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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone interested in a build your own flat fender body project?

With a steel aftermarket body kit now approaching $3000 and an Aqualu aluminum body now upwards of $6000, I have to wonder if there isn't a better way to get people in the seat of a 'new' flat fender?

A lot of the original body parts are getting much harder to find and are not in the best shape these days. Good examples of original steel are getting harder and harder to find, especially at a good price.

What I am thinking is a basic aluminum (or steel?) flat fender body that could be constructed for a decent price. Since the body is going to basically have to be designed from scratch anyways, why not improve upon it. I think one key to this idea is going to be keeping the tub SIMPLE. I don't envision this as an inch for inch replication of a stock tub. I think if the body is simplified and improved in certain areas it can be constructed for MUCH less money than a new aftermarket OEM style replacement.

So? Thoughts?

This is basically the next evolution of my frame design. Making the old small light nimble flat fender Willys concept available to all....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, that is cool. That thread makes me feel like a hack.
 

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I tried something similar to this when I was into scale rc crawlers. It's not uncommon for folks to use those foil pans you cook a turkey in for the material. I gotta tell ya, I sucked at it, like hardcore. I've fabbed a few patch panels for my axe/shovel slots but they are nothing to brag about.

I'd love to see it done but to get prices reasonable it'd take dies and the press to be able to stamp the parts. We have anyone here with the ability to maybe make a mold to maybe get some DIY dies made?
 

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"Jpet" on The CJ2A Page, pretty much has the dies to make a complete body out of sheetmetal. Ive got a few cad drawings for panels from him.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's how your thread makes me feel... Lol
Thanks man. All my stuff is just for fun. I would say most of my build it kinda Rat Rod fab style stuff.

So on this body project....

I'm thinking a SIMPLE tub. No parts pressing required. Basically an aluminum plate fab version? I don't see why this isn't possible. You would have to loose some of the cool little details like the shovel and axe indents.

I see two areas that would be hard to fab on the tub.

1- The rear corners. To do these accurately could be very challenging. The right way to do it would be in a press brake with the proper radius tooling ( about a 3" radius ). I am sure there are other ways to do it.

2- The cowl. This is a complex shape and may be a complex curve. I think the original is stamped and that is not going to be an option for most people. I am thinking the firewall and dash could be used for a profile and then the cowl basically bent and welded over the profile to form the cowl.

My basic questions....

What dimensions do you guys think should stay stock vs what do you think should be changed. A lot of people want the seats moved back, tub stretched, etc. I think to make this work there is going to have to be one base tub model that people can work from. If they want something different they will need to tackle that themselves.

I think retaining the stock(ish) shaped cowl so that a stock windshield will work is important.

Keeping the front of the body stock enough to run stock or aftermarket fenders, hood, and grill would make things the easiest. I would also like people to be able to build those parts, but there are some more complicated issues.
 

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Hi, I've thought about some thing along these lines to fab a "new" tub as well.

What about something like this, home made corner press....

do-it-myself Wrangler Crusher Corners - OFN Forums

I know he's using it for armor, but it seems to me that the same idea could be applied to the sheet metal, for the corners.

That would work for the rear corners.

Maybe just form the sheet over the firewall profile for the cowl???

Interested in seeing how this goes.....

-Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi, I've thought about some thing along these lines to fab a "new" tub as well.

What about something like this, home made corner press....

do-it-myself Wrangler Crusher Corners - OFN Forums

I know he's using it for armor, but it seems to me that the same idea could be applied to the sheet metal, for the corners.

That would work for the rear corners.

Maybe just form the sheet over the firewall profile for the cowl???

Interested in seeing how this goes.....

-Jeff
Yup, that is how I would probably make the corners at home.

A lot of people don't have that amount of tools. Being able to build the tub without a large investment in tools would be nice. A welder is probably a given, and most likely a welder that can run a spool gun for aluminum.

As an alternative way to make the rear corners. You can buy 6" aluminum tubing in 1/8-1/2" wall pretty easy. Out of one length of tubing you could get two 90 degree corners easy enough, even with saw kerf. All you would need to do then is have a simple wood jig to let you join the two panels at a 90 degree angle. That could be made out of a few pieces of plywood?

On the cowl. Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking. The firewall would form the forward profile and the dash would form the rear profile. Then just form the cowl by starting to weld the panel on in the center. Then bend it down and weld every few inches to form the shape. Perhaps a cheap ratchet strap could be used to help pull the panel down on each profile?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Some more ideas to ponder....

-Does the firewall need to have the double bend slope at the bottom? If it fits I think just a normal 90 degree firewall to floor angle would work best. I think the only reason the big slope is there is for the under floor mounted pedals which just about everyone doesn't use ( especially in custom builds ).

-Every transmission tunnel is probably going to have to be different. I don't think there is a one size fits all solution. If you can build a tub you can build a tunnel. To make the initial building easier I say just have a flat floor and firewall. People can mod the firewall and floor for there specific engine, transmission, and transfer case choice.

