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Discussion Starter #121
Well, day #4 this week at the garage.

Part of why I've only been working on the GT one day a month is because it takes me forever to make decisions. Especially co-dependent decisions. I hem and haw, and I have to build mental momentum where I understand what I want to do. I have to juggle as much of the details as I can in my head. When I get to the garage at 9pm, and can only grind for maybe 30 minutes, I'm never ready, so I get roadblocked by not being able to grind, and not being able to proceed and figure out the next thing without even exploratory grinding.

I hate tackling things piecemeal. I like to binge-work on projects. When I start working, it's normal for me to not eat or sleep for the first day or two and just work day and night. Having the habit of going to the shop and only wasting an hour catching up to yesterday's momentum has been working great. Got more done this week than I have since the summer combined.

Yesterday night, did a bunch of chopping. It was easy, still had mental momentum so I just showed up and grabbed the grinder.



Hit a snag, and maybe why panels weren't nesting well before. The floorpan gutters/strengthening grooves need to nest, but on the lower pan (orange) it still had the edge of the trans tunnel welded to it. No room to get a grinder between them anymore, tin snips to the rescue.



You know when you try to order one perfect pizza for multiple people, then just give up and order everyone their own?

As Keith suggested, I'm both rosette welding and seam welding. It's a lot of time and definitely overkill for the seats (good practice for firewall), but "solve a problem" time moves at 2% the speed of "just do the work" time. I don't think I'm exaggerating, a lot of work to do with no decisions to be made is 50x faster than having to figure something out. Doug probably recalls I'd sit around, hem and haw, get frustrated and wonder why I even started, consult for advice... and when I picked a path, boom. Go go go, turning grinder discs into lung disease until there's something new to figure out.



Another roadblock, the '70 (yellow) and the '73 (? orange) seem to have different seat rail heights for the longitudinal rails. The back end (where the rear seat bolts is) is tight, but the front has 1/4" gap. Back a few month ago when I documented this I figured I just had metal blocking the path so they wouldn't nest. But even with the metal gone, there's still 1/4" difference.



You could shove a pencil between the overlapping seat rails. I don't think they're bent, they're actually different vertical heights for the rails. Maybe.

My solution was to drill an excessive amount of screw holes (what's a little more welding?), bash it with a hammer as I go, and stop caring because none of it is critical. It'll be plenty strong. All 4 seat bolts are the same height, it's just in between them where the rails aren't the same height. Doesn't matter.



Chopped as planned and a few sheet metal screws to start anchoring it.



The passenger side has two rows of rosette holes. That's because the driver's side I got lazy and cut the orange straight through the seat rail and the floorpan last fall. Don't care, won't matter. Moving on.

End of yesterday night.
 

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Discussion Starter #122
And, last night's progress...


Time to check is the seat rails are level.

On one hand, I have to consider that the orange rail has sagged.

On the other hand, I have to consider that I have doubled-up sheet metal from where the two panels will still be nesting.

These errors work in opposite directions.

Hmm...



Errors cancel each other. Moving on.

One of the first things Roy and I noticed last summer was that even between the two cars, I didn't have a complete floor pan. The passenger footwell had holes in both. No problem, I saved all the old cutoffs to patch with, thinking I'd be laying a 6"x12" patch piece.

Came across once piece... oh wow... it's just about a perfect match!



What are the odds?!

Oh wait, damnit, it has rust holes in the patch piece right where I need to use it.

... wait a minute...

This is literally the scrap piece I cut out of this section several months ago, because it was rusted.

Not quite a "This bolt is stripped, into the junky bolts tin it goes. Hmm, where to find a replacement, none in my trays, wonder if there's one in the tin? Aha! I'm in luck. Oh damnit, this one's stripped too...", but close.

I've been embracing the "minimal overlap" mantra, and went about snipping and trimming floorpan (by hand, it was 3am) until it was only 1/4" overlapped. What I imagined would be that 6"x12" patch ended up more like 6"x1".



Spent some time underneath to check the fit with the transmission crossmember. I'd hoped the holes would line up and tell me if I was off.

Turns out the holes are oval so they tell me nothing. (Actually, looked maybe 1/4" too wide).

