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Spitfire Total Rebuild!

  • 25-04-2014 7:17pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Ok, so I figured I'd put a thread together to let those interested follow the progress of the project and, perhaps help someone who is in a similar position.

    Although I'm a number of days into the project at this stage and making good progress I'll break this first thread and subsequent posts up into easy to digest 'bite size' blurbs. I've taken a LOT of pictures, so, its going to take time, eventually I'll get up to speed.


    I'll cut straight to the interesting stuff; wont bore you with my exhaustive search whilst on the search for my first 'starter' classic; the dissapointments, the chancers and the dreamers!! I essentially chanced upon 2 Spitfires, both in various stages of repair (or disrepair?!!) and, after giving them a good look over and considering all the pro's and cons (after some advice from my mechanic) I decided to make the purchase and here's what I got....

    ^ Image above shows one of the cars in the shed from where I purchased it, also shown is the 2nd chassis.

    What did I buy?!

    What I bought was two MkIV Spitfires, in various pieces, essentially two full cars, one that 'looked' the part, another that had work started on it and a number of new panels but was totally stripped out. I got two of everything almost; two engines, two chassis, two hard tops etc etc.

    CAR 1

    Car one is a 1971 MkIV Triumph Spitfire. The car was imported from the UK in July of 2001 and since then has had 6 previous owners! All of whom, I assume, when the looked beneath the surface decided to pass it on, afraid to take on the level of work required to get her back on the road again.

    The car is currently red, but, is down on the tax book as 'Green', the original color was Valencia Blue, a kind of green/blue color.


    ^ Car doesn't look too bad yeah? Bit of a wash, bit of polish and she'd shine up good? Think again!!

    ^ Roof is shot! Plastic has become hard and brittle.

    ^ Windo frame is rusted and heavily filled.

    ^ Tis all a bit....wavy and humpy bumpy! The passenger door was heavily filled and the paint was all crazed on it.

    ^ Nice......

    ^ Boot lid was rusted through in spots!

    ^ Tax disc says it was on the road as recently as 2010!!


    ^ Ugly Astrali late 70's wheel! *Bleugh*

    ^ Dash looked like a nice burr walnut veneer, but, it was really just a plastic vinyl stick on; classy. The original dash lower trim was also missing and replaced with......tile corner trim! nice.

    ^ Centre console looking a bit knackered. The car was fitted with an overdrive unit, although, it doesn't seem to have been hooked up.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    ^ Footwell on passenger side was rotten and well beyond saving!

    ^Steering column had been pulled forward at this point. Inside was well knackered and pull of rat poo! Niceeeee........

    ^ Driver footwell was patched over with a plate and the rest was gunk and goo, filler and mastic!

    ^ Footwells are well past it! Transmission tunnel was fairly sound though, even has the original color!!

    ^ Needs no words......

    ^ Rot and rust inside!

    Car two will follow..........

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,358 ✭✭✭ kev1.3s

    Great stuff any idea of a timescale?

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,792 ✭✭✭ Ded_Zebra

    Really love the look of those Spitfires and look forward to seeing yours being reborn! :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,936 ✭✭✭✭ Toyotafanboi

    hard to believe that that car was on the road just 4 years ago!

    will enjoy reading your updates i'm sure :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    Any progress

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    dharn wrote: »
    Any progress

    Yes, lots, essentially have all the rust eradicated and new outer panels ready to be fitted (after many hours of fettling and adjustment to do first!) Keep meaning to put up more pics here.......

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Some more pics of Car 1 when it arrived back at mine.... (sorry if the pics are really big :( )



    So, like I said, I bought two cars, the second car was a project that someone had started and abonded, it was in parts, but, was for the most part a complete car. Luckily we managed to squeeze that into the back of the van!! :P



    Car 2 like I said, was a project someone had started, made a mess of and never completed. It had a number of new panels fitted, those being:

    - Two new rear wings.
    - Rear light panel
    - Rear valance
    - Boot floor
    - New sills on both side.
    - New passenger floorpan

    Unfortunately who ever put them on did a bad job of it! Why, I cant understand, these panels dont come cheap and when you do it, its gotta be done right, or, why bother?!! The panels were posistioned wrong (put in place and welded without checking alingment etc and then, for whatever reason the owner decided to go mad with a large angle grinder and tried to disect the car, cutting across the new floor pan, and up the transmission tunnel and another cut through the new boot floor!!


