"The Boot" was a major milestone - it signified that I was over halfway done with the external metal work - both front fenders, the front end, the entire passenger side already done. After the boot, "all" I had left was the DS door, sill and quarter panel.
The problem with the boot was that the floor was rotted out, pinholes everywhere. I ordered a new floor from The Roadster Factory (on sale), and started cutting the old one out. My HF 4.5" angle grinder and several cutoff wheels got the job done, in the same manner that I've worked other panels - cut them off with 1/4 to 1/2" of the flange,
then grind the flange off. No need for any drilling on this panel. The cuts were done in 20 minutes, the grinding took a bit under 2 hours. I wasn't in any hurry.
Next up was to strip the 3 layers of paint and primer out of the trunk. I had 3 different chemical strippers in stock, Aircraft Stripper, MarHyde stripper, and Eastwood's Dekote. I think the first two are a bit more powerful, but in any event this was a dirty, nasty job. Fumes from this stuff are bad, so I wore a cartridge respirator. You
don't want it on you, so I went through several pair of tough rubber gloves. Dump some stripper in a quart container, get a throw-awy 2" brush, paint it on, let it sit, then scrape it off. I was lucky to get a layer off per application. It took A LOT ofo applications. But eventually I got down to where some stripper and 3m pads or steel wool would get the final bits off. I put lacquer thinner in a spray bottle, and did the final cleaning with that and paper towels. Finally a coat of Picklex20 to keep it from rusting.
By then my new trunk, oops, boot, floor had arrived. It's a BMH part, and comes with the upper rear axle rebound strap hangers welded onto the front corners. A nice touch, but my original hangers were good, and taking them out would be a major job, since they're sandwhiched between other parts. So I cut them off the new floor.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize exactly how the parts matched up, so when I cut the original floor out I also cut off the flanges that join the hangers to the front edge of the floor. So I had to weld on new flanges to the strap hangers on the car, then weld the new floor to those flanges (as well as all the other spot/plug welds on the periphery).
I bought another 'long jaw' mole clamp, so I would have two to use to clamp the rear valence to the boot when plug welding - the valence tends to spring out from the floor, so it needs to be held for welding. Clamps need a big 'throat' to get over the rear trunk wall and down to the flange. The only other option that would have enough holding power would be sheet metal screws, and I just didn't want to put any more holes in the valance than I had to.
The new floor was a good fit. I had nice clean flanges and mating surfaces, and it looks good sitting in the tr-, er, boot.
Currently, that's where it sits. I'm holding off on welding it in until I sand-blast the remaining rust/paint/etc. out of the boot, and I'm holding off on that until I get the DS sill done, and can wheel the car out of the garage. But welding it in shouldn't be a big deal. If I don't post a journal on that, you'll know it wasn't.
When I stripped the 3 coats of paint and various primers off the PS rear fender, I found that there were rust holes in the area where the fender is indented and the bumper wraps around it. The PO had dealt with it by hammering the area in a little, then globbing on filler and sanding it down.
Similarly, the taillight 'hull' at the bottom/rear of the fender had a lot of filler as well. It looked like the hull got crushed during a fender-bender, and the PO had it pulled out (using a slide hammer and lots of little holes) to rough shape, then globbed on the filler.
I wanted good metal in both areas.
First I needed metal. I've previously made up various patch panels, but never with any curvature in them. The indent area was all curvature, in multiple planes. The cheapest patch panel that has this area is the lower rear fender panel, at close to $200. Most of which I wouldn't need. The hull is available as a separate part for about $20, but the area 'crushed' on mine was a bit larger.
I went to the Trader forum on the MGB-E and posted a couple of pictures of the areas that I needed. Within a couple of days I got a response from a guy only 40 miles outside of Tulsa, who has a couple of parts cars in his backyard.
So on a cool spring Sunday afternoon I loaded up a couple of angle grinders and cutoff wheels, and went part collecting. Got these two parts, plus a big chunk of tranny tunnel to fix rust there, and a battery tray panel to repair the DPO mutilation there, for $100. And the guy pitched in about an hour of his time and his sawzall to help
out. He offered to give me a trunk lid as well, since I had found out that the inner flange on mine was rotted out all around, but we settled on a fair price, so all in all a very productive parts run. Thanks, Dusty!
Back at the shop, I prepped the parts, cutting them down to what I needed (I had whacked off plenty), stripping the paint, etc.. Once I had the parts trimmed down and clean, I marked out the matching cut-out I needed on the car.
The cut-out allowed for flanging where I could get access for the flanging tool, and a butt-fit where I couldn't. I made the cuts with the angle grinder/cutoff wheel and a mini die grinder/cutoff wheel.
