Went to the Mansfield swap meet looking for more truck parts. I was able to score the radiator support I desperately needed along with a few other goodies. All of them were in the vendor lot furthest from where I parked of course.
One less rusty radiator support. While it has rot where the mounts are, the rest is intact & solid unlike mine. It also looks to have been dented & straightened poorly at some point. But it will work well enough, and I got it and the door parts below for only $80.
Lower door skins & inner door bottoms. These are repro parts that were never installed, but have surface rust form sitting. While I will need to do some serious de-rusting, I couldn’t beat the savings. A new rad support & door patch panels would have been over $250.
Also picked up another GMC grill & grille panel. I didn’t need these parts, but for $40 I couldn’t pass it up. The grille is nicer than the one from AZ, but the grille panel is rotted like my original was. I’m now planning to use the AZ grille panel & this grille on the truck. The AZ grille will likely become garage art along with my chevy grille.
Rot cut out, I left the inner most layer both because it was solid and for reference to make sure everything still lined up for the mounts.
New patch panel bent into the U shape needed and the first welds in place.
Patch cut & bent to match the angle of the original. You can see a pie shaped gap where I mis-measured the patch.
Damaged metal next to mount area cut out. I don’t have any good final pics, but I made a patch that fits not only here, but overlaps the other patch right up to where the bend is to build this back up to the OEM 3 layers.
Hole for radiator support mount drilled out.
Rot on passenger side cut out & patched.
I also drilled the bolt holes in the inner fenders now that I have a good radiator support to use for reference.
Once the welding was done, I rand a wire cup over the radiator support & associate parts and degreased them for paint.
Then the truck got moved out in the driveway so I could use the garage for painting(last time I painted parts outside the wind kicked up and I ended up with bumper braces that looked like 40 grit sandpaper). The tent over the back is because I’m storing most of the front end parts there.
Then the parts got laid out and painted. The silver paint is Masterseries anti-rust paint, the black paint is tractor paint from Tractor Supply. Since that pic I have gotten all the black parts done(baring touchup) and a second coat on some of the silver parts.
The edge of the firewall on the cab needed patching. As I did decide to go with “quick & dirty” repairs to the cab, I decided to cut this flange off and just weld a piece of metal across the gap.
So the rusted mess was cut free, the paint & surface rust were ground back, and a piece of steel was bent into an L and welded across the gap.
This is where I ended up. In addition to being easier, this removes the lip that was trapping mud & water and encouraging rust. The lip is still in place above where the fender sits, so it’ll look normal under the hood once it is re-assembled.
It turned out to be a right pain in the ass to weld the lower parts of this. The weld kept trying to drip off the metal rather than stick in place, and I couldn’t find a good technique to avoid that. So a lot of swearing later I slowly manage to tack it all together.
Once the welding was done and ground down, it was painted with the same tractor paint as the rest of the firewall.
Then the whole firewall got a coat of truck bedliner, which, in addition to being very tough, did a great job of hiding the runs & other issues from painting the firewall.
Once I finish the front end, it will be time to start doing some serious repairs to the cab, however the more I dug into it, the more I realized what a wreck the cab really is.
The rockers have been replaced once, and a lot of the factory bracketry was hacked in the process. The patches also go much further up into the cab that expected.
Between these and the dented roof, I’ve decided the cab isn’t worth trying to get right. Instead I’m keeping an eye out for a better cab at a reasonable price to replace this one with entirely.
In the mean time I’m going to do sort of “Quick & Dirty” repairs to it. Making things solid & safe but not try and get them right. I still have to replace the rockers and some/all of the structure under them as well as patching other issues.
I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to replace the roof skin & drip rails or hold off in hopes that the future cab won’t need that work.
The one sunvisor in the truck was beyond trashed. The garage door opener on it came with the truck, and is now a structural part of the visor.
A ways back I posted that I’d picked up some replacement visors, so I decided it was time to replace at least one. Three screws later and things looked a lot better.
I finally got the last of the welding on the inner fenders completed. I cut the rusted lip off the back and made two patches to replace that area. I tried to make it easier on myself by removing the step down at the back edge(on the left in the picture above. This caused an issues as you can see below. But first I needed to patch the other section that you can see cut out above. There is 3 bends here that needs to be carefully made so everything lines up. I got a brain wave and measured the lip at the top of a junk fender I had. Everything appeared to match so I cut out a section. I flipped the piece over and tested it, the bends are an exact match. I carefully trimmed it and the fender edge to fit and tacked it into place. Here it is tacked in place, please ignore the terrible welds from forgetting to turn on the shielding gas on the MIG. Below is the piece with the welding finished & ground down.
As I mentioned above, the lazy way I decided to fix the back edge bit me in the butt. I tested fitted an outer fender and realized I’d forgotten this little flange that fits over this spot.
I pondered just cutting the flange off on the outer fender, but decided I’d rather have it so any fender could fit here. So I cut the corner where it overlapped, flipped it over and welded it in place.
Then the repaired battery box brace was welded back on, and the repairs to the inner fenders were done.
I chucked a wire cup brush in my angle grinder and ground all the loose rust off the inner fenders and gave them a good scrubbing to get any last bits of grease off.
Then they got two coats of Masterseries anti-rust paint. After they dried I gave the m a coat of black paint and a coat of truck bed liner. The finished liners then got installed, which will show up in another post.
I decided I was tired of welding, so I worked on something else for a change. I decided to paint the now exposed parts of the frame & firewall. Normally the firewall should be matched to the body color on these trucks, but since I am not sure what shade of dark green I ‘ll be using I decided to paint the firewall to match the rest of the sheetmetal in the engine compartment so I didn’t have to worry about it matching the outside.
I ground down the surface rust on the bits of the frame I could easily reach now that the sheetmetal was off the nose. And also ground down the rust on the firewall, scuffed & degreased everything in preparation for some paint.
There is still rot to be dealt with on the firewall edges, but I figured if I paint everything but that area I’ll have the option to do some re-assembly before I get to fixing the rot.
I also sanded down & rattle-canned the heater box semi-gloss black. This is just to make it presentable until I get around to tearing it down and rebuilding it with new gaskets, motor, & core.
And here is the frame & firewall freshly painted gloss black. I used tractor paint as it is supposed to have good durability. The frame came out great. However despite looking good in pictures, the firewall has a lot of runs & brush marks. I let it dry for a few days anyway, and decided to cover it in textured truck bedliner to hide the flaws.
With the front end torn down, I could finally weld up the front of the passenger inner fender. As I don’t know what this was supposed to look like as mine is completely gone, so I went with something that looked right. I still need to measure & re-drill the two bolt holes.
Then I drilled out the spot welds for the bracket that supports the battery tray so I could fix some rust caused by crud trapped between it and the inner fender. I think the spot weld cutter is my new favorite tool.
The offending rust holes, you can see welding slag from my attempts to patch it without removing the bracket.
New patches welded in, for some reason I could no get a decent pic of these. I think all the shiny metal confused my camera.
I also cut off the nut on the bracket that had a snapped bolt stuck in it and welded in a replacement.
Next up, the rust on the rear of the panel.
As I was tearing down the front end, I found a screw up in my prior welding work. I didn’t notice at the time that the heat of my welding had warped the second patch downwards on the passenger side. It is significant enough that the bolt hole for the rad support would be too close to the top to actually get a bolt in.
The fender flange also has a similar bend.
I ground & cut the welds along the side, bent the whole thing upwards, and tacked it in the right place. There is now a gap along that edge, so re-welding it was extra fun.
Much closer now. The outer corner is still a bit low, but I should be able to fix that with some hammer work once the inner fender comes off.