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Frame off the easy way.

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  • Frame off the easy way.

    I'm sure I've shared most of this elsewhere buried in other posts but here it is a single topic format.

    When I finally came to the realization that a frame on restoration would only meet my desired outcome with an inordinate amount of on my back work, I sucked it up and considered methods to frame off.

    My 20' by 20' two car garage is cozy when I deduct for my wife's 3' wide handicap scooter ramp, 3' of storage on one wall and 3' of tool boxes and work benches beside the ramp. That leaves only enough room for a 5' wide car and 3' of work space on each side. Not enough room for a rotisserie or fancy floor lift.

    I watched every you tube video I could find on the subject until I came to two that turned on the light bulbs. While many videos used car dollies, heavy timbers and juggling jack stands to slide the frame to the side of the shell, that looked like an opportunity to get crushed and sure wouldn't work in my garage.

    The first video that began to register a workable approach was of a man at least my age backing up to a '50's Chevy shell that had been unbolted from the frame and lifting the back of the shell 6" while making the point that "It isn't that heavy, its only sheet metal!" The second video that confirmed the point showed 5 or 6 guys carrying a '60's car shell from frame to jack stands.

    I deducted that my shell likely weighed between 600# and 800#. I didn't plan to be climbing into the shell or moving it around so I did not add an further reinforcing. I also wanted a plan that was if not CASO, at least inexpensive... my solution $20.

    I already had the frame and shell on jack stands,
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    so I slid a 2X4 through the pocket behind the firewall mount
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    and one under the floor board at the front of the trunk.
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    I then put saw horse kits on the end of both 2x4's, unbolted the frame and lowered the frame alternating font and back 6 inches at a time leaving the shell suspended.

    I settled the frame on car dollies. I roll it outside to work on then pull it back under the shell with an electric winch when I'm through. I'd need another 6 inches of lift to mount wheels and clear the shell.

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    When ready, I'll just reverse the process and lift the frame up to join the body and lower them together.

    My original plan to rejoin the shell to frame as soon as the frame was finished is evolving as I'm enjoying working on the body at standing height. Today I pulled rocker panels and treated inner panels sitting on a stool. If it was down on the frame, I'd have been doing it on my elbows.

    I do take extra care in moving the frame in and out to not hook a bat wing or hub on a saw horse leg. I wouldn't use this method if there were kids around, other people in and out of my garage or if it were to be on the stand for an extended period. But, in this situation, I feel quite safe with the method.

  • #2
    What ever it takes to get the job done, in my case I have to old air operated bumper jacks that are worthless on todays plastic cars. I slide one under each rocker panel and raise each a little at a time till things are clear and roll the frame out. Tom


    • #3
      I like your method.

      My mindset has always been that there is nothing I can't do and it has walked me into many situations that I shouldn't have been in. Nevertheless, I was intimidated by the thought of removing a car body from frame because my implicit perspective of the weight of the shell was more than the total weight of the vehicle. Add to that the limited amount of work space I have and until I was forced into considering the options it wasn't on my Gantt chart. Having made the leap, I am sure it shortened the project completion time.

      This approach worked for me and if anyone can adapt it to their situation or get a better idea from it, good.


      • #4
        Cool!! I've had something like that in the back of my mind for some time. I'm violating one the first rules of the old car hobby. I'm working on two cars at the same time in a 22' by 22' garage. I already have my 27 Dictator's chassis sitting on wheel dollies. The body of the 27 is disassembled into several pieces because the wood framing needs replacing, so in a sense it is easier to deal with than the body of my 54 Commander Starliner will be. I have about 2 feet of space on one side of the 54 and
        18 inches between it and the 27 so cramped doesn't begin to describe my work space. Doing this would definitely help.