The back of the transmission tunnel was definitely 1/4" too narrow, I could tell by the corners of the seat rails not matching, but 2 feet away the transmission hole was 1/4" off in the other direction, too wide. Obviously a result of how Doug, Roy and I jacked, levered, and shoved the two bodies together to tell a happy tale to the DMV last summer. We used a jack under on the cowl to lift it up (bent up and inward, sucked in the sides), I used a massive prybar at the back end (bent up and inward also), sat on the back "seat" and put my legs on the seat rails to shove it all forward as hard as I could so the footwells would clear (splayed the footwells down and wide).

My attempt at fixing it was to use a bottle jack sideways against the transmission rails near the transmission to keep it wide enough to stretch the back end first. No dice. So I wedged a tire jack into the back of the trans tunnel to try to widen it directly. But the tunnel has nothing for rails at that point and it's shaped like a triangle so the jack would just push itself down and out as I tightened. So I used a floor jack and a 2x4 to force the screw jack to stay still. 3 jacks at the same time.

But tightening the screw jack just lifted the trans tunnel up, rather than expand it outwards.

So I cut off the last 2" of the seat rails where it was bothering me that you could see they didn't line up.

...

The rest of the night was spent trimming floorpan, drilling holes, breaking drillbits and screwing floor panels together.

I know this looks like the same image I've posted 3 times this week but it's 3 hours extra work from the last one:



... minor milestone. It's not welded yet, but the car doesn't feel like a pile of junk anymore.

With the trans tunnel missing everything has always squeaked and groaned and it moved when I stepped on it and I had to be careful where I put my weight. With 50 screws in it it, it feels like it's one piece again. I can just lean or step on it and it doesn't flex out of the way. Something neither of my GTs ever felt like with how much interior damage they both had. It's actually feeling like there's something that can be a car, not just a garage full of sheet metal.

Speaking of junk...



That is a factory weld on my GT.

Rear of the trans tunnel, right before the cross member behind the seats, passenger side. It was under all the seam sealer and sound absorber stuff.

Someone got *paid* to weld that so poorly. Suddenly I don't feel so bad about my lack of welding skills anymore (which we're about to see demonstrated fully).
 

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Discussion Starter #123
Speed Controller Update:

Since blowing up one microcontroller or both around Christmas time, I ordered a new one of each.

One of them arrived with a solder splash all of over it. Asked for another new one, got a replacement. Waited for it to arrive.

Ripped apart the board and put the new Blue Pill in. Ran through all the same routine of progressively connecting and programming it and the D1.

Doesn't work. There's this fancy webpage interface that's supposed to show me all the dozens of inverter parameters live updated and for me to tweak and configure to my motor. The interface loads, but none of the parameters. So the two controllers aren't talking to each other.

Doesn't work, and I can't tell why it doesn't work, and I can't figure out at what point what doesn't work.

Another 3 weeks of asking questions, but there's not much specific to tell me. Maybe no one has actually tried this combination of hardware before. I knew I was among the first, and some guys just used alternative hardware for pieces of stuff that they already had laying around.

One guy, who wrote the tutorial to bridge between the developer and guys like me, goes to actually see if his tutorial works for the first time and runs into the same dead end as I do. Controllers won't talk to each other. He's stumped. (spoiler, tangent, he had a separate issue, unrelated).

Another guy says he'll order one of each and let us know when they arrive.

Two weeks later they arrive and he hooks them up. He gets them working just fine no hassles. He asks me a few questions. Really basic. Is the device on? Does the LED have a heartbeat so you know it's doing something? How are you connecting power? What can you see?

I tell him LED is on solid any time it's powered, so I know it's not fried. Is that the "heartbeat"?

Apparently, it's not supposed to be. It should be blinking if things are working. This isn't written down anywhere for me to have identified and even started asking the right questions.

It conclusively means that the controller isn't flashed. It's suggested I try re-flashing it.

I reflash it. Flashing process reports success, same as last time. Says it flashed successfully, no errors. But doesn't work. I post a log.



Someone asks me to scroll up and post the log of what happened earlier when I flashed it with the loader file.

I ask what loader file?

