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Panelling #1

October 13, 2017

Despite the lack of posts since Floored Pt 4 there has now been some, albeit very stop-start, progress with panelling.

Transmission tunnel side panels, the rear bulkhead panel, the passengert footwell and the floor panel are now crafted and have been riveted and bonded to the chassis. The final step of actually bonding and pulling the rivets was done over two different days, a few weeks apart. The severe downpour that unfolded just as I was popping in the last of the rivets on the first day did dampen my initial feelings of success but, thankfully, did did not actually compromise the Sikaflex 221 which I used as the PU adhesive. Apparently, I discovered afterwards, Sika will cure whilst underwater…

Rivetting back panel

Rain pic


The steel panels which I faffed about with in 2014 were no real use as templates in the end but a lot of hours went into making these panels –  in fragments spread out over the period January – October – to carry out the following steps:

i) Making cardboard templates.

ii) Marking up the 1.2mm NS4 half hard aluminium sheet I bought to make the finished product. I went for sheet with a plastic film on one side – so I can keep the ‘visible’ side of the panel as scuff free as possible whilst building. However the first panel I marked up was effectively the wrong way round – the plastic film would have been on the inside – so I had to redo it. Easy, and stupid, mistake to make.

iii) Carefully trimming them up so that they fit nicely as plain panels. Despite best efforts with the cardboard there were plenty of little tweaks to make.

iv) Carefully marking up where the chassis rails would sit against them – so I knew where to drill the holes for rivets.

v) Drilling through them twice for the rivets. First, from the ‘reverse side’  in 1.5mm to locate where the final rivet holes would go, the second time in 3.2mm through from ‘the visible side’ whilst the panel was clamped up on the chassis rails to drill the full hole required for the rivets.

vi) Drilling the ‘other’ holes I needed in the panels – in the rear bulkhead this was 4 holes to allow access to the diff bolts. A 32mm hole cutter worked well in the end – but marking up was a ‘best guess’ in practice simply angling a pen through from the rear and hoping it was held square to the diff mount holes. To position the holes for the harness bolts in the side panels this was easier – with the panel held in place with Clecos I simply wound a 7/16s bolt through from the inside to leave a mark as it started to push the panel out then centre punched and drilled.


vii) Deburring the panels – so that they would actually sit flush against the rails when pulled in tight by the rivets. And deburring the holes in the chassis rails too. I decided to fork out for a special Noga deburring tool (the RC1000) which cost £35 delivered – which allowed me to deburr inside the box section as well. I also ran a standard deburring blade round all the edges of the panels although in practice this mostly just left them smoothed but very bumpy…

viii) Degreasing and cleaning the panels in prep for the bonding. I used simple white spirit and some panel wipes I bought from a bodywork suppliers.

ix) Degreasing and cleaning, then scuffing with Scotchbrite pads, then re-degreasing and cleaning, the chassis rails. The POR15 paint I have used has a gloss finish and I thought the Sikaflex would want something to ‘grab’.

x) Appling the Sikaflex – this was especially awkward with the rear bulkhead panel as it had to be carefully slid into postion – so the sealant was squirted in from various different angles in the end – some was applied onto the box section face, some onto the panel.

xi) Rivetting. This was fairly straightforward for the bulkhead panel, once a couple of un-popped rivets were pushed into place the whole panel aligned and it was then a case of getting all the rest into place then popping them working from corner across to the opposite. The side panel was more complicated – despite using clecos when drilling the holes there was obviously more pull on the panel when rivetted. Starting at one end was OK, by the time I reached the other end some of the rivets needed persusaion to actually go into the holes. In the first step (rear bulkhead and back panel) I was left with two holes (out of 70-80 odd) that needed drilling out slightly before I could actually fit the rivet and one hole where I had just failed to drill into the chassis rail at all. In the end I just left that one…. When fitting the floor, in the second session, I had two holes which had been drilled through at 2mm but not 3.2. I just ran the 3.2 drill through these once every other rivet was in place.

xii) And the final step is now simply to wait for the Sikaflex to cure then see how much I need to clean up / trim. Some Sikaflex was squeezed out from between the panels and rails when the rivets pulled down. A week after the first session I trimmed up to allow for clean fitting of the floor etc, second time round I smoothed more of the overspill out whilst it was still wet.




From → Building, Buying

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