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1974 Dolomite Sprint

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With the windscreen area done, the A-Pillar is next.

After cleaning up with the wire wheel I could clearly see the old repairs.

These were cut out.

New metal put in and welded up. The gap at the pillar looks way too big, but it matches the otherside. I guess standard BL varying panel gaps!

Then painted.

The reverse I made up new metal from templates

But after a lot of attempts, I couldn't get anything that worked properly. So ended up going freestyle and hammering into shape.

Ended up alright, except I struggled to get the paint to stick. Ended up using a heatgun to try getting some heat in

Didn't help that the garage has been pretty chilly! Thankfully I've got a new diesel heater to replace the one I broke (filler dust killed it).

Today has been tackling the base of the a-pillar

The underneath looked pretty funky under there, so I knew I needed to cut the bottom off. It's gone like this as the water from the channel between the wing above goes down the A-Pillar and settles here. Unfortunately its just another rot trap.

So it had to be cut off.

After a session with the wire wheel, it doesn't look so bad.

But pitted and thin in areas, it had to be cut out. This left me with a rather large hole.

At which point my diesel heater ran out of cherry and the temperature was dropping rapidly, I decided to call it a day for tonight.

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What diesel heater you using?

I'm using a wee 2800w ceramic heater I drag around the garage with me, but doesn't do anything except use leccy like it's going out of fashion.

Me in the garage just now:



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31 minutes ago, Gerrymcd said:
What diesel heater you using?
I'm using a wee 2800w ceramic heater I drag around the garage with me, but doesn't do anything except use leccy like it's going out of fashion.
Me in the garage just now:

I've ended up making 7 pages on the subject 😂

TL;DR I'm using a Chinese Diesel heater designed for vans

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I had hoped to have a whole day working on this but unfortunately sorting out tax and my tax return took most of it. Got the week off, so I want to make as much progress as possible.

However this evening I got on with making a replacement for this piece. I haven't fabricated for quite a while and always find it's very time consuming. I don't have any proper shrinker, dollies or wheels. So instead I make it up of smaller sections that can be bent into shape. This is a pretty simple piece so possible to do it like this without it looking messy.

From this piece I made up some templates and transferred to metal.

Some bending and then many clamps over the old and new piece later, I had everything in place.

With this all in place, I turned my welder down right low. I wanted to tack things in place enough to hold without clamps, but I didn't want to attach to the old piece underneath!

Thankfully no penetration into the old piece.

Then welded up the seam and ground back for a nice finish. Got pretty darn close to the original. It's a bit bigger as I having to replace metal that's missing. Lumpy bit at the bottom actually shouldn't have been welded up, that was accidental. I'll have to cut that apart and then use the excess to bend into shape on the sill.

Mostly fits into place. Still a bit more to do filling the side you can't see. A triangle piece needs to go in so it fits the sill properly. Also the pillar itself needs some more metal as it's double lined.

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Busy fitting my diesel heater in today. This should help improve the motivation in getting the car done. I find nothing worse than working somewhere cold that chills to the bone.

However I did get a chance for a few hours on the car. Welded in a new piece on the A-Pillar, to fill the hole before.

Then started tacking and then welding my new fabricated piece in. The edge to the inside was a bit tricky at the metal is thin in placed and blew thru at the slightest chance.

It still requires the other side doing but decided to do that once this is in. That way I can make it fit properly at the time rather than having to keep readjusting until I can weld it as one whole thing.

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Finished the base of the A-Pillar. A lot of welding and even more grinding. Actually quite pleased how it's turned out, given my limited tools, experience and skills.

Not many words apart from that, so I'll do a complete picture history of the job to see the transition.



Next up is to finish a small section in the front wheel arch and bottom of the front wing. After that it's the B-Pillar and continue going backwards!

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We haven't had any rusty photos for a few weeks, so I thought I'd put that right.

Put the front end up on stands so I can tackle this wheel arch.

While I was there, I took out it's eyeballs

Reflector is buggered and the lights will need to be replaced.

Started tapping with the little hammer and got carried away

Decided at this point to attack it with the wire wheel. Can tell this is another one if those areas that has been previously "repaired". No surprise really as TADIS.

