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Projects '51 Merc Kustom Project

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by michaelvz51, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    The Carson top idea is similar to what I am going for, thank you for the comments. More to come soon
     
    1950sled likes this.
  2. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    I am trying to give back to the HAMB again by showing what I am learning while building my car. I decided today to just go for it and try to fit the trim I have on my car and below are pictures of the challenge and how I have made it work.
    The pictures are of the Driver Side trim which I was successful in modifying and of the Passenger Side trim which I have not completed yet, but it will be easy after doing the Driver Side (its always easier to do the second part you are working on, right?)
    First, the problem. This is the passenger side piece and you can see where it originally attached to the Pontiac at the top where there is a small flange with two holes in it to screw to the body. (One hole is covered up by the tape holding the piece in place.
    [​IMG]
    Next, a side view of the passenger piece:
    [​IMG]
    Here you can see the huge gap on the front side between the door and the piece.
    Next, The Passenger side piece from the rear side: Another big gap. So, we have two choices here in my opinion: 1. Attempt to cut and shape the trim to fit the Mercury body OR 2. Do some fancy sheet metal work on the door to fill in the gaps and make nice transitions.
    [​IMG]
    I decided to take option 1 and go for it by cutting and trimming the piece so it fits flush correctly on the door. I accomplished this on the Driver side by:
    1. Cut off the mounting flange
    2. Using a flap wheel, begin to trim back the piece until I got it to fit flush in order to also use the Beltline Trim I have for the car too.
    3. It took about 30 minutes to trim it back slowly so as to make it fit how I like it. I have made it close so when the bodywork starts it will fit flush like it was made for this car-Like the Red one in the first post.
    Next are pictures of the fit on the Driver Side:
    [​IMG]
    If you look carefully, you can see that the flange at the top of the piece is gone and I have removed small amounts of material so the piece fits cleanly up against the door.
    Next, another view of the Driver Side trim-This is the back side of the piece.
    [​IMG]
    Next, The Front Side of the piece-Notice how close I got it to the door shape. now, that is more like it! I just need to either make or find the proper mounting clips for the back side of the trim to be able to mount it to the door securely. These clips should be available online once I figure out the proper size etc.
    [​IMG]
    Last, Both pieces of trim, the Driver Side modified and the Passenger Side to be done soon:
    [​IMG]
    Thanks again to the HAMBers out there who have helped me through this project on other challenges. I hope this will help someone else in their challenges.
     
