Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rear Apron

After removing the 1/4" of bondo from the rear apron, I went about straightening out all the dents the the PO's body guy decided to leave in the metal. It truly looked like it had been hit by a hail storm of different sized hammers. The funny thing is that it was welded to the quarter panels on both ends, so that means it may have been off the car at one point or another.

I spent about 15 minutes using my new slapper and my dolly in the bench vice. That combination took care of a huge amount of work in a very short time. Since the slapper is so wide it's able to create a much larger area of refernce when compared with my favorite body hammer. I think the slapper will quickly become my weapon of choice when first attacking dents and dings.

After the slapper, I turned to a combination of the planishing hammer and my hand hammers. I hit the dents from both sides and got everything close to where I wanted it. After things were decent, I spent about 5-10 minutes on the english wheel with a fairly flat lower anvil getting some of the finer dents and dings worked out. After the e-wheel I hit the whole piece with my DA and highlighted all the low spots. Another 10 minutes tapping with my hammers and the piece is just about ready to be reinstalled. I have a bit of welding to do where the metal tore, but the pieces is 95% complete and looks really good.

The next step to getting the rear end straight will be reinstalling the decklid and cutting the right quarter loose so I can get the gap adjusted. I have been running into a lot of situations where I have no references from which to measure. This is true for the rear of the car. I don't know if it's out of square and since the whole thing from the wheels back has been hacked up, I decided to find the center of the car and start from there. I set a string line on the nose ridge, then hit the center of the cowl where the windshield squirter sits, then the center of the engine bay between the rear hinges. From there I eyeballed the center of the engine bay. That should get me within about 1/16" of center. Hopefully I can run a few other strings and find a line perpendicular and use that combo to measure distances for bits on both the left and right sides of the car.

Apron cleaned up

String lines for finding the car's center

Vid of the apron work

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Engine Bay Fit Up

I spent a good part of the day today messing around with the engine bay sheet metal. I got the pieces from a donor car somewhere out west a few months back. They are from a 60's era car, so there are some slight differences between these pieces and the pieces from a 74. I tried to make the whole thing fit at once, but there is no way to make that happen. The left side had some cancer, so I seperated that piece of tin from the others. While doing that, I wanted to flatten out a recess in the panel and decided to just make a replacement and move on. Everything is fitting up nicely. I need to make and fit up the replacement skin sections and fix the bumper mounts before I put the tins in permanently. I'll probably sand blast them as well.

Right side of the tins fit up

Left side fit up with old metal

Left side with new metal

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cleaning up Engine Bay

I worked all weekend, but I don't have many good pics to post since most of the work was grinding paint and rust off the car. I cleaned up the engine tins I bought a few months back. I also cut out the bumper support (inner rear fender) on the driver's side. Oddly enough, the lower rear quarter panel was not rotted out. The cruddy replacement panel actually allowed water to get out and not stay trapped! I have a vid showing the process of removing the apron and what great work the PO's body guy did.

I also separated one set of my driver's side seat tracks from the section of pan I cut out a few years ago.

left rear corner of the car... Can you count how many pieces were hacked together to form this corner??? I count 6. I'll be fabbing up a new one in the next couple weeks.
Left side engine bay support and the bumper mount after being hit with the wire wheel. The mount has been cut off the car.
Driver's side seat track seperated from the pan. I welded in some metal to keep the tracks the correct distance apart.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New grinding techniques applied

I've been having trouble with patch panels flattening out/shrinking when I grind them. I wrote Pete at South West Rod and Custom to ask if he had any advice for me. He said the heat from the grinder will shrink the metal just like welding will. He suggested I use a 3" cutoff wheel to grind rather than my 7" grinder. Also he suggested that I concentrate on grinding ONLY the weld.

I made sure to only use the edge of the grinding wheel rather than using the face. I also ran my hand over the work area every minute or so to make sure nothing was getting hot. I made a big effort to keep the wheel moving over the length of the welds rather than concentrating in a small area. I literally took one swipe on one line of welds, moved to the other side of the panel, took a swipe, moved to another area, etc. It made for about an hour and 10 minutes of grinding, but the panel looked perfect when I was done. The alternative is spending an hour beating the panel back into shape. Case in point; I'll be spending a few hours replacing a patch on the passenger side that I ruined by grinding too fast.

