Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Love it When a Plan B Comes Together...

One of the things I've learned over the years is that the right tools make jobs a lot easier. Projects go faster and often come out better when you have all the right tools.

But there are times you won't. The tools listed in The Portable Dad are the essentials that'll get you started, but there will always be that one dang tool you'll need that you just don't have or can't afford.

For me right now, that's a mig welder.

Some of the work I'm doing on Hoodlum, my project BMW, is filling in big holes, the kind where welding in a new steel plate is the best fix. In the absence of a mig welder, however, there have been a few Plan B's.

In the nose of the car, one Plan B was a good epoxy - two-part glue that holds the new metal plate to the existing sheet metal. (These are 3-inch patch plates, not whole fenders or anything. Although, as an aside, large panels of many new cars are held together with similar glues.)

A second Plan B in the nose - which was mashed in in a low-speed accident, was rivets. There was a ridge of crumpled sheet metal just beneath the hood that looked bad. Because I decided not to replace the whole nose - or weld in a clean section cut from a different car - I cut and shaped some new steel to cover the old and present a clean line. Can't epoxy that in place, but aluminum rivets (which don't rust) hold it in just fine.

The rear was tougher. I had three holes to fill, pockets where the bumper used to mount, but no way to position a plate behind them. With a welder, it would have been a simple job of cutting patches to fit neatly in the holes and carefully welding them in place.

Instead, I ended up making fiberglass plugs to fill the holes, then glued those inside the pockets and covered them with Bondo. Still have final sanding to do, then I can start the whole-car sanding to prep for paint. Pix to come when things look neater...

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