    Kage, Lines and rodncustomdreams like this.
  3. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Here is some more give back to the HAMB tech that I hope will help others: STEEL SKIRTS
    Background:
    My car is a 51' and usually this model has extended rear fenders compared to the 49-50 models. When I purchased it (see photos elsewhere in this thread) the previous owners had cut off the rear fenders and installed 80's style Cadillac tail lights. I did not like these tail lights and set upon a journey to re extend the fenders with something different. I located a set of rear fenders with the bumper and tail lights off of a 1955 Desoto and went to work grafting them on-also elsewhere in this thread. After the graft, I had a guy French in the rear bumper and rework the original wheel well openings back to stock as they were tore up too. Stepping back, I noticed that the rear of the car looks extra long and I found a set of the longest Bubble skirts I could get. I briefly installed them and took another look and was not liking how they were shaped ( a little too bubbly) and they seemed too short. From there, I decided to do some more research on the HAMB and lo and behold, I found a thread on how to make some pretty cool full length steel removable skirts from a guy named Roger who built a killer 55' Cadillac Kustom. Using his techniques, I began last weekend to try to see if I could pull this off and following is what I ended up with. The goal was to make the skirts as long as I could, be completely removable, have a nice angular shape front and rear and take the bubble out of them so they are a little more flush. Last, I will add 3, 54' Merc Rear Fender teeth to them once I get them where I want them.
    First step:
    I got some 1/2" round steel tubing, .060 wall from my local steel supplier. I made a simple foam board template to fool around with the angles front and rear as I want the front to match the angle of the downslope of the 55' Pontiac Safari Trim I am installing on the door. I measured and sharpie marked the body 4" down from the side lip in the fender all the way down the side of the car to have a reference point to keep to.
    Step 2:
    Once I got the shape I wanted, I measured the overall length and started with the back bend. I determined that I liked a 60 degree bend and then the fun started. I setup a piece of 1 3/4" steel tubing in my vise and began to work the tube around it (a trick I learned from taking Gene Winfields Metal Fabricating Class) until I got it to 60 degrees using my bubble protractor. From there, I worked the now bent back part to match the curvature of the body from top to bottom. I was surprised how easy it was to hand bend this tubing into shape (this might be easier than I thought!) From there, I measured and determined where to make the front bend and this proved to be a lot more challenging.
    Step 3:
    The front bend you see will probably be changed and I plan on using a tube bender to get a better and more radiused bend up front for asthetics and for sheet metal fab there. For now, I did this in order to get the rest of the "skeleton" made. I bent the front piece to match the curvature of the body top to bottom and could see what was shaping up.
    Step 4:
    I made a mount tab out of 1/8" flat bar, drilled a 1/4" hole in it. I set the tube skeleton back up on the car and taped it in place and determined where the tab should be welded to. I welded the tab in place, marked and drilled the body just above the top of the center of the wheel well opening and mounted the skeleton there.
    Step 5:
    I ran a straight piece of tube all the way across the bottom of the car, cut and fit it to the ends of the upper skeleton and welded it together. Next, I setup 2 more mount tabs that mount through the bottom flange of the fenders and bolted it to the body. I now have the perimeter of the skeleton bolted and solid, which is easily removable for when I need to change a tire in the future.
    Step 6:
    I then measured out equal spaces in the skeleton, cut and hand bent tubes to match the outside curvature of the car and welded each of them to the outer perimeter skeleton. (See Pic 1) (Fun with the pics again-SORRY
    IMG_0876 (3).jpg
    Step 7:
    Once the skeleton was removed and welded up completely, I got some 18 gauge sheet metal to form a "Skin" over the skeleton. I measured and marked the shape of the "skin" leaving a lot of extra around the perimeter so I could trim it as necessary-more on this later. I plasma cut the shape and put it on the ground next to the skeleton to ponder this next. (See Pic 2)
    IMG_0877 (3).jpg
    Step 8:
    The moment of truth. I do not have a slip roller available so I went old school Gene Winfield fabrication style on this. I clamped the top edge of the sheet metal shape with several sets of vise grips to the tube skeleton, got down on the ground and made this "skin" my bitch as I rolled the sheet metal onto the skeleton a few times. It wasn't that hard just a little akward but I was able to get it to form to the skeleton and tack it in place at a few selected spots to keep it where it needed to be kept. Once I got it tacked in several spots, I noticed that it formed perfectly to the skeleton and is very smooth even though it has compound curves front to rear and top to bottom. (See Pic 3)
    IMG_0878 (3).jpg
    At this point, I am going rework the front end and try to get a better bigger radius in it so it looks better in the future but at least you can get the idea of how to build these for yourself if you like.
     
    rodncustomdreams likes this.
  4. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Here is the latest update pics:
    Merc Skirts 5.jpg
    Merc Skirts 6.jpg
    Next will be addition or 54' Mercury Spears and completion of the passenger side Skirt
     
    Kage likes this.
  5. FlatJan
    Joined: Dec 13, 2013
    Posts: 245

    FlatJan

    what a load of work.. But on a great path.
    you know which pic I like best? The one with the grill bar rushed in and a single tooth in the middle. Sleek look and not overloaded like many customs end up. But this is just me and I'm a purist ;)
    keep on
     
  6. Sprout
    Joined: Mar 26, 2001
    Posts: 736

    Sprout
    Member

  7. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Thanks Sprout, Diggin your "Teeth" too!
     
