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1961 Studebaker Champ, restoration

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  • I'm buying a 259, seller is delivering it Friday, so pretty excited about the project again. Plus buying a steering column and steering gear box too. The column off the '62 frame is broken, badly, and the inside of the gear box is broken up too. The gear box is probably repairable, which I will rebuild down the road. The steering column from the '61 Champ, my dad modified to work with the Jeep front end, so it is of no use, and the gear box is not the stock one, have not yet ID'd it. So, excited about the steering parts too.

    Today I got the drivers side fender off. Why is the toughest bolt to get to, the hardest one to break free? All the rest of the fender bolts were snug, but the upper inside one, closest to the windshield, I finally had to get a half inch drive ratchet on it. The 12" square fender skirt (?), is cracked in several places, so looking forward to some more wire welding. The fender has all kinds of rust issues by the door, inside and out. Plus where the battery sits, is badly rusted too. As my mom told me today, "you're not going to run out of things to do".

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    Mike and Dawn

    '61 Champ

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    • Studebaker International has a pallet box full of those columns covers. They have all the inside stuff except the signal light switch and harness.



      And that rust in the back of the front fenders is pretty common - where that metal doubles-back, it catches everything thrown up by the tire. When I replaced the front clip on my '62 Lark, I set the fenders straight up and filled that crack to the top with undercoating - I am sure POR15 would be perfect for that as well.

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      • Originally posted by 62champ View Post
        Studebaker International has a pallet box full of those columns covers. They have all the inside stuff except the signal light switch and harness.

        And that rust in the back of the front fenders is pretty common - where that metal doubles-back, it catches everything thrown up by the tire. When I replaced the front clip on my '62 Lark, I set the fenders straight up and filled that crack to the top with undercoating - I am sure POR15 would be perfect for that as well.
        Thanks for the information on the column covers, good to know.

        It's amazing how some of the Studebaker undercoating is actually hard to get off, and some of it is long gone. When you undercoat, do you take all the original undercoating off, or leave on what still seems to working pretty good?

        Mike and Dawn

        '61 Champ

        Comment


        • Originally posted by ChampCouple View Post
          It's amazing how some of the Studebaker undercoating is actually hard to get off, and some of it is long gone. When you undercoat, do you take all the original undercoating off, or leave on what still seems to working pretty good?
          I would just leave it. It has been there for almost 60 years and you will notice the metal under looks new. pull off the stuff that is loose and coat the areas that are exposed. There are probably much better products that straight undercoating to use - bed liner would probably even work. Other will hopefully chime in or you could post a question in the tech area.

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          • Well, the last few weeks have been little bit of emotional roller coaster ride. I took the passenger side fender off, rusted locked in bolts and all, and the lower cab is in terrible shape from rust. I only took a cursory look, and so much of the rust in the front corners is where there are many angles and shapes to the sheet metal. I don't have the skill to make my own, but I don't think they can be bought. Another cab might be an answer, but then nothing would really be left of the original, really couldn't call it my dad's old pickup then.

            I guess the most frustrating part, I have been trying to learn how to weld sheet metal, so I could do as much of the repairs as I could myself. But, the more I do, the worse my welding gets. I can not see the cracks or lines I need to weld on sheet metal. Thicker metal I can do ok. Thin, I'm struggling. I'm going to try an auto darkening hood, and a 500 watt work light aimed at the sheet metal, maybe that will help.

            I will post some pics of the rust damage, maybe get some tips on how to proceed.

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            Mike and Dawn

            '61 Champ

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            • The auto darkening hood should help some, I love mine. It has adjustable shades, and I normally use #9 for mig welding. Not sure if your welder uses flux core wire or if it has shielding gas, but the shielding gas and solid wire is easier to weld thin metal with. Try to not get discouraged. Take it one step at a time, and as you finish one thing it will energize you for the next. Good Luck.

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              • Originally posted by tsenecal View Post
                The auto darkening hood should help some, I love mine. It has adjustable shades, and I normally use #9 for mig welding. Not sure if your welder uses flux core wire or if it has shielding gas, but the shielding gas and solid wire is easier to weld thin metal with. Try to not get discouraged. Take it one step at a time, and as you finish one thing it will energize you for the next. Good Luck.
                Thanks for the information and encouragment.

                I have a flux core wire welder, but I bought the kit to convert it to mig, but have not bought the gas tank yet. I need to do that.

                Mike and Dawn

                '61 Champ

                Comment


                • Originally posted by ChampCouple View Post

                  Thanks for the information and encouragment.

                  I have a flux core wire welder, but I bought the kit to convert it to mig, but have not bought the gas tank yet. I need to do that.
                  And to add to “tsenecal”s comments - I too have a flux core wire welder and when the metal is thin (eg. where corrosion has been ground off) these are tough to avoid blowing through the work.

                  Test with lowest voltage/current, low-moderate wire speed, and spot-weld to start, stitching as you go. Avoid trying to build a bead/seam for now.

                  Hang in there - my 62 Champ looks great up top but underneath is a collage of undercoating, Bondo, filler foam and even oak blocks supporting the cab to the frame...”jackb” and other POs before did an awesome job. Since I haul stuff in style and don’t give a damn about shows, no one will care.

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                  • Originally posted by NCDave51 View Post

                    And to add to “tsenecal”s comments - I too have a flux core wire welder and when the metal is thin (eg. where corrosion has been ground off) these are tough to avoid blowing through the work.

