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Unread 09-25-2013, 03:13 PM   #1
greyhnd
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Huntingburg, IN
Posts: 303
ZJ quarter panel repair advice.

Hello folks.
I have a 96 ZJ with some quarter panel damage I'm trying to figure out what to do with. The Jeep was panel was mashed in when I bought it, and it doesn't effect the ride, or integrity of the body. No leaking around the doors or wind whistling type things, it just looks a little haggard. I really can't afford to have it repaired at a body shop, so I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to straighten it up a little bit.

I'm hoping the pics will show up so you can see what I'm dealing with. I'm not sure exactly to get behind the metal or if something like a slide hammer would be useful. No matter what the verdict, I'm going to sand it down and shoot it with some primer to stop the rust. I can also get some additional pics from a wider angle if that will help.

sam_0020.jpg

sam_0021.jpg

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Unread 09-28-2013, 10:49 AM   #2
ToledoDave
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Wow!.....im not sure what i would do with it either. Pics are not bad. Your question should be asking yourself how much money you got into it and how much you want to put into it. You have definately got yourself a doozie repair job there. One important thing you need to check is why your tail gate to the 1/4 panel gap is so bad. Also looks like the 1/4 was hammered hard and sombody pushed the dent out from the inside and now you have metal stretched in and out and the tail light hem is wacked hard. I would open the gate and remove the tail light and assess the hidden dmg. If the inner panel has been compremized you will have a real hard time getting the outside panel straight again. Not forgetting to mention the tail light hole is in bad shape. If it were mine i would cut the 1/4 off and weld a new one on. Maybe with a dent puller (eagle) you could pull most of it and mud (bondo) the rest. So in nut shell either couple gallons of bondo and alot of sanding or replace panel and alot of grinding. If it comes to the panel your looking at alot of money and time to make it right. When adding that and BB value sometimes its just better to cut your losses and find another jeep. Had it been a fender....easy replace. 1/4 panel is part of main structure and body. Since its a unibody chassis the 1/4 is an important part of the body shell intengrity. If its just a off road jeep then i say mud the thing up and have fun doing it and learning that technique of body repair. Im sorry i dont have better advice for you but you definately have a project on your hands. I also thing you have hidden dmg you dont see in the pics. Good luck with your adventure.
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Unread 09-29-2013, 01:55 PM   #3
greyhnd
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Huntingburg, IN
Posts: 303
ToledoDave - Thanks for your response. Truth be told, money is a big part of why I'm trying to figure out what to do. It's hard to see from the pics, but the gap between the liftgate and the panel seems to be from the quarter panel being pushed in and down a little bit. The liftgate where it meets the quarter panel is also pushed in. There are no leaks around the liftgate and it closes properly and doesn't rattle. Also, the tail light area is mashed pretty good, almost folded in on itself. I thought about taking out the tail light and trying to get a "pry bar" inside and perhaps push the metal back out. I have no idea if that would work, but it was suggested by one of my friends. I'll also see if I can assess any underlying damage.

I know I'll never get it back like new and honestly, I'm not looking to do that. My goal is to at least make the damage not quite so noticeable. I may just end up sanding it down and shooting some primer on it to protect the metal and call it a day.

Thanks again for your thoughts and advice.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 05:03 AM   #4
ToledoDave
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Well then if i were you...pick up or barrow a cheap dent puller (old style) and drill holes and screw puller into it and slide hammer out what you cant get from tail light hole. I wouldnt be suprized at all if you ended up with at least 50 holes. Be carefull you dont stretch the metal too bad. Pull or push out what you can and get some durabond filler and bondo the rest in. Its alot of work but relitively cheap. Next problem you will have is how long the filler will last. But the 1/4 is more then likely not savable in respect to fixing dent without filler. Keep in mind i use the word "Dent" loosly because that 1/4 is hammered hard. Takes alot to pull the sides of the panel in like it is near the tail light. Unfortunately in your current position your best option is to pull or push out what you can and fill the rest. Unless you replace that 1/4. With the right tools it would take me a week to bring that 1/4 close to where it should be without replacing it.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
greyhnd
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Huntingburg, IN
Posts: 303
I went by a local body shop to talk to the owner about the Jeep. He told me the only thing he would do is replace the 1/4 panel. To repair it would take too much time and it would be difficult to get right. He also told me that he wouldn't want a repair like that coming out of his shop. He did look things over and said there hadn't been any damge to the integrity of the Jeep. No frame damage that he could see. He also told me I could rent some tools as long as they weren't using them in the shop. Patted me on the back and told me good luck...lol.

