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1943 T-24 Restoration Thread


Patrick Tipton
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9 hours ago, Patrick Tipton said:

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.

 

To improve the rigidity of the replacement floor/sponson, I opted to use 1.5mm thick sheet in lieu of the OEM 1.2mm sheet. Visually you would never know the difference.

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On 2/18/2020 at 5:49 PM, OZM29C said:

To improve the rigidity of the replacement floor/sponson, I opted to use 1.5mm thick sheet in lieu of the OEM 1.2mm sheet. Visually you would never know the difference.

Makes sense....I was worried about the side hull seam and opted to use the same thickness....but I was tempted!

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I spent the afternoon with my new/old TIG.  I picked up an old and pretty used Miller Syncrowave 250 a few months ago for a song.  I needed to buy consumables, a foot pedal and an argon bottle, build a cart, etc.  I finally get everything ready and my professional welding buddy stopped by today.  Other than a leak in the coolant line (we farmer fixed it) and a reversed argon solenoid (previously installed backwards so it just leaked....), the machine works beautifully. 

I can oxy/acetylene weld but have very little experience with TIG.  Based on this afternoon's experience - TIG is magic and I am looking forward to doing much of the T24 work with it.  I spent the afternoon running beads, looking at penetration, playing with tungsten stick out, fuse welding 18 gauge, etc.  It really is an amazing process and gives you so much control that making seams disappear and otherwise fixing holes becomes a pleasure.

Tomorrow I fix a little more rust and remove the damaged section of bulkhead so I can start fitting the new floor.  I may even tack it in if I get that far....

Patrick

 

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The weather was unseasonably warm here in the NE yesterday so I spent a bunch of time bombing around in the Willys MB and playing with the TIG welder instead of working.

I did manage to work for 2.5 hours though and finally quit cutting out metal.  If you have done restoration work, you may be familiar with the "I can save that because removal is a real PITA" phenomenon?  Then you start getting ready to repair the crusty area and your better sense kicks in and you realize you will spend less time removing and replacing than you will repairing plus the results will be a lot better.  I do this a lot.

So I was trying to avoid replacing the inner hat channel with the captive nuts and all of the welds to the bulkhead.  The more I cleaned it up, the worse it looked so out it came yesterday.  Getting the steel out wasn't too bad and I saved all of the captive nuts.  The great thing about removing this hat channel is that the sheet metal corner in the area is pitted but still very solid so I have a great run of original floor to ensure good alignment.  This and getting the outside corner "square" have been my biggest concern but I am much less worried because I now have a lot of original points to work from and the new steel is bent with the corners and very rigid.  It will go in more or less one way and one way only.

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I still need to cut away a bit more of the floor right by the bulkhead but I got a little tired and stopped.  Lots of rust cleaning too, although I am probably going to have the entire hull media blasted after I finish the repairs and before the primer goes on so mostly I am cleaning direct welding areas and not much more.
 

On the subject of captive nuts, these look like two pieces - a nut and then the flange, that have been brazed together.  The picture was hard to get, but the color is pretty visibly like brazing.  They also could have been spot welded - you can see a "dishing" on the nut in the second picture (by the nut, not the cut I ground in the center of the flange to remove the spot weld).  I need more of these for various areas so will likely make some more up.  I have several others that have come out in various states of decay and the two pieces looked spot welded together.  Not a big issue, just curious if anyone knows how they were put together.

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I did play a little with fuse welding 18 gauge with the TIG.  Like all of this stuff, there is art involved, but the joints came out just fine and I think with a little practice will be easy to hide.  Joint #1....

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The vertical hat channels that support the lower hull seam are solid, except for one.  I went ahead and cut out the hull metal (it had some rust through anyway) so I have good access.  It is a little hard to see in the picture, but both side walls are totally compromised and there are lots of pinholes in the face side.  Not sure whether I am going to make up a partial hat channel, a full hat channel or clean and insert a doubler on the inside and then finish weld on the outside.  I am going to have some time this afternoon/early evening so that is next up on the agenda.  That floor piece is going in this week if I have to pull an all nighter!

