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Tag Archives: angle grinder

  • Chopping the top on a 1950 Dodge Pick-up – Eastwood’s Project Pile House- Part 1

    One of the next big projects planned for Project Pile House is performing a mild chop and smooth job on the cab and roof. We started the process in a previous post where we showed you How to Shave and Smooth Unneeded Holes in the bed and cab. Today we decided to really dig into this next part of the project.

    Since the roof will need to be worked and modified in a number of spots, I decided to use our 7 Inch Cleaning and Stripping Disc Kit on an Electric Angle Grinder to quickly strip the top half of the cab and doors down to bare metal. This will allow us to easily mark, cut, and weld the roof as we get it situated in it's new, lower position.

    Next I decided to remove the drip rails. This modification isn't a new one in the Hot Rod, Street Rod and custom world, but it's definitely one that's always debated. The original drip rails were in pretty sad shape, and I prefer smooth customs; so I decided to remove them with the angle grinder. I'll come back with a Flap Disc and bring the rough-cut edge flush with the roof. The drip rail is composed of 2 pieces of metal pinched and folded over, so I will have to weld the two pieces together and blend them before the truck is "done", but we'll wait until the chopped roof is back in place to finish that portion of the job.

    While we were on a roll, Mark R. (of Eastwood R&D Corner fame) helped me measure out the lines for where the chop would take place. After a little head scratching, and test fitting me (the driver) in the truck, we decided on a 3" chop that would take place below the rear windows and bring the lower "reveal" or contour of the rear window openings down to match the height of the lower door window sill. This would also bring the roof seam down to match with the top of the door, and make the size of the side door glass close to the that of the rear and cab-corner windows (I really like symmetry in custom cars!). With the lines laid out with painters tape, I'll be gearing up to make the cuts in the next week or two. Stay tuned, we'll be filming and posting a DIY video showing how we chop the roof. We're excited to see how Pile House looks with a fresh chop and shave!

    -Matt/EW

  • Customizing a Chevy Corvair Van Bumper to Fit Project PileHouse

    PileHouse is starting to shape up and we can now envision what the truck will someday look like when it's "done". But I still felt that the front end needed "something more". After staring at it over lunch one day, I decided that the truck needed a custom bumper to "complete" the front end. My only rules were that it had to flow with the grill trim and relatively flat front end. So I took some measurements, snapped a few reference pictures with my Iphone, and headed off to one of my favorite places; the New Ringgold U-Pull-It junkyard. This place is HUGE and they're nice enough to drop all of the "classic" cars and trucks in one section where you can rummage around. It's there you'll find everything from a 40's Ford to an El Camino or even obscure European classics like a Renault LeCar. This place is a hotrodders dream! All you need is a battery powered reciprocating saw, some hand tools, a tape measure, and a good imagination to find parts for your custom project.

    So I set off with my bag filled with Eastwood Hand Tools and the portable reciprocating saw in hand. After a couple hours measuring bumpers, and scratching our heads, my buddy Matt R. and I narrowed it down to two vehicles. Eventually we chose the front bumper off a 60's Chevy Corvair van (obscure enough for you?!). The length and shape was pretty darn close to the stainless grill trim on PileHouse, and I was sure I could make it work. We quickly got down to business and cut the bumper off so I could bring it home.

    With bumper and truck meeting for the first time, I can see that although the size was "close", the bumper was still going to need a few inches chopped off, and the radius changed to match the front of the truck.

    I started by marking the corners of the bumper where I wanted them to sit and noted some measurements of the bumper and the front end while on the truck to give me some reference points throughout the project. Next I pulled out the angle grinder and cut the bumper in half in the center, and laid it back in place.

    After test fitting the bumper halves, I overlapped them in the center to give me an idea of what had to be removed to get the bumper to the correct length. Once I cut the excess off I found an additional cut had to be made to allow the bumper halves to lay back to match the curve of the front end. With this last cut made, they were sitting exactly how I wanted and I spot welded them in place until I could join them together. Finally, I welded some small strips of metal in place to join the halves temporarily.

    With the bumper now shaped to fit the front end of PileHouse, I removed the tack welds on the corners and put the bumper on the work bench to add braces to the backside and ground off the temporary front braces. Next I had to fill the opening that was created when the radius was changed. I found that the last piece I cut off was a good fit after a little sanding. With the filler metal set in place, I began welding it all together with the Eastwood MIG 175. After welding the seams up on both sides I took the angle grinder with a flap disc and blended the welds. A few minutes of grinding I had a smooth, invisible transition where I had modified the bumper.

    With a complete front bumper bar, I test fit it one more time. I'm happy to report I now have a bumper that fits perfectly and I'm only out about $30 and a few hours of work! From here I'll fabricate some simple bumper mounts to bolt it to the chassis, and then we can move on to the next step in making PileHouse road worthy!

