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1940 76C Reconstruct


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Starting over, seem to have lost my old thread.  Found a "paint ready" car in Arizona, just needed wiring and an interior.

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Stopped at an abandoned gas station for the near vintage shot.  The car trailered fine.  I answered several questions of curiosity at gas stops.  The car was missing many small parts as it was only partially re-assembled.  My understanding is that the previous owner hauled it out of the desert over 20 years ago where it was most likely abandoned as a wreck. 

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Once home, the car was disassembled to inventory concealed conditions and the true extent of work needed to resurrect the car.

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Found a chassis in Michigan, correct engine, still no wiring and no interior.  The 76C had a 1941 engine.  The engine in this chassis was advertised for sale and when I queried the seller about the engine serial number, I learned that this engine was correct for about the time period the 76C was manufacturered.  The car was a four door Roadmaster, abandoned in a barn that had fallen in on itself.  The contractor hired to push the old barn into the nearby ravine and build new discovered this and two other cars.  He wanted to keep the body to make a rat rod.  He happily had me carry the whole chassis away.

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I got lots of valuable parts such as the optional 3.6:1 rear end, shift linkage, extra shocks to rebuild, brake drums, transmission and a model of where brake lines, the gas line and such were positioned.  None of that was present on the 76C.

 

I had the engine completely machined, replacing all moving parts and had one cylinder resleeved.IMG_5187.thumb.JPG.626ce90e3f833aca9b6e7d26012652f0.JPG

 

The head is rebuilt with new valves and planed slightly to match the block.

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Engine complete except for accessories.

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There's no education in the second kick of a mule.  I'm not even sure I remember the 24th time I was kicked, but I'm over buyers remorse.  The body wasn't in as good of condition as I estimated at purchase.  When the full magnitude of body restoration became evident, I enlisted the help of Dan, a sheet metal repair specialist.  He would be able to manufacture replacement panels with much greater skill than I could ever have and do so in such timing that I would be able to enjoy the car within my lifetime.  The picture below is the door with heavily sculpted filler.  The car appears to have been hit on the right side.  Dan has by this time, completely rebuilt both doors.

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Below is the door frame with the old skin removed.  I purchased two Cadillac doors from Greg Johnson to replace the skins.  Dan had to remanufacture several interior door components as well.

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The body was not severely rusted, just heavily abused in its' former life.  The previous owner had completely sand blasted the car then primed it.

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The rocker panels were not really designed for a long life.  They consisted on a closed box that would provide stiffening to the body shell.  The box structures readily took in water without draining well. The photo below shows evidence of previous repair efforts.

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With a little more exploration, the full extent of rust damage was revealed.  The exterior form of the rocker was a conical, concave shape with the larger radius towards the front of the car.  While Dan would be able to build new rockers, Greg again freed up some of his inventory of NOS rockers for both sides.

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Not worth saving:

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It would have been easier to buy a brand new 76C in March of 1940.  I didn't have that chance.  Here we are starting over.  I've met some terrific people in the BCA that have helped me along tremendously with parts and their knowledge.  With their help and the help of people I haven't even met yet, I should have a 76C in a couple of years that would appear to be a low mileage 2 or 3 year old car.

 

Dan began by stripping all of primer and filler.  He built a cage to stiffen the body so that it could be removed from the frame.

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The body doesn't have a rust problem, it has a dent problem.  My thought was that dents are easier to repair than rust.  It is still a big job though.

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Underside floor boards:

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The front end sheet metal was in terrific shape:

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Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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14 minutes ago, kingrudy said:

Ken, glad to see your post is back. I've enjoyed watching the progress of your car.

Mike

Thanks Mike, I might be able to resurrect some of the early parts that are worthwhile.  Dan did some really amazing work reskinning and rebuilding the doors.  The the tail pan, oh my gosh he was an artist.

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The C-platform was new for 1940 and featured a wider body with no running boards.  That platform was used for the Buick Super and Roadmaster for 1940 and 41, the Cadillac Series 62, and the large series Oldsmobile.  Since my car was missing so many parts and required so much sheet metal reconstruction I was in search of similar cars to use as a model.  

