The old gas fill area on the side of the cab had to go because no one likes the idea of having the fuel tank under the seat anymore. Our new tank will be mounted securely out on the frame, far away from the occupants. That left the old gas-fill hole to be dealt with and we simply let it go too long. It was time to take care of it.
Making the pattern
First off, we penciled a pattern from the hole in the body and cut a piece of steel from the pattern, making sure it was slightly larger. We then sprayed some paint onto the patch with the pattern secured over top, leaving a nice edge on the patch that could be trimmed to exactly match the pattern. We fine-tuned the patch by grinding away the painted area. This distorted the metal less than using tin snips would have.
Pattern on roughed-out patch before spraying with paint.
Exact shape of our pattern shows up clearly on our rough-cut patch.
We ground "the red" off giving us the exact shape we needed.
We penciled "registration" marks onto the patch to correspond with marks on the body, then started our test-fit. Here's where the patience part of the job came in, because the body is curved in the patch area. We used a bead bag and soft hammer to gently and slowly curve the patch to the right shape. It took a bit of time to get it right, but eventually the patch fit the hole in the body perfectly.
Our pencil marks show the path of the curve and served as register marks for positioning.
We formed our patch to the contour of the truck. We would test fit it often and take our time in order to get the final shape right.
Our patch fits the curve perfectly.
The next step was to clean off the surrounding metal on both the outside and inside of the hole, and this was easily done with some gentle sanding. A spot was cleaned to bare metal for the welding ground clamp as well. The patch was also cleaned and held in place with a magnet. Tack welds were made around the patch edges, moving from opposite sides to keep from overheating the metal. We kept it up until the entire patch was welded in.
In preparation for welding, we cleaned the suface surroundng the hole to bare metal.
We cleaned off a spot inside the door jamb for the welding clamp.
We started welding by tacking one point on the left and one on the right. Then top to bottom, and continued tacking at the position opposite the previous tack.
The grinder was cranked up to smooth the welds down to the metal surface, inside and out. Finally, we added a thin coat of filler and sanded it out with 600 grit paper. A coat of primer was applied and that was that!
We almost have our welds ground smooth.
After grinding, we added a thin coat of filler.
And sanded it smooth.
A little primer and we're done.
You'd never know that the cab had a gas fill hole.