Thursday, January 5, 2012

Objects in Rear View Mirror... (part 1)

It is not really the end of the rear, but rather the beginning.  After too much procrastination, I coaxed myself into my dingy work clothes and began chopping off the heavy duty rear cross member Herr Bubba professionally installed on the frame.  He had reinforced both outside rails, as well as placing a very solid weld bead along the pintle hook "V" brace.  It was going to be a dirty job, and I knew it.  If only I could have had Mike Rowe come over and I could have watched him work.  Instead, my motivation was that I was getting closer to the finish line of not having any more of these time consuming, dust storm making, loud, dirty jobs.  Knock the rear end off, disassemble the leaf springs and finish cleaning the underside of the axles and then I could put the grinder away for awhile.

My initial assumption of time that it would take to remove the 20 odd pound hunk of steel was about 4-5 days.  I figured I would make two cuts each day and in just under a week I could hear a huge clunk when Bubba's rear cross member hit my driveway.  Somehow, I ended up doing it in two days.

Let's look at what I was faced with.

Everything  below the four holes in the above, centered rectangle (where the pintle hook attaches) needs to go.

Close up view of the driver's side exterior rail and the massive reinforcing brace.

Center of the rear cross member and a close up of the "V" brace where the pintle attaches.  Whoever removed the old crossmember did a decent job replacing it with this work.  Too bad I can't use it!

Close up view of the exterior rail and reinforcing brace on the passenger side.  Thick weld beads!  This is why I estimated making two cuts a day.  I figured it would be a very slow process.
I started on the driver's side and the cuts went surprisingly quickly.  Before I had really gotten dirty, I had made my two cuts.  Now I figured I would get ahead of schedule and keep on trucking.  I actually buzzsawed both rails and the "V" brace welds.  Disappointment set in when the crossmember would not budge.  I studied and cut, cut and studied, but it still wouldn't drop.  I chiseled and pried, pried and chiseled...even broke a screwdriver or two and it still wouldn't move.  Somewhere deep inside, Bubba had a hidden weld on me.  So, in an effort to get a better visual, I opened the patient up and dropped the center bit of the rear crossmember.  In doing so, I used up my last cut off disc so hostilities ceased for the night. 
Twenty odd pounds of steel sitting on the garage floor.
Today, armed with several new cut off discs, I went to town.  In less than 30 minutes, I had the two remaining wings removed.  Then, in typical Bo fashion, I figured that since I was already dirty, I might as well go and begin grinding down the remaining weld scars.  I wanted to get as much of the dirty work done as possible...since I had come so far so quickly.
The clunker bumper is completely removed.

Driver's side

Passenger side.  I thought I had a good technique developed on the driver's side yesterday.  I ended up over stepping my boundaries...twice!  Usually you can feel the resistance subside when the cut off disc gets through the steel.  I never felt it on this side and cooked it right through the frame.  Not like I do not have enough repairs to make already.  Add this to the list.
After putting all of my tools away, I couldn't resist placing the new correct rear crossmember on the frame.  I just wanted to have a look at what was soon to come.  Obviously there is still a little more cleaning up and some small repairs to do before it gets mounted, but the large part of the work is done...for now.
Eventually, this will be properly mounted.  Until then, well, you get the picture!

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