hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Really nice day today, so got a few hours in with the MGA.  With the extra parts I got last week, I was able to complete the  heater control assembly (Photo 1).  I had to replace the plastic face plate, as the lettering on my original had worn off, almost completely and it didn't look very good anymore.  Of course, I am highly disappointed in the quality of the repro.  I understand they have to make it out of plastic, and not bakelite, but the lettering is the wrong size and some of the working is incorrect, although that may be to them choosing a later or earlier model than mine.  I may be able to erase some of the incorrect wording some other time, I'll have to see if I can do it without ruining the whole piece.

 

Next, I moved on to the passenger front fender.  I plugged most of the pinholes and filled in the three holes that were made too low from the repro patch panel. (Photo 1).  I ground it all down and then applied a first round of body filler to see where I stood (Photo 2).  I ended up with some areas that had warped and sunken in a little, as the metal was so thin in some areas that I couldn't help but to weld thru and make some larger holes.  Shouldn't be a huge deal to bang these out to close to normal, but will add some more time.  In the last photo, I'm about half way through the process.  The filler areas are sunken in, and will require some metal hammering to get them to decent shape (Photo 3).  The top portion is fairly good so far, but the two side portions will need some heavier duty work.

 

-Chris

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Took the day off today, mostly.  Off to the garage!

 

On the passenger side fender, turns out the patch panel had some warping to start with, so ended up mudding the whole bottom of the panel.  Ended up with a lot more filler than I wanted, but it's fairly thin in most places (Photo 1).  I set it aside for now, I may do some more hammering on it to raise some of the low spots.

 

I also got out my front lower valance panel, as I was not happy with the finish on that, either.  I sanded it a little and put filler on almost the whole piece.  It looked okay from 8 feet away, but up close it had some low areas that were not good enough.  I'm about half way through sanding it down now.  I think I'll get a much better finish this round, but we'll see.  

 

I got tired of sanding all day, so I broke out the roadster top assembly (Photo 2).  This is the original top.  It was in fairly decent shape, but had a large tear that was repaired 50+ years ago, and all the stitching is dry-rotted.  The must have used a natural fiber.  The top is also getting a little brittle, so no way to save it with all those problems, but it will be a great template to make the replacement look correct.  I took it all apart.  The tack wood at the front had a small section of dry rot, so it will have to be replaced.  Too bad, as 95% of it is good.  The bad part is in a structural area, so it can't effectively be repaired, so I'll buy a repro.  I got the top mechanism oiled up and working fairly well (Photo 3).  I will blast it, paint i the correct light brown color, and replace the fuzzy wrap that goes around the top bows.  I should be able to replace the top myself when the time comes, now that I know exactly how it was done at the factory, with staples and tacks.  I'm cleaning up all the nuts, bolts, and fasteners, then I think I'll get out the blaster tomorrow or Sunday, and blast the door hinges while I'm at it.

 

Next week, it is supposed to rain every day, so blasting the body will have to wait until after Memorial Day.

 

It's great to see how many updates there are on everyone else's cars, since everyone is stuck at home (stuck at garage?)

 

-Chris

 

 

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Looks good!  I probably have the wood for the front, I'll check.  If I do it is your's for the shipping.

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Another nice day today, so spent most of it in the garage.  Did a lot more work to my fenders and valance panel.  Now that I'm getting more into the work with them, I realize they are much worse than I first thought.  First, my welding is sub-par, so I had to fix some pinholes, and that mostly just turned into expanding them into large holes, since the metal was so thin.  I also found that the repro patch panels are of a good gauge of steel, but poor production quality, with a lot of waviness built in.

 

Here's a pile of the work I did today on the front and rear passenger side fenders and of the valance panel (Photo 1).  Things are looking better, but I wonder if I will be able to get the quality job I'm looking for, since I'm an amateur bodyman.  I started on the driver's side rear fender and it's a real mess.  I think a tree branch fell on it.  I spent a lot of time on it today, it's pretty wrinkly, but it's coming along.  Needs another round of filler to even it out more (Photo 2).

 

I found a front bumper center section on ebay for only $10, so really happy about that.  Will need un-dented and re-chromed, but in effect, a free bumper core (Photo 3).

 

Chris

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Back to the garage again today for a while.  Finished most of the hardware for the roadster top (Photo 1).  Also found some paint that matches the original color of the top mechanism.

