Prepping Trunk Sheet Metal

I’ve been bad this last week in updating the site with posts about what we’ve been working on. I’ve been uploading photos each day we’ve worked, but actually posting about it has been slow to happen. Because we’ve not got a lot of the parts we need to start really building the car, we’ve been focusing on positioning and drilling all the sheet metal. Nothing has been permanently installed yet, but when it comes time to it’ll be much faster.

We’ve mostly finished the trunk. Read this entire post to see details of that work.

Day 1

We’ve spent two work days (probably about ten hours total) working on the trunk sheet metal. At first the progress was slow — its been a few years since I did any real sheet metal work, and Jen had no experience. Last Sunday we were making substantially faster progress

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The first step was sitting down and planning what to do next.

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The first step was to mark all the seams of the sheet metal that was already installed on the car. Click into the photo gallery “Sheet Metal Prep – Day 1” for those photos… they’re not marked but in a pinch someone who took it off without marking may find them useful. It turned out that marking the sheet metal also made it a lot easier to keep track of which parts were original on the chassis and which came from FFMetal. In hind sight, we should’ve marked where the panel came from as well.

Much of the foot box sheet metal is being replaced.

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These inside panels on the drivers foot box, plus the floor panel itself are being replaced. All of the passenger foot box sheet metal is being replaced. This will give more foot room for both the driver and the passenger, and allows us to use the FFMetal firewall, which gives a LOT more room behind the dash. I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of these products… they are excellent.

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The first thing I did was crawl around the car tracking where the sheet metal contacts the frame with a Sharpie. Once a panel was marked, we’d remove it and plan out where the rivet holes would go on the panel. For most panels we shot for 2-3″ spacing.

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Once marked, Jen drilled almost all of the rivet holes as I continued marking panels.

We’d use the original sheet metal screw holes where possible to cleco the panels into the car, although a number of them didn’t have pre-existing mounting holes and we drilled the frame for them.

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The side trunk panels went quickly. Jen was getting pretty pumped about getting to do the drilling:

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Day 2

The second day (last Sunday) we were hoping to finish the sheet metal. It turns out that was wildly over optimistic, but we still got a lot done.

The trunk floor was the first thing we tried to get finished. This was a bit complicated by the fact that both panels (upper and lower trunk) involved modifying the existing sheet metal for some modifications we were putting in. In the upper trunk we were installing the FFMetal battery box, and the lower trunk will eventually get the Dark Water Customs trunk storage boxes. The latter hasn’t shown up yet.

The FFMetal battery box installs in IRS cars directly above the IRS pumpkin in the rear of the car. That location has a small 3/4″ square steel brace installed, which I believe is used to support the stock battery box in non IRS cars. Regardless of why it was there, to install the FFMetal box, it had to be removed. Unfortunately there was no card in the digital camera, so the spectacular shower of sparks from the Sawzall and Dremel was missed.

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Once the bar was removed and ground down as best as possible, I temporarily clamped the box into place to check for fit. The box comes largely unriveted so that it can be adjusted to perfectly fit the space, so the first step is to temporarily mount it to the frame. A couple small holes and four clecos and it was mounted.

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The Sawzall had a bit of a mind of its own, and the cross member got nicked a bit. Its not bad, a little paint and no one will ever know. Oops.

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Another trip under the car, and the outlines of the battery box was on the trunk floor. The actual hole needed to come in 1 1/4″ on either side.

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I broke out the jigsaw, having no better option to cut the aluminum, and went to work. Turns out it worked really well but I felt like I was picking bits of aluminum out of my hair the rest of the day.

Once cut out, Jen got to measuring the rivet holes and drilling them while I went and drilled the rivet holes in the FFMetal box. When I was done it was time to bust out the air-riveter.

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Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed the riveter did not have the 1/4 NPT nozzle on it I needed, so it was time to bust out the trusty hand riveter and make a mental note to buy a few spare nozzles. (Actually I’m quite sure I’ve got a few, so it really should be a mental note to better organize the garage.)

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Its important to wear safety goggles, as not to rivet ones eye.

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Some lessons showing Jen how to use the rivet gun.

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She got into riveting as well, and finished up the box.

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Once we had the box riveted up, it was time to put the lower and upper trunk floors into place and drill the holes where the upper floor met the battery box side flanges, as well as along the lip where the upper and lower trunks meet. These had been pre-marked off the car and Jen went to work drilling them while I went to start test fitting the drivers foot box sheet metal.

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The last thing we did that day was to paint the battery box black.