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I made good progress yesterday fitting the new floor.  There are still  gaps that need to be adjusted, metal that needs adjusting and some patches that will be needed based on how I installed the floor in three pieces, but it is coming together just fine.   The front section looks ugly, but pulls together pretty well - I will probably cut original metal into a more rectangular area and patch that.  I have a lot of welding and grinding to do.

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I spent more time over the weekend working on the new floors.  Saturday was about improving the fit and I started welding on Sunday.

I am a huge fan of TIG welding, even though I have a lot to learn. 

Here is the side/floor tacked into place.

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Here are my first "official" TIG welds on the hull.  They are far from perfect and I made just about every mistake in the book.  The first 12 inches or so took me about 3 hours, including mistakes and also removing some dents from the area that were making it even harder to get everything flat.  I need to work on the inside of the hull and then come back and finish this area.  The wonderful thing about TIG is that you can reasonably fix all of the visible imperfections with very little fear of making the problem worse.  I have vastly more experience with the MIG and always wonder, when I go to fix a little spot like you seen in this picture, whether it will be better or worse after I pull that MIG trigger.  I feel a lot more in control with the TIG even at this inexperienced stage.

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This is round two.....getting better. 

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The next two plus feet went pretty well.  I still need to cycle through grinding, hammer/dolly and more TIG to get the joint to disappear, but I am optimistic that I can get the results I am looking for here.

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For those of you contemplating or working on similar projects, here are my TIG observations so far.  I am no expert having received about 1 hour of training on this machine - the rest is books and videos and now about 8 hours of experience.

1.  You want to move fast to keep the heat effected zone small.  The last welds are better, but still have a larger heat effected zone than I think is necessary.  From studying lots of videos and reading a bunch, you want to start your arc, almost immediately establish the puddle (ie push down the accelerator and move.  Do about one to two inches and then stop and work on another area while the welds and metal cool.  Jump around, repeat. 

The hard part of TIG is you have to think about many things at once....torch angle, arc length, feed rate of filler, foot control, etc.  I am going to have some time this afternoon and plan on doing some speed practice runs on scrap to see how small I can get the heat effected zone and still have excellent penetration.  This is a time at task game so more welding is more better.

2.  Use a backer of aluminum or copper.  I did not because I was too lazy to engineer a holder, but if you place a backer on the joint, you will end up with much less work to clean up the back side of your weld.  A backer does several things including helping dissipate the heat as well as trapping the shielding gas and keeping the back side from oxidizing and looking ugly.  I will make something to hold the backer strip for the rest of this joint and the lower joint.

Here is back side FYI with just a quick cleanup and then fill on the outside of the seam that penetrated through...

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All for now.

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I spent a few hours welding on Wednesday.  I am really enjoying the control of TIG.  I am sure I will continue to find reasons to use my MIG welder, but this work is so much easier with TIG once you get the hang of it.

For derusting, I like to dip a shop towel in Evaporust and then "stick" it to a surface - works great on vertical surfaces too.  You spray or splay a little more Evaporust every couple of hours to keep the towel moist.  The product does a nice job stopping rust and cleaning the metal to bright and takes almost no effort.  The only downside is that Evaporust works much better at temps over 70 degrees....but it does work at lower temps, only slower.

I love that the freshly cleaned metal shows all of those spotwelds so clearly.  Super cool.

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I managed to get out to the shop yesterday late afternoon into the evening and log about 5 hours of metal bumping and welding. 

I finished welding the right side seam a few days ago.  Not surprisingly, the back is better than the front where I started.  I really focused on getting the front side from the bow to the bulkhead straight, flat and seamless.  If you want to do this type of work, you need to remember that everything has to be in place before the seam disappears and you can't force one part into place and then the next because everything is moving together.  So you have to "sneak up" on flat. 

