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If you check out my restoration thread you ll see all the same large areas I needed to refabricate / replace. It will give you an idea what your really up against. Then you can make a more educated decision...

 

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Matt-
Finding rust is always demoralizing, but not the end of the world. A little can mean the same thing as a lot. If you are worried about the quality of your welding on the outside, consider removing the outer rocker completely. You do all the cleaning /patching on the inner sections. have a sheetmetal shop bend up some replacement outer metal (it's nearly flat with some gentle bends at the bottom) and you cut and fit, tack it and have someone with more experience do the welding on the outer. At least you have enough structure to know what should be there, mine are just...gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #203 ·
Sorry to say this, but you have much more steel work then you think..... What your seeing is only a part of the problem. I know this because I had to go threw it. You ll need to replace multiple layers of steel behind the panels that are rusted
That's my worry, but I don't think it's that bad. I'm hopefully not deluding myself with optimism, but I don't think it's that bad.

It depends on how the rust got there. I've seen what it's like on a bad car, my yellow one that I was not shy about filleting to get to what I needed. That was a Nebraska car that was continuously exposed to moisture both driving and sitting.

Here's a few reasons I think it might not be a disaster:

1 - I've jabbed the screwdriver around and pounded on lots of parts of the car that I was curious about how suspect they were. The only 2 non-fender parts before now that were confirmed bad.... one small hole by the rear sway bar mount, and, two little strips on the inside rockers right before the front-most drain where there was foam holding the moisture against.

2 - I couldn't jab the screwdriver through anywhere other the small section I did. It might only be that Post-It sized strip. The passenger side doesn't show any browning signs of rust coming through.

3 - The panels behind it seems pretty solid. The crumbling and rust does not proceed to the edges of the next seam. Hopefully that means it's confined to one layer, one panel. It looks like the mud caused corrosion to leach outwards only, not inwards yet. Probably because it was not a frequent event of being driven in wet with new water constantly being spun and shaken into the fenders (Arizona car). Plus the desert heat means it didn't sit cold and wet. It got wet, but it wasn't regularly exposed to new wetness. That's my theory anyway.

4 - The rust holes in the rockers are not at the lowest point in the rocker. The amount of powdered dust I shook and airgunned out of the car was huge. Perhaps it formed a protective cushion against moisture. This says to me that an amount of water got in and sat there, but not regularly, and not enough to "mix" with the dust and stir it up (not driven much when wet), not even enough to coagulate it or the bottom would be rusted first. If it didn't even stir up enough to move the water to the bottom, it probably didn't happen often.


I've always known the wheel wells would need some work and never poked at them because I wanted to leave them at least passably cosmetically intact. Originally my plan was to ignore most of it and just drive it for a year or whatever, fix that stuff later. Now I can see, no, I might have caught it early enough to not have to do serious rework, and I don't want to let it get any worse. It has to be repaired before I drive it a season.

There's more work than I hoped, and, if it ends up being more than just the outer skin...

That probably condemns the car for me. That's what I bought a desert car to avoid. Even this amount is borderline for me. This isn't a "have to do it no matter what" project, and the bodywork is not something that's fun for me, and... with my skills... is not going to be a source of pride, it'll be a source of embarrassment if I fix it myself, it's going to be ugly. I know my limits.

Again, I'm sorry for being "that guy"... I was really hoping fir the best, but this video really shows some major rust problems
Nope, it is what it is, no point in pretending otherwise and I always appreciate honesty.

I have a feeling it's not as severe as yours was because of the context of the process by which it got wet. Further exploration will let me know.

If you check out my restoration thread you ll see all the same large areas I needed to refabricate / replace
nod. That was my plan anyways. I'll use that to find out what's there and be educated about how to best fix it.

If you are worried about the quality of your welding on the outside, consider removing the outer rocker completely. You do all the cleaning /patching on the inner sections. have a sheetmetal shop bend up some replacement outer metal (it's nearly flat with some gentle bends at the bottom) and you cut and fit, tack it and have someone with more experience do the welding on the outer.
I'm not too cosmetically concerned about the rockers. That's a good strategy of just de-skinning them and having a look. The top is covered by rubber, so I could weld that. The bottom is under the car, so, no one will see that. That leaves only a pair of 4" strips around the sides. I might try that myself.

The magnitude of the patchjobs on the fenders is what intimidates me.

...

Moreso my concern is that I have to do it now, not later.

