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1970 Convertible Restoration

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Been doing a bunch of tedious but necessary steps to get this body in a presentable state. I am borrowing several different parts off of my car to get the doors mocked up on this one. One small issue, I can't remove my lower door hinge attachment plates from my lower A pillars, kinda put a bar in the way and they won't come out. I used the top plates to attach the driver's side door the other day and thought I had a few of the crunchy originals from my car laying around, wrong. Made two new plates out of some 1/4" material, drilled / tapped, all is well. Get my other set of new West Coast Classic Cougar door hinges out of the box to attach the passenger's side door, since I haven't looked at them since they came back in 2014 (time flies) and they are LEFT side hinges. AAAAHHHH. Should have looked at them closer when I got them. (Sent them back and they are exchanging them, nice people). I did have an extra set of passenger side hinges (thankfully) that got bolted in place on the door, then bolted it all to the car. Getting things lined up, attempting to set body lines correctly, the rear door gap looked like this.




I had the rear of the car level, left to right with my new adjusters. Measuring the gap at the bottom of the door and the top, the difference was just about 3/16". Drawing a line around the post with a sharpie, I used the floor jack to raise the rear of the car up the 3/16" to even out the gap. Since the car is bolted to the frame table, it went up without too much issue. 




The driver's side was about the same gap difference, so it was also brought up to the same height, and the rear was checked for level again. After the adjustments, the passenger side will need some help at the top portion of the door as the rest of the gap is pretty good.




The driver's side came out even better.




A few adjustments to the A pillar to rocker attachment area was needed to get the door opening the same as the other side. I had to move it towards the rear of the car by 5/16" since I had no more rearward movement on the hinge adjustment. I discovered this when I installed the front fenders, as another fitment check. Once the door was reinstalled and adjusted again, the fender gaps on both sides, as well as the body lines are looking good. I am using Ford OEM fenders to check these gaps, should be good to go.








I will check the datum line measurements one more time with all this bolted in place to verify the tolerances. If it is within reason, which it should be as the gaps and parts fit nicely, I'll get to making the door braces finally. This is a bunch of measuring, but it will be strait when I am done.

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Been working late with my "day job" and haven't spent much time on this. Slowly but surely getting a little more progress. I ordered a 20' stick of 1" square .120" wall tube to make some bolt on door braces. These will add some much needed strength to the upper part of the body and hold the door opening in the now correct position.  I started with six 3" x 4" x 1/4" plates, drilled the appropriate holes for the door hinge / striker plate area. Bolting these to the car the square tube was mitered and trimmed to fit. Once happy with the fit, they were tack welded in place.




The two long bars need reinforcement to be even stronger and reduce deflection. I made some reinforcement tubes along with copping them for the passenger side. Repeated the process for the passenger side, then fully welded these parts.




Time to get the rockers back out and get them prepped to go back in for good. 

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Time to try out the new door bars. Went ahead and removed the temp installed rockers and outer torque box ever so carefully. I had a few reference  measurements that I checked before removing these pieces to see if anything moved, which thankfully they didn't. 




The "new" inner rocker needed some attention to get rid of all the surface rust it had gathered over the years, so outside it went with a wire wheel and a grinder. A little while later it was all ready for some modifications. Much like all the other replacement inner rockers, these are totally flat up towards the front. Measuring the passenger side, 19" aft of the torque box is where the rocker starts to "climb" up hill. This particular one is right at 5/8" higher towards the torque box than at the 19" mark. I could flatten out the joggle in the torque box in order to make it fit better, but this will make the area look like a factory part, which is the whole point. I'm going to do this one a little differently than the last few I've done, but will show the steps as I go. 


I did order more SPI epoxy primer last week, it showed up yesterday afternoon, so once all these parts are drilled they can be coated. At long last, actual car building lol

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The first part of this modification involved removing the back of the inner rocker. The spot welds were drilled out and cut in two at the 19" mark and the section removed.




After cleaning up the inside to remove the surface rust, the replacement section was laid out on a new piece of metal and trimmed. Laying the new backing on the rocker shows just how much it will have to be moved.




Marking the "front side of the inner rocker, it was cut also at the 19" mark. I did leave the bottom section uncut, as it was easy to bend, and I didn't have to totally cut it in half. I did have to cut the lower tab though, as it would keep the part from bending in that area.




