Building Custom Mini Wheel Tubs for Pile House

    One thing a lot of longterm builds have in common is that the builder or owner tend to change their minds throughout the build. This has definitely been the case with Project Pile House. Over the past two years I've changed Pile House from being a "thrown-together" type build to something a bit more thought out and nicer. Even small items like wheel and tire combo have changed and caused me to go back and adjust things as needed. When I was setting the body on the chassis and building the custom firewall for Pile House I had built everything around using a set of 14" wheels and tires. I later decided to upsize the wheels and tires to some shiny 15" Coker Tire wide whites and chrome steel wheels. This meant that when the truck was "aired out" the front edges of the cab sat on the tires.

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    As much as I hate cutting things apart I already built on a project, it wasn't right and I had to get the weight of the cab off of the tires when parked. I decided to make up some mini wheel tubs for the corners using Eastwood tools. I started by marking out the areas of the cab that were hitting when the truck was aired out. I then measured out a few inches all around that area to give adequate clearance around the wheels and tires.

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    Since I couldn't tell exactly how far I needed to cut up into the cab corners I decided to put a couple relief cuts in the cab corners and slowly let the truck down until it hit the metal, then cut again until there was no interference. From there I made the last cut and was left with a sizable hole in the cab corners.

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    With my holes cut in the cab I took some chipboard and cut patterns that would make up my wheel tub. I taped the chipboard tub in place and raised and lowered the vehicle to make sure I had adequate clearance. I then took the pattern apart and cut the two pieces out of 18 gauge steel using the throatless metal shears. The side panel of the tub was just a flat piece of metal, but the top piece needed to take on a radius to fit around the tire. There are a few ways to do it including putting flanges on the ends and using the shrinker to create the desired radius, then cutting the flanges off, or bending over your knee, etc. I decided to do it the cleanest/quickest way and used the bench top english wheel to form the an even radius in the panel. I slowly worked the metal until it matched the radius I cut into the side of the cab corner.

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    With the two pieces cut and formed I test fitment of them one last time and then took them to the workbench and tack welded them together. I then ran a series of short welds in the seam of the panel using the TIG 200.

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    With the tubs now formed I mounted them in place and slowly tack welded them into the cab assuring that the gaps were tight and the tub was fitting correctly. There were a few spots that were a tiny bit too large so I used the angle grinder and a flap disc to shave the metal down until it was flush. After the panel was securely tack welded in place, I alternated around each seam while welding it together using the TIG 200. Once all of the seams were welded I used the flap disc to blend the seams into the surrounding metal. I then used a red sanding disc to take out the major scratches and leave an even finish on the entire area. This left a near invisible modification to the cab. I can now use a skim coat of filler or a coat of high build primer and the firewall is ready for paint.

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    This solved my issues with the cab hitting the tires and it will also allow me to turn the wheels even when driving very low if I so choose. In the end I am happy I went back and did the job right instead of just letting the cab rest on the tires!

    -Matt/EW

    2 thoughts on “Building Custom Mini Wheel Tubs for Pile House”

    • Roger

      Project Pile House is a "cool" project and I have enjoyed watching and reading the "blog", plus I have bought tools that make my projects so much easier to do!
      One thing I noticed, and you probably have thought about it, when you have it aired down but still drive able do you have tire clearance on the inside for turning?
      Thanks,
      Roger

      Reply
      • MattM

        Hi Roger,

        I did add some additional clearance on the inside of the tubs in the cab corners for turning when the truck is very low. There is about 70-80% turning radius when it is that low, which really will only be for shows or parking lot cruising at it is dangerously low when at that height.

        Thanks for reading,

        Matt

        Reply

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