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Toyota Celica

Toyota Celica Published: 13th Aug 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Toyota Celica
Toyota Celica
Toyota Celica
Toyota Celica
Toyota Celica
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Chris decides metal is better than Gaffar tape when repairing his Toyota’s door! CAR: Toyota Celica YEAR: 1977 OWNER: Chris Manning

It’s been quite a while since I reported on my Celica, Toyota’s ‘Capri’ and in the last report I was dealing with rust. I still am…

Repairing the bottom of the driver’s door on the Celica was something I had been putting off for some time, as I knew it would be a major job.

The door had been patched up with silver Gaffar tape just to cover the rusty mess and with the car being silver as well, was a pretty good match that could almost go unnoticed from a distance!

Before removing the door, I made up a cardboard template with crosshair points marked on both door and cardboard to give me good reference point, but as the far rear corner was thin air as both inner and outer edges had completely rusted away it really was a ‘guestimate’ job, trimming back the cardboard with scissors and marking with felt tip pen until I was happy with profile.

Removing the door revealed the extent of the rust, and it soon became clear I would have to repair the inner part first, to give a sound metal backing for the outer panel. This is where I encountered my first problem.

The door on the Celica is almost 48in (120cm) long and my metal folder is only 24in (60cm) in length! I had to make up two sections of metal, which had to be bent in my metal folder into a dog-leg shape which took a considerable amount of time as I had to ensure the correct angle for both bends and make sure the two separate sections lined up.

I decided to do both corner pieces individually, as there were complex curves and angles to achieve and with only hand tools and vice, scoured my garage for the right tool, along the way using pliers, welding clamps, mole grips, hacksaw and even an old piece of scaffold tube, plus numerous cups of tea.

With the inner panel welded in place, attention now turned to outer skin, where some special tools would be needed. To make the new outer panel sit flush with the existing door skin, I needed to put a step in the existing panel and used a joddler to achieve this. This tool also had the facility to punch small 6mm holes and I placed a series of them along the panel to then be able to plug weld it in place. These were added to by surface welds in between to give the panel strength along its considerable length. To avoid distortion, welding was done at a slow pace, and allowing the metal to cool. Time for plenty of tea breaks!

Plug welds were then placed on the lower edge where the inner and outer panels met and then ground down flush, as the outer panel would need to be folded over. To do this, I used a door skin edging tool for the majority of the straight length. The corners were particularly tricky and I found the best method was to cut a number of hacksaw grooves, then fold the metal over with the edging tool so the metal did not crease

I have never been that much good with filler, so entrusted the work to my friend Ian Thomson, who has spent a lifetime as a body specialist.

I had bought a compressor some years ago and decided to spray the door myself. I took the fuel filler cap off and went to car paint firm to match and mix the paint for me. I was aware of the health risks with modern two-pack paint and consulted Ian, and he lent me a mask with the advice to: “Spray the panel, get out of the garage and go back when it is dry and spray again.’’

I was pleased with my results, even if the paint provided wasn’t a 100 per cent match to the original. I had already done some repairs to either side of the door and used aerosols as this was in the days before I had a compressor, so was not surprised the colours were not an exact match. However, at least the door is no longer the rusty, shameful gaffar covered mess it was before.

Next on the list of things to tackle is to try and eradicate a slight hesitancy in the Celica when cruising at 60mph. If I can find the cause, you will be the first to know plus – for a change – will tell you what it’s like to drive and run rather than fixing…

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