Thanks to all who thought nice things about my compressor... I don't want to speak too fast, but I think she's gonna make it. I did some reading on the interweb and found that it was just a loose belt. I tightened it up and changed the oil... She's running better than ever now!

Panel ground down and run over with 80 grit on a D/A

Friday, November 27, 2009

Passenger Side Inner Fender Section Welded In

I have something to be thankful for today; I just welded the last major section of sheetmetal into the front end of the ghia! I still have the headlight buckets, and actual bumper mounts, but all the trashed/rusted body parts have been repaired, replaced or restored from the hood forward. I welded on the patch I made a couple days ago after about an hour of fitting and trimming. The extra time spent making sure the welding gap was even paid off tremendously. The two panels welded up like a dream. I did run into a spot where some blow-through occurred, but it was pretty small and probably due to a small spot of rust and not poor fitting panels.

After I got the panel welded up, I turned my attention to removing the passenger side seat rails from a section of floor pan that has been sitting on my shelf for 15 years. I tried to drill the spot welds out, but as usual, I wound up grinding everything apart. It looked like the VW spot welder must have had offsets on the tongs. Contact would be made on one side of the panel and it was a 1/8"-1/4" off on the flip side. So, even though I drilled completely through the center of the weld, the flip side of the weld did not break... I don't think I'll ever win any spot weld breaking contests.

On a sad note... My compressor has developed what appears to be a terminal affliction. She is slowing down under load and not running smooth. I bought her for $150 back in 1995 and I've spent about $20 on her since... I've surely gotten my money's worth, but I can see our friendship is drawing to a close. I am now on the hunt for a 2-stage compressor pump. If I can find one on ebay, I'll use it on top of my old tank... If I can't find anything worth while, I'll have to scan the classifieds for an entire unit. Please keep my "Black Max" in your thoughts.

Lower inner fender section clamped up and ready to weld
Finish welded in place
A photo of the filled in air grills
the seat tracks before
3 hours later, the seat tracks are off the pan. I welded a piece of sheet metal (an old rocker stiffener) in between the rails to keep them straight during the removal.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Inner Fender Patch Panel

I finished up the welding on the patch that filled in the passenger side air vent. After that was done, I started fabbing up the the patch for the lower section of the passenger side inner fender/bumper mount. I decided to do another video rather than take a series of pictures. Hopefully I'll be able to weld that patch in this week. Like most Americans, I have Thursday and Friday off, but with all the family activities; I may have to wait for the weekend to do some real work!

After this patch gets welded in, I only have the headlight buckets left on the front end of the car. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!!

Finished weld on air vent patch

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Filling in passenger side air grill

I don't have great pics today. I decided to do a quick video of how I create patches for the car. I hope folks enjoy the video. I have one more major patch to put in the front of the car, then I'll flip the car end for end and continue the work on the rear. If it was still nice outside, I'd just park my truck outside and keep both ends of the car exposed... Too bad I'm a wuss and want to get into a nice warm truck on mornings when it's only 30 degrees outside.

Air vent before the patch
First piece of the patch tacked up

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welding in the quarter apron

I spent about 3 hours refitting and welding in the panel Cecil and I made on Thursday. I had left a bit of the rain channel so the quarter panel wouldn't move before I welded in my patch... Well after a ton of fitting with the decklid and scratching my head, I figured out that the quarter might have been welded in wrong by the PO's body butcher. With that in mind, I cut the channel and freed the quarter up to move around a bit. I was able to take out some of the pie shape in the top of the gap and also I leveled up the quarter and decklid. After that was done, I welded in the panel and it looks like I haven't got a perfect gap, but it's about 1/2 way there... I'll either lead it in or hit it with the body filler. I doubt I'll cut any more on this panel, it's already been through hell and back.

