Rust (Not) Repair – Part 1

In the previous post, I found a nasty rust hole in the heater channel/frame in front of the rear fender on the passenger side. Through that hole in the side, I could also see the ground underneath, so there is more work to do under there. Today, I’m going to (not) repair the rust hole in the side.

I don’t have a welder and it will potentially be a couple of months before I can get access to one. I decided to take quick action and create plates to box in the affected area. Later, I will cut out the affected areas and properly weld the plates in.

I started the process by cutting out a template for the C-channel. For simplicity, my plate will be an L. Since the size of the C-channel should be consistent, I made the template under the door, nearer to the front of the car. Back in the rusty area, the channel was bent out of shape (as per usual) from the factory jack point below.

The plate, once it’s in place, will strengthen and reinforce the area, but also will force the channel back into shape.

I had purchased a 12 inch by 12 inch panel of 16 gauge sheet steel at Home Depot ( link). I will likely only have access to a stick welder and from what I’ve read online, 16 gauge is as thin as you would want to go to have a chance at getting a solid weld. That’s also the thickest that they had available in stores.

I traced the template out on the sheet steel with a marker.

And then applied my best death wheel artistry.

I then locked it in the bench vise…

…and applied some 4 pound mini sledge artistry. We don’t need no stinking sheet metal brake.

Actually, the whole piece bowed a bit from the force, so yeah, a sheet metal brake would have been great…

I washed and wiped the plate down with brake parts cleaner and then acetone, both of which nearly blackened the rag. Once it was dry, I sprayed it down with primer.

And then a layer of engine black. The can is still spitting little bits of ceramic (I assume). Luckily, it’s not the full silly string action that started happening in the Refinishing the Rear Seat post.

And then a couple of obligatory coats of Matte Vintage Blue.

A couple of hours later, I took the plate back outside and clamped it in place with a couple of vise grips. I had a little remnant of a roll of shelf lining stuff that I hoped would “cushion” the grip.

In the image above, it’s clear that I really wasn’t paying attention – or if I may be so bold as to say “being super lazy” – I didn’t cut the necessary notch to allow the plate to fit in behind the edge of the fender. That left a little bit of exposed rust and pushed the plate forward an inch or so. I will need to cut that notch out and align the plate properly before welding.

Along with the sheet steel, I picked up a couple of packs of the smallest self drilling screws they had at Walmart (walmart link).

Once the screws were in place and the vise grips removed, it was clear that my paint prep was subpar. I didn’t scuff up the surface like I knew I should have. All of those layers of paint and primer peeled right off, stuck to the shelf liner material.

Regardless, we’re square again.

I then added another quick coat of engine black to cover up the bare metal spots.

Next, I drilled a couple of holes through the bottom leg of the L and shot some rivets through. My chintzy hand riveter was barely up to the task and the largest rivets I have were barely long enough the reach through the layers of steel.

Of course there’s blood. And that’s a really inconvenient place for it. I didn’t feel when it happened. Instead, I just noticed that everything was getting smeared with blood.

Now, moving further back to drill holes for more rivets. Whoops. Too far in. The rivet isn’t long enough to go through at an angle, so that will need to be filled…

And whoops again! But at least there was enough room for a rivet this time.

Yeah, that’s proper fixed real good like.

And boom, like it never happened…

Nothing to see here.

Expert over-spray on the rear tire there. Good job, man. Real proud of ya.

Running Boards Part 2

In the previous post, I got started trying to replace the running boards, with only moderate success. It was a complete failure at replacing the actual running board. But, I was able to get all of the broken body bolts drilled out, tapped, and replaced.

The hardware that came with the new running boards was really chintzy. I have come to expect that. So, I picked up some new hardware at Lowe’s a couple of days ago.

I removed the driver side running board again, to replace the washers. What I found was that after one week, the flimsy metal washers were already starting to rust.

You don’t always get what you pay for. Yeah, I may have mentioned that before.

I decided to spend some more time trying to straighten out the jack point and channel. Jamming the end of a breaker bar in there, it easily straightened back out.

Then I hammered on the end of a ratchet, because the right tool for the job, or whatever.

And then sprayed another obligatory coat of Rust Barrier and Matte Vintage Blue.

That channel is now perfectly restored and ready for the Concours d’Elegance. Next, I tried fitting the new running board again, but it’s still way too tall. My next brilliant idea was to swap the rubber cover over from the new one onto the old running board.

There is a groove across the back side that clips onto the edge of the sheet metal. That peeled back without issue. It’s a rusty mess under there.

On the front edge, the sheet metal is rolled and crimped over the rubber cover to hold it in place. I was able to get that pried open easily enough with a putty knife. However, the brittle, old rubber cover was just shredding.

I decided to just put it back together. I would have been out there all day trying to get all of the shrapnel picked out of the channel. At least I can swap the metal trim strip over from the new running board. The ones on the car were from newer 70s model Beetles with the narrow trim strip. The new ones are supposedly the right size.

Once mounted, I peeled back the blue plastic protective cover. I found the new trim was made of the same stuff as the washers that came in the hardware pack. Ridiculous.

Old vs. new. I think the new trim pieces might be for the first generation. They are significantly larger than the one that was on there originally.

In any case, more brand new, shiny, dented, cheap crap mounted up!

The soft rubber fender washers did their job well.

Moving on to the passenger side, I got the new trim piece moved over to the old running board. The pry bar was not involved in this, it just happened to be laying there from before.

And I moved the old trim piece onto the new running board for safe keeping.

Oh hey, great news!

That’s going to take more than a Steel Stik to fix. I started to drill out one of the broken body bolts in that big rust hole. The whole thing started folding up under the pressure, so I left it alone.

So yeah, nothing to see here.

Moving on, I chased threads on the next rusty bolt hole, which had been missing a bolt.

The next one had a broken bolt, which I drilled and tapped. I clearly got off to a bad start at first… I did eventually get the hole drilled in the right place.

The last one had a bolt in it, but was still very crusty. I chased the threads on that one as well.

Rust Barrier engaged. I can rest easy now that the giant rust hole above the jack point is now fully reinforced!

Buttoning this all up for now, but that is going to require some serious attention sooner rather than later.