Sunday, March 11, 2012

One side down!

Since I was at the limit where I'd start to lose vacation time if I didn't take it and since the weather was supposed to be nice, I took Thursday and Friday off of work. My wife, who was in the same boat with her vacation time did the same.

Normally we'd take advantage of the nice weather and head over to the coast for some hiking (the skunk cabbage should be starting to bloom over there and, with all the wet weather we've had lately, the banana slugs should be out in force) but I'd given my plague-like cold to my wife and she spent the time in bed. So off to the garage for me.

First thing, after spending a bit trying to get my patch to fit the opening cut out for it, I discovered there was more difference than I expected between the original floor pan stamping and this patch panel. So to make things easier, I cut the larger piece in half and, then, after a bit of bending and prodding, spot welded it into place.

patch 1 in place
Then it was simply a matter of lining up the 2nd half as best as I could and tacking it down.

not perfect (yet) but it fits
As you can see in the 2nd pic (if you click on it to blow it up to full size) there's an area that doesn't quite line up. So with a cutting wheel in my trusty dremel, I sliced that part out, removed a bit of the metal behind it, then slid the offending piece into the proper position. I added a few more welds between the rest of the spot welds and start filling. I also drilled holes in the metal on either side of the seam to assist in the creation of spot welds to the front body support directly beneath.

Now this didn't all go as smoothly as I described. One of the main differences between an inexpensive mig welder and a better model is the amount of time you can weld at a pass. So every so often my welder would simply shut down and I'd have to give it a break.  And as I said in an earlier blog post, I'm a little rusty at welding, so there'd be times I'd burn through the metal and would have to go back and carefully fill that in. Plus I did need to cut small bits out of scrap to fill in those holes where the old floor didn't quite match up with the new patch. But after several hours of work (over the course of 4 days--hey, I had other things to do, like take the dogs for a walk out in the foothills and sit in my recliner and play a few computer games--I was on vacation after all) I got it completed.

Done! (well, almost)
I still need to do a little clean-up underneath (the areas that burned through will need to be ground down on the underside of the car) but I'm going to move on to the other side--this one has been treated so it won't rust until I can get it sealed up with epoxy primer.

Oh, and in the lessons learned department, I leave you with this picture:

Note to self: move the creeper out from under the car when welding.

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