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Old 05-02-2013, 05:58 PM
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"E18" trailer project for my E91

I hope this fits the criteria of the forum....but Im building a trailer for my little station wagon out of the back end of another car of the same make.

Its gonna be painted the same color, have matching wheels and tires, a hinged soft tonneau cover and retain the locking trunk that already comes with the donor car.

The donor was an E36 (91-98) sedan...and Im keeping the rear doors functional....which I was not going to do initially.

So without further adieu...Heres where I started....with plenty of sketches and an elevation drawing:



and a color sketch:



a few weeks later (March) I went to Hartford Ct and picked up the donor car...I was initally going to go up there and cut the car in half after it was on the trailer....but....the seller did not want to deal with 1/2 a car any more than I did at that moment....so for an extra 50 bucks, I took the whole thing!.....



No more roof!:



No more front end!:



Gotta love this!


Of course, once I got the bumper off, I found several issues under the carpeting!...the car had taken a pretty good hit on the passengers side and the repair work was, well....hidden



I had to cut a few panels out due to rust issues, and try to reform as much as I could of the spare tire well...Now, just to let you know, I have done only practice welding on a few strips of metal and am a complete newbie at it....so any help and advice is greatly appreciated!...



I made some cardboard templates of the missing pieces and started cutting up an old exterior door my buddy was cutting a window in at work!...(budget build!)



Then I started tacking a small patch panel in place.....and of course blowing through thin metal more than I was welding pieces together...so I cut more out of the trunk floor until I got to more solid surroundings!

But anyway....I knew I needed to get the thing flipped over so I could figure out the trailer tongue, weld the other patch panels I had made, and get the rear differential and driveshafts out.....

so I built this:



It took more that I thought...but we got it in the air....



then took out the easily 100 pounds of stuff that was still hanging out under there....I needed to replace a trunk/bumper brace that was missing from the accident.....so I used a stout round table leg that I flattened at one end and bolted in and will weld into place on the bumper shock mounting plate later.....you can just see it inside the battery tray area...that white tube!....



Here is the old steel door piece I cut and shaped to fit inside the battery tray area....not bad for a vice and a couple of 2x4s....



Then it was time to get it on its back so I could figure out the trailer tongue mounting points, height, ect...



Still making more of a mess welding that actual welding, but there are glimmers of hope!......it was that thick, thin issue with the metal that was the steep part of the learning curve....



then it started to gel a bit...I had some good success with the battery tray area:



I left some of the tunnel up front as it had good mounting points for the trailer tongue brackets (at least the ones in my mind at this point)...and it had two and 3 layers of steel in some places....so once it was back together, I knew it would be quite strong.....



Self imposed time limit....we are heading up to NH for a trip in July..so I want this to be at least road worthy and registered and such....



Found more rust!...the rocker panel jacking point was pretty beaten up and had started to rust...so I cut it out and began shaping some more door panel..


Hit some hidden rust on the side of the rocker and you can see the blow through.....Ill be putting a new piece of steel there....





Got a few flap discs and really like them!....(new to me...) boy it sure is important not to take back out too much material when dressing up the welds....

started filling in the tunnel with more door material....



and the ends of the rocker boxes....



first coat of primer...I ended up doubling up the steel by the jacking point...not sure why....probably because I may be using it one day in case of a flat tire.....



Rocker box detail...new to me, welding on an outside corner.....went pretty good.....


so the strengthening begins....I started wtih some angle iron that will be welded on both sides of the floor panel...just stitching in a few spots that I could reach from this side really stiffened up the whole front of the trailer!



I wanted to match the angle of the rockers.....



Got the steel!.....3/16 2"x3"x8' and two more pieces 1/16 2"x3"x36" for the side supports...It will also get mounted in the rear diff cradle and at two more points under the floor.....



Another patch panel....I found that this Rustoleum sealer is pretty rugged...its does not just scrape off like undercoating.....



You can see the 4 mounting points for the tongue......rear diff cradle, two spots on the floor tunnel and one more at the angle iron....



Jacking point finished.....



I decided to add some more structure at the top of the rockers with a piece of "T" iron I found behind our shed from the previous owners...cool!...
This will allow me to mount the front panel of the trailer above this area which may be hinged and act as a sort of front tail gate...



that lower panel is just what I was hoping for...Ive seen some trailers like this with plywood literally screwed to the front end!.......Im thinking diamond plate?


and some support braces...I ground a valley in the two pieces of metal and built up the weld...Ill be taking a look to see if I need to touch up the other side......



and thats where I am now....

comments and suggestions are welcome!....I still need to figure out how to build the front panel, the top rails ( doors will open and tonneau cover will be hinged).....so I could use some good ideas!

thanks for looking!

JP

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Old 05-20-2013, 10:14 AM
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Not sure if anyone is looking at this little post!

