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1943 T-24 Restoration Thread

Patrick Tipton

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I have been busy the last couple of days with other projects so not too much work on the T-24.  I did get in a little welding today and went ahead and tipped the hull over for better access.  I may end up cutting a bit more of the original floor away - the area under the one remaining hat channel is pretty rotten.  

I am going to quarantine myself in my shop tomorrow so hopefully a lot will get done.  As you can see, plenty of work waiting for me on the lower hull.



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Thanks @F.Janssen - appreciate it.  For me, the key has been spending enough time (and getting help online and otherwise)  to learn how to get the results I want - an ongoing process for sure. Once I became pretty sure I would succeed, though, the stress went away and the work became relaxing and mostly satisfying.

I have spent a lot of time watching a guy in Massachusetts named Wray Schlein.  His YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU4f0UCOfiB32Lo4Z6NDghA

He is a fabulous metal worker.  I have picked up a lot by watching his videos - they are long and largely unstructured, but you can learn by watching him work.


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I only ended up in the shop for a few hours yesterday but I got.a fair amount done.  With the hull on its side and the original floor very visible, I decided there was too much rot in the rear hat channel area and went ahead and cut it out.  I was tempted to repair, but I really would like to remove as much rot as I can and cutting a corner at this point will end up coming back to haunt me later.  

I also finished welding the rear floor section where the new metal meets the old.  

Finally, there was a little blow through rot where the side of the hull overlaps the rear assembly of the hull.  I cut out the rot and need to clean and protect it before welding in a patch.

It is a little hard to look at these pictures and not see all the work needed on the lower hull....but those are next weeks problems.



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We had a bunch of nice warm days and I spent more time driving around in my jeep than I did working on the Weasel.  These are the only family outings we are getting these days so these little journeys are appreciated by everyone in my family.  I also got some of the markings applied to my jeep - pretty happy with it.

Yesterday I was in the shop for about 3 hours and got a lot of welding done on the lower hull seam.  

I learned a new "trick" from Jodi over at Welding Tips and Trips (YouTube and .com website).  He is a master.  So he likes to do his TIG tack welds by blasting the pedal (appropriate amperage) for just a moment - on/off.  If the joint is tight and flush, you don't need filler rod.  Works great - very little/no distortion.  Here:



Once I get the tacks about every inch, I go ahead and weld between tacks.  I am still working on my TIG skills but I am so impressed with how small the "heat effected zone" is with TIG.  You can see the discoloration - maybe 3/4 inch on either side.  It is really fantastic.  One of the other things that Jodi talks about is getting the puddle going quickly...basically blast the pedal like the tack but then backing off to keep the heat down overall.  This is a little harder but really does work well once you get the hang of it.  Some of these welds are a little cold....will need to go over them and blend in the undercutting...all part of the learning process.


The other thing you hear people talk about with TIG is how soft the welds are (in a good way).  Unlike MIG welds which are really hard when you go to hammer/planish them, the TIG weld bead is soft and flattens very easy.  With such a small heat effected area, there is very little distortion and.just a little bit of hammer and dolly work gets the metal to flat again.  


By the way, the weld area is really clean when I do the welds - the rest of the hull - not so much right now, although I think I am going to put Evaporust on this side today and clean it up.  I like to soak a shop towel in the stuff and then lay it on rusty panels.  You can add a little Evaporust but the shop towel slows down the evaporation and lets the Evaporust do its magic.  Couple of hours later, the metal is generally clean.


I am probably 3/4 the way done with the welding on this side.  I made a little extra work for myself by trying to save the rearmost hat channel and then deciding to remove it - made for two extra 14 inch seams.....more practice TIG welding which I need 😁



I have a pretty free day today so should be able to get most of the welding done.  The hardest part of fixing this particular seam is the hammer/dolly work because you can not reach both sides at the same time.  Solution:  you need.a "dolly" partner.  I enlisted my wife yesterday and she did great.  Son also helped for a few minutes.  He agreed to give me an hour or so today so I am going to get prepped and we will try and get most of this seam finished today.  Then I can start to think about any final work on the sides and starting to install gussets and hat channels.

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I was back in the shop yesterday for a couple of hours.  I am seriously contemplating an April push (daily) with this quarantine to see if I could finish the hull.  About the only impediment I see is running out of Argon.  I may be able to do a curbside exchange...

