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Hot Rod Rust Repair on a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain

Removing the rotted edge on a ’53 Pontiac hood and repairing with a hand made piece

Hot Rod Rust Repair on a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain

Rusted area in need of repair

Sheet-metal modifications are the glamorous side of building a custom car. While they usually get the most “ooohs” and “ahhhs” they still account for only a fraction of the metal work involved on a Custom build like this ’53 Chieftain.

Thei vehicle was from the desert in Southern California, and in fantastic condition for an original car more than 50 years old. It has hundreds of hours involved in the chop, the fins, the custom trunk floor and other miscellaneous mods, yet it still has MORE time involved in sheet-metal straightening and rust repair.

Always consider these questions when choosing a project vehicle in need of rust repair:

How much rust repair is needed? For this ’53 – a lot.

Is there sheet-metal readily available? Nope. Even similar Chevy and Buick stuff wasn’t close enough.

The leading edge on the Chietain hood needed some serious attention. The trim had worn the paint away and held moisture on there for decades. No replacement sheet-metal was available so I had to make my own from scratch. I always prefer to make my own parts because I use better material and I can guarantee it’ll fit. Although this looks like a simple piece it has curves in three directions and qualifies as “complex” by most standards.

The process:

  1. Befroe removing any rust from the vehicle create the replacement piece.
  2. Measure rough width and height of the piece, I needed a “hemmed leading edge so I formed an “L” channel approximately 2.5″ tall and 1/2″ for the inner lip.
  3. Began shaping my “L” channel by stretching on the upper edge to gain the vertical arch and shrinking on the inner edge to give it some bow.
  4. Continuously check the part to the vehicle for exact fit.
  5. When happy with the precise part for the rust repair, clamp the new piece over the old and scribe the line where the cut will made.
  6. Remove the old piece – I saved the ends of the hood for reference.
  7. TIG weld the new piece in place. Weld 1″ beads and hammer each weld to avoid warping.
  8. Done – little grinding or smoothing should be necessary if welds are properly hammered.

Looking for a Custom Car Builder in the Midwest?

If you have questions, ideas or would like a quote for rust repair, building or chopping your own car please feel free to email me any time with the contact form on the sidebar. I will gladly quote full builds or complex one-off parts to assist you in your build. I’m here to help, so lets go!
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