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720 Crewcab - 4 doors, 4x4, and a huge freaking headache


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Today's Episode - "Pounding out panels"

 

Ok, so its not plural.  Its just one panel.  But its basically done.  I welded up all the seams.  the outer corner in particular came out really nice.  I was able to remove basically all evidence of the welds without grinding through.

 

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Then worked on grinding back the rest of the seams

 

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They didn't come out as nice as the outer corner, but still pretty good.  I think this will probably be upholstered eventually, but even if not, I think I could hide the worst of it with some high build primer and paint.

 

The only thing left to do was weld up the outer edge and fill all the holes from spot weld cutting.  So I used the spot weld cutter to cut out a bunch of circles from some scrap and then got back to welding.

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And after grinding all that back, the door welt still fits nicely.

 

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Of course, while welding the outer edge seam together, I managed to tack the panel to the truck body.  I knew it would happen and I knew what would happen to me when it did as well.  Fighting this thing to bust it free, it finally popped off the truck.  And hit me directly in the forehead with the top edge.  So now I have a 3/4 inch long cut down my forehead...  oh well,  If you aren't bleeding, you aren't trying.

 

The door frame still flexes some.  This idea helped significantly, but it did not correct the full issue.  So I will probably be working on further ideas to reinforce this.  I have a couple different ideas tumbling around in my head, but I will have to try fitting them in there to see if I can do them properly without fouling against the hinges.

 

Regardless, I'm pretty happy with how this panel came out.  I think that once it is painted, it will look stock.  Without knowing it was modified I think most people will look right past it.

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To be honest, I didn't even notice that part was pushed out.. I had to go back to the last page to figure out what was goin on here. I thought you deleted the hinge mount holes as part of a redesign. 🙂 

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Looking good, that all cleaned up nicely! As draker said, once it's painted etc I see no reason it wouldn't pass for factory.

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Thanks Noll, I do appreciate that.

 

Today's Episode - "Buckle Up, Buttercup!"

A bit more finishing work got done on that interior panel, then I decided it was time to test fit the Pathfinder seat belt.

 

Seatbelt installed, I was even able to reuse the factory trim panel over the seatbelt.
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I will however have to make one small modification.  The seatbelt top mount doesn't reach its destination.  I will stretch that.  Since all the load appears to be borne on the lower mount, the upper just being a 6mm bolt, I don't think that will cause me any safety concerns.

 

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And this photo is the outside of the door frame with this panel fully installed.

I'm stymied as to how to attractively and effectively close off these openings.  I've got a very vague idea about building boxes on the hinge body itself that teh hinges would swing in to, but I really dont know.

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A friend of mine suggested the "feathery plastic crap from an escalator" as at least a temporary solution if I can't come up with something better.  Like this stuff.
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I just might have to go that route if I can't come up with anything else that fits in the space.

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Today's Episode - "You flexin' on ME?"

 

I still haven't figured out how to close these holes in the body.  But we are going to ignore that and celebrate victory nonetheless.

 

I FIXED THE DOOR FRAME FLEXING!  I'm very happy about that, because honestly, I was not really sure I could make it happen.

 

I decided to really look at how the factory dealt with the flex problem.  Since I didnt use the hinge side of either door to build the new door, I had all those original brackets at my disposal.  So I figured I would try to use them.  Cut them out of the doors, I did.

 

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Each one took a different form of modification to make useable, but really it wasn't too bad at all.

 

This is the lowest one in process.

 

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Middle was almost fitting, but it was too tall.

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My plan was to spot weld these brackets to the door frame and to the outer skin of the truck.  But then I became concerned that doing so would put too much stress on the body panel and eventually deform it.  So I went a step beyond and build some load spreader plates.  I had some extra cab skin from the trucks I cut apart, so I used that since it already had all the proper bends and curves to it.

 

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and welded in place

 

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I'm not really sure why I made it short.  This was only enough for the lowest bracket....  Dummy.  So I built another one.

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That's better.  Before I installed the brackets, I ground down those spot welds that were in the way so the brackets sat flush.

 

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Outside view of those load spreaders installed.  I got decent penetration at least.

 

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Brackets are in place now.  Together, with the slip fit panel for the frame edge, this doesn't really move at all when the hinge moves.  However, I've now spaced the door toward the rear by the thickness of those brackets, so I now have to space the door back forward by that same amount.  Ugh, more and more things are pointing to rebuilding this passenger door.  And I found a 720 at a yard I went to yesterday with decent doors.  So maybe that was a sign...

 

Regardless.  This is a huge win in my book and I'm really happy overall that I could do this and still be able to install the door and get it in the right place.  I might need to file a couple of the hinge mount holes, but that is all that I should need to make this work fine.

 

 

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If anyone is curious, this is how I put my layers of metal together for spot welding.

 

1) Drill my spot weld holes 

2) Paint only the back side of the piece I am going to weld in place.  By back, I mean the side that will be facing more metal once installed.

3) Paint the area of the truck where I am going to weld a piece to.  Let everything dry.

4) Hold piece in place on truck, scribe out the circles for the spot welds in to the primer below.

5) Grind/sand away the primer around the spot weld circles I scribed on the truck body.

 

Now when I am ready to weld, the top all of the directly exposed metal is bare.  For me I have found this to be preferable over weld through primers.  I typically use a self etching primer on the bare metal, then remove only the little of it where I am welding.

