Sunday, September 16, 2012

Passenger Side Toeboard/ Firewall repair

Fall is almost here.  With our drought that plagued us for most of the summer, August brought us more seasonal temperatures and...rain...lots of rain.   My lawn tractor has been idle from Memorial Day weekend until the first week in August.   It took about two weeks for the grass to rebound.  Since then, the grass has decided to grow profusely.   I'm mowing every 4-5 days.  Apparently the Scotts fertilizer I put on days before the rain stopped decided to kick in.   So I'm really back to what I normally do during Indiana summers.  I'm just out of the habit.   But it also is cutting into garage time, especially since all the fall lawn work and prep for winter is beginning.

Yesterday was a full day.   I needed to finish up  work for Sunday (sermon, power point for Bible study, and updating the church Facebook and website, etc),  cutting the acreage, stopping by Lowes for grass seed, seed mesh, deck wash, and other various and sundry item, and get some major bare spots reseeded before the rain arrives on Monday.

So Sunday afternoon afforded me some time to start on the toe board/firewall repair on the passenger side of the car.   I suppose I have only myself to blame, but I wish that I had spent more time cleaning up the surface rust on the toe board and firewall before starting any floor repairs.  But, it is what it is.

 Even with the advantage of the rotisserie, it was, shall I say, not a pleasant experience, especially since half-way through the process my air saw decided to implode.  (Note to myself:  don't buy one from Harbor Freight again)

I cleaned up the area with my 4" grinder using a 24 grit lap sanding pad, just to be sure I was catching all the badness.  Then I marked the area to be removed with my metal triangle and paint pen.  The "wheel of death," air chisle, 2" air sander, and the air saw (until it died) were the tools of the trace to remove the old sheet metal.  

This is a view from inside the engine bay looking at the intersection of the firewall, toe board, and rear fender apron.

This is a view from the passenger side outer fender well at the intersection of the toe board, torque box, and rear fender apron.  Really not pretty.

I marked out where the rusty area was that needed to be removed, plus an extra margin of safety.  Then came the process of removing the offending area.

The cutting took some time since I was trying to troubleshoot the air saw.  That sucker really worked well, as long as it worked.  But I finally gave up after I found out that two of the screws that held the head in where the blade is inserted decided to strip out.   Again, it pays to buy quality tools.

I got the outer piece removed....

And then  the inner piece removed....

I used my air chisel  to remove the sheet metal around the spot welds since I couldn't identify where they were on the inside.  I didn't want to spot weld drill through the two layers of the torque box to get to the toe board.   So the chisel worked well.

 I put the pieces together to get an idea of where to measure the new panel for the initial cut.   I love jigsaw puzzles!

This is the replacement panel I got from Kentucky Mustang.  It was similar to all the other sources, like NDP, Mustang's Plus, etc.   So I pulled the trigger on the part that offered the least total cost.  Kentucky Mustang charges $9.95 for shipping on all part.  So when you're looking for parts, give them a look.  They've been great on the phone and in person when they were at the Indy Mustang Club show.

You may notice that I started the cut on the paint line, but this is where the air saw died.  Out comes the "wheel of death".

 After the painfully slow process of cutting the piece out I needed, this is what I had...

I cut the piece out I needed and got rid of the "mystery flange" that is there to stamp the part.
 It all looks good...until the fit up.  The ribs are different size (larger) than factory.

And if that wasn't enough to make life interesting, the stamping in the lower right side of the firewall was off....WAY OFF!

The gap at the stamping was a good 1/2-3/4 inch off.
 It's more noticeable from the fender well side.   Great.  I love fixing other people's screw ups.  But that's how aftermarket parts work.  I've have never...NEVER...(did I say never?) had one part that fit correctly...China, Canada, Dynacorn, and even Ford stamping.

I'll have to rework the step in the toe board to firewall transition.  I look at these situations to hone my metal working skills.

This isn't too bad, but it will play into the reforming of the lower right-hand corner.
I called it quits, especially since I was listening to the Colts-Vikings game and the Colts were within 1:50 of winning the game...or going into overtime.  Besides,  I was up since 6 AM and tired from yesterday's yard exercise.  It will also give me some time to think through how I want to handle the metal forming of this part.   That's why I leave extra metal.  I've learned from previous experience (check out the post on the driver's side floor) that I need to leave plenty of extra metal, just in case.

This coming weekend, my wife has to work on Saturday afternoon.  I plan on getting this blinkity-blank part formed to fit.  I may even be able to start the install.   However, I will wait to see how the week plays out.  "The best played plans of mice and men" don't always work.


  1. Oh man that's an ugly job Dennis! Looks like the worse is behind you. I would rather fight fitting a new panel - than cutting out rusty floor boards. Keep the pressure on it!!!


  2. The ugly part is yet to come. The time to get this "quality" part to fit for proper welding will be extensive I'm afraid. The welding shouldn't be too bad though once the fitment is correct. Thanks for the "pressure" encouragement. : )

  3. Dennis, I have the same problem with my Rear fender apron extensions; larger than the originals. Seems like they stamped them over the originals themselves! Those are the "small details" that delay your work when you least expect it. But never despair, we know how it is!
    I've had better luck than many people with HB tools (I guess). All of my power tools are still going strong. I figure, they are so cheap, you just go grab another. But then, you don't want them to break on you right in the middle of a floor panel cut!

    1. You're right, Ivan. That's how it is when it comes to aftermarket parts. I have done some research on air saws and apparently these tools have a shorter life than other air tools. The main reason is it's a reciprocating high speed tool and not a rotary tool. I have one on order from Eastwood and will find out how it works. It looks like it's pattered after the Ingersoll-Rand air saw, but is probably sourced from China like most tools are today. I hope to work on this repair some more this weekend. I'll keep everyone updated.

  4. Great job on the car, I still have my floor pans to do, I have a big hole Where the driver's side use to be. Keep plugging along and thanks for writing this blog.

    1. When you get ready to do your floors, here's the start of my blog on getting the driver's side floor in. It takes a few posts to get through it, but it might help.

  5. Thank Grant. Hopefully my ramblings will help others learn what to do (and what not to do) when they have similar repairs to do. That's part of the reason I'm here blogging, not to mention connecting with others who are restoring classic Mustangs. Great group of people here. Check out the blogs I follow. There is a lot of great work going on.