I started here

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You can still see lots of evidence of the welded seam and there are several dents on the panel so this area is not flat at all.  There is also manufacturing distortion from the longitudinal hat channel that I will not mess with but the rest is use/abuse that I am trying to erase to get this back to factory. 

This is about an hour of hammer/dolly and shrinking.  I have done a tiny amount of grinding, but mostly with a course 3M pad on the angle grinder - it polishes more than removes metal because I don't need to get in a rush, thin an area out and then make a bunch of work for myself.   I am shrinking with both an oxy/acetylene torch and a shrinking disc.  The shrinking disc is amazing but slow...when you need things to move and you can clearly see what is going on, the torch makes things happen - good and bad.

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I use a straightedge/ruler a lot.  This is close and the panel is very nearly flat. It will still take some hammering to get it into the correct "arrangement" and some final shrinking to get it taut.  Pay attention to the feel of the sheet metal/panel.  When things are new or "right", panels are rigid but not hard.  Between what folks call "oil canning" where the panel will pop or bulge in and out and really hard is the right state.  Often, you have to use a hammer/slapper/dolly, even on a flat panel, to "relieve" the tension created when you used a shrinker to get the metal back into correct shape.  These are soft blows but you can both feel and see it as you work the panel.

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I stopped at this point because I still have the hole in the bow.  The hole was just kind of a goof - I patched the bow section to give me a good reference point for the floor and then decided to leave a little extra metal and wrap it to avoid welding a seam on the corner and having to make the radius match.  That plan worked out pretty well but I was left with old side, new bottom corner and new side and a weird hole. 

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I cleaned up the welds and made a patch and tacked it into place.

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I am still learning about this TIG process.  Filling gaps is very different than with a MIG - I would say MIG likes a little gap - TIG not so much.  Even the kerf width of a cutting disc on an angle grinder is a challenge to fill for this newbie.  I ended up laying a flller rod in the gap and fusing into place (Thanks Jodie at WeldingTipsandTricks).  This works pretty well.

I was a little loose with my cleaning on the back side of the panel and paid for it.....clean that metal boys or blow through.PatchWelded.thumb.jpg.2c89b6b3b2038b7051afefc19f84211f.jpg

If you aren't a welder, you hear about uphill and downhill passes.  Welding uphill is more challenging because as you weld the "new" welding area gets progressively hotter until you blow through if you aren't careful.  That big weld "nugget" on the right side of the picture is my blow through.  Live and learn.

After a little hammer and dolly and grinding, I did a second pass and welded the remaining seam.  Looks a bit better.

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I was getting tired an it was late so I cleaned this up a little more and took a money shot.  The seams are still somewhat visible so I will work on this a little more (weld/grind/flatten) before it is ready for paint but overall it is very close.  The remaining welds to the bulkhead are better and the panel has less abuse so this will go faster.  I did a much better job welding the seam from the bulkhead back so that part should go more quickly......

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Managed to get out to the shop for another 2 hours last evening.  The front half hull side is nearly complete....intending to finish the back half today and get working on the inner tunnel seam.  I will still need to go over the side to straighten a few more dents before I spot weld the 45 degree gusset, but I am happy with the progress.March13RightSide.thumb.jpg.d82d555213d688471e1b5c7d5f42ab36.jpg

 

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I put in 3 more hours on Saturday and the right side of the hull is getting close.  I have 70 hours into the hull at this point.

I have another cycle of shrinking, occlusion welding, hammer & dolly etc. as well as welding up the back 8 inches.  The seam is mostly invisible along its length - the only problem areas are the 3 vertical hat channels where you don't have access to the back side.  The seam in these areas are pretty close but not quite what I want.  I have a couple of options to get these areas flat - will report back in the next post. 

I have a big block of time today and will try to get this wrapped up and start working on the inner tunnel seam.  I am thinking I will tilt the hull on its side for better access.

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Patrick,

Make life easier.....get or make a rotisserie for the hull.

Here's one I had years ago. It was originally for rebuilding radial aircraft motors and we added the bars to mount the Weasel hull.

