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Old 09-16-2006, 06:59 AM
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Poor man's way to roll the body shell

With the weather finally turning tolerable around here, I intend to have the underside and a few other select non-sheet-metal areas on my firebird sandblasted to prepare for epoxy priming (planning to use SPI). While talking a guy the other day, he mentioned that his friend with a '70 Chevelle was in the same predicament as I am (no rotisserie, limited ability to raise car, etc.).

His buddy plans to use a mattress to roll the car over onto its side to allow easier access to the underside. Since my bird convertible is nothing but a bare shell (I can actually lift the car by hand on either end), it seems like there is little chance of stress damage, since the rocker section will be supporting the low weight of the shell and be distributed along the length of the mattress.

Has anyone ever heard of or used this method, and does it sound like an OK idea or an adventure into stupidity?

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Old 09-16-2006, 07:43 AM
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I had a friend with a 50 Anglia who did this. He said he had a terrible time getting it back straight so the doors would line up. The roof pillars move. They just could not hold the bending moment. You have to remember, it is not just the weight, but the leverage. There was one guy on here (I think it was on here) that rolled his body up on the firewall. You might have to use a ladder, but the firewall is more rigid than the posts. Brace the door openings.
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Old 09-16-2006, 07:44 AM
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A convertible body is not nearly as strong as a coupe or sedan body. A friend of mine has a 67 Camaro and we lifted the body off the frame, then put it right back down again after noticing a lot of flexing. I would not recomend rolling it over.

If you do it anyway, you'll need to at LEAST, weld in cross bracing, using square steel tubing, forming an X at the door openings and across the rear of the doors on top. That's what we did with the Camaro body just to lift it off the frame.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:13 AM
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I've seen photos of it done this way, I think it may have been on here, but it wasn't a convertable. If it was me, I think that adding bracing prior would be a good idea.
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:20 AM
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re: Poor man's way to roll the body shell

Thanks for the insights, fellas. I had thought about the need for bracing the door openings, but wasn't sure if it would be necessary. That's why I come here to ask you guys who have a whole lot of experience that I don't. I would be heartbroken if I did something stupid due to a very tight budget that ruined a project that I have waited 30 years to do. Thanks again.
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:56 AM
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I have never seen anyone do it, but would wonder what the condition of the quarters will be after that.

Aaron
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Old 09-17-2006, 07:59 AM
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My '31 Brookville needs to be finished "underneath" as well and as it is a roadster, the only strength the off-frame body has is the body framework, which is nothing more than a sheet metal 'c' section. It is especially floppy once the doors have been removed, like now, disassembled for paint removal and painting. Currently it is resting on a 4x4 wood framework and a dolly to move it around. To finish off, I will be raising it up on specially made saw horses and crawing around underneath it to do what ever work that needs to be done. I'm not looking forward to doing that but the potential of doing major damage is just too great. I'll be changing the wood 4x4 frame to a 1.5x1.5 tubular steel frame to remove some of the bulk of the wood. Preping and painting will still be a messy, time consuming and tiring job , but will eliminate any potential damage (and I need the steel tubing to build a trailer for this car anyhow - there is no trunk room to speak of).
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:55 AM
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Structural integrity can be a funny thing.

In 1980, I had a 75 Dodge Dart 2-dr sedan, and noticed that the doors would bind when it was up on the hoist. "Hmmm..." I thought.

Shortly after that, I saw a Cordoba (?) of about the same year come into the dealership's body shop on the back of a tow truck. The doors had been removed, and the owner had cut the roof off of it ... presumably trying to make it into a convertible.

Let's just say that the back bumper was up near the top of the towing boom, and the front fenders were parallel to the ground.
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Old 09-17-2006, 10:14 AM
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Back in the early 80's, the wrecker services started using trucks with "wheel lifts", rather than the old "slings". One of the main reasons for that was that there were cars that would buckle the quarter panels if picked up with a sling from the rear. Of course, now days, all of the bumpers are painted plastic materials, and you wouldn't want to pick them up that way anyway.

Although you look at a car and think they are pretty sturdy built, they aren't what you think. Once everything is removed from the body, it will loose alot of strength. Unless picking it up, and supporting it from the natural points, I would make sure there is plenty of supports built in to prevent further damage.

Aaron
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Old 09-17-2006, 10:25 AM
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I built a simple rotisserie for my 68 Pyro-Pigeon, but its a coupe. It was easy, inexpensive, and didnt take much time. You can look at it on my site...maybe itll give you some ideas. But you definitely need to run a few braces on a vert like TexasSpeed said. I would run one along the top of the door opening straight across for the best strength, as high as possible. It sure beats the heck outta layin on your back and workin overhead lol.
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