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October 2007

It has been ages since I did much on the car mainly due to other projects, lack of money and bad
weather. But I have been doing some work on stripping down the doors now. I have completely
stripped the passenger door and cleaned it up. It has been patched in a lot of places in the
and has obviously had a rough life but as it is the only one I have I will have to fix it up and
use it!

Since I had the door totally stripped I did some preventative work to make sure I never suffer the
dreaded MGB 'crack of doom'. This is when the door skin splits just underneath the quarter light
window. This seems to be a weakness in the door skin design and is made worse by bad fit between
the quarter light top and the windscreen frame and also by having the weight of a side mirror
anchored there. I chose to fix it by welding in a steel reinforcing plate on the back of the skin.
These pictures show the process I followed.

First I cut a piece of steel and curved it to the shape of the inside of the door. Next you drill
holes in the door skin. I used four small holes over the corners of the plate to allow me to rivet
the plate to the skin as well as larger 1/4 inch holes that I could plug weld though. After drilling
I used a sanding drum on a die grinder to deburr the inside of the holes. This is important as you
need the plate to be hard up against the inside of the door skin. I then used a clamp and four rivets
to firmly attach the plate to the skin. Then you plug weld through the 1/4 inch holes. I went slowly
and also used a damp cloth to make sure the skin didn't get too hot and warp due to the heat of the
MIG welding. Once the large holes are done you drill out the rivets and weld up those holes. Then I
grind down the welds with a sanding disc on the angle grinder and finally finished with a random orbit
sander. I find it hard to get the welds perfectly flush so a little filler will be needed to finish
off the job when it comes time to paint. One step I don't show here is that I sprayed the inside of the
door skin and the metal patch with zinc rich primer before putting it in place.

Here you can see the whole skin before the repair I did above. Since mine was a U.S. car it has the heavy
crash beams inside the door. These doors are much heavier than the U.K. style doors but I think I will
keep them intact since they do offer better crash protection. The proof that these doors are solid can
be seen by the damage in my doors. This one has obviously been ripped back past the stops at some point.
You can see on the door shell where patches have been welded around the lower hinge point. And looking
at the hinge itself you can see how it is all bent out of shape. The little plate across the top should
be flat! I was able to hammer the hinge back into the correct shape but I need to somehow replace the
rubber buffer blocks that should be in there.

One of the other jobs I did was to redo the little add on pieces under the rear tail lights. I did them
some time ago and was never happy with the fit so I chopped off my previous effort and redid it. This
involved releading the vertical corner then repainting the inside of the boot as the heat of the
welding and leading burned the insulation and paint off the inside corners. I also did some work getting
the boot lid fitting more accurately. I don't think these things ever fited at the factory! Mine was
too curved, possibly due to some welding that has been done to repair it in the past. I flattened it out
by CAREFULLY putting the lid upside down on the ground and stepping on it to flatten it! A bit of a
crude method but it worked. The lid still doesn't fit perfectly but the fit is better. I will tweak it
once the car being reassembled before painting (when you disassemble it all again). I also did a test fit
the rear Sebring spoiler. The exhaust is deliberately low just now so it doesn't get in the way but it will
be raised once the spoiler is in place. I still don't know how on earth you get the damn fibreglass to fit
nicely! Will tackle that later.

November 2007

I have done some more work trying to get the boot lid to fit nicely. It, like most of the rest of the car, has
been bent in some accident before. I am trying to bend it back. It seems if the front edge is lined up then
left hand side is a little too bowed and it sticks up a little. I do have it fitting better than it was
was though.

The other thing I worked on was the front left wing. This is the replacement one I got second hand as it was
in better condition than the originals. It did need some panel beating though. I have it fairly straight.
There is a big ding near the back edge which I can't get to to pop out due to the double skin fo the wing at
that point. The proper way to fix it is unpick everything to get the outer and inner skins apart, hammer
out the outer skin then weld it all back together. That's a little too much for an amateur I think so I will
just fill the depression with filler as it isn't too deep. There were a few tears in the metal here and there
I also fixed up. I still need to fix up the front where the side light fits on as these wings were rubber bumper
ones and so they need modifying.

The biggest problem with the wing was the T moulding strip that goes between scuttle and wing. One the new wings
this strip went right to the back of the wing. On the originals it stopped before the curves in the wing edge.
That extra part of T strip stopped the new wing from fitting nicely against the body. I carefully cut through
the strip and ground through the remainder. Now the wing bolts up nice and tightly as it should.

Something really obvious with the front wing on is how ridiculously high the front of the car is sitting. It is
still missing some parts of course but even so there won't be enough weight on the front of the car to load it
down. I am starting to suspect the car has the wrong front springs. Possibly it had GT ones? I was planning on
changing them anyway. I think the front A arms should be sitting level when the car is at 'normal' height.

