The BugShop: Project '57, pg 7

This page last modified- 11/3/01

Be nice to look at something besides that damn nose huh? This page details some rust perforation "patching". I knew about these areas years ago, but somehow had forgotten about them with all of my attention on re-assembling that nose. These are good examples of how to remove small rusted-through areas and use small pieces of sheet metal to replace them. As anal as I am being about making the reconstructive work on this car as undetectable as possible, I admit that these areas are all but inaccessible when the car is assembled and I am less picky about how they look. The goal is just to remove rust and re-establish the structural integrity.


This is the left side front bulkhead, the forward end of the heater channel. Under the gas tank. With body on the chassis, the master cylinder would be just to the left in this picture (LHD). You with me? This picture isn't great, but there is rust perforation visible just on the lower, right edge.


More Holes

This is after the rusted area was carefully excised out with the Dremel tool and a thin carbide disc. The rusty surface you see behind is actually the end of the heater channel. It left about a 1/4" space between it and the bulkhead panel that has been cut away. A classic body cavity situation where water probably collected and sat at the forward most point. As you can see with the screwdriver, the bottom of the bulkhead panel has also rusted through slightly, perforating the bottom. This was not discovered until I poked all around the area.

Many would be tempted to just tar or bondo this up, and that is better than doing nothing at all. But it will buy you only a little time at best.

That little bit of red paint that you can see on the left of the cavity is actually Eastwood's "Corroless" that I applied with a brush when the whole left quarter was removed. With the quarter panel removed, I had access to that "in between" space in the front bulkhead. I am not very concerned with the surface rust in this cavity because I know that this car will be babied and. if I can help it, will never even be driven in wet weather. 

Dusted off the Oxy/Acet Torch

Yes, this is the bottom of the body. I took this picture by laying on my back. The body is up on sawhorses about 3 1/2 feet off the ground.

I used the Oxy/Acetylene torch and some brass rod to close up those rust perforations underneath. Brazing is actually very good for doing this when the perforations are fairly small and localized. It is very important though when using brass to completely remove all of the burned "flux coating" before painting. This stuff will corrode, expand and bubble over time, destroying any paint or coating that is over it. On a fresh weld, it appears as a black or brown coating and chips off almost like glass. The whole car will be sandblasted and I will instruct the shop to pay special attention to this area to insure all the flux is removed.


Fitted Up

This picture shows the first piece of metal that I cut to patch in. It was the "first" one because I made such a mess trying to weld it on that I ended up ripping it off, cutting more of the original panel off and making up a new, slightly bigger piece. In the end, this patch didn't go well, but I thought it was still worth showing these pictures as the correct steps to patching a rust perforated area. Those are little office supply binder clips holding the piece on, it was cut from an original panel that I removed from the nose. 

Ready for Welding

This picture isn't great, but it shows the "donor" piece all dressed for welding. The edges of it and the existing panel have been ground down to shiny metal. On the lower edge of this piece where it will sit up against the flange of the panel behind, it has been drilled to allow some simulated spot welds to be used. The area around the holes has also been ground down to shiny metal. I'm using a heavy woodworking clamp here to hold it in place.

Not My Best Work

I'm still not sure what happened, but I couldn't get the MIG weld to "take" anywhere on this panel. I kept getting "cold" welds that just popped off with a "tangggg!" when I pressed on another part of the panel. I cranked up the power on the MIG and got it to go a little better. Then I was trying to do a butt weld along the top, but the panels didn't quite meet and left a small gap. This was a disaster. I started burning bigger and bigger holes along the gap with the MIG. Finally, I just grabbed the Oxy/Acet torch and some brass rod. It is much easier to "fill in" with brass (at least for me anyway) but it also invariably warps the panels a bit too. But I keep telling my self that it was solid and nobody would every see it.

If you ever see my car at a VW show, don't ever let me catch you looking under here. 

Holes Down Back

Now this is the right rear inner quarter as seen from inside the engine bay. Talk about an area that no one will ever see! The backside of the rear apron is seen to the right, the retainer lip for the engine compartment seal can be seen at the top. This rot is directly behind the rear bumper bracket mount, and exists on both sides. A bit puzzling, but the bracket is a welded "U" channel on the other side and does create a cavity. Interestingly, this perforation allowed me to get oil to the backside of the snapped off bracket bolts, all four were snapped off. I used the "MIG blob" method to remove them, see the "Tool Techniques" article for a description of this technique. 

This is the left side. Picture is not that great, but you can see the rust-through. 

This is after I excised out the perforated area. It was basically all of the metal behind the bumper support bracket. Instead of trying to hammer and fit a piece of metal in there, I first cut a piece of cardboard in the shape of the patch metal that I would need.

I know this picture is crappy, but look at the engine seal retainer channel right at the lower left corner of the cardboard. It is badly bent up, probably as a result of some engine removal/replacement operation. As I have gone through this whole car I have found areas that are dinged and dented. But taking the time with the hammer, dollies and pliers, and you can make all this stuff look straight again. In spite of all the work I have done so far, this car is remarkably straight and solid for a 41 year old New Englander. 

Here is the patch piece clamped in place and ready for welding. This piece of metal is actually part of a hammered out "box section" that was on the damaged left front quarter that was cut from the car over a year ago. This metal is actually thicker than the standard "body sheet metal", probably closer to an 18 gauge. And "using tissue from the car's own body greatly reduces the chance of rejection and infection by the body after transplant" according to leading surgeons. You can see some holes along the lower left edge that were leftover from the drilling out of spot welds to remove the donor panel from the quarter. They "work" here as they can be filled to simulate spot welds, but appearance is of little concern here.

As the panel is welded in, the vice grips are moved to keep them very close to the welding area as possible. Tight contact between panels when welding is essential. 

After failing miserably with the MIG on the patch up front, I was very apprehensive about getting this one right, but it came out OK. I know this picture isn't so great either, but you can see how the panel is tacked in, and yes, that is a bit of brass in the upper center. There was an area or rust weakened metal outside the coverage area of this panel that I only found after blowing through it with the MIG. Again, brass works very well as a "fill in" weld as well as being able to flow over weakened steel and restore it's strength. The welds will be ground down a bit, but it is tough to get in here with a grinder.

You can see the bent seal lip real well here in the upper left.