Ten days ago it finally happened, the little Fiat got her replacement panel welded in! I trial fitted the panel many times with and without the nose, and was finally sure that everything was ready.
I had already cleaned the gunk off of the panel that would normally be called the firewall and stripped the paint off the back of the replacement panel. The primer I used and will use on the underside of the car comes straight out of a spray can and I got new gunk from my neighbour. I got this done before welding in the panel.
The second, and much larger issue, were the two corners of the replacement panel. The two corners were all wrong and I saw no other option than to cut them out and make new ones. I cut out a piece of the scrap metal that was left of the replacement panel and hammered it into shape. This was a frustrating cycle of fitting, hammering, grinding and more fitting. I ended up getting the corner on the photo right. The other corner needed some extra work, which I obviously only found out after welding in the whole panel.
“It’s more common knowledge than an actual trick, but there I was burning two holes in the panels.”
The actual welding of the panel wasn’t all too difficult. I had ordered some little clips that fit in between the two panels that are butt welded together. These clips held in the panel nearly perfect and I spot welded this into place. I got my father in law to lend a helping hand, you can see him admiring my welding skills in the photo.
I filled in the weld to form a complete weld from end to end. It was still a learning process as this was really the first time that I welded anything larger than some spot welds. The trick is to be patient and not heat up the panels too much. It’s more common knowledge than an actual trick, but there I was burning two holes in the panels. They were only very small holes and filled up easily. The panel warped a little bit along a length of about 10 cm as well as the gap wasn’t straight.
I then spot welded the bottom edges on the left and right side in place and just welded the top edges as the previous person had done. The one corner piece that I made that didn’t fit that well needed a pizza cut so I could bend it towards the inner fender.
Last thing I did was grinding down the welds and covering them up. I ground down the welds so they won’t be out there as much, but I’m quite confident that they will hold up. I then sprayed on the primer I used on the underside as well. I used some sort of weld seam sealant that I had ordered with my welder. It should be possible to sand down this sealant when it’s fully cured.
The idea for the front end is to sand down the trunk so that the transition in between old and new paint is some sort of hidden. I will then paint the inside of the trunk and the nose before welding on the nose. This seems to be the best option because I doubt if I’ll get the paint gun in between the other way around. Real excited to get the little Fiat down to bare metal!