Pie shaped gap before cutting the rain channel
Panel after another hour of fitting
Panel tacked up
Panel welded in. I left the last inch or so loose so I can shape the corner to fit later on when I fab the rain channel.

Luggage compartment/Wheel well repair

I had a change of plans yesterday. No sandblasting. As I was looking at the patch Cecil and I made Friday night, and contemplating welding it in, I noticed how easy it would be to fix the hole in the luggage compartment with the access from above. I set about making a patch and cutting out the bad spots in the wheel well and the luggage floor. After about an hour and a half I had a good fitting patch and I was ready to weld. About 1/2 an hour of welding and I am ready to grind everything down...

I still have some patches to weld in from the other side, but I will do that at a later date.

With the welding done, I decided to coat the other exposed areas of the wheel well and inner structure with POR-15.

After the painting was done, I called in my wife's uncle for some help installing the decklid so I could check out the gaps before committing to welding in my patch. It's been about 10 years since I've had the decklid on. The top gap was good, but both sides have a pie shaped gap that is wide at the top and looks good where the hood turns from horizontal to vertical. I'm not sure how to deal with that. I'll have to figure that out later.
Holes in the luggage
Patch tacked in
I POR'd all the reachable metal under the patch I cut out.
Decklid back on the car

Friday, November 6, 2009

Driver's side quarter panel top apron repair

My wife's grandpa Cecil came over to help again on the ghia. Man, it's nice having another set of hands and another brain to bounce ideas off of. Unfortunately, if you double the number of males in a garage working on a car, it usually equates twice the amount of past gas!!! :D

The PO's body butcher hacked 3 panels together to form the area where the rear quarter panel meets the rear apron behind the convertible top. He beat the crap out of the pieces to get them to fit together rather than trimming and butt welding... He definitely subscribed to the theory that body filler can make up for lack of metal working skill. There was a section of the panel where I removed more than 1/2" of filler.

After grinding back to decently smooth metal, I marked out our replacement area, then we set about making a paper template, then a metal panel. We worked the basic curves in by rolling the panel over a 12" long x 4" diameter metal pipe on my work bench. We got about 80% of the shape, and then found we needed to stretch the center of the panel a bit to get the edges to sit flat on the car. About 10 minutes of work on the english wheel and we were really close. We added a bit of twist, then did a very small amount of edge shrinking with my bolt shrinker (see previous post.) After the panel was shaped we added the 90 degree bend where the deck lid opening is. We did it by cutting the curve out of some plywood. Since the panel has curve there, we taped a paint stick to the center of the panel before we clamped it to the curve jig. A few minutes of tapping and it was time to mark the car for the cut.

I had to tape off the area for the cut because I had 4 sets of marks. This actually made the lines easier to see, so I might do that more in the future. About 10-15 minutes of cutting and fitting and our panel fit with about 1/100" gap all around... PERFECT!

Since the panel is removed, I'll be painting the wheel well from the top and also repairing a few welds on the firewall where the factory spots have been seperated. After that, I'll weld in the new patch sometime this weekend.

Panel after the body-chump beat it to death.

New, smooth, well fit panel ready for install.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cleanup on engine bay continues

No photos today... Just spent about an hour cleaning up various pieces of sheet metal tacked to one another. I decided to grind off the metal rather than drilling out the welds. Sometimes it's harder to weld up the holes left by drilling than it is to grind down the metal and old welds. I have about one more solid hour of cleanup to do where the bay sheet metal meets the wheel wells. If everything goes well this week, I should be able to do some blasting/striping this weekend (assuming I can get the body off the frame again.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Engine bay cleanup continues

I didn't have a ton of time to work tonight, but I did get something accomplished. I removed the valiance under the firewall. I also found a bit of damage to the underlying structure that will have to be repaired before I can put the new sheet metal in.

