Entry: 1/5/06 - I didn't waste any time digging into this new project today! I removed both front fenders and started stripping up the hood weatherstrip area to assess the amount of rust. I also started hammer and dolly work on the right side of the nose to pick-up where the bodyman left off with the frame rack work. Overall, I'm very pleased to see no real surprises in the rust department. Some areas will need minor patching but overall the nose and cowl area are solid and have good integrity. I was especially pleased to see inside the body cavity where the fuel tank filler pipe runs thru was still nice clean gray sheetmetal. I'll be spraying some corrosion inhibitor in there before I seal it back up! I also wanted to compare the damaged area on nose to the blasted nose of the donor clip. There is going to be a bit of metal patching on that clip before it can be used but all the measurements are true and that's valuable data at this point.
Entry: 1/6/06 - I've put in about 4 hours of hammer-and-dolly work on that outer right nose section and removed the damaged bumper bracket by drilling out its spot welds. I am starting to see a picture of how I'm going to graft the clip sheetmetal into it by blending a welded seam into an existing bend line using a small flange type overlap seam. The existing bumper and fender bolt holes give me very clear benchmarks to measure from. The weak points to the clip are the rust on the weatherstrip lip on the top and the rusted out sections at the bottom. The nose has been pretty much stretched, torn and crushed beyond repair from right about in the middle of the bumper bracket forward. I think I can use the front wall of the nose section except for a small portion right at the end of the front weatherstrip channel. A good solid and hard to detect repair is looking like it's within my grasp on this spot.
Entry: 1/7/06 - Add another 4 hours or so of work today cutting out the unrepairable section of the right side nose. Once the front panel sheetmetal was released from its side panel spotwelds, it was very pliable and much of the crushed top front was hammered roughly back into place. The lower front pan still has a good bit of a wrinkle in it that will need to be pushed up and forward. The cut on the front of the "bullet" shape above the light conduit tube got a nice spotweld flange added for the seam with the donor sheetmetal. Along the bottom edge, I was able to preserve the flange with the fuel tank reinforcing crossmember and the pinch weld flange along the bottom edge of the front pan. I plan to spotweld "tack" the clip into place for test fitting with the bumper, etc, then run a MIG weld bead down the inside and outside seams once I'm good with the alignment of everything. I think the resulting welded seam will be easy to hammer into shape and camouflage the slightest bit of filler and heavy coat of Wurth StoneGuard on the outside. On the inside, a German square-weave carpet is glued to the sidewall, not snap removable like the later Porsches. Carpet... the perfect covering for a weld that can be left much less camouflaged on the inside of the cowl if I choose.
Entry: 1/9/06 - Today I spent about 7 hours cutting the nose graft out of the donor clip. Once I freed a larger section than I needed, I carefully measured the flange I cut out on the car's cowl and traced it onto the nose graft. I triple-checked my measurements just to make sure before I cut the nose graft to the final size using my Bosch jigsaw. Next I stripped the thick sound-deadening undercoating from the inside of the nose graft to expose the many holes rusted through it. My first repair was cutting out the sheetmetal behind the bumper bracket and welding in a 2" x 5" metal patch I tin-snipped out of a sheet of 18-gauge steel. The second photo shows the resulting patch after grinding and media blasting. There's a slight ripple but not too bad for the first time using my new Miller MIG-welding set-up. A few adjustments to the wire feed speed and amps and the welder lays down a beautiful even bead. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to make the welds in the front panel yet. First thing I'm going to do is patch all the rust-thru holes in the nose graft while I ponder how I'm going to "flange-up" the front panel. Once again I am very assured by the comparative lack of rust on the car as compared to the condition of the donor clip. This is going to be a very solid repair with no impact on the front suspension pan's integrity.
