I'm thinking of doing something along those lines. I might build them out of square tubing instead of sheet metal, so that they're a little tougher than stock. But I want them to look basically stock so I have some figuring to do.
This weekend I decided to tackle a job I've been dreading: the rear cross member. It was almost completely rusted out and basically good for nothing. After an hour or so of grinding (sorry neighbours!) I finally had the outer piece laying on the ground. The steel was paper-thin in many spots.
Not much steel left here:
Up here in Canada, there's no such thing as a rust-free replacement, so I had to come up with some other way to make this strong again. After some thinking, I headed over to the steel shop to buy some 5" x 1/8" steel plate. I cut out the rusting middle section of the inner cross member and welded in the plate:
The next step was to figure out what to do with the outer cross member. In the end I decided to simply cut out the middle section and weld the ends in place. I hope this will be strong enough. If any of you experienced folks have concerns about the strength or durability of this repair, please let me know, as it's not too late to figure something else out (note that I also have a very beefy tube bumper that I'll be installing that bolts to the frame rails, so that will help to strengthen the rear part of the frame as well)
Well, turns out that it can sometimes take 6 months to return to regularly scheduled programming. A house reno, summer vacation, and other stuff all kind of got in the way of work on the Cruiser. But things are calming down a bit, and I'm finally ready to move this beast into the garage I'm sharing with a friend. Poor old neglected beast!
Before moving the truck, I decided to replace the body mounts. I'd lifted the body off the frame a bit in order to do some bodywork, but before moving it I wanted to get the two parts securely attached once again. The old body mounts were beyond toast. They were rusty, crusty, cracked, and soft:
In their place is going a brand new set of poly mounts from 4Crawler. Navigating the 4Crawler website is a trip, but the mounts themselves seem to be very high quality.
Oh yeah, and the Suzuki I mentioned above is now my daily driver - for now. I've done a bunch of body and electrical work on it, installed new seats, replaced u-joints and shocks, repacked wheel bearings, etc. It's a great little runabout that just sips fuel. I love driving it, but as my wife says, "it may be fun to drive, but it sucks when you're the passenger." ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Was finally able to get the 62 moved into the garage that I'm renting from my friend. Well, I'm only renting half the garage but it's a big space and he's given me access to his compressor, etc., so that's good. It's such game changer to be sheltered from the wind and weather, and to be able to work late into the evening. Here's the truck in its new home (with a cameo from my son Skye, who helped me push in into the garage, haha):
I was so excited about this move that I took a few days off work to make up for lost time. My goal was to get all of the sheet metal work at the rear of the vehicle completed, so that I could paint the interior. I started by stripping the interior, and then moved on to replacing the sections of the cargo floor behind the rear wheel wells. So. Many. Plug welds.
Here I've welded in a panel that I'd removed from my parts rig:
On the passenger side I didn't have a salvaged piece, so I made my own. It's just a piece of 18ga steel with some hammer-formed ribs. It doesn't look amazing, but it's pretty strong and will be hidden under the carpet anyway:
With those panels welded in, I changed course a little and decided to tackle the passenger side rear body mount area. This is a very rust-prone area on the 60 series - lots of nooks and crannies that catch and hold water and dirt. Anyway, the photos more or less speak for themselves. It's really just a process of cutting away the rotten steel and fabbing new pieces to weld in.
Here's the replacement panel, which I formed with a hammer. It's not too difficult to roll a small edge like this:
Once I'd made the patch, I scribed the outline onto the truck and started cutting. The result is a near-perfect fit.
And here it is, all welded in:
My next step was to fab up the piece that supports this corner piece and connects it to the inner quarter. Again I formed this piece using a body hammer, folding the edges over a scrap piece of I-beam that I use as a sort of anvil:
Fits perfectly (that never happens!!)
...and here it is, welded in and good to go for another 35 years!
Also needed to rebuild the passenger side quarter panel, since the old one was completely eaten away. Just like on the driver's side, the first step in rebuilding the quarter is to repair the inner fender, since you need something to weld to!
As you can see, there was not much left of the inner fender:
Here's the new sheet metal ready to weld in. This piece welds to the inner quarter panel.
