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Triumph - That was a year that was..


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  • 2 weeks later...


End of Season opportunity to enjoy clearer roads as yesterday I went back across to the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton, Suffolk, NR35 1NZ(which at this time of year is opened only on Sundays). From where I live it's some 35 across country miles away but, since moving home a few months ago, the route is different.


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I love this museum because it’s a local one and that makes it unpretentious. It might be noted that it’s a volunteer-run museum charity, and lacking the glamorous and glossy exhibits of well funded museums, but perhaps because of that - it is fascinating. In many ways it’s more like an old workshop packed with minute details.

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East Anglia was of course dotted with airfields throughout the 2nd WW, and the memorabilia and photographs reflects the true grit of it. More depth is found in the stories relayed by airmen, farm workers (who witnessed aircraft crashes of both friend n' foe) and of the air-sea rescued. These do take a time to read, but there’s humanity in there which isn’t reflected in the glossy paint of a restored museum exhibit, however awesome an aircraft style &/or its specs may be. My visiting on Sunday 12th, the day of the National Service of Remembrance, was poignant.



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^ far right, yes behind the curtain in the anson is the .....

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With so many artefacts found in gardens, along the coastline & esturies, and farmland across East Anglian counties - it may to the uninitiated seem to be filled with mangled pieces of metal, cloth or whatever, but to an engineering mind - those same objects are like cutaway illustrations ..or rather sculptures, revealing in life-scale the guts and the craftsmanship in engineering.




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  • 3 months later...


^ It's March and in anticipation of using the more frequently this summer ..I'm back at it..  This time working in the barn. Although too spacious and draughty to heat, it's a useful workspace surrounded by quiet and attractive Suffolk countryside.


^ Since the chassis swap I've never been happy with the springs and the suspension's ride height, I swapped them before from those M&T fitted and it helped but it still wasn't right.  Although good for country lane driving - the car has a tendency to float at high motorways speeds (as if the front wheels are lifting). So.., out with the springs also supplied by M&T and back in with the springs the car came with, as bought. . .


^ I seem to recall comparing the length and compression of the black springs when I fitted them.    I reasoned that the black ones, having a greater number of coils would have been softer, but that was not the case.   Using a pile of storage heater bricks to do that, they each compressed the same amount under the same load. 


^ After a 10 mile test drive the car looks to be sitting the same as it was before, but a high speed run down the A12 left me with the impression that it is now directionally more stable.  I checked the car's tracking and it was spot on.  I'll leave it as it is and see how i get on with it over a period of time. 

- - -

Moving on to the next task..


^ Some may recall my mentioning that I made the mistake of driving the car with the front (TR6) clamp of the Surrey top lid being undone.  This was back in November when I was running out in the car to try its different seats.  Tucked away under the sun visor I didn't notice the clamp was undone ..until  WHAM  the half lid suddenly opened as I was accelerating up to open dual-carriageway speeds and slammed down onto the boot lid.  The force was enough to bend the 1/4" screw, rear fastening, but thankfully despite the noise - the roof and boot lids were barely marked.  The fibreglass backlight frame however was ripped apart as it was twisted 180-degrees back on itself.  If the rear screen rubber had not been gooed in with some sort of structural black mastic - I guess the roof panel with this section fibreglass would have flown off to pose a threat to following traffic.   I was furious at myself at the time, but in retrospect can see how fortunate I was. 


^ This weekend, with my lid's T-bar first removed, I released the trim for access to the backlight's fastenings.


^  it's a long time since I last saw her topless.  

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^ The barn is useful but it's also a 20 mile round trip from home, so I've brought the backlight home to work on it.  Although where I now live has an integral garage, I won't want to be grinding glassfibre in it. So my first task was to cut the lawn and then tidy and clear my garden shed / polytunnel as a workspace.  The lawn seemed the safest place to remove the glass.  Before doing anything else I indexed the distance (cut marks) either side of the damage with a hacksaw. 

