Tag Archives: por-15

October/November 2004 – Gas tank

Gas tank cleanup and sealing

The gas tank had waited in the chicken coop for two years. That was long enough to take on a couple of boarders — mice who built a nice soft nest behind an inside baffle. In spite of the fact that the gas tank was bone dry from the first day we got the car, I know that mice hadn’t invaded until we took possession. The nest I pulled out piece by piece and sucked out with my shop vacuum was made of our brand of paper towel and a cotton swab or two that had been lying around. I had to use some wire to fish out the little bits. Time to set more traps, I guess.

I glanced inside the tank when we put it into storage, and I recall thinking that it was pretty rusty, though I was also happy that the tank was completely empty and had been for some time. Perhaps it is a matter of perspective now, but looking at it after two years of repairing other (worse?) rust made it seem a little better. The rust inside was scary nonetheless. There was a welded repair that had been covered with blue silicone sealer. I recall the previous owner pointing to some blue stuff and saying “Kreem?” but I have to admit that “Kreem” didn’t make much sense to me then. Now I know it is a type of gas tank sealer. Our closer look inside the tank showed us that the tank had never before been treated with a gas tank sealer. That fact simplified our work, since we wouldn’t have to remove a previous sealer to apply our own.

The underside of the tank, on the corner nearest the threaded hole for the fuel sump, had been repaired by cutting out a rusted area and patching it. The rest of the tank wall was unmolested and solid. The rust repair was probably done at the same time as the “repair” of the fuel sump hole on the trunk floor that we redid. This area of the E-type is commonly rusted, I’ve heard. It can collect water, since it is in close proximity to a hole fairly near the pavement and since Jaguar apparently used jute pads to soundproof. The jute pads were situated between the gas tank and the floor of the trunk. Unfortunately, they soaked up moisture and eventually promoted rust.

Bottom line: We didn’t need to do rust damage repair, though sealing and removal of lesser rust deposits were still needed.

I decided to use POR-15’s “US Standard Fuel Tank Sealer” kit. I’d read positive reviews, and I’ve been overall happy with other POR-15 products I’ve used. I know that the rust protection coating is mighty tough stuff, and I figured the sealer would be tough, too. Also, I was attracted by the simplicity of buying a kit that included everything I’d need. Cost was in line with what I expected: $50-$75. My kit arrived with two quarts of “Marine Clean” detergent, a quart of “Metal Ready” rust converter and metal etcher, a quart of sealer, and a large-ish container of fuel treatment, that I won’t use until I actually put gas into the tank. A single letter-sized sheet contains all of the instructions. In short, you clean the tank thoroughly, convert any remaining rust and etch the steel, and then coat with the sealer. (See the sidebar for all the details of our sealing job.)

Since I wanted to make the most out of the detergent that came from POR-15, I decided to do a pre-cleaning of the inside of the tank. There was no sense in pouring in the special detergent to do what regular old “industrial strength” degreaser-detergent would do. To that end, I used a 1:1 dilution of Kirkland brand (yes, it came from Costco) “industrial/commercial” degreaser-detergent. This stuff is colored a flourescent-like green. I’ve used it to degrease parts and I’ve even used it — with spotty results — to clean items that were to be zinc plated. It has worked very well to remove grits and greasy deposits. I used the regular degreaser in the same manner that the POR-15 folks recommended using their “Marine Clean” detergent. The first cleaning really took out a lot of junk, both loose chunks of grit and flaked rust and dissolved goo. The detergent mix came out looking like eight-hour old espresso. After a clean water rinse, I redid it. The second batch of detergent came out signficantly more clean, but still definitely brown. The third batch came out virtually the same color as it went in (see the left half of the comparison picture in the sidebar), so I figured that the detergent had done as much as it could.

