After lengthy consideration, I decided to make more work for myself by removing the petrol tank support rails. They seemed fairly solid on the top facing planes, but were wearing thin along the bottom edges (water moisture + gravity + decades of road use = crispy metal). It's always difficult to know how to proceed when things are in a grey area (ie: the condition is not too bad, but not too good either), but I think that ensuring things are made solid has to be the overriding factor. So, more spot welds were drilled out followed by careful separation of the parts:
One huge benefit to having this section split into component parts is that I could now fit the reinforcement panel into the blast cabinet, so that it could be properly cleaned up for assessment:
I identified a few areas of concern as I went along. One was a slight kink/dent on the front edge that was likely caused by the front end shunt the car had sustained in the past:
This was easily rectified with a hammer and dolly:
After a numbingly long time blasting I had things back to bare steal on the front and back:
A potentially chronic issue may exist in behind some swelling visible along the overlapping seam of the washer bottle recess. See how it bulges outwards between the factory spot welds:
I fear that can mean only one thing ...bloated rust! That will likely need addressing...
As for the tank support rails, I do have a couple of options; either replace with NOS ones (that come spot welded to the replacement quarter panels) or attempt to repair the originals. One of those options is obviously far easier, but that is not always how I choose to approach things. We shall see...