Saturday, May 23, 2009

Right Front Outer Frame Rail Patch

I'll bet you thought I'd be painting the engine compartment by now didn't you? Well, so did I until I thought about it a little bit and decided that I had a couple of things to do first. No sense scratching up my nice new engine compartment paint job on more sheet metal work is there?

More sheet metal work? What on Earth possessed me to stop midway through a perfectly good engine compartment repaint and do more sheet metal work?

Well, I was proudly inspecting my fine fine work. You know, just kind of standing there patting myself on the back, smoking a celebratory cigar, and listening to "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel when I overlooked all of the other obvious blemishes and focused on one tiny oddity on the right front outer frame rail. The nuts were... off. Like all tilty toward the front of the car? I screwed a long bolt into one of them and placed a welding magnet next to it for a 90 degree reference and saw this:

Now, I'll tolerate just about anything... except tiltyness! Not on my watch!

Well, after I threw my tantrum and hyperventilated, I woke up and remembered that I have a long history of experience with this type of thing making me a kind of front outer frame rail savant. For you see I have, in the past, patched the driver side. So, I crushed out my cigar (it was a popsicle actually), switched iPod to "Eye of the Tiger" and set to work.

I ordered a Front Frame Rail Outer Patch from NPD and cut it to a length just short of where the strut brace is welded to the bottom of the frame rail.

And then used the new patch to mark the location where I would cut away the old frame rail marking it with blue masking tape because in my opinion, nothing worth doing is worth doing without blue masking tape.

Next center punch and cut the existing spot welds with a spot weld cutter on the side...

... and bottom. Note the extra holes in the middle of the bottom of the inner rail. I happen to have known from previous experience that there's a bracket inside that I'll need to remove. These spot welds held the bracket in place.

Along with two more on the inside of the engine compartment. Can anyone spot one of my pet peeves with the so-called self-centering spot weld cutters?

After having cut all of the spot welds, I sliced the joint with my angle grinder swinging a 1/16" cutting disk.

Liberal use of an air chisel got us one ugly, rusty hunk-o-frame rail. The bracket inside is what's mostly rusted away with the bumper mounting captive nuts not far from breaking away.

Lets take a few moments for the deceased.

There's an ancient car restorer saying: What thy air chisel screweth-up, thy body hammer shall return to ye. I ran a 2 1/2" wire cup brush on my angle grinder in the rail to work away any loose rust particles and then soaked the area with Ospho being careful to try to get it everywhere.

Two coats of ZeroRust, again trying my best to make a mess.

I sprayed the patch with 2 coats of self-etching primer, drilled out the plug weld holes, clamped it in place (ooooh lookey! clecos!), and then used a flat bottom spot weld bit to expose clean metal through each hole.

Plug welded the plug welds and seam welded the seam weld.

Finally, ground the welds down.

There, that should hold that bumper out straight like a straight bumper should hold. Now, where did I put that popsicle?