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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As I was searching this I really did not find much (at least the way I search) so I thought I would create a thread with the process of my journey. My rear window was all gooped up with calk, it was disgusting so I decided to pull all the trim and the window and get to work! I am also including in the thread the front window, that will not need any patch panels but I decided to maybe do the dash as well. I bought a new top metal panel from OPGI so I have to figure out how to get the old out and new in.

Here are some pics of the before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is after I got the window out, the lower panel is not that bad but I decided to get a new lower panel from OPGI and then the side patch panels from rust replace .com, they are really nice people there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here is what I was looking at once I got the windshield out. Top looks good but the bottom looks like it rotted over the years and the fix for someone was bondo. I plan to grind it down with a wire wheel and cut out the channel + dash and then replace the channel with the OPGI one. Waiting on the front lower channel and dash metal.

Not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier or later post but I am adding to this one. The upper dash metal, at least on my car was welded at the bottom sides, where the 2 outer bolts that hold it in are and then it is spot welded along the top to the lower window channel. So you have to grind those out or drill or whatever you want. I cut the dash out first with a sawzall and then I worked on it as you can see in my later posts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It seems the dash is spot welded to the firewall and then on the other side the lower windshield channel is spot welded to the other side of the firewall. Since I will be replacing the windshield channel I opted to just chop the dash panel out. On to removing the windshield channel.

So from the research I did, to properly replace the lower front windshield channel you need to remove the a-pillar pieces on each side and the cowl cover. First, the chrome trim piece comes off the a-pillar, three screws. Then there are 3 screws that hold that a-pillar piece in place inside the door channel, then 2 at the bottom that the front fender cover up and then 3 screws in the actual windshield channel (2 at the bottom and 1 up closer to the top of the channel). I was able to get one side off but in order to do it correctly the hood has to come off to get the fenders off to get to the two hidden screws. After I get them both off I can start the remove the lower windshield panel.
 

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Good time to tint rear window. 😮
 
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Very cool that you are documenting and sharing this project with everyone. Makes me wish i had taken metal shop instead of computer... something something. I am definitely looking forward to watching this progress!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Very cool that you are documenting and sharing this project with everyone. Makes me wish i had taken metal shop instead of computer... something something. I am definitely looking forward to watching this progress!
My pleasure! The reason I decided to document is because I searched and really didn't find much to answer my questions so I thought that this may help others. Actually, I have used a mig welder a few time but I have never done anything like this so I was hoping to learn as I go along with inspiring others. The worst part here is buying the specialty tools, (welder, a decent compressor, cutting/grinding tools). I am actually a mechanical/computer engineer so I am with you on the something something, lol.

I remember when I was younger there was this stigma about things like taking a windshield out and doing body work but recently I just said screw it, I am bored and I really want to do this so, here we are!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Removing the old windshield channel was not as bad as I thought. I got the fenders off along with the pilar covers like I documented above. Like I mentioned the dash and windshield channel are spot welded to the firewall. I did some research on how to remove spot welds and found varying ways but I noticed that when I take some heavy pliers and just started working it back and forth and also like peeling a can open it would either pop the spot weld or just separate. The key here is not to distort the original shape of the firewall where the new channel will sit. So with a little patience and sweat I got it out. In the end I have some holes from the spot welds that popped but I will just use the mig to fill those in and sand them down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I moved to the rear channel now. I decided to work in small sections. I am not sure if it is thicker sheet metal or the spot welds are heavier but this is not as easy as the front. I am using my tuna can technique and it works but slow. I know they have these spot weld removers they are like mini hole saws but I am being stubborn. If I use a screwdriver to pry and little and I can ID the welds and then work on them. We will see but for now it is working.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I started on the right side channel to take a break from the bottom. The peel method seems to be working still, kinda PITA but patience and going slow seems to be working. The channel repair from rustreplace.com is really nice. Their customer service BTW is great, they give a lot of good info on how to do the work. Stay tuned for more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Alright, here are the side panels after I patched them in. From experience i would try and use as much of the patch as you can contrary to the manufactures recommendation and here is why I say that. On the right side I had to use most of it anyway but then I went to the other side and I had less rot so I just cut down the patch to just a couple inches but when I was welding it in up top, the original metal I guess was thinner from corrosion and sanding. As I was welding it kept blowing up the metal and I had to go farther and father up and then had to end up using most of the rest of the patch anyway.

