Owning a 60’s muscle car or a common antique car like a Ford Model A is great if you’re doing a restoration. You just go to your favorite replacement sheet metal retailer and pick out the panels. The next steps are pretty straight forward; cut out the old pans and weld the new ones in. Simple and satisfying job right? Well that simple job is thrown out the window if you’re building a custom car or in Mark R.’s case, an oddball car where replacement panels aren’t available.
Mark recently decided to take on a resto-mod oddball in a Chevy Corvair. This neglected Chevy bastard-child was rescued from a local scrap yard and had seen some questionable repairs and better days. His first step in the rebuild of the car was getting the structure of the car rebuilt and solid before he started customizing the car. The first area of concern was the floor; or lack of it. Since the floor was about 80% gone when he got to it there wasn’t much to pattern off of the originals. We decided to shoot some photos along the way of how Mark pieced together a new custom floor that should be able to almost pass for OEM when done. Follow along below.
Above is what Mark was starting with after pulling the stinky old mats and seats out of the car and media blasting the floors. The pans themselves were almost all gone and after further inspection, so was some of the floor bracing. Mark started by cutting out the remainder of the original floor sheet metal, leaving the bones of the braces still in place. At the very least the braces would give him reference points of where the pans would lay in the car for making his custom floor templates.
No fancy tools or supplies here, just your run of the mill manila folders cut to shape and size to fit each side of the front floor pan and kick panels.
Once the main floor pan section was built and the floor shape was established Mark decided to make a template for the center section of the floor. Since Corvairs are rear engine and rear wheel drive there didn’t need to be much of a tunnel made to accommodate the drive line parts. Above you can also see a cool little trick where you can use the Eastwood Stitch Weld Magnets to hold the paper template in place so you can continue to build around the existing templates. These magnets are strong enough to pull through the paper and stick to the surrounding metal; making template layout a breeze.
Next Mark started on the first floor pan section. He used the electric shears to cut the panel to size and offset dies on the bead roller to get the overall shape and design built into the panel. He then needed to form the floor pan into a curve to fit up into the kick panel area of the floors. He put the rubber forming band on the English wheel so he could form the front part of the panel in only one direction (versus no rubber band and forming the panel in all directions). Mark did this in steps using moderate pressure in the English wheel. The result is a near exact match to his template.
With the main sections of the floor cut and formed the braces under the floors needed to be addressed. They were barely holding in place and their structure was long gone because of the heavy corrosion found on them. In the first photo you can see how rough they were! Mark made up a paper pattern and using the tipping wheel on the bead roller to bend the shape into the brace. He then added a flared hole with the punch flare die to further strengthen the braces. Mark then spot welded these back into the substructure of the car before fitting the floor pans back in place with clecos and the stitch weld magnets.
As cool as it is to say you made a part all in one piece, sometimes it’s more time effective AND easier to break a part up into multiple parts and weld and blend it all together. The center “hump” of the front floor pan was quite complex, so Mark decided to break it up into sections and build it in the car. He started by transferring the bead rolled design into the metal on the back flat section of the panel.
He then used the shrinker to form the outer edge of the panel so he only had a fairly flat center section that needed to be filled in. To keep everything in place he added a temporary sheet metal hoop that connected the center and outer edges and kept them correctly oriented while he fit the center side panel and welded it all in place.
With the center hump welded up and all the seams blended, he used the new prototype Eastwood weld-flange tipping pliers to put a slight valley in the edge of each panel so he could lay the weld puddles in the valleys. This allows for a clean blend of panels and less weld loss from grinding. With the edges tipped Mark fit it all back together with the clecos and stitch weld magnets. He then slowly worked around the pans stitch welding the butted panels in place and blending the seams with a grinder.
Once everything was welded in place Mark hit the entire area with Self Etching Primer to seal up the bare metal. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as rust and damage goes on the car, but now he can move forward knowing the structural rigidity of the car is repaired and as good as new. Stay tuned for a full video on the process and more on the car as Mark tackles each step.