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The Start

 

Day 1

When I bought the Riley I knew the damage to the trunk lid and surround had allowed water to enter the trunk and rust the floor. looking in the trunk I could see some problems with the inner fender. I cut out some of the trunk floor to gain access to the dented rear fender. With a lot of hammer and dolly work I was able to bash most of the large dents out and return the body to roughly the correct shape. I then looked into the problems with the inner fender. The outer fender bolts to the main bodywork with fender welting in the seam. The bolts were not original and some sheet metal screws were used. Not a good sign. After removing the outer fender it became clear the inner body that accepts the fender had been repaired before and not very well.  The edge was covered with galvanized steel,  riveted and brazed to the body.  The whole thing had then been smeared with bondo.  Oh well, nothing to do but rip it all out.  It was an easy job with an angle grinder and some tin snips. One thing lead to another and soon most of the inner trunk wall was gone too.

 

Day 2

I decided the rear body lip was too rusted to save so I had to figure out a way to make a new one. It is an L section with a changing curve that had to match the fender profile.  I made a wooden form to shape the part.  20 gauge steel was clamped down and one edge hammered over. looked good when done. I welded  the edge part to the body trying to keep the correct profile.

 

Day 3

Next came the inner wheel well or trunk inside it was made from 18 ga steel. I made a cardboard template and cut out the part with air powered shears. Some small patches were made for the inner wheel well. I cut a 1 1/2 inch wide strip of steel to bridge the gap between the trunk side wall and the new lip. This strip has nuts for bolting the outer fender welded to it.

Day 4

I spent most of today finishing the fender lip and welding everything together.  Its very quick to tack things in place, it takes forever to weld all the joints completely. I next turned my attention to the right rear of the body. A small rust through area soon became larger when I started to grind. The area curves in two dimensions and has a small step in the metal. after a lot of pounding and snipping I shaped the patch and welded it in. I hate it. It  doesn't look good but I will leave it for now.

Day 5

More welding in the wheel well and trunk area.  I filled the hole in the bodywork where some sort of non-original tail light had been installed.  When I got the Riley, this hole was patched with a riveted on aluminum plate and covered with Bondo.  I also fabricated a small bracket that connects the spare wheel well to the fender and helps support the trunk floor.  I keep looking at the left side of the car and thinking I have to do this all over again!!!!  At the end of the day, I ran out of welding wire for my MIG and cut off wheels for my grinder and patience for the work. 

 

Day 6

I organized the garage and cleaned up a bit.  Next I examined the rear door opening just ahead of the wheel.  I don't know how this is supposed to connect to the rest of the body.  A plate I think --- but over the wood??  Speaking of wood I removed the running board to examine the sills more closely.  They are constructed of wood, covered by metal on their outside.  Found some rot but not too bad.  Now I have a much clearer understanding of how the whole thing was put together. 

 

Day 7

Rest

 

Day 8

I started to work on the left side.  It is much the same as the right.  Maybe a little more metal but no real help as it all gets cut out anyway.  I fabricated the inside trunk wall above the wheel well using the same pattern as the right side.  After review of some pictures of the body in the factory I have on CD I realized the notch I cut out on the right side is really a hole.  This makes the part deeper towards the back and would seem to add strength.  I will modify the right side to match.

 

Day 9

More work on the rear left.  I welded in the trunk side and started on the fender lip.  I used the same wood form as I did for the right side.  However, this time I decided to try and form the whole part in one attempt.  After forming the first 90 degree bend I folded over the other edge using a 2x4 cut to the contour of the fender opening.  This will eliminate cutting a thin strip to bridge the gap between the fender lip and the trunk wall.  I wish I had done the right side in the same way.  Most of this work won't show.  It will be hidden by the fender and the fender welting but I still want it to be solid and to last.

 

Day 10

I welded the nuts to the underside of the fender lip.  These nuts will receive the bolts for the fender.  Next I fit the fender lip part and clamped it with self tapping screws.  I tack welded it in place.  I welded and hammered and welded and hammered some more. I finished most of the edge except for the rear 12".  There is a large rust hole that needs to be repaired before I can finish the fender lip edge.  To finish off the day, on a low note, I found new wood rot on the left side rear sill much worse than on the right.  I may have to replace the wood sills. Uggh!!