Repairing the Driver Side Inner Fender

The driver side inner fender on my TR4A had been repaired in the past sometime due to severe Trauma of some kind. In addition to the damage repair to the inner fender, the front valence needed some attention also. I am going to merge the repairs for the inner fender with the repairs for the valence.

Starting point for the inner fender

Here is a view of the inner fender before I started. You can see the inner fender and brazed joints down the front of the fender at the top of the inner fender. I think what happened was someone replaced the inner wheel well and the front half of the inner fender once and was in a real hurry!

The inner fender was pounded out to more or less fit into the inner fender. The inner fender still looks like a train wreck in the front. The last thing on the inner fender to fix is to remove the brazed (that's right, brazed) attachment of the forward body mounting point and pulling the inner fender in about 3/8" allow for the use of the correct bolt.

brazed fender mount

Here I have used my torch to release the inner fender from the frame. You can see some of the remaining damage to the front of the inner fender. I tried using a hammer and dolly to pound out the damage but couldn't get good access because the front valence is in the way. Hmmm .. I really want the inner fender to look good. Especially, the driver side as that will be the side you see when I open the open the hood.

I decided to remove the front valence to get access to the inner fender. This will solve two problems;
First I can do a much better job of cleaning up the inner fender, and secondly, I can do a better job straightening out the front valence. The thing is loaded with Bondo.

Removing the Front Valence

Original Valence

The front valence needs a lot of work. The white stuff you can see in the picture to the right is Bondo that is showing. The whole front is loaded with the stuff.
I think that once I separate the front valence from the lower valence, I will be able to get the back of the front piece and be able to pound out most of the damage. Also, I will have a clear shot at doing a better job on the inner fender.

Lower valence removed

Here is a view of the upper front valence off the car. Still can't get a good appreciation of the amount of bondo there! Tomorrow I will sand blast all this but i will use the heat gun to remove the bondo for now.

Rear of Lower Valence

Here is a view of the rear of the upper valence. The middle is really bad. There must be 15 holes in it with bondo coming out this side.

Restoring the Lower Valence

I decided to start on the lower valence first. Got to start someplace and I figured I would do the worst piece first and get it out of the way. At first glance, the lower valence didn't look too bad. I could see there was bondo all over the place and it had started to crack here and there. I have found that it is faster to remove bondo and undercoating using my heat gun before I sand blast due to the way those materials absorb the impact of the sand so that is what I am going to do first.

Lower valence with no bondo

I spent about 45 minutes using the heat gun on the bondo. I bet I removed about 6 pounds of bondo! Saturday, I was planning on sand blasting both pieces of the valence but mother nature stepped in and took out the power for 3 hours...
I did get the lower valence sand blasted. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the sand blasted piece but it was really ugly. You can see in the picture to the left that the right side was pushed in. The left had is pushed in too but it doesn't look as bad as the right only because the middle is worse!

Tools for valence

I started by pounding out the worst of the dents using the dollies shown to the left. I know you are supposed to use a hammer and dolly but this seemed to work better. My thought was to hit the piece from the back using the small dolly while backing it up using the large dolly on the front. This would allow me to force a curve back into the piece using a larger surface which I hoped would translate into fewer little dings on the front.

First pass at straightening the lower valence

Here is a picture of the first pass on my straightening technique!! The holes previously by the bondo are plug welded but you can't see it too well in this picture.

Another view

You can see in the picture on the left that the curve is basically back into the piece. You can see the scuffing that the dollies created.

More Valence repair

Here is a view of the whole piece after I have worked on it for a couple of evenings. The far side is worse but is getting there. I have to grind down the welds also. Looks like it has measles or something.

More Valence repair

Here is a better view of the left front. It is really starting to get there. I may have to put a light coat of bondo but I hope not. If I can get the welds ground down this week, I will sand blast it again and prime it. One way or the other, it is getting there.

Removing the Upper Front Valence

Upper Front Valence Removed

Here is the front valence removed from the car. This came off fairly easy too. You can see some of the wrinkles in the inner fender now.

Wheel Well Damage

Front Wheel Well Damage

Here is a view of the damage to the front of the driver side wheel well. It reminds me of a wrinkled sheet! I will have to spend a couple of hours on this with a hammer and dolly.

Speaking of that, I discovered a really good method of using the hammer and dolly for this repair and I will be taking some pictures of it tomorrow night. Basically, I hold a slightly crowned dolly on the outside of the fender and use a slightly crowned hammer from the inside. I don't hit too hard, just enough to move the metal. I find a spot where there is a distinct sharp metallic "clink" that happens when there is no gap between the dolly and the hammer. Once I find that, I moved away slowly while continuing to tap. I stopped in the next spot about equal to 1/2 the diameter of the hammer head until the "clink" comes back. Then I move over again. The results are pretty good.

Plugged holes in driver side inner fender

I plug welded the holes in the inner fender to the wheel well and ground down all the excess braze from the original repair. I still have to take care of the drip edge miss match from the original repair also.

Repairing the Drip Edge

Start of drip edge repair

In this picture I have cut out all the brazed connection between the two pieces of the repair. The piece on the right hand side is pretty straight. The left side has been bent up slightly to allow me to MIG weld the piece underneath.

Working on inner fender

Here is a view from the side. There is a little sliver of metal that I still need to remove but it is just about ready to start welding up. You can also see the lower cut that has to be welded first. I am going to start from the bottom up which means I will have to bend the upper sections up, out of the way first.

I started welding by placing a copper bar into the slot you see above and welding the underside first. In the view to the right, you can see that I have just about finished welding back across the top of the new "trough". I kept the copper bar in place to protect the new bottom weld. I used the end of my cutoff wheel and my 4-1/2" grinder to get the welds smooth.

Last weld on inner fender

Things are moving along. I decided to use my plug welding pliers to fill the gap between the two vertical pieces. I also tried another method by reversing the pliers so the pad is on the inside. I sort of worked but I ended up having to weld across the inside surface too.

Epoxy primer on inner fender

Well in the interest of boring you with the details....
Here is the finished (primed) product. Not to bad...

The other side

Here is the other side.

Inside of the inner fender

Here is the rear of the inner fender all sand blasted and primed in epoxy primer.

Finished inner fender front view

Here is teh front of the inner fender. Looks nice all clean and primed.