Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

0042 Strip, Scrape, Bog, Sand, repeat.......

4th March 2018
A week spent working on the body panels......

Scraping and stripping
Basically the entire week was spent stripping paint, sanding, de-rusting, and bogging Gidget's panels trying to get them ready for painting as soon as possible.  Because the green enamel paint had to be totally removed before we could paint with 2 Pack, this meant virtually every panel needed attention.  Luckily both Daryl and Winno came down on a couple of days and donated their time to the cause - Although I fear that now they have found out what a soul-destroying job it is, they may never be back !!

Front shroud
First job was the bogging of the welds done in the corners of the front shroud, where age stress cracks in the original welded seams had been crudely mended in the past using galvanised sheet, pop rivets, and lots of bog.  We had to strip all the bog out first, then clean up the cracks, then Andrew welded them up - In the case of the worst split on the front RH side, even welding a patch on the underside to strengthen the seriously weakened original panel.  In the end I felt these worked out quite well, and will not only look good but also be a lot stronger. A more detailed study of this work on the front shroud is covered in the previous entry.

Thick bog on rear wing
Then it was on to stripping the paint off a rear wing.  There was a LOT of thick bog on there,and while grinding it off would be faster, that method makes a LOT of dust, and is not really viable in a suburban garden unless the wind is blowing in the right direction !  As a result most of the time we had to scrape off the bog bit by bit, softening it with paint stripper little by little - Not much fun, but satisfying when it is all eventually removed.
Distributor being set up

On a visit to CCC to pick up some bits and pieces, Mark had one of our
rebuilt distributors on the Ignition Advance machine, setting up the spring pressures and rates of advance.  Interesting to see this detailed and important work being done.

Upper section of rear shroud
"Corrosion" on rear shroud
I then moved on to the upper section of the rear shroud - Stripping off the green paint first, and then slowly working our way through the other coats of paint and undercoats underneath, until we eventually got down to the alloy base.  We then found a quantity of black staining that looked like surface rust - But couldn't be on alloy ?  It was certainly some kind of corrosion though, and I tried
all sorts of things to remove it - Turps, thinnners, methylated spirit - Nothing moved it.  It ended up that all that seemed to remove it was fine sand paper, but even then it took a lot of rubbing to get it to move.  Eventually we got it all removed and cleaned the area up.  Being alloy there is no rust to form in the humid Queensland air, so it does not need to be primed at this stage.

Our oil selection
Meanwhile I was out looking at the prices of oils for the engine, the gearbox and the differential.  Having discussed the suitable choices with various people, we had decided on Penrite 20W-60 with full lead for the engine, Castrol VMX 80W for the newer Toyota 5 speed gearbox, and Penrite Mild EP  Gear Oil for the diff.  I was stunned how the prices varied from source to source - Some up to 30% more expensive than others.  Eventually all purchased, but before adding engine oil I need to install the new oil temperature guage sender into the sump, and before I can do that, I need to get the mounting place for the guage finalised and cut as the guage has to be inserted sender-first.  Like so many other things, simple jobs get held up because other connected items need to be done first.

Rad hoses
While out purcahsing oils, I also tracked down radiator hoses that will hopefully fit - That entailed spending about 2 hours in the stores of one of the local traders going through his vast stock of hoses of every imaginable shape and size.  I never realise how many different types of radiator hose existed !
Fire extinguishers mounted

I also purchased 2 x 1 kg fire extinguishers which are required by the rally regulations, and, having removed the switch box from the gearbox shroud and built brackets that would hold the extinguishers stable over the bumpiest of roads, mounted them on the top where they were reachable by both Ashton or myself even when strapped in with our harnesses, and yet were simultaneously not in the way of any other driving or navigational function.

Working on a rear wing
Then it was on to bogging the right rear wing.  Obviously the welds around the wheel arch where the arch had been opened up for the larger wheels had to be bogged and smoothed, but there were also multiple mysterious indentations all over the panel, as if it had been repeatedly struck with a hammer in order to improve the chance of bog adhering to the surface - Which seems logical
Mystery dents in rear wing
until you realise that the actual surface of the panel was in quite good shape and didn't really need bog !  Another mystery on this car ! Bog was added around the wheel arch, then sanded back until an acceptable finsih was achieved.  It is a long slow process, and a very dusty one, but as it slowly takes shape, it is extremely satisfying. 

Rear shroud after stripping
Once the wing was completed and primed to stop any new rust forming, it was time to move on the the badly damaged rear section of the rear shroud.  This had obviously been severely damaged in the impact into the rear LH side of the car, but it was the repairs that had then been done which were so bad.  Instead of trying to smooth the rear panel by careful panel beating with a dolly, it appears that they had just used a hammer to beat it roughly into shape, leaving it a mass of indentations and hollows
Rear shroud taking shape
which had then been covered with very thick coats of bog.  With this old bog finally removed, or most of it anyway, the true extent of the damage became visible, and it was obvious that quite a lot of bog was going to be required to get the panel into an acceptable condition - And getting it to a close to perfect condition would be something only an expert panel beater could do.  So I planned to do my best.

First I roughly added a layer of bog, trying my best to get some kind of curvature like the original panel. To do this took multiple mixes of bog, and sometimes you use slightly too much hardner and the bog goes off before you have half of it applied, while at other times you don't add quite enough and find yourself waiting for ages for it to harden before you can start to shape the material.  Hopefully I will get it right before too long as it is very frustrating.