That's the thing that makes me wary of it becoming something I won't get around to finishing. The demoralizing part isn't the work itself, it's that I was motivated by feeling I was rounding the home stretch, certainly on bodywork. If I can drive it, then it's something that's useful to me that I'll keep working on. And if it's licensed it's not condemned to private property. As the list of things I have to do before it is drivable balloons, the longer I'm relying on the favor and inconvenience of others, and the bigger the odds of me saying no thanks, off to the co-op with you for dismemberment.
 

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Wish you the best..... I really hope things work out.
 

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Matt, I don't think the rust you are seeing is all that bad. Not all that good, either....

I have looked over your car fairly thoroughly. What you have uncovered is a bit more than I expected, but not surprisingly so. Old cars are rusty. 50 year old cars are ALWAYS rusty, even when from "dry" climates. My former Garage Find GT was stored indoors from 1978 until 2007, had only 28,000 miles, and was far more rusty than your GT. Not a big deal.
 

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Went threw my thread to give you some visuals
 

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.....more
 

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I also had to redo both bottom of the doors, large section of the lower nose area beneath the battery tray. As well the two large panels behind the headlight assemblies. Hope all this helps
 

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Discussion Starter · #210 ·
Well, did some more digging into the rust. Two weeks ago. Trying to stay motivated.

For those that enjoy sped-up rust pokin' 'n proddin':




Few notes:

- Driver's Rocker isn't in great shape, but appears to be worst just in a diagonal line. My guess is that it was parked outside, with the tail lights removed, on a driveway or hill at that angle, until dust settled. Annual Arizona rain rusted a single line through the metal there. The interior rocker has holes at the back but otherwise isn't too bad. I see a line of paint bubbles that seemed solid when I poked them but I'm thinking have to be where the rust bled through to a pinprick. Maybe best to just replace an extra 6" down that line.

- I don't know what those white goopy knobs are inside the driver's side rearmost fender, but, I'd suspected this car was rear ended at some point, lightly. Looks like those might be the fill scabs from dent pulling? Isn't obvious to me from the outside.

- Passenger side isn't nearly as bad, half the damage. Doesn't really matter, a slightly smaller or larger circumference doesn't add too much time, and the damage is mostly in a single plane so no complex curves, low enough that the wheel flares haven't sprouted form the side yet.

- Passenger rocker has no holes at all that I found. Rust spot is from the outside where paint wore off. Camera scope picks up a couple rusty patches inside, but otherwise looks great.

- Front wheelwells and fenders seem intact, couldn't poke a hole anywhere. So damage is confined to the ass end and the driver's rocker.

I'm not even sure where to buy sheet metal from affordably. Had an idea to just take a sawzall to the junkyard and cut the roof off a minivan or something equally sheet-esque. Then I wondered if the metal on a new car is more likely to be paper thin compared the GT. Maybe should try the side of a truck box instead. Maybe older is better? Will have to do that soon, summer is over, fall is here, snow arrives soon.
 

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You buy a sheet of steel. This one started as a 4x6 feet 0.032" thick peice and you start cutting what you need.

Baught this from a auto body and paint supply shop. Wasn't very expensive if I recall. This is what provided 90% of the steel used to refab my GT
 

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Detritus Maximus
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Even Lowes/Home Depot (or equivalent) sell sheetmetal in various thicknesses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #213 ·
Even Lowes/Home Depot (or equivalent) sell sheetmetal in various thicknesses.
Not here. Maybe 2 square feet and it's already pre-bent from the last 10 years of people pulling it in and out behind the slips of angle iron.

Heck, the place I usually buy my structural steel from doesn't even sell sheet metal.

I recall last time I wanted a some light sheet to cover a house door I gave up and just cannibalized an old whiteboard.



I suppose I do only need a few square feet.

Bodyshops sound like a good idea

That, or... I have 2 sets of doors. One set the bottom is rusty. I know I'm never going to use the doors again... I know I'm never going to repair the doors. I suspect I won't even attempt to keep the doors, especially if the co-op doesn't want them. I feel like I'm committing a sin, but, maybe I'll just chop up the yellow doors. As a bonus, the sheet metal will already be bent to the correct curvature.

Any reason not to?
 

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Discussion Starter · #214 ·
Finally made a go at casting with Zamak, after my first attempt struggled to maintain high enough temperature with aluminum.


Stunning partial success:

- This is a great way of turning $300 of conduit couplers into $3 of zinc.

- Best cheap source of Zamak I found was in old 2-hole punches. Just had to rip them apart and remove the steel punches and springs. They were a pound and a half each. Towel racks, cheap chromed drawer knobs, banister supports, and a CVT pulley from an old treadmill were all also Zamak.