    This tub had its good points, but, equally very bad points, just like car 1!! The next mission was to decide how to and what to use, scrap and save to make one decent tub......

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,201 ✭✭✭ darragh o meara

    Great job mate, It take balls to take on rust like that. Good luck with the restoration. Ill be checking back regularly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Great job mate, It take balls to take on rust like that. Good luck with the restoration. Ill be checking back regularly.

    Or stupidity! :P

    Anyway, so, I have Car1, a complete red MkIV Spitty and an unfinished Car 2, also a MkIV, from these I need to make one decent car. So, Car 2, the tub, come into the cramped workshop to be stripped out.


    Its so important to have as many zip lock bags as you can get! Boxes, buckets, jars etc etc and label EVERYTHING!!!

    This tub looked pretty good! The bulkhead was sound, as to was the battery tray (a known weak spot!). Also very sound, surprisingly, was the window frame!!


    This tub had been sitting outside for a while before I purchased. Under the muck and dirt on the passenger side is a new floorpan!! Also note, if you can make it out, the crazy cut through the sill and across the rear of the new floorpan!! That'll be discussed at a later date......


    Unfortunately, even though this tub had a good front section (floor pans, bulkhead, window frame etc, the rear inner half was bad, that include the rear deck, inner arches and the panel above the boot, they were really beyond repair and as Car 1 was strong in these areas we could do some swapping and changing to combine both body tubs to make one solid body!


    So, with car 2 stripped out and down to the bare body shell it was brought outdoors to investigate the body work under all the filler!!


    Filler can, and does hide a multitude of sins!!!!! :eek:


    Underside had been undersealed with Schultz in places and a layer of white epoxy resin and black stonechip!! Someone went to a lot of bother on a body tub that was poorly worked on panel wise!


    Self tapper and bad welding...

    This body tub was then plonked on the rolling chassis and the tub of car 1, the red one was brought in to be stripped out and investigated.


    Car 1 in to be stripped...


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,358 ✭✭✭ kev1.3s

    Great going there, it can be kind of shocking to reveal what horrors lie beneath filler, I had a fulvia spares car and when I was taking the bright work off the filler cracked off the join between the a pillar and roof to reveal it had rusted through and was now connected by a hacksaw blade pop revited to both sides! God help anyone if they had rolled it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    Great stuff, keep em coming

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Ok, so with the red tub in the workshop it was time to strip her down and see what problems were lurking beneath. First off were the rear wings. Starting drilling these out at first but then bought a spot weld drill bit, very handy little tool!!




    Taking the wing off relieved thick coatings of filler, 1/2" in places which were covering patches (some patches on top of patches) and poor welding. As can be seen above, even some kind of crude strengthening method??



    Previous owner must have been a stonemason, it was a car sculpted from isopon!!


    Wings off revealed some good metal and also lots of bad metal!

    This inner arch has had it!


    Bottom of the B post was rust!! In face, take note of the clean bit of metal to the left, that's the mid sill, its a new replacement that was put in by previous owner, that should be welded to the B post, but, as is obvious here.......its not!!! It goes without saying that in these cars the sills are structural; the car must have been all over the place!! This poor gal had sills put on over old sills, brand new ones simply stuck on! Looked good on the exterior but under neath was a different story.


    Bit of rust on the bottom section of the inner boot panel; that can be remedied!

    Passanger side inner wheel arch thankfully is salvageable apart from this area, but, that can be patched.


    All in all, the strip down of this tub was shocking to say the least!! But, as it turned out, the rear inner half of this tub was more solid than the other tub, so, after a bit of discussion, head scratching and formulation of a plan it was decided to split both tubs in two, get two 'good' sections and then work from there.

