Adventures of taking off the front fenders of a 1989 Ford Mustang. - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
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Adventures of taking off the front fenders of a 1989 Ford Mustang.

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Posted 01-03-2012 at 09:24 AM by That89GTGuy

(If it's not obvious by now, I work slowly and have no idea what I'm doing. Hopefully this info will help someone similar.)

So over the Christmas and New Years vacations we have had at work, I've taken to pulling off the drivers side fender to see what was going on under there. I wanted to check for things like rust, dirt, debris, or even actual damage. I figured "How hard could it be? It's only a few bolts..."

For those who are not aware, the fender on these cars is only apparently held on with a few bolts on the top of the fender, one inside the drivers side door jamb, and one on the bottom. However, I neglected to even think that there might be some along the leading edge of it. Turns out there are a ton on the leading edge, most of them nuts. And (even better) most of those nuts are attached to little studs that are stuck to some thin as skin sheet metal reinforcements in the plastic body panels. Add 23 or so years of rust to the equation and you get a recipe for spinning or broken studs. I got a combo of 2 broken studs and 1 spinner which was kind enough to be so high up IT WASN'T EVEN (reasonably) RUSTY. Mother lover.

So after digging out a 15-20 year old hacksaw and just cutting that bitch right off, finding the last hidden bolt behind the washer fluid reservoir, I finally have a removed fender. Cue the victory music.

The fender is rusty as hell. I knew this already. Some of the paint is bubbling and getting the inner fender out was an excersize in how much stronger I was then the sheet metal screws that had fused to the thing. I'm missing a lot of attachment points due to all the rust around the edges. Lovely. Looking at it from the back, I've no idea how I can repair this. I do not have a welder yet, and to make this look good would require a lot of butted together metal. I'm thinking new fender or just ghettoing the eff out of it. I don't have the money nor the want to make the car nice enough to buy a fender. Ghettoing it is the way to go for now. More at 11.

So moving onto the fender/frame section, which is a lovely good mess. Lots of cancer everywhere. It seems like someone POR15ed it at some point, and did not do a good job (or the rust was just that bad). However, I had taken the fender off to look at some of the vacuum lines on the cruise control module, and they look great. I'd replace them but they just look that good so I don't see the point. The module is still shiny too! Just a bit of surface rust at the bottom of it. Not too shabby. After that, I got out my wire brush and started working away at the rust. Most of it came off fine with plenty of metal underneath the rust. However, then I got to the k member bolt area on the strut tower. This was bad.

The metal around the edges looks like delaminated paper for some reason. There seems to be a great deal of metal missing from around where the nuts hook on (maybe 1/16 of an inch). I think the crush sleeves might just be sitting there. I'm going to post about it later once I get some pictures and see if that it how it is supposed to look like, or if this is a sign of significant metal loss. So I'm taking a scrapper (for lack of a better term, its not a putty knife and its not a flat blade screwdriver, it's some kind of hybrid...) and trying to get the big flakes off, and then I punch a hole in the frame rail! Oh boy. It's right above the k member, a bit ahead of the forward kmember/frame bolt. I figure I'm effed now anyways so I might as see how far the rabbit hole goes, and I keep poking to see what easily gives way. I didn't get the hole to open up much, but it appears someone might have tried to weld it up at one point. After getting some of the metal out of the way, I notice that dirt keeps falling on the floor when I scrap at it. I get a can of air, blow it in the hole made by the rust, and POOF, dirt everywhere. I kept digging it out and there was little shovels of dirt in there. Awful, just awful. Sure the crush sleeves and such are still there, but man that's worrisome.

So yeah, some pictures are in order to check to see how bad the damage is. I get the feeling I'm going to get a mix of "get rid of it it's rusty as hell and needs to die" and "oh it's fine I've delt with worse". I know it can be worse from seeing what that other guy had, but I think this project might be getting over my head!

Ahh well, let us see how this goes.
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