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Old 06-30-2008, 07:23 PM
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replacing a roof skin on a 69 dodge dart

I have a 69 dodge dart ( removed vinyl top) with a rusty roof. Upon reading threads on this site ive come to the conclusion that it would be best to replace the roof skin. The first item i can think of is locating one that has no or very little rust. Ive never replaced a roof skin before and find it intimidating and challenging at the same time. I would like to try it and have confidence i can do it with my knowledge. I know that the front and rear window needs to come out and i know the spot welds need to be drilled out as well, I know what a pillars and b pillars are and that the skin sits on a frame. The frame is ok but has surface rust on it due to the pin holes in the roof skin.This is the extent of what i know about this job.

Does the body or sub frame need to be reinforced (where and how for replacing the skin)
Will the later year dart such as the 70 through 72 fit on my car
Where are the spot welds going to be on a 69 dodge dart
How do i get the chrome trim for the vinyl top off
Where do i cut into this sheetmetal
and all the other things i didnt ask that you know about this job in general.
I have a mig welder with gas
sawzall
cutting torch
grinder
air compressor
lots of room in my shop
cordless and cord drills
sand paper
hammer and dolly (Cheap one)
I have little experience with body panels and want to try it

any links to sites or pictures would help.

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Old 06-30-2008, 09:04 PM
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I wouldn't worry about bracing the body.

I would think there is a leaded seam on the sail panel (rear roof pillar) where the roof skin stops and the rear quarter panel joins. Lead should be easy to spot. Our 69 dart conv has bubbles in EVERY factory leaded seam.

I don't use spotweld cutters. I use a reground drill bit that is nearly flat. Then I try not to go through the 2nd panel. I use a thin putty knife to finish snapping the welds IF you can get the knife into the seam somehow. The w/shield and back glass seams should be easy. The roof gutters may be a challenge as I don't recall which edge was spotwelded. Just dig around and clean with a wire wheel to see them. Hopefully it is not folded over itself in a 3 layer deal.

The gutter chrome should be like mid 70s that I have worked on when they were new. It was a C profile that snapped over the pinchwelded gutter. They come off easy with a wide flatnose tool (and tap the tool with a hammer). You will be trying to gently roll the gutter chrome up, a little at a time. I'd do it from the underside if possible. You are trying to contact at the lip, but a narrow tool will kink that edge. Going back on is not easy, esp if you change the shape of the gutter lip during re-roof. I have no clue what sort of install tool was used by the factory, but I know a rubber hammer will ruin them on the first few taps!

An old parts manual would give the years, and if it was illustrated, you would see how it went together.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:11 PM
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You will be suprised how flexible that unibody car is without a roof skin.
I suggest you brace it WELL.

Itsa whole lot easier to brace it first, than to try to jack it straight and get the chassis square while you try to weld in the top.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoTFrenzel
You will be suprised how flexible that unibody car is without a roof skin.
I suggest you brace it WELL.

Itsa whole lot easier to brace it first, than to try to jack it straight and get the chassis square while you try to weld in the top.

Not to pick a fight, but exactly where are you attaching these braces? I have no clue what you are suggesting, and if you take the doors off to brace the body...that is just wrong.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:45 PM
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i would like to know for sure about the bracing. In another post they did not brace the car and it was fine due to the structural support under the roof skin but i dont know for sure because ive never done this before. Like he said, where do you brace this? The interior is out so i can do whatever is needed
In looking at the area of the drip rails i cannot see where a spot weld would be. Is it over the drip rails or under the drip rails. The drip rails go from the front of the roof to the back. i see the pieces that hold the seals for the top of the side windows. Is it under them and how do u get them out. I can see the area where the quarter meets the sail panel and the other one close to the top of the a pillar. I will get a manual to get a guide for assembly. ?What is a 3 layer setup
how are you flattening these drill bits the drill the spots? What exact shape does this look like and can u get a picture.
I am really grateful for all the help. Ive had this car a long time and it deserves a new roof. The we will get to how to put this thing back on, one thing at a time though. On another note , which would be easier. reskin or put on a new roof alltogether

Last edited by glhx; 06-30-2008 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:06 AM
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I have to totally disagree with the bracing of the body. I have done MANY roof skins. From Chevelles to Toyotas, the skin is doing next to nothing, it is a "paint holder" and not much more.

