Mustard’s Flares: Cutting Time

There’s more to share on Selsun of course, but the blue RS will have to wait its turn – it’s definitely time we showed more of Mustard’s SS Tuning flares! In the last post we looked at the unboxing and initial test-fit of the new fiberglass pieces; this time around, cuts are made! Mostly on the car. There may have been a couple on myself, accidentally.

Many of the photos today, you’ll note, show the driver’s side of the car. It wasn’t until the flares were back from paint that I bothered to spin the Focus around and back it into the garage, so I focused on documenting this side of the car given the better access and lighting. Obviously, it was the same process on the passenger side.

Flare fitting 1

The first step is to jack up your car [/MCM].

Before any sparks could fly the first order of business was to fit the donor fender – the one that would actually be cut – so the original had to be removed. As you can see it was still masked up from the test-fit here. Yes we went through a lot of masking tape, but it’s cheaper than paint…

Flare fitting 2

In order to pull the fender the side skirt had to be removed to access a couple of the bolts at the bottom of the panel. As panel removal tools had to be run along the top edge to free the skirt from the clips holding it in to the rocker panel – even though the tools by their design are soft plastic to prevent scratching surfaces – some more masking tape was run first to protect the paint.

Flare fitting 3

Naturally the fender liner came out as well to access more bolts. Pulling the driver’s side liner reveals the PCM, the location of which remains a major source of frustration for all of us following Ketchup’s collision. One of the most important parts on the entire car, placed in one of the most vulnerable locations…it’s also quite expensive, as I remember all too well.

Flare fitting 4

Bolts all undone, the fender could be removed and set aside. Note the additional masking tape run along the edges of the A-pillar and door, again to protect paint. It’s easy to bump two panels together and chip some paint off!

Flare fitting 5Flare fitting 6

The bumper was pulled as well even though it wasn’t being replaced; I wanted access to look for clearance issues at the bumper-to-fender mounting point as I suspected the bracket or flanges may have to be trimmed. A Tarmac was also thrown on to serve as a reference for checking clearance. As it had yet to be revealed at this point in time that the Tarmacs were actually the car’s “new” wheels for the season our story was that these were merely stand-ins given their specs being comparable to those yet-to-be-revealed wheels’. It was technically the truth.

Flare fitting 7Flare fitting 8

Whenever my neighbours see a bumper from one of the cars sitting outside, they know something’s going on and will usually pop by to see what we’re up to. Haha

Flare fitting 9

Each install of our SS Tuning flares has been or will be slightly different from the others, hence why we’re being sure to share each one in detail. Dijon is simply getting flares over top of the uncut original panels, Sriracha had its fenders cut but retained all of its OE panels, and Mustard had “new” fenders which were then cut for the flares. The significance of replacing the fenders was that I not only had to test-fit and check the alignment of the flares, but of the fenders as well!

Flare fitting 10

When we reassembled Mustard after the ST swap panel alignment wasn’t much of an issue because the fenders, doors, and hood could all be realigned using the spots of missing paint on the car and panels – note the lack of colour above the fender’s upper mounting bracket in the photo above, as well as below. With new (used) panels going on to the car now, none of those marks would be relevant anymore so I also had to spend some time tweaking the fitment of the donor fenders to ensure panel gaps were even and surfaces were flush with one another. Once everything was finalized more masking tape was used to outline the final locations of the fenders’ mounting tabs so that post-paint I could quickly get them lined up and bolted on.

Flare fitting 11Flare fitting 12

Fender alignment sorted, it was then time to prepare for the cuts. With the measurements figured out (and a note made as to where the flare’s faux vent sat, so that I knew how far I could cut) the fender was quickly sliced and the bulk of the trimming was complete! I ended up cutting the fender not far above the factory body line, and then almost straight up from the fender liner mounting points at the rear of the panel.

Flare fitting 30

In terms of height the cut may not seem like much – and it really wasn’t – but the reality was that cutting any more of the fender wouldn’t gain any actual room since the tire would be well into the pinch weld by that point.

