Since I was a rookie painter, painting in a garage, my paint job had a bit of inconsistent orange peal in it, plus a bit of dust.
The solution to that is color sanding.
There are lots of articles and YouTube videos on doing this, all of which have some variation. Like a lot of things, there's more than one way to skin this cat. Here's what I did.
Tools included a 2-gal bucket, dish detergent, 1000, 1200, 1500 and 2000 sandpaper, microfiber cloths (a pack of 12 at Walmart cost about $10), various soft/flexible sanding blocks, and graphite for a guide coat.
Fill the bucket with warm water, and add a good squirt of dish detergent for lubrication. Cut a 1000 grit sheet into 4 quarters. Wrap one around a soft foam sanding block. Wet a section of a panel. Start sanding. Periodically dry off the area with a microfiber cloth/and or compressed air, and check your progress. This is also a good time to clean off your paper. What you want is an evenly sanded surface, with the grit sanded out, and the 'pits' sanded out. You don't need all the 'pits' gone with 1000, but you want to make good progress.
When a 1/4 sheet stops cutting, trash it and get another. I numbered the back side of my sheets with a magic marker so I wouldn't mix them up as I was using them.
Once you're happy with the 1000, cut up a 1200 sheet and put it in the bucket. Dry off the panel, then rub graphite into the surface with a sponge. This will be a guide coat so you'll know when you've gone over the entire surface with the 1200 and cut deep enough to get to the bottom of the 1000 scratches. You didn't need it with the 1000 since you still had the original paint gloss, but it'll come in handy now.
Go at it with the 1200. You really want to get all the 'pits' out at this point, but you don't want to sand locally, you want to sand a good sized area. Again, stop periodically and check the surface, use a microfiber closth and/or compressed air to get it dry and check.
After that, recoat with graphite, and same drill with 1500. Then recoat and same drill with 2000.
If the original orange peel is minimal, try starting with 1200 vs the 1000. I didn't notice a lot of difference when I started with 1200.
I went through the entire range of paper on a panel by panel basis.
Once I got the whole shell at 2000, it was time for compounding.
I used a relatively cheap HF rotary buffer. No trigger switch, but it did have an electronic speed switch. It didn't really hold speed, though. But it got the job done, and cost about $50. If you want to spend $200 or more on a buffer that has a trigger switch and holds the speed you set, this job probably gets a bit easier.
I used Meguiar's compounds, backing plate, and pads. A wool pad with a '10' cutting compound (#85, Diamond Cut Compound 2.0), a cutting foam bad with a '12' (#95, Speed Cut Compound) and/or '10' compound, and a polishing foam pad with a '5' polish (#83, Dual Action Cleaner/Polish).
I started with the wool pad. Put some compound on the panel, spread it around a bit with the pad before starting up the buffer. Start it up and work it a bit a slow speed (1000 RPM was the slowest my buffer could go), then work the speed up to 1500 or so.
Work in small areas, under good light so that you can see as you buff out the sanding scratches. Use minimal compound - you don't want to be compounding the compound, you want to compound the paint. Don't press down on the buffer, let the pad and the compound do the work.
When the compound has dried, use a microfiber cloth to clean off the area and check your work. When you think you have the 2000 grid sand scratches replaced with wool pad swirl marks, you're likely ready for the polishing pad with '5' polishing compound, or maybe the cutting foam pad with '10'.
In theory, you don't need a wool pad. The shop I bought my supplies from didn't want to sell me one. The concern is that you'll get too aggressive with it and cut through the paint. Instead, they want you to use a foam cutting pad, with '10' compound, or maybe '12'. I tried that, but had trouble getting rid of my sand scratches, hence the wool pad. In any event, be cautious when using the wool pad.
The big issue with rotary buffers is the direction of rotation relative to the edge of panels. You want to make sure that you always rotate the pad OFF of the panel, not ONTO the panel. Do the latter, and you'll cut through, or catch the edge and literally rip the paint off of it. I did that, once. Likely never will again. Rotate the pad off the panel and you eliminate the possiblity of the catching the edge, and minimize the likelihood of the cutting through. Use a light touch and you essentially eliminate the danger of cutting through. Use a foam pad and the risk goes down even more.
Speaking of cutting through, or burning the paint. I was real impressed with the PPG Concept paint. Tough, and hard, stuff. I felt more like I was polishing a diamond, than cutting through layers of paint. Maybe if I was dealing with an uncatalyzed enamel, or a soft lacquer, that would be an issue. I guess if I worked hard at it I could have cut through even this paint, but in reality I never did, nor did I feel like I came close.
