mikedd969 New Reader
10/11/18 7:19 p.m.

Greetings everyone.

I have a Ford Ranger project I'm just getting started on that is going to need some body work.   

I'm actually pretty excited at the prospect.  I'm fairly experienced with mechanical and electrical repairs and refurb work.  I've done my fair share of that stuff, but I have almost no auto body repair experience.  Part of the value of this project for me is going to be gaining experience and (hopefully) some skill in body repair and paint.

Most of what the little truck needs is simple bolt-on stuff.  It's been in an accident that resulted in some front end damage.  The most serious of which is that the radiator support is pushed back about 3/4" on the passenger side.  When I first looked at it, I didn't even notice, but on closer inspection, I can see where it is tweaked.  You can see the little crease directly in front of where the radiator ends on the right side.  

My first instinct was to get a slide-hammer and pull it back out straight, but I think it might be hard to be certain that I have it 100%, completely straight.

I thought that cutting it out and replacing it was out of the question.  It would be a real PITA to drill out all the spot welds and, since I don't currently own a welder, and it has been almost 20 years since I welded anything, that didn't seem to be something I was equipped to tackle right now.

Then I started thinking.  What if, instead of cutting out the whole thing, I just cut out most of it, leaving 3" or so on each side, then just bolt/screw in a new (junkyard) section?  That seems a lot easier, but would it be strong and stiff enough?  

Then I remembered reading somewhere that a lot of body shops today use high-strength adhesives where the factory originally used spot welds when they are repairing damage.

Which brings me to my question.  Does anyone here, with more experience than me in body repair (which is almost anyone.....) have any experience, knowledge, or opinion on this? It would seem to be a lot easier, I just want to make sure it'll be strong enough.

I'm talking about products like this:  Eastwood: Replacement No Weld Panel Adhesive

Thanks everyone.  I figured if I could find answers and advice anywhere, it would be here at GRM!!! :)  




CJ Reader
10/11/18 11:43 p.m.

I think I would think about just drilling a hole in the face of the support, putting a plate on the back side, running a big eye bolt through the whole thing, and gently pull it forward.  Don't know if you have enough room, but if you pulled the radiator, a flat block and a big hammer from the back side might get you there as well.   Either would be much easier than cutting and welding (or gluing) in a new support.

I've messed with a couple of radiator supports and mine really didn't have much to them.  They just have to hold the radiator in place and if they aren't too tweaked, I just straightened them until the radiator was away from the fan a reasonable amount, the hood latched, the lights looked right, and moved on. 

If that is all the damage you have, it seems like you are doing a lot of work to fix a fairly small problem

mikedd969 New Reader
10/12/18 6:33 a.m.

In reply to CJ :

Thanks CJ.  I think I'll probably give that a go.  After all, nothing to lose by trying.  smiley


As best I can tell it's pushed back less than 1".  I need to spend some more time measuring, it's just hard finding a good reference point to measure from on both sides, the firewall isn't flat.  I may just sink a screw into the firewall at the center and use that as a reference to measure from.  I'll know more once I get the front stripped down. 

My big concern about getting it straight is that the header panel and therefore the grille, headlights, and all that bolt to the core support, so if it isn't straight then none of that is going to be either.

I'm going to a local u-pull-it yard today to get a new header panel, so hopefully I'll have the front end all stripped down this weekend and have a better idea of just how badly tweaked the core support actually is.  I may take some measurements from another Ranger that isn't damaged while I'm there too. 

NOHOME UltimaDork
10/12/18 6:55 a.m.

Get a big C clamp. Use two wood spacers to locate a solid length of wood or steel in front of the rad support but spaced away using the blocks. Where exactly you place the spacers depends on where you want the panel to bend .

The Clamp will let you place a strong controllable push where you want it. You can use a block of wood on the pushing side of the clamp or a localized force by putting a smaller surface like a ball bearing taped in place if need be.


Please excuse the etch a scketch drawing!


Dusterbd13 MegaDork
10/12/18 7:06 a.m.

Before you keep going, how to all the panels and lights line up? If none of that is affected, leaving it alone may be the right option.

However, your original question asked about the glue. Done according to the directions, its stronger bond than the steel itself. At least in my experience. 

mikedd969 New Reader
10/12/18 5:07 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13 :

It probably won't affect the alignment of the grille, headlights and turn signal lights, that all attaches to the header panel.  IF the radiator support was REALLY bent up, then that would be a problem, but this one is only a little bit bent up.  

