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1968 MG Midget - Bodywork repair and welding


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On 12/21/2021 at 6:50 PM, SiC said:

Where the door rubs on the body, it's not scraped off filler. Only paint. So this is highly unlikely to be thick with filler.

Just had a thought. Even though I poked it out and made it worse, I wonder if the weakened hinge area is flexing in and why this door was catching the pillar at the bottom. I probably need to remount the door to get the hinge alignment in the right place before fixing a repair piece on the bottom. 

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Those close up at the tops when the main structure of the car is unsound, so probably someone has made an attempt to adjust the door in the past and made a hash of it.

Understandable because getting them right is a pig's arse of a job.

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I've been staring at this A-pillar trying to decide the best way to go.

Bought both the bottom hinge and also the full hinge piece from Moss. They offer a 12 month refund period providing the bits are in resalable condition.

After some more staring, I decided that I'd start cutting and see where I get. But before that I undone the dash and stuck a block of wood to brace the dash.
Didn't remove the full dash as that'll be a pain. The loom is all bullet connectors rather than something like the multiway on the Dolomite. Also the oil and temperature gauge, choke/etc cables will all need removing from the engine bay to fully remove it. Something I really didn't want to do.

Lining up the two panels show both to be a good fit

So I got cutting. Firstly chopped the bottom bit off to see how that fits

Which it does quite well.

But in doing this I've found the welds aren't particularly good and just pop off. So I've carried on chopping more out. I think I'll remove the whole panel and put the full piece on.
Just more work in making sure the door is lined up.

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Cut out all of it to put fresh in. Used blocks of wood to help support the dash to stop it sagging too much.
Clamped in the new A-pillar piece

Tacked that into place.

Put the door hinge piece into place to check everything looked good and mark off where the A-pillar fits.

Ground things back

Then clamped in the hinge plate for welding and welded into place based on those previous markers. Also lined up to where it was previously.

Refitted the door to find it didn't fit. Bugger. A couple of millimetre out from that bottom pin being in place.

Some googling found there was adjustment inside the door. Annoying I didn't know this to begin with as I could have moved it in and given more potential movement. 

Also notice the missing bolt on the bottom hinge. This explains why the bottom of the door rubbed against the outer a-post panel. No idea where it was or went. New bolt screwed straight in, so wasn't even like the threads had been stripped.

It fits and closes but it is now at the extended limit.

Catches at the top but I think it did this before. I'll grind this back a bit if needed to fit. Only a very slight touch/rub. 

More later as I'm just about to get off my train for work...

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I spent a long time agonising over the gaps on this door. Mostly that the catch is on the edge of the striker plate with not much wiggle room.

Tbf I think it might have been like it before looking at the striker plate.

The gaps aren't massive (for 1960s standards) so there isn't actually too much wiggle room.

Even though it's about centred, don't forget some of this is lost by the outer cover that is still to go on. Probably a couple of millimetres. Basically it could go over some more.

The options I could see was to:
- chop out that hinge piece and move it across
- enlarge the door hinge holes to move that out a tad further (remember it's only millimetres I need)
- put more spacers on the striker plate (it's already got two though!)
- spacers behind the door hinges

I spoke to Saabnut about this when he came around to collect the Moggie. His suggestion was to go for spacers. This was the same thing I was siding towards too. Mostly because to cut out those tack welds would have been an almighty pain (I probably tacked them in a bit too good!) and to adjust it by a couple of millimetres then reweld is opened up to a big error margin. I mean it almost fits and cutting out+reweld could easily end up with it like an extra half centimetres or more.

For the shims, I used a ready made piece of metal perfect for it...
The old hinge plate.

I cut these down to size and cleaned them up with the grinder. The one with slots is the piece of metal that holds in the thick threaded mounting plate.

They were about 1.2mm thick for the left and 1mm for the right. I put the thicker one on top.

Re-measuring gave a bit more gap on the hinge pillar side and gave more tolerance for the latch.

It works pretty well now. There is some movement in the A-pillar as that was only tacked in. Plus the outer piece will box it in. This affects it a bit too.

I also ground down a tad on the top of the door. Only a millimetre or so but it's enough. I'll probably level this off along to make it look factory.

I then welded up the rest of it. About 60% done with the inside done

The hinge side is still to finish.

Penetration looks reasonable to my eyes? Certainly better than the previous welds with zero penetration.

Door is now looking good, with the outer panel in place. I did this to double check it doesn't catch when opening the door. Had to move the door out a tad but it's pretty level. Way better than the other side for sure that sticks out a good centimetre! Gaps around the door aren't bad and (tbh) probably the same or better than factory. I'll try realigning that door when I get to that side. Hopefully just a poor refit than something inherently wrong.

Less flex of that post now too
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In other news, the striker plate panel looks to not be welded properly into place. Weirdly, looking from the other side, I don't think this was ever replaced. I wonder if it was like this out of the factory?!

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Very good work SiC, but you'll need the car on its wheels to set the door gaps.

