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Old 12-09-2011, 02:44 PM   #1
theastronaut
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How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Uneven panel gaps drive me crazy, so I found a way to fix them. You'll need 1/8" steel welding rods, welder's magnets, a grinder, a welder, and a DA sander. A long, flexible straight edge will be helpful also.

Once you have the door or panel adjusted so that the body lines are lined up and the panel is flush with the surrounding panels, take a look at the gaps and figure out how big of a gap you want between the panels. You can get carried away with this, make a feeler gauge to check and make every gap dead even, or you can just even out the worst areas.

Here's what I'm starting with. On this truck, I'll just be straightening out the worst areas as the owner doesn't want a full on show truck. The gap under the body line is a good bit larger than it is around the rest of the door.







To start, bend the 1/8" welding rod to the shape of the door/panel edge and use magnets to hold the rod flush with the edge of the panel. Tack weld around the magnets to hold the rod in place. You can fine tune the shape of the rod to the edge of the door before you fully weld the rod on.







Once the rod is tacked in placs you can fully weld it on. I like to do one spot weld at a time, skipping around to limit heat build up until all of the gaps are filled in.









After fully welding the seam, grind the welds down flush with the door skin. I like to use a 4.5" grinder to knock down the biggest part of the weld bead, then switch to a 2" air grinder to finish off the weld.










There will be smaller uneven spots that won't need 1/8" rod. Just weld up the edge enough to close the gap.








Some areas will have a gap that is too small. For this you can't just grind the edge down because the edge will split. Grind it, then you'll have to weld the edge after grinding it down, and then grind the welds down to even out the gap again. Once you have the gaps even, take your DA sander and round over the edges of the areas you reworked so the edge will be rounded and smooth. Try to match the radius of the original edges the best you can.










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Old 12-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #2
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

thats some nice work man. i just started doing this to my tailgate on my 86 cause it didnt fit for s***. good layed out guide for others to learn. thats the name of this game
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Here's what one looks like when all the gaps match. I made a feeler gauge to check and adjust the gaps until they matched on every panel.














Last edited by theastronaut; 01-18-2013 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Fix dead pic links
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:09 PM   #4
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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thats some nice work man. i just started doing this to my tailgate on my 86 cause it didnt fit for s***. good layed out guide for others to learn. thats the name of this game
Thanks man, thats what the forums are for.
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:20 PM   #5
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

That blue one looks sexy. That's one of my pet peeves spend all that time on paint and body but don't fix the gaps. Money down the drain
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:16 PM   #6
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Nice work! Can you use that same technique on the body itself? I have an unusual twist on my driver door side...and I need to close the big gap it shows but I was thinking of welding rods on the body.
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:37 PM   #7
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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Nice work! Can you use that same technique on the body itself? I have an unusual twist on my driver door side...and I need to close the big gap it shows but I was thinking of welding rods on the body.
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It works better on the edge of a panel since you can't tell it once its painted. I guess you could weld a rod to the door jamb but you'd have a strange lump in the door jamb.
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Old 12-10-2011, 01:43 AM   #8
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

theastronaut, what color is that?
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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theastronaut, what color is that?
It was suppose to be the original 64-66 light blue but its a little darker. I think I've still got the paint code at the shop, I'll try to find it.
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:11 AM   #10
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Thanks for posting these pictures and explaining how to do it! Stuff like this is what makes this site the BEST
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:44 AM   #11
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Nice!
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:10 AM   #12
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

we have been doing that for 30 plus years. good post however for people that have never seen it. I don't like doing it. some guys slit the panel and shift it over. whatever works sometimes you have to make it work
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Old 12-10-2011, 12:40 PM   #13
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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we have been doing that for 30 plus years. good post however for people that have never seen it. I don't like doing it. some guys slit the panel and shift it over. whatever works sometimes you have to make it work
Can u explain how that is done? I've seen the welding rods but I dont think I seen this method...
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Old 12-10-2011, 03:51 PM   #14
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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Can u explain how that is done? I've seen the welding rods but I dont think I seen this method...
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You make a slice with a cutoff disc on the jamb side, then pry it over where you want it with a screwdriver and then weld up the slice you just made.
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:55 PM   #15
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Thanks for taking the time to teach us how to do it right! I am just about to start working on my doors and this is going to help me big time.

Thanks Ray

ps the blue truck is perfect!
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Old 12-10-2011, 05:35 PM   #16
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

i see...

not trying to jack the thread but i figure i would post in here since its related...

the jamb on my driver side looks twisted...it was hit on that side before i bought the truck. i replaced it with new metal but the jamb was still twisted at the top and bottom. could i weld rods to the actual jamb, or should it be split open and pushed over? I know its a little hard to see in the pics....i dont have a digital camera




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Old 12-10-2011, 08:48 PM   #17
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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Originally Posted by Indian113 View Post
Thanks for posting these pictures and explaining how to do it! Stuff like this is what makes this site the BEST
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Originally Posted by El Campo View Post
Nice!
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Thanks dudes!



