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03-30-2014 05:20 PM Odds and Ends
The Desoto was back in the shop for a while and is now running well and parked back in the owner's parking garage. One place wanted $200 a month for storage.

I have the coupe back in to fix some sticky door latches and a few loose wires.

I also finished work on a new shop truck purchased non-running from a police auction. Among other things, I had to fix a hole in the driver's floor pan and repair the seat springs and took the opportunity to add a little sound insulation before the new carpet went in. My daughter helped me with some of the repairs just because she's a good daughter.

For now, that's all I can do in the shop for the next month as I prepare to open my seasonal business for the summer.

Hopefully, I will sell the coupe and put be able to put the money toward fixing my wife's '39 Plymouth and the '36 Auburn and I need to free up some room to finally get that Triumph TR3 out of my Mom's garage.

  [Entry #22]

02-21-2014 02:34 PM Dammit
I got the seat all ready to go back in (on the floor, the fixes I did make it comfortable to sit on) and thought I'd clean the vinyl floor mats before I did it. So I pulled up the rubber mat and saw a small oval of rust. More investigation revealed several holes in the floor pan. Based on the appearance of the corrosion, it looks like the previous owner wore a hole in the floor mat and spilled a bunch of change in the hole (mostly pennies). The coins worked their way under the mat and the padding held in the moisture. The result was totally preventable corrosion with many small holes where individual coins lay and one big hole the size of my hand.

Floor pans are funny animals. They are not very flat, but have corrugations for strength, channels for routing wire bundles and lots of curves. The best fix is to cut the bad metal out and use a patch panel. The problem is that there are no patch panels for these trucks, only a full floor pan for a significant amount of money.

Alternative two is to visit the boneyard and cut out my own patch panels. The weather is too nasty and my arthritis is too bad to crawl around to do that.

Then there's alternative three, just fabricate some panels myself. If this were a hotrod or vintage vehicle, I would take my time and do it right and replicate all the angles and curves.

But this is a P.O.S., 180,000 mile shop truck that already has a dent in the door I'm not going to fix. So I'm using alternative #4 shown at . It just needs to be functional and that's all I'm going to do.

The plan is to use POR-15 followed by a layer of fiberglass cloth followed by a second layer of POR-15. I know that the purists among us will object, but in this case, this is the best solution to the problem.

And here's the completed repair.

Cost: POR-15 - $50
fiberglass cloth - $8

POR does offer a $20 kit for doing this that includes the POR-15, fabric, de-greaser and metal prep. That would have been sufficient for this job.

UPDATE (3-11-2014):

I'm all done. Floor and seat repaired, new carpet. Runs well, overall in good shape for such a neglected truck.

Altogether, about $1500 in cash invested and way, way too much time.

  [Entry #21]

02-19-2014 08:19 PM Seat Spring Repair, '99 S-10 bench seat
I'm working on a '99 Chevrolet S-10 that I purchased from a friend of a friend. That guy purchased it at an auction, could not get it running and turned it over to my friend who, after about $700 in induction/exhaust/electrical parts, got it running and passing the VA state inspection.
That's when I purchased it, intending to re-sell it to my 20-yo cousin who need some basic transportation.
He didn't want it, so I did some minor cosmetic work and kept it.

My work involved replacing the very corroded battery tray ($20), knocking out a big dent in the driver's door (just enough so it didn't look too bad, so $00), replacing a broken window handle ($3), replacing the headliner($30) and repairing the seat ($00).

All that other stuff I have done before. but I've never worked on a seat and know little about upholstery, so I did some Internet searching. The best HOWTO I found was here: Dan TwoLakes does an excellent job of providing an industrial-strength repair and always provides useful upholstery advice on this board.

But this time I wanted to try it myself. His method uses 9 gauge sinuous wire springs and requires some special clips and tools that he has, but I lack. I figured that since this was going to be the shop truck and driven only infrequently, an industrial-strength solution was not needed.

The special springs; that were broken are actually the non-spring part of a cushion suspension system know as a Flex-O-Lator for about 40 years with the improved version known as Seat-O-Lator. I figured I would check with local auto upholstery shops to see what was available. They called them wire mesh and had no idea they had a trade name.

It turns out the size I needed was not a standard size, but I did score a piece larger than I needed and figured I could modify it to fit.

