Work is progressing steadily as time permits to complete the metal work portion of the body work. Unfortunately, the finish work will consume most of the time, and is the part I like the LEAST. First was the "crack of doom" on the driver's side door. Fortunately, unlike the passenger side, the drivers side was "fixed" in the past with pop rivets, a big hammer and lots of plastic filler. While it was a bad repair, it makes going in and correcting it MUCH easier than if it was welded improperly like the other side was. Wire wheel took away all of the filler and left the metal repair. All rivets were drilled out, and repair piece removed. Bare metal was ground down clean and with hammer and dolly, the metal was reshaped. A thick steel plate was formed to match the contour of the door and a few extra holes drilled. The thick steel was then welded in from behind and spot welded with the holes drilled. The grinder smoothed out the welds and some light filler will smooth it over. Like the passenger side, the repair is VERY strong and all flex is GONE. While I was there, I welded up the old mirror holes as well. First picture shows some finish work started on the passenger side...
While I was in that spot, somehow the door skin had rusted straight through just forward from that repair, and like the rest of the "repairs" on the car, it was covered with fiberglass and plastic filler, causing the metal to practically dissolve. All of the rust was cut out, a new piece formed and welded in place. Primed on the outside and rustproof/painted from the inside, this should hold up for a long time.
After going back and forth about the fate of the back-up lights and the fuel filler hole, I compromised (with myself) and eliminated the reverse lights but left the gas filler. I think the reverse lights looked like a cheap add on, probably to meet some US standard (or to let people know you were backing up.. ) In any event, they have been eliminated. As much as I would have loved to eliminate the gas filler, I felt that for safety reasons, I would probably rather not fill the gas tank from inside the trunk, especially if I have anything back there. After paint, the fuel filler will come out of the back of the car as original.
Like the passenger side, the driver's side rear seam was cleaned up with a wire wheel and prepped for primer. A few pin holes will be filled with the welder before finish work begins.
Exploration… I knew the bottom of the door was bad, but not this bad. Now I know what I have to work with. This is my next (and last) big body work project. Also behind the door, in the dogleg, there is a slight crease in the solid part of the metal and below that some pitting and holes which will need to be cut out and replaced. Hopefully I don't find a mess behind that.
Last but not least for this update, I bolted the front valance back on temporarily to try to get it in shape. After a few hours with hammer and dolly, I have restored most of it's shape. BUT it almost seems not worth repairing. I'm going to see what I can do with it, hopefully I can get it pretty straight, after all most of it will be hidden behind the awful black bumpers. But after all of this work, I'd like it to be right. We'll see how I do. Believe it or not, this is a 100% improvement from what it looked like before…
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