At that point, I began using the “Marine Clean.” Now, “Marine Clean” is a clear liquid, and the POR-15 people claim that it dissolves varnishes and residues that result from oxidizing fuels. Apparently this works in gas lines as well as gas tanks. I actually wasn’t expecting the “Marine Clean” to get as much out of the tank as it in fact did, since I’d already cleaned the tank with some also pretty tough detergent. That “Marine Clean” really works — the first 1:1 dilution came out significantly brown, indicating it was at least dissolving what my other detergent couldn’t. The second dilution also came out somewhat brown. One thing that was a bit unsual was that the instructions suggested that there was a third application of the “Marine Clean,” but my kit contained two quarts of the stuff. I figured that the POR-15 people decided that three was overkill and two would suffice.

The test of the relative strength of a “industrial” degreaser-detergent and the POR-15 “Marine Clean” detergent was really the only surprise in the process of sealing the gas tank. The rest of the process went without much to note.

After the inside was sealed, I painted the outside of the tank. I did decide to mask the areas where the fuel pump and the fuel level sensor attach as well as the threads for the fuel sump. These now are clean metal. I am thinking about installing a different (more dependable?) fuel pump, though I’m not sure what type, submersible or not. That is a question I do not need to answer right now, however.

The gas tank looks nice. I’ll have to keep more rodent boarders from moving in!

Gas tank treatment, step-by-step using POR-15 Fuel Tank Sealer Kit

Pretty scary, I thought, when I first took a look at the inside of the gas tank. This area is the welded repair that must have been associated with the rusted out trunk. I think that the rusted out trunk floor became a problem when gas began to leak. The area immediately adjacent to the welded repair on the tank exterior had some pitting as well.

The instructions for the tank kit said to clean the tank with the “Marine Clean” detergent, diluted 1:1. I decided to use some regular old “industrial degreaser-detergent” (purchased from Costco) to do the initial cleaning. This entailed sloshing around a 1:1 mixture of water and degreaser. I did this three times, and I let the detergent soak for about an hour in the tank. The first time the mixture came out a coffee-colored liquid. After a clean water rinse and another Costco-brand slosh, the detergent had done as much as it could. It came out almost completely the color it went in. The picture above shows the results on the interior — there were some results but the best was yet to come.

The picture shows the last Costco-brand detergent and the first “Marine Clean” detergent mix. It’s pretty obvious that the Costco detergent had done its best. And the “Marine Clean” — which went in completely colorless — came out quite brown. The “Marine Clean” detergent is claimed to remove fuel residues and varnishes that appear in fuel tanks and fuel lines. I was skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result, especially after I had cleaned up as best as I could with other detergent.

This shows the tank floor after two applications of the “Marine Clean” detergent. Although the instructions said that the final detergent soaking would pour out almost clean, that was not my experience. That second soak came out brownish, too. I’m assuming this second application was adequate, since a third quart of “Marine Clean” did not come in my kit, although the instructions mention a third application of the diluted detergent. What is shown here really amounts to a thin coating of rust. I could easily rub it off with my fingertips.

After the inside is free of greases, oils, and varnish, the rust is converted with a product called “Metal Ready.” Basically, this converts iron oxide rust and etches the metal surface. This left (or, perhaps more accurately, replaced) the rust film with a grey film that came off just as easily as the rust. This picture shows the treated surface after it had been rinsed with clean water. The surface came quite clean, since you can see the brazed welds quite easily and the steel looks like steel.

An old hair dryer served as the forced air source. It was perfect, since I just shoved it in a hole and turned it on. For the most part, I kept the dryer running without using the heater. Hot air went in about three hours all told, and it definitely heated the tank. Overall, I ran the hair dryer about ten hours. Completely drying the inside of the tank is very important, and the kit instructions especially stress this. The tank sealer will not adhere to a wet or moist tank wall.

