hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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More slow but steady progress to report.  I've been struggling with the tach drive.  The original was pretty torn up, but  the repro is not even close to the original, so I'm restoring the original.  I ended up trying some plastic clear tape to try to wrap the cabling to make it look like the original, but this did not work.  I couldn't get it smooth, and the tape started to unravel fairly shortly afterward.  Looked really bad.  I think I found a good-enough solution, I ended up primering the metal and painting it with a base of Eastwood Gold Cadnium base color, then I misted it with some Krylon Khaki to take some of the metallic edge off.  It turned out okay, but not perfect.  I don't know what else to do to replace the plastic wrap they had on there originally.  I'd still rather have a fairly good, authentic original piece than a dead wrong repro (Photo 1).

 

Next, I moved on to the boot lid for high-build primer.  I did the inside first and got great results with my new knowledge about using a larger spray nozzle and mixing in a little more reducer (Photo 2).  However, when I flipped it over to do the outside, it quickly turned into a rough, grainy finish, although it was far better than last time. The primer also started to solidify in the gun and in the paint reservoir very quickly when it got to a low amount, so I had to quickly stop and get in some clean up solution to prevent the gun from freezing up with dried primer, like last time.  I just barely saved it.   I sprayed in the shade, but it was too hot, so I'm sure that contributed to it.  I think I will have to add a little more reducer and hope for some cooler days with more humidity.  Today is supposed to be 92 with higher humidity, so I may just wait for better conditions, although I'm anxious to progress and get this "easy" work out of the way with the fenders, doors, hood and trunk.  I'm using a Nason primer and I'm very pleased with it.  Sands cleanly and should work out just fine, even with my amateur skills.  

 

With my revelation about using the wrong spray nozzle and learning more about how all this all works, I'm rethinking painting the car myself.  I may end up painting the undersides of some smaller parts and some parts that don't matter as much, like inner fender brackets, and see how it goes.  I'm really interested in not paying a zillion dollars for a pro paint job and maybe having them not do the job at all, since I've been doing all the body and primer work, they certainly couldn't and wouldn't warranty such work.  However, it would be a disaster if I sprayed it and messed it up.    Still have a lot of bodywork to do, so will think about it more later.

 

Happy 4th of July to all us USA members!

 

-Chris

 

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Checked the weather and it's 3 degrees cooler, but with more humidity.  Decided to try again, making hay while the sun was shinning, life it short, I want to get this car completed.  About the same conditions as yesterday in the shade, but a little more humidity, which is a good thing.  Decided to change my primer mixture to a little less than 3:1 to eliminate the gravelly spray I got yesterday.  This time, did the hood (Photo 1).  Everything went quite well this time, did get a little bit of graveling at the very end, but not much.  The primer is still congealing inside the gun and narrowing the aperture of the insides of the gun, causing the problem.  I'm still guessing this is due to high heat, mostly, combined with the general thickness of the high build primer.  I don't want to dilute it too much, but I'll have to be cognizant of this for when I spray the fenders, which require more material and time.

 

Had a little extra primer in the canister and didn't want to waste any of this stuff, at $104/gallon.  Had to beat the clock, as the primer inside the gun was building up inside the gun, so had to work fast.  I adjusted the nozzles a little and got it so it was a fairly good coat, although the amount coming out was limited.  I decided to knock out the gauge cluster (Photo 2).  Was able to get it done just as the gun started spraying next to nothing and I was almost out of primer in the canister.  I had to very quickly put the clean-up fluid in to try to keep the gun from clogging.  Kept it running with the clean up fluid and was able to clean it up, but just barely made it.

 

Both pieces turned out quite well, these will be easy to sand and make perfect, doors, hood, and trunk lid are very straight at this point.  Next round will be the front valance and some touch up on one of the doors.  After that, I'll start on the rear fenders.

 

-Chris

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I recall the tach and Speedo cables having a black finish but it’s been too many years. If my memory is correct, what about using some heat shrink tubing more often used on wire harnesses? It comes in various colors and thicknesses. Perhaps even clear? Just slide it on and use a heat fine to shrink it down to size. 
 

Mike

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Thanks Mike.  It's possible other years may have had a black finish, but both my tach drive and speedo cable had a gold/tan plastic wrap on a tightly coiled cable housing.  My car had been sitting since 1970, so I doubt the previous owner replaced them in the 60's with aftermarket units that had time to get the amount of wear and tear on mine, so I'm convinced mine are original.

 

I looked into the heat shrink method, which I think would be great, but there's no way to get the material over the ends of the cable housing, as the ends have large bases crimped into place.  Can't slide the material over them.

 

-Chris

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The panels  look nice and straight.  Great work.

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Thanks.  Trying to follow all the instructions, directions, advice from here, and tips I get from others and videos on your tube, so it's been very helpful.  I think I can get the correct results, it will just take me a lot longer as I learn and trial and error.

