Posts Tagged ‘Pot Metal’

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.

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…literally. As it turns out, my quarter panels are made of pot metal. For those of you that may not know why this is such a big deal – pot metal is the left over non-ferrous metal that was thrown into one pot and melted down into a single molten liquid that was easier and cheaper to cast. Again, why is that such a big deal? It is most often lacking iron, meaning I cannot weld it. Okay, I cannot easily weld it with the tools that I have. Pot metal has a lower melting point than a more pure iron, therefore it just blows away when I try and heat it to glue metal together with.

So Mac, “What are you going to do now that you cannot weld your top on?”

Ah, I said my quarter panels were pot metal. The structural framing (i.e. the roof, the A-pillar, the skeletal beams and the firewall) are all steel. They are all capable of being welded. This means that I can make the chop structurally sound, I just need to figure out what to do with the quarter panels. And I think I have an idea for that. Again, I need to make sure I can do it before I say too much more, but I can say this much – it will definitely work with the look of something named FrankenJeep.

You want pictures, don’t you? As I am always one to oblige when I can… for your enjoyment.

Before – A stripped Kenworth cab at stock height.20160822_1104281

You can see here that we have marked out the 4″ we want to cut out.20160827_1555161

The backside has been lined out.20160827_1555101

And the right side A-pillar is ready to go.20160827_1555401

Tony making some cuts. You can see we carefully used a cutting wheel to chop this cab.20160828_1834001

The cutting portion is done, we have cleaned up the lines and positioned the roof.20160930_1524571

You can see the front end did not line up; there will be some fixing to do!20160930_1524411

Probably the best example of how far off it got with only a 4″ chop.20160930_1524331

But, I was able to bring it back…

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and make it look good too!

This is only structural welding, but the chop is sound. This is where it will reside.20160930_2053041

In all, I am extremely happy with the results of my very first chop. I am sure that some people out there would have found it especially painful to watch me perform this surgical magic due to my anal retentiveness, but it was just me and my welder. There was no one there to bother me, and I was able to get out all of the irksome CDO tendencies that drive other people nuts. I worked through them, and I believe the final product paid off.

(“CDO”, for those of you that do not know, is much like “OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder]” except the letters are put in their proper sequence. My obsessive compulsiveness does sometimes get the better of me, but this time I think it worked out on my behalf!)