Monday, February 7, 2011

Cowl Panel Replacement - Episode 6: Touchdown!

It’s kinda funny what inspiration a brand-spankin new mig welder can give a fella.  When I last left off, I had fit each cowl end enclosure to the cowl and clamped them into place. Having nailed the fit on both ends to near perfect, I prepped each one for final welding and refit them one last time and clamped them securely into place.  I was absolutely chomping at the bit to try my new Lincoln mig welder out after practicing my plug weld technique on some scrap sheet metal.  With some easy adjustments to my technique, I was able to crank out respectable plug welds and I felt really good about the prospects of getting the end enclosures welded into place and putting paid to the cowl replacement project.
With a few butterflies in the pit of my stomach, I set off anchoring the corners of the enclosures with solid plug welds right out of the box.  I could feel myself smiling like a fool under my welding helmet at how well the machine worked and decided Lincoln didn’t paint their machine Ferrari red by accident!  Man does that thing perform….!!!
It seemed like no time at all and I had both enclosures welded in and I was grinding the welds.  Each weld was far less bulky than my old welder could produce and they all cleaned up quite well with a little grinder work.  In the matter of a few hours, I looked up and realized I had completed the cowl replacement and lived to tell the tale!
With all of the welding completed, I finally had the opportunity to evaluate the entire job more critically.  Most obvious was how solid and tight the whole structure felt.  With an actual structure back in the car, it was really amazing the difference in how the car sounded when rapped on with the knuckles.  There’s something oddly rewarding about that solid “pop” when you “knock on the door” on a new structure like this.
With the hard work out of the way, I just need to touch-up the interior of the end enclosures where the weld heat damaged the Zero Rust paint and then seam seal the remaining flange seams once everything is dry.
Next on the agenda is the removal of the floor pan, toe board repairs, lower subframe straightening and preparation for a new floor pan and seat pans.  Following that, I will be ordering subframe connectors (RM-102), chassis brace (RM-023) and 4-link rear coilover suspension (RM-101) from Heidt’s Hot Rod & Muscle Car Parts.  I’ll also be on the hunt for a 72-74 Ford Torino rear swaybar to complement the new, modern rear suspension while giving the car maximum wheel width allowance without wheel tub modifications.  Just a little hint into what’s on the horizon……and it ain’t likely what you might expect.

I went a little overboard on clamping the end enclosures perhaps, but it ensured the fit was near perfect.
Even between clamps, the flanges were straight and tight before welding.

The top flange is effectively the guide for the rest of the panel.  Good fit here is critical.

Here is a look at the fit in the top rear corner of the end enclosure.  Beautiful!

From the first arc strike, it was obvious my new Lincoln mig welder was light-years ahead of my old, fussy mig it replaced.

Here is the driver side end enclosure welded in.

And here is the passenger side enclosure fully welded.
Driver side welds ground smooth.

Passenger side welds ground smooth.

Here is the back side of the driver enclosure.  The fit here was truly excellent.

Passenger side rear of view of the end enclosure after welds were ground smooth.
Here is the finished driver side upper rear corner.  The fit here really couldn't get any better.

A faked aerial shot of the finished cowl.  On to the floors!


  1. Outstanding! I can't believe how close you got your flanges to fit. You're a true artist my friend. Congrats on the milestone.

  2. That really is amazing work, very nice. Out of interest, how exactly did you fake the aerial photo?

  3. Alex,

    Doggonit! Yer makin me blush! But seriously, I really appreciate your kindness (as always).

  4. Joyr1der,

    Thanks for the kind words. The fake aerial shot was taken with the car turned sideways on the rotisserie. I sooooo cheated.....

  5. Nothing new for you Pruett. Amazing work as alway's! Blush away you deserve it.

  6. Great work on the cowl! Thanks for such a comprehensive walkthrough of the work. I should have no problem when I do mine, thanks to you.

    1. Grant,

      I am very happy to hear the documentation of the cowl replacement is going to help you on your project. Thanks very much for compliments and let me know if there is anything you'd like to see in detail that isn't on the blog for reference. All the best and keep me posted!

    2. My next major part of the car is the driver's side rocker replacement, and then I might head up towards the cowl or tackle the floor. I am trying to get it in before winter hits. The PO's were not very kind to my car. I think I might actually be in competition for rust and stupid stuff that has been done to it.

    3. I feel your pain on the P.O.'s! I guess that explains a bit about the acronym doesn't it! (LOL!) Glad you are giving it the effort it deserves to keep another classic on the road!