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Old 07-05-2015, 08:38 PM   #1
rrenner
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Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Looking for tips on reassembly. Cab is back on, engine in and running, I guess I'm ready to start test fitting and then paint. Thought I'd reinstall, get the gaps correct then take apart to paint. Is there any best order? Doors, fenders, hood? Any tips on doing this alone? Hood seems like would be the hardest. Thanks for any advise..
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Old 07-05-2015, 10:51 PM   #2
Richs'55
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Now I haven't done a TF truck yet, but I usually test fit everything first. Then disassemble the hood, doors, fenders and all small parts (gas doors, quarter panels, cowl panel, etc.)
Everything gets a coat of sealer and BC/CC (base coat/ clear coat) on the back side of panels and inside door jambs.

Then I reassemble the whole car/truck. I sand off any overspray of BC/CC down to the sealer. Apply aperture tape to all door gaps. Tape off any other areas and then paint the car/truck as a whole.

Less chances of scraping up or scratching something during reassemble.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:14 AM   #3
OrrieG
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

On task force fit the doors to cab first. Start with setting the top, latch and bottom gaps. Note these were rough from the factory, latch and top are most noticable so I did those and let the bottom float. Pay attention to the curve at the upper front door/A pillar gap, expect the radius of the door to be different than the cab. Depending on how anal you are you now can add or delete metal, recurve, etc. to get perfect gaps, or get it close and move on. Pay attention to the horizontal body line. I also mounted my bed to make sure the line from front to back aligned and was straight. This will also tell you if the cab may need shimmed to keep the line from doors to bed in line.

Fit the fenders and inner fenders and adjust to fit the door. Bigger bolt at top to cowl usually needs shimed underneath to get the trim line to align and is a rotation point for the fender in relation to the door. You will probably need to loosen the inner fender mounts and adjust the radiator core by shimming if the fender needs rotated. I also found it took a partner leaning on the side of the fender at the top by the door to get the fender to cowl gap to close. You also shim the bottom bolt from the inside to pull the fender bottom in or out to align with the door. You may find that the door curve and fender curve do not match and will need massaged. Install the grille surround that bolts to the radiator support and fenders. I also had to use a porta power on the passenger side to push the headlight bucket forward and up, the truck had been hit in the front there at one time and not correctly repaired.

Now trial fit the hood without the springs or latch installed. I found I needed to add shims between the inner fender/fender and radiator support to increase the width at the front. Thats as far as I got. Hood springs and latch will probably need some adjusting but I know the gaps will be right.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:42 AM   #4
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Quote:
Originally Posted by rrenner View Post
Looking for tips on reassembly. Cab is back on, engine in and running, I guess I'm ready to start test fitting and then paint. Thought I'd reinstall, get the gaps correct then take apart to paint. Is there any best order? Doors, fenders, hood? Any tips on doing this alone? Hood seems like would be the hardest. Thanks for any advise..
You are born to do this stuff, you have the mind for it. Sooooooo many guys will paint and THEN go to assemble, it's a horrible mistake. You got it right and brilliantly so!

I don't know the year you are building but if it's an AD it's not a big deal what goes first other than fenders then hood. If it's a 55 up you want to put the doors on and then the fenders then hood.

Here are a couple of "Basics of Basics" that may be of help. I know it's a bunch, so print it out and read it while you relax. You are doing a BIG job, so this isn't that much to read right?

"Basics of Basics" Paint together or in pieces?
By Brian Martin

One decision that must be made during your cars restoration will be if it should be painted in pieces, with the doors, fenders, trunk lid and hood off the car, or with all the body panels on at once. There are many reasons to do it one way or the other and it should be well thought out prior to laying the paint on.
What is the “best” or the “right” way is very different to most anyone asked. It really depends on your expectations, skills and passions. Do you want the car accurately restored? Do you want the easiest way? Do you want the highest quality result? The “best” is not always the way to accurately restore it. Many times the factory did things that are far from “show quality”. They were simply building a car for the masses, not building a classic. Most ever car built has the doors installed on it when it’s being painted. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, new cars being built have the doors and trunk lids hung on them. In some cases such as sixties GM and Ford cars, not only were the doors and trunk lids installed on them, so were the latches and strikers! Yep, they painted right over the latches, strikers and the bolts that held them on many cars made in those days. This is the practice with many manufacturers up to today with strikers, they do usually leave the latches out though. That is certainly not very “show quality”. Some cars in those days had their front fenders, hood and cowl top (if it used one) painted on a rack out in front of the cars body. I started in the autobody and paint industry in the 1970s and I have to tell you, it was common to see a GM car where the fenders didn’t match the doors because of this practice of painting the body/doors and fenders and hood separate. These were single stage lacquers and a little difference in distance or pressure could change a metallic color pretty fast. There were sometimes bare spots under the lip of a trunk or the bottom of the door inner jamb (especially in the corner up at the hinge area) where the paint and primer was very thin and there would be a minor rust forming when the car was still only a year or two old. So, this is “correct” for restoring many cars, but it certainly isn’t the “best” way to do it.