I also finished cleaning up inside one of the door skins. I gave the inside a good wash and degrease then left it
sitting in the hot sun for a while to make sure it was properly dry. Then I sprayed all over the insides with
zinc rich paint. They do it in colours other than grey no so I choose a nice, bright green. Lighter than the
car will be but the inside of the doors aren't seen anyway. Also in the picture next to it is something to watch.
Always be careful what you are welding over isn't able to burn! I set the plastic sheet I had on the ground (put
there for a fibreglassing project) on fire as well the the old carpet beneath! Luckily I noticed quickly.

December 2007

After doing up the door shell I also cleaned up all the door innards. The parts on the left have had the rubbers
removed and been cleaned and had any rust removed. I then sprayed all moving parts with white lithium grease
and all metal surfaces with lanoline spray to prevent further rust. The quarter light frames are in OK condition
although the chrome handles and hinges are blistered and pitted. I will live with that for now. The little bottom
brackets that hold the base of each window rail are often rusted out but these were pitted but OK. Three or
four coats of green zinc rich paint should stop any further corrosion for a while (just to make sure they are
all covered in lanoline too. I need to get new rubbers and fuzzy window runners still. With the passenger side done
I started on the drivers door. An air driven impact driver is easily the best way to remove door hinge screws. They
all came out with no problems. I removed the hinges from the A pillar too and will get all the hinges (doors, boot
and bonnet media blasted and paint them. The drivers door, like most of the car, has been bodged together. I will
strip all the paint off to see what lurks beneath. I did find the quarter light frame was only held in by one
of it's long bolts. There should be four! I will have to get some new ones. I can already see the door itself will
need a little welding too. I won't put all the bits that go inside the doors until after the car is painted. It's a
bugger getting it all back together. Especially on the US doors with the beams inside. Getting the window regulator
part back into the door and in the right place is somewhat like struggling with a drunk octopus!

I have cleaned up the drivers side quarterlight frame and door parts now. This frame is in worse condition with some
cracking on the chrome in the corners of the frame. The quarterlights aren't perfect but they are still useable and
as they are the only ones I have I will have to use them! Things like that can always be replaced easily at a later
date. I also sprayed the window regulators and window rails with zinc rich paint after I cleaned and degreased them.
The regulators weren't rusty and still had most of their plating in place but I figure the extra level of protection
the zinc paint gives can't hurt. All the moving parts were heavily dosed in white lithium grease.

I decided it was time to look into an annoying little problem I have noticed with my starter motor. Everytime I would
start the engine the very first time I hit the starter button the solenoid would go THUNK but the engine wouldn't
turn over. Usually releasing the button and hitting it again would make the problem go away. I hooked a digital
volt meter up to the middle contact of the solenoid (i.e. the connection between the solenoid and the starter motor
itself) and turned the engine over. When cranking you see 12 volts or so there as you would expect. When it was not
turning over though I was only getting 1 volt or so. This would indicate that inside the solenoid I wasn't getting
a decent electrical contact. I decided to take it apart to have a look.

The first problem is removing the starter. There is no room to drop it out the bottom of the engine bay on my car with
the clutch slave, steering column, brake pipes, etc all in the way so the easiest thing to do is remove the
distributor and take the starter out from above. Once you have the starter on the bench you can easily remove the
solenoid from the rest of the starter motor. Now it gets tricky. Technically the starter solenoid is non user
servicable. That won't stop someone determined! Here is how to pull it apart.

First you need to remove the two pozidrive screws in the end cap. Next remove the nuts and washers from the threaded copper
mounting studs. This still won't let you remove the cover because inside the cap there are two copper wires still attached
that must be removed. The first is attached to the lug above the left hand stud in the picture. I used a 100W soldering
iron to unsolder the connection. The second is attached to the copper stud on the right. Now I think that this one can
remain connected as the end cap should slide off the studs once the nuts are removed but on mine it was stuck in place. There
seems to be a little rubber seal on the base of the stud and this had melted and so the stud was held in place. The other
came out easily though. On mine the wire actually broke as I tried to get the stud out.

The broken wire was annoying but then looking at the rest of the parts I don't think it matters. I suspect this solenoid is
beyond repairing. The rectangular copper contact plate is very worn and pitted as are the bottom of the studs. I had
been hoping I could clean up these parts to have a nice contact surface again. One side of the rectangular contact has
worn enough to cause it to be thin enough to start bending. The other problem is the little spring that pushes the contacts
apart is broken. Without that spring working properly I imagine there is a danger of the contacts not separating at some
point which is probably not a good thing! Realising that that could happen has made me glad I fitted a battery isolation
switch on the heel board near the battery box!

The bad news continues today. I spent some time stripping paint off the drivers door and this is what I found. I have no
idea the story behind the first repair. Perhaps some demented crack of doom repair? The person who patched the door just
cut out the old steel (at least they cut out all the rust) then welded in new steel but without making any attempt to get
the patches to sit flush with the rest of the steel work. So you end up needed to fill in huge areas of panel which is
just what they did. I am not sure the best way to fix this. Maybe all I can do is fill over it again?

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Copyright © 2004-2009 Simon Jansen