Filler bloody everywhere again.

Light mounts will need attention. I knew this when looking inside the wheel arch. Again TADIS.

Decided to cheer myself up by looking at the other wing while I was there. Doesn't look too bad.

Again with the wire wheel. Much less filler this side and previously repaired. Not as bad though.

At least these bits aren't structural this time! Club I think does GRP replacements but I reckon these can be fixed up and I'd prefer to have metal rather than GRP wings. Certainly the nearside, offside possibly a bit more work to do though.

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8 minutes ago, GingerNuttz said:

Just repair them in 0.8mm and save yourself some time, the shapes are easy to make if you just lay the new 0.8 on top of what you have left and beat the shit out of it. 

I've got plenty of 0.9mm steel, reckon that is ok or is 0.8mm a lot easier to work with? Didn't think there would be much difference between the two but I haven't tried working with thinner steel. 

Did consider previously getting 0.6mm stuff for non structural but thought it might be a bit too thin. 

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1 minute ago, SiC said:

I've got plenty of 0.9mm steel, reckon that is ok or is 0.8mm a lot easier to work with? Didn't think there would be much difference between the two but I haven't tried working with thinner steel. 

Did consider previously getting 0.6mm stuff for non structural but thought it might be a bit too thin. 

0.9 will be identical to 0.8 in how it can be worked, welding it I run about 30 - 50 amps doing start stop as it tends to warp very easy. If you have air use a blow gun from the compressor and cool each weld and it should stop all warping but if you go slow at a low power it's usually just as good 

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This is the usual settings that I run my machine on. I'd have to double check what it uses as a starting voltage and wire speed. The trim setting seems to tweak the voltage and thus heat to the weld. The amps and volts on the display are the actual values when loaded down in circuit.


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48 minutes ago, SiC said:

This is the usual settings that I run my machine on. I'd have to double check what it uses as a starting voltage and wire speed. The trim setting seems to tweak the voltage and thus heat to the weld. The amps and volts on the display are the actual values when loaded down in circuit.


I run a little hotter and go faster in and out the puddle as it gives far better penetration and a flatter weld. 

Penetration isn't an issue on 0.8 anyway but a flatter weld is less grinding 

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Just noticed you're using a synergic MIG rather than a "normal" one.  My intial reaction was "cheat!".

Actually, they're brilliant.  How do you find it in comparison to a normal dip-transfer weld?

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I find that mine is less forgiving of a less than perfect surface than a transformer based MIG welder. A couple of occasions I've attempted to strike an arc, and instead of doing so I've ended up with a coil of red-hot wire piling up on the surface, which I've never had before in 20 years of welding. Its only been when I really should have ground the surface back further, so I suspect they have something of a soft start compared with the transient inrush current of a transformer circuit - hence unable to penetrate the surface resistance and strike an arc.

That's not really a failing though, and I really rate mine. Much easier to carry around, and the ability to infinitely vary the weld current is very useful.

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This is all excellent reading and amazing work. I am highly envious of your heated garage! 

In my experience 0.8 is a million times easier to shape than even 1mm, I wouldn't hesitate to just use that and make your life easier. In some cases I found I could make accurate shapes just bending by hand.

0.6 seems a bit on the thin side though. 

I've found welding 0.8 to be ok. I use the settings for 1mm and back it off a bit. Then I slowly join it up with lots of tacks about 1 second in duration with the nozzle rested on the metal and a longer pause than normal. Zap, move, wait zap, move, wait, then stop and jump to a different location to prevent warping, and repeat. With the longer pause I usually don't need to cool it.

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On 1/11/2021 at 9:55 PM, mat_the_cat said:

I find that mine is less forgiving of a less than perfect surface than a transformer based MIG welder.

Are you referring to a synergic welder or an inverter welder?   I've known inverter-type ones do that "I can't strike an arc" issue, but never heard of a synergic one doing that.

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On 1/11/2021 at 10:29 AM, Talbot said:

Just noticed you're using a synergic MIG rather than a "normal" one.  My intial reaction was "cheat!".