Got quite a bit more done this past week.......

underside framework undercoated:



Painted the rotors silver....as they will not have any brakes....and will be fabricating some calipers from aluminum sheeting painted red or body color



the big news is I got the thing flipped back over!



bracing off!



top crossbar added: its pretty sturdy even without it!....but this will make a nice mounting bar for the tonneau cover hinges, and the front panel



"T" bar welded in place on the B pillar



Door handle frenched in



ran out of mig wire!...bummer...gotta get this thing buttoned up! we are going on vacation in 4 weeks! can he do it?

JP
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:15 PM
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I didn't see this until today. Looks like you have made some good progress. I like your tonneau cover idea for the top, and keeping the trunk lid.
Probably more work that you want to deal with, but I couldn't help but think it would be cool if you could graft part of the nose of the donor to your trailer, partially to make it more aerodynamic. A lot of work for a little payback.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:33 PM
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thanks for the feedback, Sedanbob....

I was going to try to figure something out for the front panel as well...but now I find Im having a tongue weight issue if I add much more weight to the nose area...

Thats why Im going with the soft tonneau and an aluminum panel for the front piece.....

I do have an extra set of E91 grilles like the wagon...but Im not sure if they will look good or not....but I would like to put some prominent BMW feature up there....honestly, Im not that skilled yet at fabricating, and Im under a time limit...soooo, for now that front panel will follow the curve of the B-pillar at the bottom and be fairly straight towards the upper section with a slight backwards lean....

The parcel shelf is stepped up to the trunk higher than I thought, so Im thinking that I have to get somewhat creative with metal shaping there....I want the Tonneau to follow the curve of the trunk at the trailing edge...

anyway.....hopefully Ill get some hours on it tonight....


thanks


JP
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:59 PM
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You can always dress it up later, if you want to. Making the tongue a little longer will reduce the tongue weight by increasing leverage on the axle. Judicious loading when you use it can help too - heavy stuff in the trunk, lighter stuff toward the front. Adding a couple removable flexible bows under the tonneau will keep it from sagging.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sedanbob View Post
You can always dress it up later, if you want to. Making the tongue a little longer will reduce the tongue weight by increasing leverage on the axle. Judicious loading when you use it can help too - heavy stuff in the trunk, lighter stuff toward the front. Adding a couple removable flexible bows under the tonneau will keep it from sagging.
Its interesting that I discovered that the farther out I held the trailer tongue, the lighter it seemed...now I know why...and its elementary.....more leverage out there!...doh!



JP
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:12 PM
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It looks like it will be an excellent trailer, and I like the idea of keeping it looking like it belongs behind the car, and having the front end grafted to the trailer would deter from that kind of look. IMO.
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:54 PM
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I really hope the welds holding the trailer frame together are far better than the picture of this one weld. A trailer that starts to whip will exert thousands of pounds of force on those welds, I hope they hold and no one ever gets hurt.

That weld should be a solid stringer, not a bunch of spots. It appears there is a lot of porosity and some cold laps. I would grind that weld out and run a new bead.




Sorry to sound harsh but things like this can kill people, something non of us want to happen.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Fool View Post
I really hope the welds holding the trailer frame together are far better than the picture of this one weld. A trailer that starts to whip will exert thousands of pounds of force on those welds, I hope they hold and no one ever gets hurt.

That weld should be a solid stringer, not a bunch of spots. It appears there is a lot of porosity and some cold laps. I would grind that weld out and run a new bead.
Sorry to sound harsh but things like this can kill people, something non of us want to happen.

I am looking for honest feeback and will take what you say seriously....you are correct in noticing the lack of a continuous bead with this weld. But what it does not show is that I had left a gap between the two pieces of steel and filled the gap with weld while making sure I saw good penetration....That is not to say I know what Im doing...especially with structural welds...

I did pick up a spool of flux core wire to be able to go back in and run some hotter welds on a few spots...the one you referenced is not in a place that is directly connected to the trailer tongue...which is where I would be the most concerned...

anywhere I thought that I needed to get better weld penetration than I was getting, I drilled into the thicker steel and welded continuously out and melted in the with piece I was attaching....I also dug some troughs and filled those....


One failsafe I have built into the trailer is the fact that I have bolted my assemblies and welded them. A weld may break, but nothing will break off or fall off..I will continuously check for cracks.....and thank you for being frank.....

I welcome more comments like this one..as long as there is a solution presented along with the critique. Running a solid bead as opposed to tacks is a good one.....I will take it to heart!


JP
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:08 AM
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Its been a little while, but I got a lot of work done over the weekend....

the elephant in the trailer...that rusted out area under the tail lights and trunk, was screaming "fix me" so it was time to start learning how to form sheet metal...well "learn" is subjective...but I did manage to learn alot about how sheet metal works when you try to bend it and its limitations, ect....

I also did not cut myself on any new metal!...that is a new miracle.

Now, before any of you say, "Why didnt you just replace the panel with a new one?"....well...two reasons...I need to get good at this stuff....and this was a challenge....and then there was the budget.....There is very little left in that department, so there we are. (that just sounded like 3 reasons, but who's counting?)