The POR-15 kit comes with a quart of fuel tank sealer, which looks to me to be the same stuff as POR-15 metal coating. Stinks the same, at least, and it looks pretty much the same, too. We duct taped the openings on the gas tank, poured the sealer into the very dry tank, and rotated it to make sure that the coating covered the entire interior surface. After that, we poured the excess out — about a pint remained. The kit instructions said to leave the can open, so that it wouldn’t explode (!), and that does make me think that the sealer is somehow different from POR-15 metal coatings, since those are resealable, at least for short term.

The inside of the tank now looks like this. The POR-15 instructions say that you can repair larger holes with a fabric-like product and POR-15 sealer applied to the outside of the tank over the holes. Thank goodness we won’t need to do that kind of thing!

October 2003 – Color choice, subframe & “boot” primer

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.

June 2003 – Lots of stuff

We have done a great deal of work since the last journal entry. I was too lazy to do the writing and formatting, and so the web site got a little stale. My apologies. The parts database is up-to-date, by the way. I got a little worried seeing all of the various parts beginning to accumulate, so I did the cataloging and data entry to get it all current. I’m hoping that rather than adding to the list of parts we can soon begin simply to update records with notations like “painted and ready for installation” — or even better: “installed”

Right and left outer sills installed

The last entry showed the two sills sitting side-by-side on a makeshift table. We went ahead and installed the right outer sill (the one made by Martin Robey) shortly after that picture was taken. Welder-in-residence Aaron spot welded — and closely spot welded — along the door frame just under a centimeter apart. The most tedious job was the spot welding to join the sill to the floor under the car. I did think that a “rotisserie” to swivel the car body would have been nice. As I write this (29 June), the right side is undergoing the final body work to smooth the welds and even up the line beneath the door. The section that was cut out from the right rear wing was replaced with metal, so the entire right side of the car is practically finished and ready for final sanding before priming. The left outer sill is about two-thirds complete. It stands as shown in the picture, with a smidgeon of Bondo smeared behind the door line. I had some left over from touching up the other side. (The picture was taken after I had moved everything in for the night, so it isn’t the best angle. It’s the best I could do given the space constraints.)

The fabricated sill fit well, though we will need to put about two millimeters of body filler along the upper edge of the sill to bring it out a little. It tucks a bit too far in where it meets the door and the “A” and “B” pillars. Other than that, the sill fits well.

Bonnet Wings and Internals POR-15’ed

The bonnet still demands attention, but not now because it needs whacking. The various pieces are all hammered out and smoothed. Now we’ve been trying to get them coated and ready to reassemble. There are a lot of pieces, especially when you count all of the oval washers that hold the thing together. All of these pieces, including the washers, we’ve been coating with POR-15. Luckily, most of the washers we were able to save, so we won’t have to make too many of them. I’ll be cutting them from 16-gauge steel, and I suspect that will take a fair amount of time. We were able to get most of the bad dents out of the bonnet internals, though there are a few remains of creases that I’ll need to figure out what to do with. Since these are inside the bonnet, I’m less worried about getting everything straight and really tidy, though some of these items will be visible with the bonnet open. (The picture was taken after a second coat of POR-15 over the nose section after I sanded out the insect bodies that had embedded themselves into the paint.)

These bonnet pieces will be loosely attached to the bonnet, using whatever hardware attachments are available. Since the center section has tabs that are glued, we’ll get the exact placement of those tabs from this preliminary fitting. Once the placement is all right, we’ll go ahead and glue the tabs on, and then we’ll be able to attach the bonnet pieces more firmly. I left bare metal at the places where I expect the tabs to attach. The adhesive will probably adhere better to bare metal than to POR-15. Interestingly, when we disassembled the bonnet, none of these tabs remained adhered to the center section. They had all come off and were screwed and bolted to the vents and various internal wing pieces. My guess is that there was a fair amount of rattling in the front when the car was in motion.

And here I thought that 60 hours or so would be all the bonnet would take to rebuild. Hah!