Actually, they're brilliant.  How do you find it in comparison to a normal dip-transfer weld?

I genuinely don't know how it compares to a transformer based set as this is the only one I've ever used. I wanted a inverter machine for lightness and one that had the synergic capabilities as I'll be extremely unlikely to do this professionally. So wanted to get up to speed welding as quickly as possible. My first 1100 thread you can see how I did my first welds and progression through.

They actually look neater than I do now 😆


In synergic mode, it's still an inverter machine but it's essentially is converting the parameters you dial in and setting up the voltage and wire speed at that essentially using a big table. Parameters you dial in are Gas type, wire thickness, wire type, weld type (butt, tee, vertical corner), metal thickness and trim (seems to tweak the voltage up or down). You can switch into manual mode and it'll show you the wire speed and voltage settings it figured it should use. I believe it tweaks itself as you're going along welding too.

It certainly is cheating, but it's allowed me to get down to the business of doing the welding, without having to go through the process of setting up a machine. Only the art of moving the weld pool about, torch position and the like. I rarely get a bad weld out of the machine with this metal thickness. If anything, it can blow holes through steel quite a bit, so I sometimes have to trim it down a tad - but that's probably just the rusty shit I weld!

I bought the machine second hand. I did want one of the Esab rebels and I believe they're a bit more refined. Especially in regards to the multi process facilities. However I got this for (iirc) like £450 for a 2 year old machine at the time. List price iirc was just a grand. For the money I paid, I'd been in the transformer big brand names or a cheaper inverter set like the R-tech. An Esab would have been significantly more and also go second hand for way more too - probably because of the brand. They come with a genuine Binzel Euro torch too. I've actually bought a brand new one - nothing wrong with the old except I found the new design more comfortable in the hand and the torch base ball joint better.

Only thing is I wished I had the 4 roller version as the feeder is better. That can take the 15KG reels and 4m long torches. I've got a 4m torch but on mine you have to make sure the rollers are super clean, otherwise it struggles.

At some point I'll get a euro TIG torch and try out the multi process part of it. It's Lift TIG (not scratch) which I believe is actually safer for car use than HF start. Also can do stick, but the guy I bought it off couldn't find the stick holder. It has standard connectors on the front panel though, so I imagine I can just use any standard one anyway.


On 1/11/2021 at 9:55 PM, mat_the_cat said:

I find that mine is less forgiving of a less than perfect surface than a transformer based MIG welder. A couple of occasions I've attempted to strike an arc, and instead of doing so I've ended up with a coil of red-hot wire piling up on the surface, which I've never had before in 20 years of welding. Its only been when I really should have ground the surface back further, so I suspect they have something of a soft start compared with the transient inrush current of a transformer circuit - hence unable to penetrate the surface resistance and strike an arc.

Again, I can't compare to a transformer unit as I've never used one. However I haven't found my set struggle to strike an arc and usually weld through any surface rust too. If it's really rusty, it seems to try but you end up with an explosion of molten steel everywhere. Never had the wire coil up on the surface like you mention on mine.

I know mine has PFC (Power Factor Correction) and also is specced that it can run off up to a 100m power extension without any loss in performance. Being inverter based, it simply boosts the power at the output to match the requested levels. Maybe this extra level of control over the power helps prevent what you are describing?

This was something quite important in my old house as the power was at the back of the garage, so ended up attaching it with a 20m extension lead. Likewise the weight at the time as I'd have to haul it in and out of the garage for each welding session. Also as inverter based is far more efficient, so it can go up to the full 200A while still running off a 13A plug - no need for a 16A Commando plug. Admittedly I've never had to go to those power levels yet.

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Started last Sunday getting the back of the front wheel arch finished.

This is pretty much how I left it last year bar cleaning up again ready for this welding.

That was an awkward shape to get in, so I cut a bit more off to get more room the other side.

Made a patch that fitted. Easier when you have access the other side as I could roughly get to shape and put the otherside and mark off a more exact measurement.

A lot of fiddling to get into place and held.

The light area made a handy earthing point.