Using a cutoff wheel on my grinder (that is what I've been using for this entire process by the way) I cut a wedge shape into the first cut. Checking the amount to remove and carefully sanding the metal little by little, it was at the correct angle (a little over 3 degrees) and tack welded in place.




Checking the fit with the outer rocker, the alignment holes were lined up, and the parts clamped together. So far, so good.




Happy with the fit I was just about ready to attach the new back plate when I remembered that there was supposed to be a larger tab in the lower A pillar area, DUHHH, could have easily made that area as I had more than enough material when I cut it. Oh well. A little welding and some grinding, good as used. The inside parts were primed and once dry, welded together. I needed to make the end cap (attachment area to the front torque box) but since I didn't compensate for the new angle when I cut the part the first time I needed to square this up. A little bit thicker material than I would have normally used helped with the slight taper, trimmed to fit the inside, and tacked in place.




I went over to the table to re-weld the inside area. Using a scrap piece of 1/8" x 1"ish scrap metal, the inner rocker was clamped to the table with the flat bar up against the 19" mark welded area, which put a bow in the rocker. Clamping this part with a bow allows for the weld to pull when it cools, and the part to end up straight. Since the table is next to the TIG welder, it was used to fry the part back together.




As the inner was in fairy good shape, the outer rocker flanges were punched in preparation for joining the two parts together. I really wanted to weld the parts together off the car, as some of the welds are about impossible to get to. I temp attached the two parts together with sheet metal screws and was ready to see if they would go into the car. I knew from messing with this area before it wouldn't be easy as the fit is really tight.




After messing with trying to get it in place, I had to undo a little bit of work, mainly in the rear area where the rockers attach to the wheel house. The two tabs were not allowing the assembly to slide in place, so I removed some rusty wheel house (was getting replaced anyway) and flattened the tabs back out. Once that minor mod was done, it slid right in place, Thankfully!




A couple of screws in the front and the assembly was in place, YEAAA!!! I have some more priming and drilling to do the next time, along with other prep work before this can go in for the last time. It will look much better once it is all in primer, and welded in place. More to come.



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A little progress this afternoon. I was able to get the inside of the outer rocker all scuffed and cleaned, ready for some epoxy. The inner rocker had one more slight adjustment on the forward tab I added to make it match the passenger side a little better. It was also scuffed and wiped down.




The choice for primer on this part of the build is SPI Black epoxy. Good time to christen a brand new can and get some paint mixed up.




All the inside areas were covered with two coats and left to dry. As that part was curing for the evening I spent a little time getting all the areas on the car all cleaned up. I will have to do some patch work to a few areas on the lower A pillar and forward quarter, but nothing too major. My goal for tomorrow is to get the two halves of the rockers all fried together, so I have a little bit of drilling to do, and it will be weld time. 

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Started off the afternoon with a ton of holes to fix. I had punched the outer rocker flange the other day and used those holes to ensure good weld penetration by a little drilling. Since I was fixing to weld 3 layers together, I didn't want to risk having a bunch of weld puddles explode when going into the third layer by melting. I uses a modified drill bit that I reground just for this occasion. Drilling through the middle layer and into the last layer without going all the way through takes a little time. You get a feel for it after a few holes. 




Once the holes were all prepped, I separated the two halves one last time to remove any shavings and to fix the holes I couldn't get to easily, mainly the door opening. Reattached the two parts with the sheet metal screws and some extra clamps and the welding started. I used two pair of regular vise grips on either side of the hole I was welding, making certain the parts were clamped tight. A little bit of melted wire filled just to the edge makes for easy cleanup later on.




I skipped several holes and went around the parts. Every pass I filled up a hole between the two pervious welds, until there were but a few left. This made me dizzy, but was worth while. Once all the welds were complete I was rewarded with a nice straight part, thankfully.




I have to fix those attachment areas next and get some primer in the areas that will be covered up, then this will go in for the last time. 

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Getting the final pieces of the puzzle together before making this rocker permanent, I filled in all the tabs and areas that were not quite right, then punched all the holes I needed for welding. I checked the fitment one last time and realized a hole in front of the B pillar that wasn't supposed to be there, so it got filled in.




With a little primer in the areas that were inaccessible once in place the rocker went in for the last time. I had everything sheet metal screwed in place and started tacking several areas while final checks for fitment. Some areas needed a little adjustment, but that was to be expected. Once happy with the fitment, the welding started.




The rear torque box area had been previously welded solid on top, so I duplicated that along with a little extra around the tab.