I bet an experienced welder could have probably done this better but me being a novice all I could do was make sure my welder was set right which I am sure it was, so what can I do :)

Also, being a novice welder I kept playing the game of weld and then sand and then I would have a small hole or imperfection so weld again and sand, etc... Finally I let the perfectionist in me go and just said a couple small imperfections I will fill with a touch of body filler. Anyway, those are.the side pillars, on to the center lower part!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Okay, so with the bottom channel the easiness seems to end. Wow is this a pain. So, my tuna can method, forget it, not working like I thought. I think it is a combination of thicker sheet metal and spot welds. There is a spot weld on the top and bottom. Now this probably won't work or be ideal for most people but since I am replacing the bottom channel and the rear shelf is held by a couple of small welds on each side I decided to remove the whole assembly and work this on a bench. There is the rear window channel and then in the middle another channel type piece and then the rear shelf. I ended up putting it on the bench in a vice and working it with a chisel or large screwdriver and a hammer. After about an hour I was able to get the lower channel separated from the middle piece. I have to clean it up and bang it back into shape in a couple spots but overall it is a success. Now, the plan will be to clean and paint my rear shelf, weld it back in place and then when the rear channel comes in I will get it matched up to the bed and welded in. At this point I had officially reached the point in the project where I am saying what did i get myself into?! Hahaha, but after a cup of coffee and a break I am ready to go, full steam ahead! More to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Also, in hindsight maybe the spot weld cutter and a little more patience would have been a good option FYI...not sure but I do know that you still would have had to ID the welds by bending the metal a little on the top and bottom....and there were quite a few of them.
 

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Ive seen where you can use a grinder turning a 3/16" thick disc on edge . Start directly on the spot weld and grind through the part not being kept. You don't have to grind out the spot weld .Just enough to weaken the weld. With practice you'll figure how what depth works. 😮
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Rear channel is ready to be tacked in place. I will say there is some tweaking to the bottom I have to do to get it to match up with the part i cut out. When it sits flush on the side channels then the bottom piece that mates to the vertical back of the bed is bent toward the front so I have to tweak it back to make it vertical. I still have to do a little work on the sides but other than that It seems like it will go in fine. Next pics will hopefully be when it is welded in and sanded down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I don't think I will get an award for welder and grinder of the year but for a first time I think it is good. For the welds I put a spot/tack weld about every 2-3 inches and then filled them in. For the grinding I used my 4.5 inch grinder with a 40 grit flap wheel and then moved to my air grinder with smaller flap wheels and higher grit. I still have some welding and sanding to do and then filler. Hopefully the next pictures will be when it is ready for primer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Well, I got bored since I am waiting on some parts and decided what better to do that strip the entire inside, seam sealer and all. I used a few wire cup brushes and my angle grinder. It worked really well except for being stuck occasionally by the wires. Oh and having to vacuum them up from all over the garage lol. I filled some holes that people drilled over the years in the floor and then primed whole inside. So here is some before and after. Hoping to get another coat of primer on soon and then a few coats of paint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Just got the front window channel in today. Fit is okay, I will need to hold it in place to conform to the mating surface when it comes time to weld it in, not perfect but wasn't expecting it to be. I decided to drill holes along the channel and then use those to do plug welds, I am pretty sure this is the correct way. I got it from OPGI, I was hoping it would have the molding clip studs there but I will have to drill and install those in since it didn't come with them.

Also including a pic of the back, I sprayed the primer but still have to do the body filler along the weld that joined the channel to the existing back of the bed. I read originally that you should put body filler over primer so I sprayed the surface but after reading the instructions that come with body filler they say to apply it to bare metal so I have to sand it back down along the weld.

Today I finished up the seam sealer on the interior and welded in the bucket seat brackets (again winning no awards for my welding but they seem to be strong). Also would recommend practice before seam sealing. It seems simple and I watched an Eastwood video where they use their paint prep to spread it nice a smooth which does work but still it is kinda an art. Since it is all going to get covered by paint and then carpet it is no big deal but wish I would have practiced a bit more. In the smugglers box I didn't do any smoothing just left it as it came out of the tube. Anyway, more to come!
 

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