- Zamak weighs 2.5 x as much as Aluminum. My previous attempt that got the giant airpocket frozen into it was 404g. If that was filled solid it would probably be 40% heavier. All told, I'd need at least 2500g (actually, bad math I notice now, I calculated as if missing 60%, not 40%, oh well). Turns out I had around 4kg of the stuff, so, should have been plenty even after the excessive dross of melting it in a frying pan.

- A heavy duty stainless steel frying pan is not strong enough to lift 10 lbs of zinc. Had to use pliers on the far side to help

- Missed the sprue, sloshed over into the main pour.

- Zamak is 2.5x the weight of aluminum. Buoyancy on that plaster form is now 2.5x as strong. Up it pops like a cork. Nothing to do but finish the pour and spend 2 hours melting it down again. In retrospect, this is like filling a bathtub and expecting the tennis ball to stay at the bottom.

- Form seemed relatively undamaged by the pour, so for shits and giggles, I stuffed it back in the topside, just guessing at where the center was and the correct angle.

- I hit pretty close to center. I hit pretty close to square to the surface of the pour too... except that the mold wasn't square.

- I probably destroyed the motor bearings, but I lightly hammered the coupler onto the motor, and then pried it back off a half-dozen times. The hardened motor shaft is taking just the slightest shavings off of the surface on a half-dozen splines. It's already 2/3 of the way on, I won't press it further until I have a slide hammer or some way of getting it off, it's too deep into the recess to pry it out if I go deeper.

- Surface of the splines seems as good as they ever were in plaster. Zamak is famed for being a zero-machining process, you can capture the surface of a coin accurately if you want, so all imperfections were silicone/plaster based. It's good enough.

- All the excess chunks I cut off showed solid metal all the way through, no porosity.

- The coupler being off-kilter isn't a big deal. It doesn't have to be a 1/2" thick, and certainly won't be at the transmission end.

Overall, Zamak was beautiful to cast with. Stayed glassy smooth for several minutes (off camera) after the pour. I'll have to keep an eye out at the junkyards for old bathroom fixtures and such.

Plan now is to get the motor spinning, and use it with a grinder as a lathe to make the coupler centered on the motor shaft. Then drill it out for the transmission shaft (a drillbit on a rotating workpiece is self-centering... supposedly).

Also, there's an air cavity at the bottom of the splined area, probably from gas escaping from the plaster. It's not critical, and once I have the hole drilled for the transmission tail shaft, I can gouge the sides and repour some zamak just to give it a helping hand and fill the gap, even if it doesn't add much for strength.

.
 

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Any updates on your project?
 

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Bump
 

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Discussion Starter · #217 ·
Oh, hey, I must have missed this.

Umm, somewhat deliberately, no. I haven't touched it in 6 months. I've been procrastinating on some long-overdue things, and sinking into my car in the evenings is an easy way to avoid that, so I said "No more car until X gets done". And so now 6 months later, no car, and still no X. So all I've accomplished is feeling worse about procrastinating :p

Another reason is that I last uncovered the extent (well, some of the extent, you never know how much more) of the rust, and to fix it requires welding that has to be cosmetically nice. That's a bit leap forward for me, so, motivation has to be right to be patient with it. And I think I should pressure wash the rockers out, and, pressure washing doesn't work in Canadian winters. And winter lasts until, well, it snowed last week again and we'll probably get at least one more.

Another reason is that my daily driver got stolen with a bunch of my tools recent. But that's actually had the opposite effect, I've been shopping for replacements and headed to the shop to try to guess what I had stolen.

I picked up a 3x6 sheet of 1/8" steel that I think might be suitable for my battery boxes, or at least the shell/skidplate thereof.

I'm letting feature creep set into the back of my mine. The more and more this 2-year (now) project isn't just a summer project, the more I start saying it doesn't matter, might as well put an extra year into it. I'm decent with "get it done with minimal effort and minimal results" projects, I'm decent at perfect, but the gulf in between the two has no natural stopping point so it's hard to say what should or shouldn't be done.

And, weather/pandemic-wise, waiting on the Opel Co-op to unfreeze and to get around to meeting other Opelers to grab a transmission with the newer style speedo gear instead of bodging the old-style one into my drivetrain, or I'd have at least got the drivetrain spinning by now.

No excuses, just setbacks of my own making.
 

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Discussion Starter · #218 ·
Whelp, one year with no posts. Time to make a progress post, for whatever that has.

Part 1:

  • Replaced most of my tools that were stolen in my vehicle last year.

