Patching the Floors
With the car pretty much disassembled its time to start fixing things.
The original owner did some questionable repairs to the front floors which need to be fixed properly. After checking several Mopar parts houses I found that most repair panels come from China. However I found some made in the USA on RockAuto.com and they were about $20 less each than those from the major parts houses. Being the cheap SOB that I am, naturally I purchased the floor panels from RockAuto.
Although the replacement panels were full sized, I decided not to cut the entire floor out. Instead I just cut out the sections that needed repair. I did however cut the floor back far enough to expose the transmission/torsion bar crossmember so I could check it's integrity. As it turned out.... It was fine.
Here's a better look at the trans/torsion bar crossmember. Not too bad for a 52 year old car.
Before closing in this area I used some Rust Converter to treat the surface rust to keep it from getting any worse. This stuff is pretty good and turns the rust black once it dries.
Here is the patch panel cut and fitted.
Rather than use a flanging tool I decided to butt weld the panels in. Butt welding is the proper way to do this as an overlapping flange provides a place for moisture to collect and rust to take over again.
I used these handy little tools to hold the panels in place while I stitch welded the gaps. They are available at Harbor Freight and a pack of 8 will run less than $10. Great little tool. In the background you can see the holes I drilled for the rosette welds which will tie the patch to the crossmember and front frame.
It took almost three hours to stitch weld the entire perimeter, but when welding sheet metal its always best to take your time so you don't warp everything. Once finished I ground the welds down and the patch is ready for primer.
When I removed the fiberglass patch on the drivers side, the floor didn't look all that bad, so I didn't expect the passenger's side to be any worse but I was wrong. Apparently the heater core had leaked for a long time and a large area of the passengers floor that was pretty bad. Keep in mind that when I say bad, I mean bad for this car... I know this rust is minimal compared to a car from the "rust belt", so I do count myself lucky its only a small section.
I did the same thing on this side as I did on the driver's side. Cut the floor back far enough to expose the crossmember, then treated it with Rust Converter prior to fitting and welding in the new patch panel. Here it is before treating the area with Converter.
After another three hour welding session, the patch was finally in place. Once again I ground the welds down in preparation for primer.
It was important to coat these panels quickly since I live in a relatively high humidity area. Surface rust will form almost immediately if nothing is done so both patches were finished with a coat of self etching primer. The entire inside of the car will be primed later.
In the next update I'll be installing sub-frame connectors. There are several commercially available sub-frame connectors for these cars and they range in price from $150 all the way up to $400. That's fine if you have deep pockets, but I'm cheap so I'm going to make my own. Total cost will be under $30.
Check back often for more updates...
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