Thursday, 30 May 2013

Well and truly blasted...

At last, some Saloon related stuff to report!

A few weeks back I was looking at the various finishes that had been applied to the sills that I'd bought for the Saloon over the last few months - a hard black coating on the OE N/S inner sill, a softer black coating on the OE N/S outer sill, a soft brown coating on the O/S repro inner sill and rust on the OE N/S middle sill. I decided that in the interests of longevity I wanted to get these items back to bare metal so that I could get modern primer on them before fitting them.

A little bit of research unearthed a media blasting/surface treatment specialist - Abercorn Media Blasting - just down the road from Livingston in Winchburgh. I explained to them what I wanted to do and they couldn't have been more keen to help - in fact the managing director I spoke to, would you believe it, is also restoring a 2000 Saloon!

They collected the sills a couple of weeks ago and delivered them back this afternoon. They've done a fantastic job. The painted sills have gone from looking like this:

to looking like this:

The two inner sills and outer sill were blasted with soda media and the middle sill was blasted with glass media. The middle sill in particular has cleaned up beautifully.

It turns out that there was evidence of corrosion, mostly minor surface pitting, under the coatings on all of the finished sills so I reckon it was worthwhile doing.

The inners and middle sill will now be painted with Electrox primer - a very high zinc content galvanising-type primer. The inside surfaces of the outer sills will also be painted with Electrox while the outside surfaces of the outer sills will be painted with etch primer. The Electrox will obviously need to be cleaned off as required when welding the sills but it'll be reapplied after the welds have been cleaned up.

Top coat will also be applied wherever possible and no doubt copious amounts of cavity wax will also be consumed!

So hopefully, when I get the car back on the road, the sills won't rust out within seven years or so the way they did back in the day.

I'll probably do the same thing with the front wings when they're due to be fitted.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Spitfire Makeover (1)

There's nothing much to report on the Saloon just yet, but work has started again in earnest and there'll be lots of stuff happening soon...

I mentioned in an earlier post that 2013 is the tenth anniversary of the getting the Spitfire back on the road, and that the anniversary had got me thinking about making some changes to the (very few) things that I'm not entirely happy with. I also decided that it was high time to catch up with some things that I never got round to doing.

First on the list of things that I never got round to doing was sorting out the catch tank for the rocker cover breather. I bought the catch tank four or five years ago only to find that it was somewhat bigger than I had envisaged and that it wouldn't fit where I had planned to put it. At the time I was completely stumped so the catch tank got dumped at the back of a garage shelf and forgotten about.

It was when I got round to thinking about the first thing on my list of the very few things I'm not entirely happy with that I had a Eureka moment. I just happened to notice that there appeared to be space to fit the catch tank on the front of the O/S engine valence. What I was actually contemplating at the time was replacing the polished aluminium engine valances and radiator cowl that I'd had on the car since it was rebuilt with a set of Tony Dunn's louvred valances - just why a solution for the catch tank popped into my head at that time is a complete mystery.

With the help of a couple of strips of gaffer tape, a quick mock up confirmed that the tank would indeed fit very neatly on the front of the valance. There was, however, a problem:

But having recently seen some very fine examples of fabrication and TIG welding on a Club Triumph forum thread I reckoned I knew someone who could get it sorted for me and I wasn't wrong. It took less than a week for Tim Ward to sort it to my specification and get it back to me. Top job!

I fitted it at the same time as I fitted the new engine valences and radiator cowl from Tony Dunn:

These really are top notch bits of kit. I reckon the radiator cowl is a big improvement over the previous one. It's a much snugger fit and I reckon it does actually do a better job of getting air through the radiator.

And I much prefer the subtler look of the black powder coat compared to the polished aluminium.

When I was swapping the valances and cowl I discovered a hard-packed mass of crud, mostly leaves and, oddly enough, newspaper and paper tissues jammed into the space between the oil cooler and the radiator. Also, the front of the oil cooler, which sits in front of the bottom of the radiator, was caked in gunge.

Believe it or not, with that lot cleaned up and the louvred valances and new cowl fitted the Spitfire is actually running a tad cooler than it had been. It's early days yet, and I'm not sure what the biggest contributor is likely to be, but there does appear to have been a small but worthwhile change for the better!

Next up for the Spitfire is to get the progressive front springs that I've had sitting in the garage for two years fitted and to get the MX-5 seats out and the proper Spitfire seats in. Unfortunately, the latter requires that I finish refurbishing the seats and I haven't started yet...