Unpicking the A panels

Not the most riveting of tasks, but here’s how to release a spot welded panel.   Use a spot weld drill – mine came from Machine Mart , they are a worthwhile investment, however when you have finished your car project you will no longer have a use for it, you will put it somewhere ‘safe’ and never see it again.  Eventually you will either forget about it altogether or the memory of it will become enhanced with properties it never had originally, whereupon it can be added to the list of topics discussed at the Old Man’s Memory Club that you and your friends create every Thursday night at the pub.

Other things regularly discussed at the Old Man’s Memory Club

  • Pete F’s car bulb collection
  • Steve’s list of projects which are all in a state of suspension due to other commitments
  • Pete R’s love life (lack thereof)
  • The price of beer
  • Whether anyone has seen or heard from Bill 
  • What Pete F and I bought last week on eBay
  • Whether Chris is coming out 
Carefully use the spot weld drill to release the panels from that to which they are welded

As can be seen above, it’s very easy to go right through the panel. The spot welds higher up the screen were easier to deal with. Less corrosion = more metal

Anyway – the tool has a spring loaded pin in it, which acts as a guide and the idea is to cut through the first layer of metal only.  Assuming of course, that you’re not trying to unpick a 2CV which is made of tinfoil thin metal, in which case you’ll drill through both layers before you know it.  Things to be aware of:  2CV spot welds are never quite as uniform and orderly as they are on a modern car.  They were done by hand,  so some are close to, or on top of other spot welds.  Welded metal is also much harder than mild steel  – I’m not a metallurgist but I guess it has something to do with annealing and heating as opposed to kneeling and seating.  Spot welds on the 2CV are augmented with braze, which is used to seal up the gaps and make good the joins.  Nowadays, we use filler and mastic.  The old ways are better, because braze doesn’t fall out or crack over time. It is also very hard to remove if you don’t have a proper blowtorch, which I don’t.

Spot welds drilled and ‘popped’ off the A post

For spot welds, a combination of drilling, prying and cold chiselling works best.  I’m only keeping the door pillar side of the A panels, the rest I can hack off or chop out with the angle grinder and a 1ml cutting disk.  A word of warning.  If, like me, you think it’s a good idea to remove the guard from your angle grinder, watch out.  1ml cutting disks have a habit of exploding and if they do, all sorts of sharp bits of them will become embedded in your face. This will ruin your day.

You can see here that under the seam which has been unpicked, it has been quietly rusting away.  The door frame is much thicker than the A panel, so eventually the A panel will rust through and pop off.  After I got the A panel out of the way, I turned by attention to the firewall.  This has had some extra metal added to patch up the battery box and provide support for the parcel shelf.  There are lots of rust holes in the parcel shelf and these have been patched with angle pieces, which have also been pop rivetted to the firewall.  I spent ages drilling out all the pop rivets I could get to and freeing off the spot weds that hold the instrument panel on to the firewall.   When I get the firewall out, I see what’s left of the parcel shelf.  Parcel shelfs are available, but that’s another £80 to shell out.  I’ll probably have to make a new instrument binnacle anyway, so I’ll be better off spending the money on a metal folder (£60) which I can also use for the parcel shelf repairs.  When I’m done with the metal folder,  I’ll store it with the spot weld removal tool.

I picked up a pair of rear panels on eBay which were delivered today.  They are for an AK400 but it looks to me like I can use them with a bit of fiddling here and there.  The van has had the bottom section of these panels replaced as part of the last restoration, so I can do a tidier job by replacing the whole lot.  Incidentally, they only cost £65 for the pair.  New price for the same panels is £105 each.  If I don’t use them, I’ll be £65 out of pocket and if I do use them, I’ll be £65 out of pocket, plus I’ll have spent loads of time replacing something that no-one will ever notice. This job is therefore not priority at this time.


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