The BugShop: Project '57, pg 3

This page last modified- 11/3/01

A New Nose from Nebraska

This is what is left of the clip that was sent to me in a washing machine box from Lincoln Nebraska. Prior to this picture the serial number plate panel (the back of the "shelf" piece that the brake fluid reservoir sits on) was drilled out and the one from my original front end was welded in, so the body serial number would be correct. So this clip is just the forward half of the right quarter and the rear panel of the spare tire well. I had just had the piece sand blasted for $30 at "Prep Rite" in Tewksbury, Mass. before taking this picture. Sandblasting can make anything look new. 

Hinge Plate

This is the little plate that is behind the A pillar that the bolts that go through the door hinges thread into. There are two of these plates on each side. The upper one in my '57 was held in place by a pair of metal tabs that could be bent back to release it. At the bottom though, a metal "strap" was spot welded across the back of this plate. I drilled out one of the spot welds to free it. If you really had to, you could probably reach a dremel down there to cut the strap loose on one end.

I just removed mine while I had the quarter off to clean it up and paint around it. If you have some really bunged up threads, you could replace this plate. It is held by the straps lousily so the plate can move side to side just a bit to allow you to adjust your door.

"Some Assembly Required"

Well, these are all the pieces that were used to re-construct the front end. On the left on the floor, you can see the clip after I primed it with a self etching primer (Martin Seniour).

The tire well "floor" (panel with the stickers on it) is a common aftermarket piece. Not exactly correct, but I will modify it. On the original, the drain holes are located in a different place and there is a wide metal strip on the bottom that the tire rests on.

The apron that you see is not the one I am using (all I had at the time I took this picture). It is the one removed from the Nebraska clip and it is pretty trashed.

Then on the right you see the very correct NOS whole front quarter that I found at Wolfsburg West in 1992. You can see my "little red MIG" under the workbench in the background. That big blue thing the body is sitting on is the chassis wrapped in plastic tarps.


Finally Putting Stuff Back Together!

This is with everything "fitted up" (except the apron). My body shop owner friend Tom insisted that we "assemble" everything before doing any welding. He brought over these self tapping sheet metal screws from his shop. They have little drill-bit like ends and then sheet metal screw threads. They make small holes that can be welded up later. We used every pair of vice grips I had too.

At this point, there is a lot more of the original right forward quarter intact than will actually be used. The "donor" clip over laps it by 2-3". We used the forward most molding hole as a reference to align them for this fitting. A short 8mm bolt was fed through them with a washers and a nut. Once everything was fitted up and straight, I scribed a line (using a very sharp dental pick my hygienist friend gave me) on the original panel, using the cut edge of the donor panel as a guide. A very critical butt weld will be needed to join them. Eventually, I carefully used my air grinder with a 1/32"x 4" disc to cut the original panel along the scribed line


Wow! It is Starting to Look Like a Beetle Again!

Tom is dollying out the drip rail here. This after we brought the hood down from the loft, hooked up the hinges and fitted everything up. This hood is actually very nice (but not the original I'm sure, based on all of the other damage to the nose) but suffered from the common "twist". Before the spring loaded hinges were introduced in '62, the hood was held up by a latching bracket only on the left side. This eventually causes the hood to have a permanent twist to it. Tom noticed this immediately and just using his hands, bent it back.

He hammered a little, pushed, stepped back to look, pulled this, banged that, looked again. After a few minutes, everything was straight. The line the hood made with the quarters, top to bottom, was perfectly uniform. He has a skill of being able to "eyeball" all of the panels for fit and uniformity. Had there not been a drip rail all the way down the A-pillars, he said he would have insisted on fitting up the doors to make sure the "line" of the whole side was correct.

And even though we didn't have a usable apron at this point, you could squat next to the front of the car and eyeball how the lower hood lined up across the forward edges of the quarters. Very straight, very tight. This was a big day, very encouraging. Then Tom said, "Ok, lets pin it up!". Using the sheet metal screws and a little MIG tacking, we got the left quarter held in place.

What Exactly is a "Dolly"?

This is a close up of Tom using the hammer and dolly to close up the drip rail on the driver's side. Using these tools is really quite an art, and I was very concerned about this drip rail getting closed up tight again. There are NO spot welds in it originally, it is just pinched together tight.

The principle of the hammer and dolly is that the dolly (various sizes and shapes of hard, smooth steel) is held on the backside of the metal being hit by the hammer. When the hammer strikes the metal, it pops the dolly off the back side of the panel, but because of your hand pressure holding it there, the dolly comes back and hits the backside of the panel. Sort of like hitting the metal on both sides (almost) at once. I think I got my hammer and dolly set from Harbor Freight tools or Whitney's for about $14. 3 hammers and 5 dollies. Not exactly professional quality, but Tom was able to use them very well.

When he was done with the drip rail, it was very straight and closed up tight. But being the anal person I am, I was concerned about it coming loose. So I drilled 5 holes, about 3/16", evenly spaced from the top of the pillar to the bottom, right through the whole drip rail (3 thickness' of metal). Tom then filled the holes with the MIG and then I ground them down. Sort of like putting 5 invisible "plugs" in the rail. I sleep better knowing this. They are virtually undetectable now.


Tools, Sparks, YEAH!!

This is Tom grinding the drip rail getting ready to MIG those holes I drilled (note proper eye protection). You can see the backside of the gray primer quarter panel in the footwell area. As you can see, this body is just about as gutted as you can get. That heater channel has a little surface rust on the lower edge that you can see, but NO perforation anywhere. This was a very solid car. I would much rather do collision repair than rot repair.

You can also see the lower part of one of three (a single and a matched pair) 1957 Massachusetts license plates that I have. Attached to the wall of the garage to encourage me. Found them in antique stores in Vermont. Massachusetts will give me an "Antique" registration on one of these plates.


More Sparks...

Again, Tom grinding the drip rail. You can see one of the MIG "plugs" on the rail just in front the grinder wheel. He had MIG'ed the upper corner of the panel to the front cowl (below the windshield) inside the trunk area, behind the hinge mount. I could barely get a finger back in there, never mind a MIG torch. I am getting better with the MIG, but I have been asking Tom to do the critical/tough spots for me.

One trick I learned was to always use a pair of vice grips on the body somewhere (shiny) and then attach the MIG ground clamp to that. Usually makes for a better ground.