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My 1976 Lada 2101 - Nikita: Floored it.


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22 hours ago, juular said:

Cutting in tight corners with a grinder has been my nemesis so far. Like you I've found that the grinding discs on a Dremel are utter shit, but have got me out of a tight spot (ha) once or twice with much tedious changing of shattered discs. I've been informed the OEM Dremel cutting discs are a hundred times better but they are proper expensive.

The other option is to use the angry grinder with heavily worn cutting discs without the guard on. I'm not a fan of this and would wear my welding helmet doing so, as I've had chunks of disc bounce off of it that no doubt would have got embedded in my face otherwise.

The other options:  make a rough hole and use a nibbler drill attachment. They are really inaccurate but are good at chomping away material in hard to reach areas.

Also, sometimes the old fashioned way is the easiest.. make access for hand tools such as aviation snips or shears, making lots of cuts and bending / fatiguing the metal out.

I've ordered those fibre glass reinforced discs for my dremel, so I'll see about cutting it with that. But once the wing is removed I'll be able to just attack it with the angle grinder.

But - BIG NEWS. Perusing Facebook on my afternoon break, a chap on the Lada group is selling the front wings and front valance for the 2101 for not a lot of money. I pick them up Saturday hopefully!

So I can cut the existing wings now, knowing that I've got replacements for it without spending a huge amount on getting them imported from Belgium. 

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Santa came early!


They look like new old stock, which is brilliant really considering the only ones I've seen are going for $80 each, and if they're anything like the chassis arms I bought, not very thick in terms of steel. These feel sturdy.

Thrown them in the garage for now, going to put the video together and then crack on removing the wing this week to finish what I started.

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  • St.Jude changed the title to My 1976 Lada 2101 - Nikita: Pandora's rot box (with new hour long misery video)

I managed to put the video together. Took far longer than I thought it would, and is a good 40 minutes longer than it has any right to be. 

Took 3 evenings to edit it, as there was 5 months of filming that I had forgotten about, as I started with the idea that I could film this one repair as a video, then the next repair as a video. So, spolier, I haven't fixed it totally here but at least in the next one I'll have it done.

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I hacked the wing off it today, and right now it's prepped for a little bit of welding tomorrow (hopefully). Repair panel made, and I'm fairly chuffed with it as it has a bend on it which follows the curve of the body.


It was the big plume of white dust that scared the shit out of me though!



So so so glad I got the replacement wings now!!!

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  • St.Jude changed the title to My 1976 Lada 2101 - Nikita: All Filler, No Killer

Making a concerted effort to not let "small" jobs take 5 months, and to keep the whole welding learning thing on the go, I've done more today.

So I decided to split the patches in to 3 parts, thinking the smaller patches would be easier to work with. And I'll be honest, for the most part, I was right.


Don't have great access in the car for my fat head, so I wasn't able to weld a seam on the inside of the car. But managed some of it, so some is better than nothing. That patch was a lap weld, like the floor. The eagle eyed among you (not too eagle eyed given the welding) will spot some welds on the left hand curve.

IMG_20201123_183926.thumb.jpg.28b873ae2b23e54e6e10603419a90858.jpg IMG_20201123_183939.thumb.jpg.c3f24958da8efcad4d02105a31dd4419.jpg

That's the second patch, which I attempted a butt weld on. And I did fairly successfully I think. Blew some holes at the bottom, but I adjusted my wire speed which seemed to make it easier to weld. 

I have welded the 3rd patch above that, so I've reinstated the arch. The welder ran out of wire, and I bollocksed up the replacement. I let go of the wire, and it all went to hell. So I'm going to go back tomorrow and sort it out, as I have to weld the inside of the 2nd patch, and the rest of the 3rd patch. 

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13 minutes ago, Minimad5 said:

Are you using Flux core / Gasless wire ?

Also, good effort keeping a Lada alive, think I may have seen a post of yours in the Lada Facebook page, wasn't aware you're on here. So yeah one from Lada fan to another - keep it up.

I did to start with, but bought a gas bottle and used gas ever since. Still getting the hang of the mixes.

You may well have, it's a good community on there. I think, across all of the groups I've been on or on for specific cars, that Lada one is the best. The most friendliest etc.

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It took me 20 minutes to work out why the wire wasn't passing through the welder.