    Sprout likes this.
  8. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Time for another simple update on my project. I have been working on the back of the car and most recently inn the trunk area. The trunk area was nothing but a big hole when I got the car as seen in the pics in the first post of this project. Upon doing much research here on the HAMB, I looked at what many others were doing for fuel tanks and basic sill in the blanks sheet metal fabrication as this car has a notched rear frame etc. Once I got the basic foundation in place and welded, it was time to look at fuel tanks, a possible spare tire mount. From there, the real fun will begin making the trunk upholstery panels.
    So.........here is what I came up with both from posts on the HAMB and with a little of my own fabrication skills.
    I chose an Early Mustang fuel tank because they are plentiful in the aftermarket and in this case, it will fit the dimensions nicely while having plenty of capacity to go out and really cruise this car on long trips. I layed out the tank placement and pulled out the plasma cutter and went to town not only cutting but using it to form the bracing by cutting slots in the 12 Gauge I used in order to make the 90 degree bends. After this, the braces and fuel tank mount "brackets" were welded and place in the trunk area, holes drilled and the tank was mounted. Next, I wanted to figure out how to mount a full spare tire in the trunk but leave room for luggage, camping chairs, a cooler and or an ez-up to go to shows with. After moving the tire literally all around the trunk area, I decided that the best place for it to use the lease amount of room was over the top of the fuel tank with some kind of tube mount. Once I got the mock up placement, I pulled out the tube bender and a piece of 1 3/4" 120 wall tube, bent it for the proper angle, layed out and fabbed up a base plate with two bolt mounts and a centering stop for the rim when loading and unloading, added a piece of 12 Gauge as extra support and welded it all up. It works GREAT, is up and out of the way and the full size spare fits nicely leaving room for actual trunk use. Next I will move the center position fuel inlet on the tank to the outside corner so everything is out of harms way while actually using the trunk area. I also started to make the trunk upholstery panel as hown in the pic.
    Hope the Spare Tire idea may help someone else here on the HAMB and thanks again to everyone on here for the guidance and ideas!
    Mercury Project-Spare Tire Fab Mock Up 1.jpg Mercury Project-Spare Tire Fab-Mount Bracketry 2.jpg Mercury Project-Spare Tire Fab 1.jpg Mercury Project-Trunk Panel Layout.jpg
     
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  9. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-05-21 Fuel Tank Cover Fab (1.5).jpg
    I know its been a long time since I posted but I have been working on this car almost every weekend for the last 3 years so here is an update of the progress. Once I figured out how to install the Mustang Fuel Tank, I did some safety research and found out that these are dangerous, especially in a rear end collision. People have built a tank cover for these types of tanks so in case of an accident, fuel does not spray into the passenger cabin so this is the layout and fabrication of the cover. I made this out of 1/8" steel plate.
     
  10. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-05-21 Fuel Tank Cover Fab (2.5).jpg
    I put the tank in place and began the process. I wanted it to be able to be removed for future maintenance if necessary. Notice that I also removed the original fuel tank filler neck tube and I cut it off, welded up tight and fabricated the new position fuel filler neck so as I can fill the car from the gas filler door in the passenger rear quarter panel versus filling it in the trunk.
     
  11. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-05-21 Fuel Tank Cover Fab (3).jpg
    Here is the big base plate on a workbench being bent to form. A little trick I learned was if you do not have a large brake for bending heavy sheet metal, just make a series of skip cuts in the material and use a dead blow hammer to bend it in a 90 like in the pic. Once the bending is done, just weld up the slots you cut and it will be a strong as it needs to be-this is how most A-Arms for off road racing are done now.
     
  12. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-05-21 Fuel Tank Cover Fab (5).jpg
    Here is the cover installed over the tank
     
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  13. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-09-04 Fuel Tank Install-Rubber Insulation.jpg
    Here is a pic of the rubber I installed in between the tank and the trunk floor to keep things a little safer and quieter.
     
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  14. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    2016-09-04 Fuel Tank and Tank Cover Final Paint.jpg
    Final pic of the fuel tank project. This shows the extension of the fuel filler neck, addition of a fuel tank "vent" hose so I can fill the tank properly and final paint of the tank and tank cover.
     
