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It is correct that most Osage trees that I have seen are fairly small. There is indeed a large one near my home, which must be 3-4 feet in diameter at the trunk, and 35-40 feet tall. I'll stop and see how big it is one of these days...

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I want to point out that furniture & cabinetry are often made with pine too but I hope no one would use pine in an old car. Ash grain pattern looks similar to oak but not as pronounced. Ash is more colorful than oak but will dull down and yellow like oak with age. Old ash is often mistaken for oak. 

 

I have purchased Ash and other hardwoods from Baird Bros. Hardwoods in Canfield, OH near Youngstown. They sell it in rough sawn or will mill/plain/sand it for you at extra cost. Rough sawn is sold in quarter inch increments. 4/4 is 1 inch thick which is normally planed & sanded down to 3/4 thick finished boards and is sold as 1 by (width) finished lumber.

 

Most of the rough Ash I buy I prefer to get from Yoder Lumber near Millersburg, OH. They log most of their own logs and mainly deal in local species they harvest in the Ohio, western PA and WV area. It is kiln dried and you can hand pick thru their inventory. They have the best pricing that I have found. 

 

I also buy from Keim Lumber in Charm, OH for rough or milled and if I need something special or special mill work. I buy my wide Poplar boards from Keim but they are a big operation and you have to get to the right salesman or go to the mill shop to talk to someone who knows if it is available or if they have a wide enough log to cut it from in stock. You may have to wait a few weeks to get  20" wide 4/4 boards planed & sanded down to 1/2 or 3/8. They provide delivery up to 150 miles. They also have a large building goods store with lots wood working tools and machinery on display. 

 

All 3 of the above sources have web sites with posted price lists for Ash, Poplar, and other common lumber, including oak. I assume they could ship.

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36 minutes ago, jdome said:

Ash is more colorful than oak but will dull down and yellow like oak with age. Old ash is often mistaken for oak. 

It is very similar, two ways to tell, toughness and weight. Ash is very light for it's strength. They used it for wing spars in early aircraft.

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Each type of wood has its pluses and minuses. Ash was primarily used in car bodies because it is the most stable wood available. Cars in the early years did a lot of flexing with the road conditions and were stored outside. These conditions required Ash for longevity. Ash was also expensive. Higher end cars used Ash exclusively, lesser quality cars used Ash where it was critical and Poplar, or White Oak or even Red Oak with less critical pieces. In latter years, heavier cars used hard Maple for sill plates because the weight of the body and steel frame would wear lesser woods, causing the body to droop and doors to not fit well. Choosing the wood for car bodies was a scientific process. The problem with most woods that might be used is that they move too much with heat and cold and moisture content. Most cars will not receive the same abuse they did when new. They were daily drivers.

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On any of the" Fisher" bodies I have had apart nothing was used.  Some pieces had some thin flat black overspray from something nearby that was being painted.

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As a marine Yacht Captain in charge of maintaining yachts  and antique speedboat

 restorer, I have found that there are usually 9 opinions from 5 people on this subject! What I have learned after 50 years of working with all types of wood, whether on boats or cars is that if the wood is thin enough to fully soak it with a penetrating epoxy such as CPES, then you can then apply a coat or two of your favorite epoxy. I’ve used many types of epoxy and there are defiantly different final types of epoxy. Some are hard/brittle and some are more flexible once cured. Depending on the intended use, bonding epoxy tends to be brittle and may crack with movement. Laminating epoxy tends to be a little more flexible. Now I know I’m going to be corrected here but that’s my experience with having restored a 65’ 1956 Motor Yacht and 12 antique Mahogany speedboats plus the maintaining of various other sailing yachts in my 50 year yachting carrier. 
 If the wood can be totally saturated with penetrating epoxy, then applying a coat or two of full strength epoxy is a good thing. If the wood is too hard or too thick to fully saturate and you apply one or more coats of hard epoxy, you are causing problems for the next owner or yourself if you own it more then a couple years. 
 Wood that has been coated in epoxy but not saturated will swell and shrink due to atmospheric pressure, temperature change and moisture change. Add in movement of the car or boat and it’s body structure and YOU WILL get cracks in the epoxy coating. This now allows moisture to get under the coating and into the grain. Add heat to the moisture and you get mold and rot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally peeled off epoxy “sheets” from wood to find stinky mush underneath. 
 In my opinion, our automobile ancestors knew what they were doing. Wood left as wood can breath and expelled moisture. Cover it and you are creating a home for rot!

