These, so far, are the new panels that I have bought. From the top:
1. Bottom of wheel well
2. Left headlamp surround
3. Left headlamp bowl
4. Right headlamp surround
5. Right headlamp bowl
6. Right front floor pan
7. Left replacement sill
8. Left Rear wing front lower section
9. Right replacement sill
10. Right Rear wing front lower section
11. Left rear wheel arch
12. Left Rear wing back lower section
13. Engine tray left panel
14. Engine tray right panel
15. Engine tray rear panel
16. Rear valance.
As you can see it's quite a list and I think there will be more. The next job is to offer each new piece into place and mark around it with a felt tip pen. This shows where the body has got to be cut. It is then a case of sanding away all of the paint and filler (which is considerable) until bare metal is revealed. This is a very lengthy process and fills the workshop full of clouds of dust.
This sanding process has revealed the true extent of the accident damage that this car has received with a previous owner. If you look carefully at this picture of the left rear wing, you can see two rows of holes running along the body. This is where the bodywork has been pulled out with a slide hammer, to try and pull it back into place. Every one of these holes will need to be welded up, sanded and beaten back into place.
You may also notice how high up the wing I have had to sand, a long way from the new panel felt tip lines. This is because of the amount of filler that was used in order to try and get this panel back into shape.If you look at the bottom left of the picture you can see the thick filler still on the part that's got to be cut out.
The next job was to cut the headlight bowls out so that Colin could get his arm inside the front wing to start panel beating the dozens of dents that were hiding under the paint.
And here is a good comparison. The right section of the wing is now beaten and the left front section is yet to be done. This takes a very long time and requires skills way above my level.
The next and biggest problem is the sills. Because this car is a convertible, there is no strength provided by a steel roof. Consequently the sill have internal strengthening to stop the car sagging in the middle. On my car the sills are rotten so when I lift the car on the hoist the door jams widen and when I put it back on its wheels they close up again. Before we can cut the old sills away, the car must jacked up at different heights on all four corners until the door jams are perfect. The doors then had to be removed and bracing fitted to hold that position whilst we cut the rotten sills away. This was done by making steel plates to bolt onto the door hinge mountings and the seat belt mountings and then welding 6 heavy metal tubes to the plates in a criss-cross pattern.
Now, at last, we can cut away the sill and the bottom quarter panel and take a first look at the true extent of the damage. And it's not good. The long horizontal plate that you can see with holes along it is the strengthening plate, that should run from wheel arch to wheel arch. As you can see it has rotted away. Also virtually totally missing is the back of the heater tunnel box section, which also adds strength. All of this will have to be fabricated from new steel and welded in place before I attempt to remove the body from the chassis.
Finally, we were just looking at the back of the car and Colin noticed that the left rear light appeared to be on a slant, tucking in at the bottom. Investigation revealed that the accident had pushed the back of the car in and forward and this had pulled the bottom of the rear left wing inwards. To prove this we cut the rear engine tray and rear valance in half. It immediately sprung outward at the bottom and the rear light was now vertical. It's a good job that we are replacing those rear panels anyway.
So that's where we are. The car is fully braced and the level of work required is still growing.
More next time as the car goes under the cutter for major surgery.
You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 14.02.18 all rights reserved.
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