 

Continued on the driver's rear fender.  Put a lot more filler on it and got it fairly smooth this round.  Did a lot of hammering, which worked well.  I put a light guide coat on it, so it's ready for more sanding (Photo 2).  It will need even more filler a little lower than this portion, as there is still damage down there.  At some point, this fender was crushed and the tail light assembly destroyed.  They actually did a fairly good job repairing it, but the home made tail light assembly didn't help matters.  It's much better than it was when I started, but I think I can do a little better.  After this, I have the driver's side front fender left, and that will close round one.  I'll go back and do another round with some guide coats and inspection of the rest of the fender areas, not just the welded-in repairs, and try to get all of them ready for a final coat of epoxy primer over the most recently repaired areas.

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Posted (edited)

This weekend spent a lot of time on the fenders, had to do multiple rounds with them, wasn't getting the results I wanted, but getting closer as I go.  Had to change my sanding technique with these tight curves.  Had to do a lot of hammering to get a reasonably flat surface on the driver's rear fender.   Pretty happy with it, considering the damage that had been done to it at some point in time.  Still in progress here, but getting close (Photo 1). 

 

Once I finished with the driver's rear fender, I brought out the driver's front fender and cut the bottom to size and began with the filler.  Had a few high spots, so had to hammer a lot as well.  Hopefully I don't damage my poor welding too much.  So far so good.  Here it is with an overall skim coat after an initial round found a lot of high spots (Photo 2).  I'll be starting the sanding this week.

 

I've enjoyed doing all these other parts on the side, it breaks up the monotony and frustration of working in the more challenging areas, like the fenders.  I was able to sandblast, prime, and paint the original folding top (Photo 3).  Looks a lot better than it did a couple weeks ago.  I found that Ace Hardware's Khaki spray paint in gloss is almost a perfect match to the original color.  $3 a can!  Moss wants $24+ shipping for what is probably the same basic paint.  Works as new now. I have the wooden header on order and I'm still working on the two center bows which I'll re-attach shortly.  I'm also looking for a suitable replacement fabric to wrap bows #2 & #3, as they had a thin fuzzy fabric on top and a cloth wrap on the sides to protect the top.

 

Just when I think I'm about finished with all the side projects, there's always something else that pops up that I haven't touched yet.  This time, I blasted and primed the door hinges (Photo 4).  These will go on the body to be painted body color with the body (and maybe doors).  I'll have to research how they painted the body exactly, but I think there were a lot of parts on there, just all painted body color.  Not sure if I'll have the body painted with everything attached, or everything off the car.  I'm also in the process of restoring all the original hinge attachment hardware to go with it.

 

Happy Memorial Day

 

-Chris

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Really big day today!  Of course, some bad news, Hershey 2020 is cancelled.  The main thing I look forward to every year, but I understand why it is cancelled.

 

Back to the MGA, today was a huge day.  I hired a mobile sand blaster to come to my house and blast the body.  Here's his rig (Photo 1).  Here's the guy in action (Photo 2).  He uses a fine glass media, made from recycled glass bottles, silica free.  He got about 99% of it, but missed a few spots underneath, due to sun glare.  I cleaned those spots up with the clogmaster 200.  If anyone in the DC Metro area is interested, it's called Bear Metal Blasting, www.bearmetalblasting.com 571-989-1370.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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...and the rest of the story.  So I can't leave this thing in bare metal, so immediately went to getting some self-etching sealer primer on the car.  Had a few issues, there was some residual grit hanging around, as you would expect, so the horizontal surfaces were a little gritty, even after cleaning.  I guess no huge deal, since this is just the first layer.  It should sand down plenty clean for the high-build primer.  Had a few other issues with my paint gun, mixtures, advice, and other things, so had a little bit of a silly-string effect at the far end of my spray pattern, which made for a course finish, but got it good enough.  Will have to really dial everything in with the high-build primer.

 

   Found a lot of pinholes and rust-outs' but overall, not too bad.  The trunk is the worst part, ruined from moisture at the far rear ends, and the battery acid ruined the front part of the trunk.  A lot of daylight exposed after blasting (Photo 1).   Here's an example of the rear trunk rust damage (Photo 2).  Here's the whole thing, blasted (Photo 3).

