January 2012 Continued welding


January 1st 2012: A new year means a new fresh start for most people. I guess for the welder it means to continue aggravating welding tasks on my Giardinetta. This year the activities start during the initial night, just when 2012 is only a few hours old. The finishing touches for the roof consist out of filling the gaps for the weather trim near the A-pillar on the driver and passenger side. Just like all other activities which preceded this one the procedure is to fill the gap with weld, grind away any excess weld material and treat the bare metal with the anti-corrosive coating. contains a riveted section which ends up in the weather strip of the roof. It sounds easier than it is.

Passenger side weather trim gap filled with weld.


Passenger side weather trim excess weld grinded away.


Passenger side weather trim bare metal treated with anti-corrosive coating.



The second item in the first night of the year is an evaluation of the A-pillar riveted trim. As can be expected with metal riveted to other metal it is a source of rust. The top sections of this trim where water and other unwanted humidity is trapped the condition of the metal is very poor. Why it was designed like this I have no idea, the construction itself is asking for problems. The passenger side trim is completely rotted away at the top, the driver side is clearly better but still in a poor state. The pictures below are very evident. Quite some work is to be done to get these 2 parts back into healthy condition.

A-pillar riveted trim in poor condition.

Top ends of the riveted trim severely affected by rust.

January 3rd 2012: My Giardinetta had the front wings welded to the sill near the A-pillar. Due to this solid connection the previous owner did not consider the distance holder brackets necessary. Both the connection to the inner wing and the brackets itself are not available. The distance holders ensure the wing is at the correct distance at the front end. Since I don't have these parts and the ones you can find second hand are mostly quite rusty the welded will make new brackets by hand. Due to the fact I don't have any of these brackets and the connection positions to the inner wings are not available I can't provide the surgeon with any detailed information on the dimensions and how these brackets should look like nor the position of the connections. Luckily the welder owns a third series Sud TI himself so he can take his own car as a reference to determine the proper position. These brackets did not change throughout the production life of the Alfasud from 1972 till 1983. The original connection is provided by so called "parkers". This is not such a robust connection and therefore the restored connection will be provided by an M4 bolt fitted in a weldnut. Firstly the correction position is marked into the black underbody coating, then a hole is drilled into the material to serve as a locator for the weldnut. Finally the M4 weld nut for this connection is welded into position on the right hand and left hand side. After a trail fit of an appropriate bolt to check the functionality of the nuts as a finishing touch the well known coating is applied and that finishes another item on the long "to do" list. The bare metal is of course treated to avoid premature corrosion. Very nicely done again.

Proper position for M4 weldnut marked in underbody coating.


Hole drilled into inner wing to serve as a weld nut locator.


M4 weldnut in position on the lh & rh side for a robust connection.



January 4th 2012: Today the task is to make the wing brackets based upon the example of the welders'own Alfasud. This geometry is childsplay for the skilled welder. As always the bare metal is treated with a coating to avoid corrosion. The text for this item is small but I'm sure you can imagine that it's not as easy as that. Another issue to tackle is the recreation of a small piece of the passenger side door frame. Where the A-pillar riveted trim meets the door frame the original material is severely rust affected so this portion needs replacement. The only way to get such a repair piece is to make it by hand. The craftsmanship of the surgeon is once more illustrated by making this small repair piece. Due to the radii it is a tough part to make. As the picture below shows the handmade repair piece suits very well.

Hand made front wing distance holder brackets, nicely done.


Newly made brackets treated with corrolles coating.


Hand made repair piece for passenger side door frame.


January 5th 2012: The bracket for fastening the rear bench to the body floor has a broken bolt on the passenger side. I tried to get this broken bolt out myself in the past with a wrench but I didn't succeed. I'm sure the welder will be able to succeed. Either the weldnut in the bracket has detached or my approach for loosening the bolt with a wrench was incorrect. I didn't have  a correct size and hard enough drill to attempt to drill it out. We will soon know what the problem is. At the time I tried it didn't seem like a loose weldnut because the was no movement in longitudinal direction. The welder comes to the conclusion that the weldnut has detached so drilling out the bolt is no option. The only way is to cut out the lower section of the bracket and replace with a piece of new material with a weldnut. There are currently quite many of these sort of detailed tasks to be done. No big things, but several details that require attention. The lower section of the bracket is cut out swiftly. By measuring the hole pitch distance on the lh-side a repair piece can be made with a weldnut at the same pitch distance for the rh-side. The usual approach is taken. The repair piece is welded in position, the excess weld material is grinded away and the anti-corrosive coating is applied. As a final check a bolt is assembled to the replace weldnut to see if the connection is in proper functioning order. Everything works fine and that finishes another task on the "to do" list. This same final check is now also executed for the front wing distance holder brackets. This final confirmation also shows a good result.

