1968 Pontiac Firebird Rust Repair Work

Just like any 40 year old car north of the desert there are going to be some rust problems. Compared to my
previous project car this one was a dream. It was not rust free and it did take me several months of work, but
the rust repair was relatively minimal and well within my range of skills to repair. Plus I needed to put my welder
to some use. I bought it when I had the HUGE amount of bodywork in front of me with the other car and it
worked great for this job as well. I have a Millermatic 175 230V MIG welder. I use .023 wire with Argon/co2
mix gas. I would have no hesitation recommending it or my dealer Western Canada Welding. the 175 has been
discontinued now and replaced with the 180 which looks like the same beast but has new feature "Autoset".
I am also a big fan of the auto darkening helmets, especially when you have to get into tight spots and make
a lot of small tack welds in restricted areas.

My technique is nothing out of the ordinary. Cut away all the badly rusted areas and weld in hand formed
patches of good clean mild steel. I used 16-18 gauge metal for my patches. The worst areas were the outside
corners on both the drivers and passenger footwells and at the very front ends of the rocker channels. the
area under the drivers footwell required both the inner and outer layers of steel be replaced. the little gap of
air between those two was a poor design from the beginning and seemed a perfect place for the rust to grow
unchecked.
Any minor rusted areas were grinded or sandblasted until the metal was bare. after removing the rust I coated
all the bare metal in the interior floor and trunk floor with a product called Chassis Saver. I read it was exactly
the same as POR 15 and it was readily available at a couple of local auto parts stores whereas POR 15 is not
around here. I don't think it was any cheaper than the POR products though. Once on it seemed really strong
and it sure was crazy difficult to remove from your hands if you got any on you (which I did). On the floor
areas in the trunk and interior I put down one good coat of the gloss black. On the front subframe and control
arms i put a primer coat of the the aluminum and then a top coat of antique semi-gloss black for extra protection.
the floor areas were totally coated with sound deadener mats and would see no "wear" so one coat to kill any
rust and seal all the bare metal I felt would be fine.

below are a bunch of pictures of the work.

front drivers footwell as the old asphalt mats and carpet were removed.

passenger footwell after its mats and carpet removed. does not look to bad... yet.

passengers footwell after some grinding and blasting has taken place.

closer up of same front passenger footwell.

drivers footwell after worst of loose rust removed so you can see the extent of the rust in that area.

same in passenger footwell. top metal had not looked to bad but behind it and on the bottom
metal it was worse so I cut top metal away until i could get at all the bottom metal I needed to.

view from drivers underneath as the rust repair work there gets rolling.

the passenger rocker was worse and needed a lot of work.

drivers footwell getting better, grind, blast, grind again.

passenger footwell after top patch gone in. the white sand you see is bits of glass bead left
around after blasting. it is actually very tiny but because it is glass it reflects the camera
flash a lot and looks huge.

drivers patch welded in. tack, tack, tack till solid with sheetmetal welding. then grind smooth.

view of interior as I grind away any little bits of rust here and there. most of the rest was pretty good.

same, just more of a view of back.

rear seat area after most of the mats have been removed.

metal is getting cleaner. takes a lot of time.

the interior metal is all clean and rust free so a coat of Chassis saver gloss black is applied.

view of rear of the interior area after the coating is applied. this product cures by moisture in the air and metal so you have
to be very careful with the can between uses and how humid the weather is when you have the can open. Any humid air
in the can after it is closed and it continues curing in the can after it is closed and the whole can is toast.

I have put all the work I did on the trunk area on the Trunk Page

 

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