Category Archives: Rust repair

June/July 2006 – Molasses rust removal

I read an article in Auto Restorer that claimed that molasses was a cheap but slow rust remover. I decided to give it a go, since I’ll have some rust to remove soon, and I do have some miscellaneous items that could bear a bit of a spruce-up and even some replating.

The test piece was a bit of metal that attached the exhaust resonators to the bracket. It was mostly a makeshift piece, but I did want to retrieve a GKN bolt from the assembly. The rest was just plain rusted and not destined for much other than the waste bin.

The article said that any molasses would do, but that the kitchen variety is a bit expensive. The virtues of this method is the lack of expense and the fact that you use materials that are not hazardous. If I go into this in a bigger way with other parts, I’ll probably use livestock feed grade molasses. I checked with our feed supplier (Wallace at Triangle Farm and Home down the road), but he doesn’t stock molasses, he said. I expect that the bigger farm supply north of us in Roxboro would have it. The recipe is simple. Dilute with between four-to-ten parts water for every part of molasses.

I used the Brer Rabbit brand we had on hand in the fridge, and diluted it to maybe about 6:1 water to molasses. I used dishsoap and water to remove what little oil and grease might have been on the parts (the top photograph was taken after the cleanup), and then I threw the parts into the molasses-water mix. That was on 25 June. I checked the parts midway through the week, and the rust had just begun to give way. I used a scrubbie pad to brush off the loose rust and popped the pieces back into the mixture. I did notice that the mixture had a foamy head, and I thought that perhaps the brew was beginning to ferment. It didn’t smell yeasty, though. Whenever I ran out to the garage, I gave the container a shake. By the weekend, the froth had faded, and it consisted of lines of tiny bubbles aligned, I assumed, above the parts. I suspect that whatever chemical reaction was taking place on the parts gave off a slight amount of gas.

On Saturday, 1 July, I used a wire brush on the parts, and it was clear that the molasses had done a job on the rust. Most of surface of the parts were rust free, and when I rinsed them and dried them, flash rust appeared alomst immediately. I left them in the mix until Monday, for a total of eight days of steeping.

The rust was almost entirely gone. I retrieved the GKN bolt with ease and put it aside.

I’ll be doing rust removal on the exhaust manifolds prior to getting them coated with whatever I finally decide, and I’ll use the molasses treatment. I went ahead and threw some rusty parts into the mix immediately after retrieving the test pieces. This process seems much safer for the environment (it’s said you can dispose of exhausted molasses mix on the yard!), and it is far less aggressive than other methods. The molasses mix should work for a while, but I don’t have enough experience with it to see whether the mixture just ages or whether the molasses mix simply gives out after treating a certain amount of rust.

Since rust removal is a constant concern of car restorers, I thought I’d pass this information on, devoid as it is of Jaguar E-Type specifics.

March 2003 – Rack and very evil rust

Rack (15 March 2003)

It would be nice to have a “rotisserie” to mount the car body on. Such things are do-able, and I’ve seen them around, but I’ve not wanted to invest the time into building such a fancy rotating mount for the car. I suppose it would be nice, but we’ll flip this car over as need be. That said, I did need to create something to make it easier to move the body out of the way when we weren’t going to be working on it. I used lumber we had saved from an old chicken coop and four middle duty casters from the lumber yard to build a rolling rack. It stands about two feet high, and it carries the car quite high — perhaps a little too high. But it’ll do. And it was really nice to be able to roll the car body to the side to sweep the floor and clean up. It’ll practically be necessary once we need to move larger parts (like the bonnet) out of the garage to work on. The fact that it’s fairly high is also a nice feature, since I won’t have to be bending down all of the time to work on areas in the interior.

Aaron and I continued to disassemble the tubular steel frame, especially the right side suspension and frame pieces. We got everything apart, except for the lower wishbone and the torsion bar. these are still stubbornly affixed to the frame. The wishbone is free, but it is held to the frame by the torsion bar. I suspect that we’re either missing a piece to remove or the thing is just plain stuck. We ran into some difficulty removing a couple of the larger bolts, and we had to resort to heating up the nut after penetrating fluid failed to loosen things up. Heat worked like a charm. Thank goodness we have a pneumatic impact wrench!