With the inner fender solid once again, I could set about shaping the quarter panel. To make sure the two sides of the truck are the same, I made a paper template that allowed me to mark the locations of the cuts, bends, and folds that I needed to make:
I then transferred the pattern to a sheet of 18ga cold-rolled steel, cut it out with my angle grinder, and then started bending. Again I'm just using a hammer and my trusty i-beam to make these initial breaks:
Used the edge of the bench to introduce the subtle kink that runs down the middle of the panel. One cool thing about doing this kind of work is that you get pretty familiar with the nuances of the design of the truck. These little touches are not super noticeable, but are a big part of what makes the 60 series such beautiful vehicles.
There is a lot of curve in this panel as well, so I use a piece of scrap tubing and rubber mallet to introduce that form into the panel:
After MUCH back and forth to test fit the panel, it's finally sitting where it should:
This panel needs a flange on the wheel well end, and since I don't have the required metal-shaping tools, I opted to weld it on instead. To do that, I tack in a piece that is much too large:
Once solidly tacked, I can remove the panel and finish welding up the inside. Then it's just a matter of cutting/grinding off the excess until flush. Then I welded the outside of the join, leaving me with lots of metal in that area, so that I can grind in a nice round edge that looks like it was folded over rather than welded on:
And here's the final product, ready to be burned in:
Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day cleaning, masking, and prepping the interior for paint. This truck has had a life, and so the floor is bent and dented in various spots - but overall, now that the rust is gone, it's in very passable shape. My goal was to get it all one colour and do away with this patchwork of primers and whatnot.
First I laid down a coat of sealer. I'm using an acrylic high-solids sealer from Kapci. Looking better already!
After letting the sealer flash off, I laid down a single coat of single-stage acrylic in 4E9 Beige:
So satisfying to have everything so clean and new! As you can see, the factory sound deadening is in good shape, so I decided to leave in in place. I did remove it from the rear section of the truck, so I'll be putting down some Noico on that part of the truck.
Next steps include fixing the rockers (rusted out on both sides), and starting to work on the mechanical, while also picking away at getting the interior put back together. The engine is an unknown quantity in this truck, though I did confirm compression in all six. I assume it will fire once the fuel system is reinstalled...
Over the weekend I was back on the bodywork, finally tackling the passenger side rear corner. I had been putting it off because I wasn't sure I had the skills to do the repair. But, after a lot of thinking and figuring, I came up with a strategy that involved building the rear section first to get a baseline shape, and then measuring the other parts as I went along. Using the driver's side as a template, I cut out the first piece and tacked it in:
I then measured and cut the next piece. For smaller sections like this, I find it helpful to use masking tape for the templates. Simply cut the tape to size, and then stick it directly to the sheet metal and cut it out. Saves lots of time measuring and marking. Here I'm taking a template from the driver's side.
And then sticking it to the sheet metal and cutting it out with my angle grinder:
Here's the above piece tacked in place:
Moving around to the side of the truck, I made some rough measurements and cut out the next piece, shaping it with a hammer and dolly until it was *pretty* close, i.e. until the gaps were small enough that I knew I could weld the patch in without too much trouble. The only real glitch was the big hole at the bottom, which I was able to close with some judicious cutting and hammering.
Here's a couple pics of the section after welding and (some) grinding. Overall pretty happy with how this turned out:
With the passenger side quarter panel repair complete, I set about removing the bed liner that a previous owner had sprayed around the fenders and on the rocker panels. I was pretty nervous about what might be lurking under the heavy coating, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the wheel arches were super clean!
In that pic you can also see that the rear quarter is all welded in. I actually had to do quite a bit of hammer and dolly work to flatten the weld seam, but after stretching the join, it is actually very flat and required very little filler.
