Monday, May 28, 2012

back to work

Good grief, it's been three months since my last update!....basically, it's been a while since I got done with my "block sanding vacation" and, once I had a coat of epoxy on the body shell, this project found itself on hiatus. Initially this was by necessity - devoting four solid days to the project meant squeezing out a lot of other stuff....which then pushed its way back in....and before I knew it, my car had looked like this for quite a while:

nice fender covers

The other issue preventing progress was that even though I spent four solid days filling, sanding and priming the body....I knew I wasn't finished. You see, while I was stripping paint from the driver quarter panel I discovered some rust that I just couldn't paint over:

Here it is with all the paint removed
It looks so much worse from the inside.

This is the second body panel I've had to patch during this restoration after the fender apron, and I learned back then that I probably don't want to get into welding any more than I absolutely have with this feeling at the back of my mind, the car carried on looking like this for a bit longer than it otherwise might have:

more of the nice fender covers

Eventually I got back into the garage, broke out my trusty DeWalt and fitted it with a brand new, deadly sharpe cutting wheel. It's easily the most obnoxious tool I own, and I hate using it - what a place to start after several months away.

Here's is the problem area, but without a car attached to it.
And here's the car after it's encounter with the deadly cut-off
wheel and my 5/16 drill bit

Now this is where it gets interesting. As you know if you read my fender apron blog, or for that matter if you've ever replaced a body panel on any early Mustang, there are two kinds of replacement panels available: firstly, there are a bunch of panels which purport to be accurate reproductions, but are actually nothing of the sort, and then there are Dynacorn* branded panels, which are pretty much facsimile reproductions (*Note: there is much debate on VMF and elsewhere about whether Dynacorn stamp their own panels or function mainly as a wholesaler. For the purpose of this blog, my definition of a Dynacorn panel is specifically any panel supplied by the Dynacorn warehouse in SoCal - I can obtain anything in their catalog though Tony at RPS in Hayward, so where the panel was actually stamped is of little interest to me. although I appreciate it is to others).

Of course it's not quite as simple as choosing between "good" or "bad" panels - there is also cost and availability to consider. For the area I needed to replace, Dynacorn don't offer a patch panel, so I would have to buy a complete quarter panel at around 300 dollars. A more affordable but badly shaped Canadian patch panel is available for about 10 percent of the price....but it probably won't fit. So I sucked it up and went down to RPS to order my Dynacorn panel....except at that point in time, the panel I needed was out of stock for over a month. Oh dear. I could probably have found one elsewhere, but cross-country shipping on a panel this big and heavy would have added even more $$$ on top....and I was eager to get going after weeks away from the after debating for ages, I found myself walking out or RPS with the Canadian patch panel pictured below....I took it home....put it on the bench....and another few weeks ticked on by...Eventually I talked myself into having a go with the Canadian metal and set about trimming the shape to fit into the hole I had previously cut in my precious car.

started by cutting off two thirds of the metal
lots of clamping in position....and lots of trimming
eventually got a half-decent fit

Now to flange the panel......well, that's what I wanted to do, but first I had to get hold of a panel flanger. Well, that proved to be a lot easier said than done - my compressor is too pathetic to operate pneumatic tools, so I tried to get hold of a hand tool from either Harbor Freight, or one of my car buddies...and I failed. So I made my own tool out of an old pair of vice grip:

After practicing on some scrap metal I managed to make what is probably best described as an adequate flange on my patch.

After I made the flange, a little bit more adjustment of the panel was necessary before I clamped and screwed it into position.

First few tack holding welds
All welded up.

It was about now when I realized what people mean when they talk about warping panels when welding. I tried hard to do all the right things (cool each weld with compressed air, space out the welds), but I guess some warping is inevitable. The thing is, this seemed to make the curvature of the Canadian panel even worse than it was before I started.

I was really stuck as to what to do at this point, so I turned to my Mustang blog friends for advice (these guys know who they are!)....and we decided the best place to go next was right back to the beginning...stand by for the next posting where I'll be installing the Dynacorn panel.