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Simple Kustom Tech: Sectioning '51 Mercury Bumper Guards...ala Hirohata

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bass, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,341

    from Dallas, TX

    Here's sort of a mini update on the '49 Chevy Fastback for those of you that have been clamoring for a new update. :)

    Please note the original '51 Merc bumper guards in the pic below:


    They look kinda tall, don't they?

    I'm using a narrowed '51 Merc front bumper on the '49 Chevy I'm building. The '51 bumper has a couple of weird bumps underneath the guards that make it difficult to effectively smooth out the I decided to keep the guards, but they needed some alteration to fit the proportions of the rest of the car.

    The first car I really noticed that had sectioned bumper guards was Terry Hegman's excellent Merc:

    (Photo courtesy Don Dillard)

    I really liked the idea of the cut down guards, but I felt like the ones on the Hegman Merc were a little more cut down than I needed for the Chevy. I did a little further research to see if I could find another example of a '51 with sectioned guards, and I was suprised to find that the Hirohata Merc had them.

    (Photo courtesy of Rikster)

    Funny thing is, I'd studied the Hirohata Merc countless times and never noticed that the bumper guards were sectioned. Turns out that when it was first completed it had uncut stock bumper guards, and somewhere around the time it was shot for Hop Up in '53 it had the guards sectioned.

    The Hirohata's guards were supposedly sectioned 2", and I felt like that would be a little closer to what I needed to take out for the Chevy.

    First thing I needed to do before cutting was to weld the bottom side of the top bumper guard mount. The reason for doing this is that the mount is only welded on the top, and the section with the weld will end up getting removed. This is the easiest way to keep the mount in the right place.


    Now I could move on to laying out the cuts. I ended up going with a 1.5"section, which seemed about right. I actually think the Hirohata is closer to 1.5" than 2", but it's hard to tell from photos.

    Anyway, the goal is to take the section out of the part of the guard that is 'flattest'. Two strips of 3/4" masking tape butted together make it easy to create a guide for cutting.


    Here's the guard after cutting..


    Take care not to make any gouges in the piece that you are removing, because you are going to need it later.

    Now's the time to check and make sure the amount taken out is going to be satisfactory. It's also a good time to check the gap between the top and bottom pieces before welding.

    You can also see how much difference the section is going to make in the look of the front bumper.


    Looks good to me, so now it's time to put it back together.

    Make sure you have the two pieces aligned as accurately as possible then tack them. You need to be absolutely certain that there are no high or low places where they meet, because filler is out of the question here.

    When you have it tacked where it needs to be, start welding using short bursts and skipping around:


    I'm using a TIG, but a MIG or Oxy-acetyline should work as well. If you are using a TIG like me, then add a little more filler rod than usual, and don't worry about trying to make it too's all going to get ground off.


    After it's welded, I use a 36 grit Roloc on a right angle die grinder to knock down the weld. Take care not to put any deep scratches in the surrounding metal...just get the weld close to flush. After it is close, I go in with a 'brown' Scotchbrite Roloc and polish the weld. Then I finish it off with 80 grit on the D/A, and hand sand with an old used piece of 80.

    This is where the extra time spent fitting the two pieces before welding really pays off.


    Looks good, but there's still that gap at the back that needs to be addressed. I could just whack off those "ears" left at the bottom...but that would make the guard stop way before it hit the back edge of the bumper, and that's not going to look right.

    The solution is in the piece that was removed.... I made a template to create the new back edge of the guard and marked the piece for cutting.

    I should note that I made all the cuts with a pneumatic cut-off tool, but a bandsaw or even hacksaw would also work.


    I fit the filler piece to the back of the guard then clamp and weld...


    After grinding and polishing the weld, here's the finished product:


    It's a subtle change, but a big improvement over the original bumper guard height.


    Besides, good customs are all about subtle changes. Ever sit and look at a car like the Hirohata Merc or one of Cole Foster's cars, and wonder what it is that's been changed that makes it look so good? More often than not, it's a host of little changes that give it the look, rather than one big change.


    Thanks for looking, and I hope that some of you can get something out of this post. It's a pretty specific topic I know, but still it's a subtle mod that could be applied to many other cars.
  2. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,780



    thank you so much for taking the time to take time to make the photos and do the writing. Its these "little" things that make or break a custom.

    It also took me a long time to see the esectioned guards on the Hirohata Merc. In fact it was the Jack Walker Doug Thompson clone that made me aware of it. The clone has them full lengh, and when I compaired the two it finally dawned on me what was different.
  3. Amazing stuff!!!

    My, you do some beautiful work. Someday, I hope to exist on that plane of quality.

    Keep us updated on the progress...I love looking at that car!!!
  4. devilscustom
    Joined: Feb 22, 2007
    Posts: 286

    from Sweden

    excellent job and writing
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. Rusty
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 9,447


    Very nicely done, I was wondering what sanding combinations you use to get the metal to the point you always take the pics. they look great. Great work as always. I likes them lower for sure

  6. Sam F.
    Joined: Mar 28, 2002
    Posts: 4,225

    Sam F.

    very cool! thanks!
  7. NJVadala
    Joined: Oct 11, 2007
    Posts: 179


    Awesome, those are some great looking welds.
  8. publicenemy1925
    Joined: Feb 4, 2007
    Posts: 3,188

    from OKC, OK

    Outstanding! I'm as happy as a two peckered puppy this tech week!
  9. 30roadster
    Joined: Aug 19, 2003
    Posts: 1,793


    Great Tech Bass! - your project is really looking amazing!
  10. Big T
    Joined: Aug 29, 2006
    Posts: 638

    Big T
    from Florida

    Great tech article. The sectioned guards look great. Keep the posts and pictures coming on this car.
  11. wedgeii1
    Joined: Apr 24, 2006
    Posts: 552

    from california

    God is in the details.
  12. PeteFromTexas
    Joined: Apr 4, 2007
    Posts: 3,837


    The hardest hting about this tech is coming up with the money to get them chromed!
  13. oldandkrusty
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,075


    Bass, your work is is just fantastic. It is a pleasure to read one of your posts detailing your thought patterns on what it is you are trying to accomplish and then to see the excellent photos - well, I'm just floored by your capabilities. PLEASE continue to keep us informed of your progress.
  14. paco
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,138

    from Atlanta

    Great "How to" thread.

