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Improving panel fit and alignment


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Hi All,

im in the process of improving my panel alignment for my 72 Mach 1 prior to paint, I have noticed a lot of issues with this. Firstly I have prepared all my panels first by bare metal stripping followed by, dolly repair, 2k etch, filler, then high fill 2k primer.

i have refitted the panels to the car at this point to look at the panel alignment with each other, with this I have found misalignment  with most, after adjusting the fit multiple times I have locked them into position at the best point I can get through bolting, I still have issues with one of my doors about 1/8 from top to bottom with the gap at the door latch side, I am considering welding the edge of the door slowly to build up the edge to improve the fit ?
next the eurethane bumper does not fit well, not sure what I can do with this yet any ideas appreciated,

One of the front fender extensions does not fit nice, I would like to bend it about 1/16 but worried about it being brittle and snapping any ideas doing this ?

i have noticed the quarter panels do not marry with each other when fitting the trunk lid, maybe 3/16 out on one side , also one front indicator is approx 3/16 out compared to the other side.

to me it seems the car was not jigged perfectly prior to spot welding it together I say this as it has never had a major crash only superficial damage.

has anyone had similar experience with these issues? If so, how should I tackle them.

Regards

Terry from Australia.

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Interesting—halfway around the world I was doing the same thing today.  Your passenger door fits like my drivers door.  Too loose at the top, too tight at the bottom.  I settled for the best compromise fit I could establish.  In the past on another project, I tried building up the edge of a door with the MIG welder.  I wasn’t really happy with that approach.  If I had equipment access and ability to braze, it would be easier as it is easier to work.  

For the fender extension—that is a pretty normal stock crappy fit.  Mine looked the same, so after stripping and epoxy priming the extension, I put a very thin layer of filler and spent a lot of time making it look like it wasn’t filled.  Did the same at all four corners actually.

The bumper was my first project, you will find it a bit down in the posts.  I haven’t sanded it and done any finishing work as yet to the bumper, but I will be doing a little filling and shaping to make it look perfect.  

I also put the fenders back on today and started re-adjusting the hood.  I wanted a good reference with fenders before I take the hood off tomorrow to prime it and eventually paint the underside.  Good luck!

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1931 Ford Model A Station Wagon
1969 Mach 1 - 351C, TKO-600, 4WDB, R&P, A/C, Shaker, Fold Down, etc.
1972 Mach 1 - 351C, FMX, PDB, PS, A/C, Fold Down, Console
1996 Mustang Cobra Convertible - 10psi Procharger, 436rwhp

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@terry, 
Having nice gaps is a puzzle on 71-73, but at least they are fairly parallel.

On your door pict, I think your hinges (pilar side) are set too low and the lowest is too much going toward the rear of the car to keep the lower side parallel to rocker.
If you first focus on the horizontal alignment first, you can then correct a tad the height via the bolts of the hinges on door side. The plate behind the bolts offers a bit of play just
enough to get the front of the door higher and rotate them (perpendicular to car) a tad to follow the quarter shape.

It's a pita job especially when working alone. Good luck

73 modified Grande 351C. (Finally back on the road woohoo!) 

71 429CJ. ( In progress )

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I am a retired product, process and tooling engineer for automotive. Gaps were not a big concern back then. You are talking about a 5 year throw away car that is now 50 years old. If you did not take your chassis to the frame shop before you started you cannot win. The chassis can be bent by jacking up wrong. The rust hast take at least 50% of the strength away also. I would ask also are you doing gaps sitting on tires with weight of engine and all the pieces there? If not it will be different when you do add the weight.
I have a California 197 vert that does not have a rust hole anywhere. If I pick it up using 2 post lift under the torque boxes and the front of the rear spring mounts I cannot open and close the doors. It is physics that cannot be denied.
Yes if you want perfect gaps you will have to cut and weld and if you do without the full weight of car it will be wrong again.
I bought a failed build and everything was good until I got to the drivers side quarter panel. I will have to split a NOS Ford quarter panel and add material to correct a 1/2" error he made.
The factory fixtures could only vary a few thousandths of an inch due to the loactors and net surfaces. Rust, incorrect lifting and then panel install without a JIG just builds errors. Everyone wants to blame the repo panels but most blame is the builder.

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??:P

David

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Hi David,

thanks for your reply, my car is back on its wheels and has no engine or transmission currently as they are being restored, fair comment regarding weight. Fortunately my car has no rust nor has had any major impacts to the body, it did have many smaller dents though but not structural damage, the extra weight should close up the door gap somewhat, what if I use concrete blocks to simulate engine etc. then recheck gaps. ???

since my last post I fitted the boot lid to find quite a bad gap as well, after close inspection one quarter panel passenger side has been spot welded out of square by approx 1/8 this can be seen fairly easily when your looking for it, I attached photo, I plan to fit best I can then cut and weld to improve gap and fit.

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Wow, that’s pretty bad!  Not sure where I would start with that.  

