Tow Time – Part 1

My Laurel needed a tow bar. Okay, it didn’t need one, but I figure being a decent sized motor with enough pulling power, it would be handy for hauling other cars about when the occasion arises. But as tow bars are pig ugly things, it had to be built so it was out of sight when not in use. Easy enough… just tuck it up behind the rear valance and make the neck detachable right? Easy in theory, so I set to work….

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Datsun Derrière

I actually did this job some time ago, but figured it may be of interest, as it seems many quite capable car nuts are unwilling to tackle the replacement of these large panels, often preferring to just repair the wheel arches on their own instead. If you can get hold of the panels, there isn’t actually much more work involved in replacing the entire quarter panel, and of course you need virtually no body filler either. Replacing the entire quarter panel also allows you to rust treat and paint areas that wouldn’t normally be accessible. Once you have new rear quarter fitted, you can apply plenty of cavity wax and be certain that there’s no longer any rust lurking, and the car will remain solid for years to come. It does seem like a daunting task, but in reality it’s no harder than replacing any other welded on panel, much like a sill. Here’s how it’s done…

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Fabulous Filler

Pudding, Plod, Bondo, Bog, Wag or Pon… call it what you will, body filler is an inevitable part of most bodywork and one which personally I dislike immensely. There is a certain satisfaction in getting it right and making a nasty rippled panel smooth again, but the process is often a miserable one, especially when you are working with your average cheap and nasty filler from your local motor accessory store .

Relief is at hand though, as this ‘Unisoft’ body filler from Polish manufacturer Novol is superb! It’s very soft so it mixes really easily, goes on like cake icing, cures quickly and sands down super smooth. It never drags, has pinholes or air bubbles either. It’s not cheap (this 6kg tin set me back best part of £30 with the postage) but as it’s easier to apply you waste less and it may be my imagination but it seems to make less fine dust when sanded too.

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Desperate Repairs

When times are hard, it’s sometimes necessary to repair that which you would otherwise replace. Times are indeed hard for everyone at present, but that’s not the reason for attempting this ridiculous repair on a recent acquisition, a 1989 Hyundai Pony pickup. I could have stretched to a new wing for it but… this truck just isn’t worth spending £166.85 on! The truck is rotten everywhere else, and I’ve yet to decide if I’ll repair it come MOT time or not, so I’d rather not spend any more money on it than I have to. My time …well that’s a different story. I’m happy to spend time chopping and welding. Those keen on performing less than worthwhile repairs on worthless cars read on…

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Violet SSS Project – Windscreen Surround

I had been hoping that I wouldn’t have to remove the glass from this car, as the front and rear screens are bonded in. There was only one tiny rust hole just above the screen on the right hand side, but closer examination with a torch revealed there was rust visible under the bonding inside the screen, so unfortunately it had to come out. With the stock original glass, it’s not to much of a trauma to get the screen out, but this car has had the original glass replaced with a laminated screen. These are a lot harder to remove without breaking them, especially as it seems many glass fitters tent to go overboard with the adhesive, making it harder to cut through. I only have one spare screen and I wouldn’t expect to have much joy finding a new one, so I really needed to remove this one without cracking it!

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Violet SSS Project – Rear Valance

This was a pretty simple and straightforward panel replacement. The new valance is Nissan part number 79121-K2430. The original valance wasn’t actually rusty, but it was badly damaged in two places, and there were signs of rust starting in the seam where it’s attached to the boot floor and back panel. The first job was to remove it, which was done by drilling out the spot welds from below, across the horizontal seam, and by using a die grinder on the vertical seams at the ends. The spot welds on the horizontal seam were drilled right through the three layers….

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Violet SSS Project – Rear Wheel Arch (LH)

The left rear quarter is the area of the body that needs the most attention, as not only do I have the rusty wheel arch, sill and lower rear corner to deal with, bit it’s also somewhat dented too. Some of the dents were straightened by hand whist doing the rust repairs but a lot of careful prep is going to be needed to make this part of the car look good under black paint. Before I could think about that though, I had the rust to deal with. The left rear wheel arch only looked a little bit worse than the right to begin with, but actually turned out to need considerably more work. As on the right hand side, I had a new inner arch panel (part # 76713-K0130) and a rear quarter from a late 710 saloon (part # 78113-N7430) to help make the repairs, but even with these to help me, a fair bit of fabrication was still needed…

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Violet SSS Project – Sill (LH)

The left hand sill structure actually looked quite solid, in fact along its full length it didn’t have any rust holes at all. The only visible rust was in the area where the bottom edge of the front wing attaches. Despite the apparently good condition, I was going to replace it anyway, as I had on hand a genuine replacement sill (part # 76413-K1330) and it’s the only way I could be sure of eliminating future rust issues. I started by chopping the main section of the sill away using an air chisel, leaving the spot-welded seams in place. Once off, the inside of the sill showed plenty of surface rust and and the front of the inner sill required exactly the same type of repair as I had previously completed on the right hand side…

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Violet SSS Project – Welding and more Welding

Having completed the right hand side of the car, it’s time to tackle the rust on the other side. This is no doubt going to entail pretty much the same work as doing the right side, so I’ll probably gloss over some of the details and just provide the pictures and note any differences in the work required. At first glance it seems that the inner wing and upper strengthener are maybe a little better than the previous side, but this doesn’t make a lot of difference really as it’s the same amount of work to repair what rust is there. The sill isn’t as rusty, but the left rear arch is considerably worse than the right, requiring the entire edge to be replaced all the way around. The inner sill areas by the rear cross-member mount is much worse too, so there’ll be some fabrication needed there. I’ll be working my way along the car in the same manner as I did the first side, so I start with the inner wing strengthener…

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