Saturday, June 29, 2013

Right Rear Quarter Panel - Part 7

How long has this friggin' panel been the unrelenting challenge of my life?   I thought the floors, toe board and firewall were all time consuming.   But, at this juncture, I do see light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is a pinhole of light.

My wife headed to her loom to finish a blanket for #1 grandson's family picture with his mom, dad, and two sisters.  It's needed next weekend.  But it has to be done before  tonight since my wife and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon to our family cabin in northwest Michigan.

With my wife at the loom, that means I headed to the garage to see what additional progress I can make.

I had previously cleaned the inside of the trunk drop off and wheel well and gave it a coat of Eastwood's rust converter.   Then I gave it a top coat of flat black primer.

The patch panel has previously been fitted to  the opening with the exception of the top.  This was a delicate operation since the gap potentially could change the profile of entire lower half of the panel.  After getting it close, I used the welding clamps to position the patch and see how it would fit.

It looked OK for straightness along the joint...

There were a couple of places that required some massaging with a pick hammer and dolly to get the two sides aligned without any offset....

Then the profile templates came out for a trial fit.  Each of the photos represents station 1 through 6...


For the most part, the profile is not bad.  The gaps are no more than 1/16" and are in the forming of the patch panel itself.  Go figure.

I started the welding process by putting in the spot welds evenly and widely spaced so that I didn't and any unnecessary heat into the panel.

But as luck and metallurgy would have it, there was some shrinkage in the upper joint that caused it to "suck in" somewhat.  This is the front portion that is near the fender opening...

...And this is the rear half by the side marker light.   I expected this to happen to some degree.  It's hard to have a perfectly spaced gap, not to mention the variation in the panel from all the metalwork.

Since I had a few of the welds in, if went to work to straighten the panel after each set of welds.  I ground them down so that I had a smooth surface to work with the body tools that you're already familiar with from previous posts.  When checking with my trusty contractor square, the gap was negligible...

Progress was OK with the exception of two interruptions.  1. I ran out of welding wire.  I had been using Lincoln .025 MIG.  So I dug out a spool of .023 from Thrifty Supply and was back in business after loading the wire, installing new wire cleaner pads, and a new tip.  Right as I was getting everything ready to go, my Australian neighbor who owns a speed and hot rod shop stopped by and updated me on his trip to California to the Drags and his visit to his friend, Chip Foose.  Yeah, Chip Foose.  Dang!  Wonder if I could weasel a way to get a rendering of my car.   That ain't happening.

Anyway, it's not looking too bad after removing the weld clamps and cleaning up the welds...

Sighting down the panel appears to be pretty straight...

Here's a shot after two more rounds of welds...

Here's how the quarter panel looks after about half the welding and cleaning up the entire panel...

Since I wiped out most of my vertical station marks for the profile templates, I put them back on.  It's a little hard to see in this picture, but it's starting to look "purrdy."

It was time to close up shop since I need to get organized and ready to leave for Michigan.  I checked one more time with the templates to find out if all this work is keeping it close to the driver's side rear quarter panel.  Again, the following pictures are in order of the station numbers from 1 through 6...

Station templates 3 through 6 didn't fit as well as 1 and 2.  The difference is in the bottom 1-2 inches.  The aftermarket panel didn't have as much radius as the original.  But overall, it's not too bad.   My decision at this point is to finish up the welding and keep working horizontal joint to keep it straight.  Then I'm going to call this metalwork done.  It's not perfect in comparison to the driver's side, but it is what it is.  And what is will not be noticeable unless there's some anal engineer with a set of templates to compare sides.   So the next installment on this part of the car should complete the work on this corner of the fastback.  Phew!

As an aside, I was going out to get checked out in the club Cessna 182.  It's a bigger, heaver, and more powerful airplane than the 172.  It would be like comparing a Ford Fiesta to a Ford Fusion with a V6.   It's considered "High Performance" and requires a special endorsement to satisfy the FAA.   So everything was going well.  Preflight list ?  Check.  Pretakeoff list?  Check.  Takeoff was near perfect.  I climbed to our initial altitude of 3000 feet and leveled off...or tried to level off.   It was then that I discovered that we had a problem with the pitch trim in the airplane.  The manual trim wheel would not move to add down elevator.  The electric powered trim motor worked to lower the nose, but that was short lived.   We made a 180 degree turn and headed back to the airport.  The last thing we needed was a runaway trim condition and loose control of the airplane.   The good news is that when reducing power to land, the nose naturally lowered and I got it stabilized on final approach.  The landing was not perfect, but it was after all my first in this big bird (no pun intended).   The club check pilot, who has a boatload of hours, said, "This is the first time I've ever had a trim failure."    Definitely a learning experience as all flights are, but this one was a little more intense.  Hopefully, the next flight will be uneventful.

I suppose that's one advantage to working on the fastback compared to flying.  The worst thing I have to worry about is the fastback rolling uncontrolled on the  rotisserie.

Until the next time...


  1. Great work Dennis, that panel is looking good. Some high build primer and no one will ever be the wiser.

    1. Thanks Grant. That is exactly what I'm hoping for...high build primer and that will be it.

  2. Awesome work Dennis! Your attention to detail is very impressive. Excellent quality and workmanship.

    Also, I wanted to say that I had the pleasure of meeting Chip Foose in person a few years ago. He's a VERY nice guy.

    1. Thanks Alex. Hopefully all this work will pay off down the road.

  3. So, I believe there should be a "factory" crease right about the middle of that patch, right? Filler should take care of that. Awesome work Dennis.

  4. Not sure what you mean about a factory crease. The quarter panel is one-piece. There isn't really any sharp body line. That is what's made this whole deal such a headache. The body follows soft contour lines that are a bugger to repair and replicate. I think I'm on the home stretch with this repair panel...I hope, anyway