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Discussion Starter #21
Starting the final bits to complete the fab work on the rear left side. This is the lower trim clip tab or the beginning of one anyway:
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Here it is all welded up and primed. Next is seam sealer, prime again with POR15 then Schutz then done. Yes the welding could be better, I have never been that great at it. So if you are thinking "my cuzin Timmy can weld better than that" well he, or she, probably can. I don't have a cuzin Timmy so I do what I can. I can't see the weld and I tend to run the bead too fast but it is burned in though. I watch and lead the bead but I never seem to get it perfect. One method I was taught was to use my hand with a glove to hold the gun tip in place while looking away; with this method I can get perfect tack welds. I will be counting on that technique for the outer patch panels :
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Its solid and everything lined up pretty good:
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So this is what the "B" side looks like from the welding. You can see it is quite easy to get a pin hole but I think I am good. I spent a lot of time plugging them up. Some clean up and seam sealer with primer and wax and it will last along time:
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I started to clean up the rocker and determine how I wanted to approach the repair. This is a an excellent example of the point I made earlier about the seam rust. To do this right i would have to remove the outer rocker , the inner shear panel, and several panels to clean them up (4 material thicknesses in this pic). That just does not make sense for me so I will repair the area with the holes and seal up the rest. I was able to use a hammer and drift and put the lower pinch flange somewhat back in place. I will have some fab work at the end to close it all off but I don't know what that will look like just yet. The rest of the rocker looks good though. Still a long way to go.

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Discussion Starter #23
This car never ceases to amaze me. The car has 97K miles on the clock and some bits look like a 60K mile car and others like a 2 Gajillion mile car. I have never seen struts this destroyed before.

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YEP THATS A GINORMOUS MESS

But look at the studs -like new!
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The rest of the bits not too bad
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New parts arriving. I was expecting to refurbish the OE metal but it was so wasted I bought replacements for those too. Before yall get excited about "why didn't you get TEIN shocks or lower springs etc?" this is my son's car and he wants it stock. He is quite familiar with tuning cars and the quirks that come with them. For his car he wants to start out with the base and will figure what direction he wants to go from there (pavement pounder or rally czar) Still cheaper this way but not by much after replacing the OEM metal.

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We still have more bits coming including springs. For such a worn and roached suspension the car still drove remarkably well. Just goes to show you how super cool these cars are.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
OK Back to the program. After removing the shock I could now get to the bad metal that started the whole mess. This it what it looked like:

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The offending metal is to the right

More questions than answers on the failed panel. The corrosion is really isolated to just the one stamping. The part appears to fit poorly from day one and also not undercoated like the surrounding. The worst areas are where all the stampings come together along the front and rear edges.

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I have been trying to remove the panel but there really isn't access to do so. Even though it looks bad the metal that is not rusted through is still thick enough to be difficult to cut, you can't just rocket through it like paper. I have tried to reach it with a die grinder and a dremel with cut off wheels but you can't get the tool up in the strut pocket and see what you are cutting. I was even using a mirror like a dentist to do it but was unsuccessful at that. In the end I just decided to clean it up as much as I could and then seal the metal behind a new patch piece. Not great but I don't see a better way. I will post more pics of that soon.
 

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Hi.
Great job ?. As for the last post, there is no other way to replace this panel than to cut the reinforcement of the top of inner wheel arch. I will have to do the same thing soon on my impreza gc ?.
Waiting for a new post about your fight with rust.
Greetings from Poland?
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Wow great to have a global response!! I am not sure that I have an excellent solution but I am at least going to try to seal it up. I am thinking like Chernobyl, to encase the problem in a sarcophagus. It won't go away but maybe I can manage it for some time.

