Project: Rusty Shackleford
Before anyone bitches, it's not a full car project, just a specific repair.
Welcome to Project: Rusty Shackleford.
This is a terrible idea, I should have scrapped it.
Wicked has a thing for completely hopeless projects he will waste entirely too much time and money on.
I strongly recommend getting a tetanus shot before reading further.
Background: The girlfriend's first car, an 88 fox LX notch. I advised her against it, but it was love at first sight and she bought it anyway. Rust was one of the many, many issues with it. After a couple years we pulled it off the road because it was getting so bad, in favor of a 91 fox.
We've had quite a few people poking around asking about it. We could have sold it to some unsuspecting poor bastard with dreams of an LS fox (like the poor one we bought it from), or better yet crushed the damn thing, but here I am again, thinking "I can save this. I can do it" on another lost cause.
Let's begin, shall we?
Engine out, we can see the notorious fox strut tower rust, and then some.
Then I start picking at it with a screwdriver. It's waaaaay worse than I thought.
Yeah, that came apart with a screwdriver. No cutting necessary.
Diagnosis: Car was held together with PFM. Pure Fucking Magic.
Next step is cutting and cutting and cutting all the rust out until we get back to good metal. And it's a lot.
What makes it worse is the way it's built. It's not like a single tube welded to panels. It's multiple layers of stampings all spot welded together to cut costs. That means lots of drilling and cutting to get to where you want, and lots of thinking of how to reconstruct what you're slicing to ribbons. It's especially a pain when you have to cut and remove the rusty inner layers, even if the outers are fine.
Where it sits now, with a lot more to go:
Still needs some cut out of the strut tower.
I'll have to weld on the inners and strut towers, then drop the K-member, do the bottom, outer, and top, section by section.
How I feel taking on this project:
Well after a whole lot more cutting and forming everything, it's starting to come back together. Not too bad for the junk FCAW I'm using.
Things just tacked in place in the meantime:
this is awesome, I need more pics!
More learnding. I adjusted my wire speed according to the manual, which can be a challenge given the number of different thicknesses I'm dealing with. It was tough to fight the TIG mentality of dumping in heat and filler to get things started. Going with a whipping motion also seemed to help greatly as well. It went best where I could crank up the heat on thicker stock, but I made it work on the thinner stuff.
Of course pouring the coals to the thick 12ga caused some warping on the thinner 16ga strut tower patch. I drilled a couple holes and zipped some sheet metal screws into it to pull it flush. It worked nicely, and managed to plug weld those holes neatly.
Everything pretty well burned in on the passenger side:
Next up: Lots of grinding flush, then moving to the driver's side inner. That will require removal of the brake booster and proportioning valve.
When all is said and done the amount of wire I'll use on this stupid project will be measured in pounds. It was a terrible idea. But isn't that what my life is all about?
At least one of the gaping holes has been covered though.
Lather, rinse, repeat. This side took even more patching than the last one, and had some weird contours to the back side. I think removing the goddamn brake booster and proportioning valve is part of lather. Rinse must refer to putting out the fires that started from vapor coming out of the fuel lines. At least I'm getting better at this welding thing. And as you can see by the empty spool, we are officially 1+lbs of wire into this fucking project. Any guesses as to how many it will take to finish it?
If I were lazier I'd call it a wrap. But ever the perfectionist, I'm going to do the outer and undersides of the frame rails too. It should get interesting with the k-member bolts. It looks like after the rust they've necked down to barely half their original diameter in the middle. Hooray!
When I pulled the k member out of my first mustang I put the impact gun on the bolts and instead of spinning out they just pulled through the frame rail....... fun times.
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Now I've been busy on the outside of them. I replaced the bottom plate, then the side and top. I used 3/4" steel pipe as the anti-crush spacers. Way more beefy than stock, and everything coated in anti-rust primer (and weld-through where the seam is.)
And here's everything bolted and welded in place. Hooray. Now I just need to do it on the passenger side.
FWIW the stock bolts are 9.7 M14s. Nowhere freakin' stocks M14. M12? M16? Fine. M14? Nowhere. So screw it, SAE Grade 8 9/16" bolts are the same size and equivalent to 10.8 M14s. Cheaper, too.
And for all that welding I'm on my third spool of wire.
Well it's all put back together and rolled out of the garage.
There's where the fun starts. I picked up all the metal chunks and swept up the rust underneath it. The grand total of rust removed from the fox...drumroll, please...
22.3 lbs of rust.
And of course 3 lbs of welding wire.
The body work and paint isn't done yet, but I'll show it off when that's done. But for now, there is metal where there was once a hole, and it is solid once again.
Well my perfectionism got the best of me. I went crazy on the inners, ground everything flush, used body filler, sanding everything smooth. The seam sealer turned out kind of ugly here, you can see it on the seam between the frame rail and strut tower, but oh well. Just look at it compared to the original rust holes. I'd call that a pretty big victory. It looks better than 90% of the rest of the car.
But in the end if you have to deal with this bullshit, I'd say unless you want to hone your fabrication and auto body skills, just buy a new front clip and weld it in, or tube chassis that bitch.
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