Monday, 1 May 2017

Sunroof part 1

A little while ago the TR7 was looking nice, all in grey primer and (to my mind, anyway) about five minutes from getting a respray. Fast forward to now and I am back where I started, in a sea of dust and the car looking like a patchwork.

Why? Because, having had two quotes for £7k to finish the car, I have decided to do it myself. So, that has meant lots of reading up on "blocking" (using a block of sandpaper to straighten any (almost) imperceptible high spots and low spots on the panels) and skim filling. It is a big job and I am starting to see why the quotes came in so high. It is taking ages, one panel at a time, but hopefully it will be worth it.

You know how it is with old car restorations - you do one bit here then get side-tracked elsewhere. That's what happened this weekend, as I was filling and blocking the roof area, ahead of the sunroof aperture.
While I was doing this I realised I had filled over a number of revit holes, originally there to hold in place the Weathershields sunroof. The rivet holes got drilled out again, and my mind wandered. What of the sunroof?

The roof on RJW 307R was certainly aftermarket, judging by the fairly rough work to the aperture. It is the "short" sunroof and not listed as an extra on the Heritage certificate, so I reckon it would have been a dealer option, possibly. Anyway, into the shed I went to dig out what was, in reality, a grubby, dusty and torn item sellotaped together with the frames, which after some unwrapping fitted the car well and gave me a lift.

The sunroof itself was in a sorry state, so it was time to get brutal and strip it. The black cover came off fairly easily with the help of a hot air gun to soften various gluey bits (and I had forgotten that it was originally brown. Neil and I used VinylKote to change it black in 1994, for our trip to Greece), leaving the remainder looking not so bad. The mechanism is all good although the headlining will need a massive clean.

The metal, er, members at the front and rear of the roof were very rusty and made me realise just how much water must have been getting in over the years. These were removed and so far the front one has been de-rusted, treated and painted.

So, here's the plan. The top cover will go to the guys at Littleport Boat Haven, to be used as a template for a lovely new one. While it is away, I'll carry on refurbishing the "inner" part of the roof by cleaning it and repainting the headlining. On that note, I did today dig out of the shed the original headling for the remainder of the car, and what a sorry state that was in. I do have a brand new, boxed BL headlining but it will need cutting into shape to accommodate the sunroof aperture.  I'll leave that news until next time.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Paint Prep

Having laboured for years on this project, I felt that I had come to the end of my talents with preparing the body for paint. It was all in primer, but I wanted someone to finish it for me, i.e. do the final flatting & fettling, then paint it. Two £7,000 quotes later I decided that I would do it myself Yikes. So, for the next little while my posts will mostly be about getting panels to fit, treating low spots with filler and applying primer. I'll probably get bored though so you might suddenly find a post about TR7 ash trays or something else equally as exciting.

Right, last time we were here I was talking about the doors. No, not the Californian psychedelic outfit from the 70s, I mean my doors. Well, I got them on the car and they just didn't fit at all. The nearside, in particular, was out all over - the leading edge to front wing; the bottom to sill and the trailing edge to b-post just wouldn't line up.

I am compressing about three months' history into just a few lines here and I don't have any photos, but getting them to fit was a nightmare. Sure enough I got bored, so decided to strip the two old (but original) doors of their fittings, nuts, bolts and channels. While I was at it the stickers from the bootlid were carefully peeled away and kept - they had been there since the 1994 journey to Greece.

I am not sure what the artist was "on" when he drew them, but my particular favourite is the deliciously bonkers "Greece is Nice Not Mice".

Anyway, back to the TR7. It was good to strip the boot and doors of their parts, as it gave me an opportunity to see all of the inner parts.

Changing the hingepin on the nearside door helped no end, and after many, many hours of shimming and unshimming, I managed to get both doors to hang about right. They have to line up at so many places - the front wing, swage line, door tops etc and it is very, very fiddly.

I learned that you have to fit the door rubbers and striker plates to do this job properly, so on they went. However the doors now wouldn't close flush and protruded beyond the b-post quite considerably. The technique used to get this right was a combination of bashing back the frames on the car, and using thin skims of filler to lift the build of the rear wings to match.

After that, it was just a case of filling, then block sanding, and filling again.

Now they're not looking too bad!

I am going to get some stickers made: "TRs7 Are Great Not Slate". They'll sell, don't you think?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Ladies and gentlemen...The Doors!

Gosh, two posts from me in as many days. Spring must be in the air! Actually, it is freezing in the garage but I had to get out of the house, having been couped up for days during Giant Sunday, a.k.a. Christmas and New Year. 
Staring to look like a car again.
This will be a quick post, just to say that I put the doors on today for a trial fit. I had forgotten how fiddly they are and how they need shims, but it came together pretty well. I ran out of lower hinge shims, so will have to get some more from somewhere. The damaged boot lid got shoved on, too.

