The Rear Quarter Panel

Figure 1


Removing the Rear Quarter Panel

If you purchase an unrestored Morgan built before 1986 with steel body panels, there will be a high likelyhood of severe rust in the quarter panels. After that date Cellulose paint was replaced by the more flexible and weather resistant two pack epoxy variety and the car was sprayed before the wings were attached. The chassis was powder coated or galvanised and wing piping was bedded with "Waxoyl". The ash frame was immersed in "Cuprisol" to help prevent wet rot. When I removed the quarter panels of my 1972 car I was surprised to discover the inside of the panels were only given a thin coat of primer before being fitted to the wooden frame. The panel and frame were then given a thin coat of black paint. Please see the photograph above. The lower flange of the panel was completely rotted away because the car had been sprayed with cellulose paint after the wings and piping had been attached. As the car flexed in service, the paint on the wing piping cracked and water got in between the wings and quarter panel. Welding this panel whilst attached to the car is not an option as the wooden frame would be damaged and most probably set on fire. If the corrosion is as severe as that shown above it is easier to make or purchase new panels than weld in new sections.

The rear quarter panel on a Morgan is attached to the ash frame by screws and pins. Removing the quarter panels involves removing the front and rear wings first. See "Removing Rear Wings" and "Removing Front Wings" under "Bodywork" in the main menu. By the time you have removed the rear wings, the rear panel will also have been removed. Most of the screws and pins securing the lower edge of quarter panel will now be visible, but the upper edges of the panel are hidden by the threshold plate and hidem banding. The hidem banding consists of a strip of folded sewn leather which hides the pinned and screwed top edge of the panel (see Figure 3 below). If you place a flat blade screwdriver in the groove on the banding and twist slightly,then slide the screwdriver along the groove, you will come across the gimp pins securing it. Lever the pins out with a small sharp chisel or sharp wire cutters. Don't worry if you harm the hidem banding. It can be ordered from "Woolies" on the internet for around £3 per metre. Finally remove the door threshold plate. The original will probably be made of aluminium and in quite poor condition. If it gets damaged when taking it off, you can get really nice replacements in stainless steel from "Melvyn Rutter". Now comes the job of carefully removing the screws and levering out the pins securing the panel to the ash frame. The quarter panel has a joggled flange which sits behind the bottom trailing edge of the scuttle. The quarter panel has to be eased towards the back of the car to free this flange. Keep the old panel whatever its condition. This will be usefull when producing templates later.

Making a new Quarter Panel

When the quarter panel has been removed from an old Morgan, the ash frame needs to be assessed. Any rot will have to be removed and any sound timber treated with wood preservative. Complete replacement parts will have to be purchased or made and then fitted to the frame. The frame should preferably be fitted to the chassis when fitting body panels. Even if your old panels are in good condition it is wise to fit new ones because they must fit perfectly.The quarter panel is one of the easiest panels to make. The bottom edge follows the gentle curve of the ash door rocker, but this panel is mainly flat. The secret to success is to always make accurate templates. I used to keep some sheets of white A1 card for the purpose. A0 would be better, but it is difficult to find. The old panel can be used to make a template. If you have repaired the old frame (I guarantee you will have), it is wise to offer the old quarter panel up to make sure it still fits. There should be no discrepencies greater than 2mm all round. If there are, you will either have to correct the frame or pin card to it and trace off a template. The quarter panel is larger than A1 card so you will have to tape on an extra piece from another sheet and firmly tape the two together. Assuming all is well you can simply trace around your old panel. You may have to make allowances where corrosion has eaten away parts of the old one. If you have not flattened the flange of the old panel before tracing, do not forget to add a 7mm border (see diagram below).

A 1300mm x 600mm sheet of 18 gauge steel or 16 guage aluminium will now be required to make the panel. Make sure it is handled carefully and try not to scratch it. With double sided tape fix the template to the panel. A hardened scriber or fine indelible pen can be used to mark out the new panel. A fine dusting from a can of black spray cellulose paint is quick, but it must not run under the template, so two or three fine dustings are neccessary, allowing drying between coats. When the panel has been adequately marked up it can be cut out with a various choice of tools. There are a large range of electric metal nibblers on the market. Some are expensive, but for around £30 you can buy a nibbler that fits on the end of an electric drill. Unless you are going to do a lot of metal cutting the alternative is to use hand cutters. The two main types available at low cost are tinsnips or 'Monodex' cutters. Tinsnips are alright, but they tend to distort the metal whilst 'Monodex' cutters cut distortion free, although they do remove a thin strip of metal as they cut. I prefer 'Monodex cutters because they can cut accurately, but you do have to cut to the waste side of the line. A little practise on some scrap metal will enable most people to do a really good job. The draw back of using the hand cutters is that they are hard work and will only cut up to 18 gauge steel or 16 gauge aluminium. Having cut out enough metal to replace the panels which rust on a Morgan, you will begin to resemble a fiddler crab.

Figure 2


Fitting the new Quarter Panel to the Ash Frame

The new quarter panel should be offered up and clamped on to the ash frame to make a final check for size before finally fitting it. Use G-clamps with soft packing pieces to prevent damaging the panel. Ensure there is an even 6 to 7mm margin overlapping the wooden frame. Everything being well, all that is required now is to fit the panel to the frame. On page 114 in John Tiplers book "Morgan The Cars And The Factory" there is a photograph of a panel beater turning over the flange on a Morgan front wing. He is using a steel dolly and a panel beating hammer. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME unless of course you are a skilled panel beater. The easy way to produce a flange is to clamp the panel between the ash frame and similar shaped pieces of wood. This will prevent the metal from bowing out as the edge is turned over. Progress along the edge with gentle mallet or hammer strokes. Do not try to turn the flange fully over in one place before moving along, as this will pucker and stretch the metal. Work along the edge backwards and forwards using gentle blows, until the flange is at right angles to the face of the panel.

The edges of the quarter panel mainly consist of long sweeping curves except for the door latch section which has quite acute bends.To get round this section requires cutting a piece of wood to exactly the same profile of the latch post. This is then carefully aligned with the frame and secured using G clamps with the panel trapped between. The 7mm flange on the steel panel must also be perfectly aligned and protrude evenly around the perimeter of the frame. See photographs below. Make sure the inside of the body frame is protected with packing pieces before fully tightening the G-clamps. Once the flange has been turned over on the catch post make sure the panel has not moved and put a few screws in to secure it.

The spacing of the gimp pins and screws required to fit the new panel on the frame can be ascertained by looking at the old panel. If the panel is being fitted to the old frame, it is better to offset them. A new pin or screw in an old hole will often work loose. Do not forget to prime and use a good quality paint on the inside of the panel before fitting it.

Figure 3