Lower bolt in bench fastening bracket broken off.


Lower section of bench fastening bracket with loose weldnut cut out.


Repair piece with weldnut in position with excess weld material grinded away.


Assembly check of bolt in replaced weldnut, no problem.


Assembly check for front wing distance holder brackets, everything OK.


January 6th 2012: The hand made repair piece for the passenger side door frame, created on January 4th will be welded in position. Firstly some holes are added to this repair piece to ensure the some sort of welding as was originally the case. The bracket is welded in its appropriate place quickly and treated with the anti corrosive coating. Now that the door frame is back in good condition the repair work on the riveted A-pillar trim can start. A very thorough cleaning with a powered steel brush is the initial effort to get a good impression of the condition of the base material. As already seen on January 1st the top ends need complete replacement. After brushing down to the bare metal of these 2 parts the rest seems in fair order with the surface rust grinded away. Treatment with proper anti-corrosive coating will be sufficient there. The top ends are replaced with healthy new pieces of metal. What a difference between the original condition as seen on January 1st and the revamped condition now. Another annoying mystery popped up unfortunately. I asked the welder to recreate a bracket for the boot release lever on the firewall since my car doesn't have one. When he looks more detailed to my vehicle there are significant differences to his own 3rd series Sud firewall. I would have estimated that there would be no differences throughout the production lifetime of the Alfasud for this detail, but I seem to be wrong. When asking around in the Dutch Alfa Romeo club it soon appears that my car is missing a hole where the cable for the boot release and the emergency boot release are supposed to go through the firewall. Since this hole is not a small hole I wonder why my car is missing that hole. During the restoration in the nineties my car received a complete new nose, I wonder if an English nose was added? This assumption also doesn't make sense because the hole for the pedal box and the break cylinder are on the left hand side where they are supposed to be. Hmmmmm, what an annoying mystery. Now at least it becomes clear to me why I had so much trouble locating any boot release item earlier in this project. There simply is none. I only found the boot release cable (without any guidance through the firewall or lever) dangling below the dashboard near the steering shaft after largely disassembling the dashboard. How to approach this dilemma? Hopefully the questions regarding this topic at the Dutch Alfa club forum will bring some light into the darkness.

Hand made repair piece for rh door frame clamped into position.


Rh door frame repair piece welded in position & treated with anti-corrosive coating.


Riveted A-pillar trim neatly restored, what a difference to the condition on January 1st.


Firewall service area side, no hole for the boot release cable available.


Firewall seen from vehicle inside, no hole for the boot release cable available.


January 8th 2012: Firstly the restored A-pillar trim will be riveted in position and then welded to the weather trim to complete the A-pillar restoration on the right and left hand side. Both the A-pillar itself and the restored trim have received a proper anti-corrosion coating so they should be able to last for a long time now. These trim items are tricky because the connection to the weather strip of the roof is a detail which if not done properly will result into a poor appearance. Luckily for me the welder is a very precise person with a good eye for such details. The pictures below show the restored condition which is looking perfect.

A-pillar trim riveted in position, looking very good.

Connection of A-pillar trim to weather strip in perfect condition now.

The questions I raised on the Dutch Alfa Romeo club Internet forum regarding the boot release hole resulted in several replies. My personal initial thought was that an English nose was welded to the car, but that doesn't seem logical because the pedal box hole is in the correct position. One of the club members suggested that probably a front end of an Alfa 33 was used. I hope not, but anyway there's nothing I can do about it. Several club members checked their vehicles and it seems there is no clear conclusion. Whether the first and second series Suds were different from the third series is not confirmed and even the members showed pictures with different geometries for same build year vehicles. Possibly Alfa used several suppliers for these stamped parts and those suppliers may have had minor detail differences between them, however this is also purely a guess. One of the members was so kind to make a mould of the hole of his vehicle (2nd series) and measure its position. He then immediately sent this data by post to the welder so at least the welder will be able to make a hole in the proper position. Thanks a lot for this great support Jan, it is highly appreciated! The mould provided is clear and is position by the welder in the service area on the firewall. This enables to recreate the correct geometry.

