Fitting and Fastening the Right Support Leg
The first step was to mark for and drill the fastener holes in the feet, and then get the lower panel bolted into place. I marked a cross through the fastener holes in the car, with the marks long enough that I could put the panel in and still see them. Then I drew continuations of those same lines on the panel feet, and took the panel to the drill press. I marked the centers with a center punch, drilled 1/8" holes, and then drilled the full-size 11/32" holes. There's not much slop there for a 5/16" bolt. Here's the progression:
Click images to enlarge.
After I bolted the lower panel in, I tried to put the upper panel in place. Hmmmm: I couldn't get it in. The back flange -- the one I was going to wait and bend after I did the fit checks -- conflicted with the HVAC unit; it made the panel too wide to fit. If I'd thought about it, I could have figured this would happen. I had to make the narrow area in the support leg because of that same conflict with the HVAC unit. DOH!
So I had to make an approximation of where that flange would end, and cut up to it. I left some extra length on it, and bent the extra out of the way. When I get the final configuration, I'll take that extra section and attach it to the other panel -- just a little extra support. There's no such thing as too strong, as long as stronger doesn't mean a lot heavier.
I put the upper panel back in place (approximately), got the deck roughly level, and marked on the panels so I could duplicate that position on the workbench. Then I went to the bench, determined a location for the adjustment slots, marked the start and end holes with a center punch, and headed back to the drill press to make an 1/8" hole in each end of the slots. Then, after some careful nibbling with the Ryobi rotary tool, I would have had nice, clean slots. But I blew it.
Note of caution: be careful with that rotary tool. I was simply running the Ryobi along a bar to guide it as I made these slots, and that worked great on the lower panel; I got a nice, straight slot. But the 18V battery was getting low, so the RPM level was sinking, and I changed batteries. Oh, boy, then I had lots of RPM. I just touched the bit to the steel and it went berserk, made a quarter inch hole, and snapped the bit. "Well, damn. It never did that before." So there's one end of my slot that got Real Fat and Real Ugly (in the picture below, on the left).
I confess that I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have -- I gotta be more careful here. Mr. Millush would be using this in shop class as a good example of a bad example. I would have destroyed both the bit and the part, but the panel will be hidden, so I only lost the bit. Luckily, the broken end of the bit put a ding in the garage wall, not in me.
It could have been worse, but it was still a major Oops. I gave myself a talk about shop safety and paying complete attention to what I'm doing, especially when messing with very high rotational speeds. Then I went back to work.
I finished forming the slots, did some hand filing, and was ready to assemble. I pulled the adjustment fastener system out of the prototype and put it in the new assembly, and was ready for final fitting.
Here are the slotted pieces and the assembly, ready to install:
I put the system in the car, found the right position, and tightened the locknut down. Then I pulled it out and put a single additional hole through both panels, and put a sheet metal screw in to lock them together.
Now that I have the exact relationship between the assembly's parts, I could rivet them together, but -- just to be sure I don't need any final adjustments -- I'm going to leave it in this form until I get all the remaining holes drilled in the other parts and everything lines up just right.
Those finishing steps are next.