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1931 Ford Model A Station Wagon
1969 Mach 1 - 351C, TKO-600, 4WDB, R&P, A/C, Shaker, Fold Down, etc.
1972 Mach 1 - 351C, FMX, PDB, PS, A/C, Fold Down, Console
1996 Mustang Cobra Convertible - 10psi Procharger, 436rwhp

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Do you have picts from a greater distance from side and rear?

The weight will not fix anything. have you tried to make doors loose and push them till the touch the quarter (with cardboard in between) ?
For the door, may they'd be twisted a bit, at least you would not have to work too much on the quarter gap.
Try also to keep a "pinky" space between the end of the roof rail and door top (fender side). Its usually not too far. Also measure the distance on door from latch to top and outer skin, then adjust the latch anchor on pilar accordingly. If the car had no major impact to your knowledge the gap should be way less than it is.
The bottom of the door skin, often rusty, may have been corrected following a wrong line, so do not focus on the rocker line. Aligning from the top will tell you more. 

For the decklid, forget the extensions, I see on them, the stickers were trying to correct an opposite angle of what you show, so something is not right but may be not as terrible as it looks. Make sure the gaps of the lid are even at corners near window and that they are flush with the body. At least one side of the lid should be showing a gap on side that follows the body. Quickly adjusted this way, if you measure the lid width, you can have its center and doing same on rear panel, both marks should align. The decklids are often twisted a tad when not centered, which gives an angle between the rear of the lid and the extensions. 

Once all is centered and properly aligned on the body, you should see where the car has been repaired and where it's been done wrong...

73 modified Grande 351C. (Finally back on the road woohoo!) 

71 429CJ. ( In progress )

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Ok I was told in a previous post the engine and transmission weight may have an impact on the gaps ? I have tried ever adjustment possible with the door I could bring it closer to the quarter panel but at the end of the day the alignment issue will travel with the adjustment either at the quarter or the fender ensuring the top  and bottom are aligned.

the trunk lid is a bigger issue it can be clearly seen even without the quarter extensions that the is an alignment issue, I can see it has had a rear collision in the opposite quarter panel and rear panel as the rear panel has been replaced and braised in with an oxy maybe this was not a great repair and has led to this alignment issue, note this alignment was never good even prior to me starting the resto process.
the quarter panel in question has never had a major impact however does have some issues , the door alignment as well as the trunk alignment but there is also a fault in the curve from the roof line to the quarter extention it should be a nice shallow convex curve as the other side is but it has a wallow in it I will try to get a photo to better explain it

at the end of the day I cannot adjust the alignment issues away I can see no other option but to cut and weld to reshape.

 

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Wow, its a rollover!  Err, wait, no, the pictures are just upside down.  Whew!

On a serious note, what if you cut the quarter panel free from the tail light panel and try to move the quarter out at the lower point of the quarter extension, but keep the top of the quarter where it is?  It would rotate the quarter extension hopefully back into alignment with the trunk.  Might require a porta-power, wood, patience, a welder, etc.  But having thought it over, that might be my approach.  Seeing the car personally may tell a different story though.

Edited by 69 Rustang

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1931 Ford Model A Station Wagon
1969 Mach 1 - 351C, TKO-600, 4WDB, R&P, A/C, Shaker, Fold Down, etc.
1972 Mach 1 - 351C, FMX, PDB, PS, A/C, Fold Down, Console
1996 Mustang Cobra Convertible - 10psi Procharger, 436rwhp

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Before you ever go to paint you need to have the chassis on the wheels and weight equal to an assembled car on the chassis. If the quarter panels were not installed on a chassis JIG you are out of luck. The bottom of the door and the rocker are the starting point. If the quarter door jam gaps are not right there is no adjustment. You have to cut the quarter and adjust to the door. These cars were not perfect from the factory and if you want perfect you picked the wrong car. Nobody worried about gaps back then. It was a $3,000 to $5,000 cheap car. Accept that or go on with life.

 

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??:P

David

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I'm inclined to agree with 69 Rustang, or at least investigating that option.

As for comments that you have to have the engine/trans is to get the gaps right - I disagree that the weight of the engine and/or trans will always affect the gaps. I've had my engine in and out, and the tranny in and out a couple times, and never had a single door or fender gap change. I've also have my car suspended on a 2-post lift, and also had one end or the other up in the air at different times for different things. The frame didn't twist like spaghetti , the body didn't sag and I could open and close my doors as easily either way. I checked, I'm anal that way.

I've read enough posts on there that I was motivated to look closely for it, and never saw an issue while using the correct jacking points. I'm talking about a fastback/Mach not a convertible, but there shouldn't be that much more flex in a convertible unless the body is just tired and has issues.

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Black 1971 Mach 1

351C/FMX/TrickFlow Heads/Lunati Retro Roller Conversion

Classic Auto AC, Manual Front Discs, Upgraded Springs/Shocks/Close-Ratio Steering

 

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Thanks guys for your advice I guess I will do the best I can and within my abilities for the best outcome, I will continue to post as I progress

Terry

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Build up the edge of the door until you narrow the gap enough.

If the weight of the engine and transmission change the gaps you likely have rusted out inner or outer rockers 

Edited by Don C

 

 

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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Thanks Don

i have done this buy building up door edge and cutting back and rewelding trunk edge, and it looks great compared to before 

my car has no rust anywhere except for a tony hole 1/4 inch in quarter panel which I cut out.

thanks Don.

