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Torn Frame…and the Saga goes on

RAC68

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As most are aware, I have been in search of missing brake fluid for more than a week and have started rebuilding all active components (Booster, Rear Cylinders, and Calipers) and inspecting all lines and connectors. Today, while installing the rebuilt booster and right caliper, I noticed some odd shadows around the back a-frame fulcrum. After closer inspection, I noticed these shadows were produced by a tare in the frame that extended from the engine mount and along the inner and lower sides of the fulcrum attachment.

Although the location is quite difficult to access, I could probably tack weld the remaining metal to close the gap and reconnect. However, I would like to reinforce this area as the sheet metal is probably weak from rusting from the inside for the past 48 years. Has anyone had to do this and could provide some direction.

The brake fluid issue has been frustrating in itself and now this frame problem only amplifies this feeling. I guess, if you look at it in a positive way, my brake fluid pursuit saved me from finding the frame tare when the suspension collapses on a high speed turn.

Pictures tomorrow.

Ray (64BJ8P1)
 

vette

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Hi Ray, I have witnessed this same condition. Actually it was on my car but the crack at the inner edge of the lower rear A-frame pivot was caused by a skid into an unmoveable object called the "curb". My crack was at the mateing area of the pivot flange and the frame rail and didn't proceed away from that joint in any direction. I welded this joint again with a mig welder. Made the repair about 2 years before I took the car apart for restoration and it has held up well. BUT, recently I was looking at an on-line store, (i believe it was Dennis Welsh Motor Sports or Kilmatin) and they show a triangular, horizontal gusset that they developed to strengthen these pivots for racing purposes. Dave.
 
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Back in the day, when Healey's were still being used as daily drivers, whenever I'd get a car that I couldn't get a satisfactory tune out of the carburettors, I'd check to see if the chassis was suffering from "sunken" motor mounts.

We'd jack the engines back up, and weld angle-iron brackets at the junction of the mount & chassis. We weren't seeing them separate at the lower A-arm, at least in our shop, at that time.

However ugly, I'd recommend reinforcing the area, as opposed to merely welding the cracks
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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Hi All and thanks for the responses.

As indicated, here are 2 pictures that I was able to take of the tare. After thinking about the issue last night, it became obvious that I could not just install a piece of angle iron over the edge of the split frame as it would impede the downward movement of the A-frame….or am I mistaken. Also, that section of the frame is not straight as it dips down for the A-frame movement.

100_1354.JPG


100_1355.JPG


Along with the splits pictured, the right side of the fulcrum pivot support is also separated.

What type (flat pieces, angle iron, etc) and thickness of metal is suggested to rebuild/cover the broken area of the frame? I have looked at some sites to see if they had properly bent pieces that I could just lay in, but have only found frame replacement sections or reinforcing gussets that could be used after the initial fix.

What should be dismantled to get sufficient access for working the area? Should anything be cut (part of inner fender) for proper access?

Randy, I toally agree. Ugly is not my problem...keeping things in place is.

I am working on low jack stands in my garage so do not have the luxury of a lift.

Thanks again,
Ray (64BJ8P1)
 
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At a minimum, the RH suspension should be removed, and probably the generator and oil filter unit. That will at least give you a little bit more swinging room.

Even if you just shaped some repair pieces out of 14-16 gauge steel, it would impart significantly more strength on the repaired/welded crack, preventing further tearing.

Of paramount importance before welding, drill a 1/8" hole at the end of every crack line, to eliminate the stress risers at those points. If you merely welded up the crack, there is a greater chance that it will continue to "run" cracking through the new weld.

This is the sort of thing I deal with on a daily basis, here's an example of what I mean:

IMG_6445.jpg


IMG_6447.jpg


Please note that glob of "weld" is from a previous (and unsuccessful...) repair. While not all of my welds turn out looking like artwork, I'd never leave something like that behind as a mark of my work.

IMG_6449.jpg
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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Thanks Randy, I get the idea. How do you take such great pictures?????

All the best,
Ray (64BJ8P1)
 

BJ8Healeys

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Randy, frequently the real ends of cracks in metal are not visible to the naked eye and stop-drilling alone won't take out the end of the crack, thus allowing it to continue. Welding up the hole and crack after stop-drilling will certainly help prevent the crack from continuing to grow. But I practice and would recommend (instead of drilling with the visible end of the crack at the center of the drill bit) moving out ahead of the crack one drill bit radius before drilling to help ensure removing the end of the crack. Then weld it up.

I measure the thickness of the sheet metal in the frame as 0.063", which corresponds to 15 gauge (0.0673"). 16 gauge is 0.0598", so I wouldn't go any thinner than 15 gauge for repair of the frame.
 

