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I dun learned sumthin
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Hey guys,

I am in need of some advice. I'm in the process of doing the body work on my 1970 Nova and need to decide whether to do full quarters or skins. The current quarters have already had skins put over them by someone who had no idea what they are doing. They just laid the skin over the quarter and welded it on, leaving all the original metal underneath. I have cut off the skins and much of the metal underneath is still good but it is shot around the wheel wells and back towards the bumper. I'm leaning towards just doing skins as the jambs are good and the C-pillar is fine as well but I have read a lot of forum posts that have said full quarters usually provide a cleaner result. They are more than twice as much money but I don't want to kick myself later over a couple hundred bucks. What do you guys think?

Thanks,
 

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put up or shut up
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full quarters just take a little more patience in making sure everything is in it's place...you got the gap to the package tray, you got the top of the quarter which has to give an even gap to your decklid on that side( and even the curve leading to rear gap), sail panel, you got the gap to the rocker, door gap, and sometimes you got gap to a lower valiance. All this stuff is forcing the quarter in one direction or the other. This can be a whole lot of work or at other times not so much. With skins you have to cut it really precise and game plan it accordingly. In my experience, I think skins are easier to deal with.
 

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Moose2
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I'd lean towards the full panels, but as the man said, they require fussy fitting. I've always purchased the panels that fit like the originals and wrapped into door jambx and trunk channel openings. If you go that route you need to know how to drill out the original spot welds but the payoff if you do it right gives a lot better result than just using the patches. I'm not sure what gauge of metal is available for the full replacement panels you would need, but shop around and ask about metal gauge; and watch out so you don't end up with a panel about the thickness of tinfoil...
:evil:
 

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put up or shut up
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also look at the little things like how sharp bodylines are, how far they go with the mold, and other people's feedback on certain brands. We got a quarter skin and couldn't take it back due to us getting all our work from the shop who gave it to us...man...that thing was so off on every bodyline, it had a bodyline in by almost an inch and all around it. It was also wavy and didn't have the full stamp so they actually used tin snips to make a couple curves. Had to be the worst skin ever produced. Gotta really look closely to those things cause fortunately you can turn down bad panels, unlike us.

Here's a link to a video where I talk about some of the things our shop guru had to do to complete a full quarter. It's at the beginning of the video. While he was doing the full quarter I did a skin on the other side and will safely say the skin was a cake walk compared to what he was dealing with.

 

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I can relate to you as a fellow amateur as these things don't come as easy to us as some of the pro's on here who have done this many times. So I can offer my practical advice and experience.

On my 67 Mustang I replaced a full quarter and a skin. In short, the full quarter was very difficult whereas the skin was considerably easier. Sure it's not as clean because you have a weld going the entire side down the body, but if you do that weld right and do it good, you can still skim it over and leave no trace that a weld ever existed.

My difficulty with the full skin was EVERYTHING had to be matched up to all the critical places where it meets the rest of the car. Toss in the fact that it's a reproduction part so it's not going to match up perfectly. In doing a skin, 50-60% of this goes away because the top of the skin just has to match up with the cut you did.

Now for the part you won't like. Assuming the reproduction metal for your cars is anything like that for the Mustangs, quarter skins are made very poorly and cheaply. I bought a skin for the side I was going to skin and it was so terrible I junked it. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND buying a full quarter regardless, and cut the quarter down to a skin. The metal on full quarters is a little thicker and the part was a much better quality and fit. Again based on my experiences only, and with a 67 Mustang. I cut the top inch of the quarter off and a small part on the back. Doesn't take much to convert it to a skin.

I ran two inch tape along the original quarter body line. Along the bottom of this tape line would be my cut line. On the replacement quarter, I only ran 1 inch tape along the body line and cut there. This gives me an inch of overlap for wiggle room. However, that extra inch on the original quarter would eventually get cut off (in the next paragraph)...

I removed all the original quarter that the skin would replace. Take your spot welds out carefully to leave the metal beneath as intact and perfect as possible to give yourself a good mating weld surface. Set the new quarter in place and screw it down. At the top, it's going to be overlapping an inch of the original quarter. Put some screws every foot or so here as well. When the fit is good, put a few tacks around crucial parts of the skin to keep it in place. Now, take a cut off wheel and cut right along the top edge of the skin--this is the part where you are cutting the final inch of overlap off. The strip of old quarter will fall off inside the car and you can remove it. Now your skin edge and original edge are PERFECTLY mated to each other and you can butt weld them together.