Once it was free flowing, it took a further 10 minutes to work out why I couldn't strike a spark.

The new welding wire is 0.6mm, the nib I have is 0.8mm. it took a further 5 minutes to work out I don't have any 0.6mm nibs for my welder.

It then took another 5 minutes to realise it was now too late to nip to my "local" Machine Mart during my lunch hour, and yet ANOTHER 5 minutes to work out I'm skint until pay day tomorrow.

I am also wondering if I've ran out of gas. I keep forgetting to turn the regulator to 0 when I don't use it, but didn't think it was an issue because the gas will only be released when I pull the trigger of the welder. But the little hobby bottle of gas I have feels quite light...

So instead I took a photo of the completed arch.



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14 hours ago, jonathan_dyane said:

Those little gas bottles are a waste of time and in my experience once you’ve cracked one open if you don’t use it all up in a session it leaks away and it’s empty when you go back to it.

You will find it easier with the 0.6 wire, it’s much better suited for car bodywork.


14 hours ago, jonathan_dyane said:

It’s easy to tell when the gas has run out, you suddenly can’t weld for shit then you realise there is no hiss when you squeeze the trigger.

Starting to think that really. I've bought another one as I went to Machine Mart for nibs, and decided to just stock up on stuff so I'm not stuck again like I was the other day. Got the 5kg spool of wire, which is good because I've used a fair bit of the new wire trying to work out why it wasn't welding. The spool wasn't free spinning, so I may have put a bit of red'n'tacky on the spool so it spins freely now. But I don't think I heard the hiss when I squeezed the trigger, so I guess that bottle is spent. 

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1 hour ago, Shandylegs said:

Did you ever source a Caterham starter for this?

No, not yet. I did a bit of digging and (apparently) a Ford Sierra starter would fit the K-Series flywheel. So I bought one of them instead for £20. It's currently sat in a box in the back of the Rover 25, waiting for me to finish the welding.

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Momentous moment in terms of the Lada, and my life really.

This week I've been spending lunch hours and evenings to finish making repair panels for the corner of the car, as above.

Last night I made a hash of the inner sill panel. It fit, but required a lot of hammering when in situ. Except, where as I should've tacked it on the bottom where it joins the floor, I did the top instead like an idiot. I mean, it fits now. But it's not perfect.


But there it is. Scruffy as hell, a total amateur welding job because I've never done it before - and like everything else I decide to do the hardest thing first. Like when I was 8 years old I wanted to do woodwork, so I made a table. It was fine as long as the floor was on the wonk.

Tomorrow I'm going to clean it up, then cut out two small rust holes in the arch. I've got this repair to do on the passenger side, but knowing I've done this, a complicated fix, I'm in a good place with it now. And feel better about the impossible prospect of making that MX5 gearbox work with a K Series in that Lada!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This week has been spent mostly chasing rot, until rain stops play.

How it started:


How it's going:


I genuinely thought that it wouldn't rain today, so had planned more work today. Cutting a repair patch to finish the top part of the strut tower/A pillar area, and then going to sort the rot at the bottom of the strut tower. But the rain came down and bloody well stayed all day. 

I've been told by someone that the strut tower is made up of three sheets of steel. I can tell you now that, at the top at least, this isn't true. That's just one sheet of steel and it's 2mm thick.

Going to play it by ear tomorrow, so I may be able to create a template tomorrow lunch time and weld it in the evening. I've got Friday off but this was really meant for replacing the brake discs and pads on the RAV4, but I may find myself Ladaing instead.

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12 hours ago, jonathan_dyane said:

I think you need to turn the power up and/or wire speed a bit lower, doesn’t look like great penetration (ooer).

I turned down the wire speed half way through. I also definitely think I've ran out of gas, as I did a line of welds and realised the gas wasn't turned on, and I couldn't tell the difference. 

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  • St.Jude changed the title to My 1976 Lada 2101 - Nikita: Chasing Rot


So now, again, I've replaced every piece of metal I've taken off with new steel. And I think actually I've replaced it with thicker steel than what was there originally. Other than the big bit on the top of the tower that's 2mm in line with the rest of the tower, I've used 1.2mm steel and I think it's only 1mm thick.

Bottom of the strut tower to be done tomorrow. Or at least start it.