Mould for boot release hole kindly provided by Jan, thanks a lot.

January 9th 2012: The pace of the progress recently is very high. The welder is getting fed up with my vehicle taking up useful space in his workshop, which I can clearly understand. Today the hole in the firewall for the boot release will be made with the aid of the mould. The mould is accurately positioned and then the geometry of the hole is indicated by tracing it with white paint. Once the geometry is clearly visible on the firewall the cutting operation starts. The round dot indicates a hole that is drilled first to make the start. Then the rest or the hole is cut out. As always the finish is made by applying the corrolles anti-corrosive coating. During the cutting operation no paint on the firewall was damaged, but the coating is applied to ensure the bare edges of the hole are well protected. The welder is not only a true craftsman he is also funny. One of the pictures below show the newly made hole with an Alfa Romeo badge on the vehicle floor, just to indicate what he is working on ;-) This unexpected task has also come to a good end. Once the vehicle is finished I will be able to release the boot without searching for the release cable.

Mould seam (naad) aligned with firewall seam.


Geometry of hole traced with white paint.


Result of tracing activities clearly visible of firewall.

Boot release hole cut out in firewall (note the Alfa Romeo badge on the floor).

January 21st 2012: Another day in the Giardinetta body repair project. The lever for the boot is supposed to be installed into a bracket on the firewall. Since my car didn't have the hole for the boot release cable it also doesn't have this bracket. A bracket will be handmade based upon the example of the welder's own Alfasud TI QV (3rd series Sud). As you can see in the pictures below the handmade bracket is exactly the same as the original bracket, but then in better quality material ;-) The bracket is then plug welded to the firewall and treated with the orange coloured corrolles ant-corrosive coating after the excess weld material is grinded away.

Handmade boot release lever bracket with holes for plug welding.

Boot release lever bracket welded to the firewall and treated with anti-corrosive coating.

The second task for today is the driver side front floor. Quite some surface corrosion is available and I assume there are some problems lurking below this superficial rust. Once the surface is brushes with a steel wire brush on a drill machine 2 problem areas appear. The pictures clearly show that these sections are beyond repair, the only proper way is to cut out the sick material and replace with new sections of material. Due to the fact that the floor is straight piece of metal without any grooves or other features the repair pieces can simply be cut out of sheet material. The 2 repair sections are tack welded into position and that's it for the day. Now the body items are truly coming to an end.

Several rust holes on driver side front floor.


Detailed shot of holes near A-pillar, base material clearly beyond repair.


Rotten material near A-pillar cut out, I've seen this Alfa badge somewhere before.


Other section of sick material of front driver side floor also cut out.


Sheets of repair material tack welded in position.


January 22nd 2012: After welding the 2 repair pieces in the left hand front floor they are treated with the orange coloured coating to avoid surface coating. This completes the task of repairing the holes in the floor. During the disassembly of the car a few years ago I apparently bumped into the left front wing. A nasty dent is the result. Although I can't remember bumping into the screen I definitely did it myself, when the car was moved to the welder I noticed it so somehow I unfortunately damaged it. The "surgeon" is besides a craftsman when it comes to welding also a good panel beater. He will get this nasty dent out. After beating the wing with a special hammer at the right places the dent is out. What is written down here sounds relatively easy but getting a dent out and restoring a smooth surface which doesn't need filler is a art in itself. The end result is very nice as you can see in the picture below. The smooth surface is of course treated with a coating.

Holes in lh front floor closed and treated with corrolles coating.


Dent in lh front wing unfortunately made by myself.


Wing paint removed and dent carefully taken out.

Wing treated with corrolles coating after dent removal.

The bonnet has a rust affected area from which I removed the paint before bringing the car to the welder. This section will be dealt with now. In addition the holes at the air vents in the bonnet have to be closed. These holes are not applicable to the first series Giardinetta (till 1978). At the beginning of the project I was considering to keep the plastic air duct because it improves the air circulation in the car, however after putting so much effort in the car to come as close to the original geometry as possible these details also have to be correct in my opinion. The rust affected area is thoroughly brushed clean, no repair is required, just a very thorough cleaning and then application of an anti corrosive coating. For the air duct holes a different approach is required. The holes have to be filled with weld material and then excess material has to be grinded away to create a smooth surface. The centre section has 3 holes and the rh & lh outboard sides have each 1 slotted hole. With these holes filled the bonnet is done.

