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Thread: Frame off vs. body on restoration

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    Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Hi all,

    My 1959 TR3A is due to begin restoration next month. I have been buying parts that I know will be needed for the last 5 or 6 months whenever one of “the big three” (plus Rimmers) had some of the needed items on sale.

    The intention is to have the car restored to a “nice driver” level, as opposed to show quality, since I plan to use the car with some frequency during the nicer months here in East Texas. My dad bought the car with 2800 miles on it in December of 1959 when I had just turned 16. (It still had the “nubs” on the Dunlop tires.)

    My question for the board is this: Would I get a better overall result by going ahead and paying the extra $ for a frame off restoration as opposed to having the resto shop do the work with the body (at least most of it) still on the car? They will be removing the apron and bonnet in either case in order to r&r the radiator, engine & transmission. The steering & front suspension will also be renewed. The wings and doors will also probably be r&r’d in either case.

    It seems to me that it would save a bit of shop time to have the body off while replacing the brake & fuel lines and doing the brake & front and rear suspension rebuilding, but I don’t know if that saving would be significant compared to the cost of removing and the entire body. Maybe removing everything but the tub would be an option? To my knowledge, there is no frame damage or serious rust.

    Does anyone have an opinion as to whether a new body mounting kit should be used? The car has been driven pretty hard (hey, I was a teenager during its early life).

    It turns out that it seems to have been a good thing that the shop couldn’t begin work sooner as I have been able to accumulate parts and have learned a LOT by going through old posts and comments on the Triumph Forum. (I’m up to page 261)

    Thanks in advance and thanks to all who have added so much to my knowledge about TR’s in general.

    Rick
    Rick
    59 TR3A TS41347 L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Rick

    If you do a body off, you know what you have when it's all done. If you plan on keeping the car for sometime, that's what I would go with, if not then keep your costs down. I don't know what they charge for a body off, but once the doors and body panels are off removing the tub is no big deal. I did mine in my garage. If I remember right there are about 16 bolts holding the tub to the frame (give or take a few); it took three of us to lift the tub off and we set it on two sawhorses (heavy duty) that I made. With the tub off, I found rust in places that I hadn't seem. I would replace the body mounts, they probably will look pretty bad. Good luck with your project.
    Terry

    76 TR6

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Is the shop a LBC restoration shop that is familiar with TR3s? They should know to brace the body before removal.

    Like Terry said frame off you are sure to get all the rust in places you would not see if you leave it on. Even with the car in Texas all its life I am sure it got wet from time to time.
    All the work on the suspension and steering will be easier that way as well.

    David
    .
    TR3A TS75524L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Hi David,

    Thank you for responding. The shop has done LBC's before, but this will be their first TR3. I'll be sure to mention the bracing factor if I decide on the frame off option. I've seen their work and am confident in their competence and reputation. They've done a Pebble Beach class winner (Not the big prize but first in its category).

    I would love to be able to send it up to Mark Macy, but that's just not feasible at this point.

    Good point about being able to see the rust hidden by the body being in place.

    Thanks again,
    Rick
    59 TR3A TS41347 L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    If you can squeeze the budget.... frame off for sure.
    Going back together would be a great time to install
    a Wizzard Aluminum Radiator. You will love that Rad
    solving the over heating issues.

    Gil. NoCal

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Frame off...no regrets that way.

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by malbaby View Post
    Frame off...no regrets that way.
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    I've seen this question compared to deciding whether to take a shower with your clothes on or off.

    Ed
    For just a little more, you can do it yourself!

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    The conundrum is if it is nice enough that it doesn't need a body off, the body will come off pretty easily. If it is bad enough that it needs a body off then the bolts that have been holding body the frame for 60 years( !) will no doubt be fused to said frame and not easily surrender from their appointed task, and in fact will probably sacrifice their existence before doing so. I suppose to a shop with a torch or plasma cutter no big deal, but I know it held me back a few times when I was primarily working with Armstrong tools on some restorations way back when.

    I will go against the grain here, the cars are pretty simple, if it is pretty rust free or isolated rust (particularly in the welded on parts like floors and inner and out rockers, bolt on fenders don't matter so much, because they " ") and the panel gaps are good, you will be doing a lot of work to take it apart then get it back to where it was.

    If you want to have the underside look all pretty and clean go for the frame off, if you are doing it yourself think of the difference in time, if a shop, tryto get some idea of the difference in money, and decide according to your desires and resources.

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Body off, TRs are like icebergs. Always 2/3 more rust hiding than what you see.

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    The body is only 16 extra bolts, which is fewer than what holds a front wing on! All rubber will need to be replaced, which means new body mounts.
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Im not to keen on replacing all the rubber mounts as the modern stuff is no match for the original, try to reuse every thing you can.

    Graham
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Every original rubber part I have found on a Triumph turns into Steve McQueen's Blob. LOL If there is any rubber reusable, I would guess it had been replaced already.
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    I had intended to do a minor restoration on my Spitfire. This is where it went. I found plenty to fix once it was off the frame. E68C6064-D081-4742-91E8-910CEC227A05.jpg
    "Age considers; youth ventures." Rabindranth Tagore
    1975 Spitfire

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Thanks to everybody for their responses.

    Given the input, I've decided to go ahead with the frame off option. It occurred to me that, down the road, I would probably regret not doing it. It seems like I'll be happier when all is said & done and the increased cost will seem less and less significant as time goes by.

    Hope everyone has a great weekend!
    Rick
    59 TR3A TS41347 L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    One thing to remind the shop not to remove the TS number tag. In some states they get upset if the body tag with the TS number has been removed and reattached.

    I covered mine with layers of tape so it did not get damaged during sand blasting and painting.

    David
    TR3A TS75524L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Thanks, David! That is good info.
    Rick
    59 TR3A TS41347 L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Suncoaster View Post
    I would love to be able to send it up to Mark Macy, but that's just not feasible at this point.
    Not sure why Mark isn’t feasible. If your doing a checkbook resto with frame off the shipping cost to Macy’s is insignificant in the big picture. His shop rate is competitive and he’ll be far quicker than any other shop. And his results are spectacular.


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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    Hi, Luke44 -

    There's no arguing with anything you said and I'll add that Mark seems like one whale of a nice guy & I think his Triumph knowledge is probably unmatched.

    My main stumbling block in using his shop stems from the fact that his wait times are so long, over a year now according to the last I read. I mentioned this to him in an email exchange and told him he deserved congratulations on having built such a successful business and top-notch reputation.
    Rick
    59 TR3A TS41347 L

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    Re: Frame off vs. body on restoration

    If you are planning a full restoration, I cannot see that happening in less than a year. If you are just freshening a few things with a paint job...then maybe, but even then only just. I can’t find a shop to do a decent paint job in under 6 months.

    I guess I am saying, if you go for the fastest shop, you may not be all that happy with the result.
    John

    1955 TR2

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