The Fairwater Collection !

An MGBGTV8 Sebring and some interesting Land Rover conversions.
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MG Page 5. Turning the corner. Refinishing the underside starts. Middle of August to October.

It is now 18th August 2008, in the middle of the monsoon season, and it is four months since the MG came off the road for a starter motor change!  As you may have seen, one thing led to another and here we are with the shell on its side on a spit, having had the underside stripped of underseal and gunge, its middle crossmember cut off and autumn fast approaching.

There are still a few jobs to do before re-finishing the underside, which is the only realistic target before winter hibernation, so firstly, a look at a few little mods. 

The tunnel mod necessary to fit the LT77 gearbox has already been done as has previously been described.

It was now decided to centralise the fuel tank, for eventual fitting of  a twin exhaust system, one each side.

Measuring up, new fixing holes were drilled 70mm offset from the originals.  Additionally to this, the filler hole in the boot floor had to be relocated a similar amount.  Rather than cut out and relocate the original one, which was actually not in very good condition, having had rusting away on a part of the inner flange, I decided I would rather install another separate one additional to the existing one, which would stay in place, plated over.  It is always in my mind that originality ought not to be compromised too much if possible, and so this seemed to be the solution which would facilitate original position relocation easily if desired in the future.  Consequently the new sections were to be rivetted on rather than welded in.  The original hole could not be kept totally intact because the new one did not quite clear its width, and of course, a section of floor adjacent had to be cut out to accept the new hole.  This section impinged slightly on the original hole, but the cut out section can easily be refitted, having been taken out neatly with the trusty sabre saw. 

The new hole was actually the only useable piece of a whole scrap MG which was previously cut up, and this was quite useful as it happens!  It is saying something about that donor car that this hole was the only useable part of the whole vehicle!  It really was in a state.

Here we see the new hole and blanking piece held in position for hole drilling.  It will not be fixed until all parts and the shell are properly treated and painted first, for ultimate preservation. I am not having any bits of bare steel left hiding away un-coated.


It came to my notice a while back, by courtesy of a Workshop Note of the MG Car Club V8 Register, brought to my attention by the Registrar and Webmaster, Victor Smith, that it was possible to fit, with some jiggery pokery, a decent sized modern 12V sealed battery in one of the 6V cages.  This had not been possible prior to the advent of the sealed battery, due to the need to tip it up on end to get it down through the hole inside, but once through, there is ample length in the cage to turn it the right way round.  The facilitation of this required that the front angled bracket in the bottom of the cage had to be bent horizontal, to take the longer battery.  While mine was on its side, I decided that I would do it slightly differently.

I drilled out the spot welds on the front angled pieces in order to relocate them forwards.  Replacement will be by rivets, after painting of all the components.  The amount of rust underneath the spotwelded parts was remarkable and makes one wonder what is lurking elsewhere under spot welded joints.  Having said this, after 34 years, it was still only surface rust, so things can't be too bad.

Below shows the spotwelds drilled out and the angles removed for relocation.  I have done both sides as to date I have not decided which side to put the new battery.  On the off side, it would foul the original petrol pump, but as an efi pump is in order, this may not be an issue.  Still, whichever side is not used can be converted to a storage box.

(17th August 2008. One nice day after another week of solid rain and inaction, and with yet another week of rain forecasted.)


At this stage it was decided to treat the insides of the box sections.  The reason for doing this now was partly due to the wish to utilise the luxury of being able to see down the front chassis box sections, due to the crossmember being still off.  This would give confidence that coverage was adequate.  It seems to be current thinking that before wax injection into sections which may have surface rust on their insides, one should first spray inside with rust converter.  This is a water based milky substance which seems to convert rust into an inert polymer compound, (if you would  believe the hype), which does not need washing off or other prepping before painting over.  This seems ideal for injection into such places, so this was done.  I had bought a one litre tin of Rustbuster Fe 123, which I was assured would do the car; injection into sections and painting onto surface rust.  Of course, it depends on how much surface rust you have!  I found that one litre was barely enough.  The problem is that when you spray into box sections, to give good coverage from the spray lance, you will inevitably spray in too much, and it doesn't go far.  You need to do this though to minimise missing bits.  It doesn't exactly dry too quickly in the box sections either, but after a few days I think it is ok to spray in the Dinitrol.  Looking into the ends of the chassis legs, it all looks nice and black inside, although the pics do show a couple of missed spots which were picked up later.

