Rear Quarter Patch Panel Installation
“You came in that thing? You’re Braver than I thought!”
- Princess Leia, Star Wars
(My new passenger side front rear quarter section. The original is on the ground below - nothing left but Swiss cheese and Bondo.... )
Some New Tools
This project started sooo innocently. I decided that my old College car will be sanded and quickly "Earl Sheib'ed" so I could enjoy it a bit and then find it a new home, as I have another car that will be "The final car" (I should know better...)
The simple sanding escalated to carpet removal, then interior removal, then floor patch panel removal, then glass and front clip removal.
A month later, I had a drivable shell that had unspeakable amounts of body rot thanks to Chicago weather.
This job required some new tools; weapons in the war against rot and rust. I went to my local community college and took a welding class. In hindsight, MIG welding (which I do in this project) could be picked up in about 20 minutes, with mastery taking years. However, the classes teach you concepts, safety, professional techniques, and welding vocabulary. Because of the class, I gained top notch experience and great contacts to gather tools and supplies.
In the end, I replaced a LOT of sheet metal. The entire floor, a torque box, cowl repair, and 15 - 20 patches around the car.
What Did I Do?
As you can see on the left, there wasn't much left of this section of the quarter panel. What's worse, this ugliness was covered with a mess of Bondo and flame screen. I started with a wire wheel and buzzed the Bondo off the car.
Using a piece of chalk, I outlined the area of cancer and used a cut off wheel on my grinder to remove the sheet metal.
Old Mother Nature did plenty of damage. The rockers have held up well against the assault, but the rear wheel well and rear door jamb showed more and more rot as I wire wheeled them clean. The first patch was on the rear wheel well. I also spot welded the interior support piece back to the rocker. The grey-white sealer is automotive seam sealer. This can be found at any good auto body supply store. It goes on much like silicone, and also comes in a caulk tube. The difference is body sealer turns hard and adheres to metal.
Not much of the door jamb to rear quarter section left, so time to rebuild! Using 18 gauge sheet metal scraps I fashioned patches to rebuild the corner. I used .023 wire in my MIG welder and systematically spot welded the patches in. The metal is too thin to run a bead, so spot welds must be lapped to fuse the new patches, and fill any gaps where the patches meet. After the welding is done, a pass of the grinder smooths the welds out and shapes them into the work.
Using another patch, I welded the edge to the rocker and used my hammer to shape the metal piece to match the contour of the rear of the door, finishing off the door jamb area. The chalked area was used to cut off access metal and then blend the top of the patch into the jamb.
After grinding, the new metal is ready for a light dusting of primer. The body shop will use self etching primer and build primer to smooth the area. After that, the paint will make this fix disappear.
Now onto the front section of the rear quarter panel. This is a common problem for all Falcons, as water collects along the bottom of the quarter panel and rots out the seam between the rear quarter panel and the rocker.
The problem is Falcon parts suppliers don't sell patches for this area. The only recourse is to buy an entire quarter panel.
Thanks to Mark Dinzebach, he and I found a set of rear doors of a four door 1965 Falcon. We cut the lower section of the door skins off, as the four door door skins match the contour of my Falcon's rear quarters.
I first start by applying a little POR15 to the interior of the quarter area. I am really happy with the POR15 product - I can't speak of its rust preventative properties yet, but I can take a hammer to this stuff, bend metal it is applied to, and it won't crack or chip!
The angle grinder was used again to trim the door skin and create a patch. Using a board and C clamps to make a makeshift break, I bent the patch on the bottom so it could sit on the rocker, and side to match the body line inside the doorjamb area.
A few spot welds later and use of the hammer gets the panel in place to weld up.