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1969 Mustang Mach 1
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Forum Introduction:
Hello everyone, after about 6ish years of purely lurking, and 3 years since purchasing my Mustang, I figured its time to make a build thread to share progress and pick up advice along the way. Some basic info to introduce my car:
  • 1969 Mustang Mach 1
  • Purchased Nov ’19 as a mostly complete roller from New Jersey
  • Was NOT a numbers matching car, came with a 351C that had a few bent rods
  • Factory manual car with 9” rear
  • RUSTY… holey (literally) moley (I’ve never spelled that out, but seems right)

And some basic information to introduce myself:
  • First restoration project, but not first crack at extensive modification to a vehicle (including cutting/ shaping/ welding). Definitely learning as I go no matter what I do with this or any other car
  • Mechanical Engineer, so I have absolutely over planned everywhere and probably have/will overcomplicate most of this project
  • Auto Cross and Time Attack/HPDE enthusiast. Have only been racing with sanctioning bodies for 3 years, but I plan to continue that as long as I can, and, as I’ll show in this thread, I plan to use the Mach 1 to itch that scratch

I’d also like to preface this thread with this note: I am NOT a professional in any aspect of what I do. I work out of my home garage when I can outside of work, using mostly basic tools and materials. I’ve had to get pretty creative to find some solutions so far, but that’s one of my favorite parts.

Alright, introductions aside, I’ll get to what everyone actually wants to see/hear. After graduating and getting settled in my first big boy job, I helped one of my best friends build a rather serious time attack car for the GridLife Time Attack series. After a few years of building that into a solid platform, I decided it was time to dedicate my time to build something for myself. Since I was a kid, I had always had a love for the 1969 Mustangs, specifically the fastback body lines.

In the years leading up to buying the car, I created a kind of project statement to outline what I wanted the mustang to be to me. This will help me keep myself on a set path to an end goal instead of meandering off half way through and finding myself making something that differed from what I had envisioned. “To build something inherently unique. A mustang that retains it’s intended heritage, while also utilizing advances in engineering and materials and creative, subtle, design elements of my own creation. It must be a useable vehicle, one that can be daily driven to work on fair weather days, make grocery runs, long distance trips with family, attend and be competitive in autocross, attend and be enjoyed on track with Time Attack or HPDE. I will show myself what I can do when my passion is given freedom.”

It may be a little sappy, but on the days I don’t feel motivated, that statement kicks me back into gear. I know my goals and aspirations for the car are large and lofty, but I don’t believe a project is worth doing otherwise. To meet all of these goals, I came up with an extensive list of things I wanted to do and researched seemingly endlessly to make sure my decisions would fulfill my goals. I am confident they will, and once I had a solid base, a steady day to day, and some savings, it was time to start working.

I had been planning, researching, and saving for this car since college, so in 2019 I had decided to start seriously looking for a car in need of restoration to begin. Realistically, I figured I wouldn’t find the right one until 2020, but to my surprise one seemed to fall right in my lap that fit the criteria/budget I had set. I bought the car from a small classic dealer in New Jersey. He had bought it to restore, but he said he didn’t have the time to give this one attention. He had warned me it needed some metal work, and honestly, I didn’t know what to look for exactly, but pictures sure can hide some things! Seeing it in person showed some more rust than I thought, but I got if for what I thought was a decent price, so we trailered it home 13 hours to begin its new life in my 2 car attached garage!

Pictures below are from before tear down. Since that time, I have 657 hours in including tear down and metal repair. It’ll be probably a bit before I catch up to real time for updates, but I’ll do my best to highlight the good stuff leading up to today without being too detail heavy.

Wheel Tire Vehicle Hood Car


Automotive parking light Vehicle Vehicle registration plate Grille Hood


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Things definitely looked good from the outside. Inside was ok, it was a maroon interior painted black, so that was a bummer, but otherwise, complete. Most parts seemed to be in good shape, so I felt it was a good starting point. By this point, I had already created an extensive timeline in excel detailing what would need done, an excel part tracking sheet/cost tracker/cost estimator, and a word document journal to document every step along with hours logged and spot welds cut (that part was for giggles, but its actually been a cool statistic to track). Did I mention before I was an engineer? No? Well, I’m sure the stereotype comes through now with all the documentation!
 

