6/4/2005: Bodywork Plans

You know, it annoys me when people don’t post any updates to their sites for months at a time, and here I go doing it myself! I have no real excuse, either..

The main reason I haven’t put any posts together is that i haven’t done anything particularly photogenic in a while.

I have mostly been doing research and planning (and buying parts). Let me review where things stand now:

  • The car has been disassembled, and I believe i’ve identified all the major areas work that will need to be done.
  • Rocker panels (structural and outer) replaced.
  • The replacement front subframe is ready to be assembled, and will then be stored until the body work is complete.
  • All of the engine ancillaries have either been rebuilt or will be replaced.
  • I’ve been buying new and used parts from a variety of sources as they turn up.. I’ve got parts from all over the country and all over the world. In some cases i have 2 or more of a given part, and will choose the best ones when I get to that part of the car.

Although there are some more mechanical parts i can finish up work on (such as completing the suspension reassembly and restoring a few more engine bits), i’ve decided to switch focus for a while to the bodywork. Getting the body shell into shape will get me closer to being able to start putting pieces back onto the car, which I think will a real relief.

There is quite a bit of body repair that will be needed on this car. At this point, the rust is not widespread. There are a few small spots that will need to be patched, but mainly the rust is only in the floor.

Before I worry about the rust though, i would like to fix the larger dents. This car was in an accident (or two) back before my father got it, probably in the 70s or early 80s. The worst damage is to the front of the car:

These panels are badly damaged enough that they will need to be replaced. I have access to a few parts cars, or can attempt to fabricate new panels if necessary.

The back of the car also has some damage, and will require replacement of the rear panel between the bumper and trunk lip to meet my standards.

My goal is to metalfinish the car to the point where a less than 1/16 inch of filler is required to get everything smooth. While it is possible, given enough time and skill, to get the car to the point of needing little or no filler, i’ve decided that a small amount of filler is going to be acceptable to me. When these cars were originally made, pininfarina used a lot lead and some filler in them, so i don’t need to knock myself out trying to get it better than original.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year or so researching welding, panel forming, and dent repair. One of the best resources has been the forum at metalmeet.com. It’s full of tutorials and expert advice, and i read it daily now.

I also attended a 3-day class tought by Wray Schelin and Dutch Comstock, two of the main personalities on the site. This was really really helpful in helping me to really understand how to make metal move the way it needed to move, and foremost in helping me to not be afraid to bang on a piece of sheetmetal. It’s remarkably forgiving, if you know how. Anything you can do can be reversed using the right techniques.

I’ll be covering my first attempts at dent repair on the car in the a future article.