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Technical How To Mold Together A Front End?

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Doctor Detroit, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,004

    Doctor Detroit
    Member

    I like the look of '49-'51 Merc front ends molded together, fender flowing into splash pan and grille surround the into the other fender. I am considering doing this in the future. I'm curious if anyone has some tips and tricks they would like to share. Even if it was on a different car, I'd like to know how you approached it. Any do's or don'ts would be appreciated, and pictures are welcome.

    I'm assuming you begin with aligning the doors, fenders, hood, etc. Then you begin tack welding the seams together after they are aligned.

    Are you fully tack welding the seams, just like you were doing a sheetmetal patch?
    Do you cut off the flanges that were used to bolt them together?
    Did you seam seal all of the seams, or metal finish everything?
    I'm assuming this makes removing the front end a hassle though.

    Thanks


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  2. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 988

    Torchie
    Member

    Ok. I'll start.
    Fenders and such stay bolted together as from factory. Leave the flanges alone.Seams need to be fully welded not just tacked welded or cracking will occur. After you have welded the seams you grind it all down and use filler to smooth eveything out. If you are good not much filler (Lead or otherwise) is needed. You can't really "Metal finish" most of theses areas.
    And yes this type of customizing makes repair work a PITA. To replace any sheetmetal you have to grind out all of the work you did in the first place. But it does give the car a very smooth look. Look at most 41 Ford customs and the first thing that gets done is filling the front fender seams.(look at my avatar) The reason Ford built those fenders as 3 piece and later 2 piece was to make repair easier. At least that'show it was sold to the customers:D
    Torchie.
     
  3. I love the seamless look also. Once done nothing will adjust after paint (like I needed to say that) so fit and finish is very important. Thinking down the road for future repairs never enters my mind. Let someone else worry about what that costs. I've learned to make as tight a fit as possible when bolting things together and I Tig weld my parts. I can control how much fill wire is used that way so less shrinkage and less grinding. The end result is less filler, at least for me. As stated above make complete welds and you won't have any brake outs.
    Good luck, The Wizzard
     
  4. mikes51
    Joined: Oct 4, 2001
    Posts: 2,195

    mikes51
    Member

    If you have to remove the front end, you just get your trusty 4" cutoff wheel and make a cut where your rocker panel is welded to your front fender. Remove the whole front end as a unit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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  5. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,004

    Doctor Detroit
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    I learned something already.

    I'll be mig welding, but this is good info anyway.

    For this reason, I probably won't weld the fenders to the rockers or windshield posts. I think this would allow the front end to be carefully removed as a whole unit, once it was unbolted from the inner fenderwells, radiator support, etc.


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  6. I've been thinking about molding mine on as well. Really, once it's built and finished, why would the front end need to come off? Other than an accident, I can't think of any real reasons why it would need to. In the event of an accident, we'll have to worry about more than a few welded and smoothed seams. ;)
     
  7. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,300

    'Mo
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    I think that the Ayala-built, Louie Bettancourt Merc was a milestone, and ushered in the era of the fully frenched custom. The rounded hood corners (including the rears) went a long way to creating the appearance of one organic form, rather than a collection of parts.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. mikes51
    Joined: Oct 4, 2001
    Posts: 2,195

    mikes51
    Member

    Good point on welding the fenders to the windshield posts. I had not thought of that because I didn't do that detail. I have the stock hood arrangement just rounded the corners.

    Of the removed front ends that I saw at a few shops, they removed the front end as you described, only thing different was they left the fenderwells attached to the front end. edit It's been so long ago that I can't recall the exact details, it might have been they unbolted that major U shaped bracket that surrounds the radiator, and took that off the car. So the inner fenderwells came with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  9. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    The traditional method was to braze the seams and fill with lead body solder. Brazing is good because you can melt and wire brush it out if you have to separate the parts.

    Myth says the bronze will make filler lift, untrue, it is the FLUX that causes problems. Remove all the flux, every bit of it, by sandblasting or a wire brush in a drill and you will have no problems.

    I like to braze a few inches then rub the seam with a wet rag, this makes the hot flux pop off, and reduces warpage. Wire brush and finally go over carefully with an ice pick to dig out the last bits.
     
  10. Good info! Brass get's an undeserved bad rap. Other advantages are it's ability to wick into the seam, and less chance of cracking.
     
