In 2003 I finally finished restoring a '74 Spitfire 1500. For about 8 years my garage has looked like this:
The bonnet for the work-in-progress 1500 is standing in the upper left corner. The newly painted chassis was hanging from the rafters, (well, it is in a hangar isn't it?) until recently. And in the upper right is the undercoated body tub - which for the past 3 years hung from the ceiling.
In the lower right is the driveable 1971 MK IV, next to a badly rusted 1974 1500.
|Now that the tub has been 'un-hangared' and mounted on a dolly, it is almost ready to roll! I wish.||Now that looks more like a 'rolling chassis'.|
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|Now we're getting somewhere. Again the body was hung from the ceiling and the chassis rolled under it.||Final adjustment of the body mounting rubbers.|
|And now here it is in its Pageant Blue glory, next to big brother, Wendy's 1965 Series 2a Land Rover (my current restoration project!).|
This is a more flattering pic of my roadworthy 1971 MK IV,"Out standing in its field".
While searching for Spitfire bodies, I came across a junk yard in California with quite a selection.
Actually, to let you in on a secret, it was Arts Wrecking in Stockton, CA. I don't even know if it is still there.
Don't they look like they need to be taken home and looked after?
After choosing a couple of the least beaten-up, I loaded them on a U-Haul and headed north for Canada.
By declaring them with Canadian Customs as car bodies with commission numbers, I could restore and register them on Canadian roads.
Well, the differences are: Left a '62 Spitfire 4, in 1964. Right a '74 Spitfire 1500, in 1989.
Similarities? Same guy, same job 25 years later!
|On checking the interiors of the tail light assemblies, I found a common problem with the reflectors.|
|It seems the stop/tail lamp bulb overheats and melts the plastic insert. The reflective silver paint is also burnt off.
So I decided to make a spun aluminum insert to repair the reflective surface and prevent future 'meltdown'.
| When the melted plastic is smoothed down and filed out, the insert can be glued inside the plastic reflector.
This back view shows the hole in the plastic enlarged and the aluminum insert in the left reflector. The right reflector is standard undamaged.
|The finished tail light assembly with the repaired reflector on the left, the standard one on the right.|
|I have also built a new dash. Here is the old delaminated dash, the sawn Baltic birch plywood pieces and the cardboard template for the new one. The template is upsidedown because it will be traced on the back of the plywood.|
|And here is the newly veneered and varnished replacement. Cost of plywood was about $10 and veneer less than $30. So far there are 12 coats of Spar varnish on it.|
These templates for a '73 Spitfire 1500 dash lay-out are available full size on white cardstock for $10.00 a set. (That's $10US if you're in the states, or $10CAN if you're in Canada.) Unfortunately the cost of postage has risen dramatically in the past few years. Size and shape is the same for '71 MK IV up to '80 1500's. Only a few switches change size, shape and placement.
Here is a point-by-point Dash Building Instruction.
|-carbon paper||-pencil||-craft knife -sharp!|
|-stiff card||-drill bits||-burrs (milling bits)|
|-sanding drum||-countersink bit||-C-clamp & pads|
|-small nails||-hammer||-wet/dry sand paper|
|-bandsaw/scrollsaw/jigsaw||-drill press||-fine quality paint brush|
|-Dremel tool & router attachment - plus a modification of a pin projecting down to act as a pivot point|
|-Baltic Maple plywood, 3/8" thick||-paint|
|-hardwood veneer of your choice||-paint thinner|
|-Spar Varnish-matt or gloss||-contact cement or waterproof carpenter's glue|
-trace the old unit, with the wrong side up, onto the card
-measure and transfer the diameters and depth of recesses to the card
-note radiuses of corners, particularly inside corners of switch holes
-trace these drawings on the reverse side of the plywood. Use carbon paper where necessary.
-direction of the grain is not too important. For originality it is lengthwise of the dash.
-prick the centre of each drill hole and screw hole.
-cut out the dash boards with a bandsaw or jigsaw. If using a jigsaw work on the back
-cut just outside the pencil mark for safety.
-drum and (or belt sand) the edges to exact size. Sanding along rather than across the edge gives the best finish without chances of splintering the edge.
- flip the plywood over
- route hole, as above
- for the last cut, nail the centre plug to the workbench in 2 places with small nails.
- clamp the dash board to the bench also
- reset the router depth to remove the last web of wood. The waste plug nailed to the bench holds the router on centre.
a. Contact Cement
- spread cement thinly and evenly right to the edges on dashboard and veneer
- apply a second coat if it has soaked in too much
- align the dashboad and veneer along the longest edge
- lay them together carefully - use paper or dowel between to keep separate until ready to stick
- roll or pound the two pieces together
b. Waterproof Glue
- use only waterproof carpenter's glue - humidity can cause other glues to separate
- apply thoroughly to one piece, right to the edges.
- do not apply so thick that it will seep through the veneer
- make sure the glue does spread right to the edges
- wipe off excess at the edges
- clamp the two pieces between heavy boards to dry.
- keep the pieces aligned - watch out for slippage under pressure
- trim the excess glue and veneer close to the edge with a sharp craft knife
- drum sand the eges on a drill press - work veneer side down on paper
- cut out instrument and switch holes with a sharp knife
- drum sand the edges - veneer side down
- test instruments, switches and controls for fit
Fit mounting lugs, switches etc and install
|I had been experimenting making new External Door Handle Push Rods as an experiment. It worked very sucessfully.
At the top is the original nylon piece. It is slightly shorter because the end is broken off where the roll pin fits through. Below is the new door push rod made of Lexan .
The new push rod is round cross-section while the original is a "+" shape.
|These are the parts inside the Spitfire MK IV and 1500 external door handle. They are also the same as the late GT6. At the top is the replacement push rod, then the return spring, next the old broken push rod and the main mechanism.|
Note that the old push rod is held in place by a circlip, while the new one is held by a split (cotter) pin.
To contact us, please type the following into your email address
griffco AT griffco DOT ca
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