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Thread: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

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    Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Just joined the site and currently in the process of researching/educating myself on welding. I don't think I've ever seen a welder in person so I'm really starting from the beginning lol. I have a bit of a predicament on my hands with my truck. Just bought the stupid truck a few months ago, a used 2012 Sierra SLE Z71. I noticed some paint bubbling on the external portion of the wheel well. I thought it was a minor rust issue so I wire brushed the paint away and found pretty extensive rust damage, it went through both layers of the sheet metal.

    I'm planning on borrowing my brother's crappy Harbor Freight welder that he never uses to attempt a fix. I'll probably practice spot welds/tacking (sorry still trying to learn the terms) sheet metal that's the same gauge as the truck's body for about a month or so before attempting the fix. I'm also going to buy and study the book Welding: Principles and Applications 7th edition. It's $28 on Amazon so I figure that's a good buy to at least make me not as clueless as I am right now.

    Sorry, long *** post already. Too many details. Anyway, as a more experienced welder, would you recommend buying new sheet metal and trying to fabricate/bend to the correct shape? Or I was thinking I could, if I'm lucky, find a truck at one of the local junk yards with the same truck bed style and cut out the section from the rear wheel wells. I'll probably have to use a hacksaw to cut it out though lol.

    If you read all that, thanks for your patience. I'm hoping I don't completely screw up and come to hate welding. I've wanted to learn how to weld for a long time and this truck is forcing me to jump in now. Planning on buying either the Hobart 140 or 210 MVP in the near future if I come to like welding. Thanks

    P.S. the truck is my secondary vehicle so I rarely drive it. I'm in no real rush to fix it.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    You might be able to buy partial panels for your truck that will already be formed on dies with the appropriate compound curves, and then weld them into place. That's what I did to replace some areas on my 2001 F-250. If you try to do it with sheet metal, and then form those compound curves yourself, you'll need to learn metal forming in addition to welding...and you might not get as nice of a finish, at least not without plastic or FRP filler. It'll be more expensive than doing it with raw sheet metal, but it'll also be faster and probably come out better. Just something to think about.

    Welcome to the forum.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    So first, I wouldn't even think of trying to find a good use part at the J-Yard, you'll probably end up with one that's either been repaired or "just about" to rust thru Maybe a place like LMC has a replacement wheel opening?

    Next, what kind of HF welder does your brother have? I mean, you don't want to Stick weld it and you're gonna have a hard time learning the basics of TIG for this. You'd want a MIG welder of some sort (and HF does have some that might fit the bill).

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Look on eBay for wheel arch repair panels. I would just bond them with panel adhesive. That's a large area that will warp badly even for an experienced person.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelvin View Post
    You might be able to buy partial panels for your truck that will already be formed on dies with the appropriate compound curves, and then weld them into place. That's what I did to replace some areas on my 2001 F-250. If you try to do it with sheet metal, and then form those compound curves yourself, you'll need to learn metal forming in addition to welding...and you might not get as nice of a finish, at least not without plastic or FRP filler. It'll be more expensive than doing it with raw sheet metal, but it'll also be faster and probably come out better. Just something to think about.

    Welcome to the forum.
    Didn't realize they sold partial panels! That would be ideal. I've been thinking how I would make the curves match up along with the wheel opening arc. I'll see if I can find a place that sells partial panels, thanks for the suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by BaTu View Post
    So first, I wouldn't even think of trying to find a good use part at the J-Yard, you'll probably end up with one that's either been repaired or "just about" to rust thru Maybe a place like LMC has a replacement wheel opening?

    Next, what kind of HF welder does your brother have? I mean, you don't want to Stick weld it and you're gonna have a hard time learning the basics of TIG for this. You'd want a MIG welder of some sort (and HF does have some that might fit the bill).

    That's true about the junk yard/pick a part place lol. Guess I could smear POR15 or something similar on it and inspect it really well for rust. Was just thinking that would be a great find since it will have the necessary curvature.

    I'm not sure about the exact model but he has a GMAW/FCAW welder. I read a lot of posts online that says FCAW wouldn't work on sheet metal (due to burn through I believe) but also read it can be done; just have to really space out the welds/tack points, maybe use some kind of backing plate, and possibly spray the piece down with water to reduce the heat? Anyway I don't know what I'm talking about so should probably stop thinking about how I will do it before I know the absolute basics of welding lol. I'm hoping I can get by with FCAW so I don't have to go and buy a tank with gas mix. My wife gave me the go ahead to buy another toy (the Hobart 140 or 210 MVP) but she doesn't know about the cost of a tank and gas yet lmao.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    Look on eBay for wheel arch repair panels. I would just bond them with panel adhesive. That's a large area that will warp badly even for an experienced person.
    Yeah I think I'll go with repair panels although you just ruined my dream/plan lol. Was looking forward to learning how to weld. I guess I can still learn, just have to think of some cool projects to make.