For the indent patch, I didn't need clampes, the part fit so well. I just held it in with one hand, and tack welded it with another. Then just kept adding weld spots all around. I used a couple of plug welds on the flanges, and welded the flange seams as well.
Similarly for the taillight hull. The flanges were really nice - they gave me some room for adjustment, as compared to the butt-fit where you have to get your cuts almost exactly right. I used my clecko clamps to hold the hull in place, and welded it in with plug welds on the flanges, and butt welds elsewhere.
I protected the finished patches with Picklex20. I'll use some seam sealer on the inside seams, and some Metal-Metal filler on the outside, when I get to the filler/sealing steps.
I felt really good about the results, the previous repair was just going to keep rusting under the filler, this should be a permanent fix. Solid metal is a good thing.
Last entry covered getting the main sill parts on the car. This entry covers dealing with the 'fiddly bits', as our Brit friends would say.
1) First up, the dogleg. I had a Steelcase dogleg panel, and it was a very good match for the existing panel. The old one had rusted at the bottom, and the rust had moved up into the door jamb area. So first up, I got the MIG out and added back metal to restore the jamb/bottom of b-pillar to its original shape. No big deal, pretty cool what you can do with a MIG.
Next I prepped the panel. The vertical edge of the panel, that matches up to the outer sill below the door, has an edge/flange that needs to be rolled over with a body hammer. I've read other journals and web sites where people don't understand this, and grind the flange off. Lucky you, you're reading mine so you'll do yours correctly, should you ever get involved in doing this yourself.
Anyway, once that flange was prepped, I painted the inside of the doglet and the outer surface of the outer sill with Zero Rust paint, to try to hold off the rust that goto the original panels.
I drilled 3-4 3/16" holes in the wheel arch flange of the doglet, for plug weld holes to the inner wheel arch.
Now to prepare the car. Because the rust had eaten away the outer panel at the bottom, I didn't feel like there was enough metal to put a flange on, which left me with butt welding the dogleg in. In hindsight, I probably could have put a flange on the upper edge, and most of the way down the b-post edge, but that's not what I did. I've done other patches since with flanges (using the Harbor Freight flange/punch air tool), and it really does make the fitting easier, and the joint stronger. Live and learn.
So with a butt weld plan, I 'offered up' the panel, and marked the cuts I'd make on the car with a marker pen. I used a mini die grinder with a cutoff wheel and eased up on it - cutting short of my cut line, test fitting, marking, cutting, test fitting, cutting, testing, cutting - until I felt good about the fit. Once there, I attached it with a couple of those arrow-shaped welding magnets, and called to my 'lovely assistant' to tell me what she thought. She approved.
One thing that was strange - when I fitted the dogleg lower flange to the outer sill lower flange, the way I think it's intended to be, the dogleg was too far into the car, relative to the door and outer sill. So I made some sheet metal spacers, about .75" x 1" and welded them onto the outer sill lower flange. 3 of them gave me about .1" of space, since they were about .035" thick, which was enough to give me a smooth dogleg/door/outer sill surface. It also gave me a drain/ventilation for the inner doglet/outer sill surface, protected by the lower 'ell' of the doglet flange. I think that's a plus. When I spray penetrol between those panels from the inner b-pillar, it'll have somewhere to drain out, and same for any moisture that gets in there.
So I had a good, spouse-approved fit, and prepped surfaces. Got the MIG out, tacked the panel in, then went at it in std fashion - tack welds at the ends, then the middle, then splitting the distance, continued until I had essentially a continuis weld (it wasn't, but nearly so) along the top and door jamb edges. Finished plug welds at the bottom and wheel arch sides. Voila.
With that done, I went to work on the cross-member and jacking point. I made a couple of L-shaped brackets, about 1" on each leg, from 16 gauge scrap, and used them as reinforcement, tieing the cross member to the castle rail. I seam-welded one leg to the cross member, one leg to the castle rail. One that was in, I prepped the jacking point, grinding off it's paint, drilling 1/4" plug weld holes, then cranked the MIG power & feed rate up (those are heavy gauges parts) and welded it on the car.
Finally, I tuned up the fwd sill, seam welding the castle rail 'flap' that joins to the bulkhead, adding a patch for the fwd flange that the splash guard bolts to, that is also the fwd edge of the outer sill. I also beefed up the welds of the sills to the bulkhead at spots.
The front fender is bolted to the castle rail* mbrane flange at the bottom, 3 bolts/washers/nuts. I decided to drill and tap holes, vs using the nuts. If I run into rust issues, I can always go back to using nuts in the future. *
That's it. Only thing left to do is beef up some of the welds joining the lower outer sill flange to the membrane/castle rail. Where I 'drooped' the outer sill a bit to get a better door gap, the welds are week. When I flip the car up to work on the bottom, and have a better working angle, I'll get that done.
