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Mis aligned body panels

  
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Mis aligned body panels

 
raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 01/31/13
06:54 PM

A few years back, I replaced my radiator support and inner fender wells on my front end, when I was all done I noticed my doors and fenders and hood were misaligned.
How would you recommend I start to realign them?  

Formulajim Formulajim
Enthusiast | Posts: 379 | Joined: 02/09
Posted: 01/31/13
10:57 PM

I would start with the gap between the front fenders and the doors and then move to the front gap along the hood sides ect.  
Drive it before your dead!

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 02/01/13
07:26 AM

I just not sure how to do this right as I see I made some mistakes in the past, I tried to pull the fenders in then the hood would get too tight, and the front of the hood is way to tight.
I didn't take the whole nose off, just what I needed.  

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 02/01/13
04:07 PM

Hey Ragu. You might want to skip reading this now, just print it and go walk up to the car with a combo wrench. I'll try to walk you through, just holler if you get hung up or have another question. Anybody can use this, it applies to lots of cars. Heard this question many times, finally decided to write it up so tell me if its confusing, man. I wrote it like building from scratch, but this is the order in which I work gaps-

My general method for aligning bolt-on front end panels on full or sub-framed cars, beginning at B pillar with weatherstripping in place (door glass fit adjustment is another critter entirely):

Bolt hinges to doors and snug. Center bolts within adjustment range.

Bolt door/hinge ass'y to A pillar and snug. Center within adjustment range.

Carefully close door fully, with striker pin removed.

Loosen lower hinge to pillar or door to hinge bolts as needed to set gap evenly at rocker, then retighten all.

Now set distance from door to quarter and horizontal tilt by loosening one hinge from pillar at a time and "walking it" so you don't lose your door height. Go for about a quarter inch gap at the bottom and back of the door. Having help helps.

Now set the top to bottom tilt of the door. Loosen hinge to door bolts and adjust inward or outward as needed for a flush fit from top to bottom at the quarter (or rear door). Here again, walk it to avoid losing height because its hard to raise the door with hinges snug.

At this point you should have similar gaps on each side between the windshield posts and the top front corners of the door skins. Your door should fit the quarter and rocker evenly.

Install and set the striker position now. Do not use the striker pin adjustment to pull the door up or down into place when latched. The pin's job is to be where the latch wants to meet, not the other way around. The pin must hit the latch dead center, and should not contact the latch anywhere but on the claws. Use the striker pin's shim pack to adjust how far it extends forward into the latch and avoid dragging. I prefer light oil to heavy grease, and only inside the latch. No lubricant belongs on the striker pin or latch claw faces.

Tighten all door and hinge bolts. Still good? Moving on ...

Place a fender and start all the bolts.

The big rear top bolt facing upward is first to tighten (Guys with cowl panels and exposed wipers may have to remove those for access). Shim the height so that the major upper body line approximately lines up to the door and snug the bolt.

Next bolt is the big one by the master cylinder or heater, facing forward. Set the door to fender distance with shims here then snug the bolt. You may have to loosen that top bolt again to let it move.

Now use a shim pack under the big bolt at the bottom rear of the fender if needed, to set the bottom of the fender level with the rocker when tight. Most importantly, match where the contour or molding there will line up. Tighten.

At this point, confirm that your core support is centered-

Choose symmetrical reference points at the cowl such as that first big fender bolt, then measure in an X pattern to a fixed point like a hole or contour on the core support. Alternatively, you could determine the exact center of the core support and just measure from those fender bolts to that mark. If you have a quarter inch or less of difference in the measurements from side to side, you shouldn't have big trouble. If the discrepancy is larger than that, its possible your frame is bent but in most cases the core support mounts can be loosened at the frame and moved slightly, to "square up" the engine compartment. Sometimes you gotta slot a hole a little here or there, to allow adjustment.

Got that all square? Got all the bolts started? Wheelwell bolts and fender brace bolts are all installed but not tight? OK, Lets move on.

Go back where you left off before measuring, and do what you can to fine tune the fender to door gap now. Hard to reach those hinge to pillar bolts with fenders on so hope you nailed em. Make adjustments, but never assume you have it licked until the bolts are all tight. Keep in mind that the rear top and bottom bolts "pinch" the fender a little, and can affect how far out it sticks in the middle. Be sure to carefully check for clearance along the front edge of the door when opening and closing during gap adjustments, and bear in mind that GM was more concerned that the moldings line up than the actual panel edges, in many cases on full frame cars.

Got happy door gaps now? Close easy and don't rub? Got all rubber bumpers and seals that support the hood in place? Cowl guys put it back on now, with the rubber.

OK, Lets grab the hood.

