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Old 05-09-2010, 08:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Welding a custom rectangular tube truck frame???

Guys. . .I originally posted this in another forum section but was told to post it in the "Jeep" forum because there are a number of you guys that have already done this. . .here's the original post:

I'm thinking of building my own 2"x4" (or 2"x6") rectangular tube frame for a 1949 Jeep Willy's Pick-Up and I would like some advice.

Here are my questions:

1) Seems like most truck frames are slightly lower in the middle (I'm guessing there are two main reasons why. . .driveline angle and overall height of the vehicle). Other than the two reasons above, is there any reason not to just use straight frame rails? My main concern would be the height of the transfer case and the driveline angles that would cause and not the height of the vehicle. . .in my application the body mounts can be shortened significantly to lower the height of the cab (and the bed, fenders, and grill)

2) If it would be better to make a frame with a lower center section what would be the best way for me (aka I don't have a bender that can bend 2"x4" rectangular tubing. . .especially the "hard" way) to make the frame rails?

I was thinking along the lines of miter cuts on the frame rails and just butt welding the rectangular tubing together and then using "diamonds" to reinforce the butt welds. . .but I don't know if that will be strong enough. I'm not worried about the quality of my welds (I went to night classes and got a welding degree so that I would know how to weld correctly and with confience) but what I am worried about is the intrensic strenght of the butt weld and wether the "diamonds" will be enough reinforcement for the butt weld? I could always add angle gussets to the inner corners of the miter cuts as well to help.

What do you guys think???

Normally I would just use round tubing and bend it, but I want to use rectangular tubing because the frame is an integral part of the look of the old Willy's truck and I want to maintain that same basic look.

By the way here's why I'm thinking of building my own frame. . .we have a 1949 Jeep Willy's Pick-Up truck that I'm about done building (for the first time anyway. . .I'm not even done yet and I'm already thinking about things I would have done different and things to upgrade). . .this was my first "from the ground up" 4x4 build and I learned a lot!!!

There are two things that I am most not happy about concerning the current state of things with this rig:

1) the leaf springs. . .not that I'm unhappy with the leaf springs themselves, but I'm unhappy with the fact that they are in the way of my being able to run the steering linkage the way that I would prefer. . .and

2) the front axle. . .it's not horrible, it's a HD D44 full-float 8-lug. . .this truck isn't really all that heavy (in my opinion) but with 40" tires on it I'm concerned about the longevity of the D44 and I don't want to throw money at it and then end up going with a D60 a little bit down the road. . .

. . .so, I was thinking that I would start looking for a good D60 housing (or buying a new D60 housing. . .either way I would be assembling it myself because I like to do everything I can myself and I learn a lot more by doing it myself than by paying someone else to do it. . .pluse it's fun!!!) to replace the D44 and then going to a 3-link front and a 4-link rear. . .and I decided that's what I want to do and I figured that if I'm going to go to the trouble I would go ahead and build the frame so that everything is right where I want it from the get go. . .plus I can continue to enjoy the Willy's in it's current state while I'm building the "new" Willy's.

Thanks for your help guys!!!
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Old 05-10-2010, 04:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Im sure the comments above were very helpful.
The tubing and butt welds will be fine. Use diamonds and fish mouths for strength and on higher angle pieces, you can gusset as well. I have never done a custom frame, so my thought may be off, but I believe most have a lower center section for two reasons. 1st, lower center of gravity where you can and 2nd, to get increased wheel/axle articulation area. If the frame was straight the whole way down, your axle movement would be greatly reduced. Not to be smart, but do search and you will see some really nice custome frame work on the site.
As far as the axle, depends on how and where you wheel it. I had D44s under my CJ and ran 38.5 boggers on stock axle shafts and it did fine. 40 will be pushing it, but if you run it on the easy side, they should hold up. Or if you break, then move up to chromoly, better joints etc. The 60 stuff gets pricey quick. High steer arms, locker, gears, steering linkage...blah blah blah. Before you know it, you have 2-3k in one axle. You don't have to swap wheels, but most of us do, when we go from 1/2 ton stuff to 8 lug. Good luck and post some pictures of your progress.
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks Malibu. . .

. . .luckily I've got an 8-lug front and rear already so I won't have to swap wheels.

I'll do a search and see what I come up. . .

. . .still open to comment from others as well.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks FordFacist. . .that frame looks great and that's exactly how I was thinking of doing it as well.

I still have to finish reading the entire thread, but I really appreciate you sharing your build!!!
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:04 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Another custom build frame:

iispms' TJ:
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showt...671&highlight=
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Old 05-16-2010, 02:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the link Guidolyons. . .checking it out now.
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So question here.

What's the legality of having a fully boxed frame on the street?
Is there a liability issue if you get into an accident?

Just wondering.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Are you asking about a frame that you made yourself or a C-frame that you boxed?

Shouldn't matter either way. . .look at all the musclecars running Art Morrison frames (others make rectangular tube frames as well) and they are street-legal. . .you don't have to tell anyone anything, would be the same for boxing your own frame. . .

. . .as long as you have a VIN number it doesn't matter, although there are some states which have safety inspections and I know from my time living in Hawaii that they have something called a rebuild tag. . .that's mostly for the huge "Maui Built" trucks running around out there.

I'm sure it's different for every state and maybe even different for some counties within the the state, but for the most part if it's a "stock-style" frame you should be OK. . .just too bad for those people happy running around with a non-reinforced unibody car if you were to get in accident, heck the insurance companies should give you a discount because your vehicle is going to sustain less damage that the crap coming out of the factories now!!!
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Good point Joe.

I kind of liken it to having a bullbar versus one of those shrub gaurds on cars being built now.

If you get into an accident with a real bumper are you liable

or

if you built a frame with no crumple zones and zero saftey features are you liable if another person hits you and sustains life threatening injuries?
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:05 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malibu View Post
As far as the axle, depends on how and where you wheel it. I had D44s under my CJ and ran 38.5 boggers on stock axle shafts and it did fine. 40 will be pushing it, but if you run it on the easy side, they should hold up. Or if you break, then move up to chromoly, better joints etc. The 60 stuff gets pricey quick. High steer arms, locker, gears, steering linkage...blah blah blah. Before you know it, you have 2-3k in one axle. You don't have to swap wheels, but most of us do, when we go from 1/2 ton stuff to 8 lug. Good luck and post some pictures of your progress.
You must wheel very easy, I snapped my stock Dana 60 shafts with 35" tires in a CJ5

40 form 38.5 is only a 4% increase in torque.
Weight and traction are the biggest contributors to axle breakage, then I would go with tire size.

60 are much cheaper than building a 44 first just to find out that it is not strong enough.
I wouldn't even say D60 parts are that much more than D44.
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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D60 parts probably are not that much more expensive than D44 parts. . .it's the axle its self that is WAY more expensive (and harder to find. . .at least used in the junkyard). . .

. . .I have no plans of upgrading the D44. . .if it breaks onward and upward. . .I'm thinking of building a steering 14-bolt like they did on Xtreme 4x4. . .14-bolts are easy to find and CHEAP!!!

The only other option (at least in my book) would be to upgrade to Rockwells. . .but then we're talking MAJOR $$$
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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. . .back to the frame thing. . .I don't think a 1949 Jeep Willy's pick-up has any more crumple zones or safety features than a rectangular tube frame would have. . .I don't think crumple zones had even crossed anyones mind back then. . .

. . .plus, your bumper is the crumple zone, you should always make the bumper weaker than the frame, much easier and cheaper to build (or buy) a new bumper than straighten a bent frame.
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