Great Gaps, Step 2

The goal is completely consistent, flush, and crisp panel gaps.  Having the panel fitment, or gaps, dialed in can take any project to a new level.  Step one was to make sure the panels are flush, and that all of the edges are set at the proper height.  The second step is to set the gap width, and this step has several important objectives.

  • The gap width can vary a lot, so it's difficult to give a standard with.  A very vague starting point would be to set the gap (in bare metal) at 5/32".  More importantly, how do you determine the gap width?  The best place to start is to base it all off of the area that needs the most clearance, typically the door to fender gap.  Figure out how comfortably tight that area can be, and that will set the door gaps.
  • Sometimes the panel edges need to be welded on to close up a gap.  Sometimes the edge needs to be ground back to open a gap up.  Either way, start with adjust as close as possible, and then do whatever grinding and welding necessary.  A digital caliper works great to quickly and accurately check the gap width.  File the edges straight, and TIG weld whatever necessary to close up a gap.
  • Once welded, grind the face of the weld first.  This will make it much easier to get the gap straight.  If you get one of the panel edges straight first, like the door edge, it makes it very easy to get the fender edge straight.  Measure and scribe off of the straight door edge
  • It may be require to hammer the edges out again to make sure they are flush.
  • Using a good hand file is highly recommended to get the panel edges straight. 
This step is crucial to very dialed in body work and gaps.  Do Not give up until the measurements are as close as you can possibly make them.  Make sure theres no spot anywhere in the gaps that is slightly too tight.  This will cause troubles in the coming steps.  Make sure the caliper is completely square in the gap, and has enough clearance all the way into the gap.

You can see in the picture above, the fender edge has been welded, and then the face of it ground flat, then measured to mark where to bring the gap width to.