It's always good practice to examine a failed part and try and determine why it failed, In this case, a defect in the seat foam, a large internal bubble, placed stress on the Seat-O-Lator and helped it cut into the foam. Over time, the wires fatigued and broke right at the bubble.

The first step was to fill the hole, so I used some of the foam-covered fabric left over from the headliner installation, winding it into a roll that fit the void in the foam.

Because the seat foam had been cut by the Seat-O-Lator wires, I need something to separate it and the foam to keep the wires from digging in and losing support. I had some 1/8-inch closed-cell heavy foam sheet that I had cut and glued leather to and used to cover the '39 Coupe (all-leather floor, no carpet-- very cool) so I used that.

To cut the Seat-O-Lator to size, I fabricated a jig from 2x4's as shown. The wire is similar to piano wire in stiffness, so it takes some effort to bend it. The end rods needed to be cut with an air-powered cutoff wheel.

After bending the wire around the end rod and gently crimping it, I placed it in a vice to finish the bend.

There was a 30 degree bend in the wires to accommodate a similar bend in the seat frame, so I re-purposed the jig to bend the wires uniformly.

Installation was, as the Haynes Manual always says, the reverse of removal. I used a hooked tool that is normally used for headlights springs to pull the springs through to hook to the Seat-O-Lator rod.

Now it's just cleaning and lubricating the seat runners and putting it back in the truck. I'll edit the post later to comment on how well the repair succeeded.

My total cost for this repair was zero. The upholstery shop gave me a 16-inch piece left over from another job and all this cost was my time. Is it as durable as Dan TwoLakes' repair? Probably not, but I may not need that kind of durability and I can always implement his repair at a later date if necessary.

As always, it was fun and I learned something new.


The spring I repaired seem to work fine, but I discovered that the Seat-O-Lator from the passenger seat was broken as well.

So I dug the split bench seats I had from a '93 S-10 out of the storage unit.

While the seat mounting brackets were different, the basic seat frame appeared similar and , lo and behold, the Seat-O-Lators were identical and were undamaged in the '93 seat.

A quick swap and the '99 seat is all good.

The useful piece of information is that the part that is prone to breakage, the Seat-O-Lator (who comes up with these idiotic names?), is the same for '93 and '99 and likely over other years. This means that a quick fix for your broken seat does not need to involve the total replacement or an involved repair.

It's easy to remove the Seat-O-Lator by removing the springs without dismantling the seat using a tool like this:

(This particular one is a Draper 24317 Brake and Headlight Spring Hook)

  [Entry #20]

02-14-2014 06:42 PM New Shop Truck
I can't get to my old projects for the new ones.

A friend of a friend bought a '99 S-10 standard cab base truck (no A/C. no power anything, rubber floor mats) at auction for $500. It didn't run, so he sold it to me. After about $700 in parts, my buddy and I got it running nicely. I fixed the rotted battery tray, broken window handle, rotted headliner, dented driver door (not completely fixed, but the dent is much smaller).

The last thing on the list is to fix the broken drivers' seat spring and the truck will be ready to go to work.

Like any project, I've spent too much time and money on it, but it's all fun.

(click photo to enlarge)
  [Entry #19]

02-14-2014 06:33 PM DeSoto Back In the House
My friend that owns the '54 Desoto was concerned about the deteriorating condition of the paint. It appeared to me and a friend who is a body shop owner that the body had been soda blasted and improperly prepped. We towed the car to Fantom Works ( ), the shop that did the paint work. The pint shop guy examined it and said, "Oh yeah, I see what happened. We didn't do the prep, we just painted it. Dan [the owner] will take a look.". Next morning, Dan refused to do -anything- about the paint and wanted the car "out of my shop as soon as possible." (He has that TV show on Discovery, so I guess he has important things to worry about).

We took the car to Outlaw Rod and Custom ( and they concurred with our assessment of the paint; the owner will attend to it at a later date. While it was there, they had Asa and Bobby re-build the carb, distributor and fixed the brakes, since I had no room in my shop at the time or any spare time. They did a nice job and we picked the car up last Tuesday. It's been a while since I drove drum brakes and bias tires and I remember why I don't like them.

Anyway, the DeSoto is back at my shop for now. There are a few minor things to do (adjust fan belt, replace transmission pan gasket, fix non-functional temp gauge, etc). At least it runs and drives.

(click photo to enlarge)
  [Entry #18]

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