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Old 01-22-2011, 02:04 PM   #1
hot rod reverend
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Default Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Background
It wasn't too long ago that I finally got my garage up and operational, and now that I have the room and time to get on my project...here goes!

I have a 1955 Ford Sunliner convertible that I bought because the price was right. (my first car was a 55 Ford Club Sedan, love the mid-fifties fords) And why was the price "right"? The photos help to tell the story. The irony is that before looking at it and before purchase, I had no idea on how good a job a body man had done on replacing the floor pans and struts - very good work, solid, thorough, and hard to tell any difference from original work.

My plan is to eventually take the body off the frame, using angle iron and old metal bed rails for support to keep the body from buckling. But before I can do that, I believe as though I need to replace the trunk floor. The PO had begun the process by drilling out the spot welds, and the floor is just about ready to come out as you can see by the photos. I have an EXCELLENT 95% rust free floor from a donor car that I have salvaged front end sheet metal from for the convertible. All measurements and specs are the same for both trunk floors and tail pans (the donor is a 55 fordor car).

To date, I would consider myself a beginner welder. I do have a mig that I have used on occasion around the garage and on sheet metal patch work, but I have never tackled something like this (isn't that half the fun? )

Questions
Here are my questions to see what recommendations some of you body men would have...

1. How much trunk floor pan should I take out of the donor car? Is it better to replace the whole thing or section it out? You probably cannot tell from the photos, but the way a 55 Ford is made, you can take a whole floor out and in without having to section it.

2. When removing the donor trunk floor, should I drill out all of the old spot welds just as it sits in the body, or should I try to make a clean cut first (since I am trashing that which I do not need or what no one would want from the donor car) and then remove the spot welds after the trunk floor is removed from the car? (in essence, cutting above the spot welds so I am taking out more metal than I need to trim later?)

3. The PO also began working on the tail pan area, and had slated that part of the car for entire removal (which it needs, but again, the donor car is ready to give up the goods!). Should I do the tail pan before or after the trunk floor?

thanks for taking the time to ready my ramblin'....







Most of the rusting around the edges is because the body panels have been separated, exposing the metal. All this is surface rust, and is very easily removed and prepped for welding/work. You can see in the one photo where the uppermost part of the trunk floor has already been separated by an inch or more. Same goes for the passenger side of the tail panel.

Last edited by hot rod reverend; 01-28-2011 at 05:42 PM. Reason: Photo alignment
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

I'll give it another shot...any of you sheet metal guys out there have any pointers?

thanks

btt
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Your Questions in black

Responses in Blue.......

To date, I would consider myself a beginner welder. I do have a mig that I have used on occasion around the garage and on sheet metal patch work, but I have never tackled something like this

.....keeping this in mind

Here are my questions to see what recommendations some of you body men would have...

1. How much trunk floor pan should I take out of the donor car? Is it better to replace the whole thing or section it out?

For a "beginning welder" I think you will have better results to keep the floor pans as one piece as this will be welded back together using plug welds, which may be easier than butt welding a sectioned piece in. Also, use some of the scrap pieces you will likely have left over to practice on and get your welder settings correct. No sense in ruining perfectly good donor sheetmetal by using them as guinea pigs.

You probably cannot tell from the photos, but the way a 55 Ford is made, you can take a whole floor out and in without having to section it.

2. When removing the donor trunk floor, should I drill out all of the old spot welds just as it sits in the body, or should I try to make a clean cut first (since I am trashing that which I do not need or what no one would want from the donor car) and then remove the spot welds after the trunk floor is removed from the car? (in essence, cutting above the spot welds so I am taking out more metal than I need to trim later?)

You would need to look at each area /flange being plug welded and see what you have for accessibility. For example, the lapped section behind the seat will be much easier to weld from the top, rather than underneath with hot weld splatter dropping on you. Each flange will likely be a case by case basis, and any holes drilled can be used as you plug weld holes to weld to the adjacent piece. If you donor floor has an area that needs to remain free of holes (i.e.: plug weld holes will be in the adjacent panel), then I would cut out some of the adjacent panel with the trunk floor, so you will have better access on a bench or table to grind the spot welds (or use spot weld cutter) to remove the remaining parts.

3. The PO also began working on the tail pan area, and had slated that part of the car for entire removal (which it needs, but again, the donor car is ready to give up the goods!). Should I do the tail pan before or after the trunk floor?