  15. skyrodder
    Joined: May 7, 2005
    Posts: 1,924


    Great talent !!
  16. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,341

    from Dallas, TX

    Rik, I have the TRJ poster of the Hirohata in the bathroom at the shop, and I look at it everytime I'm in there. I didn't notice they were sectioned until I bought the guards for this car and started thinking about sectioning them....then it was pretty obvious when comparing stock to the Hirohata's.

    The level of detail the Barris shop turned out while Sam Barris was around is really quite incredible. That they would go through the trouble to make this change to an already stellar car shows that they were constantly thinking about how to get the best look possible....and they didn't always get it right the first time.

    Thanks to you as well for your awesome photo archive. It's a lot easier than digging through my old magazines! :)
  17. cleatus
    Joined: Mar 1, 2002
    Posts: 2,277

    from Sacramento

    Very cool Brian.

    I've been up late for several nights working on my bumpers/guards doing similar stuff. Then I log on here and the first thing I see is this – like a paralell universe.

    Although, things seem to turn out a little nicer in your universe.
  18. Johnny1290
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,835


    Thanks for your great pictures and detailed explanation!
  19. buzzard
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 4,335

    Alliance Member

    Great work. Both with the bumper guards and with the pics and expanation.

    It is a little discouraging to see that you do it with hard work and skill and not out and out magic spells.
  20. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,341

    from Dallas, TX

    I only used magic spells to obtain my unparalleled bowling skills.

  21. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,588

    from SUGAR CITY

    Nice Post Brian. In fact I am nominating you for the the gift certificate from Coker. Oh wait, I have no authority on this subject or any else for that matter. Anyhow, your '49 Fastback threads are probably the most informative and awwwww inspiring threads on the HAMB!
  22. hotrodladycrusr
    Joined: Sep 20, 2002
    Posts: 20,727


    GREAT tech thread Brian. It takes alot of time and effort to post a thread like this with all the wonderful photos to accompany the text. Thanks for taking the time. And I completely agree, it's the subtle changes that make a nice custom a GREAT custom.

    5 star post for sure
  23. munster
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 235

    from burbank

  24. happy hoppy
    Joined: Apr 23, 2001
    Posts: 2,327

    happy hoppy

    beautiful work, your car is amazing.

    I have a question, will you have choming problems becuase you did not remove the plating before you cut, welded and sanded?
    I thought the chrome had to be removed before any work was performed, please school me.
  25. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,341

    from Dallas, TX

    This is a good question and I'm not an expert on the plating process, but I'll give it a shot. I neglected to cover this in the intial post, and I apologize.

    I ground down the plating with a 36 grit Roloc in the immediate weld area before welding, and I also chamfered the two pieces where they met. You have to be careful not to take off too much material so that you can still blend the weld when you are done, but take off enough that there is no chome where you are welding. You can physically see when you have gone through the chrome/nickel/copper.

    Usually if there is still chrome or other plating on the area that is being welded, the TIG torch will "pop back", and you'll have to stop and clean the area you are welding before continuing. I didn't have any trouble with the weld popping or getting contaminated, and I got good penetration so I think it will be fine. There are no pits in the weld area after grinding either.

    However, if you have the means to have the chrome chemically stripped before you start cutting and welding, I believe that would be a definite plus.

    Maybe somebody that knows more about plating could chime in here. I figure as long as you remove as much of the plating as possible before welding, it will be fine. I guess we'll know for sure after it comes back from chrome!
  26. buzzard
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 4,335

    Alliance Member

    Interesting that you use the word "unparalleled" to describe your bowling, since your arm is almost parallel to the floor during your sidearm release. :)
  27. =mike=
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 820


    Stuff like this reminds me to drop in and see what's going on over here more often . That's good shit right there .
  28. happy hoppy
    Joined: Apr 23, 2001
    Posts: 2,327

    happy hoppy

    thanks for being so detailed Bass.
    your an inspiration.
  29. Chad s
    Joined: Oct 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,718

    Chad s

    I have read that when grinding the chrome off, you can embed fine fragments of the old chrome in the steel, that will show up as spots in the plating. I cant confirm this from experience though. It may be more of an issue in the areas where the chrome you didnt gind away blends into the area where you ground to steel. I think I read here in the HAMB before from an experience plater, that that area will show through in the final re-chrome.

    I do know that a plater can easily strip the chrome. I believe They reverse the process of plating (I would assume reversing the voltage), and the plating transfers from the car part, back to the anode (Or in this case, I guess that part would technicaly become the anode?).
  30. Kustom7777
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 5,171


    i always look forward to your posts because i learn something each time,,its great that you take the time to explain each step and post clear pictures..i agree that subtle changes are usually what makes the car,,thanks again,,this is really what the hamb is all about in my opinion..

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