Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tail Light Panel and Trunk Floor – Part 6: Lap 2 – Right Side Left

On my first evaluation of the right rear quarter panel quite some time ago, I figured on having to install a rather large patch panel in the lower section of the quarter to repair the rusted out rear wheel opening corner as well as fix the many dents and dings in the panel.  This idea has always sat rather poorly with me as I really wanted to do my best to keep as much of the original quarters intact as I could.  So after many nights sitting and studying the extent of repairs that would be required, I decided to spend several hours working out as much of the damage as I could with my array of hammers and dollies before deciding on the extent of metal replacement that would be necessary.  After several evenings spent massaging the metal as best I could, I was very pleased to see a rather straight panel before my eyes!  Now we’re talkin’!

All of a sudden, I was in the enviable position of being able to simply duplicate the same repair procedures that I performed on the left side of the car on the right side.  This made planning the repairs a lot easier and, with a little luck, a good bit quicker as well.  So without letting time get away from me too much, I set about my first task of filling the side marker light in the same way I had before.  Using the same pattern I had made for the left side marker light patch, I made another patch and carefully fit it in place.  This time around, I decided to give myself just a bit more gap around the edges to make weld penetration easier to achieve.  With the fit just as I wanted it, I clamped the patch into place with my welding clamps and my trusty patch panel clamps to keep the gaps nice and even all around.  I worked the shape of the patch a little bit with the hammer and dolly to get the fit as tight and flush with the surrounding metal as possible.  Satisfied I had the best fit I could manage, I started by tacking the patch in at random locations around the patch and cooling each tack with compressed air until I had tacks around the entire periphery spaced about ½” apart.  I concentrated a bit more effort on tacking more heavily each corner of the patch on this go-round based on lessons learned on the left side patch.  Then, I ground all of the tacks smooth to allow one final check of the fit before final welding.

Satisfied I had the fit as good as I could make it, I started the slow process of “connect-the-dots” tack welding and cooling randomly around the patch until the entire patch was welded in.  Another period of weld grinding and smoothing left a patch with excellent weld penetration and clean fit.  I did allow for a little extra weld coverage on the back side to make absolutely sure I would have no future issues with cracking around the patch.

Next, I headed off to removing the right trunk floor section, again suing the same methods used on the left side repair.  First, I cut away as much metal as I could to allow me easier access to the areas where I would be drilling out spot welds.  I began by cutting the welds at the front trunk floor flange, followed by the rear trunk floor flange.  Then, I located each spot weld along the rear frame rail by lightly grinding along the rail flange location to make marking the welds much easier.  Then, using my trusty paint marker, I marked the location of each remaining spot weld along the rail flanges as well as on the inside of the inner wheel house and lower drop-off flanges.  After a solid evening center punching and drilling spot welds with my Blair Rotabroach spot weld cutter and grinding the few that could not be drilled with my cutoff wheel, the trunk floor panel came out cleanly.  And, as fortune would have it, the right side rear frame rail was in equally good, if not better, condition as the left.  I almost couldn’t believe my eyes to be honest.  Again, the rust scale in the inside lower quarter area was a virtual copy of the left side, so the next step will be to assembly my chelation apparatus and remove the rust that is there using the chelation process described earlier in this blog.  More to come very soon!
Following the exact same procedures I used on the left side, I fit the corner marker light patch panel and clamped it into place.  Note the slightly increased panel gaps to allow better weld penetration.

Here is the outside view of the patch.  I had to do a small bit of hammer and dolly work to get the edges to fit the parent panel.

Here, the patch is tacked in at 1/2" intervals.  Notice the corners have been tacked almost completely around.  This prevented the corners from pulling under as I cooled the welds.

Here is the fully welded patch just as I started grinding the welds flush.

The finish-ground patch is hardly detectable and looks good.

I added a little bit of weld on the back side of the patch in a few areas to ensure that no cracks would develop over time.

Next, I cut away the extra material from the trunk floor panel to allow easier access to the remaining spot welds.

In this shot, you can see that the rear trunk floor crossmember has been removed from the rail horn and upper floor flange.
After lightly grinding along the upper rail flanges, I was able to easily locate and mark the spot welds I would need to cut in this area.

Along the inside of the wheel house, I marked and cut all of the spot welds with my Blair Rotabroach.  This flange is usually pretty bent up as part of the manufacturing process, so a good bit of straightening is required to allow proper spot weld cutting.

Can you believe it?  Another perfect rear subframe rail under all that rust!

Here is the lower inner quarter panel rust.  An almost identical copy of the rust on the left side.  Here, I will fire up the chelation process and go to work getting this rust gently removed.