Most cars today are painted in an interesting way. They are painted with robots, some are painted in a “shower” like booth. It is actually kinda freeky to see them painted. They sort of just “change color” like a computer special effect. They are painted with the doors, trunks, hoods all on as they always have been. But now often they will shoot a base that is similar to the final color. Then they shut the hood (and sometimes the trunk) and paint the outside of the car and door jambs with the final color and clear it. Under the hood, and the trunk in many cases gets no clear or final color! And to throw another odd trivia bit out there, this is interesting. Toyota, probably the most effective manufacturing company in the world paints their cars this way. But after painting the car they remove the doors, for the cars component assemblies to be installed and then the doors are reinstalled as one of the very last steps! Now, if Toyota and all their amazing manufacturing processes do this to ensure that all the parts are the same color, I think it is safe to say painting the car together is a good idea.

Have you ever looked close at the cars you see at shows? Do you see the ones that are painted apart (or at least look like they were) compared to the ones painted together? Do you know the difference? Most of us check out these cars and never even look close enough to see if they are that well detailed. Only you know for sure if you want nothing but the best and are willing to spend the extra time to paint it apart, then do it. If you have seen at shows that cars look good to you even if they have those small tape lines in the jambs, then painting it together may be the way to go.

The benefits to painting it in pieces are there, first off, a super detail job. You can spend all the time you want prepping all those nooks and crannies for a super nice paint job. No tape lines, it just looks awesome, however is it practical for you and your car? Bolting newly painted parts on is pretty taxing. If you do go this route, be sure everything fits first. Read my “Basic of Basics” on trial fitting parts. It is very important that all these parts fit if you are going to paint them off the car. If you have any doubt, any doubt at all, paint it together. I have seen many, many cars where the guy thought the parts fit, he was certain that the parts fit. After the car was painted he had very poor fitting panels when installed. I don’t care if they are NOS, I don’t care if they fit well before the body work on the adjacent panel was done, what ever, you must trial fit them. If you are going to toss the dice and you lose, you lose big. If you want to save the time of trial fitting, just bolt it together and paint it that way.

First, do you have room to shoot it in pieces? Now, this can be a great way to shoot something when you don’t have the room as well, depending on if you are shooting it all at once or in pieces over days or weeks. If you feel that you can paint it in pieces (IF you can will be covered later) this can work out great. You paint your fenders, then put them away somewhere and paint the doors and so on until the car is done. If you plan on painting it all at once while in pieces, than you better have a big booth to spread it all out.

Painting cars in pieces can be a little easier in that you have a number of small projects that are easier to handle. Painting a complete can be overwhelming to a newbe, the many smaller steps make it more manageable. But you must be sure that you are not learning on your car. If you start painting parts as “practice” you will most certainly not be painting the same by the time you get to the last pieces, and they will likely look different. If you have some help putting it together it is not that difficult to do with it painted. It just takes care, lots of it.

If you do paint it in pieces, you must have the parts (especially with a metallic, but with solids colors as well, more on this later) hanging in the same “attitude” as it is on the car. In other words, you don’t lay the doors down on their back to paint them. You want them hanging vertically just as they are on the car.

When you spray them, you need to maintain the exact same distance, pressure, surface/shop temp, solvent temp, amount of coats, reduction, etc. This is very important, the consistency is key when painting a car apart. When spraying a panel off the car you want to “pretend” that the next panel is there and take each pass well off the panel you are painting onto this imaginary panel. This will keep you from stopping right at the end of the panel and creating more or less (depending on exactly your trigger technique) film build at the end than in the middle. This can create a different color in those areas. Metallic colors being different because of air pressure is a given, most understand that. But solid colors can change with a little varying of distance and pressure as well. It is simply because of film build. Today’s lead free paints don’t cover nearly as well as years ago. Where you think a few coats have covered, it may not have. Sure, if you have applied those four coats uniformly over a single color substrate like a completely gray primed door, it is a uniform color. But apply one more coat and you have a different color. Therefore if you don’t run the gun off the panel onto the adjacent imaginary panel, and apply exactly the same amount of coats you could put a little more or less material at the edge creating a different color there. If you do it a little different on the REAL adjacent part, the two won’t match. This is very common on something like the back of the door to the quarter panel. You are painting the quarter totally different because you have the jamb to paint as well. So right at the edge of the quarter you are going to have more material applied being you coat the jamb as well as the quarter with a little overlap at the edge. On the door, you don’t paint it that way because the jamb side is painted from the back. So if you were to stop the gun short right at the edge, you are going to have a little different film build. You could very well have a color that is slightly different from the quarter.