 

Since I'm typing again, short update for today.  Got my restored tach drive together.  Coated the cable with some graphite dry lube and inserted it in the  cable housing.  I tried to install it, but of course, no luck.  The end of the cable was broken off and is stuck in the gear housing.  Now I know whey the end of my original cable was a little frayed!  Of course, getting the mounting base plate off the engine so I could remove the piece of cable from the housing was unbelievably difficult, but I eventually got it off with various methods.  Of course, I used some pliers with plastic jaw protectors to help remove it, thinking it would protect the top threaded portion, but I was wrong.  Spent about an hour chasing the fine threads to repair the minor damage I did on the threads.  Got the threads back and working correctly again, but still need to exact the cable pieces.  May have to replace the whole gear, not sure if I can get these wedged in pieces out.  Even so, I'm guessing that my original cable may be too short now.  May have to see if the repro cable can be taken out and used on my original cable housing.  

 

Nothing is ever easy!

 

Anyway, enjoyed seeing a B-29, B-17, P-51, B-24, and other WWII aircraft fly over my area yesterday.  Also saw a B2 Stealth bomber.  Quite a site; good distraction from spending most of my time in the garage the last 3 days.

 

-Chris

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You can definitely paint the car yourself but you'll need to get a few things squared away.  You need a good space that minimizes dust/dirt/etc.  You need a good air system and a good gun with the gun being a good bit more important.   You need way more lighting than you think.  It is all about adjusting to how the paint is getting laid down and you can't tell that unless you have lots of light.  If you have a good area to spray in, a good gun with stable air and the light to see what you're doing, then lots of practice will get you where you need to be.  You'll need to do a lot of post work to get the finish that you want but it'll end up as good as the amount of time you're willing to put into it.

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Excellent, advise from Jeff, but you also need a very good mask, with good quality air going into it. Please learn from my experience of years of 40-years of running a vehicle bodyshop, carrying out both accident repair and car restoration work. My lungs are now completely knackered at 73 years old, I am now only able to sit at the computer and read about others restorations - very frustrating for someone who has always been 'doing stuff'. When I started  the Jaymic bodyshop  in 1973,  in my 20's,  I was rather 'gung ho' when it came to my own health and safety.

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Thanks guys.  If I do paint at home, I will take every precaution and step.  I have a good series of articles in my Chevrolet Club magazine that goes through the entire bodywork process in 16 volumes, thus far.  It as a chapter just on protection.  I'll have to weigh the cost of buying all the protective, cleaning, and lighting gear and the risk of doing a bad paint job vs the high cost of hiring someone else to do it and the transport involved.  I still have a while to go on the body, it really needs a lot more work, so it will be at least another year before I think about painting.

 

I think I got my tach drive situation "good enough."  I was able to use the repro cable in the original cable housing, then I was able to drill out some chunks and filings of the stuck end of the original cable from the pinion housing.  I got it to the point where it will fit in and spin properly with the new cable, although debating whether or not to keep drilling and mess around with it, which may risk ruining it.  I will probably leave well enough alone, then fix it again or replace it if it breaks down the line.

 

Cheers!

 

-Chris

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Been very busy and it's been very hot, so little work has been done on the MGA, although I'm more motivated to finish it than ever.  Today, I made an effort to get up early and get to more priming before it got too hot, which means try to be finished by 9am.  I was able to put primer on the front valance panel, 4 inner fender supports, and the rear battery cover (Photo 1).  Had no problems with the primer today, I now have a good ratio, plus the humidity and heat seemed to work in my favor.  The more finishing I do, the less happy I am with the work on the valance panel.  I'll need to do a little bit of filler work on some small pinholes, and I'll have to do a good bit of sanding to get the contours correct, or most likely, good enough.  Not too worried about it, as it's very difficult to see this panel without getting down on your belly, but want to do the best I can with it.  

 

Thanks everyone about the tips on painting, now I'm leaning towards doing it myself, but at a minimum, it won't be until Spring '21, as the bodywork will take me through the winter, I'm afraid.    Hope to have the 4 fenders in primer within the next few weeks, then I can just focus on the body.  Work should go faster when I'm not distracted by all the smalls, but very happy I got most of that done on the side of the major work.

 

Side project I've been working is to try to get the tach drive up and running.  I bought a new mechanism on ebay (thanks for the tip!) and everything seems to fit fine now (Photo 2).  Still need two gaskets for it before I can install it on the engine, so that's now on order.

 

Too hot to work during the rest of the day, plus I'm mostly down to just bodywork now.  Stay cool on the East coast!

 

-Chris

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It's been blazin hot here too. Glad to hear you got the mixtures set and things are working better. It all just takes time. You will get there.

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Did the same thing this morning, although last minute.  Had a nice bank of clouds until about 9:30am, so tried to primer the rear fenders.  I tried to start with the passenger side one, but quickly noticed that I had not done enough bodywork on the dent repair I had done a while back.  It will need some filler and sanding before I can continue.    I moved on to the driver's side rear, which is the one that looked like a small tree had fallen on it.  This one went great, just like yesterday (Photo 1).  Had to stop after this fender, as it got too hot, too fast.  I did notice that I have some pinholes, some areas where I can see the filler contours, and a new dent that I hadn't noticed before.  The high build primer brings out the problems much more clearly than the sealer, so I'll have more body work to do when I start the block sanding of the high build primer.  Will continue on the pass rear fender bodywork when I get some more time.

