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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Mounting Pre-painted Fenders
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
- There's Usually a Reason, so Here's the How-to
When it comes to bringing an old classic car back from years of wear and tear there is nothing more satisfying than laying down fresh paint. A glass-smooth layer of deep, candy red, metal-flake blue, mirror-finish triple black, or even good ol' white paint seals up all the hard work and brings the project that much closer to fruition. In the ideal world of automobile restoration, the entire body would be assembled and lined up perfectly before any paint was applied. In the real world of automobile restoration, things seldom—if ever—work out exactly as planned.
Mounting Pre-painted Fenders
Shipping delays, parts availability, shop backlogs, or a sudden lack of funding and/or time can influence decisions as to what and when various parts or projects get attention. In the case of this first generation Camaro convertible, the only way things were going to get done was to paint the back half first and the front fenders later, then assemble the car after the rest of the required parts showed up and got painted. While this is not the ultimate in smooth roads to take, it was the one that had to be traveled. Getting it together is what it's all about once the paint is on the body. Installing pre-painted body panels is not the easiest way to do things, but if necessary it can be done.
Be Prepared
Just as 99 percent of painting a room or a house is about the preparation, so it goes with mounting fenders and body panels post-paint. Every conceivable step must be taken prior to attempting to hang a painted body panel on a vehicle before the panel is lifted into place as one wrong move can result in a scratch or chip that can ruin the finish and send that part on a long trip back to the shop. Long mask, low tack masking tape is an indispensable tool as are plenty of clean blankets and a lot of patience.
Step 1 - Masking tape is cheaper than paint. Be careful. It's easy to crease the fender on this part of the door. Mask off any points where painted edges can make contact.
Mask Off Any Points Where Painted Edges Can Make Contact
One handy tip is to run all of the bolts in and out of their mounting points to chase the treads of crud before mounting the fender. Not only does this serve as an assembly dry run to make sure all of the bolts and fasteners are in the house, but it also makes it easy to turn the screws, so to speak. The absolute worst time to deal with a stubborn or missing bolt is while attempting to install a freshly painted fender or body panel.
Step 2 - Chase all mounting bolt threads to avoid stubborn bolt surprises.
Chase All Mounting Bolt Threads
Step 3 - Make sure all mounting fasteners and clips are in place before mounting the fender.
Check for Mounting Fasteners and Clips
Another handy tip is to mount the inner fender panels into the fender first and put them up, onto the body as a unit. Walk through things a few times first to save getting in trouble later. Practice makes perfect, and running through the entire install procedure before attempting to mount the fender is a good practice indeed. Also (while this may seem obvious) mount all emblems on the fenders before they go on the car.
Step 4 - Don't forget to put the emblems on the fenders before they go on the car.
Put Any Emblems on the Fender First
Step 5 - Place the inner fenders on the outer fender and then mount them as a unit. This step helps with alignment later.
Align the Inner Fenders with the Outer Fenders
Step 6 - Mount the fender in place. Install but do not tighten the main mounting bolts.
Mount the Fender in Place
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