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Projects Saving a 54 Mercury Custom 2 Door Sedan Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by The 39 guy, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Back story my buddy Don bought this car in January 2011. The car was owned by one of our local club members but had been stored for at least 10 years outside in Tonasket WA. IMG_3425R.jpg
    That is Jack the former owner.
    IMG_3427R.jpg IMG_3428R.jpg
    Although the seats were there they had acquired some resident pack rats over the years.
    The engine bay had it's share of nest materials.... Don brought the car home and did the disgusting clean up job. Apparently he brought home at least one of the former inhabitants. Don eventually discovered a nest in his crawl space and had dispatch the cute little pest.
    The car had been rewired at some point . The wiring was done very well. Don got the old motor running and reports that seems run better the more he drives it. The seat springs were saved but had to be stripped to frames. Some temporary bucket seats were installed.
    Don's plan was to keep driving the car while the sheet metal problems are being addressed. He will address the the drive train later.

    In 2013 Don brought the Merc to my shop for a floor repair project. In retrospect it probably would have been easier to find a donor car for the floor but those are kind of hard to find around here.
    The car was fairly sound with minimal dents, but time in the barn yard with a window down and unwanted residents resulted in some rusty floors. This was our first attempt at sheet metal work. We had some new tools to learn and play with including an English wheel , planishing hammer,Shrinker stretcher,bead roller,sheet metal shear, and a HF 36" brake. We also borrowed a pot welder which I will show you later. We started in the rear floor pan area with some purchased panels. IMG_4899R.jpg
    The panels were thinner than the originals and we decided to add these stiffeners to the
    After the sides were done Don cut out the drive line hump and we fabricated the patch panel to replace it.

    we cut the top off of the rocker panels and decided they would have to be replaced.
    Drivers side floor .
    Passenger side floor
    More drivers side floor and rocker area.
    We tried to cut out small sections but carried away once in awhile.
    The spot welder worked well as long as there was sound CLEAN metal with no space between the panels. Gaps or rust would result in blown out metal (holes) IMG_4907R.jpg
    IMG_4906R.jpg IMG_4905R.jpg
    That's a good buddy (Jeff) that crawled under the car and ate some rust and dirt for the cause.

    The floor supports or braces were pretty rusty . Replacement pieces are available for these but we decided to fabricate our own.
    The two sides were bent in the brake and screwed to 2x6.
    The center section was then welded in (top and bottom).
    IMG_4910R.jpg IMG_4892R.jpg
    You can see the support in the center of this picture.

    I realize 54 Mercury post cars are not a real hot item on the HAMB but I hope some of you will find the projects we are doing of general interest.

    Happy New Year!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
  2. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    More floor stuff.
    Whenever possible the frame and various supports were painted with por 15.
    These winged gizmos are installed to keep the fasteners from getting lost in the support during installation.
    Here is a brace ready to have it's floor patch installed.
    Patch sizes varied, so did the techniques for making and attaching the panels.

    The rocker panels had to be re-contoured to fit the car.
    It took awhile to figure out the location for the support bolts. Now I would use a clear piece of plastic cut to the size of the steel panel to locate the hole and then transfer the location to the steel piece.
    We rolled these wide stiffening beads on the bead roller by making a couple of passes with 5/8" dies.
    Passenger side rocker cut to fit. You can see some fender rust on the right. We will be getting to that soon.
    Back of the PS rocker after finishing.
    This little section under the PS side seat required four separate pieces.When it was practical we overlapped the joints using the bead roller to make the offset flange.
  3. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    DS rocker just in front of the rear wheel was in need of repair.
    The structure under the patch was pitted but sound enough to use. It was cleaned and painted with Por 15.
    We had to shape a small piece for the patch. We used the english wheel for the contour.
    We used the easy grind weld wire and the mig for this.My welds were nothing to brag about. I have done a lot of sheet metal welding since I did this weld,although I have gotten better at it I still it a challenge. I am glad I am good with grinding and sanding. We finished butt welding the whole perimeter of the patch. I took my time not allowing the metal to heat up and warp the panel.
    A bad picture of the results but it came out OK.

    Don took the car home after this repair project and it basically sat for the next two years while he helped me with my 40 coupe project and the rewire of his 37 Chevy.

    In the next post we will start work on the quarter panel replacements. We have been working on them for awhile now and are getting close to gluing the quarter panel patches on. It's a new process for both of us so stay tuned and see how it comes out.
    biggeorge, AndersF and kidcampbell71 like this.
  4. 56premiere
    Joined: Mar 8, 2011
    Posts: 1,445

    from oregon

    Looks like your gaining. Going to be a nice car.