Apparently there's a loader file. You have to flash the Blue Pill with the loader file first, then flash it with the software second.

This isn't written anywhere. The (3rd party) video tutorials they linked showing how to program the Blue Pill don't show it or mention it. They just show using one file. One file is apparently common enough, but for some special reason, this project has a 2-step process.

There was one reference to "loader and programming file" earlier in a process, but no links to either, so I had to dig into a thread to find the programming file 2 months ago.

"loader and programming" seemed to me like a combined thing. Apparently "loader file and programming file" is what was meant.

The file I found 2 months ago? Correct file. That was in the programming directory.

The loader file? Oh it's not part of what was updated that day, not mentioned by anything in that thread, since it hasn't changed in a while no need to mention it.

Okay, back into the directory... I still only see the programming file, no loader file. I didn't miss it, or neglect to inquire what that extra file was for, it's just not there.

Oh, that's because that directory is only for the programming files, not the loader files. You have to go to a different directory to find the loader files. It's not linked to or mentioned in the programming parts.

...

This is like, you learn to drive a new car. Someone leaves you a manual. You try for 3 months but can't drive.

Eventually someone asks if you have the keys. Yes of course you have the keys. Let me take picture of them to make sure I'm using the correct keys.

Okay, I can't see the can of purple paint in your picture, can you take a picture of your can of purple paint so I'm sure it's in the right place?

Huh? What?

Yeah, you have to put a can of purple paint in the far left side of trunk in order for the car to start. Takes 5 seconds.

Well that's not in the car manual I could get from the dealer...

No of course not, you find the paint can manual in the hardware store, where you'd get purple paint.

Well how was I supposed to know to look for a thing, that I didn't know or suspect was a thing, that none of the help I researched mentioned ever needing?

...

So it took 5 seconds and my inverter hardware is blinking and the web interface live updates all my inverter paramenters and lets me change them now.

...

Not to disparage any of these people. The work they've done is two orders of magnitude farther than I could imagine, they don't get paid for it, and they give up their evenings and weekends developing it on a volunteer basis. I'm the annoying one asking dumb questions, but... goddamnit. I wish they were a little bit dumber and more relatable to people at my level.

Hopefully I'll get a motor spinning this week, if just on a bench.
 

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Matt first off congratulations on your first year Opelversary :yup: and second very nice work :yup:
It will be awesome to see the final product. Your Opel GT is going to be a piece of workmanship
like no other. I'm enjoying the ride as a spectator :veryhappy
 

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And, last night's progress...


Time to check is the seat rails are level.

On one hand, I have to consider that the orange rail has sagged.

On the other hand, I have to consider that I have doubled-up sheet metal from where the two panels will still be nesting.

These errors work in opposite directions.

Hmm...



Errors cancel each other. Moving on.

<SNIP> >>> </SNIP>


Someone got *paid* to weld that so poorly. Suddenly I don't feel so bad about my lack of welding skills anymore (which we're about to see demonstrated fully).
Matt, I have 2 things to say:

1. You are taking way too much time telling (all of) US a.) what you are going to do, b). why, c). what did/did not work, d). why, e.) what you did to fix it, f.) why and g). what it looks like done (or nearly done)! And you do it all with pictures (and you know that "WE" all LOVE pictures)!

2. THANK YOU!

To the rest of you, the things Matt said about getting frustrated, depressed, then "fixing it" and about not eating, just working, etc are all TRUE! I guess that is why he is making "progres" and I can't even spell it!

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #126
1. You are taking way too much time telling (all of) US
Heh.

Documenting my build is something I do 60% for me, 20% to get advice on what to do next, and 20% because it's the only way I have of giving back to the community. It's mostly selfish.

Pictures are quick, and I need those anyways. It's not much extra time to share them.

With how important momentum is to me getting anything done, it helps to solidify what I did, why, and what I should do next. Any day might be the day that I stop working on it for a month and I constantly check back on my own notes.

Plus, I noticed when I was at your place, I'd get stumped on how to proceed. I'd look at things this way then that way, then try to see how if I do A then it affects B and C. I'd have half a plan but be uneasy about moving forward with anything permanent. I'd tell you (or Roy), and your feedback would change what I was doing slightly and move me from "I'm not comfortable with this" into "Yep, this is going to work, go do it." I probably did that 20 times and every single time I was glad I did. Forum feedback is the same way. If nothing else, no one telling me "that's not going to work" is passive endorsement that I'm headed in the right direction.

