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Thread: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

  1. #1
    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    It is now 2 years and nine months since I low balled the PO and got my TR2 project. For this entire time I have been dreading the bodywork, since I knew the body was abysmal. Well, yesterday it began. I figured Pigot says the restoration begins at the doors, so that is where I started.

    Yep. It's bad.

    Here are a few pics. I have 4 doors to pick from. The originals are actually relatively good as far as rust, but have significant body damage from at least 2 previous accidents. The second pair have minimal damage, but are holed with rust.


    This is the first of the original doors. I used a torch to heat the bondo and scraped a good hour to get it off. The PO loved Bondo, and "put that S&%t on everything", to quote the add!


    Below the bondo was the evidence of the earlier accident...lead. More heat and a puddle of lead on the floor got me down to the basics. Unfortunately, the basics weren't that good. I decided the frames all need the lower rail replaced, so the obvious step is to separate the frames from the skins.


    The skins are just wrapped around the edge of the frame, and then tack welded at about 4 spots per side. A little work with a dremel broke the tack welds. Usually, when you take off a skin you have no plan to re-use it. If that is the case, all you have to do is grind the crimped edge and the skin pops right off. Being in the position of having to re-use makes the job much more difficult. The crimped edge has to be preserved. Bummer.



    And a whole lotta work with a chisel and crow bar to free the edge, and the skins are off.


    Finally...some hammer and dolly work to true up the skin edges. I'm finally back to a job I am familiar with.


    To ensure the bondo stayed on, the PO drilled holes in the skins.


    So all the holes have to be filled. This is a little ruby tipped torch and a mild steel rod. When hammered while red hot, the holes will disappear. Funny, that sounds easy...but it takes a whole lotta hammering and heating before it happens.


    I am including this as a warning to those that follow. I run into this regularly, and it truly sucks. Once you braze a panel, it is a real PITA to remove it to do correct repairs later. I have to heat all this mess to the melting point of the bronze, but below the steel and then smack the panel on the table to get the mess off. If you braze body work, there will be someone like me cussing about it in the future. There is no place for brazing with bronze in body work. In this pic you can see where the wing was jammed into the top of the door frame. Normally this area would have a gently rounded curve...instead it is dented in and ripped open. Rather than fixing it...the shop just brazed the edge of the door that shows, to stiffen it up. The damage would still be very obvious when the door is open, and it likely took the tech longer to braze than it took me to fix it right...once the bronze was removed.

    So, just a taste. This is going to be a huge project. New skins are $200 ea...so I'll pass on that option. The frames have to be repaired from the bottom up, and beat back to shape. I'm tired of trying to find decent doors to start with...so these will have to do. Bummer.

    One of the biggest issues on the TR3 was getting the contour of the doors to match the wing in the front and quarter panel in the back. Since the skins are off, I will try to simplify this job by contouring the doors to match AS the skins go back on. The door assemblies are flimsy when separated, so it should be possible to match the contours without much trouble...and then lock the skins down to tighten everything back up. I'll let everyone know if this idea works or not.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

  2. #2
    Obi Wan
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Abysmal well the definition sounds about how I feel. Is abysmal a feeling word? It is an adjective and yes abysmal sounds about right for my bodywork project, but that is because I am a neophyte. In the future, I would appreciate words like changing John. Do you ever use paint remover John? I am leaning more toward it because when I grind paint off I get little nicks in the metal. I heard an experienced guy say he felt that paint remover left a film and he basically ground off most the paint. He work is nice, so I am not sure.