Entry: 1/10/06 - Another 7 hours spent feeding MIG welding wire into rust-thru spots on the nose graft, filling the holes on the weatherstrip lip and a large rotted area just forward and below the bumper bracket. I was also able to carefully grind-away the sheetmetal behind the back bolt hole in the bumper bracket so it could be spotwelded to the "bullet" shaped area on the cowl when it's time for final assembly. I finally cut away the excess metal from the nose graft and did an initial test fit using bolts thru the last fender and rear bumper bracket bolt holes. 7/16" bolts fit the holes almost perfectly and the first test fit went very well. From the picture, you can see how I'm preserving the front panel above the weatherstrip lip and grafting in from the clip below the lip. Fitting the lower front edge of the nose graft will square up the obvious outward cant at the bottom edge in the photo. So far I am very pleased with the way the metal has "bent" to my will. I'm also blown-away by how nice my 220-volt Miller welder works, a big improvement over my old 110-volt Lincoln welder that I used for over 10 years and finally got fed-up with! Welding in new floorpans with the Miller welder is going to be a breeze!
Entry: 1/11/06 - Add 5 more hours of labor to this front nose graft. All the rust-thru holes on the fender mating surface have been filled and dressed with the grinder to provide a suitable surface for a thin layer of body filler to smooth all the pits and grind marks once everything is welded into place. Lots of progress on the front panel graft is also visible in the following photograph and the nose graft is nearly in its final position. All the spotwelds have been cut out of the old rusted front weatherstrip lip and it has been removed. The new repro front weatherstrip lip purchased from Restoration Design is sitting in place, indicating how much further forward the front panel needs to be moved, about 3/8" or so. The forward lip of the suspension pan is almost in place too so there won't be much of a challenge to make that fit right. The real challenge will be getting the existing front panel to mate with the repro front weatherstrip lip. I'm starting to feel it's time to spotweld the nose graft into place in a couple spots and test fit the fender and bumper alignment. Proper gap between the hood, fenders and front bumper has the highest priority, cosmetic fit of the front latch sill comes in a close second and anything hidden behind the bumper or under the fender third.
Entry: 1/12/06 - Today the welders and grinders had the day off. I took the time to do some work with my plumb line and some ½“ wide x 12" long strap metal I drilled to bolt up to the bumper brackets and match each-other precisely. The metal straps were bolted to the bumper brackets and the plumb line was tightened, it was time to let the measurements speak to the alignment of the left and right cowls. It looks almost perfect, which allowed me to further extrapolate on that initial measurement. I loosened the rear bumper bracket bolt and "radiused" the straps pivoting on the front bumper bracket equal distances from the rear bracket bolt hole. Using the shadows of the plumb line from the halogen light, I marked alignment lines for the front weatherstrip lip and lower edge of the front panel with a felt-tip marker. A carefully centered photo using the plumb line to align a grid overlay really conveys where attention is needed in the following photo. On the "good" left side of the nose I penned-in what I am considering to be the (inverse) size and shape of the sheetmetal patch that I'll be fabricating for the rusted-out right (donor clip) side.
Entry: 1/13/06 - Lots of new sheetmetal and welding wire was added in the 6 hours I worked on the nose today. The front corner where the cowl panel meets the nose panel needed all new spotweld seam lips. New ones were cut out of 20-gauge sheetmetal and formed to create the inner lip, outer lip and then spotwelded together as originally constructed. The very tip of the weatherstrip channel was also cut out of sheetmetal and welded into place. A 1" hole was cut into the new front panel sheetmetal in the same location as the original. Extra metal was left on the top of the front panel so I could replace much of the mangled and work-hardened metal on the outer top edge of the front latch sill. A dashed line shows the approximate location of the cut that will be made once the sheetmetal has been formed to the curve of the front weatherstrip lip that gets spotwelded across the front panel.
Entry: 1/15/06 - Most of the last 6 hours have been spent installing the nose graft, figuring out where it's hanging-up, removing it, trimming it and restarting this sequence at least 15 times. Finally everything lined-up with the hood line and measured square across the front, so I quickly fired-up the MIG welder and "tacked" the whole nose graft into place with welds in about a dozen spots. Next I brought out the front bumper and bolted it into place. Made some adjustments and achieved a nice even gap at the bottom of the hood and the front weatherstrip lip that gets spotwelded to the front panel. Looks good so far, so I can bolt on the right fender and eye-ball the gap between the hood and fender along that cowl weatherstrip lip. I can already see that a little pulling outward in the middle is going to be required and I'm brainstorming how I can do this with the equipment I have access to.
