Original Parts with an Original Fit!

Posts tagged Body Panel

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!

Mig Welding Techniques

Using Mig welders can be rewarding, as they are user friendly and work very well when needing to complete a body panel replacement on a Classic Mustang.  A wire feed welder with argon gas yields a much smoother weld than welding with flux core wire.  Here are some tips for perfecting your Mig welding skills:

  1. Clean the surface area.  Do your best to grind, sand or media blast the areas that will be welded.  The cleaner the surface, the smoother the welding will turn out.  And, the more time you will save when grinding and cleaning up excess welds after welding.
  2. When holding the welding tip, weld in a direction which pushes forward, rather than pulling the tip toward you.  Welding forward, in a forward motion, ensures that the gas is able to clear the area to be welded of contaminates.  This creates a cleaner weld.  Pulling the welding tip toward you makes you pull in the opposite direction that the gas is exiting the tip, defeating the purpose of the gas.  This technique is difficult to get used to, as it feels more natural to pull toward yourself, but the results are worth the extra effort to learn the correct technique.
  3. Welds should be smooth and flat.  If welds are too high or too thick, they will need to be ground down, which is unnecessary work.  If your welds are turning out too high, your wire speed may be a little high.  Adjust the speed down to a lower setting.
  4. Welds should not burn through the metal.  If they are, your voltage may be set too high.  Adjust it as necessary.
  5. Practice on a scrap piece of metal to discover the settings that will work best and familiarize yourself with the proper settings.

For more tips on wire feed welding, see our Body Panel Patch Welding Tip post.

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

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

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