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I started the restoration of a 1943 T-24 a couple of weeks ago.  I intend to document the restoration here.

I bought the Weasel from a well-known Weasel collector and friend.  He had stripped the hull, had it sandblasted and was starting repairs when he found a really immaculate T24.  I got most everything with the purchase that I need to restore the vehicle other than tracks, including a second M29 that is ugly but fairly complete. 

There is a lot of rot along the floors - particularly at the edge of the floor and outer sides of the hull.  The previous owner had already cut much of the right side corner of the hull off to repair it.  You can see this in pictures below.  He had cut the left side as well.  There is a pretty good amount of rot along the floor side gusset as well as the in the lower tunnel.  I spent a little while poking around to see what was reasonable to save and then decided to go  deep and just cut everything remotely ugly out and start replacing metal.

Next step - lots more pictures and then a lot of cutting and grindingLeftSide.thumb.jpg.976d8e804aa7683238c8e00c55b6576b.jpgFront.thumb.jpg.dcb8cc3690658f814e59ebd20c8d6555.jpgRear.thumb.jpg.c5c57e681a59b5c51876ed2cc762785c.jpgRearFloors.thumb.jpg.d168b4a4286d99b601bc1711c9bcb0fc.jpgFrontRightFloor.thumb.jpg.d1de924144c24b2bf95a8f321b370eea.jpgFrontRightFloorDetail.thumb.jpg.1656999ad795028decb0bc901260f726.jpgLeftFrontFloor.thumb.jpg.bdb242c5e3ec03fe6b2a630190c630af.jpg

 

 

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Work Day 1

I started cutting out metal on the more damaged right side of the hull.  One of the first decisions that I had to make was how much metal to cut out.  The floors were pretty solid along the right side, but were very damaged at the inner edge of the hull where the floor makes the corner into the running gear tunnel and on the outer edge where the floor meets the side of the hull.  There was also damage under the hat channels.  The 45 degree gusset on the corner of the hull side and floor was also significantly damaged. 

After a couple of nights thinking on it, I decided to replace the majority of the floor on the right side .  My rationale:

1.  The corner between the floor and the side of the hull had been cut away/rusted away already.  I was very concerned about getting a nice, uniform and clean edge if I patched metal in.  I decided that a brake bent piece of continuous steel would look best.

2.  Patching the 45 degree gusset is possible, but was going to be hard to finish nicely.  I was also worried about corrosion protection and getting the already present rust stopped along the entire gusset.

3.  I was pretty sure that there was a lot of hidden rust underneath the hat channel that supports the corner between the floor and the tunnel.

4.  I could have replaced the outer floor/hull side edge/corner and then replaced the inner floor/tunnel corner in two separate operations.  The positive of doing this was that it would be easier to keep everything aligned.  The downside is two more nearly 10 foot welds to work on, plus some difficult access issues to do any hammer/dolly work and smooth out the joints.

I contemplated drilling out all of the spot welds for the side gusset and then decided against it.  There are so many of them that I decided to just cut along the top edge and replace approximately 4 inches of the side hull.  Like most of these decisions, this was a compromise between preserving as much metal as I could and being a little efficient. Either way, I have a 10 foot long seam that needs to disappear - not easy and not impossible.  I decided I would rather spend the time making the seam invisible on both sides rather than drilling out spot welds to save 2 inches of original steel.

I did cut the metal away in sections.  In retrospect, I could have made two long cuts and saved time and a bunch of cutting wheels.  In truth, I was a little hesitant and not fully committed to replacing the entire floor until all the metal had dropped to the floor. 

BulkheadRightSide.thumb.jpg.67b52ae5ebd4538ec430109a49804f53.jpgFront-Right-Cut-Away.thumb.jpg.bcb4be32368eb0c8ba891423d95328c0.jpgRightSide-Cut-Away-Detail.thumb.jpg.93be0410e6fb3ca67c913eaf2e4d9ce5.jpgTunnelFloor-Repair-Detail.thumb.jpg.c298d88cdf55446445d264a4d276e4fe.jpgFinished-Cut-Away-Front-Floor.thumb.jpg.ba6031db21ffdab0541e1b5a2ecd5916.jpg

 

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5 hours ago, Jesse Browning said:

Great project. Always make sure to wear a respirator.

Thank you Jesse.  Agreed - I try to wear them anytime I am doing much of anything - always while grinding.  I usually wear a better one when I am not going back and forth between welding and grinding.

