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How do you take the car off the frame


Bill Stoneberg
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I am at the point where I want to pull my Buick Woodie body off the frame. I am ready to start pulling the bolts out and was wondering exactly how to lift it and what to watch for.<BR>I am going to leave the doors, glass and what remains of the floor in to strengthen it but should I brace it more ?<BR>Can I replace the floors with the body off or should I wait till it goes back on or do it before ?<BR>Ideas or comments anyone.<BR>Thanks<BR>Bill<BR>

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Hi Bill<BR>I had a 49 buick Woodie several years ago, and helped several others with woodies.<BR>taking the body off the frame could be hazardous to the wood, if not properly braced or supported. I don't know what year your car is (before 1953) but the wood joints are probably dry, and will split apart if body is not supported properly. I would leave doors on the car, for more support.<BR>Good Luck<P>JIM SCHILF / palbuick@aol.com

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Unless you are planning on a show car, never, never, never remove a body from the frame. It is not worth the time, energy or end results. It is unsafe at best, and you will find more and more parts to replace or repair than you ever dreamed of. Having said that, I did the exact thing with my '42 Chevy. I would not do it again for a daily driver.<P>There are a couple of methods in removal of the body. Most cars require the doors to be removed, as they are a significant weight factor in the mix. However, your structure is different, and likely needs more support. Why take the body off entirely in the first place? Why not just loosen the body bolts, jack it up a few inches at each end, and work with it like that? You can get into the frame area to remove any rust or such with the car in this position, and it is much safer than getting the car high enough to remove the frame by pulling it out from under the body. If you do pull the car out, let out most of the air in the tires to decrease the height as it is pulled from under the car. Always think (SAFETY). A squished guy under a woodie is not a cute thing to view.<P>Huey

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Hi Bill.<BR>I don't like to knock anyone by if the wood is that bad, do you have any idea of the expense of replacing it, unless you are a woodworker.<BR>Example of Replacing wood cost, the rear piece from the roof line down to the bumper, will cost between 350 to 700, depending on year, that is only one side. There is a national woody club, a good start before starting project, <BR>As for support and bracing, I don't know about any special bracing. Support: several strong buddies, pizza and beer.<BR>I built a special frane of 2x4s and 2x6s on wheels, one for each side of body, about 36" high, jacked the whole car up high enough to slide several 2x6 between frame and body, this is where the beer and pizza pays off.<BR>Then let the frame down, I had enough room under the body to work on underside, <BR>Quite a lot of work, I don't think I would do it again. <BR>Hope this has helped<P>Jim Schilf / palbuick@aol.com

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Bill, <BR> The fellow that has restored a couple of cars for me welds angle iron in an X pattern<BR>in the interior of the car. The '40 Ford he also braced the front and rear interior with a bar going from side to side. He did this prior to removing the doors, fenders, hood, and trunk lid.<BR>later-jac

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Jim,<BR>Pizza and beer ?? Maybe down here in Texas it will be Fajitas and Margaritas (Afterwards).<BR>Yes, I knew going into this what wood would cost. I still went ahead with this project. It is something I have always wanted and always wanted to do. <BR>That said, thanks for the ideas on getting it off the frame. <BR>If you want to see the car it is at in the restoration you can look at: <A HREF="http://users.ev1.net/~bstoneberg" TARGET=_blank>http://users.ev1.net/~bstoneberg</A> <BR>Bill

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Bill<P>It looks like the wood is in good enough shape to use as patterns. Are you going to do the woodwork yourself or buy it already cut? I have had to make some pieces for my A and still have others to make, but mine don't have to be pretty, just functional. It all gets covered up by the interior. I have decided to make it all myself. What I have done so far has been very rewarding. That will be one beautiful vehicle when you get done.

