How to install a trunk tub on an XKE! Part 2

The replacement tub came straight from Martin Robey with the worst primer coat you could imagine, I guess they had to put something down to prevent flash. I spent the better part of a day stripping it before starting seriously fitting to the car. Its hard to see in the picture but the fuel tank support which should be in the left corner didn't come with the tub so I'll have to find one of these somewhere. Otherwise the tub was perfect. Several minor differences in the new tub vs the original. Drain holes were added to the front of the tub where water tends to stand, and the fuel drain pipe has two inputs instead of a single pipe which was on the original. I'm sure the judges will give me a break on these items unless they plan to put the car on a rack for inspection.
Just trying to get an idea what I'm up against before stripping the tub. Fortunately its roughly in the ball park, but still very far from fitting well enough to clamp down and weld. The first job is to add the inner support brackets to each side of the tub, and cut out the old tail light housing area to replace with new fillers shown below. Its important to get a good clean lower lip around the body to work with since this is the basis for alignment of the tub. Fitting the tub consists of hundreds of little cuts, bends and bangs to get it all lined up. To much to describe here, but all simple enough if you are confronted with it.
Here are the two lower tail light fillers and the license plate surround. I tack welded the license plate frame in for a short time just to see how things would line up and then removed it. The frame will go back in after the tub is welded down while fitting the upper deck area. The Tail light surrounds were welded in first after cutting out the old rusted and mangled ones.
Here you can see the cut out tail light surrounds. Replacing these was easy at this point and helped firm up the overall integrity and original shape of the rear end. I'll weld in the outer side of the fillers first and finish the rest after I put the top deck sheet metal in last.
How many sets of vise grips do you own? I have at least a dozen sets and still could have used more when finial fitting. It took about 10 hours of fitting before I was ready to weld. I drilled holes through the lip and simulated spot welds by filling the holes with the mig welder. If your doing this try and weld a little from both sides and make sure that the two sides are completely flush with each other. I try and put a vice grip right next to the weld hole.
Areas like this were a challenge. Some shaping to the body had to be done to make the new tub line up. As before holes were drilled and then welded up after everything is perfectly in line. I put seam sealer in to fill any slight cracks or holes left between the panels, and welded up as much as possible around the wheel well where water will be trying to enter. The wheel wells originally weren't water tight and this was one of the major causes of the rust problems in the inner panels. I tack weld only and skip around the area to let other parts cool to avoid warping.
Welding time! Just start filling in the holes along the seam, after this gets stitched in dress out the wheel wells and start on the license plate area. The hardest part of this process is remembering not to go to quickly and over heat the metal. Stitch weld everything especially the alignment joint in the center of the picture. The alignment tabs are the logical starting point for welding as they could only fit in one place give or take 1/4" or less.

After getting all the welds in on the lower tub it was time to flip the car over and work on the closing panel. Flipping the car without the rear rotisserie was a challenge. I used the engine crane and rope with a steel loop which would allow the rope to slip through the loop. Tie the Rope around the body, running it through the loop. Then lift the body. Once the body is free of the stand and high enough to make the rotation thread the rope through the loop and rotate the car. I modified the same stand I had used for the inverted position to fit under the car resting on a wood shim right where the parking brake adjustment hole is located. Until the rear end is completely finished I didn't want to risk mounting the the rotisserie to the license plate.

Several hours of fitting and measuring were spent up front before cutting out the old deck. It is easy to get frustrated when trying to get a panel lined up in all the right places. Its very easy to cut to much and have big problem. mark things several times and cut small amounts and recheck. After the best possible fit is obtained clamp the panel in with vice grips and tack weld in the panel.

The deck is all tack welded in now. The joint along the hatch lid was impossible to get perfect. I was able to get the bottom and inside edge lined up perfectly but the outside edge was not nearly as sharp a bend on the new part as the original. I wonder if this part was stamped out on the same tooling as the original, or if this is a part that is made with new tooling. Overall its a minor problem . I can fill in with weld and lead to get it perfect. Getting the license plate frame to line up wasn't easy either. One side was perfect while the other was slightly off. I will have to use a little lead to blend it in.

Looking pretty good here, the edge of the license plate frame still needs a little bit of work on the passenger side but its very close. I haven't trimmed out the tail light holes yet. Will use the old sheet metal as a pattern and then install new mounting hardware, I'll trial fit the tail lights and skim lead in to get a perfect fit. I'll do the same for the rear bumpers. Its looking allot better than it did when I started!

I didn't spend to much time on getting the hatch alignment perfect at this point the main idea was just to make sure that the contour of the body was right and that the lower gap wasn't to small. it will be a big job to get the hatch in perfectly.
One more picture of the rear end. I was really happy with how well the deck lid fit in and the overall shape of the tail. It needs more finishing work but is going require very little plastic filler or lead around the hatch jam.
Trunk tub three! More lead work!

Author: Bill McKenna