As always, wear clothes that you're comfortable messing up. You're likely to get compound splattered all over the place, especially on the car, and on you. But also on anything nearby.
That's about it. Experiment, and enjoy. It really is neat having the shine come up while you're compounding. Do it right and you'll have a smooth finish that reflects light like a mirror. No one will guess that it was a first time paint job, done in a dirty garage.
When do you paint the shell? Two answers: 1) when there is absolutely nothing left to do to it. When you've gone over it a zillion times, and can't find any more pinholes, sand-throughs, or flaws of any kind, and; 2) when it's no longer 100 deg F in your garage.
Speaking of which - why the garage? Several answers there, too. I wanted to paint it myself, just to get the experience. I didn't really want to mess with moving it to a proper booth. And I didn't have access to a proper booth to move it to. I know in some areas you can rent them, but I couldn't find any around Tulsa that would do that. I could have signed up for a class at the local Tech school and then used their booth, but you can't leave the car there overnight, I would have had to move it back and forth, buy/borrow/rent a trailer, lots of logistics. And I've seen perfect paint jobs done in garages, so I know it's possible.
Yesterday was the perfect day. Monday was Columbus day, and I had the day off. Wife was out of town since Friday, so I had the weekend to clean and mask the shell, and get the garage cleaned up. And the weather was a perfect fall day - 70 deg F in the garage, low humidity. Urethane reducer comes in various 'temperatures', and I had plenty of DT870 available - perfect for 70 degree weather.
So Saturday was spent cleaning the shell. Since I finished sanding the primer a few months ago, I've had the shell covered with masking sheet - most of the time. But sometimes the cover would slip or be blown off, so their was a fair amount of dust/dirt on it. So lots of dewax/degrease and paper towels. And guess what - I found a small hole/nick in the primer that needed a coat of glazing putty to fill it. The ceremonial "last filler".
Then time to mask. I used overspray sheeting to mask off the bay, interior, and boot. I also used it to put a 'skirt' around the lower edge of the shell to keep overspray off my underbody. Generally the technique was to use 1.5" tape, about 1/3 on the body, then stick the sheet to the 1" showing, and cover that with another strip of tape. Make sure you have the "This side out" side of the sheet, out - that's the treated side that will hold paint.
So once the final flaw was filled and sanded, and the shell was masked, I went over the blend lines with a gray Scotchbrite pad to get good paint adhesion at the edges of the existing paint. Most of those were on edges that will have weather stripping on them, so they aren't visible - the door openting, boot opening, and the rear portion of the bay opening.
Then it was more dewax/degrease and paper towels. I keep the stuff in a pump spray bottle. The drill is to spray it on the surface, getting it good and wet, let it sit for a bit, then wipe it off with a white paper towel, folded in 1/4's. When the towel comes up perfectly clean, then you're done.
Now it's time to paint the car. Nothing left to do - it's not going to be more ready, it'll just get dirty if you don't paint it.
I tried to guesstimate the amount of paint I'd need for the first coat - I made rough measurement of the fenders, jambs, front and rear, subtracted out the wheel openings, etc.. I got about 50 ft**2. At 5 ft**2/ounce, according to the tech sheet, I'd need 10 oz's. I figured I'd mix up 15 and go at it.
I tested my gun out on masking paper taped to my garage door (perfect, this time), hit the surfaces with a fresh tack cloth, and was ready to go.
Spraying was pretty much what you would expect. I started with the 'fiddly bits' - the flanges and edges, then covered the larger flat surfaces. Visibility is crucial, so I had brought extra lighting into the garage, but I still struggled to get a good view of the paint hitting the surface at times. Definitely a down-side of painting in a garage.
15 oz's didn't do it. I started at the front of the driver side front fender, and worked my way around the car. At the passenger side sill, I ran out of paint, so I quickly mixed up 5 more ounces and finished the first coat.
No runs that I could see. One piece of 'something' was embedded in the upper rear fender a few inches below the bead. That's not likely to sand out, being in the first coat. But it's not big enough to get tweazers on without making a bigger mess, I fear. So I left it and will deal with it later.
The other problem - my masking in the driver's side front wheel well came off. Rats - same problem, I'd probably make a bigger mess trying to fix it at this stage than getting some overspray in that well, so I'll go with the overspray. Grrrr.