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^ The damage looks no better in the daylight !   I had to cut through the mastic to get the glass out.  It's now been set aside for safety.  I would not be at all chuffed if I were to drop it on a paving slab.


^ Moving to a more comfortable working height, the glassfibre now unsupported by the glass is only held in place by threads of vinyl trim on the inside and the black mastic which was used to hold and seal across the top of the glazing rubber.  

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^Removing the vinyl was what I imagine skinning a snake would be like. The black mastic could only be cut away.  As you can see, even through the paint its bond was strong enough to rip the corner of the fibreglass out.  

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^ The quality of fibreglassing is appalling, insomuch as the hard corners have no glass in them at all.   I think just clear gelcoat had been used to fill the corners of this frame ..which is not at all structural. Inside that is a very thin layer of fibreglass chopped strand mat.   I guess it did its job. Or at least it did after I fitted a T-bar ..to prevent it twisting, but for the price charged for these things I would have liked to have seen better.  

Unless someone has a backlight frame going ..that I might afford to buy - my task is now to try and fix it.  It'll be 'a challenge' to do it well ..sort of like trying to mend a broken and chipped vase.  Rainy weather yesterday and today is not helping motivation, but it needs to be done.   



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Minor but nevertheless useful progress this afternoon.

However it started like this ! . . .


Box of screws, tippled from the shelf above and I caught it just in time ..but for a few pots stacked on top of others. I have lots of pots of screws, some stainless, some countersunk, others raised, some cheese headed, wood screws and self tappers, cross head, straight cut, you name it I've probably got some, sorted out into individual pots. And then I have all sorts of bolts, nuts, set screws, .. many of different sizes and different treads, as well as locking washers, plain washers.  And of course I have pots of clips, and bleed nipples, springs and trim clips..  So I was really lucky that only these screws fell to the floor. The fact that they caught the rubbish bin was unfortunate but again not the end of the world as we know it..

Moving on. . .

..to the polytunnel and broken bits of fibreglass...

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Before I can repair - I need to get rid of the mastic.  Five minute job ?  in your dreams.   The black goo had excellent adhesion and wonderful elasticity.. 

Fibreglass is an incredibly useful material for making things from, but it is not the easiest stuff to get clean once it's been painted and gooed.   The issue may be identified in its other common name 'glass reinforced plastic'  .. it's the plastic which prevents chemical cleaning or seriously abrasive techniques to be applied.  It's lightweight and not very tough to clamp down, so even holding it is less than easy.  Still with craft knife to slice and shave much of the mastic off, followed by a choice of scraper, followed by shaved wire-wool I finally got there.

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^ The inside ..where the rear fastening for the surrey top lid goes through, was painted over.  This is commonly done by the fibreglassing business to 'finish' the raw mat so that it looks better value to the paying customer.  I power-wire-brushed that off to reveal the thin layer of glass-fibres and otherwise gel.  

So cleaned, this part was ready for the first stage of 'repair'  . . .


The end of this was cracked most of the way across, so I opened up the crack and spread it with polyester glass filler.  Which is like body filler but instead of filler-power it has very fine glass fibres.  Because those glass fibres are exceptionally strong in tension, this filler paste, if it adheres well is also very strong. The random alignment of those fibres means that it doesn't crack very easily in any direction. Where the gel had been inside against the cup for the lid's fastening, I spread some more as reinforcement.  Now all I needed to do was to hold it to the right shape  . . .


I'd dry run with the clamps.. in this instance a strategically placed car battery, (formerly in my Chrysler diesel) which itself was being held down by the wedge of grips under the wall shelves.   The clamp (sort used to secure the tarps over market traders stands) on the side holds the flange straight for that short section, with the slightly curved tail of it hanging off the side of the shelf.

That's it for tonight. As I said not a lot but still useful to have this piece strong enough to be glued back into place in the backlight frame. The essential thing at the moment is maintaining its shape and dimension.  If I'd let this end break off then the finished width of the backlight would have been very much more difficult to get right.


