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Hope everyone is having a good Labor Day weekend so far, meaning they are Laboriously working on their cars!

 

I hit the garage again today, as I want to get the trunk area complete sometime soon.  It's a mess and want to get past it and get the body finished, which will put me in the home stretch with the MGA.  

 

I made a cardboard template of the primary hole in the trunk, then traced it onto some sheet steel, allowing for an extra 1" on the far end to go under the cross member.  This section also has a small folded-down area at the front end (of the entire trunk panel) for strength.  The vertical piece where the spare tire goes thru is then spot-welded to the trunk floor.  It was badly rusted, so I cut most of this area out (it is towards the front of the car, obscured by the vertical spare-tire hole piece), but I left most of the lower spare time hole piece as it is pretty good and needed for some structural integrity, plus all the holes are still there, where rivets will eventually go to secure the spare tire cover assembly.  I was able to bend down the front end of the new steel piece by just placing over the edge of my workbench, clamping it, and hammering it with body hammers.  I have some excess, so I'll eventually cut that off to match with the remaining sections on either side that I didn't cut out.

 

Here's the patch panel, loosely clamped in (Photo 1).  Here it is tacked in (Photo 2).  The tacking went much better than I thought, considering the thin and pitted remains I'm trying to work with.  I'm sure that when I start to fill it in more, I'll get the same typical blow thrus, pinholes, and other problems I always have, but off to a good start.   Here's a last photo with the cardboard I cut out and the steel I cut out.  Worked really well, for just having simple hand tools and an angle grinder.  I'll try to tackle a little more tomorrow, and maybe finish the welding, or tack in another few patches.

 

Cheers,

Chris

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Some baby steps today, too much other stuff going on.  First, I plugged another rust hole in the trunk using the copper backing method (Photo 1).  Turned out well.

 

I then continued to fill in the seam on the large patch I installed.  As I expected, I ended up chasing burn thru hole that were mostly mad in the thin original metal, but I thought it went better than I thought it would.  Here's as far as I got, maybe about 80% finished (Photo 2).  Here's a view from inside the body looking back towards the trunk.  You can see the bent down section I had to make in the new steel, which I will later trim to match the correct height.  You can see a small piece of the original section to the far left.  This view shows a lot of the pin holes and all the giant mounds of weld I built from trying to chase burn holes and pin holes (Photo 3).  Once I ground it down, it looked much better, I think Photo 2 is after grinded it all down.  Unfortunately, I've been so busy, I can only get in about 2 solid hours each day on the weekend, which isn't much.  I'll have to take some dedicated MGA days off sometime soon so I can get more accomplished.

 

Next round, I'll continue chasing pinholes and probably tack in the next largest patch, and maybe fill a few more small holes.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Good advice, but I need to try to keep as much metal as I can to avoid the curves and patterned areas, as that will be much more difficult to try to reproduce.  I may have no choice but to make more cuts, but so far so good.  I'll probably have to cut out more areas that have a lot of small holes, you can see them in the photo, but I'm going to wait until I get some of the bigger patches done to give it some more integrity first.  Thanks again!

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15 hours ago, hursst said:

Good advice, but I need to try to keep as much metal as I can to avoid the curves and patterned areas, as that will be much more difficult to try to reproduce.  I may have no choice but to make more cuts, but so far so good.  I'll probably have to cut out more areas that have a lot of small holes, you can see them in the photo, but I'm going to wait until I get some of the bigger patches done to give it some more integrity first.  Thanks again!

 

I think you'll find that making the shapes in the areas you need to cut out is not as difficult as you'd imagine.  You don't need bead rollers and English wheels and all that fancy stuff.   I'm sure if you look around your shop there are all kinds of shapes that, in some small part, look like some small part of the patterns in the trunk.  I think the trick is to get a thin sheet of aluminum and, with wild abandon, start beating it into the shape you need.  You might do that a couple of times and then you'll figure out a technique that works... grab the correct steel sheet and repeat.   I'm not there and can't see the whole trunk so my advice might be pretty bad... but hey.. it was free!!

 

I'm not completely sure that was clear.  You can cut patterns out of hard wood or, if you have it, thick steel and use those to hammer the sheet steel against.  You can get the sheet nice and hot and it become very easy to form.  In addition to an anvil, things like railroad rail, bowling balls, vintage shoe makers forms, etc can provide a bunch of shapes to help you form what you need.  It takes a good bit of trial and error which takes time, but so does welding rusty metal.