My paint tech rep suggested 4 coats, spaced 20, 30, and 40 minutes apart. The reasoning was - you wanted the previous coat to be set up enough so that the solvents in a subsequent coat wouldn't liquify it and create a truly monumental mess. But you didn't want to wait too long, or you'd impact the adhesion between coats. The other reason is to provide plenty of time for the solvents to gas off and get through the paint above - too little time and you've got bubbles trapped in the paint - aka "solvent pop".
The first coat took about 20 minutes to get on, with all the fiddly bits, and stopping to mix up more paint. So by the time I did a quick gun cleaning (dumping what I had left of my 5 ozs, spraying some reducer through the gun, and cleaning the outside of the cap), and mixed up coat #2, it was time to spray it.
Went well. I'm tried to get good flow without risking runs in the big vertical panels, and generally thought I succeeded.
Lighting is even more important on the 2nd coat - this time you're spraying red on red, not red on white, so seeing the flow so you get the right gun travel speed is a bit harder.
I had a few ozs left in the gun, but dumped it (I'm paranoid about paint setting up in the gun) and gave the gun a good cleaning - disassembling it, etc.., then mixed up about 17 ozs - since the plan was to just put coats #3 and #4 on the external surfaces - two coats was plenty on the jambs, flanges, and channels.
I had a few minutes to spare. I tried to time the 'wait time' from the start of spraying one coat to the start of spraying another, and then count on the spraying time to be roughly the same for each coat.
Coat 3 went on pretty quickly, in maybe half the time, about 7 minutes for the trip around the car. I dumped the remaining paint, did a full gun clean, and took a short break.
I went with 15 ozs in coat 4. Again, pretty uneventful - my big dust nib on the PS rear fender was still there, and one had shown up on the DS front cowl. I had a fair-sized run on the rear valence - the paint actually ran down the trunk lid drip channel onto the valence. One more small run that would be under the rear bumper wrap around on the PS rear fender. That's it for the runs.
The lower rear boot channel is a bit dry - I should have put a 3rd coat on that. But I think I can live with it, it won't be visible with the lid closed.
So I'll have a bit of repair work, but otherwise it looks good - the horizontal surfaces in particular look real good, I'd say a 'production level' of orange peel, like on my BMW. The vertial surfaces have more - I was definitely trying to avoid runs. But I'm confident I got enough paint on them that they will color sand/buff out very well.
So I'll give the paint a few days (actually, 24 hrs is enough for this paint) then get after it with sandpaper.
My last entry was in April, all about prepping for paint. It's now October - more than 5 months later.
Quite a 'black hole' of progress. Partly due to the Oklahoma summer heat - it was just too hot to paint, and partly due to real life intruding and elbowing out time for my avocation. But there has been some progress. If nothing else, I've learned plenty.
What has been done:
- all the various body bits (hinges, latches, etc.) have been primed and painted.
- the doors have been painted, cut, and buffed. More on those later...
- the hood and trunk lid have been painted, cut, and buffed.
- the shell has been fully prepped for paint, planning that for this weekend.
But what REALLY got accomplished was learning what to do, and what not to do. Here's my list to date:
1) DON'T STORE YOUR PAINT IN A GARAGE. IN OKLAHOMA. IN THE SUMMER.
As I was painting over the summer, it occurred to me that I was using paint faster than than I thought I would. Every time I went to paint something, I'd stir it up, and there seemed to be less there than I thought there should be. Eventually I realized I needed more paint, so I went and got another gallon. Ouch in the pocketbook. I figured I'd mix what I had left (about a quart) together with my new gallon, to blend them for color purposes. I got an empty can to enable this.
Meanwhile, while I was painting, I was struggling to get good results. Eventually I developed the theory that my 'mix' was too thick, for some reason. Was my reducer the right temperature? I decided to thin my mixture more, maybe about 10% more, next time...
Then I went to blend my new/old paint. I opened up both cans, and the contrast hit me in the face. The old paint was maybe 2-3 times thicker/less viscous than my new paint. Whoa. Mystery solved. I had stored my paint in the garage. It was sealed with a plastic lid that appeared and acted air tight (pretty cool lid that has a pour spout built into it that folds back into the can). And I had taped the lid/can joint every time. But still, what could evaporate from the can, did, in the +100 deg F heat of my garage in an Oklahoma summer.
So, a new plan. I forgot about blending the two paints, I'll just use my new gallon, and I'll store it inside, sealed in a big zip lock bag. And get this thing painted before any more evaporation can occur, in any event.
2) DON't JUST TEST YOUR SETUP - PAY ATTENTION AND RESPOND TO THE RESULTS.
I was leery of painting in my hot garage, but I figured I'd give it a try when there was a day or two when the temp was below 90.
