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1969 Fiat 500F Restoration Resolution
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:09 am    Post subject: 1969 Fiat 500F Restoration Resolution Reply with quote

I bought a very decrepit but totally unrestored and low-mileage Fiat 500 as my 50th birthday present and New Year project in January 2009. In October 2009 we bought a very decrepit but very lovely house in the country. Which would you sort out first? I really had no choice.

This year I intend to complete the restoration that was started in earnest four (I can't believe that!) years ago.

I can start with my story straight away using old photos....

It looked superficially OK after a quick wash in January 2009; I knew better...I had seen the very honest EBAY photos.

The car cost about 700 and another 250 for delivery; Buckinghamshire to Nairn in the north of Scotland.


Fiat by peterthompson, on Flickr


Last edited by colwyn500 on Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The story with this car went; the owner was an old chap who died in 1973; four years after buying it new. It was stored in a leaky garage for ages. the consequence of this was that the car was rusty from the gutters downwards. The damage to the front end was somewhat more serious than average, with huge missing areas of steel in the inner wheel-arches, bulkhead and under the windscreen.

On the plus side, the car had a low recorded mileage of about 35000,and although the plugs are worryingly missing and the engine doesn't turn by hand, the interior is really original and unworn.


DSC_6122 by peterthompson, on Flickr


DSC_6057 by peterthompson, on Flickr


Last edited by colwyn500 on Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luckily (or unfortunately) I am a trusting, optimistic, risk-taker and this car really appealed. I had looked at loads of restored examples and equal numbers of "projects". I owned several of these cars when they were still old bangers and I wanted to have that patina of originality that would take me back to the early eighties. This car had it, but I needed to take great care to make sure that everything was removed carefully. I took loads of detailed photos so that I could replace wires and pipes etc just where they should be. I intend to replace as little as possible without compromising safety or useability.


DSC_6127 by peterthompson, on Flickr


DSC_6402 by peterthompson, on Flickr


Last edited by colwyn500 on Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:54 pm; edited 2 times in total
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks like it must have taken me a couple of months to get to the point where there was no glass to get destroyed by grinding and welding sparks (been there, done that) and to remove all the seats and trim. I wanted to take on the worst first and went straight to the under-windscreen area. this section is available as a hand-made panel made only for l/h drive models (wiper spindle holes in wrong place) and it didn't go as far as I needed; but what a godsend but fairly expensive at around 80 as I remember.


DSC_6532 by peterthompson, on Flickr


DSC_6535 by peterthompson, on Flickr

I wasn't brave enough yet, to weld this in. In any case my welder had been out of use for several years and needed a restoration of its own!


DSC_6536 by peterthompson, on Flickr


Last edited by colwyn500 on Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:55 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Rick
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20851
Location: North-west UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That repair panel really is a godsend isn't it - look forward to following progress, I think many people would have run the other way when confronted with that much rust Smile

RJ
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Rick (OCC Admin)
Various 1920s-1960s - Austin, Morris, Commer, Dodge etc.
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D4B



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 2082
Location: Hampshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic project ~ well worth doing ~ I will follow with great interest

Cool Cool
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had checked before taking this car on, that there is a good range of replacement panels available. But you are correct Rick, without this first panel I would have been lost. Lucky for me that the extent of the work did put many people off, but there was still a lot of bidding and I think that the auction ending at Christmas helped me a lot; people were distracted by other things.

Anyway, this should get interesting for many people because there is quite a lot of detail in my photos.

Eventually I did get round to butt welding in the scuttle panel, having first trimmed to removed as little as possible of the original car (but still quite a big chunk!) Ground down this will look OK with a touch of filler. But there would still be quite a complex, flanged rain channel to fabricate and to butt-weld the complete width of the car...


img4 by peterthompson, on Flickr


Last edited by colwyn500 on Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen many Fiat 500s restored by removing the whole front end, including wings, front panel, bulkhead and inner wheel-arches almost in one go. On rebuilding with new panels, often this leads to very poor gaps and alignments. I think that the old chestnut that "that's how they often were when new" is a bit of a cop-out. Even though it was almost certain that my car would be needing the same treatment, I wanted to do things more steadily an order to keep alignments.