Very Evil Rust (16 March 2003)

We did run into something I had dreaded, however.

I was thinking that the tubular steel frame was untouched by rust, but that proved not to be the case. When Aaron and I flipped over the frame assembly in order to get at some bolts more easily, we found two badly corroded areas on the left frame. One section near the picture frame (the central section the runs across the front, spanning the gap between the two side frames) was rusted through on the bottom. And a section below the battery area, on the underside of the tube, was rusted clear through. This damage wasn’t apparent from the top of the vehicle, though when everything was flipped over it was very easy to see.

I was hoping that I could avoid buying a new frame, since the things are pricey. But there is no way that I would attempt fixing this part. There is too much quite literally riding on it to test my skills. The tubular steel was also a very high tensile strength, and I simply do not have the tools to do the job. I think that the side frames cost around $ 750, and I should be needing to get one. The right side frame looks very good. I’ll know more about it after sandblasting it. I’m almost afraid to see what lies under the old paint.

February 2003 – Left floor, wheel well, “fillet” repair

Left floor installed (20 – 22 February 2003)

This actually went quite quickly, even though our logs say it took two days. The issue was amount of time spent on each of those days. I set up a fair amount of welding, and Aaron did the welding, for the most part. As I said in the last entry, the floors look like Real Headway Being Made, even though the preparation — essential as it is — consists of putzy little stuff. We push to make the putzy little stuff as painless to do as possible.

As with the right floor panel, we used a (non-standard) bolting strategy, with the bolts along the front end, the inside of the panel facing the transmission/engine space, along the cross member, and along the back of the panel. Size of bolts and attachment strategy for the left side was the same as for the right.

Symmetry is good.

The outside edge of the panel (along the seam of floor panel and outer sill) had a very natural fit. We basically just laid the panel on the car and welded. However, the central portion of the panel (behind the cross member where the right and left floor panels meet) seemed to bulge a bit. We will bolt that area in any case, and probably weld it as well. As I recall, the original floor panels had a separate panel attached in this area, which is the part that forms the “floor” of the drive shaft tunnel. I don’t know that this original panel was an original part, in any case. (I haven’t look at the notes or at the parts themselves, but this piece may actually have been something other than metal.) The pictures I have seen of this area don’t show a metal cover over the area. And yet, a sheet covering the area where the floor panels meet actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

I might just do it, since I’ve seen enough nasty rust form in that area.

The fitting of the entire floor means fitting the parts that straddle each floor panel, and this means the “rear floor stiffener” which I had fabricated earlier. As of 25 February, we had just fit this piece using clamps, and we haven’t welded or attached it to the floor yet. Here again we will be a bit out-of-the-ordinary, since I want to use 1/4 inch bolts to attach the stiffener. We’ll use eight bolts, four to each side. In between we’ll spot weld.

Left wheel well repaired

With the car flipped over, it was easy to get at the rust damage at the top portion of the left wheel well and the so-called “fillet” where the rear portion of the cockpit interior meets the lower edge of the convertible top. This area has been badly corroded, and crudely “fixed” with Bondo and wood strips (!). We had removed this blodged repair, and intended on doing some metal work. That we did, with two pieces of 20-gauge metal. The first piece was aligned with the curve of the upper portion of the left rear quarter panel, and the second piece (welded on top of the first piece from inside the wheel well) formed the fillet wall. As with other fixes, we ground off the welding excesses, and used Bondo to smooth the surface. We were actually less worried about how this fix looked, since it is in a place where you really need to want to look to see it at all. After the application of Rock Guard to the area, this fix won’t be easily visible. But trained eyes will see it, I guess. If they look for it….

I should say that cleaning the original rock guard from the inside of the wheel wells and the IRS corridor between them has been a real chore. I believe that the original coating remained, but a later owner must have applied some “rust-proofing” to some areas, especially where we found significant rust damage. Fortunately (or not), these gunky areas were removed in order to repair the rust. But residues of the goo remained in other areas, and just made a mess to clean off. An acetone-based solvent seemed to soften the coatings, but not entirely dissolve them. We were able to scrape off a good deal, and then the solvents took off the rest. Or, at least the solvents made it possible to smear it around a bit. For the record, the coatings were a yellowish color, though that might have been their age showing.

