Installing patch panels is no easy job, even for those who have their fair share of experience in technical jobs. Although welding has been the traditional way of installing auto body parts like patch panels, alternatives are being used for quite some years now.
It is known to all that welding has its downsides and is not a beginner-friendly process at all. An easy way to install patch panels without welding is by using adhesives. You can do it by learning how to bond metal to metal without welding but the bonding of patch panels using adhesives is not only easy but also safe for the installers.
So, how to install patch panels without welding?
Let’s learn that.
No Weld Patch Panel Installation: an Easy Guide
Here are some general steps that will make it easy for you to take the patch panel installation into your own hands. I hope you already have all the safety equipment like safety glasses and safety helmets. To achieve a smooth installation, follow these steps:
Step 1: Removal
This is the first and foremost step in the installation process; it ensures that the installation of the patch panel takes place effortlessly.
Since you are taking a welding-free approach here, you need to make sure that there is no rust on the surface and the metal is corrosion-free.
At first, you need to remove all paint from the concerned area. Keep removing until the bare metal is visible. Then, with a manual sander of 180 grit paper, you need to sand the area. After that, scribe cut about 2 inches of a portion from the problem area, that is, the edges near the panel.
Tip: People often use automated sanders to do this step quickly. But a manual sander is recommended as it will let you have better control over the process.
Step 2: Continuation of Preparation
After scribing out the edges near the panel, you have to feather out the paint surrounding the problem area. Make sure you feather the proper size of the area since you will be blending it later.
After feathering out, you will need to cut the scribe lines out by using a drill nibbler.
Tip: Unlike the previous step, using an automated nibbler is recommended here. Using a manual hand nibbler will make the process difficult and lengthy for you.
Step 3: Flanging
You now need to flange the area around the section you have cut using a panel flanger. Make sure that the flange created it deep enough to produce a repair flush since that is the purpose of this step.
After flanging, examine the flange with a scrap metal from a proper gauge to ensure that the flange is accurately brought about.
Tip: While checking the placement of the flange, use a scrap metal of the same gauge for ease of inspection.
Step 4: Adjusting the Patch Panel
Carefully measure the cut section by laying out the measurements and matching each dimension with a portion of a cardboard. Then, cut it with the same measurements, and use it as a reference to your patch panel. Make sure that the measurement is done from the exterior of the flange.
Now, cut the patch panel, maintaining the correct size, and adjust it by trimming if necessary. The adjustment is made so that it is properly flushed all around the flange area.
Tip: Make sure that the gauge of the patch panel is identical to the original panel.
Step 5: Using Rivets
At first, layout the rivet pattern on the patch panel. You need to ensure that the rivets are placed on the overlapping area of the patch and the concerned area.
It is advised to space the rivets around ¾ inches apart, but keep in mind the patch and space area accordingly, as this specification is for the standard area size only. If the patch’s area dimensions are comparatively larger, you will definitely need to space the rivets more than ¾ inches apart.
After the patterned rivet is displayed accurately, secure the patch panel, and drill the rivel holes. Start from one corner and check for the positioning of flush from time to time.
Finally, remove the clumps and remove the burr from all the holes. This is done to ensure a flushed repairing in the end. Dimple the rivet holes using a dimpling tool.
Tip: Make sure that the rivets and patch panels are formed of the same compound; use aluminum rivets with aluminum patches, and use the steel rivets on the steel ones.
Step 6: Test Fit
Test fit is done by making use of the blind holders after the holes are dimpled. The panel should maintain a state of flush with the area surrounding it.
If you’re satisfied with the fit, remove the patch and clean the flanged area. Use a clean cloth or a sanitized paper towel to do this and dry completely after cleaning.
Step 7: Application of Adhesive
Mix the adhesive carefully, ensuring a uniform mix in the process. Then, apply a thin layer along the rivet line and install the patch panel. You are advised to use a conventional caulk gun to do so. Once the panel is installed, evenly place the flush rivets on the holes.
Let the parts sit for a while. Once they are dry, apply paint, primers, and fillers accordingly.
Tip: The adhesive is most likely to squeeze in this step. You can either sand it off later or smoothen it using a spreader after the rivets are fixed.
Words of Advice
Still confused on how to install patch panels without welding the easy way? Make sure you follow all the steps carefully, as they were designed for an easy, simple application. And don’t forget the tips!
All these steps might seem like a lot of work. But with a little patience and resolve, the desired result is easily attainable. After completing all the steps, you will find a perfectly installed patch panel, that too, without going through the hassles of welding.
And, did you know that you can also bond metal to metal without welding. If you want you can check the post on the topic.