Having uncovered more than a few secrets hidden under the tired gloss covering the Orange Krate in our last issue, the team at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, was more than ready to get busy on the first major step of the rebuild. The tales being told, an old accident left the car in need of some major attention in the sheetmetal department, where its passenger side at one time suffered some serious damage to the door and quarter-panel. A very strange partial quarter-panel replacement combined with some shoddy surrounding panel work made the decision to replace the full quarter-panel an easy one.
Peter Newell, head cat at Competition Specialties, gave editor Nick Licata the nod of approval in contacting Classic Industries to obtain one of their OER (original equipment reproduction) quarter-panels. What's neat about the panels from Classic Industries is that they are exact replacements for the original factory sheetmetal, including the full doorjamb area and sail panel.
With countless rotisserie restorations and full custom builds under his belt, Competition Specialties team member Brian Jordan got the doctor's order to administer the anesthetic to the patient and get the ball rolling. After evaluating the area, Jordan carefully removed the rear glass, the rear valance panel, and the surrounding interior panels. When taking on any type of sheetmetal work, it's imperative that proper eye protection and heavy gloves are worn to avoid potential injury. Jordan commenced the panel removal with an air hammer topped with a ripper bit to first cut out the inner perimeter of the sheetmetal. Due to the car's intricate inner support structure, it's a good idea to take your time during this step so as not to cause any damage. With the car peeled open like a sardine can, wide-open access made the continuation of the panel removal easier. In order to remove the balance of the sheetmetal, Jordan proceeded with a combination of a hand drill topped with a 5/16-inch bit to drill out some of the factory spot welds, combined with an air hammer capped with a 5/8-inch spot-weld breaker to separate the welds. In addition, he also used a flat chisel on the air hammer and a small air-driven disc grinder to remove any related small metal portions.
Once the panel was finally removed, it was apparent there was some surface corrosion to the inner structure, which needed some tidying up. A quick call to our pal Ray Williams at the local Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes store in Medford, Massachusetts, brought us everything needed to clean up the area, including plenty of SEM Weld-Thru Primer and Self Etching Primer. In preparation for the new quarter-panel installation, Jordan tended to many of the inner-body structures with a hammer and dolly, since these areas commonly get altered during the removal process. This was apparent with the door line in particular, due to the car's prior collision. A small air-driven grinder topped with an 80-grit disc was then used to clean up all surrounding surfaces on which the new panel would be welded.
Using a number of Vise-Grips, Jordan mounted the panel into place, making numerous adjustments to ensure all of the car's body lines were perfect. The panel was fitted to the car numerous times until all of the necessary tweaks were accounted for. When the final fit was dialed in, Jordan blasted in a number of sheetmetal screws to hold everything secure and began welding with his Lincoln Electric MIG welder. He then buzzed the welds smooth with a grinder topped with an 80-grit disc. The final outcome gave the car a solid base with all of the factory integrity back in place, thanks to the quality panel provided by Classic Industries and the unsurpassed attention to detail on the installation by the team at Competition Specialties.
Stay tuned; more sparks will fly when the Orange Krate gets some mini-tubs from DSE next!