Left Frame, Front Suspension, Steering Rack Dismantled

In order to get to the final stages of the metal work and body shaping, we’ll need to be able to hang the bonnet onto the frames. We had dismantled the right frame and right front suspension some time ago, but the left frame, the left front suspension, the steering rack, tie rod, and picture frame were still in one piece. We took everything apart, with the exception of some of the left suspension that resisted the wrenches too much. We’ve stripped and sandblasted the left and right frames and the picture frame and the bonnet frame assembly that hangs off the front of the picture frame. This is ready to be attached to the body so that we can fit the bonnet to the car body. (No pictures of this, I’m afraid. All overexposed and out-of-focus. They will be available in the photo archive nonetheless, since they still have some informational value. I took lots of pictures of this disassembly, too. I figured they would be useful in reassembly.)

I have heard that you need to put in the front suspension brackets in order for the bonnet to fit correctly — at least this is something that I’ve seen in one report. The frames seem pretty strong for the bonnet, so I will be measuring the spaces where the brackets fit to see if there is a difference with and without the bonnet attached. We will rough-fit the bonnet using the failed left frame. It should suffice. Final fitting can be more meticulous later, when we’ll fit closely with the bonnet shims that are needed.

Good news: I think I found a welder who will be able to take apart and replace the failed tubes on the left frame. This will do the trick. I won’t need an entirely new frame. The fellow said that the left frame was already repaired once near the battery area. He’ll jig, cut, and replace everything exactly to spec. I’d like to have the piece in his shop in July.

June 2003 – Bonnet, outer sill, etc.

Bonnet POR-15

It may have been Thursday night, I forget. Anyway, the forecast for the weekend was rain again, and I wanted to get the bonnet center section and wings sealed with POR-15. So I did that on Thursday night, with the center section in front of the garage and the wings nestled inside the garage. I learned a lesson any schoolboy already knows: if you paint at night under the sky, insects get into the wet paint. And, yes, they did: loads of small gnats drowned in the POR-15 paint. I was able to put two coats of POR-15 on before I ran out. On Friday night I sanded the areas of the bonnet where fly lumps appeared, and now the bonnet is pretty smooth. It is definitely not ready for primer, though. Aaron and I will have to take out the unfortunate lumps and grooves that remain even still. It is almost to the point when a primer and block sanding will take care of everything, but now that the entire construct is a metal-silver it’s much easier to see what might need some more attention. We’ll probably block sand the sealing coat, and perhaps we’ll reapply POR-15 if need be.

I don’t think we’ll need to redo any POR-15, though. It’s getting close.

The next step on the bonnet is fitting the lower section to check that everything matches all right. After that (and after any adjustments that might be needed), we’ll POR-15 that section and the inside of the center section and the wings. We still have a bit of surface prep to do on the inside of the right wing. I’d then like to get the internal structure of the bonnet ready and fitted. These pieces are all in very good shape, though they do need to the stripped entirely, sealed and painted. Fitting will be done with new nuts and bolts, though I have cleaned up the so-called “oval washers” for refitting.

Left outer sill fabricated

I bought a new outer sill for the right side, and I decided to try fabricating the left sill from raw 20-gauge sheet metal. It was actually pretty easy, and I saved myself $150, give or take. The sill is really little more than a rectangular piece of steel, partially curved and bent at the points where it meets the rest of the car body. Since the car is symmetrical, I just used the right sill as a pattern, reversing the bends and curves so that the piece would fit on the opposite side of the car. It took about four hours to get everything into shape. I still haven’t completed the piece, since I want to trial fit it before doing the final shaping along the ends and making the indentations and grooves on the lower part of the piece. I made sure to give myself some extra material, so that I had some leeway with the bends on the upper section of the piece. The sill I used as a pattern was about 12 inches wide, and I cut my piece 13 inches. It ended up that I will have to trim the lower section a little.

Before the sills can be attached, I want to apply POR-15 to the inside of the outer sills. We’ll also have to complete the attachment bracket for the left lower front frame (the one the was rusted out). This will entail fitting the frame, such as it is, and drilling the holes for the bolts. I’ll also have to spot weld the nuts on the inside of the bracket — two of those nuts are actually in the sill, so you don’t have access to them once the outer sill is attached. Actually, I’m in no rush for this to be done.