 

Edited by Luv2Wrench (see edit history)
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Jeff, makes sense, all good advice.  I've been doing that already, to a small extent, but I'll have to give it more thought if I get into trouble.  I have cut away a lot already, and have identified some more areas I'll have to cut, but I'll have to weigh being able to salvage some areas vs. The extra work of having to make more complex shapes.  As usual, thanks for the welcome advice.

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Adding to Jeff's advice. I found a leather covered sandbag was my most useful 'tool' for making shapes. I bought mine second hand and have had it for years.

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It's a shame we are on different sides of the 'large pond' as I am unable too use my panel beating equipment anymore and I suppose it will have to find a new home. I maybe able to empty the sand out of it and then it would be much cheaper to post? Mike

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Mike, thanks again for the info.  I have one of these, but it is too large to make the detailed contours I need for the trunk patches.  I've been trying to make some subtle curves (like 1/4") on the edges of some pieces to better the fit, and that has been working out well so far.  I'll have to get more complex and I go, and I think Jeff is right that I'll need to keep finding "anvils" around the garage to make these shapes.

 

-Chris

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Trying to stay focused on the MGA's body work to reach or beat my goal of having the main bodywork complete by Spring or earlier.  Tough to do, working with this thin metal, but actually still making reasonable progress.  

 

Today, I got back to work on the large patch in the trunk and continued to fill in holes, gaps, and pin holes.  Got them all sealed, but when I grind them flat, I find new ones, but each round gets less holes as I go. 

 

This work gets boring and is not very productive, constantly patching and probably re-opening some of these pinholes as I go, so I stopped after a while and moved on to the next biggest patch.  Cut a little more thin metal out of the trunk and here's the patch I made for this hole (Photo 1).  Looks a little like the Star Trek emblem.  Here's the patch after trimming it to fit, and after contouring the edges a little to create a little curve to meet up with the rest of the trunk contours (Photo 2).  I will have to make a very thin patch to mate up with this patch and with the top of the raised portion that can be seen at the lower right of the photo.  This area is about 3/16" raised and the transition area was too thin to keep, so there will be an empty sliver there, that you can't really see in this photo, until I can fill it.  Here's the patch panel tacked in (Photo 3).  Again, turned out much better than I thought, but there is a lot of difficult welding in front of me.

 

I think I can fill up many of the small holes throughout the trunk using the copper backing process, which should make the rest of the trunk go faster once I get past these large patches.

 

Tomorrow, I may get back to the rocker panel spot welds, which are fairly easy to fix, plus I'd like to get this section finished so I can re-seal it with rust inhibitor and primer, as these panels quickly rust when doing this work.

 

Hope everyone is doing well and continuing to work on their cars.  I've had some difficulty being distracted by this mess that our world is in now, and on taking on too many other projects in general, but I'm going to press thru and just keep at it and one day it will be complete.

 

-Chris

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Chris, are you using cardboard for making the pattern and then transferring it to the sheet metal and marking that out for cutting? If not, it may help with the shapes and bends. It maybe worth a look at the 'blog' I did for the MG Car Club V8 Register. I did do an index to save going through all the work it is Report 161.

 

https://www.v8register.net/profileV8RebuildMacartney.htm 

 

I hope it maybe of help to you.

 

Mike

 

 

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Mike,

   Yes, I've been using the cardboard from the inside of a cereal box to make patterns, then trace them onto the metal.  The metal always needs a little grinding before I install patches, as I will make them slightly larger than the cardboard pattern to give myself some room for error.  Thanks again!

 

-Chris

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Excellent, cereal packets work well. The more you do of the welding repairs the better you will get! Thanks for sharing your restoration with others. The problem is you can't buy experience. You are doing a super job of everything so far. Mike

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I wonder if it is worth getting a TIG welder? Shockingly... I think Harbor Freight's ProTIG welder is actually pretty good.  While I've never used one, I've heard (and seen) that they are a go to for thin sheet metal.   I've been gas welding which is tough but it doesn't end up the the splatter and lots of stuff to grind off.  TIG is the best of both worlds in that the process is like gas welding but you don't have have the constant extra heat. 

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Jeff, that's a great suggestion, as I think that would be the preferred method for this work, but since I'm already 80% of the way there, I'll just stick with what I'm doing.  That's also a different skill set and I don't have the time to learn it at this moment.  