One VERY important thing is that ALL the parts have the exact same primer color. Even colors that cover well are going to have a hard time over a gray primered body and a black urethane bumper! You WILL have different colors when finished. Be sure everthing, including substrate color along with pressure, solvent, distance, etc.

Another very important issue is that you must be sure that you have all the paint you will need. Buy at least 30-50% more than you think, that is my personal target. I want to have a quart or more unreduced paint left over. I’m sorry, when it comes to paint problems, and redos the price of a quart of paint is not a big deal. If you need it, it is priceless. So, buy your paint and get a couple of gallon cans and intermix them. Stir them well, being sure to get everything off the bottom of the can. If you can have the paint store shake them, that’s good too. I like to scrape the bottom of the can with the stir stick and then run the very bottom of the stick on the inner edge of the can and look close to be sure there is not toner on the bottom of the can that isn’t stirred up. Pour the paint back and forth until they are thoroughly intermixed. Let me explain, you have two one-gallon cans, with lets say a gallon and a half of paint, one gallon can full, the other half full. Pour about a quart or so out of the full one into the half full one, then stir it up. Now, pour a quart or so back, then stir that up, do this a few times back and fourth until you are certain to have the cans intermixed. You do this because there may be a slight difference between the two mixes. After all they were mixed by a human being. Now, after using one can you can go to the next knowing they are exactly the same color. If you should run out and go back for another quart, you could find yourself with a much different color! This is a very hard learned lesson, avoid it, simply buy enough and intermix it right from the start. This practice should always be followed, be it painting the car in pieces or not. But it is particularly important if you are.

Another alternative is to do both, paint it together but like the factory with the doors and trunk and maybe even the hood hung. Again, there are lots of choices. Many cars were painted with the hoods hung, hinges and all got painted, you could do the same. I have never actually done this, but seen many painters do so. They open and close the panels (leaving the latches out so they swing freely) with every coat. Painting inside and outside at the same time. You need a lot of room to pull this off, but it can be done.

You can also do things like bolting parts on like fender extensions with washers behind them to space them out so paint gets behind them. This is a favorite trick of mine. That way you jamb behind the extension first, then with it spaced out a quarter inch or so, it gets painted just like it was bolted on. Works like a charm even with a metallic color. The washers are removed after the painting is complete and the extension is bolted on properly.

Now, painting it together, what are the benefits? Well first off, you know the parts fit. You know that it all works and after unmasking you are going to have a nice fun time bolting on all the chrome and trim. Half the work is already done, you are home free. You will have some tape lines, it may not be the ultimate show car, but it still can be darn nice.

One thing to do when painting the jambs first and the body complete is to be sure that all the body work and priming is done before you do the jambs. There is nothing that will send the quality of your work going down the drain faster than painting the jambs and then having to apply primer on the panels and mess build up more of a line, get overspray on the jambs, etc. Do all the blocking, all the priming, all the panel and trim fitting before you paint the jambs.

When painting the jambs, mask off the surrounding outer panel. Don’t let the overspray fall out onto the panel thinking you are going to be sanding it anyway, what is the harm? There are a number of reasons why you don’t want to do this. First, you want the body do have a uniform substrate color. Second, it will take a lot of sanding to feather this out and you can damage the blocking you did to get the body straight. Third, if you don’t feather it out completely you have a very thin film there at the edge of the overspray where solvents when you paint the outside can get under and lift it. To avoid a lot of problems, just don’t let the overspray out onto the outside. Mask it right up almost to the corner of the outer panel, leave about a sixteenth inch of primer around the corner into the jamb.

After painting and assembling the panels back on the car, when you are sanding the car for paint, pay close attention to those edges of the paint in the jambs at the primer on the outside. For detailed tips on this read the “Basics of Basics” on taping jambs. Basically, you want to carefully sand those edges away. Mask the jambs off by back taping to allow the paint to fall over the edge onto the painted jamb about an eighth inch or so. That means that only about a sixteenth inch or so of the paint in the jamb is exposed when masked. That little edge can be sanded and buffed out leaving an almost invisible seam.