Entry: 1/16/06 - Fender test fit success! The fender bolt holes lined right up with minimal coercion and it bolted on with near perfect gaps across the bumper, door, cowl and most of the hood. There is still the slightest variation in the hood gap which is the center section I've been thinking about how to fix... slight, less than ¼" and should be very easy to fix when I figure out how to apply outward pulling force. I can’t really do much to correct it until the nose is securely welded into place so it must wait. The horn grill and turn signal are just set into place and final fit for precise alignment will need to be done when the time comes. I’ve actually got to “back-date” the mounting tabs for the horn grill to the earlier 4-screw version anyway. All-in-all everything is looking GREAT and now I can go back and make the final welds, filling the gaps between the spotwelds which are holding the nose graft in place. The front latch sill is the next step as I couldn't anchor it into position until I knew the side panel was aligned correctly. I can't believe how many hours fixing all the rot in that rusty nose clip ate up. I guess it was better than having no clip at all but what a pain!
Entry: 1/18/06 - Today's 4 hour's focus was stripping off the fender and bumper, wrapping-up the side cowl graft and starting the front panel repair. While everything was clamped into place, it was time to make a wooden "fit gauge" to measure the final fit of the front panel to mate with the pre-formed front weather strip lip. I traced the lazy arc from the replacement sheetmetal piece onto some 5/8" chipboard and cut it out on the bandsaw before clamping it into place on the nose for the following photo:
Now I have a handy tool to do a quick fit measurement while I'm pounding and forming that front panel. That's going to require some "big hammer" work, probably my 5-pound slide hammer. While everything was clamped into position, it was also time to do the final weld on the side panel of that nose graft. I made 3 passes over the flange weld, the first a straight weld and then two alternating zig-zag welds parallel to the first weld to use my grinder and feather into the void inside the flange on the "bullet-shaped" piece above the headlight wire conduit tube. I stripped the remaining undercoat from the area behind the nose graft and ahead of the apex of the wheelwell recess on the cowl. After wire brushing all the sheetmetal to a nice shine, I coated the entire panel in the 3M "weld-thru" primer I like to use. With a little shadow-play, this photo shows where the grinder, hammer and dollies will be needing a little more usage. I'd like to limit the usage of filler to hammer and grinder marks and the few remaining "acme scars" left after blasting the rust out of the pits. I'd like to apply what would be considered accepted bodyshop practice on a fender or door... no "cake frosting" on my 912!
Entry: 1/20/06 - I've put in about 12 hours work on the nose graft over the last couple days and have hand fit and welded the front panel into the latch sill. I've been able to hammer and form the metal in a forward direction, mostly with an air chisel with a blunt tip and a 5-pound slide hammer. I've also added metal using the MIG welder to fill rust holes and slide hammer holes. My first goal is to get the contour of the front panel to mate with the new sheetmetal weatherstrip lip. Everything is roughly into place, stripped of paint and rust and primed with the 3M weld-thru primer I like to use to see the contours of the panels better. I stopped-by the metal vendor and picked up a 3' piece of ¾" x ¾" bar stock to make a tool to straighten that wavy weatherstrip channel above the latch sill. There's some issues with the bottom edge of the front panel and more sheetmetal will need to be added there to fix a contour problem but the priority is the top side that's visible with the bumper in place. I'm quite pleased with how much of the special 1966-only stamping pattern on the latch sill right of the latch I've been able to save and don't see any problems forming the damaged pieces back into the original shape.