Plus it's not a disposable project, I'll presumably have this car a long time. So, this thread is my diary. An archive written in the present rather than a conclusion written with perspective of knowing how it ends. It's interesting to go back over projects and see what felt important at the time, what I struggled with, how I felt about it, what 5 things failed things I tried before I did the 1 thing that worked.

And, I'm at the computer at my day job between customers, so, it's wasted time I can't be in the shop anyway. :p
 

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I just found this thread and have been reading it for the last hour or so. Congrats to Matt. You are courageous! I will be watching to see the end result. Good luck.
 

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I want to do an electric conversion someday after I finish my Kadett. I saw an episode of Wheeler Dealers where they bought a Maserati that had been converted. They updated the motor and batteries and had a great vehicle. That is the route I would go, buy a motor kit, as I couldn't engineer my own.
 

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Discussion Starter #130
Productive-ish two weeks of bodywork. Four steps forward, three steps back. Frustrating, but, inching progress. Probably spent more time on the car than I have combined since I left Doug's place in Phoenix.

First up, a terrible choice to start on, the cowl seam next to the VIN plate. I had tried drilling holes to rosette weld, but, I lacked a way to clamp the metal underneath. Even my long welding clamps didn't reach or wouldn't fit. So, in the end there was no point to the rosettes, most of them were just holes I had to hover and fill. I both burned through and left holes. Gave up and coming back to it later with more practice since it's a cosmetic area.



I figured a good place to practice would be the seat rails, since they've got 3 seams, double the metal, aren't really that structural, and will be hidden under the seats.

First up, driver's side:



So, this has become my method:

1 - Tack a few places with the 2-setting welder on "Low", then tack as much as I can just to build up thickness.

2 - Try to run a bead (I've stopped doing this). Run 1/4"-long diagonal beads, pause 2 seconds, run another one next to it when it's partially but not fully cool.

3 - Sometimes, flick the welder to "High" and try to run a bead through all of that to re-melt it and fill inevitable voids.

4 - Grind it flush.

5 - Find all the places there was too much material to melt and it left gaps. Also find pinholes. Fill them.

6 - Grind again.

7 - Repeat grind/weld cycle 3 times before most of the holes are covered.

Moving on, passenger's side. This one also has rosette welds to try.



A tangent on this one...

When I was welding the rosettes behind the rear seat bolt, the metal... changed. Hard to describe. It was like it wasn't steel anymore. It looks like I welded across the whole surface, but I didn't, just the rosettes. It was matte grey and clay-like. When I ground it, same deal, was not like steel anymore, soft and gummy. It's right through the base metal. The base got hot, but, not that hot.







Anyone familiar with that?

Could be all the lead paint alloying with steel?
Could be all the zinc and chromium from the zinc chromate?

... end tangent. It doesn't matter and I'm not fixing it, was just curious.

...

Next up I wanted to experiment with a vertical weld, so I picked the driver's footwell, under the cowl. I remember hastily and angrily cutting this at Doug's place, knowing there was no extra overlapped material as usual, because I was running out of time and worried about how I was going to make the two body sections nest together for the inspection.

I just ran the grinder vertically downwards, lined up with where the wiring harness sprouts from the footwell on the top portion.

Except, despite lining up perfectly in the transverse direction, there was this whole extra triangle section missing in the longitudinal direction. I couldn't figure out what I did. Had I bent it? Had that panel gone sideways for that triangle and I had cut it?

These are great questions for someone who cares what the panel up behind the dash looks like. Instead I got tired of trying to figure it out and used the 3rd biggest hammer I own. Done.



My smashing job didn't result in a great fit. Especially where the metal changed directions. So screwed a 1/2" strip of sheet metal to fill the little gap left.



I chose... poorly.

I tried welding from inside the car, at arms-length (can't fit into the area to see better). It added some material but, I could not get it to fill.

