TD Tub Assembly by Hiram Kelley
Part 2



Here are a few more observations along with the last pictures of the tub wood prior to final fitting and assembly.



Here, inside the red circles, are oak shims (any hardwood would do) glued inside the scuttle rail to latch pillar joint to fill and tighten up the joint. Note; best fit to sheet-metal front quarter panels on this tub with Seabrook’s wood was a scuttle rail tight against the front surface of the latch pillar inside the joint.



Here’s a shot of the front surface of the dash side bracket on the drivers side and the misalignment problem that had to be fixed to achieve the nice tight joint at right. It seems the two parts of the bracket were welded together out of alignment. When the bracket is tight against the inside face of the scuttle side rail a piece of the bracket protrudes into the joint area. I know it will all be hidden by the sheet-metal, and it doesn’t seem like such a big deal; but it will prevent the inner side rail and scuttle side from forming a strong, smooth, flush fitting joint. There is an easy fix, either grind off the offending piece of bracket metal for a flush fit, or relieve a small portion of the front face of the scuttle side rail. I decided to leave the original bracket, along with this misalignment, intact and make my repair to the replacement wood. Ah yes, just one more thing that needs checking as assembly progresses.






Both inner front side rails needed a bit of shortening for a flush fit with the base of the bottom main rail. Here I’ve marked the line for the final fitting of the bottom of the driver’s side inner front side rail. There’s that 105 / 75 degree angle set again. Now when it comes time to fold over the front quarter panel’s lower nailing flange it will lie nice and flat across this joint.



Here’s the top inner front top rails, both old and new, clamped back to front, for marking bolt and screw hole positions. Center both rails on center of cross-piece slot and along the top upper edge of both rails. While Seabrook’s top rail is a spot-on match to the original along its top edge I needed to trace along bottom of old rail onto new rail and remove any excess wood along this lower surface to duplicate curvature along the bottom of my original piece.

The cross-piece slot on Seabrook’s piece will also need a bit of widening for proper fit with cross-piece.






Outer top edge of inner top rail will need to be ‘radiused’ slightly to match the original. Notice how original top rail is slightly shorter than Seabrook’s piece when centered on the crosspiece slot. This longer length (about 1/8 inch on each end) actually fits my tub better than the original. So don’t cut this to length to match the original as that may leave it a little to short for a tight fit. Test fit first to ascertain proper length,





My door wood was OK for now, the only problems was one of the original door latch mounting plate machine screws had become inseparable from it’s capture nut and broke off when I attempted to remove it. Also the sheet-metal door skin had begun to pucker underneath the escutcheon screws that hold the door handle to the front of the door. Both screws had begun to pull away from the wood door latch pillar. The door-skin sheet-metal was all that was holding the screws in place as the wood surrounding them had rotted away.

   This is a fairly easy fix if the door wood is still solid and just the screw holes are rotted out and no longer to size. Use a small diameter drill bit and drill pilot holes through the original screw holes from the handle side of the door. Next take an appropriately sized drill bit and from the latch side of the door use the pilot holes to drill holes for 3/8 inch fluted hardwood dowels (available from hardware stores and home centers). I slipped a thin piece of scrap sheet-metal between the door latch pillar and door skin to prevent the 3/8 drill bit from engaging the screw holes in the door skin and inadvertently enlarging them. Once holes are of proper size use a good quality water proof wood glue to coat the dowels and lightly



After the glue has dried, cut off the excess dowel, sand smooth, and re-drill pilot holes for the door handle escutcheon screws and mount the door handle. Also visible is an earlier dowel repair for fitting new door lock screws. This way it’s not necessary to go to a bigger screw size, which may not look or fit as well as the original.


As for the door latch mounting plate machine screw problem just drill out the original hole for either a #8 or #10 stainless steel threaded insert and problem solved.  I also used these stainless steel threaded inserts to attach the door striker mounting plates on the new tub latch pillars as opposed to capture nuts as used originally. I kind of like keeping the hardware on the side of the piece not covered up by sheet-metal. And besides it won’t be noticeable once the latch and interior door panels are in place.