Entry: 1/21/06 - Chalk-up another 8 hours straightening and sculpting the right side of the latch sill. Much of the day's effort was spent pulling the top of the panel forward to straighten the weatherstrip channel. I was also able to anchor the entire right side of the panel to the cowl with some welds so the final hammer forming of that right end can be accomplished. The entire front panel has been stripped down to bare metal, rust sealed, holes filled with MIG wire, weld beads getting smoothed and formed with the grinder. I took two pictures of the latch sill, a close-up of the good left side and damaged right side. I've flipped the image of the undamaged side and created a flip book that compares the current state of the repair with the goal of matching the right side. The next step will be forming the correct "dip" in the weatherstrip channel on the first 5 inches of the left side of the panel and will require making a "crimper" out of that ¾" x ¾" bar stock and heating the panel with the oxy/acetylene torch to soften and work the metal. My goal here is to provide a solid metal surface to which the thinnest layer of filler can be applied to model the fine details of the original pattern of the sheet metal pressing.
Entry: 1/24/06 - I got a little ahead of myself, before doing any final hammer forming with the oxy/acetylene torch, I needed to make some cosmetic modifications to the front weatherstrip lip I purchased from Restoration Design to remove the vertical channels pressed into the spotwelding flange. As you can see in the photo of the part from their website, Restoration Design has chosen to fabricate a piece that has the drain slits / stiffening ribs found on the '69 and later version.
The original early '65 production version of the front panel on my car has a smooth mating surface between it and the upper edge of the spotweld flange of the weatherstrip lip, making a clean, reinforcing rib-free contact all along the front panel. To modify the replacement weatherstrip lip, I made an upside-down "L" shaped cut up one side and across each of the ribs with the small cut-off disc of my Dremel tool. I then pounded the ribs flat, removed the extra metal and welded them closed. There was a void at the top of each one that required welding a small strip of steel to patch the hole and then fill the area with a MIG weld bead on the top and bottom side. The MIG weld bead on the bottom side hasn't been completely dressed since more welds to attach the lip to the front panel will be required in this area, and those will be sealed with caulk-gun applied bead of body seam sealer and hidden by it. On the top (visible when assembled) side, I used a sanding drum on my Dremel tool to dress the MIG weld beads flush with the surrounding surface so all traces of the ribs are gone. I think it turned-out looking DAMN good (if I say so myself)!
Entry: 1/25/06 - In the couple hours I had to work on the 912 today, the focus was shaping the "dip" in the first 5" of the damaged right weatherstrip channel to match the undamaged left side. This task required the fabrication of a "crimper" using the bench grinder to form a few inches of the ¾" x ¾" bar stock I purchased for the task because it is the exact width of the weatherstrip channel. My "crimper" was designed to allow me to shape a gentle curve in the metal using my huge 16" ChannelLock pliers to squeeze the metal under the weatherstrip channel between the rounded lugs on the "crimper" and slightly bend it in many places by varying the position and pressure of the squeeze. I used magnets to hold the two pieces of the "crimper" inside and outside the panel in the position where the bend was desired and then gave them a squeeze with the ChannelLock. After about a dozen different "crimper" repositions and squeezes, you can see the finished product in the following photo, the left side "dip" in almost identical to the right side. You can also see from the photo, the top edge of the latch sill as it moves to the center is still slightly higher on the left side and more pulling forward in that area will be required. Big coercion is still required by using the 5-pound slide hammer, hammers and dollies so I'll be holding off on the "fine" heat shaping with the oxy/acetylene torch until I'm happy with the alignment using the more "coarse" methods. While progress is slow, it is indeed progress and I can see the end is in sight. Compared to this nasty stuff, replacing the rockerpanels will be a snap!
