Matt tackles his biggest TR6 repair assignment yet
Have you ever put off doing something for so long, only to find that when you finally took the plunge, the task wasn’t anywhere near as scary as you’d inadvertently built it up to be? Well, after putting it off for months, the sill replacement process on my TR turned out to be a bit like that. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the climax of my previous Staff Car Saga (PC, October 2018) Projects Editor Matt Tomkins and I had removed the doors and fitted a jig to brace the body, meaning it was finally ready to have the rotten outer sills extracted. Starting on the passenger side, I sanded the top edge of the panel with some abrasive paper to expose the factory spot welds, before drilling out each weld (of which there were plenty) with a spot weld miller mounted in a cordless drill. Having taken care to only drill through the outer sill panel and leave the inner intact, I could then get a slimline chisel into the gap and gradually separate the two sill panels.
Next, it was out with the angle grinder and thin cutting disc, in order to make a cut along the top edge of the sill up against the inner wheelarch at the A- and B-post ends. The brazed joint at the bottom of the A- and B-posts was also split. Once done, it was possible to fold the outer sill outwards and slice it away just above the level of the spot welds to the floorpan return, meaning the crusty outer sill could finally be binned off. The inner sill and floorpan return were cleaned up and treated to a coat of Rustbuster fe-123 Molecular Rust Converter, then once that had dried, some brushable weld-through primer.
I’d bought a pair of replacement outer sills from TRGB months ago… said to be the best quality versions currently available, they looked the business. However, given the fact that we’d elected to leave the bottoms of the A- and B-posts in situ rather than chopping them out for access, the repair panels would need to be trimmed and tweaked slightly before they could go on. This was because the top of the outer sill was originally sandwiched between the edge of the floorpan and the A-/b-posts, whereas we wanted to ‘relieve’ the top edge so it could fit around/be seam welded to the bottoms of the pillars… cutting away perfectly solid metal for the sake of it just wasn’t a very appealing prospect.
After teasing the panel into position and satisfying ourselves with the fit, I drilled a series of holes along the top and bottom lips to allow the panel to be plug welded into place, then cleaned and painted them with weld-through primer. Finally, it was time to bust out the welder!
We’ve recently taken delivery of a Telwin Maxima 230 welder in the PC workshop and Tomkins had been raving about how good it is. With the modified outer sill clamped into position,
I saw first hand just how right he was… the new panel went in like a dream. Matt worked his way along the top lip to start with, alternating his plug welds to minimise distortion. Next, we used a trolley jack with a block of wood on the saddle to squeeze the lower sill lip up to sit against the floorpan return edge – another top tip I’d picked up and one that ensured the top face of the sill went in with the correct downward angle rather than being parallel to the floor.
Not half bad
Once the lower sill lip had been welded to the floorpan, the plug welds were cleaned up, before the whole panel received a coat of primer to stop it from starting to rust while the other side is repaired. The seam welds around the A- and B-posts will need dressing further and possibly a light skim of filler before paint but, all things considered, I’m delighted with the results.
It must be said that the replacement sill panel was indeed excellent. As Tomkins said with glee: ‘It makes a change to be working with nice clean metal, plus a decent welder makes such a difference, too. A great result!’ We’ve also been indebted to the car cradle supplied by CJ Autos, which has meant the TR can be manouevred around the workshop with ease.
After a lean couple of months without tangible progress, it felt great to crack on and succeed with such a big job. Next up: the driver’s side sill.
Outer sill was completely rotten and had to be cut off in the end.
Integrity regained… Matt is chuffed with the result.
Trusty fe-123 Rust Converter sorted the sill internals.
Panel in and ready to have the welds ground back.