I have Midgets, Bs and TRs on my lift every week, and every single one of them open and close their gaps when the weight comes off, or goes back onto the wheels.

Absolute worst in this respect is the TR6.  You can usually not open the doors when they're on a 2-post lift, seemingly regardless of where you place the ramp arms and the door gap changes by a good cm when you lift it.

Also, Minis had their doors aligned when they had been fitted up with all the trim, window mech, locks etc as a perfectly-fitted bare door would hit the B post when it was assembled!

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12 hours ago, Crackers said:

Even on brand new stuff we do the final door adjustment with the car on its wheels, on the ground. 


You mean they don't do it like this in the factory? 🤯


Door will be coming off again to get access for doing the a-post outer piece.

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Top work going on right here it's very satisfying when it all lines up  and shuts cleanly though.

Reminds me of my battle last year I thought I had my hinge panel Bob on but I still needed to add shims behind the hinges and give the door itself a good beating to get it to sit about right.




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I had a complete ballache with the Spitfire - even though I braced it all - it had been all on the wonk from a previous 'restoration' so I ended up all over the place re-aligning it. Most soul destroying bit of the rebuild if I'm honest...... finding newspaper inner sills and chickenwire type floor patches was a honeymoon in comparison!

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Been rather busy the last few evenings and not got much more done. Tbh I'm extremely busy at the moment and this car should be a lower priority than I've made it...

Basically I have just finished welded the other side of the hinge piece onto the pillar. Need to take the door off to grind it all back and then weld on the outer piece. Not sure I'll get time to do that this weekend though.

Also welded on the hinge brace (?) pieces that most often people seem to miss out. I think they originally would have been spot welded onto the other piece. Unlikely I'm going to be able to do that but I may drill some holes on the other side to puddle weld it instead.

I also ordered an original sales brochure the other day. This is dated 1967 and is the right generation. So very likely would have been the same as someone ordering this originally would have read from a dealer.

Uploaded on Tapatalk high Res so hopefully it should be readily zoom-able in if you want to read it.




I didn't know white wall tyres were a genuine optional extra on these. Don't think they were an option on the B?

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Just had a thought. The car search came back when I bought it that the colour changed from (the original factory) Red to the current Iris Blue in 30 June 1992. So not only is the last major restoration likely 30 years ago now, it's actually spent longer on this "non original" colour than what it left the factory with!
I have considered changing it back to the original Red or even Old English White as I'm not a huge fan of (baby) Iris Blue. But the under bonnet being a different colour would annoy me. No intention (just yet!) of doing a full body strip down and repaint. 
I got this wrong. It was actually (yucky) Primrose Yellow out of the factory. DVLA has no record of this original colour, only a previous colour of red. Does explain why I've seen some yellow-ish paint when wire wheeling it down in place. When I take some more paint off next, I'll have to remove each skin of the onion carefully and see what colours it has been.
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There should be some original colour paint left under the scuttle behind the dashboard, also inside the gearbox tunnel - even though it is totally enclosed they were fairly thoroughly painted in there.    It's unlikely a colour change would have been taken that far.


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There should be some original colour paint left under the scuttle behind the dashboard, also inside the gearbox tunnel - even though it is totally enclosed they were fairly thoroughly painted in there.    It's unlikely a colour change would have been taken that far.
Plenty of primrose once you start chipping the paint:
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Joined the gym recently to bring my fitness levels back up again. This does mean I have even less spare time. However I can still squeeze in an hour or two noisy work in the evening before a self imposed curfew to not irritate the neighbours too late.

So far I've been grinding back the visible welds on the a-post with the finger grinder. While it's very useful to get in these tight spots, it's very slow at grinding back. This took a good two hours worth to get them back to an acceptable level.

Then paint

After the noise curfew, that's the problem time when I get poking.
Was looking at this rear section. Then got fiddling and prying to see if I could move the panel over a tad.

Useful as I need to weld in the inner arch a bit at the bottom here.

It got a bit out of (in) hand. Another case where a repair panel has been tacked into place with shite quality welds.

Oh man

I was just going to weld up a repair piece on that rear bottom and then patch the arch. My thought now is that it may be quicker and easier to rip this out and replace it with fresh.

Panels are available. While not cheap (but is compared to the Dolomite!), it does speed things up an awful lot.
I think I may be having another trip down to Moss to abuse my flexible friend again.

And this is why everyone keeps telling me to finish one of my projects before buying another car! Selling the A4 would be a handy source of funds to fuel this restoration.

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Being able to just go and buy big panels like that is definitely one thing which makes the idea of getting an MGB one day really appealing.  I've never owned a classic car before for which parts were so readily available, especially bits of bodywork.

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Probably due for an update. Done a few bits in a few hours spare I had over this weekend on some evenings.

Decided to drop the tank. A number of reasons to really. Primarily as I will be welding in that area. Also wanted to clean off the underseal and grime to check it out and repaint. Plus have a look at the sender condition to see if that gave a reason why the fuel gauge stopped at quarter rather than empty, even empty.

