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Nothing Special's '71 Bronco

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2020 at 3:16am
Originally posted by Ol' Unreliable Ol' Unreliable wrote:

Well, let me go look....  Smile

Yes, that is exactly the article I remembered!  I would never have been able to find it without your knowing which issue of which magazine it was.  I just remembered that "someone" wrote an article about the modification at "some time in the past"...  Big smile


I remembered "someone" writing this article "at some time in the past" about 16 years ago, which made the article only about 6 years old at the time.  So I was able to dig it up then.  This project has been in the back of my mind for quite a while, and when I finally got that round toit I was able to find which magazine it was from the notes in my project list.  The article isn't QUITE as "cook book", or with QUITE as good pictures as I might have hoped.  But it's definitely my starting point.


Edited by Nothing Special - 22 June 2020 at 3:18am
Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2020 at 3:51am
Actual progress tonight!

I started off cutting a chunk off the end of one of my 6' lengths of 4x4.  That was mostly to have a smaller piece to use to mock up how the actual 4x4 will fit and also to practice cutting it off with the death wheel (that worked well enough that I think I can do all of my cuts that way rather than bringing them into work to use the cutoff saw).

Then I started getting the front fender and the bottom of the "A" pillar out of the way.  I started by cutting off about the bottom 1" of the fender.  That put the cut off edge about 3" below where the top of the 4x4 will be, so I'll have a good flange to bolt to the top of the 4x4 after the bottom of the fender is bent over (see the next picture).

This picture also shows the bottom section of the "A" pillar still in place.  My thought was to bend it forward so I could weld it to the top of the 4x4.  But I realized that it's in way too bad shape for that, so I just cut it off slightly above where the top of the 4x4 will be (cut out after this picture).

This picture also shows the flange on the back edge of the fender that needed to go away before I'd be able to bend the fender up.


So then I cut off the bottom corner of the fender (along with the flange from the top of the 4x4 down), and cut off the flange on the front edge of the fender (actually the bottom corner behind the front tire).


Next I needed a way to bend the fender straight, in spite of the contouring along the tire opening.  So I took a couple small pieces of angle iron and C-clamped them together with the top edge of the inner one along the line I wanted to bend it on.


Then it was pretty easy to grab the C-clamps and twist them in and up to bend the sheetmetal.


It now looks like the 4x4 will fit in, but looks can be deceiving.  There are still some remnants of the disintegrated "A" pillar on the vertical piece that will be behind the 4x4.  And I'll need to do much the same as what I did here to the "B" pillar and the rear fender.  So this step in the project isn't done, but I was.  So I declared victory and quit for the night!
Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 June 2020 at 3:46am
More progress!  Maybe not actually as much as last night, but it feels like a LOT more!

I started off grinding away the remains of the "A" pillar.  That let me test fit my smaller chunk of 4x4.  I think the angle from top to bottom that I roughed onto it looks about perfect!  But I might angle it back from outside to inside to keep the inner corner farther away from the tire when it's turned.



Then I started into the mess that was the lower part of the ""B" pillar.


I also trimmed off the bottom of the fender and bent it in using my redneck sheetmetal brake.  That let me test fit my little 4x4 in the rear.  I haven't cut an end at the angle I expect to use for the rear, but the Sharpie line gives an idea.


And with the fender flare (loosely) in place it looks pretty good!  Although the 4x4 doesn't hang down quite as far as the original rocker.  I'll have to decide what to do with the flare hanging lower than the new rocker.  Trim it off and lose the finished end?  Or take it off completely and remount it where it wants to be now?


Then I realized that the piece I was going to use for the actual rocker would fit in.  It's too long, so I lined up the front end and let the rear stick back close to the tire.  But it looks pretty good!

Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 June 2020 at 10:15pm
After taking a couple days off I made more progress today.  A little of the kind you can see and a lot of the kind that's no fun.

