How to Install a Patch Panel to Restore a Rusty Quarter Panel - Part 1
"Kaiser Bill Brown" offers his step-by-step instructions for repairing rust-through on the rear, above-wheel quarter panel on a 1951-1955 Kaiser. Bill's instructions are detailed and his methods can be applied to rust repair on the body of any automobile. If your're a Kaiser fan, be sure to visit Kaiser Bill's website and be sure to check out his soon-to-be-published "Bill's 40 Steps to a Successful Restoration."
As with many classic cars, the rear quarter fender just above the rear wheels is susceptible to serious rust problems. Often, there are insufficient drain holes and any water entering the trunk will settle in this area. The best approach, of course is to replace the old steel with new steel. Simply covering it up using lots of bondo only hides the problem, and you can be sure it'll raise its ugly head sooner than you might think.
This article concerns itself with 1951-1955 Kaisers. Of course, the methods used can be applied to any car facing similar problems.
Rather than using a big gob of "bondo" to make this repair, let's repair it properly by using all new metal. Kaiser Bill's Fender Repair "Kit" is designed to allow you to repair an extensive rust-out as shown in the top photo of the passenger's side or a less severe rust-out as shown in this lower photo of the driver's side.
In Part 1 of this article, we'll show you step-by-step repair of the passenter side rust, and Part 2 will cover the less severe driver's side.
The Patch Panel Kit available from Kaiser Bill. The Kit consists of four pieces as shown here. The shorter 29-1/2 inch "lower" pieces repair the area immediately above the rear wheel cutout. The longer 48 inch "upper" pieces repair the higher fender area over the wheel well.
This photo shows the cross-section of the pieces. All pieces are curved to properly match the curve of the rear quarter fender. The two pieces fit together as clamped in this photo.
If the area is larger and the fender structure has been comprised, (as is the case here) make these repairs before removing the body from the frame.
Tools you will need to make these repairs include the following:
- Marker Pen
- Small cut-off tool - an air tool works best - equipped with thin cut-off wheels
- Flanging pliers
- 4-inch angle grinder
- Electric drill w/drill bits 1/8 to 5/16
- Panel welding clamps
- Cleco fasteners
- MIG or TIG welder
- Small electric or air sander.
- Metal-to-Metal Filler (available from Eastwood or your local supplier)
- Small sharp metal chisel
- Several scrapers to remove rust from flange
- Media Blaster, (quart size or larger)
Carefully mark the rusted area to be cut out. Mark only the upper area above the lower fender seam. Be sure to keep your cut mark to a maximum length of 47 inches and a height of no more than 2-1/4 inches. The patch panels will not cover a larger area.
Use a cut-off wheel with a thin blade and carefully cut out the marked area. Cut only the outer fender metal at this time, not the inner fender. It will be cut later.
This view shows the rusted area of outer fender has been cut out.
Next, cut out the rusted inner fender area. Keep the lower part intact if possible. Make every attempt to keep the lower portion intact in order to prevent damaging it if it should bend down. In some cases the rust may be so severe that the lower fender area immediately above the wheel well will not stay in place. In those cases, also cut it off.
You may need to install a temporary brace to hold it in place. Trim the fender seam flange area and remove the rust as much as possible. You will be welding here so get it as clean as possible.
A small quart sand-blaster can be used to blast the area clean of all rust.
Next drill 3/16 size holes along the exposed old fender seam flange. You will be welding through these holes upward into the top patch panel bottom flange. Space the holes approx 1-1/2 inches apart.
Use "Flanging Pliers" and press a small (1/2 in) flange along the top edge and ends of your patch panel. Make the flange inward.
It's a little hard to see in the photo above left, but the cut-off fender will fit on this flange so the patch panel will be flush with the fender. You will weld along this flange seam.
Then drill 1/8 inch holes along the bottom of the fender cut-off area as shown here.