So then I welded on the other side, in the engine bay. It just kept feeling like there was more to weld. I welded down the middle. I welded at the edges of the filler piece. I added so many puddles that dripped and ran down the metal that I turned the welder to "High" and tried to fuse back down to flat.

By the time I was done it looked like I'd stapled a crocodile to the metal. There's probably a half pound of wire in there, and STILL holes everywhere.



Then I tried to clean it up and grind it back to a reasonable thickness. Went through almost a whole grinder wheel until my hands were numb. Took off way too much material and exposed some holes. Dozens of holes. Ugh.



Vertical welding sheet metal in a place that I can't reach or see much of what I'm doing is difficult. I gave up for now and moved onto the floor pans.

Oh, and I upgraded my welder by adding a 150A FWB rectifier, so it's at least DC now instead of AC. Seems to have predictably cut down on the spatter.



This actually went pretty well. Slow, but, measurable progress with no unknowns.

What's odd is that the welds look much worse than they are. When welding, I can control the puddle well, nice and smooth, steady, it goes where I want it to, and it fuses the metal together. But the metal I'm adding doesn't follow the puddle. It wanders and drifts off up to 3/8" away as it cools, usually towards the nearest other glob. Hence the crocodile look to it. It's almost like I'm TIG welding, the base metal is fused, but I'm adding globs randomly to the surface like I'm using a hot glue gun. This isn't a problem, since I don't actually need extra material and am removing it later, I just need the puddle to fuse the metals, but, it looks bad.

I didn't rosette weld since the overlap was so narrow most places. I just followed my procedure from the seat rails, and then went to run a bead underneath.



Welding upside-down was, as expected, even harder than vertical.

There's no forgiveness. If you overheat an area, it will drip. If it drips, you cannot just weld hotter overtop the same area like you can from top-down. Any attempt to fix it just makes it drip more. You have to stop and grind it.

Also, I don't have room for my welding mask and the creeper, so I'm worming along the floor. And, welding off to the side. But not enough to the side to have room for my shoulders to to be sideways. Between that and trying to apply pressure upside down with a grinder (having to lift my arm and the grinder, rather than using those weights to do the grinding for me), it's fairly exhausting. I have to stop every few inches.

Also, I note underneath there is no seam sealer, which I can't imagine my welds not needing. I wonder if it doesn't hold up to direct contact.



On that note, the reason many of these photos are taken after welding and not after finishing, is because I can only run a grinder for the first 30 minutes or so that I'm in the shop. Otherwise I feel it's too late at night.

So when I get to the shop after work, I try to remember all the things I wanted to grind the previous day and run the gauntlet before it's too late.

This is the most frustrating part of the process because, with a flux-core welder being so poorly suited to sheet metal, it will often take 3-6 attempts at a seam before I caught all the screwups. And, I can't alternate weld/grind/weld/grind/weld/grind, I have to do all my grinding at the start. So it's become that progress has slowed to a stop because I'm bottlenecked on grinding. And I'm getting nothing done and I only get one chance per day at fixing a mistake. I'd very much rather "Oh well, grind it flat, try again" back and forth without having to change positions and jigging, and get one area finished and feel good about completion, versus having to juggle all my mistakes across the whole car every day, trying to re-establish the position and jigging, and never get anything done.

I've been at the shop every night for the last 2 weeks, and I get done maybe 1 foot of welding done per night by the time I figure out how to get access and set everything up and do 2 or 3 passes after fixing yesterday's mistakes. Over half my time is moving stuff around rather than just getting work done.

Here's a shot of the floorpan, welded from both above and below. Haven't had time to grind yet. I think the upsidedown stuff is decent, I'm clearly getting penetration through to the top side, stopping just before burnthrough most of the time.



More frustration. Sometimes, even waiting 5 seconds between the shortest possible tacks, a burnthrough results in "pushing" the pinhole an inch or two before it even starts to close. I've resorted to just holding the trigger and clanging around the hole like you'd call farmer's for lunch on a triangle. Eventually all the edges are thick enough to actually hold a tack and start to close. Then it has to be all ground then probably welded again once or twice again later.



Trying to be persistant but it doesn't feel like progress anymore.

Last bit of welding I've done is some of the underside of the driver seat rail. This is the side that didn't have room for rosette welds.