Then a couple of tacks to hold in place as it was getting late and I wouldn't finish it that day. Leaving a few days would likely leave it ending up on the floor.

Fast forward to yesterday evening when I had some more time to get on with this. Hellish first week back affected my mojo for getting on with welding in the evenings and I suspect it's not going to get any better, so progress from now is likely to be slow again.

Anyhow finished welding it up and took off the top of the welds. I'm not going to grind all the way back as it's an awkward place to work and its not really visible normally either.

Then painted. Which has just reminded me, I need to put paint on the inside...!

Not sure if I want to tackle the front of the car just yet. I might put some paint over to protect it and then come back later for it. Feel that it's probably one of those faffy jobs that will take forever to get right. Also need to get some thinner steel and try out seeing if that's easier to shape than the stuff I have at the moment. I can shape the 0.9mm/20 gauge stuff I have, but it's not the most pliable. For the front end wing, it's not structural but it is quite shaped. So thinner stuff should be ok here.

Also need to either repair or replace the light holders. I really don't want to cut the wing or front valance off as I think it's a bit unnecessary for the work that needs doing there. Cutting them off will be a right faff in getting them back on and they risk never be right. Not that they probably were out of the factory anyway!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finished the inner wing area off. This was a right pia to do as the outer wing is in place and room is tight. As this will be hidden by a shield, I didn't grind it completely flat either. Need to bend that bit sticking back out to give somewhere for the shield to bolt onto.

Started moving back towards the rear of the car again. The front will be easier to do once it's facing the other end of the garage. I'll turn the car around when I get onto the nearside as I won't have to move all my tools to the other side of the garage, plus there is a whole bunch of crap on the other wall too.

Finished a small bit by the checkstrap plate I forgot. Small and barely noticeable once the doors on but needed to be done.

Next up is the b-pillar. Took the door off as it makes working on this area massively easier.

Started removing gobs of filler again.

Actually was fearing it would be much worse under here. Double skinned again but the inner, thicker metal skin is in good shape. Some pitting but plenty of metal left there.

Cut away some of the pitted outer section so I could repair that hole at the top of the sill.

Welded a piece in place and then chased up the smaller holes.

Then painted. Except I forgot to take a picture of that and I'm in bed writing this up on my phone ...

I'll try remember to take a picture before I get on with making replacement pieces for the outer section of that b-pillar! Not particularly exciting though, the same but grey. Painted surfaces do come up clearer on the camera though.

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SiC working on his Dolomite


the same inner arch area at the front had to be done on my car too. I think the passenger side was similar to yours but the driver's side was so corroded I ended up just replacing the entire outer edge and the splash guard lip.


Access into that top corner is indeed an utter cunt.

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      2004 Toyota Avensis T3-X. KT53 DWZ. Sensible head back on, I decided to get back into something I trusted when my 3rd son was born. This was a lovely car, but not without its problems. The VVTi oil burning issues are well documented and do frequently occur. Ironically, this was less reliable than the Rover it replaced! Despite fearing the worst and 3 months off the road, the new owner has just MOTd it.

      1999 Toyota Avensis SR by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1999 Toyota Avensis SR. V263 GDP. Back into bangernomics territory again. The last MK1 Avensis I had was the best car I'd ever had, so I hoped to replicate it with another T22 Avensis. This one came up for sale in my favourite (and rare) colour with a numberplate sequential to my previous car - so it was meant to be. I still have this now, and tomorrow it will tick around to 185,000 miles having been bought by me at 100,500.

      Side Bitches

      1974 Morris Mini 1000 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1974 Morris Mini 1000. GEL 517N. Well, I always wanted one - and was young, free, single and well off at the time (2003). A memorable trip to buy it when I called my new girlfriend by my ex girlfriend's name 20 miles into a 200 mile weekend away. She's never forgiven or forgotten but we're still friends. Oh - and married.

      1977 Ford Capri II GL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1977 Ford Capri II 1600 GL. SMY 675R. I can't remember why I bought this, other than I thought it'd be amusing. It was bought from Norwich for £350 and was perfectly well behaved for the 8 months that I had it (other than a flasher unit expiring). I remember being shocked just how much the windscreen would ice up inside, and duly sold it in November to a guy who was going to drive it daily! It's still alive and now, apparently, black! (Update - it's now silver!!!)

