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  • Writer's pictureMichael James

Next up over the pit

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Next up for the full restoration works is a 1969 MG midget 1275cc.

This is going to take a while!!

Brought a couple of years ago from an auction this was known to need bodywork and welding. The car was definitely showing its age and although it had seen the paint shop once or twice in the past the finish wasn’t particularly good. The intention with this one given the need for paint is to have a full colour and interior change. First thoughts are for a storm grey exterior and a dark red or tan interior but we’ll see as the project progresses.

Just a couple of pictures for the sake of before and after.

As always the first sensible thing to do when starting a new project is compression test. This gives you a good idea of what kind if work is going to be needed under the bonnet. Fortunately the midget has 4 strong cylinders

The strip down is simple enough on a midget. There’s really not much to them and the engine is out in just a couple of hours. With everything out of the way the extent of work needed is clear. Major surgery needed.

The next few pictures demonstrate why it is not a good idea to take your classic car or any other car for that matter to your local automotive garage to have metalwork and welding done. Service centres specialise in quick efficient servicing i.e belts and filter changes not metal fabrication and welding.

Passenger side foot well.

Hear we can see where the floor has been welded to the inner sill....or has it. Well yes it has but only for about an inch in the middle. The top arrow points to weld which is attached to the floor but not the sill and the bottom arrow points to weld which is attached to the sill but not the floor. The floor is rusted but the flange where the sill and floor meet is in tact so its clear the rust hasn’t caused the weld to come apart it was just never welded together in the first place. Not only that but the quality of the weld that is there is poor at best. Very tall weld sitting on top of the metal and no penetration.

Next is the rear floor section. Passenger side.

First thing i noticed hear is that there are several sections of this repair (arrowed) that have no weld at all. Next is that a flat peace of metal has been used in place of a ribbed section of floor. Flat sheet metal offers very little in terms of structural rigidity this is why floor pans are ribbed. It prevents the metal from bending under stress. Again tall thin welds with poor penetration. All in all a very lazy repair.

Rear suspension mounting point.

This one is inexcusable. The panel its self isn’t actually in bad shape the problem hear is that it is barely attached to the car. Holes have been drilled for the plug welds so that the inner bulk head can be secured to the suspension hanger behind it. The issue is that most of the plug welds haven’t actually filled the hole and as you will see in the next picture the welds that have filled the holes haven’t actually made it as far as the panel they are suppose to be welded to.

With the sill cut away we can see into the rear suspension hanger cavity. Note the gap between the inner bulk head and the hanger. These should be squeezed flat together and plug welded through both surfaces.

Repairs like this are not safe for the road.

Customers should not have to pay good money for work like this so if your car needs metal work bring it to K.J.Classics where you no it will be done properly the first time.

Ok rant over. Time to start cutting the rot out and making some proper repairs. Drivers side front is as good a place as any to start. Wheel arch and front foot well tubs will be repaired together. The panel is cut out with an angle grinder where I have to but where I can, I drill out the old spot welds to release the panel.

New panels are made from 18 gauge steel and welded into place. Captive nuts are also welded into place for things like the pedal box and main beam switch.

This is a common rust area between the front suspension and footwell. In the factory the triangular section in the middle of the repair is left open. This allows water and dirt to fill the cavity and the rusting process begins. I’ve opted to leave this filled in to stop water ingress. I will however leave the inner side of this repair open to allow access to paint inside the cavity.

The same section viewed from inside the engine bay with the triangular section open for painting access.

Next up is the drivers side rear suspension mounting point. Top left pictures shows the under side rear wheel arch and spring mount. Top right picture is the inner rear bulk head covering the spring mount. All of this will have to be cut away and replaced. Bottom left shows angle iron and box section supports welded from front to back to insure the car does not twist or bend with all of the metal that is cut out. Bottom right shows the spring mounting point viewed from inside the wheel arch with most of the rot cut out. Measurements are taken before and after the work is complete to make sure the suspension geometry is the same.