To the guy who wants to make his car as flawless as humanly possible and paints his car apart to the guy who paints it together and gets out on the road with a smile on his face driving it, you have my respect. It is your car after all, make the decision with as much information you can get on the subject. Don’t take it lightly, it is an important decision to make on the restoration of your car.

And last but most certainly least, One VERY important thing is that ALL the parts have the exact same primer color. Even colors that cover well are going to have a hard time over multiple color primered parts. You WILL have different colors when finished. Be sure everthing, including substrate color along with pressure, solvent, distance, etc.

So either have the every single part primed in the same color, ready to paint. Or, seal the every single part in the same sealer before printing. But you must have all parts the same color prior to painting. Even when applying many coats, it would blow you away how much the substrate color (the color you are painting on top of) can change the final color. You don’t want to “ask the paint to do to much”. If you have all the panels the same color prior to painting, you have a MUCH better change that all the panels will be the same color when you are through.

"Basics of Basics" Trial fitting parts
By Brian Martin

There are few procedures that give you more ‘Bang for your buck” than trial fitting parts. Sounds simple, just common sense. However, it is something that comes with very hard learned lessons. Even after doing this work for over twenty five years, I still forget once and a while. When I do, there is a good chance I will pay for it dearly.

Like the fabricators motto “If you don’t have a pile of rejects in the trash, you aren’t doing good work”, the time spent on trial fitting is VERY good time spent.

This trial fitting should include nearly every single part of the car.

When installing a weld on part such as a quarter, trial fitting ALL the adjacent panels is not just something you “should” do, you MUST do it. The decklid, door, rear bumper, window mouldings, etc, should ALL installed and fit well BEFORE your welding is done. At this time a little minor tuning can turn an “OK” job into an outstanding one. You may even find the need to serious adjustment.

Trial fitting is not holding the part up and saying “yep it fits”. We are talking FULLY bolting the part on. If this is a moving part such as a door or deck lid, the latch should be installed, hinges FULLY bolted on and adjusted. The rubber seals and bumpers should be installed as well. On an older car this is not so easy because many are glued in, but SOMETHING has to be done to insure the part will fit properly when the rubber is installed later.

If you can’t install the rubber at that time at least spend some time looking at where the rubber fits to for a proper gap. For instance, while fitting a decklid to your new quarter (or the other way around, it makes no difference) get in the trunk and close the lid. Inspect around the channel where the rubber fits. Be sure it is a uniform distance ALL the way around. You can usually find the correct distance right where the hinges are. If the panel fits correctly on the outside then that gap for the rubber is usually going to be correct. If you feel for some reason that there is damage to that area, you need to spend some time there. If you feel the car has been hit on the side piller post (if you were fitting the door) you really need insure that the door fits properly and that you KNOW what that rubber gap should be. This gap is usually a uniform distance all the way around, be sure of it. When you are doing a door, you always have the other side to check to guidance remember. When installing a quarter, rear panel, upper panel, this is very critical. You don’t want to find out later that your gap is too small, the lid won’t close properly or sticks up. You don’t want to find out the gap is too large, the rubber may not seal and the trunk leaks water. A little minor shifting of parts prior to welding could take care of it.
You want ALL gaps perfect PRIOR to welding (a little tack here or there may be needed for fitting the parts) there is NOTHING that will tell you this other than FULLY mounting the adjacent parts.

Mouldings:
When doing any plastic filler work (“bondo”) or straightening metal you need to trail fit the mouldings, trim and adjacent parts as well. This is VERY important with parts like fender extensions. I don’t care if they are new/used or the even the same ones you took off the car, AWAYS trial fit them. Don’t leave you new repro parts in the package to install them after paint, you WILL be sorry.

Prior to paint or even primer you can “tweek” these mouldings against the body. After paint, it is much harder because you can scratch it. If there is plastic filler work or metal being straightened this is VERY important. After you have drilled holes for mouldings (Basics of Basics-Templates) bolt the mouldings on for fit.

The cars weight should be on the “wheels” when making these panel adjustments. NEVER fit panels while the car is on jack stands on the frame or on a rotisserie for something like that. You can have the car on jack stands but be sure they are under the rear axle and front control arms to “replicate” the forces of the car on it’s wheels. I don’t even like the under the control arms at all, I put the car on it’s front wheels. The weight transfer is not the same in the middle of the control arms as it is at the point where the tire hits the ground.

