Today I worked on the left rear of the body. This area has rust through and had been repaired by riveting an aluminum sheet over the hole and lots of bondo. Because of numerous holes and some very thin metal I decided to try to make one large patch panel for the whole thing. The car has a raised swage line I had to duplicate this while curving the patch to match the body contour. I started by making two right hand patches in error, not an auspicious start to my first attempt at panel beating. I eventually managed to make a left hand part. I used my bead and flange roller from Harbor Freight Tools to form the raised portion of the part. The roller did a nice job but is very flexible. I see why so many people reinforce them with angle iron. After a lot of bending, hammering, fitting and cursing I managed to get something that looked half way good. Next I tackled the step that forms the inside edge of the trunk opening. Lots of rust holes so I replaced about 12 inches with new metal. It was formed by cutting two wooden blocks to the correct contour the metal was then clamped between them and hammered over. I tack welded the part in place. When I weld and the weld seam cools a lot of shrinkage takes place. I am trying to use a hammer and dolly to bring the low weld line up to the correct height. To give me more room to hammer I removed the rest of the trunk floor and the rear trunk support brackets. When I finish the rear body repairs I will start on the trunk floor.
Today I finished welding the left rear and moved on to the center spare tire floor support. Many small rust holes and thin metal made it hard to know where to stop. In a perfect world I would replace the whole support as it is I just patched it up the best that I could. I took another look at my previous patch to the right rear and decided It did not live up toe even my questionable standards. It stuck out too far at the back and overall didn't look good. I cut it out and formed a new larger patch using the same technique I used for the left side. It looks much better than the previous attempt although their is still room for improvement. Next I cut fit and welded a part to make the right trunk wall match the left. This should make the the rear end stronger.
I decided to try a little more hammer and dolly work on the rear end where the crash damage occurred. I taped, hammered and got it to look better. I think I should be using a plastic hammer to avoid stretching to metal but I don't have one at present. When I got tired of bumping metal I fabricated the trunk body to frame mounts. I drilled out the spot welds and cut the bolt that connected the support to the frame. Previous to this I supported the the spare wheel well with a jack from below. Using the old body mount as a pattern I made two new ones. I even managed to make a left and a right instead of two left ones. I also made the rear trunk floor supports. I made one some days ago but I didn't like the way it turned out plus I hadn't removed all the old brace. I drilled out some more spot welds and removed the last traces of the old braces.
No Riley work today
Still working on the trunk floor. I used some cardboard to make a pattern of the floor. This took some time but it had to be accurate. I then traced the pattern onto some 18 ga steel. I added about 3/4" on all sides to fold over for a lip. The old trunk floor had raised areas pressed into it to add stiffness. I marked where these were on the steel and decided to use my bead roller to make them. I don't have the size die that the original trunk used so I substituted my 3/4" bead die. It is very hard to use this roller with 18 ga. It flexes all over the place. Each pressed area was about 6" long so a lot of starting and stopping was necessary to get them all. The size of the trunk floor also made it hard to maneuver the panel through the bead roller.
Still on the trunk floor. I am using a 3/4" bronze rod and a flat punch made from aluminum to clean up and define the end of each pressed area. I cut plywood to sandwich the curved edge of the trunk that I wanted to fold over to form a lip. I clamped the wood up and hit the heck out of the metal. It worked great. Once the trunk floor was finished I had to make a stiffening part on the aft edge. This was originally made from sheet metal bent to form a triangular shape and spot welded to the trunk floor. It is about 43" long. I have a 24" bending brake so two pieces was the order of the day. After many trial runs with some scraps to determine what part to bend first I ended up with a good looking result. I brought the trunk floor and support to the garage to test fit it. The fit was not bad but needed some adjustment here and there. I took it in and out of the trunk about 15 times before it fit well. Then I took it out again to drill for the spot welds. Then out again to fill in some holes that I drilled in the wrong place. You get the idea. I got the trunk all set in place and temporarily screwed down. I then fitted the aft edge support. It looked great. Not so fast --- It turns out that this support receives the lock plunger for the trunk. Well, the trunk would not close. The support is about 1/4" too tall. I need to make a new one. That is for another day.
I took another look at the trunk rear support and the trunk latch mechanism. It turns out the trunk locks on the spare tire door not the rear trunk support. All this came to light after I had fabricated a new rear trunk support. It was better than the first one so I used it. Finally it was time to weld the trunk in place. I used self tapping screws to pull the parts together and plug welded the trunk floor to the spare tire well and the rear body mounts. Everything fit well and looks good. Well it should, I spent 5 hours making small adjustments so it would fit.
Some more trunk welding started off today. Most of it is now finished. The rest can wait until the body is off the frame. Now for the wood sills. They are rotten on the ends and sagging in the middle. I removed the right side doors to have better access and to remove weight from the center posts. The doors are very heavy. Surprisingly heavy. I wanted to remove the front floor board. It was bolted through the wood sill on its outer edge. The inner edge was attached to the transmission tunnel. The outer bolts were no problem. I could reach the nuts. The inner and rear bolts have captured nuts that I did not want to strip. The bolts for these nuts were rusted round and I could not get a wrench on them. I ended up welding 5/16" bolts to the heads of these 1/4" bolts to give me something to grab on to. The heat from the welding also had the effect of loosening the bolts hold on the nut. In this way I was able to remove the right floor board and gain good access to the wood sill.
I took a good look at the rest of the floor boards and discovered they would all come out from the firewall to the trunk. I used the same technique to remove the left forward floor. Of course, before this, I had to remove the running board. The left side is not as easy as the right because the exhaust pipe gets in the way. Two bolts would not budge on the outer left floor board. I used a cut off wheel to remove the bolt heads. The sparks from this started a small fire in the wood that forms the front door shut. The wood was rotten and crumbly. At first I couldn't believe it was on fire. But, as they say "where there is smoke there is fire". I sprayed it with water and it was still smoldering. So, I doused it was a gallon of water. It was still burning. Finally, in desperation I used a screw driver to poke all the rotten wood out of the door shut area and sprayed some more water on it. I finally put the fire out and got my heart going. After that adventure I finished removing the front and rear floors. There is a lot of wood work in my future!