I set things up so I could hange my doors from my garage joists, which would enable me to paint both sides in one shot.
Then I went through my prep routine. Dewax/degrease. Mix paint. Load gun. Test gun on a sheet of paper taped to the wall. Then tack off the surfaces and paint.
I remember thinking when I did the paper spray test - "this doesn't look right". But I checked the gun settings, and everything seemed right. So I went ahead.
Big mistake. The paint hit the surface very thick, but didn't flow. It was the worst of both worlds. Huge runs came down the door, dripping onto the floor. Ugh. What the heck?
It turned out that the pressure regulator at my gun had moved to 10 psi, not the 30 psi that the gun needs to develop 10 psi at the cap. So I was spraying with maybe 1/3 the pressure I needed, and I got a big, gloppy, spray, not the fine aeration/small droplets that I needed.
So I adjusted the regulator, sprayed the 2nd door, and it came out fine.
Lesson learned - if it looks bad, it is. Don't proceed until you fix the problem. Just because it isn't obvious at first glance doesn't mean that there isn't a problem.
3) BETTER TOO DRY THAN TOO WET
I had always thought that runs weren't so bad, and in fact were preferable to spraying too dry. If you get a run or two, just let the paint dry and sand them out. On this project I always planned to wet sand the paint anyway.
So, after sanding off my gloppy paint job from #2, above (200 grit on long boards, then 600 wet, using graphite as a guide coat), I resprayed it. A little heavy. I got a couple of runs. No problem, I let them dry and sanded them out.
Getting the surfaces flat was no problem. The problem was, the run was darker than the non-run surface (presumably, the pigments settled to the bottom of the run), so there was a 'shadow' where the run had been.
In addition to the shadow, there was 'solvent pop' in the surface under the run.
So, back to sanding off the paint. And so much with trying to paint doors with them hanging vertically. From now on, I'll paint them lying flat. And spary a little on the dry side, if anything.
4) EVERYTHING IS INTERCONNECTED
Wow, big thought, there.
Because my paint was thicker, I tended to not get the proper spray size, and tended to paint too heavy. Leading to more runs. I'm guessing this was a bigger factor in my runs than hanging the panels vertically.
And the thick paint also led to my education of what 'solvent pop' is. Because, while cutting/buffing the doors (finally), I'd get a good surface, see a small flaw, buff a bit more, and 'poof', there'd be myriad little 'spots' in my surface. These spots were exposed, very tiny, bubbles in the paint caused by the paint solvent not being able to get through the too-thick paint to the surface before the paint hardened.
Lots of frustration, but lots of good learning. You can read about this stuff, but until you experience it...
But really, once I understood what had happened, once the mystery was solved, and I knew how to prevent the problems I was running into, the frustration disappeared.
So I went ahead and cut/polished the doors to get them as good as they could be (or at least as good as I could get them - I'm learning that process, too), then set them aside. The plan is to finish the rest of the car, then put the doors next to the car and evaluate the result. If the solvent pop areas aren't bad, and the color match is good (another possible impact of the thick paint), I'll mount them. If not, I'll sand them down (again) and respray them.
So, with all that behind me, I sprayed the hood and trunk lid. I laid them out horizontally, just in case, and used my new paint. I picked a day where it was 80 deg F in the garage. Good results, just one little run on the lower left edge of the lid.
Then onto cutting/buffing, which I'll describe in a separate entry. End result was "not bad for a beginner", so I feel good about proceeding and gettingi the rest of the car painted.
Sorry, no pictures of my disasters. You can imagine them - just think of hideous, worst possible, paint jobs.
But every entry neeeds a picture, so here's a shot of my garage in mid-cut/buff of the hood and deck lid...
I've really been getting into the car building shows on TV - Car Warriors, Overhaulin, "Chop, Cut, Rebuild", etc. Obviously, they show some of the differences between restoring a car yourself and having a pro do it. Car Warriors and Overhauling, in particular, do a complete car in 48 hours, or a week, using entire teams of people. And I'm doing a car in 5 years by myself. Quite a contrast.
Part of the difference is the amount of labor available - there's only one of me, and this is far from a full time job.
But another part is that the pros have done this hundreds of times. And this is generally my first experience with a job like this. Which shows up in numerous aspects. But a couple in particular are:
1)learning on the job, and having to redo things when I didn't like the results of my first attempt; and
2)not being sure what's "good enough" vs "gross overkill", and spending time on things that aren't going to be discernable in the final product (i.e., spending time on things that a pro wouldn't, because nobody would pay him to...).