I cleaned up the whole wheel well with grease remover and wire brushed and abrasive wheeled the corroded area:
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I cleaned up the area a bit more after this picture was taken but as you can see from the photo the corrosion is extensive. It is so difficult to see the metal as you work on it. This is a frustrating job. ARGH! I just can't find access to see it and cut it all out.
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I purchased an EBAY party tent for $65 and covered the car to keep the mess down. All the rust and grinding dust was settling on all my equipment so I wanted to enclose the job and also prepare for the exterior filler work. I lost a few days getting it all set up but in the end it is doing a good job. I had to do some re-engineering of the top frame work because I have a very low garage ceiling.
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So back to templates and patch panels.
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Some 3M Zinc rich primer all over everything then installation of the panel. I am not sure how well this primer actually works but I am using it because it is the right material for the job. Years ago I used a Zinc rich primer on another car but it was brushed on pretty thick and after 30years it is still working. I found with this 3M spray product it will flake off of shiny smooth metal so I make sure the surfaces have a 120 grit scuff then I degrease it all with brake cleaner and Lacquer thinner before I spray it on.
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Now fitting and welding the panel in place. This job is actually on hold at the moment as I wait for a welding hood to arrive from Amazon. I tried to do the job with my weld mask but there is no space for my head, the weld gun and the light to see it all for welding. I did get some decent tack welds in place but they are not pretty. It is a tough job because as you weld you need to keep an eye on the interior of the car to make sure it does not catch fire. I had an extinguisher on hand just in case. A few puffs of smoke and one hole I burned in that I needed to patch and I am leaving it as it is. I also found that I cut the lower edge of the patch piece too short and when I started to tack it in place the cleaned up metal was just too thin and I instantly put a new hole in it. :-( So now I have fabricated a new lower patch piece. Not great again but I did not wan't to remove the larger patch and risk new holes and possible fire in the interior. This is what is looked like at fit up. I am relying on the flanges to weld in place.

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I had to build a little handy jig to help keep it wedged in place for welding and this is what it looks like at the moment:
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So we will see if I can improve the welding when the new weld hood arrives. Hopefully I will be able to see what I am doing. When done I will encase all the seams with sealer then prime over it and undercoat it. I think it will last for some time then.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
While I was waiting for the weld hood to arrive I started to fit the rocker section. It is going as expected for this type of part.
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This is taking a long time too because I kept trying to find the best solutions for all the "what ifs?". Like when I put a weld bead on the upper edge of the new section how will I grind it down to still maintain the defined character line above the rocker molding like the rest of the car. Pretty much I am overthinking it. ;-)

I am a little further than this picture shows and spent nearly an entire day making a pattern to replace the bad metal here - still working on this too. I don't want to be random about it because I don't want to trap water again so I made several patterns and threw most away. In the end I had to "Nike" it and "Just do it". Still lots to do.

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Discussion Starter #28
Good news! This should help. I hope the welding goes better in the strut tower. Its not autodarkening so there will be some challenges. Oh yeah and my eyesight blows too. ;-)
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I made a bit of progress Monday and Tuesday on the rocker patch panel. Progress is good! The metal looks like this today. I am trying to keep the removal of the parent metal to a minimum. Unfortunately I will have to do some lap joints here. Not ideal for all the water, mud, and snow that will be packed into this area. I will do the best I can however to seal it all up.
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This is the early template fab work. It fit pretty good after many iterations.
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This is for the final pattern
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Now to scribe and cut the metal. That will be later this week.
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As usual with these things it takes much more time than expected. I figured 4-6 weeks for the job and well I am on 20 - 24 weeks about now. Looks like Spring by the time this guy will be rolling out of the garage with both sides repaired. I try to post weekly so everyone can see the progress and judge how long it would take them. Some faster and some slower. When I did my first car eons ago I would work from 6-11pm every night and 12 hours Sat and Sun now I am like 1-2 hrs most week day evenings and 5-6hrs on weekend days. Just FYI.

BTW -ANY REFERENCE ON HOW TO REMOVE THE ROOF DITCH MOLDING WOULD BE APPRECIATED!!!! I have the parts reference schematic from Subaru showing the clips etc but I would like to see an example of it actually being done.
 

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Your posts are spectacular! Thank you very much for taking the added time and effort to share this journey when you're already elbows deep in a job this large! I've been working away on my 2001 Couple which had/has similar issues to what you're experiencing here and all of your posts have been incredibly helpful to me! I'm currently in the process of cutting the rear quarters out to address the rust issues with some extensive cleanup work and a widebody overfender kit from 6ovrcrst. Just uncovered some shock tower rust as well.

