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Technical The simple radiator swap that went awry

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by NAES, May 16, 2018 at 3:24 PM.

  1. NAES
    Joined: Dec 24, 2008
    Posts: 313


    The original radiator in my '53 Chrysler has served me well over the years and finally gave up the ghost. While mid swap I discovered a crack in the front crossmember. I'm at least partially responsible for the failure as I had to cut a chunk out in order to get the lower radiator hose routing sorted after swapping in a 360.

    Obviously I need to fix the crack and and replace some crossmember material but my question is how do I know if something is bent which would require straightening? I have a lift but it isn't perfectly level front to back or side to side. There was some major rust issues in the rear section of the frame which I had to repair and I'm positive I didn't do it to the standards I have for myself nearly 10 years later. So the car has always handled differently when steering left vs. right and the drivers side always sat a little lower in spite of my efforts to level it all out. Seems like as good a time as any to blow the whole fucking thing apart and do it all at once.

    With that being said, where would my zero point be from wich all measurements are taken? I remember from doing the job way back when that I never had a good place of reference and used various mounting points and lined it all up the best I could.

    Of course I'm balls deep in another project which will have to be sidelined while I figure this out.

    Thanks everyone for any help you can provide. If you need more pics or clarification, please let me know and I'll get whatever is needed.

    Now for the obligatory pics!

    NAES 20180516_130155.jpg 20180516_130254.jpg 30166669363_b1736ff29a_b.jpg

    Sent from my SM-N910V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  2. Zero point ,,,
    You could start measuring and drive yourself bat shit crazy.
    Start by looking. Look at all your panel gaps, hood fitting and all that. Look at the body bushings and mounts. See what you might find there for clues.

    Then start comparing side to side items that have a L and right counter part for symmetry and identicalness ( is that a word) Get all that verified the same.

    Level the frame front to back by using someplace in the center. Now both sides of the suspension connection points should be at the same elevation. The frame horns should be at the same elevation too. If not then there's a twist or sag. The visual clues should tell you where it's at
    Nostrebor likes this.
  3. By the sounds of its past. I would tend to disassemble everything and start from scratch. You’d be chasing your tail otherwise. It’s now ten yrs later. Do it right this time.
    Unkl Ian likes this.
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 547


    Vicky’s got it , but if 10 years ago you lined up the body gaps etc to the swoopy frame that won’t help

    Measuring from left to right body mount
    Cross member , control arm mounts
    Leaf spring mount etc. Will get you square-ish
    You might have to pull the body off the get the frame level and straight from side to side.

    You can’t really use a hoist to get your car level
    What you could do is set both sides on 3 jack stands ( three per side ) and get the car stable and level from the floor up. A hoist is never truly level and straight front to back left to right ....

    Car looks good, mighty big rad hose you got... or is that what she said ?
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  5. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 2,309


    Go to the oldest body shop in town with a frame machine. If they were in business in the 60's they should have the books that go back that far. The frame measurements will be listed from just about every hole and rivet in the frame. It might even be worth the investment of their $/hr to have them put it on the rack and measure things. I doubt it will be off that bad. They may even give it a push or pull where need while it is there. I would guess less than $200 to rack it up and measure. They may have to get out the old trammel bars out. The lasers might not work. lol
    Hnstray, belair and RMR&C like this.
  6. Find an old bodyman who has a tram tool and knows how to use it.
    Hnstray and RMR&C like this.
  7. 1-SHOT
    Joined: Sep 23, 2014
    Posts: 980


    IMG_1258.JPG A set of center line gauges will tell you the whole story. They will show you is any damage is present also show any sags or sways. This and a tram bar is all you need. You can still buy them at Auto Body Toolmart. There is several name brands out there, Chief, Champ,and several more. I seen them on e-bay and Amazon.
    I strengthen many frames in the late 50's till the electronic measuring system came out in the 80's ,Kansas Jack had a laser system then the Shark , but I like the Carline system the best Cartronix. But with a full frame car the center line gauged will work the best for you. You can use them to build a frame for a hot rod to get it square.
    With center line gauges you step back and all the pins should line up where you only see one. Sorry for being so winded. Frank
    Hnstray, pitman, VANDENPLAS and 2 others like this.
  8. RMR&C
    Joined: Dec 26, 2009
    Posts: 2,485

    from NW Montana

    ^^^^^THIS! A frame tech with tram gauges will be the quickest and most accurate. Or if you can borrow some you can do it's not really difficult.
  9. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,007

    from New York

    The old adage is, that "if you remove structure, you should replace structure", fits your issue. I know it's too late now but you should have gusseted your crossmember to take the load. Do as Vickey suggests and add gussets, you removed a lot of strength from your crossmember.
  10. nunattax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,313


    level up your lift front to back and side to side its not rocket a laser level for a day or so.nice Chrysler by the way
  11. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 7,346

    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Put the body on another 53 Chrysler frame?
    Hnstray likes this.
  12. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 436

    from kansas

    I do this sh#t for a living. If you lived closer all I'd need is your car with the engine out, a couple days and I'd have you set up and safe.

