Original Parts with an Original Fit!

Posts in category Exterior

Avoiding Paint Overspray inside the Cowl Panel

Here is a tip on avoiding paint overspray inside the Cowl Panel. After you have removed, repaired, and repainted your 1965-1968 Mustang cowl panel, you are ready to reinstall it.  Here’s a neat tip for avoiding any paint overspray in the cowl panel area.  Use aluminum foil!  The aluminum foil catches all the paint overspray that would accumulate in the vent area of the Mustang cowl.

Here’s what to do:  prior to permanently welding the cowl lid on your Mustang, line the cowl floor with aluminum foil.  Then, weld your cowl lid to your Mustang.  When you are ready to paint your Mustang, this aluminum foil will prevent any overspray build-up to the inside of the cowl panel area.

After your vehicle has been painted, simply reach up inside the air or heat intake holes, grab the foil, and pull it out.  This leaves a nice cowl interior without the ugly paint “scale” (paint buildup) that is commonly left in the cowl panel area.

Here’s an additional benefit of using aluminum foil:  If the aluminum foil is carefully placed, it will also prevent weld sparks or blobs of hot metal from burning the painted cowl panel during the welding process.  Aluminum foil works much better than any plastic or paper masking material.

Cowl Reinstallation Tips for 1965 – 1968 Mustang

Nearly all 1965-1968 Classic Mustangs and Cougars should have their cowl vent panel removed.  This area harbors hidden rust, ugly scaly paint overspray, and water leaks.  If not repaired properly, rust will continue to eat away at the cowl panel and then the firewall.  You’re better off taking care of the cowl panel before this nightmare happens.

Upon removing the cowl panel, clean, repair, repaint and re-install it.  Here are some tips for how to re-install the cowl panel.

  1. Align the cowl panel.  Make sure when re-installing, that the position of the cowl panel is correct.  It should line up evenly with the rear edge of the hood.  It should also line up evenly with the front fenders. Temporarily install the hood and fenders to get the positioning correct.  Self-tapping screws work really well for temporarily installing body replacement panels.  When the cowl position is correct, attach the cowl with a few self-tapping sheet metal screws.  This will temporarily hold the cowl in proper position.  Remove the hood and fenders so that you have access to the cowl.
  2. Weld the cowl panel.  Beginning from the center of the cowl panel and working outward, make a plug weld every 2-3 inches.  A plug weld is a weld that fills a hole in the top piece and attaches to the bottom piece.  This type of weld is about 1/4″ size.  Complete the plug welds until you have welded the entire panel.
  3. Grind the welds.  Using an air or electric grinder, grind the excess welds so that they are flush with the cowl panel.
  4. Seal and fill the welds.  Using a quality seam sealer or body filler, fill any grinder marks or unwelded holes.  Once the sealer or filler has cured, sand the area smooth.

You are now ready to paint the cowl area and permanently reattach the hood and fenders.

Remove your 1965 – 1968 Mustang Cowl Panel?

Exterior Cowl Panel

Exterior cowl panel once removed

Many restoration shops don’t take the time to remove the exterior cowl panel. Should you insist this be part of your Mustang’s restoration? Here are some things to consider when restoring your Mustang.

1. Hidden Rust. Rust forms around the heat and air intake, then spreads to the door post, cowl side panel and firewall. This rust remains hidden unless the cowl panel is removed. Once the panel has been removed, the area can properly be inspected.

2. Leaks. Rust holes cause water leakage from under the dash. If the cowl panel has not been removed and restored, rust can go unnoticed until bigger problems surface. If your cowl does not leak, rust still might be forming inside. You would still need to examine the area by removing the cover.

3. Proper Inspection. Inspecting the cowl from under the dash is not adequate. To completely see all of the areas, the cowl panel must be removed. It is a lot of work to remove it, but will be worth it to inspect this area now and properly restore and seal this area to protect the longevity of your Mustang.

4. Concours Restoration. Once the cowl has been removed and restored, the cowl area can be painted. Mustangs that have had this area painted look much nicer. There is no longer any scaly paint inside the cowl vent grills (a common problem with Mustangs that have not had their cowl panels removed).

This picture is from our current restoration project, a 1965 Mustang factory GT Fastback. It was thought to have a rust-free cowl since there were not any leaks. After removal of the cowl panel, however, you can see the moderate surface rust located around the air intake area. This rust is minor now, but if the cowl was not removed, this area would continue to rust.