Remove the striker pin for now. Install hood hinges to fenders, center them within the range of adjustment and tighten. Not snug, tight.

Bolt hood to hinges, in the center of the mounting slots and tighten.

Carefully close hood, watch the back corners so they don't rub. If it is significantly off center at the back, you have a screwed up hinge. You are urinating directly into the breeze until you get a good one with a good spring. Hard to fix 'em.

Now that you see how the hood sits, open it and adjust the front to rear position by loosening the bolts and repositioning them in the hinge slots then tightening. You are not only adjusting the front to rear position of the hood, but also centering the hood's front to the rest of the car.

Does the hood line up at the back now (or how is the hood-to-grille header gap)? Cowl-havin' guys can move the cowl. Got your front fender bolts at the core support loose? Make em just finger tight, and pull the fender out as far as it goes.

Ok lets put the striker back like it was and latch it.

Latch good now? Move the latch and or striker so that the aim is centered, if not. Just get it to close. Here again, just like on the door, we don't want the latch really pulling it one way or the other. We just want an easy click and secure latching. Don't mess with worn out latches unless you like wearing a hood.

If thats not working and its way off, the core support needs to move in relation to the frame. Loosen the mounts there and slide it over then retighten. Don't be suprised if you have to slot a hole somewhere to get it just right. If everything is unbent, you should be able to use the side-to-side travel of just the fender front bolts to establish good hood side gaps now. Remember, all the factory rubber bumpers around the hood have a purpose here.

Work with those things until you can close it and the have good side gaps, then move on to fine-tuning the latch tension. Use the adjustable stoppers to set the height of the hood corners, then adjust the striker pin length until suitable tension is generated to secure the hood and to pop it open easily. A little slam action should be required to close it.

Now it looks great but the back of the hood sticks up, right?

Well now that the doors, fenders, and core support are in the right places, thats easy. IF you have good hinges and springs, the hood hinge-to-fender bolts are where you adjust this.

The hood has to close at the same time as the hinges, to rest properly at the rear. Adjust the tilt, or clock position of the hinge in relation to the fender to fine-tune it. To lower the rear of the hood, begin by loosening the rear hinge bolt(s) and leaving the front tight. Now gently lift the hood past fully open and retighten. That moved the rear end of the hinge (and the pivot point) down. Better but not enough? You guessed it, leave the rear tight and loosen the front, over-open the hood again to pull the hinge front slot up against the front bolt and retighten while holding. You will know right quick if you are going the wrong way but you will also know when you found the sweet spot. Most old hinges and springs have too much slop and sometimes that requires a little push down by hand to fully seat the hood after closing. A few potholes do the same thing. Again, remember all the stoppers and bumpers around the perimiter are what holds that heavy hood in place. If any of that is missing, it can adversely affect your overall fit. Also don't forget to tighten anything because loose threads rust fast!

I always have to backtrack during this process, particularly if any of the parts are replacements. If your fender gaps change a little in one place when you adjust another, thats normal and thats why I say don't count your chickens until everything is tight and all the rubber is there. Anyone who follows this procedure and has further questions, please feel free to inquire. Pictures are most helpful in these situations.

One note about door hinges ... do not oil detent roller faces! Oil the pins and bushings, the detent roller spring contact points, and the roller itself but do not lube the roller face or detent bar. Friction is required for them to work properly, so just keep that part clean. If lubricated, the roller can skip over the detents and create flat spots, and this tends to saw off the end of the roller's pin over time.  
idrivejunk

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 02/01/13
05:59 PM

I would never delete anything you all say here, you all are schooling me bro, I'll take some pics tomorrow of the hood, doors and fender lines  

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 02/01/13
09:24 PM

I gotcha. That was an accidental double post that I was asking to have deleted and its gone now man. Seriously, try it in the order I went thru and holler if problems remain. I reckon you're OK as long as cats can't jump through the panel gaps.  Grin  
idrivejunk

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 04/17/13
06:03 AM

I removed the hood yesterday, and I'm gonna remove the nose today, it's slow cause  I need to bag & tag all bolts.
I also remember that my lower Valance panel wwhen I installed it last year it was bowing outward, had to push it back to the hood latch brace.
I continue today, how far should I go, I thinking unbolt fenders don't remove them?
and leave the rad support but unbolt it and just center it.
I have the instructions printed out from above.
Thank you, I never moved the doors at all.  

waynep712222 waynep712222
Enthusiast | Posts: 310 | Joined: 03/13
Posted: 04/17/13
08:26 AM

here is a TIP for quick take apart and back together jobs...

take some photos of the engine compartment  from a HIGH angle.. so you can see both inner fenders... take pictures from the sides of the car.. of the front fenders...

print these in a draft mode.. or reduce the color saturation.. so you don't use up all your ink.. but enough you can see the fasteners..

glue these to a cardboard box...      use an ice pick to punch holes that match the bolt count..   draw lines to the fastener locations on the picture...  when you remove a bolt.. stick it into the ice picked hole..  this will hold it in the proper order...

if you have it all apart.. and the box looking like a pin cushion...

you could use a golf tee..  and remove the bolts ONE at a TIME.. insert the golf tee and lay the bolt across a ruler you have printed.. and take a picture of the bolt and the location where the golf tee is in the same shot..  so you don't have to make cards up for each location..


