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Old 04-06-2010, 08:52 PM
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Cancer in suspension

Hi,

I am a newbie as I just brought home my latest addition to my garage. It is is very good shape all around, body is a 8+ or 9 out of 10, all trim is in place, top will hold up for at least another 1 o 2 years. The interior is definitely tired and worn, but I would give it a 5 out of 10. She is an automatic with a 170 and she hums right along rather nicely. After I got her home yesterday I noticed that the frame under the drivers side has rusted away (not sure how I missed that after all the time I took to review her before buying her). There seems to be some serious cancer in place which makes me think, 1.- can anything be done w/o spending a fortune ? after what I saw I am sure there must be more it is just a matter of getting her up on the rack at the local body shop.

Question is, where should I take her to get a fair estimate, is this common (I know it's a 40+ year old car) has anyone replaced their frame or at least sections of it ?

Any and all help is always appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:08 PM
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Take it to Elliot at Elhot Metal Fab for a look. He can take care of it. It's just a matter of cutting out the bad steel and replacing it with good.
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  #3  
Old 04-07-2010, 11:51 AM
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thanks pbrown,
does that mean that the frame is welded to the body vs. bolted ? (uniframe, unibody)
also, any recomendations on who to take it to down here in So Cal? I assume the shop you recomended is local to you in Seattle..

thanks again
Erick
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:25 PM
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Luva65wagon Luva65wagon is offline
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Erick,

Yeah, I think Patrick missed your introduction thread where you said you were in SoCal.

I suspect this section of frame is the part that is about 2-1/2 wide and 1-1/2 thick and comes down from and disappears up to where the engine bay is and stops by rounding off just below where your feet are? If so, this is the rear part of the front frame rail and is a part of the unibody frame. It stops under your feet and then uses the rest of the floor as "part of the frame" until it picks back up again in the torque boxes where the front of the rear leaf springs connect. Fortunately the whole body and floor are "one" and as such, unless you have a lot of torque coming from that whopping 170, you'll not likely twist the car in half and may have never realized a problem. Good thing is, these can be fabricated by any good welding shop in about an hour. So it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg, or your first born child.

If the part you are talking about is the part of the frame just below the sill of the door, that is far more complex, but still not a huge task for a good weld shop to cut out the bad and weld in some new.

These parts of the unibody frame were galvanized as well, which should have kept them from rusting away, but that only lasts so long when you're using floor jacks and what-not on these areas and scraping the galvanizing away. I also don't know how well they galvanized it. They didn't plan for a car to last 50 years.

Please be forewarned that grinding and welding on galvanizing is pretty hazardous, so take precautions by using face and dust masks if grinding and cutting, and evacuating the smoke away from you (or the welder) when welding it.

You can also take some pictures of the extent of damage and we can advise further.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:28 PM
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Thanks Roger,

The portion that I found to be the worse is right under the door sill and looked frighteningly bad as I have never seen that kind of rust damage being from Los Angeles. I looked at the rest of the car and there are other similar spots on the passengers side, but not quite as bad as the drivers side. I located a couple local frame/body shops in town and will be visiting one of them on Saturday and will take some pictures while it's on the rack (for show and tell). And you are correct my whopping 170 is not putting any undue torque on the frame except when I pull wheelies (yeah right..). Over all she drives very nice and quiet and I would have never guessed the rust was there as I have no squeaks coming from anywhere (yet).

Thanks for the info as at first I was feeling ill and thinking that I may have to junk her, the thought now is more on the side of, should I have her painted while she is in there? might make sense.

Thanks again for your input and stay tuned for the pictures after I visit the shop this Saturday.
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:12 PM
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They even make repair panels for the rockers so it must be a regular repair. I just checked Rockauto.com and they go for $36 per side... They still need to be welded in, just wanted you to know you are not facing anything unusual.
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:50 PM
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Thanks Jeff

I have recently received a few catalogs like Dearborn Classics and I see that panels and other skins are a norm, so I may be ordering a few parts from there and Rockauto as well.

thanks again and stay tuned for pictures this weekend.

Erick
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Old 04-10-2010, 01:37 PM
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Bad news....