  5. triman62
    Joined: Sep 2, 2013
    Posts: 277


    Nice work, that floor looks like it was quite a chore.
  6. 54 Mercs...great cars. Keep this updated, great job so far
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 31,533

    Jalopy Joker

    Cool project - good repair work
  8. Bugguts
    Joined: Aug 13, 2011
    Posts: 896


    A 54 MERC is a very cool car. Thanks for sharing.
    Texas57 likes this.
  9. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Thanks for the kind comments guys!

    So lets start covering the quarter panel repairs.
    DS quarter panel, straight but rusty.
    Don bought the quarter panels from Mac's. As with most sheet metal panels offered these are better than nothing and can usually be considered a place to start your project.
    DA sander was employed to remove the multi layers of paint that helped to protect this car from further damage during it's many years of outside storage.
    After some measuring we marked out our cut and drilled the corners of the cut with a multi bit to radius the corners. A radiused corner is supposed to be less likely to crack or break from fatigue of driving or heat cycles . Before making the cut we considered the accessibility of the inner fender areas that we knew would need repair.

    I used a thin cut off wheel on the dremel tool to make the panel cut.
    Yep needed replacing...
    Next was the inner fender. Another of my favorite tools (sawsall) was employed for some of this cut.
    So when you put the cut off inner fender up against the new panel you can see how far off the radius was.
    Several tools were used to get the radius correct. The HF English wheel and a the piece of pipe you see here. The pie cuts were necessary to get the radius corrected without distorting the flange.
    You can see the radius is much better. The lines on the panel are from the English wheel .
    A piece of 3/4" copper pipe flattened and bent to the contour of the panel was clamped in place.
    Several tack welds later......
    Some grinding and sanding and we have a new corner.
    This project is a time eater..... There are lots of steps and I am going to try to cover them in order. I should be able to post some more later today.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
    biggeorge, AndersF, Rui and 1 other person like this.
  10. Kiwi 4d
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,602

    Kiwi 4d

    54 mercs are cool cars. Very satisfying to know you made several patch panels yourself.
    Looks like you are making a nice job and progressing well.
    MyCrustyVW likes this.
  11. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 11,624

    Atwater Mike

    I have a '54 Ford Coupe with some rear rocker damage. (dents, not rust)
    Also a poorly repaired 1/4 panel and passenger door full of bondo.
    Your Merc work prompts me to dive into it sooner than planned.
    Thanks for the thread, and all the pics. Floor rebuild was exceptional.
    Frankie47 likes this.
  12. Really nice work so far - I really like the shape of the 54 Mercs ....
  13. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    As far as I know nobody offers a replacement inner fender panel for these cars so we had to fabricate them from scratch.
    We bent a 90 degree bend and started shrinking some bend in.
    Test fitting. Lot's of test fitting.
    After getting the the compound curve we needed we welded in another piece to fill the gap.
    New metal is so much easier to weld and finish than that rusty old stuff.
    Another element under construction.
    More trial fitting using the new panel for a form.

    Getting closer.

    Card board patterns are very useful.
    We put the quarter panel back on the car several times during this process constantly comparing the new parts with the old for fit.

    I welded a flange tab on the end to make it easier to place the panel.
    More compound bends needed for the corner piece.

    A tab was welded on the back end also a new drain hole was provided in the corner of the bend.
    That round gizmo in the right top corner is the fuel tank vent line. Dang thing gets in the way. So far we have not cut or damaged it.....
    After double checking the fit with the new Quarter panel we decided to make a cut to line up the two flange elements.
    So now we are down to just one more patch piece.
    Here it is all tacked in pace. Even though we thought we had cut the old metal away far enough up to provide good original metal to weld to I still blew a lot of holes in the thin base metal while welding this on.
    There she is finished. I welded the panel inside and out.
    This is a shot of the PS inner fender repair. This panel required a very similar repair so I will not bore you with the details.

