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Welding new roof

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Rolled, Jun 16, 2002.

  1. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    I have an 87 4x4 K5 Blazer that was rolled. I have a new roof and am going to weld it on in a day or so.

    Does anybody have any tips or suggestions for me? I am replacing the roof and the four posts and am worried about it not being as strong as original since I won't be able to weld the inside pieces of the posts. A neighbor suggested putting some 3 inch posts inside before I weld them to give it some strength. I might try that but I would like to hear from anybody who has done this before or evens has any suggestions.

    Also, how about some tips for lining up the new roof?

    Any response will be appreciated.


    Rolled
     
  2. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    Some form of tubing inside the posts would be a good idea. I replaced a front pillar on an 82 last year...the steel is actually pretty thick and to be honest I just left a 3/32" gap and welded it up. There is room for a small pice of steel inside, but it would probably be no bigger than 1/2" or 5/8" round bar. As for the 'B' pillar use the largest tube (round or square) that will fit in the pillar itself. I'd probably use a piece about 12" long...beyond that fitting it might be tough due to the curve in the pillar. Leave a good gap so that the weld penetrates the tube as well as joins the two ends of the pillar together.

    Rene
     
  3. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    The BEST way to do this will be to stagger your joints. You need to open up the posts and figure out what will be the best plan of attack. The inside most peice can be lapped, That will aid in getting the height correct, use some of the existing holes as guides, but from there out you should trim and butt weld the inner pieces. In most instances you should lap things like this but there is not enuff room in the front posts to do so. The post will end up w/ a big belly in it, the door jamb will look like hell and the windshield wont fit. This is one of those instances where I can do it in my sleep but have a hard time describing what to do. Basicly what your going to do is lap the inner most, make a "window" to access the inside to weld it on both sides, then lay the window up there, and weld it, then lay the next one. ETC. Do you get the picture? Each "layer" is a longer "window" to cover the shorter window below. I am not sure how many layers of sructure are in there, but on average there is 3-4 layers from the inner most panel that you see from inside the rig to the outter most panel that you see from the outside.

    Now in my professional opinion, this is something that is REALLY left to a shop to do. There is a lot of measuring, fitting, cutting and grinding involved. And thats BEFORE you get into welding it. Make sure you have good penetration and use corrosion protection. On top of that I will be willing to put money on that the Blazer needs to be pulled. The roof and structure chances are will not just drop on and fit. Once you start, most shops will not touch it, and you will end up w/ a scrap heap.

    COLLISION is also a body man and maybe he will chime in and give his opinion. As I said I can do this in my sleep but I suck at telling someone how to do things.
     
  4. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I ran a frame machine for several years building totaled cars and I agree with most everything PI said. In particular:
    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    Now in my professional opinion, this is something that is REALLY left to a shop to do. There is a lot of measuring, fitting, cutting and grinding involved. And thats BEFORE you get into welding it. Make sure you have good penetration and use corrosion protection. On top of that I will be willing to put money on that the Blazer needs to be pulled. The roof and structure chances are will not just drop on and fit. Once you start, most shops will not touch it, and you will end up w/ a scrap heap.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    His technique is different from mine but, the main point is that this is not a job for beginners. Strength is just one issue. Actually, the easiest. There is allot of stuff to line up and get right all at once, and, if one measurement is off, your in trouble.
     
  5. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    First off, I am no welder or body man so bare with me if you can ;-)

    This was my plan until I read your posts.

    Cut, grind, and get the pieces to fit as close as possible. I wanted a butt fit and was going to grind a 45 degree angle around the edges to form a groove to weld in. Then smooth it out with the angle grinder, apply some bondo, sand and primer. I know this will *work* but it is starting to sound inferior.

    I did not think of leaving an intentional gap and building it up. Would this be the industry standard or a stronger way to weld?

    I understand leaving a window to get to the inside and I think I will use this method but I am unsure of what you meant by "layering". I imagine this: Get the pieces to fit as I described above (possibly with a gap to build up), cut out squares (windows) on each side of the back pillars, Weld the inside as best as I can from all four windows, build up/weld in my grooves, then weld in patches for the four windows I cut. Oh ya, also put some tubing in the back for extra strength.