1965 Mustang left hand cowl air intake (driver's side)

1965 Mustang left hand cowl air intake (driver’s side)

The picture below shows the cowl heater intake vent (passenger side of the Mustang).  It has moderate surface rust located near the door post. It is still solid, but given time, this rust would cause serious problems.

Right hand side of the cowl panel, heat intake vent area

Right hand side of the cowl panel, heat intake vent area

It took several hours to locate and drill all of the spot welds.  But this time is well spent as it will save many hours of grueling repairs in the future.   The cowl will now be sandblasted and epoxy primered to eliminate any possibility of future rust.

Tips for removing a cowl panel:  see our Mustang Guides, Locating Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement and Drilling Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement for removing spot welds.

Important Note: When re-installing the cowl cover, make sure the alignment is perfect. This is critical for proper hood and fender alignment. If your original cowl cover will be used, simply align all the drilled spot welds. If a replacement cowl cover is used, fenders and hood may need to be bolted on and aligned to achieve this proper cowl alignment. Without proper alignment, you can be sure to need some Tylenol, as you will be faced with many headaches!

Unibody Panel Replacement

Unibody panels need to be replaced when they are rusted or damaged.  After spot weld drilling and panel cutting is complete, it is time to begin fitting the replacement panel.  This guide will apply to most panel replacements, including roof skins, rear quarter panels or patches, floor pans, cowling vent, taillight panel and trunk floor.  It will take you through the steps of replacing a panel.

Tools Needed

  • Hammer
  • Dolly (a variable shaped iron straightening tool)
  • Drill or Air Punch
  • Clamps and Vice Grips
  • Shears
  • Sheet Metal Screws
  • Impact Driver
  • Welder
  • Grinder

Body Panel Replacement Process

  1. Drill all spot welds and remove the old panel.  For further information on this step, please see our guides on Locating Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement and Drilling Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement.
  2. Use the hammer and dolly to insure all flanges are flat and free of distortion.  This can be done by placing the dolly on one side of the flange and hitting it with the hammer from the other side of the flange.  This will straighten the flange.
  3. Using a grinder, grind all excess spot weld bits and pieces smooth.
  4. Next, fit the replacement panel in place.  Some panels require slight trimming or slight reshaping, depending on the reproduction panel.  This is done with shears and/or grinder for trimming and hammer and dolly for reshaping.  NOS parts fit the best with minimal reshaping, but are not readily available.
  5. Once the panel has been nipped and tucked and fits reasonably well, clamp it into place using vice grips, C-clamps or sheet metal screws.  Helpful tip:  if you are installing sheet metal screws to hold the panel in place, an impact driver is a big help.
  6. Look at the panel very carefully and mark any areas that need additional fitting work.  Rework these areas as necessary.
  7. Once you are satisfied with the fit, remove the panel and drill or air punch holes in the replacement panel every few inches on the weld flanges (the new areas that will be drilled will be similar to where the old panel’s spot welds were drilled).
  8. Re-clamp the panel in place.
  9. Next, begin to weld the panel in place.  Use the plug weld method, in which you weld through the hole of the new replacement panel, filling the hole which attaches it to the backing flange.
  10. After welding is complete, grind any excess weld buildup.  The welds should be flush with the new panel.  If you installed sheet metal screws to hold the panel in place, remove them now and then weld the holes shut.  Grind these welds flush also.
  11. Replacement is now complete and ready for any refinishing that you desire.

Copyright 2007:  FastbackStack, LLC

De-rust Your 1964 ½ -1973 Mustang Door

Original Mustang doors have rust. This is common knowledge that 40+ year old doors are going to suffer this fate. How do you handle this? What do you do when you discover rust on your classic Mustang door? We have an economic and environmentally friendly solution to this rusty problem.  This guide will give tips on how to de-rust the bottom section of your Mustang door, as this is the main area that problem rust occurs.

Rust on the inside bottom seam is not visible to the eye, but is generally present.  This rust causes the bottom edge of the door to swell if it’s not eliminated.  No amount of sandblasting will remove rust from this area.  Thus, utilizing this environmentally friendly chemical dip is imperative to remove this hidden rust before swelling occurs.

Materials Needed

  • 4 – 5 gallons Apple Cider or Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 54″ long piece of PVC pipe (6″ or 8″ diameter)
  • 2 end caps
  • PVC pipe cement (glue)
  • Rust inhibitor paint (such as POR 15)

The Process

This process will walk you through creating a container made from PVC pipe that holds vinegar.  The bottom section of the door is then submerged in the vinegar.