Cut off the entire roof, that is a whole different story. But just the skin, no bracing is needed.

Remove the front and back glass, and the drip rail mouldings. Burn the lead out of the roof to quarter seam. At that point clean up the lap and pinch welds around the top of seam sealer and paint. Then start drilling out the top layer of the spot welds that hold the skin on.

Find a nice top, do the same thing and then plug weld the skin onto your body. There are some details about cleaning up the drilled welds and applying epoxy primer and stuff like that but that is all there is to in a nut shell.

As far as the drill bits, go to "autobodystore.com" and get some "Wivco" spot weld drilling bits and do it like a pro!

Brian
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:51 AM
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where are the spot welds near the drip rails? Above them or below them? inside them?

Will burning out the lead warp any panels? i have a propane torch, map and oxyacetylene.

Can i grind the top layer of the spot welds off so the botton panel will be solid metal with no holes?

Does anyone know if the 70-72 or 73 dart roof was the same as the 67-69, sure looks the same?

Im going to take the new panel out of a dart roof with a good panel. I think the pinch welds are located at the top of the windshield running down the drip rails (inside the drip rail crevice underneath the sealer, down to where the sail panel meets the quarter panel, across the sail panel at the bottom, the to the bottom of the back window about 3 inches in and then up the sides of the back window and all the way across the top of the back window?

Is this the location of all the spot welds. The pinch welds and will be drilled as you said. Every article ive seen on this show no bracing but says to put the car on jack stands. I will buy those drill bits. Thanks for the all the advice

Last edited by glhx; 07-01-2008 at 02:19 AM.
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:03 AM
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You know where the spot welds are, where you find them! I have never done the roof on the exact car you are working on so I personally don't know where every weld is. But they should be at the bottom of the gutters, and in each front and rear pinch weld where the glass sets. On the lead, yep, it will melt out pretty easy an ox/acy torch with a small tip will make short order of melting it out. Just do a little at a time, and where a resperator and have a fan going blowing the fumes away.

Yes, you can grind off the top layer of a spot weld. There are a number of methods to remove spot welds, personally I drill them 99% of the time, it is just SOOOOOOOO much cleaner. And besides, you will have to drill them out on your new skin so you might as well get good at it on the old one!

Clean out all the seam sealer in the gutters and look for those welds.

Brian
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:42 AM
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I think the drip rail seam might be the worst part of the job. I just can't recall what I saw back in 74 & 75 at the dealer when we messed with those stainless trim pieces. We had to replace a few due to dents on BRAND NEW cars because Chrysler corp was in chaos with labor contract problems & workers were putting out shoddy work. I do sort of recall that the cars that were dented, had inconsistent shapes of the welded drip channel under that trim. That's why I suspect it is NOT a simple row of easy spot welds. It could be that the roof skin was crimped totally around the inner structural pieces of the roof. If it were me, I'd strip the paint & any sealer and try to figure out what type of seam it is. Maybe put up some good close-up pics of what you see, for the "real" body shop workers on this site (which I am not).


I use a drill bit that I resharpen to a much flatter angle. Yes, it takes practice to keep the bit from walking, but I have drilled thousands that way. You need to determine where the true center of each weld...sometimes they are "smeared" when the worker was still moving the welder when he hit the juice If you get the hang of it, there is almost no regrinding of the base metal after you get the old skin off. I use a plasma to trim away as much of the old roof before drilling. That way, you now have access to be able to use a steel handle thin putty knife under that remaining strip of welds.


On the donor junk car, just drill completely through, and with a slighty larger bit this time, to make sure you get all of each weld. You don't want to pry & chisel the donor skin...it's very thin.
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:46 AM
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Pulling out old lead; use a propane torch and start at the bottom. A few quick passes with a hand wire brush will help. It will soften and drip off as you go. It will be thick in some places if it is anything like our 69 dart conv. You will most likely find some rust at the actual welded joint. I would never re-lead, you will never get it clean enough IMO.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:02 PM
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Good stuff F&J, I like your description on the "smeared" welds. Boy some of those hold "man done" welds are horrible! I have to say working on late model cars is soooooooo much easier!

