Body Work

For Body Work Part 2, Click Here


This page will detail Eugene's bodywork.  Thankfully, I found a relatively clean body with minor rust by flatfender standards.  Even though my 3A came from Washington, the rust was limited to the right side.  I will use a combination of replacement panels and brackets, and patch panels to bring Eugene's body back to life.  I could have purchased a replacement body, but this a restoration, and a new body is cheating!!!

Right side of the body.  Some minor rust below the door opening and on the step.  The rear quarter is trashed and will need to be replaced.

The firewall is not mangled at all.  It just needs a good cleaning and a few small holes welded up.

The toolbox has some pretty serious rust.  I will need to remove the toolbox to replace the floor.

This shot of the passenger floor pan show a nice sized hole that needs to be fixed.

Here's the rust on the passenger front quarter.  That small section will be replaced.

Here is the right rear quarter.  Is does not look bad in the photo, but the whole right side is tweaked from someone hitting the spare tire on an immovable object.  I will replace this entire panel, which is a lot easier that trying to hammer and dolly it straight.

Rear shot of the body that looks pretty good.

Here is the drivers side floor pan.  Just a minor rust spot that needs to be fixed.

Ahhh, a nice UNCUT original dash to work with! 

The floor bracing is all rotted out and will be replaced.  I'd like to meet the engineer who thought about reinforcing the hat channel with wood in a dark alley some time!

The best way I have found to remove panels is to drill out the spot welds.  To find the spot welds, lightly sand the joints.  I like to use a sanding block like the one pictured.  The areas that have spot welds should retain their paint.  You should be able to see the spot weld in the center of the photo above.  Then using a regular or special spot weld drill bit, drill out the spot weld.  I try not to go all the way through both layers of metal.

The nice thing about a spot weld cutter is that it does not go all the way through.  Once all the spot welds are drilled out, you can use a chisel or flathead screwdriver to pry out the affected panel.   Be extremely careful and patient so you don't do any damage.  When working with very old, thin metal, it is very easy to tear the metal.

Ever wonder what your toolbox looks like on the inside?

After MANY cuss words, the toolbox finally let loose it's grip on the floor.

The rear quarter was surprisingly easy to remove.  All the spots welds were drilled out and it popped right off.

Another shot of the rear quarter.

This is the right rear tail light panel that needs some attention.

The first thing I did was cut out the section to be replaced and then I fabricated a duplicate section out of 16 gauge steel.

And here is what the repair looks like.  Good as new!


Next it was time to repair this tear in the passenger side wheelhouse.  This is actually hidden by the toolbox.  The tear is what let a lot of moisture into the toolbox to rust it out.

Good as new!

Next I turned my attention to replacing the passenger side floor.  Both the floor and the hat channel will need to be replaced.

The rusted section was carefully cut out...


...And the new section is fitted in to place.  I also drilled a drain hole in the original location.

After removing the hat channel and cutting out the rusted section of floor...

The new panels were carefully welded in and the joints were then ground smooth.  I then used a hammer and dolly to smooth the floor.

This is a top view of the rear fenderwell where the top bow pocket sits.  The previous owner cut the brackets out to fit a roll bar.  As you can see, the area needs some pretty serious repair.

This is a back view of the area.  Willys welded a support plate under the fender to strengthen the area.  I will need to make sure I save this.

With the area cut out, I then use a hammer and dolly to straighten any imperfections.

Next, a piece of sheet metal is cut to size and bent in to shape.  Once tack welded, I ensure there are no imperfections that will affect the final weld.

Once carefully welded in, the welds are ground smooth and a hammer and dolly are used to smooth everything out.

To repair holes larger than an 1/8", first grind the area clean.  Don't forget the inside edges and the back side.

Then fill the area with a plug of sheet metal. 

Once welded in, it is ground smooth.

I am about 1/2 way done with the bodywork, and here's what's been removed so far.  I literally had about 5 pounds of rust and dirt alone!

The new brackets I needed finally showed up today.  I got all these from D&L Bensinger.  They look to be pretty good reproductions and obviously come from the Philippines.  I've been to the Philippines and they are masters of sheetmetal fabrication.

Here is the new right 1/4 panel and hat channels from Classic Enterprises.

The hat channels come pre-welded and match the original exactly.  My only complaint is that they don't have the curved portion under the center of the body.  I will be able to salvage the center curved portion and graft it in.

The new hat channels have spacers welded in the pre-drilled body mount holes.  These eliminate the need for the wood filler and should help fight rust.

The new 1/4 panel get fitted in and held in place with sheetmetal screws.  The panel fit surprisingly well and I only had to make minor adjustments.

With the panel welded in, I turned to replacing the spare tire hat channel.  Just like the 1/4, the bracket was welded in us a technique that mimics a spot weld.  You can see the holes drilled in the bracket. These are simply welded closed, attaching it to the panel.

Next, the spare tire brace was spot welded in.

Now I can turn my attention to this gapping hole in the front 1/4.

Once again, a patch panel is fabricated with the correct angle both where it meets the rear 1/4, but also on the bottom.  This is then carefully tack welded it place.  The key is to insure that the joints line up perfectly.  Then, to prevent warping, I use a technique called "stitching" which is alternating spot welds and not a continuous bead weld.

The welds are ground down and sanded smooth. Then the hammer and dolly smooth out any more imperfections.  Now only a minor amount of body filler will be needed to smooth the repair.

Here is where the two factory sections meet.  I copied the drivers side exactly, careful to mimic the weld shape and minimal cosmetic touch-up.  It will stay just like this.


The old and the new!!

Here is the final repair on the the passenger side.

Now it was time to remove the hat channel.  I used the spot weld remover on 50 spot welds!!!  Talk about a pain in the arse!!  After some coaxing, the 54 year old rusted hulk came out.

The new hat channel from Classic Enterprises fits exactly, except....

...their hat channel kit does not come with the center hump section, so I leave the old section in.  Make sure you clean out the 5lbs of dirt inside this section.

See the completion of the body work in Part 2