I am kicking around the idea of sand blasting the engine area and the area under the rear seat while I have the valiance out. I think it would be easier to access. I'll have to make a few phone calls to get my friends over here to lift the car back onto the dolly so I am not sandblasting the frame.
Engine bay with valiance and horizontal sheet metal 95% removed

Engine bay cleanup

I have decided to leave the front end and work on the rear of the car for awhile. The engine bay sheet metal is my first target. I have removed major chunks of the old metal and I'm working on grinding down the little fragments that are left. I have a donor set of tins from a 66. While the engine hole is the same size as a 74, the look is a bit more clean. I personally think it's a smoother look. The battery section of this tin is warped, so I either need to heat shrink it a bit or replace a section. I'll decided that soon. One other note, the wheel wells changed a bit from 66 to 74 (I suspect because of the shift from swing axle to IRS???) So the dimensions of the firewall are a bit different. I have the lower sections of the 66's wheel wells, so I may just graft them onto the 74 and then make transition panels... We'll see.

While ripping out my tins, I found more crap sheet metal work. It looks like the previous 'body guy' just tacked in a patch, then covered it in roofing tar. I don't remember seeing that procedure in any bodyshop manuals...

Unfortunately, my vacation is over, so progress will return to slow and steady again. Hopefully, I'll get some quality time in during the month of November.
22 spot welds drilled out to seperate the firewall from engine bay.
Killer patch job by P.O.'s body guy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Skin back on drivers side rear quarter

The day started by cutting out a 12" section of the wheel well at the bottom rear. I was going to wait to do this until later, but since I had a big hole in the side of the car, I decided it would be easier to reach now. That took a couple hours to get fit up, then about a half hour to weld up. As I was welding, I noticed about 3 places where the former body guy overlapped panels, so I spent about an hour cutting out lapped pieces and cleaning up the rusty areas under them.

Now that the wheel well is in good shape it was time to weld in the first of the skin patches. I started at the back by fitting up and tacking in the biggest piece. Since the piece was long and thin, I welded in 4-5 tacks, then hit them with compressed air to cool them off. I also was very careful to move around the panel as evenly as possible.

With the big piece welded in, I moved on to the arch. It was cut in two so I welded it together on the bench and ground everything down. I rolled it a couple times on the e-wheel to give it some shape and then went to fit it up... Wouldn't you know, it was about 1/8" too wide at the gap. Seeing that it was sticking at the lip, I cut the panel back in half and allowed the cut to be a bit pie shaped. That split the difference and I was happy with the fit.

Just a note... It's really hard to hammer and dolley on the arch piece. There is a close off piece at the fire wall that you can't get your hands behind. There is a gap just big enough to get a pry bar into, so I used one of those to push out on the low spots while I hammered on the skin on the high spots.

After I ground down the welds, I decided to start cutting out the trashed out engine bay. I have a lot of clean up to do, but the major sections have been cut out. I'm going to try to get some paint on the bare front end tomorrow, but if it's too wet or too cold, I will start the clean up on the engine bay supports.
This is a view from the rear tail light on the driver's side. You can see the patch to the wheel well just inside the hole in the quarter panel.
First quarter skin patch tacked up.
All the pieces welded in. Man, that took forever to weld. I bet there is 6 feet worth of tacks.
Everything ground down. MUCH nicer than the recessed and putty filled patches that were there.
Engine bay. Can you tell it had been wrecked?
Engine bay mostly removed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More work on the ghia's driver's side rear arch

Back to flying solo again today. It's killing me that I have a big hole in my rear quarter, so I decided to address that area today. First mission was to cut apart the vertical weld that was lapped about 2" over and get the metal straight, then reweld it. I borrowed a body saw from my wife's grandpa and that did a great job with the accuracy of the cut. It also kept the cut thin enough that the welding went off without needing to fill a bunch of blow out.

After the vertical weld was straight, I saw the piece we welded in yesterday needed a bit of reshaping to make everything tight where the skin will weld up. I spent about 2 hours going back and forth beating and fitting the arch until everything looked tight. As I was doing that, I noticed the forward piece that we though was good, actually needed help. I cut out another 10-12 inches and fit up a repair panel. As I was welding that in, I noticed a 1/4" crack above the patch. After hitting the crack with a steel brush, it opened into a dime sized hole, and had about 6 smaller friends show up for the party!!! I then cut out the hole and his friends and welded in a patch.