I have an expansive thread on this here that contains tons of good information from the pro's here:

http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/best-place-put-quarter-skin-seam-194394.html

Also, I have a blog entry on how I did what I described:

1967 Mustang Restoration: Replacing a quarter skin

In short, I will only ever do skins from now on.
 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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I look at it this way, if you had NOS quarters available to you, heck yes complete is the way to go. On a late model car, with a new quarter, oh God yes the whole thing. But with repro quarters, I have never done a complete reproduction quarter on an older car, but I have done enough with reproduction sheet metal to know it would be a LIVING HELL to fit that sucker.

I am thinking realistically the skin is the way to go. On your Nova you have the perfect body line to break it at and just do a nice job with it and it's darn near as nice as putting the complete one on. First off if you were to butt weld it, without a doubt that is getting as close to putting the whole thing on as you can be.

Brian
 

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put up or shut up
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That would be a nightmare to open butt weld a seam like that and have it lay at the right angle.

Anywho, if the top edge of the quarter matches the factory I kind of like doing it on top of the quarter cause it's a tighter area that doesn't want to warp as easily so you can weld hotter, the seam is tucked away where you can't see it when looking in the trunk, and it's less mudding. Thing is, less than half(it seems) have the top edge matching the factory shape so I don't do it often. On the Impala quarter I recently did the top edge matched and I actually left the first inch of the edge into the door jamb. Turned out great and mudding that area was a cake walk...thing is...the side I was protecting from seeing welds was so messed up anyways it didn't matter. :D
 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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That would be a nightmare to open butt weld a seam like that and have it lay at the right angle.
Why? If you ran the seam right below that bodyline and left an inch or two below the seam until you have trial fit it GOOD and you KNOW it's perfectly fit everywhere else. You then have it screwed and clamped in and you scribe the edge with a sharp awl. Remove the quarter and cut the remaining old metal off below the scribe line. Leaving it just an eighth inch or so below the line. Then trim it to perfection with some nice offset tinsnips. You can get a perfect butt and then take your time welding it, me personally with the mig I would spend all day long welding it. Spacing tacks around and letting them cool COMPLETELY before moving on.

It really isn't that big of a deal.

Brian
 

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Why? If you ran the seam right below that bodyline and left an inch or two below the seam until you have trial fit it GOOD and you KNOW it's perfectly fit everywhere else. You then have it screwed and clamped in and you scribe the edge with a sharp awl. Remove the quarter and cut the remaining old metal off below the scribe line. Leaving it just an eighth inch or so below the line. Then trim it to perfection with some nice offset tinsnips. You can get a perfect butt and then take your time welding it, me personally with the mig I would spend all day long welding it. Spacing tacks around and letting them cool COMPLETELY before moving on.

It really isn't that big of a deal.

Brian
I agree, and this is how I did it for my first time ever doing it. I thought it was very easy. Except I kept the panel on and cut right along the top of it with my cut off wheel. Left just the right gap between old and new panel.
 

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put up or shut up
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Martin, have you ever welded a seam that big doing an open butt weld, or are you just talking theory here? An open butt weld would be nice but I think it would be a nightmare to get the right angles to meet up.

I would suggest flanging it so he doesn't need a perfect fit and so the panel lays right. I do like doing it right below the top edge as it will only warp one way and that top area will actually minimize it cause the heat has somewhere to go that won't warp at all. I like both ways really but I don't think I'd try to open butt weld them.
 

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Martin, have you ever welded a seam that big doing an open butt weld, or are you just talking theory here? An open butt weld would be nice but I think it would be a nightmare to get the right angles to meet up.

I would suggest flanging it so he doesn't need a perfect fit and so the panel lays right. I do like doing it right below the top edge as it will only warp one way and that top area will actually minimize it cause the heat has somewhere to go that won't warp at all. I like both ways really but I don't think I'd try to open butt weld them.
Have YOU ever tried to open butt weld, or are both of you just talking on theory? I'm not seeing what your reluctance is. I did it and found it very easy. How I decided to place my welds was a different story which is where I went astray.
 

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put up or shut up
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I can open butt weld a lot of stuff and I know where to do it and where not to do it.

Martin was right about suggesting a skin to an amateur but to then turn around and suggest he open butt weld it is an eye opener.
 

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put up or shut up
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If there was ever a need to hide the seam to the extent of undetectable than the customer is paying for a full quarter. no need to do it. I'm sure I could do it. I'd use stud pins all over it to pull it flush while welding. Just saying, that's not the greatest advice to be giving an amateur.
 

