As this project continues to march forward we find ourselves moving to the right rear quarter panel of the 1971 Super Beetle.
The rear quarter panel on this Bug was a mess. The old heater channels were removed by hand and the metal that was supposed to be connecting the body to the channels were extremely thin and repaired a few times over the last 25 years. You could see that a rust hole at the bottom of the door jam and it wasn't going to fix itself. My best description for this VW and especially this area was "Mushy". There was nothing solid, so we were going to have to cut away any rusty or thin metal in order to get to something solid.
Just a quick recap... before we tackled the connection of the pre-fabricated heater channel assembly on the Bug, we had to use some ratchet straps to pull everything up into place giving us a perfect 2" gap from the bottom of the door to the bottom lip of the heater channel. We left the door in place and relied on our internal braces to help ensure all of our measurements and gaps would be as they were before we removed the old heater channels from the body.
The majority of the bad metal was removed earlier in the project with an air chisel. It made quick work of the initial job, but it's not the most accurate tool so our first order of business was to cut a clean line in the body. I worked with the inside section first. I cleaned up the metal and then measured and fabricated my on replacement pieces. Everything was carefully moved into position and welded in place. With this section of the car connected securely to the heat channels it was time too move on to the outside skin.
Once again I have to clean up and trim the outside sheet metal. I like to do this by using some green masking tape to define a clear cut line, and then use my cut off wheel and saw to carefully trim the metal to perfection. This was required on both the outside skin, and the metal on the inside under the rear seat. At this point we opened up the door so we could properly trim the outside skin all the way into the door jam. I removed as little of the original body metal as possible and instead trimmed and modified the replacement panel to fit the Beetle body. With everything measured twice and cut once I then used my crimping tool to add a small shoulder to the replacement panel so I could puddle weld everything flush.
Once everything was fitting just right I started welding everything in place until the rear quarter panel was looking good and solid. I closed up the door to ensure everything was still properly aligned so I could safely move on to the lower door post. Like every main repair on this Bug, I will do a once over when everything is more or less completed.
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