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We just started a full restoration of a '58 Eldorado Biarritz.  When the frame came back from the sandblaster we were appalled at the quality of the factory welds thruout the frame. They look like they were welded by a 6 year old with a stick welder.  I am not exaggerating.  Many of the welds will need redone, not because of rust but because of the extremely poor way they were done. This car was never taken apart before and is structurally sound but the welds are really embarrassing.  Anyone ever see anything like this? Almost as if someone on the assembly line had a grudge against the company. 

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You would think that auto would have had a higher level of quality? The welds on the subframe of my 77 trans am were pretty bad, but it was mostly slag, not really a bad weld. I was able to take a grinder and dress things up a bit. My guess that in '77 a robot was probably doing the job, -weld, move along the line to the next step, no need to worry about dressing things up-

 

I thought the eldo's were 'hand built'. 

 

 

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In the early 1970's at the local service station a customer was complaining about a noise in the back of his new Buick Riviera when he went around a corner.

 

The Buick Dealer could find the trouble so the service station took the back seat out and the brace that went from one side of the car to the other was not welded. 

 

They welded it and the noise was gone. I always wonder how many other high end cars came out like that.

 

Then there is the Coke bottle on a string trick that was used to make a noise when the car turned.

 

 

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Mass production by guys making an hourly wage with protected jobs at a shareholder-driven company that owned 60% of the market in an industry that only rewards short-term success in a world where few other countries had the resources to build things on that scale, and you're surprised the quality is mediocre?

 

Some of the Eldo did involve a special assembly line, but the chassis was the same one they were putting under all the convertibles. The frames were all the same.

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For such a heavy car, those 'substandard' welds held their integrity well, and lasted a LONG time!  Much more than can be said for a suspension bridge in Italy!!  I guess what the buyer didn't see in 1958 didn't need to be ground down and hand finished like the body.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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I am not surprised by this at all. The frame welds on every GM car I've owned from the 60s to the 80s look like this. Goobers and spatter everywhere, snotty looking welds, long pieces of filler wire sticking out from the weld. Bottom line is that these were mass production items on an assembly line. The frame is designed assuming a minimum amount of weld bead length and penetration. The fact that these cars didn't collapse on the street from flawed welds tells you that the engineers did their jobs. These are not parts of the car that were visible to the buying public, so why spend any time on making them pretty. The amount of bead and penetration may look bad, but it was more than adequate structurally.

 

The real problem is over-restoring a car like this vs. making it look the way it did when it left the factory.

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That is my problem, was working at GM in the early seventies and got sent to many other divisions to help with problems (my forte is fixing things, difficult ones were political) I know how these cars wer built (yet once I dispose of the SLKs will be back to all GM...except for my tow car and have a lifetime factory warranty on it.).

 

This is why I find the "100% as it left the factory" amusing since the many defects are the subject of linear feet of volumes of TSBs. And the next early 63 'vette I see with the factory FI will be the first.

 

Back then the cars were designed to last for the warranty period and that was it (and GM plastic of the 70s was prone to disintegrating).

 

So why is anyone surprised at the quality of the welds ? They lasted this long didn't they ?

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3 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Mass production by guys making an hourly wage with protected jobs at a shareholder-driven company that owned 60% of the market in an industry that only rewards short-term success in a world where few other countries had the resources to build things on that scale, and you're surprised the quality is mediocre?

 

This.

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3 hours ago, padgett said:

Back then the cars were designed to last for the warranty period and that was it...

 

I'll have to respectfully doubt that statement, Padgett.

Back then, warranties were a year or less.

Cars certainly weren't designed to last a year.

But if you've read any authoritative articles

on that subject, feel free to share them!

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57 minutes ago, TerryB said:

Would these frames have been made by Dana Corp Parish Steel co?

 

A.O. Smith and Parish were the biggies in frame production.  Did G.M. even have its own frame plant by the later 1950's ? I know I have seen notes in G.M. factory parts books regarding if the part needed was for a Smith

or Parish frame. So on some vehicle lines there must have been contracts awarded to both company's .