February 2003 – Right floor installed, left sill stiffeners, POR-15 trunk

Through January I did some extra work for some extra cash (for extra parts for the Jag). As a result, I spent very little time in the garage. It has been very cold in North Carolina this winter, and January wasn’t the best time to do much of anything without a good heater. The garage space heater just can’t keep up when it gets cold.

I did work on a database of pictures and notes for this site, and I hope to let that have its debut in the next couple of weeks. I have a lot of pictures — taking up in excess of 500 megabytes. So, I have to be ingenious about making them available on the web. My intent with the database is to show the process of this restoration in a clear and searchable manner. If I can do that, other restorerers might find it useful, too.

UPDATE 16 February: This has been a winter to remember. We’re probably going to get another ice storm along the lines of the one that hit 5 December and stopped everything. People who wear aluminum foil hats (to ward off mind control devices) might make a connection between my working on the car and ice storms. I just hope that the last ice storm took out the trees that would fall on power lines, so we might be spared the darkness! Ice is already covering the ground, though only about a quarter inch so far.

Right floor installed (13 February 2003)

It’s been five months since we picked up the car, and I am wondering if we are where I wanted to be with this project. I think we are close to the mark, though I do wish we were done with metalwork on the “tub” — the car body. We haven’t touched the bonnet, we’ve done very little with the doors and the trunk lid, and the engine and other mechanicals are practically untouched.

Getting a floor panel installed was a milestone, however. It seems a turning point from the putzy little fixes to something, well, substantial, even though the the floor panel itself couldn’t go on before the putzy little fixes were done.

Strictly speaking, the floor installation wasn’t entirely “by the book.” Rather than a simple spot-weld affair, as was the case with the original, we decided to use bolts in certain places. No bolts are on the outside edge, since that edge has to accept the outer sill. But we placed bolts (5/16″ width) at points along the edges the crossmember and along the edge nearest the transmission. Three bolts are lined up along the front tab of the floor. Along the back we installed quarter-inch bolts — a little smaller so that they fit along the back lip on the floor panel. These bolts are grade 5, not stainless; but I figured that they will be covered with rust-preventative POR-15 at any rate.

Installing the bolts makes spot welding easier, since the floor panel is held tight to the metal you’re welding to. Since the bolts are for all practical purposes invisible, I thought that this would be a good way of ensuring a tight floor fit without changing the car too much.

Aaron did most of the welding. After a bit of grinding to smooth out some lumpy welds, the entire surface was primed.

On Saturday, 15 February, we removed what remained of the left floor. In order to make sure that the floor area was structurally secure during the installation, we left square tubular beam intact on the left floor area. This beam runs from front to back along the underside of the floor. Once the right floor was in place, the support (if any) given to the body was no longer needed, so we cut it free and removed the vestiges of the left floor. This freed up the otherwise inaccessible space behind the interior rear bulkhead and the part of the bulkhead that faces the independent rear suspension (IRS) — a void of about 3-4 centimeters wide running laterally across the car. I vacuumed the dust and dirt that had accumulated, brushed off what I could, and Rustoleum primed the entire inside of the void. I really wonder why the car was designed to have this inaccessible area, since once the floor panels are on, you can’t rustproof or paint anything in the void.

The picture was actually taken on 16 February, after I had primed the left sill interior. (You’ll see the unprimed left sill below.)

We also did some repair of some hacked up section of the bell housing/transmission cover. This was a repair stupidity like the one we removed and repaired earlier, though the affected area was much smaller. Like that other section on the opposite side of the car, this area had been cut with a pneumatic cutter, splotch welded and then smeared with Bondo over fiberglass screen. It was nice to get real solid metal in the area. We also added some metal tabs along the perimeter where the floor panel rests. Actually the tabs we added are too large, but we will cut them to size when we’re ready to attach the floor with spot welds and bolts.

It’s coming along.

Left sill stiffeners

I had finished the rebuilding of the inner sill in late December, as I recall, but the sill stiffeners weren’t done yet. I kept the remains of the stiffeners and these made good patterns — at least for the sections that hadn’t corroded. As I have with other parts I’ve fabricated, I made a cardboard template and used it to fashion the piece. The stiffeners were made from 20-gauge steel, and I fashioned the middle stiffener from the design I used for the middle stiffener done for the right sill. The secret is to be generous in your measurements for the tabs that you use to weld to the sill. It is easy to cut metal away, but not so easy to add it.

