The Corolla AE92 GT-S Project

A website about my ongoing project

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Welding 2015

I already did some welding to the car before, but that wasn't a real success back then. And when I bought my own MIG/MAG welder I now had the opportunity to weld how much and whatever I wanted.


After having welded on a entire new donor front to the car, I was now so full of confidence in my own welding skills that I wanted to give welding in new patches to the sills a go as well.

But this time, I ordered some proper weld-in panels.


Weld in panels  Test fitting panel


Since I couldn't get any weld-in panels for the coupé, I ordered some for the 3-door hatchback. I knew these panels would be a straight fit, but after experiences with panels from the hatchback years ago, I knew that with a little effort, they could be made to fit.


The old repair we made years ago wasn't even completely finished back then and we hadn't coated it with any rust inhibiting paint and hadn't aged well.

So I cut it back out again to be replaced with new fresh metal.


Old repair


The panels weren't really big enough to cover the patch I had to repair and the panels were harder to get in shape than I initially thought, so I had to use several patches to be able to get the right shape in there.


Tacking in new panels  Welded in new panels

The panels tacked into place and welded in completly.


The different panels were first tacked into place and when it all lined up as I wanted I could weld it all along the seams. One piece at a time at different places as not to get to much heat into the steel which could warp it.


Grinded back welds and zincspray  


When that was all done, I could grind the welds back down and give it all a coat of zinc spray so that it won't rust.

But I'm not entirely happy with how it came out. It doesn't look all that bad in the pictures, but in real life, the steel did get a bit warped and it just isn't up to my standards.

Maybe welding in big patches like that into the thin outer body is still a bit over my head.

It's in for now, but I might just have it redone be a real professional who can get a better result than I did. I'll leave the other side alone for now. 


Welding in other smaller patches that are more out of sight is not a problem and I'll continue to weld those patches in. Although the body as a whole is in pretty good nick, especially for a car this age. But there are a few pieces of the body that need some fresh metal welded it.

I didn't take pictures of all those pieces, but for those of you that don't know yet, this is how it works:


Rotten through metal

Around this bracket for the heat shield of the rear muffler, the rust has eaten right through

the metal and now we can look into the boot.   


In this case, the bracket is under a odd angle, but has to be placed back in exactly the same way, or else the other mounting tabs of the heat shield won't line up anymore.

It can be vaguely seen in the picture above, but I've marked out 4 lines, parallel to the edges of the bracket all the way outside the area I'm going to cut out. When I've welded a new patch in, I can use those lines to get the bracket back into it's old position.


Patch plate tacked in

Using the cut out piece as a template, I cut out the same piece out of a sheet of fresh metal.

I can now tack that in place in several places before I actually start welding all the way. 


Grinded back welds

Here is the patch welded all the way round and the welds are trimmed back to make it

all flush again. I don't weld it all in one go. But make little spot-welds next to each other so

there won't be to much heat going in.


Treated with zincspray

The bracket welded back into place and coated with some zinc spray to keep it from rusting again.


The enginebay had to had some welding done to it too.

Removing the engine mount had left some damage to the underlying panel. The hard thing is that it is made up of some complex shapes and can't be replicated easily with a new sheet of metal.

Luckily for me, the engine mount was in a slightly different location on the original front and the donor front. So I was able to cut a patch out of the now disused original front, that I could weld in to the new donor front. 


Repair patch next to damage panel

The cut out repair patch on the left next to the damaged part of the panel.


Cut out damaged part


Tacking in repair patch

Tacked into place, but there are some large gaps that will have to be sorted

before I can weld it all the way round.


Finished repair

It's not 100% clean, but it will do.


Not 100% clean and flush. But it will probably do, as there still has to be a engine mount welded back in there. And once that engine mount is welded back into place and everything is painted again, people will hardly notice that a patch was welded in there.


But the car was riddled with pieces of rotten steel that needed repairs. To get rid of them, there is no other solution than cut out the rotten bit and weld in some fresh sheet metal.

