Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Fender Filler

I spent some more quality time with body filler today.  I'm learning... not too much hardener, put on more than you need (but not too thick) and sand it down so you only have to do it once.  I've got most of the back of the car done now.  I'll have to go over a few spots with Metalglaze but it's probably good enough to take a coat or two of primer before any finishing work is done.

I will say that I am glad I bought a gallon (well, 0.8 gallon) of Rage.  I've used quite a bit just learning what not to do.  I've been much stingier with the Metalglaze though.  Most of what you see is the Rage and the darker green is the Metalglaze.


Remember way long ago, when I found the gallon of filler on the rear of the car?  Look at the difference new sheet metal makes.  There is very little left to do to the rear valance.  I have to do some work around the trunk under the lid but it doesn't have to be perfect, because that's what the trunk lid is for.  And to keep rain and the raccoons out, of course.


Next stop is the doors, and then the front fenders.  I've still got the front valance to fix, but I bought a dent puller that should do the trick.  And of course, there's The Pig.

I am very sore.  This was about 6 hours of continuous work.  But, it's the worst of it (aside from The Pig).  I really should start exercising again.
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Monday, March 21, 2016

Filling the Trenches

I couldn't stand it any longer.  Knowing I still have some sanding to do, I wanted to try my hand at using body filler.  I've got Evercoat Rage Ultra (for bigger areas) and Metalglaze (for small areas and finishing).

So I figured I'd start with the Metalglaze on a small area.  I followed the directions exactly... and ended up with a lump in about 30 seconds.  Apparently it was a bit too much hardener for the temperature (about 85 degrees).  The second time around, I tried with the Rage (since I have more of it).  I got almost a minute of working time... still too much hardener.  The third time was the charm though.  I used about half what the instructions indicated, and got about 3 minutes of working time, which is plenty.

I started with the rear fender, which I knew had waves in it even though I was as careful as I could be with the heat.  I applied thin layers to see what it would take to smooth out the waves.  It turns out, not too much!  I went over it twice with the Rage, then Metalglaze, and it came out pretty decent.  Same with the edge and bottom of the fender, where I pulled the metal outward to line up with the door.  It's not done yet and I am learning a lot about sanding, but it's a good start.


I worked on the rear valence, too.  The panel I bought was generic and for a 70+ car, so I had to fill in the spots where the reverse lights go.  Again, thin layers.  It doesn't look too bad.  I think the goal is to get things smooth enough to the point where I can use a high build primer, then fill the (hopefully minute) ripples that are left.

EDIT: I've learned that I should apply two coats of epoxy primer before I apply any high build primer, that Evercoat recommends you apply to bare metal, and everyone else is in an Internet war on which you do first (and they've all been doing this for ever, you know).  Well, I'm not in a position to apply primer right now, so I'm going to continue with the filler, then the epoxy primer, then fix any remaining issues with Metalglaze and glazing putty before the high build primer and (hopefully) final sanding.  I'm not sure I can spray in my garage, so this might get expensive.

This was about 4 hours of work, of which about an hour was spent making mistakes.  So I'm figuring it's about 40 hours by the time I'm done.  That's 9 more weekends!  I've got to either work faster or find some time, or else it will get too hot to apply filler and primer.

Boy, my shoulders are sore today.  It's a great upper body workout.
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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Flat As A Pancake

While I was sanding the doors and rear fenders, I noticed that they weren't exactly flat.  The door and fender curve inward to a point at the gap, about 1/8", on both sides.  I thought it was normal, but I figured I'd check it out.  After fruitless searches of the Google, I broke down and asked for help on the MG Experience.  Gerard posted a pic of his beautiful Sprite that has mirror-flat doors and fenders, so I knew I had some more work to do.

Here's what I mean.


I wasn't going to just fill the gap with filler.  The edge of the door would have been 1/8" thick, which is not good.  So after some thought and advice from Larry on the MG Experience, I took a chance that I wouldn't screw things up too badly, and decided to straighten the door and fender to be flat.

I started by straightening the door, like so.  The door is on the right.

Then I cut a slot in the rear fender and pulled the metal out to match the curve of the door.

