October 8, 2017

Detailed partial rocker panel replacement

The guy who did the autoglass on the '69 Camaro build asked me to repair some rust on his 1999 GMC Trailblazer and as he also does the glass in my projects, I thought I'd be a good car buddy and do it for him over the long weekend...

Didn't look too bad to start with....

But like the Foreigner song,  Three dressed up as a nine - the closet you got...the worser she looked!

 I noticed the door was out of alignment to the dog leg and rocker - so I took photo of that to see if we couldn't get that better off in the end as well - 

 Using the new piece as a partial template, I measured and cut a section so as to use it to  mark it out on the vehicle

So out came the cutting tools and safety gear

With the replacement rocker measured thrice and marked - 

I first cut the rocker - a bit bigger than needed - because its always easier to trim is down than having to add pieces later

 On the vehicle, I did the opposite, by cutting out the minimum amount -  to see what was behind the rust.  What's that in behind the rust? Why it's a snoot-full of dirt of course!

 Packed full of moisture-holding dirt, which gets in through gaps and drain holes, rusting out the rocker from the inside -


Once the outer skin was off, I could see that the inner rocker was also rusted through, 
so with a masking tape line as a guide, off it went as well.

 The portion of the new rocker that I wouldn't use was used to replace the inner portion. All I needed to do was reshape it to become the inner panel, using the brake and some hammer-shaping on the anvil.

 Fitting and shaping in 2 pieces took over an hour
Which included mock up, reshaping and cutting to a precise fit..

Once it was the exact right shape and dimension, I soaked any remaining surface rust with POR's MetalReady and left to work overnight. This solution turns iron oxide (rust) to iron oxite, which is an inter substance. It also helps make metal more conductive for welding by depositing Zinc Phosphate.

 The next day, with everything prepared properly and dried,  welding the inner panel ensued. But before welding, I hung a welding blanket across the door opening to protect the interior from weld splatter - or worse!

Here the innner is welded solid, using a back and forth spot-weld pattern so as not to overheat it, which can lead to warping, burn through and fire hazard.

 With the inner welded on, I  trimmed and fit the outer panel so as to ensure it would fit over the finished the inner

 Then, plug-weld holes where drilled in the new outer panel,
 so as to attach it at the bottom, to the new inner panel

Prior to welding on the outer panel, I coated the new inner panel - as well as the original surrounding metal - with POR15, for maximum rust protection

 Both back and front

Then, the outer panel was welded in, little by little, ensuring it would line up with the body and door

 The lower connecting edge of the wheel-well also needed attention, taking me 3 tries to get right!

 With everything set and welded, the welds were ground down and the entire panel cleaned up, ready for a skim coat of filler

A skif a filler was next to finish it off -

Tomorrow I'll do a final sand of the filer, then put some more POR-15 on it as well as on the bottom of the rockers so they can either stay black, or can be painted at a later date.

So, a total of 8 hours, over 3 days, and the rotted out rocker was repaired in and out. This repair will last the life of the vehicle - and likely longer, since I made a point to shape the wheel-well connection so as to allow water and dirt to drain out more easily. It's not often I spend my time on 'later model' rust repairs, but once in a while I don't mind helping another car-guy out. It's one of the many things that makes our hobby so much fun!

September 17, 2017

VIDEO How To - Shrinking metal

My most popular post of all time was this How-To on shrinking metal (17K views to date). It was video'd by my (then) 10-year-old son and although it was a lark (and far from rehearsed or edited!), it gained a followin because lots of guys doing metal (body) work on their own want to know how to shrink stretched metal....

Click link below to view on YouTube:

E-tek How-To: Shrinking stretched metal

Also, check out all the How To on the E-TEK RESTORATIONS web page 

and join the E-tekRestoration Fb site at  https://www.facebook.com/EtekRestorations/ 


How to: Storing automotive paints (Top Tip!)

I learned this trick a long while back, but like many things I should have done, I didn't use it when I should have and wasted a LOT of paint over the years....so now I keep what I need WITH my paint supplies....

We all know that paints react with air, slowly gelling the top layers, turning it into a skin and eventually hardening the paint through the remainder of the can.  

Single-stage epoxy's however, take it one step further and as the product reacts with the moisture in the air and don't just dry, they catalyze. Slowly, single stage epoxy's like POR15 and Rust Bullet will turn into a cement-like substance in the can when exposed to air. As an example, this is the container I use to transfer POR15 from the can. 

The bottom layer, exposed to the moisture in air, is hardened like cement!

The answer - for any type of paint - is to not allow ANY air to come in contact with the paint in the can. Putting the lid on won't do it either - the air  (and moisture) is already in there. But since our garages are not science labs (close maybe!), you likely don't have the ability to form a vacuum, with a high end vacuum tube.

But most of do have an inert gas that can displace air!

Butane is an inert gas, similar to Argon, which is heavier than what's in our air (mostly nitrogen) and can DISPLACE air, thus effectively SEALING the paint off and removing the interaction of air and moisture with the paint.

All you need to do is turn your Butane lighter on (no flame of course!), or discharge it directly from the refill can, into the can of paint - lid on or off  - as per below:

The Butane will sink to the bottom and settle on top of the paint, thus displacing the air. You don't need to know how much Butane is in the can, as long as there's some it will settle on the paints' surface and form a barrier to the air around and above.

Once it's in there, put the lid back in - or seal the hole - as in our case!  
Your paint will now last virtually forever, as fresh as the day it was opened.

If you've ever used POR15, you know why there's a hole in the lid....if not, well, let me tell you: POR15 cures like CEMENT in the presence of moisture, which basically means air. Any POR15 you get between the lid and the can will catalyze and cement the lid to the can - FOREVER.  To get around this, you can either use a thin sheet of plastic to form a barrier between the lid and can, or pop a hole in the lid, using tape to seal it. With the Butane trick you won't need to worry about a little air transfer past the tape - and it seems easier and less messy that the plastic method.

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