In order to remove the bulkhead I had no choice other than to take off the front panel. I did this very carefully because astonishingly, there was very little wrong with it and it has to be better than using a modern, pattern replacement.


full frontal exposure by peterthompson, on Flickr

Having seen many photographed restorations on the web, this sight phased me less than it should have done!
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I probably should have completely replaced the front inner arches but I actually butt-welded patches until had a stable substrate to which to align the spare-wheel well replacement panel.


DSC_6537 by peterthompson, on Flickr

I also had to make some patches for the sloping bulkhead that carries the petrol-tank.


DSC_6551 by peterthompson, on Flickr


DSC_6860 by peterthompson, on Flickr

Eventually I had it all welded up, not a pretty picture, but sound and strong and ready to be seam-sealed and painted.


img297 by peterthompson, on Flickr
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D4B



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 2082
Location: Hampshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done another major step forward....

Looking good
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks D4B. Don't forget, all of this story so far is historical and was done in 2009 before I had to come to a full stop with car restorations for a few years.

The repaired panels were primed and protected with black cellulose-based paint.


DSC_7627 by peterthompson, on Flickr

The replacement bulkhead panel was welded in; for the first time a fairly straightforward job. I had to use the old plug welding method to replicate spot welds.


DSC_7868 by peterthompson, on Flickr

The next move was slightly radical in comparison with the norm for these cars; front panels are cheap and easy to source. I repaired the previously removed front panel, repaired the localised corrosion, then re-fitted using the untouched front wings to get perfect alignment. This was then temporarily braced to the scuttle panel using some steel rod. This would keep it in alignment at the next stage when I removed the front wings.


img72 by peterthompson, on Flickr

More to follow...
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am about halfway through describing my work on reconstructing a 1969 Fiat 500F.

The front was looking better but I couldn't fit the wings until I had sorted the "A" posts. I couldn't sort these properly until the floor had been replaced to give me some fixed datum points. Out came the floor panels. I wasn't very good at doing all that bracing that many people do, but you can see the chunk of timber doing a bit of stretching in this shot.


DSC_7869 by peterthompson, on Flickr

I hadn't anticipated that the inner sills would be rotten all along the bottoms...how stupid can you get???

I decided to remove the rot and patch up the sills. They obviously don't show when finished and leaving them in situ gave the car better structural integrity and another series of alignment points.

Pretty quickly the new floor-pans went back in...


DSC_8012 by peterthompson, on Flickr
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had to do a huge amount of plug welding to fit the floors and there was lots of collateral patching to do round the edges.

Next thing was to remove the sills. Obviously each side was fully removed, repaired and fitted before starting on the other.

The sill removal revealed quite a lot of rust around the jacking point on the nearside


DSC_8008 by peterthompson, on Flickr

Huge amounts of repair were needed to make good the inner wheel-arches. These are available as complete sections but I preferred repairing them to align with the existing wings so that I had good alignment when fitting the new ones.

The full sills extend into and become part of the "A" post so this was the time to remove each front wing in turn.




DSC_8010 by peterthompson, on Flickr
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1740
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time was running out because we were nearly completed with our house move.

A great deal of painstaking work was done in a very short time. A lot of things came together at once and photography had to be reduced.

There is an odd fix at the top of the front wings and I retained a fragment of the originals, trimmed the new ones and butt-welded at the bulkhead. this keeps a funny little seam and a brazed joint that would have ended up smoothed over. Wierd attention to a detail eh???


DSC_6463 by peterthompson, on Flickr

But I now had a car that was pretty solid, with a lot of sweaty, dirty jobs done.


DSC_8704 by peterthompson, on Flickr


Fiat 500 progress, August 2009 by peterthompson, on Flickr

I did a small amount of bodywork after this, but from about August 2009 until tomorrow, the only thing done was to attach an "A" frame and tow the car, very quickly and surreptitiously, the three miles to its new home; an ancient chicken shed in the middle of an overgrown woodland at our new house. Of which, more tomorrow...
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D4B



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 2082
Location: Hampshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing this

~ Fantastic ~ Cool

Steve
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