The first job that could be done was to remove the bolt-on front wings. These looked like they had been replaced at some point as they were in very good condition. The bolts securing the wings to the engine bay could be removed with ease, however the bolts securing the wings to the sill had rusted solid and were ground off using an angle grinder. The wings were in good condition and were suspected to be recent reproduction items.
On removing the left wing, it could be seen that the car had been patched up some time ago using sheet metal. The splash (or 'baffle') shields, which deter any mud leaving the wheel from entering the area between the inner and outer wing, were not present and as a result mud and water was able to collect on top of the sill area that extended into the front wing.
At some point in the car's life, sheet metal was folded over the rusted areas and braize welded. This meant the rusty metal underneath could continue rusting and also the area of contact between the rusted and new metal provided an ideal place for moisture to collect to accelerate the rusting process. Therefore the whole structure was much weaker due to the few braize welded areas, is more prone to rusting, and rusts from the inside out.
Therefore the first task was to remove all the patches of sheet metal to find out exactly what was left of the original car.
On examining the sill area it was found that at some point (probably when all the other 'repairs' were done) the outer sill had had the area under the door and rear wing cut out and replaced with a section that formed a small part of the rear wing. This was again braize welded in a maximum of six places and provided no structural strength at all.
On removing this 'cover sill' the full extent of the rusting could be seen. The original inner sill had rusted at least half way up, and had had another inner sill placed over the top and welded in very few places, again providing no strength to the car!
The photos show the remaining inner sill and the areas of dash side panel that had to be cut out because of the extent of the rust.
Then surface rust from the salvageable areas was cleaned off using a wire 'cup' brush attached to an angle grinder, and to make sure of a strong weld, areas to be welded were ground slightly to produce a very shiny finish.
After cleaning all the surface rust off the side member, a few small areas required patches welding where the rust had penetrated more than the surface. The holes were filled with appropriate gauge metal which was plug welded then seam welded (using a series of spot welds). A tool called a 'joggler' (or 'edge-setter') was used which has a head that can either punch holes in metal or create a lap. The lap is on the inside of the side member, so the patch metal is flush on the exposed side.
The area was then primed and the castle rail held in position. The rail had 1/4" holes drilled 1" apart along it's length for the plug welds. Accurate alignment of the castle rail was necessary to ensure that the outer sill was not angled up or down and to ensure the whole section was square. Placing a jacking point against the two sections helps to check for squareness, as does placing the inner sill against the structure. When a satisfactory alignment was found, the castle rail and jacking point was welded in position, again using plug welds (with the MIG on a higher setting due to the thicker gauge metal).
Care must be taken to make sure the welding wire is in contact with the parent metal (i.e. the metal without holes) when welding, otherwise the holes in the daughter metal are just filled with weld and the sections are not joined.
With the castle rail in place, the floor pan could then be welded back down to another part of the castle rail using the holes that were produced by drilling out the old spot welds. A small area required to be patched in the corner, where water had collected and attacked the metal.
With the sill area primed, the inner sill (or 'waffle' section) could then be welded in place, having been trial fitted when lining up the castle rail.
Repairs could then start on the pedalbox backs which were simply sheet metal with lap joints plug welded on one side and seam welded on the other. The lap at the end of the castle rail could then be bent around and welded to this fabricated sheet.
At was decided at this point to take the inner wing back to bare metal, a harder task in this case because it was coated in underseal. This took longer to remove because it remains soft and can clog up the wire cup brush. As it was cold weather at the time, the process could be sped up as the underseal can get quite hard in the winter months. This allowed it to be scraped off using a wide chisel, before finishing off with the wire cup brush. Again, to stop rust getting through, the area was primed using the Zinc primer.
The outer sill did need to be clamped in areas to hold it's shape because when the metal is pressed it does tend to spring out afterwards, especially for the tighter shapes as encountered with the sills. Again, the inside of the sill was primed to ensure rust couldn't attack any bare metal. The a-post had suffered from some rusting and so a part had to be fabricated from sheet metal and plug weld holes drilled into place to fix to the good metal. Once in place the joints were seam welded and ground smooth. The repair sections to the pedalbox and also the new wing reinforcer were then accurately lined up and plug and seam welded into place.
As was expected, the patch and metal underneath had not been prepared correctly and could now be tended to. It was decided to remove the wing from the chrome strip downwards and replace with a new item. Then there would be no problems with further rust or weak metal. At this stage it was also found that a new outer wheel arch should be fitted, as the rust holes in the original were too frequent to patch neatly.
When welding the outer wheel arch, great care had to be taken to ensure that it held the rear wing at the correct angle and did not pull it in or flare it out. Many trial fits were tried until finally it was plug welded into place.
After tending to some minor areas that required welding, such as around the B-post and a small patch for the inner wheel arch, it was decided to move to the other side of the car before securing the rear valence and repairing the tail-lights plinths. This would ensure exact alignment symmetrical on both sides.