Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Floor Preparation

I ordered the full floor from NPD on Thursday November 6th, On Wednesday the 11th, a tractor trailer pulled up to my house and unloaded a very large, 160 lb box. Even though the NPD sales rep quoted the 14th as the delivery date, my order arrived 3 days early from California via truck freight! Way to go NPD and Conway Trucking!

Now, receipt of a huge box is not all sunshine and kittens, it also involves unpacking and disposing of A LOT of packing materials. Here's the new floor next to the material it was packed in. Granted, the material was necessary to get the floor to me in good condition.

Along with the floor I ordered a new seat platform.

And the full floor kit from NPD also includes lower reinforcements, rear torque box covers, floor pan plugs, and those little rear seat bracket thingies. Unfortunately, I had already reused my original rear torque box covers but I compared these reproductions to my originals and they would have fit perfectly.

Disposal of the packing material consisted of a couple of hours of rolling up the miles of packing paper and cutting up the boxes into manageable chunks. This stuff is ready to be kicked to the curb.

I wanted my new floor to be red oxide rather than black EDP (Electric Discharge Plating) like the original cars were so after a discussion on the VMF, I opted to scuff the EDP with my drill and an abrasive wheel brush.

I scuffed all of the EDP parts on both sides and then wiped down all the surfaces with wax & grease remover.

Prior to applying primer, I welded the rear seat brackets to the rear floor. I was going to weld the new emergency brake brackets at this time but decided to weld them when I'm able to fit the emergency brake cables on the car to ensure that they are welded in the correct location.

I found yet another use for my handy-dandy engine hoist (in addition to a tree puller), to hold up the floor while I paint it. The other floor parts are laid out on a pair of sawhorses. I mixed up 18 ounces of PPG DP74LF epoxy primer, adjusted my Harbor Freight HVLP gun, and shot the primer.

After finishing the first side of all the parts, I waited for the primer to cure, turned everything over and shot the other side. I pretty much just shot one coat. After the car is together, I might shoot another coat over the entire bottom with some clear for protection but haven't decided. Some guys wait until the car is together to shoot the red oxide but I decided it's easier to do it with the panel hanging up than on my back after it's been installed. I'll probably wind up accidentally scratching the heck out of it and having to paint it while it's on the car anyway but experience will tell.

After going over the light spots on the floor a couple of times, I still had enough primer left over to coat the parts already installed on the floor. Prior to this, however, I had to grind off surface rust and treat the existing metal with Ospho. Here's what the front floor area looked like before primer.

And here's the front after primer. It's important to treat this area before welding in the floor because you don't want bare metal in the seams between the toe boards and the new floor since the floor will be the one part installed with and overlapping joint where moisture can collect. Additionally, I treated the tunnel support member with Ospho and ZeroRust instead of PPG since it's old metal and very difficult to remove existing rust properly.

I next had to clean up the back of the car where the floor will overlap the existing rear transition panel. Again, I used a stainless steel wire brush on my angle grinder and Ospho to treat the existing surface rust.

Finally, a coat of PPG primer for the panel. Since the floor was out of the way, I performed the same grinding + Ospho routine on the the inner side of the frame rail but followed up with ZeroRust instead of Epoxy Primer.

Friday, November 7, 2008


The car is now more structurally sound than it's been in decades with two new inner rockers, patched frame rails, front torque boxes, floor supports, toe boards, and rear wheel well patches all of which make a secure boxed-in frame 68" long by 55" wide.

Up to this point, I've gone to pains to leave the tunnel in place because it in itself provides at least a little structural support for the passenger compartment during the car's, shall we say, "weaker moments". This is how the car looked prior to this task.

I spent some quality time with my drill and Blair Premium Spot Weld cutting bit (which you can see in the image below). After removing around 25 spot welds, the tunnel became a relic of the distant past and now graces the outside of my garage. Looks empty doesn't it? THIS is a Flintstones car.

Here's a view of the rear transition panel without it's friend, the tunnel.

Here's a shot toward the front with the firewall extensions, the floor supports, and the tunnel brace.

And here's the dejected tunnel before I kicked it out in the rain. Of course, I'm going to force some information out of it before I dispose of it permanently. Where are your rear seat brackets? How far back are your lower seat reinforcements? Where do you keep your parking brake brackets? Tell me!! (It won't be pretty).

So, now I have a car with a great big hole in the middle of it. Whatever shall I fill it with? 2x4's? Old warehouse pallets? Crumpled up copies of The Oregonian? No, I think I'll buy a full Dynacorn floor pan from NPD. In fact, I already have but it won't be here until around the 14th but in the meantime, I've got some cleaning up and minor patching to do on the mounting points between the floor panel, the firewall, and the rear seat transition.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Driver Toe Board

Having welded in the passenger side firewall extension (toe board), it came time to install the driver's side. The driver's side is a bit more confined and thus difficult because of a the obstacles of a fresh air vent and the steering column. I began by marking the approximately squared off patch location that would A) remove all of the rusted, jagged remaining metal and, B) preserve the odd oblong hole in the original toe board just below the steering column for the emergency brake cable. The aftermarket firewall extension didn't have this hole and the steering column indention was of the wrong shape so I opted to try to preserve both since the metal wasn't rusted out in these areas:

Here's the replacement patch as received from NPD minus the red primer. I reused my template from the passenger side inner rocker and marked the driver's side inner rocker and some welding tabs. There's a lot wrong with this panel such as incorrectly shaped driver column indention, missing speedometer cable hole, missing cut-out for convertible inner rocker, and the outside flange is bent down instead of up which interferes with the inner rocker.

This is after I cut out the shape of the patch that I needed, cut out the inner rocker notch with tabs, and bent the outside flange upward. After I cut this panel out, I then overlaid it into position over the old driver's side toe board, torque box, etc. and marked the car to match this patch instead of the other way around as I did on the passenger side. I then cut the original toe board to match this patch. It seems to match the cut-out much better using this technique than the passenger side did.

I test fitted the patch in position and marked from beneath the car, the location of the torque box and frame rail flanges so that I could mark the plug weld holes. The diagnol line represents an angular indention on the torque box inner panel (see first picture) and I had to be careful not to position a plug weld hole along that line. This is a view from the bottom of the patch panel with dots indicated plug weld hole positions.

I then drilled all of the plug weld holes and ground the primer off of the edge that would be mated along the butt weld line for placement against the hole cut out in the driver's side toe board. This is what the prepared patch looked like just before installation.

Finally I could move onto welding the patch in by seam welding the butt joint and plug welding to the torque box and frame rail flanges. You can see the self-tapping sheet metal screws that I used to pull the patch panel against the torque box and frame rail so that there's no space between. The screws were removed soon after this shot and the holes welded closed. Note in this image that the steering column has been removed. This allowed me much more room and comfort for completing this task. Using an air wrench, it only took about 15 minutes to pull the steering column.

Lastly, I ground down the welds with my 4.5" angle grinder, filled some pin-holes and smoothed it all up with a flap disk. There's a little more patching and clean-up to do for both firewall extensions but that will be done after I remove the remaining floor and tunnel which will be my next task in preparation for a new full-size floor which I'll be ordering shortly.