With that bit of wisdom, I think I'll take a stab at pushing out some of the dents and get some bondo experience. I have no idea how that will go, but I think I can handle it to the point the finished product will at least look respectable.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 03:47 PM   #6
ToledoDave
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Yeah like i said youve got an adventure awaiting you. Dont be nervous about the bondo. Push out what you can but do go past. If you do...not a big deal if you grab a big hammer and pound it back in. When rdy to start mudding get a wire wheel and remove the paint and primer and ecoat back to metal before applying bondo. You can always bondo over bondo if you sand too much. Just keep filling and sanding untill you get it where you like it. Also dont go exposing the bondo to outside elements untill you at very least get primer on it. I would bet you will need two gallons of bondo before its rdy for primer. Tail light gap wont get better untill you get some of the 1/4 panel out but also it wont move on its own either. You want to put some pressure on the tail light hem pulling back some while bringing the 1/4 out at same time. How?... well you will need to get creative. You wont fix the gap problem with bondo because there is nothing there for bondo but the Hem. In a nut shell. Even with best bondo technique...it will never be like new but you can definately make it look better. For minimal money just alot of labor.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 12:53 PM   #7
greyhnd
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1996 ZJ 
 
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Location: Huntingburg, IN
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Just a quick update to my repair. I found a "stud gun" at Harbor Freight for $100. Decided to give it a try and so far I've been able to get the panel looking a bit better. I'm sure my technique needs improvement, but it sure is better than drilling a million holes in the panel. Grinding down the studs after I snap them off is the hardest part and trying to judge how much to pull so I don't ruin the metal is tricky for me. I'm not going to worry to much about the gap between the tail light and the fender, that tight crease is proving to be a challenge I'm not sure I'm capable of fixing.

I'll post some more pics when I get them downloaded from my camera.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 01:00 PM   #8
ToledoDave
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Yup you got it. Get a slide hammer to pull the studs with too? Also just use a sharp pair of sidecuts to nip off the studs when your done as close as you can. Then if ya can use a soft backed grinding pad and wheel to fishing the rest. Once you bring most the quarter back where it should you will have better chances of repairing the tail light area. Tail light area doesnt have a chance until you relieve the pressure drawing on it from the quarter panel. Sounds like you heading right direction. What ever you do dont make large or hard pulls. Little at a time . Stud it all up and start making small pulls. Work the metal dont force it. You can always repull. Not as clean pushing back.
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Unread 10-29-2013, 04:13 PM   #9
greyhnd
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Huntingburg, IN
Posts: 303
The kit from Harbor Freight came with a slide hammer and studs and welding tips. Here's the link http://www.harborfreight.com/stud-we...kit-98357.html.
It seems to work okay for me and do the job it's supposed to do, although I may be wrong since I've never used one before. Some people have had problems with the slide hammer locking on the studs, but so far I haven't experienced that. After I do a bit more work on things I'll post some before/after pics. I'll say one thing, it's more labor intensive than I thought it would be. No wonder body shops charge so much for labor.

My neighbor came over to watch me and he said the panel looked like the guy in the movies with the spikes sticking out of his head, The Punisher maybe? Gave me a good laugh.
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Unread 10-30-2013, 07:13 AM   #10
ToledoDave
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Haha..hes refuring to Hellraiser lol Guys name is Pinhead!

Yep you got it. The tips that get stuck are normally from real hard pulls where the teeth in the bit grabs the stud real hard and sticks. A good reference would be some cardboard and make a template off the good side quarter and flip it over and compare the template you made to the side your pulling on. Just remember..small pulls. You dont want to stretch the metal when pulling. Then when tou get it close...start mudding. Key pts are feature lines. You want them as close as you can get them. Your not going to get anywhere near perfect. What your doing now is just pulling enough metal out to relieve the tail light area and minimize your ammount of bondo needed. So dont beat yourself up too bad. Get it close and move on.
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