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Bolt On Panels

With summer over and the work completed on the Jag, it was time to return to work on the Challenger. First up, the Doors.

Though there were no rust holes on the driver's door, there was some significant damage to the skin. There was a massive crease down the middle of the door that someone attempted to repair by drilling lots of holes and using a slide-pull. All they did was turn the skin into swiss cheese and buried it in bondo. The damage was too intensive to repair without needing a 1/4" think layer of filler when I was done. So I opted to reskin it.

161) I started by taking a bunch of pictures of the seams on along the inside of the door since I would need to duplicate the original factory look. Once done, it was a matter of taking a die grinder to grind the fold along the parimeter of the door. The top was held in place with spot welds, so I just ground those down until the metal was thin enough to break them free with a putty knife.

In this picture you can see the inside of the original door skin. The primer dip line is visible and as you can see the factory undercoat was applied to the door prior to the door actually being skinned. This is evident because the primer dip is on top of the undercoat and it is impossible to apply undercoat in that manner when there is a large beam going down the middle of the door.

162) Here's the inner door frame. You can see the primer dip level very clearly. .

163) The first thinkg I did to the inner door frame was to sandblast it and prime it with DP40 epoxy primer.

164) I also primed and undercoated the inside face of the new AMD door skin. Youu can see bare metal spots along the perimeter of the skin. This is because the door skins were to be spotwelded in place like the factory originally did it.

165) Skinning a door is relatively easy. The skin is placed and aligned. Then the lip of the skin is hammered and dollied flat aloong the perimeter. The corners need extra care to get the shape right. I always trial fit the door to the car to make sure everything lines up before the skin is welded.

166) No matter how good you are there still needs to be some filler work on the reskinned door. More on this shortly. Here is the driver's door after filler work and priming.

167) The whole door is primed at the same time. The result is a new looking door, inside and out.

168) The door hinges were rebuilt and primed at the same time as the doors. Once dried, everything was hung on the car.

The passengers door actually had small rust holes at the bottom front and it also had a big crease down the middle from a prior accident. rust holes started to form at the very front on the inner door frame as well. The best way to repair the door was to reskin it. With the old skin off the inner door frame was sandblasted, repaired and primed on the inside.

169) Lets take a closer look at the reskinning of a door. Here the previously prepared door skin is clamped in place. Reference pictures with measurements were used to position the skin in the right location. As with the left side, the door was hung on the car to verify the alignment. With the skin positioned correctly the edges were folded over and the skin was spotwelded in place using a pinch welder.

170) First the face of the door was ground flat along the perimeter with a disk sander with 40 grit disks. This takes out the majority of the imperfections cuased by hammer and dollying the skin in place.

171) Next the rest of the black primer is ground off. The repo skins are never perfect. They have slight waves in the metal and then there is the inevitable shipping damage that needs correcting. Here the primer was removed using a 80 grit paper on an orbital sander.

172) Here is the door ready for primer. It looks like there is a lot of filler on the door, but it is very thin. Most of the imperfections could have been taken care of in the highbuild primer stage, but I like to catch any series imperfection at this stage.

173) Here the door is all in primer.

174) As with the left door, the right one is primed on both sides.

175) From the beginning I was planning on not using repo fenders. I wanted this car to look factory original as possible and of course, I wanted the fenders to fit....

I found this set on ebay shortly after I purchased the car. They are original fenders off a 1970. They even had the headlight buckets and inner front dust shields. There was obvious damage on the right fender, but no rust holes of any kind. I was the only bidder and it cost me $1200 for the pair, which included shippng them to me from California to Vermont. Overall I consider that I good deal considering the best repos on the market would cost me that without shipping.

176) Of course there are always suprises when you get stuff off ebay. In this case I found that the antenna hole was welded shut and the RH hood bumper nut was missing. Besides that, the fenders were actually pretty nice. They originally came from a sublime car that had appeared to have been repainted several items and also were repainted a different color each time.

177) The left fender had some damage along the side above the body line and the top looked like someone had actually walked on them. I was able to fix 99% of the damage with a pick hammer and a body file.

178) Even the top came out great. I seem to be getting good at the old school body repair methods. Make no mistake, I did have to apply a skim coat of filler to get it perfect.

179) Here it is in primer. On this fender I primed it in two stages. I primed the inside first and then primed the outside the following day.

180) The top came out pretty nice as well. Though you can't see it in this picture, the sheetmetal stamping codes were very visible. This is something a repo fender would not have.

181) The front of the fender where the headlight buckets are attached came out nice, clean and crisp. Though not evident in this picture, the SAE70 stamping was very legible. Again these details are something that a repo fender would not have.

182) The right fender needed a lot more finessing. It had obviouis accident damage that wasn't fixed very well. I had some slide-pull holes to fill in and I had to open up the antenna hole. For the antenna hole, I purchased an NOS antenna bezel so that I could get the size of the hole and the contour of the fender correct. The work on the fender was mostly performed with it bolted to the car so that it properly aligned with the hood and door.

183) There was only the slightest amount of filler work needed on the inside of the fender.

