I am officially reviving the ratty Ti blog.
For how long have I been wanting to address the bounty of rust and the sagging trunk on my ti? for a long time. I have worn the title of rustiest, nastiest fenders for too long. Often when removing the tires on the ti, I would get caught on some jagged rusty protrusion thus flaring out the rusty holes that surrounded my wheels. I probably should have run wider tires and claimed it as a performance mod, but I’m heavily invested in vredenstien 155′s as it is, something had to give..
That something turned out to be only tangentially related to the rust… It was the trunk latch! When hitting bumps on the freeway, the rear of the car would flex so hard that the trunk latch would pop leaving my trunk ajar such that I would have to pull over and refasten it. Unsuitable for a “daily” commuter!
I had been sitting on a reasonably good rear clip, and some good reproduction patch panels for some time now. I thought they looked cool sitting around the shop, but the thought of grafting them to the car was too scary to deal with. but as my alfa addiction sets in to full strength, the words “too scary to deal with” become muted into some sort of zombie slur “braaaaiiins… chop it up and feed it to the dogs”, “crap your pants and dive in” “fretting is harder than doing” “there ain’t nothing to it, but to do it”… choose your favorite, they all mean the same thing.. buy a case of zip-disks and welding wire. The shit is going down!
To start, it was important to know the extent of the damage, this required grinding away at the existing trunk for hours upon hours to find an appropriate seam to make the incisions.
Comparing the old and the new.. What have ya got? and what do you want?
The new rear clip was pretty sound. With a few dents to bang out and a little surface rust to remove. Its impressive that a 40 year old scavenged rear end could hold up so much better than the one that was on the car.
After some clean-up, it seemed the best place to make the cuts was along the wheel well seam and just up the top of the back wall. The cuts should match on both the donor and the wounded car so that the replacement part can be mated “seamlessly” I tried to think of natural reference points that would be identical on both trunks and that would aid alignment and fit up of the donor part. I also tried to make the cuts that “showed” on areas that wouldn’t be as prone to heat warping as there were long seams to be welded in order to make things work.
With the donor part prepped, it was time to make the “scary” cuts in the car that I wanted to be driving.
When you actually go looking for it, the rust is always worse than it appears. There was so much rot in the ti trunk, I’m sure many people would have been shocked that I drove the car all over the place, even with a full trunk. The weight of the fuel tank and the spare tire really don’t help matters as they basically are balanced on a “crush zone” of unsupported sheetmetal. With no real structural members in sight.
Would YOU save this car? On the plus side, it is very sound mechanically. And its one of the earliest 4 door 105 series Alfa that is state side. Add that to a 5 speed column shift, tatty red leather seats and the fact that the yuppies are trading pristine examples at such high dollar, I might be priced out of ever owning one again.. and… and.. well, I couldn’t say no.
Yikes! This is REAL. Though I do a lot of welding, I am not a body work professional. This kind of thing really makes me nervous.
Holy shit. Its happening. Buddy looks a bit nervous and confused and I cant blame him, they say dogs can pick up on their owners emotions.
Here is a ratty ti glamor shot I never wanted to see.
The rust doesn’t just stop at any one point? It keeps going and going and going.
It’s no fun to leave your shop with this behind you. Go home and try to sleep.
There were long debates as to if the car would be better suited as a true “coda-tonca” y’know for improved aerodynamics.
You can see the rust went way up the wheel wells on both sides. Lots more work to do before you can even get started on the work you set out to do. Although that lesson is getting tired and predictable.
Here it is with some new metal grafted in, It’s not as easy as it seems it would be, and In these areas I don’t even care too much about appearances. Scary to think about work ahead in the areas I really do care about.
I painted and sealed this area, Alfa never did originally. I hope that it means the repairs will last a long while.
And on to the other side….
When you get overwhelmed and frustrated, clean something. Here I am scrubbing away my worries into a giant toxic pile of road grime.
The areas in the strut towers were rusty, this area seemed to be pretty important to the integrity of the trunk area and the rear suspension. I decided to make some 11 gauge metal reinforcements for these areas. A cardboard pattern was traced onto the plates, and the shape cut out with a zip disc, then plunging the zip disk along the bend lines makes it an easy chore to bend the pattern up by hand in the vice. After everything is bent and fits, the seams get welded and you have a real nice set of strut braces!
Then it was time to start fitting the donor section up and welding it in! the donor section turned out to have a little rust as well and needed the rear arches replaced. thankfully I had bought the patches earlier.
Long story short, (because I’m out of blogging time) It all went together pretty well, I might re-visit a few sections to try to get a straighter repair, but the rear end is now solid and rust free! I finished within minutes of when I needed to be road worthy for the Snowball rally! several hundred miles of sierra nevada road and the trunk stayed firmly closed, gas tank held securely in place and far less cockpit fumes than I previously had. I’ll tune up this post when I get a longer free-moment to write up the finale..