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About drcomanche

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    Comanche Aficionado

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    Lusby, MD

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  1. drcomanche

    Son of Stink

    Those are some good looking floorboards if that's it. Great build so far.
  2. Finally got a good day out to work on the truck today, and while it doesn't seem like much was done, I do feel fairly accomplished. I started creating the guides and cutting out the braces for the rock rail today. I have some 3/16 square tube intended to tie the rails into the overall frame structure that I used. I sized it up using some cardboard guides for the two sides and the top to get as close as I could to the exact dimensions, then cut it out of the tube and did some light sanding for a snug fit. I only managed to do 2 today, but I have to say, it wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be, and I am starting to get really comfortable welding to the point that I'm not grinding or cutting to get a better look. Not bad for 6 months of weld experience, if I do say so myself. I still have one more on this side to get in, but it's in a tough spot, so it will present a bit more challenge than the other 2. After that, it will be held down with 4 welded mounting points and some heavy duty 1/4 plate up front. Should be a very solid setup and replacement for the torque boxes. The tube all cut and ground up and placed, ready for welding. In my first weld I only went halfway down and had to do the top half. After that, I just started welding whole sides at a time, which resulted in a much better look. The initial fit and weld. I always have trouble welding upside down, but it doesn't look too bad. Here's where I start getting proud. A new welder, a few months of practice, and a decent understanding of the technique makes some alright weld. More practice will only make them better. All burned in. Time for the forward brace. I'm not too happy with having to hack up the floor and the inner rocker to do this, and it would have been way easier if it was done when the rails went in, but now I've got to do it, so here goes nothing. All sized up and tucked in ready for the weld Both welded in and ready to go. The spot where the last one needs to go. It's a much smaller distance, but because it's only accessible from underneath, that means I'll have to do the top welds while cramped up under it with a welding helmet that prevents me from getting in close. We'll see how it goes.
  3. Thanks. I don't believe I have one on the trans in this, seeing as it's a manual. You may want to pop it into the tech section and see what they say. It's been some hard times definitely. I'm just glad there wasn't a serious buyer back when I thought I couldn't do anything with it. If it had sold back then, I would've regretted it. Thanks a lot. It's seen some ups and downs, but hopefully I'll actually get to drive it more next spring/summer(We all know I'm going to buy some crazy new thing to install, so the chances are slim) And thanks Pete M. Glad some people like to watch the slow build progress bit by bit.
  4. Been a while since I've posted because I couldn't find a cable that let me drop my photos on the computer. So to begin, I cut out the finger sections of the frame rail joints. After removing the old, rusted, seized nuts from the skid plate/crossmember, I welded in a new set on each side. After a lot of thought on what to do and counting out costs, I decided to go with T&Ms frame stiffener kit for the Comanche. In the overall scheme of things, they were precut with all the reliefs and bent accordingly, which would have been difficult, costly, and time consuming if I had done it myself. I read mixed reviews on them, especially about the fit, but took the chance anyway. During this time, I also managed to grind out the interior of the frame rails really well, and ended up with some severely weakened edges. I dove right in and started cutting the frame rail in sections to clear out the old rot. It was difficult because, as I've said in a post a while ago, the frame has already been spliced and the fish plates overlap the rust(bit of an oversight by the guys who did the repair, since it would have seemed to be an obvious problem, but who knows). Eventually, since I'm not putting the rail caps back in on the floor, I scalped the metal from that(same thickness). Welded it in and then ground the inside real good and hit it with a coat of POR15(I still needed to weld the stiffeners on, but it had been getting