I started by giving myself a place to cut threads to attach the front fender to the 4x4 tube.  I cut a 2x4 hole in the top of the 4x4, and then welded a 2x4 piece of 3/8" flat stock in the hole.  This was the second time I used my welder (the first was so little it hardly counts) and I'm pretty happy with it.  I'm not a great welder, but the auto settings seemed to work pretty well, and the end result ain't goin' nowhere.  A friend of mine says you should never grind your welds.  He says "You made that, like you made your children.  You wouldn't grind down your children, would you?"  But I ground these welds flat because the top of the tube needs to be smooth for the fender to attach nicely.



Then I trimmed the front end of the tube to angle it back as it goes from outside to inside.  You can see that in the picture above.  That was to keep the same clearance between the tire and the inside edge of the tube as there is between the tire and the outside edge as the tire swings through turns.

And finally for the visible progress I cut a flat piece out of my extra 4x4 tube to cap off the front end and then welded it on.  Again I'm happy with how the welds worked out (given who was doing the welding).  In this picture the tube is upside down, so the corner closest is the inside corner that will be least visible.  I started with that corner to try to figure out what I was doing before I welded the more visible corners.


Then it was time for the other kind of progress.  I took a flap wheel or wire wheel (whichever would fit) to the dirty, rusty surfaces that are going to get welded to the tube.  This was slow, tedious progress, much of it working from my back on a creeper.  But it cleaned up a lot better than I expected.  There's a little cancer in the inner rocker just behind the "A" pillar, but otherwise the entire inner rocker cleaned up to solid metal.  And even the door sill cleaned up a lot better than I expected.  So not fun progress, and not obvious.  But I'm getting a lot closer to being ready to weld the tube in!


Looking again at the existing structure inboard of the inner rocker I'm more convinced that this will be strong enough without adding any additional supports or ties back to the floor or frame.  At the back of the door there's an angled brace that goes up and in to a body mount and the reinforced floor there.  In the middle of the door there's a hat channel that reinforces the floor, and the end supports the inner side of the inner rocker (these are both shown in the first picture below).  And at the front of the door there's another angled brace that goes up to the reinforced floor at another body mount (second picture below).  I'm not thinking that this will result in something that could never be damaged.  But for how this Bronco is used I think it will work out fine.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bridog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 June 2020 at 12:59am
Looks to me like some nice progress on some good rocker protection!  Your Bronco looks really solid underneath for living in the Midwest. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 June 2020 at 3:53am
Thanks!

It actually hasn't really "lived" in the midwest.  The guy I bought it from (in about 2003) had got it in Colorado a few years earlier, and he never drove it in Minnesota winters.  Since then I drove it part of one winter when I had too many drivers and not enough vehicles.  But otherwise it's had a pretty easy life as far as rust is concerned.

Still, the rockers were shot (as you can see a few posts up).  And looking up inside the driver's front fender I see an old license plate welded in to patch a hole!  So it's no cream puff either.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smfulle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 June 2020 at 6:38am
Originally posted by Nothing Special Nothing Special wrote:

  And looking up inside the driver's front fender I see an old license plate welded in to patch a hole!  

I don’t know why, maybe because I’m a whatever-it-takes-to-get-back-on-the-trail guy, but I love this!
Stan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 June 2020 at 1:36pm
I don't know that I'd say I love it.  But it is the kind of character that I have no desire to "correct"!
Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 June 2020 at 10:53pm
Possible slight change in direction here.  Someone on another forum suggested I use panel adhesive rather than spot welding the 4x4 to the door sill and inner rocker.  Does anyone here have any experience / opinions on which would be better?

The main advantage I see to adhesive is that it will keep moisture out of the joints, so it will be better for resisting rust.  Also "they say" adhesive is stronger than welding (but who are "they" and what do "they" know?).

A big advantage to welding is that I'm more familiar with it so i know pretty much what it can and can't do.  I'll be welding thin sheetmetal to a 3/16" thick tube, so it's not an ideal situation.  But I know I can take my time getting things lined up and clamped together and then weld as I go.

