December 2003 Archives

Engine compartment repairs

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I got a bit scared yesterday removing the battery box when I reached the torsion bar areas. The battery box sides are sandwiched between the torsion bar mounting pieces and the gas tank floor area. I think I can't effectively make use of the whole battery box side replacement panel. I'll have to cut off the backs of them and butt weld them to the front of the torsion bar areas. Unless someone has been there before and has some tips? I'd like to do this right, but I don't want to wreck more metal than I need to trying to peel spot welds.

So, today, I moved to the engine compartment. Lots of holes back there, easier to get to. I needed to go get a big sheet of 20 gauge sheet metal to fabricate my own patches. I found a roofing/metal fabrication company in downtown Durham that sold me a big sheet that they cut on a medieval-looking press the size of a bus.

Most of the day was shot, and I only had time to do one patch. But it was a pretty large one in a somewhat tricky place, so I'm happy. Here's a before and after:
Hole before Hole after

More pictures here.

Battery box removal started

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I started removing the battery box with my air die grinder and reciprocating body saw. A couple of thoughts:

* My air compressor can't keep up with these tools if I really want to use them continuously. I need a bigger unit! I can't wait for my new garage.

* It is going to take me longer to remove the old panels than to weld the new ones back in! I have to be so careful where the bad panels meet the "good" panels; I don't want to rip up good metal. Drilling out spot welds is nearly impossible. I'm going to have to try splitting them with a thin chisel on the air hammer, and by grinding...

A bunch of new developments with this update.

I've switched to a new web logging system that will hopefully make the site more manageable (as the page grew over the past year, it was taking longer and longer to load). It also is easier to update with the new software, so maybe I will make entries more frequently!

The car is back at home. It took a couple of weeks, but Frank got it into primer, and removed the portion of the nose where he is going to put the new piece in. in_primer_thumb.pngThen I got the car flat-bedded back to the house for me to do my portion of the body work. I.e. replace the battery box, floor and longitudinals, make repairs to the engine compartment, and other miscellaneous stuff. Should take a day or so (just joking). No really, it was with a bit of trepidation that I welded the first couple of patches into the luggage compartment last week. Was I good enough at welding to do this to the car yet? Turns out that I am, barely. I still have room for improvement but my initial patches are OK. They are all in areas that are going to be covered in sound deadening anyway, so the key element of them is that they are solid, which they are. I used rattle-can self-etching primer that Frank gave me to seal up the repaired areas when I was finished.

Next item to tackle will be the battery box. I think it will be easier than the repairs I just finished because I'm going to be doing plug-welds with pre-formed panels, rather than trying to butt-weld in portions of panels where I had to beat them into shape (or some approximation thereof) myself, without really proper metal forming tools. Simple curves and bends I can handle, but trying to approximate the rolled/raised portion of one of the patches I did on the firewall was too much.

Everyone was right when they say that sand/media blasting a car will leave grit everywhere. It is in between the seams where panels were spot welded with an overlap. It will be a challenge to get it all blown out.

What about my other project, the engine? Turns out the crank wasn't scratched, and I got my micrometer set, and it measures well within the tolerances for a standard crank (at least on the 4th main bearing). Good. I'm not going to split the case then. I also got feedback that lowering the compression of the high-compression race pistons/cylinders I got from eBay last year will be too difficult. I will sell them to someone who is building a race motor and just use the stock P&Cs for now. So what's left on the motor? Clean up the 3rd piece, reinstall it, install and adjust the distributor, intake manifolds, and carbs, and then fire it up.

It is supposed to get cold this week, but I'm going to try and get either the battery box or the motor done anyway. Got to keep making progress.