Tag Archives: mig welder

  • How to Make a Custom Running Board From Scratch- Project Pilehouse Edition

    In one of our last posts we gave you some sneak peaks of the custom running board project we've been working on for Project Pilehouse. During the process we documented the full build and shared some of our secrets to help you build a similar project yourself for cheap. After a some editing, we have the video chopped down and ready for your viewing. Check out the DIY video below and see some of our great Eastwood tools in action!

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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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  • 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

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  • 10 Tools That Make Auto Repair and Restoration Easier

    If you've ever gone into a professional restoration or repair shop you'd be amazed by the size of the toolboxes that they have. Some of them are as big, heavy, and expensive as a car! We've found that when you ask the pros which tools they use most often, they will rattle off 5-10 tools that are their favorites. Obviously it's a great help to have all of the expensive specialty tools for those odd jobs they encounter, but there's always a core group of products that they can't live without. We put together this list of tools that the pros commonly list off of as their favorites.

    GearWrench Impact Socket Set

    1. A Complete Ratchet and Socket Set- Regardless if you're doing autobody, maintenance, or full restorations, everyone can use a comprehensive ratchet and socket set. A good start is to get the tools that will allow you to complete the widest variety of jobs. We suggest a mid-length ratchet with an adjustable head like the GearWrench Flex Head 3/8 Ratchet and a comprehensive mixed set of standard and metric sockets. More and more cars are using metric hardware these days, and it is a good idea to have at least the common sizes on hand!

    Eastwood Hammer and Dolly Set

    2.Quality Hammer selection- It's inevitable that you'll be faced with the need to "persuade" something to move with a hammer on your car. Hammers are amazing tools and in the right hands can do anything from fix a dent to remove a stuck bolt in your suspension. We'd suggest investing in a quality hammer kit with both rubber and soft face hammers and traditional metal dead blow hammers (we affectionately call "BFH's"). If you plan to do body work, you can't use just any old hammer, make sure you pick up a Hammer and Dollies to assure dead straight metal forming.

    Eastwood Dual Action DA Palm Sander

    3. Dual Action Sander-Dual action or DA sanders are great to keep around, and a necessity if you plan to do any paint or body work. These are a time saver when removing paint or flattening out filler, and are extremely simple to use. We suggest a palm DA sander for anyone that plans to tackle any sort of body work.

    Eastwood MIG Welders

    4. MIG Welder- If you're working on anything mechanical there will come a time when you'll need metal stuck together. It doesn't matter if it's custom fabricated parts or just fixing rust, a good MIG welder is essential to your garage. The Eastwood MIG 175 is a 220V welder that can handle most anything a DIY enthusiast can throw at it, we even throw in the spool gun for aluminum welding!

    GearWrench Ratcheting Wrench Set

    5. Ratchet Wrenches- We love tools that save time, especially in a small package. Ratcheting wrenches give you the ability to quickly remove hardware that a ratchet can't get reach, but they still retain the ratcheting feature so you don't have to take the wrench off each quarter turn (we hate that!). Check out the selection of Ratcheting Wrenches we offer. There's a good chance we offer a set that will fit your needs.

    6. Screwdrivers- This seems to be a no-brainer, but everyone needs a good set of screwdrivers in their tool box, garage, kitchen junk drawer, shed, etc. You can never have enough screwdrivers. They seem to be one of the most universal tools that ALWAYS come in handy. If you want the best bang for your buck we suggest picking up either the Fairmount Drill and Driver Bit Kit or the Channellock Ratcheting Screwdriver Kit that will allow you to remove and tighten just about any screw, hex head, and torx style screws.

    Eastwood Locking Pliers

    7. Locking Pliers- We'd all love a perfect world where every part, nut, bolt, and screw comes off easily with the proper tool, but cruel reality comes to ruin your day when you find that rounded off nut or bolt on your project. While we wouldn't advocate using the locking pliers as your go-to item in your toolbox, they are a valuable universal tool that can make many tough jobs easier! We have used the Eastwood Locking Pliers to save our necks countless times!

    Eastwood Tin Snips

    8. Sharp Snips/Cutters- At some point a DIY guy is going to need to cut metal, wiring, or something on their vehicle. The Eastwood Aviation Snips can cut anything from 18 and 20 gauge sheet metal for fabrication to electrical wiring in a pinch. Some of the most experienced metal workers will name their tin snips as one of the tools they can't live with out. We'd have to agree!