  15. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Ok, now moving on to "Frenching" an antenna. I know there has been other how to's on here but this is how I did mine. I hope it helps someone else on the HAMB who is working on their project.
    Start by locating where you want the antenna or antennas, Drill the hole, (I used 1 3/4" round tubing), cut the tube to proper length and slash cut it so it lines up with the fender in this case, make the bottom mount and make sure you have a hole or holes for drainage, weld it all up and sand it all smooth in prep for bodywork. This is a traditional modification and pretty simple to do and adds coolness to your car. I also had some lead added to the design in a teardrop for extra added detail. See pics below. 2017-07-15 Antenna French 1.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 2.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 3.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 4.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 5.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 6.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 7.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 9.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 10.jpg 2017-07-15 Antenna French 11.jpg 2018-04-28 Leading the Teardrop Frenched Antenna.jpeg
     

    Attached Files:

  16. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Next, time for some trunk detail. I like how the Desoto Tail Section was grafted in but in my opinion, the trunk lid was just "too smooth". Now, some people may not like this but I wanted to break up the trunk lid a bit and add some kind of enhancing, in my opinion, and detail.
    What to do, What to do...………..
    First, I want to introduce Craig Gilliam, owner of Howling Dog Rod and Kustom and, more importantly for me, one of Gene Winfield's lead fabricators. Craig does Kustoms and Hot Rods on his own and works frequently with Gene and his crew on a regular basis so once he and I became acquainted, it was VERY apparent to me that I am working with a true craftsman and he could and has helped me raise the bar in my fabrication skills to a new and exciting level. Once he saw my project, he was immediately interested in working with me and I consider this a big honor.
    I told him my idea and he agreed, so we decided to add the trunk lid detail using a Shoebox Trunk Handle assembly for several reasons. First, the Desoto bumper does not have a good license plate holder setup and I wanted to keep the bumper smooth. Second, The trunk handle adds a break in the trunk AND holds the license plate in place WITH a light, all good options. Last, we spiced this up a lot with some VERY KUSTOM lead work, which was Craig's idea. It turned into a little bit of fabrication with Sheetmetal to fill in the trunk lid shape gaps between what the Shoebox has and what the Mercury has. 2016-09-07 Mercury Trunk Plate Fab 1.jpg 2016-09-07 Mercury Trunk Plate Fab 2.jpg 2018-06-16 Craig Lead Work Trunk (1).jpeg 2018-06-16 Craig Lead Work Trunk (2).jpeg 2018-06-16 Trunk Lid Lead Work (1).jpeg 2019-03-01 Trunk Detail 1.jpeg 2019-03-01 Trunk Detail 2.jpeg
     
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  17. Mopar Tony
    Joined: Jun 11, 2019
    Posts: 296

    Mopar Tony
    Member
    from SE Iowa

    Very cool to see you back at it and see your progress. My dream car has always been a chop top merc but with there rarity and my finances I can not afford one. I am currently building a 52 Plymouth that I will be chopping, shaving, nosing, decking, and frenching. I am mopar guy through and through but there is something about a mercury, in fact I think there is even a song about it lol. But anyway I want to take some of these traditional ideas used on mercs and apply them to my Plymouth. It is pretty cool to look over your thread and see where you got your inspiration from.
     
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  18. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Hi Tony, building a chop top Merc was a dream that is being realized and it does cost some money for sure. I bought mine pretty inexpensively but it needed a ton of work as the thread is showing. I would like to see the 52 Plymouth you are building as, with all Kustoms, it will take some planning and imagination of the final result. I have read many books, spoke with many of the old school builders like Gene Winfield and Bo Huff (before his passing), and people who were there in the heyday of Kustoms to see what their their take was back in the day. Also, Rik Hoving has what I consider the best information available on what to do and what not to do. I am building this car as a late 50's style Kustom that may have competed in shows at the time period and that is my inspiration overall. Much more to come here and I wish you the best of luck and fun while you journey on your car.
     
