A labour of love

Left hand side rebuild part 3 (…and time for a break)

Left hand side rebuild part 3 (…and time for a break)

This post should have been documenting the triumphant conclusion to the major bodywork repairs on the left hand side of my car, completion of which would have set me up for getting on with the last few bits (roof replacement, front scuttle, engine bay and a few other localised repairs), before finally being able to start thinking about paint. Unfortunately things have not gone to plan at all.

Once I had finished the outer sill repairs I started to test fit the new rear wing. After my experiences on the other side I was expecting a certain amount of fettling to get it to fit, but was hoping for an easier job since I hadn’t replaced the whole outer wheelarch, and there should be less risk of things having got out of alignment. Offering it up did initially show that everything looked pretty good, most flanges lined up precisely without too much persuasion, even around the edges of the new repairs I’d made to the outer arch.

I did run into one problem at the front edge where the wing panel meets the sill, which seemed to be a slight manufacturing defect in the wing panel. The flange where it joins the door aperture appears to be too shallow (as compared to the same panel on the other side, and as can be seen below), which in turn makes the section too wide to fit flush over the outer sill.

I managed to address this with some hammer and dolly work to make the flange deeper and the panel slightly more narrow, and eventually got a satisfactory fit, so at this point I was just about ready to start painting the insides of the wing area prior to welding it all together.

This is where it all went wrong. Before I started painting I thought I would strip off the rest of the underseal from inside the wheel arch and get it prepped for priming too whilst I had the wheel off, but as soon as I started peeling back the pristine-looking underseal, I hit rust – lots of rust. I reached for the knotted wire grinding wheel to speed things up in the hope of quickly finding some good metal, but there was only more rust! You can see below that the recessed shock absorber mounting point is completely rotten, and the area around it is very deeply pitted, well beyond mere surface rust, so very depressingly, the whole lot will need to be cut out and replaced. I could really kick myself for not doing a better assessment of this area before, but it really did look sound – should have known that things had been going a little bit too smoothly in this area.

The only sensible way I can think of fixing this is to fit a complete new wheel arch assembly – there is so little left of the inner arch, and the shape is so complex that attempting a patch repair would make no sense. Removing the inner arch also means removing the outer, and if I’m doing that there is no point in re-fitting my now heavily patched outer arch afterwards. Which means those lovingly crafted patches I made were a waste of time, as was welding the new outer sill panel and boot corner panel to the outer arch, so they also need to be drilled out again and re-done with the new panel. Mortified.

After some reflection I’ve decided to take a complete break from the project for now. I’ve made an unprecedented amount of progress so far, partly thanks to lockdown, and I’m well ahead of where I thought I’d be. But it’s now summer, it’s hot, I’ve tried the patience of my neighbours with power tools for long enough, and I just don’t have the appetite for embarking on another big, noisy bodywork job right now, so the time is right for a pause.

I’m also about to have my garden redeveloped, which will include provision for a new garage. My original plan was to finish the MG’s bodywork and then have the new garage built whilst it was out of the way at the paintshop, but now the plan is to pack the MG and the rest of the garage contents up and get them out of the way so that work on the new garage can proceed as quickly as possible. I’m intending for the new garage to be as insulated and soundproof as possible so that I can restart work in a couple of months and happily make as much noise as I like without upsetting anybody!

Posts here will be a bit less frequent for a while, but I may still do a few little prep jobs and minor tinkering where I can, so will post updates on them as and when.

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