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 Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 3/12/04 to 3/14/04

 18.0 hours



My goal was to get the rear inner wheel wells in.

I had a three day weekend,  I had to take my last vacation day or lose it.

I really thought this would be a fairly easy and straightforward repair. 

Will I ever learn!!    






The first thing I did was remove the trunk lid that I had so carefully installed just a couple weeks ago.








Next is to remove the cover for the drivers side trunk hinge.  For some unknown reason (at least to me) there is only a cover on the drivers side. Two screws hold it in place and thankfully the both screwed out!



There two are long rods that go from one hinge to the other that act as springs to give the hinges the power to hold the trunk lid in the up position.


I used a small piece of pipe to remove the spring from the hinge.  As you can see there are 3 different possible positions to install this spring.


I repeated the same thing on the drivers side.




I 'm tackling the drivers side inner wheel well so I need to free it from the trunk hinge.

There is a support that runs from the hinge to the inner well.  I located and drilled out the spot welds.

I'll need to remove the hinge itself from this side to gain access to the inner trunk wall for repair.  The red arrows indicate where the hinge is spot welded to the body on one side of the hinge.  The other side of the hinge is also spot welded in the same manner and can't get to them until I remove the wheel well.






I After the hinge support was drilled out the well nearly fell out on it's own!  I needed to just barely tap the front of it and it literally dropped to the ground!




All that's remaining of the drivers inner wheel well.


A lot of mud, snow, rocks and who knows what else have been deflected by this part over the years.


It needs a rest.






Well, that leaves a gaping hole. I hope I can fill it back up properly.

From what I see it looks as though this was all one big piece of sheet metal  from the door jamb to the trunk opening including the wheel tub.





Here is a photo of the inside of the drivers rear quarter.


A lot of surface rust and a ton of rust proofing.


Time to break out that messy old sandblaster again.....ughhh







The same area after hours of sandblasting and using a propane torch and a putty knife to clean the old rust proofing off.


Notice also the trunk hinge has been removed.







This is the aforementioned trunk hinge.  I have highlighted three areas here.

The two on the hinge are the areas that were spot welded to the body. They were virtually inaccessible until the wheel well was removed.

The lower yellow circle shows the area where it was welded to on the body.  This particular area is very thin and rusty.  I'll need to address this later.

I'll be able to disassemble, sandblast and paint this easily now.

I'll be replacing the rear quarter on the passenger side so I probably won't need to remove that hinge.  I should have enough clearance from the outside once the panel is removed.



I encountered quite a bit of rust here.  I'm laying in the trunk (which incidentally is quite spacious and would make for a great gangster car! Room for a body and then some).

What we are looking at is #1 the rear quarter support welded to the inner trunk wall and #2 the base of the C pillar or the curved area that runs from the rear of the roof to the body.

On the picture to the right I have cut out ALL the rusted metal from this area and used a grinding disk on my die grinder to shine it all up to bare metal.



I trial fit the new tub in the car.  Once I had it in it's proper place I used a magic marker to outline the perimeter of it.

I could just weld in the part over the old metal, this would work and be ok but I'd rather cut out the rusty stuff and butt weld it to appear as one piece.  It'll be more work but the results will be much more professional.

I was really lucky that the flange on the new piece was large enough to "fill" the rusted area.








My trusty pneumatic snippers made quick work of the old rusty edge.  I cut just inside of my mark to give me some room to "sneak up" on a proper fit.

It left a very clean edge.










These three pictures show how well the part fit.

Most of the seam had about a dime width gap which I've found to be perfect for welding with a MIG welder.

Looks pretty good to me!

I'll be cutting these tubs and adding about 2 3/4" to the middle to take advantage of all the room I can for larger tires.

I need to do some more measuring and research before I start cutting these expensive parts.




To heck with measuring and research!  A big round cut and I can fit some big fat meats under this old girl!

Oh Yeah!





Ok, the truth is the passenger quarter is so badly rusted and about the thickness of paper towel in most areas it will have to be replaced. The green arrows show the worst of it.

I decide to cut out around the inner wheel well area to get a good eyeball and measurement on the outer wheel well area.







Here's what lies under that pretty sheetmetal.

For those that haven't any experience with this area there are three parts that make up the outer wheel well area.

#1 is the forward panel, #2 the mid panel and #3 the rear.

There is a rubber seal between these parts and the quarter panel.





Earlier in the day I set the passenger front fender in place.


I did this for two reasons:

1. to check th fit of the door and rocker, and

2. to make myself feel a bit better by seeing it!







I've become quite a believer in rustproofing while working on the worst parts of the Belle.


These two pictures show just a couple of dozens of areas I've found that the metal under the rustproofing was as good as new.  You can see the original primer and right next to it where no rustproofing was applied is rusted out!


A little financial tip:

  Buy stock in Band Aids and Vice Grips.  I'm driving both of their prices up.


See ya next week.




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