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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #1
I just brought home a 1953 Chevy convertible Monday that is 100% there. 100% there except for the bottom 6 inches that is. I have always built rusty cars no one else wanted but have tried to do a quality job of repairing them on a budget.

The key wordhere is budget. I admit to being frugal but friends all say I am cheap. Whatever, for me to be able to enjoy this hobby I must be able to build the car and have my money invested, not just spent

The cost of replacement floor pans, floor braces, inner rockers, outer rockers, lower quarter panels, tow boards, trunk pan, rear pan extension, tail pan, and rear splash apron is well over 3000 dollars. That is money that will buy front suspension, rear axle, and good buildable engine. Maybe even a complete parts car.

I have basic sheet metal tools but nothing exotic. Small 3' brake, Shrinker/stretcher jaws, home made slip roll, and a home made english wheel and 110v mig welder.

My purpose here is to show the new hot rodder who is apprehensive about what he can do what is possible with a little time and patience and not much money.

Below is the patient. She has stage four cancer but we are going to try to save her. If we don't who will? :mwink:








So far I have stripped the inside, removed the front fenders and adjusted the doors. If the body shifts or moves during the build process I want to know it before everything gets welded together. Frequently checking door gaps will let me make sure it has not moved.




Tomorrow I plan to cut the toe boards loose from the front floor brace and expose the brace. The first job will be to remove the brace and reproduce it.

I hope you guys follow along and feel free to comment share thoughts, opinions, etc.

 

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Collector of "someday" cars
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I'm now subscribed to this thread...:cool:
Any way to weld tube braces from the dash to rear wheel wells or door pillars to prevent the body from flexing ??
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #3
I'm now subscribed to this thread...:cool:
Any way to weld tube braces from the dash to rear wheel wells or door pillars to prevent the body from flexing ??
I will do that down the road. First I will build all 4 braces and the floor pan assembly. By having the doors on I can check them to see if the body tries to move. Then I will brace the car well before I unbolt it from the frame so it doesn't fold up or move on me. Also, I will pretty much have the entire assembly made along with inner rockers before I join them to the car to limit the effect of shrinkage when it is welded up. That way any stresses on the floor pan will not transmitted to the body.

John
 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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Going to be a good project. :D

Brian
 
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Looks like the kind of car I always fall for...Well, mabee a LITTLE nicer at least the car dont drop 2" when you open the door...The only thing more fun than doing this kind of work is WATCHING someone else do this kind of work. Thanks John I was getting a bit bored.....:thumbup:
 

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boatbob2
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1,385 Posts
Bracing the body.....

IF possible,I would save the trans tunnel,and make the front floor in 2 pieces welded to that tunnel.USE 5/8 in re-bar welded in, to X the body so it doesn't flex,front to rear,and side to side,IF the rockers need replacing those re-bars will need help to insure it doesn't move around,4 or 6 jack stands should help,looks like a very interesting project...;)
 

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Hammer torch chisel...
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I'd brace it after I got the doors square. That is going to move all over the place when you cut out the floors. That's my 2 cents.
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #9
I'd brace it after I got the doors square. That is going to move all over the place when you cut out the floors. That's my 2 cents.
Since this is a convertible there is no broblem with it moving at this point. If I am not able to get to all the damage in the bottom of the cowl I may even pop the windshield, pull the cowl assembly off and turn it upside down. after the braces and the lower structure is repaired I could reinstall it. Shim it. Hang the doors back and then tie it into the rockers. We will see how it goes. Unlike a sedan you don't have to worry about it shrinking. Until it is tied into the rockers it is a seperate unit from the rear body section.

Obviously It must be braced very well before it can be taken of the frame. When it is ready, I will cross brace it horizontally and vertically.

John I didn't notice a cherry picker do you need to use on to set the engine out or will you leave it in to keep ride height level, great project .
I do David. Thanks. The truth of the matter is I couldn't wait to see how bad this thing was and have the cart befor the horse a bit. I also need to protect the windshield. A grinder will ruin a windshield in a heartbeat from a lot further away than you would think.
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #10
I still have not decided for sure whether I am going to pull the cowl of the car. I did get the two front RH braces out of her today.

The good news is the A pillar support is in excellent shape. I took some patience to get the floor board loose from it since it is sandwiched between the frame support and the a pillar support.

Here is a shot of they A pillar support that I was able to leave in tact.



These are two braces I removed and will have to reproduce. The long one is not repopped as far As I know. The shorter one (second picture) is, but 2 of them are 140 dollars. Let's see what I can do.