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Next, I applied the etch primer/sealer.  Here's the finished product (Photos 1 & 2).  Once it dried, it really turned out okay, just a rough texture.  Really happy to get to this step.  I have a lot of bodywork to do, though.  The rocker spot welds were a little too hot, some I'm going to have to touch up about 1/2 of them.  There are a few small holes on the front scuttle shelf, a few pinholes above the rockers, a lot of trunk damage, and some pinholes at the rear valance panel, as well as some dents from parking lot bumper action, I think.

 

Going to take a little while off from the body work, let this cure a little, and continue on the smalls.  Now working on the tail light pods and the two roadster top bows that are left.  Also went to the fabric store and found some linen and some felt-like fabric that should reproduce the covering used originally (Photo 3).  Just need to cut it to size, sew the ends up, and glue it in place, as original.

 

Cheers,

Chris

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Wow. Now your moving. The body work is the worst part of restoring a car. Takes so much time. That's why the body shops charge so much. 

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Boy does that bring back memories. It was satisfying seeing all the rust and old paint disappear!

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At least, with all the rust blasted away, you can now see the areas of bodywork that you need to repair. Great to see you are moving forward fairly quickly.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the Clogmaster started performing a LOT better after witnessing how it was done... not to mention it has to feel a little threatened.  If it lets you down again it knows there's a much better replacement available and it'll be on its way back across the ocean to be melted down and turned into another piece of junk. Constantly threatening your tools is not a good idea but a little poke now and then isn't a bad way to keep productivity up. 

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I've recycled about 10% of the clogmaster already, that's whats fallen off of it.  A real piece of Chinese junk.  I think I'll have gotten my money's worth, it was cheap, but you pay a price in many other ways, too.

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Today, working on a side project.  I finished the other two top bows, blasted, primed, and painted them.  Turns out, they were originally tack welded on, but all the welds either broke or rusted and were not holding when I took it apart.  They are primarily screwed on, so not sure of the purpose of the tack welds, as they didn't hold anyway. 

 

I took the linen I bought and cut it roughly to size and hand-sewed the end together, since I don't have a sewing machine, to make it look like the original (Photos 1 & 2).  The original fabric is shown next to the new fabric and bow.  I fit it to the bow and it fits perfectly, just as original.  From the end of the sewn portion, it will be cut much shorter and glued to the top of the bow only.  I will sew the same thing up on the other side of the bow next time, probably do one side each day and space it out.  Once the sewing and gluing is complete, I'll cut a strip of felt to glue on top, to match the fuzzy material on the top of the original fabric, and the top mechanism will be complete.  Fitting the top will be a whole different headache.

 

Cheers

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Quick update for today, I completed the two top bows and have installed them on the top assembly.  Also got the wooden header today, although still have to attach it.  After that, it will just need to be installed when the car is mostly complete and have the fabric top installed. 

 

Back to focusing on the body work this weekend.  I think now that the body is striped and sealed, I'll continue working on the fenders and get them smooth and ready for more sealer primer in preparation for the high-build primer, then I'll attack all the rust outs in the body.

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This weekend, I was able to attach the top header.  It was a reproduction, so guess what?  IT DIDN'T FIT.  No surprise there.  Whoever made it lazily failed to adjust the tab slots in the wood to about 30 degrees, or so, instead they made them at 0 degrees, meaning I had to drill out the wood in the places where it needed to be in order to make everything work with the factory hardware.  Anyway, here's the finished product once I got it screwed in place (Photo 1).  It will probably need more work when I attach the top.

 

While researching and figuring all the top workings, I noticed that I failed to add the turn buttons to the rear deck trim pieces.  These were missing when I bought the car, but the screws were still in the holes on those pieces, although cut flush.  I had noticed them, but didn't put two and two together.  So, I had to take apart these "finished" pieces a little, find the filled screw holes and make new holes as close to the old holes as possible.  I had to buy some repro turn buttons, but these look pretty good and fit well.  I installed the pieces and stapled up the trim pieces again.  IT was actually pretty easy.  Here's a finished one, where it will go on the car one day (Photo 2).

 

I ordered a repro tach drive, and it is no where near accurate, plus it looks cheap in comparison to the original.  Here's a comparison (Photo 3).  The original is wrapped steel with a clear plastic sleeve.  The repro is cheap black plastic, plus the details of the attachment hardware are close, but not good enough.  I'm going to try to restore the originals.  I'm soaking the cable in evaporust to try to make it flexible again, and I'm going to clean up the cable housing, strip most, if not all the plastic covering, and either paint it in some thick clear coat after I get it back to bare steel, or try to find some clear shrink wrap to make it look original.  So tired of garbage repro parts.

