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Perplexing Fisher Body wood question


Erndog
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I have a 1930 Buick sedan that I have been rewooding off and on for the better part of 20 years. One thing (of several) that has stumped me with no obvious solution is this:

At thee bottom of the rear quarter window is a piece of wood (rear quarter belt bar) that runs horizontally under the edge of the opening with the metal wrapping over it and down about 1/2" or so on the interior side. The original horizontal pieces are mortised into the rear hinge pillar with two screws securing them from the outside. The heads of the screws are then covered by the outer skin of the car. Before I realized the conundrum here, I faithfully reproduced the hinge pillars and the rear quarter belt bars, and reproduced the screw holes as well. It all goes together nicely, as it should. But I see no way to get these pieces in place when I put the body back togerher, due to the metal lip previously mentioned, short of bending it out of the way which I do not suggest.

Are there any people out there that have dealt with this issue successfully?

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One method that I have had to use in re-wooding my 1922 Marmon is to drill a hole in the body skin to sink the screw, and then patch the skin.  Maybe not an option in your case.  Another approach is to just glue the member with an engineering epoxy and leave out the screw.  A third one that I have used is to drill a pilot hole, and sink a deck screw or two from an odd angle to secure the joint when I could not access the joint from the original angle.  Then I use a wood filler over the head of the screw, or just take it out after the glue sets, and replace with a dowel.  A fourth technique I have used is to drill into the joint from an angle or two and sink a dowel through it to secure it.  It’s always a puzzle to re-wood under an aluminum or steel skin, when the guy who did it the first time got to do it in the opposite order.  Hope that helps a little.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ernie, 

    I know that you saw my files on redoing the wood frame for my 1925 Buick Touring.  We don't really know how they "skinned" these wood pieces with metal at the factory.  I think in some cases, they slipped the metal over the wood and then perhaps used a rubber mallet to fold a smaller edge over.  Installing the cowl over the wood frame on the front of my car was a very tight refit, and I think likely one of the bends was not there during the assembly.  Then if you removed it and tried to take the bend out only to reinstall it, you would have a real mess on your hands and the metal could fatigue and break off.    I think all the tabs around my rear wheel arch were bent over during assembly, and the metal would be damaged if I attempted to straighten and then refold the edge.  This is photo 1.  

There are also several places on my wood body where I was able to pre glue joints during the assembly, and some joints I found that I needed to leave the glue off or I would never be able to put the metal on over the wood.  Photo 2

 

The other real interesting detail was that Buick used a 1/4" thick piece of wood between the body and the wood sill frame underneath.   I assume they installed the body over the wood, then added the 1/4" wood strip as a filler to take up the assembly gap needed.    Then they installed the nails.  I also bet that they maybe just raised the body up high enough so that you could get to all the nails into the bottom side of the sill.  Photo 3 taken along the outer edge of the body.

 

So as long as you understand the function of the piece of wood that you are trying to secure, the method of securement is up to you at this point.  Yes I have numerous screws that were installed before the sheetmetal was installed.  Lots of ways to skin the cat and accomplish the same end result.   Just keep moving forward.     Hugh 

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Hugh,

It was interesting to see your photos and comments.  I agree with your thoughts and observations.  I have actually rehearsed/practiced the sequence of installing and gluing wooden frame pieces within the sheet metal shell in order to make sure my process would work, before going ‘live’ with epoxy adhesive.  

Andrew

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That may be true in some areas, but on some cars, and in some parts (like doors), Fisher did apparently use glue and, if I remember correctly, even published a recipe. It may have been in the 1926-31 body manual.

 

Any of the finger joints would have also had to use glue to hold up I think. In fact, Fisher's finger joints were tapered. It is hard to do that now, due to the unavailability of appropriate cutters. The only reason to do it in the first place is to get better bite for the glue. They did also screw them, but I suspect that just weakened the joint.... until the glue failed. Then maybe it helped a little.

 

Also you would have to use glue anywhere you made one of Fisher's one-piece parts in 2 pieces in order to get it into some spot where Fisher put metal in the way after the woodwork was done.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Good idea to rehearse the fit. 

There was a lot of glue used in the 1925 Buick.  

The sills are basically 1 3/4" tall x 5" wide and run the length between the cowl and the rear wheel under the doors.  These are about 5 feet long and were made from 3 pieces of wood that were double dovetailed on each joint and glued together.  I assume for strength and to prevent warping.   These joints ran the length of the sill, and it must have been made with a special die to make the triangular shape of the connection pieces.  In order to assemble a 5' length of sill, the parts have to be slid the length of the wood.  Very high tech for wood making.   

Photo 1 shows the 3 boards that make up the sill that has become delaminated.  This is the section between the cowl and the front seat.   

Photo 2 (with the broom) shows this long double dovetail after is was cleaned out.  You can't just push these 2 pieces together.  They have to be lined up and then slid the entire length of the wood.  

Photo 3 is an end shot of the sill and you can see both pairs of double full length dovetails.  

I also had several large lap joints where I still had some but not all of the glue that failed and I had to open the joint and clean them so I could reglue.  The screws were only to hold the parts while the glue dried, as the glue was doing all the work.  This wood connected the sills to the wood that ran across the back of the car behind the rear sear.  

All 4 corners of each door were glued.  The sheetmetal is merely a facing and it covers the top of the door.  When you see a wood framed car with the bottom of the door sticking out past the bodywork on the latch side, it is usually because the joints have failed on the corners of the wood pieces in the door.      

True that not every joint was glued, but most were.  

If you are using epoxy, I used a plastic baggie behind the wood so that the wood had no chance of sticking to the sheetmetal.  I also used clamps and installed the screws after the glue dried.  I figured if I installed the screw in the wet epoxy,  the screw would never come out.  

Hugh

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5 hours ago, Akstraw said:

I think that the flex should happen in the wood members themselves, not in the joints.

That is the reason Oak was not used in their bodies.  Ash is almost as strong and is slightly flexible.

Many Pontiacs' in 1926 to early 1928 had cracks in the cowl where it becomes the firewall.  The wood sills would flex a bit but the metal would crack because of the frame flexing.  GM finally used a longer bolt with two washers and a heavy spring between the nut and the frame on the front body mount to allow the front of the body to stay rigid while the frame flexed.

 

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