This definitely looks much improved over the way we found the sill back at the end of November. There is still a fair amount of rebuilding to do. The attachment piece for the front frame at the front portion of the inner sill needs to be completely rebuilt — and solidly because of its role in supporting the front end. I’ve decided not to use fabricated sheet metal at all for this (as was the case for the original). We’ll put together something with fortified angle iron which is thicker and stiffer than the original part. (Besides, I have the material on hand!)

POR-15 applied to trunk (14 February 2003)

This trunk seems to have taken longer than I expected — at least it seems to occupy a fair number of these web pages. I’m hoping this picture will do it for a while for the trunk. I applied the silver POR-15 over the primer, and it looks really good. That POR-15 is really solid stuff, and I am impressed with it. I have to admit that I am not impressed with the recommended way of applying it, since the surface preparation never seemed to me to go just right. I would run into small sections (smaller than the width of a pencil) that would seem to resist POR-15. I decided it would be easier, and probably just as good, to prime the clean surface with Rustoleum primer and then apply the POR-15. This seems to work very nicely. The POR-15 bonds to the primer very well, and surface preparation is much more straightforward, not a chemistry experiment.

Saturday, 15 February, is supposed to be warm, though rainy. Temperatures in the “Cat Cage” were around 60 degrees most of the day, and so doing the painting was quite comfortable. POR-15 actually sets more quickly when the air is more humid, since the substance actually uses moisture as a hardener. Normally, I don’t like to paint in temperatures below, say, 65 degrees, but this worked out well.

The paint cured overnight to a hardness that feels very much like a “powder coating.” I am tempted to spray it and perhaps use something other than the “silver” brand. I’ve heard that the sprayed clear POR-15 dries very smoothly and is used as a primer coat for that reason. I am planning on coating the inner sills and stiffeners very well — probably a triple-coat of silver, just to ensure that the inner sills are well sealed from any moisture that might get into the area.

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.

November/December 2002 – Left sill, added stiffener, trunk floor

In case you missed it, we had some good pictures of Aaron welding and grinding over the Thanksgiving Holiday. You can review it, if you want. Some of the work reported here was begun over the holiday weekend. It got quite cold on 1 December, and the heater in the Cat Cage was hard pressed to keep things warm enough for working. I quit early and retreated to the house for some warmth.

UPDATE 6 DECEMBER: Ice storm hit us and left us without power and heat for a couple of days. The crystalline trees on the DeLong hacienda were quite beautiful. But unfortunately, there was no escape from the cold. We all slept in the living room and tended the fire all night to chase away the cold. Animals made it through all right, with the exception of a few tropical fish and a beloved catfish. The goldfish in the pond of course didn’t even notice, and Aaron’s hydroponic set up had no casulties either. We lost power around 1 am on 5 December and got it back about 5 pm on 6 December. Thank goodness we had a pile of firewood all cured and ready for use. We’ll have to set the boys on the pile of unsplit wood next week or so.

Arlene’s thinking that a generator isn’t such a bad idea at all.

Left sill

The boys removed the left outer sill on 17 November with the impact hammer, but we didn’t do anything with the hole until Thanksgiving Day weekend, when we cut the hole clean and ground off the tabs left from the old rusted out outer sill. The corrosion on this sill was mainly in the front, with some rust buildup at the rear of the sill, under the rear stiffener. As with the right sill, there was corrosion nearest the floor as well (in the picture that would the the top edge of the sill, since the car is upside down). I went ahead and took off the rusted section all along the sill, so that we can repair the sill as one piece rather than in smaller sections. It seemed to me that an integrated repair would be more durable. This repair will be very similar to the right sill repair.

You can also see that the front stiffener was corroded at the bottom (the top in the picture). It will be replaced by a home fabricated piece. Although the rust isn’t very visible in the picture, the rear stiffener also was damaged on the bottom. It had weakened steel and a small corroded hole near the bottom. The weld onto the sill, however, was still very tight.

