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June 2009

Finally some real progress. Unfortunately it is the middle of winter here but a few fine days have let
me get things rolling again. First I finally cut down and fitted the rear bump stops. This is done
on a car where the rear springs are flattened so that you still have enough suspension travel. The
stops are there to prevent the axle hitting the body of the car when at the limit of the suspension
travel. I cut them with a hacksaw then sanded the cut face smooth.

I also fitted a middle resonator to the exhaust. I was hoping to leave this out but with the shorter rear
muffler I had to fit with the Sebring rear end the car was too loud for me. I don't really like noisy
cars personally. I got a suitable muffler from the local exhaust place and added it in. Due to my
non standard exhaust I needed to modify the bracket at the heel board attachment point as my pipes
were slightly misaligned with this bracket. I also welded skids to the front and rear of the muffler.
The car is now very low so clearance might be an issue. The skids should let the muffler ride over
obstructions rather than smashing the ends of it in. I also added a bolt on skid along the entire bottom
of the muffler as well. The car sounds MUCH better now. I bought a cheap dB meter and it should easily
be quiet enough for the NZ warrant standards.

One other find about now was two old OD gearboxes. These came from a fellow local MG car club member for a very
good price. One has had the front inch or so of the bellhousing cut off and both need a total rebuild but
they are well worth it. Overdrive in an MG is a very nice addition as it effectly turns your 4 speed into
a 6 (with overdrive on 3rd and 4th gears). The overdrive is also electrically activated so you switch it
in with a switch and you don't have to use the clutch. I will rebuild one good box from these two at some
point. Fitting it will mean engine out again though so there is no rush.

And finally a major milestone in this never ending story. Paint! I am finally at the stage of painting the old
girl. Yes, right in the middle of winter damn it! As this is a bare metal restoration it is an incredibly
complicated journey from bare steel to paint. On most restoration web sites I have seen you have a picture
like the above one showing the car leaving for the painters then another picture of a beautifully painted
shell returning. This hides what is a huge amount of work. Unfortunately for me it's not that simple!

I have, as with most things on the car, decided to do as much myself as possible. I am lucky that my local
painter is an exteremly nice guy who knows what it is like for an amateur like me to undertake a project like
this and he is willing to help. I am doing most of the labour intensive bits of the job myself (i.e. hours and
hours and hours of sanding) and they will do the spraying/baking. The first step was getting the car there so
I organised getting a truck to come collect her. I imagine having a complete rolling chassis makes this much
easier. Transporting was delayed a week or two waiting for a fine day as you really, really don't want water
on a bare steel body sheel (even one covered in Kephos).

With the car finally at the painter I was able to start. I had arranged a day off work so I could start and turned
up on the Friday to find the painter had no paint! I did as much as I could though which involved masking off
the cockpit and engine bay while the car was in the shop. I had to arrange another day off work on the Monday
and I went back to start prepping the steel for etch. Basically all the bare steel needs cleaning and sanding
to get it nice and shiny. You go over it with wire brushes and 80 grit discs on a DA sander to get the steel
clean again. All surface rust must be removed. So having gone over the entire car sanding to remove all the paint
I now had to go over it all again getting the steel ready for the next step. Above you can see one front wing
cleaned ready to go.

Once the steel is clean you cover it in some stuff called Brunox. This is an epoxy anti-rust treatment. According to
the web site:
"BRUNOX® epoxy is the patented Anticorrosion-system on an epoxy-resin base. The amber-coloured, clear
liquid forms a metallo-organic iron complex with the neutralised rust. This black, very compact and resistant
protective layer which is formed guarantees long-term corrosion protection and is at the same time a perfect primer
coat because of the epoxy-resin components. It is most suitable for overhauling machines, plants, vehicles.
Because of its high penetration into the rust pores and its perfect film formation (no brush traces) it guarantees
a high level of effectiveness and further treatment."

All I know is you paint it on your nice shiny steel and it turns it all dark purple! Above you can see the front
wings done in it and the top half of the rear quarter panel. The Friday I spent at the painters I managed to get
the two front wings to this stage as well as all the hinges and catches and so on that need painting. Once coated
in Brunox the steel is protected from further rust.

I arranged to go in a Saturday morning and have two of the painters help me do the rest of the car. We managed to get
all the other panels and body done to the Brunox stage. Once the Brunox has dried for a day or so you can etch
prime over it. Three of us managed to get the doors, bootlid, bonnet and body done in 4 hours. Before etching you
need to sand smooth a lot of the Brunox. Probably about 50% of what was put on gets sanded off. This is done
immediately before spraying the etch otherwise any bare steel will instantly rust again. Here you can see the
front wings hung in the paint booth just before the etch was sprayed. The etch was sprayed (by an expert, not me)
and baked. I know I said I was going to do EVERYTHING myself but some things it is better and easier to let the
professionals do. Safer too!

And this is where we finished up at on Saturday lunchtime after about 4 hours work. The front wings were dry and they
are now totally sealed and protected from any rust and corrosion and they are ready to be worked on. All the other
panels and the body are now covered in Brunox ready to prime. I am taking another day off and hopefully I can get
all the Brunox scuffed back and everything else done in etch. The plan is to do all the fiddly bits such as hinges,
catches, door jambs, inside of the doors, boot, bonnet, front wing seams, etc done in colour. Then I can bolt
everything back on the car ready for the next stage.

Things can vary a bit here depending on if you want to paint everything then assemble the car or if you want to
assemble the car then paint it all at once. After talking to the painter I am leaning towards the latter. We shall
see on Monday I guess. One thing we do have to do is match the paint colour. It's been so long since I did the
engine bay the painters have changed from being a PPG shop to a Glasurit one! I will be going for a flatter finish
rather than a more modern high gloss/metalic colour. Personally I find that doesn't look right on an older car but
that is just my preference.

Once the car is all done in etch I bring her home again and begin the next step. This will involve, surprise,
surprise, more sanding. I need to put filler all over the car (bogging as it's called down here) to fill all the
little dents and imperfections (of which there are many). Then you sand all that smooth and etch over the filler
to seal it. I can do that myself at home. This I expect to take hours, doing one small part of the car at a time.

Then she'll go back to the painters to have about 4(!) coats of primer put on. Then back home again to be flatted. This
is when you sand the car AGAIN to really get the surface smooth and flat. A mottled guide coat is sprayed on so that
when you sand you can see all the low spots. When the car is finally perfectly smooth and flat she goes back to the
painters for final colour painting.

God knows how far away that is! But it feels really good to finally not have the car in bare steel and to have some
panels done in etch. It is making real progress now. Despite all the hard work ahead it should all be worth it I

Something simple to finish with for now. I ordered a set of Raydot replica mirrors off eBay. These are very light,
racing style door mirrors which should look nice on the car and go with her rally look.

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Copyright © 2004-2009 Simon Jansen