Like I did here on a piece of the car at the wheel well where 3 pieces of metal meet and are joined. On both sides of the car this piece was rotten through in exactly the same spot.


Rot stuk plaatwerk

A good sized hole that gives a nice view of the floor beneath it. A view I don't really care for...


Because this section consist of multiple panels that meet up, I will have the replace them piece by piece without damaging the underlying metal to much so I can rebuild it properly.


Doorgerot plaatwerk in wielkuip

This is what it looks like from the outside of the car, inside the wheel well.


Rot plaatwerk verwijderen

Again, the factory spot welds would have to be drilled to be able to remove the piece.


Stukje plaatwerk aftekenen


plaatwerk passen

I'm using a magnet here to hold the new piece in place so I can tack it to the car.


plaatje vast gelast


Rot plaatwerk binnenzijde


rot stuk uitgeslepen


stukje plaatwerk vast gehecht


reparatie voltooid

A difficult place to grind down the welds with all the corners and curves going on there.

But when the interior is back in, this will be out of sight so this will suffice.


Repaired patches are treated with zinc spray immediately after grinding down and cleaning up the welds to prevent rust getting to the new fresh metal.


And then I had to tackle a piece of the body I wasn't really looking forward to...

While removing the undercoating of the car, the wheel wells got the same treatment as the rest of the car. But while uncovering more and more of the rear passenger side wheel well it became clear that the dreaded tin worm also had a go on that bit of the car.

When done with the wire brush on the angle grinder, the panels looked like this on the inside of the car:


Gatenkaas bij wielkuip

The metal of the wheel well had become so thin that when I removed all the rust from it, it turned into Swiss cheese. In the picture I had already started removing several spot welds.


That had to be dealt with first! To be able to removed the damaged piece of the wheel well, I drilled out several spot welds on the joint of the panels so I could take it out neatly and without damaging even more of the panels in that area. When it all came apart, I could cut out the damaged piece of the body.


Gat in wielkuip  Beschadigd plaatwerk uitgeslepen


But where other patches I have welded into the car where pretty straight forward, flat pieces of metal, this certainly wasn't. And that was exactly why I was reluctant to start this repair.

The piece I removed didn't have a straight piece in it and was curved in multiple ways. And I had to copy that to be able to weld in a new patch...


My first try at making a patch failed. I couldn't get it to fit and line up with the rest of the wheel well. But I did learn what I was doing wrong and so I gave it another try.

With the cut out piece as a template, bit by bit I managed to get some sheet metal into the desired shape.


Reparatie plaatwerk


This was starting to look like something I could use. While tacking it into place, I made some final adjustments by tapping or hammering it into the correct shape and make it fit with th rest of the panel.

When it was all tacked into place, it all lined up nicely and could be welded all the way around.


vasthechten reparatie stuk


ingelast reparatiestuk wielkuip gerepareerd


But although it looks pretty good in the pictures above, the lower weld was a real pain to get in. On the other side of the panel, a bit of rust still ran a little further and made welding to it pretty hard.

So to get it all 100% rust free, I had to cut another piece out a little lower. I didn't make any pictures of that last piece, but the process was pretty much the same.

After grinding down the welds and coating it with zinc spray, I was pretty pleased with how it all came out.

When you start looking for it, you can see that a patch was welded in. But If you don't know it and just glance over the interior of the car it isn't really noticeable. So I call that a succes!


gerepareerde wielkuip 

Not all that bad for a amateur if I do say so myself!


gerepareerde wielkuip binnenzijde

And on the inside of the wheel well. A little seam welding still to do here.

A little sealer afterwards and it should all be water proof again. 


Now that I had the car on it's dolly again for a while, I was able to remove the brackets for the rotisserie to get to a piece of the body that needed a little attention and I couldn't get to when the car was hung in the rotisserie.

There was still a little rust on the rear panel around the chassis beams.  


