Article 13 Rust Repair
Last month I discussed the satisfying event where I completed my first major sub-assembly, the front suspension and engine frame. This month we will get started on work to the body shell. But first I’ll take a brief sidetrip and describe my recent business trip to San Luis Obispo, California. Known locally as SLO, San Luis Obispo is home to one of our newsletter sponsors, XK’s Unlimited (www.xks.com). Their offices are very near the SLO airport and I was able to stop by there on the very first afternoon that I arrived.
As I came into the main entrance, I was treated to a well turned out showroom with several interesting cars. The one that made the biggest impression on me was an E-Type, a Series III, that had undergone a complete restoration with upgrades. The car was beautiful to behold with first class workmanship. What really caught my eye were the engine upgrades. The Series III has the V-12 engine. On this car, XK’s had installed their proprietary fuel injection unit, in place of carburetors. This conversion made the engine look quite lethal, even standing still. Each cylinder had its own velocity stack type inlet and the total effect was fantastic!
I strolled back to the shop area and found a variety of Jaguars in the shops being worked on or under restoration. Most were E-Types or cars of the XK series. I chatted with some of the mechanics and basically talked shop a little bit before it was time for me to leave. Another shop that I visited in SLO was named simply British Sports Cars. They also were in the restoration and repair business and had quite an interested cross section of cars on hand, from MG’s to Healey’s to Rolls Royces. And yes, there were several tasty Jaguars in evidence.
Seeing all of these cars under restoration just made me anxious to get back to my own project. Actually, before my trip, I had made a pretty good start on work to the main body shell. I had removed the hood, doors, and trunk lid during my initial disassembly. Now I proceeded to strip out the interior. The interior upholstery fabrics were pretty rotten so I didn’t have to take any particular care in their removal. I am saving all the pieces that I remove in case I need them as patterns later, although I anticipate that I will go with a pre-cut kit from one of the usuals when that time comes. Pulling the carpets gave me my first hint that the rust worms had been busy in the floor area. The floors are covered with an anti-drum coating. Thinking that I was going to clean things up and be on my way, I tackled the anti-drum coating with a wire wheel mounted on a large electric grinder. The more of the coating that came off, the more I realized that the floors had some advanced rust and in some places were eaten through. Furthermore, I could see where some rust was evident an inch or so up from the floor level on the inside sill area. Coupled with the rust that I had already found when I dropped my rear suspension unit from the car, I realized that the bodywork phase ahead was going to be extensive in nature.
Access to the lower sides and underside of a car can be very difficult if all you have are standard jacks and jackstands. And a 4 point lift isn’t really in the cards for my humble shop. So I decided that it was time for a rotisserie A rotisserie is basically a very large barbeque spit upon which one places their car for easy turning about its longitudinal axis. I had seen rotisseries mentioned in many restoration articles on the internet and knew that it would make my life much easier. There are several examples to go by. One example can be seen in the photos at the http://www.classicjaguar website. The design I settled upon starts with the use of several heavy duty engine stands,. I bought mine from Harbour Freight in Raleigh. I found the engine stand gets you a bunch of the basic materials that you will need for a cheaper price than you can buy them as individual parts from Home Depot. You get castors, a frame work that sits on the floor, an upright, and a rotating assembly. Most engine stands come with a plate which has a pattern of slotted holes designed to mate up with a engine flywheel housing . At the rear of the E-Type, I simply match drilled holes through the sheet metal at the license plate area and connected this plate with heavy duty bolts. (And yes, this was the first example of the principle that you are going to have to cut away material from your precious Jag body in order to save it!) At the front, there is no suitable flat surface on the firewall for attachment of the rotisserie. So I used a piece of angle to span between a set of existing mounting holes for the engine frame. The angle was then match drilled and bolted into place. With the mounting points for the two separate engine stands resolved at opposite ends of the car, I next fashioned long pieces underneath to connect them together. When completed, the rotisserie allows the car to be spun about its axis. Furthermore, the castors on the rotisserie allow me to roll the car out of the shop onto the parking pad, where I can do some really dirty work outside. As you can see from the pictures, it was now easy to get at the underside of the car for further work.
Further work quickly presented itself. The underside of the car was lathered with a thick layer of undercoating, which appears to consist mainly of rock hard tar. I was amazed to find that the sandblaster will not touch this tar. The sand just bounces right off. The wire wheel grinder wasn’t much better. I finally restored to my heat gun (an oversized hair dryer) and a putty knife. With this combination I was able to peel off the built up undercoating. Left with just a thin layer, the wire wheel was able to clean up the rest. BTW, I also tried several solvents. I guess some of them work but what a mess!
Next I cleaned up the area under the trunk and the tunnel area where the rear suspension assembly resides. I found that the trunk area had some questionable areas where the spare tire had been stored. Fortunately the attach points for the rear suspension seemed to be sound, except for the previously mentioned attach points for the forward locator members. But at the area where the rear floor transitions to the trunk area I found more substantial rust. So it was looking like my bodywork abilities were going to be tested.
Next month I’ll get into several bodyworking tools that I have acquired in order to allow sheet metal restoration to proceed.