I did uncover a janky repair on the dogleg that will need to be fixed (see bottom right of the photo below), but I'll work on that when I start in on the rocker panels:
Made a little more progress last night, but didn't get as far as I'd hoped. I set out to build a patch for the lower part of the passenger side rear wheel arch - not because of rust, but because someone made the worst "repair" ever. No idea what they were trying to accomplish with this, but it was lurking under a thick layer of filler:
Looks like they used the ol' "cut n fold" method of wheel arch repair:
I knew I'd be cutting all that crap out anyway since I need it out of the way to repair the inner fender. But before performing that surgery, I made up a patch panel that will be welded in later. Even though the repair was very poorly done, it still provides valuable information about the shape of the wheel arch. That info will disappear once I start cutting. Here's the patch I fabbed up:
This is where it will sit once I've cleaned up the mess that is the inner fender:
With the patch panel made, I just started cutting...and cutting...and cutting. There are so many panels that converge in this area, all of them rusted out. It's going to be a real challenge to bring this one back. There's also a cross-member behind the rocker panel that is almost completely rotted away, so that's going to be a tricky fix as well.
Finally called it quits sometime after midnight, having made a fraction of the progress I'd hoped for. Oh well, if it was easy, it wouldn't be as fun. At least that's what I tell myself...
Got a little more work done over the weekend. Still grinding away at the rear passenger inner fender/rocker panel area.
With all the rusty bits finally cut away (and a lot of photos taken of how things go back together!), my first step was to weld in a new piece of the inner rocker where it meets the wheel well. This section, along with the cross-member that attaches to it, was almost all rusted away. Here's the new inner rocker welded in place. At the top of the photo you can see that I also cut off what remained of the cross-member.
I used what remained of the cross-member to start rebuild it. This is what I had to go on:
Again I used masking tape to make a template of the facets, and cutting them out of some scrap 16 gauge steel I had laying around:
With a little hammering, I was able to start reproducing the shape of the original cross member. Then I simply welded the two pieces together:
Here is the new piece nesting on the old one. A pretty decent reproduction, if I do say so myself.
That one section of the cross-member will be welded in place, and then I will have to measure the other sections one by one, as there wasn't enough left to make templates of the other sections.
With the inner rocker welded in place, I could proceed with rebuilding the inner fender. Again, I had some rusty pieces to recreate in 16 ga:
Piece by piece I was able to rebuild the rusty sections of the inner quarter so that it looks pretty close to stock. These pieces are all made of 16ga, to increase strength and to hopefully make it so that I never have to do this job ever again.
It's tricky welding 16 gauge to the old, somewhat corroded 19ga stock metal, but I made it work, even if it isn't pretty. This area will be seam-sealed (just like Toyota did - there's a TON of seam sealer in their wheel wells) and then I will strip and re-undercoat the entire wheel well.
I've also been doing some hammer and dolly work on the rear quarter, and it's getting much closer to being in a state where I can prime it:
That's all for now! Hope to have some more updates later this week. Thanks for following along.
Finally have this part of the truck mostly wrapped up. It was probably the most challenging repair to date on this vehicle, and I think it turned out "okay."
The wheel arch repair looks better when you see a before/after:
The rocker was replaced by a previous owner, and it was a bit of a hack job (like most of the other repairs on this truck), so I needed a bit more filler than I would have liked where the dogleg meets the rocker...but still waaaay better than before.
You can see in the pic below that the rocker was tacked about every inch or so...it's not even welded on properly! Will be fixing that, of course.
Have also been working on rebuilding the cross-member that supports the rocker just in front of the rear wheel. Because I don't have the tools to form heavier-gauge sheet metal, I decided to build it piece by piece. Here's the first few pieces tacked in place:
After some welding, grinding, and re-welding, this is where it's at:
Still have a bit more grinding to do to make it look better, but it'll be plenty beefy. Next step is to start patching the rotten inner rocker, visible in the last pic on the left hand side.
Made some pretty good progress over the past week or so, to the point that all of the rust repair on the passenger side of the 62 is complete! The big task for the week was the repair of the inner and outer rocker panels. Sections of the outer rocker had been replaced by a previous owner, so I was kind of stuck working with what they'd left me. I didn't know the full extent of the jankiness until I stripped the paint and bondo from the entire panel:
Whoever had done the previous work simply decided to cover up a bunch of rust with filler. As an aside, this person's welding makes me feel a lot better about my own mediocre skills:
Anyway, I cut out the rusty section and the bad welding, and grafted in some fresh metal, and with that, the outer rocker is good to go.