Friday, May 17, 2013

Rear frame're outta here!

Had fun this week.  Had to practice my welding skills up on the roof repairing some holes that were in my swamp cooler water pan.  It was "fun" hauling the welder up and down the ladder.  Previous owners didn't seem to care to much about it.  Why can't people do their regular maintenance on things like that?  A little prevention prevents a lot of problems. One of those great rules about life and cars. And swamp coolers apparently.

Anyway, I spent the last couple of weeks doing this and that.  Also I worked on the car.  After taking every conceivable measurement that I could come up with using a plumb bob, level, tape, and the good old eyeball, I removed the rear driver's side frame rail from the car.  That's the short version.  The long version involves a lot of grinding, pounding, scraping, drilling, cussing, rust showers, and some blood here and there.

You'll see in the pictures just how far gone this rail really is.  I am surprised it hadn't just fallen off the car on its own.  Next step is to remove the shock mount so that I can properly get the new rail aligned and to fix the rust issues that were caused by this deterioration on the frame rail.  I will probably end up getting a new shock mount, but I think I can save the transition pan with just patches.  We'll see what happens as I would like to avoid the cost of a new one.

Locating the spot welds.

Cutting out the welds in the trunk floor.  Rust has certainly eaten this piece of metal.  Doing my best to hunt down and destroy this monster.

Had to remove this bracket to get at some welds.  Had to use the cutting wheel on my dremel due to the shape of the welds and the lack of accessibility.

Welds are cut on the front of the rail and the weight started this part of the frame to buckle.  Didn't take much as it is practically rusted away.

Stupid, rusty devil is out.

Look at the poor condition of the thing.

Yep, that's right, it's almost rusted all the way through at the back end.

Another shot of it.  I was wondering what that bracket was and had to look it up.  Apparently it is a factory tie down bracket used to ship the car out to the dealer.  The dealer was supposed to remove them and send them back to the factory before selling it to the consumer.  Not many dealers participated as it was a bit of a pain.  At 25 cents bounty per pair, labor to remove and return shipping costs, it was not very practical for most dealers.  A lot of cars will still have these.  I have both.  I will not be reinstalling them as the new rails don't have the holes for them, and they aren't necessary for anything but trailering the car.

Another look at that front piece of the frame.

Inside the shock mount.  It doesn't seem to bad here, but where it's welded to the pan, everything is pretty rusted and flaking.  The shock mount holes are also pretty tore up from some heavy use.

Rust that was hidden and caused by the rail.

Trunk pan is pretty much destroyed.  After I get the rail locked into place, this is one of the next things on the list.

New vs old comparison.

New vs old torque box.  As far as I was able to tell and measure, everything seems to match up really well.  I do think that before I put it in, it will get some of the welds cleaned up and better reinforced. and I might add some more support plates here and there.

Just a quick test fit.  Everything seems ok.  May need some massaging here and there.
Not tight, it's difficult getting it in there with the shock mount still in place.

Just loosely in place.  Doesn't line up well due to not being flush up near the shock mount.


  1. Holy mackerel Grant! That is some serious surgery. Take your time and I'm sure you'll end up with a good outcome.

    1. Thanks Dennis. It really wasn't all that bad to remove, just a ton of spot welds. Shouldn't be too hard to install the new one either, as I took a lot of measurements to ensure it would go where it's supposed to. I'm going to end up spending most of my time repairing the transition pan itself.

  2. Glad to see you had some time to dig in deep Grant! Looking forward to the future updates as you go. That is a lot of work right there!

    Had to laugh a little at the mention of swamp coolers. I don't think anybody here in Michigan would have a clue what one of those is, but I remember them very well from my years living in the Denver area! Anyway, keep the hammer down!

    1. Yeah, something about them not working on the eastern side of the country due to the humidity. :)

  3. Nice work cutting out that nasty rail Grant! I'm very familiar with swamp coolers. I slapped down many a layer of sealer and screen on the bottom of mine so I never had the pleasure of patching one up when I lived in Colorado. I also became adept at replacing the "spider" as well as the squirrel cage fan bearings.

    1. I grew up helping my dad maintain ours, so I've pretty much done it all. Never thought I would be doing such a fix on one though. Two years ago I couldn't have told you what a welder really looked like.