Modern Rodding Tech

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Raising the Bar typography

Reshaping the Wheelwells on a Model A

three-quarter back view of Natalie Bolea’s light gray coupe

1. Natalie Bolea’s coupe was seen as a finished feature in the Mar. ’22 issue, now let’s look at the masterful metalwork that brought it to this point while under the eye of E.J. Talik of Craftworks Fabrication.

By Ron Covell Photography by E.J. Talik
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hen building a hot rod, selecting the right wheels and tires and achieving the proper stance are crucial. Most often these cars are lowered considerably over stock, and larger-than-stock tires are usually fitted. This often leads to a mismatch between the tire and the fender recess in the body. Many builders simply live with this, but a few take on the considerable task of reshaping the fender recess.

When Craftworks Fabrication took on Natalie Bolea’s Model A coupe (Modern Rodding, Mar. ’22) project, they agreed that this would be a no-holds-barred effort. One of the earliest tasks was to establish the ride height, then do whatever it took to get the rear fender recess to match the curvature of the tire.

As it turns out, it took a lot. The desired location of the reveal was laid out with tape, then new metal was shaped on a bead roller to match the contour. The old reveal was cut out and the new metal was fitted in place. Of course, the recessed area below the reveal had to be made from scratch, and there was rust damage in the quarter-panels that required repair, too.

In the end, nearly half of the quarter-panel was remade in new metal, and the bottom edge of the quarter-panel just behind the door was given a subtle curve to match the Deuce-style framerails.

All of this took a huge amount of work, but looking at the finished car, you can see that all the elements fit together perfectly–so much so that many people may not realize that major modifications were made in this area.

The photos show the key steps in the reconstruction process, and we’re hopeful that this may inspire you to go the next level in your project.

blue and yellow masking tape is used to lay out a line consistent with the curvature of the tire
2. With the final ride height established and the correct wheels and tires fitted, masking tape is used to lay out a line consistent with the curvature of the tire.
a new metal piece cut to the desired contour is held in place above the wheel with Clecos
3. Using the tape layout as a guide, new metal is cut to the desired contour. A beading machine is used to shape the new reveal and Clecos are used to hold the panel in place.
a different viewpoint of the panel above the tire

4. It’s crucial that the new panel look good from all angles, so it’s important to inspect the placement from all viewpoints before the panel location is finalized.

the quarter-panel is cut away in preparation for butt-welding the new panel into place

5. Once everything seems correct, the quarter-panel is cut away in preparation for butt-welding the new panel into place. TIG welding was used exclusively for this job.

the wheel and tire are fitted again with the new reveal tack welded

6. The new reveal is tack-welded, and the wheel and tire are fitted once again to be sure that everything is headed in the right direction.

the reveal on the bottom of the patch panel is given a subtle curve to follow the contour of the frame

7. The lower quarter-panel needs to be replaced, too, and the reveal on the bottom of the patch panel is given a subtle curve to follow the contour of the frame.

the wheelwell recess, with the finish work, sits on a table top

8. Here is the beautifully formed wheelwell recess, with the finish work taken to a very high level.

view from the inside of the car body of the wheelwell components fitted together

9. From the inside you can see how perfectly all the components are fitted together. The more care you take with fitting, the easier the finish work will be.

the new wheelwell recess, welded to the the car body

10. Here’s how it looks after all the welds are metal finished. It’s looking superb!

the rolled pan fabricated to replace the squarish lower panel, in place at the rear of the car

11. The squarish lower panel was removed from the rear of the body and a very tasteful rolled pan was fabricated to fit snugly into place.

full view of the back wheelwell and passenger side corner of the coupe

12. Here you can see how beautifully all the metalwork flows together.

full view of the coupe showing how well the new wheel recess follows the curvature of the tire

13. In this photo you can appreciate how well the new wheel recess follows the curvature of the tire. That’s the payoff of a job well done.

 SOURCE
Craftworks Fabrication
(412) 922-7062
craftworksfab.com
Modern Rodding

VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 19 • 2022