I tried to repair that patch years ago, but my welding skills weren't really all that back then and I didn't finish that repair because the welding machine I rented back then ran out of CO2. So I wanted to address that patch again and do it right this time.


roest achterpaneel


When making the initial repair, in my enthusiasm and ignorance, I just cut out the rusty bit and welded in a new plate that fitted the hole.

You'd think, like I did at the time, that there is nothing wrong with that. But I'm now a little older, wiser and more experienced and know to look a little better at the rusted panel and see how it's constructed.

In this case, it consisted of 3 panels that meet in that area and are welded together. To make a decent repair and restore it to how Toyota has intended it to be, I would have to reconstruct the panels one layer at a time.


I started to remove the rust that had already set in again because I hadn't conserved it years ago. After I removed the rust with a wire brush, I had a much better view of the extend of the damage to the panels. 


oude reparatie

With the rust removed, you can now clearly see the damage and the old repair.


With the rust removed, the old bogged repair was clearly visible and would have to be totally redone. The part of the panel that was damaged by rust was even bigger than the old repair patch, so it would have to go anyway.

So I started with cutting and peeling of the outer layer and leave as much of the steel underneath that could be reused intact.


oude reparatie verwijderd reparatie aan onderliggende laag

The old repair removed and the outer layer cut away, on the right, the underlying layer repaired.


reparatiepaneel achter gerepareerd

On the left, the outer layer repaired and on the right, everything is coated with zinc spray to prevent it from rusting again.


The underlying layer was restored to it's full size (and strength). After that was done, the outer layer could be restored by welding in a new patch. Zinc spray was used between the two layers to prevent rust from forming there. Now all I have to do is re-drill the hole on the right side of the chassis beam and then I won't have to worry about my rear bumper falling off because of a dodgy repair to it's mountings.


So I did the bumper mounting on the left side first, but the right side was in need of some attention as well.


bumper bevestiging rechter achter zijde schade bumperbevestiging


rot staal verwijderd bumper bevestiging achter gerepareerde bumperbevesting rechts achter

The repair I did to the right rear bumper mounting. The rotten pieces were cut out here as well and new fresh sheet metal was welded in.


I already made some repairs the the right rear wheel well, but while I was working in the trunk of the car I ran into a few rotten patches again.

These also needed to be repaired but I couldn't really get to them from the inside of the trunk.

So I installed the car into the rottisserie again to get better access from within the wheel well.


The reason I hadn't spotted these rotten patches sooner was because the right rear wheel well was the last place were the undercoating wasn't completely removed yet.

I had to remove that first now so I could get a good look on how bad the rust problem actually was.


auto in draaibrug bitumen verwijderen


At first sight, I didn't really like what I saw. There was quite a bit of rust underneath the coating. It looked to be mostly superficial and most of it could be removed with a wire wheel, but there were places I just cou;dn't reach with any of my tools.

One of those places was the top past of the strut tower where quite a bit of rust was eating away at the edges.




The only way I could make sure the damage there wasn't to bad was to remove the rust by sandblasting it away.

It made a hell of a mess and my blasting medium, which I normally use inside my blasting cabinet, got literally everywhere. But the end result was worth it.

Because where I first feared I would have to cut and repair the top part of the strut tower, it turned out to be not all that bad. Yes, the rust had eaten away a little at the metal, but not so far that the panel had to be replaced.

Which was very good news to me, because removing or making repairs at that part would have been a royal pain in the ass!


schoon gestraalde wielkuip


With all the rust completely gone, it should suffice to coat the affected area to make sure the rust won't return to finish the job at had already started.

A layer of zincspray will protect it for now while I still have to repair a few small patches.

In time, it will get a nice 2K coat of primer and paint and will be finished off with some high quality undercoating.


wielkuip in zinkspray


All that's left to do here is patch up a few places where rust has eaten through the metal. When all that is done, all of the rust repairs and welding should be done.