 

The first car was a 1940, 50 series car that was part of a barn find for Mr. Earl (aka Lamar Johnson).  He was made aware of this collection by a member of the BCA Dixie Chapter.  It had been in storage for a reported 20-25 years when the owners father had passed.  The cars were a part of his collection.  This car was partially restored years ago and was mostly complete.

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The engine was stuck and has since been freed.  The missing parts are evident in this photo and is everything related to the drivers door window assembly.

 

The next big boost that I got was an invitation to Terry Boyce's beautiful 1940 76C.  The history of ownership of this car strongly suggests that it belonged to Harley Earl when new.

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I photographed every conceivable angle of Terry's car and created a photo log of each section of the car for future reference.  Some aspect's of Terry's car were unique to the Boss' special order capability such as the dual carb engine, foot operated parking brake and pneumatic shift assist.  My wife and I spent a lovely weekend in Detroit with Terry and his wife.  That meeting, that weekend, and all that help are the real reason for involvement in the vintage car hobby!

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Looking for help:

 

I'm working on the transmission and having difficulty figuring our how the speedometer gear is removed from the main shaft.  Anybody with experience have this one figured out?

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Clarification for above request:

 

I'm trying to remove the output shaft on this transmission. 

 

It looks like the speedo gear is pressed onto the shaft and does not come off in a normal rebuild.  Is that true?

 

Review of the shop manual appears to suggest that I push the output shaft out of the case with the bearing, remove the input shaft and synchronizer from the other end of the trans case, then remove snap rings and gears from the output shaft.  At that point it looks like the output shaft slides out of the front of the trans case.  Yes?

 

I've forced nothing and broken nothing so everything I have done is reversable.  Gears look like they are in good shape.

 

How does one judge the condition of the synchronizer?  Everything looks clean with no observable damage.  Where does the wear occur in the synchronizer?

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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Hey Ken

    2nd the I like the posts sentiment! Closely inspect the splines you can see each side of center. A well worn one was in the large trans I bought from a charm school graduate at the National in Denver. You could also compare to an nos one. I'll photo both an send pix  for perusal. Hope that will help!

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This is the trans that was "rebuilt" that I bought in Denver. You can see the wear quite clearly on the splines of the sync20180821_094229.thumb.jpg.6b7f4920cfe5582e5e18d61c8fa53bf9.jpgro. The large gear in the second picture shows rounded over corners on the teeth and pitting. No wonder he started cussing a blue streak when  I asked to take the top cover off. Lol! Good thing I've got the repair parts. Way down in the bottom, more pitts on teeth. These are areas I've seen this type of damage before, so I wanted to share this so others know what and where to look for in these large series transmissions. If the seller complains20180821_093549.thumb.jpg.5e1c008b7ae3db2bdc20ad488a398f5e.jpg about wanting to look inside, prolley better to walk away. Caveat Emptor! I think that's Norwegian for my feet hurt! Hint, shiny black painted one left in photo.

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Thanks for the pictures Greg.  I've got mine apart and it looks fantastic.  Gear teeth are not damaged nor do they appear worn.  I wonder if the donor chassis I bought last summer was a low mileage car?

 

Here's the main drive gear and synchronizer clutch:

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I got replacement bearings as part of a rebuild kit from Northwest Transmission (a source I learned of from this forum)

 

Here's the output shaft with loose needle bearings, new needle bearings are a part of the rebuild kit, too.

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The driven gear for the speedometer is shown below.  I've learned that the speedometer drive gear is pressed onto the main shaft and that the driven gear is unique to the rear axle gear ratio.  I intend to use the rear axle from the donor chassis as the axle that came with the car was from a smaller series car, has 4.40 gears and has experienced quite a bit of abuse.

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Cleaning and reassembly happens this weekend.  

 

 

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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Whoa, surprise package from a fellow 76C owner:

 

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I've traded with Anderson for several parts for my '40.  He owns a beautiful '41, in which I had a wonderful ride in the Charlotte, NC suburbs.  It's hard to concentrate on good photographs when you are excited and want to see everything.  Here's a partial shot of his car:

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Anderson also had a super rare part that I was missing, which he was gracious enough to sell for my use.  It is the correct vacuum switch and knob for the convertible top operation:

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Edited by kgreen
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  • 2 weeks later...