IDJ... thank you for that GREAT instruction  sheet  on door and panel alignment..  

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 04/17/13
10:29 AM

Wayne, you're welcome and I aim to please. Smile

Ragu, just go only as far as needed. If there are any door gap issues you'd want to address those first. If not, yeah just loosen everything. My "instructions" start with a bare body shell, just so I could include all of the steps. Door hinge bolts are hard to reach with fenders on, y,know. If anything on your car doesn't make sense feel free to ask about specifics.  
idrivejunk

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 04/17/13
12:19 PM

I agree, I only pulled the nose off and hood. I found that my wheelhouses are off.
the right side overhangs the frame about 1" and the left side is back from the edge of the frame about an 1". I measured the rad support for center and it seems to be off, the measurements are different. one side looks under 48" and the other side is over 48". both fenders are off not too bad. the doors are good.
Id thanks again for the write up so I'm gonna loosen up the bolts around the fender and do the best I can with your instructions. And I'm sure I will be asking questions bro.  

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 04/17/13
04:24 PM

I am trying to figure out how to get the gap at the door front so it will close without hitting.
I'm finding that my wheelhouse isn't in the right position, it's holding the fender from going where I want it to.
I centered the rad support and I notice the driver side fender is almost at the end of the support, what do I do now?  

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 04/17/13
04:25 PM

Cool, just work your way forward and hopefully it will all fall into place for you.  Cool

The core support doesn't necessarily need to be centered, but thats optimal. It can be off center if that makes things line up, but there is also such thing as body shell being crooked on frame. The wheelhouses are bastards, man. Much variation from part to part. Have all the bolts in and loose while you align fenders. Do your outer panels then tighten the wheelhouses then deal with any backtracking that creates. Thats what I do, you do what works there. Its a tricky three dimensional thinking exercise. When I have a real "problem child" front clip, I usually have to be undisturbed and unobserved before I can concentrate hard enough, but somehow I win. Musclecars are a cakewalk compared to lining up some of the fifties stuff I've seen, man-o-man be glad you have what you have!  
idrivejunk

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 04/17/13
04:31 PM

Icon Quoteraguza123:
I am trying to figure out how to get the gap at the door front so it will close without hitting.
I'm finding that my wheelhouse isn't in the right position, it's holding the fender from going where I want it to.
I centered the rad support and I notice the driver side fender is almost at the end of the support, what do I do now?


Ah- we be typin at the same time, ha!

I think I answered the core support question just then ...

If the wheelhouse won't let the fender go back, bend the wheelhouse. yes that probably means removing it, bashing it, test fitting, taking back off at least once for more massaging and to repaint if the paint is damaged. The wheelhouse hits the firewall by the body mount, right? Be kind to the fender and mean to the wheelwell.

Oh wait ... you need the fender to go forward to clear the door? Shims! I may need a pic of whats going on before I steer you wrong.

Do the edge contours of the door and fender match well if they sit right?  
idrivejunk

raguza123 raguza123
Enthusiast | Posts: 523 | Joined: 05/12
Posted: 04/17/13
05:13 PM

it will match the door but not match the valance panel( it will be same height, but not the rear line of the valance. and if I match the valance it won't match the door or open the door.
The wheel houses seem to need the 3 holes redrilled, these go to a vertical bracket. so much for OER parts.
Before I replaced these parts the body used to line up.

Ok one question if I go by your instructions, should the inner wheel house be loose or remove all bolts?
Should I just remove it all except the doors and rad support and do it over the correct way you have it written?
what is a shim pack?  

idrivejunk idrivejunk
Addict | Posts: 5148 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 04/17/13
05:32 PM

Oh. Yeah, OER has a bad rep where I work. Any aftermarket wheelhouses are almost certain to need some holes enlarged at the very least. Seriously, If they are causing interference, take them out and line up everything else, then force/modify the wheelwells to fit that. Be sure to check if theres an adjustment on that bracket, too. The valance sounds like it needs some tweaking maybe in the center. Get the fenders and hood first, don't worry about the valance until those all fit. How well does the door fit the rocker, Nice and paralell?  
idrivejunk

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