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Amphicar "The only car with the right to rust" Expert level rust repair


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Because of the AACA forum , this rusty Amphicar found me. Being the eternal optimist My mind thought this would be a great idea. Unfortunately My body sometimes disagrees. So I work till it hurts and take a break. Doing a really rough car is challenging. Being a challenge sometimes is actually fun. Plus I try to fabricate every sheet metal part.

First pics of car arriving

I had to fix hull and frame before I could put on rotisserie

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I build my own "trays" and quarter panels. I use basic tools like a bead roller, shrinker /stretcher, English wheel, beater bag and a disk shrinker. Some other stuff but for most part these tools can build anything. Hull repair can be more difficult because of compound curves. For me it is easier to make two shapes and weld together. It really depends on day though. Some days the metal just "flows" turns and bends right on, than other days may as well be a pile of wood!!

This car wins with amount of filler. They used a heavy torch and massacred the original metal. Than pounded it all in and really filled it up. Over an inch thick over paint and rust!!! LOL

I had to pre fit lots of metal to get proper location for new frame. Best to take time now. That allowed me to measure both sides for square. Besides rusty this car had been hit too. So not a lot of good areads to get "true" numbers from.

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Are you related to Flop?

I was thinking there's a relation type thing there somewhere too. A big project for sure but at the same time it sure looks like it's going to get done and correctly too. I'll be watching and waiting for the progress updates. Scott...

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I looked up "Flop". That's a very nice compliment. Thank You

Steering braces are weak on these cars and many crack. I have seen some poor weld "repairs" but never of this level of dangerous horribleness.post-74198-143139125301_thumb.jpgSome poor brazing, add some arc weld splatter, add an old wrench to back up a undersized carriage bolt to hold some kind of a (motor mount plate?)!!! Not to mention compromising the rubber boot needed to keep water out.

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post-74198-143139125327_thumb.jpgSome times I get tired of rust and repairing. So than I play. I always wished I had artistic skills but never got 'em! If you can copy a basic line picture, you too can be an "artist". I cheated here too, I had steady handed Son do the copying of picture on metal. The next metal picture will be of a Mermaid. Which I will have to do by myself.
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Black Plate California car. No kidding!! Unfortunately it swam in the salty bays. The original owner passed away. Car sat and sat. Then moved across the USA. Another hopeful owner after another. Finally arriving at Midwest Amphicar, or Midwest Amphicar Home Harbor. A hobbyist's obsession that due to being laid off became my occupation. They always say ,God works in mysterious ways, They are correct.

About a decade ago a guy was dumping some junk parts here. Year after year I promised I was going to cut up and recycle. Today I needed the steering brace. This little job took way too long. But you can not rush such a critical area. A mistake could mean unsafe steering. Or sealing boot would not fit, thus meaning leaking and possible sinking. post-74198-143139127004_thumb.jpg

This yard ornament just might become a custom!!post-74198-143139127009_thumb.jpgThis one the seller really really lied to me!! Ever happen to you?!

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Trial fitting steering box. Perfect. Aligned horizontally and vertically plus centered. Whew! Next was removing pedals. They are connected by a hollow shaft. Being rusty it took hours of pain and torches. Then I took care of one small rust hole in front.

Finally got on rotisserie. This has been a goal for a long time. I can now weld in a comfortable position. I had to do repairs welding on my back. so next step is to finish sand/media blasting. I use a variety of medias, for nice parts I really like the crushed glass. Faster and less expensive than soda. post-74198-143139128531_thumb.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks but there are many that I look at as true Craftsmen. I still have a lot to learn. Good example is last few days. There was something wrong. My numbers were not working. My level was not agreeing. My parts were not lining up. So I took a few days off from this. Had some help with shearing metal for quarter panels. He had his tape and I had mine. After a cut I check and ahhh... not square. Finally look at his tape. It was dropped and metal end was bent. That fixed my shearing but not the car.

The Amphicar is truly hand made. The factory did some real rough builds. A good example. The fin and top of quarter has not been hit or rotted away. Yet the measurements from side to side are about 3/8 different. That number changes my inner panel, which changes the way the quarter should fit. There is a 1/2 inch difference between two same year cars. But that was not all. When I installed frame. I measured and leveled. I than measured and leveled. I than tack welded. Measured and leveled. I put on ground and measured. Finally I welded more. Not happy I pulled outside. Some how one side of frame was off 1/4 of an inch in four feet. It gets very frustrating. Than I read about someone else's trials and tribulations. Than look at some jobs of true Craftsmen and realize it does not always happen the first or second or sometimes the third time. So I will do it again and again till I am satisfied. It was not perfect from factory but I can at least make this "Amphicar perfect"

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This area all tacked together does not look like much. It represents many many hours.Imagine just a fin floating in air. Drooping and dented. Than build around it till all panels meet properly. Include a bottom hull if improperly placed props would hit. Than realize a mistake would make radiator not fit. Do not forget rear trim. I was pleased to see the repaired engine cover fit properly. Time for a break and go play with my MGB. Than I thought long weekend play with Freeway. Than I remembered I should just work on the 59 Playmaster boat. Sometimes I forget if I am working or playing. LOL

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185CFM???? My oh my, that is some air power there.