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  19. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Cut Layout 1.jpeg
    Hello everyone who is watching...……..As you can see, more metal work and replacement will be necessary but I am posting this pic because I discovered something VERY dangerous and this will require some serious alteration to this car. I brought my car to a close friends shop who is better setup for heavy mechanical installations and began to install the drivetrain. Once we got the driveline in place, did the wiring, exhaust and all the ancillary steps to make this move on its own power, it was time to get it back home. I drove it up on the trailer, an exciting step, parked it on the trailer and attempted to open the door to exit but the trailer fenders were in the way.
    This is when I realized that I could not get out of the car through the windows as the chop was just too much. The only way out was through the back window as there is no glass in place yet. Immediately, I thought of my wife and I involved in an accident and the doors jamming...……..There would be no escape in a fire etc! It was a long trip back home and a lot of thinking went into how I could salvage this car, which I have invested so much of myself into...………
    I had conversations with my wife, Craig and many others on their thoughts and in the end, it was decided to go balls to the wall and cut the roof off! I decided that with Craig's help we would build a removable Carson Top that could be literally unlatched from inside and pushed off of the car in the accident scenario. The other bonus is that I could also have a convertible and use the car in parades etc...………..so the journey begins right here, step by step! It took us 6 months working every weekend of design, fabrication and just straight up detail work to build what we consider a full flowing top that is safe and will enhance the look of the car. I hope you think so too.....
     
  20. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Cut Layout 2.jpeg
    This pic shows the layout of how we were going to remove the top, see the sharpie line on the metal. I am fortunate to have Craig working with me as he has give many cars "Haircuts" and understands what can go wrong or right.
     
  21. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Liftoff 1.jpeg
    Once the cuts were made, I called on my neighbors and off it comes...….this is spooky!
     
  22. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Liftoff 2.jpeg
    You can see the bracing we did inside the car as is normal when cutting off a roof for chopping etc. I have some cool neighbors too....
     
  23. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Removed.jpeg
    Here is the "Haircut" complete, now its even spookier...….
     
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  24. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Cut Tub Sheetmetal 1.jpeg
    Here is the beginning of filling in the open gaps with Sheetmetal, now its a lot less spooky and going to get exciting.
     
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  25. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Cut Tub Sheetmetal 2.jpeg
    Here you can see the inside on the passenger side and the driver side top rail on the fenders being fabbed and tacked in place. There is gong to be a TON of welding I will have to do but it is looking like it will be cool so far.
     
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  26. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Corvette Latch 1 .jpeg
    Here is how this will work: I visited a pick your part type of wrecking yard in Oceanside, CA and located a Corvette convertible and found its latch system and all necessary hardware. It has a new home now in a 51' Merc Kustom and will certainly hold its own while driving at speed, not Corvette Speed, but that is the point. Craig and I racked our brains on this one and once we got it, we began the install and fabrication. The part you see here is what was installed originally in the windshield of the Vette which had almost the same curvature we needed! We began filling the windshield frame and making the "pocket" for the latch handle just to the left of the receptacle for the top.
     
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  27. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Corvette Latch 2 .jpeg
    Here is the latch handle assembly installed into the receptacle, It operates like a screw and you can see if you swing the handle into place at the windshield it will fit into the pocket we are building. This handle part will be installed into the Carson Top
     
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  28. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Corvette Latch 3 .jpeg
    This pic shows the driver side windshield frame gap and the mock up on the passenger side complete before full welding.
     
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  29. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Windshield Cover 1.jpeg
    Once all was done we needed to make a "cover" for the windshield in order to begin the Carson Top and this is the layout
     
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  30. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 431

    michaelvz51
    Member
    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    Merc Top Window Frame Fab 1 Craig.jpeg
    Here's Craig beginning the layout of what will be the side window frame and also the stack of sheet metal strips we are using to fab this up. You can also see the rear top of the tub pieces for the top in place and this is what the Sheetmetal strips are sitting on. Talk about shrinking and stretching.....These steps took weeks
     
    chryslerfan55 and Lines like this.

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