  1. Prepare the door:  Complete any patchwork, sand off paint, remove excess rust scale, and clean the inside of the door with a vacuum or compressed air.
  2. Using PVC pipe cement, glue an end cap to each end of the PVC pipe.  Allow time for them to completely dry.
  3. Cut out a section of the PVC pipe large enough to fit the door in it.  Once cut, it will resemble a trough, and look like a canoe with two blunt end caps.  PLEASE NOTE:  You can use or devise a different non-metal container that suits your needs.  I have found that cutting PVC pipe in this manner works well.
  4. Fill the trough with 2-4″ of vinegar.  TIP:  large containers of vinegar are often sold at grocery outlet stores.
  5. Submerge the door in the trough and prop it up so that it won’t tip over.
  6. Leave the door submerged in the vinegar for 7 days.  Check progress after 7 days.
  7. If rust still appears, leave it submerged for another 7 days.
  8. Remove the door from the trough of vinegar and rinse the door with water.
  9. Place the door near a heat source where it can thoroughly dry on the inside and on the outside.
  10. Using compressed air, blow any remaining moisture and water from the groove located on the inside bottom section of the door.
  11. Apply rust inhibitor paint to the inside of the door, along the seam.
  12. Your door is now ready to have the body work completed.

Copyright 2007: FastbackStack, LLC

Sanding Body Filler on your Mustang

Freshly applied and cured body filler tends to clog sandpaper.  Here is a trick I have used to save a little time while also prolonging the life of my Long Board or Dual Action (DA) sand paper:

  1. Once the body filler has cured, take a piece of used coarse-grit sand paper and thoroughly scuff the body filler.
  2. Next, take a handful of fine, dry filler sanding dust and rub this dust into the freshly sanded filler.  If possible, wait a day or so to further dehydrate the filler.
  3. Then, place a new piece of sand paper on a sanding device of your choice.
  4. Now you are ready to begin sanding the body filler again.

Utilizing this tip helps to dehydrate the body filler, prevent paper clogging, and saves the amount of sand paper that you will go through.

Another Sanding Tip

  • When shaping body filler in a concave area (where the metal curves inward), wrap sandpaper around a rolled-up magazine.  This gives added flexibility, yet the length is stiff enough to be able to sand successfully.

Good luck with your body work and sanding projects on your Vintage Mustang!

Copyright 2007:  FastbackStack, LLC

Quickly Clean your Mustang Nuts, Bolts and Brackets

I have discovered an amazingly easy way to way to clean a lot of small parts with very little effort.  If you own or have access to a cement mixer, this tip will be very useful to you.  The cement mixer, combined with sand-blasting sand, will automatically clean your parts for you!

Materials Needed

  • Cement Mixer
  • 1 bag (100 pounds) of sand-blasing sand
  • 2 five-gallon buckets (1 for parts, 1 for sand)
  • 1 section (1/4″ to 1/2″ mesh) chicken wire or comparable screening device

The Process

This process works well when cleaning heavy duty parts such as nuts, bolts, brackets, clips, rubber bumpers and bushings, spring plates, motor mounts and other comparable items.

  1. Start up the cement mixer.
  2. Pour in the parts to be cleaned.
  3. Pour in 1 bag (100 pounds) of sand-blasting sand.
  4. Lower the angle of the cement mixer down, keeping the angle of the mixer high enough so that the contents do not spill out, but low enough to thoroughly agitate the contents.
  5. Allow the cement mixer to run for approximately 4 hours.  Four hours should be adequate time for general cleaning.  Additional time may be required for cleaning excessively dirty parts.
  6. Place an empty five-gallon bucket under the mixer.  Using a strainer (chicken wire or screening device), slowly tip the cement mixer to allow the sand to fall through the strainer, leaving the parts on top of the strainer.

You have cleaned your parts without all the tedious work!  A “set-it and forget-it” process that yields great results.

PLEASE NOTE:  Do not attempt to clean delicate parts using this method.  Items such as horns, trim pieces, and brass parts will be ruined if you attempt to clean them this way.