In any event, I got more of the right side lower tunnel buttoned up.  I welded two patches in the bow section where the rust between overlapping steel bubbled through.  I struggle a little to finish these areas nicely with only access to one side.  I also probably should have cut the front patch a little further (slight distortion) but I was trying to save the original spot welds....probably silly given that I can replicate. 

The TIG welding is getting better.

As I mentioned before, I am a fan of Evaporust....works great on sheet metal if you soak a shop towel and then leave it for about 24 hours (less depending on temps).  I wet it occasionally.

You can see that the Evaporust does a nice job.  I have cleaned the area above the seam with a 3m pad but not much more.  Most of the rust is gone.  The lower tunnel/hull needs more work but I am running low on Evaporust and so am being a little stingy right now.


This is the beginning of fixing a rust through patch on the front vertical hat channel.  A good friend recommended welding the entire seam in one pass (based on the advice of Chip Foose) - who am I to argue.  I am not getting a lot of distortion in any event, but you do have to watch it as you move along because hot metal means it is easier to blow through.  You can see that happened in the left part of the seam. 1004953645_VerticalHatChannelPatch.thumb.jpg.e72687f235d6f119625b484ec955f9b1.jpg

Welded up. 


Front Side doubler patch welded:


I goofed a little when fitting in the new floor/side and left a 3/8 inch gap.  I put a cutoff in but had to do two close seams. RightSideBehindBulkheadPatch.thumb.jpg.f15a05894fde6be3f1f5bed67ea2fd7c.jpg


I did a little grinding but need a helper to hold the dolly and get this metal back into shape before I can finish it.  I will go through several rounds of planishing (hammer & dolly), then filling any imperfections, more planishing and grinding before this area is done.  I took two quick videos of where I ended up.



The entire seam:

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13 hours ago, OZM29C said:

Patrick, Keep at it. 👍👍👍 At times it appears that there is a never ending conga line of rust just waiting to be repaired. Believe me, there will come a time when all of a sudden, your done.

Appreciate the encouragement John - right now, one minute I am thinking...."I got this"....then I look at a picture and see all of the work on the lower hull........🤫....

The left/driver side is worse in some respects because the damage is less...the entire side is right on the line of repair/replace....planning on repair with only replacing the floor in the drivers compartment areas but thinking that this is going to be a really bugger...


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I decided to do a 30 day push in April given we are under a statewide COVID quarantine.  I am working on the Weasel at least one hour a day and posting a short video on YouTube.

Yesterday, I worked on the seam where I patched the new floor into the lower hull/tunnel.  I concentrated on the front two feet, including where I had to make an additional patch.  The biggest challenge is no access to the back, but I am getting through it.  



I sometimes question my own sanity for working so obsessively on areas that won't be visible.  When I was a kid, someone told me character was how you behave when no one is watching.  Not sure there is a direct corollary, but that is at least part of my thinking.  The other thing is that this practice in low visibility areas will pay off with more expertise when it counts..... or at least that is the thinking.  


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April 2/Day 2

I did a little more work on the front lower hull patch and seam.  I am playing with lots of TIG variables, gas flow, stickout, cup size, etc.  I am learning.

This first picture shows a little more welding on the front patch - it is almost invisible.  I am not totally sure why there little "volcanos" at the end of the welds. Like I said, I have been playing with lots of variables so it could be too little shielding gas or contaminants from the inaccessible backside of the welds.  I was able to grind them out.


After a little more hammering and grinding.  Here is where we ended up:


I have a little more to do but need an extra set of hands to hold a dolly and help get this really straight.  I also bought an inexpensive 2" orbital sander that will be here today/tomorrow and should make this a little more efficient.

I keep looking at the gaping holes in the lower tunnel/hull and decided that patching one would be a fine diversion for a few hours.


There are some pretty good pits in the gusset but overall it is solid and with transmission mounts etc. on the inside, I prefer to leave this piece in place if possible.  I will clean it up best I can and put some rusty metal primer on it to hopefully stop the rot.  I also need to work on the big dent a little too and try and get it back into shape before I weld a patch - otherwise the dent might be harder to remove and or distort the patch after the fact....