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Jim<BR>Thanks for the lead on the book. I have a similar on for the 48 - 53 series and it is a good resource. I bid on this one just to have another copy.<BR>Did you do your own wood working ? I have been looking at mine and I think I can do it. I tend to agree with Hal that you can get satisfaction from doing it yourself.<BR>I am all ready to pull the body off, all the bolts are out and I am just supporttting it now. Friday is the day it will come off.<BR>Bill

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Hi Bill<BR>The wood in a Model A is a hole lot different from your Buick, most of A wood is inside the frame and fairly easy to make, in fact there is a wood kit fot the A, buy it out of a book. As for your car I think the wood is a souther white ash, a very hard wood, with all the curves and joints this is quite a job. I was luck when I bought my 49 the wood was excellent and only needed refinishing. As I am not a woodworker, would have never taken on a task like this.<P>Let us know how you make out, taking the body off.<BR>Good luck<BR>JIm Schilf

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Guess I just assumed it was a Buick of the 20-30's, and not a tank of the 50's you were talking about. "Tank you say, you scoundrel!" Yup, had one, but it wasn't a woodie. I loved the old straight eight in it. Actually accidentally pulled the gearshift lever down at about 65 MPH one time on the highway, and it felt just like a drag shoot popped open behind me when it suddenly dropped down to about 30 MPH in a matter of seconds. Didn't even hurt the tranny in the least. Man, what a tank! Ha!<P>Any rate, you do not need any bracing or support of such in taking the body off the Buick. Although you are dealing with a car with a heavy frame and body, the support of that body is quite different than a car of the 20-30's and doesn't require the welded in bracing at all, in my opinion. I still recommend complete removal of the doors prior to removal of the body though. Even the wood needs to be removed as well. However, the "tank" is quite a bit heavier than most vehicles. It ain't a light weight at all, and safety is of (PARAMOUNT) importance here. I'd still recommend only lifting high enough to clean the frame and not actually complete removal of it. This is safer, gets the same results and is easier to re-alighn.<P>Having done a couple of body removals, I still say don't do it unless you are expecting the car to be a masterful showpiece. Even then, a masterful showpiece would likely be taken to the experts to do. I just think that many a good car has become a forgotten project or piece of junk, due to the owner getting too far advanced from both what they are able to afford to do or what they have the skills to do.<P>Having said that, let's suppose you are still competent to do the job. Then make sure that you get a good jig together to lift the car upon. You can route a 2'6 through the windows and use comealongs to lift it if you have an adequate rafter to support the weight. You can make a frame and lift it onto it, but the guys and the beer are gonna' have to be pretty heafty to lift a '50 Buick any amount of height. Still, this ain't no one-man-job!<P>My daughter and I used 4 saw horses that were rated at 2,000 lbs each. We jacked a corner up at a time and put blocks under it till we got the fartherest corner up. We had two 4X4's braced under the body and they extended out several inches from side to side on the body. We put a saw horse under each corner. It looked like a pyramid as we raised each corner up a bit more and more and braced it. We had let the air out of the tires to lower the frame so we could roll it out from under the car. We used a rafter in the garage to get it up as safe as possible. <P>Once I got it out, I sweated it all the time, as I had kids in the neighborhood who loved to walk by and look at the old car suspended in the air. I had dreams of them getting squished under it, so I got the blamed body back on the frame as rapidly as possible.<P>Now, there could be a whole new topic on realighnment of the body once you decide to put it back on the frame, as it don't just go there in one easy swoop. Believe me, it ain't as easy to re-alighn and re-set as it is to take it all off.<P>Two large A-frames that extended over the body would probably be easier to use than the screwy system we came up with for the '42 Chevy, but again, safety, safety, safety!<P>Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that you have to remove all the brake lines, gas hoses, muffler, etc. The body pads will probably need replacement, and no matter which screw or bolt is last to be removed, it will break or twist off on you when you least expect it. Did I also mention that I would never do this again or recommend it to anyone? It was just not workth the expense and effort.<P>Great luck to you,<BR>Huey<BR> <p>[This message has been edited by coupe1942 (edited 09-20-2000).]

