Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rounding the Bend(s)!

My goal today was to get all of the hat channel segments, along with their internal support structures, installed.  Then, if time permitted, I would do the bonus feature of a basic square floor piece installed next to the sump tank.  Last night, I closed down the motorpool after getting all of the hat channel pieces fabricated.  Although they are not perfect, I finally figured out a pretty good routine on how to make all of the bends.  Their imperfections fit beautifully into the landscape of romantic dents and dings that roll throughout its body.  For all those who wonder, I do talk like this to my wife.  She hates it so much that she encourages me to go back into the garage to work more on the jeep.  And that, my friends, is the secret to guilt-free hobby fun time!

For the hat channel filler, I opted for the block of PVC-like material.  It was the perfect width (almost) so I just had to cut some of the height down.  That was step one this morning.  It cut like butter.  I then took the blocks of PVC to the bench grinder and rounded out the corners to make it a tighter fit.  The one piece for the front passenger side needed to have its circumfrance buffed down slightly in order to fit into the outer tip of the original hat channel.  Easy enough.  My major concern was that the PVC would melt due to the heat from the welder.  In the end, if they did melt, I never saw the globby goo seep out, so I am thinking they held their shape...for the most part.

The lighter color at the tip of the point is where I had to grind down the sides.
Before installing all of the hat channels, I went ahead and cut out the area of my hopeful bonus feature.  Once removed, I then cut the new piece and used the magnet to set it in place.   My hopes were that once the welding began I could just work my way around the jeep...and not have ALL of my tools in the driveway.  Despite what all may think, I do prefer to work in an orderly environment and not surrounded by complete chaos.  I get all the chaos needed hanging out with my kids.  At least I can control my jeep building environment!

The four zones of occupation:  front right and left corners and rear right and left corners. 
The ready to be installed pieces are sitting next to their respective zones.
With everything cut and seeming to be ready, I plopped ALL pieces into their respective homes for a last minute test fit.   Everything seemed to be alright (which made me suspicious of myself). There was pretty much nothing else to do except for the official install.  "Cowboy up!"

In place and ready to weld.
I began welding and got all three of the hat channels installed.  Unfortunately, I ran out of flux wire when I was about 2/3's of the way through on the square floor patch so I was not able to finish the job. Upon completion of the second cowl step area, I finally cracked the code and figured out the correct settings on the welder as well as a decent technique to make a cleaner weld.  So, I'll help you read between the lines:  the cowl step hat channels look like a monkey's butt, and the rear pieces don't look too bad.  Well, such is life when you are impatient and insist on learning while you go.

The last two major areas to address on the tub (besides grinding down all of the weld scars) is to install the correct drain cap on the rear of the gas tank sump and then deciding what to do about the transmission hump.  The transmission hump was modified to fit the T90 (post WWII) transmission.  I have yet to decide if I am going to use the T90 or return it to original with a T84.  Any thoughts?  If I knew I was going to keep this jeep, I'd go with the T84, but since I am leaning towards selling this jeep, I am sitting on the fence.

Regardless, the finish line for this tub is almost in sight!  I say that now, but once I complete all of the big stuff, I am sure I will end up spending another entire afternoon policing up all of the other smaller, loose ends.  Who am I kidding?  It will be more like two extra days shoring up the loose tub ends!

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