This is another accessibility issue. If the tail pan out of the way makes the trunk floor install easier, then there is your answer. Be sure to leave the trunk lid installed, even if it is in the way, as your trunk opening may shift around once you remove the tail pan and/or floor. When you fit up the donor tailpan, you can close the trunk lid to check for gaps to the adjacent panels, and adjust as needed prior to welding.


For tackling your spot welds, Here's a thread I wrote on the various tools:

What you use will largely be determined by which panel you are saving, what access you have to either side, and how well you and the tool work in harmony.

If you are facing the piece you wish to save, and the lower panel is essentially a throwaway, then simply use a drill bit the same size you would select for plug welds, and drill out the spot weld. When you place the new panel beneath and clamp it up, the hole you drilled in the top panel now serves as your plug weld hole.

If you are saving the lower panel, and throwing away the top, you can use whatever works best for you. There are many ways to accomplish the same thing, but if you are not proficient in using one method, try another. I think each method has it's faults, so pick the one that best suits the area you are working.

The holesaw type cutter typically cuts like any other holesaw does, and once the teeth start to cut a "channel", it is difficult to see how far along you are progressing. At the point the cutter reaches the second layer, which is where you would want to stop, if there were a bit of rust between the two panels and your cutter had enough speed, you would have a visual indicator in a wisp of "rust smoke" that is seen coming around the cutter. It is here that, even though some moderate speed is needed to produce this indicator, light pressure is also needed (better classified as "restraint") so that you don't go through too far and damage the second panel. In my case, I found myself going through too far, and would either need to repair the deep channel I just cut in the second layer, or would have to weld in a circle to repair the gaping hole I just left. Needless to say, I no longer use this method, and gave the cutter I did have to someone else that hopefully is having better luck with it than I did.

Some of the cutters have a spring loaded center punch, much like a machinists roto-bore. Even with an intial center punch used in the middle of the spot weld, These cutters have the misfortune of slipping off center, and many people will simply drill a 1/8" diameter hole, either partially or all the way thru, to prevent the cutter from walking about. I'll stop here and offer a generalized thought. If you have difficulty filling an 1/8" hole in a piece of sheet metal with your welder, you will likely have problems with the pilot drill method, and perhaps should try one of the other methods.

I think the Wivco cutters will work better than the hole saw type, in that they mimick an end mill, so the cutter is relatively flat on the bottom. This should give a less aggressive cut, a plus for people like me who may have a problem of leaning too hard on the cutter. The open flute design will also allow you to better see what is going on than the holesaw type, which obscures everything. It does use the pilot bit, so if that is not an issue (see above paragraph), then this is a good choice.




The blair cutter is available in either the spring loaded version or the pilot bit version, I think these are likely a more aggresive cut than the wivco, especially since the cutting surface is extremely narrow, so it may be more likely to pose the cut through problems I described initially.





The rounded burr grinder is also a good method which should somewhat limit the damage to the (throwaway) panel to just slightly larger than that of a spot weld cutter. The downside is that these also come with little tiny slivers of metal that are a pain when you get them in your skin, so it would be advantageous to address these with a vacuum cleaner/foxtail and dust pan on occasion to keep the issue at bay. A pair of work gloves come in handy as well. Keep some duct tape handy to pull out the slivers that sneak by.






The last method I'll discuss is the one that I use because I don't play nice with the holesaw type. I use a 3" cutoff wheel with a 1/16" thick cutoff disc and use the tool to grind away the spot weld. I find for myself, it offers a less obstructed view of any of the methods listed, and with the proper speed (fast), will give you an indicator in the discoloration of the top layer (blue or darkened) usually before you have even broken into the second layer. Basically the metal is heating up and as it starts to get thin, it heats up more quickly and shows this via a color change. The color change back to bright silver will indicate you have reached the second layer, and act as a guide where to not grind anymore (the bright area) and where to grind, the blue/dark circle surround it. The disadvantages with this method, are the top panel is basically useless now; you will need good eye protection (moreso than the holesaw type cutters), and due to the grinding particulate, will need to use a respirator/mask to prevent you from hocking up black globs shortly afterward. I usually get a 3M or equivalent paint respirator, as the typical dust masks only serve to fog up your safety glasses, and as is evident upon the removal of the dust mask by the residue alongside the bridge of your nose, they don't work all that well. A paint style respirator exhales to the sides, away from your safety glasses, and typically conforms to your face much better.


