Tag Archives: fab

  • Tech Tip- How to easily fill body seams with TIG Rod and a MIG Welder

    One thing I like about building a true custom (not just bolting on shiny wheels and putting stickers on the windows) is that there are no rules. It's all about what looks good and what fits your vision of the final product that is YOUR project. One theme that I have with Project Pile House is to make the body less "busy" and give it a smoother overall appearance. These trucks were meant to be utility vehicles, so there wasn't much thought put into styling. Definitely not like their passenger car counterparts. All that anyone really cared about was that it was reliable, could haul a lot in the bed, and that the hood, doors, and tailgate closed and latched. So this means I need to fill and smooth a lot of body seams or body lines that are all over the cab and front end.

    These seams need to be filled with metal, and should not be filled with body filler, no matter how tempting it is to just run a bead of filler along them. Occasionally you can get away with filling a seam by slowly stitch welding it shut, but this could require a few passes to completely fill the seam and it puts unnecessary heat into the panels around it. I've found that these seams can be easily filled by using TIG filler rod and a MIG welder. This tech tip should help you fill body seams quickly.

    You want to start by removing any paint or rust around the seam, and then run a wire wheel in the groove to remove anything tucked into tight crevices. I found an angle grinder with a flap disc takes care of most of the process, but a thin wire wheel cleans out any remaining debris. If you're the overly cautious type you can spray some Self Etching Weld Thru Primer in the seam to help seal the area.

    After you're down to clean metal, you'll want to find a TIG filler rod that will fill the seam and sit flush, or just below, the surface. You then want to set your MIG welder to a higher voltage or heat setting than normal for the metal you're welding. The idea is to produce a quick, hot spot weld that melts the filler rod into the seam and leaves a fairly flat weld on top of the panel. The flatter the final weld is, the less grinding will be required.

    After you have a few spot welds holding the filler rod in place, you can then stitch weld the rod into the seam. Always remember to alternate your spot welds and allow the panel too cool in between welds. The seam should look something like below after it's completely welded.

    With the seam filled, you can take a flap disc or low grit sanding disc and knock the "proud" welds down until they blend into the surrounding metal. You should be left with a seam that's filled with metal (and not filler!) and will require little bodywork when it comes time for paint.

    -Matt/EW

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  • Assembling The Roof- Cleco Panel Clamps Are The Third Hand

    The entire process of chopping the roof on a vehicle is quite long. Along the way there are a lot of tricks and tools that will make your life a lot easier; especially if you work alone. Since I wanted to keep my A-pillars in the stock configuration I had to make a filler panel to fill the gap between the front and rear half of the roof. The filler panel runs the width of the roof and it's pretty tough to hold this in place by myself as I test fit it. I found that it was much easier to hold one end in place, drill a small 1/8" hole and insert a cleco every few inches. This pulls the panel in place and I can manipulate my panel to fit exactly how I want. This also allows me to stand back and visualize how the final profile of the roof will look. Once you have a pack of clecos in your toolbox you'll wonder how you worked with out them! Check out our selection of blind panel grips here: Cleco Blind Panel Clamps

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  • 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

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