22 May 1999
During the course of this project I've bought
hundreds of bolts and will probably buy hundreds more. A typical example
of these bolts is the one shown in the following photo. It's a half-inch
And very nice too, but to paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a bolt..."
"...this is a bolt"
What a beauty, 13 inches of high tensile steel
just ready to bolt something. So how much does one of these suckers
cost I hear you ask. The recommended retail is over $80 each but
I got the "whole box" price because I bought four of them
(there's only five in a box) of about $25 each.
Still expensive but hey, $25 is just money, a
big bolt is a thing of beauty and joy forever.
23 May 1999
What a frustrating day. I could launch right
into the story but before I do let's go back a few days.
A week or so ago I made up the mounts that connect
the body to the chassis. At first I was going to get someone with
a larger welder to weld the plates because they are 12mm thick and,
I felt, too heavy for my small machine. However it was Saturday
and I was keen to get something happening so I welded the mounts
myself. The photo below shows the completed rear mount.
I was pretty happy with the welds for a while
but when I had a good look I realised that there was not enough
penetration into the parent metal. They may have been OK
but the whole weight of the body sits on these mounts and they had
to strong. It was a bummer, but better to do it right than fast.
On Monday I organised for a local welding firm
(Can-Weld) to go over the welds with a machine capable of putting
some real heat into the metal. This meant I had to grind out the
existing welds as much as possible, bang goes a whole day.
A few days later the Can-Weld truck arrives, the
driver eyes off the front of the truck then enters the workshop
"You a boiler maker are you mate?" he
"Bloody good job on that bull bar".
Well that made me feel better. Anyway he decided
that it would be easier to do the welding back at their workshop
so we load the mounts into his truck and he leaves.
A few hours later the truck reappears, this time
with the boss driving.
"I just had to see this for myself"
he said, "Bill told me about the truck and the boys were impressed
with the engineering on these, not bad for a back-yarder".
I was feeling better all the time. We unloaded the mounts and chatted
about the project. He wished he could do something similar, but
with two young kids and a new business...
He left promising to bring his wife back in six
months, maybe she would get interested if she saw a finished motor
Anyway I'm getting to why I've had such a shitty
day. While sitting with a coffee admiring the great welds I noticed
the side plates looked bent. "Nah, they couldn't be" I
thought. Further investigation revealed that they were indeed bent
and that the reason was the new welds. Two of the welds were massive
fillets in the location indicated by the arrows below.
The welds had applied so much heat to the metal that it had bent as shown (exaggerated) in the drawing below.
The bottom of the side plates was nearly 10mm
narrower than it was before, and it was already a tight fit. This
is a common problem with welding and it's usual to apply some temporary
stays to hold the pieces in place until they cool. I guess I just
didn't think it would be so severe. It was time to go home so I
left the problem for another day.
Well that other day was today. I started by deciding
I could coerce the thing to fit. The rear mount uses four bolts
that also hold a chassis cross member which in turn holds two torsion
rods that connect to the axles. I removed the four bolts and made
a mental note that, under no circumstances, should I drive the truck
with the bolts removed.
I winched the mount onto the chassis and spent
the next hour or so trying to make it fit. Have you ever tried to
fit ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag? It doesn't work and
neither did my attempts. A stood a while considering my options.
I could probably get another weld run along the other side, this
should pull the plate back, but it's Sunday and I want to get this
thing finished. I finally decided to grind the inside of the plates
until they fit over the chassis.
It will be easier to grind if I tilt the mount
up but as I try to do so it overbalances and falls on my wrist.
I attached the winch and lifted the mount to a
vertical position then realise that this could be a long job that
will be more easily performed at floor level. I lift the mount clear
of the chassis, hop into the cab, start the engine and move the
truck out of the shed. As I apply the brakes I hear a "clunk".
Didn't I say I shouldn't drive without those bolts.
The action of braking had applied quite a lot of torque to the axles,
this had transferred to the cross member via the torsion bars and,
because nothing was connected, everything moved. The bolt holes
no longer lined up. It took an hour or so to winch, lever, bash
the cross member back into position. This time I insert a couple
of bolts to hold things until the mount is in place.
Finally I've got the mounts on the floor and am
ready to fix them. Here we se the two mount assemblies being worked
on to make them fit over the chassis.
I decided to grind the rear mount's fish plates
as they are fairly short and would be difficult to bend. The plates
on the front mount however are quite long so I spread them with
a jack and apply some heat with the red spanner (oxy).
I winch the rear mount back above the chassis,
line it up and lower it. It's a tight fit but looks like it will
work. It took a long time but I eventually got it in place, thanks
to my latest tool acquisition, a "percussion applicator"
(see photo below).
The front mount follows, it's a real tight fit but eventually it's on. I hope they never have to be removed. Below we see the completed rear mount all nicely "cold gal'd" and ready for the body.
I started work at 10am this morning and, effectively,
all I've done is place the mounts onto the chassis, inserted sixteen
bolts and tightened them. It should have taken about half an hour
but but I've been working all day. I'm pretty pissed off but at
least the project is further ahead than it was this morning.
For a novice truck body builder these setbacks
are just the nature of the beast, you just have to minimise them
and not get upset.