Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spare wheel well

The spare wheel well will often be found to be rotten, due to water being allowed to lie in the base for long periods. Small areas of rot in the base may be patch repaired (remove all wiring from the vicinity, plus the fuel tank and line), and a full repair panel is also available for cars with more widespread rot.
However, if a full spare wheel well panel is required, the chances are that one or both flitch panels also require replacement or repair; the author would recommend that these are attended to firstly, and the spare wheel well/front valance left in situ throughout to help locate the flitch or the flitch lower front repair panel. There is a temptation to cut everything away to improve access and then to try and reconstruct the front end using the bonnet and wings to help locate panels; the author has seen more than one lop-sided Beetle, which should serve as a warning to those so tempted!
Remove the fuel tank and all wiring from the vicinity. Drill out the spot welds from the original spare wheel well panel edge flanges, then part the joints as gently as possible, to avoid distorting the metal to which the new flanges will be welded. Because the original seam spot weld lines are easily visible, locating the new panel should pose no problem. Seam weld the new panel into position, working a short length at a time, then allowing the steel to cool to avoid buckling.

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