hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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I got my Eastwood spot weld adapter on Friday and was able to use it today. I was very pleased with it.  It said in the instructions that for my particular welder, I do not need to drill holes in one of the panels, which will save me hours of time.  I used the adapter kit to spot weld the two overlapping sections on the vertical rocker support panel and it worked quite well.  It took me a few tries to get the settings right, but by the second section, I was getting fairly consistent welds and full penetration.  Nothing nearly as nice as the factory, but again, no one will see these particular welds (Photo 1).  With a few minor adjustments, I should get some nice welds for the actual rocker panel, although right now, the welds are too wide.  Speaking of the rocker, I was able to remove the factory primer on the inner tabs and spray them with weld-thru primer, in preparation for welding them on.  Hopefully next weekend I can get the repro inner rocker fitted, if not actually welded on.  

 

As a side project, I started on the goal-post upper panel.  This is where the tops of the floor boards and the trans tunnel attach, then the panel itself bolts onto the main goal post (Photo 2).  I also started on the defroster tubes and vents that come out of the heater.  Here's the newly-painted versions of the vents and panel (Photo 3).  I'm zinc-plating the hardware and will be applying new damper felt.

 

My engraver keeps saying "I have other work, but give me 24 hours" for my Smiths heater tag.  He's given me this line 3 times now, still hasn't done the engraving after over a month.  I'll be picking it up tomorrow and taking my business elsewhere. 

 

No word on my engine, either.  I should hear something any time now, but I don't expect to hear anything unless I contact them.  I get a feeling from many shops that I deal with in general that customers are a burden and a low priority.  They have so many customers that it doesn't matter to them if they take their business elsewhere, there will always be another customer.  It's always up to me to contact these businesses to try to figure out when they will have things finished, they never contact me and they never come close to meeting their deadlines.  This is becoming quite a long restoration with many delays.  Glad to see the progress on everyone else's cars.

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Only had to work 10 hours today, so took an hour to mess around in the garage.  Have to make the time.  Was able to rough-test fit the inner rocker panel today (Photo 1).  Seems like a reasonable fit so far, but still needs some minor adjustments.  The door pillar bottoms will need some more attention, they are a little bent up now from the work I had to to remove the original rockers (maybe the bottom 1/2", so not too bad).  Overall, pretty pleased.  I figure if I can do the inner and outer rockers myself I'll save a good $5k-$6k with the insane rates they charge nowadays.  Just hoping I get it right.  Will use the other side to measure everything and make sure it's as close as possible before I commit to welding anything.  I'll have to tack on the outer rocker and throw the doors back on, I suspect the repro outer rocker may need some adjustment for proper fit.

 

I fired the engraver yesterday.  No apology or anything, he just gave me my heater tag and I left.  I'm sorry I was a burden to him by trying to give him money to do him to do 15 minutes worth of work.  I found another guy up the street, so we'll see how he does.  He says 7 business days.

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On 4/21/2019 at 7:05 PM, hursst said:

I get a feeling from many shops that I deal with in general that customers are a burden and a low priority.  They have so many customers that it doesn't matter to them if they take their business elsewhere, there will always be another customer.

 

 

Entirely aside from the cost factor, this is the major reason I determined that I had to be able to do almost everything myself. I simply would not have the patience to put up with the frustrations you're having added to the uncertainty of whether the job will even be acceptable.

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Posted (edited)

Been working 10-11 hour days (not on the MG, just regular boring job), even had to work two hours on Easter to catch up.  Really tired of it.  Only had to work 9 hours today so forced my way out to the garage to get most of the spot welding done on the inner rocker (Photo 1).  I completed 95% of it, roughly replicating where the factory spot welds were (Photo 2).  Had a few instances where I burned right thru both layers of metal and a few that didn't quite go thru both, so will have to do some grinding, filling, and double checking, but overall, still pleased with the spot weld adapter tool.  I made a small mistake, I should have shored up the attachment points under the door pillars first, but kind of forgot about it, so there needs to be some adjustments under the front pillar.  May have to cut a little and weld in a few small pieces to make it right.  A rookie mistake, but it's not a huge concern since none of this will be seen and it doesn't affect placement of any of the outer panels, so if it's a little sloppy, so be it.  I also test-fitted the outer rocker (Photo 3).  Actually seems to fit quite well for an aftermarket part.

 

I still have to spot weld the two far-end tabs on the inner rocker, then clean all the welds up a little, then tackle the door pillar attachments.  The more I think about it, I will probably cut out all the tabs at the bottom of both pillars and weld in new tabs, as what's left is quite bent up and rusty, plus I'll be able to fill in the gap I made under the front pillar.  Tired of getting so behind on the project, it's been almost 3 years.  I think I'll feel caught up when I can get the rockers finished, get the body blasted, and get it in etching primer so I can do the rest of the bodywork.