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The best treatment for wood in car bodies is using the correct wood. There is a reason Ash was used by the high end car manufacturers. Nothing lasts forever, despite your best effort. I concur with Yachtflame. Wood is a living, breathing thing. Take that ability away, and you're asking for problems. If you want something more permanent, take the wood out and weld in some steel. Ash will not rot if kept dry. It can be coated with light oils to keep it hydrated (natural oils dry out over time) and to make it repel water. How many antique, wood bodied, cars are stored out in the weather today?

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On 1/20/2021 at 4:12 PM, jdome said:

I also buy from Keim Lumber in Charm, OH for rough or milled and if I need something special or special mill work. I buy my wide Poplar boards from Keim but they are a big operation and you have to get to the right salesman or go to the mill shop to talk to someone who knows if it is available or if they have a wide enough log to cut it from in stock. You may have to wait a few weeks to get  20" wide 4/4 boards planed & sanded down to 1/2 or 3/8. They provide delivery up to 150 miles.

Thanks for this info. Poplar in that width is difficult to source.

 

Great discussion on wood for car bodies, lots of great info here.

 

Ron

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The west system, if mixed, applied- used properly it remains flexible for many years and moves with the wood. All these expensive $200k reproduction hackercrafts etc are built that way, multi directional layers of wood laminated with epoxy. Many of these hulls run in salt water which is the most adverse conditions.

 

Ron

 

 

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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12 hours ago, Bloo said:

Poplar isn't very rot resistant, is it?

 

I used it for board and batten siding on a country lake house I built eons ago. I never put any sealer on it as I wanted it to gray out, nobody wants to live in a yellow-greenish house. Vertically installed planks held up great for about 10 years and then we put vinyl siding over it, and they are still ok as far as I know. Horizontal planks like floorboards on the front porch rotted out rather quickly and I replaced them with salt treated.

 

A car body I just restored with poplar sides is 120 years old and the poplar sides were in very good shape. Had torepair one area around the sightglass holes but other wise very good.

 

Ron

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Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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I don't understand this discussion. If you are attempting to replace wood in a car body, there are much more important considerations than rot resistance. Cypress is probably the most rot resistant native wood but is horrible for car bodies. I once made some house trim out of Cypress because it was so rot resistant but it was a total disaster. I could not keep the joints closed because the wood moves so much between the heat and cold and humid and dry cycles.

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Was I the first one who brought it up? I mentioned that I considered buying rot-resistant (and extremely tough) Black Locust If I could get some for my 36 Pontiac rear door rebuild. I couldn't find any, and was a bit gunshy about using it anyway as I am not much of a woodworker and it is reputed to be an extremely difficult wood. I bought a some White Ash at that time as it was available less than 200 miles away, and was the preferred wood for bodies back in the day. I still need to rebuild those doors.

 

I would not assume that Ash is what was always used. Fisher Body had contracts all over the US and Canada, even Washington State! Their volume must have been massive, and I suspect they used whatever they could get their hands on, especially if it was going into a cheaper car. Here in Washington we have mostly evergreen trees, and we certainly aren't a big Ash-producing state. We do have some Alder, although they tend to be small trees, better suited to paper than lumber. I understand Maple is often found in Fisher bodies in Canada, and although I believe Fisher claimed to always use hardwood, I have heard of Southern White Pine being found. The words hardwood and softwood don't mean what most people think, by the way. Those words have more to do with the genetics of the tree. Some hardwoods are really soft, some softwoods are pretty hard.

 

Why would I concern myself with rot resistance? Because those doors will get water in them. It is unavoidable. They have drains, but since there will be a bunch of wood in the bottom of the doors, that isn't as much help as you would think. I will be using the White Ash I bought. The original wood was something else. Looking at the end grain under magnification is a fairly accurate way to identify wood. Looking at the mulch that was once my door wood, under magnification, the rot damage is so severe that a positive ID may not be possible, but it is definitely NOT Ash. The grain structure is not even close. I believe it is Beech, and Beech is a terrible choice for rot resistance.

 

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Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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On 1/23/2021 at 8:43 PM, Bloo said:

I believe it is Beech, and Beech is a terrible choice for rot resistance

If it looks like beech - a light colored wood, it could likely be bleached out poplar, if it's very light, my guess would be poplar. If you have a surviving piece, cut deep into it with a chisel or pocket knife, if it has a slight green hue, poplar.

 

Keep in mind, you're going to take far better care of that than it ever had, and it's lasted this long. I'd use poplar or ash entirely. If I was showing off I'd use Honduras mahogany in the very bottom.😀 All three are very easy to work, poplar being the easiest.

 

-Ron

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What I have is so rotten there is no identification by color, or even really much clue what the joints looked like. It was all laying in the bottom of the door, resembling garden mulch more than wood. The Beech guess was made by slicing the end off one of the crumbly chunks and looking the end grain under high magnification. If I remember correctly, the grain structure was all wrong for Poplar. Initially I was sort of hoping it would turn out to be poplar because some is stocked locally. It is also possible not all of the rotten pieces were the same wood. The lock boards are different, they're Ash, and are up high and on the inside, so they are not rotten. Can you still buy Honduras Mahogany? It's been years since I have seen any.

