In Jan - Mar this year I competed an evening class at Bolton College called Classic Car Restoration which was really good, allowed me to learn how to weld and also gave me some initial advice on other bodywork issues. Was a good laugh as there was 5 of us from the Mini Club I'm a part of there as well (Mini Club is Northern Monkeys Mini Club based nr Bolton).
Anyway once I'd "learnt" how to weld it was time to set up my Clarke 135 welder, get sum gas and start welding!
Drivers side flitch first bit to tackle. Use of spot weld drill and grinder helped to remove the flitch and expose lots of lovely rust between the panels. As my car is a 92, its not fantastically painted but thankfully not as bad as others I've seen! Generally I'm going to be able to replace panels and patch this car, I'm not going to need to cut whole sections out and risk it twisting etc. Anyway mmmm rust!
After a fair bit more cutting and grinding we got to this stage. Thankfully the A post is solid enough and wont need replacing. All areas that will have panels replaced on top of them (a post etc) have had Deox gel applied to them and then SAS zinc primer applied to provide some protection to the panels. The eagle eyed may have spotted that the floor is made up of more than one layer (floor pan, 2nd floor pan, oversill, random bit of steel). This is something I wasnt originally going to repair but I'm now taking a bit longer with the project and to the best of my ability i will be removing the floor panels and replacing how it should be.
Also at this point I hadnt cut too much off the flitch panel, but more of that later.
I didnt take any photos of inside the a post, but instead moved onto attaching the replacement flitch panel onto the car. On the A post the plug welds arent too bad but on the rest of the panel I struggled putting the holes in right place and also blew a lot of holes here and there. Moral of the story is to have as many clamps as possible of different sizes, and use cleco or skin pins and this will help line things and up and keep things tight.
Welds linished back and additional plug welds added, in terms of my welding ability now, my welds have come on a lot even from here.
At this point i decided that i needed to do more practice with my welder (essentially i sort of knew how to weld but needed to learn how to weld with my welder and with the correct gauge of metal). So i had a spare door skin lying about which i couldnt use as it was missing the stiffening panel. I cut many many slits in the panel and practiced my butt welding until i could happily butt weld on the mini,
Door skin cleaned up and slits cut
lots of practice later and Im starting to get the hang of it
Back on the mini, (please ignore the horrendous melty welds at the top, I soon learnt that more heat doesnt solve anything!). This photo does however show the problem i made for myself, I cut too much of the old flitch off (before the new panel was secure in place) and it left me with a very large gap much too large to weld across, doh! Note to self dont cut too much off!
To solve this problem I cut a very thin strip of metal and put it in the gap, butt welding down both sides of the metal. My inexperience and the need to weld twice is why the welding below looks a bit messy, but i wasnt blowing loads of holes so its not too bad!
As my car is just going to be a summer/weekend play thing Im not using the fresh air vents, hence you can see I've cut out the section of the replacement panel below.
First patch panels card templated, cut out and held in place with magnets while I tacked.
Patches welded in