Rock solid pillar, sort of



Before I can get the rocker in it’s final place I had to replace the front pillar. This was a little intimidating because If the pillar is not placed on right then the door is guaranteed not to fit or function properly. Previously I measured the distance from center hole to center hole and demarked it using painters tape. I placed the new pillar over the existing pillar and marked the existing pillar. Then I cut off the old pillar about half an inch below that line. This meant I was going to have to trim the new pillar to fit correctly in place.

When the old pillar is cut of it has the door mount still attached.


After I got it removed I was able to weld it back onto the new pillar. This was actually slightly tricky. I had to make sure the bolt holes centered up to the holes that were in the new pillar.



After some effort though I got it to match just perfectly.



I then measured from center line to the edge of where I cut it off. I took the difference from hat measurement to figure out how much I needed to cut off the new pillar. I carefully measured, marked and cut away the excess material. I actually made several passes just to make sure I did not cut off too much.

Once I got the part cut just right I clamped it in place and carefully aligned it so that it matched the existing contour of the pillar. I measured the center hole to center hole to make sure that it was in as exactly the right place as possible.


I tacked welded the pillar in place in preparation for checking that the door will work correctly before I finish welding it in place. That will be for another day




The first repair!



Well, finally I got to repair something. So far the project has been all about tear down and some cleanup. This is the first time I replace some defective, crusty, rusty old part with something new. Very exciting!

I fit the replacement inner cab panel such hat it followed the existing contour of the cab floor. Then I clamped as best as possible the new panel into place. I tack welded it into place and removed the clamps. I then put the rocker in place and roughed it in.



I thought it would be easier to fit the rocker at the same time as the inner panel because they but up to each other. This led to an interesting issue, knowing exactly where the rocker should be positioned horizontally. I researched several pictures and basically had to make a best educated guess. I had to adjust and even trim the edge that overlapped the inner cab corner a bit to get it to sit right where I wanted it. Then I clamped the rocker in place and tack welded it in to place.

As best as I could, I welded the inner cab panel completely into place. I also welded the rocker to the inner cab corner and the pillar to the rocker.



After welding was done I ground the welds as smooth as possible



I did have to weld and grind, weld and grind several time to get it as close smooth as I could. Ultimately my welding is just not good enough at this point to be real pretty. That’s one of the reasons I started with this inner cab corner. no one will ever see it because it is behind the seat and at an odd angle so it cant be see. It was good practice though.



I finally got everything as smooth as I can get it. Not perfect, but ok, mostly



I used a sanding disk to clean off the entire piece



Lastly I painted the entire part as well as the pillar and part of the cab floor in a product called POR-15. This is an older product I just happened to have on hand. I also have a product called KBS that I will be using on the frame, but I wanted to use both for comparison. I have to say the POR-15 product applied very well. The POR-15 product did not require any stirring even though it has been sitting on a shelf for quite some time (like years). I opened the KBS product and it will require significant stirring before using. I don’t think that relates to quality in any way though.

In any case here is the finished replacement inner cab corner.



I did weld the rocker to the cab floor but did not go much further. Again my welds, not so good. It is going to take some doing to get it pretty.


First fitting


I decided to go back to the cab today. I test fitted the rocker and the inner cab corner pieces on the cab.



Next I blasted everything that was to be welded and eventually painted. You can see the great job the blaster does on the rear pillar.



I blasted everything on the inside. The blast media makes quite a mess. I finally got smart and started wearing long sleeves. After each blast session I sweep up the media for recycling.


What a blast

It’s been real rainy for some time. Texas has gotten more rain this month than during any month on record. some places got more than over 8″ in one night. A few months ago we were in the midst of a serious drought, today all the lakes are bursting their dams (some literally). Anyway the humidity has made it hella-hard to use the sand blaster. The humidity has just been too high. Even on the few days we have not had rain, the big sand blaster has been useless. It gets clogged, gums up, etc. I bought two line dehumidifiers but it was no use. I will just have to wait for better weather.

I was able to get momentarily of the sand blaster working. I used a glass bead media. It does a really good job, but I have learned the compressor I bought is not quite up to the task. by the time I get the settings right I am out of air. So I purchased a small media gun kit from Harbor Freight. It does a much better job. It is easier to hold and works great if you just make short blasts. It is also adjustable to regulate the amount of media released. I also started using a “coal slag” instead of glass bead. It costs about a fifth of the same weight of glass bead. The grain size of the coal slag is also much larger so it is easier to contain, I think. In general I think I prefer the coal slag.