The real problem is that it IS bent enough to screw up the alignment of the hood latch.  

If I can lay my hands oon a slide hammer, I think I can bring it back into shape, or at least close enough.  Having trouble finding one locally at the moment, at least finding one cheap enough.....wink  I may have just get some threaded rod and cobble something together to make one, or press the "easy button" and just order one.

I did score an almost pristine OEM header panel at the junkyard today, along with a passenger side turn signal/marker light assembly  It has a small crack at the bottom right in the middle, but that should be easy to fix.  I'd hoped they would have a decent grille too, but they didn't.

I also took pics of the "door sticker" of every Ranger and Explorer they had.  I think that, at some point, I may swap my 7.5" open diff axle, with 3.08 ring and pinion for an 8.8 limited slip with a lower gear ratio if I cn find one in decent shape.  If it has disk brakes, that'll just be a bonus.    smiley

I've found The Ranger Station to be an awesome resource for information so far.  Tons of good information there about these little trucks.  Mostly focused on the 4x4s, but not completely.


mikedd969 New Reader
10/12/18 5:12 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Now THAT is an excellent idea!!  I just happen to have a big C-clamp too.....

It would also work in reverse, drilling a hole in the crossbar and in the core support, right where I want to pull on it, using threaded rod and a backing plate inside the core support....... Hmmm.......

I'm liking this idea.  


10/12/18 10:16 p.m.

Know anyone you can borrow a Porta Power from? If not then ...

Eyebolt with large washer and a nut. Hole in core support for eye bolt. Piece of chain, rope, cable or whatever around a tree then gently pull in reverse.

mikedd969 New Reader
10/14/18 5:09 p.m.

In reply to NOT A TA :

That's an option I'd considered.  I don't have an handy tree to use, but I think with the excellent suggestions I've gotten, I have devised a plan that should work.  I'll post up pics as soon as I get some time to work on it, and a day when it's not too damn hot outside......  wink

Dusterbd13 MegaDork
10/14/18 5:25 p.m.

Ive used another car with the parking brake set and the rope/chain wrapped through a wheel before when there were no convenient trees.

mikedd969 New Reader
10/15/18 9:21 p.m.

My current plan involves a piece of treated 4x4 I have laying around, some 1/2" threaded rod, nuts, washers and some scraps of steel bar.  I have everything but the threaded rod.  I'll be sure to take and post some pics of my attempt to pull it back out straight.

I figured out how to take some decent measurements while I'm pulling it out, so that I can tell when I have the top part more or less straight.   

Managed to take a few min this afternoon to tear down the front and get a good look at the damage to the core support.  It;s bent more, and in more places than I thought, but I think it should all pull out straight enough.  

I'd love to tear into it this weekend, but I'm going to visit the daughter at college (Mississippi State) this weekend, so it'll have to wait.  I am going to try to get the "new" header panel cleaned up, the one small crack in it fixed and perhaps spend a little time restoring the cloudy headlights. 

mikedd969 New Reader
10/26/18 10:10 p.m.

So.  It's been a couple of weeks, and the combination of real life, my inherent laziness and tendency to procrastinate adds up to slow progress... blush

I got the truck into the garage a few days ago to continue disassembly.  I needed to remove the radiator, but when I drained the coolant, it was pretty funky, not terrible, but a good flush was called for, so i did that for a couple of evenings.  Along the way I replaced the water temp sender that was keeping the temp gauge from working.  Then I finally yanked the radiator and was ready to try straightening the core support.

This evening I got down to that finally.  It actually went amazingly well.  My plan actually worked out pretty much as I imagined, and that's pretty rare.  laugh

Big thanks to everyone who offered tips and advice.  It really helped me settle on a workable solution.

First I drilled a hole through the top of the core supper, right where it was bent in.  Then I put a piece of 3/8" threaded rod through that hole and put a big washer and a nut on the back side.

Then I took a piece of 4x4 that I had lying around and made myself a little "bridge" to fit across the front of the core support and drilled a hole to accept the threaded rod.