 

I may be more careful about keeping it dry than some former owners, but this car is no trailer queen or show vehicle. It gets used, and on road trips it is definitely going to get wet. It occasionally gets wet in my driveway if I fail to notice a storm coming. The top is steel and does a reasonable job of keeping water out of the main body structure, but the doors are going to get soaked sometimes. There is just no way to seal them up and still have working windows.

 

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1 hour ago, Bloo said:

Can you still buy Honduras Mahogany? It's been years since I have seen any.

Oh yeah, it's very prevelant. As is Sapele which is African mahogany I think. Philippine mahogany is the one thats very rare now. Sapele is the replacement, not as good but close.

 

1 hour ago, Bloo said:

There is just no way to seal them up and still have working windows.

As I wrote initially just seal whatever you use with west system or cuprinol. Up this thread, the yachtsman had the best suggestion, smiths penetrating epoxy saturation with west system over the top. Be forewarned, that Smiths is some nasty smelling stuff.

 

Ash or poplar and west system 😁

 

Ron

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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On the 1923 Moon I am restoring, we are using the original wood species, White Oak and Ash. Both have similar qualities. The main differences are that White Oak is more waterproof due to little walls inside the pores, but it splits easier than Ash. Make sure you learn the difference between Red and White Oak. Red should not be used since it is not waterproof. Ash is easier to work, accepts nails better, and is more flexible, but will rot quicker.  The general rule that I have found on the Moon is that any wood exposed to the elements should be White Oak, such as the sills, floorboards, and firewall. Everything else on this car, and I think for most cars of the period, is Ash. My recommendation is to keep the wood the original species if you can. Restored cars are generally well taken care of, and If it those woods can last 100 years, there is no reason to pay more for something special. From my research, nothing was used to preserve the wood from the factory other than black paint on the visible parts. This would have been linseed oil based most likely. Everything else would have been bare. For restoration and preservation, I know that many others use epoxy, but epoxy doesn't breathe, as was mentioned. It can keep water out, but when it fails, it will hold moisture in. I have opted for the time tested ship builder's method of mixing up "ship soup." It is equal parts linseed oil, pine tar, and turpentine. Pine tar is a traditional wood preservative and insect repellant, linseed oil dries and repels moisture, and turpentine helps it penetrate. It breathes, is much better than being bare like original, and if it is good enough for ships, it is good for a car. It also smells wonderful, not that that matters. I only use the best linseed oil and pine tar. I use Ottoson brand cold pressed boiled linseed oil from solventfreepaint.com. It is expensive, but superior to the hardware store products. For the tar, I use Auson brand kiln burned pine tar, which you can get through Amazon. It is the purest pine tar that you can buy. My method may be unconventional, but I hope my reasoning justifies it.

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A very timely thread and some great discussion for options for my future project.

Given how my vehicle will likely be used I'm much more concerned about bugs getting in during storage than I am about water related issues.

So the little bore holes are only the tip of the iceberg.

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It's when you see the inside that it gets interesting ! I'm thinking some KwikPoly should do the trick 😁. The 'fresh' damage occurred while it was being transported on an open deck truck and I made a series of really ill-considered decisions; starting with temporarily attaching the body to the frame using beetle infested wood and not fully comprehending why they started using shock absorbers,. All I can say is springs are really springy and, in hindsight, strapping the frame to the deck in addition to the axles would have been a really good idea . ( of course, the better idea would have been to transport the body separately. I was driving behind the deck truck on the freeway when it hit the mother of all pot holes and the frame tried to launch the body into orbit with a resulting giant cloud of wood dust and flapping sheet metal. Nearly soiled myself. Tow truck driver was oblivious and I spent the remaining 5 minutes of the drive repeating  the f-word mantra and cursing my stupidity.

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There is also the 30's answer to undercoating/sound proofing that involves a lovely bitumous material infused with a certain fire retardant that seems to have fallen out of favour ( proudy part of their advertising in their brochure!) . I think I'll sacrifice originality and avoid reinstalling that on the new wood. I have to say that the 'undercoating' did a great job of protecting the metal where it stuck( and boy its it stuck!) . Unfortunately , they applied it after they skinned the wooden frame so it didn't protect  the areas where the water and moisture ended up.

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Brad

 

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Bradsan,

 

Kwik Poly is no longer available. The guy who owned the company died of cancer; the patent reverted back to his partners, who have no interest in making Kwik Poly because they make and market a different product to a different clientele.

