How to replace an E-type trunk (boot) part 1!

The trunk tub was shot. I could have spent 50 hours trying to weld up all these holes, pull out the dents and patch in half of the boot floor. The sheet metal is paper thin in most of the floor and would never be right. So decided early on that since Martin Robey makes replacement tubs I'd bite the bullet and replace it all. I ordered a, new tub, upper deck, tail light filler, license plate frame etc. All these parts cost about $1500 with freight from England. The shipping was $440 of the total. Everything got stuck in customs for two weeks, and the order took about two weeks to fill because MR doesn't keep S1 XKE trunk tubs in stock. So the net is, for those repeating this process, plan ahead on the sheet metal order.

The first task was to build a stand to support the body while the trunk replacement was in process. The car needs be movable as well. I used two inch square pipe, cut it with a skill saw with a metal blade and welded it together to create this master piece in about an hour. It isn't adjustable but does move the shell safely around the garage for easy access.

The shell just sits on on the stand with a couple of plywood shims to keep the body level and prevent marring of the primer. These also shims also distribute the weight so that there won't be any dents in the deck.

The next step was much spot weld drilling. Plan on going through about 5 cobalt drill bits to get all the welds out. I did a good bit of this before building the stand in the previous pictures, because its much easier to drill out the welds when the car is up on its side. After the tub comes off I'll fill the holes in the shell with the mig welder and then tap new holes into the new tub after its perfectly aligned and locked into place. When starting this project I had intended to buy a spot welder, but after experimenting with drilling and simulating spot welds with the mig I found that it can be made to look close enough to OEM for my eye. Certainly not perfect, but after the car is prepped and painted it will be pretty hard to tell that these weren't original.

No turning back from here. I started off trying to cut only the welds and pull the tub off, but figured out pretty quickly that it was allot easier to just torch out the tub. It is hard to get some of the spot welds out with the tub on the car and since the metal is all going to the trash anyway, I just fired up the torch and cut out the rear end out in less than an hour.

It ain 't pretty, you can see some of the rust just about to eat through this panel. Glad I didn't patch this up. Wonder how much more rust deep in the inner body panels I'm missing. This part of the tub traps dirt and dust, the corner was full of crud which had absorbed water and was slowly rotting away the inner supports. I had a small fire inside the panel while torching out these corners. Forty years of leaves and sticks and old bondo mixed with dirt burns really well.

Getting the tub off was quick work, the license plate frame went a bit slower but since everything is being replaced including the deck up to the hatch, there was no reason to waste allot of time trying to be graceful.
All out. This is just the beginning I'll spend several afternoons prepping the drill holes and cleaning up the area before I am ready to start fitting the new tub.
Here is an example of how poorly these cars were prepped for rust. They didn't even paint the inside of these panels. No wonder every restoration of an XKE I've seen is a lesson in rust repair. The accident damage and shotty repair work added to the problems. And still this car is better than average since it was a FHC and a California car.
A close up of the rear end disaster, you can see one of my repairs on the top left corner. This wasn't my best work and will get cleaned up now that the trunk is out. This is a great area for copper backing plates for welding up holes in sheet metal. Thick copper plates are used to stop weld material from bubbling out the back of a hole when you welding, Copper welding plates are for sale at better welding shops and Eastwood. I have used mine hundreds of times so far.
Cleaned up all the holes, sanded out the rust and shot thinned POR 15. Need to put another coat on before the tub goes on. Still need to cut out the tail light lips, and mounting brackets, all will be replaced.
Oops didn't think about masking until it was too late. Fortunately a little thinner will take off POR 15 and the DP40 under it for that matter. This area will be coated by several more coats of high build primer and will get light sanding before the color coat, but that's many moons away.
The gas tank filler wasn't rusty, but everything gets paint. I will wax inside of the fender wells after one more coat of POR 15.
The spot weld holes are all cleaned up now and things are getting closer to fitting the new tub. I typically use a 4 inch angle grinder with a 36 grit flap disk to knock down the bulk of the welds and then smooth them out with a 90 degree air driven die grinder and a sanding disk. makes quick clean work of weld finishing without thinning out the surface to much.
Installing the Tub!

Author: Bill McKenna