LX SS Torana

 

Condition Assessment

Yes this is Ron’s LX SS Torana, as it was in poor condition but full of potential. With a mammoth task ahead, we started by assessing each of the key areas requiring attention and compiling a checklist over 30 items long. After which, each item was further broken down, identifying multiple tasks required to achieve the repairs required. All in all there over one hundred (+) items listed before the restoration begun.

The vehicle was missing a lot of metal, mostly because of the extent of corrosion. The previous repairer removed the right hand rear (RHR) Quarter Panel and lower rear valance panel. The right hand (RH) Rear Bumper fixing tubes and the vertical portion of the chassis rail had also been removed.

The external cover panels of the left hand (LH) & RH C-Pillar sections had already been removed by another repairer. The internal extrusion of the left hand side (LHS) C-Pillar was entirely corroded from the turret to the base of the C-Pillar / Quarter Panel interface point. The LH Rear Window sill was corroded through to the internal section.

Due to the excessive amount of corrosion activity at the LH C-Pillar point, the lower rear quarter panel section became corroded and severely fatigued. The rear turret section (which meets the hatch door) was still intact, but was in desperate need of repair.

The rear beaver panel had corrosion along the top section of the panel, above the both tail-lights and also beneath the rubber seal channel section.

LH Front A-Pillar

The A-Pillar section of any vehicle forms an integral part of the structure. The corrosion damage illustrated in this vehicle has extended beyond the immediately visible areas and into the overlapping structure. This requires each panel to be removed individually (like an onion layer) until a sound metal structure is found.

The A-Pillar section presents another challenge, where it serves to support and align the corresponding panels around it. The complexity of this section is further highlighted when we tied the upper Window Pillar section with the lower A-Pillar.

LHS Fender

(LHS Fender – Repair)

The corrosion damage in the lower rear section of the fender was only visible by a small perforation. At closer inspection of the damage it was identified to be significantly larger than originally estimated.

The lower corrosion damage had been previously repaired with fibre glass and this was concealed by the black primer which was applied after the owner had it sand blasted.

Furthermore the previous rust repair was only performed on the external panel section and the internal section was left without being repaired.

Radiator Support Panel

Following the repair to the lower fender section, we repaired the lower section of the radiator support panel to ensure the correct alignment of the (front-end) body panels. Again the owner supplied a near perfect replacement section which we aligned and fuse welded in position.

LH Rear Quarter Panel

The lower rear section of the left hand quarter panel and the wheel arch had excessive corrosion damage. The cause of the damage was due to the extensive corrosion perforation throughout the internal and external sections of the LHS Rear C-Pillar. The donor section was provided from another vehicle and again in near perfect condition.

LH Rear C-Pillar

This video illustrates the restoration process of the left hand rear (LHR) C-Pillar. As you will see the corrosion damage had penetrated extensively throughout the C-Pillar structure. The process involved removing each layer until we found a solid base to start the repairs.

Each section was individually fabricated and fuse welded to achieve a seamless integration. The only exception was the external C-Pillar cover panel which was purchased by the owner. However, this panel was short of the finish length and required modification to complete the interface joint between the C-Pillar and quarter panel.

The fabrication work was finished the same as it was from the factory and as close possible to the original.

RH Rear Quarter Panel

When the vehicle arrived the RH Rear Quarter Panel had already been removed. There was some panel damage to the RH rear wheel arch which needed attention before the replacement panel could be fitted.

Another issue that presented itself was that the replacement quarter panel that was supplied was not the same model, it was for a UC Torana Hatchback. Nevertheless, we aligned the replacement panel, marked the required section and trimmed away the excess.

LX SS Torana

Prior to welding the quarter panel, we had to repair the wheel tub damage, align the body panels and then trial fit the quarter panel.

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During the trial fitting, it was noted that the hatch tailgate alignment with the beaver panel was out of alignment. This is illustrated by the photo above, the horizontal gap tightens as it meets the vertical point (gap) of the quarter panel.

RH Rear Tail-Light & Beaver

LX SS Torana

With the RH tail-light fitted, it’s clearly visible that the tail-light aperture is out of alignment. To rectify the excess spacing between the light and the tailgate aperture, Rene split the body section and added approximately 5mm of replacement panel.

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Although the alignment issue was rectified, the panel section above the RH tail-light still had to be replaced because of corrosion fatigue.

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Rene Farrace fabricated the replacement panel and removed the damaged area.