Really amazing work in this thread. You and Flop should get together and start a TV show where the focus would be on the work and not the drama.

If Dave the wave and Flop got together, they would put all the other shows right out of business.

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What bead roller are you using here? What is the maximum clearance at the deepest part of the neck? Does it have an ogee bead die?

Mittler Brothers brand. A great company,made in USA. They work with local College so a graduate has proper skills to be able to work. Throat is 3 feet and width is one inch. I do not know what ogee is. They have a nice variety of ready made dies and also sell blanks.

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I find the ohcrap shape is many times the most common. Still I hope for the "ohgee " thats nice shape. Yes I had to take a few days off from this project. Hopefully soon will have some ohgee posts. Landman I had to link your story to my Facebook page. There is a lot of good crazy on this site.

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The joy of returning to work. I call them trays. Ultimately I had a gap on drivers side tray. It is not seen when car is finished. I could have filled gap with a patch , welding and grinding. But due to the area it would look repaired (to me). I was able to build a new panel and replace probably faster than an unsightly repair. Doing it right or better sometimes feels like it takes longer but.......in the end it is worth it to me.

Step by step making of a tray. I love my open throat stomp shear. Than of to My girl friend Beverly Shear. She makes quick work on cutting sheet metal.

Brake time, Than a little hammer time.

Shrink and stretch gets my nice curves

Some beads and its ready to install.

Doing it right makes me happy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought you guys might like this photo taken during the big flood in Fairbanks, AK in August of 1967. The caption reads "Everyone thought this guy was crazy to buy an Amphicar when he lived so far from water, but the thing sure came in handy during a flood. The only other vehicles on the roads here are military half tracks, as flood waters remain in this city."

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This photo is the property of Candy Waugaman and may not be reproduced without permission.

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In 1964 I was manager of a Tractor Supply store in Ottawa, IL. Next door was a Dodge dealership, and the owner loved strange cars. He was young, just out of college, and had taken over from his father and grandfather.

One sunny day around noon time he came over and said, WANT TO GO FOR A RIDE, I HAVE A NEW CAR. Well, I jumped in what to me was a Henry-J car. Soon I could tell it WASN'T.

We headed for the river a couple blocks away, and the city beach was there too. He drove over the curb, and we drove down the low bank and into the river. Needless to say all the people at the beach looked in wonder, WHAT ARE THEY DOING.

He shifted gears and off we went, made a few circled trips and back up on the beach.

That was my first dealings with an Amphicar. I'm sure many talked about it that night over the diner table.

Dale in Indy

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  • 1 month later...

After a little vacation, I am back on this project. The replacement front piece is nearly installed. Lots of shrinking and dent removal on both the part and the fenders. Another twenty feet or so of welding and car will be strong enough for a ride on the rotisserie with out fear of bending. Apparently the word is getting out. I am getting new visitors to see what "That crazy guy" is building. Yesterdays comment was my favorite. One guy looks and shakes his head and the other guy says" You should of seen the cars that have come in here that he has fixed".

Another really good thing happened. A family friend brought a 18 year old out to see the metal circus. He is on his own. He saw the tools and the steel. He asked if he could help. He was so good the first week, I sent him to Metal Meet. (metalmeet.com). He is a natural metal bender. I'am trying to get him to go to a good trade school.:D

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The problem is the top has an over 90 degree bend, between my brake which is not perfectly straight and the wheeling needed to put shape into the curved area , I have some stretch happening. It will be resolved just a matter of time. I am very close. Having a full door skin will be very nice.

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Front is in place and semi welded. The hood came out better than I expected. It looked good when it had paint and fillers. But once cleaned up I was not as happy as I needed to be. Spent most of an afternoon shrinking. A little bit more and I will be done with it. Car is on the rotisserie and now working on hull.

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So happy to see your car and the great job you're doing. I grew up in FL and saw a few of these go into the Atlantic on mild days. Great memories!!!! Thanks for posting. If you are on the east coast you can make your way to our place via the rivers and creeks right into our yard! Best of all, you'll not use much tire rubber.

Jim

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Long yet fun day. Pictures do not show much, sorry. Lots of metal replacement. Many in "hidden" spots. Mentally I struggled with this front end project. Many connections, many lines connect. Making a different front end fit. Unlike true production cars these cars do not interchange that well. Factory gave large areas for over lapping. I have over half of the front connecting to rest of hull. :D Hopefully tomorrow I can get the other half tacked in.

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