I can not stress this enough, trial fitting parts is not because you are a newbe or something. Every experienced body man does it everyday to some degree. Trial fitting is done throughout the entire repair of the car. Nothing could be worse than getting your car back from the painter only to find parts don’t fit!
Just yesterday I was working on 2002 Honda CR-V with a little dent on the quarter right at the edge by the rear gate. I had finished the plastic filler work and was ready to send it to the paint department. I went ahead and installed the new decklid just to be sure it was right, even though this was a very minor repair that should easily be fine. I found out I was a little on the filler work. Now, it wasn’t the end of the world and could have even stayed that way. But with literally only a few minutes, it was perfect. On a very large job lately I found the need to pull the car back up on the frame rack for a little minor repair to where the rubber fits or the door would have been MUCH too tight. Just this little fine tuning made a world of difference to how the door fit.

The moral of the story is don’t ever “assume” your parts are going to fit. I don’t give a darn if they are new, repro, NOS, original, it really doesn’t matter, they MUST be trial fit.

The final assembly of your car should be fun, and relaxing. It is the best part of the whole project. Don’t make it a nightmare, don’t let someone rush you during the earlier phases of the project. Right from the very beginning you are laying the foundation for the finished project. Take the time to do it right.
If you trial fit the parts properly you will never know the pain you saved yourself, but believe me, it was time very well spent.
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“Basics of Basics” Body panel alignment
By Brian Martin


Nothing adds to “detail” on a car more than nice fitting panels. If the car is a light color it is even more important. Those “black lines” that are the gaps between panels really look bad if they are not a consistent width. While using this guide and aligning your panels be sure that you open and close the moving ones very carefully after a change. You can loose the gap fast which will allow the panels to hit, so be careful.

I have to start with this very important point. ALWAYS have the car sitting on it’s wheels or at the very least the weight of the car should be on the axles. That being if you want it on jack stands to raise the car up and give you more access to the bolts and such, place the stands under the control arms as and rear axle. They should be out as far as possible towards the wheels. This can still cause problems on the front. Even in a little from where the tire actually holds the car up can change the amount of pressure being exerted on the car’s body. A car can be twisted or bent more than you can imagine up on jack stands when the stands are set on the frame allowing the weight to hang off the ends. This is VERY, VERY important. Of course this goes for anytime a panel is being fit, either welded or bolted on.


Hood alignment: Let’s start with raising and lowering the rear of the hood. If the car you are working on has a hinge that sits on top of the cowl, your only options are to shim or bend the hinge. Bending the hinge slightly is one way to move it. If you need to come up in the rear you can put a small block of wood or other item on the hinge, to bend it. When you close the hood down (NOT ALL THE WAY) it will get in the way of the hood closing and bend the rear or the hinge up. If you need to bend it down, the only option may be to remove it and bend it a little. You can also shim the bolts between the hood and the hinge, more on this later.
If you have a hood where the hinge mounts on the side of the fender or the side of the cowl like with an older car or truck, you want to "rotate" the hinge on the fender. Just pushing the hinge up and down will give you very little movement on the top of the hood.
This is the strange little trick that you have to remember, if you raise the back of the hood on the hinge or raise the back of the hinge on the fender the hood will go up. If you raise the "front" of the back of the hood ON THE HINGE or the hinge to the fender it will go down. What you have to remember is you are working with a pivot point in the hinge, not a stationary part.
If you loosen the FRONT bolt on the hood (where it bolts to the hinge) and put a shim, or washer between the hood and hinge, this will LOWER the hood on that side. If you put that same washer under the rear bolt it will RAISE the rear of the hood on that side.
So, if you loosen the bolts from the hinge to fender and close the hood, the hinge will rotate on down in the front right? This will raise the REAR of the hood like putting a shim in the back bolt between the hinge and hood!
What you need to do to lower the back the hood is to loosen the bolts (only slightly) and PUSH UP on the front of the hood. This rotates the hinges back, thus raising the front of the hinge and lowering the hood in the back.
If the hinges are warn out it won’t change how high the hood sits when the wear, not by more than a fraction of an inch. And I have never seen a car with these style hinges that you couldn't put the hood a half inch LOWER than the fenders if you wanted to. The adjustment is HUGE on these cars. That is one of the things that is easy to do on them is align panels.
I recommend you remove the striker or latch from the hood so that you can move it up and down without worrying about the latch grabbing the hood. After you have aligned the hood, take a piece of dumb-dumb or clay or something similar and put it on the latch. This way you can see exactly where it hits when you do install the latch. You bring the hood down till you just tap this dumb-dumb but DON'T LATCH IT. Just so the hood makes an indentation in the clay/dumb-dumb. This tells you where you have to move the latch.
I do this at work everyday, by myself so if you can't get help this is the trick. Always leave one bolt on the hinge tight. If you want to rotate it back, leave the front bolt tight. If you want to rotate it forward, leave the rear bolt tight. When you move the hood forward or back on the hinge, leave the bolts snug enough that you have to tap on the edge of the hood to get it to move. Or if it needs to go back, leave the bolts a little snug, and wiggle the hood up and down and the weight of the hood will make it slide down. Remember it only needs a 1/16" or so to make a 3/16" or more change at the front. To pull the hood forward on the hinge loosen them so they are still a little snug so you have to pull up on the back of the hood to make it slide that little bit. If you loosen it up so it moves anywhere you want it, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH YOU MOVED IT AND YOU WILL MOVE IT TOO MUCH, GUARANTEED.
Get the hood laying flat first, then move the hood forward or back on each side to make the hood fit the hole between the fenders. If the gap is large on the front right and small on the front left, then the hood needs to me moved back on the right side. As you move the hood back on a side it will close up the gap in the front of that side and open it at the rear of that side.
You may need to move fenders too. Just do each change slowly, move it VERY LITTLE. Look at the bolt and washer as you move the panel, you will see where the washer used to be, the amount is much easier to control if you watch the washer movement.
If you need to move the hood up or down at the front, you have a few ways to do it. First, on each side there are the “bumpers”. The hood bumpers are located at each front corner and look like a bolt with a rubber pad on top. Just unlock the jam nut and raise or lower the “bolt” so it holds the hood at the height you need to match the fender. You may find that the hood won’t go low enough even with the bumper down far enough. The latch may not be down far enough. When you close the hood, you shouldn’t be able to pull up on the hood or push it down. The latch should be tight enough to hold it against the bumpers tight, but not too tight. If you have to apply too much force to open the hood or it opens with a loud POP, the latch is probably too tight. If it is at the right height but you can lift it up some, then the latch needs to be moved down.

