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03-23-2005 11:27 PM Rat - Compound Deck Curve
We now come to my single most dreaded part of the entire build, the compound curve of the rear deck. I considered three ways to fabricate this curve, the juncture of the rear deck and the quarter panel. The first way was to use welded wire and form it around the curve as a base for fiberglass matte/cloth. The second way was to try to do it "right" and beat the curve in some sheet metal with a hammer and bag (or tree stump). The third method was to break the curve down into many small pieces and then weld all the pieces together. After much debate, I chose alternative number three...many small pieces. I first thought I would use 2" wide, 1/8" flat stock to work with (since it would be easy to weld) but after trying to shape just one of these pieces I quickly opted for 18 gauge sheet metal as my base material.

I designed the body skeleton to allow for a curve with a 3" radius between the top rib and the side rib of the skeleton. The entire length of the curve is about 45".

Photo #1. Here are some of the tools and contraptions I used to bend the metal pieces. I used a 6" diameter piece of well casing (shown here cut in half), some 3" pvc pipe, some 4" pvc pipe and some 5" pvc pipe (not shown). Also various hammers and wooden clubs for shaping the metal around the forms.

Photo #2. This is the very first piece I formed. I drew a 6" diameter (3"radius) circle right on my work table so I could keep track of where I was at with each bend and to try to keep all the bends uniform.

Photo #3. This is the first piece being set up for tack welding. Note the 1x2 rectangular tubing clamped to the quarter panel to hold the bottom of the new piece even with the side of the body. This was very helpful as I worked my way around the curve so that I could manipulate the top end of the curve with one hand while tack welding with the other and keeping the butt edges of the pieces lined up. You just can't get the pieces bent absolutely uniform to one another so it takes a little coaxing and flexing as you weld to keep things lined up.

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  [Entry #130]

03-23-2005 11:20 PM Rat - Skinning the Trunk
To skin the trunk lid I simply rough cut a piece of 18 gauge, clamped it over the trunk skeleton, and traced the edges on the under side for cutting. Then it was a matter of bending and solidly clamping the panel in place over the skeleton and tacking it on all edges. The photo above shows the trunk skin tacked in place and the trunk installed to check for fitment with the body.

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  [Entry #129]

03-23-2005 11:16 PM Rat - Rear Valance
Is that what this thing is called? The valance? Who knows, but it sounds right.

Photo #1: I cut a piece of 18 gauge roughly to the shape of the rear valance and then laid it in place and traced the edged of the body skeleton. I then cut the panel to the exact shape I wanted. checking the fit around the curve of the seat back as I went.

Photo #2: The panel was then clamped in place for welding.

Photo #3: The rear valance tacked in place.

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  [Entry #128]

03-23-2005 11:09 PM Rat - Rolling the Rear Pan
In Photo #1 below the finished pan is clamped in place for welding. I use every clamp I have available to try to prevent in warping or movement of the piece once I start welding.

Photos #2 and #3 show the finished pan tacked in place.

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  [Entry #127]

03-23-2005 11:02 PM Rat - Rolling the Rear Pan
In the first two photos below the pan is being slowly bent over the pvc tubing. I bent it as much as I could be hand (basically the first photo) and then placed a wooden 2x4 over the panel and used a small sledge to hammer it around the pvc pipe the rest of the way. This should be a rather slow process to insure that you don't get any nasty wrinkles or shapes that you don't want bent into the metal.

The photo on the far right below is the finished roll in the pan.

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  [Entry #126]

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