    Starting to split the car along the crossmember/upper deck.

    Car 2, with its new rear wings removed ready to be split in two!!


    Splitfire!! The back end, apart from the boot floor, rear valance and rear light panel, which are all new, is scrap.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    This is getting really interesting :eek:

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,358 ✭✭✭ kev1.3s

    Going to be a cracking car when it's finished, how are you going about reconstructing the base of the b pillar?
    Is there a serviceable section on you're second car?
    If not it'll be a nice little bit of fabrication.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Now, where was I....

    Oh yes, we had chopped one tub in two and started splitting the 'red' one along the cross member.

    The good front half was plonked up on the chassis (to get it out of the way for the time being, and to see what it looked like :P)


    Then it was onto the red tub. The spot welds were drilled out on the underside of the cross member and it was time to get out the 10" con saw....


    With the back end of the red tub (car 1) seperated, it was back into the workshop with it to clean off the excess panel remains and clean up the crossmember; the point at which the two body sections would again be joined at.


    The crossmember/reck deck cleaned up.

    The base of the B post that'll need repairing!

    A partial re-uniting of body sections. The good front and back halves plonked on the chassis for a look see.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    What did the dog think of the job so far !, I think it great, brave also, I take it you are a panel beater

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    dharn wrote: »
    What did the dog think of the job so far !, I think it great, brave also, I take it you are a panel beater

    Ok, so, when I last left off the twho good halves of the tubs had been separated and reasonably cleaned off along the point at which they would be rejoined. But first a few little internal repairs needed to be done on the rear section, the first being the seat belt mount on the rear arch, obviously a very important part that needs to be quite solid!!

    Seat belt mount rusted. Marked up and ready to be cut.

    The same section removed from the now spare/donor back end tub, sized up and ready to be welded in.

    Welded up and cleaned down, with anchor bolt in place.

    Section on top of the wheelarch was gone rusty.

    Similar section removed from the donor, this piece had come from a replacement inner arch that was badly put in and didn't survive the strip down.

    Welded in, now to be ground down and cleaned up!

    Another rusty area that's gonna bite the dust!

    Ready to be welded in.

    The boot floor, rear valance and rear light panel removed from the donor tub, these are practically new, but, badly fitted and will be separated, cleaned up and reused later. They don't come cheap, especially the light panel!!!

    At this stage it was time to get the sections ready to go together. So, we decided to use the stripped down chassis to rebuild the body on. The chassis would be modified to work on a rotisserie to allow great ease of working!!

    Brackets being added to the chassis.

    With the brackets fabricated on the chassis it was mounted on a levelled scaffold frame to make sure the chassis wasn't bent, twisted and was flat. No point rebuilding a car on a chassis that's off square or mis shaped eh!

    Here the front section of the tub was threw up on the chassis, also seen is the front and rear bracket (with round tube) that will eventually allow the car to be spun in a frame.

    And then the headache begins............

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    dharn wrote: »
    What did the dog think of the job so far !, I think it great, brave also, I take it you are a panel beater

    Panel beater? :pac: No, not at all, I just enjoy getting my hands dirty and learning new things. This is my first time working on a car to this level (apart from trivial jobs with my '98 Starlet, but, she doesn't seem to cause me much trouble thankfully! :D). I used to do woodworking, cabinetmaking etc before my lovely workshop became a grubby garage filled with car parts! :pac:

    I'm lucky too in that I have a neighbour who's excellent at this kind of stuff and is helping me out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,358 ✭✭✭ kev1.3s

    Great work there, keep it up.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ sogood

    I take my hat off to you and am following this with interest and admiration.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Cheers guys! :o

    Ok, so, I mentioned earlier that I had a bit of a head ache in store and that was due to the fact that the previous owner had made an utter ar$e of installing the passenger side floor pan! It seems the old floorpan was cut out and a new one forced in, thus distorting the floor and in turn the tunnel which was pushed upward and toward the driver side.

    ^ Check out the angle of the crossmember on the passanger side floor pan and the tilt of the tunnel. Nicht gut!

