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Project Marina, Rust Repairs (Again) – Part 3

At times it feels like I’m playing Whack-A-Mole with the rust, but I am steadily knocking rust on the head and putting new steel in.

I know it’s probably not particularly interesting to most, but it is what it is. Once the bodywork is done, I can return to the fun mechanical stuff.

I left off the last post with the no sill, and a blimmin’ great hole in the quarter panel.

The first step was to get the new sill on and return some strength to the car.

A quick test fit of the sill, with the door on, showed that it fit nicely

It sits a little high with it only clamped at the bottom, so should pull down a bit when welded. The door is adjustable if I need to tweak the gaps.

Next was to spend the next few minutes punching holes in the flanges. There were dozens of holes, and all of them needed to be punched out and welded. I’m glad I have a proper punch, and I wasn’t drilling these one by one.

And finally, after some tweaking of the placement, it was all welded into place. I ended up using a jack under the lower flange of the sill to help align it with the inner sill, since it appears that wasn’t welded straight from the factory (which explains why the old sill I removed was barely spot welded along the bottom) 😂

A quick skim of filler along the top edge should make the repair invisible

And some filler to shape the front edge too. In hindsight I should have angled the edge so it matched the guard line, but oh well.

This is where I took a bit of a break from the sill/guard area, as I had found a donor arch section for the rear (from a sedan), and was waiting for it to arrive.

Instead, I moved on to one other area that needed attention; the window frame.

Before venturing further into the story, it occurred to me that I completely forgot to mention that a few months ago I removed the rear QTR glass, because I knew there was a rust hole in the B pillar.

This was a bit of a faff. Being a Deluxe, it didn’t get the pop-out windows the TC did, which are easy to remove, so I had to lever the old, hard, rubber seal off and try not to break the irreplaceable window glass.

I started with getting just that section over the lip, and one by one moved the screwdrivers further along until the window finally started to pop out.

Once it started to come out it was quite easy to remove.

This revealed the horrors hiding under the seal

This is the hole I knew about

But there was also rust at the rear of the window

Interestingly, this also confirmed that the B pillars of the lower spec models are already provisioned with the holes for the hinge blocks for the TC pop out windows, albeit with the top one covered in tape

I cleaned the B pillar hole up and bit, and its quite sizeable

So yes, that’s been like that for a few months. Moving along, I wanted to repair both of the holes.

I started with the one in the B pillar, as it was more straightforward. I stripped it back until I found good metal, and then using my best friend, the air body saw, I cut a nice square hole

Made up a nice patch for it

Welded it in, and ground it back.

I did have one shocking surprise when welding that in. I didn’t realise, but the joint with the quarter panel had been lead loaded, which is where they fill and shape the joint with lead, instead of bog/filler. I only found this out when the lead got superheated by my welding near it, and blew molten lead all over me when I used the air gun to cool the welds. Thankfully I had my welding mask down, and the rest of the lead just peeled off my clothes.

The same was also present near the rust at the rear of the window, so I made sure to grind it all back to bare steel (wearing appropriate PPE, of course; powered lead cant be good to breathe).

The rear rust was much harder to do. I cut it back until I had solid metal, revealing a large hole

And welded in a couple of patches (one for the flange, the other for the curve). It was really hard to grind the welds back, so it’s not pretty, but nothing a skim of filler won’t fix.

I was laughing with my wife about how hard it was to weld this, as previously all my welding had been low down and I could just put the light I use to see what I’m welding, on the floor or wedge it against something. Because this was up high, and my light is massive and heavy (cordless Ryobi foldable light) there was nowhere to put the light. I mentioned I had been holding the light between my legs, or pressed against the side of the car. My wife looks at me, and asks “why don’t you get a little magnetic light?”.

It’s so simple. I bought one the next day and life has been better since.

Another tool that has improved my life is this power file/finger sander. It’s amazing. Way better access than my grinder, and grinds welds down like butter.

I took the recommendation of a local forum to get some “green zirconia” belts for it. I had been using the ones that came with it and they were good, but sure enough, the green ones tear through anything and will wear out before they snap (which is a common issue; The other spares I bought with the tool snap within seconds of trying to grind welds down. They were cheap, but they’re useless).

The next day the arch section arrived.

I bought this from a seller that was wrecking a sedan. The coupe shares the same basic arch profile with the sedan, even if the quarter in front of it is different, because there is a door where the coupe doesn’t have one.

