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Tales Of The Unexpected - Part 11

Tales Of The Unexpected - Part 11

As I have mentioned, the nearside front wing of my Landy was a bit bent and battered when I bought it, the bottom of the front panel of the wing was pushed backwards and downwards, and the outer panel was bulged outwards. This meant the headlight didn't point in the right direction - I got a lovely amount of light on the nearside verge, about two feet in front of the vehicle.
This is what it looked like:



I had considered a number of remedies, including just replacing the whole wing, and I had asked for the opinions of forum members on the best way to fix it, but as my mate was staying over this week, I thought now would be a good time to try and straighten it, if we could.

We gathered together half a lumberyard of assorted bits of timber, a hydraulic bottle jack, and a couple of very big hammers.

We started by removing all the light fittings and the fascia panel from that wing.

The indicator and sidelight fittings are the later type, where undoing the lens screws frees the whole fitting from the wing, and there is a single multi-plug at the back of it which detaches from the unit. The screws were nearly rust free, so I undid them, withdrew the lights from the wing and unplugged the wiring. The wiring plugs promptly disappeared into the wing... I resolved to worry about that later. I undid the two screws which hold on the trim panel, and removed it.

With the trim panel off, I could see the headlight mounting - which was obviously broken, as the headlight was loose. I undid the four self-tapping screws which hold the headlight into the wing, and withdrew it. I could see that the adjustment screws on the back-plate, which should screw through two threaded pillars on the mounting ring, had broken free, so I put it aside to repair later.

We could now see the extent of the damage to the front panel. It had sustained an impact just below the headlight aperture, to the outer side near the indicator, which had bent and pushed back the front panel. It looked as though we would be able to straighten it if we arranged a flat brace against the bumper, and then applied pressure from behind.

Moving to the side of the wing, we released and removed the plastic "eyebrow". Some of it's retaining clips had been sheared when the damage was caused, and the remainder we removed by getting a big screwdriver between the eyebrow and the wing, and levering downwards, at the positions where the retaining rivets were located.

With the eyebrow removed, we could see that we could get some access to the back of the front panel of the wing - enough to be able to straighten it, possibly.

We placed a large balk of timber between the back of the front bumper and the front wing panel, and then placed another smaller piece of wood behind the front wing panel. We arranged a back brace to lever against, with a large solid lump of timber up against the axle and suspension mounts on the chassis, braced back to the front outrigger.
Then we fitted the bottle jack in the gap and started jacking...

Ha, no such luck... The bottle jack refused to pump up when lying on its side, although it would work fine vertically.

Plan B then.

We got a three-foot crowbar, and arranged that in such a way that we could apply pressure to the front wing panel, and heaved: gnnnnnnnnnnhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

The front panel slowly straightened, caught between the two pieces of wood, and as it did, the bulge in the side panel also straightened a little.

The front wing panel was now straight, across its width, but still sloped inwards at the bottom. We tried to pull the bottom edge forewards, but it just wouldn't move, even with two hefty blokes hanging off the crowbar.

We decided to see if straightening the side panel would help.

We tried, with the three foot crowbar, to lever inwards against a flat piece of wood against the side panel, but it resisted us, and we could make no impression. So, undaunted, we fetched the secret weapon - a 7 foot steel pry-bar.

Ha, that did it, we managed to flatten out the side panel a bit, and doing that pushed the front panel forwards to its proper position.

There was still a bulge left in the side panel, however, and no amount of shoving could shift it, so, after some discussion, we placed a flat piece of wood behind the side panel, and then took a large lump hammer, and a block of wood, and proceeded to hit the side of the wing... A lot...

Slowly, with a number of stops to assess the damage - and progress - we managed to flatten the side panel so that the wing line was straight. It is still dinted in some, of course, but that doesn't matter so much. At least the eyebrow fits properly now, and the front panel is dead straight and in the right alignment.

I managed to fix the headlight mounting rim, temporarily, with the judicious use of superglue, so that at least the headlight isn't loose. I will buy a new mounting ring at some point.

I managed to fish out the wiring plugs from where they had fallen behind the wing panel, and refitted the headlight (managed to lose a self-tapper down inside the wing, somewhere), the fascia panel, and then the side and indicator lights. I refitted the plastic eyebrow wheelarch, substituting M5 nuts and bolts for the rivets that originally held it on. The side repeater for the indicators was a bit awkward to refit, as the hole in the wing was slightly miss-shaped, but with some insulating tape round the body we got it to fit.

All in all, I think the wing looks a lot better, and the headlight points in the right direction, now.

See what you think:

The straightened front panel:


The side panel:


The completed job:


The essential tool:


Next time: ??
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