I did finally get to cutting. But there were a few steps to complete before busting out the die grinder.
First, the old lead filler has to be removed from the seam where the sail panel meets the roof. This isn't too bad, but you have to watch yourself, because molten lead will burn the shit out of you. I took my time, only melting a short bit at a time. If you do it slow, the lead cools and sticks, and never runs off to drop down the side of your shoe.
After that, you cut spot welds until your head aches and you want to die.
You'll notice I cut all the way through on a bunch of these. That's a no-no, but I'm still trying to get the hang of all this.
I then welded in another small support for the trunk. There's a band of steel that holds the weatherstripping. I tacked it in place, secured to the trunk floor, with a piece of 3/4" square tubing.
Then I cut. I don't have pictures of the cut in progress, but it was emotional. Nothing on this car has freaked me out as much as this.
After cutting out the panel, I found that things really didn't look too bad up under there. The wheelhouse isn't nearly in as bad a shape as I had thought. I may be able to patch the thing up, and leave 90% of the original in place. I hope that works out.
There's a thin patina of rust all over everything, but it's more like a light dusting than anything else. I didn't find any new rot under there. Not even the trunk drop-off. And usually that's one of the worst places on these cars. And I thought I had all the hornets nests out, but lookie there. . .
So now, no more excuses. I'll be ordering the replacement quarter and wheel house ASAP. In the meantime, there's a lot of cleanup and prep that has to happen.