I started by drilling out the spot welds, to separate the inner and outer arch sections, as all I needed was the lower outer arch

I finally got the spot weld cutter to work. I used a 2.5mm drill bit to drill through the middle of the spot weld, and this pilot hole holds the cutter in place and stops it from slipping around. I did go right through on a couple, but I wasn’t trying to save the inner arch anyway

Unfortunately, I did find this arch also had filler in it. Not as bad as my old one, but enough that it was annoying.

I only really needed the very bottom of the arch, so I kept going anyway

After some tidying up, and lots of measuring and tweaking, I welded the arch section in.

I trimmed down the end of the sill, and pulled the top edge outwards, to match the shape of the arch

This meant I could cap the end of the sill. I used the donor sill to get a basic template, and made the panel

Welded into place

After grinding everything down

Next was the hard part, making the filler panel to fix the large square hole. I measured and cut this a few times, and I’m still not 100% happy with how it turned out.

Next, I made the last patch. I had originally planned to reuse the section I cut from the guard, but it was easier to just make a nice fresh new section. I also plug welded these new patches to the top of the sill, from the inside of the car.

And there we have it, all welded in. I had agonised about the damage, and how hard it was going to be to fix, but at the end of the day, although the donor arch helped massively, the rest of the job went quite smoothly.

The only issues I have are that the bottom folded edge of the two patches don’t line up (filler will fix this), and there was a raised high point where the panels joined

It is hard to see in photos, but was really obvious in person; it looked like a big raised peak. I wasn’t sure how to fix it, so I just took a hammer and dolly to it and now it’s about 80% better

The main thing is that I have retained the seam between the sill and quarter, and the swage line above that seam is somewhat straight. I spent ages with tape measures and straight edges making sure that the swage line would be near straight.

That’s it, other than some filler and paint, the sill is finally done.

Next on the chopping block was this rust

But on the way there, I poked at the inner guard, behind the wheel… Yes, I should know better.

Well now, I couldn’t just leave that as it is.

I also poked around at the rust I was meant to be doing, and made it much worse

Looking at the inner guard, the only option I could think of to fix it properly, was to unfortunately cut the lower edge of the arch off, so I could access the full section

Remember, measure once, cut thrice 😩

But now I could see the whole thing

Which made slicing and dicing it much better

I barely had to cut down the sides, it was that rusty

I cleaned it up

And used the old rusty section as a template to make a patch

The only thing left was to weld in the section of arch I cut out. This was a real mission as the metal was super thin here. Beware, it’s ugly.

Awesome folding magnetic light that has made life better. It’s wearing a little nappy to stop metal shavings from getting jammed around the magnet on the base

Much better. Just needs some sealer down the side (as it was from the factory)

Now it was time to finally deal with the rust I came here to fix

I did some poking around, and made the target area bigger

Using the air saw I cut the area back to good metal, and carefully split the seam where it was spot welded to the outer quarter.

I made another patch, and clamped it into place for test fitting

And then welded it in. I welded it in from the top as it was easier than welding on my back. Look at that penetration though, and not a single blown hole.

I plug welded the new seam to the old one to make a nice solid flange. I also plug welded a right angle into place to support the spare wheel

Job done. Probably one of the quickest and easiest repairs on the car so far.

While I was there, I wanted to weld up the surplus holes in the rear panel. The car had previously had towbar wiring bodged onto the rear panel, via a couple of holes drilled into it. There were also three misc vertical holes on the RH side by the light

I got rid of the plug ages ago, so it was only the holes left to fill. The towbar might stay, I’m not sure yet, but I don’t really intend to tow anything with the car, so I won’t be reinstating the wiring for now.

I ground all the paint around the holes back (using spare welding gloves to protect the chrome bumper from weld spatter)

I made a small “round” filler for the big hole from scrap and held it in place with a magnet

A few presses of the trigger later, all the nasty holes are gone

The three remaining holes above the big hole are for the Morris badge.

A quick squirt of some epoxy primer to keep it happy in the meantime, and we are done for the day.

Speaking of, I recently found out that painting over zinc-based weld through primer can be problematic and not recommended. This is a pain, as I have painted over EVERYTHING I have done with zinc-based primer, to protect it. Now I will need to go back and strip it all to bare steel again and paint it with epoxy primer. The zinc primer is good for inside spaces, or between two bits of steel, and that’s really all it should be used for. Oh well.

I’m getting really close now. I have to cut out and fix the rear valance, which is very rusty, and then the major rust work is done. After that, it’s the boot seal flange, and a couple of “cosmetic” areas that need work, but they can be done at any time, even after a WOF check.

Lucas will be at British Car Day on the 12th Feb, but unfortunately the Marina just isn’t quite there yet as I’m a couple of months behind where I wanted to be. Such is life, but I’m happy I’m finally making progress again.

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