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55 chevy radius wheel opening

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by thehazmatguy, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. This may be a rookie question.. I did try to do a search in the archieve before I asked. My appologies if this has been covered before.

    How did the old school guys get that nice flare on a 55 chevy wheel opening when they did a radius job?

    I see that in most pictures the wheel opening is simply cut and left alone, I don't think that looks so hot. The nicer jobs I have seen have a perfectly round opening with a simple flare that matches the flare of the front wheel opening. At first I thought they were using a panel from a 55 nomad, but the wheel opening on a nomad has the same overall shape of the front wheel opening.

    ( I know I might not be explaining this well. Basically, I want the opening round but with the same flare/lip shape as the front fender.)

    So, how did they do it? Did they shape the opening by hand? Did they find a donor fender, then "cut and paste" the opening on the 55?? Or did they weld a rod to the edge of the opening and use lead to make the flare??

    I really like the rear fender on this car, to the uneducated eye this fender looks stock:
  2. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,258

    from DFW USA

  3. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 38,758


    2 ways that it happened in the back yard.
    One way was to take a pair of pliers and work aroung the wheel opeing pulling it up and out, then smoothing tje work out afterward.

    Another way was to bend a piece of brake or fuel line to the shape of the opening then tack it on and finish it with lead or bondo.
  4. Crap! I looked, I swear!!! :)

    Thanks. The string/sharpie makes perfect sense for the initial cut.

    I was planning on cruising a junk yard looking for suitable donor fenders for the flare. The tip for using the VW fender makes perfect sense for a smooth look.

    I'm not sure about the rod and fill method, that is the method my father suggested. It seems like you could have a lot of filler on there to make it look right, and then I would worry about long term durability.
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  5. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,440

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    EASY......use 55 Nomad quarter panels!
  6. Something like the plier method was what I had in mind. Maybe rough out the shape by pulling the metal out, then tack weld a metal rod to the inside of the fender to give the edge a finished look?
  7. RodLand
    Joined: Dec 19, 2005
    Posts: 369


    I used 66 mustang front fender flairs once. They were from a frontended reck, and when mustangs were a dime a dozen. You should still find something like this, late model, in a salvage yard. Probably fronts will be the best bet for large flairs.
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 37,096


    Be carefull about using the wheel opening flare from another car....guys who know cars will be able to spot it a mile away.
  9. Exactly! The '55 Nomad ones being the easiest to spot. The look ok on a street rodded '55... but if you're after something old looking, DIY.

    Here's a pic of mine.

    The original builder told me how they (him and a friend) did it.

    He said they took a pencil and some string and laid it out on the quarter panel. Tie the string to the pencil, and hold the other end in the center of the axle... then, strike the arc.

    Once laid out, they cut it out with aviation snips...

    Then, to get the nice rolled edge towards the center... they took a body hammer and a dolly with a nice radius on it and hammered it over. He said it was easier than it sounds, and everyone always comments on the nice job they did (back in the 60's).

    FWIW, in this picture, the rear end is not centered because they had moved it backwards on the spring for some reason. But when it is lowered down where it will be, and the rear end in the correct spot, it looks perfect.

    To me, the rolled in lip looks the best... to do a lip on the outside... you either have to do a lot of welding, or use a lot of filler.

    But the easiest was to do that is to bend some thin-wall 3/4" round tubing... some guys call in conduit, but when I think of conduit, I think of that galvanized crap at the hardware store... bad shit to weld... and find out how the finish will stick to it before you proceed...

    But you can bend the shape, tack it in place (using the string method to get it right) and THEN cut the fender out... roll the edge around and finish welding. Fill the gap at the top with a metal filler piece or BONDO... I'd use metal.


  10. Doc.
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 3,399


    The body guy who did my '55, made little pie cuts in the metal (in the proper radius) and then welded up the area between the cuts. He then did the metal work with a hammer and dolly. You can run your finger all the way around the lip and it is only 1 layer of metal thick. Turned out pretty good. The guys on the two lane blacktop board talk about useing some model of volvo front fenders. It's a pretty popular topic there, and I'm sure they could clue you in to the donor car they are useing.

  11. John_Kelly
    Joined: Feb 19, 2003
    Posts: 535


    Simply pulling and bending with pliers will pull the quarter panel out of its original contour. To get that little reverse flare lip, you need more surface area...that is why pie cuts and adding extra metal is done...a better way is to stretch the existing metal to get more surface area. This takes practice. To stretch, first you need to thin the metal more at the edges, and less as you get more into the body. Tons of work, but if you want to try it on a scrap fender first, I'll help with advice.

  12. Steve
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 1,010


    heres mine:


    It was done by the prior owner and I'm not sure how they did it. I'm sure it was done with tubing and either a lot of filler or fiberglass.
  13. atch
    Joined: Sep 3, 2002
    Posts: 3,555


    i always heard that buick wheelwells worked well when grafted in. anyone got a pic of one done that way?
  14. overspray
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 1,225


    I took an old set of rusty front 55 fenders and cut out the radius and spliced it to the rear quarters. There was a little massaging to do to get the lip to line up at the rear. It turned out nice, kinda like using Nomad quarters but lots cheaper.


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