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  1. #1
    FEP Power Member racerxmd's Avatar
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    Question Acceptable Gaps Between Panels?

    What are the acceptable gaps between the fenders/doors? And doors/rear 1/4s?

  2. #2
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    On a true show car, the gaps are generally 1/8" and consistent throughout. For a Mustang that will be a ton of work! If you are aligning everything to look good for the average street car, occasional show car the trick is to get the gaps even and consistent. That could be anywhere from 1/8" to 1/4" on most Mustangs, sometimes even a bit more.

    When I align a Mustang, I start with the doors. Get the doors to have a nice even gap at the bottom that is level with the rocker panel and a nice even gap along the roof line. You prefer the gap to be the same top and bottom if possible. Once that is close, you will want to set the gap at the back of the door to the quarter panel. I like the gap to be 1/4" +/- if possible. Getting the door set and aligned right can be extremly frustrating and time consuming, but the payoff is worth it!

    Once the doors are done and both sides match as well as possible, then I install the hood. I get the hood aligned with the cowl and the cowl panel as they are the most visual. I roughly set the hood latch, but I leave it's final adjustment until the fenders are on.

    I then install the fenders and align them to the front edge of the door and the hood. The trick is to keep both gaps as even and consistent as possible. Some cars go together will very little fitting, others will take constant adjustment. Once you have the fender to hood gap even on both sides to each other and the fender to door gap set and even for both sides then you can install the front bumper assembly. That will be your final adjustment for the hood and the front of the fenders. Sometimes you will have to make small tweaks to the fenders and possibly the hood to get the best alignment. Adjust your latch and your bumpers to keep the hood level with the fenders on the front. Sometimes you might have to make a slight adjustment to the hood hinges or the hood on the hinges to get everything to line up.

    Just remember that to make one adjustment at a time. If it doesn't go the way you need it's easy to reset it. When you start making multiple adjustments is where you can get way off and drive yourself crazy.

    The rear bumper is a matter of lining up the sides as best as possible and getting the top of the bumper cover to have a nice level gap below the tail lights.

    The rear hatch is a matter of centering it over the car and quarter panels. My trick is to remove the stricker or the latch, disconnect the hatch struts, and lower the rear rubber bumpers so the hatch rest entirely on the hatch seal. Get everything aligned with even overhang on both quarters, get a nice even gap at the roof line, make sure the hatch doesn't hit or scrap anywhere and that is it. Once you are happy with the alignment tighten up the hatch hinge bolts. Now raise the hatch up with the rubber bumpers so that it doesn't fully compress the hatch gasket. This will make the hatch bumpers make contact first when closing the hatch, then the latch will catch, sealing the hatch, but the rubber bumpers keep the hatch from rattling over bumps, etc. Now have someone lie down in the hatch area with the rear seat down and adjust the rear sticker or latch depending on what you removed. It may take a couple of trys until you get it right, but you should be able to lower the hatch and then drop it just 1" or 2" above the hatch seal and have it close properly. You should not have to slam it closed. If needed adjust the rubber bumpers to get the best compromise in closing effort and to make sure the hatch is even across the back. Once everything is adjusted and closing properly then install the hatch struts. Also make sure your hatch seal is a good one or new. A worn rear hatch seal is a pain!

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  3. #3
    FEP Member 86foxvert's Avatar
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    Trey,

    Great information, thanks very helpful..........

  4. #4
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Subscribing, just in case I ever need that info. Wouldn't want Trey to retype it again a few years from now.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
    2.3L Horsepower Potential Thread
    Buyer/Seller Experience Link
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  5. #5
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Glad to help guys!

    That was one of those posts that kinda got away from me. I tried to shorten it up, but it didn't work.

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  6. #6
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Trey,

    No such thing as, "Too much information" so feel free to go crazy with the explanations.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
    2.3L Horsepower Potential Thread
    Buyer/Seller Experience Link
    Build Thread
    The Four-Eyed Game - 2018 Version

  7. #7
    FEP Super Member SVT Rob's Avatar
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    Very good write up, Trey!! I know I will probably follow this when I finish up my car.

    Rob

  8. #8
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    I am sure I left something out or skimmed over a step that might need more information. If anyone needs additional information, don't hesitate to PM me and I will help you anyway I can. That process has worked pretty well for me over time. Sometimes things have to be changed up because of what you are doing to the car, but it's a great way to start. Especially if you are doing a complete tear down and repaint. If you are just readjusting and making sure everything is lined up right, you don't have to remove anything if you don't want to. You will have to remove the inner fender if you want to make door adjustments, but you don't have to remove the fenders. I personally hate working through the fender so I would rather take them off, get the doors adjusted and then reinstall the fenders.

    The other trick I forgot to mention is the ole' pin method. I have used this method for years on most of my cars that are completely blown apart for painting. If you know all your panels are good and won't need to replace anything or after any major metal work, you can follow my suggestions for aligning everything. Then when you are satisfied you can drill 1/8" holes as pins in the body panels for realignment later. This is only necessary if you are blowing the entire car apart for repaint, etc. If you are painting the car fully assembled then there is no need. I drill the 1/8" holes in a couple of obscure areas that won't be noticeable to the average gearhead, or in areas the will be covered up. A couple per panel is usually enough. Then after paint when it's time to reassemble the parts, follow the same procedure as before, but use 1/8" rivets, punches, or pins and align the part, insert the pins into the holes and tighten the mounting hardware. If you do it correctly your panels, etc. will all be in the same alignment as before without you having to spend hours readjusting and taken the chance at chipping paint or scratching something. If the holes bother you, you can always pop a rivet into them to seal them up or even some caulk or sealant and a dab of touch up paint or leave them alone.

