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Stainless Trim Restoration
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I've got both sides of the hood support welded, ground down, and a light coat of primer over the modified area. Even though you won't be able to see the back, it's also been smoothed over, just in case some a$$ hat runs their fingers over it. It'll take a slight bit of filler and some block sanding to make it perfect, but I'm pretty happy with the overall result. It sure looks cleaner with that edge running straight. The next step will be sorting out the bends on either end, as they're now pointing the wrong way, and interfering with the cross braces.
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I am not sure I know why you are reversing the brace?

Mikey
 

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Discussion Starter #142 (Edited)
I am not sure I know why you are reversing the brace?

Mikey
With the tilt front end, when it's up in the air you're looking at the hood, rad support, etc., from a totally different angle than you would with just the hood up normally. I'm trying to make that view a little more "refined". Dave
 

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Stainless Trim Restoration
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Well just sound counter intuitive to me......:unsure:

Mikey
 

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Stainless Trim Restoration
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The same is said about me.....don't ask my wife she doesn't care.....as long as the $$$ comes in.....LOL

Mikey
 
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Discussion Starter #146
Got the ends swapped around on the diagonal braces. Wasn't as hard as I thought. Just snapped the ends off (they always seem to be cracked), turned them over and secured them with one bolt each and an awl to line up the second hole. A couple of tack welds (blobs) was enough to hold them to the main bracket, then a heavy bead all around once the piece was on the bench. As usual, a bunch of grinding, and then some shaping with the rotary file to pretty them up. Please ignore the mis-matched hardware holding everything together.
Next up will be the rad support.
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Discussion Starter #147
Before I could start on the rad support, I had to weld the bracket back onto the frame. But before I could do that, I wanted to get the mounting brackets for the actuator installed. So I got the holes drilled, and the underside holes enlarged so the Allen head bolts would pass through. With that done, I did finally get the support bracket welded on. I have yet to grind down the excess bead.
There will be two radiator supports on this build; one that holds all the front end pieces together, and the other that actually will be the radiator support. Arlen was kind enough to supply me with the 2nd one, which was leftover from project Snobad. I'm trying to incorporate as many OEM parts as possible, although most will be modified to some extent. To get the support sitting low enough, I had to notch the cross braces for the frame horns. When I added them back onto the Corvette cross member (way back in 1995), I just placed them where they seemed to fit the best, and I figured it was easier to notch them than to relocate everything. I'll be sure to have all the pieces fit nicely, trimmed, and re-enforced as necessary when I'm done. Gotta break a few eggs, right? Anyway, tomorrow I'll shorten the cross bar so the front end can close, and carry on.
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Discussion Starter #148
I remove the brackets at each end of the rad support crossbar, hopefully for future use. The cross bar was pie cut and folded to (eventually) line up with the outer edge of the frame horns, and that's about as much progress as I made today. The moment I closed the front end, it was painfully obvious that all those tubular support braces I'd made earlier were right smack in the way. And that's without a radiator in there. I know I'll have to redesign the braces and start over again, but I definitely need a rad in place before I do. I thought I still had the old rad from Snobad somewhere around here, but nope, it's gone. So I went on the hunt for someone who might have one laying around. I did find one, but I won't be able to pick it up until tomorrow. I'm also going to need some 1-1/2" square tubing to complete the extra bracing for the 2nd rad support, which I was able to locate locally and purchase online, but I won't be able to get that until tomorrow either.

We don't get a lot of snow around here, but last night we got about a foot of the white stuff dumped on us. I had to dig my way to the shop first thing this morning, and dig a path back to the house again at lunchtime. Our roads have now been plowed, but it's still pretty crazy out there for driving. I, personally, don't have any problem driving in the snow (my dad was from the prairies, and he taught me well), but most of the drivers around here don't have a clue. It's supposed to thaw overnight, so whether it does or not, I'll venture out tomorrow morning and collect my goodies, then try again.

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1956 Chevy Nomad, AME frame, ZZ427, 4L85e transmission
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I remove the brackets at each end of the rad support crossbar, hopefully for future use. The cross bar was pie cut and folded to (eventually) line up with the outer edge of the frame horns, and that's about as much progress as I made today. The moment I closed the front end, it was painfully obvious that all those tubular support braces I'd made earlier were right smack in the way. And that's without a radiator in there. I know I'll have to redesign the braces and start over again, but I definitely need a rad in place before I do. I thought I still had the old rad from Snobad somewhere around here, but nope, it's gone. So I went on the hunt for someone who might have one laying around. I did find one, but I won't be able to pick it up until tomorrow. I'm also going to need some 1-1/2" square tubing to complete the extra bracing for the 2nd rad support, which I was able to locate locally and purchase online, but I won't be able to get that until tomorrow either.