With the rot cut out and the spring mount now accessible new A posts and bottom mounting plate can be made as seen in the top right. With that repaired the outer rear bulk head is replaced and new inner and outer sills are fitted.

Drivers side is nearly finished now both sections of floor pan are in place and the inner and outer rear bulk head are repaired all that’s left on this side is the rear wheel arch and the rear quarter.

The rear wheel arch wasn’t actually to bad it was just very badly welded in so I wasn’t going to leave it looking like that. It was easy enough and the best practice to make a new one and finish it properly this time. Also the top of the inner wing was where the hood buttons on to the car was pretty crusty so that piece got replaced to.

Finally a large section of the rear quarter had to be removed. Looks like this piece had seen a few botch jobs in its time. The bead roller is the perfect tool for recreating the contours of the boot floor and has been put to work many times on this car so far.

Drivers side welding finished at last and now in red oxide primer.

Before starting the structure on the other side there are 2 big ugly rust patches on the rear light mounting points on both sides that needs to go. First step is to make a paper template then transfer it into metal. I had hoped to make this from just 2 peace’s of metal but unfortunately I couldn’t get them to bend the way I wanted so 3 peace’s were used and welded together to achieve the shape.

Both sides after the repairs sections are welded in and ground back. Neat and tidy not much filler will be needed hear.

After a short break from the MG to restore a the Daihatsu Fourtrak it was time to continue where I left off. Something I had been putting off was buying a rear panel. I like to repair a panel if possible or make it my self from scratch. Unfortunately this panel was to big to get right without the use of an English wheel, a tool iv always wanted but have yet to own. There was no other choice but to bite the bullet and buy one.

As you can probably guess the passenger side wasn’t looking any better than the drivers side when I started.

Just more of the same rust combined with lazy previous repair work to be found hear.

I’ll keep this brief as iv already talked about these repairs on the other side. Again the door gaps are braced as most of the car is cut away. This is done in sections to prevent the risk of the structure becoming weak and flexing.

A new right angled flange is welded in between the boot floor and rear valence to attach the two together. New strengthening braces and a new boot slam plate are also welded in, seam sealed and primed.

The last section to be repaired before the structure can be painted is the front valence. As you can see the original panel is in a bad way so a new one must be made. The new panel was beaten into shape over the anvil and fits perfectly. I will be going for the de-bumpered look with this build so the bumper brackets were removed and the new valence was kept solid with no holes.

Once the welding is complete the welds and seams are sealed ready for primer.

Although there is still a small amount of welding to do around the boot the work that was already done needed to be covered up so that was the next job.

A couple of coats of paintable stone chip are applied to vulnerable areas

Finally the paint is applied to the stripped out shell ready for the wings to be attached once they have been repaired.

At this point although there was still more to do to the body I just couldn’t spend another day welding so it was time for a change. Steering and suspension was next on the agenda.

First up is a strip down and a good clean in the parts washer as these parts are covered in over 50 years of grease. After this we can see what is usable and what needs replacing.

The stub axles are the rebuilt with new kingpins, copper bushings, brass washers, and cotter pins before being regreased. New brake discs were also fitted while the hub was off and pads were fitted when the calliper went on.

The steering and suspension is then reassembled having had polyurethane bushes, new drop links, new bump stops, split pins and nuts &bolts fitted where needed as well as a fresh coat of paint.

Now to tackle the exterior panels. The rear wings were not the best and to make matters worse the price to replace 2 rear wings is astronomical. I would have liked to put new wings on but the cost was not justifiable. Therefore the originals would have to be repaired.

This was a pretty big job with every part of both rear wings needing attention.

New wheel arches, front and rear quarters, top flanges, door flanges and rear light mounting points were all remade. Both wings were taken back to bear metal, chemically treated to prevent rust, seam sealed and them primed.

surprisingly the front wings were pretty good but for a small section at the front. An easy fix!

Once again the rot is cut away and replaced with fresh steel.

Finally all 4 wings were coated on the inside with stone chip and then painted.

To be continued !

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