Thank you again for sharing and you're doing a bang up job! Subbed for updates!
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Thanks for the comments! OK a bit of a hurdle this weekend with a leaky roof that I had to fix so not so much progress this week so far. I have the rocker filler part nearly complete but it has taken quite a bit of time to get to this point. Still some more forming but it is becoming something-- maybe just a fine art sculpture but I will keep tweaking it to perfection.
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Discussion Starter #31
OK it ain't pretty but its in. Lots of distractions the last two weeks but now ready for the "magical" seam sealer to be slathered in all the welds and seams. This was a terrible job because of the lack of access. All the sloppy weld is because I can't look right at the weld surface, I have to look at it from the edge and there is a bit of "hope" that I am welding at the right location. It was a very slow weld process and went something like this, weld a tack, quickly rip off my weld hood (nothing quick about it because it is tight fitting and I wear glasses), check for fire, put the hood back on, hope the sight glass does not fog up, put my gloves back on, position my head back in the shock tower, position the weld gun and the carefully flip down the weld shade then weld another tack. This was done for every weld - every one, and there are many miswelds there. This took forever. I am confident it will be a good to go though.
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That big blob is because I burned a couple holes in the parent metal here. I tried to burn in a bead there but it was just too much heat. Another case of weld, knock down the weld then fill it again.
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Man, great work so far. I have a similar if not worse rust problem on my rockers and pinch welds that I will have to fix soon, so keeping an eye on your process and timing is really good information. Also keep listing the materials you use and what works/doesn't! This is really helpful!
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Well we made some progress. "We" are now my son and I. I got the speech about the job taking so long so I got him involved so he could see how big is big. Turns out he is a pretty good welder and is eager to get some ownership in the job. I totally coated the shock towers and he did the rear quarter. A bit thick but we are getting to know the 3M product sealant's ins and outs.

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It looks a mess but all the metal is covered. We removed the Zinc rich first then put the seam sealer on raw metal. Next week we should be priming it all.

I held the new patch piece in place and he tacked it in. Team work and it turned out great!!

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I did a bit more welding before the family came over for dinner, I had to stop for that. I had drilled holes in the body sheet metal to plug weld the parts together here.

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Starting to trim it down to fit the rocker flange. Pic is just before I cut though the metal.
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Discussion Starter #34
Man, great work so far. I have a similar if not worse rust problem on my rockers and pinch welds that I will have to fix soon, so keeping an eye on your process and timing is really good information. Also keep listing the materials you use and what works/doesn't! This is really helpful!
Hey great to hear you are doing the same. The rockers are a bit dicey because they are a wet area and need to drain but you want to coat them with something to protect the metal without clogging up the weep holes. These are the sealing materials we are using:
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The stuff came from different people so you have to search for the best prices. I decided we will use epoxy primer as well from PPG, I have some from another job that I need to use up. Except for the POR15 everything is 3M. My experience is they are the best. Other stuff will work but I wanted to go with what I knew. I hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Gees I can't believe it has been 3 weeks since my last post. Time flies! Ok focus is still on the rocker. Some bad spots where the rocker screw nuts go into the sheet metal.
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Its hard to tell from the photo but the main one in the pic needs a patch and the others are not too bad, well cept the very front. Lots to do there.
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Youch! Look at that mess. I was able to clean it up reasonably well however.
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More surgery. You have to watch that you don't just hog into the metal with a cut off wheel. You have no idea what is behind what you are cutting. I carefully uncovered the inner reinforcement
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The fender was savable but for the $60 I just replaced it. Both fenders had dings too so it made sense vs spending the time on it.
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So this happens because the inner fender liner traps debris right at the area it rusted. To make it more super duper the sunroof drain tube dumps water right in that area
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Imagine that tube behind the wheel liner channeling water to the lower attachment of the fender. NFG.
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Going rearward behind all that badness the metal looks good. The rest of the pinch flange is solid and shiny metal. I thought about replacing the whole rocker but for the most part the original is in good shape and the more weld seams I put in the greater chance of new rust.

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Discussion Starter #36
So on to the trimming and fabbing the patch panels. I put the rear rocker section on to see where is the best place to put the weld seam. Looks good.

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It is hard to see but the patch piece is cut and being fit in. I put the trim line as high as possible so water would not pond on the seam but it is below the where the rocker contacts the metal. The square holes for the plastic rocker nuts need to be put into the patch metal and I am not sure how I am going to do that yet. Always a challenge.
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My son took the opportunity to scrub down the wheel well. This is to prep for a coat of fresh undercoating.

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Progress is slow but we keep pecking away at it. More to come.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Ok this is an odd one, see to the right what appears to be the back end of a grasshopper...... well, that is the back end of an ex grasshopper. I have to believe it crawled in through the back end and got trapped. Trimming to fit the patch panel. Feeling pretty good about the repair. For a car from the North East it looks pretty good.

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YES!! Like a glove. Getting very close to welding all the exterior panels on the car. It is literally just "snapped" into place.