One thing that became very clear was the advantage of having the car upside down. The sill was completely accessible, and gravity worked with us as we ground the cut. Although the angle grinder isn’t really heavy, it does kick around a bit. If I ever do this again (Lord help me!), I’ll remember to flip before the sills come off.

Middle stiffener added to right sill

It is appropriate to see how the right sill looks now that it’s been finished on the inside. The left sill, in all its unrepaired glory, is a little depressing…. You might recall that I wavered a bit about installing a middle stiffener, but I eventually decided it would be a good idea. Although Jaguar’s design didn’t include a stiffener opposite the center cross beam, I thought that lateral movement might be discouraged a bit if we’d install one. Restorers who install middle stiffeners usually use a modified front stiffener. I created a smaller stiffener that is about the width of the cross beam. Aaron welded it in nearly flawlessly — our first weld that did not require so much as a particle of grinding stone. After that, we cleaned it up and primed it with rust-preventive primer. POR-15 comes later.

Repair of trunk floor finished

I don’t have any pictures of this yet. It has gotten cold in North Carolina, and my enthusiasm for taking pictures has waned as the temperature has dropped. I’ll update later. At any rate, the trunk floor is repaired. I repaired the corrosion next to the fuel filter hole, and I repaired some rust damage that happened along the underside of the trunk floor stiffeners. The middle stiffener encases two bolts that serve as the connection point for the exhaust resonators. Those bolts — and the fitting inside the stiffener — were absent when I took off the bracket that holds the resonators to the underside of the car. I fashioned a new connector using stainless steel bolts. It’s now in great shape. I do think that the next time this car undergoes a restoration, the underside of the trunk will need to be replaced entirely. That would be the cleanest fix at this point.

I’ll add pictures later, when the temps go up again.

November 2002 – Ugly hole fixed, car flipped, more nasty rust

An eventful weekend, this was — though not because too many things got done. It was mainly because things changed visually so much. Now when you enter the garage (a.k.a. “The Cat Cage”), you see the bottom of the car, not the top. Of course, this opens up many new possibilities, since the ugly old floors are very visible; and, more importantly, they are supremely accessible. The sills on the sides of the car are also very accessible and quite easy to work on.

Ugly Hole Fixed (16 November 2002)

But before the boys and I flipped the car, I finally got the ugly loudspeaker hole welded shut with sheet metal and smoothed with Bondo. I had decided to place a sheet of 20-gauge metal over the hole and weld along the perimeter. This looked to me fairly straightforward, but the actual doing of it was a bit more complicated. The top two-thirds of the sheet welded tightly to the body panel, but the bottom portion did not. At the bottom edge, the metal was sticking out about 2 centimeters — a significant bulge to finesse with Bondo. I actually thought about just leaving well enough alone and using Bondo to cover the lower portion, and yet that seemed a bit sloppy. I ended up cutting off the portion of the metal that wasn’t tight and fashioning a plate to refit into the hole. I ground off the messy weld-metal, and refit the portion. It fit nicely. I then welded the two pieces together along the seam, and then ground off the excess weld. Bondo flattened it up well enough. Since the hole was inset the thickness of the sheet metal inside the trunk area, I sanded and cleaned up the area around the hole and bondoed the indent so that it is flat. Of course, the fix lacks two of the creases that are normally found on this body panel, but this fix was good enough. It is strong, and since it is covered by upholstery, it will also be invisible.

Car Flipped (17 November 2002)

Actually flipping the car over was quite easy. I used the same kind of body supports as I had before, except that I added some styrofoam shapes and padding to make sure that the more-or-less ready top part of the body shell was not damaged by the supports. We did have to be careful about the “A” posts that form the side edges of the windshield. These could not bear the weight of the body, and we made sure that theynever touched the floor as we lifted and turned the body over. This was mainly a matter of placing the rear (the so-called “boot”) of the body on a pad on the floor, then removing the support from the front. Once the entire body rested on the floor we literally rolled the body onto its side. Then after having placed the support for the front where it could accept the body and support it, we lifted the front part of the body up, leaning a portion of the body weight onto the rear section. We settled the front onto the frame support, lifted the rear section and put the supports for the rear into place.

The process wasn’t particularly difficult, with the exception of worrying about keeping the “A” posts off the ground. It did take the strength of the three of us and a bit of organization.