 

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#4

I started adding sheet metal to the front bow section of the hull.  I originally thought about forming the sides and tunnel bends and leaving enough metal to patch the bow area where it had rotted out by the front most hat channel.  After a few days of mulling over the logistics, I decided to install a patch and then install the floor as one piece. 

I started here.  Originally thought about patching the hat channel but I decided it was too hard to get a nice end product.

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Somewhere in the past, someone had sprayed something into the hat channel.  Not sure what it was but it held water and made the situation worse.IMG_4695.thumb.jpg.157b03974adbacd0b119a00a9c91ee55.jpg

So I cut it out, bent a section with an approximately 45 degree angle and started welding in.

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I ran out of shielding gas and had to go get a new bottle.  It was late and the supplier gave me straight argon.  For what its worth, straight argon does not work well with MIG.  I made a bunch of ugly welds and scratched my head before figuring it out. 

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The other benefit of doing the patch as opposed to the entire floor is that I have good access to the seam to hammer/dolly and grind.  I am getting close here.  I have to do a little more work, but the panel is nearly flat and dent free.  The weld will disappear with a little more work.  I am heading out to the shop in a bit and will get this finished so I can think about getting the right side floor in next week.

I have a little press brake attachment for my shop press and will attempt to bend up the hat channel.  Preliminary tests look good.  The seam is under the hat channel so I am not under a lot pressure to make both sides perfect but will try anyway.  The outside is very visible so it needs to be done well.  I do my best to stay away from everything but high build primer to remove deep scratches.

Patrick

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I worked a bit more on the bow patch and area on Sunday before the Super Bowl started.  I am getting close. 

One thing that was recently brought to my attention is that the bracket for the front tow bar/yoke is not factory, but rather a field mod.  I am sure it is useful, but it is coming off.  The left side was already removed so that is one less thing to do.  The welds on the bracket are nice but did distort the area quite a bit.  I have a little more cleanup work to do on my seam (particularly right side near this bracket), but don't want to try and do any more work until I remove the bracket and start fixing this distortion.  The welds are hard to access in this area so I need to pick up a carbide grinding bit for my angle grinder/Dremel to finish removing the bracket.

BowSeam.thumb.jpg.67c5936b7ee6496199577e031e944322.jpgInsideSeam.thumb.jpg.c7fda88730a87a7ddbaa92b128d77db4.jpgInsideSeam2.thumb.jpg.762b15b767630a3f6d65aef7aa4cb3f2.jpg

There is also a nice? dent on the front ride corner of the hull.  The backside of the dent is blocked by a stiffener/hat channel so I have a couple of options to fix it.  I have a little pin resistance welder ($50 used 😉 ) that is made for use with a slide hammer.  It works fine, but on this heavy of steel, you have to use heat too because there is not enough strength at the pin weld to really move the metal.  I just played for a few minutes and saw some improvement.  My other option is to use a screw and put some holes in the area to use with the slide hammer.  I may have to do this, but am trying to avoid more welding.

Front.thumb.JPG.80e6f6bcbec8a9357541329dd69df1b7.JPG

  Dent1.thumb.jpg.8e5b329c3bafd072e2ebebb58d07e29d.jpg

 

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Not much work done over the weekend on the Weasel but I did make some progress.

I drove a few hours on Saturday to take pictures of the details on a friend's T-24.  I was mostly concerned with the front floors/sponson area, particularly around the gas tank and battery tray.  I got good measurements and lots of pics. His battery tray has been modified but fortunately, all they did was weld a new tray on top of the original.IMG_4841.thumb.jpg.ebc4268ee0807f2f13b44c5101ea1963.jpg

My friend has some nice NOS Weasel parts:

IMG_4845.thumb.jpg.5f88ca4744e9522e12753ea54c97bdea.jpg

I also upgraded my shop lighting by moving one LED to a higher point because it was too low and too bright and adding a second LED in another bay.  My shop is wonderfully bright now.  Worth the time investment.

IMG_4851.thumb.jpg.9b90f52fd80621ee12d3d99afe5efac5.jpg

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Patrick, are you going fabricate and fit the original style T24 battery tray or stick with the duel battery tray fitted IAW with TB 9-772-FE5?

IMG_3334.JPG

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Hi John:

The plan is to go with the original design.  I am going to try and get this T24 back to the condition it left South Bend back in '43.  I may fail, particularly when we get to tracks and some suspension components, but that is the goal.

