QUESTIONABLE FRIENDS

I’ve had a few people question the kinds of friends I’ve been hanging out with lately. It seems a lot of folks aren’t familiar with Mr. Aircraft Stripper so I thought I’d take this opportunity to make an introduction. This particular paint stripper comes from the Rustoleum family but there are others from different families as well. He works hard and fast and if he ever gets on you you’ll know it in a hurry. It’s a good idea to keep a wet wash cloth handy when hanging out with Aircraft Stripper. You can also see my friend Muriatic acid in the picture as well but he may not be on the good friends list much longer. I have been hearing that although it works great to dissolve the rust it could lead to bigger problems later. If the acid isn’t completely neutralized after use then problems will arise. So far I have cleaned a few trim pieces so we’ll see what happens with those in time. In the meantime I need to find another solution. I’m not too crazy about some of the rust cure products out there because they don’t actually dissolve the rust, they only convert it. In my experience only the rust on the very top is converted and the rust underneath which you can’t see is left untreated and continues to spread. I have used many different products at work and none of them have lasted very long.

This week we are still working on that troublesome right corner and cleaning up some odds and ends. The project for this weekend was to get the corner all patched up but we fell a little short.

I decided to start with the bottom of the tray next to the quarter panel. The area in the little yellow box is where the first patch of the day needs to go. The old rusty metal has already been cut away and the next step is to figure out how to make a patch. I used some cardboard and after several revisions I finally came up with something that would work. After test fitting the cardboard patch I traced it out on my sheet metal and cut it out with metal shears.

As you can see in the picture above we have a template and the patch cut out of sheet metal. The next step is to bend and form the patch to get a precise fit. On this piece I just used a big pair of pliers and my body working hammer to form it. I used my flanging tool to flange the tabs on the ends.

In the picture above you can see the patch formed to fit. It’s a bit of a complicated shape but it should attach well and be fairly easy to weld. The next step is to get it fitted up, make any final adjustments and then clamp it in place for welding.

At this point it’s starting to look like something. Now it’s time to weld, or maybe have a chicken sandwich. Yes, I should definitely have a chicken sandwich and then weld it up.

And here we have a patch completed. The welds turned out nice and strong and it looks OK. One down and many more to go.

This is the next area that needed addressing. The back end of the top of the quarter panel was rusted through so it had to go. (I cut it out only after first making the patch. I’ll explain the reason for that another time.) Also, I cleaned up and added to the tabs on that rear edge so the patch could sit right on top. After that it was time  to make a cardboard template, trace it out, and cut it out of sheet metal.

Here you can see the finished template and the patch in progress. The edges of the metal patch have been flanged which is really a nice way to go. Trying to get a perfect fit for butt welding is just too time consuming and the flanges make for a strong patch. After cutting the sheet metal the patch must be formed to fit.

This patch was not too bad to form compared to the tray patch. With the help of the air powered flanging tool and a large vice it was formed up in no time. It even looks pretty decent. Next up, fitting and clamping.

And here we have the patch spot welded into place. And that’s all the welding for this weekend. I’m tired and it’s time for a quesadilla.

Speaking of spot welds, that little MIG makes some nice little welds. (You can tell it was time to quit. I almost missed the seam there a couple of times.)

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