Color? It’s going to be British Racing Green
Ah! to fix dents is easy. You see them, you fix them. You know when it’s right. Not so with color. I know that I have driven my family crazy with this decision, and I can’t but help think that even this decision is, well, provisional — at least until the paint sits in a can in the garage.
I know I have felt as committed to
- Opalescent Silver Blue — too much like Carolina Blue, and I’m a Duke man,
- Opalescent Dark Blue — Duke blue on a car, but my wife’s truck is the color already and red or dark blue interiors are recommended, and
- Opalescent Dark Green — great in theory, but the car recently sprayed the color in the Classic Jaguar workshop just didn’t appeal to me.
And British Racing Green is a color with roots. The earliest surviving E-type roadster, if I’m not mistaken, is BRG. It was (and still is) known as 77 RW, restored in 2001. British Racing Green is a good traditional color for British sports cars. So why not have one in rural North Carolina, too?
Centering the bonnet subframe
When we stuck the bonnet on the frames, just to see what the old thing looked like, we noticed that the bonnet was cockeyed. The trouble is in the bonnet frame, which probably sustained some accident damage. (My initial observations, including a description of the way the damage was “repaired” or at least hidden, appear in a previous entry.) What we needed to do was more systematically and geometrically characterize the damage: What was pitched? How much was it off center? Where is the pivot for the pitch to the left side of the car?
The exploration really began with some crude drawings that I made back in August, when we could measure the effect that the frame damage was having on the fit of the bonnet. Those measurements showed that the bonnet was set too far back on the left side — in fact the bonnet was butted against the firewall (front bulkhead) on that side. On the right side of the car, the bonnet was too far forward by about 3 centimeters or so. Drawing out the general structure of the frame identified a couple of places where the pitch to the left could have pivoted. The entire frame structure could be pitched, meaning that the side frames (the “A” shaped structures that make up the engine compartment) could be bent. This would mean that the pivot would be at the center of the firewall. Or, the front frame piece that holds the bonnet and the radiator could be pitched. This would mean that the pivot would be at the center of the so-called “picture frame,” the front of the engine compartment that attaches to the side frames. Clearly, the pivot from the center of the picture frame would be preferable, since a pivot off of the firewall would be virtually irreparable.
I doubted that the damage was off the firewall, since there was no other evidence of damage there. But the side frames themselves could bear the damage in some not-too-apparent way, I thought. The left side frame already concerns me because of the rust damage I discovered on it.
Another thing that helped was a schematic of the body shell and the front frame structure that appears in the Terry’s Jaguar catalogue (“Body Dimensions,” Terry’s Jaguar Parts, 11th ed. [Benton, Illinois, 2001], p. 6-3). The drawing and measurements help to situate the frame structure especially in relation to easily figured out points on the body. The information is for “checking points for accidental damage on [the] XKE body and front frame.” The only thing that might be a bit misleading is the accuracy of the measurements. They are, I believe, too precise, sometimes going to the 32nd of an inch. That kind of accuracy usually isn’t necessary for the body, since fitting sections together often includes bolts and holes that are designed and intended to be used to make minor adjustments to the fit. But this catalogue is a good reference to have on the shelf. Terry’s Jaguar Parts has a good reputation as a parts supplier. They’ll send you a catalogue if you ask.
Using TJP’s “Body Dimensions” as a guide, we strung some string along the center line of the body shell, extending it out into the front frame area. We found that the picture frame hit dead center as it should, but the bonnet frame was off about 2 centimeters to the left. We marked the point where the center line of the car crossed the bonnet frame hinge tube (the forwardmost pipe) and the radiator mount. We measured these points against the centers of the hinge tube and the mount. Then we tied the string to the center of the picture frame and ran the string to the true center of the bonnet frame hinge tube and checked to see where the string crossed the radiator mount. It crossed at the center point of the mount.
That process of string measuring might seem a bit complicated, but it established that the problem with the fitting of the bonnet was entirely in front of the picture frame. The pivot of the bending was at the center of the picture frame. The picture of the frame from the top plainly shows the bend, and now that I see the frame in a photograph I see how rough it looks. So, now I’m wondering about having even this frame repaired. But that brings up another topic….
On not repairing the subframes
A kind email message from fellow E-type restorer Bill McKenna urged me not to have the damaged left frame repaired. The steel (Reynolds 351) was brazed from the factory and is a fairly touchy metal to work with if you don’t want to lose the temper or otherwise weaken the metal. As Bill put it: “To me those frames are all that’s between a nice drive in the country and a major disaster, so not a good thing to skimp on.” Now, I don’t think that the bonnet frame has quite the stress that the other frame parts have to bear. Nor does the bonnet frame quite have as much riding on it in terms of safety. So, I think I could have the bonnet frame repaired.
About the same time that Bill sent his note, a thread on jag-lovers.org brought up the welding issue, and hammered the point home about “repairing” frames. It just doesn’t seem wise, and even if you would have the repairs done following all of the steel manufacturer’s guidelines, you’d probably end up spending about what a new frame would cost. And, having “repaired” it properly, you’d still have a 40-year-old frame at the end.
I think that my left frame will need to be replaced, not repaired. I’m going to have to look around.
Tie-Coat primer in the “boot”
“Tie-Coat Primer” is designed to bond well even to cured POR-15 coatings, and so I’m using Tie-Coat as a base for the topcoat in internal sections of the body and as a base for high-build primer on external sections. I’m trying something out. I read on jag-lovers.org that someone brush paints high-build primer, since the stuff is supposed to be sanded smooth in any case, so why mess with the mess of shooting the paint out a sprayer? When I first read that, I dismissed it, but after a while it did make some sense to me. And so I’m testing it, not with a high-build primer, but with the Tie-Coat, which is billed as a “sandable primer.” I painted the inside of the trunk (aka: “boot”) with Tie-Coat, and I put two coats on the trunk floor, since I’ll need to smooth it very well, especially in the area around the spare tire. I do not plan to spray this area, or any other inside section of the car, with high-build primer. That’s for the outside.
In addition to the inside of the trunk, I brush painted the upper nose section of the bonnet, which still needs attention. I figured that the paint-primer-with-a-brush hypothesis could be better tested on the nose, too. It certainly could stand some smoothing. I’ll be treating the nose as though it has high-build on it, so I’ll be using a guide coat of some sort of paint to mark where I’ve block-sanded. If brush painting works, I’ll put all of the Tie-Coat on with a brush. I still think that the final primer needs to be applied with a spray gun.
Pictures below show the “boot” before and after the primer went on.