Have you ever noticed that the more comfortable you become in a subject, the more you seem to miss. Maybe that's what causes us to seemingly overlook important issues or problems, sometimes minimizing them. After all, we build and fix trucks and cars all the time so we feel the confidence to tackle any and all obstacles. Perhaps that's when our ego's and desires for a particular project override our mind's eye for details. If all this has been too introspective, then let me explain how I overlooked a problem that became a learning experience-and hoping I can help someone else correct a similar problem.
While looking over a recent restoration project, I noticed some minor rust near the area where the fenders met the body. (This particular subject was actually a car, but don't tell anyone, OK?) I saw some rust in this area but just didn't feel it needed more than a quick glance-heck nearly every restoration project has some amount of rust and or rot don't they? Wow, was I wrong. I can still hear my wife in the background saying, "You're a car guy and you didn't see that?" As soon as I unbolted the fenders, I had a clear view of just how extensive that damage was. Water, ice, and salt (depending on the area of the country you live in) sit in any areas where mud and debris can gather. Over time that collection breeds rust and corrosion. The next thing you know, parts of the panel are severely damaged or even gone-usually the part you need to attach it to the rest of the vehicle. This kind of damage can be very extensive and expensive to have fixed. The alternative to having a shop fix it is to dive in and learn what it will take to repair it yourself. With some time, a few specific tools, and the desire, you can develop the skills to do this type of work.
Be it a classic truck or an old car, rust and rot repair is often an inevitable part of an
Some of the tools you will need for metalwork are a good welder, a stretcher, a shrinker (real time and labor savers for repairs of this type), and various snips, shears, hammers, and dollies. When faced with this particular repair, I realized that the shrinker and stretcher would offer great advantages so I called the friendly and knowledgeable folks at the Eastwood Company, and ordered the pair. The shrinker gathers up the material in a set of metal jaws. The jaws grab the material (both ferrous and non-ferrous metals) and gather or push it together in a shrinking motion. As the material gets gathered up, it creates a bend or curve in the material. This will allow the user to make radiuses or curved shapes that will resemble the original panel or flange that the rust or damage has destroyed. The stretcher accomplishes the same job though in the opposite; it grabs the material and pulls it apart, stretching it to make it longer. When it gets longer, it also starts to curve (although in the opposite direction as the shrinker). These two Eastwood tools together will let you make these needed patch panels (among lots of others). Another tool that made this job much easier is also from Eastwood. The tool is known by several names, often called a "plate shear" or Beverly shear. It is a small hand-operated shear that can cut up to 16-gauge steel. The nice feature of this plate shear is that you can cut any number of shapes including radiuses with it, not just straight cuts. Seldom do patch panels work out to be straight edges, so the added ability to cut along an arc makes the Eastwood plate shear extremely useful.
When faced with an extensive repair and using techniques that are new to you, keep the following in mind. In the words of my good friend and mentor Dennis Webb (Dennis Webb Designs, Anaheim, California), "No job is too big if you cut it down into numerous small steps." Approached in this manner, nearly any panel fabrication is doable.
Here, I'll illustrate three different patch panel areas I encountered during my project. Each one will start to show some of the shapes you can make with these tools. The first being a simple rust repair. The tools you will need are a metal cutting wheel, wire brush, welder, preferably a MIG or a TIG (save the arc welder for building bridges), and a grinder.
The second example of repair is the one I spoke of earlier. When I removed that fender, I discovered a lot of the inner fender mounting flange was rusted away. I have to admit, I was surprised by the extent of rust damage. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure and come up with a plan to repair it. On this repair we'll utilize the aforementioned Eastwood shrinker and stretcher.
The last panel repair has the most shape to it. This inner fender patch repair had multiple contours. Follow along and remember it's only metal. If it doesn't come out looking the way you want, then you can always cut it out and try it again. The main idea here is to motivate you to make the attempt. Metalwork is not voodoo; it's a skill that anyone can achieve over time and with practice even master-but you'll never know if you don't give it a try.
Once damage had been located the first order of business was to gain access to the area(s)
Once the fenders were removed and I'd determined the amount and severity of the damage I s
With the loose rust and scale cleaned up, and while wearing your safety glasses and gloves
At this point I had the option of removing both flanges completely and fabricating replace
The area marked off with the tape is the area I am making the first patch for. This area h
With the first repair pattern made and transferred to a piece of sheetmetal, I then used t