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1969 Mustang Mach 1
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61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Vehicle Teardown:
After a few months of hesitancy, I finally started teardown. My goal was to remove every part from the body as I knew some extensive metal work would be needed. I documented every part by snapping a picture, noting how it was fastened, how many fasteners it used, what they were, where they were, and how the part came out. I then tagged all fasteners with small part baggies and the actual part with tape or a gallon bag, depending on size of course. This was then all tracked in the journal along with notes after each day of work to learn from later. Again, it may seem like overkill, but it has come in clutch more that I thought already, and I’m still working on metal! Most aspects of the teardown were what I would assume to be pretty standard, below I’ll share some highlights and finds along the way.

I waited a bit to tear into the engine, but between some bad pitting in some bores and a few bent rods, I’m not sure the fate of the engine, but it seemed bleak. (worst bend pictured, others were bent out of straight, but not by a lot).
Bicycle part Household hardware Nickel Metal Font


Just about anytime I banged on the car or used an impact, rust fell off, this was a fairly common find after a few hours under the car, that’s when I started to realize how bad it was.
Road surface Asphalt Paint Wood Sidewalk


Did I have to spend multiple days getting the right tools and patience to cut out the leaf springs? Yes…
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Motor vehicle


I was proud of this one, I wanted to store the front and rear glass in something rigid enough to carry, so I used some old PVC laying around to make a carrier with a center divider. Once the windows were out, I wrapped them in some cheap HF moving blankets and cardboard. So far they have survived a few trips in the house, down stairs, and now through a move to another state, so I’d say it’s worked!
Automotive tire Gas Asphalt Automotive wheel system Metal


Wood Tire Bicycle Flooring Gas


A common theme that carried through this teardown was eviction… I found numerous mice nests/homes/metropolises. The first came in the heater box.
Motor vehicle Automotive tire Hood Mode of transport Automotive exterior


The second and third came from the headliner. I kept just about all things from tear down, the headliner, went right into the trash.
Wood Amber Gas Cuisine Tints and shades


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Composite material Automotive exterior


As I mentioned, the interior was painted black over red. I’ve kept the pieces, but I’m not sure if I’ll reuse them or not. Thankfully, I have a lot of time to decide on that.

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive exterior Bumper Wood


Rectangle Comfort Safety glove Flooring Wood
 

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1969 Mustang Mach 1
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Jig Design/Build Overview:
Once the car was more or less entirely stripped of parts and just a unibody/shell, I began work on my chassis jig. I saw this as one of the most important pre cursors to my work on the car, so I spent quite a bit of time researching what others had done, what was critical, and what was best practices. I decided to build a “skateboard” platform that would have suspension hard point mounts that would also help locate structural members when they would need replacement. At each end would be bumper mounts that grab the body the same was as a rotisserie for support. Additionally, I have 2 moveable legs that run the length of the base that could be set and utilized for supports along the way. The adjustability ensured I could essentially install a vertical support anywhere within the package of the body.

Handwriting Rectangle Office supplies Font Stationery


Main structure was 2x2 tube. Adjustable bars were 2x1 tube. Supports were 1x1 tube. Bumper support verticals are 2x2 tube and the mounted bars are 2x1 tubing. Suspension hard point mounting bars are also 2x1 tubing. Anything that had adjustability was welded to a 2.25x2.25 .120 wall tube that I cut 1 wall off of to make a C channel that slid snugly on the main structure. I then drilled a hole in the outer wall and welded on a nut so I could lock the position with a bolt “set screw”. All suspension hard point mounts are made this way along with the runners the length of the base. I also used some of the frame drawings online to measure my car to make sure it was straight before making this jig. Thankfully, all measurements seemed to check out within standard tolerances for the 60’s. Don’t mind my random margin scribbles/algebra…
Product Rectangle Font Material property Parallel


Handwriting Font Office supplies Writing Whiteboard


Unfortunately, I don’t own a vehicle that can transport items longer than 8’, so I had to bring the steel in cut and then weld it back together straight to make the base. Thankfully my garage was pretty level and I was able to get it almost dead on.
Automotive tire Wood Road surface Asphalt Flooring


I bought a cheap set of heavy duty casters to add onto the bottom of the jig.

Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wood


You can see here the sliders I made for the outer structure.
Road surface Asphalt Wood Automotive exterior Composite material


Man, it was nerve racking getting the car up onto the jig, but it got there!
Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive design Motor vehicle


My next update will start on the metal work/fabrication. This is the step I’m still working in, but I knew this would be the most extensive portion given my plans and the state of the body. Thanks everyone for reading if you got this far! I’ll do my best to be regular on updates, but I will say, it could be spotty. My wife and I just welcomed our first child, and that’s really the only reason I’m working on this rather than the car. I feel like I’ll have some more inside time now than garage time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys! The Jig was fun to work on. So far it's been worth its weight in gold given how much metal has been replaced. After work I'll add some info and pictures from the start of the metal work.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks you guys! I've spent about 5 years so far on the forum, not necessarily as an active member, but more of a lurker and sponge. I've utilized a lot of information found here to help guide my planning and path forward.
 