Now it's on to patching the PS rear quarter and PS rear taillight 'hull'.
So, after totally removing the old sill sheet metal, and addressing the patches that needed to be done with the tip of the inner sill and fwd bulkhead, I was ready to install the new sill.
I got held up on that while I fidgeted with what to do with the PS door. Ultimately I decided that there was no way to fix my first attempt, so I ground off my almost new $140 door skin, got another, and redid the thing. I know I've addressed that in a previous journal, but it still bothers me that I had to to that. Live and learn.
The door has to be right before the sill goes in, because you fit the door around it. So before I welded anything, I mounted the door. The key is to get the feature line continuity (the crease in the side of the car about 1/2 up, where the chrome molding eventually rests) - so that there's one line from the front fender, to the door, to the rear fender. Get that right first. So get the door on the car, get a nice even gap with the B-pillar, about 1/8 to 3/16" of an inch from top to bottom, set the door vertically so the feature lines are even.
Finally, I wanted to get the door in/out setting right. Maybe not absolutely critical at this point, but I was worried about my cheap fender. So I put the fender on, and adjusted the door in/out so that the leading edge of the door was even with the fender.
Once that was done, I was convinced that my $190 Asian front fender was garbage. I couldn't get an even gap from top to bottom, and when the gap at the top was decent (or even to wide to my eye) the gap at the bottom was non-existent. I ordered a new BMH one from The Roadster Factory, which beat the other options by $100 or so. Even that one wasn't perfect, but the gap was consistent, just not even. The gap was a bit wider above the feature line than below, but I think I can deal with that later on.
So after spending my way past my fender problems, I got a decent door mount, and started test fitting my sill parts.
First the castle rail. I used Lee Miller's 'blocks' approach to fit this part, making 3 wood blocks, 4 1/2" tall by 2" or so deep. In my experience the castle rail is so beefy that there wasn't a lot of wiggle room in it's placement - generally it "was where it was", but I could just fit in the blocks. So I clamped it in along the inner sill flange line, and fit the inner membrane.
I fit the membrane even with the top of the inner sill, and fixed it with two small tack welds in the door opening.
Then I fit the outer sill. I used a bottle jack and 2*4 to 'encourage' the outer sill to mate up with the a-pillar. I used a welding clamp at the rear to hold that position.
What the test fitting showed was that I had a minimal gap between the outer sill and the bottom of the door at the rear, opening up a bit at the front. To get a decent gap, I had to move the rear of the outer sill down, and the front up. I opened up the a-pillar flanges a bit to allow a touch more room at the front. At the rear, I just made sure to leave the top of the outer sill about 3/16" below the top of the inner sill* mbrane. *
And that's how I welded the parts on. What that meant was that I had minimal contact between the outer sill and the membrane at the bottom flange at the rear of the parts. Plenty at the forward end. Not what I'd like, but this isn't a structural joint, like the inner sill to membrane is, so I lived with it.
It still gave me what I consider a minimal gap between the door and the outer sill, but the only option would have been to get a new outer sill and hope for a better fit - I had 'tweaked' it as much as it could be tweaked. I deemed it acceptable, and moved on....
The welding of the castle rails was done through the original spot weld removal holes for the inner sill/castle rail flange, and through 3/16" plug welds at the rear, and plug and seam welding at the front (the square end that folds up to the bulkhead).
The inner sill* mbrane/castle rail welding was done wth 3/16" plug welds spaced 1" apart, and seam welded at the front and rear ends. *
Finally the outer sill was done with 3/16" plug welds, about 1.5" apart, arount the entire periphery.
The jacking reinforcement was seam welded in.
The closing panel at the rear required some major modifications to fit. It had to be narrowed significantly. I ground a groove in it that enabled the outer edge to be moved in, then welded the groove back. Finally I welded the close panel in place before fitting the outer sill.
I painted the inside of the innner sill and the castle rail with Zero Rust paint (similar to POR-15, but a bit easier to use), and the outer face of the membrane and the inner face of the outer sill as well. I determined that the e-coat on the membrane was sufficient for the inner face of the membrane.
I'll go back and spray penetrol in the inner sill and outer sill cavities when the car is complete.
Get the door on - it's your fitting gauge...
To get decent gaps, the outer sill had to be 'drooped' a bit at the rear...
Test fit - if you don't like the door gaps at this stage, you won't after it's welded, either...
I painted the most rust prone panels - the inner sill, the castle rail, and the outer membrane face and inner face of the outer sill, with Zero Rust.
Along the way I've had to patch miscelaneous rust holes.
