Always in pursuit of an adventure in learning! Seems there are no commercially available patch panels for the lower cowl for these vehicles. Oh there are some crappy attempts using flat bar welded on the sheet metal, but that's not a decent fix. I've seen them on restored vehicles, and the body filler cracks around where the flat bar meets the sheet metal. So we decided to make these much needed parts.
The first order of business was to draw the metal shape up in SolidWorks, a 3D CAD program. Here is the passenger side patch panel we wish to make. Due to the shape it was decided to make the RH and LH together and then saw the part in half. The CAD drawing was mirrored and provisions for the saw cut made.
These forming tools were made. The left is for coining the external body feature and the right one is for making the door jamb recess.
First the coining die was tried. We tried small pieces of metal and large ones....too much wrinkling of the metal :-(
We beat the metal flat anyway and tried the second operation. Not too good either.
Next we tried loading smaller pieces of metal into just one side of the dies. That didn't work much better.
Back to the drawing board more modification.....
Die sets were redesigned and modified to add plates and urethane sheets to act as preload springs to keep the metal flat while the coining operations were being done.
(Click on the small photos)
The first die set is being aligned and bolted into the press.
A larger view showing the press.
A half dozen or so parts were made with the first die set.
A close up of the first operation. This is the rocker panel extension that transitions into both the frot cowl panel and the back quarter panels.
Second die set being set up in the press on the opposite end.
The dies set apart.
Devin is loading a part into the second die set. You'll see this is a part already stamped by the first die set, and that coined area fits over a locating key in this second die set.
We were using only 1/2 pieces of metal in the beginning, and here is a right and left hand part made as separates.
Last we tried making a combination part. This has been the intention all along. To stamp the RH and LH parts as one and them simply saw in half. We are getting pretty close!