Doors: If the doors are off the car, bolt the hinges to the door and the cowl in the middle of the movement allowed. Let’s face it, it “shouldn’t” be too far off the center of holes. If the doors are on or if after putting them on things are way out of whack, raise the door up on the hinges as far as it will go while still staying about the right height. You always want to start high, it is much easier to come down than go up. Besides this is the ONLY time you will loosen all the bolts on the door. I don’t mean ALL the bolts, leave the hinge to cowl (or center post on a four door) tight. Only loosen the door to hinge bolts. Unless it is WAY down then you may need to move the hinges up too. But do one at a time, both door to hinge or both hinge to cowl/center post.

While moving the hinges aligning the door NEVER loosen all the bolts on the hinge, NEVER. Loosen all but one, just till it is still a little looser than “snug”. Leave that last on just a little snug. Let’s say the door fits well but is a little too far rearward. NEVER loosen top and bottom hinges and move it forward. Loosen the top hinge to cowl/center post as described above and lift the rear of the door, a LITTLE. This will push the upper hinge forward. Now TIGHTEN that one bolt that was left snug. Do the same on the lower hinge, pushing down, but remember the weight of the door is helping, so little push is needed. Many times no pushing at all, just the weight of the door will do.

If the door fits well but is out at the top or the bottom, again, loosen ONE hinge to DOOR in the manner described and push it out or in. If it is out or in at the top rear for instance, move the bottom front in the opposite direction. This will pivot the door on the striker, and move the rear top where you want. Moving the bottom rear takes moving the top front of course.

You may need to twist the door. If the front fits well and rear is out at the top (or bottom, just reverse) you can put a block of wood at the rear of the door at the top lets say and push in on the bottom to twist the door. Some will take a LOT of force to bend, and be VERY careful not to let your fingers hang around the outside of the door edge!! I lost a finger nail doing this on a ’69 Shelby GT500 convertible once (remember it well) when the block of wood fell out with all my weight on the door while twisting!!

Tip: If you are hanging the door and you have access to the hinges (either through the wheel well with the skirt off or if the fender it’s self is off) you can simply hold the door up to the opening and push the latch shut. Then put the bolts in the hinge. I can often install doors all by my self in this way.