Entry: 1/26/06 - Today's 7 hours labor went into wrapping-up the metal working on the front latch sill. Some final adjustments with the 5-pound slide hammer were made as well as MIG welding in a couple small patches where the metal showed thin areas when I probed with a sharp-pointed body hammer. The final step was using the oxy/acetylene torch to heat and hammer form fine details in the areas that where getting too "work hardened" to hammer straighten with the metal cold. After all the metal working was done, I stripped off the remaining paint and weld-thru primer and used with 80-grit sandpaper to scuff-up the surface where filler was to be applied. As luck would have it, the UPS driver delivered the Evercoat "Rage Xtreme" lightweight self-leveling filler along with some other tools and supplies I had ordered from Auto Body Toolmart just when I needed it. Tonight the 912 sits with a couple thin coats of the filler applied, covering the grinder marks and rust pits along the base of the front weatherstrip lip. There is going to be a little "sculpting" of the filler to get the exact details of the pressing pattern on the rightmost portion of the latch sill but nothing too thick and it will be well anchored to strong steel underneath. It sure would have been a lot easier to have used the latch panel from the donor clip but I feel very strongly about preserving that early production sheetmetal pressing pattern. I think it is turning out better than I expected.
Entry: 1/28/06 - Yesterday and today I put a total of about 9 hours labor into doing the filler sanding and shaping of the front latch sill. This afternoon I put on a coat of weld-thru primer and declared it pretty much done, with just some minor sanding scratches remaining to be filled with glazing putty or high-build primer. There are some very subtle differences between the left and right side but they are almost undetectable to the naked eye. I'm ready to finish-up the sheetmetal work on the bottom edge of the front panel and move on to another area of the car, then come back for a second pass once the floor, rockerpanels and doors are done. Experience has shown that I make faster progress if I take on these big areas in several iterations rather than "locking-on" a section until my obsessive-compulsive tendencies finally declare it perfect. I think it's time to see how far the nose repair has come, just to keep some perspective.
Entry: 2/13/06 - Things are quickly starting to wrap-up with the nose collision repair. The last of the patch and weld dressing work is completed on the inside of the spare tire well and a coat of black Eastwood Rust Encapsulator covers all the repairs. The wiring harness clips, seam sealer and underseal steps I've mentioned in detail in earlier entries are all that remains inside here. I'm quite pleased with the 2" x 3" patch that was cut-out and replaced with new steel to fix the rot where the spare tire rested on the floor of the front pan. The patch really went in well with absolutely zero heat warpage from the weld. I can't see the patch from the outside and from the inside, only a very small, dressed weld bead that will be even harder to see once the underseal is applied.
The Evercoat "Rage Xtreme" lightweight self-leveling filler was applied over the dressed welds on the nose clip. As you can see in the following picture, I tried to limit the use of filler to as thin of coat as possible and only in limited areas only as needed to blend in the weld seams and a few of the shallow sandblasted rust pits.
I decided to use regular red-oxide primer instead of weld-thru primer as I have before in this case since the next step is the Wurth high-build underseal. If this was a regular painted panel, the next step would be using spot-putty and high-build primer to fill the pin holes and sanding marks, but not in this case. Since the splatter-coat of underseal will fill any small surface irregularities, it shouldn't be necessary to do any more cosmetic work on this panel. This area is hidden under the bumper and fender, there will be lots of opportunities for spot-putty on the doors and rocker panels! I can't explain why but I'm reluctant to spot-weld the front weatherstrip lip to the front panel just yet. I think I'd like to just leave it clamped there until I'm absolutely certain the trunk latch alignment is OK and I'm happy with the final look of the latch sill. It's time for a change of scenery, to work on some other section of the car for a bit.
Entry: 2/17/06 - Today I decided it was time to wrap-up the work on the nose so I spot-welded the front weatherstrip lip into position and gave everything a couple coats of Wurth high-build underseal. To commemorate the milestone, I put together a before (vorher) and after (nachher) flip-book of how things looked when I bought the car and look now bearing the fruits of my many hours of labor. I have to admit that I do wish the Wurth high-build underseal went on just a little bit thicker so it matched the original factory-applied undercoating's "blob size" just a fraction closer. I have used Wurth SKS Stone Guard in the past and may have to experiment with my "Schutz Gun" to see if lower air pressure could deliver a bigger blob size than the aerosol can delivered. Regardless, because the Wurth SKS Stone Guard is water-based, the Wurth high-build underseal is the best first layer.