    -Matt/EW

  • How to Fill and Shave Unused Holes in Your Project

    When building a custom, or resto-mod vehicle one of the most common modifications you can do is to "shave" or fill unused holes in the body of the vehicle. While I was waiting on metal to finish the Custom Running Board Build on Project Pile House, I decided to start shaving some of the unused holes in the bed of the truck. Since this truck was used as a farm truck most of its life, it's had countless brackets, hooks, and other do-dads added that left holes when I removed them. Even though the truck looks pretty rough in its current state, I have pipe dreams of this thing being a nice, solid truck someday, so shaving these unused holes is still progress!

    There are a few ways to fill unused holes in the body of your car or truck. The techniques really vary on the size of the holes. The key tip is to make sure you take the time to setup your welder for nice flat spot welds and leave time for the metal to cool between each weld.

    The easiest holes to fill are small holes about the diameter of a pen or smaller. For these types of holes I start by cleaning the area around the hole with an Angle Grinder and Flap Disc. Sheet metal on the body of cars and trucks is pretty thin (usually 18-22 gauge). So you won't have much forgiveness if you try to pile weld in the hole and you can end up with a bigger hole than you started with! For this reason I always like to use Copper Backers and Welders Helpers to back up and quickly fill the hole. MIG wire doesn't stick to the copper backer directing the weld to the edges of the hole and quickly filling small holes. Be sure to hit the trigger of the welder for a few seconds at a time. Properly adjusted MIG welders should make filling small holes only take a few seconds. A trick I use while the metal is still hot, is to take a Hammer and Dolly and flatten out the spot welds while they're still hot and soft. This will save you time and unneeded heat into the panel when you finish grind the panel with a flap disc.

    Shaving larger holes and openings in the body takes a little more time and care, but can be done with minimal tools. I again started by cleaning the area with a flap disc and angle grinder, then I took some metal from our Patch Panel Kit and traced the opening I was filling from behind.

    Once I had the basic shape, I roughly cut it out with Tin Snips. A grinder or power metal shears would work as well if desired(I've found for small pieces that tin snips work best). With the shape rough cut, I took the small piece to a Belt Sander or Grinder and carefully sanded the metal until it was just smaller than the opening I was filling (leave a small gap for the weld to bridge across).

    Once the patch panel is a good fit, I used a Magnetic Welding Jig to hold the metal in place for the first couple tack welds. Once the patch panel is lightly tacked, I removed the magnet and again use a copper backer or welders helper while spot welding around the hole. When welding these larger holes you need to make sure you jump around and weld in an "X" pattern allowing the panel to cool in between welds. Like the smaller holes, I like to hammer the welds with a hammer and dolly to flatten them out as much as possible.

    Once the hole has been filled and all of the gaps are closed, I took a flap disc and blended the weld into the surrounding metal, again stopping along the way to allow the metal to cool and avoid panel warpage.

    With some practice you can shave and fill holes on the body of your project and leave no trace of your work. Below you can see how the repair area is almost invisible and would only take a little more sanding and a small swipe of body filler to have the panel ready for primer and paint.

    Now that I have a few holes shaved on the bed of Pile House, I have officially caught the "smooth" bug and I'm already looking for other unneeded holes to fill and clean up the overall look of this project. Stay tuned for more updates as we keep working on turning this farm truck into a head turner!

    -Matt/EW

  • Whole lot of cutting going on in here

    Late last week I spent some time cutting the bed apart to stretch it to give a more "balanced" look when viewing the truck from the side. I know a lot of people aren't agreeing, but I think in the end it will be hard to tell it was lengthened at a first glance. I took some time with the angle grinder and some thin cutting discs, removing the front portion of the bed right behind the stake post. This spot should be the easiest to blend the new panel into. After stiffening the bed up with some flat bar and rebar, and making some temporary bed mounts, we can now work on making the patch panels as well as beginning work on the permanent bed mounts and the bed floor itself. Lots of work to happen over the next few weeks!

  • Project Pile House has a Floor

    Today is a big day for Pile House. It has probably been 20 years or more since this truck has had a solid floor. Since I decided to choose a less-than-common truck, there isn't much for replacement panels, and since it is a bit of a "mutt" anyways, I opted to just fabricate my own floors with some sheet metal from our friendly local metal shop.

    The floor from first glance didn't look that bad, I mean most of it was still there, which is pretty commendable for how this truck sat for 20+ years. But what you can't see well in a picture, is how thin the metal left was. So thin it would start to tear if you put any weight on the floor. Because the cab mounts are tied into the front floors, I choose to weld some new pans in. I made sure to tie it into the parts of the truck that are solid, like the firewall and B-pillar.

    After some work with the Angle Grinder and the Versa Cut Plasma Cutter I had the old floor out, and I was fabricating the replacement floor.

    After cutting out the metal to fit around the transmission and the back of the engine, I got it all welded in place with help from the Eastwood MIG 175. Now that it is tied into the cab mount plates I made, and the firewall, the floor is much, much stronger than before. Once the final drivetrain is in place I'll be making covers for the openings in the floor and firewall.

    Next I will be burning out the holes in the cab mount plates in the floor and in the cab mount towers so that I can bolt the cab on and off of the chassis, then make bolt-on mounts for the front end. Stay tuned!

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