Saving an old body can be a frustrating but rewarding experience, and when I got a chance at an original '32 Ford five-window, I had to jump at it. From the start I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I figured with the help of a talented metalman and some new sheetmetal, my dream of owning a Deuce coupe could become a reality.
Once we got the basic bodywork and the 5-inch channeling done (Feb. '05 issue), we turned our attention to getting the rear of the body straightened out. In cases where the body is sound but rough, like with this coupe, Brookville Roadster repro sheetmetal can save the project.
After the first round of work at Scandinavian Street Rods, we were sure to get on Erik Hansson's list to get another week of sheetmetal massaging done. The problem that had to be taken care of this round was the wrinkled-up backside, which included both quarter-panels and rear corners, the channels around the trunk, and all the lower panels-basically the whole rear of the body.
Erik started with the plasma cutter, removing what was left of the stock trunk channels. Before the new trunk channels could be installed, both the quarter-panels had to be straightened out. My initial assessment was that most of that sheetmetal was going to have to be replaced altogether. But Erik didn't agree. "No, it can be straightened out, and those new corners will help the situation," he said. He worked his hammers and dollies for a few hours so he could measure the corner, make check lines, and then cut off the old corners with the plasma cutter. The next step was to weld the new corners in place, then work them with a hammer and dolly to straighten out the metal again.
Then it was time to start straightening out the inner edges for the trunk channels. But before the new channels were installed, the trunk lid was test-fit. The new rear panel below the trunk lid was clamped in place with Vise-Grips to make it easier to get things right. After some twisting and bending, Erik was pleased with the fit of the trunk lid and took it off. The channels were then clamped in place and spot-welded.
We discussed what to do with the space between the high Model A rear spring and the lower rear panel. It didn't take Erik more than a few minutes before he came up with the idea to make a box that would seal the rear part of the body and make it much stronger. He took some measurements and transferred them to a piece of sheetmetal, then he used his big break to form it. The box fit perfectly under the back of the body.
The next big step will be chopping the top, which will be done very soon.