3 Round holes in the centre & 2 slotted holes on the outboard sides.


Centre holes welded shut and excess weld material grinded away.


Bonnet rust affected area thoroughly brushed clean.

Repaired sections of bonnet treated with corrolles.

I realised that my car doesn't have a stick to keep the bonnet open, only a spring made of wire. The spring is not sufficient strong to keep the bonnet open at all circumstances. The donor Giardinetta that  I used to own for a short period had a stick on the passenger side on the inner wing. It seems my car didn't get this detail when a new nose was welded on it during the nineties. Besides the fact that such a stick is convenient and safe it should be there originally so that has to be put back. In the original condition the stick is attached to the inner wing with a bracket which is riveted so that's not something which the welder hast to waste his time on, I will do that myself sometime in the future. Drilling holes in the inner wing and riveting a bracket to it is something I can do myself.  A more annoying fact which came out of the Alfa club forum discussion on the bonnet details is that my car is missing the bracket for the jack which is supposed to be welded to the right hand inner wing. Previously I thought that possibly Dutch vehicles never had this bracket for the jack because of regulations, but the Dutch instruction book for the Giardinetta also shows this bracket. The "normal" position for the jack on the Alfasud TI and Alfasud Berlina is on the right hand side rear wheel well. For the Giardinetta this position is not possible because the rear wheel well have trim over it and putting a jack there would decrease the loading space and decrease the functionality of the Giardinetta. The welder is pretty fed up with every time new tasks popping up so I'm kind of hesitating to ask him to recreate this bracket. However missing such an important Giardinetta unique detail is also not the proper way. I will ask the welder and see what his reply is. All in all another unexpected surprise and activities I didn't take into account.  I can only hope that the welder is prepared to do this unexpected task. A friendly reply from the welder states that he is willing to make the bracket if I can provide him the appropriate dimensions.

January 27th 2012: The outside of the bonnet is now ready. The inside is the next thing to take care of. The big blank area where on the outside no repairs were necessary also doesn't need any repair on the inside. After brushing away the surface rust the anti-corrosion coating is applied. It's good to see that not everything needs repair, although to be honest the amount of repairs required so far have surpassed my expectations. The corners of the bonnet are quite sensitive for corrosion damage and indeed 1 corner needs repair. The base material is beyond repair. The outside skin of the bonnet is folded over the inner skin. Repair on these sections is therefore quite tricky, however as previously demonstrated throughout the project the welder is more than "just" a welder. Body work is another of his specialties, so I'm not worried. The rotten corner is taken out and a repair piece is firstly tack welded into position. After confirmation of the correct position the welding activities proceed. After the repair the outer skin of the bonnet has to be folded over in the inner skin again. A difficult task but as the pictures below show well done by the surgeon. Once that is done also the outer skin of the bonnet where the inside was repaired needs some fine tuning to get a young skin again. Such kind of detailing is really important and fortunately never skipped by the surgeon. The other corners are inspected as well by brushing away the hideous purple paint but basically only 1 corner needs repair. As a last action of course again the coating is applied.

Corner of bonnet severely affected by rust.


Repair piece tack welded into position.

Bonnet on operation table to be inspected.

My Giardinetta without a bonnet.


Meticulous folding back of bonnet outer skin with special tool.


Repaired section also taken care of on the outside.


Anti-corrosive coating applied to repaired section.


January 29th 2012: Previously in the project when I had issues to figure out the original geometry of the sill I was helped out by the gentleman "John". He provided high resolution pictures of a brand new sill with dimensions on it so the sill could be reproduced. He is also working on the restoration of a Giardinetta and his car still has this Giardinetta unique jack bracket. He made an excellent detailed & accurate mould and immediately mailed it to the welder. Without such kind help from fellow owners my project would be doomed. John thanks again for your co-operative and quick help.

Detailed mould of jack bracket on rh inner wing made by John.

Detailed mould of jack bracket on rh inner wing made by John.

January 30th 2012: 1 day after the molds for the jack bracket were made by John they arrived at the welder. I never guessed things would move so fast so I hadn't informed the welder yet that a "surprise" was coming. The welder was therefore indeed quite surprised to receive such an item in the post box. Thanks once again to John for taking the effort of making a mould and sending it to the welder and thanks to the surgeon for the willingness to add another task to the activities.

Detailed mould of jack bracket on rh inner wing made by John arrived at the welder.