water in so I did it as a temporary stopgap). Eventually, I made it to installing the stiffeners and, oh boy, that fit was not good. There were overhangs and misalignments(granted, only with the center section. The rest seem like they'll be way easier) everywhere. I had to hack it up pretty good to get a fit, and hack some more to fit around the existing fish plates. In the end, anything that was an overhang, I cut a shallow ridge across where it should end and hammered it up to get a bit more metal coverage. They turned out alright after some extreme work, with the exception of some odd bends and spots where it had to be "persuaded" to fit. There's also some divots where the weld squares were(very slightly) as, even with a good weld in them, they didn't look good at all, so I did a full fill. I finally finished up the process and am now moving onto putting in the rock rail supports. They will require extra cutting on the bod to get to the rails themselves, since they don't extend all the way to the interior, unfortunately. I'll have 4 supports from the rails to the frame when all is said and done. I have some 3/16 square tube to do the job. Now that I've welded, I have to go in and grind the rails again in the spots where the paint burned off, but all in all, not too bad to do. Then I can start rebuilding the floor sections. I'm going to end up paneling some of the floor but leaving a roughly 30 inch segment of the top of the rails open for later cleaning and access, and just having a 3/16 plate bolted to the top of it. In the mean time, I finished out fixing my tail gate. I don't have a press break but I did want the folded edge on the bottom, so I ended up doing it make shift style. I took a wooden dowel and gradually rolled the edge out after clamping it on a 90. It took a while, but eventually, I got it to work pretty well. I then took to welding it on, which, in retrospect, I probably should have done slower, since the metal warped a little bit(although that may have been unavoidable). After that, I started stripping the paint off so I can do the bondo, primer, and paint coats. Ended up with some nice glamour shots of the tailgate in there too. After setting that aside, I went to fixing my seat bracket base. Originally, one of the mounting points had rusted off and was bent. I bent it back, trimmed it out, and with a bit of welding and some flap disc grinding, got a good piece, if I do say so myself. To avoid weakness, I folded the last tiny bit of it for structure. After welding it in, I drilled a hole through and worked it out with some carbide burrs till it matched the other seat. I also pulled out my tail lights and turn signals for another idea. I've always been fond of the 2 color scheme I've been working with(Army green and black) so I decided to tint the lenses. This turned out alright. They tinted nicely but getting a good finish was another story, especially since the tail lights have so many angles and ridges to sand. I'll probably end up doing another coat on them when I finish sanding them. The signals turned out very nice, but I may go darker. The plan is to switch all the lights to led. Eventually, I'll also be replacing the headlights with a nice set of leds that has a black out backing. I purchased new spring isolators, since the old are dry rotted and failing, to install when I go to put on the front stiffeners. The old brace removed to be replaced with steel tube The tail lights all clean One section of frame being repaired All the frame stiffeners The lights all tinted The signals put in for reference. Probably going to go a bit darker though. The bottom edge of the seat repair Frame rail all cured(before welding) The folded edge of the metal for the tailgate All lined up Welding Stripper doing its thing. It looks worse than it is. A nice shot of the tailgate after some sanding The seat problem The solution All done Welding started Almost done(note, I only just learned welding about half a year ago, so it isn't perfect, but I can guarantee the weld penetration). Just a few touch up bits of pitted metal. The biggest issues I had while welding were: 1. The welder was dying so it cause it to sputter out sometimes and not lay a bead at all. 2. The frame has weak points that were incredibly susceptible to blow through. 3. The overall fit left some things to be desired, but in general, not bad. At this point, the stiffeners for the cab section are on and welded. Now I'm sizing up the tube to frame from the rockers and getting some of the floor pieces cut out and ready to in. Soon, after the frame is painted, I'll bolt the plate back on too.
  5. drcomanche