With the car upside down, removing the rusted floor panels is greatly simplified. I got the right side floor panel nearly completely off on Sunday evening, and I managed to clean up much of the tab where the new floor will attach. I discovered a few places where replacement sheet metal will be desirable, and, for the most part, not too difficult to install. One of the last sections I removed was the bottom of the “tranny tunnel” — the hump in the center of the vehicle that covers the drive shaft (or, as the Brits call it, the “propeller shaft”).

More Nasty Rust

I hadn’t expected to find anything particularly remarkable inside the tranny tunnel, since from the top it appeared to have been spared any ravages of corrosion. As a matter of fact I had figured that the piece had been replaced at some time, since it seemed pretty much untouched. I was wrong, it turned out, since the bottom of the tranny tunnel hadn’t been well enough protected from moisture. The tunnel has a bit of an indentation on the driver’s side, where the emergency brake lever is situated. This piece contains the hinge for the lever, an electrical switch sensor that lights up the emergency brake light, and the cable housing leading to the rear brakes that are engaged by the emergency brake. (Incidently, the E-Type has a separate set of brake pads that are engaged by the emergency brake.) The bottom of the housing for the brake mechanicals and switch was completely absent — eaten away by moisture seeping and spraying from the road, presumably.

Anyway, since I can’t fabricate the entire complicated part, I’ll have to replace the entire tranny tunnel. That will delay the installation of the floor panels, and I’ll have to put my mind to firming up the mid section of the body shell, since the engine covering and tranny tunnel do give the mid section some rigidity.

November 2002 – Various small parts

Right Engine-Tranny Cover

A previous owner of the car must have been a happy owner of a pneumatic cutting tool, because he made some interesting cuts to gain access to the transmission or the transmission bell housing. It’s not particularly clear what exactly required such invasive and destructive work to be done. I was thinking that perhaps there was simple laziness at the root of it. For typical adjustments, the E-type has adequate portholes going into the transmission area. But perhaps this was starter work? A clutch job (unlikely, I think)? We shall probably never know.

Anyway, I fashioned a replacement piece for the front engine/transmission housing wall out of 18-gauge steel, and I cut out the damaged piece from the transmission cowel. That piece we replaced with another piece of 18-gauge steel. Aaron did the welding and the grinding.

It is amazing what was considered acceptable repair for previous owners of the car. The pieces we took out were welded, of course, but the welds consisted of blobs of metal with vast voids between them. There were no additional pieces of metal welded into a lap over the holes that were cut (roughly, as is always the case with pneumatic impact cutters). Even the roughly cut slices apparently weren’t even hammered the slightest bit to make them straight. It was, apparently, simply jack-hammer cut and splotch-welded.

I find I have little patience for this shoddy workmanship.

This was not a difficult repair to do. It was really a matter of cutting metal and welding it into place. Aaron did a very good job at putting it all straight, and now the piece is markedly more sound and complete. A good success for a first welding job on the Jag.

Some Painting — Black Stuff

In short, one of the IRS supports, the engine mounts, the IRS access plate, the water pump pulley, the passenger-side (right) air vent, and (primed only) the mounting bracket for the voltage regulator. The voltage regulator bracket is supposed to be silver color.

Radius Arm Cup

The couplings between the floor panels and the two radius arms extending from the rear suspension need to be installed before the floor panels are installed. We looked at the existing cups and one of them was corroded beyond repair. I ordered a replacement for it. The other one still lingers in my mind as a repairable piece or as a replacement piece. We did go ahead and repair the cup that still has structural integrity, though questions remain because of the threading in the center of the coupling. They are not exactly well defined. I could, perhaps, go ahead and retap the threads with some success. At this point, we are going to wait until the new part arrives (sometimes after the Thanksgiving Holiday, I was told) and then we’ll make a decision about the replacement. I definitely do not want to install a restored part that will fail after a few thousand miles!

