Rust Repairs: Undoing 40 Years in South Africa & England

A BEACH LIFESTYLE = RUST: This T34 had lived the majority of its life on the southern tip of South Africa in a surfing town along the ocean so it had the typical rust issues that T34s are well-known for: rocker panels, wheel wells, chassis, & spare tire well. The previous owners had abused it as well, filling-in the fresh-air vents with bondo, hacking the roof drain holes & radio area, and allowing a very poor "restoration" in 1988.
right rocker panel right rear corner fiberglass rear air duct grille enlarged radio holes bondo'd fresh-air vents

FAILED 1ST ATTEMPT: Initially I contracted with Jimmy Braxmeyer (Vista CA) to do the rust repairs, body work, & paint. He took delivery of the body shell in July 2004 and saw the rocker panel rust underneath the fiberglass sections. He didn't get around to beginning the work until a year later when he cut-out the filled-in fresh air vents. By that time I was frustrated by the lack of progress and asked him to deliver the body back to my home. The karma wasn't right, things weren't progressing like I'd imagined them, Jimmy's communication was non-existant, he clearly didn't want to do the rust repairs, and the total cost was unclear. This all added-up to give me a sense that I needed to pursue a different plan.
Jul04 going to Jimmy's Jimmy prying fiberglass off rockers sitting in the mud outside fresh-air vents cut-out for replacements Aug05 coming back home

MEDIA-BLASTING & RUST REPAIRS: After I brought it back home I asked the T34 group for bodyshop recommendations. Tom Reay recommended Chemo Ordaz for the bodywork & paint, as he'd done a fantastic job on Tom's 1965 M345. Chemo agreed and came down to retrieve the body & chassis in October 2005. Chemo had the body media-blasted ($950) by May 2006 to remove the fiberglass, filler, & rust. Then he hired Sean Roper to tackle the rust removal & welding work. Sean did a great job using the repro rocker panel set from Lars Neuffer & the used sheetmetal sections from Larry Edson, but many sections (including the corners) had to be hand-fabricated. Since I found the headroom tight with the sunroof (I'm 5'11") I had Sean move the front seat rails further back. The majority of the rust repair work was completed by October 2006, one year after Sean began the work. The T34 was transferred from Sean's shop in Simi Valley to Chemo's shop in Oxnard in Oct06.
Front end & chassis Rear end Right rear corner rusted away Spare tire area rusty Rust holes & thrashed drain holes Underside of electric sunroof
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