    Structural Questions

    They would be 2 or bigger. The 2 forward braces are in a position where they pop up through the floor boards, so they would be directly welded. The rear one would have the upper area of the cab, which is it's own boxed in frame "rail" of sorts, and the stock torque boxes on the inside of the frame. I was going to cut them out, but not all the way to the seem, and only the bottom parts. They aren't attached to the bottom in any way, just kind of free floating a quarter of an inch above(with a bunch of rust between). No matter what I do, the vertical pieces would have a full weld on the inner frame rail and the outer seem would be a full weld, too. Then, on top of that, the frame rails would be sleeved around that area, and plated on the rest of the truck.
  6. drcomanche

    Structural Questions

    Yeah, I know it's kind of a toss up. A bit like playing with fire when you start tearing into frame parts. The only real fabrication I'll be doing is the outer sleeve and plating(accept for the floor, but that's not a big deal). I do have the added issue that some parts just aren't salvageable, and some are blocking vital areas that need to be accessed. Just testing the waters and seeing what people think and what's possible.
  7. I have a few questions and since they're all related, I put them under one thing here. Question 1: First of all, and be honest with me here, how stupid of an idea is it to fix my floors to the edge of the frame rail interiors and then have a boltable plate that goes over top of the frame channel? I know it would allow water in(not that the old floor didn't already) but they get wet anyway and I think being able to have access to the inside of one of the most critical areas is pretty useful. I'm thinking welding the bolts from under the frame rail lip and then having a good sized plate overtop. I have no idea how this will effect the overall strength of the unibody, or if my plating the frame will have any effect on that. I can't imagine that the old floor lended much structural advantage. Question 2: How much support is need to take the place of the torque boxes? I know no one will have an exact answer, but I'm open to some opinions on how to replace the rigidity they offered. I am welding in 3 steel square tubes from my solid rock rails to the frame in roughly the places they are at(with the addition of one more). Will that be enough? Question 3: There are some braces right along the seem of the frame rail inside. They seem to be integral in holding the spot welded seem together. My intention with the truck is to weld that seem completely and then plate across it. So the question is, are they necessary after the bits and pieces are welded on? I want to get the rust out from underneath them, but that's proving difficult and I don't want it to come back later due to poor preparation. It also lets me put a more stable plate for the skid plate bolts to weld onto. Or maybe cutting just the bottom segments out and leaving the side(and welding them up too). They don't seem to be well attached on the bottom bit. The braces in question
  8. Been a lot of thought going into what to do next, and I've decided that since it's only small portions of the frame and not it's entirety, I'm going to sleeve out the forward section and plate the rest(which I was intending on doing anyway, the timeframe has just been moved up). To start with, I'm removing all the leftover bits of the control arm mount from the frame to get a smooth surface and to get whatever rust may be hiding out. My goal is absolutely no more rust anywhere for the rest of the life of this truck. I'm tired of dealing with new surprises. I finished cutting out the floor to be prepped for new welding and sanded my rails bare with a flap disc. I also broke the old, rusty, and broken nuts out of the framerail(they were definitely replaced at some time because the welds holding them in weren't holding anything). One good whack with a hammer took care of those. I have to find a way to clean out under the braces inside the frame. I know there's still rust hiding under there. I have some questions about the structural pieces on the frame that I'll post over in the tech section. In any case, if this truck wasn't already slated for hardcore tech, it probably will be soon. In plating the frame I will also be mending the seem in the rails where it was just stuck together with spot welds to help build structure. I will also be ditching the torque boxes, as I will be using the rock rail frame attachments for that extra support. I had to remove some of the work that I had payed for, but in this instance, I think simpler is better. Originally, the guys welded quarter inch plate over them, but they were still inaccessible and inconvenient. The less places water can get, and the less complicated it is to reach, the better and easier it will be to maintain. I will be adding three support rails to it that will reach close to flush on the frame and the rails. After everything is attached, I will add L brackets to the rails and will have a bolt on boatside plate. On the inside, I'm not going to spot weld back in the frame brace. It's just asking for more rust and it's simpler to deal without. Any structural weakness should be taken care of by the rock rails, rail braces, and the frame sleeve/plating. I'll make something up for the seat brackets to get them to fit back in. Since I had the trans dropped, I also decided to convert my e brake to the console style. Removing the lot of these pieces also allows me to clean and repaint them. I repainted my skid plate in green, but started with 2 coats of por 15 since that stuff is tough as nails. It's not perfect looking because of the pitted metal from surface rust, but again, this truck isn't meant to be perfect. I also repainted all the brackets and plates that are for the plate as well. I'm considering welding the outside frame plates onto the rails. I still need to paint the driveshaft and replace all the u joints in it(since they're squeaking quite a bit and who knows how old they are). I have plenty of touch up welding to do around the truck on bits and pieces that weren't sealed all the way. I'll have to remove the bed again to do so. And now, the pics The braces I was talking about. Really hard to get under there. Also, the bolts removed. Right around where the sleeve is going. That's also the seem I'll be welding. The Torque boxes removed The ebrake cut in. Some of the old control arm metal. The skid plate and the extra bits On a side note, if anyone is ever looking for rust or trying to clean the cab, take a moment to cut the filler putty out of the back corners. I had rust hiding under there with no way to tell it was there at all. It all looked sealed up. One side was even rusted through. So the next step now is to get metal from the supply around here, and start making pieces.
  9. drcomanche

    Are the rail braces necessary?

    Yeah, the floor gets higher in the MJ cab to meet the boxed frame back end. In the end, with everything posited here, I'm going to go without them. I'll have far greater strength in the frame to rocker aspect with the welded tubes and everything. I'm also planning to plate the frame out too, so no lack of body roll strength.
  10. So I've been working on getting the other side of the rail cap off(passenger side), but mostly just for posterity sake, since it had WAY less floor water damage than the drivers side. The floor itself wasn't that bad, but there were some pretty clear rusted out sections, so a little bit of repair ahead. The top where it meets. There seems to be a small gap under the brace that allows water to sit. There were rusted holes on both sides of the truck. I also managed to get my skid plate off finally. And cleaned it up a bit I posted up a topic to see if the rail braces were necessary to put back on, as they are just places for water to sit and cause rust again. I think I'll leave them off for the final build up. I did, however, hit a pretty big snag. I warn, what you're about to see is painful for us Comanche lovers... Here's a hint 8 to 10 pounds of rust. This is your last chance to stop here... So, I always thought that the drivers side was the worse side because of the floor rust, but I was painfully made aware that was not the case. The floor was better off, the rails were far far worse... It's really bad in there, to the point where it's all the way through the top overlap of the frame metal and most of the way through the bottom. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I have a lot to consider on possible options to fixing it. There is also a bit up next to the frame splice as well. The metal itself is pretty severely compromised. To the point that it was bent on the bottom of the frame underneath. One good hit would go right through the rail in these spots. The only good thing I can see is that it's pretty much concentrated to the really bad visible spots. Everywhere else on there is fairly solid. I was planning on beefing up the frame anyway, so I guess that's my next step.
  11. drcomanche

    Are the rail braces necessary?

