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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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  • 2 weeks later...

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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  • 2 weeks later...

The last few weeks has been limited progress on the MGA.  I've been very frustrated with my progress on the trunk floor, as my welder has not been performing up to snuff.  I thought it was just my poor welding, but my welding tip has slowly been building up slag inside it, which has been causing  issues with the feed and general quality of welding.  I finally noticed what the problem was when the wire starting to get caught up occasionally.  I was considering giving up and hiring a professional, as it had been quite a few weeks with almost zero progress.  Once I switched out the tip, things improved, so now just back to poor welding, instead of disastrous welding.

 

I'm still having a lot of trouble with getting good welding with the trunk floor and the thin metal.  I'll have lots of pinholes and holes up to 1/8" that will show up, due to too much heat or just weld building up, but not flowing.  I'll fill maybe 30 holes, but after grinding, 22 will show back up or be created, so very frustrating and slow work.  It is progressing, but at a snail's pace.  95% of my welding is ending up as metal grounds.  If I increase the heat, even slightly, I produce larger holes immediately, so trying to walk the line of high enough heat to stick, but low enough not to melt away the metal.  I also can't get a good flow of metal, it usually just builds up, which creates gaps which appear of pinholes.

 

I was able to fill in about 5 more rusted-out areas on the edges of the trunk floor, so there is some progress.  I've been going thru flap wheels and Dremel grinding attachments like crazy, trying to get these areas where and angle grinder can't reach into something reasonable looking.  This is by far the hardest and most frustrating part of the restoration.  Even with these issues, I think I can still get the welding done by Spring, then move on the the final bodywork.

 

No photos, nothing much new to see.

 

-Chris

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I feel ya, I myself have been happy to get back to poor from disastrous in seemingly all kinds of different areas.   Good for you for taking a step back and looking at the situation and realizing there was more going on.  I'm starting to do that more and it is a real help.  Before I would just keep pushing on and, really, just making things worse.   You'll get it done and it'll be great.  If you decided to do another project with more welding then you probably want to get better welder.  As I get the hang of gas welding I can't imagine trying to MIG weld with that thing just spitting out filler like an angry cat.  Moving the pool around is where it is at and anything but a quality welder can make that very difficult to do.

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14 hours ago, hursst said:

I'll fill maybe 30 holes, but after grinding, 22 will show back up or be created, so very frustrating and slow work.

 

That sounds like par for the course. It's just that most people don't mention it in their posts! I know it is frustrating but hang in there. If you have not tried it already, try 'triggering' the MIG torch. It lets the weld cool down a bit before the next pulse of weld.

 

Do you have a 'die grinder'? They are useful for grinding welds in awkward areas.

 

Hang in there Chris, it will be worth it in the end.

 

Mike

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The slog continues on the MGA.  Finding time for the car has been almost impossible between work, my other cars, and other menial tasks that take priority.  I did find about 4 hours today and some on Friday.

 

I decided to cut out the lower section of the spare tire inlet where it transitions from the trunk to the interior of the body.  Going by the progress I've made welding incredibly thin metal in the trunk, it was easier and cleaner to just replace this section.  Glad I did.  In photo 1, here's some sheet stock up against the piece that I later cut out (in green primer).  The entire bottom of the horizontal piece was rusted out, so might as well replace the whole thing, it would be way too difficult to make a patch to fit under the original piece and it would take forever to weld.  I had to come up with some solutions to make the bends on the metal.  Here's how I bent the top portion, which has just a 1/4" or so 90 degree bend in it (Photo 2).  Here it is after I cut out the bad section and clamped in the new section.  Primer is weld-thru primer (Photo 3).  Here's the mostly completed job (Photo 4).  Quite easy, actually, 9 spot welds on the bottom horizontal portion against the base of the trunk (also new metal), then weld up both ends.  It still needs some finishing and to have the 4 holes drilled out, but that can wait.  Very happy with this portion.  SLOWLY moving along.

 

 

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Last, I tried plugging more pinholes and larger holes in the trunk, but did not make much progress.  Here's where I stand currently (Photo 1).  Some areas haven't been ground down yet.  It looks fairly reasonable from this photo, but if you get underneath the car and look up to the light on the ceiling, it looks like someone shot it with a shotgun blast, hundreds of holes.  Some areas are getting closed up, while in other areas, I create as many holes as I fill, due to the thin metal.  I will probably decide to do more surgery on it and cut out more of the metal, mainly at the top center, where it is now just a patchwork of welds, there really isn't any solid metal left between the patch I made (in grey primer) and the thin trunk metal. back to the raised circular piece.

 

There is also a patch I made on the driver's side rear corner of the trunk that also looks terrible, so I will probably cut it all out, this time a larger area so I can try to get to good metal, and try again.  Upon thinking about this, getting a new tip for my welder, and talking to a friend, I think more of the problem is with the thin metal than with my welding.  My welding is bad, but I think this is becoming a bridge too far.  I'll keep plugging away at it, my goal is still to be finished by Spring; I'll call it Apr 15th, so I have plenty of time for redoing some of it.  

 

I'm also going to buy a smaller air grinder, so I can get into the tighter spots to grind out the big globs of metal buildup I create, as trying to use the Dremel Tool is taking way too long.

 

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Others can weigh in here, but assuming you have reasonable strength in the area, have you thought of silver solder into and over the holes and pits?  From the pictures I see what looks like a reasonably solid and structural trunk floor now that you've added the patches you have.  Silver solder is ridiculously strong and fairly easy to apply.  I think you could clean the pinhole areas, heat them, flux and solder them fairly easily. 

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Looking at the last photo you posted, it looks to me if you are not cleaning off whatever it is you are painting on the metal before you try and weld it. If it is weld through primer, I am sure this is only meant to be used when you are using an electric spot welder which has the two copper arms that squeeze the metal together and pass the current through to produce the spot weld? I think if you make sure the metal is CLEAN BARE METAL before welding you will have more success. Give it a try.  Mike

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I had a friend who did body work and in a situation like this he would cut out the bad metal using straight even lines, but leaving any good metal. He would then either fabricate new pieces using the old as patterns, or better yet, find a salvage yard and cut the needed pieces out. After trimming and matching up the new pieces he would braze them in, grind the areas smooth, and use a little filler. Trying to weld that metal is just going to destroy it and cause endless frustration.

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I am going to try cleaning the metal better and I'm going to try some solder filler and see if that gets me anywhere.  Thank you for the tips and comments.  I think I've done about the best I can with trying to weld up that thin metal.  I think I can make this work eventually.

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