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Projects narrowing an I-Beam

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by verde742, Nov 9, 2020.

  1. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 5,498

    verde742
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. a veteran died today

    I narrowed an I beam Axle 4 1/12 inches, I welded the front and back, Now I want to put a piece of 1/4 flat stock in the groove in the back, I would like to put two carriage bolts on each side of weld. then I want to grind the weld in front so it is not noticed

    Can someone tell me what steel I should use for my back fill piece. ?

    thanks,
    verde 742
     
  2. Regular mild steel; taper and don't weld the ends. Drop the carriage bolt idea.

    Sent from my Nokia 2.3 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  3. Dapper Dan
    Joined: Apr 19, 2009
    Posts: 19

    Dapper Dan
    Member
    from Australia

    I agree with Rich B. I did the same but used a filler in the front also - both about 6" long. Weld ALONG the beam but NOT across the ends. Use filler to blend it like it does at the perch bosses and it will look "factory".
    Most of the forces on an I beam are outboard from the perch pins - the center is sort of a "neutral Axis" and less load is transferred here. Still do it correctly though!
     
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  4. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,321

    Budget36
    Member

    Just curious about twisting/flexing of the axle? Seems the welds would be first to crack? I know many have done it and talked about it on the HAMB, but just recently @HOTRODPRIMER spoke about an aluminum axle he had and mentioned the flex or wobble? when he rocked the car.
    It got me to wondering
     

  5. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,251

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    I narrowed my '58 Chev I beam axle 5' to fit under my '39 Chev coupe. I did a "Z cut" and not a butt weld, as the Z cut makes a much stronger repair. I cut clear down through the I beam, and then cut half the top off one side, and half the bottom off the other side. Overlapped the two halves the 5" and beveled the edges of all mating surfaces. Then welded the joints from both sides, and after grinding the welds smooth I cut a piece of 5" long 3/8" mild steel inside the backside of the beam. Perimeter welded the plate, and it was done.
    It's likely stronger than it was before narrowing, and I see no reason to ever plate the front side also. I used 1.5" EMT tubing clamped to the axle beam to keep it aligned while I welded it on top, bottom, and one side. Then removed the tubing, and welded the other side.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,022

    19Fordy
    Member

    1971BB427 If you get the time please post a sketch of the cuts showing how you welded the axle. Was the axle cast or forged?
    Plus, a finished photo. I have always bee told welding an I-Beam axle is a No, No.
    What method of welding and what rod did you use?
     
  7. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,251

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    I welded my axle with E70 mild steel wire on my Miller mig welder. It's a '58 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup axle. Welded more than one previously, and never had an issue. This image was as I was mocking it up under my '39 Chev coupe.
    [​IMG]

    And this is after grinding the front side. You can see the way it was cut down and across on the top, and up and across on the bottom to create the overlapped Z cut. After plating the back side I drilled the same "lightening" holes through the plate again. So it's thicker behind, but doesn't show from the front side.

    [​IMG]

    Not every axle should, or can be welded on. But the 1950's Chevy pickup axles can, as can the Ford truck axles of the same era. So can 60's Chevy van axles, and Ford Econoline axles.
    People who say axles shouldn't be welded on are often passing along the myths. And they're the same people who say nothing in your steering systems should be welded also. I weld up all my tie rods, and drag links using heavy DOM tubing, and weld bungs. They're far stronger than the wimpy threaded tubing most places sell as tie rods or drag links.

    PS-It also depends on where you're welding an axle! The center of an I beam has less stress on it than any other point on these axles. The further out towards the kingpins, the more stress. And anywhere outside of the springs should be no place to weld.
    I'd be more concerned with axles having the drop changed outside the springs, than welding in the center. I know it's done for years, but heating an old axle and bending it to reshape the drop always made me nervous.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
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  8. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,022

    19Fordy
    Member

    1971BB427: Thank you for the clear explanation and the photos.
    I learned something new.
     
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  9. I wouldn't weld a cast unit but I have welded several forged units with nickel rod or stainless with good results. That was years ago when all I had was a stick welder. As stated, I pnly welded in the middle of the axle. Years ago, my father had a horse trailer with an i beam axle of unknown nature. He ruined a spindle from overloading and bearing failure. The machine shop made a spindle stub from cold roll shaft and welded it the the axle. This trailer had that repair on 3 spindles. It never failed. It didn't look good enough for hot rod work but it was effective and durable. A lot of what we discuss is driven by lack of exp. in the past of doing such. Most are more safety aware than we were 50 years ago which is good for all of us. The cosmetic factor is very important also. :)
     
    Driver50x likes this.
  10. r2c1
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 179

    r2c1
    Member

    Here's how I did mine. Took 7 1/4" out of it. I tig welded it and wrapped in insulation to let it cool slowly. I did plate the back as mentioned before. I know there are several powder coaters around you Verde. Have them take it up to 350 degrees . It will normalize the weld. IMG_1232 (2016_11_26 05_14_26 UTC).JPG IMG_1232 (2016_11_26 05_14_26 UTC).JPG IMG_1236 (2016_11_26 05_14_26 UTC).JPG IMG_1237 (2016_11_26 05_14_26 UTC).JPG
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  11. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,251

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    That's exactly what I did also. And what I was told is a "Z cut". Not much stronger than this method as it's gives far more weld surface.