  • The Opel Co-Op sold me a newer 4 speed transmission and maybe bell housing, more importantly the kind with a speedo gear that doesn't need a 90-degree pinion elbow. Because I'd like my speedometer to work as originally planned. This means however, that all the work I did disassembling the previous 4 speed (and likely ruining everything but the tail housing) has gone to waste. I'm reluctant to destroy another tranny, and, for simplicity, perhaps just mount the transmission as an actual transmission. Haven't decided.

  • Found a 2012 Prius in a junkyard. They're not supposed to be there. They don't even have a price list for hybrid parts. They didn't even pull the high voltage safety plug out of the battery. So I picked up a 202v, 125a, 1.3kWh, 80lb battery pack for the price of "a battery" ($33). That's about enough to go 5 miles at highway speeds, or double or five times that around town. It also comes with the safety plug, contactors to connect/disconnect it, big fuses, etc. The energy density is atrocious, but the big advantage for me is that I don't need to decide anything at all about how big my battery should be, what voltage, what configuration, where to put it, what cells to use, etc before I drive it. I can just slap this behind the seats (maybe, it's long, full interior width of a Prius) and shuttle it around town, down to inspection, etc. It compartmentalizes the decision-making and the timing, which are huge obstacles for someone who doesn't own a garage. I can start parking it on the street or deciding how I want the interior to feel, without having built the battery pack yet. Without even using up any of my cells, I now have a temp battery plenty powerful enough to move the car around.



  • Also grabbed an electrical power tilt/extension steering rack ($60 + $65 until I return the wheel and airbag I ran out of time to pull off). No sensors or brains needed. You feed it 12v, it defaults into 43mph mode if it doesn't hear back from its mothership. Not sure if I'll use it, but, it's cheap so it was there.

  • Grabbed a Gen 3 inverter ($50), since I was having trouble with my Gen 2 and might throw in the towel, having a backup plan for cheap is nice.

  • Got a coolant reservoir and pump ($7). Will probably never need one, but, should have one and, could use it for the heater if I don't

  • Got a digital throttle pedal ($17). Looks compatable-ish with the original location. When it gets off the workbench I'll stop using motorbike throttles.

  • Spent the last 3 months asking as non-naggily as I can for help diagnosing my inverter controller. Short story: some progress, but still not working. This is the board I built to hijack the Prius inverter to do whatever I tell it to do. Typical open source headaches. The person who designed it is too smart to know what people would need explained about it and documents basically nothing but the circuit itself. Doesn't even explain what the labels mean or how to connect it. The people who can figure out how to use it don't document anything because they were able to figure it out so why bother. And anyone who wasn't capable of engineering the design themselves spends 4 hours to not find the answer to a question that takes 10 seconds to answer. Multiplied by 100 questions. I think I've probably spent 200 hours on something that someone who was knowledgeable could've written in 20 minutes. This in addition to the 6 months I spent on it 2 years ago. Sadly this design path is deprecated (main chip it's built around is too limited) so no one ever got around to fleshing it out. This has culminated in me being pretty sure how to hook it up and use it now, but, some random fault in something is stopping me. I can get it to work for 2 or 3 seconds by tapping on the board. I rewired the whole thing and... now even tapping on the board won't make it work.


This is the 3-phase power signal getting through to the bulb (visual indicator something's happening) and motor (motor doesn't move because power supply is too small, but it's not even trying unless I tap the board).

 

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Discussion Starter · #219 ·
First update in a year Part 2:

Keith was on a chromating spree, and a headlight rotator rebuilding spree, so, seemed too good an opportunity to waste.

Before (covered in Arizona desert dust, but apparently not bad underneath):

Automotive lighting Hood Automotive tail & brake light Automotive parking light Headlamp


Dust blown off them (Keith said they were among the nicest he's seen in Canada, unrestored):

Motor vehicle Road surface Asphalt Wood Font


Black Road surface Font Wall Wood


And, after:

Font Material property Jewellery Metal Auto part


They were in such good shape before, Keith considered not even rebuilding them. It looked like it was only missing a few of the special screws, but on further inspection, apparently there were stumps sheered off inside. So, good thing he did.

Rim Gear Automotive wheel system Auto part Automotive tire


Rebuilt, reassembled, welded, and touched up with zinc paint. Keith even disassembled and rebuilt the limit switches (easy to replace, but not with that specific lever arm):

Tool Auto part Vehicle Saw Hand tool


Yellow Household hardware Auto part Metal Jewellery


So, some actual non-EV Opel content for anyone still following along.
 
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