So I visited 3 frame shops in the local area where I live and got the same bad news from all three. They didn't even want to put it on the rack after their initial peek under the car. Looks like the frame, floor pans and they even pointed out the inner fender wells are either eaten or 3/4 way eaten away. They said that they really would not have anywhere to start welding pieces to. the concensus was that I would be looking at minimum 10k and that would just be the starting point. The same question came up time and time again, "how much do you like the car and where would you want to draw the line at". Other than that, they all raved about how good the car looks from the outside and how it sounds. Either way, it was not good news for me.

So I have 2 options left, a) keep the car and use it over the summer and then sell it, although I am not sure how much to ask for it considering of the news I just received. Mind you, the engine is rebuilt, so is the transmission, new brakes all around, new tires, shocks and even the top works just fine. b) cut my losses and put it up for sale as it sits.

Perhaps someone has a convertible and is looking to transplant some of my pieces into theirs or something like that.

Sorry I did not post any pictures, but I will take some pictures and post them.

Does anyone have any suggestions or have an alternative to this predicament ?

Thanks again for all your input as it is appreciated.

Erick
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:42 PM
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It would be really helpful to have you post some pictures, for sure. Post as many as you can.

3 shops would seem to point to being at least getting one of them to tell you the truth about how bad it is. We've all experienced rot, and fixed it, so it can be done. Some are just worse than others and do get to the point at times to say "is this worth it." With it being a convertible, it is worth more than a sedan, that's for sure.

Convertibles also have extra undercarriage support in order to keep, for one thing, the door opening from closing up over time, so that's a good thing going for it.

Perhaps it is time to pick up a small portable mig welder and learn to weld. It's not really all that hard. With this being the floor, and with most of the parts available to fix it, you could do it yourself - and save!
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:00 PM
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Pictures

Here are some initial pictures of the drivers side undercarrige of my bird. It pains me just to post them. The passenger side is almost in the same condition, I will post the rest of the shots I took tonight

thanks guys
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:05 PM
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Pictures (more)

here are more shots from the drivers side and the passenger's side.
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File Type: jpg DSCN2423.jpg (143.1 KB, 26 views)
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File Type: jpg DSCN2428.jpg (168.2 KB, 27 views)
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:11 PM
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Pictures (some more)

this is the Passenger's side
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File Type: jpg DSCN2440.jpg (171.7 KB, 19 views)
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2010, 08:41 PM
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Pictures

well, oddly enough the body still lines up really nice, thise shots are of the doors and hood and all of them are still squared really nice.
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  #14  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:19 PM
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Well... that's pretty bad. What's the floor look like inside under the carpets? Just as bad?

You can thank (or curse) how stiff they make the convertibles. It has kept it from folding in on itself and from you realizing anything was wrong before you bought it.

Honestly the part that concerns me the most (on a scale of 1-10; a 10) is the section where the rear leaf spring bolts to the body. If you had anything fixed right away, it would be that section. Don't worry about pretty, think about safe. Most of the rest of it could probably be patched section by section and then just drive it while you do that.

And to be more brutally honest, what you overlooked will unlikely to be overlooked again. So as bad as it actually is (the rest about a 8 or 9) will make the car very unfavorable for someone who's not very capable or very rich, or both. Not sure what you paid for it, but that could make a 50-70% difference in the value; especially if the floors are gone as well.

One could weld up a sub-frame connector to help add some strength and then using something like angle-iron and flat metal and weld up the rest of it and use some heavy tar to make the rest of it... disappear... and again, drive it.
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Last edited by Luva65wagon; 04-13-2010 at 09:22 PM.
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  #15  
Old 04-13-2010, 11:40 PM
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I'm afraid I have to agree with Roger, it's not pretty.

I would also question the story the past seller gave you about the recent engine and transmission rebuild. Judging by the build-up on the oil pan and transmission, I'm thinking the "rebuild" may have been in the late 1980's.

I'm not sure what to advise. Maybe chalk it up to a learning experience. Click and Clack from Car Talk highly recommend getting a "pre-sale" inspection. I think this hold especially true for a vintage car. That is IF you can find a shop that knows these pre-computer cars.

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