 

Greg

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4 hours ago, joe_padavano said:

I am not surprised by this at all. The frame welds on every GM car I've owned from the 60s to the 80s look like this. Goobers and spatter everywhere, snotty looking welds, long pieces of filler wire sticking out from the weld. Bottom line is that these were mass production items on an assembly line. The frame is designed assuming a minimum amount of weld bead length and penetration. The fact that these cars didn't collapse on the street from flawed welds tells you that the engineers did their jobs. These are not parts of the car that were visible to the buying public, so why spend any time on making them pretty. The amount of bead and penetration may look bad, but it was more than adequate structurally.

 

The real problem is over-restoring a car like this vs. making it look the way it did when it left the factory.

I really do believe that over-restoring is a fool's errand, under most circumstances. IMP it really depends on on the owner and the goal(s) he has for the car. If the owner really wants the best and intends for the car to be a multi-event best of show car, I think that all levels of production line inconsistencies have to be addressed. Many of these anomalies were not uniform throughout the production run, and in fact often varied from shift to shift. I'm confident that these were not all engineered to be just good enough to get out the door.  

 

It might take a fairly large sample of original cars, to determine which perceived anomalies were endemic and which were more sporadic. Door fitment for instance, we know for whatever the reason, door gap, quality is more sporadic in nature. If the goal is to do it right, and the way many of it's breed left the factory, it would be silly to ignore a line worker's poor workmanship. I think leaving poor workmanship for the sake of returning the car to the way if left the factory, does not do justice to history, or to owner's goal for the car. I believe that underther the circumstances, the the sloppy workmanship will be corrected.

 

Bill

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19 minutes ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

I'm confident that these were not all engineered to be just good enough to get out the door. 

 

Not my intended point. Engineers (well, competent ones anyway) design for worst-case assembly and manufacturing tolerances. My point was that the stress analysis on that frame was done assuming the worst-case weld quality and penetration that would pass inspection. These aren't precision high pressure or high stress weldments that get 100% xray inspection of every weld and sectioned coupons before and after. The engineers assumed a certain minimum weld quality, and designed for that. The goal was for better than minimum weld quality, but at least if a crappy weld came down the line late on a Friday, it wouldn't have to be rejected. That's not a criticism, it's prudent engineering.

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)
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 That factory weld is what is known as skip welding.

 It is plenty strong for its intended use.

 It does not have to be a long solid weld.

 

Skip welds or what some people call intermittent welds are a good tool to use in the right situation. Use of skip welds can reduce distortion, speed up production, reduce costs and reduce weight. Sometimes every lineal inch of joint need not be welded. Certain components or weld joints require 100 percent welding. When that is not the case, we might consider the use of skip welds. Skip welds are welds that are not completely welded the entire length. A segment of the joint is welded followed by a segment not welded. This alternating of welded and not welded segments continues along the joint as needed.

Skip welds are defined by a specific length of weld, and a pitch dimension. The pitch is defined as the center to center distance between the welded segments. Too often the pitch is mistakenly thought to be the length of the unwelded segment as opposed to the center to center distance between welds.

If we have to produce a full penetration weld in a butt joint, skip welds are not an option. If we have to produce a pipe weld that has to retain air or gas pressure, skip welds are not an option. If we have to produce a weld that has to contain or seal a liquid type joint, skip welds are not an option. These are but a few examples of when we cannot use skip welds.

A flat bar attached to a cat walk as a toe board is a good use for skip welds. A stiffener attached to the back of a large flat surface is a good use for skip welds. Any tee or lap joint fillet weld that does not require full strength is also a good choice for skip welds.

Skip welds reduce distortion by reducing the amount of overall weld required, thus reducing the amount of heat input. Reducing the amount welding also reduces the shrinkage that occurs from welding.

Production speeds can increase because not all of the joint is required to be welded.  If the amount of welding is reduced to as much as half there is a chance to double production speeds.