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1969 Mustang Mach 1
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

Before cutting out any metal, I wanted to brace the entire body the best I could to prevent unintended twisting or bending. I used some green painters tape to plan out some triangulation of 1x1 square tubing.
Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Bumper


With the basic supports planned, I cut the 1x1 and installed to match and support the main structure.
Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive design


Grille Hood Automotive lighting Automotive tire Motor vehicle


There were quite a few known problem areas from purchase and initial overview once home. A close friend who’s done a good deal of work on some classics, including a 68 coupe, showed me a few things I hadn’t seen when picking up and didn’t know to look for. A few early finds are shown below:
Brown Wood Gas Composite material Concrete


Floor was rough, rotted away or poorly patched significantly.
Brown Wood Fixture Composite material Gas
Wood Building material Hardwood Composite material Lumber


Torque boxes on both sides were in very poor shape. Both were patched and barely hanging on under the floor and at the frame extensions.
Gas Wood Composite material Automotive exterior Metal


The floor near the rear torque boxes was pretty bad as well, not as bad as the front, but still in need of replacement.
Wood Gas Metal Composite material Concrete
Wood Flooring Gas Composite material Automotive tire
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

All 4 frame rails and both front extensions were falling apart, the front frame rails at the firewall were essentially held together by some epoxy, and the rears were patched before, but not with weld. They had some slider over panels bonded over rust with epoxy. I started by removing the rear frame rails and waited a bit to get to the front.
Automotive tire Wood Bumper Motor vehicle Automotive exterior
Automotive tire Tire Road surface Asphalt Motor vehicle


Road surface Asphalt Wood Automotive exterior Gas


Removing paint/grime/rust to get to the rear frame rails really showed this car’s true colors underneath. Outer wheel houses were patched poorly and slathered in filler. Rear quarters were hot garbage and full of shotty patches and tons of filler and bondo (measured up to ¾” in areas). Inner rockers were questionable. Trunk floor was in bad shape. Trunk drop offs were terrible and patched all over. Passenger outer rocker required a few patches, driver side needed replaced.
Automotive tire Wood Road surface Floor Asphalt
Wood Tints and shades Gas Glass Transparent material


Tire Hood Automotive tire Tread Motor vehicle
Wood Composite material Metal Building material Concrete


Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting Automotive design
Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood Motor vehicle Tread


Bicycle Wheel Tire Automotive tire Hood
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

While working to remove the inner rockers, I found the third mouse complex. They PACKED the passenger side rocker with insulation.
Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread Wheel


Front passenger side kick panel was rotted out at the bottom, and the front extension to the outer rocker was in bad shape, so I made a patch for the kick panel and replaced the extension.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle Fender Car
Green Automotive tire Gas Machine Bumper


Gas Composite material Machine Auto part Personal protective equipment
Wood Road surface Art Asphalt Font


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Composite material Automotive wheel system


The rear passenger quarter panel to rocker and door panel (probably not official names) had quite a bit of rot developed, so I had to cut and make more patches for the problem areas.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive exterior Wood
Wood Gas Composite material Bumper Tints and shades
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

After removing the body filler covering up the rocker patch, I cut a piece of poster board to match the curvature of the rocker panel to make sure I matched it with my patch, and to see how bad the previous patch was.
Gesture Wood Grey Flooring Tints and shades
Wood Machine tool Gas Machine Art


Automotive tire Tire Outdoor bench Wood Gesture


Shop foreman came out to make sure I wasn’t dilly dallying around this day…
Dog Hood Collar Carnivore Automotive tire
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Wood Gas Automotive exterior Composite material Bumper
Wood Automotive tire Flooring Bumper Hardwood


Right in front of this patch was a bad spot, so another patch was needed that was much less complicated to make.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wood Mode of transport Rolling
Wood Bumper Automotive exterior Gas Automotive tire


Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Bumper Automotive exterior
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

Automotive tire Wood Wheel Motor vehicle Composite material


The trunk floor was basically totally made of patches. I wanted to adjust some of the dimensions in the area anyway, so I decided to re-design the rear trunk floor and make my own.
Wood Gas Composite material Rectangle Metal
Automotive tire Bumper Wood Motor vehicle Automotive exterior


