Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm Back!

Yes, I'm finally back in the UK! I'm back sooner than expected having parted ways with the company I was doing my pilot training with. I won't go into details other than to say it had been a pretty frustrating year for me as they basically struggled to get me flying and messed me about from day one. Over the year I had flown an average of less than once a week. Pretty bad considering that it's a full time residential course that doesn't have any holidays built into the schedule and you're supposed to fly 3 times a week!

Anyway, it's given me lots of energy to work on the Spitfire! I've had a good look at the parts I bought while I was abroad and I'm going to be fitting them and getting the car ready for the dreaded MOT over the next few weeks.

First thing I noticed when I stuck my head around the garage door was that the suspension has settled a fair bit since I fitted the wheels. The second thing I noticed was an oil slick! Looks to me like the sump plug is leaking a bit. I'm not quite sure what's happened there but I'll be having a look over the next few days. Another problem lies with the brake master cylinder. It's empty! I'm going to investigate and also replace the hose lines with some swivel fittings as I've never been happy with how the flexi hoses attach to the master cylinders.

I tried to push the car out of the garage and onto the drive the other day too but ran into some problems there as well. It didn't want to budge! I checked the handbrake and it wasn't on. I'd left it off deliberately to stop this sort of thing happening! Having rocked it back and forth a bit I've decided that it isn't a brake problem but it might be due to having a couple of flat tyres. I'll hopefully be sorting that soon!

I have done a few jobs already though. Firstly, I fitted my new number plate. This was a relatively easy one. I was careful to mount it at the right height and to get the holes in the right place. It worked out rather well and all I had to do was spray the plastic mounting screws black and fit it up. Looks good I think!

Then I began working on getting the lights sorted out. I'm fitting 'US spec' indicators and although it seemed like they would be a straightforward fit so far it has proven not to be the case! The back part is slightly larger than the UK part and I had to remove the quarter valances and open the holes out slightly with a Dremel to get them to fit. Of course regular readers may remember that I resprayed one of my quarter valances a while back. Unfortunately when taking the passenger side off I realised that it was just as bad (if not worse) as the drivers side had been so I reluctantly set to work on it.

I quite enjoy bodywork and I've been asked a few times how to do things like this so I might as well go through it in detail! First of all I stripped the mix of paint and Dinitrol off it using a knotted wire brush in an angle grinder and a wire brush on a drill for the tricky bits. Once the paint was off I had a good look at it and saw a few dents and dings here and there that would need a bit of filler and a few pitted areas that would need some rust killer. After cleaning off the remaining rust killer with thinners I gave it a good thin coat of Upol Acid #8 which highlighted all the bumps!

When that had dried I used a few thin smears of Isopon P38 to fill all the low points. After letting that dry I sanded it flat with a sanding pad on an electric 'delta' sander. The trick here is not to use a sanding pad which is too course or too fine. You don't want to 'polish' the filler but neither do you want to leave marks in it which might show through the paint! Also when you're sanding back don't worry about taking the paint around it off. You just need to respray it again like so.

If you think there are some more dents on the left hand side then you're wrong! Those are just the spot welds where the inner skin of this panel is attached. So now we've got a lovely dent free panel waiting for some more paint...

I think I'll carry on with this tomorrow!

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