Old cars are great, but they are still old and likely they’ve been ravaged by the cruelties of time. The most common result is rust. Yep, that little fact of nature and chemistry that turns once pristine sheetmetal to dust. Hey, it’s a miracle that our cars have survived this long since nobody at GM designed them to. The good news is that fixing body rot isn’t rocket science. If you can weld and do basic metal cutting then you’re well on your way to fixing minor rust spots. All you’ll need are some cutting and grinding tools, some supplies (weld-through primer, welding wire, etc.), and your favorite welder. If you’re new to this then it might be a good idea to practice on an old fender or hood. That way you won’t risk mistakes on your Chevy, and it’s a great way to get really good, really fast with little risk.
And yeah, you could hire a shop to do these minor repairs, but at $75/hour even a small job can end up costing you serious cash. And unlike a major repair, like replacing a roof or quarter-panel, doing small patch panels is hard to mess up if you take your time and have even a small amount of skill. So, follow along as we fix a small rust spot on a classic Camaro.
1. Here’s some rust that’s pretty typical for our old Chevys. You certainly wouldn’t want to replace the whole quarter in this instance, but it’s perfect for a small patch panel.
2. The first thing to do is carefully cut away the rusted-out area. We were careful not to cut through the underlying metal structure, which would just make more work later.
3. And here’s the result of our metal surgery.
4. Using a small grinder we then cleaned up the edges and removed any burrs.
5. We covered the area in tape and then cut the tape along the edge of the hole.
6. This cutaway section of tape gave us a perfect template for making our patch panel.
7. The patch panel fit perfectly in the C-pillar hole. If it didn’t we would have filed it down until it fit.
8. Before welding we shot the area with some weld-through primer. This way the underlying metal will have some protection.
9. We used a magnet to initially hold the patch panel in place and worked our way around the edge with our Eastwood MIG welder.
10. Once stitched up we ground the area smooth.
11. And here’s our repaired section ready for bodywork.
12. After a little filler and sanding the area looked as good as new. The whole process was simple, and more importantly inexpensive.