With the driver's side of the tub basically finished, it was time to wreck some havoc and destruction on the passenger side. And that I accomplished. Things got really messy before they were able to get cleaned up, but that is pretty much understood through all of the facets of life.
If anyone had been watching me, they would certainly have thought that I had lost my mind. I am fairly confident that I just stood and stared at the side of the rusticated jeep for an indefinite period of time. What seemed like hours was probably only 15 minutes or so. I was planning and plotting my attack. The areas of weakness (codeword for nasty rusty areas) ran in three different zones. The largest area was within the perimeter of the cowl step and vertically above it. It also had a long finger protruding horizontally towards the rear along the bottom edge of the tub.
|Rusticated area #1 (along the cowl step) and area #2 (the vertical edge at the seams)|
The next bad area was where panels overlapped each other below the doorway.
And the third area was along the bottom edge near the corner by the rear tire. It is also directly below where the radio suppression unit would sit behind the passenger seat. I actually had to cut out one of the bolt holes. I can't believe that after all of the holes I filled in, I will now have to drill a new one!
|Rustication #3 (corner just in front of rear wheel well)- already cut out and fabricated replacement panel ready to get in the game.|
For my warm up, I began with rusticated area #3. All went smoothly. Or actually because of my welding skills, it was put in rather roughly.
I cut out areas number 2 and 3 hoping it would give me a better idea of a plan of attack. When that better idea failed to appear, I went ahead with my original plan. The long extending horizontal finger from the cowl step seemed like it would take a major miracle to fit it in with one piece that would include the floor of the cowl step and the wall of the tub. So, I took three areas of rust and made a fourth. I did that bottom edge finger fairly quickly. I then decided to put in the pieces at the vertical seam, starting with the panel that would be in the rear. It was difficult, but I and my opposable thumbs prevailed...with the help of a grinder. With the rear portion in place, the front steel plate had a better defined home and slid in there. Tack, tack, tack...all corners in place. I didn't have a piece of steel big enough for the cousin of last week's Lazy Texas, so I went ahead and welded in all of the seams to the other pieces. And for the evening's fun, a trip to Lowes was in the plans. And for those who will not be named, but were offended by the Lazy Texas comment, this cowl step area looks more like the proud state of Texas that was just defeated at the Alamo.
Sunday morning I woke up bright eyed and chipper and ran to the garage at 7:00am with thoughts of sugar plums, Rosie the Riveter and fabricating a magnificent panel in my head. Well, my Ipod ran out of juice and that set an evil tone. Evidently, I can handle frustration and misery so much better with music. All in all, it was an epic two hour battle, but in the end, I made my piece (or perhaps peace) and got it to fit somewhat reasonably. I came inside for some coffee and found Sarah and Jack hanging out. I told Sarah it was in, but I feared actually tacking it in place because "what if it didn't really fit when I got to the last side??" Her reply: "Then just cut it out, again." Good enough. What a pep talk. Out I ran...with my newly charged Ipod.
I got new panel secured with several welds and it all looked fairly good...except for one area near the crease. My good steel was riding a bit high and I couldn't get the old steel to raise up. I looked and looked and then...voila!...where is my BFH? I found the hammer and beat it down. I'm not going to disclose exactly where the two edges failed to meet, but I will say after a couple of swats with the hammer, it now looks perfect. Since this doctor does not have a nurse, I went ahead and closed the patient up my self.
|All zones of weakness conquered! They just need to be smoothed down now.|
|Smoothed and primed|
|A closeup of the cowl step (pretty...almost too pretty) and the vertical seam (hmmm).|
And, for a finale, how about a prelude of what's to come? I couldn't resist myself. I slapped on my cut-off discs and went to town on the the rear panel. That guy has had a bum life...one piece and looking good when driving away, then Bubbafied to a tailgate, and finally half-heartily stuck back on as a permanent rear panel...and has lost a bit of its steel, along with its pride in the process. Well, like I said earlier, I tend to make a mess before I make it look nice again...
|Now you see it...|
|...and now you don't! Note the pieces of post war angle iron removed, too!|