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25th November 2014

Mamoth update time. Can't belive it's been two years. So what's been going on then? Well, we've had a couple of fairly distracting and serious family health issues and I've not really felt like spannering or welding. But things move on and recently I've had a major spurt of activity, not for any other reason apart from the fact thet I feel the need to be kept busy and distracted and need to crack on and get the car finished.

Also, I know I've been dithering about joining the front and back of the car together and have decided to bite the bullet and just get it done.

My confidence was improved when I received an email from fellow MGA owner/restorer, Bill Jeffries. The upshot of this series of emails was that Bill's A is still in one piece and he very kindly sent me some critical measurements between front and rear tubs in both longitudinal and diagonal axies. These measurements, when compared to my car showed that my front and rear tubs needed moving on the chassis for them to line up properly.

Bill, if you're reading this I can't thank you enough for the measurements. I was a pleasure to meet you at Goodwood. Hopefully, we'll meet again soon.

Having moved my tubs to match the measurements on Bill's car all the repair panels and both doors fit much better!

Now, having something fixed to work to, both tubs were properly bolted into position and both side of repair sections were fixed in position (again) with TEK screws and all looked good. I just needed to take the major step of finally committing to the welder!

Eventually, a bit like waiting to jump with a parachute I guess, I took the plunge and have finally finished (I think) a four weekend weld-a-thon and have completed all the structural welding and now have a complete, solid and rust free bodyshell.

I must add that I've had help from James Gordon, a good friend who builds Austin 7 specials and race cars for a living, what a cool job! His experience in hand building bodywork has been very reassuring and calming influence.

What follows is a picture diary of progress to date.

First, to make the rear tub fit properly I had to remove the NS battery cover side plate so the inner wing could be moved inwards to allow the body to chassis mount line up. With the mount now fixed into place and the front to rear tub measurements correct the side plate could be refitted.

As the car had the NS accessible in the garage I decided to work on that first. Sensible Huh?

First I trimmed the sill closing panel and joggled the ends and clamped them in place ...

Next came etch priming followed by chassis black on the areas that would eventually be inside the inner sill. This was then plug and seam welded into place followed by more etch primer and chassis black on the front and rear wing sections that would aso end up behind the sill. The same treatment was also given to the inside of the structural inner sill apart from the edges that were punched for plug welding and then given a good coat of weld through zinc rich primer. The inner sill also had the drain slots cut out and the closing plates had the drain holes drilled.

The A and B posts came in for the same treatment of etch primer, chassis black, plug weld holes and weld through primer

Finally the sill, A post and B post were welded into position. At last a solid(ish), connected(ish) car! A real milestone.

Next step was to address the partially dissolved and rather frilly tea bag that was masquerading as the lower part of the rear wing. To resolve this I bought a pair of lower wing repair sections from Metal Mickey.

The wing was marked carefully, cut and the repair spot welded into place.

The rear wing was trial fitted along with the B post closing plate. The leading edge of the wing that tucks under the closing plate and the closing plate itself need a fair amount of fettling, re-shaping and fine tuning to achieve a good fit, but perseverance pays off in the end.

The front wing and outer sill were then fitted. The front wing needed some rather serious tweaking to make it fit properly. There is a vertical gusset with a flange on it that accepts bolts through the inner wing in a vertical line just forward of the A post. This flange should match the shouldered shape on the inner wing but didn't. To overcome this I removed a section of the gusset and flange, re-shaped it and welded it back in place. The front wing now fits nicely as does the door.

The whole of the nearside was then painted in chassis black. This will be followed later by a stonechip paint and then body colour.

As it says in the Haynes manuals, repeat for the other side .... So without captions, here's the other side. Those paying attention to this drivel will notice that I havent yet repaired the OS rear wing bottom.

This was followed by a general sloshing around of chassis black again.

All of this effort was followed by some self gratification.... the car was taken outside into a brief spell of sunshine for a photo session to reveal her truly glamerous lines. I just can't walk past without running my hand over the wings, a really tactile car.

For the hawk eyed among you, you will notice in the photo's above that the car has un-matching front wings, particularly in the headlight area. The OS wing is as they were when delivered here. Apparantly, it's called a Le Mans conversion. I don't care what it is, I HATE it! The front of the wing is available as a repair panel but it's VERY expensive, so I had a good look at it and decided to build the correct shape from scratch. The result is what you can see on the NS wing.

I had a repair section that I picked up from ebay very cheaply a few years ago. I used this as a pattern and to take measurements from. I have now built both headlight areas up to the correct shape as you can see from the following sequence of photos. The shape is not exactly right at the moment but with a small amount of attention from my selection of panel beating hammers and dollies and maybe some oxy-acetelyene, they will be the right shape soon!

I started by getting rid of the underseal with a blowtorch and a scraper, it was about 6mm thick all over. I guess that's why the wings aren't rusty anywhere! I did weigh the removed underseal, 2kg from each wing!

First job was to remove the existing headlamp bowl, leaving a gaping hole.

Next, I fabricated a headlamp ring for the new bowl to mount to. I took dimensions off of the repair panel I had and from the new headlamp bowls. This was followed by fabricating the lipped inner headlamp strenghtening ring. This assembly was clamped into the correct place in relation to the wing centreline, the existing indicator mounting holes and the bottom edge of the wing. I created a top steady to hole the ring in the correct place in the vertical plane.

 

This was followed by creating a cardboard template of the section to the inside of the centreline and one for the section to the outside of the centreline. These were cut out in steel with an allowance for a joggled joint on the centreline. The inside section was tacked in place and then seam welded in bursts in differing locations to minimise distortion. The outside section was offered up and similarly tacked and seam welded in place. The joggled center joint was plug and seam welded.

 

After a quick dress over with a flap wheel on the grinder and a dust with etch primer, the finished results are not too shabby. The curve from the top of the existing wing across the repair to the headlamp ring isn't right, it's too flat but that's an easy fix with hammer and dollies later on. It'll also need some general final shaping and a bit more flap wheel action and hopefully no filler.

Well that's about it for this update, next step is to final fit each panel and adjust fit paying particular attention to door gaps. Then I guess it'll be hi-build primer and a some blocking off followed by paint! I'm intending to paint the shell off of the chassis to remove the need for masking. It'll also give easy access for fitting of the fuel tank and the engine.

Hopefully, with the momentum restored the next installation should be sooner than two years away!

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