    It's not rocket science but it does take some talent and knowledge.
  13. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 25


    If you want to play at home on the cheap here's a way to ballpark it pretty close. Park your car on as level a place as you can in your shop. Use masking tape to mark the tire contact patches.

    Make 4 tire stands using 12" cinder blocks. Put a piece of plywood under each one to cushion them and distribute the load. On top use a piece of 2x12 with cleats on the ends and blocks underneath to hold them in place on the cinder blocks. (Two layers of 2x if you need the belly and shoulder clearance,) The cinder blocks need to have the holes up and down to be at there least worst. If you have any other way to safely hold the car up on its tires, that would be better.

    Next get a lazer level and level the tire contact spots. Plywood, sheet metal and vinyl floor tiles all work.
    Put the car on the stands.

    Pick at least 4 pairs of holes on your frame. (None of them can be on a bolt on or welded on piece or bracket.) One pair has to be as far forward as possible and one pair as far to the rear as possible. The other two pairs need to split the distance as much as practical. The lateral distance between any two pairs of holes doesn't have to be the same, but each hole of a pair has to be identical side for side. All the holes need a clear path to the floor for the plumb bob.

    Using the plumb bob transfer the location of each hole to the floor. You can put a piece of tape on the floor to mark the spot on. Accuracy counts, make sure that you hold the plumb bob string in the same place in each pair of holes. It is easier with a helper.

    Establishing a centerline is next. Measure the distance between the front pair of holes, divide it in half and mark that spot. Repeat for the rear pair of holes. Then take a chalk line across those points and snap the centerline.

    The chalkline is then used to mark the diagonals between the first and second pair, the second and third pair and the third and fourth pair of marks on the floor. Ideally the diagonals should cross on the centerline.

    Now its time to measure.
    Each pair of marks perpendicularly from the centerline. (Front and rear pair are already done.)
    Each pair of diagonals.
    The longitudinal distance between each pair of marks

    For frame height set the lazer level to shine its line across under the car and measure down to it.
    Each side of a pair of measurements should be the same, but I wouldn't worry too much if they
    weren't the same front to rear because of frame kick-ups or rake.

    If all that checks out then use some of those points on the frame to check if the front suspension is square by measuring the longitudinal and diagonal distances to the lower ball joints (?) and control arm pick up points. (Assuming its an IFS) Also check the rear axle for square.
  14. 1-SHOT
    Joined: Sep 23, 2014
    Posts: 980


    X-cpe that is the way that Kansas Jack used with targets to align the frame.
    I don't know how people use a tram bar to detect a sag or twist accurately, that's the best part about center line gauges you can see the sags and twists in it and use the tram bar to measure length. But I still believe that if your measure off the floor you are subject to include the inconsistency in the floor in your measurement.
    Last edited: May 17, 2018 at 8:39 AM

  15. You have more than one problem here.
  16. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 25


    1-SHOT, I can't disagree, thats's why I opened with "ballpark it pretty close' and said to use a lazer level for a datum line when measuring frame heights.
  17. NAES
    Joined: Dec 24, 2008
    Posts: 313


    Thanks everyone for the rock solid advice! I'll be able to get the wagon on my lift next week to begin taking a look at what I'm up against. In the meantime I'll be reading up on tram bars and plumb bobs to see what approach I'm going to take.

    I'll report back as things progress. Thanks a million guys!

    Sent from my SM-N910V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    milwscruffy likes this.
  18. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 25


    I got to thinking about the uneveness of the floor when making measurements. Went to a trig website and typed in some numbers. A 1/2 inch rise or dip over 24 inches makes a .005 inch difference in true length. 3/4 inch over 12 inches makes a .023 inch difference. 3/4 inch over 60 inches makes a .005 inch difference. 1/4 over 24 is .001. If the hump is between the 2 points you can double the error and be real close. Looking at that I don't think the floor will make a significant difference unless it used to be a skateboard park.

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