Deck lid: The trunk lid is pretty much like the hood but the hinges don’t move at all on the body (usually). So shimming and twisting are a few of your only options beyond the movement in the slotted holes on the hinge. Bending the hinge or pushing up or down on the sides of the quarters, front or rear panel are the others. These should be done ONLY after all other things are tried.
Fenders: Most of the tips for doors and the hood work here, with a little twist or two. Start with fitting the rear top of the fender. I like to put all the bolts in, loose. Not falling out loose, just so the fender would easily move. Close the door, and with the hood open adjust the gap at the top of the rear of the fender to door. After you tighten other bolts this cannot be modified so, do it first. Tighten the bolt under the hood closest to the door to secure the position. You may need to shim a bolt at the rear of the fender to the cowl, to move the fender forward or back. After you have that bolt tight and the gap is to your liking open the door and tighten the rear fender bolt that is at the top of the fender in the door jamb. Now do the bottom bolt, with the door closed, adjust your gap. You may need to wedge a flat blade screwdriver or body spoon to “force” the fender forward to get the desired gap. Or just the opposite, use a 2x4 or something similar off the front tire to force the fender back to get the gap. This is one of the hard spots to get nice because you have to get both the gap and the in and out of the fender to door at the same time with the same bolt. Some cars have two bolts that are far enough apart to get the gap and tighten the front bolt and then pull the fender in or out and tighten the rear bolt to get the flush fit of the panels.

General tips: Bending a panel or adjacent panel is sometimes required. You can get this done in a number of ways, one is to use a block of wood. Let’s say that along the edge of the hood there is a spot that is high. Well you can’t adjust it down, the front and the rear are perfect. So you can lay a block of wood on the spot, right at the edge where it is strong. Using a big hammer (the bigger the better, trying to make a small hammer do the job can cause a lot of damage) hold the block and strike it nice and solid. Then check the results, you may need many strikes to do it. In doing this you may want to support the hood at the front with a block of wood under the hood. This way the hood is up off the fender and it will bend easier because of the solid rest it has. You can also put the block under the edge of the hood at a low spot and with steady pressure bend it down at a point if you need it.

If you are working with very tight tolerances, you can actually grind the edge of a panel or jamb to get an extra fraction of an inch. Be VERY careful and using a fine disk like 80 or 120 take a LITTLE off. You don’t want to grind the metal thin of course but a LITTLE can make a big difference when you are fighting for fractions. Now, you really won’t be cutting too much metal, you are really just cleaning off ALL the primer and paint there. Then when you prime it, don’t put a lot or sand it thin so there will be very little on the edge.

You may want to paint the hinge with a little contrasting paint. Do it with the hinge bolted on, right over the bolts. This way you can see easier how much you have moved it.

These directions are for doors where the hinge bolts flat to the side of the cowl and then flat to the front of the door. There are of course many ways the hinges can be mounted on cars. If yours are different than you need to use the “concepts” that I have described here. If for instance you have a 1950 Chevy pickup. The hinge bolts flat to the back of the cowl but will work the same way. The door hinge bolts flat to the side of the door. In this case you do just the opposite as I earlier described. You would loosen the hinge to cowl bolts to move the door in and out and the hinge to door bolts to move it back or forward. If you find that your car has a design that hasn’t been addressed, take a good hard look at your hinge arrangement. If the door is open, close it enough while you can still see the hinges and imagine what direction will it go if you loosen a particular set of bolts. Get an idea of how you can move it, then start the alignment process.
These are just ideas that I have used over the years and some may work for you some won’t, but it is a start. Above all, have fun!
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

the whole front end of the 58 hangs off the core support
order of assembly: cab, doors, core support, inner fenders, fenders, grill support (for lack of better word) and hood latch filler
the inner fenders bolt to the core support and everything else bolts to the inner fenders
in the pic you can see the row of bolts where the grill support bolts to the inner fenders
the fender bolts under the inner fender and 2 bolts to the cowl and lower cab corner
last you slide the grill support in and it locks everything together

one thing i will say about gaps... yes you need them
i see guys gap their doors like a new truck and all i can say is these trucks move a lot
if you get your gaps too tight, keep a gallon of touch up paint handy, you'll need it
all of it

core support in. on final assembly i stopped here, wired 50% of truk, got it running and moving
the ac installed, interior started, steering column and linkage



inner fenders on. you can also install the hood hinges at this time
unlike previous years the hinges bolt to the cowl and inner fender, then the hinge spring hooks on the inner fender



fenders. you really can't fit the fenders without the fender to cab weather strip in there
look close and you'll see my doors and roof are not painted, neither was the back of cab
the interior and cowl are painted



grill support, inner grill or what ever they call this piece...



and then hood latch filler and the hood
and few misc pieces

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Old 07-07-2015, 11:33 AM   #6
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Good information and advice here. Ogre, love your reference to gaps!

