Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 32 - Doors

 

Mini doors seem to be very prone to rusting out, especially along the bottom edges. Part of the reason for this I believe is that the small rubber tubes that are designed to carry water away from the window tracks and drain them out of the bottom of the door, almost always become clogged with leaves, dirt, and other stuff. Water then becomes trapped in the system and rust soon follows. The doors that came with my Mini are no exception. Both have rust damage along the bottom, the driver's so much so that someone had previously amputated the lower part of the skin in a desperate attempt to save the patient. I've never re-skinned a door but it went reasonably well.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

Here is the driver door. I've already remove the original skin. I should have removed these prior to media-blasting and primering. Now I'll have to remove all the rust that was previously hidden inside the door skin folds. Note here the corrosion damage all along the bottom of the door frame and the ragged edge it created. This will have to be repaired prior to the new skin going on.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

I laid the door onto a sheet of steel and traced out a replacement section.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

I cut off the damaged portion.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

After spraying everything with weldable primer, I spot welded the repair section onto the frame.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

I laid the new door skin onto the frame, then marked and trimmed any overhang on my repair section.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

A nice feature of the Mini door is that I could run three bolts through the door frame into corresponding holes in the new skin. This ensured good alignment without having to hang the door on the car and test-fit before attaching the skin.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

Here you can see the three bolts as well as the hammer and dolly I used to wrap the door skin around the frame.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

And here you can see the door skin after being completely wrapped around the door frame and hammered down tight.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

With the skin on, it was time to hang the door and check for fit. Here are all the door hinges, door handles and miscellaneous hardware required.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

It fit! Not perfectly of course but first time out the door swung fully open and closed without interference. Wasn't expecting that.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

A feature of the Mini that I like is the bins attached to the doors. Combined with the hollowed out door frames, it is another example of the Mini's excellent space utilization. A previous owner sliced the bins off so it will be up to me to re-attach them. I'm just learning how to MIG weld and the thin sheetmetal of the Mini makes it a bit tricky. I took some good advice and started practicing on a spare hood I had laying around.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

I ground a section clean both front and back, sliced out a section and then attempted to re-attach it. Any attempt to do a continuous bead resulted in excessive heat and the metal just dripping away, a.k.a. blowing holes. The way around this I was told is to make a single tiny tack, move to another side of the patch, tack again, then repeat until the entire piece is filled in with tacks.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

My first few attempts at this helped me realize another problem - the gaps I was trying to fill in were too great. I butted the pieces right up against each other on two sides and tried again. It worked! After a quick grinding, the weld lines start to disappear and the hood looks like one big solid piece of metal again. Although far from having mastered the technique, I now felt confident enough to try it for real on the door bins.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

The bins had been slightly crushed and warped after being cut free from the doors so the first thing to do was bend it back into shape with screw clamps, then tack it into place.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

I had to move slowly to prevent panel warpage, but it went pretty smoothly.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

Time to test-fit the passenger door frame in the car.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

The bins just clear the roll cage.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

And now time to pull the driver door back off and weld its bin back on.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

Since panels will cover the bottom of the door bins, I decided to experiment with another product that I'll be using soon - Marglass. This is body filler that contains fiberglass and is normally used to fill in small holes and gaps that are normally too much for plain filler. It worked nicely and filled in some irregularities in and around my welds. Should work fine for other areas of the body.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

And finally the passenger door goes on. It actually fits worse than the driver's so more work to come there.

Mini Rebuild - Step 32

 

Continue to Rebuild Step 33

Return to Mini