 

Remember, although white oak has many good qualities,compared to Ash, it moves quite a bit more through the heat and cold cycle. There were several reasons early car builders used it, but one reason is its stability. Because of its stability, joints stay nice and tight over the long term and bodies remain stable.

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Thanks for the info.

The Kwik Poly comment was definitely tongue in cheek! Most of what I have is definitely far,far beyond rehabilitation. I think about 10% of the original wood is usable as is

I'm going to use white oak for the sills/platform and ash for the rest. The lumber has been waiting its turn for awhile and this thread has helped to confirm my original decision.

Sourcing eastern wood species on the Wet Coast is difficult and expensive . What makes it more interesting is that is that the majority of the original wood pieces are actually built up from thinner stock . Most of that is delaminating , likely due to the hide glue that was used and the ravages of the elements. The problem is that what wood I can source comes skip planed to  a 16th under nominal dimensions so a 4/4 board is actually 15/16th's. So , if I'm going to duplicate a 2" piece of material I need to start with a piece of 5/4 and 4/4 and then plane the crap out of it .  Lots of wood chips in my future.

Leaning towards epoxy as well. Both as a laminating and joint adhesive  product and as a sealer prior to paint.

I realise there are pluses and minuses to each material and each method , I think(hope) this approach will strike the right balance.

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6 hours ago, bradsan said:

I think about 10% of the original wood is usable as is

 

How can you be sure the bugs are all dead?

 

6 hours ago, bradsan said:

Most of that is delaminating , likely due to the hide glue that was used and the ravages of the elements.

 

My (Fisher) body has laminated sills and many other laminated parts. It is probably necessary to control warping I guess, or maybe they were just using every scrap of wood. Don't sell hide glue too short. It has a better hold on the wood itself than most if not all modern glues. There is furniture from Tutankhamen's tomb built with hide glue that still has solid joints. The thing is it can't get too wet or too dry or too hot. It is certainly not ideal for cars, but they may not have had anything else in 1931. My 1936 Fisher body used something else for lamination. The mulch found in my doors, that crumbles in your hands, is still laminated. Obviously it is not the hide glue they put the pieces together with. There was no resorcinol until 1941, as far as I know. Maybe blood glue? I have seen a document from the mid 30s from some university in the midwest describing this new technology. If Fisher had it they must have been early adopters. It requires a kiln, so that could explain why individual parts like a latch pillar or a sill might be laminated with it, but the joints holding the parts together into a body were still hide glue.

 

I laminated some of my Ash door parts with resorcinol. It is waterproof and has no known solvents. It is fiddly to use, but probably even tougher than epoxy.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I sure hope the bugs are gone ! Haven't seen any activity for a long time. No fresh piles of powder .

 

Rescorcinol. Did the WIkipedia thing. From acne cream to resin!

Read some of the instructions and cautions. It does sound pretty fussy  to use , especially the required min working temp of 70F. and the acceptable moisture content of the wood

https://www.christinedemerchant.com/adhesive-glue-resorcinol.html

Could also just use a high quality carpenters glue for laminating.  Most are water- resistant if not waterproof.

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Resorcinol is fussy. It is also good enough to be underwater. Its historic use is in wooden boats below the waterline. Many things are water resistant, few are waterproof. Most glues will fail on fairly short notice if kept underwater. West System epoxy is good enough to use below the waterline if I remember correctly. There are probably a lot of glues that would be OK in a car.

 

Resorcinol (oops I misspelled it in the other post) is still used in wooden airplanes, and aviation suppliers (Wicks, Aircraft Spruce, etc.) are where you find it now.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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It might be worth treating the wood somehow to kill the bugs. I haven't had to worry about it on my project since it is all new wood other than a few pieces. I did read somewhere that bugs don't like wood that has a finish on it. 

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10 hours ago, Bloo said:

Resorinol is fussy. It is also good enough to be underwater. Its historic use is in wooden boats below the waterline. Many things are water resistant, few are waterproof. Most glues will fail on fairly short notice if kept underwater. West System epoxy is good enough to use below the waterline if I remember correctly. There are probably a lot of glues that would be OK in a car.

 

Resorcinol (oops I misspelled it in the other post) is still used in wooden airplanes, and aviation suppliers (Wicks, Aircraft Spruce, etc.) are where you find it now.

 

Resorcinol glue is actually another type of epoxy - the resorcinol is reacted with formaldehyde.  It is excellent in marine use.  Downside is it doesn't fill gaps like conventional epoxy.

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Release agent for hide glue is heat and moisture. Not sure I would use it where exposed to the elements.

For modern times, Titebond III is an outdoor approved all weather glue. Good stuff without getting fancy.

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