Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fillin' Holes

Well I have been procrastinating for some time. There is a "Silver Streak" emblem on the side of each of the front fenders. I want the front fenders void of anything like that, but the emblems are really cool and I wanted to keep them. So I decided the emblems will be relocated to the interior door panels.

Removing these would leave two large holes in the fender. I had read somewhere that holes of these sizes could be filled with MIG weld. I have seen it done once on some TV show, so I thought I would give it a try. I was a little nervous about over-heating the panel and warping it. But I still figured I would try it.

My cousin Rich was nice enough to loan me his Lincoln Welder. It is a wire fed MIG that allows you to use it with or without gas. The wire that comes with it has the gas as part of the welding wire/flux, so gas is not needed. I have never welded before and didn't know any of this until I watched the VHS instructions that came with the welder.

The first thing I did was to retrieve my old wrinkled fender from the side of my house which I saved for this specific purpose. I wanted to practice on that fender before I put the torch to the good fender.

I cleaned a small area free of paint and debris. I then drilled some holes in the fender to practice filling them. I also practiced laying several lines of weld.

Now, anyone who knows anything about welding is cringing at my welds. They are ugly, I know. But I kept the heat down and didn't warp the surface. It worked, so I was happy. After filling the holes, I ground down the welds, saw some pinholes and filled them with more flux. I had to repeat that process until the holes were completely filled. But it worked, the panel wasn't warped, and it looked pretty good. I was excited.

Weld then grind, weld then grind.

I then went and got my good fender. I cleaned it up and with a knot in my stomach I set the welder up.

I am not embarrassed to tell you that each time that I had to switch between welding and grinding there were times that I went a little faster than I probably should have. Two separate times I started welding with the welding mask on top of my head and my eyeballs intently focused on the small hole that would soon burn my retina. I was only blinded for a few minutes. You would think that would be a mistake that someone would make only once. Nope, not me.

Then this is what it looked like after it was ground down.

So if you are like me, and you want to try new things and work on your car yourself, don't be nervous. Unless you catch your car on fire and it burns to the ground taking your garage with it, there is a professional somewhere who can fix your mistake.

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