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The final little piece. I have to buff the surface rust off of all the inner reinforcement surfaces, at least what I can get to, then a POR 15 soak. I think I have a plan how to do that then I weld the outer panels in. For the lower front fender screw I just buffed off the weld nut and will use a nut an bolt for the reattachment. I still need to drill out the little bit of screw that you can see in the photo. It is pretty thin there so I will also weld in a small backer plate too just to beef it up a bit. I have one rocker screw nut hole patch part to cut and weld in then the metal patches are done for the rocker on this side. Looking for warmer weather so I can really accelerate the progress on The final patch piece is the corner where wheel arch meets the rocker and this will finish the patch panel fab for this side.
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The next dirty job is s total cleaning of the pinch flange underneath the car. The old undercoating needs to be scraped away where it has separated from the metal then it all needs a good priming and then respray of new undercoating.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Update, so I bought some ebay fenders. The quality is not excellent but they were cheap and beat doing body work to repair the ones on the car. One of the panels came with a dent right in the character line so the vender sent another pretty quickly and said to just scrap the dented one. The replacement has a flaw at the door edge but it looks like its from the stamping process and should be easy to surface out. I have not yet tried them on but all looks good so far.

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Good news, we are at the point of POR 15 primer. I say WE because my son wants to be more active in the project. He is picking it up pretty fast so we are looking good. Here he his laying it down with the primer:

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This looks pretty rough but it isn't. It is masked where it needs to be. He did a really good thorough job.
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I used this to get paint inside the rocker sections. It worked OK but not really sure how well. It was a coat hanger with bits of foam paint brush

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This is what it looks like now before final patch panel welding after the masking tape was removed:
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Some prep on the patch panels too;
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A little clean up around the edges then weld it all in. We will see how this goes. I have not used POR15 in a welded panel before. In a past repair I had the zinc rich primer and undercoating spark off when welding but it had only 24hrs to dry, these will have several days. I think I should be OK. Looking back it was kinda funny seeing flames shoot out the ends of the rocker but just in case I will have my trusty extinguisher next to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
One last "you suck" job on the left side! I thought this last patch piece would just weld in with a little tweaking...........mmmmmmm.........ahhhhhh....no.

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So that location had lots of bends and lots of bends means lots of thinned metal in the stamping process. It didn't take much heat to just blow through the radii in the pinch flange. Look at all the large weld blobs:

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It took a long time to metal finish the weld beads and there is quite a bit of clean up still left to do to cover up the pin holes.

In cases like this you have to burn into an existing tack weld then drag the mig wire into panel but joint so you don't have so much heat in the thin metal. You are watching the wave of molten metal in front of the mig wire flow over the panel gap - then stop! That now becomes your next tack weld and it has to cool a second before you stitch another one right behind it. Yes all the pro lap joint guys are saying " yeah Jack if you lap jointed it you wouldn't have that problem" yeah, they are probably right but I prefer this verses risking trapping water in the seam. Just my thing.

So next steps are smashing/bending up some copper plumbing tubing to place behind the pin holes and weld it all up again. This should allow a better situation to build up some metal without flaming through it. Slow going but still plugging away at it. Sweating the upcoming Sube events and not making the show. Argh!


One last point, here is the pic of the inner shock tower reinforcement from outside the car:
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It is sealed with seam sealer and primer inside the tower and I will immerse this outside area in POR15 too. I think this is the best situation without a major reconstruction of the tower. Last step is a healthy coat of undercoating and then call that done.(y)
 

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Discussion Starter #40 (Edited)
Well it has been some time since I provided an update so her it goes. I patched the wheel house inner flange and it sucked. Lots of thin metal etc but I got it. Weld, grind, weld ....




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Now finally on to the qtr panel patch, fit like a glove
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OK amateur hour again on this, some times I need to just slow down. So the first error is I immediately started tacking in the panel WITHOUT BACK GRINDING THE EDGE - DUNCE!. You need a small gap on the edges so during welding it wont buckle under thermal expansion. I have seen some people take up to 1/16" and fill the gap with weld - that seems like a lot to me. I tack the part in place and use a thin dremel cut off wheel and cut the gap around the perimeter - works for me. I use the dremel cutting wheels everyone throws away because they just break and no one knows what to do with them. Its a thin gap but easily welds. The next one - yeah this one is silly. I tacked it up like the picture then decided it was time to go in the house and I would finish it up the next day. Ahhh no. When I finished the rest of the tacks I had inconsistent thermal expansion and ended up warping the metal. I should have waited until the next day to do the whole job. Ironically no beer was involved with that decision.
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Here it is all tacked up. I should have cleaned off more paint around the weld too. It has been many years since I have done a job like this.
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Here it is ready for filler. I will be using some duraglass and then surface filler but it will turn out good.
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Now for the rear of the rocker. This all went as planned. I knew there would be a lot of fiddling to get it patched.
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Looking good.
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OK now for the tough part. That little filler part SUCKED! So many curves coming together. Once I hit it with heat it moved around quite a bit.
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