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Re: wheel wells rotted out


Sounds Like my '71 when I got it.  Started rapping the body with a
mallet to get all the mud, etc. out of the fenders, ended up with over
50 lbs. of rusty junk.  At the time, I didn't have any method for
welding up the holes. 

What I found was some fiberglass gel down at the auto parts store.  I
used over 2 quarts in conjunction with fiberglass cloth, patching all
the holes in the wheel wells, fore and aft, plus the rocker panels and
the front inner fenders.  I recently repatched one spot on the right
inner fender where it had come loose, but all the rest all still
holding after 8 years.  Just drove through a foot of water Sat. night
during a gully washer and had dry feet.  The secret is to get the area
down to completely bare metal, no rust showing, then treat it with
some anti-rust prep and prime.  This is a phosphoric acid-based
solution, commonly available from paint and body supply shops.  This
can be pumped into cracks and crevices, runs like water.  Just make
sure you do it outdoors, the fumes are a little hazardous.  Follow
directions on the bottle.  

The fiberglass gel is fairly expensive, about twice what body filler
runs, but it stays put.  I use three layers, one inside and two out,
make a sandwich in the hole.  Worst spot was the upper rear wheel
wells, a PO had pushed sweat socks into the rusty crack, then used
some kind of sealant to goop over the top.  Was OK until the sealant
cracked and then the socks soaked up water and rusted out a real slot,
over a foot long and 2 " wide.  The fiberglass patch is still holding.
Good thing, would be really tough to weld in a patch in that area.

I went all over the body, chipped all that old "undercoat" off.  Used
rust neutralizer on the seams, recaulked them with butyl eavestrough
sealant.  Recently had the fenders off, sealant was still soft and no
rust.  If you have a body shop supply place handy, there's some 3M
seam sealant that's made for the job, kind of pricey but that's what
it's for.  I didn't have access to any place like that at the time, so
I used  the best I could find.

If you aren't good with tools, hire somebody to weld patches in.  If
you don't get the rust completely out or neutralized, you'll just end
up with bigger holes if you fiberglass over the top.  Kind of like
filling a tooth, I guess.  I use methyl ethyl ketone to clean the
surface before applying the gel, get it from the paint store.  Also
cleans up the tools afterwards. You'll need rubber gloves, disposable
putty spreaders, body file, power sander if you can get one.
Primer-surfacer and paint for after.  Now this isn't good for
load-bearing areas and if you can get the holes welded up, it's better
to do so.  I've had good luck so far with it, though.


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