I think that really shows up in paint prep - priming, block sanding, repairing, repriming, and wet sanding.
Once I got the initial block sanding complete, I was able to see areas on almost every panel that needed touching up. Examples were the lower front PS fender actually having a ding in it (where'd that come from?) to the driver's dogleg being 'below' the lower rear corner of the driver's door, and the driver's sill being a bit below the front end of the door/rear end of the fender. Almost every panel had some pin holes, or areas where the final filler wasn't as smooth/even as it needed to be.
So I started working around the car. Mostly I used U-Pol Dolphin Glaze for pinholes and minor repairs. I would mix up about a tablespoon or two at a time - it set up quickly and sanded easily. The driver's side dogleg and sill needed more filler, so I used Rage Extreme there.
After all the repairs were complete, I sprayed on 3 more coats of primer, reduced by the max amount the Tech Sheet permitted. Even then, this came out pretty rough, and had some runs. So while I first thought I'd block it out with 400, I resorted to the 220 when I realized how long the 400 would take.
The reason for the 3 add'l coats was that I had numerous sand through's after the first blocksanding. They weren't areas that I felt I could tap down, and it didn't occur to me to grind a little metal out, so I thought the extra primer would let me level things out without doing any damage.
So, more guide coat, more blocking. But this time I tended to switch to a shorter block more quickly, to try to reduce the sand thrus.
And I didn't get many, and my repaired areas looked good. So I went ahead to wet sanding - once I dealt with a real mystery.
Which was - after hours of analysis, bodywork, and block sanding, the SECOND pass of block sanding showed an issue with the driver's side rear 'tail', just ahead of the rear light. It was 'mushed in', just a tad, on the inside surface, between the peak and the trunk opening. Very odd, but the second block sanding definitely showed it - I must have hit that area with too flexible a block the first time, and sanded right into it.
So, a bit more Dophin Glaze, a bit more sanding, and the body work was done. On to wet sanding.
Mike recommended 600 wet, vs 400 wet or dry (the paint I'm using indicates 400 dry is fine, but that it will also stick to a 600 wet sanded surface). I bought about 10 sheets, cut them into quarters, had a couple of 2 gal buckets filled with warm water and a few drops of dish detergent, and several small blocks of varying flexibility.
I was a little concerned going from 220 straight to 600, but it went well, and really looked good. I'd wet the surface with a rag (which washed off some of the graphite, but not the graphite in the 'pits'), then hit the panel with 600 paper that had been soaking in the bucket. It cut quickly, and usually after a couple of passes of sanding/washing off the slurry, I had a smooth, actually glossy (especially when wet) surface. A sheet generally lasted for about a panel, or a bit longer.
But still, I had some sand-throughs. So I bought another quart of K36, put several coats on the sand-thoughs and surrounding areas, and went right back to 600 wet sanding, and got a good surface. Still some VERY minimul sand throughs though.
My PPG reps counsel was pretty much "Sand-throughs happen to everyone. Don't sweat it. Just hit those areas with some self-etching primer, buff the dried primer with a 3M pad, and paint your car".
So that's my plan.
What I think I've learned (won't know for sure until the paint is dry...)
1) Block the car once - not twice. Twice is just asking for trouble, and just isn't worth it.
2) My 220 dry/600 wet 'prescription' sure looks like it did the job.
3) Come up with a strategy for each sand-through. If it's minor (i.e., small and you can't feel it) then primer over/around it, and resand with a more flexible block. If it's larger and/or has a "low" near it, then add filler to the "low", maybe tap or grind down the high, glaze, reprime and reblock.
I'm guessing a pro wouldn't have needed 6 coats of K36 over the entire car, and 3-4 more coats over the high spots, to get the panels straight and flat. So he would have saved a bunch in materials and time. I'm clearly not a pro, but judging from how this car looks, in primer, wetted down, I think I got there, if not very close, eventually.
When it comes down to it, the key factor in an MGB body restoration are the doors. Basically, you assemble the side body panels around the doors, and if they're not right, if they don't fit correctly, if the surrounding panels (front and rear fenders and the outer sill) don't match up correctly, then the entire body will look out of sorts. Maybe even more than that, the doors are the part of the structure that the occupants physically come in contact with most often - how they fit, how they move, how they function will be a major factor in how the car is perceived.
So for the benefit of those coming behind me, here's what I've learned about MGB doors:
1) Understand the anatomy
Like anything else on the car, you need to understand the parts, how they function, how they're built, how they connect to the structure, etc..
