Tuesday 24 December 2013

What began a little distraction...

In between my welding practice I have been tending to a few rusty areas on the shell that have been distracting me from out of the corner of my eye. However, what began as a few minor areas has sort of snowballed (excuse the festive pun). Here is a quick run-down of the past couple of weeks of activity...

Crusty deck lid area:

The lip that holds the rubber seal was in pretty bad shape, so I decided to remove it and grind the area flat. I will most likely use the later type of engine seal - the one that fits directly onto the deck lid.

Drivers side rear quarter:

This was an area that had become really bad soon after I bought the car and I remember it failing its MOT one year because of the state of it. I had no choice but to take it to my local garage who advertised themselves as being specialist in vw restorations. Well, it turns out that what for years I assumed was just a 'skim' of filler to smooth out any imperfections turned out to be a dense layer that was hiding lazy repair work:

Once I had removed all the filler and turned my garage into a winter wonderland (the dust got everywhere despite using an extraction system) I could assess what had be done. Basically they had taken a flat section of sheet steel and made no effort to shape it to the contour of the car. They have then appear to have tack welded it into position and hastily ground the welds flat(ish) leaving unsightly abrasions all over the place. This was finished up by slapping copious amounts of filler (3-4mm thick in some places) over the top and sanding a fake profile. What a lazy bunch of cowboys!

I marked up the panel and cut out the abomination without delay. I found that the 'pros' hadn't even made an effort to treat the back of the repair patch and had just left it as bare metal, which had obviously rusted up nicely over the years. Oh well, the offending section is out now:

I then moved on to the inner arch area and figured I would strip it so that I could see what was going on beneath the underseal.

As expected there was quite a few old repairs and other repairs over the top (like patchwork in some places!) but there were vast areas of good condition original steel which was a welcome sight. I treated the whole area with a rust inhibitor before keying it up with the electric sander:

Then added a liberal coat of primer to keep the panel fresh until I get around to making the repairs. It funny - I hadn't intended to touch touch the shell until I had finished and rebuilt the chassis, but I must admit that it feels like a good to see some advancement whilst i'm mastering my welding technique! 

Monday 2 December 2013

Learning to weld

Well, I could avoid it no more; the time had come for me to learn how to MIG weld. I have been busy reading, watching instructional videos and seeking guidance from my good friend T-bone about this easy-to-learn-difficult-to-master skill. However, I knew that to really progress with this project I just needed to get many hours of practice under my belt. No time like the present!

Allow me to introduce the vintage beast that I have been learning on:

Using some scrap metal from the old floor pans, I set about honing my skills. This was one of my first few efforts:

In the sequence above you will see the original scrap piece as it was before (top left). I cut it in half with the angle grinder and held the pieces together using an ‘Intergip’, which is a fantastic little welding clamp manufactured by Frosts (top right). I then proceeded to make my not-so-attractive weld (bottom left). I then carefully ground the weld flat with the flap disc so that the joint became invisible (bottom right). I decided to give the area a quick lick of primer to simulate how the repair would look when painted:

I was impressed with the result – the joint was barely detectable! Not a bad start if I do say so myself. However, I still need plenty more practice to get ‘a feel’ for the welder and learn how to manipulate the settings to get the best possible penetration of weld. I am optimistic that by the new year I will be ready to begin welding the car and that’s when the really fun will begin!