                    Test with lowest voltage/current, low-moderate wire speed, and spot-weld to start, stitching as you go. Avoid trying to build a bead/seam for now.

                    Hang in there - my 62 Champ looks great up top but underneath is a collage of undercoating, Bondo, filler foam and even oak blocks supporting the cab to the frame...”jackb” and other POs before did an awesome job. Since I haul stuff in style and don’t give a damn about shows, no one will care.
                    Thanks for the encouragement and advise. I got some scrap sheet metal today, to start practicing thin metal welding.

                    I would love to have my Champ looking as good as yours. Hopefully I will get there someday.
                    Mike and Dawn

                    '61 Champ

                    Comment


                    • I got another engine today, VJ330. Hoping to just clean the exterior, test it, paint it, and set it in the frame. I think after the pickup is more or less completed, rebuild another engine for it from the ground up.

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                      Mike and Dawn

                      '61 Champ

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                      • Flux-core wire requires higher heat to weld being that you are melting steel wire AND the hard flux. Switch to the MIG setup and you will be able to weld with less heat.
                        Also, rather than welding the seams/edges of the metal, you might try overlapping two pieces like the factory did when they spot welded. You can replicate a spot weld by drilling a 5/16 or 3/8" diameter hole through the top piece where it overlaps the bottom piece, and then plug-weld the hole shut. Look at how far apart the factory spot welds are, and space your plug welds the same distance.
                        I have been working on replacing inner & outer rocker panels on my 2000 F-150 extended cab pickup recently, and have been replicating the factory spot welds with my MIG welder with satisfaction. Less warpage and very rarely do I have any burn through. Good luck!
                        sigpic
                        In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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                        • Originally posted by Milaca View Post
                          Flux-core wire requires higher heat to weld being that you are melting steel wire AND the hard flux. Switch to the MIG setup and you will be able to weld with less heat.
                          Also, rather than welding the seams/edges of the metal, you might try overlapping two pieces like the factory did when they spot welded. You can replicate a spot weld by drilling a 5/16 or 3/8" diameter hole through the top piece where it overlaps the bottom piece, and then plug-weld the hole shut. Look at how far apart the factory spot welds are, and space your plug welds the same distance.
                          I have been working on replacing inner & outer rocker panels on my 2000 F-150 extended cab pickup recently, and have been replicating the factory spot welds with my MIG welder with satisfaction. Less warpage and very rarely do I have any burn through. Good luck!
                          Thanks for the advise. I have seen Youtube videos warning not to do overlap welds, but you are correct, there are many overlap welds on the old pickup from the factory. I think keeping everything sealed, painted and undercoated is the key. And thanks for the spot welding tip.
                          Do you use CO2/argon mix, or just CO2? I heard CO2 is cheaper, and I hate to sound cheap, but the pickup is on a budget.

                          Mike
                          Mike and Dawn

                          '61 Champ

                          Comment


                          • I use CO2/Argon mix, only because that is what the welding supply company recommended to me.
                            sigpic
                            In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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                            • I'd also recommend the mixed gas as you are just getting started and need to make it as easy as you can. The cost isn't bad on a small tank and you'll probably just need the one. Some thoughts on why mixed.

                              https://welditu.com/welding/tips-mig...ith-100-argon/

                              I'm not a welder by trade so there are a lot of folks that are more qualified but I'll share my experience.

                              In unseen areas and floors, I tend to us 16 ga sheet. It's not much harder to bend in small sections and is slightly thicker than the original metal. You can then favor the new/thicker metal side and keep burnouts to a minimum. I like to butt weld but I've been doing bodies for 50+ years and have a good Mig.

                              There's no crime in overlap if it suits your experience level. The bigger issues are future rust (probably not of much importance) and difficult to body work (again probably a non-issue).

                              As you practice, things I try to do is always favor the new or heavier metal side and always spot weld, don't try to run a long bead.

                              The last thing I learned is to run a bit hotter setting than you might think. A mistake most new folks make is to run colder than they should to minimize burn through and it results in a bead on top of the joint. You do need penetration for a good weld so practice is essential.

                              If you want a auto darkening helmet, I replace my very old Speedglas with this one last winter. I can highly recommend it or one similar. I had bad luck with an HF one at a somewhat lower price.

                              https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

                              I've been following this thread and really admire the effort you and your wife are investing in the project.

                              Good luck, Bob

                              Comment


                              • When Bob said "always spot weld", I believe he meant stitch weld. For example, weld a 1/2" long bead, then skip an inch or two and then weld another 1/2" long bead as this will keep the metal cooler.
                                Also in regards to butt welding, you can purchase copper-metal backers, which is essentially used as a form that is held tight to the back of the seam to keep molten steel in place (prevents burn-through).
                                You can purchase hand-held copper backers or magnetic-held copper backers like these from Eastwood:
                                https://www.eastwood.com/4-and-8-in-...acker-set.html

                                A less expensive alternative would be to purchase some basic copper plate and C-clamp them into place.
                                https://www.amazon.com/CynKen-3mmx50...892357&sr=8-15

                                If you do any plug welding, this plug welding plier works great as it clamps the two pieces tightly together and it has a copper back-pad to prevent burn through: https://www.amazon.com/Steck-Manufac...5892357&sr=8-8
                                sigpic
                                In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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