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Huey,<BR>You are right about both the saftey and the bolts breaking. I have no need to be crushed by a station Wagon.<BR>The lat body bolt I tried to take off did break, so that means a session with a drill and EZ outs.<BR>I have plenty of floor jacks and a forklift that I am going to use on Friday to take it off. I cant wait to try to put it on. <BR>I will post pictures and descriptions on my website over the weekend.<BR>Bill

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The fork lift will be very helpful, but don't count on it to do everything. I'd remove all the attaching hardware (brake lines, exhaust, wiring, etc.), and then the body bolts. I'd use the lift to bring up the front of the car first, brace it on blocks, and then do the rear. Your choice though.<P>However, re-alighnment may not be near as easy. I'd mark the locations of any body pillars or supports so that when I brought the body back down I had them as reference marks. I had to have the trunk area cut out and replaced on my '42. I actually thought that the welder had shortened some of the inside of the body in fabricating the trunk flooring, as it just did not want to go back in one easy swoop. Well, he didn't, it was just Murphy's law in action.<P>As a tip, don't do any painting of the frame area with any type of rubberized undercoating products. You will regret it if you do. Now is a time to hit the wheel wells of the car and get them cleaned and done up.<P>Before yu actually jump into body removal, you may want to check out some sites for low riders, as those guys frequently hit the old Mercs and shoe box Fords. they may be able to give some excellent advise on your project as well. Check out <A HREF="http://www.cybercruzin.com" TARGET=_blank>www.cybercruzin.com</A> and go to the Rodder's Round Table to post any questions of how best to do this. The rodders there are very, very expert in anything associated with taking a car apart and putting it back together again. May be worth the check.<P>Huey<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bill Stoneberg:<BR><B>Huey,<BR>You are right about both the saftey and the bolts breaking. I have no need to be crushed by a station Wagon.<BR>The lat body bolt I tried to take off did break, so that means a session with a drill and EZ outs.<BR>I have plenty of floor jacks and a forklift that I am going to use on Friday to take it off. I cant wait to try to put it on. <BR>I will post pictures and descriptions on my website over the weekend.<BR>Bill</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>

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Although I congradulate you on the body removal, I also have to say (CAUTION) to the use of cinder blocks shown in the pics. If they are indeed cinder blocks, even with so many loaded together, they are not (SAFE) for the overall weight of the car and movement as you get around them. Remember how you said you misjudged some movement. Misjudgment around these things can result in them moving apart and completely losing the weight they are meant to support. I know you believe it is likely safe, but please use (CAUTION)! These type blocks are quite known to break under stress, even when multiple ones are stacked together as you have done. They just have a history of crumbling all too easily to be safe. Guys at the Rodders Round Table have often posted stories of them cracking or crumbling and dropping things, even when there was no apparant crack in them. Their near miss stories are not meant to scare anyone, but are a great "word to the wise" before an accident actually happens.<P>Now, having said all that safery mumbo jumbo, you can disagree with me whole hog, but I have the only correct answer here, and God told me personally I was right! The correct answer is to not regret using them afterwards, BE SAFE, don't use them at all! Classic Auto Restorer from November '96 shows a safer method with wood braces going through the front and rear windshields and rigging up to a solid rafter with come-alongs. Of course you can adapt this to the side windows or such as well if window removal is a problem.<P>Any rate, congradualtions on your positive accomplishment. I don't mean in any way to steal yur thunder in what you have accomplished. I sent you pics of my coupe in the air. It had significantly less weight, but was still enough to squish you if it fell.<P>Removing body bolts was indeed a pain as there were many, many, many, but<BR>re-alighnment is gonna' be a bigger thrill for you in that regard. I hated removal of the steering in my coupe. Seems I had more problems with that than most anything else. The brake lines gave a headache or two though. Body bolts were rusted and required twisting off in some areas. All in all, it just was not a fun experience for me at the time.<P>I strongly suggest that you mark all bolts, nuts, fittings and wires before you forget. You would be surprised just how quickly you will forget the direction they went on, or the correct placement; even what the heck they were in the first place. Taking good pics of before and after will reap benefits in the future. Labeling things immediately will also help significantly when it all goes back together. Also, replace body bolts with high strength replacement bolts. A good restoration supplier will actually cost you less than buying the set at a Buick parts supplier, I bet. Don't recall if the Buick used body pads, but it likely did. I went to the local Co-Op Gin and found the body webbing I needed for my coupe. Their belts used the same size webbing as my coupe, and it cost me nothing for enough pieces to do my car. Cheaper than buying a cut set at a parts supplier. There were pleanty of broken gin belts to choose from in getting what I needed.<P>Again, congradulations on getting her off and running. Be safe with it and great luck to you in the completion process. Personally, I'd have removed the doors, but that is an owner's call. However, the weight is reduced quite a bit with the glass and doors out.<P>You have done a good deal and have done well so far. Lots of luck in the rest of the process.<BR>Huey <p>[This message has been edited by coupe1942 (edited 09-23-2000).]