Quote:
Originally Posted by mbgmike View Post
we have been doing that for 30 plus years. good post however for people that have never seen it. I don't like doing it. some guys slit the panel and shift it over. whatever works sometimes you have to make it work
Quote:
Originally Posted by kev2809 View Post
Can u explain how that is done? I've seen the welding rods but I dont think I seen this method...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueJeep View Post
You make a slice with a cutoff disc on the jamb side, then pry it over where you want it with a screwdriver and then weld up the slice you just made.
I've used that technique also, and it works better than grinding into the edge of the door since you avoid the edge splitting. The bodywork on the cab is finished though so I didn't want to cut back into it. I normally would do the metalwork on the cab and doors at the same time but it wasn't possible on this job due to trouble finding suitible hinge pins and getting them replaced in time to get the doors on and adjusted while we were doing the metalwork on the cab.



Quote:
Originally Posted by lowdownstar View Post
Thanks for taking the time to teach us how to do it right! I am just about to start working on my doors and this is going to help me big time.

Thanks Ray

ps the blue truck is perfect!
Glad to be a help!




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Originally Posted by kev2809 View Post
i see...

not trying to jack the thread but i figure i would post in here since its related...

the jamb on my driver side looks twisted...it was hit on that side before i bought the truck. i replaced it with new metal but the jamb was still twisted at the top and bottom. could i weld rods to the actual jamb, or should it be split open and pushed over? I know its a little hard to see in the pics....i dont have a digital camera.
I think I can see where the jamb is twisted at the top, and it looks like the seam in the drip rail may be pulled apart some? That's going to be a tough repair if you want to keep all of the bodylines/gaps parallel with each other. Its hard to get a good frame of reference with just the pics you posted though. Something is out of place, either the door post or the front door/window frame but it's hard to tell which is out of place. The back of the post is parallel with the back door window post. The front top of the post looks twisted but the front edge still looks parallel with the rear door post. The top gap of the front door looks good though, so maybe the window frame isn't square? How does the front door gap look below the window frame? Start a thread with more pics and we'll help you out the best we can!
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:12 AM   #18
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

astronaut - what great work ! gaps are so very even - i am sure that took alot of time
great lookin truck also - kudos man !
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:46 AM   #19
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Once again,,,,very nice work,,,,thanks for the thread.
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:04 PM   #20
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Will do...thanks for the nice write up!
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:05 AM   #21
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

Very good work and great idea.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:19 AM   #22
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

I Just finished replacing LH cab corner, RH cab corner, rocker, outer floor patch, A and B pillar patches. When I started all this my passenger side door gap didn't look that bad. But once all the work was done it looked off. The gap between the B pillar and the door is wider than anywhere else on the truck. I never heard of the split and pry method until tonight. My problem is the guy at the paint store told me a little -evercoat rage gold- in the door jamb is fine as long as its not thicker than 1/4". So I went for it. I built it up 1/8 to 3/16. Now its in primer. What are the odds the paint will crack there? Should i go back and do it over?

P.S. the rod welded to the door method won't work for me. The door looks perfectly straight. The gap between the bottom of the drip rail and the bottom of the door is whats off. From the bottom of the rail up is good. below tapers out towards the bottom.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:00 AM   #23
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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I Just finished replacing LH cab corner, RH cab corner, rocker, outer floor patch, A and B pillar patches. When I started all this my passenger side door gap didn't look that bad. But once all the work was done it looked off. The gap between the B pillar and the door is wider than anywhere else on the truck. I never heard of the split and pry method until tonight. My problem is the guy at the paint store told me a little -evercoat rage gold- in the door jamb is fine as long as its not thicker than 1/4". So I went for it. I built it up 1/8 to 3/16. Now its in primer. What are the odds the paint will crack there? Should i go back and do it over?

P.S. the rod welded to the door method won't work for me. The door looks perfectly straight. The gap between the bottom of the drip rail and the bottom of the door is whats off. From the bottom of the rail up is good. below tapers out towards the bottom.
You should post a pic of it.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:28 PM   #24
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

If only I had read that 4 weeks ago...
I'll sleep better knowing that this was an "approved" fix method!

An aluminum (or non-ferrous metal) backer plate under the edge weld helps to keep it from blowing or falling off when welding.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:03 PM   #25
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Re: How To Fix Uneven Panel Gaps

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These are the only 2 pictures I took that really show where the bondo went. I sanded 90% of the stuff off then primed. The thickest spot is around the bottom rear corner of the door jamb. about 1/4" across once sanded. from there to the start of the drip rail it feathers down to zero filler.
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