Failing is important. Lucky I’m so good at it! (AKA, the rust repair adventures of a self-taught amateur)

I have zero training when it comes to fixing or modifying cars. My father was a property manager, not a mechanic, and I never grew up around guys in the automotive trade. When my cars broke, generally I was too poor to afford to pay someone to fix them for me, so I had to save up, buy tools, and try to use the Internet to learn how to fix them.

Practice has meant I have learned how to work on cars, to diagnose issues, and to become somewhat proficient in automotive restoration (though I have a LONG way to go before I admit I’m anything near a pro). And by practice, I mean messing up the job and having to redo it, like what I did with the first piece of rust I had to repair on my Pontiac.

I’d patched rust before, but never had I attempted such a difficult panel. The bottom of the C-pillar actually runs in four directions with a complex downward curve blending into a deep body crease that runs to the edge of the fender.

With no bodyworking tools, a cheap (borrowed) MIG welder and rushing the job I got a panel welded in but it wasn’t to my standards. Have a look at the pics below to see how I cut the rot out, rust treated it, made a template, and bent up a piece of sheet steel.

I ended up cutting this piece back out and got a mate to repair it properly at his professional shop. While I do count this as a failure of my skills, it also taught me so much about how NOT to go about fixing issues just as it taught me about the correct way to approach fixing a problem.

You have to fail to really drive your own development, to make you thirsty to succeed.

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