Right valve cover polished

I think I may have mentioned that I’m trying another POR-15 product. It’s called “Glisten PC” and it’s a tough two-part clear coating for polished metal surfaces. I notice that the aluminum valve covers and other aluminum parts of the car oxidize pretty rapidly. It would be nice to be able to protect that metal from the air so that it could keep its glow.

I had buffed and polished a valve cover and made ready for coating it with Glisten PC. As with POR-15, you need to prepare the metal so that the stuff sticks. I followed the instructions and used a special metal preparation called “AP-120” which evidently reacts quite quickly with polished metals. You leave it on “no longer than two minutes” (according to the instructions), and then wash it off. I put it on for about a minute. Trouble. The AP-120 discolored the polish. I went ahead and applied a small amount of Glisten PC to see if the polish would come back. No luck. I ended up removing the Glisten PC, rebuffing the entire surface, and applying some paste wax. I don’t know if that will help preserve the finish, but at least it doesn’t discolor the aluminum as soon as it goes on.

I think that POR-15 rust preventative paint is really very good stuff, and I recommend it highly. I’m not enthusiastic about Glisten PC, also by the POR-15 folks. It could be that it works very well for metals other than aluminum. I’ll give it a go on chrome and steel. We’ll see how it works on those metals.

You might have caught a glimpse of the polished valve cover in the sill picture above. I’ll close this entry in my restoration journal with a close up.

May 2003 – Bonnet, part 5, etc.

Bonnet disassembly (again!) (24 – 26 May 2003)

I completed the body filling on the front section of the bonnet, and so it was time to take the various pieces apart once again. You might recall that we inserted thin cardboard strips between the sections before bondoing (more details here near the bottom of the page). Now that we needed to take it all apart again, it was just a matter of removing the hardware and tapping the pieces with a rubber mallet. The two wings came off with a little tiny tap, and the lower section dropped from the center section without so much as a wiggle or twist. The parts look good. (The pictures to the right are small because the originals were very fuzzy. Making them smaller at least shows the gross results a little more clearly. Next time, I’ll look at the picture on the camera before continuing!)

Once the various sections were apart, we could move them around more easily, making it easier to smooth the parts that were harder to access, such as the bottom of the lower bonnet section and the inside parts of the bonnet mouth.

One thing we ran into that sapped several hours was bad behavior of a “sandable” primer made by Rustoleum. We applied some sandable primer over well cured “regular” primer (also a Rustoleum product), and the sandable primer formed cracks before our eyes as it dried. We were dumb enough to try twice, thinking we hadn’t prepped the primer surface, but the same cracking occurred. Then we gave up, and the bad Rustoleum primer went on the shelf. I’m thinking it would work fine on clean metal, but over primer it will not do.

We wanted to use the sandable primer to take out some of the irregularities still hiding on the nose of the bonnet. We’ll do the best we can without it at this point, and pay special attention to the area when we use the “Tie-Coat” primer over the POR-15. It, too, is sandable.

We focused effort on the bonnet’s center section and the lower section. We were able to get the front of the center section in good shape and prepared for POR-15. The “mouth” section of the bonnet still requires a bit more work, especially since the left and right sides of the center section don’t seem quite symmetrical. One thing about working on the mouth with disassembled pieces: it is easier to get at areas and to compare the two sides of a part from different angles. That ability alone has speeded the process.

The plan now is to complete the little metal work (mainly grinding) that is left on a few of the tabs of the bonnet, reassemble the pieces using cardboard along the top seam between the two wings and the center section, and then smooth that seam as we did the others in front. The next time we disassemble should be the last (except, of course, for some adjustment as will probably be required). After this “cardboard” treatment, the bonnet will be ready for final smoothing and application of POR-15. Then reassembly with adhesives and all the parts!

