A job I intended to do on Friday evening was remove the rotten steel headlight buckets and fit new plastic ones, along with new wiring looms and new halogen headlights (this time sealed around the join to hopefully stop them getting water inside). The driver's side one came off without too much trouble but several of the screws on the passenger side were badly seized. I tried giving it a tug and the whole thing ripped out of the wing! The ring where the bucket screws on had rotted all the way around (this is a common fault because mud and salty road-spray collects on and around the bucket). I gave up at this point and went inside to warm up.
Saturday morning I pumped out the pit and cut out the rotten bits of sill that need patching, discovering more horrors of past bodgery along the way. The worst of which is that the cowboy who worked on the car before me had, instead of repairing the passenger side inner wing as he was paid to do, welded the outer wing onto the car (it's supposed to be bolted on but if the inner wing is badly rotten there's nothing to bolt it to) and slapped a rough patch over the biggest hole. I was feeling pretty annoyed at this point (this guy styles himself as a 'classic car specialist' and charged the previous owner a very high hourly rate for this work!) so I moved onto another job that looked like being an easier thing to fix...
I had spotted a couple of rust bubbles on the panel (not sure of its name) where the bottom of the rear doors would be if it was a four-door car. I think it's regarded as structural because it forms one side of the sill box section. Poking at it with a screwdriver revealed a big rust hole. Worse still, attacking it with a wire brush on an angle grinder revealed a massive area of fibreglass, chicken wire, rust, and filler. Saturday afternoon and evening was spent cutting all this out and doing an ugly but as solid as possible patch in its place. Unfortunately I couldn't properly weld the back edge without removing the wing, which I really don't want to do yet because it will surely reveal more rot where it bolts onto the body.
Most of Sunday until late in the evening was spent making a new headlight mounting ring and welding it on, then roughly reconstructing the area around it. The result is certainly not going to win any prizes for neatness, but it's all actual steel - no big wads of fibreglass covering up holes - and I'm going to replace that wing at some point anyway (thanks to wibble_puppy who is giving me her spare one :).
I reckon I'm still in with a chance of meeting the MOT date if I get the two sill patches done tonight (I've already cut out the rotten metal so I shouldn't come across any more surprises) and fit the new headlights and seatbelts tomorrow night.