Friday, March 17, 2017

Quarter Panel Repairs - patching the rusty inner wheel well

Here's a quick and dirty post on a patch job in the wheel well area. 

When the outer wheel well was cut out, I discovered a weak and rotten area of metal that is a common place to find rust. The inner and outer wheel well pieces are overlapped a little bit at the forward part of the assembly inside the well. The overlapped area tends to trap dirt and water being run around in there and eventually rust forms. I figured this was worth posting since it's probably happening on a lot of these cars by this point. The rest of the metal around here is in pretty good shape, so it could have been worse.

Once the outer wheel well was gone, the rot is exposed. This shot shows the intersection of the inner well, the floor pan, and the rocker panel. 

The bad metal is cut out easy enough.

Here's more rotten metal in the pile. It's about 3 inches by 4, and is completely eaten through very thin in several places, so I'm happy to have it out.

 The area is cleaned up in preparation for welding. Those two holes in the upper flange of the rocker panel aren't supposed to be there - that was a result of overenthusiastically drilling out a couple of spot welds that were holding the outer wheel well in place. I'll need to fill those holes before I put the new wheel well in.

 New patch made from 20 gauge metal. 

 The patch was butt-welded in and plug welded where the original spot-welds were before.

Welds cleaned up and it's good as new. It's much smoother than it looks, and I'm pretty happy with it. I'll trim the bottom and outer edge to the right shape later.  But you'll never see all this once the quarter panel work is done, as this will be covered with the new outer well and then covered with new sound deadener.  

Now I just have to patch a couple other holes here...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Quarter Panel repairs- cutting out the bad metal

I've been thinking/agonizing over this next step quite a while. I know some of metal is bad on the quarter, but it's mostly on a lot of curved surfaces like the wheel well arch and near the decorative vents. Curved sheet metal is harder to weld than flatter areas, and welds in the middle of broad swaths of metal are more likely to have distortion and warping issues than welds near panel edges. So, the amount of metal I cut out will have to be balanced against my admittedly beginner's welding skills.

When doing a job like this, you have a couple options: you can get a full replacement quarter panel, a reproduction of what Ford used to build the car 50 years ago, or you can get a "skin".

The quarter panel forms the trunk opening as well as the door opening and goes all the way up to to the roof line where it's leaded to the roof panel. That would be a lot of metal just thrown away to fix a hole in the wheel arch. And they're pretty expensive. But the edges are well-formed and it's the most accurate replacement part. Replacing this panel is a massive job, but requires less welding.

The skins are meant to just be used as patches, not full panel replacements. As such, they are much cheaper than a full quarter panel, but the edges of the skins are not well formed and not useful for actually installing on the car. This panel would be chopped up to fit and then butt-welded around most of its perimeter. If I were a better welder, I'd be using a skin and cutting a smaller piece out of the car.

After a long time thinking about this, I decided to cut out the majority of the quarter panel's vertical skin from door to tail and as high up to the body line as possible, and use a portion of a real quarter panel as replacement metal. This way I preserve as much factory metal as I can, and get to use good edges on the front, bottom, and rear for plug welding to the car. This will leave me, however, with a five-foot-long weld at the top of the panel that will have to be done so as not to cause a lot of distortion or need gallons of body filler to hide after the fact.

For replacement metal, I could buy a full quarter panel for a fastback, but as it happens the quarter panel for the coupe is basically the same piece up to the body line, but a lot cheaper. So I got full quarter panel for a '67 coupe and use it to create a sort of skin panel that has good edges that can fitted right on the car. I will trim off the coupe-specific metal at the top of the panel so I can fit it onto the remaining panel on the fastback.

New coupe quarter panel taking up space in the garage.

It has all the edges and details right, unlike a skin panel. 

The new quarter has an piece that ties the panel to the tail panel, but I'm keeping mine, so I cut this off the new part. Just a few spot welds hold it in place.

Cutting off the coupe-specific metal from the top of the quarter panel so it'll fit up on a fastback car.

Marking the first major cut. I made several to make sure I was cutting only what I wanted. 

Yeah, I just cut a huge hole in classic car. 

Here's the backside of the part I cut out. The rot is clearly visible here, and the entire wheel lip is toast, as well as the metal in front of the wheel well (at left in this pic). Cutting it out was the right move, but now I have to do something about it.

There's more to this part than just cut out the old and weld in the new. The next few posts will show a bunch of the 'other stuff' that's required along the way.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

How to assess rust damage on a quarter panel

No posts in a while, I know. I've been busy with a few non-Mustang projects lately, and this next fix is a biggie - so instead of doing it all in one post, I'll have to break it into a few. Hopefully, this means more frequent posts as well.

I could just as easily call this post "How to face your demons", as I've been dreading this work since I bought the car. Yep, that's right, I knew this car had visible rust on the body and I bought it anyway. I like to think that speaks to my optimism and ruthless persistence -but it could just as easily be a prime example of bad decision making. Either way, I'm about to find out.

Let me orient the reader for this topic. The quarter panel, above, is the expanse of metal that forms the back of the car from the tail panel to the door latch panel. It includes the decorative vent mountings, and forms the edges of the trunk, door, and wheel arch. On the fastbacks, it goes all the way up to the roof line and includes the 'sail' with the fresh air vent. It's huge.