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  • 1 month later...

So I decided, given I have a sill to repair on the RAV4 and trying to sort the rust here, I thought I'd buy a multi tool to cut the steel. I vaguely remember someone saying that they used one for this sort of task, so I went and bought one.

It can't cut cheese, well the cutting blade that came with it cant anyway. So decided to come in and figure out if a multi tool can actually cut the steel.

However, I spent a more productive half hour before hand making a little stool for me to park my fat arse on while I tackle these sorts of jobs. Wanted one for ages, but wanted a small one. Last night I thought of an idea to make one, using CLS I had left over and a drawer front I had from a chest of drawers I broke up for kindle. 

The result: a slimline stool that can hold 20st of idiot. Welder and trolley jack for scale.



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On 12/7/2020 at 9:37 AM, sgtberbatov said:

I also definitely think I've ran out of gas, as I did a line of welds and realised the gas wasn't turned on, and I couldn't tell the difference

Cut it out and start again.  If you're welding with a gas-shielded wire (IE not flux cored) and have no shielding gas, the welds will be completely and utterly porous.  You should absolutely be able to tell if you have the gas on or not, as without it the weld will be awful.

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I often use a multi tool for getting into tight spots or if I want a very thin and accurate cut line. You do need metal cutting blades though but they are brilliant. A power file is my next favourite bodywork tool.

I really think you should take a bit of time-out to improve your welding technique.  You’ve clearly got what it takes to be a good welder I.e a rotten car and loads of determination so don’t launch into trying to weld the most tricky stuff straight away.  Get on a workbench, watch some YouTube videos and post your results here. There are loads of experienced amateur welders here to help you. 

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I'd add a welshman (Dai Grinder) to the list of tools that are good for getting into tight areas.

Also, looking at the pictures you've put up, I think you need to spend a bit longer making sure you've got clean metal to weld to.  Any paint, rust, grot, sealer or similar will instantly make the weld a mess.  I wouldn't even use weld-through primer.  Some people on here do use it and say it's ok, but I've only ever found it make the welding harder to do, with a poorer finish.  Far better to weld bright clean fresh steel together and then blat zinc based paint everywhere afterwards. (IMO)


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Plus one from someone who does a lot of welding and fabrication at work. Absolute cleanliness is the key. Bear in mind that much like anything else, good welding is about a huge amount of preparation and a tiny amount of actual welding at the end. Before you join owt together you should be able to eat your dinner off it

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2 hours ago, Matty said:

good welding is about a huge amount of preparation and a tiny amount of actual welding at the end

This this and this again.  Calling the process "welding" is wrong really.  It's fabrication.  Calling the repair of rot in a car "welding" is like calling a major service on a car "dipping the oil".

On the most recent post I put up on the Merc in my sig, the cutting back and fabrication of repair sections took several hours.  The welding took about 15 minutes, with a total "live torch" time of about 3 minutes.  The actual welding is the easy bit.

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There's a few things with this. Mostly to do with my own head. These aren't excuses either, but it's at least a good way to show you how I think with these things.

With the last pic (not of the stool but of the strut), I put that up somewhere to show someone that everything on a car can be done. Now I knew myself when I looked at the pic, I was thinking it was a mess. But I also thought that I had the penetration through the metal, especially along the top part, so to me I thought it looked horrid but it had the penetration so it was fine. Then someone wasn't entirely pleasant about it. I can deal with criticism, but only when it's filled with an explanation and a route to fix it. This didn't have it, and usually I'm fairly good at ignoring negative shit like that but I couldn't with that. So really while I have been busy, I have maybe actively avoided going back to face that issue. In between saying I ran out of gas and that comment though, I got more gas and was going back to sort it. So the gas bottle is in the cupboard somewhere ready to go, but I haven't been able to drag myself out to do it. Until yesterday really, and then when the cheese blades on this multi tool weren't working, I suppose I scared myself out of doing it again. Then I see the comments here, and genuinely I am grateful about the help and I know none of you are taking the piss or belittling this, but I went back to that comment previously and it's taken me this long to write out this reply! So thank you @Talbot @Ian_Fearn @Matty for what you've said.