The key aspects of the hinges: Two per door (duh), 5 fasteners for each hinge to the body, 3 for each hinge arm to the door. The body fasteners are four #4 Pozidrive machine screws on the hinge face to two threaded bars 'floating and captured' in the a-pillar, and one nut on the front face of the a-pillar that attaches to a stud on the front face of the hinge. Thus the hinges 'bridge' the a-pillar, and are fastened fore and aft, and really locked into position.
The 3 fasteners for each hinge to the door are also #4 Pozidrive machine screws, that pass through holes in the door inner panel (the steel panel under the vinyl door pad), through the hinge arms, and screw into threaded floating plates 'captured' in the inner door structure.
2) Start with the hinges.
Our cars are old. Hinges wear out. There should be NO vertical movement possible in the hinge arm. Open the door partway, lift up on the end of the door - you should not feel any slop in the door - the lifting force should be transmitted directly to the body of the car. If the door moves and the body doesn't, then your hinges are worn.
There is some adjustment possible to account for this wear, but at some point the hinge wear will exceed the adjustment range. When that happens, you will not be able to correctly position the door in the opening - and ultimately the lower rear corner of the door will have too small a gap, or even contact the sill/b-pillar, and/or the latch will not engage the striker. You'll have to lift up on the door to get it to close correctly.
If your hinges are worn out, your options are:
- Buy new hinges. These are available from the usual suppliers, at $100 to $125 per hinge. $400 to $500 for a complete set.
- Buy used hinges. These are available from junk yards, parts cars, and E-bay. E-bay prices are in the $50 range, but you may get a better deal. The problem with used hinges is, of course, that they may be worn as well.
- Rebuild your hinges. I went with this approach. I searched the web for car door hinge rebuilders, found a couple and emailed them. Neither had done MGB hinges, but one seemed confident and quoted $25/hinge. I sent off some pictures and got a positive response, so off the hinges went. Two weeks later I got them back. The shop had media blasted them, dissassembled them, custom made new bushings and sleeves out of oil-lite bronze, custom made new hinge pins out of hardened steel, reassembled everything, and primed them. They were perfect. Hinge movement was stiffer than before, but that had to be. There was NO slop in the hinge arms at all. Closing effort was reasonable. I was happy.
My hinge rebuilder was:
Wilson Antique Car Parts
1067 Clearview Dr.
Forest, VA 24551
I waited until after the body work was done to do this. I would have been better off doing it before - it complicated things a bit. The sooner you rebuild hinges that need it, the better.
3) Work around the doors
If you're doing body work, and your doors are good and your door fits are good, try to avoid messing with the doors if you can. You're way ahead of the game. You can do a sill job with the doors on the car. The pain of doing this is likely less than the pain of getting your door fits back the way they are.
4) Get good at removal/installation
If #3 isn't possible - if your doors are rusted out, your hinges are shot, if the doors need work as well, you're going to have to get them off the car and address whatever is wrong. In my case, my doors needed new skins, rust damage to the lower door inner frame had to be repaired, and the hinges needed work, so #3 wasn't possible. If that's the case, you need to get real good at getting the doors on and off the car, because you'll be doing it a lot. Here's what I learned about that:
- Get #3 and #4 Pozidrive sockets. I ordered mine from Snap-on. You'll need the #3 for the door latch and striker plate. They have them in their "Blue Point" line, for about $8 each. Google: Snap-on Bluepoint Pozidrive #3 (or #4) and you'll find them. Don't try using Phillips bits on these screws, you'll just mess them up, except for the following exception. If you'd like Pozidrive bits to insert into a bit driver, you can get them from Jamestown Distributors for not much, as well, in packs of 3.
- If, however, you're dealing with hinge screws that haven't been touched in decades, that are rusted in place and aren't budging with your #4 Pozidrive sockets, get a manual impact driver. Sears has them. Mine came with a #4 Phillips bit. Clean out the layers of paint from the screws, get a 5 pound hammer, and have at it. This is how I got my hinges off the car initially, and there was no slippage or damage to the pozi drive screws.
- Replace the Pozidrive screws with Torx drive. Go to the McMaster-Carr web site and order Torx head cap screws, 5/16"x 24 x 1". These use a T-40 socket, which you can get anywhere that sells car tools. The beauty of these screws is that the Torx driver will not slip. I went through several Pozidrive screws before I converted to the Torx drive. As careful as I tried to be, I'd still get some slippage with the Pozidrive, which wore out the screw heads. And replacing the screws wasn't cheap. Even if you're looking for originality, go with the Torx screws while building the car, then switch to the Pozidrive screws at final assembly.