    So you would use panel adhesive and bondo/filler to smooth out the join vs butt welding the panel onto the truck?

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Here's a pic of what I'm dealing with:

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Trim the other side to match and paint it... done although you can't see both sides at once.. so... paint and done
    Airco Ac/Dc 300 Heliwelder
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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    *Which* Harbor Freight welder matters. I have the Titanium 125, which I like, and I think could do a good job of welding sheet metal (because it's an inverter). As mentioned, MIG is the proper way to do it, though. I also have one of the older cheap HF welders and I don't think I would use it for sheet metal. I think I even tried once and gave up in frustration. It doesn't have enough heat control; I think the lowest setting is still too high (causes burn-through).

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by SquirmyPug View Post
    Trim the other side to match and paint it... done although you can't see both sides at once.. so... paint and done
    lol that's true. I have to do the other side too I believe, I see the same bubbling through the paint.

    Quote Originally Posted by upand_at_them View Post
    *Which* Harbor Freight welder matters. I have the Titanium 125, which I like, and I think could do a good job of welding sheet metal (because it's an inverter). As mentioned, MIG is the proper way to do it, though. I also have one of the older cheap HF welders and I don't think I would use it for sheet metal. I think I even tried once and gave up in frustration. It doesn't have enough heat control; I think the lowest setting is still too high (causes burn-through).
    I tried to ask him what model he has several times but he just says it's a mig. So frustrating. I'm about to buy the Hobart 210 MVP anyway and start practicing with it. Tried to find a welding class/school near me but so far no luck. Guess it's going to be book reading, YouTube videos, and tinkering with it in the garage.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ambull01 View Post
    lol that's true. I have to do the other side too I believe, I see the same bubbling through the paint.



    I tried to ask him what model he has several times but he just says it's a mig. So frustrating. I'm about to buy the Hobart 210 MVP anyway and start practicing with it. Tried to find a welding class/school near me but so far no luck. Guess it's going to be book reading, YouTube videos, and tinkering with it in the garage.
    Try adding your location to your bio. (I think that's what it's called) There could be someone here that could help teach you to weld. Having someone at least show you the basics helps a lot and helps keep you from forming bad habits that you have to unlearn. Reading books is great and I learned a lot that way (and school) but if you want to learn without spending a lot of money, weldingweb and some other web sites plus YouTube are great.
    Airco Ac/Dc 300 Heliwelder
    MillerMatic 200 (stolen)
    Miller Maxstar 150STL
    Miller AEAD200LE (welding and generating power)
    Hobart MIG

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Name:  IMG_20200923_184201554.jpg
Views: 371
Size:  56.5 KB. This is a 2002 Silverado I did about a year ago. I used screws to hold it in place. Panel adhesive with about 3/4" overlap.
    Miller xmt304, Miller S22 p12, Miier Maxstar SD, Miller 252 w 30A, Miller super32p12, Lincoln Ranger 9, Thermal Arc 181I with spoolgun, Hypertherm 10000 ,Smith torches. Esab 161lts miniarc.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Name:  IMG_20201004_120815348.jpg
Views: 372
Size:  120.5 KB this is after paint and before doing the final black and flares on the truck. I'm not a body man but have done quite a few rust repairs over the years. Last truck I welded in wheel arch panels was a 86 Chevy K-20. The metal is so thin on this " newer" stuff. Rockers and cab corners I welded, but that large surface over a wheel well arch is asking for major warpage. I understand the OPs desire to weld but that arch area isn't the place to learn. Good luck on your repairs.
    Miller xmt304, Miller S22 p12, Miier Maxstar SD, Miller 252 w 30A, Miller super32p12, Lincoln Ranger 9, Thermal Arc 181I with spoolgun, Hypertherm 10000 ,Smith torches. Esab 161lts miniarc.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Yep... pay attention to what MJD is telling you. If you want to play, play... but if you want your truck to look nice when you're done, that's the way to go. Check around locally and see if there are any night courses you could take in welding this winter... that would get you up and running a lot faster than trial and error via Youtubes. Even installing a complete box side is a big job for a newbie welder. If you do try welding, pay attention to your gas fillers. The learning curve there is very abrupt.
    Last edited by whtbaron; 10-04-2021 at 08:51 PM.
    The harder you fall, the higher you bounce...