The weight of a part can be reduced if the amount of weld applied is reduced. Skip welds are a great tool to reduce the amount weld required, and in the process reducing weight of the part. A specific welding pattern called staggered skip welds is a good way to maintain strength and reduce weight. In staggered skip welds, the weld on the near side of the joint is welded opposite an unwelded section on the opposite side of the joint.

Finally, reducing the amount of weld by using skips can reduce costs. Cost savings are seen in reduced, weld filler metal, electrical power, shielding gas and labor just to name a few. On the other hand, there are increased costs associated with skip welds in the area of labor too. Layout of the skip welds prior to welding adds to the labor and time required to prep the joint for welding. Cost savings, reduced distortion, reduced weight and increased production speeds can be had if skip welds are used in the correct application.

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57 minutes ago, Roger Walling said:

 That factory weld is what is known as skip welding.

 It is plenty strong for its intended use.

 It does not have to be a long solid weld.

 

The issue isn't the fact that they are skip welds. That's normal practice. The original issue was about the fact that the lengths of weld bead that were there looked like crap.

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I think that this kind of thing plagues all of the low-medium priced autos through the years! The stick welds around the cowling and body subframe on my '36 Dodge are pretty nasty as well. Some places even have holes burned through, and these are welds you can see. The cars were built quickly and were only meant to have a liftspan of about 3-5 years. I'm leaving them alone as I think they show the real character of the mass produced cars of the time. Nothing is ever perfect. Not to mention the grind marks on the seams and factory paint runs!

 

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My father had a 1958 Eldo Biaritz Conv. with emblems and wheels anodized in gold,  A very pretty car.

In late 67 and early 68 my brother an I came home to Florida after our overseas military tours and my brother traded his Porsche for Dad's Caddy and headed for the state of Washington for his next

assignment.  In Minneapolis the wheel bearings collapsed and were not available in dealerships or

parts stores.   My uncle who worked there at Honeywell went in on Saturday and made a new set.

The Caddy weighed to much for those bearings, check yours.

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Maybe this was going on in the GM Factory

 

A man answered an ad that read "Hiring welders $18-$24 per hour"

When he arrived he was told he'd have to take a welding test. He turned in 2 sets of welds. One was a great weld, the other was a mess. When the boss asked him why he did this he replied "One is $18/hr, the other is $24/hr".
 
 
 
Welder quotes
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13 hours ago, padgett said:

So why is anyone surprised at the quality of the welds ? They lasted this long didn't they ?

"GM, where the mark of excellence falls off before the name goes on." Now we know it was a bad weld holding it on. 😁

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3 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Just like every Japanese motorcycle of the sixties and seventies. Not sure if they ever stopped doing bubblegum welds, the ones I am familiar with looked awful. But they never broke.

 

The aluminum welds on my Honda motorcycle from the 80's are a work of art.

My bike used one of the first full aluminum frames and the main frame spars are a huge focal point for the bike.

They are great looking welds.

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15 hours ago, joe_padavano said:

 

The issue isn't the fact that they are skip welds. That's normal practice. The original issue was about the fact that the lengths of weld bead that were there looked like crap.

  A skip weld can be carictured as a weld, that when one holds a continuous arc, stopping momentary for a few seconds to achieve penetration.

 This allows the welder to travel along a line welding a few short tacs while not taking the time to re-establish a new arc.

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1 hour ago, Roger Walling said:

  A skip weld can be carictured as a weld, that when one holds a continuous arc, stopping momentary for a few seconds to achieve penetration.

 This allows the welder to travel along a line welding a few short tacs while not taking the time to re-establish a new arc.

 

OK, still not the point of this thread...

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I often wonder if a car was truly restored to how it left the factory with it’s less than perfect panel smoothness and irregular fitment and gaps would the person paying for the restoration be happy with the end result?  My wife’s cousin is a big Model A and Model AA truck enthusiast.  When he had his AA dump truck painted it lacked the gloss of new paint.  He said that was how the factory did it back then and had the MARC award to back it up.  

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