The bad news is the lower A pillar structure is gone. I will have to remove part of the outer skin to get to the inner structure. Both sides are so bad I don't have a really good pattern. Of course the key is building it in such a way it is strong, looks factory. provides lower attachment point for the front fender and provides a strong connection for inner and outer rockers.

This picture is hard to visualize. You can see the corner of the door. The area to the right and down from the door is the bottom of the A pillar.... Or lack there of.

Turn the picture about 45 degrees to the right and it is easier to understand it.

 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #12
.....

Might want to find a cheap 4 door for cowl/pillar parts
That is very good advice. I am looking for a picture that shows it now. There are several builds on the hamb.

This thread and project is about the budget build so I probably will go anead and fabricate them. That doesn't mean it is the smart thing though.:D

John L
 

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John when I was restoring 55-57 chevys ,I ordered from a place in Florida ,Titusville,, Classic Chevy International,, if I remember correct ,they have ANY and Every part for tri fives ,they were starting Late and great chevy for 58 -64 but now the have 52-54 parts ,They offer Ne as well as Good used parts ,might want to check it out.:D
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #14
John when I was restoring 55-57 chevys ,I ordered from a place in Florida ,Titusville if I remember correct ,they have ANY and Every part for tri fives ,they were starting Late and great chevy for 58 -64 but now the have 52-54 parts ,They offer Ne as well as Good used parts ,might want to check it out.:D
Thanks. I may decide I need to go that route. We will see when I get this opened up. I had to go get my Bead roller tonight. I had loaned it to my nephew awhile back. It was hard to quit and climb into the shower this afternoon.

John
 

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Premium Member
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Always great to see another one getting saved... Looking forward to seeing it come together... I know how you are feeling...:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
 

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Collector of "someday" cars
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John, I respect that you want to meet the challenge of fabricating as much as possible and as "frugally" as you can. The area where that toe board, cowl, pillar, rocker, etc. etc. come together is critical to the overall alignment of the surrounding panels and structural integrity. I had the same scenario when I got into my '67 GTO. There are 7 LAYERS of metal all joined in that area. I took the "easy" way out and bought cut offs from donor cars. Makes the rest of the job much easier to work from.

The background somewhat hides details but the pillar piece on the left is what I cut out and the right is a mint donor from Oklahoma.


This is what I cut out to get to good metal. You can see what is left of the frame under the floor. It was completely rusted off.


With one, intact piece, I was able to move on to the body mount and outer rocker replacements. I staggered the cut to avoid one straight weld line inside and out. I felt this would provide more strength and minimize warpage from welding. I did this to both sides.


OK, no more "unsolicited advice " from me, unless you ask...
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #17
I appreciate all advice and opinions. putting a new post on certainly would work well but that is not easy either. You have to find a REALLY GOOD one, cut it off, cut yours off and then you still have to open yours up to weld it in so that it has strength.

If I had a good one in my hand I probably would use it but I am not going to go looking for a 60 year old lower A pillar that is rock solid. Hey, this is the part I like, unlike most people.

My friends like to do the Fab work or build engines. I like the metal work. I know I am strange.

As far as unsolicited advice goes, I did solicit it at the beginning of this thread. I promise not to be offended by those who dissagree with what I am doing and I hope no one is upset if I truck along following my vision of what I want to do. Having fun is what this hobby is all about. :thumbup:

John
 

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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #18
I trimmed the front rh A pillar until I got to solid metal. It is in pretty good shape from here up. As you can see from the pictures I have made my first piece. It still has to be scribed trimmed and welded. I will not trim the bottom to length until it is welded in. That way I can know it will fit after I make the piece it joins. Also, larger pieces will not get as hot and when you are welding so difficult angles it will not blow through quite as easily.

I also ordered a set of outer rockers today. They are not too expensive and it will help me to position the inner rockers in the right space. I started another post concerning the odd way GM built the rockers but did not get any replies.

John



 

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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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Oh yeah, you have some work to do! I have been thinking about how I am going to handle the rust in my trucks cab........I feel a lot better now. Take some photos a little further back from where you took that last photo. I see the door hinge up there so I have an idea of where you are but would like a little better grasp of it.

Brian
 
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Slow but willing learner
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Discussion Starter #20
Oh yeah, you have some work to do! I have been thinking about how I am going to handle the rust in my trucks cab........I feel a lot better now. Take some photos a little further back from where you took that last photo. I see the door hinge up there so I have an idea of where you are but would like a little better grasp of it.

Brian
Here you go.





 
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