We left off the last episode with a freshly fabricated trunk floor, and I had a new tail pan and taillight surround on order. A few days later, they arrived, and work commenced. If you are curious, I would imagine that at this point in the story, I must have had about 75 hours into the removal of the quarter, and the repair of the wheel house, filler neck surround, trunk drop off, and trunk floor. It is easy to see why car restorations add up fast. The labor factor is huge. Moving on…
I began this round with the test fitting of the tail pan and the left taillight surround. They were both perfect, except my trunk floor wasn’t. Everything needed some TLC with hammers to align it all. Once I was happy with the tail pan, I drilled a million holes in it and spot welded it all the way down just like when the car was new. I then coated it in ugly reddish primer because that is what was within reach.
The taillight surround was much more challenging to align than the tail pan was. I used a variety of clamps, and cleco’s. If you have never used cleco’s you are missing out. They are cheap little devices that hold metal together like a champ. Every tool box should have some.
When trying to align the tail light surround piece, I needed to hold the trunk lid in the perfect position. This was achieved by stacking pennies under the trunk lid, and piling logs on top to hold it down. Tada! Perfection.
I didn’t want to weld that piece down just yet because I wasn’t sure how the quarter panel was going to meet up with it. Onward to the new quarter panel I went! Right off the bat, I was facing an uphill battle, because the aftermarket quarter panels are all for hardtops, and mine, well it’s a convertible. So the upper most section of the brand new quarter needed to be hacked off and trashed. Lovely. You can see the shape difference in the image below.
Without further adieu, I began marking the quarter panel where it needed to be modified. This is not easy to wrap my brain around because I had just spent a fortune on the 8 foot long replacement sheetmetal. I only had 1 chance to get it right.
The cuts were made, and I couldn’t turn back, so test fitting began. At first I thought “Hey this thing might actually fit!” the bottom sort of lined up, the top looked ok, and it met the gas filler door properly! It can only get easier from here right?
Wrong. The trunk gap was off by 300 feet, at least. It was pushing my trunk lid over near the back, and had a 3 foot gap at the top. This was not going to work as easily as I had hoped. No matter what I did, it just would not make a half way respectable trunk gap. I pulled and pushed, and got nowhere. I had no idea what to do next, but I really didn’t want to slice up the quarter panel any more than I already had.
My only uplifting moment was standing 20 feet back and seeing it look like a car again. That was a real breath of fresh air.
Sometimes when you can’t figure something out, you need to walk away and take your mind away from the situation. It may take you an hour, a day, a week, or maybe even a month. For me, it was 2 years. I wasn’t just being lazy though, I built myself a better work environment than the rainy, snowy, hot, cold, mosquito & ant filled driveway.
More to come…..