184) Here it is in primer. For this fender I primed the whole thing at once. I was very pleased on how this turned out.

185) Even the inside looked new. I know that some people don't go this far, but a good restoration is all about the details.

186) Here's a picture of the front of the right fender. Again, nice, clean and crisp. No real work had to be done here, just sandblasting and priming. This area will be painted body color with some black out around the inner headlight. It waon't all be seen, but will be seen will look correct and original.

187) Here's the hood a got off from E-bay. It is a correct early 1970 Hood without crumple zones. I paid $228 for the hood and $162 to have it shipped from Florida to Vermont. The body shop that I got it from converted a 1970 to a performance hood. So they shipped me the old hood in the packaging the performance hood came in. I had it shipped FedEX Freight. I was suprised to find an original set of early 1970 hood hinges in the box when I got it. My original ones where bent. Early hoods not only had no crumple zones, but also used 5/16" bolts to mount them to the hinges.

188) One negative was that the hood hinges were loose in the box, which resulted in a couple small dings in the hood which I had to fix. Considering what I paid for the hood, I was not too upset.

189) On the underside of the hood I masked and sandblasted the inner frame. But for the underside of the outer skin I had to chemically strip to prevent warping due to the sandblaster. I use Aircraft Paint Stripper as my prefered stripper.

190) I then sanded the underside and fixed and dressed the underside of a repair. I had to feather ir out a lot to hide the small buldge.

191) After a lot of vacuuming and blowing out the crevices, I gave it 3 coats of DP40LF Epoxy primer.

192) The top side of the hood was chemically stripped with Aircraft Paint Stripper. I have yet to see a perfect hood. People who sit on their hoods create a lot of work for people down the road. Though this picture makes the hood look terrible, most of filler was not very thick. I could have skipped most of it and waited for the highbuild primer step to take out the imperfections.

193) Here it is with 3 coats of DP40LF Epoxy primer and ready to install on the car. The hinges only needed to be sandblasted and primed. I removed the springs from the hinges primer to priming. I gave them 1 coat with the hinges closed and another coat with the hinges opened.

194) The trunklid needed a bit of work. The bottom seam was quite rusted on the underside and there was a factory "correction" that needed fixing. In this picture you can see an area, perhaps a foot long, where the metal was heated and folded. This was found under the original paint, which makes this a factory repair. It appears that there was a defect in the panel that they had to heat up and pound down to close the trunk lid all the way. This was easy for me to clean up. I just mig welded along the lenght of it and ground it down.

195) The seam repair took a bit of time. I cut the rusted sections out while leaving the original edge in place. In this picture I had cut off one piece. There were six pieces in all that needed repair. I sandlbasted the joint clean and welded in a new pieces that were shaped like the original pieces that were cut out.

196) The new pieces were mig-welded in place and ground down flat. Here is a section all fixed. The seams were originally cover with seam sealer, which obviously failed. The plan here is to prime the trunklid so that the primer will seep into the cracks and then they seams will be retreated with seam sealer.

197) In this picture you can see the trunklid hung from the ceiling. This is how I performed all of the repairs on the underside. It was the best way to manage the seam repairs.

198) Here the top side has been stripped and is ready for repairs. It might look good in this picture, but it appears to have suffered from someone sitting on it. Not a lot of filler was required, but it definetly need to be fixed.

199) Here it is after 3 coats of DP40LF Epoxy primer.

200) Here's a picture of the primed underside. It should be worth mentioning that this original trunklid is the third factory revision of the trunklid for 1970. This version has 4 cut outs for the rear spoiler, which were needed for the T/A rear spoilers introduced in early March 1970. The second rev added the 8 J-clips holes for mounting the reinforcement plates for the go-wings.

201) I purchased a used 1970 front lower valance off e-bay. I was a little concerned by the appearance of undercoating on the back side, which lead me to be the only bidder on it. It cost me $118 with shipping.

202) It took a bit of time to chemically remove the under coating, but my gamble paid off. The undercoat hid some light pitting below the parking lamp holes, which I easily filled with highbuild primer.

203) There were a few small jambs on the front. Most of which I removed with a pick hammer and body file. A little filler was used to ensure the panel came out OK.

204) The back came out great, with no signs of the original pitting.

205) The front came out so good that there will be no need to include the panel in the highbuild primer process.

206) The original rear valance was bent and twisted from many years of moving the car around. So I bought a used one from a www.cuda-challenger.com web forum member. It was also from a 1970. I paid $325 for it including shipping. It was worth the price since all I had to do was sandblast and prime it.

206) Here it is in primer. I suppose I could have bought a repo panel, but nothing fits as good as the original panel and the date code is stamped right on the face of it.

206) Here are the original rear valance brackets. They were only used on 1970 cars. These would be fitted to the car at the factory prior to paint.

The last piece to get worked on prior to the high-build primer process was the rear bumper filler panel (sorry no pictures). It is a 3 inch wide panel the screws to the underside of the tail panel, just below the tail lights. All I had to do with the original part was to sandblast it and prime it. With that panel in primer the real body work was completed. Now on to the blocking !