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1955 Ford Part 13: Front End Sheet Metal and Gaskets

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

(Note: You are reading the progress from a project that began in August of 2014. This information in this post was originally dated from June to July of 2016.)

Front End Sheet Metal and Gaskets

Got a few things done this weekend after being out of state for a whole week... First plan was to make gaskets for the air tubes and vents. You can take a look at the photos - I had some neoprene stock lying around and a sheet of 1/8" rubber matting from a Canadian supplier, eh?

The holes were punched out with an old socket - seemed to work well and we saved a little dough on the "manufacturing" this weekend.

I used the sealer pictured above to seal all of the gaskets at the air tubes, but I used only the large gaskets themselves at the screen/air dam position. I also began installing the rubber grommets for the wiring harness to come soon. With an electric fuel pump, electric fan, A/C to come in a year or two, etc, there will be plenty of extras what with relays and all the like. I have a Rebel Wiring Harness that I will use on this car for more circuits as needed.

Back to the inner fender/air dam assemblies. Basically I decided to assemble the air dam, vent tube, air deflectors (small tubes that direct the flow of air), and the inner fender while all parts hung from my paint rack. Before I could get to hardware though the rubber splash guards had to be installed - you know the ones - they have those pesky staples that hold them in place. I had saved my old guards and referenced the original holes from the staples, punching small holes with an awl so that I could push a staple through. After doing that, the holes were lined up perfectly (well, as perfectly as the factory had done so!) and the staples were pushed through their original holes and then hammered down on the other side while a vise grip kept it tight. I am HAPPY with the installation and they are holding tightly.

A little word about hardware. I had broken quite a few of the old pieces of hardware, be it a J nut for the fenders, a nut/bolt combo that I had to gorilla in two to remove it, etc. I decided to purchase a kit that was advertised as being all of the nuts and bolts you need for the front end sheet metal....

Do not be confused here. Every little bolt, washer, nut, etc, came in that box on the left AND WAS NOT BAGGED. The separation was done by yours truly, and alas we found that pieces are missing. First up:

If you know your fenders, the above picture is the hardware needed to bolt the rear of the fender at the middle THROUGH THE BODY and access the nut by removing the kick panel. Note - we have enough to do one fender... thankfully I saved everything so I am sure I have what I need, just have to dig it out. Next up... this little photo:

When bolting the air dams to the U support of the radiator, I discovered that there were none of the shorter bolts included in the kit. All were the same size, and too long for the U support (bottom'd out pretty easily with room to spare at the head). YOU WILL NEED the smaller bolts I have pictured - these are half of them. Kits may save time because you don't have to sit and measure, count, inventory every little piece you need, but when the kit does not meet your needs... well, that ain't fun. Said kit ain't cheap either. Ok, rant over. That was basically the worst of it today with the installation.

Note the photo immediately above. The 6 longer J nuts are in the picture being shown against the shorter size of most of the J nuts that go on your front end (the 5/16" diameter J nuts anyway, you do have some smaller 1/4" elsewhere) well, anyway they go on the inner fender at these locations, 3 a side:

Here are some photos of my makeshift battery tray, battery, and starter solenoid removed and both sides of the inner fenders and air dams/tubes installed!

Next up is to get the seals on both sides installed (if your eyes are pretty good you may have noticed in the photos that these are not yet attached) rear splash guards installed, work on the gravel pan and get it ready to install, ready the bumper brackets, and then grab the fenders to see what we've got!

Got around to installing what Ford called the "anti squeak seal" on the inner fenders. I used the original holes for the staples and a little bit of sealant where I thought it was needed. Only had enough to do one side. I guess when I ordered this stuff last year I obviously did not read very well - needed two "kits" to get one car completed.

It has been so hot out here lately I decided to work on the fenders in the basement this evening. They both needed to have all of the hardware and stainless removed. I was amazed to find the original clips had held the SS to the fender so tightly. When I began removing the nuts on the under side they began disintegrating - this is about 1/3 of the dust. The driver's side fender was much worse than the passenger side concerning surface rust. You can really see the rust after the SS trim was removed... and of course the original Sea Sprite Green and Snowshoe White.

I feel embarrassed to say that I cannot make out completely what the original shape of the clips actually is supposed to be. I do have some idea. It looks as though there are 10 a side of course, but the two at the very front had a very different shape/size to them. I got out a Restoration Specialties Catalog and looked at clip number 2517 - that looks like the original 8 one each side, but I have no idea about the other two.

(the saga continues...)

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