^ a close up of the work.  It looks pretty awful but it'll clean up.  You'll note on the left hand side a fine hairline crack. That is all the way through and was opened up to spread this adhesive inside. As you can see it's closed up nicely under the weight of the car battery and upper cabinet.   It'll be left to fully cure overnight.  

So..  time for a cuppa.. ;)

Bidding you a good evening,




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More of the same ol' . . .


^ Cleaning the inside and ends of the backlight frame with a power wire brush ..to give a good key to the filler paste.

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^ dry run to see how I might clamp the broken out piece in position.  And gluing one part of the joint with the glass-fibre filler paste. 


^  I 'green trimmed' the surplus, that is with a craft knife blade as the filler was still curing but not yet hard.  It save a lot of time later, and in worse case situation I would have seen if I'd got the alignment very wrong.  In which case I'd have broken it before the filler cured and started again.

As it is, as best I can see it's close enough to continue with.  

Stop for a cuppa to let that cure a bit before I do the same with the other end of this broken frame.



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Addendum . . .

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^  with the second break ( ..just outside the through-hole for the surrey lid's fastening) glass paste bonded - the frame is now back together and self supporting. 

Next up, I wanted to repair, again with the glass-fibre paste) the gelled corners which had ripped out with the glazing mastic. Likewise the gelcoat's stress cracks ..like the one you might just see (above - bottom left)  adjacent to the top (step) of the B-post.  Nothing to do but prise the broken piece out, grind out the cracked gel under the surface, and rebuild it with something a bit more structural ..in this case the glass-fibre filler paste.  


^ not a very clear photo, but you might assess the hard edge corner moulding along the top of the rear window surround is slowly coming back into shape.  The shadow-line is not too bad but there's still a bit more to do. However, next up I'll structurally reinforce the frame ..from its inside / under side with glass fibre laminate.

Repairing fibreglass is not difficult ..although a bit of care n' attention goes into realignment of the broken bits.  But still its time consuming because the polyester resin needs to cure in-between further handling.  If such a flimsy frame is handled to soon or too ham-fistedly there a good chance of its bond being compromised.

That's it for tonight.  Have a good evening.



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Life is grinding sometimes, and there's not much worse than grinding fibreglass ..as its dust (minute glass fibres) gets in places you really don't like it to. :ph34r:  nevertheless, like many an unpleasant task it has to be done, and done carefully and well. Neither filler paste nor fibregalss resin will stick well unless you cut the crap of the surface and score it.  So that was my start for today ..fortunately the weather's turned for the better and I can now work in the garden.  B)


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^ at the bottom front corners (the B-post) of this backlight frame is where the first, and arguably the most important fastening goes. However the quality of production can be seen in the crack around it.  From the above ; it's apparent that someone was trying to bond onto the top of a polished moulding (not even keyed). From the underside it's not looking much better  . . .

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^ here the bond is gel onto a single thickness of lightweight fibreglass.  When (carefully cleaning this corner out I broke through to the outside. The panel really is that thin.  Once clean, I masking tape on the other side, and prised the crack open to apply filler paste. ^^

The other side wasn't as bad,  but it was also cracked.  As I say these are the most critical mounts to hold the back window onto the car, so I've reinforced them with fibreglass laminate. . .

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^ That same left hand side ..and then similarly ^^  the right hand side.  Each now has chopped strand mat + x2 layers of woven glassfibre mat.  Naturally, I'll need to redrill the holes and retrim the bottom edges once the resin has thoroughly cured.   Btw the row of clamp seen in the first photo are an attempt to straighten that bottom edge. They are pulling the fibreglass out to a steel ruler.

Irrespective of having no core to help prevent this frame from twisting, the thickness of the fibreglass leaves something to be desired. . .

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^ Across the top of the frame - the fibreglass flange, which holds the rear window glass in, is with gelcoat + paint about 1mm thick.  ^^  Around the rear bottom edge and inner and outer moulding together with its bonded brings that thickness to 3mm..  the glazing rubber is of course for the thicker dimension, which is presumably why it leaked and needed copious amounts of black mastic to seal. 