In the process of making the arch pieces, I realized that I could hammer the lips out against a form, but then I had to shrink the lips to get shape into the arch. I decided to split a bolt and use it as a shrinking fork. It worked like a charm. I could make tucks, then hammer them out against a wood block, then finish with a steel dolley.

I made a fairly large patch for the rear section of the quarter panel. I used the same wood form to fold the lip. I had to shrink it just a bit, then hit the panel lightly with the english wheel to give it some shape.

My wife's grandmother was in town (other side of the family), so we went out to eat. After that I caught game 1 of the world series, then snuck into the garage to apply a quick coat of POR-15 to the inner well so I could get the skin welded on in the morning.
Vertical weld cut, hammer worked, then rewelded.
Wheel arch form cut from 3/4 shelving material. This is the rear skin patch being fabbed.
Bolt used for making shrinking tucks.
Second inner arch patch welded in and other patch cut out ready to weld.
Patch made up for the rear section of the quarter panel
Inner well POR-15'ed

Vacation lends time to work on Karmann Ghia again

I'm on vacation this week (it was a use it or lose it situation) so I am finally back on the ghia project! I asked my wife's grandpa Cecil if he wanted to help work on the car and he generously accepted. Cecil was a machinist for TWA for about 30 years and he's tackled an insane number of projects that require custom fab of sheetmetal, chassis mods, engines etc., etc., so I was happy to have him on board for just about anything. My dad also wanted to get involved, but he hasn't done much bodywork in the past... I haven't had much help over the years, so I had to think of how all of us could work and not be tripping over each other and we also needed to have enough tools to go around.

Before everyone arrived, I moved the car into position, cleaned up the floor and started grinding bondo out of the d.s. rear quarter. When all the crap work that had been done to the quarter was exposed, I cleaned up and got the tools all ready.

After we got done with small talk, the faces got serious and my dad quickly volunteered to organize or clean up my garage since he could see the car was going to be crowded. How perfect! I needed some shelves installed and I knew he'd bang them out perfectly. I decided to take the front end since it was custom work and the idea was just in my head. I showed Cecil the driver's side rear arch and asked if he'd be happy working on that.

With the work assigned, we all started tearing into the jobs at hand. We marked out the arch and Cecil started cutting away the sheetmetal. I cleaned up the heater vent opening and made my patch for filling it in. Dad was well on his way with the shelves.

When Cecil got the arch cut out we did some detective work and found a Tabco panel was at the back of the repair, the original car was the next layer and a donor car was the third layer. The last body guy overlapped all the panels about 2", beat them into submission, welded them together, then put about a 1/4" of bondo on top to finish everything off nice and smooth. We also found that he beat the tar out of the inner wheel well since things didn't line up for him.

Cecil set about making a new outer lip for the inner wheel well. He cut a piece of 3/4" press board to the curve of the opening, then bent the lip over the edge of the press board. He checked it for fit inside the arch sheetmetal and everything looked good. After some fitting we tacked it up and found there was a twist in it and spent about 30 minutes getting it straightend back out. I finish welded it after Cecil went home for the night.
Driver side arch with some bondo removed
Arch cleaned up. Look at the crap welding job
Arch cut out and Cecil working on seperating the three sheets of steel.
Front end patch
My dad installing shelves
New lip on inner wheel well. (sorry the pic is dark)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Paint removal

I tried a different paint stripper today and was quite pleased with the results. I used KleenStrip's aircraft remover. I found an aerosol at walmart, but I couldn't find it in the liquid form. I taped off the trunk that has already been sealed and went to work on the weatherstrip channel. It took 2 passes to get most of the paint off, then I switched over to a wire wheel in a drill to clean up the last bit of paint. I was much happier with the aircraft stripper than the bix I used before.

The aircraft stripper works really fast. It says 15 minutes on the can, but it was more like 5. I could actually feel the chemicals burning me through my blue rubber gloves. After everything was stripped I wiped everything down with mineral spirits.

I will be stripping the wheel wells next. I suspect I will work in small areas so I can stay on top of the work.