Metal Finishing and Lead Work
Not all the vehicles that come to ARC are complete projects. I also act as a subcontractor for other restorers who do not have the time, manpower or expertise to do certain phases of a restoration project. An example is this 1953 Jaguar XK120 SE Fixed Head Coupe, an in-process concourse restoration. The body arrived after being acid dipped with etch primer applied to protect the bare metal. Special metal repairing techniques and body work were requested and all the factory seams were to be re-leaded.
Metal is heated during the processes of both welding and applying lead, so stretching of the metal can occur, necessitating shrinking of the metal to restore it’s shape and tension.
Heating small area with torch
Area heated to red hot
Therefore, before re-leading of the seams can begin, corrections were made to the factory seams by heat shrinking using an oxyacetylene torch. The area about the size of a quarter is heated until it is red hot, a body hammer is used to tap lightly on the top with a dolly held underneath the area from below.
Tapping with hammer & dolly
Then the area is cooled with compressed air. A limited number of repetitions are performed until the panel is restored to the desired shape. Air is used rather than water for cooling to avoid corrosion problems later.
Cooling with air.
Lead & Metal Finishing
Factory seams are cleaned with abrasive discs in preparation for tinning, the first step in leading.
Welds clean & ready for tinning.
Tinning compound is applied with a torch and then the lead is also heated and applied using various shapes and sizes of waxed maple paddles. The lead is paddled and smoothed into place to build up a sufficient amount of material to repair the area being worked.
Close up viewed from side with lead in place.
Shaping and grinding is done using hand tools, such as a variety of vixen files, as well as air and electric tools to achieve the desired shape. The area is sanded smooth and a coat of a special metal etching primer is applied.
Grinding of lead to shape.
Close up of finished filing to shape and grinding.
First coat of primer to seal the bare metal.
Previous repairs to the front lower wing connect panel as well as the rear body panel had been done, distorting the shape and making the metal very thin.
The boot lid, bonnet, and both doors of this vehicle are aluminium and specific techniques using special welding rods and flux with an oxyacetylene torch were required to effect repairs to these panels, with special care being taken not to damage the wooden inner structure.
After all the repairs are completed, a high build urethane primer is applied and the vehicle is hand block sanded using a series of different grits of sand paper, finishing with 500 grit for the smoothest finish possible before it is ready for painting.
Entire body in primer.
The final sealer is tinted (green in this case) and mixed to achieve a shine. This provides contrast which reveals any slight imperfections and also makes it easier to cover with the British Racing Green planned for this vehicle.
Body with tinted primer.
At this point, this vehicle went back to the restorer who wants to complete the concourse restoration himself.