A common problem with the Ford Escort, was damaged fenders. These were welded onto the body with mostly spot welds. The quickest way to remove and fit a new fender is as follows; Remove the front bumper and grille, remove the headlamp assembly from the side requiring the fender to be replaced, remove the indicator assembly from the same side. With an air chisel and a spot weld point, cut through the spot welds along the top seam of the fender and the inner front panel. Cut through the spot welds at the door post and the one at the bottom on the rocker panel. Cut through the mig welds on the front panel, either with an air chisel or 4″ grinder. Cut through the welds around the headlamp panel. The damaged panel should then come away easily.
Having ascertained that the new panel is the correct one for that particular vehicle (that may sound silly, but sometimes you can fit the wrong panel to the wrong car and not notice til it’s too late. I once saw somebody fit a two door door to a four door car, and not notice until he actually fitted the door and tried to close it. The hinges and everything except the window glass was the same.) It was quite amusing to see his face when he tried to close the door and it was like a foot too long.
You need to have prepared your new panel by sanding off the Fethiye Escort factory primer from the places which need to be welded. Also, (not in the case of our Escort here, but just so you know), bolted panels need to have their unreachable parts sprayed by the paintshop before fitting.
Anyway, offer up the new panel, and clamp it into position, you need to check the gaps between the door and the hood, when doing this, as they need to be both parallel and the right size. Also make sure that the panel is at the right level, i.e. not standing proud of the door or the hood or rocker panel. Once you are 110% sure that everything is in the correct place, you can start with the welding process. If you cleaned up your inner panels first, you should have no problem with the spot welder in that position. If you don’t have a spot welding machine, you can easily do this with gas, by brazing the joints, this only needs to be spot brazed at a similar frequency to the original spot welds. Once the panel is fully welded in all the right places, it’s then ready for repainting, which is a whole new story in itself. Maybe we’ll cover that in a future article.