Had some time to reflect on, if I was doing it all over, what I'd do differently, but, this is enough blah for a day.
 

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Just a tip, but if you have areas that are thin and you are worried about burn-thru, try using a backer made of copper. They sell copper ‘spoons’ that are about 1/8” thick which have an insulated handle. The copper is a heat sink, allowing you to put in more heat and the weld doesn’t stick to the copper. Really helps.

I’ve found I can even make my own oddball backers from copper plumbing pipe and T-junctions to get behind odd shaped areas.
 

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HUMM copper backer son of gun Thank you Mr. Bob I wouldn't have thought about that
Looks like it's coming together pretty good Matt. I'm no welder myself but something about it I really enjoy until I take my helmet of and see how much grinding I have to do But I get a little better each time. Keep up the good work every day of progress no matter how little it seems is still progress
 

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Wow that's pretty thick looking copper I wonder if the hardware store has something similar that I could work with the typical copper stuff I work with I don't think is that thick
LOL I'd have to solder multipal pieces to get to that thickness
 

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Discussion Starter #138
Just a tip, but if you have areas that are thin and you are worried about burn-thru, try using a backer made of copper.
nod, I have some spoons and dolly's I've made myself out of 3/16" x 1" copper busbar. I wish that could be the solution.

The last time I rosette welded body panels, I recall that I could pretty much just use the copper spoon like wax paper on a cooking tray. I could literally run a bead across the surface of it and it wouldn't stick. I could fill a rosette just by drawing a spiral and then pull the spoon away. That works great on wheelwells, rockers, fenders, pillars, and any kind of edging.

The problems with that on this car are:

1 - In places like the seat rails, there is no access to the opposite side. The opposite side is inside the box of the rail.

2 - I'm welding in the middle of the car, not the edges, In most places, I can't reach both sides at the same time and I don't have a helper. And if I could, it would be at my max reach, and I'm not steady enough to weld one handed unless my welding arm is braced against my chest.

For example, it would be especially useful on the vertical seam in the driver's footwell/start of the trans tunnel to have spoons. But I can't reach up through the windshield, around the cowl, and back down the other side, nor around the rocker, past the belly and up the far side.

It's the same reason I can't use welding clamps to hold the sheet metal tight together. The arms would have to be 24"+ long. I'm forced to use sheet metal screws, floor jacks, and bottle jacks with 2x4s jigged awkwardly against other parts of the body.

Fixturing wasn't working out either, I can't climb around the vehicle every 1/2" to reposition the spoon, nor have a way of keeping it there reliably, with pressure.

I've even considered building plasticine dams and flooding the top side with water when I'm welding underneath, but that requires no pinholes.
 

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Discussion Starter #139
The reason I haven't posted any updates isn't because I haven't been working on the car. I've actually been working on it almost every spare night for 2 months since my last update, and given a choice between documenting and working, I've been working.

Also, because I can only grind at the start of the night, not when I'm done, all my pictures are of ugly welds rather than what I clean them up to be when I run the grinder again. So I kept putting things off until after I'd grinded.

Bodywork Update:

- Welded underside of passenger seat rail. First pass anyway. And there's a 4" triangle that starts on the right that I need to patch under the seat rail where I over-trimmed.



- Welded first pass on driver's side cowl. Came out a lot better than the passenger side because the opening into the cowl is 1/8" away and it could be clamped tight (passenger side has the vin plate and isn't accessible for at least 10", I don't have clamps long enough). I later cleaned it up and grind it smooth and no second pass was needed.



- Next up, a 13 hour work binge to mostly finish the biggest gap, the back of the trans tunnel where it means the parcel shelf box frame. There's a 1" gap because I had to cut extra to angle the whole yellow trans tunnel/firewall/cowl section into the orange body. It's also beat up from being pried on by 3 men.



It's actually 3 layers of metal:
1 - The square-ish top of the trans tunnel.
2 - The round underside where the driveshaft passes, and
3 - A second hovering rounded shell of heavier gauge sheet that reaches from the diff to just inside the trans rail, perhaps to protect from torque tube failing and puncturing through the car.

The handbrake lever cavity is formed between layers 1 and 2.

