Restoration Impossible: Working on the Wire Framework

Mar 7, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project car

This mesh is badly rusted on our Elan after sitting outside for nearly 40 years.
We used a cut-off wheel to remove the steel mesh from a parts car that had no rust.
We then cleaned the mesh and painted it with POR-15 rust protectant.
Next we had to clean the rusted metal out of our car’s body. We had already cut the rusty steel mesh out with a cutoff wheel.
Here you can see that we have joined the new, rust-free metal with the original metal that was not damaged.
And here we have a perfect repair that cost us nothing but a little time and what we paid for the parts car, which was $800.

On the Elans, a rather crude steel mesh framework is bonded into the rocker panels, as well as the A and B pillars. As you might expect, after sitting in a field for almost 40 years, the lower parts of this mesh on our car was rather rusty.

In addition to increasing strength to the rocker panel and door areas of these cars, this mesh provides outer seat belt mounting points and mounting tabs to attach the interior panels.

To repair this structure, we would need to cut the damaged area out and weld in new steel mesh. Fortunately, this mesh was still in perfect condition in the parts car we had obtained.

Once we had good measurements on the car, we carefully clipped the top of the wire mesh at the top of the rocker panels on both our car and our parts car.

We then cleaned and painted our replacement mesh with POR-15 to prevent future rust issues.

Once dry, we could join our new and old mesh with a welder and then bond the mesh back into the rocker panel.

You should do this job before final fiberglass work is complete. Welding against fiberglass will burn and damage the area immediately around the weld.

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Reader comments:

wannacruise
wannacruise New Reader
March 7, 2017 5:03 p.m.

Excellent work. It's almost done, it looks like a car now. :)

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
March 12, 2017 9:06 p.m.

We really are making great progress, but it has been a lot of work. With Amelia ending early this weekend, I dutifully got back and got the rest of the frame welded up. The body is nearly done as well. While we already have the corners disassembled, we will need to start media blasting and painting suspension parts next.

classico23
classico23 New Reader
March 22, 2017 2:57 p.m.

What did you clip the wire mesh with? I have the worst time trying to cut this stuff - I asked the guy I purchased from - Wire Mesh Cutting and Mfg. - they use a waterjet machine for precision cutting - I tried aviation snips and it came out really sloppy.

bentwrench
March 22, 2017 8:07 p.m.

Die Grinder with a cut off wheel?

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
March 23, 2017 7:45 a.m.

Yes, we used a cut off wheel. It was pretty easy to work with. And I am starting to really love fiberglass dust (NOT!)

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
March 27, 2017 8:33 p.m.

I use a dermal multi max tool. Depending on the thickness and the particular fiberglass it can be cut virchally dust free and since it vibrates the dust that is creats just sits next to what you are cutting where as with a wheel that is spinning at hi rpm that flings it everywhere. They are basically like an old fashen cast cutter that were used for fiberglass casts. It is a much better option for dealing with fiberglass.

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