Labor day was a great weekend to rebuild the transmission.  I purchased a rebuild kit from NW Transmissions (based on advice provided in this forum) and was very pleased with it.  I did one automatic transmission (Ford C4) and that was easier than myth would have it.  Matt Harwood said these Buick transmissions would be easy.  Once I got over the idea that the main shaft slides forward out of the casting, and that the input and output shafts separate to lift out of the casing from the middle I was off to the races.  I had a 1941 transmission that came with the car and the 1940 transmission came from the chassis recovered from a Michigan barn last summer.  I disassembled the 41 transmission first so feel my way around.  Nothing got broken and it was in fairly good condition, but it only served as practice the desired transmission.  

 

The torque ball and universal shaft got disassembled first.  The u-jt required me to approach the retaining bolt through the middle of the output end of the joint.  It all came apart nicely.  THe 41 TB was destroyed by a thrown u-jt sometime in the past.  The inner part of the joint had large pieces broken off and lost.  The 40 TB had been carelessly re-assembled in the past with dirt between the TB cups.  The dirt scoured the cup finishes beyond repair.

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The selector shafts come out first, then the external c-clips on the input and output shaft bearings.  All internal parts of the transmission looked great. 102_0027.thumb.JPG.f125de0b9e278590bb6115a8c4c70dcf.JPG

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The rebuild kit came with new gaskets, seals, bearings, rollers for the rear of the input shaft, thrust washers,snap rings and front oil slinger.  Examination of the synchronizing gear indicated that it had no unusual wear, in fact it looked brand new.  The selector shafts and associated levers were in fine shape with no observable wear.  All teeth on all gears looked clean with no unusual wear.  Everything cleaned up just fine.  I had been concerned about wear and had discovered sources for the gears and synchronizer, but I lucked out.  The u-jt and torque ball is another matter, those are hard to find for the 70 series.

 

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3 hours ago, kgreen said:

Labor day was a great weekend to rebuild the transmission.  I purchased a rebuild kit from NW Transmissions (based on advice provided in this forum) and was very pleased with it.  I did one automatic transmission (Ford C4) and that was easier than myth would have it.  Matt Harwood said these Buick transmissions would be easy.  Once I got over the idea that the main shaft slides forward out of the casting, and that the input and output shafts separate to lift out of the casing from the middle I was off to the races.  I had a 1941 transmission that came with the car and the 1940 transmission came from the chassis recovered from a Michigan barn last summer.  I disassembled the 41 transmission first so feel my way around.  Nothing got broken and it was in fairly good condition, but it only served as practice the desired transmission.  

 

The torque ball and universal shaft got disassembled first.  The u-jt required me to approach the retaining bolt through the middle of the output end of the joint.  It all came apart nicely.  THe 41 TB was destroyed by a thrown u-jt sometime in the past.  The inner part of the joint had large pieces broken off and lost.  The 40 TB had been carelessly re-assembled in the past with dirt between the TB cups.  The dirt scoured the cup finishes beyond repair.

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The selector shafts come out first, then the external c-clips on the input and output shaft bearings.  All internal parts of the transmission looked great. 102_0027.thumb.JPG.f125de0b9e278590bb6115a8c4c70dcf.JPG

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The rebuild kit came with new gaskets, seals, bearings, rollers for the rear of the input shaft, thrust washers,snap rings and front oil slinger.  Examination of the synchronizing gear indicated that it had no unusual wear, in fact it looked brand new.  The selector shafts and associated levers were in fine shape with no observable wear.  All teeth on all gears looked clean with no unusual wear.  Everything cleaned up just fine.  I had been concerned about wear and had discovered sources for the gears and synchronizer, but I lucked out.  The u-jt and torque ball is another matter, those are hard to find for the 70 series. I'm sure I have a good used for ya. Regards, Greg J

 

 

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"I'm sure I have a good used for ya. Regards, Greg J"

@2carb40 I think from the number of parts that will be on this car when finished, I'd have to say that I bought half the car from you, the other have from the initial seller.  Those original fender skirts that you graciously sold to me yesterday are a significant addition to a proper, completed car.  Thanks Greg!

