As we mentioned in our last article, there were a few things that needed to be addressed before continuing with our project. The first was to repair the frame where we had made alterations in order to get our cast iron exhaust headers to fit.
The original idea was to move the steering box outward a little bit to allow it to clear the cast iron headers we had. We did this by cutting the section of frame where the box bolted on, adding a spacer and welding it back into place. It did move the steering box, but it wasn't enough. We were concerned that the heat from the headers would cook the oil in the steering box. That's when we decided to get new headers. We opted for steel tube headers that easily fit into place. The truck was then put into storage to facilitate a move and having a garage built.
Now it's time to reverse the frame alteration.
This is where we started.
To get access to that section of the frame we needed to remove the steering box and the exhaust headers. We then cut the modificaton off, being sure to cut only the spacer portion. We are going to put the original frame piece back into the frame and reinforce the whole thing with a gusset.
Back to the basic frame, except for the big hole.
We had a piece of steel on hand that was the proper thickness and cut it to the size of the gusset. We then held the new steel into place over the hole in the frame and positioned the removed frame piece into its original position to ascertain where to drill the holes in the gusset. We marked the position with a soapstone marker.
The original frame piece positioned on the gusset.
After we drilled the first hole, we bolted the pieces together to hold things in place while drilling the other holes.
On our drill press, we positioned the frame piece on the gusset according to the marks and drilled the first hole. After the first hole was drilled, we bolted the frame piece and the gusset together. Fortunatly the slots in the drill press table allowed the plate to lie flat on the table with the bolts in place.
After the three holes were drilled we used our hole cutter and cut a 1-1/2 inch hole in the center where the steering shaft goes through the frame.
The completed gusset with the original frame piece bolted into place.
Next we test fitted the combined frame piece and gusset to the frame. We had to grind some steel of the lower right hand corner of the gusset so that it'd clear the spring shackle bracket.
A simple test fit showed that we needed to make a minor modification to the gusset.
Before welding things into place, we laid a weld bead in the cuts that were unavoidable when we were cutting the piece off, primarily to strengthen the steel and to keep moisture from getting into things. We ground those welds flat so that they didn't interfere with the gusset, and tacked the gusset into place.
The frame got scarred up a bit when we removed the modification.
A quick weld repaired the damage.
We ground down the kerf welds to make the frame flat and tacked the gusset into place.
This was actually the first time we had used the flux-core side of our welder, and were relatively happy with the results. The weld isn't perfectly smooth but penetration seemed to be good and the welds are solid.
We cleaned up the welds a bit and then added paint and it's ready to receive the steering box.
We cleaned up the welds a little.
This frame modification should have never been made, but we're satisfied with our repair and have made a mental note to ourselves to maybe spend some additional time thinking through any alterations that we feel we need to do. It's important to analyze these situation from more than one viewpoint and maybe there's a better way...