Tag Archives: rust

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.

October 2002 – Right inner sill

Fixing the Right Inner Sill (19 – 21 October 2002)

I mentioned evil rust. Well, we found plenty in the inner sill on the right side of the vehicle.

Apparently, the right outer sill had been “repaired” by a previous owner, whom we shall call the HVAC Man (thanks, Mark O’Neill, for coining the name). Some of the cosmetic fixes consisted of attaching 26-gauge galvanized sheet metal (the kind used in heating and air conditioning ducts) with pop rivets and then bondo-ing over the lumps. This was done on the right outer sill, right over a rusted out (probably original) outer sill. That ancient outer sill had been ingloriously spray-painted a candy apple red, so it was probably a relief to cover it up.

Anyway, little, if any, attempt was made to arrest the development of rust inside the sill itself. The inner sill (which is the part of the sill visible from inside of the vehicle) was badly corroded along the bottom and especially so in the rear section. A picture shows it well:

To find where the corrosion stopped and where good metal began, we removed the rust with an angle grinder along the length of the inner sill. We found that sound metal was consistent about 1″ below the bottom of the reinforcement bend located along the sill, about halfway up. We marked a line at one inch below the bottom of the reinforcement bend, and cut the sill. Then we carefully cleaned the surface from the cut to the bottom of the bend. We would use this area to attach the newly fabricated lower part of the inner sill with spot welds (spaced about a centimeter apart) and lap welds both on the inside of the sill (as shown) and on the other side (facing the interior of the car). We fabricated the part from 18-gauge sheet metal — a little thicker than the 20-gauge that was originally used for the Jaguar’s monocoque body.

Here’s what we’ve ended up with thus far. It’s pretty much done, though we’ll do a little more grinding and perhaps some cleanup welding once we flip the car over to install the floors. Then we’ll have easier access to the sill. Also at that time, we’ll attach the front and rear sill “stiffeners.” I’ll probably fashion another stiffener to fit mid way between the front and back. Another stiffener won’t hurt. Of course, the front and rear sill terminating walls will be replaced.

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 – 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.

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.

September/October 2002 – Sand play and evil rust

Sand Play (29 September 2002)

We were quite industrious the first week, and we stripped most of the “tub” (the name given to the basic body stripped down to essentials). We used aircraft stripper, old wood chisels, putty knives, and rough scrubbie pads. Because rust reappeared in several areas overnight, I used some WD-40 (you can do practically anything with it!) to seal the metal from the air. That did the trick, though we will have to be sure to degrease the surface before painting.

A bit of paint remover is just fine, but it leaves paint residues in lots of tough-to-get-at places. So we’ll be using a sandblaster to get rid of the paint and coatings in those areas. A sandblaster also preps the metal for the sealant I’ve chosen (see “A Little on Rust Protection” below), and cleans everything right down to bare metal. Sandblasting is really dirty work. As a matter of fact, you haven’t felt grime, ’til you’ve blasted some sand around. Sand gets everywhere: your hair gets encrusted to the roots and your underwear proves to be more permeable than you’d think. A shower never felt so good as after a sandblasting session.

We found sandblasting “media” at the local Home Depot, though it seems to be little more than what you get with “Play Sand” at your lumber yard. (Play Sand is the stuff suburbanites use to fill their kids’ molded plastic sandboxes.) Play Sand might be a little less fastidiously dried and screened, but it’s pretty similar to regular old blasting sand. Overall the sandblasting was most successful with parts that you could easily handle, such as fittings and small pipes that were taken from the frame. The blasting was less efficient on the body itself, even though the body paint was fairly removable. There was simply so much acreage to blast!

So, for large areas without too radical curves or angles, we fell back to using a disk sander with 60 grit sandpaper. It cut through the residues nicely. For areas that were more curved, I restripped them, using a tough 3M scrubber after the paint was mostly scraped with chisels. With a final application of aircraft stripper and a couple of wipes with the rough scrubbie, the metal was pretty clean. We sanded those areas as well after they had dried. The sandblaster worked very well in less accessible areas.

