16. While the POR-15 was drying we started readying the new panel for welding. After an initial test fit, which was perfect, we mapped out and punched our plug weld holes. We decided to evenly space them about 2.5-inches apart instead of the oddly random spacing the factory did.
17. We clamped the panel back on and marked all our holes so we could grind off the POR-15 for clean welds.
18a. Probably the most difficult part of the job is going to be dealing with the upper area of the welding. The top half of the lower cowl is welded along this area, and there are no real line up marks or anything to go off of. We used a few tech screws installed from below to hold the two pieces together. Then we used a little trick to help us trace out the end of the cowl.
18b. We took a pretty stout magnet and stuck it under the dash and drug it along the edge of the cowl. A pinch of metal dust from the grinding process up top moved along as we did showing us where to mark.
19. Once we had our line it was taped with 3/4-inch, which spaced it down the correct amount, then we made a mark every 2-1/2 inches. We couldn’t use our punch to make these holes so a drill bit was the next best thing. We also drilled out the screw holes, which will make welding them up easier, but more on that later. Now the panel is ready, so we coated the under side with more POR-15 and let it dry.
20. We are going to be doing a whole lot of welding here, so anything to make the job easier was a blessing. Eastwood’s Spot Welding Kit was created to allow you to make factory style spot welds with a MIG welder. If you want to do it without punching holes you will need a larger 220V-powered welder, but if you are using a smaller 110V unit like us, then you will still need to pre punch holes. The Spot Weld Pliers have a forked jaw design to secure the two panels tightly and still allow you to get the welding tip in place. The Spot Weld Nozzle has “leg extensions” to create the exact standoff distance required for spot welding of 20- and 18-gauge metals.
21. There will be areas the special clamps won’t fit, so make sure to clamp the area well. We strapped the new nozzle to our little wire feed welder. After doing a few test welds on some of the scrap material to get the welder set up right (D on the voltage and 4.5 on the wire speed) we got to plug welding. If you don’t have a welder you might want to check out Eastwood’s site as they have a full line of 110- and 220-volt systems geared towards the homebuilder.
22. To get a proper plug weld, start welding in center of the hole on the lower piece of material, don’t move the welder until the hole is almost full. Then move outwards in a circular movement until the weld is completed. You can also start at the outside and work your way towards the middle, but if you move too fast with this technique you may not get full penetration on the lower piece.
23. When we reinstalled the panel to start the welding process, we ran the screws from the top, like this.
24. Since we enlarged the hole during the drilling process it was easier for us to just fill the small lower hole with the same technique used to make the plug weld. This ensured we completely filled the lower hole and still got good hold.
25. With all the welding complete we came back and smoothed all of them down with a grinder. That completes the install process, but the job still needs some attention. We will need to add a little All-Metal to the area where the windshield sits to make sure it’s a flat as possible. Then some seam sealer will be applied along the perimeter before priming and painting it all a satin black. This gets us one step closer to driving since we can now put some glass in the hole and keep the bugs out of our teeth.