Tag Archives: airride
Recently our friend Sean at Empire Fabrication sent us some pictures of a custom airbag tub for a bagged VW Eurovan he's building for a customer and we had to share. Follow along as he shares the Eastwood tools and process he used to build the custom bag tub.
It's been a while since we talked about the roof chop on Pilehouse, but I've been doing a lot of boring work on the smashed up old roof getting it satisfactory. Since then I decided to finally finish building the doors to match the roof. I took some pictures as I did the drivers side to show one way to do it, and I did the passenger side an alternative way to show another way you can tackle this project. We shot the video on the passenger side, but in the photos here you can see the other way to go about it.
Just like chopping the roof down, we needed to take out some height from the top of the door, split it in half, and add some width to it. That's why it's extremely handy to keep original metal that you cut off of the truck. I started by splitting the top of the door in half so we could mock up the two pieces so that they sat where we wanted them to in the door jamb.
I started with the rear portion and held it in place in the door opening and closed the door until the post met the top of the door I was holding in place. From there I made a mark on the pillar where the 2 parts overlapped. From there I could cut the excess off of the door. In the front of the door I needed to take the extra material out of the top of the door since that was the straightest part of the upper front portion of the door. If at all possibly you always want to take material out of the pillars, doors, etc where the pieces are straight and the most uniform. Cutting them on a curve makes it VERY difficult to piece things back together smoothly and get your angles correct.
Once the pieces were cut I temporarily tack welded them to the edge of the roof to get them sitting about where I wanted. With the tack welds I could still adjust the parts without them being permanently mounted. This way I could shut the door and line everything up how I wanted.
Once the front and rear sections of the door were about where I wanted them I grabbed the piece of the door I cut out of the front. This portion of the door was very close in size to the center and only required minor tweaking to get the backside contours to match up.
From there I was able to tack weld and adjust everything how I wanted and I could weld the seams all together. On the drivers side I hadn't fully cut and ground the drip rail off so I went about mocking up the door pieces. Either one will work, just be sure to use paint stir sticks or similar as spacers to leave room for seals in the door jam. With the doors welded back together the full effect of chopping the roof is visible. I think this mild chop really made Pilehouse look better. My next plans are to customize the hood and build a custom tailgate, so stay tuned for more updates.
I must admit that when it comes to my projects I have A.D.D, especially one as large as Pile House. Sometimes life gets in the way or we have other projects going at Eastwood (like our Project Resolution Mustang), that I can only devote small amounts of time or maybe a day here and there on the truck. When that's the case, it's tough to start or finish projects that take a big chunk of time to accomplish. One of MY resolutions for this year is to finish all the half-done and partially finished projects on Pile House.
One project I had started a while ago was the custom front bumper build for the truck. I did what many hotrodders have done throughout the years, and hit the junkyard to find a suitable part to modify and retrofit to my truck. The result was a bumper bar that looked close to original.
Since then I've done a lot to the truck and the bumper has sat under a layer of dust in the bed. The other day I had a spare afternoon to tackle the rest of the bumper project. The biggest task left was how I was going to mount the bumper to the truck. With it being winter here I decided to opt out of another junkyard trip (removing rusty bumper brackets in the snow is NOT my idea of fun). Instead, I took some flat steel and made up a set of mounts. These mounts needed to be strong enough to help support the weight of the front end of the truck when I lowered the airbags down. I didn't want the sheet metal taking the weight every time I aired the truck out, especially if someday the truck will have nice paint on it!
So I started by cutting some 5/16" steel plate to length. I planned to make a triangulated mount that would help hold the weight when transferred across the front bumper.
The first piece we needed to make was an "L" shape out of the flat bar stock. In order to get a nice bend in this I used the oxy-acetylene torch to heat up where I wanted the bend, then I used some leverage with some pipe to make the 90 degree bend I needed in the bar. The key is to get the metal "cherry red" hot where you want the metal to bend. With the bends made in the bars, I cut some more 5/16" plate and triangulated and braced the pieces I bent. This will add rigidity to the bracket. In order to get a better fit-up of the cross brace, I sanded an angle into the ends of the brace with the Belt/Disc Sander and finally tack welded it together with the MIG 175 welder.
