Manky's Pop project. - Part 3

Day 3 –no, actually that’s not true. Part 3. Things have slowed down a little now, as we start to move away from the wildly hacking bits off stage & towards the “how we gonna put it all back together?” stage. So part 3’s spread over several weeks & involves lots of head-scratching, trying ideas out & generally faffing about.
We certainly didn't have an expert on our team -none of us had tried anything like this before, though Lunatic, Postie_Dave & I are all hotrod fans & have read numerous roof chopping articles in magazines over the years. It's a different matter when you're stood looking at your car with a grinder in your hand though. Maybe it was beginner's luck, or just ignorance of the potential pitfalls mixed with blind optimism, but it seemed to go really well. Touch wood. Maybe there's so many chopped Pops around cos they're so easy to do. All the magazines mention cutting the roof into 4 or 6 sections, leaning pillars backwards or forwards etc -not just cutting it & plonking it back in place again. Of course, we only had half a roof to do.
Even just leaning into the cab over the cat's cradle of bracing poles, I can feel it's gonna be quite claustrophobic to drive. Spread your fingers as wide as you can then hold them up in front of your face -that's the height of the screen I've got to peer through. Stick a large diameter steering wheel in there, windscreen wipers, rearview mirror, tax disc etc & suddenly there's not an awful lot of glass left.
PantherShaun’s also building a Pop pickup at the moment. He & I have both gone for 3 inch chops but it turns out my 3 inches is bigger than his! Team Panther measured theirs on the sloping front screen pillars while Team Manky went for the rear upright ones. So ours is a true 3 inches lower while theirs is something like 2 3/4. As Shaun said, it'll be interesting to compare them side by side.
I've got a brown bakalite dashboard from a Ford Prefect & a brown steering wheel, (possibly original Pop. Not sure). Could paint the dash I suppose. Providing they don't clash I think a black interior with the black paint would work best with just a hint of red -red piping on the door panels, rather than on the seats. If we're going with glossy black paint outside then the interior needs upgrading from tatty & well worn brown to much smarter black. I want to push on with the body at least, before the Winter weather gets here. Can't put a floor in it till we know what's happening with the chassis, but the final welding of the roof can be done, with the tops of the rear pillars being moved back to line up with the bottoms as we said previously. The sills can be repaired & fitted & the bottoms of the A posts repaired. Then the doors chopped & bolted back on. That'll keep us busy for a while!
So first job was to cut one of the rear door pillar tops off the roof & tack-weld it back in it's right position. Cutting into the guttering revealed acres of body filler -& very little metal. This rot will all have to be cut out & replaced with fresh sheet steel. A laborious process but worth it in the long run. I reckon by the time we've finished, the windscreen surround will be the only original bit left! I knew the filler was there when I bought the car -the gutters were literally filled up with the stuff, so had half planned to de-gutter it anyway. I chatted to Shaun & he tells me his is just as rotten as mine. Fortunately, with only half a body, we only need to do half as much remedial work. Frustrating cos I want to plough on & get the body finished, but obviously it's worth cutting out every last inch of rot & repairing it now, rather than having to do it later, when it's finished.
Not planning on fitting luxuries like a radio or heater. With Taz & I sat in that tiny cab in the Winter in thick sheepskin flying jackets it's gonna be very cosy. Definitely going for black paint now, rather than the green I'd originally planned. It just looks right. I want to do the interior in black too, with maybe red piping on the door panels to break it up a bit. The brown bakalite dashboard & brown steering wheel are going to clash with the black though. I could weld in a plain steel dash panel & spray it black -or I could paint the bakalite one. Seems sacriligeous to do it, but maybe worth doing for that very reason! Lunatic suggested doing it in candy or flake red so the bakalite patterning shows through it. Will probably put the brown steering wheel aside & go for a repro black one instead. Saw some nice 4 spoke vintage tractor ones at the Dorset steam fair a few months back. I've half wondered about panelling the whole interior in polished aluminium, but it'd be like sitting in a microwave oven in the Summer! Or maybe we could turn the finished body upside down & do the whole interior in bright red metalflake!
Back to the plot. We chopped the top off the doors & bolted them back in place. Once they've been tweaked a little to line up properly, we'll tack weld them in place so we can continue cutting out & repairing the gutter rot. Closer inspection of the doors shows they've both been repaired, one with a large amount of fibreglass -so that'll need sorting too. We've added a small patch at the back edge of each gutter just to hold everything in place, & will work our way forward from there. I folded a couple of short lengths of 20 gauge sheet to take the place of the buggered guttering & Loony tacked them in place. We'll inch our way along the gutter line, cutting out & tacking in, not fully welding anything until it's all had a final tweak to line it up perfectly.
I don't want to use body filler & Lunatic's keen to try some lead filling so that looks the way to go. The repair work's frustratingly slow -I wanna do the big stuff that makes it look like it's nearly finished! -but it's got to be done.
The rust appears to end halfway along the door tops, with the front section being pretty solid, which'll save us some work. We decided to re-install the top half of the door frame & build up the body to suit, rather than trying to make the door fit the hole we create. Dropping the door height by 3 inches means the frame has to move forward to line up again, leaving us a small section to fill in. Shouldn't be a major problem. The door's temporarily tacked to the body again to hold everything in position while we work on the guttering. We weren't sure how it'd look minus the gutter rail, but with some patient metal bashing by Loony it should have a nicely rounded shape -like me.
The sharp corner at the back edge of the door was softened by radiusing it -cutting an arc off the door & welding it into the body shell. A small detail but it helps with the overall curvy shape of the cab, emphasising the flowing lines of the gutterless roof, & will hopefully echo the curve of the Moggy Minor roof section. Seems to make the car look more vintage too -like a 50s Yank truck.
The side windows are now roughly 10 inches tall, with a 7 inch windscreen. I'm not gonna see the sky very often driving this thing. Enough room to get my elbow out the window though, for that all important cruising stance.