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    My '99 Silverado 2500 came with plastic fender well covers,, they basically snap in place,,



    Other than the stock ones, I think I have seen all sorts of aftermarket extensions,, that might be the no-weld/no-Bondo/no-paint method of wheel well repair??

    There is some guy on Amazon that has snap into place rocker covers, and cab corners,,

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    . This is a 2002 Silverado I did about a year ago. I used screws to hold it in place. Panel adhesive with about 3/4" overlap.
    That looks pretty good to me although can't see much. Can't believe the adhesive is strong enough to hold the panels in place, figured the panel would come flying off while I'm doing 75 on the highway. Going to order the panels now along with the adhesive.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    That bonding adhesive is strong shlt. Rough it up with 36 grit and clean well. Notice the radiused corner on the panel. Cutting that in my opinion is key to preventing cracks in the future. I forgot to add, when done with the repair, coat the backside. I ground the backside down but primed and painted right up to the overlap before applying the repair panel. Afterwards rubberized undercoating. After that is fully cured, fluid film or some type of oil to prevent corrosion. Not sure where your at but in Wisconsin road salt can start in October and run into May. I douse the underside with fluid film every fall to prevent future corrosion.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
    My '99 Silverado 2500 came with plastic fender well covers,, they basically snap in place,,

    Other than the stock ones, I think I have seen all sorts of aftermarket extensions,, that might be the no-weld/no-Bondo/no-paint method of wheel well repair??
    There is some guy on Amazon that has snap into place rocker covers, and cab corners,,
    True. I was looking into those wheel well liners but then it would just be a coverup. Bought this stupid truck for $20k a few months ago and already had to do some time consuming fixes to it. I pulled out all the crazy trailer/LED wiring, replaced and sealed the third brake light, removed all the seats to remove and dry the carpet/padding underneath, etc. This thing is keeping me busy lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    That bonding adhesive is strong shlt. Rough it up with 36 grit and clean well. Notice the radiused corner on the panel. Cutting that in my opinion is key to preventing cracks in the future. I forgot to add, when done with the repair, coat the backside. I ground the backside down but primed and painted right up to the overlap before applying the repair panel. Afterwards rubberized undercoating. After that is fully cured, fluid film or some type of oil to prevent corrosion. Not sure where your at but in Wisconsin road salt can start in October and run into May. I douse the underside with fluid film every fall to prevent future corrosion.
    Yep I've been reading about panel adhesives and priming it except for the part where the adhesive will be applied. I'll do that rubberized coating too. Just used several cans of that stuff on the undercarriage of the truck after removing the flaked rust. I'm in the northern VA area, we don't get a lot of snow here at all. Maybe a couple inches or so every year.

    I had to cut the rear/second layer of the sheet metal too due to rust. Did you replace that with the new panel as well? I was wondering how I would attach what's left of the rear metal to the new panel. Maybe I could just get some new sheet metal from Home Depot or something and use the adhesive to attach the sheet metal to the remaining rear metal and the new panel. Getting kind of excited thinking about this fix lol. I've never tried to do body work before, just simple car maintenance type stuff until I decided to pull the engine from my old Cadillac. Took me about a week to do that lol.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    If it fits up good on the other layer the adhesive will work well. A lot of the multiple layer construction uses foam as an adhesive and sound deadening agent. In my opinion that shlt is the chief cause of that rust. I rip all of that crap out that I can reach. If the panel needs reinforcement, I bend a piece of sheet metal, bond it to the inaccessible side first. Then on the repair panel, grind back where it bonds and apply adhesive to the brace. My theory is, right wrong or otherwise, is if crap can get in, make sure it can come out. I'm not as familiar with the series after the " classic", but I would almost guarantee that the areas that are prone to rust have that foam shlt right there.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    A couple tips I will give you, keep in mind I'm no body man, auto restoration expert, etc. Get your self a " long board" sander. Harbor freight one is decent. Buy good 3m tape for masking and masking paper, not newspaper. Harbor freight has adequate paper for cheap. Use fiberglass reinforced body filler for a first coat over the seams as it will prevent cracks. When sanding with the long board, once you hit metal, stop and knock that spot down and apply another coat of filler. If you see the slightest imperfection it will be magnified 10 fold with paint.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Quote Originally Posted by whtbaron View Post
    Yep... pay attention to what MJD is telling you. If you want to play, play... but if you want your truck to look nice when you're done, that's the way to go. Check around locally and see if there are any night courses you could take in welding this winter... that would get you up and running a lot faster than trial and error via Youtubes. Even installing a complete box side is a big job for a newbie welder. If you do try welding, pay attention to your gas fillers. The learning curve there is very abrupt.
    I'm trying to find some welding courses now, had no idea it would be so hard to locate. Seems like there are no welding courses at any of the community colleges near me. I would have thought welding would be a desirable career field. Only found one place so far that offers welding courses. It's a private company about an hour and a half from me. They offer two GMAW courses that's 16 hours each. Not sure what I'll really be able to learn in just 16 hours but I guess it's better than strictly YouTube and textbook.


