Front Pan RestorationThe 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.