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    Obi Wan M_Pied_Lourd's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Hi John,

    Thanks for taking the time to post your progress. I will be following along. I am going to be starting the body work on my 59 probably in the next 6 weeks or so, so I can keep you company :-)

    Cheers
    Tush
    81 TR8, SATPL
    73 TR6 CF4874UO
    68 TR250 CD5228LO,
    60 TR3A TS69891LO, 60 TR3A TS64870L, 59 TR3A TS44836LO

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    Jedi Warrior PatGalvin's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Thanks for posting John. Great descriptions and photos. I ended up just cutting off the bottom few inches of my door skin and patching back that area with new skin. That allowed me to access the rusty frame and patch that back too. In some areas, I used rust encapsulator or metal etch to fix the rust in place, if it was inaccessible. The doors were a ton of work. You've really got a huge task on your hands there. I hope you can keep posting - I am really interested in how you handle these challenges. (and yes, the metal braze is a major PITA to deal with.) I had a bunch on my rear apron and it made the repair around the rear bumper holes a huge pain.

    Best of luck

    Pat
    Pat
    59 TR3A TS38096 L
    1968 TR250 CD6021LO

  5. #5
    Obi Wan
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    I feel fortunate to have you 3 guys doing your body work right when I am learning to do mine. Please keep posting pictures and explaining.
    Steve

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Thanks for the support, guys! Starting is always the most difficult...no finish in sight. We just gotta keep pressing.

    Steve, I have used stripper, but just prefer not to. It's slow, messy, smelly and as you noted, if you don't get it all off, it can cause a bad bond under the new paint. In my view, the scratches from sanding or grinding give a good surface for the fresh primer to bond. The primer will fill all the scratch marks...
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

  7. #7

    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Nice work! I am submitting the garage addition to the county for approval Friday! It should take a couple weeks then schedule power line and gas line move!
    JP TS 35123 L (Family Resto)
    I can only gauge the quality of a friendship based on how hard it will be to shoot you when you turn into a Zombie; R.S.
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    Jedi Knight GTP1960's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Wow.....I can already tell, if I need body work, I'd better be saving my money so I can pay the real guy.
    Guy
    1960 TR3A TS63684L

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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Hi,
    I went thru this on my TR-3a. I think every panel had been kicked in so it could be filled with bondo. I heated up the bondo and scraped it just your you are doing. Depending on your hammer and dolly skills, I picked up a book "Keys to metal Bumping" by Frank Sargent. Its from the 1930's. He does a good job explaining metal shrinking and hammer & dolly work. I probably could not have done it without his book. Its really neat to see a panel come back to shape with a hammer and dolly!

    Good luck! Its always faster to slow down and take you time with metal work.

    Roy

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    Yoda
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Keep us posted

  11. #11
    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Had a revelation this morning. I thought I was working with the parts from 4 doors. I completely forgot I have Marv's donor car in the back yard, although it is a TR3. A quick check showed that although those doors have handles and are a bit different in the upper frame area, the lower frames are both the same as the TR2 AND they are not rusted out.

    I was all ready to make drawings for the local steel shop to have them bend new lower frames...but this new finding means I can graft in the donor car frame bottoms. Finally...caught a break! I will have to remove and study the TR3 doors more closely, as I very well may be able to either graft parts of the outer skins from the donor as well, or may even be able to use the entire TR3 skins and weld up the handle holes.

    Still a lot of work, but my work is free. At least I won't have to spend any money on the door body work. Bonus!
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Darth Vader Marvin Gruber's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    John,
    you will be able to use a lot of the sheetmetal from the 3a on the 2. Then sell whats left to recoup some of the cost of the 3. Wish I had it back. 3s are getting harder to find.
    marv

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Marv, I'm not big on saving a lot of parts after a job. Once I'm done you can have whats left if you pay to take it away. That'll be at least another year down the road, though. Hard to believe it's been a couple years already since you shipped over here!
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Had time for more work on the driver's door. Here we go...


    These are the 3 frames i'm starting with. Every one of them is a disaster. One was completely unusable. The worst of them all is the lower frame section, that traps water in the skin fold and rusts along the bottom.



    This is the common failure. I love welding, but you have to have enough metal to weld. These panels start at 18 gage...so not much to rust before there isn't any metal left.

    My initial thought was to bend a new bottom frame to splice into the best door, but I remembered that the lower frame has a "bow" to it, so it is not a straight bend. Bummer.