I first cut out more of the rear section and cleaned up any interior rust as best I could with grinders, files, sandpaper, wire brushes, ect....(I was trying to keep debris out of the lower section of those two panels where they disappear out of sight and then come together with a long series of welds and folded seams.....I figure the debris will just accelerate any rusting that might occur there)

Once that was done, I started figuring out how to piece together new metal to fill the voids. It went better than expected...but slow...very slow...learning and doing are two different things...but, they say you learn BY doing..who knows.

I dont have any pics of the pieces going in...I was in production mode...but here are some pics as it is now. I still have a lot of finishing to do, but the metal is close to the right shape for the most part...

The trunk seals and latches and the metal along the drip edge follows the line of the bottom of the trunk......Im happy with that....



this side is still a bit rough, but it shows some of the process...I wish every weld was smooth and flat, and I wish all my weld lines were actually straight, or close to straight, but....that said, weld penetration is MUCH better...the welds are strong and now if I make a bad weld it is because I hang on too long in one area and burn through...(trust me, I would rather have that than a cold weld that pops apart!)



I was trying to show the weatherstripping lip that I rebuilt here in the corner...it bends and blends on its way down to the bottom edge which runs all the way along the width of the trunk....in many areas I had to rebuild both edges...the one from the inner part of the trunk, and the new one....(no wonder this took so long!)



The only hole left!....and now that looks easy!....

I started here. that top piece was the first one welded in. plug welded and then seam welded...it should stay put!...heh, heh..



A little redundant looking, but I began finishing the area behind the bumper supports...they will get wire brushed and undercoated as they are CRUSTY....but the panel looks pretty good.



Now, on to the front edge....Here is my tonneau cover's frame on the leading edge of the trailer. This will hinge right where you see it....I will have to figure out some hidden hinges for it and may or may not be able to use those 68 mustang hinges I bought....we will see...

I had to shorten the width by an inch here so it just lined up the the fold on the outside of the top of the doors. I have to bring it in another 2" over the length of the doors as these cars are streamlined and taper in towards the back. Ill be fitting the top with new snaps temporarily then getting an upholsterer to make me a nice new top this summer!...!:



Now the parcel shelf is another elephant in the trailer. it steps up quite a bit. I think I have it figured out...but how this will look in the end is up in the air!

more curved metal and drip edges, and rain gutters, and a curved trailing edge on the tonneau......Here you can just make out the parcel shelf out of focus...who cares about that....look at that wagon through the raised trunk!
:thumsup:




Door handles:...filled in...thats about it...they will open from the inside only. unless I want to get fancy and put some actuators in there that pop the doors open with a key fob!......

quite a bit of bondo on this side....it was still pushed in more than a 1/4 inch from a previous hit...and the body shop did not get it straight...but it worked and looked okay.....I straightened it back out from the inside with various tools and the good ole persuader hammer....



template




Whew!...thats about it for now...more work today finishing up the rear panel and getting the doors rain gutters in place, the parcel shelf cut and filled, ect....


thanks for checking in!

JP
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:06 AM
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3 weeks left, Will he do it. Oh My, The Drama !!!! Looks like a fun project good luck !!!
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:21 PM
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Looks like progress to me... keep plugging at it!
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:19 AM
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Its been too long since I updated the thread....Summer came and went...and YES, I did get the trailer roadworthy before I left, but decided to concentrate on finishing up the rain gutters and channeling any water away from the interior of the trailer. I didnt get it painted or even primed all one color before our first trip, but it was water tight!....It poured most of the way up on our 5 hour journey from NY to NH...and I mean poured!...got to NH, nervously opened up the tonneau cover and the insides were bone dry!.....whew!....

here are some updated pics...but not that recent...Ill have to take more pics when I get a chance....

and yes, it will match the color of the car!....

Punch list:

1) front corners shaped from wood, foam, fiberglass, ect.....
2) finish fitment of tonneau cover and locking mechanism
3) finish all the body work
4) paint this bad boy!







thanks for looking!

JP
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:14 PM
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Back on the trailer project as its 60 degrees here in NY!!!...unbelievable. yesterday I was skiing, and today...well...not so much!

I have begun closing in the front corners and decided to finish most of it in metal. Its good practice for me in shaping metal and very rewarding when you get it right!....It does illustrate what you can get away with using very basic tools...and how much I could use a few metal shaping tools to help speed the process and get things better that I every could with my basic approach....(english wheel, shrinking tool, ect....)

anyway...here is the cover for the front of the door...its just screwed in place for now. I carefully shaped it, then welded the pie cuts so the edge of the metal matched the door profile.

its pretty close...and I can grind the metal to shape the rest of it....



Hopefully I can get some more done before the frigid temps return on Tuesday!

let me know what you think!

JP
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:29 PM
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It actually looks better than I was expecting.

You see a few trailers build from back halves and all too often they look wrong.

Keep at it your skills are improving.
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