So far, except for some relatively minor - but nonetheless essential - repair
work to the inner wings where they meet the "A" post and also the channel where
they join the outer wings, little rebuilding work has taken place. I had
intended Stage Two of this story to feature the bodywork rebuilding but, looking
back, there wasn't a clear divide between tearing out rust and adding in new
metal. A certain amount of the shell has to remain intact in order not to
mess up the geometry for rebuilding.
It is appropriate at this point to move to "Stage Two", as the first major new
metal is about to be added - namely the driver's side "A" post and outer sill.
In order to align everything correctly, the driver's door and bonnet were also
refitted. New headlamp mounting panels were fitted and, with the front
cross member replaced, a new Ford lower front valance was clipped into place -
again to help with alignment.
The outer sill - a full one - and the "A" post were pattern part from one of the
few new panel manufacturers. The parts were well made and well finished
indeed the body shop told me they were amongst the best they had come across for
any model of car. Unfortunately this wouldn't prove to be the case for one
panel on the near side.
The scuttle repair would be done later but at this stage the panels that the "A"
post would be attached to were all now solid and ready. Another problem
though came to light at the test fit stage. As you will see from the
pictures, on the nearside, the inner wing tapers in and the channel disappears
under the bonnet. Measurements indicated that the major geometry of the
car was correct - the suspension turrets were correctly aligned. The
problem was that crumpled near side inner wing. Not only hadn't it been
smoothed out, when it had been repaired back around 1990, it was out of
alignment. One good non-rusty panel was holding it in situ but out of
shape - the slam panel.
This would not affect the "A" post and sill fitting but it did mean that the
headlamp mounting panels would need to be demounted and the slam panel removed.
So, another new panel required!
Removal of the slam panel revealed some "cheese grater" sections of the inner
wings at the front. These could be repaired but the cause of the front end
misalignment needed to be addressed. The nearside inner wing was literally
beaten back into its proper shape.
The remaining solid parts of the cars shell to which the new "A" post would be
attached were prepared and treated with a spray on copper substance to deter
future rust and provide a good surface to weld to. A plate was needed to
repair the drivers floor to front wheel arch area and this, again, was addressed
before attempting to attach the "A" post.
Yet more of the body was stripped with that near side "A" post not looking too
good at all!
The mounting point of the back of the rear seat on the offside had "disappeared"
leaving a rust hole and no captive nut. A large plate with a captive nut
was fabricated and welded in to replace the missing item. Finally, at
least as far as the offside of the car was concerned, the lower rear section of
the rear wing was cut away and a replacement repair panel welded in.
With the fitting of the "A" post and repair of the scuttle finished, the car was
at last starting to gain some solidity.
With a new "A" post, outer sill, rear quarter lower rear repair panel and
scuttle repair section all welded into place, the off side of the car was finally
taking on a more solid appearance.
The removal of rusty sections continued with the lower rear valance. This
also uncovered an interesting piece of history of the car. When I
purchased it, one of the two bolts holding the near side bumper iron to the car
had sheared off in its threaded insert. I had assumed this to be due to
cross threading at the time the car had previously been restored. The
removal of the valance though gave rise to a different explanation. The
final foot of the chassis rail was twisted and the lugs welded to the end of the
rail - to accommodate the threaded inserts - were also twisted out of square.
The body shop assured me there was no evidence of the car being rear ended and
surmised that the car had left the factory that way. Presumably a power
tool had forced the bolt into the thread in the first place and when the first
attempt to remove it came, it just sheared off. I guess that means the car
was built on a Friday afternoon!
The problem was rectified and the new lower valance panel fitted.
Next came the removal of the near side outer sill. This had a large rust
hole where the Ford badge mounts to the step. Removal revealed that it was
rusty in plenty of other areas too. The inner sill though, although
covered in surface rust, was in good nick.
There was just some minor plating required to the front end of the inner sill
but it was a different story with the nearside "A" post and, in particular, the
area at the top and the associated scuttle corner. I hadn't realised that
in fact three levels of metal come together in this region. The scuttle
below the windscreen providing the top layer, then part of the panel which makes
up the bulkhead and dashboard mounting making the middle layer and finally the
top of the "A" post providing the third layer. As you can see all three
layers were in a very sorry state. After cutting them away it was decided
that an extra piece would be added to provide extra strength where to top hinge
of the door would mount. Accordingly a "patch" was added from a repair
section to go underneath the new "A" post repair section.
With the initial work done it was time to clip all the new metalwork in place to
fit check it. As you can see a problem arose which was finally determined
to be an inaccurately pressed replacement outer sill. Basically the step
was around half an inch too narrow, with the turn over then around half an inch
too high - you can see it sticking up above the inner sill that it needs to spot
weld to. Unfortunately it transpired that this was not a rogue pressing
but rather that the template for the tooling was wrong and all pressings have
this flaw. The part was returned and, after some discussion, the supplier
agreed to reshape the step and turnover in accordance with the markings the body
shop had sketched on.
Whilst waiting for the reshaped sill, the body shop switched their attention to
the engine bay area. As previously shown, the fronts of each inner wing
needed remaking. The stiffener plate on the top of the bulkhead looked
slightly rusty but on closer inspection was found to be almost total rust as was
the panel underneath, that it was intended to stiffen! This supports the
pedal box in the drivers side foot-well area. The rust was cut out and a
new section fabricated along with a new stiffener plate.
The car had a water leakage problem into the foot-well area and so far the main
source of the leak was not apparent. Once the heater was removed though a
large hole and several severely rusted areas were exposed. The problem was
their location. This would be very difficult to access and even more
difficult to repair without the removal of another panel. Carefully the
body shop removed the "funnel" panel used to guide rainwater and air through the
grill in the scuttle to respectively deposit water out of the bottom of the
engine bay and air into the heater fan. The sight beneath was not pretty.
Once more plates were fabricated as the rust was cut back to solid metal. At the
same time the bulkhead was repaired in the area where the clutch cable passes
through as the plate and tube in this region had become detached.
The rear nearside wing needed a little work at the bottom and, with the sill due
back, the refabrication in the "A" post/ scuttle area was completed in readiness
to put together all the new exterior near-side panelling.
As the corrected near side sill was waited, all the other exterior panels were
prepared in readiness for fitting. The drivers side door had too much rot
in the wrong places and therefore was replaced with a new old stock one.
Unfortunately that was for a facelift car. The same, I hear you say.
No, they are not the same. The hole and inserts for the inside handle
mechanism are different as are some - but not all - of the holes for the studs
which secure the door cards. The keen eyed amongst you will also note that
the new Ford front valence is also a facelift item. Here there are holes
for the pegs on a facelift headlight to be filled and the tabs for the front
grill need repositioning.
When the sill arrived back in was fitted along with the new "A" post and the top
of the scuttle repair was completed. Then all the exterior panels were
aligned before finally being welded in place. At last the vast majority of
the welding and fitment of new body parts was complete. The next stage
would be under body treatment and preparation for paint.