    That's a very informative picture. While my rock rails will definitely change where the brunt of the impact is, they do seem to be useful. I'll see if I can't come up with a better solution than the old rust channels. Maybe just weld solid steel plate on top. Anything's better than what's there.
  12. drcomanche

    Are the rail braces necessary?

    I now have built in 2x6 steel rock rails attached to the frame, so give and take as far as strength goes, I suppose.
  13. As the title implies, I'm wondering if the rail caps on the floor of the truck are a necessary part of its stability. I'm working on replacing my floors right now, and putting the brace back on just leaves more places for water to get stuck in and cause rust again(which is why I'm here in the first place). If they are required, is there a way to make better ones? Or simplify it?
  14. Its had its ups and downs. I'm glad I didn't sell it back when I was broke. Never would have imagined it at this point. I was planning on grinding out the lot of it and get it down to base again, and then hitting it with some POR 15. I'll be doing pretty much the entire frame in it, so why not the inside of this section too. I'll look up that rust bullet and see how it stacks up. Right now, I'm waiting on the floor pans to get in, but I figure, while I have holes in the floor, it gives my easy access to the backside of the skid plate bolts, so it comes full circle.
  15. Thanks, I'm trying. Never too late to get another one though. So I've been working on a few things recently. I finally got the truck back so I was able to drive it for a week or so before moving onto my next step. The guys that worked on it welded on some solid 2x8 steel tube for rock rails in the place of my rockers, which were rusted out anyways. Rather than tube to frame, for the most part, they just beefed up the torque boxes to handle the load and plated the entire front end. They ended up taking the slack that would contact the rock rails from the bed and fender, and folded it over instead of completely cutting it off, which made it sturdier and better looking. They also welded in a new door striker on the drivers side to replace the old poorly attached unit and patched a section of the floors that was rusty too. My plan after that was to take the interior out an put down some sound mat and bedline over it for a durable interior again. This is all well and good, but I could see certain small bits of the floor around the rail cap that had small holes and were rusty. So I ended up having to pull up some of the section they had just done to remove the rail cap altogether and see what I was working with. Spoilers: I was working with nothing. The floor in between the rail cap and the frame was just about non existent, which means I have a lot of floor welding to do. The only positive to this is that it gives me a look inside the rails, which aren't too bad but could use some cleaning and proper treatment. During this repair, because there are bolts coming into the frame, I figured I should drop my TnT skid plate and repaint that while also getting a look at the bolts and repairing whatever needed it. This would be simple if the bolts still existed. I didn't even get to use the ratchet before the bolt was suspiciously loose. They were too rusted to save and sheered themselves off at the bottom. So now I have to drill them out, although I'm tempted to take my dremel tool and just cut the rusty tops out of the rail and weld in new ones, since it's all accessible. having the floor cut open also allows me to get the the nuts behind the skid plate too, so this is as good a time as any. I'm also tossing around the idea of taking the transmission off and replacing my clutch since everything else will be gone. In the time I had it running around I took it to a Fourth of July parade and ran it in that, which was fun except for the fact that it's a manual at very slow stop and go speeds and there's no AC, so I was burning to death. Still fun though. I also replaced my exterior window sweeps with late model cherokee ones, which required a bit of modification but give a much better and more durable overall appearance. Was thinking about making a write up for it on here if it hasn't already been done. And the last thing I did was added my stickers to it. I didn't really want to put badges back on it, so I went with stickers instead that compliment the overall black and green theme. And now, pictures. Old seal edge The edge of the new window seal. Still needs a tiny bit of trimming but came out pretty good At the show. Too hot for doors. While I was at it, since I was taking the corner windows out, I replaced the cracked up seal there with ones from an extra set of corner windows I had lying around. The rock rails Stickers A patch they had to do on both sides because the cab corners were pretty rough. I still need to do the body work over them. You can also see how they folded the edge of the bed for the rails. Floorboard hell. Little holes along the rail and a complete hole beneath the torque box. After I pulled the torque box top off. I use those words lightly, since it was mostly prying. The PO had, instead of fixing the problem, just ground the edges of the frame rail and the torque box down and welded them all together. After getting the rail cap off. The rails so far. Not too bad but not exactly good either. Water is still getting into the frame rails from somewhere, but I'm not sure where. The messed up end of the rail cap. I think I can fix it with a few welds and maybe some gussets. The prior welds where someone tried to fix the floors before, but clearly couldn't weld at all.... Just a load of metal all on top, nothing actually binding the pieces. Skid plate bolts, or whats left of them. Anyways, still a lot to do, so I'll try to update every now and then.