Using the rust converter on surface rust is another matter, because presumably, like me, you would want to overpaint it afterwards.  This should not be a problem, and it isn't if you keep it to the rusty bits.  It is a problem though if you splash it around with the brush, onto the clean steel around the edges of the surface rust patches, or indeed onto the clean paint.  The problem is that it only adheres to the rusty bits, and as you are not going to be putting in on with that sort of accuracy, you will inevitably have to get out the drill mounted wire brush or poly wheel again, and strip it all off so you don't over paint it.  This I found to be a big nuisance as you have to make sure there isn't any left which is going to spoil your paint adhesion.  Wire brushing or poly wheeling will bring much of the converter off, from areas of light surface rust too, and these may end up bright metal as a result. Not much wrong with that really, except that it is annoying to have to brush over the whole lot yet again.  I can only hope that the end result is worthwhile and lasts as it is supposed to.

After the rust converter application, and its removal again, came a reasonably quick, ( stop as much flash rusting as possible), over coating with Bonda Rust Primer, which is reported to be an excellent rust primer with exceptional adhesion and providing an ideal base primer for top coats too.  It has its own internal rust control system in the formula.  It is a delight to apply with a one inch brush, leaving virtually no brush marks and giving excellent coverage.


Bottles of Rust Converter.

Box section below shows reasonable coverage.  (25th August 2008, after another week of rain).


The other one showed missed areas, and was resprayed.


Below shows the floor pan after application of rust converter and brushing most of it off again.  Note that where the crossmember is to go, the rust converter has been peeled off from the bright steel, and left for the picture.  This was subsequently removed too.


This close up shows graphically why you do not apply rust converter to bright steel areas.  It does not have any adhesion at all and has to be removed from steel and painted areas.


Good stuff,  Bonda Primer.  It took half an hour to stir up all the zinc deposit in the bottom of the can.


At last the corner is turned and one begins to see the fruit of one's labour.  An enjoyable bit at last, after all the strife.

(25th August 2008, in a little dry spell for the afternoon.  It started drizzling later in the day, and the forecast is again rain and drizzle all the week.)


The next time it was dry was the weekend of 30th August, which was when the crossmember was welded on and the rest of the underside primed with Bonda.  Luckily the whole weekend was dry, there only being a tendency to go off later on Sunday, and one had to keep an eye on the sky.  The week following this was solid torrential rain and high winds.

It was decided not to fit jacking points to the ends of the crossmember, as it is highly unlikely that an original jack will be used again, and the car looks much better without bits of tube welded to the undersides.

Sunday 7th September was the next dry day, (just about), and a tenacious uncovering of the rear end was undertaken to take a look at the rear valance cut outs for the exhausts.  It had been decided that twin systems would be installed, and the tank mounts had already been moved.  A new cut out the same as the original was made the other side, by taking out a small cut followed by swaging over with mole grips.  The original cut out was cut out completely and moved sideways.  This was so that this cut out would not be cut in half and filled in, as it would need to be if left in situ.  It is being replaced in its new position, 40mm sideways, by rivets, which will be seam sealed on the inside, after full painting, and filled over on the outside.

The new one, below.

The old one set up in its new position, below.



Moving the tank means cutting into the exhaust bracket too.  In my case an RV8 tank is going back on, so it will be spaced out from the floor by an inch, meaning that  most of the bracket can stay put, as below.


Before doing anything else, a break in the weather allowed me to finish off the priming of the underneath, and also to finish prepping the engine bay.  Full circle to what the original intention was; sprucing up the engine bay!