A little chrome buffing (17 – 18 May 2003)

Since it was raining, a little inside work was in order. I took out the buffer and grabbed the left front bumper. The chrome was obscured by lots of dirt and what may have been oxidized chrome. But after some quick buffing with cleaning grits the old luster came out. The plating looks pretty good from a few feet, but at close range you can see how thin the plating is in some areas. Although the chrome isn’t blistered or grossly pitted, there are very small, almost pore-like, holes in the plate. These are visible only up close.

The bumpers are good enough that replating them would be a waste of money, and I’m hoping that a high-gloss clear coat will obscure the small imperfections. Even without the coating, the bumpers wil be fine from a few feet distant, and that’s good enough. The clear coat is another POR-15 product. I’ll be applying it to all polished metal areas of the car.

Rainy eyeball repairs

The weekend was rainy, on and off, so the bonnet was frequently hidden beneath plastic sheeting to protect the bare metal from the elements. I did do some repair to the right headlight area of the bonnet, though. In our enthusiasm to remove the dents, we were a bit overzealous, and we banged out a “dent” that was actually supposed to be there. On the side of the headlight hole that is toward the center of the bonnet, there is a crease that extends from the back of the bonnet to a point nearly two-thirds of the way down the headlight hole toward the front of the car. We flattened a good portion of that crease, and we discovered the asymmetry by running our hands on each side of the bonnet.

Fortunately, the left headlight area is in very good shape, untouched by collision damage. It provided the details of the correct shape, and a few pictures on the web really helped (notably some of the closeups in the “workshop” area of Classic Jaguar’s site).

That small repair pretty much characterizes what lies ahead for us on the bonnet. It’s a matter of getting the details as right as we can. It is this kind of work that makes the body repair so slow and tedious, but this kind of work is also something that can’t be hurried along or ignored. The details are exceptionally visible.

So, a weekend means repair of a little part of a headlight. Scary to think how many hours might go by working on this important part of the car!

March 2003 – Floor finished, car righted

Finished floor and righted car ( 07 – 09 March 2003)

I was ready early on Sunday to get going, but the boys were lazy. I had to go in, give them an ultimatum, and storm off before the sleepyheads showed up to help flip the car back to “normal-side-up.” The day before, I had finished up with POR-15-ing the left floor panel and setting the rear floor stiffener to rights. I was anxious to get the car back to normal (at least in orientation). This wasn’t a tremendously productive weekend, but it did have that milestone.

The floor looks pretty good, too.

March 2003 – Right upper wishbone removed, other smallish stuff

Right upper wishbone removed (02 – 03 March 2003)

Things have been getting too clean with the floors fitting and being sealed with POR-15. This weekend I turned to the front frame that we had removed long ago with the front suspension and steering mechanisms intact. The entire structure needs to be completely taken apart so that the steering, the suspension assemblies and the three-part frame itself can be thoroughly cleaned and, as the case may be, renewed.

I focused on the right suspension system. Actually much of the work consisted of spraying penetrating fluid on the nuts and bolts that needed to be removed or loosened. These nuts and bolts have been painted the body color, and as a matter of fact the shock absorber (the original Girling) and the upper wishbone itself were the body color of the car. That’s a very good indication that the car had been painted, since the original shocks were “Girling blue” and the upper wishbone was plated. I’m going to carefully remove the paint on both of these items to see what lies beneath the paint. To tell the truth, I have no idea what “Girling blue” really looks like. On all the photographs I’ve studied, I’ve never seen it. Depending on the shape of these shock absorbers, I might keep them and reinstall them. When I took ownership of the car, I did bounce it around a bit. The rear shocks were shot, but the front shocks seemed good still.

By the way, the English call shock absorbers “dampeners.” I was a little confused by the term when I was going through the shop manuals for guidance, and “dampeners” cause me to scratch my head a bit. But, of course, the name itself tells what the part does: dampen motion and “shock.”