Gas Engineering Machine Composite material Automotive exterior


After marking all metal that needed to come out, I took a bunch of measurements to layout the new metal and used poster board to mock it up.
Handwriting Font Parallel Writing Paper
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Automotive lighting Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Trunk
Flooring Floor Wood Automotive design Table


Super high tech bending practices using some spare square tubing, clamps, mallets, and bodyweight.
Motor vehicle Gas Automotive tire Engineering Automotive exterior
Wood Motor vehicle Gas Bumper Technology
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

Some sections of the patch went under the rear seat panels and curved around the frame rail next to the wheel wells, so I used a small piece of thin scrap to find the curvature needed and then matched that to the panel before install.
Automotive parking light Tire Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting
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Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive exterior
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Stairs Automotive exterior Composite material Gas Engineering
Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wood Bumper


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After finishing the rear floor, I prepped the new frame rail for install on the passenger side, and prepped the outer rocker with POR 15.
Electrical wiring Wood Gas Cable Machine
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

At this point, I should share some more details about modifications being made outside the realm of just metal repair.

For the rear end, I had decided during the initial planning phase to go with Street or Track’s Full floating 9” rear end and 3 link/watts link suspension set up. This utilizes a rear coilover set up, so the leaf spring mounting locations will not be utilized. During my extensive research, I had also found Shaun’s guide on the convertible inner rocker install. Another user (their username escapes me at the moment) had posted a long thread on torsional stiffness of the chassis and how the convertible inner rockers made a large improvement in this measurement, so I had decided to go this route for my car as well.

Hood Automotive design Automotive tire Bumper Gadget
Hood Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Bumper Wood


Wood Engineering Gas Machine Metal
Automotive tire Vehicle Gas Engineering Bumper


Gas Engineering Composite material Machine Auto part


Once the passenger side frame rail and inner rocker were tacked in place, I moved on to the driver side and found the forth mouse settlement in that rocker panel.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wood Tire Tread


I removed the rear driver side frame rail at this time too. I didn’t know they made frame rails that would pivot around the patches, must have been an option for rear steer back when…
Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Flooring Floor


This was my pivot point. A patch that slid over the bad metal and had a few tacks and seam sealer holding it together. Cool.
Automotive tire Tread Wood Tire Road surface
Automotive tire Helmet Tints and shades Wood Automotive wheel system
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

I prepped the frame rail and inner rocker the same as the passenger side, and got them mocked up.
Hood Automotive tire Bumper Motor vehicle Automotive exterior
Hood Tire Automotive tire Wheel Motor vehicle


Before tacking the inner rocker in, I removed the outer rocker in preparation for installing the replacement. I made a few attachments to my jig to mark where the outer rocker needed to be placed to match the original.
Hood Automotive tire Wood Fender Bumper


Due to the layered nature of these cars, I found myself often removing one part, but before tacking in the replacement, another part needs attention, so on and so forth. If the timeline feels like I’m having some issues finding and fixing an issue right away, that’s the reason. The outer rocker is a good example of this. I ended up finding the front driver side kick panel was beyond repair, which lead to the cowl being cut and the eventually removed as well.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Gas Engineering
Automotive tire Automotive exterior Motor vehicle Bumper Wood

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle Wood Bumper


After the kick panel was in, I tacked in the inner and outer rocker.
Hood Wood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

I removed the upper cowl panel to expose a rough lower cowl.
Wood Motor vehicle Naval architecture Automotive exterior Vehicle
Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting Tire


Previous repairer decided to try to use some flexseal or equivalent to stop the water leak from the bottom of the cowl from the looks of it.
Automotive tire Tints and shades Gas Automotive exterior Space


I decided to remove it all and do it the right way in my eyes.
Bicycle Wheel Tire Bicycle wheel Motor vehicle


To follow the theme of the work so far, the firewall was in rough shape at basically all mounting surfaces, so I decided a full replacement was best. I removed the firewall and, by doing so, literally cut the car in 2!
Plant Vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tire Hood
Motor vehicle Gas Wood Vehicle Machine

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
That is alot of work. I can't wait to see how it all goes back together.

You mentioned redesigning the sheet metal of the trunk floor. You never mentioned why though, was it something to do with the 3 link? I think the 69-70 cars had to add a box on the floor for clearance on stock vehicles.
Yea, it's been a process, but an enjoyable one! Sorry for not clarifying, the posts up to now have been my quick summary of months of work up to early 2021, still trying to catch things up to today's progress.

