|Before adding the lift kit the front tires/wheels barely fit into the wheel well
opening. There was minimal clearance at the top of the tire and interference
at the front of the opening when the wheels were turned. I expected adding
the lift kit would solve the height problem, but because the wheel openings had
a bit of an angle to them, I also hoped the lift kit would provide
enough clearance for the wheels to turn....
|Not so. With everything going back together the height clearance was good, but there
was still interference when the wheels were turned inward. The tape in this picture shows
what clearance I felt was needed. After some deliberation, I decided the best approach would
be to cut out the lip around the front half of the wheel well opening and shift it forward
about 1 1/2". I took the fenders to several body shops, but all were busy and really were
not interested in this kind of custom work. One did come back and said they'd do it on a
strictly time + material basis, but could not give me an estimate as to what they thought
it would take.
|I decided to tackle this myself - my first attempt at body work, but everyone has to start
somewhere. I had already had the wheel wells undercoated for salt protection, so I had to
strip that off where I was going to make the cut.
| The lip around the wheel opening is about an inch and a half wide. I laid out the cut
roughly an additional 1/2" inch onto the flat portion of the fender. This shows the
outline of the two cuts needed to shift the opening forward 1 1/2" (note: this sequence
of pictures mixes the work done on the left and right side fenders).
|I then stripped the paint from the fender around where the cuts would be made figuring
it would be easier to strip this for welding before the cut rather than stripping it after
cutting. I made a vertical cut right where the wheel opening was relatively straight and
|I wanted to weld the lip to the fender with the fenders mounted on the truck. Hopefully
this would help avoid any stress due to the pieces being out of position. Here's the
driver's side fender ready to get the lip welded on.
|Here's the first rough fitting of the lip shifted forward 1 1/2". There's too large a gap
in a number of places around the cut edges. The two pieces were trimmed and fitted until
there was a reasonably uniform gap along the fitted edge (not perfect by any means, but
to the point I was willing to work it).
|After welding the lip onto the fender (while mounted on the truck), I pulled the fenders
off to do some final welding touch-up on hard to reach areas.
|I picked up some 16 gauge steel to fill in the gap created when the lip was moved forward.
Here's a picture as I'm fitting the piece on one side.
|By no means do I claim to be an expert welder, so I flipped the fenders and touched up
the tack welds from the inside trying to make sure I didn't have any holes/gaps.
|I wasn't too concerned about the looks/finish on the inside of the fender, so after I was
happy with the general welding I hit the inside with primer, paint and rubber undercoating.
|I then mounted the fenders (for the last time?) and started with the body filler, primer and
paint process. I started by laying down some Duraglass over the primary weld areas. There
were also some general low spots in the flat area that took a thin layer.
|Several repeat applications of Duraglass followed by sanding with 80 grit got the general shape
to something that was satisfactory.
|I then laid down some self-etching primer and filler primer. Several repeat paint/sand
sessions with 400 grit and things are looking pretty good.
|Since I was doing the work anyway, I took the opportunity to patch a couple other cracks/holes in the
fenders. I decided to rattle-can this and here I tried to blend/match to the existing color.
Not bad, but in the end I decided simply to go with a "close" color and not try to blend/match.
|Several rounds of filler primer, sanding, scuffing, filler primer, sanding, etc. got
the fenders looking pretty smooth.
|There were some blemishes in the original paint on parts of the fenders, so this also
led to my decision to simply repaint the full fender with a close color rather than trying
to match and only do a partial blending paint.
|Here's the passenger fender with a full (wet) coat of etching primer.
|Same fender, different view. I was rather pleased with the job as a whole.
|A shot after the primer has dried.
|After laying down the first coat of Rustoleum Fusion "Metallic Dark Metal". I'm sure all you
real painters out there know this, but this paint does not wet sand / polish. Skipping
all the pictures, let's just say I tried to buff this paint by sanding with 1500 and buffing
it - didn't work. So reject that idea and simply spray on the paint.
|Here's the driver's side fender ready to prime.
|And here it is with the primer (wet) laid down.
|About three cans per fender and it looks pretty good.
|What I'm still not sure about is whether I need to add a clear sealer over the top of this.
I'm happy with the looks, but are the fenders protected? Also yet to be determined is how well
this will stand up to a good wax job.
|I am happy with the way the hole enlargement went. Even knowing where the cut and patching
went on, it is next to impossible to detect from the outside of the fender.