1959 MGA 1500 Roadster - 1975. The car was delivererd in April 1959 to the MG dealer in Dawlish, Devon, England. I believe it was resprayed Midnight Blue at that time, as I've spoken to a previous owner who owned it in the mid 60's and it was blue then. Please feel free to leave comments, advice or any much needed words of encouragement.
MGA partially dismantled in 1977 on her way to storage - emerged 33 years later (wish I still had the hair!) Could this be the longest MGA restoration?
The 'A' was stored without adequate preparation, but was regularly sprayed with penetrating fluid over the years which help prevent it becoming a complete heap of rust.
Compare this with the mess once the wings were removed - covered a multitude of sins!
Storage for many years was in a small lock-up garage just half a mile from the seashore with it's salt laden air. This was the worst period.
How did they get in there? Time for your afternoon rest .......! The Citroën Classic Car Group at MG show Stoneleigh 2010. Within the group are 3 MGB's, 2 MGA's, 2 MGTF's, a Caterham, Mini Cooper, Fordson van and Ferguson tractor!
Car had been undersealed at some point before my ownership, which may have helped save it.
Boot floor is solid, with only surface rust, but lip surround is ragged where the spongy rubber sel held moisture.
Boot floor and inner wings in good shape - no holes.
Rear inner wings on both sides are good and solid.
Aft of the door catch post, the body is surprisingly sound.
Evidence of original underseal.
That's serious corrosion caused by years of water running down inside the 'B'pillar and road dirt thrown up inside rear wheel arch.
Removing the rear wing revealed several kilos of a concoction of mud, rust and road salt...not a good moment.
Heap of crap!
Front end and shroud in generally good shape - no previous significant accident damage.
Some minor damage to underside of panel.
This area was cut out with the captive nut retained for use on the future repair section.
When I bought the car in 1974, it was fitted with a BMC 'Gold Seal' re-conditioned engine of original MGA 1500 type. In 1976 I replaced this with a Riley 1.5 'B' series engine that I had lightened, balanced, half race cam and modified cylinder head. This performed really well, revving much more freely than the original. At some point, I 'lost' the original engine (long story) and so the current one will be re-built in modified form.
As I intend to use the car for touring, I plan to carry out the now acceptable up-grades of disc front brakes, alternator, 5-speed gearbox, electronic ignition and electric cooling fan. A re-conditioned Ford Type 9 gearbox was purchased in 2010 and this will be fitted using the 'Hi-Gear' conversion kit.
Starts to look better after sessions with angle grinder mounted wire brushes.
Sills injected with foam, sometime before 1974.
There's real metal under there!
Left side in slightly better shape and useful to take datum measurements to help position right side repair panels
Both door 'A' pillars are salvagable with bottom repair sections. Sill panel and chassis cover rail were incorrecly welded to the upper chassis rail seam in the early 70's as an MOT repair. These have all now been ground off.
First major surgery, involved cutting away all rotten metal, first having taken all key measurements. Tip here is to retain all old sections to use as reference later, when time has passed and the new sections have to be set in place. Addendum - in hindsight, I wouldn't have cut away quite so much metal from the upper section behind the 'B' post, as the repair panel was a poor fit - easier to have patched it up at the top and replaced just the lower section.
Nice handbrake! Something has to cheer you up at moments like this.
Chassis throughout is the good news, as only surface rust.
Should clean up nicely!
Ray helped make the first cuts - gratefully received.
First new metal is cut to fit - Sportscar Metalworks repair panel required major reshaping to fit.
Wings are required to assist correct alignment of inner and outer sills and 'B' post, before welding can commence. All wings at this stage were away at Sportscar Metalworks for blasting and repair @19/05/10
Trial fitting of door to original door pillar, to aid alignment and positioning of new repair sections, particularly the 'B' post. This is critical if panel fit and shut lines are to be perfect.
Wings took four months to complete, but were worth the wait - superb job by Sportscar Metal Works of Iver, Buckinghamshire. Once the paint was blasted, we found that at some point before my ownership, that the left side had been badly damaged and poorly repaired. This led to much more serious repair panels being fitted and the original dents being properly beaten out and lead loaded. A really pleasing result all for the same price as one new pattern wing from Moss...and I have the satisfaction of knowing they'll fit!