 

As a side project, I finished the firewall metal piece that attaches above the floorboards and below the goalpost.  Was able to restore all the parts and hardware, just added new felt gaskets (Photo 4).  Missing the rubber grommet for the steering column, but will get or make one soon..

 

Got an update on the engine, the new block seemed to have checked out quite well, but it will need to be bored .060 over.  The shop says the engine should be back from the machine shop in one month, which really means two months.  At that point, we can put all the ancillary parts on and get it on a test stand.  If that works out, it will end up being about a year.  If everything works out right, I can throw the engine on the chassis, then move the body towards the front of the garage and put the chassis in the back on the garage until it's ready for the body, giving me more room to work and easy access to moving the body from the garage.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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You seem to be getting the hang of this spot welding with the MIG welder. How do you get on with the weld thru primer. I have never managed to get on well with it. What make are you using? It's starting to look more like an bodyshell again. Keep up the good work.

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Mike,

   Thanks for the encouragement. I hope to get some more productive days in over the next 2 weeks. 

 

    I haven't have any issues with the weld-thru primer, it seems to do its job.  I use the Eastwood brand.

 

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Thanks for that. I'll give the Eastwood weld through primer a try if I can find a company that sells it in the UK.

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Eastwood used to have part of its company in the UK, but no more.  They've expanded greatly in the US since I started using them 30 years ago.  I think you're in luck, though,  try this place:

 

https://www.frost.co.uk/brands/eastwood.html

 

Eastwood makes just about every restoration product you can think of.

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Took the last two days off as "mental health" days.  Nothing is better than not working, especially during the week.  Got a little time in with the MGA, but mostly worked on house repairs, appointments, and other nonsense.

 

I finished the inner rocker panel spot welding and continued to clean it up with a lot of grinding and filling in some problem areas I created, then I ran out of wire.  No problem, I'll be getting some more in a few days.

 

I decided to break out my new spray gun that I've never used.  I bought a mid-level kit from Eastwood and it seems pretty good, even though it's made in Taiwan.  I got some high-quality etching primer with activator, some good degreaser, and went to work on the rear door pillar finishing pieces and the battery cover.  When I first started, I was shooting out what looked like silly string, so that was a disaster.  Eventually, I was able to dial in the correct pattern, pressure, and paint flow, and got it fairly well dialed in.  I even guessed the right amount of primer in the container so I almost wasted zero of it., as we all know, these materials are incredibly expensive.  Here are the finished results (Photos 1 & 2).  I will have to go back and remove some of the primer to fill in some pitting at some point, but good to have these pieces sealed.  I think I'll continue to do 2-3 pieces at a time as side projects, then do the body at the end of it.  I'd love to have the whole car in etching primer by the end of the year so I don't have to worry about bare metal and rust anymore.

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I ran out of welding wire (I will get some in a few days at the Carlisle, PA show, or at Eastwood), so I've moved back to stripping paint off the fenders again.  I'm now doing the rear passenger fender.  This fender was hit at some point.  You can see crease lines on the inside of the fender, plus there is tons of bondo (Photo 1).  When I bought this car, it had this monstrosity on it as a home-made tail light (Photo 2).  Strange, as they did a fairly decent job pounding the fender back in shape, so getting a new tail light assembly wouldn't have been that tough.  Here's what it should look like (Photo 3).  I'll have to do some more hammer work with the bag to get the fender a little closer.  They used too much bondo, but some will be required to get it perfect. 

 

Next, I ran out of paint stripper, so I went back to the to-do parts pile and pulled out the accelerator pedal assembly.  This piece can actually go back on the car now, although I'll have to move it a little to get the engine/trans back in.  Was able to strip the rust off and get it in primer.  Seems like I'm past the half-way point now, the body is about 15% there, the engine should be ready in a little over a month, and I've really done quite a few of the small and misc pieces on the side, they are starting to add up.  There is now space in my to-do parts piles as pieces get finished.

 

This week, I'll be picking up some pieces I had chromed, dropping off more pieces to get chromed, then going to the Carlisle Import Nationals to buy more parts for the car that are missing or damaged beyond repair. Should be a productive week.

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It seems like you are having to wait far too long for machine work. I have rebuild a good many MG engines ; although none within the last 5 years , and have never waited more than 2 weeks for the machine work stage. As often as not, in Monday out Friday. They are not Aston Martin V8's after all, just a version of an Austin Cambridge  plain as vanilla engine.

 Very rare for one to need  line boring. also the crack story seems odd. The heads and less frequently cranks crack , but the blocks are tough old things. Quite overbuilt and under stressed. 