I think I may still have blueprints for one that the British Military fabricated for these motors that would be easy to build. Got it out of the National Archives (US).

Oh.......and remember to drain the differential before turning.......note oil on floor!

Jim Gilmore

Jim Thorpe, PA.

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Thanks @Jim Gilmore and @Jesse Browning.  I made a rotisserie for my MB tub that could be easily adapted to work on the Weasel.  This has been fine so far because it allows me nice access to both sides of the hull.  It will be nice to turn the hull on its side to finish weld the seam on the lower hull and for doing the lower hull repairs for sure.  I still have a bit more to go but will pick up some steel this week and get to fabricating.....

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Patrick, BZ on your efforts to rein in the corrosion and panel damage. 👍👍 Just an observation here is that I have noticed that the sides of the T24 hull appear to be a lot straighter out of the factory as compared to an M29C ????

I repaired a T24 hull that had (at a guess) in the past been through a post war rebuild programme and the solution to repair damage and corrosion to that side was to 'Skin' it.

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Thanks John @OZM29C .  I can see how skinning would be a tempting and practical (temporary...ish) solution.

As for the hull side straightness - the passenger side is getting pretty flat and probably flatter than your average M29....  Besides the ongoing cleanup of the new seam, my two remaining issues are:  dents in the bulkhead pulled the sides in a little and figuring out how much distortion there "should be" around the vertical hat channels).

There is some (what I think is) factory distortion from the spot welding process in each of these areas so I don't think I want them perfectly flat....?  Is wavy panel distortion around the bulkhead a "feature" of the T24?  I kinda doubt it - the Studebaker engineers should have been able to get the right width and then the only distortion would be local to the spot welding of the bulkhead to the sides?  Thoughts?

I started working on the bulkhead yesterday as part of flattening the sides and took out the worst of the dents - hard to say if it had much impact, but I think a little.   I think you have to sneak up on flat and this made a little difference in the bays on either side of the bulkhead.

It is really hard to take a picture of raw steel that gives a correct image of the defects, but this was yesterday afternoon at the end of the day.  I have a little more distortion to remove where the vertical hat channels block access to the back of the new metal seam....a bit of a challenge.  Once that is done, I need to do a pass down the entire side to remove the minor dents that are left and decide when to stop.  Input and thoughts appreciated.

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Between global pandemics and tens of feet of 18 gauge steel seams, my life is ground hog day.  For a variety of reasons (including a daughter who had returned from college in NYC), we have been locked in for the last two weeks so I am spending a lot of time in the shop.  The governor just "officially" told everyone to stay home until further notice so there is no excuse but to get after it.

I think it is hard to see a lot of progress in these pictures, but the right side is starting to shape up and look like I want it to.  On one hand, I am a little torn about erasing all of the history as evidenced by what seems like hundreds of dents (not spot welds) on the side of the hull.  On the other hand, this hull has gone through a lot, the history is effectively untraceable and it would look to me like a botched restoration if I just stopped here. And so I continue down the path of making it as close to "new" as my skills allow.

Many years ago, I was recommended an excellent book by a gentleman named David Pye about what he calls the craftsmanship of risk - projects where the outcome is dependent on the skills of the craftsman.  He calls it craftsmanship of risk because a mistake by our craftsman can also "ruin" the project at any given point - including when the work is very near complete.  It is a dense read but ponders the question of what is "good enough". 

One of the things I have to constantly remind myself is that just about any mistake in metalworking is fixable - even if I have not currently mastered the skills to fix it myself. So I push on with trying to make a panel totally flat and a seam totally invisible when I know that I could use a little high build at this point and effectively get there.  Time is never free, but mastering these skills in the midst of the global situation seems like a fine thing to do and it keeps me mostly off of the internet.  

I am continuing to clean up the rust while I do this panel beating work. I am using scotchbrite pads and some Evaporust...not so efficient but they remove very little metal. The shrinking disc also burnishes the metal and leaves it looking nearly new.

Today's task - tackle the seam where the new floor meets the lower tunnel.

Be safe!

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