Copyright 2007:  FastbackStack, LLC

Locating Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement

Drilling spot welds is an important step of the body panel replacement restoration process.  But, often times spot welds are difficult to locate.  Perhaps the vehicle is severely rusted or perhaps it has been painted several times.  Both rust and paint can cover up spot welds.  This guide will give some tips on how to locate seemingly invisible spot welds.

Tools Needed

Course Sand Paper:  40 grit or lower

  • Wire Brush
  • Flashlight
  • Chalk
  • Hammer
  • Flat Metal Chisel

Tips for locating spot welds

Spot welds can be covered with rust or paint.  Use these tips for finding them:

  • By hand, run course sandpaper over welded flange areas a few times.   This will remove rust and/or paint along the flanged areas but will leave traces of paint and/or rust within the low areas.  These low areas are the spot welds.
  • Run a wire brush over the welded area a few times.  This will yield similar results as using sandpaper.  The rust and/or paint along the flanged areas will remain and traces of rust and/or paint will remain within the low areas, or spot weld areas.
  • In a dim-lit setting, shine a flashlight at a very low angle along the welded flange.  Doing so will, in some cases, cast a shadow at each spot weld.  Then, mark this area with chalk.

Most spot welds are discovered by using the previously described methods.  In case there are additional welds that are undetected, try this tip:

  • Using your hammer and chisel, begin to remove the panel by laying the flat edge of the chisel between the panels and gently hammering until the chisel comes to a stop.  Often times, it is hitting the spot weld.

Now that you have located all of the spot welds, you are ready to drill the spot welds.  Please see our guides on Drilling Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement and Unibody Panel Replacement for more helpful tips.

Copyright 2007:  FastbackStack, LLC

Drilling Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement

Drilling spot welds to remove unibody panels such as your cowl, rear quarter panel, floor pans and wheel wells can be tedious, but it is a fairly straightforward process.  This guide will help you tackle spot weld drilling like a pro.  Please remember to indicate below if this guide is helpful to you!

Tools Needed

  • Sand Paper and/or Wire Brush
  • Drill
  • Pilot Drill Bit: 1/8″ diameter
  • Spot Weld Cutter: 3/8″ diameter
  • Heavy Oil
  • Hammer
  • Flat Metal Chisel

Spot Weld Drilling Process

  1. Locate the spot welds needing removal
    This is done by looking for small, round depressions located every few inches where the body panel is attached to the vehicle.  If your vehicle is severely rusted or has been painted several times, these welds can be difficult to locate.  You would then need to clean the spot weld areas with sand paper or a wire brush to locate the welds.  Please see our  Locating Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement guide for more information.
    The drill bit is pointing at the small depression/spot weld.

    The drill bit is pointing at the small depression/spot weld.

  2. Using your 1/8″ drill bit, drill a pilot hole through the center of each weld
    A pilot hole is a centering hole for the spot weld cutter.  Helpful tip:  Dip the tip of your drill bit in heavy oil prior to drilling each spot weld.  This will prolong the life of your drill bit.
    This picture shows the pilot hole being drilled.

    This picture shows the pilot hole being drilled.

  3. Once all pilot holes are drilled, use your spot weld cutter to drill a hole through each spot weld.
    Using a specialized weld cutter minimizes the damage to the panel underneath the panel being removed.  When drilling with the weld cutter, only drill deep enough to remove the desired panel.  When I drill a weld, I watch the drilling area change from clean metal to light surface rust.  This would indicate that I have just reached an area between the sheet metal panels.  At this time, there is usually a little “poof” of rust dust.  I stop at this point, since I know I have just drilled through the first panel without over-cutting the second panel.
    Here is one style of weld cutter.  This is a sheet metal bit, 3/8" size.

    Here is one style of weld cutter.  This is a sheet metal bit, 3/8″ size.

    Here is the weld cutter at work, drilling the top layer of the spot weld.

    Here is the weld cutter at work, drilling the top layer of the spot weld.

    The weld is drilled!

    The weld is drilled!

  4. After all welds have been drilled, carefully use your hammer and flat chisel to separate the panels.
    This is done by laying the flat edge of the chisel between the panels and gently hammering to loosen any bits of weld that were not cut by the drill.
  5. Now that your panel is removed, you are ready for the next process.  Please see our Patch Panel Installation – Unibody Panel Replacement Guide for further information.

You are on your way to spot weld drilling!  I have drilled over 5,000 spot welds throughout the last 15 years and I will probably drill 5,000 more in this year alone!

Copyright 2007:  FastbackStack, LLC