: Talk to me about frames

05-15-11, 10:28 AM
We have a Fleetwood 75 based hearse with 45 years of patina. (1966)
Unfortunately, part of that patina is frame rust, just behind the front wheels.

I'm researching solutions that will keep the car living for a good long time. I have a couple of shops locally that claim to be able to chop out the cancer and replace with new metal, but that assumes we catch ALL of the rust.

If a "new" frame and modifications is within 200% the price of the spot repair, it seems like that would be the better way to go, but what are the odds I'd find a healthy, 45 year old, 21 foot long frame? (slim and none, I'd imagine)

What are the odds a new frame could be fabricated for less than stupid amounts of money? This car is worth a $10,000 restoration, NOT a $50,000 one.

05-15-11, 11:13 AM
Yea, I don't see a new frame being anywhere close to only 200% of the spot repair. Id patch if they could make it look like nothing happened.

05-15-11, 11:16 AM
yeah and you can always paint the whole thing in por 15 or similar after it's patched :)

05-15-11, 02:32 PM
yeah and you can always paint the whole thing in por 15 or similar after it's patched :)

It's not the appearance that concerns me, it's the stuff that's structural. I'd say 90% of the frame has surface rust that can be ignored, the bad stuff, however...

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3582/5706383603_013d238e05.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/33743995@N00/5706383603/)

And back in the other direction, you can see the framerail is straight and the weld isn't popped:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2621/5723428946_fd38aaac58.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/33743995@N00/5723428946/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/33743995@N00/5723428946/) by Matey-O (http://www.flickr.com/people/33743995@N00/), on Flickr

05-15-11, 02:46 PM
Is this a stock Fleetwood 75 frame under the car? Or did the conversion company lengthen it and modify it?

If its a stock Fleetwood 75 frame, finding another complete, rust free frame is within realm. You'd probably have to travel to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona or California, and you might end up having to buy a whole Fleetwood 75 limo parts car to get the frame.

You are definitely going to have to take the body off the frame either way. Really I could see a competent fabricator might be the way to go if the desert southwest is 2000 miles from where you live. He could weld in a patch, strip the frame and paint it, make it look brand new again.

05-15-11, 02:57 PM
It's an S&S Victoria Hearse, so I'm pretty sure it's a normal, not-modified, frame. Dealing with a seperate parts-car would be problematic in our sub-division. I only get away with the hearse because it fits fully in the garage.

05-15-11, 07:06 PM
por 15 will stop rust from spreading and protect the frame :)

05-15-11, 10:14 PM
Finding a parts-car frame is a fool's errand for a Series 75 or professional car chassis. If the rest of the frame is salvagable, and you really want to restore the car, have the offending area cut out and a new section welded in. Then have the whole thing media blasted and double coated with POR 15, inside and out. Guaranteed the frame will never rust again.

05-15-11, 10:35 PM
Its the frame-off part we're trying to avoid. The interior (headliner, load floor, etc) is perfect.

05-16-11, 12:32 AM
You'll have to lift the body off the frame to repair it. There's really no other way. And at that point, you may as well do it right.

05-16-11, 02:44 AM
You'll have to lift the body off the frame to repair it. There's really no other way. And at that point, you may as well do it right.


05-16-11, 07:25 AM
Yeah, I think the biggest fear is from the wife, who's seen some (to be polite) less than exemplary examples of restoration.

Now where to find 42 linear feet of storage?

(yeah, I know it'll take significantly more than that. ;) )

05-16-11, 06:31 PM
If it's only the bottom area that's rusted and the rest is OK you can have that fixed up without taking the body off. Have some body shops look at it.

05-17-11, 08:06 AM
If it's only the bottom area that's rusted and the rest is OK you can have that fixed up without taking the body off. Have some body shops look at it.

agreed...and I used to do this kind of work

bit hard to tell exactly what you have got but looking at ya pics (and it's a long way from Adelaide to see in the greatest of detail) but yeh, if it's only on the bottom show a welder you trust.

05-17-11, 02:04 PM
I _suspect_ it's just the bottom, based on looking up in the framerail with a borescope, but I haven't been able to ascertain if the outside top of the framerail is bad. I'd be willing at this point to just close my eyes and spot-repair, but it seems like every time I look at it, I find something else.

05-18-11, 12:56 AM
And that's the thing. If you only fix the bottom without really knowing what else is going on, you'll always be wondering and you'll never truely be comfortable with the car.

05-18-11, 08:21 AM
I haven't commented because I can't get a good feel for that rust from the pics. I suspect it is just the bottom of the frame that is weak. The trick is to fix it so it looks like it was never fixed. If it looks like it has been fixed then the overall value of the car is going to go way down. If it is worth $10-20k then I would look into finding another frame and splicing the front part onto your existing frame. That would be much more involved but easier to disguise. It's a tough call

05-18-11, 06:23 PM
I guess the hit to value all comes down to what someone is willing to pay for it. It's been in an accident at one point in it's life that wrinkled the drivers quarterpanel, pushed the rear tail light in about a quarter-inch, and took a little finagling on the leaf-springs to get the car to sit level. We paid $8k for it four years ago.

FWIW, this is the rest of it...it seems worthy of saving. ;)


05-18-11, 08:04 PM
I think its worth it, love the interior. Just spot repair until your ready to do the full repair.

05-19-11, 07:37 AM
After using the rust removal bath on a section of the frame, I've come across a few realizations:

1. If you can't take a grinder to the loose rust, the chemical bath can't touch it...there's pretty much no visible evidence in a change on the parts of the framerail I couldn't get to to knock the heavy stuff off (There's a fuel line running along the inside of the rail...it's as nasty as the framerail and I didn't want to get close to it. You can actually see a few spots on the bottom of the rail that have been brought down to bare metal (the silver, scabby, looking spots here):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2318/5736708572_0c77d53cc0.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/33743995@N00/5736708572/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/33743995@N00/5736708572/) by Matey-O (http://www.flickr.com/people/33743995@N00/), on Flickr

2. She's gonna haveta go under the knife for the part of the seam that's been split due to the rust.

3. This will probably not repair things long term, it'll add years to the life of the vehicle, but sooner or later, with the surface rust on the rest of the frame, something else will turn cancerous.

4. This car isn't worth a heroic effort to fix everything right. It might be where the family is in the grand scheme of things, but I can't see throwing $20k at a car that I won't see back, when I've got kids to send to college.

That won't keep me from doing what I can, though. :hammer:

05-19-11, 07:58 AM
Or you can be like my dad

"Son, you better find your own way to college because I'm just not paying for the sh*t."
"Okay Dad..."