Hopefully this won’t happen to you but; if, when test fitting your doors and drilling  holes in the hinge pillars for the screws- things go terribly wrong- as they did for me and the upper passenger side hinge(the back of the door set proud of the rear quarter panel) when I got everything all tightened down. Drill out the holes for appropriately sized fluted hardwood dowels. Then after the glue has dried just cut off the excess dowel, sand smooth, and re-drill. Note to myself; next time measure and mark hinge a little better!











Here are some miscellaneous shots of; on the left, the inletting necessary to use stainless steel torque washers and carriage bolts on the lower rear corners of the tank panel so as to not leave the bolt head ‘too proud’ and distort the lower corner of the quarter panel as it overlays the bolt head.


On the upper right is the carriage bolt with inletted torque washer at the lower inside rear corner of the tub. These torque washers are 1 1/16” diameter so inletting was done on a drill press with a 1 1/8” forstner type wood bit. (There is a top view of one of the torque washers in the shot at lower right.)



On the lower right is a picture from above of the top of the driver’s side under door rail attached to main sill rail with stainless steel pocket screws. Pocket screws have an integral washer below the head so as to have a flat bottom with a larger surface area in contact with the wood. This gives a much better clamping action when tightened and does not tend to split the wood over time as a normal flat faced tapered head wood screw may. Unfortunately these pocket screws have a slightly smaller shaft diameter so if I was not gluing these joints together I would opt for a standard wood screw but perhaps replace the original flat tapered head style with a round head (maybe with a small washer underneath the head) and just inlet it a little deeper to clear the sheet-metal.




My original under door rails had both split at their hinge pillar/under door rail joints. Splits extended from the two outermost under door rail screws along the grain to the end of the rail. The passenger side joint pretty much just fell apart when I removed the sheet-metal quarter panel. The latch pillar/under door rail joints showed splitting as well only not as severe. It’s these observations, along with my desire to go vintage racing, which has prompted me to screw and glue together all the wood to wood joints on this particular TD tub. I think it better for the whole tub to react to stress and flex ‘as a unit’ and not just at the individual joints.  I suppose time will tell if that was the right decision.






Finally, after I matched up and drilled all my bolt holes in the two inside front side rails (once again using the originals as templates) I bolted and clamped everything together for another trial fitting. I noticed the front tapered portion of the bottom main rails were sitting slightly proud of the inner side rails. This would not allow the lower front corner of the front quarter panel’s nailing flange to properly overlap the front edge of the inner front side rail. I know, that’s a real mouthful; but I believe the pictures show what I’m trying to describe. In my case I just needed to increase the rate of taper to just meet the front outer edge of the (metal) body frame rail.

Now you could just take a clamp and force the outer end of the bottom main rail inboard and use the inner side rail attachment point to hold everything in place; but  inward movement here acts to ‘open up’ the latch pillar/bottom main rail joint. Not a good idea. Especially if glue is not going to be used, all joints should be as tight as possible both front to back and side to side.





Here’s the stuff I‘ve decided to use on all the tub wood to help preserve it. It’s from the Rot Doctor (Smith and Company) specialists in industrial and marine synthetic resins. They have found a way to save old, dry, rotten, deteriorating wood and just like the label says it’s a clear penetrating two part epoxy sealer that does not decrease any of the woods original flexibility. It’s used a lot on wooden boat restorations and anywhere else wood needs long term protection from the elements. It’s certainly not cheep but it does go a long way on new wood.  What the heck, if it works on boats why not an MG. 



Finally, with the exception of overlapping joints which were to be glued, I painted all wood surfaces visible from inside the tub with a satin black paint to duplicate the appearance of my tub’s original wood. I used ‘rattle can’ Rustoleum’s satin black; but now that the tub is finished I believe it’s a little too ‘glossy’ for my taste- probably should have used another brand.