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Today's episode - "Lather, Rinse, and Repeat."

 

Did a little more finish work to the hinge openings on the door frame.  Makes it look nice, and might keep 5% of water from entering the body itself.

 

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After that, I decided it was time to move on.  It was time to turn the truck around and get to work on the drivers side for real.  To turn it around, it had to be pushed out of the garage.  So for fun I took a few comparo pics with my Kingcab 720.

 

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front of cabs lined up

 

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The front of the cabs are lined up here, so you can see how much longer than a king cab this will be.

 

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pretending its actually a truck!

 

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Here the backs of the cabs are lined up and you can see how much farther forward the windshield/cowl line is.

 

Then I pushed it back into the garage facing the other way and got cranking.

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Finished grinding the exterior on the drivers side.  Multiple factors sped this up compared to Passenger side.  1) This side was in WAY fewer pieces, so nowhere near as many seams to clean down.  2) I'm better at judging my grinding depth and controlling the grinder than I was when I did the passenger side, which helped in 2 ways A) I ground fewer holes unnecessarily, and B) when I did have to do a little touch up welding, I didn't blow through anywhere near as often or as badly when it did blow through.

 

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Its not perfect.  I wish it was.  But oh well, a little filler will hide the issues for sure.

 

Then on to the interior panels again.

 

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A bit of mild shaping and cutting and then panels across the door frame top were ready to go.  And having the other side as a reference made it much easier to build the B pillar panels.  Just copy the ideas I had already figured out.

 

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One patch up at the top to fill a void and its basically ready to go.  I still need to weld on a seatbelt reinforcement plate that is part of the B pillar interior panel, but both of these panels got stitched together completely.

 

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And then ground back and ready to install more or less.  Honestly, these panels didn't come out nice at all. I don't know if I was rushing the welding or the grinding or what it was, but these seams, while solid, are wavy and ugly in person.  It will take actually filler work to fix these if I don't just upholster over them.  I'm not really proud of these panels.  The time spent on them shows I'm learning and improving because they were done much more quickly, but the quality of work doesn't look as though I'm improving.  All told though it really is a vast time improvement.  I'm in to these 4 panels (including the two small ones across the top) only about 8-8.5 hours of work.  I have to install the seatbelt mounts then make the panel that covers the bottom of the B pillar and then just a couple more minor things and the B pillar will be ready to go.

Edited by Lockleaf
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Thin metal gonna wave. Patience is difficult when your staring down 4 ft of weld, once stitch at a time. Sounds like you're improving though, and gaining confidence for the next job. Sometimes you just gotta get in there and booger things up. Next time will be better. It's been inspiring to see the work Noll has done in his Z thread. That's what I picture for this one as well. By the end, you'll be wanting to go back and fix things because your skills have improved.

 

My mig is setup with .025 wire. Makes welding j-tin a bit easier, but I still make a mess at times.

 

 

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Thanks Draker.  I'm running .023 wire with C25 gas mix.  Recently on one of the Fitzee's Fabrication videos, he mentioned that he runs straight CO2 for his welding.  Higher penetration at the same heat settings vs C25, though it is known to spatter more and make welds less pretty.  I'm curious how that change might affect my welds.  In theory, I could get the same penetration I am seeing now (which is usually pretty good) yet run less heat in to the panel itself, which seems like a good thing on this thin sheet.  I only recently refilled my bottle, so I doubt I will swap out any time soon.  Mostly just thinking out loud.

 

I am getting better, but man did I pick a ridiculous project.  I swear by the time I am done I will have laid down a linear mile of tacks.  Hopefully, after a mile of welding, I'll be half way decent 😄 .  Really, I'm hoping to be to "got this mostly figured out" by the time I have to do exterior body welding.  I have to modify door skins some, and I have to install a whole new roof.  I really gotta rein it in when I'm doing those and produce the best quality I can.  I have some time and a whole lot of welding to do before then.

 

On the roof subject, I'm thinking a Cherokee sport might be where I go.  It seems like a good size and they are common enough in junk yards etc.  Also, if I choose to go electric windows etc, I think I might use the cherokee switch panels.  They are attractive enough and also period correct looking to fit the vibe of the truck. Using those switches will likely require me to use the Cherokee door handles as well, so there is that issue. 
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I know I could always use the stand alone GM chrome switches easily enough.  But those aren't quite the vibe I want.  I would love to use sweet hot rod window switches that you use your window crank handle to actuate a switch, but those are stupid expensive to buy and I am not clever enough to make my own.

So, anyone reading this, suggestions on sources for roofs and switches are appreciated.  Factory sunroof would be a bonus.

Edited by Lockleaf
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Today's Episode - "I cut a hole"

 

Time to wrap up the B pillar.  Well, mostly.

 

Just like the drivers side, I made a custom panel from scratch for the bottom of the B pillar.  There were some big ol' holes in one of my door skins from where big farmer style mirrors had once been mounted, then removed and allowed to rust badly.  So i used that section of door skin to make my panel.

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Cut out the garbage section and rounded over the edges, again like the passenger side.

 

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Panels are all basically finished.  Just some minor things here or there to touch up and finish on them.
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Behind that panel, I built in seatbelt mounting like the Pass side.  Now the Pathfinder seatbelt fits nice.

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I need to weld in the upper cross brace to reinforce the top across those seams I put in, and then I think I will be ready to remove the rear panel, and get to work on the hinge body.

 

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