Also, either the previous owner when removing the trans tunnel, or me, trimming it flush, left the edge of the floorpan loose from the parcel shelf box, so that had to be welded first.

Here's the underside:



And welded, poorly...



Naturally I don't bother to straighten the trans tunnel floor before I shove the trans tunnel in place and weld the seat rails. So then I had to straighten sheet metal from a gap I couldn't even reach pliers into. I ended up cutting a 2x4 into an arch, propping it against the underside with a jack, and using the 2x4 as an anvil. A ratchet extension as a punch and I mostly flattened out the bottom sheet.

- Next up, I wanted the back of the trans tunnel to be strong because I knew I had no way to rejoin the middle layer of sheet metal. I could weld the bottom and the top but not the inside. I cut up some bedframe angle iron, chopped it in half, hooked the pieces in from the middle of the underside, then lifted them together and tacked them into place. This took like 8 tries because there's no way to hold them and they kept slipping on me and falling back to the floor after I'd already crawled out from underneath, but, persistence worked. Slagged the back rail and filled the rosettes on top.

- Gap-filled in 5 pieces. The lower part of the arches on either side, the underside of the top, and then top of the arches on the side. The difference in the gap between the bottom (round) sheet metal and the top (square) I just filled with probably a pound of weld about half way up until they got too far apart to make that sensible. I figured by the time I tried to weld a 3/4" wide strip 4" tall, with only 1/4" gap, I'd just up with so many holes I might as well fill it solid anyways. So I did. The only patches were on the top 1/3 where the square sheet starts to really rise above the lower arch.





"Done", after some grinding:



And the underside, and I also connected the last 8" on either side to connect to the seat rails, which means the underside sheet metal is "done", at least a first pass:



Around this time I noticed the floorboards had rusted through in what I thought were "good" original Orange-car areas. Tried to patch and still left holes. I've wirebrushed and spritzed with Evaporust every day for a couple weeks and it looks like those are the worst of them, so maybe just fill them rather than patch the whole panel.



My big push for that month was to finish the seam at the back of the trans tunnel so that I could bolt the torque tube on and have some choices as to what I wanted to work on if I burned out. I.E. Instead of endless bodywork, with the torque tube attached and no worries about welding near it, I could start to plan the electrical driveline for variety if nothing else.

For what it's worth, I've never actually seen either of my vehicles with a driveline hooked up. The only driveline items the orange car came with ended at the diff, and the yellow car ended at the torque tube plus a loose engine. Neither had a trans or driveshaft, though there was a driveshaft in the parts pile.
 

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Discussion Starter #140
--Intermission--

Boring story, skip it to stick with the car stuff.

Keith sold his rotisserie to a gentleman who will end up not needing it until the summer, so, he offered to let me be borrow it short-term on a kind of "get my ass in gear" basis until then.

This, naturally, after I'd just completed all the cramped upsidedown welding from underneath the car. ("all, mhm", sneers future me I'm sure).

The rotisserie takes up 2' behind and 2' in front of the car, and I thought it'd be a bit tight, plus it requires welding up support inside the vehicle. So I opted to borrow just his body dolly instead.

Philosophy tangent:

When I was a kid, sometimes I'd watch TV shows with my dad or see magazines with "simple" little projects. Simple projects that required thousands of dollars of woodworking equipment or whatnot. I was too young to realize that, like how modern music videos are only funded by cell phone product placement the pop star is waving around while they dance, that the focus of these shows weren't really to show you how easy it was to make things, they were there to make you feel like even easy projects required expensive sponsored tools.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my vehicle. I started a business in a local recession a few years ago, and while I could, it's not smart for me to spend on anything that's not paying off debt. I don't work hard, but I work long hours, 7 days a week. I know that cars aren't cheap like bikes and other small projects and I wanted something to work on... but it was mostly a "have something to look forward to" project than a "spend money on a luxury" purchase. And if it's something actually fun to drive but pays for itself by saving me on gas, it doesn't seem like I'm treating myself before I've earned it.

