Sep 26, 2014

Project 180SX: Making Fender Braces


Project 180SX:

Making Fender Braces

by Dustin Mankin

These pictures are just a rough overview of the brace I made for the passenger side of the car. I learned a few things in the process of this, and thought I would share the process a little bit more in depth for the driver's side of the car.

If you couldn't tell from the first set of pictures, these braces are rusted all to hell. That's the reason I have to make a new set. As I tried to unscrew the bolt from the fender side of the brace, the seized bolt caused the brace to twist like the stories police tell after they shoot an unarmed person to death.

That scared the hell out of me when it came to the frame side of the brace. If the brace twists and the bolt snaps that's ok, It will still come out of the fender. But if the rusted head breaks off in the frame, then that ranks a little higher on the "your screwed" scale. The bolts they used are all hardered which makes drilling and using an easy out a pain in the ass.

Because of this, I wanted to use something similar to some PB Blaster or WD-40. This is a step above. The Wurth SaBesto line is really amazing. The "Rost Off Plus" product is awesome in its own right, but this "Rost Off Ice" is insane. As the word "ice" implies, not only does it lubricate and break down the rust on seized bolts, the ice lineup is super cold, and cable of shrinking the metal slightly. This gives the bolt more room to turn free in the threads. One can is about $30 I'm told, but if you only use it on the impossible jobs, a can will last a long time. For the time you save, the price is invaluable. Keep this along with your normal penetrating oil of choice.

I broke the fender side bolt, because I knew I was making a new bracket, and I didn't want to waste money on wasting the ice. None given on the fender side. Now the frame side, I soaked pretty good, and she came out like a charm. Love that stuff.

And here is the bracket chilling on top of the vice. I bought a small piece of tubing, and held the pieces together, and eyes about about where I needed to cut and marked it with a red paint marker. I allowed for space to account for the bend, you can always cut it down later, and wiggle room is good for when you bend your own bracket.

I used a tubing cutter to cut the tubing easily and cleanly. These tools are around $5-$10 and make all kinds of jobs like this easier. Too much horse power, too big of boobs, and too many tools.... all phrases that are totally false.

Now I laid the tube next to the factory bracket and marked where the flat mounting tab was with a red paint marker, as well as marking where the bend begins.

After that, I crushed the end flat, so we can mount the brace.

I also pressed a small bend higher up where I need to bend the pipe. Naturally it would be better to bend it with a pipe or tube bender, but I didn't have one handy, and for this bracket's job, it will be tough enough, it just won't look as cool.

I bent the rod slightly and gently by hand until it matched the bend of the factory bracket.

At the second crease made by the press, I bent it more to complete the curve of the bracket. Once again, not pretty, but functional.

I crushed the last mounting area flat, and bent it to finish out the curve.

I eyed the holes out and then marked this with the red paint marker pen. This is where I will drill the holes out for the M6x15 bolts.

Drill, baby, drill.

I lightly sanded with 400 grit, and hit it with some oil based acrylic flat black paint. This stuff dries pretty fast in the sun. At least enough to be handled.

And here it is on the car. Now the fenders are really solid, even without a bumper bracing them, just like the factory. Seriously stiff... like a pedophile at an elementary school play. They are not the most beautiful... like that same pedophile, but they work...unlike the restraining order on the pedophile.

Well, I'm off to comb my mustache and polish my black frame glasses before I pick up my trench coat from the dry cleaners.



  1. Excellent work boss the way What type of tubing did u use to make the braces

    1. Sorry for the late reply. I've been fairly busy. I used 9mm outer diameter stainless steel tubing. If you don't have a tube bender or a press, you can always just use a vise to start your bends! If you have any more questions, just let me know.


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