The MGA With An Attitude
Various TYPES and GRADES of Restoration - RT-102A

At 07:57 PM 1/2/2012 -0500, Allan Thompson wrote:
"I am wondering if anyone has a master-plan for a strip down to the frame and a full rebuild"?

Thinking about the other respondent's remarks about possibly not removing the body, this may go a little astray of your essential question. So the short answer to a very long explanation is, start reading here:

A lot depends on your final objective for restoration work. If you intend to do it on the cheap to have quicker gratification for a car that won't last as long, then bondo over the outer body sills and repaint the outside (and don't ever open the bonnet in public). Some people even paint it in assembly, including painting over the piping (which is a huge tactical mistake).

To go a little nicer you need to at least loosen the fender bolts enough to remove the piping while it get painted, and install new piping after painting. You also need to remove the engine long enough to clean up and paint the engine bay. Of course remove all exterior trim and lighting fixtures, and the windscreen assembly before painting the body. Also take enough time to clean and paint inside the wheel wells where it can be seen from outside.

Assuming the inner body sills are rusted out (and most of them are), and you intend to replace the failed metal, then you start by removing all fenders and doors (and bumpers and front valance panel and all lighting fixtures). If the frame is in good enough condition to be still rigid (which most of them are), then you can cut away rusted body sills and replace that body metal while the body remains on the frame to retain original alignment of the doors. Take the door off in the process, but mark all hinges and latch parts and any shims to be reinstalled in the original order. If you paint what is accessible and then reassemble it from there, then may be called a "body-on restoration". The problem here is that you never gain access to clean and paint surfaces that are between the body and frame, and you will never get to paint the inside of the body sills next to the frame. End result is, a car that either cannot be driven in the rain, or will be expected to rust out again in the not too distant future.

If you go as far as replacing and and all rusted sheet metal in the body sills and lower door posts, then you are not too far away from having body-off restoration. There are about two dozen bolts, the master cylinder, brake lines, heater, and half a day or so to remove the body from the frame. It only takes about one day to put the body properly back on the frame later. While the body is off, you have the opportunity to clean and paint the inboard sides of the body sills and everything else you can't get at with the body in situ. Having done that, you may have properly painted and "pickled" the car so it may last for decades more without rusting out again. And you can also drive it in the rain with some expectation that it will still be a whole car many years later rather than needing another complete restoration some time down the road.

The real kicker to the bottom line here is the final market value. Difference in final value between a body-on restoration and a body-off restoration may be around $10,000 (or more), and in general it does not cost that much to do this additional work. So for anyone going as far as replacing sheet metal in the body sills, it is a good economic proposition to R&R the body and do a full body-off restoration rather than short cutting it to save time.

You may realize there are substantial differences in cost and benefit between the first paragraph and the last. It is not necessarily a good idea to spend lots of money in places where it may have little return on the investment. If the car is in need of a full restoration (and some sheet metal replacement), then fresh paint and carpet alone might be a total waste of money, is it may all need to be done again a short time later as part of the full restoration. So it behooves you to do a good inspection and analysis of the car before you start, and decide very early on what work you will and will not do.

I love to tell people, if you buy an MGA that has never had a body-off restoration, you get to do it. Otherwise you will be passing on the restoration job to someone else in the near future, likely selling it for less than what you have invested.

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