A truck like this can be given a cleaner appearance by removing the drip moldings, and it’
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Q. Thanks for all the info and great column! How do I go about removing my drip rails on my ’66 Chevy truck? I want to smooth this area, and want to get the right information before I start!
Via the Internet
A.Removing the drip rails is not that difficult to do. First, you cut the drip rails off, close to the sheet metal of the cab. Next, sand the raw edge that’s left until it is flush with the roof. Last, you weld the seam closed. It’s a job you can probably do in a full day.
This will be a lot of welding, and you should take special precautions to keep the heat as low as possible to reduce the amount of warping you’ll get. I recommend welding just one spot at a time, then moving about 10 inches away, and making another tiny spot weld. Go along the whole seam using this technique, and when everything has cooled down to room temperature, then add a second bit of weld to the first, then to the second, and so on. Keep repeating this procedure until the seam is welded completely, then sand the weld smooth, coat with plastic body filler, and sand the surface smooth in preparation for painting.
A lot of people ask if it’s OK to skip weld this sort of joint, and I do not recommend it—the entire joint should be welded solid, otherwise you may see cracking in the paint months or years down the road.
Q. I have a ’56 Ford truck that I would like to upgrade to have safety belts. I’d like to add the three-point modern style seat belts, so I need to have three mounting points. I’m planning on welding in a 3/16-inch thickness angle iron to the floor, with a hole to attach the belt mount points. The shoulder mount point is a little harder. I could weld a plate below the window, or perhaps a bar across the bottom of the rear window that all the shoulder belts could attach to. I will be TIG welding the mounts using what I’ve learned from your TIG DVDs.
Since I’ll be using this truck as a daily driver, it sure would be nice to keep my head off that solid metal dash in case of an accident. Any ideas you could offer would sure be appreciated.
Steven Douglas Olson,
Orem, Utah Via the Internet
A. Designing for safety is always a very good idea.
Here’s a website, developed for specialty vehicle builders in Australia, which addresses a few of the issues you asked about. There are some drawings at the end of the document that do a great job of illustrating some of the important considerations for properly mounting the lap belts, such as the recommend angles the belts should run, in both directions, and the details for properly reinforcing the mounting points for the attachment bolts:
I’m not aware of any such literature that’s available from a source in the US, but the Australians are just as safety-conscious as we are, and they have done a better job of listing helpful safety specifications for seat belts (and many other safety items) for owner-modified vehicles.
This document doesn’t say much about mounting shoulder harnesses. I think your idea of adding a sturdy tube behind the seats and below the rear window is a good idea. Judging from what I see on new cars, the ideal position for the top mount of the belt should be just slightly higher than the occupant’s shoulder. You might need to add a riser to the cross tube to get the shoulder belt attachment to this height, and keep the cross brace below the bottom edge of the rear window.
For the cross brace, I would use good-sized round tube (perhaps 1 5/8-inch OD, with a 0.090-inch or .125-inch wall thickness). There are many ways to mount this tube, but welding it to the body sheet metal is not a good idea. I’d probably put bends in each end of the tube, so the ends come up to meet the rear door jambs. I might even weld a piece of 1/8-inch steel plate to the door jamb to reinforce the attachment of the tube. With careful design, some or all of this could be concealed with the upholstered panels to the sides and the rear of the seat.CT