Let me start off by saying, I'm not much of a welder. This is pretty much my first time welding sheet metal. Maybe these could've been done a different/better way, but I'm new to this game and it seems to have worked for me! With that said, here's my attempt at a technical article!
Quarter panels are shot! The bottom halves are virtually missing and the good metal is paper thin! After pricing repos ($500 a pair), I decided to make my own on the cheap.
First order of business was determining the contour of the original panel.
Off to Pick-N-Pull to find some donor sheetmetal with just the right curvature. Picked up a '91 Chevy van hood for $35 on half price day! There's enough metal to do 2 quarters.
Couldn't of been more perfect!
Had to remove the inner structure. About 50 spot welds! Easiest way I found was to grind the majority of the weld down with a carbide bit in a die grinder then drill out the final millimeter with a 1/4" bit. Took about 20 minutes!
Next, removed the quarter panel skin. Had to do some slicing with the cutoff wheel and some hammer and chisel work. The skin is spot welded to the support brackets in several places.
Wasn't even gonna mess with the bun panels. Too many compound curves! I ordered a pair from Howells ($80). Mocked 'em up and marked a line about 1-1/2" below the bun panel flange and proceeded to remove the offending piece. This gives me room to jockey the old panel around.
Now back to the donor sheetmetal. This concave curve needs to come out of the van hood. I hammered it flat simply by chucking a length of angle iron in the vise and using it as a stationary dolly.
Next I laid the quarter skin on the new metal and made a rough outline. Then I cut away any excess metal giving myself an extra inch or so just to be sure.
You'll notice there's not quite enough metal to lay out the entire door. It's a little short in the upper front section. Simply a matter of welding in a small patch section later in the build.
Next, I mounted the support brackets to the subframe.....
Then I measured the distance between the flange and the corner of the old panel and transferred that to the new panel. To the left of the black line will be removed, flange and all.
Mocked up the new panel onto the support brackets......
Marked where both support brackets needed to mount and tacked 'em to the new panel.
Trimmed the flange off the bun panel and trued up the edge of the new quarter for a good fit.
Laid down several tacks, finish welded it and then ground down the welds and here's the result. Not bad considering I'm a complete rookie at this!
Cut the corner section off an old washing machine I had and used it to solve two problems. First I used it to extend the upper part of the new quarter panel that was short, as referred to earlier, and also used it to create a new door jamb. Please don't laugh at my welding skills.
Sliced and welded this rear section so it would suck up against the rear support bracket.
Used another piece off the repurposed washing machine. This is the side section of the top cover. It's perfect for a top cap on the quarter. Had to pie cut the heck outta it to get the curve but it turned out well. Now I got a place to rest my arm while cruisin'!
The short side was used to graft into the quarter panel whereas the longer side allows some material for attaching interior panels if the need ever arises.
Here's the 2 quarters. The passenger side quarter was my test mule. I've got some tweaking to do on it but the drivers side came out rather well. Still have some adjustments to make and a little finish welding to do. After that a skim coat of bondo and I should be good to go! Considering they were both made from repurposed materials, and for very little money, I'm quite happy!