I can't, though, go away and weld on a workbench. I'm not that way inclined to learn that way. Never have been really. Even with the day job, I couldn't learn it through school, I had to just do a project and learn as I go. I'm forever reading, and so much shit gets said it is difficult to know what to believe in or what. I know though from the floor welding, how it started to how it finished, that towards the end of the strut tower work I knew myself it didn't resemble what I had did previously - in a bad way. I can't even tell you now why I sprayed it.

Not tonight, as I have work to get done, but this week I am going to go in and cut that all out again. Mostly the triangle bit, as thats where I think gas ran out, along with the welds around the patch. More for the fact that, again when looking up how to do it etc, the idea of not running on continuous weld was the way to go. I don't think it is, and I'd be better off just doing the one bead instead of dabbing it. I think that came from not wanting to warping the metal. But how much of it would I actually warp? None, I don't think.

With the weld through stuff, I didn't want to get in to a situation where I lap weld the steel, to only then find out in a few years time that rust has got in between the two bits meaning I have to do it again. But that's only because lap welds were easier to do than butt welds, especially in places that won't be seen. 

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1 hour ago, sgtberbatov said:

I can't, though, go away and weld on a workbench.

I'd absolutely recommend that you do this.  If you can sort your welding technique when working at a sensible height, on clean metal, with good visibility and with the workpiece flat, you will definitely be able to improve your welding on the car, as you'll be able to recognise when the weld is going properly, or when you've hit some rust/sealer/a gap/run out of gas etc.etc.

Throwing yourself in at the deep end by attempting to learn to control a weld pool while upside-down, on rust, leaning over at your maximum reach and on a vertical weld is just a recipie for disaster.   Even just 20 minutes spent at the workbench will massively improve your weld technique and will likely save you that 20 minutes time and time again while you're doing your repairs.

Edit:  Just re-read the posts above:  Have you swapped the polarity of the welder over for welding with Gas shielding now?  I can never remember which way around is needed for flux cored or for inert shielded, but they are definitely inverted.

If you're still welding with the welder set up for flux cored wire, that may be part of the issue you're seeing.

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Ignoring the mechanics of what you are doing with your hands, there’s a lot of thought going on there.

Go easy on yourself, as you have said you are learning and by choice not taking the easiest way so it’s likely that some bits will need doing twice. Or thrice. Or more 😂 Other than the frustration of “here we are again, uurf, “ it really doesn’t matter how many goes it takes. 

And remember when you get there your skillz at the end will be mezzin.

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Spending an hour on the bench just running welds is the best way to learn, just doing stop start,seam,vertical and fillets will allow you to set the welder up to suit you and improve your control to no end. 

If you're unsure about the quality of your work then just start again as has been suggested by Talbot and at the end of it you'll have a finished part you can be proud of. 



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  • 1 year later...

Eee by gum, I didn’t realise it had been this long since anything happened to this Lada.

It’s still there, not one iota of work been done to it. Until yesterday. Sort of.


The engine from the MG has been liberated, along with the seats, wiring look, various other bits and pieces that I might need.

Why this? Why now? 

Well the garage this Lada is in is being torn down in August. And feck all has happened since January 2021 (when I got balls deep in to that RAV4). Fatherhood has also, surprisingly, taken up a lot of time and energy, and a few weekends sorting out the Land Cruiser, means I am woefully short of weekends to get any meaningful work done again. But part of this work means the MG has to go, and then I want to at least get the rot sorted on the Lada before August. Yes, I am aware we are in July. I just want the rot removed from the Lada and epoxy primered so I can roll it out for however long the building work takes.

So, the plan as of Sunday, is to get the K Series on a pallet ready to be stored in the unit. More about the K Series in a moment.

Then I will be removing the engine and gearbox from the Lada, along with the driveshaft. This is just to make it easier to move when the time comes for eviction. It also gives me an opportunity to measure everything off the car so I can work out if the engine conversion is good to go or not.

Then remedy the welding I last done to it, and then weld the other bits that need doing. At which point I will run out of time regardless and it gets rolled out.

The K Series is rather oily. That’s what a long time of sitting there doing nothing will do to you. However, on removal of the sports cat manifold (nice, ish) my mate pointed out that the head gasket has gone on cylinder 1. It is rather wet. But no matter, it was always going to be rebuilt etc if it fits. 

So that is where it’s at. 

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