With the bracket starting to take the basic shape I wanted, I cut another piece of 5/16" flat bar that I could weld to the backside of the bumper and the bracket. In the end I want to shave the bumper and have no visible mounting holes, so the bracket must be welded to the bumper bar itself.
Finally, I test fit the bumper and drilled my mounting holes to attach the bumper to the S10 chassis under the body. Once I was happy with the fitment of the bumper, I took it off and finished welding all of the seams on the brackets and the bumper bar with the MIG 175. I then decided to add some additional bracing to the bracket to help combat any bending or flexing of the bracket when the bumper is laid on the ground.
This left me with a bumper bracket that resembled a jungle gym and I wanted to box it all in so it looked a little more "finished". I decided to take some 18 gauge steel and cut pieces to the shape of the sides of the brackets. Since I was covering the inside of the bracket, I decided to seal up the soon-to-be-hidden areas with some Gray Self Etching Primer. From there I used the Eastwood TIG 200 DC to weld the panels on. Once all of the seams were welded I blended them all together with a flap disc
Now that the bumper is mounted it really makes the front end look more complete AND I'm not lowering the truck down on the front sheet metal anymore. When it comes time to disassemble for paint I'll blast the inside of the bumper with some rust encapsulator and chassis black to keep them corrosion-free for the life of the truck. With that old project finished, I can now move on to all the other loose ends I have on the truck!
We know everyone loves videos as well as pictures, so to supplement Part 2 of our Front Suspension Project we decided to show you how we went about installing the new front Proforged suspension and steering parts, as well as the custom air ride suspension in this video. Although it looks pretty straight forward to build and install in the video, I must have had the front suspension apart at least 5-10 times! Enjoy the video and make sure to follow our next episode where we show you how we built a new set of running boards from scratch!
I've gotten into the mindset where I like to try and custom build or DIY as much as possible when building a car. While more and more small niche companies are making specialized parts to "bolt-on" your project, it's easier than ever to build a "custom" vehicle. Nothing beats being able to show off your ride at a show and have people notice all of the one-off modifications and parts. In the end I spend less money, and I don't need to wait for "custom" parts to show up in the mail. It's one of my secrets to completing project cars so quickly.
This weekend I started tackling a project that is a perfect example of this topic. Currently I'm fitting one of my project vehicles with air ride suspension. A few sites offer high-priced, "bolt-on" kits, but they still aren't a true bolt-on affair. These kits also are way out of budget for this particular build. The first big piece of the puzzle are the rear air shocks. Since this is a small vehicle, I'm tight on space and opted to go with Air Lift Chapman style air struts. These are close to the same dimensions of the original rear suspension, but they need a mount solution where they meet the rear axle beam. Niche companies do sell accessories that allow you to bolt the struts on with out breaking out the welder. But the cost to buy them, and wait for them to be made, and arrive to me; I could've saved time and $150-$200.
I decided to take a pair of worn out, original rear shocks and cut the bottoms off with the end links and use my Eastwood TIG 200 to mate them together. Luckily the Air Lift rear air struts came beveled at the bottoms to make a nice valley to lay the filler rod in. I also ground a small bevel on the original shock bottoms.
I then set my TIG 200 up on a 110V outlet and set the output at the pedal to be a max of 120 Amps. I decided to use an .030 filler rod to produce a small, tight puddle that wouldn't protrude from the joint too much. I found myself hovering the pedal around 75% which was about 100-110 Amps. The results were pretty good given that I am definitely still a beginner to TIG welding.
In the end I spent about an hour total modifying these air struts, and saved myself a significant amount of money and wait time. If you do this a few times even on one project, you can see how you've quickly paid for your welder, and have the satisfaction of having parts you made yourself!