I raised the body off the garage floor using straps tied to the garage beams, and then I rolled the chassis out of the garage and under the suspended body. Before it would fit together I had to remove the steering column and wheel. I also had to install an extra ground wire on the tank sender. With the body and chassis reunited I reinstalled the steering column and wheel. It looks like a car again.
I dragged the Riley doors from deep storage in the basement and bolted them on the body. Now the fun of shimming the body mounts to get the doors to fit can begin. Ok it was fun for about 5 minuets, nothing fits and its giving me the fits.
Yesterday I was working on the left side of the Riley and improved the fit of the doors but a large gap remains where the front door meets the scuttle panel. Today I moved to the right side of the car. Before I started work today I reviewed the Riley Forum posts relating to door fit. Using my newfound knowledge things went smoother and I was able to shim the body mounts and the door hinges to get good gaps everywhere except the lower rear portion of the rear door. The new metal I welded in all those months ago is slightly off. Looking across the car I noticed the left side wooden sill was bowed down in the area of the B post. Yesterday to get things to line up I removed all the packing on the left B post mount. Out came the measuring tape and confirmed I welded the new B post bracket to the post too high by about an inch. I cut the bracket away from the post and welded it lower.
Still working on the left side. Still giving me trouble. I have moved shims and packing, slid the B post forward and back and was able to get door door gaps everywhere except between the doors. This gap is about 1/8 inch too wide. I must have made this side too wide when I was doing all my wood renovation. I think I may add metal to the front edge of the rear door to solve this problem. First I think I will see if any one on the Forum has a magical solution.
Spent today finalizing the fit of the doors. To fix the problem on the right rear I pounded the bodywork forward with a block of wood and a hammer to get the gap to a more reasonable size. Of course I cracked some filler and had to grind this area and reapply some more. I want to be able to remove the doors without taking the door cards and trim off. I welded some nuts to large washers for the lower door hinge bolts I nailed the washers to the door wood now when I remove the hinge bolts the nut will stay in place. Sometimes when things are not going well its good to change to a small project you can finish successfully. No one on the Forum had any magic answers for the left side being slightly too large. I decided to attempt to pull the front of the Riley closer to the rear with a cable ratchet come along. I fixed one end on the A pillar body mount and the other on the C pillar. After much cranking and straining I was not able to close the gap at all. I like to think this proves what a great job I did on the structural repairs to the body. Figuring this was as good as it was going to get I bolted all the body mounts down permanently. FYI, I used plastic decking cut to the correct thickness on the table saw for the packing. I plan to install 3-point seatbelts in the front of the Riley and now seemed like a good time to weld the upper fixing point to the B post. I used a ½ inch grade 8 nut and Tig welded it opposite the upper hinge. Next wings and bonnet.
Today I thought I would line up the bonnet half’s and attach the bonnet hinges to see if everything was ok to paint. It did not go well. The wings did not fit well on the radiator shell sides and the bonnet sides had gaps where they shouldn’t and no gaps where they should. The radiator shell seemed to need to move to the right to get things in line.
On the left side the top of the scuttle panel was to far toward the centerline of the car giving the side a kinked appearance. I struggled to solve these problems by shifting things around. No improvement. A frustrating day.
I started from scratch today and took everything off the Riley. First I made sure the car was sitting level, it wasn’t. Next I used a laser level to sight from the front of the car to the back to ensure the radiator was on the centerline of the body. The fenders (wings) were reinstalled and I used a level and measuring tape to verify they were the same height. The radiator still had to shift to the right slightly to solve the bonnet alignment problem. I was able move the radiator by a combination of sliding it in its mounting holes and tightening one mount more than the other. Thus tilting it ever so slightly. I know what your thinking, this guy has got the body crooked on the frame. Well sometimes I am slow, this just occurred to me while I was typing. I’ll check tomorrow. Now that the bonnet tops were fitting well I had to deal with the scuttle panel bonnet side problem. The intersection of the bonnet side and the scuttle was about ¼ inch inside of the line of the bonnet top. Now lest you think I am some sort of perfectionist I was considering leaving it this way. (you can’t see it from the drivers side) However the right side fit perfectly and it seemed a shame not to attempt some improvement to the left. Out came the nails and screws from the leading edge of the scuttle panel and I carefully pried the metal away from the wood frame. I inserted some thin ash strips between the wood and the metal and used polyurethane adhesive to keep everything together and squeak free. Now the left side looks as good as the right. I think the lesson here is to attach the wings and the bonnet (and the doors for that matter) before finalizing any repairs to the body. The end of the day saw me fitting a tie rod between the front wings. This pulls the wings together against the radiator shell. The rod passes through the radiator shell but does not attach to it. In the past some one had bolted the wings directly to the shell causing the shell to distort in this area. I have to fix this before having the radiator shell chrome plated. All and all a good day.
P.S. we had an early snowstorm and are with out power and Internet. Trees and wires are down everywhere it will probably be five or six days before service is restored. This will delay Riley progress and updates to the web site.