The replacement “radius arm mounting cup” costs US$55.00 plus shipping. I took the restored piece into the hardware store to see what I could find for mounting the piece onto the floor panel and to see what the threads inside could actually do. It appears that the rust damage didn’t corrode into the piece, but rather filled into the threads. I think as metal rusts, it expands, so this might be only partially reassuring. I could, of course, tap the piece into a larger thread size, but then I would need to use a larger attachment bolt — a risky proposition, since the bolt also goes through a bushing assembly. I could also add metal to the threaded area, and then drill and tap it, but I’m not clear that the strength would be as good as it should be.

Rear Floor Stiffener

This is a part I had to fabricate, since it was not available from my US supplier, and there were no plans to import any more (from what I could tell from the supplier, anyway).

It is a simple part to fabricate, though I’ve found that any fabrication is putzy. I created a template from the original part, transferred the pattern to 18-gauge sheet metal, cut it out, bent it, welded it, and drilled it. This part probably took four hours to create, all told. I did do a bit of extra work on this piece, just to make sure that it served the purpose of “stiffening” well. I reinforced the attachment tabs with a double thickness of metal (two times the 18-gauge metal, that is). It’s currently ready for priming and installation, once the floor panels are in place.

The number written on the piece, by the way, is for the part tracking system I developed.

Repair of Trunk Floor

We fixed the bondoed hole that was located next to the hole where the fuel filter cup extends below the body. This was damage that didn’t become apparent until we had removed the paint from the inside of the trunk. The fix entailed cutting out the corrosion and the entire fuel filter cup hole, even though the rust damage was isolated to one side of the hole. I figured it would be easier to create an entire hole than it would be to try to fashion a piece and attach it flawlessly to the “good” metal of the original hole. Once again, this was a matter of exactly fashioning a replacement piece, welding tabs to the hole, and welding the new piece onto the tabs.

The picture is, perhaps, not so very informative, but it does have a certain artistic quality, I thought. It is almost an impressionistic rendering of the repair. Monet in the Cat Cage garage! This is the metal after most of the grinding was completed and before I put a layer of Bondo on. At least my Bondo application is over real solid metal, not fiberglass mesh.

November 2002 – Right sill stiffeners, rear bulkhead, some priming

Right Sill Stiffeners

After the manufacture and installation of the sill end pieces on the right sill, I installed the front and rear sill stiffeners. These are littlemore than brackets that fit below the door frames — below the “B”-pillar in the rear and below the structure that holds the door hinges. They turn the (roughly) square sill into two triangles, and that’s why they are so good at stiffening the sills. I was thinking about putting a third sill stiffener in between the front and rear stiffeners, but after I got them in, it seemed as though there really wasn’t that much room between the stiffeners. At least not much to worry about. (I have seen a third stiffener installed by some restorers. They use a modified front stiffener.)

I had to fabricate the rear stiffener myself, and I used the existing rear stiffener on the left side of the car as a guide. That stiffener is intact, and it needs a little repair. I just created a template out of cardboard (the side of a Budweiser 24-pack), and tested it out by folding it and placing it into the sill. Once I was happy with the fit, I just cut the metal, leaving a little bit extra material so that I could trim it down after bending it. I installed both stiffeners with spot welds.

They really do firm up the sill.

Rear Bulkhead, Some Priming

The right rear bulkhead, you might recall, was pretty badly corroded about two inches up from the floor panel and nearest the sill side. I cut out all of the corrosion, cleaned up the internal structure that supports the rear bulkhead, welded in some tabs, and spot welded new metal cut the same shape as the area I had removed. After grinding it all flat as best I could, I put a thin layer of Bondo to smooth out the surface. After sanding, I primed the rebuilt rear bulkhead and the right inner sill. You might notice that I “missed” a small area about halfway along the sill. Actually, I didn’t prime that area, since I’ll need to weld the cross-member to the sill at about that point. I figured I didn’t want to cook my primer! I also primed the right rear wheel well, which I scraped and scraped and scraped to get off the various coatings of rustproofing and greasy girt.

Need Radius Arm Mounting Cups

I’m just about ready to install the right floor panel. I have a bit of sheet metal repair to do near the engine/transmission wall, but that is fairly trivial. After I installed the floors I was hoping to be able to install the “radius arm mount cups” — little fittings that hold the arms that come front from the independent rear suspension. But, the mounting cups need to be put into place before the floor goes on. Some of the holes intended for hardware are not accessible after the floor is fitted, since they are then entombed in the rear bulkhead. So I have to get at least one new mounting cup, possibly two. The mounting cup that we removed from the right side was damaged by the cutting tool, and it was at any rate pretty badly damaged by rust.