The rear floor was redesigned for a few reasons. I am running SoT's 3 link rear, so the leaf springs won't be used. And you are correct there is a box that had to be added forward of the tank up on the floor for the top link to have clearance. That has been installed, but later in the process so I'll show that in a future update.

I wanted to re-utilize that space on either side of the tank both in the trunk and under the floor . By changing some of the shape near the frame rails, I gave myself clearance for the rear exhaust to tuck up between the frame rail and the tank (with heat shielding as needed) all the way back. Additionally, I narrowed the overall width of the floor between the pockets at the rear side of the quarter panels so that I can make those a little larger and functional, hopefully housing some electronics on the passenger side and an emergency kit on the driver side. This plan will require future fab of the pockets on either side, but that should be a pretty straight forward project when the time comes.

Hopefully my explanation of my plan made sense to others. I think it makes sense in the noggin, but I'm more visual so sometimes putting the plan to paper/text is convoluted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
“Rust never sleeps”
- In this case not for 54 years anyway..😜 But you are doing a great job of putting it to bed!!

Nice jig and I totally respect your PVC action for your window storage..👍

Welcome! Great project and future restomod. Following!
Might have to print that quote out and and hang it in the garage... Every time I think I've finished all of the repairs, I find a little more.

Thank you! The PVC had been sitting in the garage from our wedding when my wife used it to make a starry light wall. I was glad to find a new use for it.

Save the tunnel area you cut out. If you intend on installing a larger than stock transmission, it can be very useful.
Hi Alan, that would have been a smart move for sure... It found it's way to the scrap yard before moving to a new state this year for work. I didn't consider saving the old tunnel for future use. I have a full floor ready to go in, I just assumed I would have to modify it as needed for the trans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
In case you aren't aware, a TKO 600 and a TKX will bolt right in with no mods to the trans tunnel. If you want a 6-speed, that will require some cutting.
Yea, I have read about the same. I have a 6 spd donor I could use, so decisions need to be made in that respect on what I will need to do.
Looking at your before pictures I wouldn't have suspected you would have uncovered so much rust. It reminds me that if I find a vehicle on the internet that I want to purchase that I must have an in-person inspection done on the vehicle or have 200 plus photos of every part of the vehicle and that still may not be enough. I wish I had your skills to dissect and repair a vehicle. Will be following your build. :)
That was a surprise to me as well! Previous repairer must have been pretty good with filler! That was something I had considered, but for the price and timing, I decided to take a chance on it and have learned a lot thanks to it. Silver lining?. This is my first restoration, and have only been working with metal as a hobby for about 5ish years, about the same timeframe for more extensive vehicle work and modification. I'm definitely new to it and learning from folks with so much more talent and knowledge than I every chance I get.
 
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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
It really bugs me that so many shops will cover up the damage rather than fix it.
I feel so fortunate that, although there was some rust and hidden damage, nothing like what you are tackling.
Yea I agree, it was actually a big part of why I decided to start with a car I knew needed some level of metal work; I wanted to make sure it was done the best way I could do. With this one, I'm not sure who did this, if it was a shop or another guy like me working at home, but either way, things weren't done the best they could have been done. Don't worry, I still have a lot to summarize and share when it comes to rust haha.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

The idea of having the car cut in half was nauseating enough to make me get the new firewall in ASAP, so I modified the bottom corners to clear the convertible inner rocker and installed it.
Hood Motor vehicle Automotive tire Vehicle Wood


Next area of surprise rot was all 4 door plate mounting areas. There are multiple layers of metal here, and I couldn’t tell how much was bad.
Wood Automotive tire Gas Engineering Automotive exterior
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Wood Gas Metal Font Trunk


On the passenger side, the top door plate area was pretty bad, so 2 patches would be needed.
Wood Gesture Tree Font Nail
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Vehicle Hood Motor vehicle Gas Engineering


The Passenger lower door plate area was much of the same story as the top, more rot.
Wood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Bumper
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Bumper Auto part

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Metal Fabrication/Replacement:

After roughly finishing the passenger side, I moved to the driver side to do it all over again.
Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Gas
Wood Motor vehicle Gas Engineering Machine

Motor vehicle Gas Machine tool Nut Machine
Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Wood Bumper


I didn’t take many pictures of the before on the lower driver side. It was better than the rest, but still needed attention.
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Once the door plate areas were repaired, I returned to prepping the new cowl for install by painting the inside with POR 15.
Motor vehicle Automotive tire Tire Automotive design Road surface
Bicycle Wheel Motor vehicle Tire Automotive design
 
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