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  9. #9
    FEP Super Member dburdyshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IDMooseMan View Post
    Subscribing, just in case I ever need that info. Wouldn't want Trey to retype it again a few years from now.
    Makes sense to me. Just don't do like I did and subscribe to the wrong thread.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wraithracing View Post
    On a true show car, the gaps are generally 1/8" and consistent throughout. For a Mustang that will be a ton of work! If you are aligning everything to look good for the average street car, occasional show car the trick is to get the gaps even and consistent. That could be anywhere from 1/8" to 1/4" on most Mustangs, sometimes even a bit more.

    When I align a Mustang, I start with the doors. Get the doors to have a nice even gap at the bottom that is level with the rocker panel and a nice even gap along the roof line. You prefer the gap to be the same top and bottom if possible. Once that is close, you will want to set the gap at the back of the door to the quarter panel. I like the gap to be 1/4" +/- if possible. Getting the door set and aligned right can be extremly frustrating and time consuming, but the payoff is worth it!

    Once the doors are done and both sides match as well as possible, then I install the hood. I get the hood aligned with the cowl and the cowl panel as they are the most visual. I roughly set the hood latch, but I leave it's final adjustment until the fenders are on.

    I then install the fenders and align them to the front edge of the door and the hood. The trick is to keep both gaps as even and consistent as possible. Some cars go together will very little fitting, others will take constant adjustment. Once you have the fender to hood gap even on both sides to each other and the fender to door gap set and even for both sides then you can install the front bumper assembly. That will be your final adjustment for the hood and the front of the fenders. Sometimes you will have to make small tweaks to the fenders and possibly the hood to get the best alignment. Adjust your latch and your bumpers to keep the hood level with the fenders on the front. Sometimes you might have to make a slight adjustment to the hood hinges or the hood on the hinges to get everything to line up.

    Just remember that to make one adjustment at a time. If it doesn't go the way you need it's easy to reset it. When you start making multiple adjustments is where you can get way off and drive yourself crazy.

    The rear bumper is a matter of lining up the sides as best as possible and getting the top of the bumper cover to have a nice level gap below the tail lights.

    The rear hatch is a matter of centering it over the car and quarter panels. My trick is to remove the stricker or the latch, disconnect the hatch struts, and lower the rear rubber bumpers so the hatch rest entirely on the hatch seal. Get everything aligned with even overhang on both quarters, get a nice even gap at the roof line, make sure the hatch doesn't hit or scrap anywhere and that is it. Once you are happy with the alignment tighten up the hatch hinge bolts. Now raise the hatch up with the rubber bumpers so that it doesn't fully compress the hatch gasket. This will make the hatch bumpers make contact first when closing the hatch, then the latch will catch, sealing the hatch, but the rubber bumpers keep the hatch from rattling over bumps, etc. Now have someone lie down in the hatch area with the rear seat down and adjust the rear sticker or latch depending on what you removed. It may take a couple of trys until you get it right, but you should be able to lower the hatch and then drop it just 1" or 2" above the hatch seal and have it close properly. You should not have to slam it closed. If needed adjust the rubber bumpers to get the best compromise in closing effort and to make sure the hatch is even across the back. Once everything is adjusted and closing properly then install the hatch struts. Also make sure your hatch seal is a good one or new. A worn rear hatch seal is a pain!

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    Trying to do this (I realize it's a real old post) on my 83. Got through most of the steps, but the adjustable bumpers at the front do not touch the hood, even though they are are screwed out as far as they go. The latch itself is about as low as it can go and the hood and fender height seem to match pretty well; could come up a little at front on one side.
    Is this issue with the front bumpers a common problem? I assume if I get new ones they will be same height as my originals.

  11. #11
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustangwolf View Post
    Trying to do this (I realize it's a real old post) on my 83. Got through most of the steps, but the adjustable bumpers at the front do not touch the hood, even though they are are screwed out as far as they go. The latch itself is about as low as it can go and the hood and fender height seem to match pretty well; could come up a little at front on one side.
    Is this issue with the front bumpers a common problem? I assume if I get new ones they will be same height as my originals.
    A picture might help to determine what is going on. Its possible you have the wrong bumpers and that is why they don't touch. They should only touch the hood when the hood is latched and even then on some cars, there may still be a small gap. If the hood lines up with the fenders and there are the same height across the front, I wouldn't stress too much about it.
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wraithracing View Post
    A picture might help to determine what is going on. Its possible you have the wrong bumpers and that is why they don't touch. They should only touch the hood when the hood is latched and even then on some cars, there may still be a small gap. If the hood lines up with the fenders and there are the same height across the front, I wouldn't stress too much about it.
    Bumpers are correct, I've had it since 83. I took both completely out and cleaned and lubed them. Managed to get the drivers side where it will just touch and hood is even with fender; but not much threads in. The passenger side is not touching, and the hood does need to come up to match the fender. The right front was involved in a collision back in the 90's; frame was pulled and I drove it for a couple years after that with no issues. At that time fender, hood & bumper were all original and I guess I just had it the gaps and such "close enough for a driver". Now, as part of the restoration process, I am replacing RF fender and hood and trying to get everything correct. I suspect the old accident is the culprit here, still got to figure a way to get it right.

  13. #13
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    If there is previous accident damage that may or may not have been repaired correctly then you may not be able to get your alignment much better than it currently is. Unfortunately the gaps and tolerances on the Fox bodies was not great even when original and after any significant damage it can be a real nightmare to get everything to line up properly again. Best of luck!
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  14. #14

    Default

    I just wanted to thank you as well Trey for taking time to post up such valuable information!
    '79 Fairmont Futura
    '79 Mercury Zephyr wagon
    '83 LTD Wagon - future Mustang "Sport" Wagon
    '84 Mercury Capri RS - 5.0 5spd
    Owner of Victory Engines and Machining, LLC
    g2G

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