 

Last, I continued on the body work.  I re-started by working on the front fenders and getting the filler complete and a rough sanding at 80 and 120 grit.  I'm going to hit each panel with this process, then add another layer of etching primer where I did the additional bodywork, so I should have a fairly smooth surface at 120 grit, fully sealed with epoxy primer and ready for high-build primer.  No photos, as it is more of the same from last month.  I think once I get all the fenders, doors, hood, and trunk in high-build primer, I'll set these aside and continue the metal repairs on the body.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Still working on body work on the fenders, but these make for very boring posts, so no posts in the last 2 weeks.  I completed the major body work on all 4 fenders to include body filler, sanding to 180 grit, rust-treating welds from the back of the fender and seam-sealing the welds on the back of the fender.  Fenders are now ready for high-build primer.  In the meantime, I started with high-build primer on the doors.  Came out okay, but I made a lot of mistakes in the process.  Here's one door after priming (Photo 1) and the other after priming and block sanding at 400 grit (Photo 2).

 

Turns out, I've been using the wrong spray nozzles the whole time, I should have been using one-size larger.  I was also slightly light in my primer to activator ratio, which started okay, but the primer thickened up greatly towards the end and clogged the sprayer, which also resulted in a very "sandy" finish at the end.  Had to spend about an hour figuring all this out and taking apart and cleaning the clogged spray gun.  There's a lot of "I don't know what I don't know," so learning as I go.  Luckily, no problems with the final product, other than a lot of wasted time on my part.

 

I think my strategy now is to move on the high-build primer with the boot lid and bonnet, which should be very quick, rough sand at 400 grit, and set aside.  This will give me the doors, boot lid and bonnet in almost-ready for paint mode.  I'll then move on to the fenders, which will first need another coat of primer-sealer, due to all the body filler I had to use and the bare metal that's now exposed.  After that, they will be ready for high-build primer as well.  Last, I'll do the ancillary pieces in the same manner, like the front balance panel, the inner fender braces, the gauge cluster, the tail light escutcheons, and whatever else is left.

 

Before I do any final finishing, it will be time to re-assemble the body for test-fitting.  I've been messing around with the body already, and it's a real mess. The rear door pillars, which are separate bolt-on pieces, do not even come close to fitting, as the poorly-produced repro outer rocker panels did not have a tight enough radius, making them slightly higher then they should be, which is now affecting the door pillar pieces.  I'll have to bend them (the are kind of "J" shaped) to fit, although they have vertical supports that I may have to cut and radius to make fit.  Not looking forward to the extra time I have to waste, when these should bolt in within about 3 minutes.  Instead, I'm probably looking at a good 3-hrs+ per side, maybe more, to make it look nice.  This will most likely affect the rear fenders as well, so I'll have to test fit those shortly to see how far off they are and what can be done to fix them.

 

Chris

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Looking good. Yes, body work is no fun and it seems like all you do is prime, sand, prime, sand, and prime and sand one last time. In the end it will all be worth it. 

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Car is coming along nicely. Really great work. 

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I did the same thing with the ratio and got the dust like finish by the last shoot.  I will not admit to the actual error but it had something to do with how one does 4:1 ratio and possibly not doing 4 parts of one and 1 part of the other rather thinking that if 4 goes into 16 4 times I could just do 12 ounces and level up to 16.  Seemed like a good plan at the time.  

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The primer I'm using is a 4:1 ratio. The paint guy told me to add 1 part reducer to make it flow better. Being that it's hot right now and even using a slow activator I still get a grainy finish. I spray the first coat kind of heavy, sand, then spray another wetter coat and do the final sanding. He also suggested that I can add 2 parts of reducer to make it go on like a sealer. The reducer thins it to where you can make it more manageable. If you are using it 4:1 with out any reducer it goes on way to thick. Not sure what brand your using, but you may want to ask about using a reducer. I'm using a 1 qt mixing cup that has all the measurements on it which makes it easy. Hope this helps.

4 parts primer

1 part activator

1 part reducer (1 1/2 parts works good for a wet coat, 2 parts for a thinner sealer coat)

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Thanks for the tips, Martin, I'll be making some adjustments for the bonnet and boot lid next, I think that will help.

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