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Part 6: Cross Member Modification
Unfortunately, I do not have any pics before or during this modification so I will have to substitute a thousand words. Basically, I measured the x rails and had a local sheet metal company bend a 6 foot length of channel of the same dimensions. I also took the dimensions of the two cross braces and had a 3 foot length of that bent. Next, I tacked a couple of pieces of 2"x3/8" flat steel across the top of the frame rails and the x rails so they would stay in place when the center section was cut out. After careful measurements and marking, I used a Sawzall to make the cuts. Because of the close quarters between the frame rails, the new section of the cross member would require the channel lips face out vice in so the lap joints were a little more innovative. I chose the added strength of lap joints vice butt welds. I then fitted and bolted in the new cross braces, followed by tack welding to make the section more rigid. The top cross bar is 2"x3/8" flat steel arched for drive shaft clearance and is welded in place. The lower bar is of the same flat steel, but it is bolted in and drilled to accept the tranny mount. I am watching this area to see if I may need to beef up any of the pieces.
The "new" 383 power plant and tranny are fitted in. New motor mounts were made and tacked in. The cab had been removed for the cross member work and had to be placed back on to ensure proper clearance. This was the first off-on-off of the cab and several more to go! Note the big notch at the front of the cross member. I did this on both sides to make more room for the exhaust header pipes. Previously, the pipes had run below the frame. I took 2''x2"x1/4" tubing and made a strong bridge over the exhaust pipe. This ideal was stolen from a local professional custom rod builder that builds very low riding units. Note the inner fender panel on this pickup. This is solid metal and there is no heat escape. You can see where I have roughed in 3 large louvers to let some of the compartment heat escape to the fender well.
Click here for Part 7: The Cab
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