Sandblasting and finish removal reveals all of the areas of hidden rust and ancient repairs. For the most part, we had already identified areas requiring repair and had figured out what would need to be done. However, paint removal from under the rear tail section showed some unexpected rust below the gas tank and along a couple of the stiffeners inside the “boot” (British English fortrunk). About a quarter of that section of the body skin will have to be cut out and replaced. Fortunately, it won’t require any fancy manufacture: it’s pretty much flat metal.

By Sunday evening, the rear section of the body — roughly from the rear cockpit bulkhead to the taillights — had been primed with rust preventative paint, except for the areas that would be removed and replaced with metal. This primed area will require another coat of preventative primer (after wet sanding) before we will be able to concentrate on the finish. But, then, finishing is still a long way off, so we won’t need to dread wet sanding in the near future!

Evil Rust (1-2 October 2002)

We managed to cut out an area at the base of the “B” post on the right side of the body. This area is where the door striker is located. The E-Type is pretty much built around its doors, and so this area is of critical importance to get the body straight. Thus far, this Jag is pretty straight, despite its age and disabilities with rust. However, the “B” post on this side was showing some deep rot, which was visible through one of the structural holes in the body after we had removed the interior parts covering the body sides and the rear bulkhead. This area is also atop the rear portion of the outer sill that I had already written off. It was not surprising that the section had deteriorated. (The picture shows this section from the outside of the body. We also cut away a portion of the badly rusted rear “stiffener” so that we could see the damage behind it. It is as bad as it looks, too.)

Elements of the “B” post here, the “stiffener” inside the sill structure, and the lower section of the inner sill will need either removal and repair or replacement. The lower section of the rear bulkhead — the section immediately behind the right side seat — also need replacing. This section apparently was under some significant corrosion pressure, since a stabilizing bar from the rear suspension was the only part the we actually had to cut out because of rust fusing the bolts to the body. The picture below shows this section of the interior, with the rear bulkhead plainly visible and the rear portion of the inner sill showing some significant corrosion. The rectangular hole in the floor panel was cut out to remove the rear suspension.

Fortunately, all of these parts are available (such as the entire “B” post structure) or they are easily fabricated (such as the read bulkhead center section).

We removed the right side door to get better access. A next step will be to shore up the “B” post with reinforcement pieces installed for the duration of the body rebuild. I’m thinking it might be good to repair this section of the body first and then move to the inner sill.

A Little on Rust Protection

Search the web for car restoration web sites, and you’ll get a whole bunch. The pages will often be devoted to rust removal, rust repair, and rust protection. This is the common theme: your car will end up as a pile of iron oxide unless you do something.

Unfortunately, the E-Type is a victim of its own success when it comes to rust. So-called “restorers” scoop up the cars, slap some bondo on them, spruce them up for a good show, and sell them. They’re interested in the sale, not the car, and so the underlying rot lurking in the the most obvious places ends up obscured by fibreglass and a cheap paint job. The car is weakened and soon headed for the scrap pile.

That scenario needn’t always be repeated, and for this car, it won’t be. I don’t intend to sell it, for one. I plan to drive it regularly. And, above all that, it just seems right to repair the rust and boo-boos as well as we can.

Of all of the rust treatments I researched, a product called POR-15 got good reviews. I ordered samples of the product and was impressed enough that I’ve decided to coat the entire car (wherever possible) with the stuff. It isn’t exactly easy to work with, though it does coat nicely even with a brush. You do have to think about things like surface preparation and even the timing of your paint job — topcoats of POR-15 products need to be done when the POR-15 primer product is as a certain point in the curing process. The end product is comparable to “powder coating”: it’s tough, it’s (probably) very durable, it looks good and stays that way. The POR-15 primer itself is available in colors (grey, black, silver) and in clear, but the manufacturer doesn’t recommend using POR-15 primer in places exposed to sunlight. The product discolors if exposed to UV light, so you have to use a top coating.

Uh, it ain’t cheap, either. But when you figure the math out, you see that spending some money on coatings wlll prevent expensive rust repairs in the future. I like doing the restoration, but I’d like a child or grandchild to do the next restoration of this Jaguar!