Brian, i enjoyed the information you shared above and learned several good ideas too. Perhaps you could write a book on the subject?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:13 PM   #7
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

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Brian, i enjoyed the information you shared above and learned several good ideas too. Perhaps you could write a book on the subject?
He basically has, unless it has changed I think Team Camaro has all of his articles in one of the tech sections. I looked and they appear to be in the body shop tech section. Use the search feature for "Basics Of Basics" and they show up.
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:16 PM   #8
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Thanks to all, great information. I never really feel like I'm doing this stuff by myself with all this help!
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:19 PM   #9
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

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Originally Posted by OrrieG View Post
He basically has, unless it has changed I think Team Camaro has all of his articles in one of the tech sections. I looked and they appear to be in the body shop tech section. Use the search feature for "Basics Of Basics" and they show up.
Thanks OrrieG!
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:41 PM   #10
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Yeah, no books for me, but the stuff is at a few other sites, autobodystore.com http://www.autobodystore.com/martinsr.shtml

and autobody101 too. http://www.autobody101.com/content/a...ics-of-basics/

As well as Team Camaro. http://www.camaros.net/forums/showthread.php?t=74560

There are a mixture where one site may have one that another doesn't.

It's not all carved in stone, so there is room for info with all of it. But I write about what has worked for me.

And thanks for the kind words!

Brian
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Old 07-07-2015, 04:10 PM   #11
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

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Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
Yeah, no books for me, but the stuff is at a few other sites, autobodystore.com http://www.autobodystore.com/martinsr.shtml

and autobody101 too. http://www.autobody101.com/content/a...ics-of-basics/

As well as Team Camaro. http://www.camaros.net/forums/showthread.php?t=74560

There are a mixture where one site may have one that another doesn't.

It's not all carved in stone, so there is room for info with all of it. But I write about what has worked for me.

And thanks for the kind words!

Brian
I agree with rrenner, with the knowledge and help on this site we aren't completely alone.

Brian, thanks for sharing the links. I've book marked them and look forward to some great reading and good learning. I've been in the automotive business for over 30 years and it has all been on the mechanical / electrical part of the business. Have had lot's of good training and mentors in this area. What I am lacking (my own fault, we each choose how to spend time) is practical experience and knowledge in the body area. So your articles will really help me.

Not only are you sharing your years of experience, you have taken the time to write it down for the benefit of others. Really appreciate that!
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Old 07-07-2015, 06:26 PM   #12
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Back when I first got on the net and started writing my "Basics of Basics" I thought of a book and making money, sure as hell I did. I went as far as contacting some publishers and soon found that it was much harder work to get them to understand that most books don't "put the tool in your hand" like I tried to do. They were more about "suggestions" that we have all seen over and over. I quickly came to the realization that I will keep writing them and posting them so the newbes and guys out in the garages can get something out of them. It has been amazing seeing how many times they get copied and pasted, that really blows me away when I google one and find it on forums I have never even been on.

That was my goal, to get some guys out there who never could have pulled something off doing it! Forget money, seeing that is awesome! WHOOO HOOOO! That is the cool part!

Brian
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Old 07-11-2015, 12:26 AM   #13
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

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Looking for tips on reassembly. Cab is back on, engine in and running, I guess I'm ready to start test fitting and then paint. Thought I'd reinstall, get the gaps correct then take apart to paint. Is there any best order? Doors, fenders, hood? Any tips on doing this alone? Hood seems like would be the hardest. Thanks for any advise..
I detailed how I did it in my build thread. You will have to hunt some but the gap process started about post #772.
I not only did a lot of work to get the gaps right but also took a lot of time aligning the panel levels.
If you go to near the end of my thread, you will see that I got my doors and fenders installed permanently and it's turning out real nice. I don't expect I'll have any trouble getting the hood back on exactly the way it was as well. I should be painting that within the next few days.
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:01 AM   #14
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

Thanks guys! This thread will be invaluable. Bookmarked for future reference.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:53 PM   #15
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

i am putting the front end on my 50 and have fender supports but not sure how they bolt on since its been a long time since i took this apart.
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:33 AM   #16
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

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i am putting the front end on my 50 and have fender supports but not sure how they bolt on since its been a long time since i took this apart.
The hardest part is telling the right one from the left one! Once you figure that out, there's only one way they can fit. Make sure you bolt the outer end INSIDE the fender lip, not outside like I did at first.
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Old 10-09-2018, 10:17 AM   #17
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Re: Sheet metal install and gap adjustment

also, replace the cab and rad support mounts before moving on.
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