Grind pattern visible:





This replacement qtr was recently cut back off the car. In order to save the other areas (rear bumper filler panel, inner qtr to t/g opening panel), the resulting damage occurred while grinding from the opposite sides of the proposed "save" panels. Repairs would need to be made to use this panel again. Damaged panel:





That should give a brief view of both the good and the bad with each method, now it will be up to you to figure out which one works best for you and best for the situation at hand.

Last edited by MP&C; 01-25-2011 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Robert - Holy Cow! That is an answer with more than I expected - thank you. The old axiom is true, "you have not because you ask not"

I do have a spot-weld cutter I bought from Eastwood, but looking at the trunk floor and how its laid tells me that access might not be the greatest in a few places.

Have you ever used a product called "picklex"? I had another fella on another site recommend that to me, but I have never heard of it. Rust converter/preventative I believe.

Thanks again for your post. I will update my progress with some photos from time to time...dj
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Reverend " Robert " is a huge asset to our community here . I can tell you your time would be well spent looking at any thread done by him . He is truly an artist with sheetmetal .


Rick
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by hot rod reverend View Post
Have you ever used a product called "picklex"? I had another fella on another site recommend that to me, but I have never heard of it. Rust converter/preventative I believe.
...dj
DJ, I do not use the picklex type products because they are not compatible with the Epoxy Primer I use. Also, if not used properly, you risk adhesion issues. Deeply pitted metal will many times retain some scale in the bottom of the pits. This, as well as improper application/removal of the picklex type product, (specifically, too much residue) either of which if not removed, will come back to haunt that pricey new paint job. It's much cheaper to do it right before the paint goes on, up to and including installing new metal... Too many times picklex and POR type products give a false sense of security with the cure-all fix-all aura that eminates from their proponents. But improper use by an inexperienced enthusiast may require rework due to substandard results. I'll suggest that you read this entire thread (see link below), it should help you out on patch panels and welding, etc. Then slow down for post 197, it contains my comments on Epoxy primer and compatibility with other products.

http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/s...ad.php?t=53534

Last edited by MP&C; 01-26-2011 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 01-26-2011, 09:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

thanks Robert - got some time to read that thread and post tonight - plenty of snow out here. I did get some work done in the shop today, removing all of the sheet metal from the donor car frame...





I know just about any dufus can disassemble sheet metal, but learning the work of the metal, how panels are welded together, spot welds, and all the rest are good practice for me...the floor pans and the whole firewall section was in excellent shape so I saved those. The rockers, not so good.
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Ok, working right along here, and I already have a buyer on those floor pans! Haven't even got them all out of there... no problem - now done today. The photos show some progress on my fabrication of body dolly for the convertible. Tomorrow I will clean up that front crossmember and attach the ball receiver with a set of new U bolts for a rear axle assembly. Probably overkill, and the dolly will never be towed anywhere, but I don't want the thing falling off there anytime soon!

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Old 01-28-2011, 07:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

I'd suggest hanging onto those floor pans until you are completely finished with your convertible. Something that may look solid now will show you a different story once you start to remove rockers, floor braces, etc. that may be adjacent to it. Those donor parts do look pretty nice. I'd stash those quarters up in the attic of your garage also. Worth more as spare parts for the rag top (never know what might happen) than to sell outright IMO.
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Old 01-29-2011, 03:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Trunk Floor Replacement/Sheet Metal Work questions...on a 1955 Ford Convertible

Robert: Although a lot of Rust and Chunks fell out of the body when I was using the air chisel on some of the rocker panel sections, this metal I am salvaging is very solid stuff, no doubt. I will save anything that I can keep. On the floor pans, I already had a fella that was looking for them anyway. I will see what he wants to do. Really don't like backing out of a deal or a promise made - that's not my style. Plus, there is another car I can salvage for pennies on the dollar not too far from here.

Here are some photos of more progress today. Even in the snow, this body dolly is very easy to move around. I expect that once a full body is on the frame, things won't be so easy, but then again, I also won't be in several inches of snow. Pulls and PUSHES quite easily. Now I've got some room to work in that ever shrinking garage of mine!



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