 

-Chris

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3 hours ago, hursst said:

Jeff, that's a great suggestion, as I think that would be the preferred method for this work, but since I'm already 80% of the way there, I'll just stick with what I'm doing.  That's also a different skill set and I don't have the time to learn it at this moment.  

 

-Chris

 

I figured as much... 80% is so close and the end results will be the same anyway. 

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9 hours ago, hursst said:

That's also a different skill set and I don't have the time to learn it at this moment. 

 

I agree with both of you! The little TIG welding I tried, I found was very difficult, after starting life gas welding, then to MIG welding for many years. To me it seems that you need to practise a lot and becomes a lot easier if you can use the skill everyday. After not doing any welding for a number of years, before I retired, then going back to it about 15-years later, I even felt like a beginner with the MIG again!

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Last week, I got in a short session where I was able to finish up fixing my poor spot welding on the tops and bottom of the rocker panel.  I filled in the holes and gaps in the first layer of the metal where it had burned away rather than make a nice spot weld.  Fairly easy job.  I may have a little more touch up to do, but this area is complete (Photo 1).  I will have to do the same thing on the other side.

 

This morning, I got a good 3 hours or so with the MGA.  I made three new patch panels.  There were two areas where I was going to try to fill in the small rust holes, but upon further examination, and thinking about what some of you have said, the metal is just too thin, so I decided to cut those areas out completely, they are just too far gone.  It will probably save me time in the long run.  First run, I made a small patch for an older hole I cut out (Photo 2) on the left, then I cut out a section in between the ribbing that was too far gone, where water had obvious sat, on the right hand side of photo 2.  The are about 80% installed, still have some grinding and pin-hole filling to do.  I got a little ambitious and cut a big section out (Photo 3) for the same reasons, too far gone.  I decided to take Mike Macartney's advice, and try some more challenging shapes.  This one has a raised area.  Of course, I measured correctly, but started work in the wrong area, so the lower part of the patch is too short, but I'll just have to add another patch, I don't want to redo the two-layer part of the patch, that turned out very well.  I found a paver brick that had some good contours, and used that to beat the patch into shape so it matches the elevated part of where I cut it out.  You can see the patch, but I did not have a chance to tack it in yet.  

 

Making good progress, I should easily make my goal of having the welding work done by Spring, but there's still a lot of work to do, so I'm going to have to keep at it.  Going thru a lot of grinding wheels, flap wheels and Dremel grinding attachments, trying to grind smooth my welding.  The trunk is most of the welding work, but I do have about 5 smaller holes on the front scuttle shelf that I have to attend to as well.  Hope to get another good round in tomorrow and at least get the patch tacked in.  Then a trip to the hardware store to get more grinding equipment.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Outstanding work Chris, diving in head first is the way to do it!!  I might have mentioned that one trick is to assume that your patch is going to be wrong... and thus make it out of something thin or aluminum so that it's an easy practice run.  Once you like the shape and the procedure you invented to get it... you can switch to the correct material.   Great eye finding things like paver bricks.  Once you get in that frame of mind there will be things everywhere willing to jump in and help you make a shape!!

 

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Continued on the myriad patches in the trunk today.  Mostly worked on the latest big hole I had to cut out yesterday by installing the patch I made yesterday afternoon.

 

Started with of small hole on the passenger side rear fender.  I used a copper backing technique (Photo 1) to cover the back of the hole.  Here's the hole from the front.  Due to the thin metal surrounding it, I ended up using about twice as much welding to fill the hole as the hole slowly expanded until it got to some thicker metal.  Took much longer than I thought, but turned out nice in the end.

 

The big job was tacking in the big patch I made yesterday.  Since I did my template correctly, but then created the contours starting on the wrong side, I ended up with a wonky piece that didn't fit (although the contour portion was very good), so I had to make two more small patches to make up for my mistake (Photo 3).  Actually turned out okay, but was a lot of work.  Here's the finished series of patches, tacked in (Photo 4).  Looks a lot like Frankenstein's monster, a real mess right now.  Very happy with the work so far, but the heavy work will be grinding all of these patches down and filling in all the gaps, fixing the pinholes I will make, as well as chasing thin spots in the metal.  I cut out most of the bad metal, but some of these thin spots turn up, then I have to continue cutting.  The large upraised circular piece has some more thin metal to the right that I will most likely have to cut out and make another patch, there's really not any good material to weld into.

 

Well, back to my day job, hope to hit this again soon.

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