    How does that sound?


    BTW - What do you think a body shop might charge me (in general or specific) to put this roof on the right way? I already cut off the old one and left plenty of posts to cut down. I already have the new roof cut off and left the posts as long as I could. Although I would get a lot of satasfaction doing this myself, I would pay a shop if the price was reasonable.


    Thanks for the replies guys/gals. I realy appreciate it.
     
  6. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    Hi BadDog

    I too am in Phoenix (actually Peoria). Care to give me a quote on doing this job for me? I would like to have this done within a week or two. If you could use the extra work, I could use the extra help, let me know.
     
  7. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I sold out of that shop and moved on long ago. That was in AL about 1991 or so. /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif I don't do that anymore, don't have the time to work on my own junk. Sorry, good luck...
     
  8. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    Beveling an edge on sheet metal is damn near to impossible to weld w/out burning thru. If you are not much of a welder STAY AWAY FROM THIS PROJECT! There is an integral "cage" built into K5s that will save your cookies. If not done properly the top WILL just fall off in another roll. AND it takes the upper belt mount w/ it so you are now looking at getting (in the worse case senario) decapitated by the shoulder belt. Could happen. I never try to talk anyone out of something they want to do, I will try to advise as best I can over the net. But this is STRUCTURAL work and my advice is to let a pro handle it. If I lived near by I would be willing to come help and show you how. But I dont, so its best left to someone that knows how to and does this for a living.

    What I mean by windows is (and try to picture this) Take a box [] now stack another piece on top of that so you have []], NOW stack on another []]]. OK you have 2 layers in there that cannot be welded.

    SO you will weld the first layer [ that is the layer you will lap joint. That is the inner most layer you see from the inside of the cab. You lap it say 2-3 inches and weld the seams on both pieces and drop on a few 8mm plug welds for good measure. Now you have left a "window" in the next layer. basicly that is say 1in. bigger opening on top and bottom so that you can access the 1st layer welds. You will then lay the 1st part of the box in. So now you have []. Weld that top and bottom then move onto the next layer. That too will have a window about 1in. bigger to access the prev. layers welds. Do you get the picture of whats going on here? Each window is progressively bigger. NOW before you start layering any of it you need to clean and treat the weld so they do not rust, and grind the edges so that the next layer lays on flush.

    You have NO idea how hard this is to describe! LOL! Hopefully by now you have seen the difficulty in this and decided to have a shop do it. Besides the roof is not square and needs to be pulled. I dont even need to see the truck to know this. It is not square.

    What I am describing is the rough idea of how I do it. As I said I can do it in my sleep but cant hardly describe it. Bad Dog had a general idea what I was talking about because he has done it. I am interested in how BD does it differently from me.

    I really hope you decide to let a shop do this. Beginner stuff is bolt on, a fender, hood, or door. Next major "step" would be a bedside that is welded on. Then you get into structural stuff. You are talking about skipping what takes most guys to go from chasing tools and watching, to doing stuff that takes several yrs to get to.
     
  9. Seventy4Blazer

    Seventy4Blazer 3/4 ton status

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    great time for full conversion....
    grant
     
  10. BlazerGuy

    BlazerGuy 3/4 ton status

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    I would go with Seventy4Blazer's advice and do a full top conversion. I bet for what a body shop would charge you to do all that work you can weld in a 73-75 windsheild frame, modify the doors and get a cage. Plus it would be cooler /forums/images/icons/grin.gif
     
  11. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    UMMMM Yeah what Grant said. Good time to go full topless. Thats what I would do in that position.
     
  12. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    BTW, if you weren't in such a hurry, I wouldn't mind helping either. But this is not going to be a quick "how to" session. The only way I would be comfortable with your safety (and those with you) would be to be part of the whole process, and that will take some time.