We don't get a lot of snow around here, but last night we got about a foot of the white stuff dumped on us. I had to dig my way to the shop first thing this morning, and dig a path back to the house again at lunchtime. Our roads have now been plowed, but it's still pretty crazy out there for driving. I, personally, don't have any problem driving in the snow (my dad was from the prairies, and he taught me well), but most of the drivers around here don't have a clue. It's supposed to thaw overnight, so whether it does or not, I'll venture out tomorrow morning and collect my goodies, then try again.

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I'm sitting here in Idaho reading about your progress, as it's snowing outside, so I feel your frustration with needing stuff to move your project ahead and the weather keeps you from getting out. My hats off to you for your engineering talents, your efforts will rewarded with a well designed finished project.
Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #151
After a couple of frustrating days, I finally made some decent progress today. Sooner than splice into it, I chose to replace the entire top brace of the rad support. After separating the "U" shaped frame from the cross bar, I windowed a piece of the tubing I picked up yesterday, so the frame could slip inside it. The squared corners of the mock up really bugged me, so I figured I'd round them out. Instead of pie cutting the tubing, I sliced it through on three sides and folded it outwards. After pinning the sides at 90 degrees, I filled in the gaps with pieces of 1/8" plate, then capped the corners with curved sections I carved out of a piece of leftover tubing that was cut from my steering column. The radiator frame was then set into the square tubing and plug welded. At this point of assembly, my right angle grinder decided to bite the bullet, and stopped working completely. From the sound it's making, I think the gears inside are stripped, but whatever it is, it ain't workin' no more. So my welds won't be getting smoothed out until I get it replaced, hopefully tomorrow. I trimmed off the outer legs of the new frame, and placed it into position on the car. I still need to make up some mounting plates to secure it to the frame rails, but I'm pretty happy with the way it looks.
A buddy of mine dropped off an original 56 radiator for me to use for mock up, so once the support is bolted in properly, I can sort out where to re-work the bracing for the front end. Another fellow Tri-Fiver has found an extra pair of rad support filler panels for me, and I should have those in a day or so. Really trying to keep the project moving along!
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Discussion Starter #152 (Edited)
I bolted the radiator to the modified rad support, no problem there. Set the assembly (it's heavy!) into the frame to begin fabricating mounting brackets, and that's when problems were noticed. Even though it's set as deep into the frame as the slots will allow, it sits quite a bit further forward and slightly lower than I had envisioned. The bottom of the rad was resting right on top of the actuator motor, which would make the actuator non-functional. After MUCH screwing around I was able to raise the whole assembly enough to barely clear the motor, but still had to shave off a couple of tiny tabs on the motor casing that were rubbing when the actuator tilted. I also leaned the support back at 85 degrees which helped gain a tad more space. I couldn't go any further back without the frame contacting the upper control arm bolts. I squared and levelled the assembly, and used the original rad support end brackets (with some modifications) to anchor the piece to the frame rails.
I removed the 1/2" tubing that was used to brace the front sheet metal, lowered the front end, and another problem surfaced. The radiator mounting flanges (on the rad support that won't have a radiator) were scraping the sides of the newly mounted radiator. I was already planning to replace the top crossbar on the support, just like I did with the 2nd support, but now I'm either going to have to flip the "U"-shaped frame around, or shave off the flanges. Even though the rad is sitting lower than expected, with the front end closed you can see that the crossbar (on the support I just modified) is about 1" higher than the other. Lifting the assembly up was part of the reason, but part must be due to the Corvette sub-frame crossmember being higher than the stock '56 frame. You'll never see this with the front end opened, but it did make me wonder about hood clearance at the top of the radiator. I placed the hood on the car, and it did sit flush. I got underneath with a light and had a look, and that radiator cap is sitting about 1/16" away from the hood skin. Clearance, yes, but not very much. My plan has always been to use an original style aluminum radiator. There's one version that has an off-set rad cap, and this might prove valuable.
But wait! The fun's not over yet. Paul came by with the freshly machined ballscrew shaft. He's turned down the threaded portion of the original, then rifle drilled the new one so that the shaft fits inside. It's a tight fit, but Paul will silver solder the two together, then pin it for good measure. We trial fit the shaft into the actuator, and Houston, we have another problem. The larger shaft has clearance, but the equally larger ball-nut that rides up the shaft now doesn't clear the front of the radiator, right at the bottom. Paul will make new brackets to kick the actuator forward a bit, and that saves me from filling and re-drilling the bracket (that's now solidly welded to the frame), but in doing so, that larger shaft and nut will require me to carve a notch in the base of the (tilting) rad support. Isn't this fun? I'll work through all these issues until the darned thing is functional, but at the moment I just wish it was done.
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Well folks, here we go again!

