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Frame and torsion tube repair FAQ
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busdaddy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:18 am    Post subject: Frame and torsion tube repair FAQ Reply with quote

As buses age and it gets harder to find dry ones sometimes you've gotta make do with what's available, many have asked if the frame was repairable, sure it is but I wouldn't recommend this for someone with no welding experience.
here's a recent repair I did on a 68 doublecab. It's not show or restoration quality by any means, the rest of the truck has already had 2 major rust repair/rebuild hacks already in it's life and the frame finally gave in to mother nature, think of it as preservation. Some day I hope to get pics of a really nice repair, sadly I'm kind of ADD and stopping to take pics messes up my work mojo so this will have to do, cameras don't last long around grinding dust either.

So here's what I started with, the job originally was a rear end rebush and spring plate adjust until I noticed the end of the torsion tube moved up and down as I jacked and pryed Shocked The cause became obvious once I had a look inside:
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This one shows the crack in the tube, upon closer inspection it went from 2:00 to 10:00 on the tube, not good!
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So I start grinding to get a better look, the white powder is bondo dust that was camoflaging a previous repair, someone had skinned the area with a layer of 20 ga and filled the seams to disguise it, nice!, although it was already rough I suspect the quickie patch acellerated the cancer.
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Once some of the frame and the scale was out of the way it became evident this wasn't going to be done this afternoon Confused
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It didn't look that bad from the outside, really, but after being full of dirt, salt and moisture for many years the demons were busy in the dark recesses.
Sorry for the crappy pic but you can make out the crack running up to the top of the tube here:
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Keep grinding and cutting, sooner or later you'll hit solid metal and have enough room to work.....here's the rest of the frame coming off the tube, notice the double layers:
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Noice!, looks like it was full to the top at one time:
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View from the middle of the truck:
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Oh yeah, the frame was hooped all the way up to where the box section stops, yay!
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So.... finally down to the solid stuff and barely enough room to work:
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Luckily I had another frame to make templates off, damn that 12 gauge is a bitch to cut. Start by patching the tube and then fitting the frame in sections:
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More frame, piece by piece:
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Add the reinforcing flange (no razzing on the welds until you've welded satin coat on your back under a bus with an aggravating evil welder Twisted Evil )
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Voila! just like brand old! (well better than a big crack and likely to outlast the rest of the truck) Wink
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I added a drain hole at the bottom of the frame dip and where each outrigger/crossmember meets the frame to hopefully prevent this from happening again.

Edit: Pics arranged in order.
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Last edited by busdaddy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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Westfabulous
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You da man Busdaddy. Nice work. I would have walked away with my head hung low, but your work is inspiring to folks like me.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

really nice job. You should consider opening a shop welding rusty old VW's Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
really nice job. You should consider opening a shop welding rusty old VW's Smile


......and fixing knockety lifters and other various and annoying thumpy T4 noises. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

throw a drain hole in there, they all go soft there for a reason. spray it full of oil while your ait it. I caught mine going there as well, but pathced it in a much more frankenstine way as i don't have the time and cash for a real repair, and the rest of the bus aint long for the world anyways. 2 years and counting tho

my 2 cents you didnt ask for
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fusername wrote:
throw a drain hole in there, they all go soft there for a reason. spray it full of oil while your ait it.

Way ahead of you but I didn't take a pic of it Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW! Very nice work! ...and all lying on your back. I hate welding overhead.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome work and photo coverage. that should help a lot of people. Wink
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77Campmobile
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perfect timing for me as I will be doing this same repair sometime in the next month. Mine is basically just as bad but maybe not as much of the frame away from the tube. We will see once I start grinding. I am currently working on my rotisserie so once that's done I will be doing the repair. Thankfully I won't be lying on my back.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

busdaddy; excellent write up and photos. Great addition to the knowledge base, and will give courage and inspiration to those who think "It can't be done"!
THANKS.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks busdaddy!! ill be pulling the same manuver shortly good to see it done first.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BusterBrown wrote:
busdaddy; excellent write up and photos. Great addition to the knowledge base, and will give courage and inspiration to those who think "It can't be done"!
THANKS.


Agree.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread just went into my favourites. I have a 70 Westfalia that I've been debating on scrapping but this gives me hope that I can fix it.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bvolks wrote:
This thread just went into my favourites. I have a 70 Westfalia that I've been debating on scrapping but this gives me hope that I can fix it.



Ill 2nd that!! i just bought a 70 9 passenger and was scared to death when I saw the rust and then this pops up litterally a day after a big panic!!! THANK YOU!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what gage steel did you use for this repair tryin to find some scraps to do same repair
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Chip Fuchs wrote:
How about Medium size for the smaller ones amongst us??? As you know most fat chicks are being ridden by skinny guys!!!!
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busdaddy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The frame is 12 ga., I used mostly 12 but did go with 14 where I had to do the forming.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: Frame and torsion tube repair Reply with quote

busdaddy wrote:

So.... finally down to the solid stuff and barely enough room to work:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Man, that thing is almost in two pieces! What did you do to ensure correct alignment on welding? Pieces of angle the length of the tube?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The very top was still attached (barely) and there was a tiny bit of the bottom (cracked), just enough to keep it lined up or at least indicate where it went, the upper part of the frame also helped alot to keep it in place.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice work Well done!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i am impressed. i have boxed in the tube before, but a wrecked tube would have scared me right off. it is only rubber bushed on the outside, so i guess alignment is not critical.
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