Obviously this was purely in aid of aesthetics because they will have to come off again to be painted, but I can see now where more profiling will be needed to make them fit nice and snug.

Exciting, eh?

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Bessy has landed

Well, it seems a long time ago that I pulled the TR7 out of a barn, brought her to my garage and put her high

Time to come home. (Oct 05)
"Just needs a little T-Cut"
up on a rotisserie. She was off the ground for years, until a couple of months ago she came down onto tall axle stands. There she sat for some time until the refurbished and re-tyred wheels were fitted and she was ready to hit the ground.
On the spit
On the axle stands after coming down from the spit
Originally the idea was to find four burly blokes to lift her by each corner, just enough to remove the stands and then lower her down. However, this couldn't happen as I couldn't muster enough muscle so some ingenuity was needed. With help from my neighbour Phil, a combination of jacks, ramps and bits of wood saw the car lowered gracefully to the ground.
Just a few inches to go...
I can't begin to describe the pride and joy I felt in seeing Bessy the TR7 actually sitting on the concrete, looking like a car again. Ok, a fairly empty one I admit, but a car rather than a lump of rust nonetheless. She actually rolls, like a car!
On the ground on its own wheels
There's a TR7 in there somewhere...
This little TR7 is nearing paint shop time. Woo hoo! My plan is to continue to prep the remaining panels (doors, bonnet and boot lid when I can find one) then hand it over to a body shop for final finishing and painting. Can't wait.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Wheels Part 1

Well, here we are back in the garage again. Actually I have been in there quite a lot of late, having temporarily diverted from TR7 restoration to bike building. I had always hankered after a trail bike and saw one for sale outside a house. I bought it, then spent the next three months fixing it - head, carbs, piston, cylinder, you name it. Sorry to bring bikes into the story but I mention it because doing that engine work was a sort of rehearsal for fixing the TR7's. I enjoyed all the stripping down, removing and refitting parts, timing it up and so on. I hope I enjoy the 7's as much when the time comes.
Anyway, on to Bessy the TR7. Well, since my last post the rear suspension has been refitted and now she sits ready to come down to earth for the first time in years. However, before I can do that the wheels need sorting so that I can pop on new tyres and have a rolling shell ready for paint. So, here's a picture of the sub frame:
Look beyond it and you will see a stack of four very scruffy wheels and tyres, which have now been sandblasted (the wheels, not the tyres, obviously) and given two coats of Kurust which makes everything go black.
Once dry, they are given a coat of etch primer, and finished in Halfords steel wheel paint. I haven't quite finished this job yet.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A pivotal moment

At last! After about four years in the air, rotating away on a spit, the car has moved. Ok, it has only gone downwards as she came off the spit, but it is movement nonetheless. So, RJW 307R is a little closer to the road, in every sense.

The front suspension is all fitted up and I have loosely fitted the steering wheel, so the old girl can be steered into the paint shop. The steering wheel and brackets etc will be removed for painting - this is just for transportation. Next stop is fitting the rear axle.

Exciting, eh?

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Do you like my seats? I hope so, because I am really proud of them. These had been banished to the darkest, filthiest corner of my shed about twenty years ago and had sat there, undisturbed, until I found them under a mound of inlet manifolds. To say they were disgusting is an understatement.

I am bouncing around a bit in this restoration, but you know what it is like - boredom with one job sets in so you tackle another. And so it was with my seats.

The one on the right is as it was when dragged out of the shed. On the left we have a restored one.
The first job was to strip them down, which I enjoyed very much. All those little clips and springs were put away for reassembly, and the covers removed and put through the washing machine a few times. They came up a treat. The covers had some fag burns in them, but at this stage I didn't want to fit new ones. As I have said before, I get a little thrill out of putting original bits back on the car. So, ever the innovator, I bought an old door card and used the tartan from that to invisibly patch them from behind. That worked a treat.

The foams were in a pretty awful state, but salvageable so I bought some foam from a seller on ebay and patched them back together using spray glue.

Next it was time for the frames, which were broken around where the backrest meets the base.

This is common, apparently, and I briefly considered ordering new ones before welding them back up. I chuckled at the "this seat is approved..." safety notice stuck to the frame, right where one of the retaining brackets had snapped off. I hope the welds hold.

One of the most fun parts was re-padding the headrests. Having peeled off the covers I was left with a pile of dust, literally. With replacements costing about £30 a side I decided to have a go at making my own, using foam and spray glue. They worked a treat, and with a little help (i.e. putting the cover in the microwave for 20 seconds - I'm not married) they were looking great again.


Making new side pieces

New foams
Reassembly was pretty straightforward, with a little jiggling about (the covers and foams, not me). The old webbing and clips were reused and fitted back on the painted frames.

The vinyl panels on the seats were cleaned up and black shoe shine (the type in a bottle) used to get them looking great again. The result? A pair of very presentable seats.