The right side quarter panel had a little hole at the top of the wheel arch, and the half-inch hole went all the way through - not quite big enough to put a finger through. What may not be immediately obvious is that there's actually two pieces of metal here - the quarter panel and the (outer) wheelhouse. The wheelhouse is the big curved dome that the wheel rides in and keeps water and mud out of the car. The quarter panel is spot welded to the wheelhouse where the outer edges meet at the wheel opening.

So, as the title suggests, I'm going to show what I was looking at to figure out how bad the rust really is. I'm trying to avoid cutting more metal off the car than is required to make a good repair*. The quarter panel has lots of curved surfaces and those where the rust and curves are will actually dictate how I decide to patch this part.

*A more experienced person wouldn't have to do this. I'll remind you again I'm not that person.

The easiest area to look for damage is back in the trunk behind the wheel. In this shot, the back of the wheelwell is at the left, and the outer skin of the car is at top. When I went looking, I found nasty looking metal, but it passed the "stab it with something sharp" test, at least where I could reach. But the metal looks like it could be weak and pitted at the edges. Ick.

Next up, I can look behind the interior trim panels and see what the quarter skin looks like at the forward section. Here's the passenger side rear interior trim panel before I took it out (many moons ago...)

I found a monster of a mouse nest behind the trim panel. This is bad, as all this material would be really likely to hold moisture and cause rust from inside the car...

...which is exactly what seems to have happened here. The skin of the quarter is rusted at the wheel well and the rocker panel junctions. So that's a bummer.

When subjected to stabbing test, I found one actual hole an some weak metal that deformed quite a bit. Another bummer.

I then picked out and broke off all the rust nuggets I could by hand, and then hit the outside of the wheel arch with a stripping disc to see what would come off. That half-inch hole became a a 6" x 3" gash through the quarter skin an the outer wheel house. Yikes. Well, just remember, if you can see the rust, it's usually a lot worse under the surface.

Now let's look inside the wheel well. Sticking my head where the wheel usually goes and looking aft, I see outer wheel house is soaked in something oily and has rust at the bottom where it meets the trunk drop-off and the quarter panel. It takes a lot of light and some scraping, but it's there nonetheless.

Looking up at the top of the wheel opening (see the hole?) there is a rust stain that runs the entire length of the outer wheel house from front to back. That's likely a serious bummer as well, as it means that most of the outer wheel house is rusted and will need replacing as well as some part of the quarter panel.

Looking closely at the hole in the top of the wheel arch, the rust seems to extend a good inch up from the edge of the hole in at least two directions.

I decided to cut half of the outer wheelhouse away from the car so I could actually see the extent of the rust on the inside of the quarter panel. After drilling all the spot welds holding the quarter panel to the outer wheelhouse, I marked my line with tape and cut it out. There are also a couple spot welds at the wheelhouse/rocker panel junction.

Stupid sideways pics.

Here's a view from inside the trunk looking forward once the wheelhouse portion was cut out. What's left is just the quarter panel. Notice here the wheel lip on the quarter panel is rusty. It looks worse in person.

Here's one of the pieces of the wheelhouse I cut out. The edge that was connected to the quarter panel is totally shot - it's weak and perforated. Remember, all I could see before I cut this out was the stain in the wheel opening. This is the opposite side of that same piece of metal.

The other part of the wheelhouse was in just as bad a shape. No point in trying to weld to this mess.

Oh, and a bonus - another mouse nest, this time inside the rocker panel. I was going to clean this space out anyways, but now I have to do it while wearing a respirator.

Looking from the inside, the rest of the lip on the quarter panel is just as bad. Again, no point in welding on that mess.

Here's a great view of the rust that is on the quarter skin from the big mouse nest. That metal is weaker than it looks. It has to be replaced as well.

Remember the original half-inch rust hole that we started with? Look how bad it looks from the backside. "You're going to need a bigger patch."

So now that I know where all the rust and weak metal areas are, I marked them all out all the on the front of the panel to assess how much metal had to be replaced.

So, I have a good idea of what's bad and needs to be replaced. And I have a replacement part ready to go. That's actually a replacement panel for a coupe, not a fastback, and that's on purpose.

Stay tuned for the next step - cutting.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

All caught up, and still more to do. (And a clip show!)

The last post on the cowl clean-up job was the last "historical" post I had. Historical, in this sense, as in "the past", not "joining the canon of Great American Literature, soon to be required reading for incoming freshmen".

Up till now, I've been doing new projects and blogging the old projects. The old projects are almost in the same order I actually did them, but if they're out of order, I note that in the post.  So if you're asking "what's the order to restore an old Mustang?", you're seeing an answer here. Maybe not the right answer, but it's how I'm doing it. 

Now I'm out of old work to post up here. Any new posts will be essentially live, as-it-happens. Which means I'll start posting not just the work in the garage, but research results, parts selection, and other background material.

The car was purchased in September 2011, and work started in January 2012. So, we're coming up on 5 years on this project. Projecting out at my current rate of progress, I expect to be done in 2019, give or take 2 years. So, back to work.

Sept 2011

June 2013

Sept 2013

July 2014 
Oct 2014

Jan 2012

Mar 2013

Sept 2014

Nov 2014

Jan 2015

June 2015

Aug 2015

April 2016

Mar 2016

Mar 2016

May 2016

Jun 2016

Aug 2016

Oct 2016

Nov 2016

And the beat goes on...