Like death and taxes, rust is inevitable in a classic car. The inexorable march of oxidation will take its toll somewhere, and you’re going to have to deal with it. If you’ve got paint bubbling up with rust under it, don’t just slather on some body filler and slap on a quickie coat of paint. That move is for scumbag car dealers. If you are tempted to go that route for the sake of expedience, you aren’t fixing anything, you’re just hiding the real problem.
On the floor we laid out the patch stock and drew an identical 3x3-inch shape. Don’t worry
The real solution is to cut out the cancer and replace the damaged area with real metal. If you love your ride and plan on keeping it, the investment in time, tools, and materials will be well worth the effort to do it right. Our ’68 Nova project car has dealt us several surprises during its time at Outlaw Motorsports in Riverside, California, where our step-by-step restoration is proceeding nicely. Over the past few months, we’ve encountered damage in nearly every part of the body, and we’ve been documenting a variety of those repair procedures along the way. We’ve had to replace some of the sheetmetal, but other areas are salvageable. In the case of the rust in the lower portion of the left quarter-panel, Outlaw operator Ron Aschtgen suggested we save the panel rather than replace it, since it’s easier to save what’s there than replace the entire quarter-panel. (Unfortunately, the right side panel needs replacement and we’ll have the entire story for you next month.)
…don’t just slather on some body filler and slap on a quickie coat of paint. That move is for scumbag car dealers.
We discovered that repairing rust properly with a patch panel is pretty doggone easy, provided you’ve got the right tools on hand. In the case of this quarter-panel patch, we were surprised that the repair only took about three hours, not including stripping and painting. Obviously, a job like this is best done in coordination with a full paintjob or a restoration—which Outlaw Motorsports specializes in. If you don’t have a shop like Outlaw near you, don’t sweat it. This repair is about a “4” on a scale of 1 to 10, so don’t be afraid to dig right in.
This shot shows the extent of our original damage after stripping the paint off the ’68 No
Now it’s time to cut out the cancerous area with a cutoff wheel. Note how the patch area s
With the rust cut out, clean the area out with some high-pressure air, and use a screwdriv
Define the area to be removed with a T square and a Sharpie marker—the idea being you’ll b
Here’s where a little prevention goes a very long way, so skip this step at your own risk!
While the Rust Converter dries, you can start fine-tuning the fit of your patch panel. A 4
After some grinding and a few trial fitments, Ron Aschtgen got the patch panel amazingly c
The body hammer from Eastwood comes in handy here too. As the tack welds proceed, you’ll w
With the shape now perfect, it’s time to mimic the slight curvature of the quarter-panel.
Note that it’s important to space out your tack welds over time and distance, returning to
If you’re going to do minor bodywork, repairs, or fabrication, you’ll need a flexible hobb
Heat buildup during the tack welding and grinding process can be easily controlled with a
Here’s our left-side quarter-panel, good as new and ready for paint. Rust won’t be an issu
Before welding, fix the patch panel in place with some neodymium magnets—the stronger, the
…we were surprised that the repair only took about three hours, not including stripping and painting.
Stuff You’ll Need
Hammer and dolly set
High-speed angle grinder
22- to 24-gauge mild steel