I am going to give the larger media blaster another try when the weather drys out, but so far I like the $20 gun much better than the $300 unit.

This is what the coal slag looks like. I put all he media in a small trash can. I use a strainer scoop to transfer small amounts to a funnel that I use to fill the small hopper on the media gun.



This is the $20 media gun I am using. It seems to do a really good job, but it is slow. I can only get about a square foot before running out of air. I like to let the air compressor sit for about 5 minutes before doing another section in order to not exceed the duty cycle.



It does a good job. I tried it out on the cab front. I “drew” a line to mark an edge. Then blasted everything below that edge.



It does a good job getting everything off, but does take some time. It also leave a slight texture on the metal which I assume would be good for bonding with the acid etch or paint.


Ridding the rocker


Finally starting some repair. I placed the replacement panel as tightly to the cab as possible to get a good idea where the edge of the new panel was compared to the existing cab. Then I traced the panel with a sharpie onto the cab. I Next I used a cutoff wheel on the angle grinder to make quick work cutting out the old cab corner. Not that I cut about half an inch or more to the inside of the line I drew.



I did have to drill out the spot welds on the edge of the rear pillar. Once I did the cab corner came right off. I am not sure if the bottom of the cab corner was originally welded to the inner cab corner or not. The inner cab corner was very badly rusted. Luckily the rear pillar looked to be in good shape.




I drilled out the spot welds on the rocker and inner cab panel. After all the spot welds were removed the rocker and inner cab panel came out fairly easy. Thee rocker was tack welded to the rear pillar. I had to cut away part o the rocker to get it all out and the grind the rear pillar to remove the left over rocker pieces


Because lasers

I spent some time researching on the internet how to approach basic body repair, read several books, and asked some friends how they approached their rebuilds. There is lots of good information out there, but it seemed to me to be a lot of different opinions and not a lot of definitive “step by step” instructions.. Basically what I got out of it was. brace everything, mark your dimensions before you cut anything and take lots of pictures from many different angles for reference.

I knew I was going to be cutting out the rocker, the front pillar, the inner and out left cab corners, and the floor pan was already out. I was concerned that this would leave the the front of the cab rather unsupported, even with bracing that I welded on. So I mad a little wooden support and bolted it to the front of the cab though an existing hole.


Here you can see the floor pan removed. It was just pop riveted in place. You can also see the damage to the front door pillar.


I was not sure how to measure the pillar position in order to get the replacement spot on. I guessed that the new part would “line up” horizontally to the contour of the existing frame, but figuring out how to measure how much of the new pillar to cut off took me awhile. in the end I decided to place a piece of painters tape down the length of the pillar. I then measured the distance from center hole to center hole and made a note. later I validated that distance in the Shop manual.



I also used a laser to help draw a line from one center to the other just for visual reference. Lastly I made a note of the distance on the tape.



This is just what the laser looks like. Not sure the llaser line does a lot for me but hey lasers are cool right?



My own Dexter room

I have never worked with a sandblaster before. Everyone talks about how that stuff gets everywhere. In order to try and keep the mess to a minimum I decided to tarp off the work area in order to make a sandblasting / paint room. It was pretty easy actually, just duct taped tarps to the scaffolding and/or the outside of the garage door tracks. I also tabled some plastic from the outside of the garage tracks to the ceiling.  I taped up pretty much every hole I could.


After getting most of it done I pushed everything back inside to make sure nothing got in the way.


Here you can see the plastic from the garage door rail to the ceiling


I played around with the sand blaster a bit, but I could not get it to work right. It has been raining here a lot lately so that may be part of the issue. I am planning on adding an additional filter to the air line. I also need to build a sifting screen to try and reclaim as much of the sand as possible.

If the weather does not cooperate then I will just start on body work until it gets dryer and hotter (which it inevitably will here in Texas)

Cab go scooty, scooty

With the frame ready for rebuilding and put aside until I learn enough to do that, I really want to get to restoring the cab. It will be too difficult restoring it and other parts whit the cab hanging from the scaffolding. So I built a small box to set the frame on. I specifically built it in such a way that the frame can easily slide underneath it when I pack everything away. I am only guessing that the structure is sturdy enough to hold the cab. I did try to put some cross bracing to prevent the sides from wanting to slip outward under the weight. I cut the box to the size necessary so that the cab support point rest right across the 2×4 as close to right above the casters as possible.


