My Beetle Restoration

Disassembling the Donor Napoleon Hat

by on Jul.30, 2014, under Body Work

Since the Napoleon Hat on my car isn't worth saving or repairing, I decided to find a donor part. I contacted the guy that I purchsed my donor heater channels from an he said he had a chassis that he would be willing to cut up and remove the Napoleon Hat for me. He did a good job cutting through the tunnel on the floor pan side and left about an inch of the tunnel from the flange where they are welded together. However, on the frame head side, he cut most of the flange away on half of it. I'm sure it was more difficult cutting through with tunnel on that side with the frame head bottom plate in the way. I don't think it will be much of an issue just cutting that section of the flange out and welding in a patch. My intention is to do just that.


As far as drilling out the spot welds and removing the tunnel and bottom plate of the frame head, it was very difficult. On the tunnel flange, the spot welds were hard to find in some areas. The flange and tunnel are of thick metal and the welds didn't make much of an indentation into the metal, but the welds penetrated all the way through the metal and held fast. Also, with the metal being so thick, it was difficult to pull the pieces apart or get them to move at all until all of the welds were cut or ground through. I had to cut and remove pieces of the tunnel to make it easier. Still, it was a difficult task. Several welds on the bottom of the Napoleon Hat where it was welded to the bottom plate of the frame head were so close together that the weld penetration formed one large weld. It was difficult to get the weld separated without taking a big chunk of the bottom flange out with it.


I'm not overly happy with this panel, to be honest. I think it is better than using a new reproduction panel as they don't fit well at all and have to be cut up and re-shaped, especially where it fits around the tunnel. But on the outer ends of the panel, someone drilled quite a few extra holes on both ends. I'm not quite sure why the extra holes were drilled through them or what that accomplished. They can be patched and filled, but there is also quite a bit of rust on the inside of them. I'll have to clean the whole panel up and see just how deep the rusts goes and if the structural integrity is compromised. It may be worth buying a new panel and chopping off the ends and grafting them on my donor panel. The shape and fit are still quite a bit different on the new panels, but I will try to repair the donor panel first and keep as much of the original metal as possible.



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