By the way, is that cut out in the "gas tank" hat channel original?  Here is T24 #7.....theoretically unmolested, but the battery tray was messed with so who knows. 

IMG_4840.thumb.jpg.3847bd6b2ee147ef5416bd9601d4bb5b.jpg

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Yes that hat channel cut out is original. It carries over into the M29C. I am not sure why it is there though???

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9 hours ago, OZM29C said:

Yes that hat channel cut out is original. It carries over into the M29C. I am not sure why it is there though???

Interesting....must be early/late feature.......is that picture from 1003?

TY!

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5 hours ago, Patrick Tipton said:

Interesting....must be early/late feature.......is that picture from 1003?

TY!

I think you may be right on that Patrick. My T24, hull number 197 ord. serial 191, dosen't have the cut out either.

IMG_4522.JPG

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9 hours ago, Patrick Tipton said:

Interesting....must be early/late feature.......is that picture from 1003?

TY!

Yes that is a picture of 1002

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I worked on the T24 a bit more last week.  After poking around the rear area of the right side of the hull, I went ahead and removed all of the 45 degree gusset and the remaining bits of the lower corner.  I also removed all but the rear most hat channel - which has a few issues at the edge but I am going to repair.

The rear corner had been hit and was pretty thin so I had to remove some bits back there as well.  I am not sure what Studebaker was doing, but those spotwelds are both large in coverage and tough.  I have found that drilling just takes too long - a carbide bit makes quick (ish) work of them.  I am looking forward to cleaning the rear corner up a bit today and adding sheet metal.

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I spent a few more hours working on the rear corner.  I repaired the side/rear gusset and floor/rear gusset.  I also cut a section of sheet metal to repair the first foot or so of the hull. 

I would prefer to replace the floor in one piece but several factors contributed to a slightly more piecemeal approach.  First, because the lower hull corners had already been removed, I was a little concerned about getting the floor geometry correct.  By leaving this rear section in place, I have a plane to work from.  It isn't guaranteed to be perfect, but it really makes the alignment process easier.  

Second, I purchased 8 foot sheets of 18 gauge and they are a little short to do the entire length of floor.  If I do this again, I will get 10' pieces bent.

This process makes for more welding and a couple more seams, but I think should work out just fine.

I need to finish trimming the new piece and then weld it into place.  There are spot weld details that I will worry about after the floor is fully installed.  I am only going to tack this section in so that I can make any necessary adjustments with the whole floor fitted.

Patrick

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5 hours ago, Patrick Tipton said:

Second, I purchased 8 foot sheets of 18 gauge and they are a little short to do the entire length of floor.

BZ on your excellent work 🙂 I had the same problem with short sheets. I made the join under the engine bulkhead. The bulkhead flange helped to reduce the sheet metal warpage from welding and looking from above the join was invisible.

SAM_0524.JPG

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15 hours ago, OZM29C said:

I made the join under the engine bulkhead. The bulkhead flange helped to reduce the sheet metal warpage from welding and looking from above the join was invisible.

Thank you sir!

I like that approach.  Unfortunately, the lower bulkhead/flange on the right side of this hull is full of rust/pinholes and needs to be replaced with new sheet metal.  It also suffered a blow from underneath so it is also bent out of shape/plane.  I wrestled with various repair ideas and finally decided that I am going to use the strength and straightness of the new 8 foot floor run to locate the right position for the bulkhead.  I will make a new flange/lower bulkhead and then fit it to the floor and tack in place - probably untack the floor, finish the bulkhead weld and then mount the floor.  
 

One step up and two steps back sometimes but I don't know how else to proceed.

 

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Corner fitted.  Just need to spray some high zinc primer and tack it in place.  I will do the finish welding once the entire new floor is installed and I am sure that the alignment looks good.

One challenge with marginal shop heat is spraying in the winter - I use a wood kiln I have (woodworking projects) to warm up my spray cans and then use a heat gun to warm up the area I am going spray.  Not good for a final finish, but I think acceptable for protecting seams.IMG_4896.thumb.jpg.000c99a6571b7cfefc734844750a633f.jpg

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I have found that it doesn’t matter what temperature the metal is, as long as the paint is warm. Have been seen with 4 cans of spray paint in my shirt to keep them warm. After the unpleasant task of putting on the COLD respirator when its 15 degrees in the barn, I have to be careful not to drip the condensation onto the work.

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