-Does the step in the rear floor need to be a 90 degree step? If you tilted it back slightly to match the slope of the wheeltub this could make another 1-2" of seat room depending on the final seat position.

-If the rear wheel tubs where moved inboard this would create a LOT more room for proper upright rear shock placement. It would possibly eliminate the ability to take a stock rear seat. Not too many people run flat fenders with rear seats however.

-Rear wheel tub height. This is an easy place to gain about 2-3" of tire clearance. I don't see any downside to raising the rear tubs. If you want a more stock look just don't cut the rear wheel openings as tall. You will also be able to fit a longer rear shock with the tubs being taller.

-Tailgate or no tailgate? Eliminating the rear tailgate simplifies the fabrication of the tub I think. If someone just HAS to have a tailgate they can figure it out! :)

-Rear floor step height. I think the rear floor needs to be lowered about 1/8-1/4" to match up to a 4" stacked rail frame perfectly? My MB tub was a little wierd with the double step in the floor. Anyone know what the step is on a cj2/3 tub?

-Rear tub height. If you slightly shorten the height of the rear tub you could have the rear of a stacked rail frame stick directly out the rear of the body. This would let you use just about any bumper position you wanted, be it flush like the stock crossmember or slightly extended like a normal bumper.

-Leave the rear wheel openings blank? That way people could cut whatever radius they wanted for whatever axle position and tire size I think it would make the tub easier to fab also with a longer bottom on the tub side panels.

-To stretch the tub or not to stretch the tub? If you leave it stock you can use just about any stock top. If you stretch it you pretty much limit yourself to a custom top if you want one. I don't think stretching the tub is that big of a deal, but it would call for a B-set of prints and certain parts for sure. I think stretching the tub too much kinda ruins the concept of the flat fender, but I have to admit that a few more inches in the belly section of the tub and door opening would make a big difference. I am thinking like 2-3" would be more than enough? Everyone always seems to make like 6"+ changes and I think that can start to look a little funny :flipoff2:

-Blank dash? I think a blank dash would be the most universal. If you have to have a glovebox you can add it. Most of that stuff seems to get in the way of A-pillars on the rollcage anyways.

-Shorter dash? Make the dash shorter top to bottom. I think this would add a bit of knee room sometimes. Even a 1-1.5" shorter dash would probably make a big difference?

Anyone else have any more ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This thread needs more pictures....

 

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I think a shop press is more affordable to most than a spool gun. This would be a very valuable tool in an undertaking like this. I am going to be building a set of dies similar to what was in the link above, but I think those would be overkill for my needs. I'm planning on rebuilding my corners and moving my wheel opening back and up to stretch my wheelbase without a comp cut. I think that you could use this same set of dies to form the sharpest bend of the cowl and the more gentle arc could be brought into shape over an underlying skeleton. I like the idea of a really strong cowl structure for a dash tie in for the rollcage. This same thought could be also used in the rear corners to stiffen them up for more bashability and again tie the cage in. Since most early jeeps have the tub hard mounted the frame and body could be designed to act almost like a unibody with the places where strength is needed (i.e. rollcage mounts, seat mounts, etc.). By designing it all like this from scteatch like this you could have more parts do double duty and therefore be simpler, lighter, and more compact.Although aluminum is great for the weight savings and rust protection, the average builder doesn't always have the tools or skill to work aluminum. I have a spool gun and I still suck at welding aluminum much thinner than 1/8" with it. Just my 2 cents but after repairing as much rust, and doing my mods I really have thought about doing this many times.
 

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I remember reading a writeup, I think on offroad.com or something similar, and a guy built his own flatfender jeep body replica. He was using it to build a jeep rockcrawling buggy, but kept most of the design intact. He simply made square tube frame and then sheeted it in. Simple and strong. He built the whole tube that way. Do they make aftermarket grills for jeeps?

Kevo
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think a shop press is more affordable to most than a spool gun. This would be a very valuable tool in an undertaking like this. I am going to be building a set of dies similar to what was in the link above, but I think those would be overkill for my needs. I'm planning on rebuilding my corners and moving my wheel opening back and up to stretch my wheelbase without a comp cut. I think that you could use this same set of dies to form the sharpest bend of the cowl and the more gentle arc could be brought into shape over an underlying skeleton. I like the idea of a really strong cowl structure for a dash tie in for the rollcage. This same thought could be also used in the rear corners to stiffen them up for more bashability and again tie the cage in. Since most early jeeps have the tub hard mounted the frame and body could be designed to act almost like a unibody with the places where strength is needed (i.e. rollcage mounts, seat mounts, etc.). By designing it all like this from scteatch like this you could have more parts do double duty and therefore be simpler, lighter, and more compact.Although aluminum is great for the weight savings and rust protection, the average builder doesn't always have the tools or skill to work aluminum. I have a spool gun and I still suck at welding aluminum much thinner than 1/8" with it. Just my 2 cents but after repairing as much rust, and doing my mods I really have thought about doing this many times.
Good bunch of comments....