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Bill<P>Congrats! I'm right behind you. Well not RIGHT behind you, but that is the next major thing I have to do to the A. I gotta agree with coupe42 about those blocks. I have heard all the horror stories, but still use them occasionally, but I turn them the other way (with the holes vertical, not horizontal). They are much stronger that way.<P>Again, Congrats!

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Have to add my 2-bits - concrete blocks are great for what they were designed to do. They were not intended to take a significant compression force. These blocks and cheap jack stands are dangerous!!! I almost lost a good friend when he was too damn cheap to buy good stands and supports. Fortunately he had just rolled out from under the car when the stands collapsed. Please be careful - I want to see your car complete and you healthy enough to show it, drive it and enjoy it and our admiration of your efforts.

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Ok,<BR>If you dont like the concrete blocks, how about an example of what you all have used.<BR>I have no beams in this metal building to hang it, so it has to sit on the floor whatever the solution.<BR>I want to be safe too so my wife can enjoy the fruits of my labor (this is her car).<BR>Bill

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Several years ago a local lumber mill produced a bunch of 6X6 rough-cut oak timbers that sold off pretty cheap. I cut a bunch in two foot lengths to use for supports.<P>I also have two heavy duty dollys about 4X8 foot that are ideal for off the frame body support. These were from IBM when they closed up in Huntsville and I got them for $25 each. Sometimes you get lucky.

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Most people use a frame if the other method I described is not workable. I believe one of the archived posts at Rodders Round Table showed a car in one. It may have been one of the web sites of a member though, I don't recall. If you go to <A HREF="http://www.cybercruzin.com" TARGET=_blank>www.cybercruzin.com</A> and ask this question in the rodders round table section, those guys will be more than happy to help.<P>Please don't take the posts on this as negative criticism. It is just that it is a safety issue that glares in the pics you posted. I understand how anxious you are to get the job done, and I can realte to that. Just be (cautious). I'd shift those cement blocks around immediately to ensure there is better strength there. Another safety precaution that could be done right now, is to run two 4x4's directly across the body from door to door. These 4x4's would need to stick out a few feet past the body and be supported on saw horses that are rated at about 2,000 lbs. each. This set up would need to be removed once you decide to put the frame under her, but in the meantime it would provide a greater measure of safety as your body sits there in the air. This method is hard to describe, but is essentially what my kiddo and I did with the '42 when we did her. I think I sent you a pic of her, but it was not very good (too dark).<P>Hey, I found an article on the rebuild of a 50 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon in the July '98 Car Collector mag. I'll try to send it, but am not good at scanner yet, so great luck in downloading it all. I don't know if the Car Collector mag is still in print or not. Seems they went to a non-color, plain text and lost everything they were noted for in the business. It was still a good reference mag, but the pictures made the articles. frown.gif<P>Huey <p>[This message has been edited by coupe1942 (edited 09-24-2000).]

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Bill, I thought you were using a fork lift???<BR>Won't that lift the round blocks?<BR>Huey<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bill Stoneberg:<BR><B>I read your messages and while I was sitting in church on Sunday, I got the idea on how to make it safe.<BR>I spent Sunday afternoon pouring 12" X 23" round concrete columns to set the 4 / 4 's on. Those will not crumble, break, or let the car crush me.<BR>Now I need to figure how to get them into the back of my truck. Those things are HEAVY.<BR>Bill</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>

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I read your messages and while I was sitting in church on Sunday, I got the idea on how to make it safe.<BR>I spent Sunday afternoon pouring 12" X 23" round concrete columns to set the 4 / 4 's on. Those will not crumble, break, or let the car crush me.<BR>Now I need to figure how to get them into the back of my truck. Those things are HEAVY.<BR>Bill

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