Brian
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoTFrenzel
You will be suprised how flexible that unibody car is without a roof skin.
I suggest you brace it WELL.

Itsa whole lot easier to brace it first, than to try to jack it straight and get the chassis square while you try to weld in the top.
Have you ever lifted a 69 Dart on a spider lift, or jacked it up on the rocker panel by one wheel? The car is flexible. It will twist 1/2 inch like nothin. I have even seen some with cracks near the C pillar.

As another illustration. Have you ever seen anyone that welded in sub frame connectors without squaring the body on a frame machine? Darts, Mustangs, etc. Sure every magazine article and everybody at home does it that way. Nothing like having a solid subcarriage with a 1/2 inch twist built into it. LOL. People don't even know it but they are happy they have sub frame connectors.

Repeat, IMO it is a whole lot easier to brace it first and not really need it, than to try to jack it straight to get the chassis lined while you try to weld in the top.
JMO
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:53 PM
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I don't know if you can detect it in this pic...the car was original paint except for the GTS /Swinger hood, and the right front fender. I know the history of the car back to 1980. Sometime in the first 11 years, it either lost a lower balljoint or sheared the spindle...most likey a ball joint. The lower kick panel shows repairs for the tire & wheel trying to get through the kick panel

Can you spot that the tip of the front fender seems too low? It was, by 3/4". The new fender that was put on back then, did not fit without bowing out at the wheel opening. The right unibody was shoved down.

I drove the car part way onto my car trailer. Then we used heavy chain on the rear of the torsion bar to the tail of the trailer. I then put wood cribbing all the way across the rear under the bumper, as well as blocking the trailer bed so it was stable. I had straight edges laid across the engine compartment at the front and rear. My son eyeballed the 2 edges before, during, and after the following repair...

Next I put a huge 20 ton bottle jack under the right side rad support. The trailer was really flexing more than the Dart , so I drilled the row of spotwelds at the firewall where the inner fender meets. I really put the push to it, went slightly beyond 3/4" and then rewelded before releasing the jack. It ended up dead perfect.

After that serious racking, I was concerned about door problems because it was a convertible. It never changed the gaps at all. That's why I said what I did about bracing. If he starts the job on flat floor, I just can't see the body doing anything at all. JMO

By the way, the Centerline wheels are gone, they never bothered to measure a Dart wheelwell before marketing a wheel for these cars...they don't fit Plus they constantly leaked
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:52 PM
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I got started on the job today. All the spot welds for the drip rail are in the crevice of the rail. This is really easy to get to. The lead filled seam was higher than i thought . It was about 6 inches up the sail panel. I will be drilling spot welds Thursday. I still have to get the windows out. I could use bracing on this and be sure but i want to see if it needs it or not.If it did ill have made a mistake others can learn from. If it doesnt flex, we will all know. This whole project is alot of experimentation. I have no idea what im doing, but i will when its done. Thank you again for all the advice. Can anyone tell me how they get the windows out
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:41 AM
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The windows are removed with a "cut out knife", (God I haven't worked on one of those cars in years, it is a urethane set glass isn't it?) a manual one can be bought at an autobody store. The windshield will likely break using this method for a newbe. Before I knew this, I cut them out all the time without breaking.

The back glass is no big deal as it is tempered and you would SERIOUSLY have to screw up to break. Use your common sense and you will be fine.

Click here for cut out knife.



But honestly, you should replace the windshield anyway, if it has any signs of age, there is nothing that gives you the new car feel more than a new windshield, and those don't cost very much.

Now, do you have the "Donor" roof? If you don't, STOP. Always have the donor when you cut out parts. You never know, you may need to do it a little different do to the condition of the donor.

Be sure the car is on level ground when you remove that roof skin.

Brian
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