    Only problem on your time line is that I have several weeks out of town in the next couple of months and I have my junk torn apart trying to get it all together for the CK5 Moab meet. In fact, I’m in LA all this week. /forums/images/icons/frown.gif I'm just not going to have the time to be of much help. Every spare minute I'll be working on my rig. /forums/images/icons/frown.gif

    Like the other's have said, maybe it's time for a topless convert with full cage and soft top. At this point it would be much easier to get right...

    If you do go the top replacement route, make sure you get it as close as you can, spot it together enough to hold, and check the fit of windows and doors. Still, my best advise is not to start on a project like this without much more experience...

    Hmm, another option, just do your best to make things fit right (windshield and doors mainly) and don’t worry about supper safety efforts, just make sure it don’t stress fracture and fall off. Then, put in a full cage (or at least a cab cage) and move you shoulder belt there. Still not ideal but, better than depending on the roof after a first time replacement effort…
     
  13. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Well, *this* would be a reason not to care what tranny you went with lol.

    Not that this is in depth like the other posts on this topic, but a friend had a shop rip out a non-stock sun roof in a GM car, find another piece of steel to fit, and weld it in and clean it up with filler, etc. It was super reasonable for the work involved, and for something like this, I'd probably try and find a real reputable shop do it. You can do it, but not doing it as a profession, unless you are retired the $$ vs Time isn't going to add up.

    Might be getting into an area where shops won't "deal" but wonder if you could do the work of removing the ruined top, and have them do the rest. Probably another one of those "we don't correct other peoples projects" but if cost is an issue, might save you *something* over having a shop do it all, if they will let you.
     
  14. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    Once you cut the old roof off it would be 10 times harder to pull the damage out. It is best to pull it w/ the roof on, the way it went in.

    Now you could do all the strip work. Get the glass, headliner, dash if ness., seats, carpet, ETC. out of the way. Maybe hang the new doors, that way all they have to do is adjust them.
     
  15. COLLISION

    COLLISION 1/2 ton status

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    PI gave some excellent advise and I personally would not attempt this repair yourself. There will no doubt be some pulling required before starting to cut sheet metal off the vehicle, and like he said you have to stagger your cuts. Half the work involved is just thinking ahead before you even start to remove the roof. One wrong cut can equal alot of extra work later.Even an experienced bodyman will have to temp install the roof panel, line up the doors, square the door and w/sheild openings, crossmeasure the back of the cab to get the top to fit properly. this is not something I would try to do in my backyard with a comealong and a tape measure. There is alot of pieces in the "B" pillars that overlap each other for extra strength and you can't just cut straight through these and expect to retain any strength when you weld them up again.
    If you have a digital camera take some pictures and post them(of the damage before you start) and maybe someone can help you through it.
     
  16. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    Thanks for all the help guys.

    I'll sit tight for a while and think about it. A friend of mine also suggested a full convertable from a 74-76. I have talked to some shops and they are willing to fix it for me but I am a pure hobbiest and would get a great deal of satisfaction doing this myself. I have rebuilt several Cameros/Firebirds over the years, rebuilt many engines and even did a couple fram-off restos but I have never done any real body repair outside of bolt on. So I realy want the expeirence. If I do I think I'll take all the time I need and employ some knowledgable friend to consult with each step of the way.

    The damage was not that bad in the roll. I put on a new clip and passenger door. The roof was smashed in on the very front passenger side and the rest was preaty good. The only problem with the body was my door jam was bent in but I already pulled that and it *looks* as good as new now. At least the door has even gaps and it opens and closes very easy. All that left is to put on the roof.

    I will put in a roll cage even though they make it hard to get in the back. I thought I should just incase another rollover is in the horizon lol.

    Again, thanks for all the input. I'm glad I came here to ask before I just jumped in. You guys gave me a lot to think about.
     
  17. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    Glad I could be of help. I honestly would like to see you move on to larger stuff like welding on a quarter panel or roof skin, before tackling structural stuff.

    Have fun and enjoy, but if you get in over your head, dont be scared to ask for help. As you seen we do help as best we can.
     

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