In the early 1970's, I put together a pretty nice 56 BA hardtop, mostly by bolting together the parts and with a lot of detailing. I even had a guy install a Corvette IRS, and I drove it that way for a few years. But eventually I wanted to change it up. I really didn't want to completely tear down the car again, so I bought this car in Riverside, California, way, way back in 1976. (We set up the picture on the day we got home from California, of my "old" 56 with my "new" one still on the trailer.) I had what I thought, at just 22 years of age, a build plan to create a really cool ride; a full on custom with complete Corvette suspension, an electric tilt front end, and it absolutely HAD to have a supercharger. So once I had it home, of course I immediately tore it all apart, right down to the last nut and bolt. I was able to purchase a totally burned out 1970 Corvette (on the ground in front of the body), so I had all the suspension components I would need, and I also scored a one piece seamless frame to hang everything on. I got as far as having a welder friend of mine graft the 'Vette front clip onto the seamless frame, but soon came to the sad realization that without having welding skills myself, nor a job that paid a lot more money, I was in way over my head. So the car sat for a while.

I'd pick at from time to time, and collected parts whenever I could. By the time the 80's rolled around, I was back into it big time. By then, I'd had the body Redi-Stripped (which revealed quite a few demons), and the chassis dialed in by a local builder, who also installed the independent rear suspension. I decided to leave the engine mounts in the stock Corvette location, and I'd notch the firewall as necessary. I mounted an engine block, and set a dummy blower case on it. By the time I'd "notched" the firewall, there was nothing left of it. So I knew I would have to do something differently, and was trying to figure out just what to do, when divorce put the entire project on the back burner. And that's where it sat...again. At least I didn't lose the car.

Some years later, with a new wife (who I've also still kept) and now with a bunch of kids, I was able to get some things done on the car, but family commitments, self employment, and budget were always in the way of making huge progress. I did buy a MIG welder, and learned how to grind off all the mess I made. I solved my blower clearance issues by moving the entire firewall back about 6 inches, which led to moving the dash, seat, and entire floor back an equal amount. I seem to be a glutton for punishment. I also managed to get the tilt nose to function. But to move forward, I needed more fabrication skills than I currently had. That was in 1997, and the last time I did any work on the car.

Fast forward to today. I've picked up a few skills while giving my panel truck a complete makeover, and even more during the frame off build of Niner Nomad's (Arlen's) project Snobad. The kids are all grown. I'm 66 years old. After 44 years, it's time to get this project DONE!
Done, is not a word in the Trifive dictionary. 😩
 

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Discussion Starter #154
So this morning I decided to roll the clock back to 1997, and disassemble the front end right down to the frame. My poor knees kept reminding me that it was still 2021, but I digress. As I pulled the pieces off one by one, I made note of what was working properly, what was not, and what may be contributing to any problems I've been having; mostly with the sheet metal alignment.
As soon as I unbolted and removed the bumper, the fenders came down a little at the rear. That confirmed my suspicions that the bumper braces were holding something out of whack. Keep in mind that this is the first time they've been loosened off in 24 years. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Maybe I should have started checking these things a few months ago...and you're correct.
Continuing onward, the fenders, grille and splash pan came off. Each time pressure was put on the front end, there was a horrible screeching noise. I'd been hearing a creaking noise before, but this was magnified. With that bumper removed, everything was moving around quite a bit, and sure enough revealed another big glitch. The bottoms of the rad support filler panels were bound up on the main saddle, and as the front end tilted up and down, they were chaffing badly. You can see the rub marks in the pictures. Those edges were also preventing the support from dropping fully down into the saddle, which certainly wasn't helping the alignment. I'll trim off the bottoms which should eliminate that one. It's also pretty clear that the entire front end sheet metal assembly is moving in the saddle more than I realized, so I can assure you there'll be a few extra bolts added when things go back together.
The last thing I noticed was that the saddle itself was shifting around, again not helping much with alignment. As you can see in the other picture, the hole for the hinge bolt is much larger than the bolt itself. I can't remember if I drilled these holes or just used what was there, but this problem will also be eliminated when bearings replace the simple bolts and washers.
All in all, I'm glad that I've found the problems, and now I know how to fix them. I'm not sure if my 43 year old self was just in a big hurry to get this together, or maybe I wasn't quite as fussy as I am today. Maybe both. I'll start tackling these issues and keep on going until they're all eliminated. This is also a perfect time to take a bunch of these parts to the sandblasters. It'll be nice to see all that surface rust eliminated as well.
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Discussion Starter #155
Second rad support modifications are well underway, and should be completed tomorrow. The tube running through the cross brace is for the hidden wiring to pass through. Felt marker circles are dented areas that need to be worked out.