I followed the shop manual instructions for removing the upper wishbone, since I have never done this kind of removal before. The instructions were quite good, but there was one problem with access to a bracket that holds the “fulcrum” of the wishbone onto the frame itself. The front bracket lies behind the shock absorber, and I found that I had to remove the upper shock absorber fastener in order to gain access to it. This fitting had three very stubborn bolts that took a great deal of penetrating fluid and many taps on the wrench to remove. I was careful not to be too free with my hammer, since replacing these pieces could be a real challenge. All the hardware is grade 8, however. And so, it is quite tough. The bolts themselves look untouched by the forty-some years they’ve sat. I’m guessing the a coating of paint may just have given them some extra life.

It would have been nice to remove the entire suspension assembly on the right, but some of the nuts and bolts are very much stuck. I figure I would treat them with penetrating fluid over the week and see if they will loosen up.

Smallish stuff

I am anxious to flip the car back to its normal state, since seeing the floors now has become tedious. I did some preparatory work to sealing the floors with POR-15, and this has required a bit of an adjustment in timeframe. I was hoping to get the entire floor coated with POR-15 this weekend, but the problem was fitting the rear floor stiffener. This piece covers an area of the floor that I definitely want to coat with POR-15, but that section becomes inaccessible once the stiffener is in place. As a result, I have to POR-15 the section before placing the stiffener. This takes planning — and time. Everything is now set, and I am planning on having the entire floor sealed by the end of the week.

The front end of the inner sill (the piece that is part of the front bulkhead) still needs to be fabricated. Today I found the template I used for the corresponding piece on the other side of the vehicle. With a simple flip, the template works for this side as well. I fitted the cardboard piece to the area to see what adjustments might need to be made. None needed. I can cut this piece and fit it sometime this week in the evening.

I’ve thought about calling one of these little chapters “The Car That Was Made Of Cardboard” — appropriate, since without cardboard from pop containers, the metalwork would have been much harder!

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.

November 2002 – Basic body repair, POR-15

Basic Body Repair, POR-15 (2 – 3 November 2002)

Although I’ve categorized this as happening over the period 2-3 November, it’s actually been a longer haul. But, it’s been a longer haul over very short periods. Doing bondo work isn’t exactly time consuming, though it is putsy. I probably worked in half-hour periods at various times over the past ten days or so on the body work. Derek also did some of this work. The most challenging (but only because it required a certain amount of planning) was the application of the POR-15 over the surface of the car. Of course, there was bondo on the body when we got the car, but we stripped the bondo off when we stripped the paint. That way, we could see the extent of the damage that was “repaired” by the bondo application. We still have areas that need metal work that were obscured by bondo applications — sometimes quite thick bondo applications!

What we’ve got is finally beginning to look like an E-Type. It’s worth noting that I’ve chosen to use the POR-15 as a rust-protective sealant and not as a primer. As a matter of fact I brushed it on, since spraying was just too much for the product as far as I was concerned. So, you do indeed see imperfections in the body work, though these will not be apparent at later stages. The irregularities are in fact very minor and will need little more than a good attentive block sanding after priming the surface. POR-15, for all of its virtues in protecting metals, is not a particularly wonderful primer surface (at least for those of us like me: roughly experienced car workers). It’ll need a bit of reworking. The POR-15 folks have developed a good primer called Tie-Coat. It takes out much of the work of applying topcoats over POR-15, and it seems a pretty good product. I’m planning on using it on the car to prepare for painting over the POR-15.

The right rear view:

The left rear view

A note on the POR-15: I used the “silver” color of the product, since it is designed for metals that may need reinforcement. The POR-15 people add metal to this version of the product, evidently. I do not believe that the Jaguar I have “needs additional strength” but I figured that some additional metal wouldn’t be that bad after all. The trouble with the “silver” product seems to be that it is harder to apply. It dries to a less than smooth surface, so you have a bit more work to do in smoothing everything out. In the case of this restoration, I wasn’t too worried about smoothness, since I have some work yet to do on the body, so reinforcement sounded good.

