Above are a couple pictures of the used rear section... check out the side view to see exactly how much will be replaced. Oh, see that "250" marking on the new apron? Yes, the price. We pay the price to get a good fitting VW part, don't we. But in the end, it's worth it.
Continuation of step one...
Okay, here's a picture of the new rear section "sitting" in place...again, although this new apron is a little dirty, it's in great shape. I plan to sandblast it before welding it up.
A view from the rear... the fenders seem to be decent quality, and fit almost perfectly. No, they're not "original quality" or NOS, but they'll do just fine. Check out the bottom right tip of the left fender... it sticks out just a bit. It doesn't bother me all that much the way it is, but, I think I can fix it by modifying the fender bolt holes a little. I'll just kind of push it up a little bit as I bolt it on. (The fender is on right now, but the bolts are not tight.) Also in the picture above/right, the left tail light housing is a little "off" - I must have bumped it out of it's holes while walking around the car.
To check out the fit, I bolted everything up. By the way, those rear fenders are new from M&T manufacturing. (The old ones, in my opinion, were not easily repairable. They each had a bad crease and/or cut in them...plus several dents.) I bolted the fenders to the car, and then bolted the apron to the fenders. Again, just to see how everything is going to fit together. After bolting them up, I closed the decklid, and it latched the first time...in other words, the alignment is good.
I had a bunch of pieces sandblasted. That's pretty cool stuff, that sandblasting. Everything turned out so nice and clean. I sandblasted the hood, decklid, all four fenders, new rear clip, decklid hinges, taillight housings, and the license plate light housing. I also removed all the paint and dirt from the edges of the car where the clip will go, so there will be nothing but metal to metal when it's time to weld.
It's a Baja! Yikes! Here's what it looks like right now with nothing bolted up...I used my trusty Makita grinder/cutter for this... that thing will cut through anything!
Getting Started ...
A moment of silence please... let us remember how she was;
and dream of what she will some day be. :)
Whoa! I just got started on the darn thing, and now look at it... let the games begin!
My job was not without mistake... the VW body panels are strong, but are also quite thin... so... burn-through can happen fairly easily. Because of that, I had to learn to "fill in" some small holes here and there. I had success in welding small little "tacks" in strategic places (rather than trying a "continuous bead" - that seems to be the ticket for thin panels like this), followed by filling in the gaps slowly until the weld was continuous. When the initial weld was complete, I used the Makita to grind down the welds so the seems were flat... then did some more welding, then grinding, then welding, then grinding, then sanding, then more sanding, then yet more sanding. I'm sure this job would have only taken a pro a few minutes, but it took me about 7 hours... Oh well. It was a great learning experience, and I was pleased with my results. I think it turned out great! I also got those broken off fender bolts fixed, so the fenders fit nicely all the way around - more on that later.)
Wow, step one is complete! ... on to Step Two - The Front Clip
Below is another shot of the completed rear end. Oh, that's not primer, either... still just the bare metal from sandblasting.
If you look closely, you can see a faint pencil line marking my original line (about 1/8 inch extra), and at the bottom a slight gap. I wanted to be sure to leave a little extra car! You know the old saying, "measure twice and cut once?"
When cutting off part of your car (especially after a few Buds), I suggest this, "measure 6 or 7 times, and then be very careful". Now, I'll just grind it down to a perfect fit (easy work with the air grinder!) and prepare for welding.
In the end, I was quite pleased with my cut. I hit my cut line almost perfectly.
At this point I'm just using cardboard boxes to prop it up, so I can take the first look at it.
Next is a shot of the right rear quarter.
The picture to the right really doesn't tell the whole story about my original apron. That is - it was worse than it looks.
I decided to start on the rear of the car. Nothing scientific about that - it just happened to be backed into my garage, so the first thing I saw every time I went out there was the rear end. As good a place to start as any I say. The rear apron was bent, cracked, and damaged. The left rear bumper bracket was rusted, bent, and partially missing. The right rear bumper bracket was not much better. Originally, I had planned on replacing the apron and left rear bumper bracket only, but after looking at it a little more closely, I knew I had to replace the whole rear "clip" area. That is, both bumper brackets, part of the rear body panels underneath the brackets, and the apron itself.
What comes to mind first? The ease of getting parts? How long will the job take? The cost of the parts? Will aftermarket do in this case? I ended up buying the rear clip from BFY Obsolete parts here in California. It was a used, original part from a similar year, and it was in really good condition. (it better have been - for what they got for it.)
Check out the left and right rear bumper brackets... just try to hang a bumper off of those!
I can't wait to see it welded up, and everything bolted back on the car! The good news is it won't be long. I've got my welder (borrowed from a friend from work), and will get started shortly! Then I can add my first "before and after" pictures of the project. Cool.
OK. Below is the finished product, minus the final bodywork prep before paint.
This was my first attempt at welding. I spent a couple hours messing around and practicing on a spare body panel before attacking the car. I also spent a couple hours before that reading the instruction manual and another book about welding basics.
While removing the rear fenders, I came across a total of 5 broken off fender bolts! 2 on the left and 3 on the right. Yuck. Don't misunderstand, I found them that way. I can at least say that I didn't break any off myself. I was very conscious of this, and didn't just reach under there and crank on them. I heated them all up with a torch, hit them with a hammer, applied a lubricant, heated them up again, smacked them again with the hammer, applied more lubricant, and then, when cool, carefully turned them out.
Now, according to Murphy's law... the fact that I went to all that trouble in the first place means that all that preparation was not necessary, and they would have turned right out - probably with my fingers. Oh well, you never know... maybe I did save myself some agony after all. As for the 5 that are still stuck... I have some ideas, but for now I'll leave them for another day.