April 19, 2005
Body Mount Rebuild
Before I get to the work, I have a rare product endorsement. Fellow restorer George Teding (you can find his '65 Comet on the Links page) E-mailed me a few weeks ago to tell me about some welding wire called "Twenty Gauge." Twenty Gauge is a .030" wire that has a powdered metal core especially designed for welding thin sheet metal. It's difficult to find, so I called around to some welding supply shops here in Cleveland. Most of the shops had never heard of the stuff, but I finally found a guy at Cleveland Welding Supply willing to order some. Then he called back a few minutes later and said they had a sample spool that I could have. They were as curious about the stuff as I am and wanted me to report back after I'd tried it, so I want to give a big thank you to the guys at Cleveland Welding Supply—I'll be back.
So I tried it. The quality of my welds has improved dramatically. I can use a hotter spark on the sheet metal without burning through. The bead lays flatter, I get better penetration, and, as I said, there's a reduced chance of blowing holes in the old steel. It's also a lot easier to grind than regular welding wire. This stuff has made me a better welder and my repairs are finally of the quality that I've been expecting. Check my results.
Today's entry actually covers two days, but it was one job. The first thing I tackled was a bracket welded to the passenger side inner fender. This bracket apparently helps hold the rear fender in place, and it has obviously been replaced once before. The welds are terrible, so I started grinding and filling some of the pockmarks. I'm guessing that this part was originally spot-welded to the inner fender, but someone had really piled a lot of metal onto it to hold it in place. I cleaned it up as best as I could and hopefully it won't be noticeable when it's all said and done. There was also some additional rust in the inner fender that wasn't visible from inside. Of course, I kept blowing through and eventually just cut it out and replaced it with a small patch.
Also on the passenger's side, the outer skin of the rear body mount in the trunk had completely rusted away. Inside the trunk there's a reinforcing bracket which was in perfect shape, so I had to work behind it. I cut out the rusty areas and set about replacing the metal (what else is new?).
Looking at the shape of the repair area, I decided that I would need at least three patches because of the complex shape involved. The first patch covered a majority of the hole and was fairly easy to fabricate and install.
This is where the Twenty Gauge really shined. I could turn up the heat on the welder to get better penetration and the bead was much flatter. With a little grinding, the repair was perfect. I'll spot weld the outer skin to the inner brace once everything is in place.
The second part of the patch was tougher. There were several compound curves and it was especially difficult to get the steel to bend in two directions at once. But with some creative hammering and shaping, it turned out pretty well.
I'll have to wait until tomorrow to try the third patch, which will likely be the most difficult of all...
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