(I'd brag with photos, but I'm cut off! ?)

 

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25 minutes ago, kgreen said:

(I'd brag with photos, but I'm cut off! ?)

 

Morning Ken.

Glad to see you are progressing and the car inspection finds you will have a dependable unit!

 

Sorry I can't help you with '40 Buick parts but as to the picture limitation, I have found once you reach that annoying limit sign, copy what you are trying to post, go to another thread for a second and go back to your thread. Quirky but have been able to continue posting.

I don't believe it limits us per day, just per thread posting?

Try pasting what you copied with the pictures after you go back to your thread and see if that works for you. I'm sure I have more than reached the "limit" jumping around and posting pictures on other threads in one day.

 

Good luck with that and look forward to your bragging! ?

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@deiI understand why we have a limit, it's a matter of cost control.  Cost control isn't something that a person understands when restoring a car is it?  Not really complaining, I'll go with the flow.

 

Your idea works!  Here's a couple shots of the fender skirts that Greg provided.  These were standard fair on the 76C and will look mah-ve-lus (as Billy Crystal would say).

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All gears, shift mechanisms, seals, pins, retaining clips and detent balls in place.  I forgot one last detent on rev to 1 shift rod, but had no trouble with minor disassembly to get it in place.  I've checked the floor, the parts table, the work bench, exploded diagrams in the shop manual and my photos - it's all there.  I'll work on the torque ball later.

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2 hours ago, Gary Best said:

Looking great Ken

Man it's going slow but proper.  I think that Dan will have reconstructed much of the body shell and probably won't use any bondo.  Thanks for that great recommendation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Making new inner rockers:

 

I purchased some NOS inner rocker panels from @2carb40 and was happy to have them.  We discovered that they were 20 ga rather then what we expected to be 18 ga.  Dan made new ones of 18 ga using the NOS pieces as a model.

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We guess that the 20 ga might have been for the hardtop coupe.  The NOS parts were invaluable as they became the pattern for the new ones.  The 20 ga inner rockers are still in my possession, but will not be used.  If someone is interested but not in a hurry, I'm happy to put them back into circulation.

 

Here they are primed and ready to install.  I have no way of telling what finish was used inside the rockers during Buick assembly.  For the epoxy primer and finish that we used combined with limiting the use of the car in the rain and snow, these parts ought to outlast my ownership.

 

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Posy Script:  I only have the one inner rocker panel, can't be sure if it is left or right.

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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Installing Inner Rocker Panels:

 

Dan recreated the spot weld for the attachments.  The body mounts are located adjacent to and partially connected to the rocker panels.  All body attachment points were aligned.  

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Outer body shell repair at rear fender:

The repairs noted above were part of the inner fender well.  The area where the rear fender bolts to the car is comprised of the inner fender well sheet metal containing the nuts, lapped over by the outer part of the body.  Continuation of the repair was to reform the outer part of the body shell.  This was accomplished with a piece of steel punched to allow access to the contained nuts on the inner fender well, and welded along the outer ridge of the body.  Maybe it is best to see the photos:

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Both sides complete with new inner fender well metal and outer body shell metal.  You can see the two layers at the bolt holes.

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  • kgreen changed the title to 1940 76C Reconstruct
  • 2 weeks later...

Never knew this book existed until I was significantly outbid on another copy a week or two ago on eBay.  @2carb40  gave me the heads up.  I found another at a reasonable price.  This ought to help during the first year or two after the car is roadworthy!

 

1940 BUICK PARTS & SERVICE BULLETINS ORIGINAL MANUAL COVERS>8/18/39 thru 9/27/40

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"The C-platform was new for 1940 and featured a wider body with no running boards.  That platform was used for the Buick Super and Roadmaster for 1940 and 41, the Cadillac Series 62, and the large series Oldsmobile." 

 

The C-Body of 1940 was also shared by the Pontiac Torpedo Eight on the 122-inch wheelbase, one of those times (through '41) when a Pontiac would wear the big body. For 1941, an A-Body was shared among all GM lines except Cadillac, that mimicked the wildly popular C-Body design.

 

I'm going to be monitoring your resto progress for tips for some friends in Cuba who are are working on a '40 Super 56C, the only real Super convertible left on the island. 

