I bought my 1962 Chevy II Nova in 1988 from a friend I was serving with in the National Guard. The car was rather sound. There were really no problems and I was able to drive it home, in fact, I did no work to the car for a number of years. I would drive it to work a couple of times a week and again take it out weekends. I was really happy with the car. Three years ago, I decided to repaint it. I know I could have taken it to a body shop, but I wanted to do it myself. I wanted this to be a project my son and I could work on together. I began stripping the car down and this is the beginning of my story.
I figure I will be learning a lot during the process of restoring my Nova back to its original beauty, so I thought I would document the processes I will go through and post them online with plenty of pictures with the intent of maybe helping someone else with their project. So lets’ get started!
I have removed everything that I can remove from the body of the car. I did mount an ignition switch on the firewall so I could start the car and move it around but when the actual painting process begins I will be removing the motor and transmission. I started with the floor pans. There was a descent amount of rust in the front and just a little in the rear. The transmission hump and driveshaft tunnel were fine.
I wanted to buy the entire floor pan and replace it all but it was more expensive than I wanted and I wasn’t sure if I could handle a job quite that big. I wasn’t sure if I had the capability to cut out the entire floor and replace it without possibly twisting or contorting the car (it is a convertible). I decided to buy the left and right floor pan. This covered from the front all the way to the back. After receiving the floor pans, I spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking and strategizing about the best way to go about cutting out the old and welding in the new. Since the entire floor pan was not rusted out, I decided to cut out just the rusted part and cut out what I needed from the new replacement floor pans and weld that into place. I am very happy with this decision. By cutting out just the rusted pieces and replacing with new metal, I was able to avoid any twisting or contorting of the car and probably saved me a lot of time.
I was able to cut out the rusted areas in a couple of hours. I used pneumatic shears that worked very well. Before buying the shears, I tried several other methods such as a pneumatic saw, tin snips and aviation cutters. Trust me when I say that a cheap pair of pneumatic shears will be a lifesaver. I did use the aviation cutters for fine cutting and making small adjustment cuts.
Next I separated the front and back of my new floor pans by cutting them in half. I cut out the front part of the floor pan about 2 inches bigger than what I needed. I then placed this into the front for a test fit. When I had the replacement pan in place, I made it conform to the existing floor pan with a rubber mallet. I then used a can of white spray paint and sprayed around the perimeter of the new pan. By painting around the perimeter, I was able to see where the new pan fit after removing it from the car. I repeated this procedure for the other front side and then both rear areas. This took me about a day to complete.
The next part required welding, please be sure to observe all safety practices when welding to avoid any life altering injuries!
I was now ready to weld the replacement sheet metal into place. This is where my brother was a BIG help! He has a MIG welder. We inserted the new pans and while I held them in place, my brother spot welded each one. After each pan was tacked into place, we stepped back and studied their positions and made sure everything was exactly the way I wanted. My brother then completed the welding process until all four replacement pieces was securely welded into place. I don’t know a lot about welding, but I believe my brother had to spend additional time and take extra precautions since the sheet metal is rather thin. After the replacement floor pan pieces were securely in place, I proceeded to cover the seams with Bondo filler and then I painted the entire floor pan with a rust preventive primer. My brother and I were able to complete the welding on Saturday morning and I took the rest of the afternoon to finish the Bondo. I put several coats of paint on the floor pan over the next several days.
From the pictures on my website, you can tell that it might not be a perfectly smooth floor pan with no flaws, but I can assure you that it is a solid installation that will last many years, even longer if garaged, and will look even better once it is covered with a sound dampening material and new carpet. This worked well for my 1962 Chevy II Nova and I am sure it will work for you and your special project.