Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Nice Way to Spend My Birthday Evening

After dinner yesterday, I ventured out to the garage to continue the bodywork on Ringo’s passenger side. A couple years ago, while backing out of the garage and maneuvering around obstacles in the driveway, I managed to rub Ringo’s side panel against the garage door opening, thus denting it. Fortunately, there was not a lot of damage, but before I could finish patching the area in front of the right rear wheelwell, I needed to hammer the panel back into its correct shape. First, though, I had to get access to the backside of the panel, which I gained, by removing the window crank and ashtray and then carefully popping the panel off without breaking off any of the delicate panel clips. With hammer and dolly, I pounded on the metal until I made an approximate curve from the flattened fender. It will need a skim coat of Bondo and some sanding to be perfect again, and with Ariel deciding to keep him black, it will need to be perfect.

With the pounding completed, I moved on to cutting the rocker panel patch to fit the cut away opening. When I cut out the rusted sheetmetal, I tried to make my cuts horizontal or vertical. Doing this kept the measurement fairly straightforward and the cuts fairly easy to make. In less than an hour I had the patch cut to shape and the 5/16ths holes ready drilled for the lower plug welds. Next, I grabbed the Lucy’s extinguisher, donned my welding garb, closed the garage door to keep out drafts, and went at it. There were some matching issues between creases in the body and those in the panel at the door opening, so I had to decide what to line up. I decided the sealing face for the door weatherstrip was the critical surface, so I worked off that. I’ll be able to blend the mismatched surfaces, and since they don’t affect door fitment, it’s not a problem.

I got the panel tacked in, the plug welds completed, and was working on filling in between the tacks, when I decided to knock off for the night.

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