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1943 T-24 Restoration Thread


Patrick Tipton
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John - that would be awesome thank you.  I think the T24 had a fixed, welded strap in the back (presumably what is pictured) and a similar removal one in the front to facilitate gas tank removal.  It has a separate part number that I found but have not been able to cross reference.  Still working on it.  I am going to put together a quick post/article when I finish my research so we have it for future reference.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I have mostly finished the rotisserie.  I have a few more tweaks to make to the balance adjustment but it is working pretty well. 

I have turned back to the left side repairs and have started removal of the entire left side of the hull. It is a big job, but I think no more work than do a patchwork of repairs. 

My plan is to replace the entire side.  I will make it from a 10 ft section of 18 gauge steel.  The side will be almost identical to the original but I am going to weld it in at the top of the side along the edge.  The reason for this is that removing the last section right by what I would call the "cockpit coaming" or the upper edge of the hull looks like a nightmare.  My plan is to i) fit the new side, ii) install hat channels, iii) install and finish weld the side using simulated spot welds and pre-punched holes, an invisible seam on the top corner of the hull and the original visible seam on the lower hull and iv) use my PanelSpotter spot welder to spot weld/simulate spot welds as appropriate on the upper and vertical hat channels.

I have cut away the side to the bulkhead.  More spot weld drilling tomorrow.

IMG_6398.jpg

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I finished removing nearly all of the left side of the hull over the last several days.  I have cleanup to do around the vertical hat channels,  removal of the floor in the rear section and then the joint between the sides/upper hull and the lower hull.  Onward!

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Picking up a piece of 10 foot 18 gauge steel on Friday.....so I have plenty to do before the new side will be ready to install.  I am fortunate that a friend has a 12 ft brake and we are going to bend up the new side at his shop.  I will video it and post soon.

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More cutting and grinding.  For those following along at home, I was nervous about replacing the whole side.  It just seems like such a big job and I was worried about alignment and making the new side and on and on.  The deeper I get, the easier this now looks and while I can't do the victory dance (yet🤔) and still may goof it all up, here is what I have learned.

1.  Unless a Weasel is coming from a super friendly climate, the lower corners of the hull and the metal under the hat channels/gussets is going to be thin.  This left side looked pretty nice and yet the metal has a lot of rot. I didn't poke around this area that much before I started cutting, but much of this damage was not visible from the side or bottom.  You could see a few pin holes, but the metal felt solid and I was certainly tempted to just try and weld up the pin holes and then spray something into the area to try and stop the rot.  Replacing the side is a lot of work, but I am super happy to have all of this rust gone.

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2.  The effort difference between replacing the entire side and just the sponson floor (as I did on the right side of the hull) is marginal.  I am guessing the entire left side is going to take less time than the right side because I will spend almost no time working on dents and smoothing seams.  I will have one very visible seam along the top edge of the hull, but I think this is going to be pretty easy to hide.

3.  10 foot x 4 foot sheets of 18 gauge will make a complete Weasel side (exactly like original) and are available for about $100.

4.  You need to find a large brake to bend the sides.  I have drawn several versions of the side and will likely make a pattern for the lower section of the hull.  With respect to the rest of the side, I will be able to trim in place and adjust.

5.  Drilling spot welds is a thing. 

My work order:

- Music

- clean/polish the area so that all of the spot welds are clearly visible (or if you can see them in glancing light, mark them with a pen),

- drill pilot dimples

- for the hundreds of spot welds that you have to remove, the cheap spot weld cutters will work just as well as expensive ones (with the dimple drilled)

- lubricate the bit

- look for the puff of "rust smoke" to let you know that you have successfully drilled through the outer sheet metal.


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On the last two pictures, I thought this lower seam was a carefully made butt joint between the lower hull and the sides.  On further exploration, I am beginning to think that it is a lap joint.  There is a hat channel on sides of the lower hull that is a combined 45 degree gusset to support the lower edge of the hull, then a hat channel with a large upper flange that supports the joint between the sides and the lower hull - where all of the spot welds are in the second to last picture.  The significance of this being a lap joint is that as long as the floor goes more or less in the right place, I don't have to worry about a super fitting butt joint - just need a nice straight edge to run a weld bead.  

I should have all of the old metal removed next week and then am heading to a buddy's shop to bend up the side.  Woo hoo!

IMG_6431s.jpg

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1 minute ago, F.Janssen said:

A lot of work Patrick!
I don't envy you at the moment....

Are you going to replace / substitute it with 1 plate profile?

Ha!  Yes - lots of work, but not bad if you do it in 2-3 hour chunks.

I am replacing the side with 1 piece of new steel - it should be pretty indistinguishable from original when done.  The only difference between what I am doing and the original construction is the very top edge where it meets the coaming/top of the hull....at this point (still thinking about it), I am leaving that and will weld/grind the top corner of the hull.

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These pictures really give a good view of basic hull structure of a Weasel.  For those of you contemplating a similar project, it really is not so bad.  Note that the sides of the upper hull are just lapped over the lower hull.  This means that within reason, the shape of that overlap (ie the side below the floor) is not particularly important - which means that fitting the side will be easy as long as the floor/sponson width is bent correctly.  I "overcut" and cut a little of the lower hull sheet metal when I cut through the weld seam - no problem because it is double thick with the inner hat channel and I will add metal back when I weld the lap joint.
 