Right side wings were not too serious, with just lower section repairs.
If that doesn't excite you.............!
Work resumed again January 2012
The inner wing repair section was significantly different to the original section that was removed. The chassis mounting bracket on the repair panel had to be removed and refitted to allow the panel to achieve a fit. Despite this it was still difficult to align the lower edge where it meets the wing dog-leg.
Despite the huge amount of information on MGA's, there's very little factual in terms of dimensional drawings to help restorers, particularly with the replacement of the 'F' post sections. This is from John Underwood of MG Car Club and published in Malcolm Green's excellent MGA Restoration Guide. When checked against my cars remaining original side, the dimensions were almost identical. Also of constant reference for this aspect, was american Barney Gaylord's extensive website that records in detail the fabrication and replacement of inner and outer sills, amongst details of several restorations. mgaguru.com.
One of the best and most practical guides and a great reference source.
First full dry fix of inner sill /'B' post/repair panels. The new 'B' pillar is one of 'Metal Micky's' (Sportscar Metalworks) better productions and is an excellent fit. The front inner wing was treated with 'Fertan' converter.
Red effect on 'A' post is from infra-red workshop heater - attempt to raise temperature from 2 degrees!
First trial fix of rear wing - additional reshaping of inner wing repair panel required to allow bottom edge of wing to bolt up to captive nuts. Also alignment of wing to outer sill needed attention - note both wing repair section and outer sills from same supplier so a better fit should have been expected.
Original shut-plate and catch fitted prior to mounting door
First dry fit with door mounted and both wings loosely fitted - not bad panel gaps, but still plenty of adjustment available to achieve 1/16th inch gaps eventually. Benefit here of using original wings and doors.
Now to take it all to pieces again for the umpteenth time.
All repair panels were dismantled and metal primed, using either weld-thru, etch or zinc depending on area primed. Edges to be welded were prepared using joddler/punch. Holes were punched every few inches ready for plug welding. The joddler tool was not cheap but is a great asset.
This shows the tool with the head rotated to the joddler position. Both ends of the inner sill back plate were joddled to achieve a flush join when welded.
Finished joddled edge. Small holes are from various dry fittings using 3mm drill and PK screws
Final rebuilding of the repair sections with holes ready for plug welding and weld-thru primed metal.
'B' post and 'A' post repair section yet to be fitted
Joddled ends joined ready for tack welding. Various small drillings are for dry fitting PK screws.
All sections back together - only outer sill panel and chassis top finishing strip missing. Gap between rear scuttle and inner wing repair panel still to be resolved, before yet another trial fitting of door and both wings. Once all fits checked, tack welding will commence.
At this stage, I tapped all the captive front and rear wing nuts, which makes it much easier doing up and undoing the bolts when trial fitting the wings. 5/16th UNF tap
Also, as I'm re-using original bolts at this stage, I ran a die down the ones used for trial fitting
Yet another trial fitting, this time with wings adjusted to achieve better panel gaps. Original door hinge pins are worn, giving some vertical movement. I thought I could get away without replacing them, but it was clear the final fit would never be quite right. Gap between top of sill and door bottom still larger than I'd like. Addendum - just back from MG event Stoneleigh and having looked at several restored MGA's, panel gap fit was extremely variable, with some very poor and one with a price tag of £32,995! - gave me heart. Even more addendum - bought two new door hinges from Moss, on receipt I checked them, one being OK, but the other had more vertical play in the pin than the 53 year-old one it was to replace!
Front wing to outer sill not bad for first fit.
Final trimming of inner wing repair panel where the wing dog-leg fits is still required.
At last, welding has started. Plug welds using Clarke TE 135 MIG welder.
Welding over carpet not recommended - burns well.
Half an hour with the grinder and it all looked a lot better than this.
Inner wing repair section.
