Just about anyone who has tackled rust repair on his or her car or truck has realized that if there is cancer here or there, you can bet the rust army has also infiltrated the inner (or unseen by most) structure of various other parts of the car. It's not uncommon to cut out a section of rusted body only to discover the inner sheetmetal has the same problem. A lot of times we just repair the outside, knowing no one (besides Superman) can see through the outer layer to what is behind the seemingly straight outer shell. Don't feel bad, it's common to just about any type of restoration.
This is precisely why Goodmark Industries has worked so hard to reproduce not just the outer body panels, but the inner sheetmetal, as well. As time rolls on, we should see more and more replacement inner and outer panels being reproduced for many body styles and makes. The need for replacement inner panels is going to become more wide spread as the amount of rust-free cars, or cars with minimal rust, become harder and harder to find.
This is where the Goodmark Chevelle comes into play. Remember the idea was to find a car with a huge amount of rust and return it to as close to a perfect body as possible. In this second segment in the Chevelle's restoration, we'll show you what it took to reskin the doors, replace the rusted-through floor sections, and finally replace the cowl with a clean unit from a donor car (replacement cowls have not yet been produced). Once the rusted cowl was removed, a large amount of cancer showed up in the inner cowl structure (big surprise). This was quickly cut out and replaced with another part from a clean donor car.
This segment details the second part of the Chevelle's body restoration process, which means we can move onto the body mods for the next issue.
Grinding only the edge will separate the outer skin with the cleanest results. Pay close attention not to grind too much away, just enough to separate the two pieces of sheetmetal.
The door skin is attached, in spots, on the inside of the door, as well as the outer-edge. These areas were reached and separated with our trusty air chisel.
Once the skin was removed, attention was needed to clean the inner areas where the new skin will be tach-welded to the inner structure. Here again, the air chisel is a great tool of choice.
The remaining part of the outer doorskin was the pinched edge that held the skin in place with spot welds from the factory. An air chisel separated the spot-welded pieces in a snap.
With the rest of the skin removed, a clean surface to weld to was needed before reskinning. A wire wheel or a grinding disk does the job fine.
Just before installation of the new door skin, take the time to inspect the entire inner structure for rust or any other type of damage that could easily be rectified at this point.
With the inner structure ready, fitting the new skin was done with extra care to make sure every side lined up exactly like the original.
Once the skin was lined up correctly, a body hammer and dolly pinched the edge nicely. This is a job that should be left to an experienced bodyman-too heavy with the hammer and you might end up with an irregular edge.
The "V" portion allows the sheetmetal to conform to the doors' concave shape. Without the "V" relief, the metal would bunch up and not form to the correct shape easily.
Looks good and fit perfectly.
This should be a familiar sight to all of us. Auto manufactures must have designed a rusted hole in the floor package in every car produced. Okay, so maybe it's not that bad, but it sure seems like it.
Unlike the doors and quarterpanels, the floor sheetmetal needed to be cut in strategic places. There are supports under the floor that don't need to be cut out, so careful planning and cutting is important.
As you can see, the floor was left intact over the areas with the floor supports running under them. This is where the air chisel will be needed again. Simply separate the floor from the support at the spot welds.
With the old floor completely gone and the floor supports ready, we started fitting the new floor in place. As there is often extra trimming involved, the replacement floor came in and out a few times.
Once the floor was ready for installation, holes were drilled through the new metal wherever the spot welds from the factory held the old floor in place. Don't forget to push the floorpan so it is touching the supports when final welding takes place.
Back in the trunk we can see the old metal has been cut out and the floor structure has been prepped. Another important thing to remember is to grind all paint and rust away before welding. This will provide a strong bond.
The new trunk floor section looks right at home and completely factory in appearance. If you look closely, you will notice no welding has been done yet, and the floor looks like it's a part of the car.
This shot shows how much of the floor had to be replaced. Looking good!
It might be hard to see just how bad the rust is in the cowl, but take our word for it, it's got to go.
A sheetmetal hole punch is a great tool for placing evenly spaced holes, for tach-welding, on the edge of the cowl. This is the kind of tool that can make the installation process easy and clean.
The cowl is removed in the same fashion as the quarter-panels. After the air chisel separated the two pieces, some straightening was needed before installing the new piece. A body hammer and dolly in the right hands made quick work of straightening the sheetmetal's edge.
As mentioned earlier, the cowl piece is not currently being re-produced, so a donor cowl section was provided by John's Classic Cars and Parts.
Once the outer portion of the cowl was removed, another challenge showed up in the lower part of the inner cowl, just ahead of the doors.
The replacement piece was cut from the same donor cowl as was used on the upper portion. Careful disassembly gives almost the same results as if it were a reproduction piece.
With the unseen parts of the cowl now repaired, the outer section was fitted to the car. Here again, take special time to make sure the panel is properly positioned so all parts will line up and look correct. You don't want your friends laughing at you, right? That wraps up this segment, but we're really just getting started, so stay tuned.