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^ The depth of the seal to fit along that flange is 12mm deep.  ^^ The second photo shows that same depth relative to the flange itself.  This was why, when I first tried fitting this surrey-top the glass kept pulling out at the top.   When I made my fibreglass surrey-top lid(s) I made a very stiff T-bar to hold the frame back to prevent the glass from popping out.  Now I'll try to rectify the real problem.

Lunch over, time for some more fibreglassing.





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  ..from the TR Register forum

46 minutes ago, stuart said:

FWIW Pete as you have a glass window the lip that the rubber goes on should be 10mm  at least that's the rule of thumb that Moss use when assembling their glasses to fibre frames. I would also be going for a new Moss rubber when you come to refit the window. Don't forget with the Moss rubber it will appear to be bigger than the glass that's deliberate and the excess must be evenly distributed to each lower corner to prevent a gap appearing.


Thanks Stuart, that's very useful to know.   I would have been guessing around 11mm to allow 1mm for tolerance, but 10mm is still probably 4mm more than it had been trimmed to before.


^ The nature of working with fibreglass is that I've deliberately extended the flange quite a bit more (that's seen as cyan blue ..as it's not cured yet). I trim it off when cured to the width required.  


^  I had hoped to do a bit more this evening, but my resin is well passed its best.  I'll get out to buy some fresh tomorrow, as it'll make the task a dozen times easier than trying to wet out this old stuff.

Up the B-post section I've laminated x3 additional layers of 450g chopped-strand glass over the window-rubber flange. There's just one across the inside width. The flange facing into the car (seen here, facing towards the bottom clamp in the photo) isn't critical but I've reinforced over where the section of frame had ripped out.  The masking tape and weight is only there to stop the edge of that laminate from lifting, which glass fibres tends to do when bent over a 90 degree corner.

Finished early .. so it's time for a cuppa ;)




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  • 2 weeks later...

A quick pictorial update . . .

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^  Fibreglassed underside to the frame, where I'd used masking tape to extend the flange.  As you can see the resultant extra width of that was 3 to 4mm and instead of being 1mm thick it is now around 3mm thick.   With the extra thickness the frame was much stiffer than it had been, so I opted to not fit wood, or other means to prevent it from twisting.  Despite my original intent, and Stuart's endorsement of doing so, the lid's T-bar worked well before to prevent twisting, and so I felt little motivation to change things. 

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^ Having something more sturdy to work with, I got on with rebuilding the contours, and primed it.  With so many colours ; black of the moulding, grey of raw fibreglass, primrose yellow of the paintwork, and green of the fibre-filler it was difficult to see the shape.  Coating with primer added yet another colour but when first applied helped highlight flaws.  


^ I had considered painting the frame red, to match the car, but then because of the extent of rubber seals around all edges decided to go with gloss black.  Unfortunately, the reflections in that show up every wave and wobble in the fibreglass moulding.  I rubbed down and repainted it a couple of times but decided the odds were stacked against me.  If I were to insist on having good reflections - then this fibreglass moulding would need to be replaced with an aluminium backlight frame.   


^ If you don't take those reflections too seriously this the backlight looks acceptable for a driver's car.  I need to replace the glazing rubber's 'chrome' infill bead, as the one I have is broken and twisted.  The rubber itself I reused. Again it's far from perfect but usable.  


^ work in progress.  The backlight is now mostly refitted but it's glass has not yet 'settled'.  I could do with the heat of a closed car on a still n' sunny day to soften its glazing rubber.  There's no sealant or mastic holding the rubber in place yet, and as you can see the rear interior trim is still to be refitted.   Presently I'm not so keen on it being black, but perhaps it'll grow on me or else fade into the background and not be noticeable.   We'll see.


^ Conversely, I liked the backlight being painted primrose yellow.. and it light tone disguised the moulding's numerous defects (not only distortions but clearly its mould was chipped and at the end of its working life). 

That's all for this week, I bid you have a good weekend.










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