Living in a northern climate gives one the opportunity to experience the effects that salt-covered winter roads have on well-used '60s and '70s Mopars. Our '66 Dart GT spent its existence in New Jersey and was in dire need of fresh floorpans.
In typical northern fashion, the floorpans showed a serious amount of rot, where water and salt had accumulated over the years. Not only do the elements take their toll from the outside, but this also happens from shoes tracking in dirt and snow, leaky windshields, air conditioners, master cylinders, and windows left rolled down.
Fortunately, the aftermarket has begun to show interest in the early A-Bodies. That means the required repair parts were only a phone call away. To replace our rusted-out floorpans we went to Auto Body Specialties.
Once we pulled up the carpet,...
Once we pulled up the carpet, our early A-Body's floorpan was a sad sight of rust and holes. More holes and rust popped up after cleaning and vacuuming. Usually (like ours), the higher section where the seat bolts down is in solid shape since the water will sit and rot-out the lower sections of the floorpan.
If you look closely, you can...
If you look closely, you can see the driver-side front floorpan was replaced once before with unprotected (never rust-proofed) sheetmetal. It didn't last long, nor did it fit firmly on the framerail and transmission crossmember like a quality reproduction pan. A flush fit on the frame will help strengthen the unibody's structure.
After measuring the new pan,...
After measuring the new pan, we made certain not to cut away too much of the old floorpan. We took the opportunity to wire brush and vacuum out the loose rust particles inside of the frame channel, and took the time to apply Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator inside the frame. The cut-away parameter of the original pan and the topsides of the frame must be stripped clean of rust. This enables the sheetmetal contact areas to provide clean metal-to-metal contact for the adhesive.
Now, we realize not everyone has access to the required tools to weld in repair panels. Let's face it, unless you work on cars repeatedly, a welder is probably not in your garage. So how can you make the required repair without having to pay someone? If you remember, we had success gluing-on quarter-panels on a Challenger (Nov. '02), so we felt confident again using The Eastwood Company's No-Weld kit (PN 31102).
Before we get e-mails stating we shouldn't be showing inferior ways to repair sheetmetal, here's some food for thought. In the past 5-10 years, many body shops have turned to adhesive technology where welding is not mandatory, so we felt safe using the structural adhesive on the floorpans. Sure, butt-welding and smoothing said welds will give a show-winning appearance, but many enthusiasts may not be worried about that, and this is a viable alternative that we thought many of you would like to learn about.
After all, the glued-on quarter-panels on the Challenger still look great without any signs of cracking or separation. Also, many enthusiasts don't own welding equipment, so the glue system puts body repair in the hands of a beginner. Benefits include the elimination of tin corrosion at the panel joint and the prevention of heat warpage in the panels (a possibility when welding). Safety wise, there are no sparks to cause a possible fire in the home garage.
We already had the Eastwood installation kit, so we ordered six packages of No Weld Panel Adhesive (PN 31087) to get started on the floorpan replacement.