You may remember the first version of the license plate frame was a Bob Drake stamped stainless piece that I sliced and welded to the spreader bar. If you don’t remember, re-read that first sentence, omitting the first three words. Here’s a pic:
Somewhere between Syracuse and home, and then again somewhere between home and Louisville, the turbulence at the back of the car was working the frame and breaking the weld. It was a challenge to weld the thin frame to the heavier wall spreader bar, and every time it broke off, I had to clean and re-weld it where it had already been heated. Suffice to say, I was ready for a revision.
The pieces started out like this. The lower part of the license plate is not cut off; it slips into a slot cut into the spreader bar.
The back lower edge of the surround plate was chamfered so that the front edge could sit flush with the spreader bar tube to make welding cleaner.
I put a slight radius on the vertical plates where they meet the tube.
I used some washers stacked and clamped tight to form the side plate around.
This is just a fusion weld – no filler.
Just sitting on the spreader bar, getting an idea of the angle I want it to sit at.
I’m ok with the weld showing – it matches the rest of the car. I clearanced the frame for the O as well.
I put a bit of a radius on the corner to give it more of a stamped look.
Here’s the original frame welded to the spreader bar.
Over 40,000 miles or so, the 32 had developed a little clunkle (“clunk” + “rattle”) that was driving me batty. The severity of the rattle was not dependant on the size of the bump, or how fast I was driving, or any other variables that I could vary. I could make it happen by jumping on the front passenger side frame rail, but not the driver side frame rail.
I tried to check the most obvious culprits first;
Are any exhaust brackets broken?
Are the emergency brake cables thwapping on the floor?
Is something clunking around under the seat? I have a power outlet built in to the front of the seat, and a while ago I noticed that the wires were not secured to anything and would click on the floor sometimes.
Is the heater/ A/C unit secure? Are all the vents secure in the dash?
Does the noise happen whether the windows are up or down? Sometimes the glass can clunk side-to-side when it’s down, if the whiskers don’t hold the glass as tight as the upper channel. Also, check the power window motor – maybe it’s come loose?
Moving to the outside, I checked every bolt I could see. Sometimes a click can be caused by a bolt that’s binding and just releasing at a certain point, or the threads are sort of riding at the edge of a hole. I checked the radiator support rod brackets against the firewall, I checked the air cleaner, I checked the headlights… I checked all those things again. Ready for the spoiler? When I was grinding the boxing plate welds where the engine mounts meet the frame, I must have sneezed at one point and taken off more than necessary. There was a tiny spot where the vibrations of the engine travelling through the mounts to the frame had worked a stress crack, and going over a little bump or jumping on the frame rail would cause the boxing plate to flex just enough to create a little click… kind of like a mason jar lid.
I was able to go over the spot with the tig, and now I’m no longer canning! It’s nice to be able to focus on something other than that little clunkle.
What are some noises that you’ve discovered in your hot rod?
These stupid little lights in the spreader bar took FOREVER to decide how to make. Not that it took a long time to actually fabricate them - it took a long time to decide the cleanest/tidyest/smallest way to do it. Here's what we came up with.
It’s always a treat trying to figure out which profile of weatherstripping to use. Typically, the stuff you use for the window channel is “cat whiskers”, and is usually attached with screws or weatherstrip adhesive. Since the garnish molding is a part of the door, it’s not easy to drive a screw through the inside lip of the door (where you rest your arm while cruising). So I began to explore the different weatherstrip profiles in the Soffseal sample baggy.
I needed to detach the power window channel from the door so the glass would drop right down inside and give me clearance where I would install the weatherstrip.
If I haven’t been able to explain where I’m putting the weatherstripping, this should do the job.
With this style of seal, it’s important not to make the fit too tight between the glass and weatherstrip, or the glass won’t want to slide up and down – it will get stuck. You may have to combine two different thicknesses to get the spacing right.
The inside door panels which hide the power window motors are attached with machine screws, but there isn’t a seal preventing them from rattling. I took some sample pieces from the Soffseal sample bag and filet’d the side with the adhesive to the thickness I needed. After sticking a few of these skinny pieces around the perimeter of the panel, it keeps it away just far enough that it won’t rattle.
This is the profile I used for the window seal. I took this picture to show there is a good side and a not so good side to this piece. This profile is manufactured as two strips side by side, connected by a thin bridge. Afterwards, they are seperated. This process leaves a tiny ridge along one side (in this picture, the left side). I chose to install it with the ridge facing down.
All gaps are not created equal. Having said that, once I decided which weatherstrip profile to use, the job itself was rather simple.
You’ll have to start with your doors hung and latched. To determine the size of the gap, I used what I’ve been telling people to use for years, but never had the opportunity to do it myself: playdough. Do I have to put a letter C in a circle after that word? Actually, I didn’t use playdough. I used Sticky Tack. Man, what’s the generic word for stuff that’s pliable and somewhat sticky and holds posters to the wall? From now on, it shall be called “Silly Putty”. Oh, never mind.
Roll the Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator (don’t worry, I don’t require a Registered Trademark symbol) into a ball, and set it in the place you want to measure.
Close the door all the way.
When you open the door, you’ll be left with a positive mold of the door gap that you can use to see which weatherstrip profile will work best.
I got one of Soffseal’s sample packs and compared each sample with my Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator.
It turns out I was able to use one of their smallest profiles on both the door and the body. I like this, because I have weatherstrip sealing against weatherstrip. This profile fit the edge around the door opening perfectly.
In this picture, you’re also able to see the courtesy light I installed in the bottom of the door. At night, it will illuminate the ground as you’re getting out of the car. You never know what will be waiting in the hotel parking lot.
I welded stainless washers to stainless allen head cap screws for the body mount bolts.
We thought for a while, drew our thoughts on the blackboard, and finally came up with a much simpler edition. Since the floor of the Bear Fiberglass body is so thick (almost 2″), and it is composed of two layers of fiberglass sandwiching a sort of foam material, it can be ‘squished’, for lack of a better word. Imagine standing on a pop can. Or you can stand on a soda can. Either way, unless you’re reading this blog from the comfort of the womb, you will probably collapse the walls of the can. Imagine now that you drop a steel tube inside, just shorter than the height of the can. The walls will collapse just a tiny bit, but then the strength of the tube will hold your weight. Probably.
Same idea here. We’re putting a tube spacer inside the floor so that when the bolts get tightened, they will cinch the body down but won’t be able to overtighten and crush the fiberglass.
This is one of the only pictures you’ll see of me working on the car… and it happens to be the easiest job other than cleaning.
Time to install the engine! Here, the transmission mount is swung (my computer didn’t put a red line under “swung”, so I guess it’s a word) out of the way, waiting for the transmission.