N. Quarters and Bed Panels Back On
Post date: Sep 09, 2015 1:24:40 PM
The panels replaced on the El Camino were the smugglers box floor pan, smugglers box cover, spare tire panel, back bed panel, and both quarter panels (front fenders were also replaced, but are bolt-ins). Of those the fenders and quarter panels were NOS GM sheet metal and the others were after market (DII floor pan, Dynacorn remaining panels). Many people mistakenly think that NOS panels fit perfectly, but this really isn't always the case. Manufacturing differences as well as 45 years of body movement can make very large panels (of which El Camino quarters qualify) have fitment issues. There is always the need to trim and fit and bend (and sometimes bang) panels a bit to get as close to the original fit as possible.
So it takes a great deal of preparation and trimming and fitting and grinding and hammer-dollying and taking panels off and putting them back on before the very-rewarding process of welding the panels back on to the car begins. Once it begins things move very quickly and all of those spot welds you remove get replaced by as many plug welds (plug welds were used because we don't have pinch weld equipment nor all of the fixtures the factory has).
The process is pretty straightforward, you hammer dolly the mating flanges to make them flat again, you grind those surfaces to remove all rust and remaining spot weld material and then you spray the flange surfaces with a weld through primer. In this case we used Rubber Seal RS 512 which seems to work well. Before you weld triple check your body lines! If you replace the back bed panel as we did also put your rear window in to ensure the channels line up. It also helps to fit the bed quarter moldings in to get the revel correct. Take your time because once it's welded in fixing mistakes will be very time consuming!
The sail panel to roof panel joint was made using a butt weld. The old quarter panel was cut off about 1/4" below where it was welded under the roof panel so as not to disturb that factory joint. Then the new quarter panel was trimmed so that it could be butt welded to the original quarter material that was left. This makes for a strong joint and the weld is in the valley which will be leaded back in later. Butt welding is a bit tricky and must be done in small stitches so that the sheet metal isn't distorted, but if you take your time and cool with compressed air periodically it can be done with good results.
So with help from friends of the shop as well as a few days of burning wire the results are gratifying. Next phase is to repair a small area on the door skin and then remove the remaining paint in the bed, roof and doors to get ready to paint the Shop Truck.