Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fender Bender

The driver's side fender has taken me a few days to fix and prime, but it wasn't so much because it was a BIG job, but instead family and work took priority for awhile.  So, throughout the week, I sneaked off to the garage to work for a few minutes, or an hour, piecing it all together.  The most difficult obstacle I had to hurdle was just getting to Lowe's so I could purchase a piece of 22 gauge steel.  My scrap piece was not big enough for the size of the replacement panel I needed.   So, here is the recap...

I did another thorough cleaning and wire brushing with the hand grinder.  Once I could see the shiny metal glaring back at me, I could easily determine the areas that needed to be replaced.  There were a few areas that just had cracks running through them that could be joined back together with the welder.  Those were the fun and simple ones.  One spot on the inside fender needed to be replaced.  It was maybe 3" x 6" or so and it was right below where the fender-mounted black-out light's wire will pop through and run to the junction box.  I think, perhaps, it became bubbaficated when Bubba wanted to relocate his horn to the side of the fender.   And the other area, well, it was just plain gone.  Scotty beamed it up somewhere and it is still AWOL.  Actually, my super sleuthing detective skills have developed this hunch:  Bubba needed to either change the oil in the steering column box or to do some sort of repair to it and, for the sake of ease and laziness, just cut out a massive 10" x 14" section of the fender to reach the box.  

The driver's side fender (pre derustification) next to the already primed passenger side fender.

Cleaned up and able to assess the damages.  The massive AWOL piece would have been located in the lower right portion of the fender.  The other major area to repair is underneath the added chunk of steal (funky horn bracket) that is in the middle right hand side of the picture.
 The replacement panel for the side of the fender was fairly straightforward.  Once I cut it out, I spent the majority of the time trying to break up the dirt from inside the hat channel brace that runs along the back side.  It seemed like I was watching the neverending sands of time drain out of that channel.  Once that eternity ended, I could weld in the replacement.  Enough dirt/sand filtered out of it that I could have hit some bunker shots from the middle of my driveway.  The only mistake I made was cutting the replacement panel a little short on one side.  I had to be extra careful filling in the gap because with the thinner steal, I could burn a hole very quickly if I kept the torch on it for too long.

Replacement panel patiently waiting for me to stop hitting wedges and get back to work.
The AWOL piece was a bit more challenging to configure ad get into place.  I took a Cheerios box and mapped out the approximate size of the piece needed.  It would need to have a few different bends to it.  I pulled out another junked up fender from the shed and got some decent measurements from it.  I tried to use the section from the junk fender, but it wasn't complete (missing some areas).  I could have used part of it, but that would have added another couple of weld lines to my usable fender, so I opted not to go that route.

Once my drawing was done, I cut it out and then traced it onto my piece of steel.  After cutting out the steel, I put my cardboard piece back on it to compare and then to locate the approximate line of the major bend.

Marking the bend.
With everything looking right, it was time to fit the new piece into place.  Like always, I had to do the nip and tuck dance, but I finally got it on reasonably well.  Then I welded it and went to the soccer game.  Post soccer, I came home and ground down the scars.  This morning I had to fill in two holes made from an extra hood latch and prime it up!
Its kind of like watching paint dry.  But it is a good view of the piece that is no longer AWOL (lower left) and the where the bubbaficated horn was installed (beneath the circle hole inthe middle).
So, now I can either work on the front (the grill) or finish up that business of cleaning and reinstalling the tub's rear panel.  I'm jeep leaning (yes, that was a bad joke...even if you didn't know that jeeps do lean) towards the back panel.  If you really are that interested to know what I'm doing, come on over and look...or just wait until I write again!

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