- Keep the original Pozidrive screws and sockets around. They have pointed ends, and are handy to use to line up the floating plates and do the initial assembly. Once they're in, but not torqued down, replace them with the Torx screws for the final torque-down.
5) Tricks for adjusting doors
Fitting new doors, or reskinned doors, to the body is likely to be an iterative activity. There are several adjustments to get correct. The door must:
a) be at a height, fore and aft, where the body feature line, just above the chrome strip, is continuous, from the front fender, to the door, to the front fender;
b) be flush with the surrounding panels - the front fender, the rear fender, and the outer sill;
To achieve this, the hinges, which control the lateral position of the front edge of the door, must be located correctly in the a-pillar, the door must be positioned on the hinge arms correctly (which controls the gap between the door and surrounding panels - fore and aft and vertically), and the striker plate must be positioned correctly (which controls the lateral position of the rear of the door).
To get this done:
a) Start by locating the hinges as far outboard on the a-pillar as possible. Mount them semi-tight.
b) Remove the latch mechanism from the door.
c) Get two decks of playing cards. You'll use these as shims to control the door's height. Count off about 30 cards, locate one deck just in front of the rear outer sill/b-pillar seam, and one deck a few inches back of the a-pillar.
d) Put the door on the hinge arms, then carefully put it in a closed position, making sure you don't hit either fender in the process.
e) Attach the hinge arms to the door, loose for now.
f) Adjust the fore/aft position to get even door gaps to the front and rear fenders.
g) Evaluate the feature line height of the door relative to the fenders. If the fender is high or low at either end, take your best guess as to how many cards to add/remove. Open the door, supporting it carefully, and add/remove cards - then close it back. Re-evaluate the feature line height. Repeat as necessary.
h) When you think you've got it, tighten down the hinge/door screws. Remove the card decks, and now evaluate the door position. It's likely that the front won't have moved, but the rear might have dropped a bit. Estimate the number of cards to add. Close the door, loosen the hinge/door screws, open the door just slightly, add the cards, close it, readjust the door position, snug up the screws, and reevaluate. Repeat as necessary.
i) When you've got the door positioned correctly in the opening, fore/aft and vertically, make a note of the # of cards you used in each deck, write it down, and put it where you won't lose it (I have two decks of cards dedicated to this purpose, they stay in my workbench and the note is kept in one of the decks).
j) Now for the cross-car position. The position of the leading edge is controlled by the front hinges. Ideally, the door is initially 'proud' of the fender a bit, since you mounted the hinges as far outboard as they could go. Loosen the hinge mounting screws a bit (all of them - don't forget the forward nut if it's on - I generally leave it off for this entire process), close the door, and press the forward edge into the car until it's flush with the fender. Carefully open the door, and tighten up the hinges. If the hinge moves when you open the door, you had the screws too loose, tighten them a bit and try again. Do each hinge separately, i.e., get the top of the door flush by adjusting the top hinge, and the bottom of the door with the bottom hinge.
k) But maybe your problem isn't that the door is proud of the fender, it's that the door doesn't come out to the fender, even with the hinge adjusted as far outboard as it will go. This was the situation with my driver's side door. It was a replacement door that wasn't mounted when I bought the car, I reskinned it, and had the hinges rebuilt. So lots of things changed. My fix was to measure the adjustment that I needed to make, using a straight-edge and feeler guages, and then make a shim up out of sheet metal just a bit thicker than needed. The shim needs to be roughly the size/length of the portion of the hinge arm that's inside the door, with holes in it to allow the hinge/door bolts to pass through it. The shim then goes between the outside face of the hinge arm and the door - effectively moving the door farther outside of the hinge position.
l) Finally, what if the hinge is mounted as far inboard as it will go, and the door is still proud of the fender? My passenger side door had this problem, but only on the upper hinge. Measurements indicated I needed to move the hinge in another .034", which wasn't possible with the standard hinge adjustment. My solution was to grind about .040" off the outer face of the hinge arm. This was roughly 10% of the hinge arm thicknesss, which left plenty of hinge arm strength. And got my doors flush.
m) Last, get the rear edge of the door flush with the b-pillar. Mount the door latch in the door, and the striker plate on the b-pillar. Line up the striker plate vertically by slowly closing the door with your eyes at latch level, moving the striker plate up/down and rotating it so that the bottom of the latch just clears the plate, and the latch engages the striker cleanly. That gives you the vertical alignment you need. Now you need to get the striker located in/out from the centerline of the car so that the rear edge of the door is flush with the b-pillar. Take some masking tape and put a strip just above and below the plate, and a strip on the top and bottom horizontal surfaces of the plate. With a fine point marker, put a reference mark on the top and bottom strips so that you'll be able to measure the in/out movement of the plate, both at the top and bottom (you don't want to change the vertical position of the plate, since you've got that correct, and you don't want to rotate the plate either). Close the door, evaluate the rear edge 'flushness', ideally measuring it if you're close with a straight edge and feeler guages. Now open the door, loosen the striker plate screws a bit, and move the plate in or out the corresponding amount. Tighten up the screws, close the door, and reevaluate. Repeat as necessary.
