Thursday, September 15, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas

All week long I have been slowly welding the 50+ large and small holes in the tub that Bubba and the gang dilligently drilled throughout the 60 years of its civilian life.  I've got them completed on both sides, but I haven't even looked at the rear panel with the imposter tailgate perpetrating.  Seriously, every time I walk around the jeep, I close my eyes so I can't see that destruction.  I guess that isn't entirely true.  I do sneak a peak at it so I can start "fixing it in my mind" before I actually take my tools to it.  I guess if I would have approached golf with the same mental vigor, I would have been better.  Or I just would have watched my golf balls splash in the water or bounce out of bounds in my mind's eye before actually hitting it where I shouldn't have.  I have found out that I do like to spin things over very thoroughly mentally before I go and begin attempting a repair.  I like to see it completed in my head before doing it in reality.  No "John Wayne-ing" with cut off discs and grinders here! 

So I have got all of the holes filled.  What remains, now, are the serious rust-through zones.  The driver's side has three spots that need to be repaired, the worst one being an angled area around the cowl step.  So, no reason to ease into the mess and begin with the smaller business card size, flat spots.  Let's tackle the hardest part first.  Why, not?  

 I examined the area and decided that I really wanted to make the repair with one piece.  I thought in the long run it would be stronger and hopefully look neater not having to weld a seam in the 90 degree area.  The truth is, there are either great welders or great grinders in the world...or so some would say.  I am neither.  I'm mediocre, at best, in both categories...unless its a nice wide open flat spot and I can get it nice and smoooooth.

I took my trusty old dull, black sharpie and sketched out  on an old cereal box a shape that resembled a deformed, lazy looking Texas sitting in a Lazy Boy.  I cut out the shape and positioned it on the side of the jeep and then trimmed it as necessary.  Once satisfied, I then traced it with the sharpie and stood back to admire my modernesque Picasso skills.

Picassoesque sketchwork

Not bad.  Let's do this.  I rummaged through my box of leftovers and found a suitable piece of steel left over from my M37 body work.  After cutting it out I eyeballed it and the area awaiting the repair.  Satisfied that I would be close enough, I then cut out the rusty area on the jeep. 

I took my newly formed piece of good steel, set it up securely in the brake press and bent the piece of steel into a 90 degree position.  Not that it ever works out right the first time, one always hopes...but, it didn't quite fit.  About an hour later of trimming a bit off here, a little off the top there, a smidge on on this side and a tad on that side with the grinder, file and cut-off wheel, the lazy shape of Texas finally got a decent fit.  I couldn't get my clamps out fast enough.

Out with the old and in with the new

This would be the old

I got everything set up in a suitable position and then I spot welded it into place.  My time ran out, so it was a good stopping point to clean everything (including me) up.  Jack asked me twice, "Daddy, is that oil on your face?"  No, just tons of dirt, grime and charred bits of metal, I guess.  Nonetheless, I feel overly joyous knowing that I've got the toughest part of the driver's side basically done.  Of course, with THAT being said, the two business card flat spots will become overly complicated!  No rain on this parade...I'm rejoicing in the now.

Clamped and ready

My own brand of spot'll get finished and cleaned later.

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