    ^ Obviously to replace the floorpan the crossmember had to be removed and was then welded back to the new floor, this, itself was twisted! How, I dont know, but it was as good as scrap!

    ^ Time to rip her out!

    ^ Previous owner, perhaps after realising their mistake either in an attempt to try fix it, or an attempt to kill it ran a heavy angle grinder through the new sills and across the new floorpan!!! :rolleyes:

    ^ This cut was temporarily tacked to hold the floor together.

    ^ Only solution to the problem was to cut along the new floorpan weld line (black mark) to try and relieve the pressure and pull the tunnel back straight again.

    Where'd I leave that angle grinder???

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    kev1.3s wrote: »
    Going to be a cracking car when it's finished, how are you going about reconstructing the base of the b pillar?
    Is there a serviceable section on you're second car?
    If not it'll be a nice little bit of fabrication.

    The reconstruction of the B pillar (amoung other sections) will be covered soon enough :D But yeah, they were all home made repair sections using a bit of ingenuity.....and a hammer or two :P

    The section car, overall is scrap, but, there was particular small sections that could be used for repairs etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    Previous poster said its going to be a cracking car when finished, I hope not !

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,623 ✭✭✭ Odelay

    I assume your named "Croppy"Boy because you're good at cropping/copy and paste? It seems to come naturally to you in a good way with all those neat cut'weld jobs!

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    Odelay wrote: »
    I assume your named "Croppy"Boy because you're good at cropping/copy and paste? It seems to come naturally to you in a good way with all those neat cut'weld jobs!

    I don't follow? :confused:

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV


    The floorpan/tunnel was cut, along the line shown in the previous post and this did indeed relieve some of the pressure and allow the floorpan to be dropped, however the tunnel sprang up a little, but, as they were free of each other now that could be remedied!

    ^ Floorpan could now be pulled across (with the help of a clamp) and bolted to the chassis.

    ^ Tunnel riding high, but, that could be easy pulled down.

    ^Inside of the crossmember recieved a couple of coats of rust primer and an extra bit of strengthening........cant hurt eh! :o

    Then it was ready to offer up the rear end, the aptly named 'Splitfire' :P

    ^ The point at which the two sections meet on the crossmember ready to be tacked.

    ^ Hardtop on, after a bit of a struggle, theyre known for being difficult to fit! But, they are incredibly beneficial for this kinda work in that it ties the front and back section of the car together. The door we threw on two just to make sure the door gaps were ok, which, thankfully there were! :D

    Unfortunately the sills are posistioned wrong and will need to be removed and replaced as well as having old repairs to the inner sills and base of A posts redone.

    ^ View from the rear. The lower section of the inner rear wind panel will need repairing as well as the arch, the plan is to do a DIY repair on this as opposed to forking out £80+ on a repair section!!! :eek:

    At this point she's still on on the scaffold frame yet to be dropped into the rotisserie; that'll be fun! :p

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,940 ✭✭✭✭ endacl

    You're really blessed with the weather at the moment to be able to do this outside in natural light, without worrying about rain breeding more rustbugs!

    Folowing with interest.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,462 ✭✭✭ SpitfireIV

    endacl wrote: »
    You're really blessed with the weather at the moment to be able to do this outside in natural light, without worrying about rain breeding more rustbugs!

    Folowing with interest.

    At the moment I'm incredibly lucky yeah, I havent got the workshop space to be able to do this indoors. Keep in mind that the last set of pics were taken back in April or May, cant remember which, when, thankfully we also had decent weather, but, we've also had more than a few bad days in between where I've been rained off the job! :rolleyes: I've given most of the bare metal a spray of LOWE rust primer and at this stage eradicated the majority of the tin worm anyway :o

    Still though, cant afford to be losing microscopic layers of the car to rust on a car that is only made of microscopicly thin layers of metal!!! :P

    Glad youre enjoying the thread.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,574 ✭✭✭ dharn

    Does the lowe rust primer have any rust treatment properties or does it just cover the rust, would you not need something like jelonite first