The front of the rear quarter panel came out nice and flush to the rocker, along with the inner area being welded to the new flange. The underside of the torque box was also treated to some welds, along with the spring perch area. I didn't weld the inner and outer wheel house repairs yet, as I will be spending some time back there in the future.




Once the inside and bottom of all the attachment areas had been welded, I moved to the outside and finished up the A and B pillar areas. My goal for the day was to get the rockers in place along with the front outer torque box. Having all these parts mocked up before numerous times makes for easy assembly. The outer section popped right back in place. A few areas were marked for drilling and it was removed.




Laying out the holes in the marked areas, I swiss cheesed the part. The hole spacing is a lot closer than the weld and sealant manual, but I want this to be a very strong attachment, plus i like welding lol.




I had primed the inside of this when I did the rocker, it will get another coat after it is installed, but it was good to go on the car for good. A bunch of clamps and a little bit of persuasion, it was fit in place and tacked. Once I was certain it was all fitting tight, I fried the bottom first. I had a two welds on the floor support that didn't want to play nicely and needed a little grinding to finish up the welding. 




The front outside was welded up, then the inside got some solid welds. This particular torque box didn't have a flange large enough on the frame rail side to rosette weld, (like most I have installed lately) so it got a solid internal weld also. 






With all that welded up, a little bit of trimming was needed on the flange area, and a little grinding of the welds completed my goal for the day. 




I will have to perform a little surgery on the top of the torque box, (non convertible version) nothing a little template can't help with. Shouldn't be too bad.


Glad that portion of the build came together as well as it did. That was a bunch of prep work for an afternoon of welding. :)

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I was able to convert the coupe / FB torque box lid into a convertible piece this afternoon. I made a template for the notch around the inner rocker, then laid it out on the lid. Being careful to leave some material to make tabs out of, the notch was made and test fitted. A few slight modifications, along with notching for the frame rail tab allowed the lid to fit half way decent. I had to bend the very bottom of the lid to increase the angle, so it would line up properly with the bottom portion of the torque box. I need to put a few reference sheet metal screws in it, make a couple more tabs and drill some more holes. Looks like it will end up fitting quite well.



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Last week I had cut the holes in the lid for the E-brake cable with my new toy, took longer to set it up than to cut the parts. I also made a "doubler" bracket for the frame rail side while I had the cutter set up. Cut it out of some 12ga rectangle tubing I had lying around. It is just a simple L angle to tie the two parts together better. 




I had primed the inside of the torque box and the lid Monday, so it was ready to assemble.  I drilled all the appropriate holes, trimmed a few tabs, made the last tab for the rocker and screwed it in place. Scraping the paint off of the lower part in my rosette drilled holes allowed for easier welding. Jumping from inside to outside, a little hammering and lots of welding, the lid was a permeant part of the chassis. 




Next on the agenda will be the firewall extension repair. 

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I have some new rear torque box top plates if you need them ,there is a couple of convert plates i think .I get them with the floor kits but seldom need to replace them .


The one piece floor pans come with them, I now have 3 sets lol. I did replace one on my build, it was borderline crunchy. Thank you for the offer though.

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I have about eight sets ,they hardly ever need replacing .It would be nice if they sent the bottoms also ,then i would have a collection of full rear torque boxes instead of just top plates .And why dont they send front torque box tops ,i would use a lot more of those .

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Been attempting to get the firewall extension fit for a few days. These patch parts are for multi-year cars, I am thinking that they never made a 64-70 Mustang cause these just don't fit anything I've ever worked on lol. The area around the steering column has to be reinvented, along with the speedometer cable hole area, but it will be OK. A bunch of flattening and re-shapping it is actually, ever so slowly, becoming a usable piece. I am going to butt weld this into the surrounding structure, for an "invisible" fix.  The tunnel side is all trimmed in, just a little more around the column area and it will be ready to drill. The small section at the bottom right will require a triangle to fill that area as the PO removed these parts for me, which was very nice of him.  I will make the bends a little more refined, along with de-rusting the surrounding areas, so it will be more presentable. Lots more patching to come...



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Mike, that panel looked to fit great on your 70, or did you not relay the agony?

The one I installed on mine was shaped the same way, it didn't line up either as it was the same stamping. I was just making fun of the generic nature of the part. When I did the '66 vert last year, the same area had to be reconfigured to fit as well. The outer flange would have to be inverted if one was to actually use it on a coupe / FB, that would be fun. The part is much better than starting from a flat sheet :)

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