  11. fleet-master
    Joined: Sep 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,765

    fleet-master
    Member

    Gona have to disagree on this 'un..sorry. I've seen a few jobs where the bondo let go off the bronze..and I can assure ya it was cleaned meticulously. Didn't happen straight away tho. Took a few years but they crapped out .Having said that...seams are a great place for flux to sit and cause rust out.
    You can even lead the seams if you want .
    The guys molding the cowl to the windscreen pillars on Australian Chrysler Valiants used so much flux it rotted out the A-pillars from the inside and the doors fell off :eek::eek:;)
     
  12. fleet-master
    Joined: Sep 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,765

    fleet-master
    Member

    the whole back end of my 57 Chev is molded in the fashion the OP is wanting straight from the factory ...and they just spot welded the panels together and leaded the joints. Good for 50 years or so generally... !!!
     
  13. Gas Stove-bolt
    Joined: Aug 9, 2005
    Posts: 581

    Gas Stove-bolt
    Member

    I have seen the aluminum low heat repair rods at the fairs. Would this work? If you are just filling the gap, the aluminum will stick to the metal and bondo will stick to aluminum. Just asking

    http://durafix.com/
     
  14. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,619

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Unless you have a really stiff frame welding the nose to the body doesn't allow for any flex when you go over curbs or other spots where the suspension might not take all of the road surface change up.
     
  15. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
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    I've been doing repairs this way since the sixties and never had a problem provided there was no flux left in the seam, and provided there were no pinholes.

    Any gaps where moisture could come through, or any flux and you had a potential problem.

    Have even seen lead fill fail if the seam was not completely sealed including factory spot welded joints that were leaded over.
     
  16. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
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    Bill Hines and George Barris talk about how they built custom cars in the old days, brazing the seams and filling with lead. See the 59 Chev Buddha Buggy, Still intact after 45 years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7hKGZAAsMY
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  17. fleet-master
    Joined: Sep 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,765

    fleet-master
    Member

    yeah your right on the lead fill Rusty...I was only meaning bondo . Lead is much better and you can even bump n file lead. Can't do that with bondo much without it cracking.they've all got their own advantages and drawbacks.
     
  18. jcs64
    Joined: Apr 25, 2005
    Posts: 528

    jcs64
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  19. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
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    it gives you a good chance to round your front door corners if you weld your rockers to the fenders.
     
  20. 1954fordkustom
    Joined: Jun 14, 2010
    Posts: 571

    1954fordkustom
    Member

    Make sure everything is aligned properly before welding it together. I molded the front end on my 54 ford. We thought we aligned everything right but we didn't. I am now having to section the center to bring the fenders where they need to be. Big pain in the ass but it looks damn good


    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
     
  21. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,099

    porknbeaner
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    Rusty,
    Doin' it the old way. Love it friend. Brazing is still my prefered method of blending body parts.

    And yes lead or mud will adhere just fine to brass or you can use the brass to fill and grind/file it flush as well.
     
  22. atomickustom
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 3,227

    atomickustom
    Member

    One more tip: if you want a nice big radius make up filler pieces of 18- or 20-gauge metal to "gap" the seams. I did this on the front and rear gravel pans on my Chevy and it gives a much more flowing look than just welding and filling the panels together. Sorry, I don't have any closeup photos but you can probably picture something that curves gently as opposed to a surface abruptly meeting another surface.

    My entire front end is one welded piece but it is not welded at the rockers or the windshield posts. If I ever need to remove the front end for, say, engine removal or suspension work I just take out about 6 bolts (two at the bottom of the radiator support, one at the top and bottom of each fender) and the entire thing will lift off as one piece.

    Oh yeah: and use a short piece of PVC pipe with sandpaper wrapped around it to finish sand the curve. It's the only way I know to get an absolutely consistent radius. I have several different diameters of pipe in my cabinet, ranging from an inch or so up to around 3 inches or so.
     
  23. afaulk
    Joined: Jul 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,187

    afaulk
    Member

    I use a tig welder and silicon bronze rod without flux. Works great, with no paint problems. Good enuff for Mercedes, good enuff for me.
     




  24. That was hilarious! I guess it's hard to say "Buddha Buggy" while smokin a fat stogie. George: "Voodoo Buggy?" Bill: "Buoulda Buggghl....." Bill takes the cigar out of his mouth: "BUDDHA BUGGY!!" George: "Oh! Buddha Buggy!" What a trip! Bill Hines is awesome to hear talk about how stuff was built. He is a walking history lesson! Thanks for posting. I had not seen that before.
     
  25. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,004

    Doctor Detroit
    Member

    Just returned from a long business trip to find a lot more info posted in this thread.
    Thank you guys, it's all good stuff.


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  26. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,004

    Doctor Detroit
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