Some tools I’ve found useful.


Besides the more familiar screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers, I thought I would quickly touch on some of the other types of tools I’ve found the most useful. This is mostly for the non-woodworkers, folks who are perfectly comfortable with- steel on steel- type auto body work, but feel a tad lost when it comes to a ‘T’ series tub wood restoration. Just read a few manuals, take lots of notes, lots of pictures,


and take the time to understand how, maybe even why, the tub is constructed like it is. After all it’s really just a big piece of furniture, kinda like a big ol’sheet-metal upholstered chair.



On the left is a Japanese Special Rasp 10” long and 1 1/2 “ wide with a course and a fine side, looks kinda like a bunch of hacksaw blades riveted together; but man does it get the job done! Works so much better than that old style ‘cheese grater’ plastic filler file I’ve used for years for rough shaping wood. A little expensive at $34.80 but man does it make quick work of shaping wood ( And it leaves a surface that finishes off nicely with only a bit of work with 80 grit sandpaper. On the right, some form of angle finder is also helpful to check your tub wood’s critical angles before disassembly for later duplication during reassembly.




These are the cutting tools I used the most often, on the left, an old disc sander with adjustable, tilting table (rescued from dumpster behind the shop where my son works) and to the right, a Dremel type rotary tool with a flex shaft attachment. The disc sander for sanding pieces to length, the Dremel with flex shaft for grinding the heads of panel nails, as a cut-off tool in tight places for rusty bolts and machine screws, and for cutting out small areas of rust perforated sheet-metal for fitting patch panels.


Now this is just a suggestion; but for the most part I left my table saw alone. With a saw I find it very easy to remove to much wood. For me it worked much better to just use the disc sander. And ‘in a pinch’ even the under door rail could have been re-profiled with that Japanese Rasp, it just would have taken longer. I’ve found, by marking the piece of wood where it needs to be for an exact fit and using a disc sander to shorten the wood a little at a time till it fits, I’m not as likely to cut it too short the first time and have to use a shim. With the disc sander I can even set it up to sand compound angles if I need to. I find I have a greater amount of control, even when I just need to eyeball it for that last 32nd of an inch needed for a perfect fit. Especially with Seabrook’s wood. I can sand a little then check for fit, then sand a little more and check for fit again , all the while –‘sneaking up’ on my pencil or scribe mark.





Here’s a close-up of the two inch, Rotary Shaper drill attachment I spoke of earlier used to shape the under door rails. (from and finally on the right a set of taper point drill bits. These have removable counter sink/counter bore sleeves and stop collars sized for #6, #8, and #10 wood screws. Use these to drill tapered holes for an exact match to the screw’s taper. But don’t over-drill the hole or you’ll lose the benefit of the taper. (from, and

I also plan on using SAE stainless steel, slotted head wood screws, machine screws, bolts, and lock-washers and Loctite where visible, nylocks where not. For an original appearance all external bolts such as bulkhead, staybars, etc. will remain whitworth.  Inside the tub the painted over slot headed stainless steel screws will look original but hopefully have a little more corrosion resistance than the originals. I’ve found to have a good selection with acceptable quality. Also I’m going to try using stainless steel, four point, square hole, torque washers (from inlet into the wood under all the carriage bolts, as recommended by Alan Alderwick on page 34 of his book, to prevent the bolt from both sinking into the wood and spinning when tightened. This will hopefully allow for some retightening as well. The 3/8 inch stainless steel carriage bolts had a tendency to gall when tightened, however I had no galling problems with the smaller sizes. That being said, I still used just a very small dab of anti-seize on most of them just in case.


So, there you have it. Hopefully these pictures and insights will be of help as an addendum to the excellent ‘T’ series restoration manuals mentioned previously.

To go to Part 1 click HERE.

For more total assembly information click on KelleyTubAssembly.doc A Word file)


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for Part 1