DESPERADO

Since Mike Rowe was nowhere to be found I had to do the dirty jobs all by myself. It’s no fun but it’s got to be done. I got down and dirty cleaning the rust and grime from the underside of the left trunk floor.

This is from my point of view lying on the garage floor. The photo shows what it looked like after spending 20 minutes with various grime cleaning instruments. It was still a mess but not as bad as before. At one point I forgot to put my safety goggles on and although I had my regular glasses on I still got a couple of eyeballs full of dirt. Felt like my eyelids were just grinding for about ten minutes. I got a lot of dirt and rust in the teeth too. I guess I was grimacing too much while I worked.

There it is after I wore my arms out with the wire wheel. Just a little more to go to get it ready for primer. Perseverance is paying off.

And finally primered up and ready to roll. One more dirty job down, forty-four hundred to go.

The next project for the weekend was to get the new panels welded on. But first they had to be prepped and cleaned for a couple coats of epoxy primer. Caroline had already scuffed all the panels with a scotchbrite pad so all I had to do was clean them up with degreaser, and set up the spray gun, a place to spray, mix the primer with catalyst, etc, etc.

The photo above shows the underside of the new trunk floor while being primered. I just set the parts on saw horses in the garage and put up some drop cloths to catch the over spray, but with the HVLP gun there isn’t much over spray. The HVLP gun uses a high volume of air but with low pressure. The primer went on really smooth and nice with minimal over spray.

And here we have all the new panels in epoxy primer. And thus ended the work on Friday.

The goal for Saturday was to enjoy the day and crank out some serious work. This requires the proper shop set up. First you need to have the radio tuned in to your favorite station. Then you need a big glass full of ice and Pepsi and at least one salty snack item. It’s dry roasted peanuts for me. Once you’ve got all that you’re ready to roll.

The first item on the agenda was to get the rear trunk brace welded on. But of course you’ve first got to test fit it and clamp it. Then you’ve got to mark all the weld locations so you can drill them out. Then you’ve got to drill them all and then clean up the holes and grind off the paint around the holes on both sides. Then you get to clamp it back in place and mark the frame through the holes so you can grind off the paint where it mounts to the frame. So it does take some time. Now that you know the process enjoy the pictures. (That’s probably what most of you are doing anyway rather than reading all this.)

This is the right side of the trunk brace with the holes already drilled and cleaned.

This is the frame rail end where the brace will be welded.

This is the brace superimposed over the frame rail end showing the mounting location.

Here's the brace clamped into place. Those cheap clamps from Harbor Freight really come in handy.

The Mig ready for action. A great tool indeed.

Oooh. Just like magic.

The key to a good weld here is to start in the center of the hole and get good penetration and then move in an outward spiral as indicated by the yellow line. Of course it doesn't always go as planned as evidenced by the weld on the top right.

After a few minutes of clean up with the grinder and wire wheel it looks better than the factory spot welds. And that's how it's done what we like to call, "the right way".

And so there you have it. The trunk brace is welded on and the reconstruction process has begun.

Next up: The right trunk floor. It was pretty much the same process only much more time consuming as it required many more weld locations. I must have had that piece in and out at least a dozen times before it was ready to be welded.

The trunk floor drilled and clamped.

Here it is with several of the many locations welded.

Look at all that weld splatter. What?! That's clean, Baby! When the Mig is set right and the gas is right there's virtually no splatter. Beautiful!

It's coming together. Trunk Floor and Brace welded in. There are still a couple of patches to be done where the inner wheel well meets the trunk floor but that's for another day.

That wraps up the trunk floor for this weekend. Next up: The quarter panel patch.

Enjoy the photos. It’s just more of the same.

As you can see by the time I got to the quarter panel it was dark out. It's the same routine; clamp it up, mark it, grind it, re-clamp it, adjust it, re-clamp it, hit it with a hammer, re-clamp it... you get the picture.

Here it is with some of the spot welds. I had some trouble getting nice welds but by the time I finished the side I got it sorted out. One thing you have to be careful with on these large panels is keeping the heat down so it doesn't warp. I use compressed air to cool the weld and I keep the welds spread out as I go. There's still a lot more to weld but this was a good stopping place for the night.

This is what it looked like on the inside. You can see on the inside of the panel where the welds are getting good penetration.

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