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The replacement section was fused welded and metal finished.

LX-SS-Torana-RHR-Tail-Light-repair-beaver-panel-correction-hatch-gap-tail-light-correction-rust-repairs-restoration
LX SS Torana

The end result illustrates a uniform hatch panel gap and the correct alignment of the tail-light. This concludes the repairs and replacement of the RH Rear Quarter Panel.

LH Rear Tail-Light & Beaver

 

To be continued…….

Mazda RX7 – Hinge Restoration

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INTRODUCTION
The owner of this Mazda RX7 was concerned that the structural integrity of the vehicle’s A-pillars was compromised by the visible corrosion damage around the upper hinges. The difficulty in evaluating this type of issue is that the problem is not completely exposed until the area is opened up to expose the internal structure.
Upon the initial inspection and appraisal, it was identified that the upper hinge fixture point on each side were indeed corrosion fatigued. The doors were dropping when opened and the owner had to lift the rear section of the door to close them. This was placing excess strain on the door handles and it was damaging the paint on the sill and quarter panels.
IDENTIFICATION

RX7-1

 

 

The initial objective was to remove the doors and fenders to gain access to the problem and ascertain the extent of the damage.

 

RX7-2

 

 

The RHF skirt reinforcing beneath the fender was removed to expose the complete pillar section and allow ease of access and repair of the damaged area.

 

RX7-3

 

 

Next the external A-pillar (top hinge) cover panel was removed to expose the full extent of the corrosion damage to the internal hinge (fixture point) reinforcement structure.

Now given these circumstances it’s prudent to further investigate other factors that may have contributed to the issue (ie window, plenum chamber, drip rail or turret perforation) and rectify these causes to eliminate the risk of re-occurrence.

After eliminating the probable causes, the actual issue was identified to be condensation ingress between the external panel skin and the pillar hinge reinforcement.

RX7-4

The extent of the corrosion pitting was concentrated to the external surface of the internal hinge fixture reinforcement panel. Although mostly superficial, the upper section had perforated substantially and the fatigued is clearly visible after the sandblasting process.

 

RECTIFICATION
Now that the internal hinge reinforcement structure is exposed, the next step in the process was to sandblast the corrosion effected area, identify the extent of the corrosion damage and rectify the structural integrity.

RX7-5

 

After the sandblasting process, the areas are etch primed to seal the exposed metal from the elements and then the subsequent repair work can commence.

 

RX7-6

 

 

 

The internal hinge reinforcement structure damage was sized and a duplicate steel plate was fabricated to suit the area.

 

RX7-7

 

 

 

 

The weakened corroded section was cut out (completely removed) and the duplicate steel plates were fuse welded into position.

RX7-8

 

 

 

 

The corrosion repair area was sandblasted again and etch primed for atmospheric protection.

 

RX7-9

 

Next the external A-pillar top hinge panel needed to be duplicated and welded in place. An exact replica was fabricated by René Farrace, then it was fitted and fuse welded into the correct position.

RX7-10

 

Again the corrosion repair area was sandblasted and etch primed.
The front skirt reinforcement panel was then fitted and welded to complete the structural repair.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS
Please remember that the sequence of repairs will be determined by the extent of the damage. Don’t take shortcuts with structural areas, because in an accident it could be the difference between life and death.

My advice to the DIY’s, is careful planning and attention to detail are the basics required to successfully execute the rectification schedule. Set out with one objective in mind, to do right the first time!

NOTES

Time+Effort=$$$
If time is of the essence, research the availability of a professional with the desired skills to carry out all or part of the repairs. Alternatively, if you’re budget poor but good with your hands, DIY it! I’ve met numerous industry practitioners with either no idea or no inclination to step outside the square. But in times of economic depression they will gladly take your money.
Surface Abrasion
Sandblasting is a must do! Do not compromise this step by wire brushing as this will only polish the surface or grinding as this will miss the crevices and pits of corrosion. Sealing exposed metal is equally as important especially as the repair will take time and atmospheric conditions change seasonally. The pitfall of using a media like Garnet is that it will break down into fine particles and find its way into the isolation of extruded sections. You owe it to yourself to make every effort to remove all or as much of this media as possible or risk creating another issue.
Primary Sealer
When sealing the repairs use compatible materials from the base to top coat finish. Too many times I have seen it before where incompatible products have been used and are mixed together. Although the underlying problem is not instantly visible, over time it will give you grief.

By René Farrace

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