Sunday, August 28, 2011

fender apron replacement

So a few weeks ago I discovered the body rot in the passenger side fender apron, and since then I've been pondering what to do about it, the options being:

1. roughly weld a piece of metal over the holes.
2. patch the panel using part of a replacement apron.
3. drill/cut out the entire panel and replace it.

Well, option one is tempting in a way because it would be quick and nobody's ever going to see it anyway, but I'm trying to do a good job with this project...and the disadvantage of option three is that I'll lose the VIN number - unless I graft it into the new panel - so I thought I'd have a go at option two. I started by cutting out a large chunk of the metal around the damaged areas - I made the cuts in areas where the panel was roughly flat to make the welding easier. The replacement panel I got was, just by chance, sold by Dynacorn - and it was a very good fit. Apart from trimming up to fit the opening, I barely had to finish the patch at all.

Dynacorn replacement body panel
Got the patch set in place with minimum fuss

This is where things started to go wrong. I tried lots of different settings on my welder, and I tried a huge piece of copper as a heat sink, but whatever I tried, it all ended in holes: lots of holes burned through the metal. My progress as a welder has been helped along A LOT by a lesson from my friend Abe, but I still have a long way to go. I actually finished up welding in the entire patch, just for practice, but before I was even halfway done, I knew I'd be cutting it out again.

So I a few days later, and I went over to RPS to pick up another fender apron...only they were unfortunately out of stock...this was a pain because I wanted the new apron in time for the weekend, but there are other parts stores close by so I tried calling a couple...eventually I called up Mostly Mustangs in Oakland - their main business is repairs and modifications so they don't really sell parts, but they did have the right apron on hand and I made a deal which included the owner letting my into the shop after hours. So I had my new panel before the weekend....but hold on, not so fast. I didn't really look at the panel when I picked it up - I was too busy trying to keep my son away from the M&M's dispenser in the Mostly Mustangs office - but when I examined it the next day I realized it wasn't a Dynacorn panel (if I'm honest, the "Scott Drake" sticker was a bit of a giveaway). Still unconcerned, I cut out the old panel and my awful patch, and then tried the new panel for fit...and man, it was soooo bad. I couldn't bring myself to even measure how far away it was. Instead I called up RPS, ordered another Dynacorn panel, and went to work on a different part of the car...a week or so later and work continued.

I was disappointed by the amount of rust between panels - elsewhere on the car I can't get at it, and I don't like that at all!
Sprayed on some Zero Rust where the panels will overlap...shame Ford didn't!
Clamped, bolted and sheet-metal-screwed into place after minimal adjustment.
Spot welded the new metal into place.
All cleaned up..should have done it this way the first time.


  1. Ahhh...that looks so familiar! Nice work! And don't feel bad about your 'developing' welding skills. You'll get there, I sure.

  2. I did the same exact thing that you did Ian. I tried to salvage the original metal and purchased a new apron with the sole purpose of cutting it up for a patch. Same thing, little holes everywhere. I ended up replacing the entire apron, now I am thinking about replacing the entire apron again but this time fabricating a apron that matches the LS front apron since the battery will be going in the trunk.

    Glad to see all the progress.

  3. Hello Abe! I really hope things are going well for you...even with all your help, my welding still sucks! Even John couldn't save me...fabricating an opposite apron is a very interesting idea - I don't think I've seen that before...would look very cool on Fred!