    As for welding "cast". Not all cast is the same. Of course I'd never weld cast iron, but when I worked at a steel foundry we poured nuclear castings used at nuclear power plants, and they were xrayed and flaws were cut out and welded back in. They had to pass extreme scrutiny, and people's lives depended on the cast steel to be 100%.
    So cast steel and cast iron aren't the same. Both can be welded, but I'd never weld an axle that wasn't cast steel or forged steel. But both are easily welded, if done correctly.
     
    r2c1 likes this.
  12. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,163

    dana barlow
    Member
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    ? Just wondering why,make it smaller? Dose it need to fit under fenders or something like that?
     
  13. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,768

    seb fontana
    Member
    from ct

  14. wandi harry
    Joined: Jul 19, 2008
    Posts: 240

    wandi harry
    Member

    whats the theory about not welding the ends?
     
  15. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,321

    Budget36
    Member

    Fish plating. When welded solid there is no flex, so something eventually has to give
     
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  16. farmalldan
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 140

    farmalldan
    Member
    from Duncan, OK

    PS-It also depends on where you're welding an axle! The center of an I beam has less stress on it than any other point on these axles. The further out towards the kingpins, the more stress. And anywhere outside of the springs should be no place to weld.
    /QUOTE]
    I'm sorry, but this is absolutely wrong. Dig out your stress textbook and turn to shear-moment diagrams for beams in bending. You will see that shear stress is maximum and constant from roughly the center of the tire to the spring perch. However, over this same span bending moment increases from zero to maximum where it remains for the entire center span of the axle. Since bending moment produces the higher stresses in most cases, failure is more likely between the spring perches.
    Splicing should be done with either 30 or 60 degree cuts. 90 deg cuts cause stress failures in bending and 45 degree cuts cause problems in shear. However, in this case, a 45 deg cut would be ok since we are in a span with zero shear stress. Otherwise, you have received good advice.
    Good luck,
    Farmalldan
     
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  17. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,187

    southcross2631
    Member

    My avatar Morris Minor has a 1953 Ford F100 axle under it . It was given to me with a new disc brake kit and braided brake lines so I cut 6 1/4 inches out of it to fit my car.
    I simply made a jig to keep it straight after I cut it and stick welded it back together. I put a fish plate on the back. After I welded it back together I put it in my 40 ton press and tested the welds.
    After I was satisfied it wouldn't break I drilled a series of lightening holes in it. DSCF3461.JPG
     
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  18. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,154

    fiftyv8
    Member
    from CO & WA

    Personally, I would not want to run one of these welded axles if attached to split radius rods, but can see with other mounting methods it should work well.
    Do you preheat the material before welding???
     
  19. THE FRENCHTOWN FLYER
    Joined: Jun 6, 2007
    Posts: 3,346

    THE FRENCHTOWN FLYER
    Member
    from FRENCHTOWN

    I used a '53 Ford pickup axle too - on my champ car. I did not use fish plate. The champ weighs less than half of the '53 pickup. I drilled it after welding. One thing I recommend doing is to ensure the pieces are properly dressed to a proper root opening for complete penetration. Narrowed 6".

    Front Steering03.jpg
     
  20. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,251

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    Welding out past the spring perches is normally avoided because there's so much stress and strain out past the perches. Between the perches there's more support, and thus far less stress on the joints.

    I agree that a 45 degree joint might make the repair slightly stronger, but don't think it's a necessary. I've welded axles of all sorts for decades, and never had a failure. Any axle could fail, welded or not. But it's never happened to me.
    As for why an axle would be narrowed, it's pretty obvious. To get the tire/wheel location inside the fenders. On my avatar Austin gasser I needed 38" kingpin to kingpin width to fit inside my 52" wide fenders. It's a tube axle, so I welded angle iron to each side of the tube, and then cut out 9" from the tube. I turned down a piece of solid round stock 12" long and after drilling plug holes in each half of the tube, I pressed the round slug into one side, and plug welded it. Then pressed the other half over the round slug leaving a 1/2" gap, and plug welded that. Then I welded up the gap in the middle, and ground it off smooth. That was a decade ago, and all is well.
     
  21. Dapper Dan
    Joined: Apr 19, 2009
    Posts: 19

    Dapper Dan
    Member
    from Australia

    Sorry for being slow to reply - welding across ANY beam is frowned on - certainly across the top and bottom members ( which are in compression and tension under flexural loading ). The web is pretty neutral ( thats why guys drill it ) and yes, it does get torsional forces acting on it but design your suspension correctly and they are minimal.
    Just avoiding the heat softening of a weld across any loaded beam is a positive plan..... IMO.
     
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  22. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,630

    Fortunateson
    Member

    Farmalldan, I have an original '32 "heavy axle" (rent they all...) that was dropped and filled years ago. So what are your views on that ?
     
  23. Thats a “damn fine” piece of welding!


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  24. r2c1
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 179

    r2c1
    Member

    Thanks OldSchool It's called "clear air" welding.....
     

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