Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Part III - Getting into the body work.

I started getting into the heavy body work this past weekend. I mentioned on my last post that I was planning on starting on the front section of the drivers heater channel, but moved on to this instead. This is the part that terrified me for some time now. I had some huge gaping holes just below and to the rear of the drivers side rear quarter window.

Before Picture:

I've never been much of a bodyman, nor had I ever tackled this kind of repair before. The size of the holes really made this difficult for me to start since I really wasn't sure of the outcome. I figured I'd better just dive in before I chickened out.

I started by grinding out as much of the bad metal as I could using a combination of a 4 inch cutting disk on a Dewalt angle grinder, and abrasive stripper on a drill, and good old metal snips. The rot ended up extending about 2 more inches to the rear, and also stretched down under the wheel well about 4 inches. I decided to work from the outside in, starting to piece in under the wheel well, then up under the wing vent. Notice that I have the wiring harness pulled up and out of the way with a scrap piece of sheet metal. I didn't want it to be incinerated from the heat of the welder. Also note the hole on the inside of the body visible in my patch area. This is actually turing out to be fairly useful in shaping the outside panel from within. I'll patch that last. I left a little bit of an overhang on the bottom patch so that I would have a surface to mate the next patch to.

Patching in progress:
Next, I moved onto the fender mounting area. This was a little more tricky for two reasons. First, the metal had a double bend to it and second, I needed to fabricate the fender mounting on the left side of the patch. The stock panel had a 1 x1.5 inch indentation that I needed to mimic before welding in the nut. To do this, I cut a 1 x 1.5 inch piece of wood and clamped it in my vise, marked the center of the wood with a black dot. Next I drilled a hole in the center of where the mounting indentation was supposed to be. I then took the patch that I cut, centered the hole with the black dot on the piece of wood and hammered it over top of the wood using a rubber mallet.

Next Patch:

After getting the fender mount tacked in, I moved up to the section by the wing vent. I figured I would do this and the lower section seperately to make retaining the body line easier. This patch went pretty well with only minor flaws.

Patch below wing vent: Now it was time for the part of the patch that I really wasn't looking forward to. I was a little hesitant since this part of the panel has multiple curves to it and I do not own any fancy tools. I don't even own body hammers and dollies.

I started by cutting te patch metal to the rough shape of the hole, leaving about a quarter inch extra around all the edges. To get the convex bend in the patch, I layed the metal on a soft piece of pine and started hammering at it lightly with my trusty rubber mallet. After about 20 minutes, I had the metal in just about the right shape to make the patch.

I held the patch up against the cut out section and trimmed any metal that would over extend the hole and also mated it on the overhang of the lower patch. I had to continue bending and hammering the metal as I spot welded it in to help with retaining the shape. All went surprisingly well. Especially for my first attempt.

Semi-finished patch:
All I have left to do for this patch is to fill in any pinholes left from welding, make final adjustments to the body lines from the inside, which is why the hole on the inside of the patch will be useful, and finally put a coat of glazing putty to smooth over the patch. Over all, I think this turned out pretty well.
That's it for this post. For the next post I am going to try and finish the rear drivers side sail panel.
See ya soon!

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