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Got the repair to the lower tunnel/hull repaired over the last several days.  For what its worth, the TIG process does not like weld thru primer.  I ended up using MIG.  For the other two sections where I intend to do this, I am going to clean the metal, spray with primer, then clean off the primer where the welding will take place.  Before reassembly, I am going to use one of the undercoat type products and spray it in through the idler bracket holes/captive nuts.  1909157156_IMG_53772.thumb.jpg.556993af024ee20ff7ffbd4c94d234e8.jpgIMG_5398.thumb.jpg.aeee1564e3103e8dcaa0e859074460dd.jpg



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Spent another couple of hours working on the lower hull.  I fixed the next "bay" forward of the last patch.  Other than a few pinholes and the corner edge of the hull itself, the gusset and surrounding area are solid and cleaned up well.


I cut the rusty metal out along the edges where the internal gusset was spot welded to the hull. I then cleaned the area with a wire wheel and 3m pads on the angle grinder.  There was a lot of blasting media and dirt in the corners so I used a bunch of tools to scrape everything out, blew out the area and then put a coat of "rusty metal" primer on everything.


I fitted a new patch.  I ran out of energy to start welding.  That is today's project.






Fit Up.jpg

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7 days in a row in the shop.- may be a personal record for me.  

I spent 2 hours and got the second lower hull patch welded and mostly cleaned up. I used MIG because I can't get my TIG to work with my "weldable" primer - too much popping and splattering. There are a couple of spots to close up and finish.  I think I am going to tackle the bad "bay" toward the rear of the hull with the bad 45 degree gusset next.  



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Day 8

I went ahead and started working on the last bay.

The first step was to remove the bogie etc.  I don't think these parts had ever been off - nice original white paint!

It is a little messy, but there is a lot of good metal.  I mostly cleaned up today - I am planning to replace the lower half of the inner gusset and then patch the outside corner.  I have a little more cleanup to do but I think I will get good results doing a patch rather than replacing the entire gusset.  There are 6 captive nuts involved and two strengthening tabs that would have to be replaced to replace the gusset.  I will make a final decision today after I finish cleaning it up.

I also started shrinking the floor and getting it straight.  I mostly used the torch - there is more to do before any patching.  This is one of those things that seems a little obsessive but getting the floor flat now will make this patch (and the left side patch in my future) much easier.





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Day 9

Got the inner gusset mostly repaired.  I need to do a little hammer & dolly work, grind the weld on the inside and fix a few details, but I should be able to get this buttoned up and make the outer patch today.  I went back to my TIG machine to do most of these welds.  Pretty happy with how they came out.




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I worked for a few minutes on Sunday.  My plan was to clean up details.  I started wire wheeling the last little section of the rear of the hull and received a little surprise.  I must have pulled out a cup of oily dirt.  Not a difficult fix and fortunately the inner gusset is going to be fine.


I also worked on repairing a small section of an inner hat channel that was rotted where one of the floor hat channels met the edge.  I need to figure out if anything goes into the oval hole and then can finish this part up.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been in the shop every day since the last post.  I have nearly finished the welding and related cleanup on the new right side floor.  I have also spent a lot of time working on the right side to get everything flat and ready to install the floor gussets and hat channels.  I think I will be able to start installing hat channels in the next few days.  I have a spot welder and want to do some testing with the TIG and spot welder to ensure that the finished welds are both strong and look factory.




I also repaired one side of the coaming where someone had bent it down to make access easier.  It is nearly straight and ready for welding.



Finally, I made a new front hat channel for bow right side.  It came out pretty nicely - need to adjust a couple of the dimensions because it is just a little taller than it should be but it fits.  I need to put the "jogs" (relief bends) in the ends to allow the hat channel to sit flush against the floor.  I have a tool that works beautifully but does not make a deep enough jog....trying to figure out whether I can modify it to suit my purposes.





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I finished the surprise dirt hole in the rear of the lower hull and welded in the last patch on the rear.  I have a little more grinding to do on this last patch because it got late and I got tired so it was time to stop.  I will get it finished today and then move on to the final fettling to get this side ready for hat channels.  For what its worth, I really dislike "weldable" primer.  I want to protect theses surfaces, but man does it make for some ugly welding.


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On 4/27/2020 at 12:00 AM, OZM29C said:

Patrick, its a good feeling to tick off another milestone in a restoration. Again, well done and keep up the quality work.

Indeed John - thank you!  I had a crazy last week between videos and other obligations but did manage to log another fifteen hours or so... I am starting to fit hat channels - which of course sends me back to mucking around with getting everything flat😂. It is a journey.

Regards, Patrick

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