Now I needed a way to measure how far the support was pushed back on the passenger side, and a way to know when I had it pulled back to where it should be.  I decided to use the rearmost fender mounting bolts on each side, which are symmetrical, take a piece of string (wire actually, couldn't find any string) loop that around the head of the bolt on the undamaged side and using a pre-existing hole on the top of the core support (that is mirrored by an identical hole on the damaged side) make a mark with a sharpie at the edge of that hole.  Moving the string to the other side would both show me how far it was bent in, and also show me when I had it pulled back to where it should be.

Undamaged side.

Damaged side.

Mounted my 4x4 pulling jig, put a nut and washer on the other end of the threaded rod and started cranking on it.  

I had to add a ratchet strap because the ends of the jig didn't sit completely flush on the core support so it wanted to lever up.  Also had to add 2 nuts jammed together to the very end to use to keep the whole rod from spinning when I tightened up on it.

I also applied a little persuasion on the point of the bend with my BFH (Big Friendly Hammer).......  wink

And before long.......


Its hard to see in the picture, but it is actually pretty darn straight now.  Close enough anyway.  

The center part of the support, where the hood latch attaches was also bent in quite a bit, so I re-used my handy 4x4 jig and a ratchet strap to pull that back out too.

So now I am almost ready to begin reassembly.  I've managed to get lost of what I need at local junkyards.  I have a "new" header panel, it had some small cracks that I have repaired with some shockingly bad fiberglass work, but it won't show so it only has to be strong, not pretty.  I have a replacement for the broken turn signal/marker light.  The headlights were ok, but need cleaning up.  I'd almost given up finding a decent, unbroken grille, but i managed to stumble across one last weekend.

Tomorrow I am going to start putting it back together, radiator first.  I don't think it should take too long from this point.  

I still need to find  bumper, cut off the old, mangled bumper brackets, get replacements for those and find someone to weld them on for me.  Then the work on the front will be pretty much done.

After that I still have some dent repair so the back driver-side cab corner to fix.  The bed to replace and I'll be ready for some paint.  


NOHOME UltimaDork
10/26/18 10:35 p.m.

Very nice. And you get bonus points for actually measuring stuff!



CJ Reader
10/27/18 12:36 a.m.

Nicely done.  And much less expensive than a port-a-power.

mikedd969 New Reader
10/27/18 3:33 p.m.

More progress.

Last night I painted the (repaired) junkyard header panel to match the body color.  Probably unnecessary, but I had the paint so....why not???  smiley

This morning I put in a new thermostat, put the radiator back in, and filled it up with nice fresh coolant.  I'm happy to report that replacing the temperature sender fixed my non-working temperature gauge.  yes

Then I mounted the header panel.  It fits pretty well, I had to shim between the panel mounts and the core support in one place on the damaged side because it's not completely straight.  Other than that it fit like a glove.

Then, I got to remove the header panel because, apparently I should have mounted the headlights BEFORE I mounted the header panel......who knew??? blush

SIDE NOTE:  I freaking love my little DeWalt 12V impact driver!!  Hands down the most useful power tool I have ever owned. Its light enough to take with me on my junkyard runs, surprisingly powerful, and it makes jobs like this so much easier!!

Headlights now attached, I mounted the header panel for the second time, and attached the turn signal/marker lamp assemblies.  One original and one from the same junkyard truck that I got the header panel from.

Then I put on the shiny new (to me) grille that I found last weekend.  

Huge improvement!!!  laugh

Thanks again for everyone's help, comments and advice!!

mikedd969 New Reader
10/28/18 10:50 a.m.
NOHOME said:

Very nice. And you get bonus points for actually measuring stuff!



Thanks Pete!!  I admit, it took some head scratching to figure out a way to accurately (more or less) measure it.  I couldn't just measure straight out from the firewall because it's not flat.  I was staring at it and those fender mounting bolts just suddenly stood out and a (very small and dim) light bulb just lit off in my brain.  Then I spent 30 min rummaging through the house for some string.  Couldn't find any, then I spotted some old wire left over from installing the sensors for a garage door opener, so I used that instead.  It pays to be a little bit of a hoarder sometimes....   laugh

I'm pretty proud of the results.  This was pretty small potatoes compared with a lot of the stuff the other GRM folks tackle on a regular basis, but as it is really the first time I've attempted anything like this.....well....."baby steps" as they say.  wink



mikedd969 New Reader
10/28/18 10:52 a.m.
CJ said:

Nicely done.  And much less expensive than a port-a-power.

Thanks CJ!  Now if I can just lay my hands on a welder and a cutting torch I can tackle the bumper mounts.......



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