The nights are dark and cold, but if you have a garage and a radio it could be any time of the year.. and perfect for fixing up an old Veedubya! If you have some rust to attend to, now is the time to do it; well providing you don’t need the car the next day. Can’t weld? Here are a few words of encouragement that you CAN do these jobs yourself and a couple of links to check out if you are up for the challenge.
Things to consider.. Are you terrible with DIY? In which case I might of lied to you, you can do this (But it might end in tears) some co-ordination will definitely be required. Do you hate getting dirty? As above, it was a fib, sorry, this isn’t for you! Scared of Angle Grinders -me too, you CAN do this! Don’t like getting burnt by welding sparks – no one does, but when you fix the problem for a fraction of the cost, you will put all that behind you and put up with them.
Some kit to consider.. Do go and buy a fire extinguisher! My Sprite bottle of water was a token, and I consider myself lucky it got me through the resto without any tears. Do this bit anyway, even if you go no further.
You will be needing a garage or a workshop; at this time of year it is less than ideal to consider undertaking this sort of job on your driveway, you want to make this as easy as possible – being able to feel your hands and not getting wet will go a long way to helping.
Don’t blame your tools – make sure you buy some that are worth having. An exception is the Angle Grinder, the cheaper you buy, the slower they go, the less scary they are to use! B&Q or Halfords offer a cheap one for about £20 which won’t have you shaking like a leaf with every flick of the power switch. Make sure you buy grinding discs, cutting discs, and a flap wheel, or wire wheel attachments these will make things as simple as possible. Goggles and Gloves are a great choice when using these.. take care!
So now you can use a grinder, you have practiced (I hope) and then you are ready to attack the car. Making sure all trim (inside and out) are out the way – and you’re not about to cut through a fuel pipe, a brake hose etc. (Presuming you can jack a car up, use axle stands and maybe remove a wheel!) Offer your repair panel up and mark round the outside of it. Now is also a good time to mask any other paintwork and glass off, as grinder fall out makes a bit of a mess, and pits paint and glass when it falls.
With the metaphorical bullet between your teeth, take the grinder and cut well inside the line you have marked..this is assuming you need the whole repair panel of course. With the rusty mess now missing from your car, you can begin shredding your finger tips (or wear gloves) while trimming the car and the repair panel with tin snips (or a grinder) until they butt up, and match each other, then cue the welder!
Welders, welders, welders.. It is probably the case you will choose a MIG welder – these feed a wire flux down the centre of the “torch” (the bit you hold) and also some gas too. The gas is there to make the weld cleaner – you soon notice when you run out, as your welds go all smokey and look burnt, they don’t tend to work very well either! Not sure what you need, or where to go click over to http://www.migwelders.org.uk for a welders price comparison site and a bit of a run down on pro’s and cons too. As a school of thought – the higher the number, the more power, the thicker the steel you can weld. Turbo, or non turbo.. no they don’t re-circulate exhaust gases, in this context it purely refers to a fan that cuts in when the welder gets too hot; a great addition if you are doing long welding sessions. Need a hand setting up, or perfecting your technique? http://www.mig-welding.co.uk/ is the place to go!
Welding your panel in will require a steady hand – lots of small welds will help keep heat distortion of the existing panel to a minimum. Make sure the metal is clean and paint free too.. welders don’t like underseal, seam sealant or painted surfaces – nor galvanised steel either. Once welded in place (it’s so much easier to write that, than do it!) you will be wanting to tidy you welds up with a grinding disc – taking the tops off of these so they are almost flush, allowing for a thin skim of filler and its job done!
So then, armed with that small amount of knowledge its off to buy some repair panels to practice on, before the roof chopping masterclass next week!!