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Discussion Starter #156
I sandblasted a bunch of the front end parts, and I have to say it's so much nicer to be working with clean metal! I finished up the modifications to the forward rad support, and took some time to straighten out and file the edges of the "U" channel nice and flat on both sides. If you were to sight down those edges (as when the front end is flipped forward) they were all wavy and irregular. Now they aren't. Of course that meant I had to do the same to the other rad support, and I'm glad that nasty chapter is over.
After straightening out some rough spots on (what's left of) the inner fenders, I bolted them onto the rad support. Holes were punched at the top of each one for the wiring conduit to pass through. Without the main saddle for the tilt assembly back on the frame, that's as far as I could go with re-assembly.
The bearings that Paul got for me for the saddle are slick little units, but it took me quite a while to wrap my head around how to install them. They didn't magically fit exactly on the hinge point I'd been using, as they'd hang out past the edges and look horrible. They were also slightly thicker than the gap I had between the saddle and the frame horns, which meant they'd have to be recessed into one side or the other. The bolt that went through the hinge point also doubled as a bumper bracket bolt, so that had to be retained somehow. After much head scratching, I could see it would work better to recess the bearings into the saddle. Of course the saddle is 1/4" thick, making cutting the holes a bit difficult for the limited equipment I have.
After marking a center point for the bearing on each side, I got the saddle squared and bolted tight into the frame. I drilled 1/4" pilot holes through the saddle and the frame. I attempted to cut the larger holes with my band new hole saw set, but that was a total failure. The larger arbor was too big for my air drill (which is too fast anyway) and my electric drill. The smaller arbor fit in the electric drill, but it's got a hand tightened chuck, and I couldn't get it clamped tight enough to not spin. So I used the larger arbor in my drill press, but the crappy motor on it didn't have enough torque to cut without stalling every two seconds. All it did was gouge out a thin outline, but at least I could use that as a guide. I ended up drilling a series of smaller holes around the outlines, and sawing through them with my jig saw. After chopping out the centers, I used a rotary file in my die grinder to finish up the holes.
Several hours later.....
The bolt heads for the bumper bracket would protrude into the mounting plates for the bearings, so I change those into flush welded studs. This is one heck of an awkward piece, and some "creative" clamping was required to keep everything in position for welding. After welding the studs and grinding the inside flush, I drilled and tapped holes to mount the bearings. I can see I'll still have to make provision for the heads of the bolts that'll go through the bearings and into the frame rails, but we're getting there. Back to work.
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Discussion Starter #157
Hinges are done and the saddle is back on. The center shafts are not yet bolted down, but already the tilting action is like night and day. There's virtually no play and it swings up and down as smooth as butter!
After all that fabrication and grinding over the past few days, the shop needed a major clean up. I'll be back at it tomorrow and hopefully get the sheet metal back on and lined up.
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Discussion Starter #158
The front end is finally back on, and I've got it adjusted so it closes with pretty decent gaps and without hitting anything. It was quite the struggle, but at least it works. Along with all the other problems I'd been remedying, there were two main issues to sort out. Getting the correct amount of shim between the saddle and the rad support was a bear, mainly because the mating surfaces of both pieces were not on the same plane. So I've ended up with a block of 1/2" steel plate with a thin strip of 1/8" steel strap under one edge to tilt it. I'll probably replace it with a block of aluminum milled into a wedge. The second was stopping the rad support from rocking in the saddle. To get enough strength, I welded upright supports to both sides of the saddle, and cross bolted the rad support through them. They do the job, but they aren't pretty. Cover plates with eventually go over them, so they'll be hidden and out of sight. I also swapped out the splash pan with another one I had. Both needed work, so I straightened them out as well as I could, then chose the one that came out the best.
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Nice to see how your design has matured as you've worked on it. Looks great Dave. And where the fender splits will be hidden (disguised) by the spear and the paint divider - ? This is going to be a great build!
JR
 

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Discussion Starter #160
Nice to see how your design has matured as you've worked on it. Looks great Dave. And where the fender splits will be hidden (disguised) by the spear and the paint divider - ? This is going to be a great build!
JR
Thanks, JR! I learned a bit about welding and fabrication when I did the panel truck, a bunch more when we built Snobad. This degree of fabrication, and all the engineering involved, is still new to me. So I'm winging it for a lot of what I'm now doing. I do try to calculate what will, and what won't work before I start hacking away, but there's revisions in almost every step.
Yes, the fender splits are going to be as invisible (or at least not obviously noticeable) as I can make them. I have a basic plan started, but the mechanics of the tilting front end have to be all sorted out before I start messing with the seams. Part one was getting the thing to move smoothly and without interference. Now it's going to be dialing in the pivoting hinge assembly that connects the actuator to the saddle. The last thing I need to devise is some sort of alignment pins and locking arrangement to keep the front end tightly secured while the car is being driven. At that stage is when the seams are going to be refined, as I'm pretty sure those pins and locks are going to be on, or right next to that area. Dave
 
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