    9. A strong Pry Bar- Like locking pliers, Pry Bars are one of those tools that are a necessity and need to be used with care. You will surely run up against something that needs more force than your prying hands can handle. That's where leverage and a quality pry bar comes into play. Use these to help remove stuck brake calipers, suspension parts, or even the belts on your tractor. It really is one of the most universal tools you can have in the toolbox.

    Allen Wrecnh Hex Keys

    10. Hex Key Wrenches- Hex socket cap bolts used to be hardware that was predominately found on European cars in the past, but as the years have passed most auto and motorcycle manufacturers have begun to use them. These days a complete set of Hex Key Wrenches are almost as important as a set of standard wrenches.

    If you stock your toolbox with these items you can tackle most any job when maintaining, restoring, or repairing your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, or most anything else that has hardware. Be sure you check the Eastwood website for all of the must-have tools no matter how basic or unique, we probably have them!

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  • Rebuilding front Suspension with a custom twist Part 2

    In the last entry we showed you how to disassemble the front suspension on the S10 chassis that sits under Project Pile House. Once we had it all apart we began fitting the front air suspension. Air bags will allow the truck to drop all the way to the ground and lift to almost stock ride height. This will give us the looks AND function I want out of the truck.

    A warning for anyone starting an air ride build--it will NOT be a bolt-on job! It can be nearly "bolt" on with some of the expensive kits out there, but most won't get you much lower than a set of drop spindles and some lowering springs/drop blocks. To get the "slammed" or "laying frame/body" look that many want, you will need to cut, weld, and fabricate. But for me, that's the fun of building a custom car or truck!

    I started with a cheap eBay S10 "bolt-in" front air ride kit with the larger 2600 bags. They really use the term "bolt-in" loosely, as the lower mounting plate for the lower control arms were completely wrong and I binned the idea of using them pretty quickly! Regardless of 2500 or 2600 series front bags, you will need to cut the spring pocket to make room for the bag when deflated. If you don't cut the pocket the bag can rub the opening and put a hole in it quickly, not something you'd want to happen on the highway! I set the bag and upper mount (which mounts through the OE shock hole) into the truck to get an idea what needed to be cut. I then pulled out the Eastwood Versa Cut Plasma Cutter and made quick work of the frame notch.

    Once I found that the cut around the spring pocket was large enough to tuck the air bag inside, I moved on to fitting the bag to the lower control arm. This is where it was evident that the lower bag mount plate wasn't going to work and I decided to plate the control arm myself. I first outlined the bag so I had an idea of the minimum area I had to plate to support the bag. Next I cut out the "humps" in the control arm with the Versa Cut (mini truck guys call it "dehumping") and welded in a plate to make the top of the lower control arm more flat. A plate was then added to cover the top of the lower control arm and welded it in with the Eastwood MIG 175. Lastly I drilled a hole in the plate to mount the bag to the lower control arm. The final outcome is now a bolt-on job.

    With the hard fabrication work done, I moved on to removing the old tired steering components. These were just as bad as the suspension components! Pile House will never be a daily driver, but I plan to take it on long drives and it may even double as a tow vehicle once in a while. For this reason I want the suspension and steering components to stand up to a lot of abuse and function well with the lowered stance and added power it's getting. I decided to call up the folks at ProForged Severe Duty Chassis Parts and see what they had to offer. Zack and crew came back with just what I needed; severe duty replacement steering components, drilled and slotted rotors to help stop the truck better, and my favorite, extended travel ball joints. These ball joints are right up my alley, they were designed to eliminate ball joint binding when a GM chassis is lowered. Ball Joint binding can happen on vehicles that are lowered (even with small drops!) when they hit a bump and the suspension compresses (lowers) and the stock ball joints go past their optimum point of travel and bind. All of this GREATLY decreases the life of the parts and can cause them to fail prematurely. Best of all ProForged offers a Million-Mile Warranty on all of their parts!

    From here we test fit all of the parts and made sure the truck was sitting how I wanted when dropped. I did have to cut the height of the upper bag mounts to get the truck to sit flat on the ground in the front, but only a minor job compared to the all the other work that's been done thus far! Now that all of the major fabrication was done, we could move on to installing the ProForged parts and begin cleaning and detailing the front suspension. Stay tuned for the next entry where we detail and assemble it all.

    -Matt/EW

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