1956 BelAir Restoration — Part 6
By Steve Nicholson
With the body now sitting on the new rubber cushions it is time to start removing the rusty right side floor panels. We measured the new panels and marked the floors so we knew where to make our cuts. It is best to cut out the area smaller and do the final trimming as the new panels are being fitted in. It is very hard to go back and add metal if you cut out too much of the old panel.
The right side inner rocker panel was in great shape. We had to make a few small repairs mainly where the braces were attached.
After the floor panels were removed it exposed the rusty floor braces. This made it easier to replace the braces. We started with the long brace that extends to each rocker panel. This is the brace that supports the rear of the front seat. We decided not to replace the entire brace but just the ends. Danchuk sells just the end pieces for this. When the old braces were removed we repaired the areas to the inner rocker panel as needed. The inner rocker was in great shape except the areas where the braces were attached.
This is the right side brace that supports the rear of the front seat after it was fitted and welded into place. Notice the new body cushion was installed so that the brace was sitting on the frame at the correct height.
We measured our new end piece and then cut the rusty end off. A new rubber cushion was placed under the new end piece before it was welded onto the remaining brace. We also made sure that the brace was located in the same place on the rocker panel as the rusty brace.
This is the very front right floor brace that also helps support the cowl. It was in good shape. We cleaned the dirt and loose scale out and applied a coat of Zero-Rust coating to the inside before we installed the new panel onto it.
Next were the floor pans. All of the panels were trimmed and fit together. We used small #8 sheet metal screws to temporarily attach the floors to the braces while we did the fit work. All of the floor panels fitted so that they could be butt welded together and not overlapped. Every panel was tack welded before the final welding took place. To weld the floors to the braces and the inner rocker we drilled 3/8 holes into the floor pans for the spot welds. This type of weld is called a rosette weld or a plug weld. After the floor pans were fitted and tack welded we fit and welded the braces that support the front of the seat.
The floors were carefully fit together and temporarily held into place with small screws.
On the left side, the floor panels were not going to be replaced but the braces were rusty. This made it a little more difficult to repair the braces because the work had to be done from underneath the car. We had drill out the spot welds in the floor to remove the braces. The new braces were then welded back into place with plug welds using the holes that we had drilled. We did replace a small section of the floor panel on the left side above one brace.
All of the pieces were tack welded before the final welding took place. Note the blue color on the panels. It is a layout fluid which helps to see scribed lines.
This is the small repair panel that we fabricated and welded in. The panel was mostly flat so we did not see any reason to purchase a new panel for this.
This show the left side braces from underneath the car. They had to be installed from the underside which made it a little more difficult than the right side.