TVR Chassis Corrosion Information and Q&A Page

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Welcome to the Chassis Corrosion Information and ‘Q&A’ Page! Here, we will hopefully give you more of a background on the issues surrounding chassis corrosion on our beloved TVRs, as well as hopefully answering the most commonly asked queries. For detailed information on pricing, please scroll through the sub-menu attached to this page and select your model using the drop-down list.

While your TVR may use a GRP body tub, the chassis is made of mild steel tubing. Steel is, of course, susceptible to corrosion. On the Bristol Avenue production line, the original chassis’ were constructed and then ‘powdercoated’, which is a plasticised protective layer baked directly on to the metal to prevent moisture and air from reaching the surface and causing rust.

Over the years, this layer of coating can break down and fracture, causing moisture to be able to ingress and get underneath the coating. Once underneath, it’s only a matter of time before the coating starts to flake off.

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The cause isn’t that powdercoating is a bad method of coating, because it isn’t. It’s highly effective when applied properly, and when combined with other protective layers it’s more than capable of protecting a car chassis (read about our thermal zinc-spray application in the model-specific pages).

The problem is that in cases where the coating has been applied quickly, or corners cut (either due to time or cost constraints), the coating becomes less durable, and if there are no other layers of preparation or barrier under the coating, it’s not long before rust kicks in. This is what happens with TVRs.

I’ve found rust on my TVR, what do I do?

Firstly, don’t panic – you’re not alone! It’s quite normal to find surface corrosion on a TVR chassis that hasn’t been attended to since build (in fact, the exception would be to find one that is corrosion free!) Many cars have also been lathered with coatings such as Waxoyl, with varying degrees of success, and in some cases the cars with Waxoyl-type coatings are the cars hiding horror stories underneath!

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If you’ve uncovered a hole, then it’s immediately obvious you need a repair, or you may have just found unprotected areas of chassis where surface corrosion (i.e. rust on the surface of the tube, but still seemingly solid) have taken hold. In either case, the first thing to do is to bring the car to us for a free inspection. Using our expertise, we’ll be able to assist and advise you of possible solutions and remedies, and give you options on how to tackle the issue.

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This 1996 Chimaera outrigger looked solid when viewed from underneath

 

Many people panic, as having already outlayed a substantial fee buying a car, the thought of throwing more at it to repair it is worrying. Ideally, you’d buy one without any problem areas and save your hard-earned wage! However, with the value of nearly all TVR models steadily climbing and the number of cars on the road with rust-riddled chassis’ increasing, a TVR with a fully sorted chassis is a rare and desirable beast!

 Repair Options Explained

 Using this website, you’ll notice that along with this information page, there are separate sub-sections devoted to the individual models and the options available for them. On most models, there are two main repair options available, and while prices and details are explained in each page, an overview of the available options are as follows:

  1. Full scale chassis refurbishment – the full works! Achieved by stripping, blasting, renewing sections and then re-coating, your chassis is essentially given a new lease of life. By far the most thorough and long-lasting, but also a very cost-effective approach to keeping your TVR alive for years to come.
  2. DIY (a fully refurbished chassis only) – The most cost-friendly option of all for ensuring your TVR’s survival, largely because you do the majority of the work and simply bring the chassis to us on it’s own. Obviously not suitable for everybody, and if you’re not confident of your own abilities, then we advise leaving your car alone! But, being that we also specialise in kit cars, we’re far more affording to those who want to use their own spanners and have devised this option to work around them.
TVR Chimaera outriggers renewed

TVR Chimaera 400 outriggers renewed

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TVR Chimaera 500 chassis fully refurbished

 

Do you offer a Waxoyl or undersealing service on existing cars?

In a word, no. Quite simply, we do not believe there is any point in doing so. Waxoyl as a product is an effective means of protection, and, if coated on the chassis from new, or as a freshly repainted piece it would no doubt increase durability.

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However, if you’ve got a chassis which has surface rust present, the only areas you can realistically access to rub down and treat are not the areas where the corrosion begins. The first place the rot takes hold is on the inside of the front and rear outrigger corner sections, which are hard up against the body on a Chimaera or Griffith, and consequently cannot be accessed to prepare in any way. The only option would be to just spray the sections through a lance tube, having not rubbed down or treated them thoroughly, and that’s pretty pointless!

It is also our honest opinion that a good 30% or so of cars potentially brought to us for such a procedure would already be in need of chassis work. Throwing Waxoyl over rust isn’t going to bring it back to full strength.

Some companies offer outrigger repairs or replacements where the body isn’t removed. Do you, and if not, why not?

To continue a trend from above, no. At present, we do not believe a method exists where a structurally penetrative weld can be applied to certain areas of the chassis, without making access to the areas first. Evidence to support this are the sheer number of cars we’ve had through the doors (including our own S1!) which have been patched up from the underside. None of these cars had welds that continued all the way around the tubing (as its not possible to get all the way around some of the tubing with the body on) and not only will that obviously compromise strength, it leaves a perfect opening in the tube for moisture to enter and rust to form inside the tube, meaning it begins to rust from the inside out (something that doesn’t normally happen).

Our own 1989 TVR S1 has been 'bodged' in the past! The outriggers were repaired with the body on, and the repairer in question has only been able to weld 2/3rds of the way around the tube. The gap at the top will not only weaken the structure, but allow moisture to ingress, rotting the tube out from the inside.

Our own 1989 TVR S1 has been ‘bodged’ in the past! The outriggers were repaired with the body on, and the repairer in question has only been able to weld 2/3rds of the way around the tube. The gap at the top will not only weaken the structure, but allow moisture to ingress, rotting the tube out from the inside.

The only method we know of which might allow full access for welding is to begin cutting sections of bodywork away to reveal the tubing from inside the car, and then re-glassing these areas once the repairs are complete. This allows better access to perform welds. While the method may work, and may lower the price of the job, it’s simply our opinion that the benefits of the procedure are outweighed by the fact bits of floor are being hacked out, and they’ll never go back in, or be re-created as they were originally due to lack of access. By raising or removing the body, it is entirely possible to rebuild the car with little or no evidence to suggest it ever came apart, and keeping cars looking factory-fresh is the key to keeping values up.

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Surgery always leaves a scar, but wouldn’t it be even better if it didn’t?! By raising or removing the body, chassis salvation is possible with no evidence to show it ever happened. The ideal solution, surely?

 

Obviously any repair is better than no repair, but it’s our opinion that if you’re going to the trouble of doing it, do it right.

 

For more information, advice or assistance, please feel free to contact us by phone (01329 220755) or by email using the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website.