Posts Tagged ‘Catching Up’

Right before I told you the story of the Quarter Panel Quandary, I teased you with “the Story You Have All Been Waiting For”. I understand that seven months is far too long to go without telling the story of this build.

What is going on? Are you still building it? Are you even still alive?

These are some questions you may have asked while I was out. Here are the answers, in reverse order.

YES, I am still alive. YES, I am still building the FrankenJeep. As far as “What is going on?” Well…

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Alright, I will try and keep to the point and give you a fair, yet concise, representation of the past half year in words.

Between October 11, 2016 and January 27, 2017 there were the normal activities in the garage. Tony would come over on the weekends that I was home and help me work on the FrankenJeep. Sometimes we would get lots of things accomplished, while other times… not so much; you should know by now the way things work with this project. We did get the quarter panels replaced in November, and for the most part, they look really good. In December, I got some more parts from Jerry. I got the Dana 44 front axle, and some other miscellaneous parts from him. We also got the idea to change up the rear bedsides (I will go more into this later, as I still have work to do before we get them dialed in); here are some prototype pictures of that endeavor.

In January, I took the family and met with some members of Rat Rod Addiction for a luncheon.

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The meal was good and the company was fantastic! I spoke with some guys and we swapped ideas, it was a good day in all.

That brings you up to date until the end of January, which is when things took an interesting turn. You see, I was sort of stuck in the FrankenJeep build; I still did not have a reliable truck, the engine plans for the build fell through when I found out the depth of rebuild needed to make the SBC 400 work, I only had my front axle as the axle I got for the back was only a 10 bolt rear end, and I was losing steam on all of the grinding that was still needed to finish the frame. I just did not want to do any more grinding for a while.

What does one do in such a situation? I am not sure, but I went looking for a second job and found refuge in a custom body shop by the name of Sick Customs. Jack Reigelsperger is my boss and he is a bad ass.

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No, I did not receive a bonus for plugging his name. This guy is just pure awesome on so many levels.

  1. Just look at his builds. Quality in everything he does
  2. Realize he is only in his mid 30’s
  3. He has graced the pages of many hot rod and custom car magazines
  4. He holds the patent to a fourth generation (1961-69) Lincoln Continental 4-link and air bag system
  5. He hired me on as a body tech and has taken very good care of me, teaching me the ways of custom car building

Most importantly, he cut me a killer deal on some very much needed parts for my builds.

I answered an ad on the FaceBox for someone looking for help at a custom auto shop. I contacted Jack and met with him on a Friday, I was working for him the next Monday. During our few times of lull, we would speak of the different projects we had and I told him of this one, the FrankenJeep build. He explained to me that he had the perfect drivetrain for the build, as well as a host of other goodies I needed for my other project, and that he was willing to make me a package deal. We talked logistics and came to an agreement, a deal was made.

I got a Chevy 350 (pushing almost 400hp) with a Muncie 4 speed transmission and an NP-205 transfer case; I also got a 14 bolt rearend with disc brakes, and that took care of the needed parts for this build.

The problem (depending on who you are, and how you look at it) came with the “other project” parts. You see, I was at the shop working my magic on a flip truck when I got a crazy idea to check the wheelbase of the square body Suburban sitting in the yard. It turns out that the Suburban is 131.5” long between the centers of the wheels. My J20, Hyde, has a wheelbase of 131”. This Suburban was already converted to house a 12v Cummins in it and seemed to be the perfect candidate for a body swap. It was also set up with a disc brake 14 bolt rearend and was loaded with other goodies like leather seats, executive styled center consoles, and a Grant GT Premium wooden steering wheel.

Now, do you see my problem? I practically have a turnkey body swap project to create my dream of a 12v Cummins powered Jeep J20. Oh, did I mention this diesel had not just a single, but twin turbos? Yep, we are looking at 600hp and 1400ftlbs of torque when this thing is up and running. I have been spending my weekends getting it ready for the Power Tour, in June.

…And that brings you up to the current date.

