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Rear wheel arch cracks or stress fractures?


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I'm just not having any luck searching, or not using the right terms, because I can't seem to find any threads on this issue.  Pics attached below, both of the rear wheel arches, seen from inside the trunk, appear to have what looks like stress cracks or fractures in them.  Is this a common issue?  The car is a complete restoration, barn find that's been sitting for probably 12-15 years.  It came with a ton of parts, including two rear wheel arches that look like they were cut out of another car.  I'm guessing the plan was to swap/weld these in place?  Seems like a ton of work, is anyone familiar with this and know an easier solution?  I have access to a father-in-law that's very handy with a welder and fabrication.  The car is otherwise in very good shape, almost zero rust on it, frame and rest of the body are in excellent condition considering age/abandonment.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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It's an unfortunate design feature that the other side of that cracked arch is the spring and shock strengthener which is open to the elements and collects road dirt. Rust starts there and eventually appears inside the trunk. It's a significant and structural repair.

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That rust is repairable--more reasonably if you can weld, otherwise you'll need to find a good welder.  The cracked outline you see on the left side inner wheel arch is the seam where the upper rear spring support is spot welded to the wheel arch.  As the underside seam sealer deteriorates, water gets into the seam and rusts out the wheel arch.  There's a good chance that the flange on the spring support is still ok; if that's the case you can weld in patch panels to the wheel arch, and then weld the patches to the spring support.  I was able to do that on my '69 and it's still doing just fine after 20 years (but no salty winters, which caused the problem in the first place).  The right side doesn't look as bad, but you're still gonna need to chip away at that rusty seam 'till you hit sound metal, the determine what you'll need to patch it.  

 

When you get it all repaired, PM me and I'll send you a column I did on rustproofing the insides of that blind panel formed by the spring support and wheel arch, so it won't happen again.

 

cheers, and happy welding

 

mike

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3 hours ago, M3Gonz said:


… Is this a common issue?…

 

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And yes, rusted-out rear wheel housings are quite common, although the condition is often indicative of a car with considerable rust elsewhere: floors, rocker panels, rear quarter panels, front frame rails, A-pillar bases, etc.

 

You might wish to pull out the rear seat, both base and backrest, to assess the extent of this rust from another perspective. In particularly-bad cases of rear wheel housing rust  — yours is not visibly so based on the photos you’ve posted — the rust spreads to (perhaps from?) the two rear subframe mounting points under the rear seat. Rust at these subframe mounting points is particularly critical because those areas are both stressed and weight bearing.

 

Be glad a prior owner left you good replacements for the rear wheel housings.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the answers and suggestions!  Very helpful indeed, gives me a few ideas of where to start and how to approach fixing this.  I suppose I ought to consider myself lucky, I actually have the entire car stripped down to more or less just the shell and this is the only spot of rust.  The floor pan throughout is in great shape, the trunk is solid otherwise, and there's no rust on the exterior body at all.

 

I'm going to be doing a complete tear down and resto-mod on the car, I'm currently just assessing and inventorying what I have for parts and where to start.  I've been pulling up all the interior stock sound deadening (with dry ice, good times!) to check every square inch of the body to be sure it's solid before repainting everything inside and out.

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