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Q. First, I would like to thank you for all the valuable information I have learned from your articles in Classic Trucks and Street Rodder magazines. I also got one of your books on metal shaping.
My '51 Ford F-1 has mismatched front fenders. One is from an F-1, which is correct for the truck; the other one is from an F-2. The wheel opening on the F-2 is taller than the one on the F-1, no doubt to leave room for larger wheels. Since I installed a Mustang II-type frontend, I have more room for my front tires with the F-2 fender. The F-1 fender comes in contact with the tire in a sharp turn.
What is the best way to raise the F-1 fender opening to match the F-2? I was thinking of making a stencil, tracing it out on the F-1 fender and cutting. The problem is regaining the roll of the fender at the edge. I've thought of using the correct diameter round stock, then pie cutting the fender edge and rolling the edge over that. The problem with that is there is no round stock on the original fenders over the wheel opening. So it comes down to how to duplicate the stock roll under after I cut the new opening? Thanks in advance for your advice. I'm sure you get a million emails so any guidance would be much appreciated.
Via the Internet
A. Thanks for contacting me, and I'm delighted that you have enjoyed my columns! I do get a lot of emails, but I enjoy helping people with their metalworking problems, and encourage all our readers to contact me anytime they have a question.
While rolling the original metal over to match the edge detail of the original fender is one option, there is a much easier way. I'd make a cut all around the wheelwell opening, about 1 inch outside the inner edge, then slide this up so that the wheelwell opening matches the other side. Once positioned, you can scribe around the edge of this part, and then you can trim the old fender away and make a nice butt-weld. You will probably have to recontour the wheelwell arch slightly so the end angles to match the original fender. If you have access to a metal stretching machine, this is very easy to do, but it can be done by stretching the edge with a hammer and dolly, too. You will have to make two small filler pieces to bridge the gaps below the newly positioned wheelwell opening, but this will be a fairly straightforward job.
Q. I need to replace the door bottoms on my project vehicle. I bought the inner and outer patch panels from an aftermarket supplier, but the patch panels are too short in length. I added a splice when I installed the inner panel, and placed it about 4 inches away from the front of the door. Where should I splice the outside panel? The outside panel has a lip on three sides, and the contours are preformed into the panel.
Via the Internet
A. You can place the splice anywhere you like. I'd do the splicing before the patch panel was welded into place, so you'll have unimpeded access to both sides of the metal for straightening. Taking this approach, you'll have to make and finish two welds the full height of the patch panel. While this is certainly a straightforward way to do the job, I would suggest doing it a different way.
The existing patch panel could be cut right next to the existing flange (either the front or rear one) and a new piece of metal could be welded into place. Once the welding was completed, a little hammer and dolly work would put the necessary contour into the new panel, and then it could be flanged. The chief advantage this approach has is that considerably less welding is required (there will be one vertical seam, not two) so there will be less distortion to fix. Another advantage is that with your weld close to the edge, the flange you will form will help straighten the panel. Of course, the downside is the time it takes to shape and flange the new panel, but if you took the splicing approach you'd be doing some shaping and flanging anyway!