Restoring the Chassis

This section covers the renovation of the bare chassis

Contents

Section A : Preparing the Chassis  
Section B : Cleaning the chassis  
Section C : Templates  
Section D : Repairing the Chassis
Section E : Sand blasting the Chassis
Section F : Painting the Chassis
 

A. - Preparing the Chassis 

 

Starting Point

The work carried out so far has left the chassis bare and ready for work to commence on restoring it to as new a condition as possible.

Start by preparing the area in which you will be cleaning the chassis in.

This needs to be well lit and free from any trip hazards. Protect the floor using a disposable plastic sheet to keep the floor from taking the brunt of the oily road deposits that will be coming off. The cheap decorators sheets from Wilko's are ideal.

Chassis Cradle

The chassis itself needs to be moved around to access all the nooks and crannies, and believe me there are plenty of those around!

The best solution for this is to mount the chassis on a chassis roller or do what I did and build some Dexion stands. These stands allow the chassis to be rotated 360deg. and you will be able to work most of the time at waist to shoulder height, making the job quicker and more comfortable.

Here are the stands I made :

Dexion stands for the chassis

 

Rotating the Chassis

When rotating the chassis round, a short length of Dexion is used to hold it the desired position. Rotation can be done by one person, providing the chassis is well balanced on the supports.

Some timber work is needed to support the rear end of the chassis if the rear armature has not been removed, G-Cramps ensure that the chassis does not slip when being turned over.

The mounting of the front end is straight forward, as this just utilises some angle brackets crafted from the Dexion bolted into the front armature mounting holes.

Chassis ready to clean down

Chassis on 'rotators'


 

B. - Cleaning the Chassis 

 

First Clean Down

Clean off the majority of the loose materials using scrapers, old screwdrivers/chisels, wire brush etc. Do this over newspaper and when most of the bits are removed throw the paper and the bits away, as they are extremely messy, stick to your boots!

Start by having the chassis in one of position other than “normal”, work on the resultant top horizontal and 2 vertical surfaces, rotate the chassis 90 degrees and repeat, doing this means that at each stage there will be less and less work to do at each position. Aim to finish off by having the chassis flat again.

Remove and store any of the rubber chassis bungs as you take them off the chassis.

Rotating the chassis over and over as you do this will allow the accumulated crud to drop to the floor,  and easy access is gained to areas like inside the centre tunnel etc.

Clean up the floor and protect it again with fresh newspaper etc.

You will be pleasantly surprised how much better the chassis looks when you have done this.

Second Clean Down

Repeat this ‘four stage’ clean off again, this time really concentrating on all the little corners and hard to reach areas.

Don’t bother too much with the areas that are going to be replaced (sills etc).

Inner sills

You’ll  be amazed as to how many little holes, access points and gaps there are in the chassis as you do this. Make a mental note of these because this is here the Waxoyl will be injected into later!

Sill rot

View looking at the Front LH Suspension area

The chassis may need to be degreased in certain areas like the centre tunnel and engine cross members. Do this by coating in a suitable degreasing agent (observing all the relevant Health and Safety requirements laid down by the manufacturers) and leave it to do its magic for a while. Clean off the oil using rags etc and then repeat if necessary.

Final Clean Down

Using an airline and blow off tool, run over all of the chassis cleaning out all of the bits that are left lurking inside the box sections, corners etc… Use a small screwdriver or similar tool to pick out any hard to budge bits. 

Please make sure you wear goggles when you do this, as the bits will fly everywhere.

When these steps are complete then the chassis, although looking sad for itself, is ready to be repaired.

 


 

C. - Templates

 

Seat Templates

To ensure the seat holes are kept in the same position when replacing the sill assemblies you will need to make up some templates which locate against the centre tunnel arnd are then drilled through from the original seats holes.

Seat Template -  if you are lucky one will do both sides.

I used 15mm melamine to make mine from. The above photo shows the template.

 


 

D. - Repairing The Chassis

 

The Repairs

This section proved the most difficult to document. This was mainly due to :

The chassis has gone away for repair and is therefore the work being done is not apparent and is therefore difficult to document properly. 

I had prepared some notes and sketches to help the fabricator with the repairs and to illustrate a few modifications and improvements I wanted to incorporate.

Although not much work had been done to the main assembly, lots of parts have been manufactured in the workshop, and this should speed up the work when it commences in earnest.

In the last two weeks of February work has been progressing well and the back end of the chassis now has some new section as seen below:



The outer corners of these members now have different style brackets allowing the remainder of the rear armature to be lined up with the body panels better. The whole of the backend of the car was out of square by about ½”.

Most of the back end is new due to the fact that the original sections were either too badly corroded or twisted out of shape. We used slightly thicker steel than Reliant used to help with strength and corrosion resistance.

The rear wing, bumper and boot liner will be taken down to the fabricators to help line up all the parts before welding them to the chassis.

The new sills (bought from Queensbury Road Garage) have been tacked in place together with the strengthening and repairing of the front outriggers. Here are some images of this work on the sills:

Can anyone spot the mistake on these pictures???

Look closely at the holes in the sills!

Yep, they're on back to front! - Cock-up by the fabricator's mate!

A known weak point on the early SS1 chassis’s was the front mounting point for the differential. As you can see from the pictures below when my ‘Reliant repair plates’ were removed the actual original mounting point was none existent:


The green area is the missing metal!

This is being replaced with a much thicker plate, which will be welded directly back onto the chassis rails in place of the original item.

The next steps in the process are to work from the back of the chassis to the front repairing all of the areas that are damaged or corroded. The chassis has been marked with lettered stickers that correspond with the pack of notes to help locate the problem areas.

The templates I made when stripping the car down will then be used to put the A-posts back into the correct position.

The front suspension bump stop tube have been cut off and replaced with new ones. These incorporate a better method for holding in the rubber bump stops, see below:

New tube welded in place Bump stop tube after chassis had been finished

Ensure that you measure the final position of the existing bump stop before cutting off the tubes and creating new ones. Using the method shown in this sketch will mean that the tubs are somewhat shorter than the originals.

 


 

E. - Sand Blasting The Chassis

 

Preparation

When the chassis is back from the fabricators it will be re-mounted onto the Dexion A-Frames for ease of access and any cosmetic items will be addressed before sandblasting and painting with the Epoxy Mastic paint system detailed below. This should hopefully extend the life of the chassis for another ten years.

 Whilst the chassis is being blasted and painted I will take plenty of photographs not only for this site, but also to show the MOT man when the car goes to collect its first ‘ticket’. This to prevent the tester from prodding about too much on the refurbished chassis, “Old car – bound to be rusty”……

 

The chassis was sandblasted by Faircharm Restorations of Leicester.

The blasting operation found some more areas that needed repairing and also some welds that were not too good.

With these bad areas rectified the chassis was then re-blasted and was then painted as detailed in the next section

 


 

F. - Painting The Chassis

 

Preparation

I choose light grey for the chassis colour. This will help in spotting any problems later in the car's life. I also looks quite good too and is a break from the normal black!

A tie coat of etch primer was first applied to prevent the blasted chassis from rusting, something it would start doing on a normal (not even damp) day in a few hours.

 

The chassis was painted with a two-pack system, here is the chassis ready for painting:

Shane painting the chassis:

The finished chassis waiting for collection:

Note the gloss black sills, next time (!) I'll have the 'A' & 'B' posts done in black as well.

This concludes restoring the chassis.

The next section deals with the restoration of some of the other parts.