Front Pan Restoration

The front pan has severe rust in the channel between the front suspension hangers, a fact that was a consideration when the car was purchased. The rust was probably caused by electrolyte from a leaky battery. My early research indicated that the cost for the pan was about $200 and I felt that either I could learn how to do the work myself or find a shop to do it. The do-it yourself approach involves removal of the old one and welding the new. The removal of the old includes cutting out the old spot welds, one by one. Tedious. The welding is done by using a wire fed arc welder such as is available from Sears.

The danger with this problem is that the front end of the torsion bars are mounted to the pan. Hard braking or a hard evasive turn could rip the suspension loose. It has happened before.

So, we have a "make vs. buy" decision.

Here is what I've found out about the buy approach. The parts required must include more than just the front body pan. Also changed is the gas tank support and a seal between the gas tank and the new parts. The total price for these is about $274 not the $200 originally anticipated. Disassembly will include removal of the gas tank which presents an opportunity to clean and seal it to solve the rust crud I see in the fuel filter. A professional, experienced shop will take about 20-25 hours of labor to do the work. I can have the car back in service within a couple of weeks if they do the work.

My estimate on doing it myself is that it would probably would take me at least a 100 hours spread over several months plus tools (cut-off saw, grinders, welder) and might never end as I destroy adjacent parts plus the new ones while learning how to do the work! If one was better connected to the trades maybe he could find some sort of vocational school and use their tools.

The conclusion is obvious. Bite the bullet and get the work done professionally. It will save money in the long run. I'll use the time saved to earn the money to pay for the repair.

The car went to Del's Autobody in San Jose August 28, 2000 and it was finished two weeks later. The cost was $1728 including parts, labor, de-scaling and sealing the fuel tank and a new fuel tank filter.

The fuel tank was rusty inside and had to be cleaned out and sealed. This work was done by Ron Zeitner of Vinatge Auto in Oroville (916) 534-1163. His shop was recommended by the people who make the sealant that I want, POR 15.


235-328-3 Top view of the front body pan. Included are the bolts and mounting brackets for the front end of the suspension torsion bars.
235-328-2 Bottom of the front body pan viewed as though you are looking under the front of the car. Included is the tow hook. You have a good view here of the suspension mounting points.
235-328-1 Here is the top view of the gas tank support. There are differences in this pan depending on the year and as the battery support changed. This looks correct for my car.
652-849-3 Delivering my 912 to Del's Auto Body in San Jose, CA. to begin a two week stay for front pan and fuel tank restoration.
652-849-4 Here are the old parts after being cut out of my car. Some are very thin and certainly not suitable for structural members.
652-849-8 I picked this small piece from the pile. It is paper thin at the edges.
652-849-5 DMorning of the third day. The new front body pan is in place but not welded. I visited the shop to pick up the fuel tank so it could be cleaned and sealed.
652-849-6 Here is the point where the old metal meets new.
652-849-7 Detail of the left front showing the end of the front torsion bar tube and the point on the new front pan where it will be bolted.
652-849-10 Here is the fuel tank level transducer. See the crud on the surface after removing from the tank.
tank On Wednesday my brother Rick and I drove the fuel tank to Vintage Auto in Oroville, a shop recommended by POR15, the vendor of the tank sealer I selected.
hotrod2 The primary business for Ron Zeitner, the owner of Vintage Auto, is making street rods. Here is a 1953 Mercury showing under-carriage details including a modern Corvette suspension and disk brakes.
tankman Dave and Ron talking car business, tank restoration and living conditions in Oroville.
Last modified: Wed, 20 Sep 2000


Site Details. Disclaimer. Comments? Questions? Dave Hillman
Content attribted to others remains their property. Otherwise the text and images are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!