January 2003 – Trunk floor (reprise)

We didn’t do much from mid-December to the New Year — the holidays approached and we went to Walt Disney World and the old Jag just sat waiting. (Disney World, by the way, is not a common destination for us, and we plan never to go again.)

New Year’s Day I puttered around, mainly. I did prime the trunk floor underside (see the picture) and do some fitting of the right floor panel. The new radius arm mounting cap is in place, too. I reprimed the mounting cap and the area on the floor panel where it attaches. I used stainless steel hardware to attach the piece. Once it was fitted, I saw to it that the floor panel fit onto the frame well. I’ve decided to spot weld the panels after securing them with nuts and bolts. That way I can be assured that the panel is tightly affixed and the spot welds are firm. Bolts will go on the front of the panel, along the bell housing and transmission tunnel, and across the cross beam. The seam where the side outer sill attaches will not have any bolts, since it is easily visible from the side of the car, and the outer sill itself overlaps the floor panel. I don’t want to have to cut out clearances for bolts along the edge of the outer sill, and I don’t care to drill holes through the outer sill. Both of those seem to invite moisture and eventual rust.

Assuming I can find the time, I might install the right floor this coming weekend.

Restoration will probably slow through January, since I’ve got an evening and weekend job to attend to.

Fixing the trunk hole — some detail

I figured I’d put in some detail about how I fixed the corrosion in the trunk floor. It was a simple process, but one that is easily repeated for other fixes. This fix was quite simple because the piece itself was flat, for the most part. The only complication was the hole for the fuel tank cannister that holds the fuel filter. I believe this part of the tank might be called the “sump.” The hole was flared, so there was some bending and stretching of the metal. I marked off the area to be cut out of the trunk floor and cut it with an angle grinder fitted with a steel cutting blade. The cut out piece quite literally served as the template for the template that I made out of cardboard from a case of soda cans. Really any flexible cardboard would do. Soda can cases are good because they have generous sides and are large enough for fairly good sized templates. (They are also plentiful in our household!)

You’ll notice that the hole for the fuel tank cannister is actually quite small on the template. I left a good amount of metal for bending. A circle crudely drawn in indicates the eventual size of the hole. It is good to realize that the cut out piece and the template don’t look exactly the same shape. They actually are identical in outline, but the angle of the photographs suggest that they are different. Also, the metal piece is bent; the template is flat. To do the cutting, I simply affixed the template to the sheet metal with pieces of masking tape. Then I cut along the outline. Bending the piece was a matter of a little hammering, and the flare was made by gradually bending out the hole with a pliers. I had a lot of metal sticking up on the piece by the time I was close to finishing the flare, so I ground off the excess and finished the flare more easily.

To install the part, I welded tabs along the edge of the hole I cut. (I wish I had taken a picture of that, since it is an important part of the process.) Installing was really just doing some final bending and adjustment and then, when all was resting in place nicely, spot welding the piece into place.

The final work was grinding off excess metal along the seam and then flattening everything out with Bondo. There is probably less than a sixteenth of an inch of Bondo anywhere on the piece. — A good fix, I believe.