Inner sill plugged on, but front end appears to be out of square. Trial fitted front wing at this stage to check bottom edge fit over inner sill and just about ok to join with captive nuts - 'A' post repair section and 'B' post still loose. Feels like progress at last!
Having completed the welding and grinding flat, another trial fit - for some reason, nothing fitted and several frustrating hours were spent finding the reason. Joined by fellow MGA owner Ray, we took a fresh look at all aspects, particularly the fit of the front wing bottom edge, which was too low to bolt up to the inner panel. Following some minor assistance from a jack and wood block, it eased into shape. Holes were drilled to match up with the captive nuts on the inner panel and it bolted up well as can be seen in the photo.
Wing profile with outer sill acceptable, with the sill still loose. The problem of gaining a good fit is inevitable when considering that the wing had a new lower repair section fitted and this was being mated to a complete new inner panel repair section. This is where endless patience and accepting small compromises comes into play.
Pleased look after serious head scratching, plenty of tea and ultimate success in getting everything to fit.
If in doubt, get the hammer out!
This shows the fitting of the outer sill and attachment of chassis rail finishing strip, screwed up ready for welding top and bottom and pop-riveting the end flanges to the door pillars as per original spec. Outer sill inner surface by this stage has been zinc primed and two coats of black Hammerite applied. The hole in the right hand corner of the sill panel is the drain hole that will sit under the door draught seal rubber edge and acts to drain any trapped water. A corresponding hole in the top surface of the inner sill allows the water to drain into the sill void and out through gaps in the lower edge. Any excess moisture will evaporate in the void of the inner sill, the ends of which are not sealed. Seems counter intuitive, but apparently works - careful rust inhibiting preperation is required to the inside surfaces of the inner sill, to ensure longevity - not of concern to the Abingdon factory in 1959!
All welded seams treated with U-Pol brushable seam sealer - this is polyurethane based which is over paintable, unlike silicon based versions.
New strengthening channel fitted ready for plug welding - originally spot welded.
The lower part of the front shroud on both sides had rusted through, which seems common. The rusted area was cut out, which included the wing retaining captive nut. Not being an expert, the curved shape of the shroud caused me anxiety and the repair solution may not be that taken by a professional. I fabricated a backing fillet with a flange and cut-outs enabling a curve and tack welded this to the shroud face and flange, to give a solid backing for lead loading. The captive nut was welded in place ensuring it was in exactly the right position to match up to the locating hole in the wing flange. The wing was trial fitted at this stage to ensure fit.
A simple plate was cut out, drilled and held in place for welding with the wing fixing bolt.
Area was primed with weld-thru primer before tacking plate in position.
Welds ground back and flange beaten into a lower profile to allow build up of lead load.
This was my first attempt at the dark art of lead loading, but I've accumulated bits of the required kit over the past few years at shows and jumbles and now's the time to give it a go. The automotive lead came from ex Citroën colleague Mike Walters, who had a few dozen bars in his garage, that once belonged to his father, that I believe used them in his days at Vauxhall many years ago.
Having cleaned the area back to bare metal, solder paste is brushed on to the bit to be leaded.
The solder pase is then heated until it starts to bubble and run, this is then wiped off with a damp rag until it all appears bright silver.
Repair area is now tinned and ready for lead solder.
The lead bar and tinned area is then heated and blobs of pasty solder dropped roughly across the repair zone.
Doesn't look pretty at this stage, but that's not a problem.
Now for the next stage of working the lead down to a smooth surface using the hardwood paddle, that has been well lubricated with tallow to stop it sticking to the hot lead. Red glow is from infra-red heater.
Now using a coarse body file (bought this one at my local second-hand tool shop for £3.00) filing down to a smooth finish. Any obvious low areas were filled again.
OK for a first attempt. Further filing and then hand sanding will follow until final finish. Any imperfections left will be covered by using a high-build primer before painting.
A tricky repair for me, but pleasing to have tackled it with the lead solder rather than the easier route of modern body filler, which runs the risk of trapping moisture and eventually rusting again. Once cleaned up and finished, the wing fitted fine. This will eventually be covered by the wing and gasket trim.