Also the inner rocker is a bit too long, so it bulges inward when the 4x4 is in place, holding quite a gap between the sheetmetal and the tube.  I can't push them together by hand, so there's quite a bit of force holding them apart, but I can squeeze them together with clamps.  So I know I could hold them together while the adhesive cured, but I don't know how good the adhesive is in constant tension.  Will it let go if the inner rocker is constantly trying that hard to pull away?

Here's a cross-section sketch of the rocker if it helps visualize.  Blue is original sheetmetal that's staying.  Red is original sheetmetal that's gone.  Black is the new metal I'm adding.

Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 June 2020 at 3:14am
A little more progress today.  I pulled the bottom of the fender flare forward until it swung up to the bottom of the 4x4 and it looked fine that way.  So I trimmed the fender opening a little larger to match up with the new flare position, cut the tube off to match the new fender line and drilled a few new holes to mount the fender in its new position.  I also welded in another 3/8" thick piece in the top of the tube to attached the rear fender (same as what I did for the front yesterday, so no new pictures) and drilled and tapped the holes in both plates to attach both fenders to the tube.

Otherwise I played around with clamping the tube in position (and ran into the issue with the inner rocker pulling away that I mentioned above).  Still, it looks like I can get everything where it needs to be for either welding or adhesive, so I'm not stuck yet.

It was really mostly little putzy stuff, but it did get to the point where I had the tube essentially as it's going to be and in the right position.  So a good time for some pictures.

Here's the front end of the tube.


Here's the rear end with the fender flare attached.


And here's the whole thing

Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2020 at 3:21am
Finally some more progress!  I've been stuck waiting to get the 1" round tube bent for the rash bars.  I finally was able to pick them up yesterday, so I could get back to work.  I had asked for 3/16" wall tubing, but it ended up being .200" thick.  Oh well, it's only 1/2 lb heavier.

Yesterday I drilled eight 1" holes through both sides of the 4x4 so I could mount the stand-offs to support the rash bar (pictures below will explain it better).  I also fish-mouthed the stand-offs to fit against the rash bar.  Here are the results of yesterday's machining:


And here are the stand-offs going through the 4x4:


And one with the rash bar clamped in place to the 4x4 held in place with a jack:



So tonight it was time to weld the rash bar to the 4x4.  After getting everything cleaned up it was fun (not) trying to get everything clamped in place


Once that was set I fired up the welder again.  I got beautiful welds on the inner end of the stand-offs!  But these are the welds that need to be ground flat and will be where no one can ever see them, so that doesn't really matter.


The welds on the outside, the ones that I don't plan to grind down and which are visible, well, they'll hold.


Then I was able to weld the cap on the back end of the 4x4



So now I'm done making the rocker!  Next will be to get everything prepped to attach them to the tub.  After a lot of thought I'm planning on going back to plan A and plug-welding them on.  I know that adhesive would be better at preventing corrosion, and it might hold better too.  But I'm still not comfortable with the way the inner rockers would be pulling away.  And I'm also not completely comfortable with the impact strength or the working time.  So while I believe adhesive might be better than welding, I'm also afraid that it might be worse, and I'm pretty confident that welding will be good enough.  Plus I have what I need to weld it already.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote uncamoney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2020 at 4:08am
What do I know? My 3B was covered with Vice Grip clamps at one time. It looks like it did out of the factory now. I missed a dink in the hood. As a few people have told me, you need to leave something wrong.
I have had several people ask me to weld in a business, nope. I had one welding instructor look at a weld I did, crap, this kid welds better than I can.   













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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 July 2020 at 3:37am
It's attached!  Today I drilled and plug-welded 69 holes.  That went pretty well.  The old sheetmetal  burned through in a few places, but generally it worked really well to start the weld on the solid metal of the 4x4 in the center of the hole and play the puddle out to get the sheetmetal.

I also laid a bead along the edge of the door sill where it meets the new rocker.  I don't expect a lot of strength out of that bead, but otherwise there was going to be a sharp sheet metal edge right where peoples legs bump it getting in and out.

I still need to grind the exposed  welds smooth(er) and paint it.  Hopefully that will get done tomorrow.






Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2020 at 4:26am
And now it's back on the road! Tuesday night got a bit busy, so by the time I got to the Bronco all I had time for was to get the welds on the door sill ground out. Then yesterday I took a long lunch and cleaned it up a bit before hitting it with some black spray paint. And last evening I took the typical time to get a vehicle back on the road after it sat in the garage for 8 months. But it's on the road now!

Here are a few pictures of the finished rocker out in the sun light




Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bridog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2020 at 2:43pm
I like it!  Rockers look clean and functionalThumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2020 at 5:43pm
Thanks!  I really wanted it to not be very obvious or obtrusive.  I think I got was I was going for!

And at this point I've only done the passenger side, but that's how it's going to stay for a while.  After sitting in the garage for 8 months it's time to drive this thing a bit.   The passenger's side desperately needed help because it was sagging to the point where it affected the door opening, but the driver's side door still works fine and the rocker doesn't look terrible (just pretty bad).   So the driver's side can wait until winter.
Bob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep. 2020 at 6:25pm
When people get new tires for a vehicle they often say "it's got new shoes."  Well, these aren't new shoes, they're new boots.  Hiking boots.

About 3 years ago I decided that my 33/10.50x15 BF Goodrich All-Terrains were too narrow, too tame and too worn out.  Plus I wanted to quit beating up the Alcoa rims I'm using.  So I wanted new tires.  Didn't happen before Ouray in 2018.  Didn't happen before Moab in 2019.  But now it's happened!

Last week I picked up a set of ProComp Xtreme MT2 tires, in 33/12.50x15 on black steel wheels (I had been planning on beadlocks, but the budget suggested a different plan).  They look quite a bit bigger than the old tires, but as the numbers indicate, they're the same diameter.  The Bronco sits 1/4" higher with the new tires, but with ~1/2" tread depth on the new and the old being too close to bald, if these tires were bald and the old ones were new it would be reversed.

They are quite a bit wider (2" in theory, and that seems pretty close), and it's almost all on the outside, just like I wanted.  They stick in MAYBE 1/4" more, so I might get a bit more rubbing on my radius arms, but they should clear everywhere else.  And sticking out almost 2" more will help keep the sheetmetal off the rocks a little better.

The wheels didn't fit when I first brought them home.  The stick-on balance weights hit the brake caliper bracket in front.  So I had to take them back to be balanced with the weights farther in-board.  Then I was able to put them on the Bronco last night.  And I also verified that one will fit on my spare tire carrier (although the cover won't fit over it).

So far not a lot of experience with them, just a 10 mile commute.  I'd say the handling is OK.  Definitely more steering input needed to keep going straight.  They are significantly louder than the ATs, probably to the point of being annoying.  For the most part they seem to run smooth, but I did get a vibration a little over 60 mph on one stretch of highway.  It went away when I sped up or slowed down, and wasn't there about a mile later.  Again, probably annoying if these were to get a lot of highway miles.

So obviously these are a worse compromise than the old ATs as far as the on-road performance is concerned.  But my intent is for these tires to just be used on 'wheeling trips.  So yes, they'll get some highway miles (especially on the tow bar).  But for most of my driving I'll keep the nice Alcoa rims, and when the BFGs are completely worn out I'll replace them with a smaller, even more street-oriented tire.  Something like an all-season in a P235/75x15.  So for what these tires are (the hiking boots!) I think I'm going to like them!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb. 2021 at 10:52pm
Some minor progress.  Last summer I was having issues with the idle occassionally abruptly dropping about 400 rpm every so often, which frequently resulted in the engine dying.  Spraying carb cleaner around the outside of the carb with the engine idling showed that I had a vacuum leak at both ends of the throttle shaft.

So I reamed out the bearings in the carb body and stuck some bronze bushings in there.  I put it back together and the throttle shaft moves freely through it's entire range of motion.  With it back on the engine today I fired it up.  It's idling well, not spewing gas, and the idle doesn't change a bit when I spray carb cleaner on the throttle shaft.  I didn't run it long (in the garage) and I'm not taking it out for a drive until the salt is gone.  But for now at least it seems to be a success!


Bob

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