Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bonnet Welding

I've spent the last month or so practicing my welding whilst continuing to strip down the bonnet. I'm quite enjoying learning to weld. I'm getting good results and it seems to be quite straightforward. If I'm honest, I think I'm being flattered by my equipment!

I stripped off the mangled remains of the panels behind the headlights and ground the remains off the bonnet strengthener panel. I was planning to reuse the strengthener panel but it was too far gone to reuse so I ended up drilling it out as well.

Like a lot of Spitfire bonnets, mine had the 'classic' cracks around the bonnet corners. These are caused by the bonnet flexing when the bonnet is opened from one side. On mine, the lack of metal around the headlights had actually caused the alloy headlamp cowls to crack as well!

Replacing the alloy headlamp cowls is straightforward enough. I actually bought a drivers side cowl on eBay for 99p. The listing ended on Christmas day and nobody else bid!

The bonnet welding was a bit trickier. I started by practicing my butt welding technique on one of the old wheelarch panels.

That went ok, so I started on the bonnet cracks. The metal is thin here so I took it slow and set the welder on the lowest power setting. It's important not to distort the panel when welding stuff like this so I used short bursts of welding and a thicker piece of metal behind to stop the panel getting too hot. I'm pleased to say it worked a treat and, after grinding it back, you can't even see the welds.

I also bought myself a new toy this month! Machine Mart sent me an invite to a VAT free day and I used the opportunity to snap up a pillar drill. It's not the most top quality tool in the world but, for £50, I can't complain!