In that spirit, I'm building a car functionally from garbage, somewhat to complete my trilogy of electric bicycle and electric motorbike from garbage projects/tutorials. And because I don't have a garage, there's extra pressure to actually complete a car project. The cars were sold to me for maybe double the value of scrap metal. The batteries I got by intercepting the waste stream from a tool company. The motor I got by intercepting the waste stream from a forklift repair shop. The controller from a junk car. The biggest expense is likely the ~$1000 in gas it cost me to bring them back from Arizona (excuse for a vacation anyway, got to see the Grand Canyon alone with no tourists for a whole day).

Anyway, what I'm getting around to is that, the body dolly feels like cheating. Even more so does a rotisserie. It should really be the first thing anyone spends money on during a restoration. If I'm giving advice, it's to start with that, first step.

And, I'm well aware that my crappy $40 flux-core welder is the worst possible choice for welding thin sheet metal and I should've just bought (or built) a MIG. I even have a bottle.

But... one of the things that I like about my project is that I've basically been able to do it all with about $100 of shitty tools (I dunno, maybe $200). I'm cheap but I'm not that cheap, I'd blow $1000 on tools if I felt like adding some. But I remember what it was like to be the kid that thought that building stuff was for "other people" because none of it seemed possible with tools we already had in the garage. I do like demonstrating that there do not have to be high barriers to entry for a hobby.

And, sometimes, you learn the most when being determined to make the less-optimum tool for the job have to do the job. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm okay with having done it once.

When I finish a project people often ask, almost defeatestly, about what kinds of tools I had to have to make it. They're saying without saying "I'd love to do that but I don't have the space/budget/whatever, you're spoiled."

And you always get more experienced people who act like the bare minimum to get into a hobby is all the gear they've accumulated after 20 years at it on a professional level as if everyone curious wants to commit to that, and that anything less will "never work".

You need a $2000 welder to build a gokart.

You need a $250 multimeter and a $1000 oscilloscope to start with electronics.

Etc.

Anyway, no point in being pedantic. The body dolly is amazing.

For weeks, I couldn't even use the creeper under the car because with the jack stacks maxed out: Creeper, Me, Welding Helmet, pick 2 of those 3 there's room for. So every weld I'd be laying on the cold (Canadian) concrete floor, bucking and shimmying 2" at a time, all the way under all the way back. Welding upside down with my unsupported head back and arms stretched horizontally. Every time I forgot a tool, needed to adjust a lamp, needed to piss, wanted to take a picture, cramped up, or even just wanted to turn and face a different direction (my shoulders are wider than the car was off the ground), was an excuse to just quit for the night rather than crawl all the way out and all the way back under. And there's never room to get out from beside the car either.

Lit my beard on fire thrice from rebounding sparks. Lit my hair on fire when the bandana slipped off. Ugh.

For anyone who doesn't own a body dolly or rotisserie, especially for body work, I can't emphasize enough how huge of a difference it makes:

- The night it was installed, I yanked out the rear assembly and sat cross legged where the diff used to be.

- When I want to work beside the car, I can shove it sideways.

- Any time I'm under the car, I'm comfortably on the creeper. And I can roll and switch which direction I'm facing.

- Any time I need to move under the car, the dolly's framework is like monkey bars, one hand can spin or move you anywhere you want to be. You can brace your arm, or tools, or rig clamps off of it.

- Whatever the perfect height to work is, up or down it goes.

- Any time I'm leaning over or crawling into the engine bay? The car has a scaffolding around it that fits my steeltoes.

- Want to film what you're doing? There's distance between ground and car to frame the shot properly.

- Want to see what you're doing? There's room for a lamp to cast light rather than just a spot.

... And yeah, it feels like cheating.

But, right when I was burning out from being there every night for a month, crawling underneath, fixing the same pinholes for the fifth time, going home sore, it's let me not even think about it and had me going another month of nightly work.

I'm not absolute about anything. I proved my point that it can be done without, it's just less comfortable, and I don't know that I'd have spent the money to build one myself. But it sure has helped more than anything to keep up my momentum. Frustration and futility are the two common silver bullets for my projects, so, it's made a huge difference.

Anyone doing a restoration is crazy to not build a body dolly, if not a rotisserie too. And with 8 bolts it flatpacks back into half a broom closet. Just my two cents.

 
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