Monday, June 20, 2011

I can't weld Part 2

Well, I welded in the first small patch.  This was for that hole in the dashboard I discovered after removing the windshield.  Overall it went better than I expected, although I have MUCH room for improvement.

The first thing to do is cut a pattern for the patch from cardboard.  In this case, a noble Mt. Dew case sacrificed its lid.  My patch pattern wasn't the greatest, but it worked OK.


Next, cut the patch metal.  I picked up a small sheet of sheet steel from Lowe's.  I just traced the pattern on the steel, and cut it with a 1/8" cutoff wheel on my grinder.  Easy money.

You can see the patch is a little wonky, but I thought it was OK.  In the future, I won't leave any gaps larger than 1/8", since it takes a lot more time to fill those.  I need to pick up some big magnets, and some vice grips for some of this sheet metal work.

Next come the tack welds.  Then more tack welds.  Then, when you burn through, even more tack welds.  Until they all run together.  For those who are interested, I'm running 0.025 solid wire with C25.  I think I may have had the gas a little on the lean side this time.  I have had it set at about 20cfh.  The welder is set at 1 and a hair under 30.

Then you grind it off all pretty.  When I get around to it, I'll fill this and smooth it out with the fiberglas type body filler that gives the welded seams even more strength.

So, not a total disaster, but I definitely am just beginning to learn how to do this.  I figure if I really screw up this part, it will be an easy fix in the future.  I may end up replacing the entire dash panel.  That can be done without completely gutting the car.  But I'd rather take a stab at this, and keep as much of that old iron as possible.

I did find one other very small looking spot that rusted through as well.  I will probably have to hit the whole edge of that dash panel with a wire wheel and see if I cant track down all the little spots.  Hopefully there's nothing any worse than what I've found so far.  The only problem is that the rust you see is only a small fraction of the rust that may really be down under there. . .  And there's only one way to find out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I can't weld

Well, I finally got a gas bottle, and got that little Hobart 140 set up.  I ended up using .030 solid wire with C25, because the Hobart wouldn't run the .023.  However, I'm going to see if I can get a drive wheel that will work with the smaller wire.  I think it would be about perfect for much of this restoration work.

I got some practice by cleaning and cutting holes in some of the old exhaust pipe.  You can see just how bad I am at this, but I think I'll get the hang of it.  I wasn't able to ever run a bead, so I just tried the spot-welding method recommended for sheet metal.

Just make spot welds until you have the whole filled.  Worked quite well, but you can see I'm a long way from making pretty welds.  But I'm not too disappointed--it's really only the second time I've tried this.  I think the thing that helped the most was getting the tip of the welder down to about 1/2 an inch or so from the material.  It made a huge difference.  You can see from the stray wire that it took me a few times to figure it out.  Thank the good lord for flap disks.

After hacking away at the exhaust pipe for awhile, I grabbed one of the old body panels and cut some similar lines in it.  The spot welding technique seemed to work perfectly, although you can see I was in a bit of a hurry, and there was some minor panel distortion.  While doing the roof and quarter panels, I will take it much more slowly, and have a much larger seam to work with.  That will really help when jumping around with the spots.  I'm going to do some more practice welds, and then tackle that small patch on the dash panel.  Should be interesting. . .

This is the backside of the welds on the sheet metal. . .

And after grinding a bit.  I really want to give this a shot with the .023 wire and gas.  I think with some more practice, I'll have this down.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crap welds by the UAW?

I don't know if these welds came from the factory this way, but I'm 99.995% sure this car never had any serious bang-ups.  If that's the case, what a sloppy ass job of welding.  I'll be fixing some of this as I get the sub-frame prepped to go back on the car.  Also, there's about an inch and a half of gunk on some of this crap.  It's going to take some time to clean it up.  However, I did get one good surprise--I haven't found any real rust or serious problems so far on the subframe.  There are some spots where the original undercoating is still good (down under the gunk).

Nasty surprise

For every good surprise, there are at least two nasty surprises.  Or three, maybe four.  Anyway, while pulling out the old windshield, I found an ugly little rust spot where the window meets the dashboard.  I don't think replacing the panel or patching the hole will be a big deal, but it was a little unexpected.

Pulling the windshield itself is pretty easy.  The important thing is to have the right kind of knife.  you need something long, flexible and strong.  I used an inexpensive linoleum knife from Harbor Freight.  It turned out to be the perfect tool for the job.  All you have to do is score the seal on the outside, then reach inside and cut the rest of the way through.  You want to take your time, and wear heavy gloves.  That linoleum knife can do wicked things to your fingers if you slip.

Once the windshield seal is cut, the glass will just pop right up out of there.  If you're strong, it's an easy 1-man job.  However, you definitely want a helping hand for putting new glass back in.  But don't be afraid to try--doing a windshield really isn't that tough.

That second pic gives you an idea of the mayhem caused by that nasty vinyl top.  I will say that vinyl tops are the work of Satan.  I know grandma had one on this car from the get-go, but it ain't going to ever have one again while I own it.  Anyway, here's a pic of the worst part of the roof.  At the very least I'll need a new roof skin, and I may need to replace the front roof support.  I won't know for sure until I get in there and rip the headliner out and cut off that section of the roof.  Expect the worst, so that any surprises you get are pleasant ones, right?

The heart of the . . . beast

Saturday, I pulled the engine.  There is a great equipment rental place right close to my house, and they rented me the engine hoist for a very reasonable $35 or so.  I began by cutting out the exhaust, as all of the clamps/bolts were too rusted to wrench on.  And regardless of what I do with the engine, it will be getting dual pipes down the road.

After cutting out the exhaust, it was a simple matter to disconnect the shift and throttle linkage to the engine.  Next, I removed the driveline and unbolted the tranny from the crossmember.

Here you can see one of the engine mounts.  I thought at first I could just undo them, but in the end it was easier to completely remove the mounts.  There are only 3 9/16 bolts on each mount, and you have to get your arm up in the suspension to get a wrench on the inside to turn them out.  Not very difficult at all.

After it's all unbolted, the engine slides right out.  No muss, no fuss.  I do admit, I could've chained it up a little better, but it worked just fine this way.  However, I would definitely chain it up properly for re-installation, as you'd need a lot more careful control to line everything up right.  You don't need much in the way of finesse to yank that sucker out of there.

The real bad thing was all the nasty rusted coolant that poured out of that engine.  I dread to even think of what it looks like on the inside.  But, if I do rebuild the 250 instead of a 4200 Vortec, I'll have the block cleaned up and some machine work done.  Shouldn't be a problem---just takes time and money!

Once it's out, things look pretty empty in there.  One thing about it, the car looks smaller every time I take something off.

Then engine is sitting on some blocks.  I'll cover it, and keep it around while I make up my mind whether or not to do the 4200 Vortec.  I really like the idea of a modern straight six and a four or five-speed automatic in this car.  When I'm finished, I want it to be something you can get up out on the highway and eat up some road.
The only thing is, I haven't ever re-assembled an engine, and I'd like to have a go at it.  I could add fuel injection and electronic ignition to that 250, maybe run it with a Megasquirt.  But I think it would turn more heads with that Vortec under the hood. . .  Gotta keep thinking on that one.
One thing's for sure:  That Powerglide has got to go.  Maybe I'll put it up on KSL.  I know some folks use them in drag cars, and I really hate to throw perfectly good equipment away.