View Full Version : Panel Alignment

04-03-2009, 09:52 PM
I've been obsessing lately on the way the panels on my TR4 don't align as well as they could, or should I guess.

I realize that the TR4's production standards weren't the same as Ferrari in the '60's, but they must have had some type of quality control, or standard reference for panel fitment.

Is there a resource that might provide this info?

The PO that restored my car was obviously not a professional body man, but he did do a decent job considering he was using after market wings and door skins. It's very difficult, even for experienced restoration experts, to get all the panels to align perfectly.

The one gap that drives me nuts is where the front left wing meets the door and the grill area. This panel is just not right. I've considered replacing it with an original one, or trying to correct the one in place now, but it just looks like it wasn't made properly. I suppose I could try and if it doesn't work out, just fit an original. What have I got to lose except on funky fender.

04-03-2009, 10:02 PM
Any pictures of the gaps in question?

04-04-2009, 06:40 AM
Yes, pictures would help so we could see what might be possible to help with alignment.

I realize that the TR4's production standards weren't the same as Ferrari in the '60's,...

Actually, Ferrari's were probably worse. Here's a quote from Enzo Ferrari..."I don't care if it has electric windows. I don't care if the door gaps are straight but when the driver steps on the gas I want him to **** his pants."

04-04-2009, 07:15 AM
..."I don't care if it has electric windows. I don't care if the door gaps are straight but when the driver steps on the gas I want him to **** his pants."

Gee, kinda how I feel about my Triumph... :whistle:

04-04-2009, 07:16 AM
....when it runs

04-05-2009, 08:57 PM
I would post some pictures, but it's not going to be of any use since I've now got my car tore up from the floor up. I'll work out the misalignment issues somehow.

The restoration of the restoration has begun!

04-06-2009, 06:46 PM
sometimes it's not the panel but what's underneath. Is the car perfectly straight and square? I suspect not since the front is out as well. Sometimes you have to "cheat" to make aftermarket panels fit, grinding the edge, re-adjusting the door for a compromise, shimming here and there. Could be he Botched the skins and you may never get it right. Might have to re-skin the doors or grind the door edges, re-weld, etc,etc. There is a lot of "fitting" when skinning the doors (you can shift the door skin around on the inner to make it fit). AS far as gaps, just try to make them equal and even-they never had close gaps.
ps-my dad's a retired bodyman-40+ yrs.

04-07-2009, 11:54 AM
Most of us obsess about panel alignment, gaps, etc., and for good reasons. However, if you got in the way-back machine and visited Canley, circa 1960, you would be surprised how bad these cars were leaving the factory. I read a comment recently, I believe it was from Bill Piggott or Graham Robson. When the cars were being assembled and a wing or door didn't fit properly, they grabbed another until they got things right. The poor fitting parts were sent to the parts dept and sold to body shops. Now you know the rest of the story!

04-07-2009, 01:15 PM
I removed the fenders and door from the left side of the car yesterday. The rear fender fits fine, but the front fender was pushed forward to allow the door to fit. The PO had door skins installed, which I think may be the problem. The drivers door fit's terribly. It's too tight at the top left corner and it's also too low as it's sitting about 3/8th's of an inch below the body area which the windshield attaches to. It's also riding to low at the bottom right where it meets the rocker panel. When I pushed the front fender forwards, it left a huge gap between the door and the front fender, but the fender does seem to fit alright. I'm afraid I may need another door since I don't need to remove material from the door, but add it. The lower door hinge is also shimmed. All things seem to point to the door.

The passenger's side is very, very good, most likely better than the factory fit, so I'm not going to mess with it. I think the hood will line up fine once the left front fender is installed properly in relation to a proper door.

I could pick up a door on Ebay, but like Frank said, there is no telling what I may get. Revington's sells complete aluminum doors, so I may go this route, but I'm concerned about the aluminum panels being too dent prone, besides being way expensive I'm sure. Maybe a very good body shop could rebuild the door I have if I supply a new skin. I suppose material could be added to the door if needed.

I'm also replacing all the fender bolts as supplied by Moss in their fender attachment kits, with stainless fittings. The Moss stuff on it now is already starting to rust after only a couple of years of sitting in a garage with very little exposure to the weather. A bit of an overkill maybe, but I can get the stainless stuff at an old local hardware store that has a huge selection of nuts and bolts. This place is really great. I've never seen a hardware store with so many fittings.

I realize I'll never get perfection in panel fit, but I think I can do better than the existing fit.

04-07-2009, 02:04 PM
Door skins are pre-bent 90 degrees where they fit over the inner door. It would take a deliberate action by the body shop to make it smaller. Anyway, before going after new body parts, spend a little more time adjusting things. The door hinges allow for vertical and horizontal adjustment.

When doing my car I found it helpful to adjust to the rear fender, paying attention to the rear gaps and the body alignment of the top of the door to the top of the rear fender, while adjusting the top front of the door the cowl. I then fitted the front fender and adjusted to the fender side. I did this multiple times until it fit well.

I did have to ream the holes a bit where the hinges attached, as well as bending the entire door to bring the lower rear corner in. You also have some adjustment range on the fenders to bring them in alignment with the door's side.

It is frustrating work, but it can be done, and certainly worth the effort before jumping to new parts.

Pictures would help...

04-08-2009, 10:56 PM
Well, it's one of those situations where someone asks you, "You want the good news or the bad news first?"

Today I checked the frame to see if it was out of square, not once, but several times. It is. The rear of the frame is off center from the front by over an inch and I found 2 spots where someone had welded steel plates to the portion of the frame just behind the rear shock mounts on each side of the car. After a close inspection, the frame is also a little thin in certain spots and has numerous indentations along it's length from either being jacked or hitting boulders. For the life of me, I cannot understand why someone would go to all the trouble of a frame off restoration on a less than straight and structurally sound frame.

In any event, I'm going to contact Ratco tomorrow and most likely order a new frame. My earlier post about the concept of building a new TR4 from the frame up is looking more and more like a reality than an exercise in the what if's.