Overall, the hat channels are in nice shape.  The pressings that make up the front and rear of the center tunnel of the hull are pretty pitted, but are still fine for the use that this hull will get moving forward.  I will treat the metal.  I am still thinking about using a good seam sealer in here just to help minimize the opportunity for moisture in these areas.

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More progress on the cleanup and starting to think about repairs and the assembly sequence for the new side.

The front floor and bow section around the drivers compartment had been reskinned at some point.  Lots of extra welds and sheet metal that needed to be removed.  Underneath, there are a few doublers that need to be repaired, but overall the metal is in fine condition.

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I cleaned up two of the 4 vertical hat channels - I will prime the flanges (at spot weld locations) with hi-zinc.  I like the rust converting primer better for the areas that will not be welded. 

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This is an untouched section of the inner hat channel.  I amazes me that any metal is still shiny and clean after 77 years.  I have seen discussion over the years that the entire hull was dipped in linseed oil prior to paint.  Perhaps this process explains it.  I am going to wire wheel the cavity and prime it before putting the side back on.

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@OZM29C Very interesting John.  I would not be surprised if this repair was done by the military.  The repair was reasonably well carried out - workmanlike but not fussy.  They reskinned the sponson from the "bow" to the bulkhead - and likely arc welded it along the seams.  The front seam looked almost factory....the others were both less visible and less pretty.  Most of the area was cut away by the time I got the Weasel , but the corrosion is really bad in the area.  As in the case of your Weasel, the doubled skin seems to have increased the rate of decay.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Guys - sorry for the quiet.  We lost power for 4 days early last week due to a storm and then I spent a few days digging out.  Then the shop that was going to bend my side could not because they could not bend a tight enough radius.  Then another shop could not bend the side because the throat depth of their press brake was insufficient.  I think I found a local shop that can do it.  It will all be worth it once done, but a pain in the meantime.

One good thing - I spent a small fortune on the blueprints for the left side from the Studebaker archives.  The plans are full sized.  I am in the process of redrawing them in CAD (with help).  My measurements were close, but it is nice to see the originals and get it all right.

Does anyone have any interest in new sides?  Once I am done with this project, I will have worked it out and could make up individuals or sets without too much trouble.  Shipping would be a problem but where there is a will there is a way.  PM me if you would be interested.  I think the M29 sides are the identical in form and the difference is hat channel locations and the addition of the skirt on the outside but someone can correct me if that is incorrect.

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Greetings gents. 

After a couple of misstarts, I finally found a local shop to bend up the new side. I was looking for someone who had equipment that was capable of adjusting the bend radius so we ended up with a nice, tight bend.  The drawing calls for a 3/32 bend...about .093" or a little less than twice the metal thickness (18 gauge/.050").   I am no fabrication expert but I did some research on bending and I gather that the minimum for plain steel is around the gauge thickness.  In any event, Studebaker engineers called for a pretty tight bend.  In looking over my hull, most of the bends seem a little looser than 3/32 except for the hat channels - they are a pretty tight radius.

The die on a brake determines the bending radius.  Some CNC machines have universal dies and adjustments.  The old manual brakes with the huge weights have adjustments.  I was about to buy an older 10ft machine to use and resell (no space for that) when a friend gave me another name to try.  These folks make duct work and generally work in 18 to 20 gauge steel.  They had a hydraulic vertical press with unlimited throat (another issue) that made nice, tight radius bends - probably not quite 3/32 but close and certainly the bends look good up against the original hull sections that I removed.

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I then started fitting the side up.  I needed to cut two relief angles on the lower side - front and back.  I made a template for the rear and cut it per the original factory drawing. In this picture, the side is too far back - the "peak" of that cut goes about 3/4 of inch in front of the vertical welded seam on the lower hull.IMG_9121.thumb.jpg.3fd822d0453db0c60fe5b28c159c71dd.jpg

 

As there is a lot of stuff going on in the front, I just trimmed enough to get the side in place. 

Because the side is tapered, after you bend the rectangular piece of steel, you end up with an unsquare floor where it meets the rear and the front.  You can see what I am talking about in the outside lower corner of the hull here.

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The one challenge here is that a 10ft piece of steel is just big enough to wrap around and close up the bow...I think.  1842022915_IMG_65892.thumb.jpg.d3c264fff63047909adc417f60fcfb72.jpg

My guess is that Studebaker was using rolls and would have made parallelograms to bend rather than rectangles.  They may have stayed at 10 foot length, but that 3/4 of an inch you see two pictures back would have made the difference.  The shop I used to bend the steel has roll steel - if I ever do another one, I am going to figure out that angle and we will shear the rear edge so this fitment is not an issue.
 

I may have to add a little triangle of steel to the rear floor to get everything in the right spot. I am hoping what I have will just fit, but if not, I'll TIG in a triangle and no one (except you folks) will ever be the wiser. 

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I will head back to the shop over the next few days to finish cleaning up the vertical hat channels, seams etc. and getting everything on the hull ready for the new metal.  My plan is to finish this clean up, get the new side properly fitted and then screw it/Cleco it in place with just enough fasteners to ensure it goes back on in the same place every time I remove it.  Then I will add all of the hat channels and finally install the side.

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