17th September 2008.

Oh, and by now I had obtained a 9m x 3m marquee in anticipation of the car being outside all the winter and the thought that if the tent lasts that long, I might be able to do some work in the evenings in relative shelter and also keep the condensation down on the vehicle.  Note the strip light on a tripod behind the bonnet for the long winter nights.

While waiting for the paint to go off, a little diversion was made with some black chassis paint.  This found its way first onto the top of the petrol tank, as below.  This stuff is brilliant, goes on as thick as you like, seems to last over badly prepared surfaces, (the SIIB Land Rover chassis was only hand wire brushed quickly and not degreased very well mostly either, and the paint is still intact after eight years), and gives a high gloss finish. 

(A further note to this is that from experience I now believe that this chassis paint is a better product than Rustbuster's Epoxy Mastic.  This is on the evidence of a friend who has used the latter on a Midget rebuild, and found that the EM has been flaking off.  This stuff doesn't!)

20th September.

21st September. It took a day and a half to clean up the axle to a paintable standard.  Another half a day and it looked like this.  Springs were next to be cleaned up with wire brushes and petrol.

Below illustrates how the U shackles and bump stop turrett have caused rusting of the axle tube and quite a bit of degrading of its thickness.


Last glimpse before the top coat......  (27th September 2008)

Much thought had been put into what to use as a finish for the underside. It was considered that plastering the underneath with gunge again after so much effort was put into removing so much before, was not the way to go.  Even if it was, it would have to be applied over the top of a painted surface anyway, as underseal or Dinitrol wax shouldn't be put on over unpainted surfaces in any case, if it is to protect properly.  Therefore a body colour paint system would be used, and this would be good enough to not require over waxing.  In this case it would have to be a tougher than normal paint finish.

Much head scratching and web searching had previously led to Rustbuster's web site, which is where the Fe123 came in, as we have seen.  Rustbuster also do an Epoxy Mastic paint which is supposedly an exceptionally high bonding flexible and almost  unremovable coating.  This seemed the way to go, but further searching found Shepherd Marine's website. 

Shepherd Marine sell Jotun paint products.  There is a wide variety of Epoxy Mastic paints available from Jotun.  They are cheaper too.  Jotun make various priming and finishing epoxy paints and it is these systems which are used on the hull of the Queen Mary.  It ought to be good then. 

It was initially thought that priming in Jotamastic 87 Aluminium followed by Hardtop Flexi would be the way to go.  My friend mentioned above sprayed his Midget with the Aluminium over bare metal, followed by the HF.  However he reported some flaking off  under impact.  I can't offer any explanation of this, except perhaps that he thought he'd put it on a bit thickly with the sprayer.  However where he had used Bonda primer first and just HF over this, he considered that the results were better.  This was my reasoning behind Bonda Primer-ing the whole underside and engine bay with a view to applying Hardtop Flexi over this.  HF is also available in a great many colours too, which is another great advantage to it.


Here we go then....  It won't end here though, as we shall see.   

The colour is BS 12 E 51 Pale Lime.  Only BS and RAL numbers are available, but this should be fine.  It's a shade brighter than Citron, but it isn't a bad match, and in any case, this won't matter underneath for one thing, especially when it gets a bit dusty, and for another, I just might to the whole car in this brighter colour!


Here we are, after a full day's work. (27th September 2008)


This is one coat.  It has exceptional coverage.  This is one brushed out coat of light yellow over dark red!  Yes, after trying it out, I decided to brush it, and it looks very nice, levelling out well.

After finishing the first coat, seam sealer was applied to all those places where ingress of water and dirt can again start to play havoc.  Bearing in mind there is not think gunk all over the bottom now, the edges of some of the seams can be vulnerable and sealing them up and again overpainting them is a good idea.

5th October 2008.

And so, by 11th October, the second coat application is nearly finished all over underneath; apart from the engine bay which has not been looked at yet, and also those bits like the nearside wheel arches which will be easier to do once the vehicle is level again.