Removing it straight forward. Top of bolts on the boot floor and nuts on the bottom.

Had one fixing that was a pain. Due to the tank being offset (exhaust goes down one side), the symmetrical locations meant one was under a chassis rail type structure. Of course accessibility was compounded by access covered by filler. I chipped out the filler and got a pair of long nose mole grips to hold it tight.

The nut side wasn't easy either as the car is jacked up on its side. Extensions and impact wrench are the handy tools for this sort of job.

Tank was loose but fixed in place from underseal!

Kick and it was down.

The foam on top thankfully hasn't rotted out the top. Tanks are readily available but I'd rather not spend £150 on a new one unless I really need to.

Drained the last lot of fuel out. This stank.

Inside the tank looked in excellent condition.

Sender looks shot though. I ordered a replacement from Moss but unfortunately it's the wrong one. The one I ordered is correct for the year but this looks to have a later tank on.

I gave the tank a damn good flush through with the hose to try removing any sediment left at the bottom and remove any petrol vapour. Then pressure washed the remains of the underseal.

Using a scraper I removed the worst of the paint and rest of the underseal. Finally gave the rust a scrape with a wire brush. This did reveal a pin hole on the top, made worse by me poking it.

That was the only casualty of the process and seems a shame to scrap a tank because of it. I didn't want to weld it for obvious reasons, so instead I used some steelstik or whatever it's called. Apparently this is petrol safe.

I plan to paint the tank with some Lidl direct onto rust metal paint. But I think its saveable. Potentially may replace it later on once the car is back on the road.

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Clamped up the a-post and got welding.

Welds started to go really spluttery. Flumuxed me for a bit but carried on. A few welds longer and realised the problem...
It's not done too bad though and must be nearly 2yrs out of that reel now. Okay I had big gaps between welding sessions, but it's done a lot of welds. This is a 5kg roll and the biggest my machine can take. But does mean a 15kg would be overkill.

Removed the supporting pillar

And painted.

This panel is warped quite a bit. Mostly because I was running beads and not spending long enough cooling off with the air line. It'll be behind a panel anyway, so won't be seen.
Also these welds were awkward and not the best. But a grinder makes you a welder that you ain't. 😁

Still need to grind these welds back a bit. These actually turned out really nice and almost seems a shame to grind back! But they'll likely get in the way of the wing.

Still need to fold back the other edge. Been looking at door skin folding tools, but they're all blimming expensive for something I'll rarely use. You can get metal folding pliers which are a lot cheaper, so may go down that route instead. Or just hit it with a hammer into place. 🤔

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I've never used door skinning tools and I've reskinned hundreds of doors.
A panel hammer, dolly and patience is all you need to get a perfect result.
I restored a midget for a customer a few years ago.i throughly enjoyed it.
Have some inspiration  
Looks great.

I'd love to strip this right back and sort everything out. However I simply don't have the time to do that, not least I really would like it back on the road this season. It'd also mean that the Dolomite would be put back further from completion. Also full resto is going to end up costing more money and this is sucking up quite a bit of cash already.

My plan is still to sort the worst of the bodywork, Rattle Can the scruffiest parts of the paint and then get it on the road. Then crack on with the Dolomite again. If I love the Midget enough, then I would treat it to a full resto after the Dolomite is done.

Tbh though, once I've done the n/s rear arch, the worst is sorted. The same on the other side (A post and read arch.) could well need sorting in similar fashion, but it's not quite in as bad a state.

The paint is probably what is going to let it down the most. But that's also the most expensive thing to sort!
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Ground back the welds.

Then folded back the door side skin lip. I did this with a hammer to start the bend. Once at about a 60degree angle, I used mole grips to bend flat. On the visible side I had the mole grips against a piece of metal to protect the skin. Seemed to work okay.

Quick spray of paint to protect the bare metal.

A-post is now done. Will need some filler at the top to both join on the existing filler and hide the weld join.

Ticked off a bit more on the list.

Then promptly added some new items 😬

The bolt on wing I think I'll do a quick repair on the back section. Apart from it's not a structural part, the front part under the bumper is very thin and crispy. You can't get repair pieces for there and I don't want to fabricate a piece as it's quite a complex curve.

Instead when it comes to proper paint, I'll source a replacement wing. Second hand seems to be around the £200 price point. While not huge amounts, I'm trying to keep a lid on spending. The wing, apart from the rotten rear section, is currently presentable if I'm careful on the crispy front.

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27 minutes ago, GingerNuttz said:

Fill the tank full of water and mig it up, it won't blow up.

It's more that I don't want to be making small holes on the tank into massive ones with my torch! It's quite heavily pitted and likely thin in places on top. Strong enough to keep fuel in but thin enough that it'll likely just end up with even more holes. 

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17 hours ago, SiC said:

It's more that I don't want to be making small holes on the tank into massive ones with my torch! It's quite heavily pitted and likely thin in places on top. Strong enough to keep fuel in but thin enough that it'll likely just end up with even more holes. 

Time to get a tig torch and some brazing rods for the Pearl 😂

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