Having my way with sheet metal


The bottoms of both fender required replacement.  Due to the poor quality of the available imported patch panels I opted to make them myself. I was able to use the original flanges so it was easy to maintain the body lines and gaps.

Replacing this rusted out brace was the most difficult part. I had to make a wooden form to hammer out the compound shape. 


The side mounted shifter on the 5 speed made a custom hump necessary. I tried forming it in one piece but couldn't make it work so I decided to form the top and sides separately.







 After forming the top plate I clamped it to the shifter arm using a level side to side, fore and aft. I then made cardboard patterns for the front and rear parts minus the flange which was added when I transferred the pattern to metal. The photo on the right shows the left side fitted and tack welded. Screwing it down really stiffened the tunnel, even with it just tacked together.


Below left shows the right side cut out and rough formed. A shrinker and stretcher are a must for work like this. Just start the flange with a hammer then shrink and stretch until it fits the contour. This piece turned out to be a major PIA. I couldn't get the rear corner to fit properly and ended up scrapping my first attempt.







This shows the welds finished and dressed with the Shifter hole trimmed out and the boot mounting nuts welded in. The photo on the right shows the hump painted and installed. I decided to use screws instead of welding it in to make for easier access to the transmission.








Since the car was originally blue but it will soon be black, what better name would there be than Back In Black? I decided it would look cool to emboss the name in the trunk lid like on the AC/DC album cover.

I made a full size printout of the name using the appropriate font, cut out the letters and glued them to a piece of sheet metal. After a bit of trial and error, I determined that .025" thick sheet made the best looking relief. Then came the somewhat tedious process of cutting them out using a punch and needle files. Luckily, a few of the letters were used more than once.






The embossing technique consists of making a sandwich of the letters, the sheet to receive the embossing and a piece of very hard (95 durometer) polyurethane rubber. This sandwich is placed in a hydraulic press between twp pieces of steel plate and squeezed under great pressure. It took about 35 tons of pressure over the area of a few letters at a time to get the crisp appearance I was looking for. As you can see in the last picture, the rubber pushed the metal flush around the letters. Some of them were difficult to remove.


Once all of the letters were embossed into the full size sheet, hems were formed on the right side and bottom where it wrapped around the inner panel, similar to the skins on a door. I used a brake for this and to give the panel the rough curve of the trunk. Fine tuning was done over a piece of PVC pipe and on a wooden form.











When I made the cut-out in the trunk, the upper edge pulled in. I didn't notice it until I started welding when it pulled in even more. I had to pry it back out from the back as I welded. The key to a warp free job is to use lots of tack welds, no larger than those in the picture. Each one was cooled with a wet rag before another was made. Moving around a lot and grinding them down with the edge of a cut-off wheel also keeps heat from building up in a localized area and causing warps. Next comes metal finishing. My goal is to use as little filler as possible, none near the lettering.