Your pretty much going to have to have a welder to make a tub. A low end spool gun is only about $200. I think people are going to have to decide if they want an aluminum or steel tub.

Aqualu uses 5/32nd aluminum material for there tubs, thicker than 1/8". Welding aluminum like that isn't super bad. I don't think you would want it much thicker or thinner.

With a steel tub I think you would have to add a lot more bracing than aluminum. Your probably going to want to make the tub out of 14-18 gauge material. That stuff just isn't that stiff. At that point I think your talking a lot of forming like rolling beads and making flanges on panel joints.

I agree that a press would be a great tool to have around for this. I just wonder if people would think that was too much? Having to build special tooling for two bends is difficult to swallow even for me, and I love tools. I can see the press being great but the corner tooling a luxury.
 

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omix-ada repops all of them mb gpw 2a 3a 3b
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I remember reading a writeup, I think on offroad.com or something similar, and a guy built his own flatfender jeep body replica. He was using it to build a jeep rockcrawling buggy, but kept most of the design intact. He simply made square tube frame and then sheeted it in. Simple and strong. He built the whole tube that way. Do they make aftermarket grills for jeeps?

Kevo
The square tube frame is a project in itself requiring tube bending capability. I have thought about going that route on some projects. The big downside to me is that bending square tube on a non-mandrel bender generally always leaves the weird cavity on the back of the bend.

I also have to wonder how the cowl would end up working. You basically need two different radius bends and then the sheet wouldn't bolt to the 'flat' of square tubing...

Do you have a link to the build?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
omix-ada repops all of them mb gpw 2a 3a 3b
Right, for like $2000+ for a stock tub? I'm thinking along the lines of a flat pack tub kit that you could get from Ikea :) Or maybe you could get a full size set of templates printed at a sign shop to cut out with a jig saw at home.

And the stock tubs kinda suck :flipoff2: Take the concept and make it better...
 

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I understand your point about the making a set of dies that only get used a couple of times. Some one on this board I think in hardcore built a set of dies for a HF 20 ton press out of some 6" pipe and a couple of pieces of square tube. I think a guy could make his parts them cut the welds and reuse the parts for something else. My spool gun was around $500 and its a lower end Tweco, and the welder to run it was close to $2000. I guy with a $900 welder and a $150 HF press could do a lot of the work with some ingenuity. Ideally a guy could partner up with someone where one person makes some of the parts whereas the other makes different parts. I agree with making the panels out of 14 gauge possibly out of 16 gauge. With 16 gauge I think a sheetmetal brake like you made you could build some panels pretty easy. In the bed area you can make stiffeners out of some paired up angle welded back to back to make a "T". I also would build a tube skeleton and then skin it. I did this on a hot rod, pretty simple, and with that planned out strong points like I talked about earlier you could transfer roll cage force, hanging petal force, dash, etc. to the rigid frame. At 6'3" I'm trying to maximize interior space and putting the metal where it needs to be for strength.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I understand your point about the making a set of dies that only get used a couple of times. Some one on this board I think in hardcore built a set of dies for a HF 20 ton press out of some 6" pipe and a couple of pieces of square tube. I think a guy could make his parts them cut the welds and reuse the parts for something else. My spool gun was around $500 and its a lower end Tweco, and the welder to run it was close to $2000. I guy with a $900 welder and a $150 HF press could do a lot of the work with some ingenuity. Ideally a guy could partner up with someone where one person makes some of the parts whereas the other makes different parts. I agree with making the panels out of 14 gauge possibly out of 16 gauge. With 16 gauge I think a sheetmetal brake like you made you could build some panels pretty easy. In the bed area you can make stiffeners out of some paired up angle welded back to back to make a "T". I also would build a tube skeleton and then skin it. I did this on a hot rod, pretty simple, and with that planned out strong points like I talked about earlier you could transfer roll cage force, hanging petal force, dash, etc. to the rigid frame. At 6'3" I'm trying to maximize interior space and putting the metal where it needs to be for strength.
As a side note. I had someone about 6'2-3" in my flat fender the other day. Surprisingly he fit pretty well. Not ideal but for a stock dimension tub not bad at all. The lowered reclined seating position really helps I think.

I think aqualu uses some solid aluminum bar stock, 1x2 I think on the bottom of there tubs to provide structure.

The steel frame idea is viable but I think it just compounds the amount of work to make a tub? I guess that depends on how much tube your talking about. It also introduces the cost of a tubing bender and dies, probably more than one?

Affordable welder....

Northern Industrial Welders Hybrid MIG/Stick 200 230V Multiprocess Flux Cored/MIG/Arc Welder with Included 10-Ft. Spoolgun — 140/200 Amp Output | Multiprocess Welders| Northern Tool + Equipment

$650, 200amp/220V, spool gun, mig gun, and gas kit. I build my entire Willys with it's little 110V brother last time around.

I think keeping it as simple as possible will be the best in the end? I can't decide if that is aluminum, steel, tube frame and skin, or whatever....
 
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