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ok then, so you're just speaking theoretically too. I know you guys don't like to listen to suggestions from us stupid amateurs, but I'm telling you, as an amateur, I butt welded that entire panel (twice, to be exact), and the panels don't go anywhere. They still stay perfectly lined up right along the cut. The other advantage was I had access to the entire back side so you could always push out a little on one of the panels if it looked like it was sitting in a little too far.

Now the second time through after I cut it back open and rewelded it, I used some techniques I observed you doing in one of your videos where you made a few tacks, planished to stretch, and then made some more tacks. Had I done this from the start I would have had a great seam by amateur standards. To the contrary, I've never done a flange weld on any of my repairs; I think it would be really difficult.

Now it wasn't perfect when I was done (the repair improved significantly though), and if I were to do another quarter skin just like this I know it would be much better. But I was still able to blend it in nicely with a skim of fiberglass then polyester filler. I can't feel a transition with my hand, but I haven't blocked it yet, nor have I seen it with any high gloss finish.

I understand your caution in good suggestions for an amateur, but as an amateur myself (with some formal training) I found it surprisingly easy. I think if you tried it you might surprise yourself.
 

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put up or shut up
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actually, YOU are speaking theoretically. You don't even know at this point how it turned out. I'm speaking in practical terms from experience and from being accustomed to standard operation in the body shop.

No really, most shops don't do it cause it takes too long and they might not even trust the tech to do it right, and if it's not welded on right that thing might cave in on a small hit.

btw, are you talking about that quarter that I trouble shooted and figured out what was wrong with it? So do the lines match now? Shoot some pics.

I'd equate Martin's advice on this to telling a newb to wet sand clear with 600. Sure the guys explaining can do it well, real well, but that might not be the case with others. What I mean is....I've seen so many newbs take advice like that, go the extra mile to do things right, yet the car looks like crap in the end. not saying that's gonna be you but I've seen it SOOO many times that I almost want to suggest to all beginners to just spray single stage or get a couple gallons of slick sand and make it easier on themselves. Their next build a different story.
 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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Martin, have you ever welded a seam that big doing an open butt weld, or are you just talking theory here? An open butt weld would be nice but I think it would be a nightmare to get the right angles to meet up.

I would suggest flanging it so he doesn't need a perfect fit and so the panel lays right. I do like doing it right below the top edge as it will only warp one way and that top area will actually minimize it cause the heat has somewhere to go that won't warp at all. I like both ways really but I don't think I'd try to open butt weld them.
I am not doing this stuff everyday but yes I did it all the time. I also suggest flanging for anyone not up to the butt weld. But honestly, butt welding is more of a line you need to cross. Once you cross it, you never look back. I am with you and have suggested with great argument to flange if butt welding is out of one's comfort zone, especially for a newbe. It is pretty overwhelming, but not impossible. Let me put it this way, if you screw up, just put a backing, done deal.

The trick is to get the panel fit well, clamped in and fit well BEFORE you mark it. I went to a Toyota training where they told us we had to butt weld everything with no backing. I went right back to the shop and started butt welding quarter panels, C pillars, rockers and the like. We are talking 22 gauge! I just started doing it, because they said to. Wham, it was as easy as pie and I never looked back.

But again, you are right in that I have defended the flange too. I have used them plenty, but honestly, I have used them too much. But in their defense I have never understood the arguments I have heard NOT to use them. The one that cracks me up the most is the whole "They are a moisture trap" :rolleyes: The ENTIRE CAR is made from them! EVERY SINGLE joint on the ENTIRE car, on EVERY SINGLE CAR MADE is a flange, lap or pinch weld, the same exact "moisture trap" so what is one more on a car?

Running the flange right below that body line is going to be pretty much hidden unless you stick your head up in the quarter thru the trunk no one is ever going to see it.

But if you want to step it up a knotch, start butt welding. But you are right, I shouldn't be throwing butt welding such a long weld out there without knowing more about the experience of the poster, or his expectations.

Brian
 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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By the way, you know one thing that changed how close I got the seam dramatically was one day a co-worker came up to me when I was about to trim a new quarter and showed me to clamp the quarter on and cut both panels at once! LOL, simple but I had never done this. Everything is trimmed away and ready to go, you just leave the new quarter an inch or so longer than you plan at the seam. You clamp that quarter on tight checking the door fit and all. Once you have it in there tight, using a 1/32 cut off disc you cut thru both of them at once. Remove the new quarter and complete the trimming of the piece off the old quarter and wham, you have a perfect fit, with a 1/32" or so gap. Perfect for a backing, which the piece you cut off works perfect for that!

Brian
 
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