Saturday, March 3, 2012

There is no substitute for experience

Well, it's been an interesting day.  I've finished trimming and fitting the replacement floor panel, but it should be no surprise that I screwed it all up.

I have a really huge gap where there should be virtually no gap for the butt weld on the transmission hump.  1/8" I could live with, but this gap is much, much worse.

The problem is just my inexperience.  I should've run more sheet metal screws, and I should've taken my time.  Also, I probably need to modify my rotisserie so I can more easily flip the car completely over onto its back.

Shit.  There's a lot of things I could blame it on.  Fact is, I just don't know what I'm doing.  But that never stopped me before.  Won't now, either.

So, on with the fitting.  You can see above a dry fit of the panel.  I've already trimmed both ends, and notched the outboard flange to accomodate my lap welds.  The flange--for those of you who have absolutely no idea what I just said--is this long lip of metal that goes down along another lip running the length of the rocker under the car.  That's how the panel attaches.

The next thing to do is clamp down along that flange to get everything to fit flush.  I used a combination of vice-grips, C clamps and sheet metal screws to pull it all together.  It took some doing, too.  The holes you see are where my plug welds will go to secure the panel.

Here's a view of the sheet metal screw thing in the toeboard.

I then tack-welded the panel along the flange, the back and the toeboard.  I ran a few screws down the tranny hump, but not nearly enough.  And I wasn't nearly careful enough when I trimmed out the excess.  That's where my monster gap came from.

Here's a pic with the butt weld clamps on.

And on the back side.

The gap is horrendous.  Almost enough to make me want to scrap it and try another panel.  BUT, this is a learning experience, so I'll just buck up and learn how to fix my crass mistake.

I believe the best thing to do is get some nice 1/8" steel filler wire and start to fill the gap just a bit at a time.  Shouldn't be difficult, but it will take a lot more time.  But most of what I can see online, that's the best suggestion.  Besides scrapping the panel and starting over, that is.

Should be fine when I'm done.  As long as it's structurally sound, I have no worries about making it look good after welding/grinding.  I picked up some Duraglas filler, which will help hide some boo-boos, and add strength to the repairs.

So far, I'm fairly pleased with my progress.

Moving forward, the plan is going to be to move on to the quarter panels after I'm done with the floor.  I will do those one at a time.  The new quarter panels will be the most expensive part of the bodywork.  Possibly the most difficult, as well.  We'll see. . .

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