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Mutt's37Buick 03-13-2013 04:08 PM

Replacing wood in body with steel
I'm preparing to replace the wood framing on sides and over the doors of my 37 Roadmaster with steel.
I'll then begin to replace some the wood in the doors themselves.
I know that the 38 & newer Roadmaster and Centurys had steel framing in these areas.
1) Does anyone happen to have pictures of this steel framing in the Buick models that they could provide.
2) Does anyone happen to have pictures of steel framing they fabricated to eliminate wood frame in a vehicle?

MARTINSR 03-13-2013 04:29 PM

We did this in my brothers 22 Buick Roadster body and I may have a few photos and will check. What we did was not try to duplicate the look or shape of the original wood at all, we simply made metal pieces that would do the same job, which is two totally different things. We used 1" tubing for instance around the back of the body behind the seat. The wood that went here was something like a 2x3 curved piece. So we bent the tubing over a jig and welded it to the lip of the body. The door jambs were made of 1/8" thick 2x2 angle iron. With one side of the angle simply cut and ground to fit the curvature of the body. So the inside of the door was flat, the door wood was replaced the same way of course. 1" tubing across under the dash board which we made from scratch looking just like the original. 1" tubing ran around the bottom of the body with some cross braces and it worked out like a charm. The doors are solid as rocks, original (repro) hinges with single side "Bear claw" latches. We cut the hole out for the hinge to sit in then simply backed the hole with 1/8" flat stock so the hinge was recessed in just like it sat in a routed out hole in the wood. :D

So that is how we did it, I have replaced wood in a couple Model A bodies, same way.

But the slickest I have ever seen was a 36 Chevy four door sedan I worked on one time 35 years ago (I painted it). This dude had replaced all the wood with thin sheetmetal (16 gauge or so) made to look like the pieces of wood! It was friggin amazing and a work of art. He literally took the pieces of wood and duplicated the shape in a metal "box" like structure. He did this with large holes punched in the metal looking like the inside of a friggin WWII war bird. :mwink: It was slick.

So you could do it either way, doing it the way this guy did is in a way easier, it would just take longer. You simply have to duplicate what you have right in front of you. no re-engineering. The way we did it was quicker, did the exact same thing but isn't nearly as pretty. It does look pretty much like what they would have done if it had used metal from the beginning, nothing special. That 36 Chevy looked like friggin art and it was a shame to cover it with the upholstery.

One of the most important things of course is that the body is in it's proper shape before you do any kind of final welding. The doors are a mutha on those cars and get all twisted out of shape over the years. So the shape that it is now with the wood is likely not what it needs to be.

Anyway, there is some ideas for you to mull around until you get some more info and make an educated decision on how you want to go about it.


Mutt's37Buick 03-13-2013 04:51 PM

Thanks for your help.
I want to do this the quickest way possible and the method that you used with tubing and angle iron at the door jams at the makes sense to me.
I could weld a strip on the ouitside curved side of the door jams to make it stiffer like a channel.
The piece that wraps around the front of the rear wheel well is the one that seems most difficult because it is a tight curve around the wheel well and a second, gentler, curve on the outside edge.
Can tubing be bent in that tight of a curve or is there a different approach for that section?

DanTwoLakes 03-13-2013 06:26 PM

Be careful what you do here. The interior over the doors was probably nailed in place, so you need to account for that before you eliminate all the wood. I'm not saying you can't replace all the wood with steel, only that you need to have a way to attach the headliner, windlace, and any panels that were attached to the wood.

MARTINSR 03-13-2013 06:27 PM

Here is how you can make a curved part. I just quickly did this so it isn't pretty but you will get the idea. You would make templates not much different than these. Make a template of the shape and then cut it down to the width you need. Transfer it's shape to metal and cut it out of the metal. Then get a piece of flat stock the width you want and bend it to the shape of the curved pieces edge. Keep shaping it until it fits well then weld them together, wham, curved "tubing". You could make actual tubing by making two metal pieces of the curved one and with two pieces of flat stock make bent tubing!

On the tubing you need thick wall tube as it will be less likely to kink. Bend it over a large radius using leverage of a much longer piece slipped over it. Believe it or not you can bend 1/8" wall 1" tube pretty easy if you have enough leverage.

But not knowing how tight of a bend you need to make, it may not be possible as it will still buckle. But it takes a little experiments anyway so get at it. :D

Remember that where it is common for the wood to touch the back side of the other skin, you don't want your metal to so that as it will likely be seen on the outside after some use, keep it away from the skin a bit and you can weld it or even bolt it with small machine screws. Being you are using 1/8" or so thick metal you can drill and tap holes and hold it to the lip of the metal on the body with machine screws.


MARTINSR 03-13-2013 06:29 PM


Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes (Post 1656546)
Be careful what you do here. The interior over the doors was probably nailed in place, so you need to account for that before you eliminate all the wood. I'm not saying you can't replace all the wood with steel, only that you need to have a way to attach the headliner, windlace, and any panels that were attached to the wood.

Good point, holes drilled in the new metal with your regular old interior clips on the panels to pop into them and that is all there is to it.


DanTwoLakes 03-14-2013 07:29 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Also look as Au-Ve-Co 12134 clips. I have a lot better luck with them than the 10780 clips in the first picture.

timothale 03-14-2013 07:53 AM

steeling a body
we replaced the wood in my son's 22 dodge lakester and the 29 nash roadster. I used my old HF pipe bender and the round dies. I marked the sq tubing every inch and slid the pipe along each inch, with the round dies, just hold the tubing square, jack a little and watch the end move, then to the next spot, and work till it matches the patterns on a cardboard sheet. Cboy shows some dies he made to make tight radius bends in his eBook. here on hotrodders. He even made a large plywood "die" screwed to the side of his garage and a come-a -long to bend a long curve on one of his cars.

Mutt's37Buick 03-15-2013 02:33 PM

Thanks everyone for your help. You have given me some good inf to start with.

Mutt's37Buick 03-15-2013 05:36 PM

Brian Martin mentioned that I should not have the frame directly against the outside skin, or it will show.
Does this include the door jams?
Is it possible to put a different material in between the frame and the door jam to provide continous support?

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