 

Greg in Canada, 44 years of MGA ownership

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The excuse I get back is that the machine shop gets in 100 small block Chevies to every MG-type engine, so they have the equipment set up to just do Chevies and every so often, they will do a run of "other" stuff, as they have to change out the machine settings.  I think it's just laziness and they don't care.  I'm at their mercy, I just have to tough it out.  Luckily, I don't care too much, as I still have plenty of other work to do on the car in the meantime, so nothing is being held up...yet.  We'll see if they can keep the current deadline of June 7th to get the machine work on the "new" engine finished.

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Just got back from Carlisle, Pa (import nationals) and a mini holiday.  Didn't find too much at Carlisle, but did get a few great items.  I found a good original bumper to replace my original pretzelled bumper, which is beyond repair for a show car.  Maybe could be straightened somewhat for a driver.  Found a great repro heater inlet tube, and found a complete original exhaust system, with original muffler (Photo 1 & 2), which is a big deal, I think.  Has some surface rust, I little pitting on the muffler, but should clean up quite well.  I'll throw some high-quality exhaust paint on it and it should be good to go.  

 

Was able to redo and install the accelerator pedal assembly from when I refinished it last week.  Turned out perfectly (Photo 3).

 

Picked up a lot of really nice show chrome from Librandis while I was near Carlisle and dropped off the rear bumper, the front bumper ends, and the rest of the telescoping steering column assembly for re-chroming.

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Starting to assemble some of the chrome bits.  Here's my latest stash (Photo 1).  Was able to put the grille shell together; very pleased with the chrome (Photo 2).  The grille itself needs some minor straightening, some polishing, and some new hardware bits before it's ready.  Luckily, no chrome work needed.

 

I was able to pick up some new welding wire last week, so I will be resuming welding the final portions of the inner rocker, where they connect to the door pillars, then I'll tackle the outer rocker.  I'll have to try to hang the door to get the spacing correct.  Will probably be a little tricky.  After that, it will be time to start on the other side.  Should be easier now that I know a little about what I'm doing.

 

Still working all the other bits on the side, like the new exhaust I bought, stripping paint off fenders, and working other bits and pieces.  Once I get paint on the body, this thing should fly back together since I'll have most of he ancillary parts ready to go.  Getting the body will not be fast, it's still quite a mess.

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Posted (edited)

A little bit of progress today.  Friday, I tried sandblasting my exhaust, but the clogmaster 2000 did it's job and clogged up about halfway thru, then it would last about 30 seconds before clogging again.  Too much moisture in the system with the high humidity around here.  Very frustrating.  Finished it with a wire wheel and Dremel tool, which added a lot of extra time.  Ended up with about 5 small holes in the muffler, and tried to fix them with fuel tank sealant.  We'll see if it works or not.  Then painted the whole thing with hi-heat exhaust paint (Photo 1).  Turned out very nice, but looks like a painted exhaust, which is better than rust, but not as "authentic looking" as bare steel or an aluminized exhaust.  Happy to have an original exhaust system either way.

 

Installed it on the car, but missing a rear exhaust clamp and the muffler is oriented about 45 degrees too far clockwise, so I'm going to have to try to unbolt the muffler on a 60-year old exhaust.  Didn't know it was oriented incorrectly util I got it on the car.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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When I am running my blast pot, I have a water separator on the line from the compressor and another directly mounted to the inlet at the pot.   I don't usually have moisture issues, but its been a few years since I ran it.  

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I have the same setup on mine.  I am using a large mobile compressor, which seems to be part of the problem, it creates a lot of moisture and is sensitive to humidity, since I have to have it outside when using the blaster.

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Today I broke out my passenger side rear fender.  I previously blasted it and found a lot of perforated metal at the bottom (Photo 1).  I bought a patch panel a while ago and decided to install it today.  Take a guess if it was a well designed good fitting patch panel.  Answer: Not even close.  When I line up the character line in the fender, here's how far off it is on either side (Photo 2).  A real piece of garbage.  I have no choice but to re-engineer it myself.  So, I took the right hand side upper tab, bent it out and flattened it, then re-bent it to where it should be (Photo 3).  I did the same thing with the second tab (Photo 4) in order to get a match to the contours of the original fender...

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Posted (edited)

...next I made a third tab and repeated again, blending it into the rest of the contour of the patch panel.  I then did the same idea on the left side where I bent the edge up flat, but didn't make any cuts (Photo 1).  I then re-bent the edge so it matched up with the contours of the original fender.  I will cut off the excess metal after I'm finished welding it on. Although this took me a few hours to complete, it went really really well, considering.  I'll just need a little grinding and detail work to make it perfect.  Everything matches up now just about perfectly.