I also removed the radio antenna hole and repaired the areas immediately in front of the doors. Evidently, the doors lacked stop straps at some time (I can’t recall if these hinges came with straps, as a matter of fact), and they dented the body between the front of the doors and the rearmost section of the bonnet. I gather from what I’ve seen that this is a fairly common dent in this series E-Type. The lower section of the top part of the bulkhead cover — that is, the area where the outer sill meets the body panel — I have left alone. I am concentrating on the upper sections of the body, since it will be easier to do the lower “hemisphere” of the body when I have flipped the body over. I will do the body work in the lower section after the outer sill on this side is installed (and on the other, most probably).

The rear bulkhead is pretty much complete, with the glaring exception of the very ugly hole that was carved out to accept a stereo speaker. This Jag came with no radio, and the speaker was absent. Just the ugly hole remained. I will have to cut out the hole and the reinforcing bends and weld in a panel. I was wondering how I could fashion the reinforcements, but I’ve given up on that. At least this will be metal, not air … or bondo!

October 2002 – Right “B”-pillar

Right “B”-Pillar (5 – 6 October 2002)

The “B”-pillar is where the door striker is located, and the right-de “B”-pillar on this care had some rust damage that was cosmetically repaired, although not as badly repaired as the inner sill. The original fix did nothing to the internal corrosion, but the plates that were added to the outside of the “B”-pillar actually had some structural impact. Unfortunately, the way to obscure the fix was to apply bondo, and so the structural repair was apparent in a large lump of bondo about five centimeters from the base of the pillar, just under the door striker.

We removed the bondo and cut out the reinforcement plate, which seemed to be small gauge sheet metal (though perhaps not the 26-gauge that we’ve seen elsewhere on the vehicle). Then we cut out the area that was apparently replaced before — well, not exactly replaced … more like just slapped on and welded into place.

The piece that was cut out was in places three thicknesses deep, probably because of a tab that was initially in the “B”-pillar assembly. The process of replacement was quite straightforward. We spotwelded tabs into place at the perimeter of the hole. This was of 16-gauge steel (tough to bend but nice for welding). Then we measured the hole carefully, cut it out, and welded it into place. The tabs themselves were spot welded, and then along the perimeter we used a regular old butt weld.

Then we bondo-ed — that is, we used bondo as it was meant to be used.

It might be of some historical note that I was interested in learning how to “lead-load” (or is it “to load lead”?), and I visited the discussion area on Classic Jaguar’s very fine web site (http://www.classicjaguar.com/) to pose a question. How does one really load lead? The answer was that lead loading is a practiced art and you might as well use bondo, since it doesn’t deter from a restoration if it’s used as it should be. That is, sparingly. However, for those who really want to learn the dark arts of lead loading, there is apparently a kit that’ll help. One thing about lead loading is that you’ve got to get it right from the first. Unlike bondo, you can’t just decide to add some lead to an area. The whole thing needs to be reapplied. And from what I learned from the forum, the area where you want to load the lead has to be exquisitely clean. Don’t try to do this with acid flux solder.

Lead loading, by the way, was the common practice in the era when the E-Type Jaguars were produced. When you remove the paint and primer from the body, you can easily see where the lead was used. Basically, it obscured the seams of the quarterpanels and the sills. The joke was that Jaguar used an awful lot of lead to get the panels to fit together nicely. Things were not, shall we say, exactly manufactured for the E-Type.

But then, I’ve heard the same thing said of the Ford Mustang of the era.

The picture of the “completed” repair, by the way, was taken after a layer of POR-15 was applied (see the entry for 3 November 2002). This is actually good, since it shows that there are still some imperfections in the bondo application. You can easily see where the weld line was done (it’s a lump on the bondo). The final repair will require sanding this surface and (perhaps) adding a layer of bondo to minimize the lump-effect.