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Tips for bending fenders to fit wheels?


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I need to flare my front fenders out to fit my new, larger wheels/tires.  I'm usually a trial and error kinda guy but I don't feel like scouring the depths of the internet for rx7 fenders after I try a stupid idea.

 

Does anyone have any tips or tricks, specific tools etc they use to get this done in a normal person garage with a workbench?

 

Some questions/ideas floating around my head:

- Should I leave the fenders bolted to the car while I work on them?  This might prevent it from deforming and not lining up with bolts holes on the chassis?

- Should I be looking to use my 5lb hand sledge

-OR should I be thinking to maybe use angle iron and clamps to press out the seem to get more angle?

 

1462027610_fenderpicdraw.jpg.1e719f2ad751059c5dde92e7860bc23d.jpg

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Put the fenders back on before reworking so that they fit when you're done. Use the car as your jig and workbench. Standard metal working tools (hammers and dollies) along with some patience is the best method. Decide how much room you need and where for the tires under suspension compression before starting to beat on things. 

 

A big hammer will make big dents; a small hammer will give you a smoother final product. Work the steel slowly. Resist the temptation to move the metal too quickly. Two hours per side will give you a much better fender than five minutes with a 5 lb sledge. Try to move the metal without stretching it. Hitting it too hard stretches it and you'll be looking for another set of fenders.

 

This thread shows what can be done with a roller. I welded a strip into mine to widen the fender after some hammer and dolly work.

Depending on how much room you need, you may want to space the lower rear mounting point of the fender out. That will give you more options for getting the metal out to cover your tires, and it will also vent the wheelwells.

Edited by mender
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Hummmm I cannot instruct 44 years of metal forming experience into a thread on the internet but I will give a couple of tips 

  # 1 put it back on the car 

  # 2 know that the stretching of one area has to come from another.  

  # 3 as mender just said spacing the fender out may be all you need.

  Also look for videos on YouTube of people rolling fenders using like a bat and the wheel tire to get more clearance.  But most of all #1.

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Perfect, these are exactly the tips I was looking for.  I realize real professional body work is a serious art but... well, this will be the kindergarden, home-made christmas tree ornament version.

 

New idea for a plan:

 

636000199_fenderpic.JPG.9fdb3164c47c63800b31ea0d4f432551.JPG

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Posted (edited)

I would hold off on the relief cuts around the top portion maybe cut at the 3:00  you will be surprised at what you can get with a little rolling, prying and hammering .

Edited by Ray Franck
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39 minutes ago, Ray Franck said:

Hummmm I cannot instruct 44 years of metal forming experience into a thread on the internet but I will give a couple of tips 

  # 1 put it back on the car 

  # 2 know that the stretching of one area has to come from another.  

  # 3 as mender just said spacing the fender out may be all you need.

  Also look for videos on YouTube of people rolling fenders using like a bat and the wheel tire to get more clearance.  But most of all #1.

We used a baseball bat. Get a few people to push the car forward and back as you guide the bat as it rolls between fender and tire. Start near the handle (skinny) and work towards the fat part. 
 

Also, how much do you need to stretch these?

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35 minutes ago, Alex3000 said:

Perfect, these are exactly the tips I was looking for.  I realize real professional body work is a serious art but... well, this will be the kindergarden, home-made christmas tree ornament version.

 

New idea for a plan:

 

636000199_fenderpic.JPG.9fdb3164c47c63800b31ea0d4f432551.JPG

 

Bad idea. Far less work to use a baseball bat or the Eastwood on car fender roller. I have pulled fenders out several inches with the Eastwood tool. 

 

You may find that you need to dent the fender to stretch the metal when using the Eastwood tool. You basically make a groove with the edge of the roller and slowly work that groove from the inside to outside of fender.

 

I have done small fender stretching with just a hammer and dolly. Basic idea is to make dents that you then fatten back out, which stretches the metal in those spots. This is the opposite of "good" body repair, where making dents and then flattening them grows the fender and makes in bulbous and misshapen. 

 

On one of the neons we had automatic fender stretching, the metal had been wrecked and dented enough that the multiple repairs kept making the fenders bigger and bigger....

Edited by Black Magic
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10 minutes ago, enginerd said:

We used a baseball bat. Get a few people to push the car forward and back as you guide the bat as it rolls between fender and tire. Start near the handle (skinny) and work towards the fat part. 
 

Also, how much do you need to stretch these?

 

We did that old trick with the rears but the fronts on an rx7 aren't solidly attached enough to do in the front.  Plus I think I need like 2-3 inches.

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11 minutes ago, Alex3000 said:

 

We did that old trick with the rears but the fronts on an rx7 aren't solidly attached enough to do in the front.  Plus I think I need like 2-3 inches.

Do you need that much tire? Might be easier just to add a 2" section of sheet metal across the top bolt the fenders to that and the spacer to the car.  and move your mounts out on the bottom to match. 

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7 minutes ago, TiredBirds said:

Do you need that much tire? Might be easier just to add a 2" section of sheet metal across the top bolt the fenders to that and the spacer to the car.  and move your mounts out on the bottom to match. 

 

Yes, so I had this idea as well.  The problem is though that the fender is really only supported by sitting on the lip on the frame it sits on.  If I move it out from that lip it will be super flimsy.

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1 hour ago, Alex3000 said:

Perfect, these are exactly the tips I was looking for.  I realize real professional body work is a serious art but... well, this will be the kindergarden, home-made christmas tree ornament version.

 

New idea for a plan:

 

636000199_fenderpic.JPG.9fdb3164c47c63800b31ea0d4f432551.JPG

As mentioned several times, cutting isn't recommended, you'll end up with a lot more work than just moving the metal.