 

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Best wishes,

TG

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I knew the C-platform car was used by Cadillac and Oldsmobile in addition to Buick, but until you posted that photo I never noticed a very fundamental difference.  Look at the cowl on all three car examples.  The door on the Buick meets the front fenders but not on the other two makes.  The C-platform must have had some modification between the makes after all.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The door and rear quarter panels did not line up well.  I received help with dimensions from Terry Boyce and Anderson Pearson of their restored, undamaged cars so we could re-create proper body lines along both left and right sides of the car.  This cars body was about 1 inch narrower than the model cars which caused the door to quarter panel seam to be significantly depressed.

 

Dan added adjustable bracing to align the top of the quarter panels and doors to hold their shape.

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Adjustments can be made to shove out the quarter panel, the door jamb and stabilize the door.

 

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The door jamb was replaced using pieces of a jamb from a four door car.  The jamb has been tack welded to the floor structure and will hold position when the rear quarter panel is re-attached.  The door will hold position once the skin is re-attached.  The rocker panel has not been installed yet, which creates the third of four points requiring alignment.

 

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This step involved checking door gaps as well as the overall shape of the rounded figure of the car at its beltline.

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Interior door frame bracing works in conjunction with the door skin.  Until the door skin is installed this additional bracing is required to maintain alignment.

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Both left and right sides of the car are involved in this reconstruction effort.

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Here's a mock up with the door frame in place and lined up with the rear quarter panel.  No outer rockers have been installed yet.

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Working forward, Dan verifies the fit of the door to the windshield frame, hood and front fender.  The car had not been in a roll-over accident, but we have suspicions that the car was damaged when stored or forgotten within a building that collapsed onto the car. The windshield frame was cut to push it forward.

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Then the inside of the frame was sliced to make a match to the door, hood and fender.

 

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Next up was verification that the door shape was correct.  Here is a template made from a correct door.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Onward with the income redistribution through the vintage car hobby.  When I started this thread originally (lost the original, this thread is the replacement) I titled it with something more optimistic.  I might have used the word restoration.  The title has been "reconstruct" for a couple months now and is more than ever a very true description.  

 

We are wrapping up the rocker panels. Greg ( @2carb40 ) had set me up with NOS rocker panels.  Fitting them to the car proved that while they were extremely helpful because of their complex shape, the replacement panels were more of a suggestion of how to start the replacement.  It didn't help that the car was at one time crushed by a tree or rolled down a steep embankment or roughly hammered out after going through a junkyard crusher. 

 

Here's the new rocker arm but with a need to reconstruct the lower quarter panel.

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Formed and tack welded in place.

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Both sides are getting the same treatment, here's the right side with the replacement patch welded and with welds ground smooth.

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Now the rocker is welded in place and welds ground.

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The bottom of the rocker required modification to align front fender to rear quarter panel, plus the door shape. 

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Four temporary tabs were used to hold the shape and position while test fitted to the car, then a new strip of metal added to complete the panel.  The outer flat edge of the rocker needs to be perpendicular, not sloped since the stainless rocker trim is mounted at this location and extends forward onto the front fender.

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The rocker attachment at the door sill was made to match factory spot welding.  The floors had to be extended outward with patches since they had been cut short during what I assume to be an insurance repair (poor repair) years ago.  

 

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Now all cleaned up.

 

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The lower rear corner of the front fender is bolted onto a forward face of the rocker panel.  The rocker panel was designed as a structural shape or box beam and acts as a stiffener for the open convertible body between the cowl and the rear trunk portion of the body shell.  The box structure was not constructed to be water tight when new so road debris, water and salt accumulated inside the beam.  This was the first place on these C bodies to rust.  The second place to rust was the tool tray.  I've recently had a chance to examine a "rust-free" 40 Roadmaster coupe.  Nice car by the way! The tool tray is solid and the rockers show beginning signs signs of decay.

 

The tab on the front fender was cut off and a reinforced tab welded on.

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The matching, mating tab on the rocker was fitted and tack welded with bolts installed to create the final desired position of both fender and forward section of the rocker.

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Both fender and rocker tabs were finished with a continuous weld then ground smooth.  This will be the new gap.

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