Replacing the Front Cross Panel

VW Beetle Restoration Project, Nov-2014

Tha last of the major panel work on the body (I hope!) is the front cross-panel. Like most of the lower-body panels on this car, it had had patches welded on top of rusty metal which accelerated the rust damage. So really needed replacing rather than repaired.

The new panel (all the way from Brazil!) had a bracket on the front which was not present on our ’63. It only took a few minutes with a spot-weld drill to remove it:

The old panel was cut-out just above the join between the front & rear skin. and where it joins the inner wings/flitch panels. The horizontal cut was later trimmed back to a 10mm overlap once the new repair panel was able to be trial fitted.

The new repair section was a really good fit but still needed a couple of hours fettling to close the gaps to an acceptable level. Again, the body was lowered onto the floor a couple of times to check the fit before welding permanently. Eventually settled on around a 3mm gap between it and “Napolean’s Hat” – this would be filled by the sealing gasket when the body & chassis are mated for the last time.

Here it is partially welded in. I simply used a straight overlap joint along the top, plug welded at 40mm intervals. Then I’ll seam weld it to the sides and heater channels, plug weld it to the mating flange at the front of the heater channels and seam weld it to the inner wing at the front to make it as water-tight as possible.

This is one of the easiest repairs to undertake. Well worth doing if you are replacing the heater channels.

That’s the last of the major work on the body – still have a number of small filler pieces to make & fit, but will put that aside for now and try to make some headway on the floors.