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Pushing thru the heat, I can usually get a good window in between 8am and 10am before it gets too hot.  This morning, I was able to primer 1.5 front fenders, until I ran out of activator (Photos 1 & 2).  With the ratio I've had to mix with the heat and my earlier issues, I use a can of this before I'm half-way thru the can of primer.

 

I got tired of looking at the MGA body just sitting there, so I attacked the spot welds I did many months ago on the rocker panels.  With hindsight and time, this was terrible work.  The welds were too hot and I had too much wire speed, so most of the spot welds dripped down a little.  I actually got fairly good hold on them, but that's not saying much.  I ground the bad welds flush to clean them up, but I'd say 60% of them will need to be filled, as there is just a hole thru the top layer of metal and only about 40% of the spot weld connects the top layer with the bottom layer.  I think I can  fix these with less wire speed and slightly less heat.

 

Next, I got out the door pillar covers and tried to get them to fit.  I discovered that the easiest way to solve the problem was to  cut (or break) the small tab by the lower opening at the beginning of the lower radius (Photo 3), which easily allowed my to bend the metal just enough to get these pieces to fit.  I'll have to tack in a little weld to make up for the break.  These go over top of the front rear fender edges, so it will be installed a little later in the process, so didn't primer them yet, waiting to do the weld (waiting for a cooler day!).

 

Last, I got one of the rear tail light plinths and primered it (Photo 4).  These are pot metal or maybe aluminum, so don't have to worry about rust.  Only did one, as I needed the other one intact with all the wiring, fasteners, and somewhat complicated assembly, so I know how it goes back together.  I'll piece this one back, then do the other one, then take a lot of photos, as I don't want to have to repeat this process when I paint them; need to paint them all at once.

 

Pretty happy with the progress.  Once I get more activator and primer the remainder of the other front fender, then I can focus on the body.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Today, I completed putting primer on that last fender.  With the exception of the door pillar over riders which I will have to fit and weld, before I screw it over the front of the rear fender, all panels are in high-build primer, except the main body.  I can now focus on trying to get the body into reasonable shape.

 

It did some minor cleanup work on some bad welds a couple weeks ago, but today, started in the back with 4 rust holes in the rear boot area (Photo 1). This is how they looked after I cut out the bad metal around the holes.  I then made some templates of the holes from cardboard and cut some steel to fit (Photo 2).  With the help of a bench grinder, I got the pieces to fit almost perfectly.  Here's the finished product (Photo 3).  My welding has not improved for a while, it's still "acceptable" at best.  I have a lot of trouble either burning thru the metal or building stalagmites.  I had the heat level to the lowest level, as this it fairly thin steel, and it worked for the most part, but there is a really fine line between no penetration of the metal and burning a hole thru the metal.  You can see the general outlines of the holes, as I can never get a clean finish like the pros, just lots of overlapping beads of weld that build up where I try to fill in holes and pinholes.  Seems strong enough at this point and I may call this good enough.  It should look fine with a little filler to smooth it out.  I'm open to any advice.

 

I also cut out some bad metal on the front scuttle piece and on the boot floor.  These may be more challenging as these are areas that are tough to get to, and it's very thin metal.  

 

I think next I will start to fill in my bad spot welds on the rockers to ensure the welds are solid and fill in the holes and gaps that have resulted.  I'll probably just move around the body randomly from there.  The biggest challenge will be the boot floor, where there are gaping holes towards the passenger compartment made by the battery acid and gasses.  A replacement boot floor panel is something like $3,000 from Moss, so of course, I will try to piece it back together myself for about $35.

 

Cheers!

-Chris

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Here is a tip when welding in patches. Try not to use square corners on the patches as it is more than likely to cause distortion to the metal. Make sure the part you cut out gets rid of ALL the rusted (thin) metal on both sides of the panel, that you are welding the patch into. I hope this information helps. Mike

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Thanks Mike!  Good tip, I'll try to change that in the future.  I may also need to cut out MORE of the metal in some areas, too.

 

-Chris

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Today I didn't spend too much time on the MGA, had some other things going on.  The only task I accomplished was cutting a new metal piece out for one of the patches in the boot area (Photo 1).  Not welded in yet, just cut out and put in place.  This will be a little tricky, as there is a portion that sticks out right above it to the left, for structural integrity, that has some rust problems as well where it meets the depressed area, so I'll have to make sure I get the transition correct from the low to high area.  

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16 hours ago, Mike Macartney said:

Here is a tip when welding in patches. Try not to use square corners on the patches as it is more than likely to cause distortion to the metal. Make sure the part you cut out gets rid of ALL the rusted (thin) metal on both sides of the panel, that you are welding the patch into. I hope this information helps. Mike

 

x10.  As Mike says, the rusted out areas usually have a perimeter of much thinner metal.  This really adds to the challenge and if possible it is better to cut these thin areas out as well.

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