      1989 Volvo 340 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1989 Volvo 340 DL. G67 AVN. I bought this for £80. Unbelievable. It was utterly bloody perfect. I wanted to do a banger rally which is why the guy gave it to me so cheap. I'm still yet to do that rally, but no longer have the car. I sold it for about £300 to a family who were clearly down on their luck who, I hope, still have the car.

      1996 Toyota Granvia by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1996 Toyota Granvia. N775 JEV. My wife and I decided to increase our numbers further and, with our 4th son on the way, larger transport was required. We quickly realised you can either have 4 children and no apparel, or apparel and no children. After trying a very tired Mercedes Viano, the Granvia was found for 1/4 of the price and it's still here 2 years later. I can safely say that we'll never sell it - it really is another member of the family.

      1993 Mercedes 190e by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1993 Mercedes 190e. L795 COJ. I've admired these cars since I was a child. In fact, one of the very few toy cars I still have from my childhood is a Mercedes 190e. Regular readers of "Memoirs from the Hard Shoulder" will know what a PITA this car has been since day 1, but I get the feeling it's a keeper. We'll see!

      1983 Ford Sierra Base 1.6 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1983 Ford Sierra Base. GVG 510Y. Not explicitly my car, but it should be documented here for reference. Oh - and the V5 is in my name. The story is online for all to read as to how five of us acquired what is believed to be the only remaining Ford Sierra Base. Make a brew and read it, it's a fantastic story.

      1982 Ford Sierra L by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1982 Ford Sierra L. LCR 503Y. I accidentally won this on ebay for £520. Upon reflection, I shouldn't have sold it - but short stop of saying I regret it. I could never get truly comfortable driving it and, in fairness, I could scratch my Sierra itch with the base if I wanted. Sold it at a stupid profit of £1250. It is believed to be the oldest remaining Ford Sierra in the UK.

      1979 Volvo 343 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1979 Volvo 343 DL. DBY 466T As you'll see above, I'd had a 360GLT as a younger lad and fancied one of these earlier cars. The variomatic is, frankly, terrible but amusing. This car has just 8000 miles on the clock and inside was absolutely timewarp. Sadly, the huge bill for the Mercedes 190e cylinder head rebuild meant I had to sell this car shortly after acquiring it. Since then I've had a bit of money luck, and now realise I didn't need to sell it after all. Typical.

      I think that's it. My arthritis is playing up even more now. I've left out a few cars that were actually my wife's, but if I find pictures will add them in at a later date. I'll run this as an ongoing thread on cars and what's happening.

      Current SitRep:

      Purple Avensis: Just about to click over 185,000. Minor drama this week when an HT lead split but otherwise utterly fantastic, fantastically boring and boringly reliable.

      Granvia: Just done 1000 miles in a month around Norfolk, 6 up with suitcases. 31mpg achieved on the way up which is good for an old tub with a 3.0 Turbo Diesel on board. ODO displaying 175,000 which is a mix of miles and kilometers. Say 130,000 miles for argument's sake.

      Mercedes: Being a PITA. It's had the top end completely rebuilt after the chain came off. Now needs welding to pass another MOT and the gearbox bearings are on strike. It's about to go into the garage for winter until I can stomach it again. 151,000 miles on the clock.

      Sierra bASe: Still on sabbatical with AngryDicky who only took it bloody camping in cornwall! Legend.
    • By Supernaut
      What does £191 on eBay get you?
      An E36 BMW 316i with two sets of wheels, a DAB radio, an MOT until December, 110k miles on the clocks, a slightly* fucked back box and a bit of grot on the driver's side sill.






      This is co-owned between me and 17-Coffees and our plan is to do a light restoration and just generally piss about with it. It's actually really nice to drive, and is surprisingly brisk for only being a 1.6.
      Yes, the alloys are getting sacked off ASAP as it came with the original steel wheels with all-but-new Toyo Proxes on them!
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