    Attached Files:

    biggeorge, Gotgas, 36 ROKIT and 3 others like this.
  14. Nice job.Love those tail lights! Bruce.
  15. Wow. Nice work !! Low and black is flattering on those ... all kinds of good choices otherwise though ... so whatever. 'Tis cool ! I like it.
  16. Thanks for posting, 39Guy. I appreciate the detailed coverage, and the effort it requires to run a thread. Nice car!
  17. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 2,709

    from ohio

    Lots of work but it looks like you guys are up to it. My aunt had a mint green 54 Merc 2 door HT back in the day, my dumbassed cousin totaled it, man that was a pretty car!
  18. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Thanks for commenting guys! Don says he is going to paint it some shade of green. I am hoping for a two tone paint job. He want's to lower the car a couple of inches. He read on the HAMB that front springs from a Ford Aerostar would lower the front end about two inches. Anyone want to comment on that?

    We spent today cutting down the PS quarter panel to fit the hole and prepping the body for the gluing process.No pictures today.

    Another issue, we are going to need some 54 Merc taillights both lenses and the housing they go in. Anyone have a some to spare or know of a source for the housing?
  19. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 4,796

    from Ok

    Cool, been waiting to see this thread. As a pre-16 year old guy who was wanting a 40 coupe really bad, when a slightly older friend showed up with a 54 Merc hardtop my eyes were opened to newer stuff. Of course the Merc was only 7 years old at the time. I am really looking forward to this build.
  20. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 4,796

    from Ok

    I just rebuilt the front suspension on my 55 Sunliner and used the Areostar springs. With no engine or sheet metal it is hard to know about two inches but the springs are considerably shorter. There has to be a pretty good drop. There is very good info over on the 52-59 Ford social group, Merc fits I think.
  21. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Thyanks okiedokie ! We will check out the social group . Please let us know how the ride height comes out on your sunliner. I also wanted a 40 coupe real bad at 16 but was fortunate enough to get my brothers a 53 Ford 4 door handed down to me. Dad installed a new flathead for me so it was good transportation but not the cool 40 I wanted. I didn't get my first 40 until I was 25. I like the 52 to 56 Ford's and Mercs though and wouldn't mind having a hardtop of either brand.
  22. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 4,796

    from Ok

    My Dad took my car money and bought me a 51 Ford tudor, six cylinder. He knew what I wanted and was intent on my not having any hot rod. When I sold the 51 about a year later I needed something to drive until I found that 40. I worked in a grocery store and a lady there had a 53 four door she said would not run over 30 but I could by it for $25.00. I was looking for that 40 so I figured it would do for awhile without depleting my funds. I drove it home, Dad heard me pull in, came out and said " the muffler's plugged". So I took a screwdriver and poked holes in the muffler and it ran fine. Drove it that way for a couple of months. Still another year before I got a 40, a worn out tudor, but it was a 40.
    chevy54man likes this.
  23. godlemmy
    Joined: Apr 5, 2006
    Posts: 61


  24. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 7,189

    from DFW USA

    Awesome work you're doing!

    Here's a little inspiration for you. Jerry Quesnel's '52 Victoria. I know it's a Ford and the wrong body style, but they sure are good looking cars. :cool:

  25. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Great, hope the content will make it worth following.

    Thanks Bruce, Do you have any spares?

    Thanks MercMan,

    Yes it is a lot of work but it is fun and a constructive time eater. The original color of this car was a mint green.

    Great story Okiedokie! My dad had a lot of 50's Fords around while I was in High school. Two of my favorties were a 52 Ford 2 door wagon with 6 cylinder engine wish I still had that one. (grey) we called it ironsides. It always sounded like the rods were going to fly out of it but never did. The other was a 51 Ford tudor with flathead 6 in perfect condition. I wrecked it. I was looking across the street at a Dodge Charger while cruising the avenue one night and ran into the trunk of a 63 chevy that stopped to parallel park. I tried to fix it with a new front end from the the wrecking yard. I got it back on the road but never got it finished before I went into the Navy.
  26. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    Great looking Vic, Now I could drive that! How do you get that picture to change color to black and white?
  27. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 7,189

    from DFW USA

    It's an animated .gif file that I made to show what Jerry's car looked like in color. The photo was originally black and white. The car was described as a green that was sometimes confused for blue.
  28. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,549

    The 39 guy

    OK.......... I will have to look that up? Like most old farts I am somewhat challenged by all this technology.
  29. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 7,189

    from DFW USA

  30. 64 DODGE 440
    Joined: Sep 2, 2006
    Posts: 4,422

    64 DODGE 440
    from so cal

    Love your sheet metal work. Almost makes me want to try some. Always liked the mid '50s Mercs. Had a straight '56 2 door hardtop back in the early '70s. Wish I still had it.

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