The mounting cup on the left floor is in better shape, and I will know more about its usefulness after I get it off. I’ll probably grind the hardware off on Monday night and take a closer look. If it is serviceable, we’ll probably use it on the right side after we clean it up and rust-protect it. I want to get on with the floor panel installation, so that we can prime, rock-guard, and paint the underside of the car. Then we can get it back right-side up, and move on to some mechanical work!

November 2002 – Frame removed

Frame Removed (9 November 2002)

The front frame that holds the engine, the front suspension, and the bonnet was removed. Overall it was No Big Deal, though bolts on the left (driver’s) side were rusted tight and had to be drilled off. The heads of the bolts had fused, though the threads apparently are loose. I can move the cut-off bolts with my fingers now. I suspect that I won’t even need to worry too much about the assembly that attaches the frame to the “tub.” Although much of the hardware is in decent shape, I think I’ll be replacing all of the hardware when I reassemble the frame.

I took the frame off with the front suspension intact. I have to admit that I’m not thrilled with the prospect of dismantling the front suspension. But I did have to remove the frame in order to free up the body shell and make it easier to flip the entire body to fit the floor panels. The picture shows the front bulkhead half stripped. Over the course of the weekend, I managed to strip and sand most of the piece. I’m hoping that the weather holds so that I can prime the bulkhead and get some more POR-15 to lay over the primer as a sealant.

I had other things to do than work on the car, but the removal of the frame didn’t take very long.

Footwell Repair (10 November 2002)

I took on more rust repair. This time it was the left side footwell cover that makes up part of the front bulkhead. (This section appears on the right side of the bulkhead picture, since the picture is taken from the front toward the back. Thus, the directions get reversed. You always refer to the sides of the car as though you were in the car seat, looking forward.) The piece was bent on the bottom, and corrosion had significantly weakened the metal up a little less than an inch. The picture clearly shows the bend, and some rust is visible, though much of the rust is surface rust and not a concern.

The fix entailed cutting out the section of the footwell that was damaged, spot welding a panel behind the front side of the piece, and then attaching a new lower section of the footwell with spot welds and lap welds. This lower section has a tab that angles out from the front, and it is part of the way that the floors are attached. As we did with the left inner sill, we used 18-gauge steel to fashion the pieces. It’s not too tough to cut, but it is stiff and resists the bending. To make it easier to grab and bend, I made the tab about three-quarters of an inch big. Although the final product doesn’t need that big an angled tab, we can cut or grind off the excess after the floor panel is in place, too.

Perhaps I’m doing something wrong with spot welding, but I find that I often have a lot of grinding to do. And then sometimes I have little indentations or voids where the metal seems not to have stayed. I chalk it all up to the poor visibility. Put a welder’s mask on and see how much you can make out, even with blinding lights. But after the grinding and some touch-up welding the piece seemed pretty presentable. I used an angle grinder to do the smoothing, but of course there always are imperfections and ripples. A light coating of bondo smoothed out the surface.

It is perhaps a realization that creeps up on all car restorers: Bondo seems less and less despicable stuff. I suppose that’s healthy, so long as I don’t fall to the Dark Side, and start doing everything with bondo.

The footwell repair took the bulk of the day. Now I can see why this piece is bought and replaced rather than fixed. A replacement costs about $45 (US) or so, and I’ve seen them go on ebay for $25 (US). What’s my time worth? Well, at least this footwell is original, mostly.

It’s worth noting that the main rust damage on the front bulkhead was in the vicinity of the battery. As a matter of fact, I’ll have to build the battery compartment pretty much from scratch, since the HVAC Man did his trick with 26-gauge sheet metal and pop rivets on the area holding the battery. Also, we noticed that a diagonal slit was made along the left outside sill to insert more of the chintzy sheet metal — mainly on the front third of the outer sill. More pop rivets covered with bondo, too. What a treat! We were going to take off the left side outer sill, but we never got around to it. That can wait for another weekend. I do not believe the left sill will have as much corrosion uniformly along the bottom, though the front end of the sill has some damage.