When you've got the hinge location, the hinge arm adjustment, and the striker plate adjustment set correctly, take a 1/8" drill and drill locating pin holes, two in each hinge face, two in each hinge arm, and two in the striker plate. Get some 1/8" steel rod and make locating pins. Now you can remove and reinstall the hinges, doors, and striker and return them to the exact position that they came from, without going back through steps a-m. Just line up your holes, insert the pins, and tighten your fasteners, and you'll be back in position.
This "pin trick" works for the hood and trunk lid, as well.
Hinges in the a-pillar, hinge arms in the door, Torx screws vs Pozidrive
This past weekend was a 3-dayer for me, so I was able to spend some work hours on Sat/Sun/Mon and get the entire body block sanded.
There's a lot of info out on the web on the process, so I won't go into detail - if you're looking for general info on the process, Google "block sanding a car body".
Specific to an MGB body, I used:
- a 21", foam backed long board, from AFS. It has strip of sheet spring steel as a face, and 3 5/32" steel rods that you can insert or remove to the body to adjust the flex in the board. I generally used either 1 or 0 rods. This block worked well for the vast majority of the body.
- a 16" Dura-block, for areas that were too small for the board above
- a 1.25" diamater Dura-block cylinder, about 11" long, excellent for the concave area at the top/rear of the front fenders
- a 3/4" x 1.25" x 11" Dura-block, worked well for the top of the side body feature line, could get into the fillet there without gouging
- a soft foam backed, 1/8" rubber faced "Memory Block" from Motor Guard, 2.5 x 7", and a 2.5 x 6" 1/8" rubber squeegee. These worked well for the headlight cut-outs, and the tighter radius at the very rear of the rear fenders, the lower rear of the boot opening, the front of the front fenders - anywhere there was a tight radius.
- A small putty spreader, with sandpaper stuck on its face, for the top rear of the front fender around the windshield side member openings.
- Some hot-glue sticks. Small radius and flexible, worked well in very tight locations.
The only place where I had to resort to "paper and fingers" was the door handle depression in the door - I could never figure out how to 'block' those.
I used graphite as the guide coat. The plus of graphite is that you just wipe it on, it gets into the low spots of the primer very easily and stays there until sanded off. Neater and more controllable than the usual spray paint guide coat. Also good because it doesn't clog sandpaper at all.
The negative of the graphite guide coat is that it's color is similar to the color of the epoxy primer I used, so I needed to pay close attention to understand, while sanding, if the gray area I could see was a low spot, showing graphite, or a high spot, showing epoxy where I had sanded through the primer. So you win some and lose some.
I got a quart of graphite, enough for several lifetime's worth of cars, from West Marine, they sell it as part of the West System Epoxy line, as an epoxy additive to make sailboat hulls ultra slick. It was cheaper this way than buying the 3M 'dry coat' guide coat. I put some in an old margarine tub, and used a sponge as an applicator.
I started by guide coating the entire car, putting 220 grit self-adhesive paper from a 2.5" roll onto all the blocks, and then sanding away, in the x-pattern that the Google search will tell you all about.
It went fairly quickly, I probably spent 12 hours in total, if that, in block sanding. It's pretty satisfying to see the flaws sand out. Some of those flaws were just contaminants that got on the primer over the last few months. In the end, I generally was left with smooth, white (color of the sanded primer) panels, with a few highs and lows, generally around the edges, with 220 grit scratches showing in the x-pattern.
Doing this also gives your right bicep a workout, too. I could sure feel it the next day.
Next step - fix the flaws I found. I'll need some filler in some spots. Once the really bad spots are fixed with filler, I'll hit the slight highs/lows with more primer, then more primer over the entire car (well reduced so it flows out like paint), and resand the entire body with 600 wet. That should give me a surface ready for color.
Early in the process - graphited surface in the rear, frt fender blocked
Close-up of a partially blocked door, you can see the x-patter showing up