers, since one continuous weld would warp the metal. Another thing I learned was that for where I needed to do plug welds, the larger the hole the better. Small holes does not allow for good penetration.
The first things I welded was the A-pillar repair panels to the flanges shown to the the left. I could then use the bottom edge to line up with the flange on the floor panels. I just had to keep the front section flush with the firewall for when I welded on the finishing caps.
After fitting the floor panel and getting their left right placement matched up with the mounting holes in the outriggers and the A-Pillars, I removed the car from the frame again to final weld the floor pans to the heal board and add in the trany tunnel.
I then put the car back on the frame and reattached my cross supporting bars and aligned the doors to the top edge of the windshield bulk head section and the top of the B-pillars, keeping the gap correct down the B-pillar. This allowed me to clamp and weld the A-pillar lower panels to the floor panels and then start trial fitting the outer inner and outer rocker panels and strengthener. Here I messed up a little, I should have made more of a gap between the front edge of the door and where the rocker curves up in front of the door. I did not take into account the amount of space used up by primer and paint. Next time around I will leave a much larger gap all the way around the door while it is bare metal.
Above you can see the inner rockers and strengtheners are installed as well as the cross member supports. You can still see through the front since I have not installed the end caps yet, holding off until I can put cold galvanizing paint into the rocker sections. You can really make out the mounting points I made for the tube supports, and these are still on the car while it is off the body getting painted.
This is the driver side A-pillar with the caps installed. I had just removed the doors to be able to weld the arches in. At this time, I also did the passenger side. The doors were going out with the replacement nose to get sandblasted at Specialty Stripping in North Hampton NH and then primed at Nicks Autobody in Hampstead. He was going to hold on to them all since his people were going to do the final body block sanding and painting.
At this point the body is ready to meet up with the doors, bonnet and truck at Nicks for priming and block sanding. I had just re-sandblasted the bare metal (which sitting in my garage for 2.5 years with nothing on it, it still was in great shape except for some hand prints). I think this we due to me running a dehumidifier the whole time keeping the humidity to 40% year round. The pressure blaster I broke down and bought worked great as long as I was putting in fresh aluminum oxide, but clogged when I reused it. Overall I think I wasted around $375, $275 for the blaster and $100 for the 100lbs of material. I have roll down plastic walls that I can seal the bay up for keeping dust under control, and it worked great at keeping the blasting material contained, but it found its way up on the lights, on the door tracks and took weeks before I got it all cleaned up. But at least it was cleaned up for the paint shop.
Below is the replacement bonnet I picked up in Maine. Still not sure if it was worth it, the bonnet supports behind the light buckets were shot, as well as a few sections around the wheel arches. We put in new metal for the window buckets, but around the arches we went with FibrAll instead, waterproof filler. The holes were small and since the car will not see a lot of weather, we figured on trying it out. Worse case is that I will know better when I am working on the TR4s. As you can tell, the hood is in great shape, much better than my original one. Plus it still has the lettering and the metal grill which I will re-polish and use instead of my plastic one. Most bonnets have the paint baked off of them by this time, this one had around 10 coats of paint on it and was well protected (even though it cost me a few more dollars to get the soda blaster to get it all off). Underneath you could tell it originally had decals going across the front of the bonnet and diagonally down the front of each fender… pretty cool. This was a 1967 Mk III and the kid that bought it decided to part it out and then by a GT6 in much better shape. My friend Phil and I had a fun 12hr round trip from NH to northern Maine. We did see the largest wind- farm in NE, 25+ large generators, 10’s of thousands of acres of potato farms and even a bald eagle on the side of the road.
At this point, everything went to Nicks Autobody to be prepped and painted.