So finally after several weeks of welding, panel beating filling and sanding the Midget was ready for it’s first couple of coats of primer.
The primer used was two pack Epoxy primer. Two coats were applied.
The primer was applied on Friday and was ready for initial flatting on Sunday.
Over all I was pleased with the result. A few issues became apparent now the car was one uniform colour. This revealed a couple of low spots but nothing a skim of knifing putty and 320 grit in a block couldn’t solve.
A guide coat was applied to show any low spots.
I have managed to flat one side of the car today and hopefully with a bit of help flat the rest tomorrow. After this I will apply several more coats of the primer and do a final flatting hopefully next weekend.
The owner came around and brought the grill he wants to fit. It is an original Austin Healey Sprite item for a pre ’70 car. I think this is a great choice and ,in my opinion, is the most attractive of all the grills.
Not a massive amount to report this post, I managed to source some nice front indicator lights. I decided to get these with a clear lens and use an orange bulb or LED. If I decide to go the LED route I will have to change the flasher unit which is not much of a problem.
The lights are similar to early Morris Minor units and are flatter in profile than the similar Land Rover type. One problem with them is they have 2 contacts inside so I will have to bridge them together with a soldered strip of copper to make then fit a single contact indicator bulb.
I smoothed off the back side and it is as smooth as a babys bum. In fact it is as smooth as a Midgets bum. mmm…
The left hand side of the car is now getting there and soon I will be hand blocking the whole car ready for primer.
Just need the weather to change as it is wet and snowing outside.
The panel gaps on the Midget were pretty bad. The right hand A post had a gap that got bigger towards the bottom. instead of relying on filler I welded a short length of 3mm steel rod to it to build up the edge.
This was then ground back…
…and filled. The whole area then had a light skim of filler to get the all the panels the correct level and straight.
When the rubber bumpers are removed there is a large hole were the indicator needs to be. This is not on the earlier midgets so needs to be filled in.
A piece of steel is shaped to fit…
…welded in and ground back. This is welded slightly back from the front surface so filler can be used for final profiling.
The same was done on the other side.
Filler was used to smooth out the contours and a location hole measured out for the front indicators.
More sanding and profiling of filler was used to cover the repair work on the other side of the car…
…and attention given to the door gaps and levelness of the panels.
I find this work tedious but satisfying at the same time. Hopefully the first few coats of epoxy primer will be going on in a couple of weeks.
With the floor solid it is now time to crack on with the bodywork. As this is a budget rebuild I will be repairing what I have as much as possible. The wings are pattern parts so as well as being a bit frilly around the edges they will take a bit of work to get them to fit.
The rotten corner was cut out of this wing…
…a repair patch made and butt welded in…
…and the repair ground flat.
Small repairs were made to the mounting flanges at the front of both wings were they bolt on to the front valance.
The mounting brackets were repaired and new captive nuts welded on.
The wings were then rust treated on the inside and coated with a generous layer of Stonechip/ Shutz. They were then attached to the body. Hopefully they will not have to come off again.
Whilst attaching the wings I did my best to get the panel gaps as good as I could. Remember these are pattern parts so this was a bit of a struggle.
One annoying thing that I could not live with was this.
The front of both wings didn’t follow the curve of the bonnet and was proud by 1/4 of an inch. The solution was to slice the mounting flange like so:
And close the gap using a big hammer
This worked well and tomorrow I will weld the splits up. After this I started with the body prep. This is the stuff that takes time and I have to be quite strict with myself as any imperfections will show in the finished paint. I like to work fast but this job cannot be rushed.
At least the midget is small and also has the advantage of having no roof.
A bit of a mile stone was reached yesterday with the welding on the floor finished.
This was the last bit that needed doing which was at the trailing edge of the right rear wheel arch.
After this all the underseal was removed using a hot air gun and scraper. After this I went over the whole floor pan and wheel arches with a knotted wire wheel in the angle grinder.
This most be the most dangerous tool I own but it does such a good job of removing rust, paint and underseal.
After the underseal was removed I seam sealed and the joints and weld repairs with polyurethane sealer.
And then coated everything in plenty of Dinitrol 447 stone chip.
Next job is to repair and make the front wings fit (they are miles out at the moment).
With the welding complete at the rear I moved up to the front of the car.
Well after I ground off the rivets and bolt heads holding the ‘repair’ on this was revealed.
I made a patch up and as well as seam welding it I plug welded onto the chassis leg.
The Midget is going to be bumperless and the owner wants a clean look so the 1500 vents were filled in with steel. This will have a skim of filler over the top to profile it.
Next up will be to strip the underseal off then paint and stone chip the underside.
A bit of a short break from the Midget yesterday. A friend was given this trailer which has been very overloaded at some point.
The previous owner had botched it by bolting ‘splints’ either side of the damaged frame.
To repair this I cut off the damaged steel and spliced in a length of steel scaffolding pipe.
Quite a satisfying job to blow away the Christmas cobwebs.
With Christmas around the corner work on the Midget has been a little less focused recently. We finished replacing all the suspension bushes which took longer than expected.
The car was lowered and its weight compressed the spring enough to allow the damper to be bolted in place. Once reassembled the front suspension was lubricated with a grease gun.
The whole job would have been easier with a transmission stand like the one on the left but I am so tight I made one out of a spare wheel and an Acrow prop.
Today I continued working on the back of the car making up small panels were the old had rusted out. Not much fun this. Upside down welding and a padded shirt are a dangerous combination but at least I was warm as my shirt went up in flames.
Last weekend was fun as I was asked to take a look at a possible future project.
A 1996 Rover Mini. The plan for this is to strip it out, roll cage and fibreglass flip front. This is booked in after the Midget so should start in summer 2017. John the owner has already started the strip down in anticipation.
Hopefully I will be able to crack on with the midget build during the christmas holidays.
Now the outer panels were in place I needed to make up new closure panels for the inside.
I started by making up a new panel behind the rear wheel. An old friend came round to film me working for a project he is working on so this week the quality of pics will be much better than usual. Don’t get used to it..
The sheet steel was offered up and marked up. This was then cut and shaped.
And again checked for size.
This panel needed a flange down the curved side so this was started using a pair of pliers…
Which gives a rough puckered flange (sounds painful !)…
A hammer and dolly are then used to persuade the metal into shape. This takes a bit of persistence…
The finished panel looks like this.
But you have to shine it up for the camera.
The panel was then offered up and welded in place.
Now I know that the original panel had the flange the other way for ease of assembly in the factory but I prefer this way as you do not end up with a ledge for the mud to sit on. This panel is directly behind the rear wheel so has loads of stuff thrown at it.
I’m a Realist not a Purist…
The panel is then seam sealed using polyurethane sealant.
Now looks like this.
Whilst all this has been going on all the suspension bushes have been replaced, the brakes rebuilt and the car lowered to chrome bumper spec.
Still plenty of bodywork to go but the restoration is progressing nicely.
The intention for this build was to turn an ugly duckling into a classic sports car with a very limited budget. The best way to do this cheaply is to remove the old rubber bumpers and run without them.
Once the bumpers are removed there are several modifications needed to give the rear a pre ’74 look.
The flat area below the rear lights, which was modified for the rubber bumper models, needed to be returned to chrome bumper spec. As the lower edges of the rear valance and wings were rotten pre’74 repair panels were used.
The lower section of the valance was cut out and the chassis trimmed…
…to fit the lower section of the new panel.
This took time as I had to weld slowly with a series of tack welds to make sure the panel did not warp with the heat. In retrospect I think I would just replace the whole panel next time.
Anyway I’m happy with the results.
The other side looks like this.