Here's a few, probably pretty typical for an MGB.
1) The front footwell bulkhead, where the inner side member and castle rail are welded on, was rotted out, along with a piece of the toe board. I considered cutting out the entire toe board, going all the way to the rail flange, but ultimately decided to leave all the good metal I could and limited the patch. It doesn't look perfect, because of the metal shrinkage caused by the welding, but will be functional, and this area isn't visible.
2) The area at the top/rear of the b-pillar, where the hood latches at the rear of the door, was rotted out. I cut out the rotted metal, and cut a matching patch out of the top of the old door skin, since that area matched the curvature. Butt welded it in, using a magnet to hold the patch level with the original surface.
3) Various holes in the PS rear fender, where the snaps were riveted in for the side trim, had rusted out. I enlarged them with a file, then cut matching patches out of sheet sheel, bending them to match the feature line, and butt welded them in. Some were very small, wiht no access behind the panel, so I welded a small nail to the face of the patch, and used that to hold the patch in place while I tack-welded it in.
Rot at toe panel/castle rail mounting
Rot at PS b-pillar hood mount
Cut a patch off of the old door skin, first round of welding done...
Welds ground down, ready for filler
Patching the trim strip rivet holes that were rusted out...
This was an adventure. I thought it'd be more straight-fwd than it was, but hey, live and learn.
I needed to get a good door on the PS side before putting on the new sill, since the new sill needs to be 'fit' to the door.
The original door had 4 coats of paint, over blobs of filler that were over rust holes in the lower 6" of the panel.
First step - get the door off. I used an impact wrench and a #4 phillips. A #4 pozidrive is the correct bit, but I didn't have one of those. Not a big deal, since with the impact wrench there isn't any slippage of the bit. I did get a #4 and #3 pozidrive from Snap-on before getting to the bolt-on phase, they sell their Blue Point sockets for not much, about $7 apiece.
Second step - strip the mechanicals out. Everything must go.
Third step - grind the old skin off. 4 1/2" angle grinder, a paring knife, pliers, and a spot weld drill bit were the tools. Grind the edge of the door hem until you can see you've separated the folded edge, then separate it with the knife, and peel it off with the pliers. On my door there were 2 spot welds as well that had to be removed.
Fourth step - repair rust on inner door frame. I had a couple of spots where the flange had rusted through. Cut it off, made a patch, welded it in. Painted the door frame with Zero Rust.
Fifth step - prep new door skin. Mine was a steelcraft panel. I made a 'crack of doom' reinforcement out of the old door skin - cut off about 6" of the top edge, about 6" long. Drilled plug weld holes in it. Removed the 4 layers of point on it. Located it over the traditional "COD" location on the new skin, on the upper edge overlapping the rear of the vent window. Marked the skin for the plug welds, wire brushed the primer off, clamped the patch in, then plug welded. Seam welded a little where one or two of the plugs didn't hold.
Next I painted the bare metal of the skin with Zero Rust, and fitted 1 1/2 sheets of damplifier sound proofing onto the inner surface of the skin.
Sixth step - hem the skin onto the door frame. I'd done a little hemming when working on the DS fender, and my tech school teacher had shown me how to do that. I put the skin outer surface down on my work cart, then put the door frame over it, lining up the feature lines. Using body hammers, I tapped the skin flange down over the door frame flange, working slowly, several times around the door. Had to get a bit creative at the front/upper portion, where the door frame sort of covers the flange - used the 'peen' side of several body hammers. Tried to keep the door skin flat to the cart top as I worked around it.
Finished up by welding the top seams - fwd under the vent window, and the rear tab.
I then mounted the door, and fit the fender, and got depressed. The hemming had stretched the feature line out of position - it was ok at the back, but int he front was too low, and angled down too much. It didn't match the fender at all.
Very depressing. With a lot going on elsewhere in my life, I basically went into hibernation for the winter while I stewed about what to do about it.
Could I fix it? Fill it? Grind it off and weld in new metal? Nope, it would look crappy, almost certainly. Only solution was to get a new skin and start over.
So I did. Another $140 or so shipped off to Victoria British. And repreated all the above. The only difference this time was that before I hemmed the door onto the frame, I cut the hem flange just above and below the featur line, so that hemming it over wouldn't impact the line at all. That worked.
I did the same 'slicing' at the curved parts of the door edge - the lower rear and upper front. Probably shouldn't have - that game me some slight 'puckers' where the slices were. Not tooo bad, and I can probably live with them. But in the finishing stage I'll trying grining those out and filling back to a smooth profile.
Cut a piece out of the old door skin to use as a "COD" reinforcement on the new one...
First attempt - no good, when I hemmed the skin on, it distorted the feature line 'ledge'