Ian Pearson has been reminiscing about this 1959 Ford Edsel which he and our Denaby team renovated at our back in 2014. Ian tells us how they were given a fully stripped bodyshell and tasked with bringing the bodywork of this vehicle back to its former glory.
This vehicle was released in 1957 and was named “Edsel” in honour of Henry Ford’s late son.
It was only produced for 2 years and was a massive flop for Ford which cost them $250 million. There were only 44,000 made and the few that remain are now very rare.
With the Edsel being such a rare vehicle parts were very hard to get hold of so the corrosion to the lower part of the near side front wing needed to be repaired The method for this repair would be to cut out the rusted area, make a new section and lead over. This type of repair using lead was only a myth to the new generation panel technicians due to the changing repair techniques and methods for modern motor vehicles.
However, when Ian was on the shop floor, he remembers this repair being a common method of repair. It had been over 15 years since Ian had picked up any of his tools but he set about challenging himself to repair this panel and pass on some of the skills he had gained during his time repairing cars to this new generation.
The first thing Ian needed to do was to clean the area to be repaired so he could see the full extent of the corrosion, it was important to make sure the repair was taken back to clean metal.
It was clear to see it had been repaired before, this section had already been replaced and brazed in, it all needed to be removed. Before Ian removed this part of the wing he needed to make a replacement section, he began with a cardboard template to get the right shape which he then cut out from a sheet of mild steel.
Because they didn’t have access to any of the old rollers and swaging machines, they had to make this in two sections, all Ian had to shape the metal was his hammers, dollies and a vice. He measured and cut the lower section and shaped this up, he could then tack the two pieces together and check the fit.
Once he’d welded the two pieces together and finished shaping, it was now ready for a final check and make the cut line. You can see in the below image the corroded section removed and the new section clamped in to place.
The section was then welded in place and ground down. It was now ready to lead the area for a metal finish repair.
The next stage is where the skill came in, the panel needed to be “tinned”. For this Ian needed to ensure the lead stuck to the panel, the paste needed to be applied with a brush, but before tinning, the area had to be clean and grease free, this part was really important, if not done correctly the lead would not adhere to the metal.
Once the paste had been applied it needed heating up using the oxyacetylene welding plant. As it heated up it became shiny, once heated all over any excess needed to be wiped off with a damp cloth.
Next was to apply the lead, this was done by melting a lead stick with the plant and pushing the semi-molten lead onto the panel with the back of the welding torch, once enough lead had been roughly applied it could be heated up and moved around the panel. Ian used his paddles to do this which were made from hardwood and were different shapes to enable him to move the lead around the panel. He made his own paddles and still has them today and used Tallow (Whale fat) on the paddles so the lead didn’t stick to them.
Next, Ian used a body file to shape the lead into a metal finish. You can see the finished repair ready for the paint-shop to be stoppered, primed and painted, and with the wing fully painted it was ready to be refitted to the vehicle.
A modern repair would have been completed using minimal body filler, however Ian wanted to maintain the traditional method of repair and pass this knowledge on to the younger generation of technicians at our Denaby site who repaired the rest of the vehicle.
Here are just a few images of this excellent and historic car finished. Both inside and out was fully renovated and assembled. The car now has a new lease of life and is regularly used as a wedding car.