Once satisfied with the body’s location, guidelines are marked where excess wheelhouse sheetmetal must be trimmed to clear and flow with the curves of the ’32 frame and new sub-rails.
Here for day two, as previously promised, something from the home shop; and Benitez likes it. This Central Pneumatic 3-inch extended-reach cutoff tool won’t completely replace smaller die grinders, as they all have their places. However, for long, straight, controllable cuts, this is an invaluable tool—and it’s priced right at Harbor Freight.
With the new sub-rails trimmed to the desired length we can now clearly see the jog that we must work with, as we’ve chosen to retain the coupe’s original wheelhouses. In this particular instance, all four ends of our new sub-rails must now be modified to blend into the originals.
So once again, Benitez gets to cutting. The idea here is to create a factory-like appearance for the necessary jogs by removing and reversing metal where required.
While the fabrication is still in its early stages here, you can get the feel of what’s being done. The remaining openings will be patched, welded, and smoothly dressed soon enough.
And what’s wrong with this picture? Before firing up the old Miller MIG, somebody should have put their helmet on. Of course Benitez is only tack-welding, and he can do that with his eyes closed, but still, we don’t recommend trying this at home.
After a good once-over-twice with the ol’ 3M Roloc-equipped angle die grinder, the sub-rails are off to the belt sander for an additional bit of cosmetic cleanup.
The two forward ends of our new Steadfast sub-rails are now modified to get in where they fit in. The rearward ends will receive further modifications in place after the new sub-rails are tack-welded to the salvageable sections of the old ones.
Before tack-welding the new pieces to the old, a coat of U-Pol Weld #2 weld-through, copper-rich primer is applied. This step, along with thoughtful seam sealing afterward, will go a long way to ensure that our work will last.
Here’s a close look at the modified rumble lid bracketry, now back in place and ready for testing. The triangular sections and vertical braces have all been shortened to accommodate the higher rear section of the ’32 frame and sub-rails.
Although many measurements have been taken along the way, possible interference from the higher rear frame crossmember was difficult to calculate. At this point, however, we’re pleased to report that the rumble lid swings freely and closes square.
After some straightening of the old coupe’s original floor crossmember, the final decision was indeed made to use it rather than the new one that was supplied with the kit. Here the scribes of a dull Sharpie denote the width modifications to follow.
The rumble lid bracketry will certainly hide these unfinished-looking rearward sections of sub-rail, but even so, there will be no shortcuts taken here. Benitez is a fast fabricator so there’s no reason to ignore what doesn’t show.
Here in this tight corner a telescopic magnet is used to hold the last bit of patchwork in place for welding.
After a quick bit of cleanup with the ol’ angle die grinder once again, our patchwork is all prettied-up. From here it’s time to permanently weld the finished sub-rails to the coupe’s solid, original wheelhouses.
With his head down and helmet on, Jimmy is now committed as final welding gets underway. So far what we’ve witnessed was accomplished in a little less than four workdays—actual shop time may vary.
In retrospect, we still feel that the extra work required to retain the original wheelhouses was appropriate for this particular car. However, those whose hands are less tied by tradition would do well to consider Steadfast’s recommended approach.
Although Jimmy chose the path of most resistance, the Steadfast sub-rail kit has indeed simplified the job.