When I had the curve even, it looked much better.  Then I welded in a piece of the A post that I had replaced after beating it to a bloody pulp.  I folded the edge over, welded it all together, ground it down, welded it again where I broke through the metal, ground it down again, finished it off, and it turned out pretty OK.  It's not beautiful on the inside, but then again, neither am I.


I did the same on the driver's side.  I'll spare you the rundown.  This time I thought ahead and made a filler piece with the edge folded over first.  It took lots less time and was much easier to fit.  I guess that's how it is when you do something more than once.  Both sides will need a thin coat of filler to smooth things out and make the door gap perfectly straight, but I'm OK with that because it will be metal underneath with no filler on the edge of the door.


Now maybe I can really be done welding.
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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Daniel-San Had It Easy

Having exposed The Pig (Black Beauty) for what she really is, I consoled myself by sanding down the passenger's side and the rear of the car.  It looks pretty good.  There won't be very much filler on the body at all.  This pleases me.

But wow, is it gonna take a while to sand down everything else.
  1. Most of the underside of the body is all primered but some areas in the engine bay need to be stripped and re-sanded (there is STILL oil seeping out of the frame, can you believe it?)  
  2. The cockpit needs to be at least sanded and smoothed out before another coat of primer can be applied, and there are a couple of spots I want to pretty up a bit.  
  3. The trunk needs to be sanded, inside and underneath.  Not necessarily to bare metal, but it's got to be able to take a coat of primer.
  4. I have to remove the front wings (sorry, fenders) and sand their insides.
  5. I have to sand the rest of the firewall and the outside of the foot wells.
  6. I want to tidy up the rear inner fender wells, so they get sanded too.
  7. I still have to fix and sand the front valance (where the grille fits).
  8. And The Pig needs work.
And there are plenty of nooks and crannies that will need attention by hand.

Then I can begin with filler.  I am really pleased with the metal work I did, though.  Most of the panels are straight and will need little more than a skim coat to smooth things out.

Oh, and I can't wait forever since the car is now freshly sanded bare metal and therefore a prime breeding ground for rust.  Thank goodness it's very dry in Arizona.  Even if it rains it will be easy enough to clean off any rust that tries to take root.  But I'll have to re-sand everything before it gets primered.

I'm telling you, "sand-a-floor, Daniel-San" was probably easier for him, and took less time.
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Lipstick Off The Pig

Tonight's dance card included removing the rest of the filler from The Bonnet Formerly Known As Black Beauty.  It turns out Black Beauty wasn't so beautiful after all.  There was a lot more filler than I thought.  But I got it all off, and this is what I found.

It doesn't look as bad as it really is.  The middle of the hood has no integrity.  I can easily push the center in with my hand, and it goes in about 1/2".  The filler was giving the surface enough rigidity to make it seem solid.  It gives the term 'oil canning' a new poster child.  In addition, there are some pretty significant depressions in four places.


But I still think I can make it work.  I can pound out the smaller pockets and I think I can improve the center somewhat.  I'm just bummed that I have more work to do than I expected.
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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Under the Bondo

I sent the Black Beauty bonnet out for cleaning.  The folks at The Stripping Shop in Glendale, AZ did a fine job, though they didn't take all of the filler off (they said they didn't want to beat it too hard and risk warping it, which is fine with me).  There's not much there anyhow.  They cleaned up a few other bits too, like the hood hinges and some other small panels and brackets that go under there somewhere.  Only $80 for the hood (inside and out) and $100/hr for other bits.  I highly recommend them if you're driving through and feel like having part of your car stripped of paint by something other than the desert sand.

It's not that bad, really.  I can work with this.  The most important thing is that the front of the bonnet is totally solid, on top and underneath.  There are a couple of pinholes I can fix or even leave alone since the whole bonnet's going to get a skim coat of filler to smooth it out.

So close... so very close...
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A Fellow Enthusiast

I was driving home a few days ago and found someone else out enjoying their little corner of British mechanical heaven.

Lucky guy.  I've always wanted a TR3.  There's just something about those long fenders and the complete and utter lack of side impact protection that makes me shiver.

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