©By: John T. Blair (WA4OHZ)
1133 Chatmoss Dr., Va. Beach, Va. 23464; (757) 495-8229
Originally written: Circa 1994
Last update: June 11, 2009 - Redid page formatting
In a previous article, I discussed reassembling the wooden subframe and checking that the body panels basically fit. Once I had it assembled, I was able to drill the mounting holes in the chassis. At that time, I had finished epoxying the parts and had to get them to fit again. After a little cleaning of the epoxy from the corners, where it tended to sag and form fillets, the wooden parts were fitted together. This was where the article left off. Since then, I have disassembled and painted all the wooden parts and painted all of the metal body parts.
Now it is time to start putting the skin back on the wood. This should be a fairly easy task, I thought. It turned out to be more of a chore than I imagined. Before I start describing how I did it, let me pass along a couple of tips I discovered too late in the game.
To make the wedge cut in the channel, we used a table saw. However, a table saw cuts a constant depth and we needed to cut a wedge. Therefore, we would have to jack the wooden mounting block up at the front to prevent it from being cut. To jack the mounting block up, we installed some small wood screws every 3", starting at the rear of the mounting block, on both sides of the channel. The screws at the rear were screwed all the way in (the deepest part of the cut). While the screws at the front were screwed in until their head was 1/4" higher than the rear screws. Now a straight edge was placed on the screw heads as a guide for adjusting the rest of the screws.
Next, the height of the blade on the table saw had to be set. The saw blade was adjusted until it just barely touched the front of the mounting block (where we did not want to cut away any of the wood). To cut the entire width of the channel, several cuts were required. Between each cut, the rip fence was moved 1/8". When the entire channel had been cut, a chisel was used to clean up the small irregularities. After this modification to each mounting block, the fender arches were reassembled and set on the chassis. Both mounting blocks fit quite nicely now. At this point I should mention that we decided to modify the rear-most wooden cross-member that attaches to the two rear mounting blocks. Originally the cross-brace was screwed to the two mounting blocks (forming a U) from the top, before they were attached to the inner fender panels. This U was very fragile and had to be removed from the fender panels before it could be disassembled. While the rear fender arches were off the car, the rear mounting blocks were screwed in place. The cross-brace was set in place, and mounting holes were drilled from the bottom! Now all the cross-bracing could be installed after the fender arches were set on the chassis.
Those problems solved, it was time to move on to fitting the driver's side quarter panel. We started by holding the quarter panel to the fender arch, and fitting the panel at the lower back edge (where it makes a 90 deg. turn to start up the fender arch). The elbow stuck out 1/8" beyond the quarter panel at the striker plate and about 1/16" across the top of the elbow. We unscrewed the elbow from the sill plate and knocked it out of the notch. It sprang back the 1/8" inch we needed. Apparently, I had the sill plates 1/8" too long (probably because of the epoxy and paint). I had used the original mounting holes in the fender arch to mount the elbow and the stiffener that attaches to the elbow and the fender arches. When everything was screwed together, the elbow was pulled forward 1/8" to fit in the notch of the sill plate. However, now it would not fit into the notch. Instead of opening the notch in the sill plate, we chiseled a notch in the rear of the lower part of the elbow. To lower the top of the elbow, we sanded the curved part of the elbow, where it meets the fender arch.
To be sure we hadn't messed up the door frame, we mounted the doors, the latch and the striker plate. Everything still fit. The gap that was left in the notch in the sill plate was filled by gluing a couple of popsicle sticks together and gluing them in place. Now the front part of the quarter panel, that goes forward under the door, did not fit. In working the panel to fit the elbow and fender arch, the front had rocked down 1/16". To fix this, we sanded the top of the lower door frame down with a drum sander in a drill. Once the panel fit on to the door frame and the sill plate, we used a belt sander to smooth the entire width of the door frame. This process was repeated on the passenger side. To finish the job, a thin layer of epoxy was brushed on the bare wood and then I touched up the paint. Nothing works like a little friendly persuasion!
Next the rear deck was set in place. The rear of the deck (where it wraps around the rear cross-brace) was pressed forward to seat on the rear cross-brace. Then the deck was clamped to the fender arches by placing a paint stirrer on top of the deck and under the fender arch and holding everything in place with a 4" C clamp. Next the top rear cross-brace was set in place. The rear deck was about 1/4" in front of this brace. To fix this, the cross-brace was set up on the elbows and pulled forward to meet the front of the deck. Using an awl, a line was marked on the elbows. The deck was removed, and 1/4" was carefully sawed off the back of the elbows. After plugging the old mounting holes, new ones were drilled and the brace was screwed into place.
Before the cowl over the dash board can be installed, the little
triangular pieces that go between the sill plate and the lower door frame
must be in place. Actually, I goofed. These triangular pieces should have
been put on before the firewall was installed. Originally, there were 2
nails that held the front of these pieces to the wooden firewall frame.
The bottom screw in the firewall also holds it in place. Since my firewall
was already in place, I just let the one screw hold the triangular piece in
place at the front. The only problem I had fitting the cowl was getting it
over the outer support for the dash (this also forms the upper part of the
door frame). I got one side in place, then really had to pull on the cowl
to get it over the other side of the framing. Once that was done, the cowl
fit quite nicely.
Enjoy your Morgan
Continue on to Installing the Skin (Part 2)
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