Flare fitting 13

With the fender trimmed this was the first opportunity to throw on one of the new spacers; if you recall from the unboxing post, the spacers couldn’t have been installed prior to the cutting because the tires would have fouled on the fenders with the car supporting its own weight. As for why I opted to run spacers, as the Tarmacs were the chosen wheels obviously their sizing was already set so bolt-on spacers were picked up to push them out and take advantage of the coming room. This was when we encountered one small unexpected hurdle though, which is why the Integrale was back on instead of a Tarmac…

Flare fitting 14

With the new spacers slipped on, the original wheel studs protruded slightly past them still. This was not an issue for the Integrales as they had pockets in their mounting surface which gave the needed clearance for the studs. The Tarmacs however, did not. This meant that the original studs would need to be (and were) cut down to sit flush with the surface of the new spacers so that the Tarmacs in turn would sit flat against them. Obviously this was attended to but at this point in time that job was added to the to-do list and the Integrale was used with the spacer instead.

Flare fitting 15Flare fitting 19

However, by using a spacer that was slightly more aggressive than what would be paired with the Tarmacs we were able to approximate the final fitment anyway.

Flare fitting 20Flare fitting 25

With the fender’s clearance just about sorted, it was then time to consider any other possible points of contact – such as the bumper mounting bracket.

Flare fitting 24

The bracket is secured via two bolts, plus a clip at the outer edge. In reality the bolts do most of the work holding the bracket (and therefore bumper) tightly in place so I didn’t see any issues (and haven’t had any) with cutting off the end of the bracket to gain back the needed room. I ended up trimming the sides of it at an angle – parallel to the ground – just to get as much material out of the area as possible without impacting its ability to hold the panels together.

Flare fitting 23

If you noticed the subtle Sharpie mark on the end of the black fender in the photos above, then you may have correctly guessed that a cut ended up being made there as well. It’s easier to see on the red fender here but the black fender naturally received the same trimming. This was prior to any cleanup so please ignore the rough edges and points. Realistically this trimming was entering the overkill territory, but I didn’t want to chance anything ever contacting down the road should I change wheels or upsize my tires for example. I wanted to make way more room than was needed this time around, and be done with it.

Flare fitting 16

With everything on the driver’s side measured, trimmed, checked, trimmed further, and checked again (and that first cut made on Ketchup’s fender), it was then time to copy the measurements for the rest of the cuts and do it all over again for the passenger side.

Flare fitting 17Flare fitting 18

A final mockup of the flare, prior to sending some sparks flying…

Flare fitting 22Flare fitting 27

Sorry Ketchup.

Flare fitting 26Flare fitting 28

I took the chance this time around to flip the fender and flare over as well for a better illustration of how much room was gained. The flare’s inner lip still had to be trimmed and the fender’s cuts had yet to be tidied up, but you can get the idea of how much vertical room was gained.

Flare fitting 21

Speaking of the flares’ inner lips, those as well as the large mounting surfaces behind the wheels still had to be trimmed down, but all of that was scheduled for after paint. It was time to get all of these parts off to Speedy Collision for a coat of Yellow Blaze so that there’d be time to then get them sent out for PPF prior to reinstalling them.

Flare fitting 29

The ST bumper was also awaiting its trimming at this time, but that too was reserved for after the flares had returned. The fenders’ cuts were the critical ones as being metal I didn’t want to have to do any cutting or trimming on the panels after paint. By having them cut up prior to the body shop, the edges would then be properly sealed and protected with the new coat of paint and I wouldn’t need to worry about rust down the road. With the bumper being plastic and flares being fiberglass, there would be no such issue with having to carry out any additional trimming later on.

And with that, I’m wrapping it up for tonight; I’m writing this post a few days ahead of its publishing as we’re currently in the final countdown to Sunday School 2019 and I likely won’t have much time for writing later this week. We have 10 cars in our group this year, with one still in storage and one still needing to be assembled! Plus we have some Californian flying up for the event apparently. Haha

It’ll be a chaotic few days as we prepare for the show but I suspect they’ll be rather fun too. Thanks for reading, and be sure to stop by Sunday School this weekend if you’re in town! It’s always a good time.

-Bill

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