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Nice work, they both look great!

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spacer.png
1931 Ford Model A Station Wagon
1969 Mach 1 - 351C, TKO-600, 4WDB, R&P, A/C, Shaker, Fold Down, etc.
1972 Mach 1 - 351C, FMX, PDB, PS, A/C, Fold Down, Console
1996 Mustang Cobra Convertible - 10psi Procharger, 436rwhp

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  • 1 month later...

I have had literally hundreds of cars, lots of convertibles among them.  The convertibles even in good condition have way more horizontal flex. First, noticed this on a 57 convertible back in 1968. And that was with massive x-frames in them besides full perimeter frames. Every convertible I have had since then exhibited that same horizontal flex tendency, and the tight doors if one end lifted. So use jacks and lifts with extra care on any convertible.  And as mentioned, having a drivetrain in it - or not - may well effect door gaps on convertibles also.

But, yours is not a convertible and the metal rigid top makes a huge difference. Even rusty hardtops usually have more horizontal rigidity than pristine convertibles.  I also do prefer having the drive train already in before exterior paint in either a convertible or a hardtop, but that is mostly because I worry about scratching expensive new paint. 

These cars do seem to exhibit really poor gaps even from the factory. But, it was the 70's and that era was not known for quality. That said, I was told by a restorer years ago that you need to start with the doors parallel to rockers (with original straight door bottoms) and set gaps from the B pillar going forward. That is the baseline, good gaps on rocker and rear of door to quarter. Don't worry too much about front fender to door alignment at that point. Depending on how the front fender is adjusted can throw everything off.

With the door bottom to rocker panel straight that usually is going to give you the best alignment to the quarter that can be obtained with the hinges. If a decent uniform door to quarter gap cannot be established, I am conflicted about building up original unmolested door edges by welding, cuz that means no door that is not similarly modified will fit right either if a replacement is ever needed. Since we are typically talking about an eighth of an inch added at most, I wonder if building the quarter leading edge might be preferable instead?

Then deal with any front fender to door gap issues, if any present. 

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For anyone reading this who has not already done so:

Rebuild your door hinges before even starting any other corrections involving these long heavy doors which wreak havoc on hinges Even a teensy bit of slop at the front is multiplied exponentially at the rear.

You will still have alignment and gap issues, but they will be consistent...:classic_smile:

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I guess gravity is greater in the south, lol. I have a totally rust free 1973 Mach 1 that was undercoated before I picked it up. I has 12,000 miles on it there is no rust. It bends when I pick up with 2 post with pads under the front torque boxes and adjacent to the front spring mount in the rear. It does not bend as much but it bends.
The 1973 vert is a California car with 48,000 that sat inside for total of 14 years. It has never been painted so I know nothing hidden I have had the whole interior out. When I lift it with 2 post you will not open and shut the doors it bends so far.
The frame shop that does my frame work in Asheville, Silvers, has to straighten highway patrol cars all the time. He said because the drive across the median it twists the bodies and bends them on brand new cars built much better than old mustangs. He will be doing the 73 Grande I have that is an Arizona car and tail light panel nor batter tray has any rust.  Has never been painted so no hidden damage. The doors open and close horrible on it. I know it has to be bent from jacking incorrect or driving across a ditch.
When in tech school our Physics teacher was also the shop teacher. We were discussing equal and opposite reactions. He made the statement that if a fly lit on a steel bridge it bent. Lots were saying no way. So we went into the shop set up a .0001" dial indicator and set up a 2" thick 1" wide hardened steel parallel with block under each end. You could bend the 2" thick parallel with one finger easily.
I use to shoot quite a bit but not any more. I had just got a new .300 Winchester Model 70 and took it to work on a Saturday and I had mounted and bedded the scope rings. I had the action and barrel out of the stock and in a vice on mill. I had a hardened steel drill blank in the receiver end of the barrel and a gauge pin at the exit end of the barrel. I indicated in parallel and straight to align bore the rings. I had dial indicator on the barrel end and with one finger could flex the barrel guiet a lot with zero effort just finger pressure. If I remember .010" was very easy to do. That is an alloy steel barrel. Equal and opposite reaction happens all the time nothing you can do to stop it.
I can rembmber standing at the starting line at Bristol when you could be anywhere you wanted in the 1970's. At that time he was running a 1970 Maverick or maybe a 71 which is built the same as mustang. When he would launch at the line the R.H. quarter panel would buckle up horribly and pop back when it settled down. That was with full cage in it. Look at a car launching at the strip, decent 351 could have 500 lb. of torque that twists the chassis several inches as it lifts.
So with all that there is no car made that does not bend and flex. new or old, shiny metal or rust bucket.
I myself would not pay more for a car with perfect caps closed up welded up door edges that is not how Ford made them, I would be afraid of chipping the paint when it does flex.
That trunk gap looks strange for sure but heck my spoiler was factory mounted over 1/2" off and I never noticed it until I was measuring holes for a member.
 

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??:P

David

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