    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    A couple tips I will give you, keep in mind I'm no body man, auto restoration expert, etc. Get your self a " long board" sander. Harbor freight one is decent. Buy good 3m tape for masking and masking paper, not newspaper. Harbor freight has adequate paper for cheap. Use fiberglass reinforced body filler for a first coat over the seams as it will prevent cracks. When sanding with the long board, once you hit metal, stop and knock that spot down and apply another coat of filler. If you see the slightest imperfection it will be magnified 10 fold with paint.
    That's what I'm afraid of, being able to see the seams. Well I'm also worried about painting/blending the paint too lol. I've never tried to paint any part of vehicle so I'll have to do a lot of research first to get an idea of what to do. I'll definitely have to make my wife some cool **** for the house when I learn how to weld. I've been driving her crazy about my plans/ideas on how to fix the truck. Also just spent four hours straight looking up welding courses near me, how to apply and prep for panel adhesive, etc.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    About the only paint I would attempt to spot and blend on a panel that size, would be lacquer and I doubt you'll even find that know. Some basecoat/clearcoats might work out alright, but you'll still be shooting the entire panel in clear. You'll be shooting both box sides before you're done.
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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    If you're just trying to get it to look halfway-decent for five years or so, you could do as I did with a '71 Pinto back in the '80s:

    1. Chop out all the rusty material all the way back to good solid metal.
    2. Cut pieces of new metal roughly to shape and pop-rivet them (lapping underneath) to the good existing metal.
    3. Paint all exposed metal (both sides) with Rust Oleum Rusty Metal Primer.
    4. Cover the seams and pop rivets with fiberglass saturated w/ either polyester resin or epoxy. Jam it in there (until it's transparent) by stabbing with brush bristles.
    5. Sand and if needed cover with a little more FG and resin to get it close to fair.
    6. Sand again and cover with a "skim coat" of bondo.
    7. Repeat step 5 if needed to get it damn near fair.
    8. Cover/fair/fill all the pin holes and minor imperfections (like less than 1/32" deep) with the red "skim coat" bondo stuff.
    9. Sand and paint.

    My Pinto lasted a good 5 years or so without any paint blistering or any rust coming through, even around the rear wheel wells in the rock salt belt, after I did this. It's not "the right way" to do it, but if all you care about is cosmetics, you can get a pretty decent job this way (or at least I did). You could tell that "something" had been done, but you couldn't really tell HOW MUCH had been done -- and there were some HUGE areas that I cut out and replaced, particularly around the rear wheel wells (remember that atrocious steel Ford was using back in the early 1970s, that rusted out before it left the showroom floor?)
    Last edited by Kelvin; 10-05-2021 at 08:31 AM.

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    Looks to me like the color of the OPs truck is " victory red" . That paint is available in a laquer thru O'Reilly's. Personally I would paint the entire bedside. Surely the match won't be perfect and the space between the bed and cab will break it up enough so the difference will be harder to detect. I would pull the bed bolts, bumper and filler neck and slide the bed back to paint it. That will make masking the cab a lot easier and the painting as well .

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    Re: Got A Stupid Total Newb Sheetmetal Question

    With the high number of rear bed takeoffs available around the country,, I would seriously consider a complete bed replacement.
    That truck was moved from one of the "rust-belt" locations, and represented as a nice truck.
    The 5 (or even 15) year answer is to install a rust free bed. The patch and paint method may only last 2 or 3 years.

    I know rust free beds are available,, heck, none of the trucks sold NEW in Roanoke over the last 25 years have any bed rust,, I own a '95, '99, and '07, all no rust.

    By the time you value your labor at over $3 per hour, a bed swap will be the answer,, and getting a color match to red should be easy.

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