Rear shroud smoothed
Once I had built up the bog, I got my speed file and rough sandpaper, and started shaping it.  I have to say that this speed file really is very effective, and as long as you keep the file rolling over the curves correctly, it becomes quite easy to start getting a decent finish on the panel.  Of course one has to keep applying more quatities of bog as low spots or airbubbles become apparent on the surface, but eventually it all starts to take shape quite well.  While waiting for new material to harden, I moved on to the driver's door, which was the other panel which had lots of thick bog on it - Remember, it was the whole driver's side of the car that had taken the other major impact at some stage, and was the area that had caused the most problems for Andrew when he was trying to insert the new floor panels and sills on this side. The door turned out to have suffered in a similar manner.  Friend Daryl was helping again, so I set him to start stripping the edges of the door while I got on with other things.
Broken wood in driver's door

First of all, inside was a broken strip of wood. 1954 was before the time of Side Intrusion Bars, so it
New wood strip in place
seems that the only purpose of this strip is to hold a small trim panel which makes the door pocket look more "finished". 
Anyway, after a visit to Bunnings to buy a length of wood, and then planing it down because modern metric sized wood is bigger than original imperial wood, I realised I couldn't get the wood in in one piece without removing the entire metal support frame.  So instead I cut the wood in half at an angle, then inserted each end and when it was all in place, glued the join and wood screwed everything in place.  Job sorted.

Trying to save the block of wood
Inside the door are also two blocks of wood - One supports the rear sidescreen pin, and the front block not only supports the front sidescreen pin, but also gives a firmer base for screwing a side mirror in place.  However when I removed the rear block to check why it was all loose, it was obviosuly an original, and the wood was getting very cracked and tired and dried out with age.  The only alternative would be to whittle a new piece down to the correct shape, but as this would take some time, I am attempting to glue and screw the old piece together.  We will see if it holds together once I remove the clamps.

What to do with the dash ?
I was then sitting in the passenger seat trying to work out where everything would fit, especially the 4 or 5 GPS / rally guages that are required.  There is no where to fit anything !  A modern car has a dashboard where things can be mounted, but the old Healey has nothing except a small dash where the grab handle is located. So as I sat there I fiddled around with strips of alloy, looking for
A place for all the instruments !
Vertical strip for another guage
feasible options which could later be removed if necessary and would not leave ugly bolt holes etc.  After a while I came up with 2 options - One
being a sheet of alloy bolted to the existing small dash, and extending it all the way across, and the other a vertical piece of angle bracket bolted to the side of the new switch box.  Additionally we have a new oil temp guage to fit, and the dashoard extension will also provide a location to fit this guage,  so I am proceeding with making these up.

Driver's door all stripped
I then returned to the outside of the driver's door, and Daryl and I started stripping the paint off - And all the thick bog that was underneath !  We just kept going and going, and with 35 deg and 100% humidity that day, it was a tough one - So for once we took a lunch break and rested awhile in the middle. When shade and temperatures permitted, I would go outside and continue the dusty sanding of the rear shroud - I have to do this outside because of the mess, and it is only shaded in the morning and late afternoon, so I have to time all my chores accordingly.  Unfortunately the alloy shroud has corroded around the edges where it has been in contact with the steel wings, and in a couple of places has cracked
Crack in rear sill
Temporary bracket fitted
around bolt holes, and this allowed the material to flex in that area, which in turn meant that the bog that I was applying would crack.  Once the shroud it bolted back onto the car it will be held firmly in place and won't
be a problem, so I just needed a temporary bracket to hold it firm while I worked on it.  A small suitable bracket was made up and bolted in place, and then I ground out the cracked bog so I could apply fresh material, and was then able to continue working on the panel without a problem.

Corrosion on driver's door
Once all the paint and bog was removed from the driver's door (3 days work !), another interesting issue was realised - There seems to be some kind of corrosion (not rust) that shows up as black staining all over the panel.  It is rather similar to the black marks on the alloy rear shroud, but this time it is on steel.  And once again, the only thing that would remove it was fine sandpaper.......

I then got the POR 15 out again.  The inside of the front and rear shrouds
Driver's door POR 15'd
are going to be painted the light Coronet Cream, for two reasons - One because it is easier to see oil leaks etc on a light coloured engine bay than a black one, and secondly because it makes it easier to see generally in there when it is light coloured.  But the inside of all the wings and other panels we a re doing with POR15 a) to try to slow down any further corrosion in these steel panels, and b) because it is quicker and cheaper than spraying them all with 2 Pack paint.  The inside of the driver's door was
POR15 on inside of wings
also a prime candidate for POR15 because this is seriously corroded around the edges, and needs all the help it can get !  So all the guards and the doors are now black inside, they all have grey etch primer on the outside to prevent further rusting while they sit around, and I am just finishing bogging of any areas where the bumps are just too unsightly !  We are not going for a concours finish - Hopefully rally stickers will cover the worst of the old indentations, but nevertheless, we would like the car to look acceptable !  Plan is to try to get the paint on this week - If I can find a paint shop with time to do it !!    After that it is just a case of bolting on all the panels and getting the last mechanical bits sorted out - Right now I am too busy trying to get the panels finished to deal with them...........

Rest of the pics are here :-   https://photos.app.goo.gl/l5PSBfaXC4QQg6A53

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Ashton & Giles welcome any visitors, support, and comments as we prepare for our Adventure !