Sheetmetal Repair Basics
Let's face it, sheetmetal fabrication and repair is an art. Craftsmen spend years perfecting their skills. We've met many automotive enthusiasts who have the noblest of intentions of repairing or restoring their project vehicles, but we have also witnessed them crumble when it comes to bending, shaping, and forming steel.
Metal fabrication is often difficult and time-consuming, which requires a great deal of patience. People are sometimes so intimidated that they wind up paying a shop a huge amount of cash to get the job done. The truth be told, small jobs that could cost hundreds at a shop can be completed at home with a minimum number of tools and some basic skills.
In our case, we've had an old Jeep garaged and haven't laid a hand on it in over a year. It was a fun, nostalgic trail ride, but the gaping rusty hole in the driver-side floorboard was a problem. Since replacement floorpans are hard to come by for Jeepsters, and since this rig will never be a show vehicle, we decided to patch it with some scrap sheetmetal and show you budget-minded do-it-yourselfers how it's done.
The problem with cheap tools is that they do malfunction and break faster than the high-end stuff. Halfway through our welding, our economical little MIG-welder took a dump. Luckily Ramco Racing & Off Road is right down the road from us. Tack-weld your work in place before making the final pass with the welder. If an adjustment needs to be made it's much easier to grind the tacks off. The shop helped out and finished the welding for us. Ramco is the closest fabrication and off-road recovery shop to the Hammer Trails in Johnson Valley, California.
After the new floorpan was welded in we ground down all the welds with a grinding disc and a sanding disc. If you would like to completely smooth out your welds you can use automotive seam sealer which is flexible and will completely seal gaps, voids, and uneven welds. We shot the bare metal with Zero-Rust. The paint is a phenolic modified alkyd coating and quality barrier specially formulated to completely control rust and corrosion. We have been using this stuff for years and it works really well.