08 Apr Fabel’s Fab Fable
It’s time to bring back an old friend to the FMU blog. Like it or leave it, Frame Bangin’ Fabel is back for a little more TLC.
For those of you who don’t know Fabel, it’s owned by Miles. If you’ve immediately cast your opinion on the man based solely on his car, well, you’re missing out. Even one conversation with him will have you laughing, crying and everything in-between. He’s a people person, and is one of the most sociable people in the local scene. Everybody who knows him, loves him. The same doesn’t go for his car, though. Sporting a set of genuine Work Equip 03 wheels and a drop that’s entirely static, his extremely low Miata has a good deal of both friends and enemies. We know this firsthand, thanks to our YouTube video that we put together when we last took his car off the lift. You wouldn’t think that a video with Yakety Sax as the music would be our most-viewed video ever, but it is. And the comments never stop; some in favor of the car, some not. Either way, Miles and Fabel are dedicated to what they’re doing, and so once again, his car finds a place in our garage.
By the way, in the two pictures below, this is what Fabel looks like when the lift arms are bottomed out. Yes, it requires some wood blocks and a flat floor jack to even get him on the lift.
There’s nothing too extreme taking place at the outset of Fabel’s latest round of work. In fact, we’re actually about to do something that you definitely weren’t expecting — that’s right, we’ll be *fixing* the Miata’s body! After mounting a rearview mirror to his passenger fender and removing his radio antenna, Fabel has two rather large holes on the passenger side of the vehicle. So, it’ll be up to us to patch the holes and clean up that side of the body a little bit. He’s elected to fill the holes with metal, so today we’ll be looking at that job, from unpatched holes to patched-up sheet metal. First, since we’ll be welding in some new metal, we had to shave the paint from around the edges, creating a fresh, bare metal surface that will be much better for welding.
From there, we measured the holes’ sizes and cut out new pieces of metal that will fit the gaps as closely as necessary. The MIG welding will fill in the rest, but the closer you get to a perfect fit, the less work there will be in general.
And now it’s time to get down to welding. After laying down a welding blanket to cover the other parts of the vehicle, we set about using our MIG welder to tack the new body metal into place. With the tacks complete, we set about filling in the metal wherever we needed to. Since the Miata’s sheet metal isn’t exactly thick, we have to go slowly with the welding, or else the excess heat will warp the surrounding metal, and no amount of fresh paint will cover up flexed body panels.
With the replacement metal secured to the body, it’s time to grind down the metal to a smooth, even finish. If you’ve done your welding right, the metal will be nearly uniform as you grind down through the slag, meaning the welding has fully penetrated and connected the new and old metal. A couple tiny little spots in the metal here and there will be fine, but as we said before, the more effort you put into it before having to use body filler or primer, the easier the remainder of the job will be.
The filling of the body holes went well, and now we have two smoothed panels waiting for the next step in the body work. However, while we have it on the lift in fabrication, we’ll be knocking out a few more jobs, since it’s not exactly easy to maneuver up and down the various inclines we have at Fluid MotorUnion. Our next bit of fab work will involve our favorite topic — exhaust! Fabel’s exhaust has a couple low points, one of which is his resonator, and it’s been dented in from being repeatedly smashed into the ground. After a bit of detective work, we’ve devised a way to tuck his midsection even further into the vehicle, once again making his steel-reinforced frame rails the low points on the car.
Stay tuned for more Fabel content coming your way! We also have a whole slew of other topics to bring on board as well, so stick around our blog and take a look at some of our other projects. Have a great start to your week!