(Oh yeah, and the oilfield permanently laid me off in February, the day before I was going to go back to work.)

Head on over to check out my other build site to find out what is going on over there with the Jekyll and Hyde truck.

 

When I found out my quarters were pot metal, I was pretty upset, I wanted to have a clean chop. The cut was clean, but seeing as I did not have a TIG welder, I could not have the clean look I was after, meaning I could not weld the seam. I  tried to cover it with a Weld Stik, which is like a putty compound that is supposedly able to work as a weld adhesive.

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That did not really work well, so I tried to paint over it with Flex Seal. I had really good luck with the Flex Seal when I used it on the J20 dash. This time was much different, I found out that stuff does not work very well when it is used vertically as it likes to drip. Actually it ran as fast as I laid it down, it was like trying to paint with ice cream… in the summer. It did not work well at all.

Switching gears – instead of trying to fix it, just replace it. Sounds good, right? Right. That is exactly what I did, I took the 16 gauge steel I had lying around the garage and made quarter panels from it. The first one was a total disaster. I lined up the edge, drilled my holes and then riveted each one by hand with a ¼” rivet. I proceeded to make my bend around the corner and quickly realized the metal was not bending cleanly as I wanted it to, but it was instead creasing.

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Not good. Not good at all. I decided that maybe this was a two man job, so I briefed Tony the next weekend and we set to create a quarter panel.

Of course, during this build, I have made it a point to try and work with something while only using half of the tools needed for the job. Haha. At least that is the way it seems. Just remember that I am but a man with an idea, trying to seek project fruition in a 200 square foot garage that happens to be located in a Home Owners Association and I am on a limited budget. [Okay, full disclosure – the “limited” budget is widely due to my inability to focus on a single project. I have this one, the J20 build (which is another reason I have not written here lately), the Camry engine overhaul, the Grand Prix project, the Baja Comanche project, etc… etc… etc…]

THE QUARTER PANELS?!?

Yes, the quarter panels. Sorry. So I have this 16ga steel in the garage that used to be shelves. It is not the best steel I have come across, but it is readily available to me, so I made measurements, checked them, second checked them and laid out templates on the sheet. Then I cut the panel out and drilled my first hole. I measured out all of my holes and drilled them, installing ¼” rivets into each hole via manual rivet gun. As I was making my way around the corner, it started creasing and that is when I got Tony involved. I figured we needed to heat up the metal and make it more pliable so it will bend better. The proper tool for this is NOT a propane torch. Then, once the metal is hot enough, you want to have a dolly to strike against and move the metal. A proper dolly is NOT made from a broken adjustable wrench and a 3”x3” square piece of ⅛” thick steel. And you want to use a hefty hammer for striking your dolly to move the metal where you want it. The proper hammer is NOT an Estwing claw hammer.

Do you see what I am working with here?

Anyhow, Tony and I went to heating and striking. Heating and Striking. Heating and … Oh no, the metal is on fire! Nope, false alarm. Only the paint was on fire. Heating and striking. Drilling and pop riveting. Drilling and pop riveting. Heating and strik… um, why do we have a bend in the middle of the metal going perpendicular to our projected shape? Ah crap! Okay… Now what? Relief cut! We will just use the cutting wheel to make a cut across the metal and the side should lay down like it is supposed to. I got my welder back up and running, ran a few beads across the relief cut and thought it was ugly, but functional. Whew!! That was quite the ordeal!

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[I ended up going to work and coming back before we did the other side.]

This time, we knew what had to happen. We measured, checked, checked again, laid it out and cut it from the sheet stock. We drilled the first hole, hand riveted the ¼” rivet and measured down to do it again. We got the inside line of rivets set and got prepared for the circus we knew that was about to commence. We measured, marked and drilled out, hand riveted and did it again. And again. And again. We did the bottom side the same way. Wait. What?? No heating and striking? Nope. This one laid out just perfectly, all the way to the end. So much that I almost ripped off the first one to do it again.