Wednesday 4 May 2022

Paint Shop Preparation

It has been six months since my last post and whilst it has been quiet here on my blog I've been hard at work in the garage preparing the MG Midget for paint as best I can.

The point of this blog was always to share my experiences in restoring the car, both good and bad and in the last 6 months there have been a few challenges. 

The main one was the bonnet. When I bought the car it didn't have a bonnet. I was told it was too far gone. So I bought a reasonable second hand one on ebay and spend a load of time restoring it, which you can read about here: Bonnet Repairs.

After all that work it went to the blasters along with everything else. When it came back they told me they couldn't strip all the paint off as the panel was vibrating and there was a real danger of warping the metal, so I had to strip the paint off, which you can read about here: Stripping Bonnet.

It was after this stage that I noticed near the top of the bonnet's main panel the strength had gone so you could easily press the panel down with the slightest touch of your finger like when you press the lid of an open jam jar. 

Something in the trade called oil canning:

The movement of a perceived flat surface due to the application of an external force. Caused by unequal stretching of the material inside the surface of the panel while retaining the perimeter.

I am not 100% sure if this was caused by the sand blasting or was there from the beginning or was caused by my work on the nose section. Either way I spent too many hours to think about trying to correct this. This included trying to learn shrinking metal with heat and water, heat and cold air. Trying out hammer and dolly techniques. All of which resulted in a bonnet that went from this:

to this!

It looks at lot worse that it actually is, it still fitted the chassis very well. The oil canning had gone and most of the high spots were sorted. It just needed more time in the paint shop with a professional to finish off. And that was the problem, it would take quite some time to get perfect and that costs money.

So I took the decision to see if there were any better panels out there that would take less time and save me some money in the long run. 

You can buy a new heritage bonnet for around £700, but buying a second hand bonnet is more like a lottery. In the end I did find one that was described as solid and came with a solid boot lid as well for £75. Thought I would risk it.

Well it turned up and I immediately started to remove all the filler around the nose! It turned out it had a repair done on the nose. I was quite disappointed, as whilst it was a solid repair it didn't look at neat as my repair on the other bonnet.

So now I had to make a decision of which one to use. I asked my paint guy Jason to come round and we decided to go for the one I had just purchased with the new nose job. He said it would be easier to work on and it was off an earlier 1967 Midget whereas the other one was from much later. So it sort of felt right for that reason and had the correct bonnet stay rod brackets. I had to make my own and weld them on to the other one.

The bonus of getting the other boot lid was that it was in really good shape with no rust at all! So after stripping the paint back I decided to use that one instead of the original. I had done so much welding on the original boot lid the panel wasn't perfect and again my paint guy Jason said it would save loads of time and money trying to get it perfect.

So after probably hundreds of hours trying to restore these panels do I consider them wasted?

Well yes and no to be honest. I wanted to learn new skills and experiences during this restoration. I've learnt about metal shrinking and some panel beating techniques. But there is the frustration that if I had known what I was doing in the first place I might have been able to save time and money. 

It is all part of the journey! 

At the same time that this has been going on I've been waiting for Jason to tell me when he is ready to start the work and last week that time came!

I can do no more on the chassis. I've got the all the gaps as best as I can which has also taken countless hours. But it is now over to the paint shop for it's transformation!

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