We then quickly removed the majority of the stock wheeltubs with a 3M cutoff wheel. With the big pieces out of the way we could concentrate on cleaning up the edges. First, we separated the inner and outer wheelhouse flanges by grinding down the spot welds. Then, using a small pry bar, we separated the stuff we wanted to keep from junk destined for the scrap pile.
Here’s the driver’s side with most of the stock wheeltub removed and the flange cleaned and straightened. On convertibles, the flange is bent over to protect the top, which folds down over of it.
It was time to start cutting into the floor using a cutoff wheel. Towards the front you can see where we marked “flange.” This will be bent down and later used to further secure the new DSE wheeltubs. Remember what we said earlier about how it’s better to cut too small than too big? That statement applies here too.
We continued to clean up the edges and remove all the leftover bits of the stock wheeltubs. Here we drilled out a couple of spot welds and pulled out the last of the front section of the old tub. The tab left behind is needed to help secure the new tub, so resist the urge to just cut it away.
At this point we were just about ready to cut into the frame. Since this can weaken the car, we took a few precautions: the first was to weld a steel bar across the car that will help keep the Camaro from twisting. We also supported the body on its frame rather than the rotisserie it was mounted to.
Here you can see how much of the frame was occupying the space needed for our passenger’s side DSE mini-tub. Nothing a sharp cutoff wheel can’t fix.
Behold the new hole in our frame. Since the rear factory frames angle inward, clearance is critical to stuff the most tire under our drop-top Camaro. When finished, the frame will be as strong as it was before we started.
The procedure for the driver-side is just like the passenger's except the floor has a slightly different topography. The cutoff wheel was our best friend during the sheetmetal surgery.
We were hoping we could slide in the new tub without removing the convertible top bracket, but no luck. After drilling out the five spot welds, we used a small chisel to separate the pieces. With that done we cut the two spot-welded-in supports about a 1/2-inch from the car body. These will be crucial later when we put this bracket back in the car correctly.
Next, we test-fit the new mini-tub. We were a bit tight in several places, so we trimmed and re-tested it until we were happy. The mini-tub was then removed so we could finish up the frame modifications.
Patch panels were made for the driver- and passenger-side frame areas from 3-inch wide, 1/8-inch thick steel, then welded in place. Once stitched in, the welds were ground smooth.