    Luckily, the TR3 door (top), although completely different along the upper section, has the same lower frame rail. I decided to remove the lower frame from the TR3 door, and splice it back into the rusted TR2 frame.


    The front of the door is a perfectt right angle...this will be important to know when the pieces go back together.


    Note that the rear frame rail is not at a right angle. Time to take a quick measurement so I know how much it tilts for the reassembly.


    The front rail was bad in all three doors. For lack of a better choice...I stuck with the original and will be using the top, original TR2 front frame.


    This is the part that will need repair, along with a couple holes.



    Starting at the corners with the rotary cutter.


    This is the back, where I cut through the metal that will not be used. This piece is spot welded, so time to drill the spots and remove the old piece.



    I started by drilling through. Funny how I have to re-learn the process for every project. I remembered later not to drill all the way through, but rather just halfway.




    And, after a bit of chisel work, the frame sections are free.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork


    So this is the start of my "new" door. The sides are original, and the bottom is from the TR3. It's time for clean up on all the pieces.




    The door stop hole was torn, so a dap of weld and careful grinding fixes that.





    This is the damaged front top rail. All those splits will have to be welded together.


    If you remember earlier, this section of the front door frame was a real mess. Here is is compared to a door with a good section....getting there...slowly.


    All the areas that will be welded have to be cleaned up with a wire brush to remove the rust.







    And here we go. I started each corner with a tack, and then set the correct angle and finished with tacks and plug welds.


    And finish off with a weld down the edge, like was done at the factory, 60 years ago.



    The angle of the rear frame has to be set off, like it was originally.



    Occasional hammer and dolly work to keep everything straight as you go. Note, that spot at the bottom blew through from being rusted very thin. A common occurrence dealing with a pile of rust for parts.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

  16. #16
    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork




    Here's the frame after a quick sand blast.




    Moving on to the skin. All hammer and dolly work.



    This is a straight edge on my TR3. Notice the entire door has a gently "bow". That has to be copied with the old TR2 skin.



    This is the edge on the TR2. All the curve was within 4 inches of the leading edge. The key is slowly and gently with the hammer and dolly...like all day slow.




    I now primed all the edges and surfaces that will be covered once the frame and wood blocks go back. The factory did NOT prime, and that's why the doors rust out on the lower edge.





    Now the skin goes back on. I started at one edge and gently hammered the rim closed to capture the frame. I tack weld at the same spots that the factory tacked.



    Before tightening the crimp completely, I checked the door in the hole where it will be fit. The front fender is not on correctly, so the front gap will close up once it is. I am mainly looking for "twist" and "contour" for now. The finer details will come later.


    Notice I am not done yet...the upper front corner is still mangled. I will take a section of metal from one of the old skins and weld a section on to this area, and fold it over to the correct contour. That'll be in the next installment.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Darth Vader Marvin Gruber's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    John,
    you do like a challenge! Good work.
    marv

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    Jedi Trainee TRopic6's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    VERY nice work John. And a nice touch in keeping welds in the factory places when feasible.

    Jeff

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    Obi Wan M_Pied_Lourd's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    Very Nice work and great documentation. I have been pretty lucky with my doors so far.

    Cheers
    Tush
    81 TR8, SATPL
    73 TR6 CF4874UO
    68 TR250 CD5228LO,
    60 TR3A TS69891LO, 60 TR3A TS64870L, 59 TR3A TS44836LO

  20. #20
    Obi Wan
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    Re: Beginning the TR2 Bodywork

    John that is nice dismemberment of the tr2 or tr3, I totally appreciate the detail you go into. On my doors the frame at the bottom was quite rusted, and the skin was very good. I sandblasted them to bare metal and put some of the fiberglass on them with some of the finer putty on top. They came out ok.

    Since I started working on the body more, I see how these cars were built. Spending most my life as a carpenter building things, the assembly of the vehicle takes on a clearer meaning for me. Keep up the detailed work.

    Did you happen to do much work on the tr3a and the big mouth grill? I would be interest in seeing how that lip came out and what you did.

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