 

 Here's the original panel with the rot cut out (Photo 2).  I then applied some weld-thru primer.  Initially, the welding went okay, I stitch-welded it together, but I'm having issues with some minor burn-thru and not enough coverage.  When I grind down the weld, I'm left with a lot of clumps of weld that look like islands, plus the act of grinding heats everything up and sinks the welded section down.  I'm constantly trying to add more weld to fill in these small depressions around these weld islands, then fighting the warping during grinding.  I got the right half looking pretty good, but the left half continues to suffer some burn-thru or this island-like weld clumping, which is not shown in the photo.  I think the metal around the weld I'm applying is burning around the weld, leaving small depressions like a slightly sunken halo (there is a backing tab built into the patch panel, so the butt weld has this depressed tab behind it for better support). Here's where I am currently, I'm getting there, but it still needs more work (ready to grind again) (Photo 3).  My welding skills have improved, but I think went went from a 2 to maybe a 3 on a scale of 1-10 since I started.  I'll get it right, it will just take me a lot of extra time.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Have a try at a bit of welding without using the weld through primer and see if your welding improves?

 

Spread your grinding over different areas so as not to heat the panel too much. Have you tried using flap wheels :

 

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I find them better than grinding wheels for removing excess welds.

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These days a lot of us are feeling the same frustrations as you are. I totally agree about how many service vendors seem to feel about their customers. Luckily I’ve aligned with some very good ones who do call me when things are done and are close to keeping their target dates of delivery. Unfortunately, there are still others that don’t and I have to try and deal with them. Most recently is a chrome plater doing my Olds dash panel. Knowing that it’s a very involved piece that requires caroming, then a ton of masking with the masked off fine line areas painted Argent, I didn’t send it to my normal plater but sent it to one considered one of the best in the country. They do all the top high dollar showcar work so I knew it wouldn’t be cheap. I sent that one piece in 10 months ago and told them I absolutely needed it for a June 1st show that I was signed up for. They responded that it would be no problem and the cost for chrome and paint work on the 7” x 16” panel would be $995. I had not heard anything as of two weeks ago so I called and was told by the receptionist that she would look into it and call me back. Two days go by and no call so I called again in the morning. The shop is in Chicago so they are 1 hour behind me. She tells me she didn’t find out and the person who will know doesn’t come in until 10:00. So to me there’s no surprise that things don’t get done quickly because anyone who thinks that person puts in an 8 hr day is probably wrong. While I’m waiting on the phone, she went to ask him then returns saying he said he would start it and have it done for the first but it’s a lot of work and he hates doing them! Really? Fast forward to this past Tuesday when still no word, I call again. I get told she’s not sure if it’s ready and the person who knows has been off a few days. Finally she calls back to say it’s ready to ship to me, looks beautiful, and once shipping cost is determined, she’ll call me back for my CC. Well rest of day goes by and no call. It’s wedn night and there is no way I’m going to have it for Saturday the 1st. Turns out we couldn’t get the rest of the car ready anyway but that’s besides the point. I leave a message and I’m called back on Thursday morning so I said you must be calling for my CC. Not so fast she says, “xzrty” says that the painted ares could be done better and he wants to keep it for one more week. Then she proceeds to say, when it’s done next week, I’ll call you for your CC and payment for shipping! So after all this, they have no problem still charging 5he shipping on something that won’t even cost $20 to Ship? Yup, we customers are just a pain to them like you said.

 

 

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Mike,

   I tried a flapper wheel and that worked better, thanks again for the tip.  

 

   I don't think the welding primer is an issue, I'd rather have it than not have it to try to prevent future rust forming, I think I just need to keep improving at welding.  I think maybe my wire speed is not fast enough and I'm getting a lot of burning and heat, but not enough weld wire flow.  Next round will be spot welding again, which is easier, but I still need to refine my technique.

 

Chistech,

    I'm glad (glad isn't the right word!) that other folks are experiencing what I've been experiencing.  I think the only solution is to find the right vendor, then always stay with them.  My problem has been recently that I think I've found the right vendor and it works great for a while, but I get let down after a while and they are no longer anyone I want to do business with.  I found the right mechanic, chrome vendor and tire vendor, but just about everyone else has failed or let me down at some point.

 

I long for the day where I can simply drive, enjoy, and maintain my old cars, not constantly have to repair them mainly due to other peoples' failings or business shortcomings.  At least I'm learning a lot and slowly improving my own skills.

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

-Chris

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, chistech said:

I totally agree about how many service vendors seem to feel about their customers.

 

Running a business without staff or customers is great! :)

 

10 hours ago, hursst said:

 I don't think the welding primer is an issue, I'd rather have it than not have it to try to prevent future rust forming, I think I just need to keep improving at welding.

 

Just try welding, without the primer, on some scraps of the old sheet metal parts you have removed and see what happens.

Edited by Mike Macartney
didn't edit in the end (see edit history)

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