 

The lower portion at the back of the fender is that part that you can put a bracket behind to move a couple inches out. As you work the fender, that part will move forward a bit but that's not a problem. The seam that you have labeled for bending out will likely end up being flatter; that will bulge the fender at the wheel well where you want it.

 

The first part of this article might be helpful:

https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/diy/how-to-roll-front-car-guards-for-tyre-clearance

 

 

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1 hour ago, Alex3000 said:

 

Yes, so I had this idea as well.  The problem is though that the fender is really only supported by sitting on the lip on the frame it sits on.  If I move it out from that lip it will be super flimsy.

If you use a rubber mallet while rolling the front fender with the bat you might be able to get what you want.

 

As you roll the fender, gently massage the upper seam to get the metal to move. Lots of light blows work best.

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Hmmmm lots to think about here.  I'm going to have to do a lot of standing and staring in garage... my wife will think I finally lost it.

 

My two major take aways:

- Work with the fender on the car

- Use a gentler approach than cutting and sledges

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I always find that it's a lot easier to go slowly and think ahead. :)

 

This is a good project to find out how metal likes to move. You'll have some "aha" moments as you go. Too bad you weren't closer, so much easier when you can see someone do it.

Edited by mender
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17 minutes ago, mender said:

I always find that it's a lot easier to go slowly and think ahead. :)

 

This is a good project to find out how metal likes to move. You'll have some "aha" moments as you go. Too bad you weren't closer, so much easier when you can see someone do it.

 

Alberta??? You aren't even close to modern civilization in general!

 

Yeah, I get taking it slow and learning.  My problem is the car has been out of service for 2 years now.  My rebuild has been ambitious and I've fully rebuilt/custom fabricated every last component, including soldering together my megasquirt.

 

I'm finally on the last steps and wrapping everything up and now my wife is pregnant with twins!  

 

So basically, I'm in "get it done at all costs, go go go" mode.  I'm just assuming with two babies I will have less time for race car things.  But we'll see 😉

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12 minutes ago, Alex3000 said:

 

Alberta??? You aren't even close to modern civilization in general!

 

Yeah, I get taking it slow and learning.  My problem is the car has been out of service for 2 years now.  My rebuild has been ambitious and I've fully rebuilt/custom fabricated every last component, including soldering together my megasquirt.

 

I'm finally on the last steps and wrapping everything up and now my wife is pregnant with twins!  

 

So basically, I'm in "get it done at all costs, go go go" mode.  I'm just assuming with two babies I will have less time for race car things.  But we'll see 😉

We are modern civilization! Things are pretty high tech up here. While I can't claim to be a rocket scientist, I worked for a local company that bought some of the Apollo tech. Wernher von Braun himself came up to check out the plant. :)

 

Yeah, having a family slowed my racing down to a complete stop for about 12 years. Thank goodness my business is building cars so at least I was able to do other people's projects!

Edited by mender
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On 5/28/2020 at 1:30 PM, Alex3000 said:

 

Yes, so I had this idea as well.  The problem is though that the fender is really only supported by sitting on the lip on the frame it sits on.  If I move it out from that lip it will be super flimsy.

I'd use some 14 gauge and be done. Do you have a welder? I'd roll it to the curve, cut reliefs and fold the edges so it'd bolt right up, some bondo and paint BLAM done. We moved our lower fenders out about a inch, no big deal. But we have lots of room. 

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45 minutes ago, TiredBirds said:

I'd use some 14 gauge and be done. Do you have a welder? I'd roll it to the curve, cut reliefs and fold the edges so it'd bolt right up, some bondo and paint BLAM done. We moved our lower fenders out about a inch, no big deal. But we have lots of room. 

That'll work but won't be nice if it gets hit.

 

Done right without bondo and such means that after an incident, the fender can be coaxed back into shape at the track. This picture is after a hard wall hit on the left front which moved everything over about 6" and both fenders and the hood got twisted. We took the parts off, put the boots to them, pulled the front back over and then bolted the car back together.

image.thumb.png.c80a34bca5565b3d7fc52ad01d1fdaea.png

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55 minutes ago, TiredBirds said:

I'd use some 14 gauge and be done. Do you have a welder? I'd roll it to the curve, cut reliefs and fold the edges so it'd bolt right up, some bondo and paint BLAM done. We moved our lower fenders out about a inch, no big deal. But we have lots of room. 

 

The greatest shame of my life is that I can't weld... I even have a friends nice 220 MiG welder in my garage. Keep meaning to figure it out and practice but it always comes second to just trying to get the car done.

 

 

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As an alternative to "the bat" - old 40mm kart axles work great and don't chew up like wood bats - no experience w/aluminum bats.  Lots of kart guys went to 50mm axles and an old 40mm can typically be had cheap (or free if it's been bent and not thrown out).  They are also longer than a bat for leverage.

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Mazda metal is soft and you will find it will form easily but will spring back if you don't "set it" as Mender said by the small taps of the hammer. Go slow and work out the area

in one pass then go a second pass and even a third if you need to get it out as far as you need. I use an aluminum bat and a piece of 1 1/2" steel rod.

 

Now if it was a BMW or something more solid then the small 14lbs sledge comes to play.

 

Last never cut it as it will flare out with out it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, I ended up spacing the fenders out from the body using conduit hanger from home depot.  Worked better than I anticipated.  Way more solid than I thought it would be too.  

 

Will need to fill the 1.5" gap between the fenders and hood but I'll be able to figure something out.

 

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584956596_fender2.thumb.JPG.dbd2e53268b79422c208c5ba1c6125bb.JPG

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