Sunday, March 21, 2010

Driver Side Fender

I went and dug the fenders out of storage.  I had wrapped them in plastic to prevent any further deterioration during the past 2 years since they were stored outside under a cover.  They were out of the weather but not indoors.

I started with the driver's side fender since it was damaged the least.  I figured I'd take the opportunity to learn where there wasn't such an opportunity to screw up.  You can see that this fender has damage to the lower section in front of the rockers.

And more damage around the side marker light.

I wish that were all there was to fix but I looked under a strange splash guard that didn't look like and original part of the car and found a bit of pain.

I used a long-handled driver to remove the nuts/studs around the fender holding the light bucket on to take a better look.

After removing the emblems, the buckets, the side marker lights, what was left of the splash shields, and the rocker moulding clips, I took the fenders to my media blaster, Tony, who shot both fenders, inside and out for $60 each.

Here's the damage to the lower rear area (in front of the door).

I bought a Lower Front Fender Patch Panel from NPD and, just for fun, test fitted it against the fender to see how close/far off they were.  Not too bad, except for the rust (it came that way!).  It appears as though a pro restorer would just cut the fender off at the top of the patch and tuck and weld the overlap and call it a day.

But... I'm no pro.  I have a philosophy that I will try to save as much original sheet metal as possible.  I really just needed to fiix the back corner of the fender, so I cut off a small patch from the new panel.

To fit the patch, however, I had to remove the rusty metal.  This damage goes all the way through the outside fender skin and the inside reinforcement brace.

To remove the rusted brace, I had to open the rolled-over flange first.

And then mark it for cutting.

And chop it off.

Then I laid the patch I had cut previously against the metal marked off the area to be cut away on the outside skin.

I actually left the outside and lower edges in tact to use as reference points for the curvature of the patch.  Here's the patch test-fitted in place.

And tack welded.

I ground the welds down and prepared the inside for the brace patch.

I had also bought some Inner Lower Rear Fender Brace patches from NPD.  These weren't quite so similar to the original braces.  They look like they were designed to be welded over the rusty original brace but I have another philosophy, don't weld new metal over rusty metal so I took an hour or so to pound and cut the patch to fit as a direct patch.  The oval hole has to be cut as well which required two 1/2" holes and some filing.

Before welding it into place, I had to treat the underlying area with Ospho and ZeroRust.  A paint brush fits under the bracket and allows you to coat the metal all the way underneath to the rear seam.

Finally, I welded in the patch.

The repaired area after a bit of primer.

Here's that headlight bucket.. um... bucket.  What's this area called anyway?  The splash guard?   Whatever.. I'm just calling it a bucket too.   Anyway, it's pretty rusted out.  I hear you thinking, "Why doesn't the idiot just buy a repro or a NOS fender and get on with it!?"  Shut up, I didn't ask you. ;-)

So I cut the 9 spot welds in the front.

And then the 3 along the top and removed the bucket from the fender.

Here's the bucket.  THIS is a part I wish they had a repro for.  I honestly considered buying a repro fender to steal it's bucket but decided that this looked like a good challenge.

I hacked a section out of the remnants of the fender patch panel that roughly came beyond the rust damage.

Here's what I came up with after an hour or so of banging on it with a hammer and comparing it against the bucket (before the rust is cut out) and then banging some more.  Yeah, the domed corner is a problem for a sheet metal noob who doesn't have a stretcher or shrinker.  Still, it's an improvement and won't be seen. 

I welded in the patch.  There's still a small section on the side that needs a patch.

I cut it out and patched that too.  I left the flange in place again for reference.

Here it is all ground down.

This patch was done to the side marker light area by the PO.  I considered leaving it alone and doing a filler putty job on it.

But again, as in other areas of the car, this patch was brazed in over rusty metal.

I made a template that took the flanges into consideration (the flange tab is poking up in this pic making the template look out of whack).

I cut this patch from the fender patch panel remnants as well.

And marked the fender where the old metal was going to be cut.

And tacked in the patch.

The patch from the inside.

Primered and test fit the side marker.  I've decided that I went a little overboard on trying to reproduce the tabs on the inside edge of the hole.  I could have made a better patch without messing around with those flanges.

The fender came with what looked like a number of extraneous holes for the emblems so I fitted the emblems in the holes and compared their position with the info at the Mustang Monthly article "Pin Letters on a 65-68 Mustang Part Two".  Sure enough, I had two extra holes.

I welded those holes up and then applied Ospho to the entire inner fender and the bucket.  Then I scrubbed it with a scotch brite pad and rubbed it down with lacquer thinner.

And then sprayed a couple coats of ZeroRust.

The bucket was then aligned back in the fender and clamped with clecos.

And welded in.

I cleaned up the fender attachment hardware in the sand blasting cabinet, and painted captive nuts with Trim Black and the bolts with Rustoleum Stainless Steel.  I laid down two strips of masking tape to protect the top of the fender aprons and test fitted the fender back on the car.  It works!

This task took probably 20 hours.  A bit more than I was hoping and the passenger side is twice as bad.  Maybe I'll look for an OEM fender.  On the other hand, I already have the patch panels. ;-)


  1. Awesome work! Yes, keep as much original metal as possible. It's a patch, not a replacement.

    I was wondering where you kept the parts to your car. I got a fender I need to fix. Bondo over rust. Ugg!

    Great blog. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks James.

    I keep the large sheet-metal parts (doors, fenders) under a covered, fenced-in area on the side of my house wrapped in plastic and under a tarp. Other parts are kept inside a fully-enclosed shed structure and in my garage.

  3. I'll be doing the same to me bucket as well