Raybucks Fender Flare Installation
Contributed By: Bill Kelsey
Pop riveting is faster, but introduces new holes into the body, holds less well, and still needs to be sealed to keep water from getting back into your wheel well area and rotting it out. Using a gel adhesive intorduces no holes, provides a more solid bond, and also acts as sealant.
Once the gel is set, the bond is very strong and thumping the flare will give off a metallic sound (Actually, the sound comes from the quarterpanel, but since it is evidence of a solid bond and sounds good, who cares?).
Remember that these fiberglass flares are single thickness, unlike the original metal double-walled flares, and so can be visibly damaged by stones hitting the underside. Several layers of underbody coating or expanding foam applied to the underside of the flare (after it is on) will help protect it from stone damage.
The quaterpanel to flare seam, if it has the original seal material, is probably dried out, hard, cracked, and leaking water. Clean it out (scraping, sand blasting, whatever you like), get rid of any rust you find (Extend or Extend-type rust converter is OK, but cold galvanizing works better (lasts much longer), according to a body shop owner I aksed), and reseal it with a paintable body panel sealer. The new ones should stay flexible.
BTW, the same should be done for the front flares -- they are only tack welded onto the fender, and water tends to enter from both the outside (unless the paint is perfect along the entire seam) and from the inside (where the flare/fender seam is essentially unprotected). When I noticed a few small rust bubbles on the seam for the front flares and started cleaning them up, I was surprised at how brittle the seam seal was, how it came out in chunks, and how much rust I found behind apparently good paint. The rust wasn't deep into the metal, but extended well into the seam, so I suspect it was due to water running down the seam from other areas or seeping through from the other side of the seam.
Anyway, same solution -- clean the seams, treat the rust, reseal, and repaint.
The materials you need for all this should be available from body shop suppliers or a body shop (I got mine from a friendly shop owner who was doin some welding on the Cherokee and repairing a crack in the brush guard).
Oh yes -- if the bottom of the rear quarter panels are starting to go (or, as in my case, are well-ventilated), you can get repair panels from JC Whitney for about $30 a side. These have to be shortened for a widetrack, but work nicely, and obviously should be done before installing the new flares (this was one of the things I was having the body shop do, since I don't weld). The right rear quarter, above the exhaust, will tend to rust more (condensation due to the exhaust pipe being just below it is the culprit, I've been told) and was much worse on my Cherokee.
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