Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Red Coupe - Takin' it on the chin Pt. 2

The following day I went outside to run the car while inspecting the damage by sunlight and things were about what I expected. The radiator didn't leak while running which was good, but the driver side fender lining lost an attachment point with the impact so that was something else added to this list of things needing replacement. The foglights didn't turn on after hitting the raccoon (I testing it shortly afterwards while driving), even on the side not hit so this would need to be checked out once I got access to a lift. One problem that stood out pretty quickly was that the sheet metal that the front apron bolts to behind the front brake ducts was pushed pretty far back from where it should be.

Once my day off came I got the car over to Euromotive to get a professional opinion while up in the air. I made sure to bring my heavy rubber mallet and 20oz hammer with me to take advantage of the lift time. Thankfully I got into the bay quickly and after the radiator was confirmed sound I asked if I could step into the octagon with my front apron; they obliged.

I'm no body guy, but I knew what needed to be done. I didn't have special tools, but I was ok with putting in work with what I had. Pretty wasn't a concern for support metal, so I proceeded to work from the minimum effort needed up to where I needed to be in order to bang things back to normal. First I pulled the apron back out enough to remove the driver-side foglight, then took both ducts and fogs off the car. I inspected the foglight wiring, which didn't appear to have any damage, but since the plugs for them had no tabs anymore I'd have to rule out loss of 'contact' later on. After inspecting where things were bent, I started swinging for the fences with the rubber mallet. Being able to raise and lower the car for leverages sake helped a bunch. Once I got some room I began working the apron attachment point in the underlying sheet metal.

This is the 'good' side I needed to match...seems like this has been done before.
About halfway done with the bad side.
'Nothing to see here' finished product.

As you can see, I made the mounting panel alignment as close on both sides as possible. Banging the apron back into somewhat it's original shape helped that process tremendously; once things 'opened up' I used the prying fork of the hammer to fine tune.

Now that the car was taken care of, I had another task to tackle. The day before I had worked out an arrangement to pickup a nused apron and fogs...locally! The car gods definitely smiled on me. The price was right and the seller, Rob, was an enthusiast a little older than myself; a good dude that was in the middle of an interesting e30 project of his own. The apron was solid overall, but needed a little bit of help; it came from a car that must have bottomed out on something going off the mild bend that it had on the driver-side. It also had a small lump that resulted from it bending akwardly in that location. I measured both sides of the apron and found the 'good' side was about 3/4" longer than the bent side. I then got to work, straightening all the fog mounting tabs, removing broken front lip clips and hammering the contour back in the the apron.

What the apron edge should look like
What the bad edge looks like
Rounded contour on the wheel well side
After the massage:

Once completed, both sides were within 1mm of each other in length. Since this apron will be cleaned up and resprayed (obviously), I could work on some metal-working techniques. E30 front apron metal is a thick gauge so it's pretty hard to screw up even for an amateur. Now that my pre-bodyguy drop-off prep was done I need a new lip, lip clips and to get everything sprayed; then I can get myself back to where I was...a week ago. The good news is I wanted to respray my front bits and spare front bumper anyway, but the bad news is that I didn't want to do it this soon (wallet) and possibly not at all since it just gets chipped every winter anyway. Regardless, it's time to make lemonade again.

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