Here you can better see what the plan is for being able to move the frame in and out… and the shop dog approves (or is at least ambivalent).


I hoisted the cab as high a I could, just to the point that the roof was touching the garage door armature. I then cut the height of the box to the maximum height I could by measuring the distance from the bottom of the cab supports to the ground, subtracting the height of the casters and a little more just for clearance. I measured 27″ from rail to ground, minus 5 inches for the caster. This left 22 inches (not counting wiggle room). I measured the swing jacks at their lowest position and I had about 4 inches of play. Awesome!

Finally I rolled the stand under the cab and slowly lowered it onto the pedestal.


A few minutes later I was easily able to wheel it out of the garage and get a good look all the around and under it. If you look close at the previous pic you will notice that the 2×4 I used to run the ropes over, “the scaffolding” were in the way. I had to remove that 2×4 to get the cab out. It was a minor oversight in my plan but all in all it worked out fine.


Here is the garage space with both pieces wheeled out to the drive. Lots of room!


Nekid pics

Well the frame  is ‘nekid’ and on skates. Now I can prepare to build it back up. I think the frame will need some repair but I don’t know yet. I am still learning. Like I said when I started this, I don’t know what I am doing. I have never done this before. I read everything I can from the internet and from some books I got at Half-Price Books.

Getting the rear shackles off was a bit of a chore. There was no real trick or secret to it, just be careful. Take your time.


The place where the rear leaf spring shackles contacts the frame had some significant rust. Most of the rust was from the shackle, not the frame. but there is definitely some frame rusting. I need to find some ‘experts’ and see what they have to say about repair. Do I worry about it or just clean it off and move forward. Personally I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the projects I work on. That’s frequently a flaw, not necessarily a good thing. My inner voice is saying ‘fill it all in. don’t stop until it’s perfect’



One more defect is that the rear cross member has an ever so slight bend in it. This was damage, I assume, from the tow hitch that mounted to it. I measured the frame distance from side rail to side rail and did not discern any variation (I can only measure down to 1/64″). I would think that good but who knows. I am not equipped to do frame straightening anyway. It will have to do. I may be removing the cross member anyway. This is the member that had some rust under the mount between the cross member and the rail. It may also get replaced as part of the effort when I box in the rails.


Here, Ripley the shop dog is surveying my work.
If you look close you will see where I started on the topic of my next post 🙂


Strippin down, gettin skinny

With everything separated I wanted to get the frame as nude as possible. This means removing everything except the frame rails and the cross members. Everything fits pretty well in the garage but once the side step supports and leaf springs are removed it will all fit much better.


The boy saw how much fun I was having grinding the heads off of the rivets and wanted to give it a shot. That lasted about 2 minutes and then he had had enough of that


There are several ways I read abut getting the rivets out. Some suggested using a cutting disk to cut a cross in the head and then using an impact driver to pop them off. I did not have an impact driver so I resorted to the other commonly described method, grinding the head away completely. I found this to be an easy task and worked fairly quickly. It took about a minute per rivet head. Once the head was ground down smooth to the frame you could see the outline of where the rivet is. I used a vise grip and a large bolt I had laying around to drive out the rivet. The bolt I used was about 4 inches long, I think it was a 3/4″ maybe 5/8″ bolt. I ground the end to a rounded nub. I clamped the vise grip to the bolt. While placing the tip of the bolt on the rivet and holding the vise grip I struck the end of the bolt head with a handheld 5lb sledge hammer. Several rivets took more than one hit to get them out but the did all come out.



I removed all the side step arms and the leaf spring shackles. I eventually also removed the cab supports you see here. I will caution one thing, some of the rivets hold not only things links the leaf spring shackle. Some simultaneously hold parts of the cross members. I decided that it is likely I will eventually need to remove the cross members in order to repair parts of the frame, and to box in the side rails. I did notice rust between on cross member and the rail that may need to be repaired. I don’t want to remove the cross members though until I weld some angle iron braces across the frame

to help keep the dimensions true.


After all the parts were removed and the frame about as nude as it gets I will need to replace the grinding wheel. Here is a new one compared to the finished wheel.