HealeyRick

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RAC68 said:
The brake fluid issue has been frustrating in itself and now this frame problem only amplifies this feeling. I guess, if you look at it in a positive way, my brake fluid pursuit saved me from finding the frame tare when the suspension collapses on a high speed turn.

Pictures tomorrow.

Ray (64BJ8P1)

Maybe the brake fluid was disappearing into the hole in the frame? :crazyeyes: I can imagine how frustrating this is. It's tough when all we want to do is drive our cars and something comes up that puts them out of commission. Step back, take a deep breath, have a nice single malt and just put it in the rear view mirror.
 

Frameman

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Ray, before you proceed doing any welding remove the front spring on the side that needs to be repaired, then use a 2 " block between the front shock arm and front shock mounting plate, following the installation described in the service manual. This will establish correct ride height. Then check your front end alignment. It is pointless to do this repair if the front suspension geometry is not correct. I would cut the fatigued section out and butt weld in new metal. The original chassis thickness on Austin Healey is .072 or 16 gauge steel.
I do not recommend this as a repair because your frame is a vital part of the safety of your car but if you want to do it this is how I would approach it. Once the chassis is showing fatigue in one area other areas will also have failure.
You must also be an experienced welder to ensure you welds are secure.
Marty
 

BJ8Healeys

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Frameman said:
Ray, before you proceed doing any welding remove the front spring on the side that needs to be repaired, then use a 2 " block between the front shock arm and front shock mounting plate, following the installation described in the service manual. This will establish correct ride height. Then check your front end alignment. It is pointless to do this repair if the front suspension geometry is not correct. I would cut the fatigued section out and butt weld in new metal. The original chassis thickness on Austin Healey is .072 or 16 gauge steel.
I do not recommend this as a repair because your frame is a vital part of the safety of your car but if you want to do it this is how I would approach it. Once the chassis is showing fatigue in one area other areas will also have failure.
You must also be an experienced welder to ensure you welds are secure.
Marty

Marty, every sheet metal thickness gauge I can find says that 16 gauge steel is 0.0598". The closest to 0.072 is 14 gauge at 0.0747. I measured an original BJ8 frame in several places as 0.063" (0.0673" is 15 gauge). Are you using Canadian standards? You da Frame Man, I know, but where do your numbers come from?
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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Hi All and thank you for the instruction as this is an area I have little experience or knowledge in. It seems that a piece of 14 gauge metal is needed to reinforce for reinforcement but I have a number of questions before I start welding.

1. Since the jack stand is under the spring support presently, where should I move the support to? Should I support the engine separately? Should I placed a notched (to accommodate the bottom weld) board under the frame, and if so, where should it extend from and to?
2. Where should I apply the metal? Should I tack the original metal and place the new piece over the original? Should the metal patch be composed of multiple pieces because of the limited work space or one encompassing piece?

Thanks again. I really appreciate the guidance.
Ray (64BJ8P1
 

BJ8Healeys

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Frameman said:
you are right it is .059.
the more important issue is ensure dimensional integrity, would you not agree?

I would say that the important thing is not to use a repair patch or doubler that is <span style="text-decoration: underline">less</span> than the thickness of the part being repaired. If the patch or doubler is significantly <span style="text-decoration: underline">thicker</span> than the original part, it can actually act as a stress riser at its edges. Use a thickness that is approximately the same, or a little more, than the original thickness.
 

vette

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Yep Ray, I would follow all this good advice, safety is the most important. In my case the frame was never cracked not opened up. Just the hard hit to the curb broke the pivot flange free alittle. But the top and side rail of the frame was never broken. Dave.
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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Hi All and thank you for your considered and valuable responses. Yesterday I completed the brake component rebuilds and installation, however, I will wait to charge the system with silicon brake fluid until I complete the frame fix.

Today I will be taking the front suspension apart while keeping in mind what Randy and the Frameman have recommended. Previously I had posted a further request and, without being a pain to all, would appreciate some answers before I start the actual reconstruction.

RAC68 said:
1. Since the jack stand is under the spring support presently, where should I move the support to? Should I support the engine separately? Should I placed a notched (to accommodate the bottom weld) board under the frame, and if so, where should it extend from and to?
2. Where should I apply the metal? Should I tack the original metal and place the new piece over the original? Should the metal patch be composed of multiple pieces because of the limited work space or one encompassing piece?

Ray (64BJ8P1

As Steve and others have suggested, I have secured two small pieces of 14 gauge steel sheet for the patch. The difference between the two pieces is that one is very rigid with a 90 degree bend while the other is flat and much softer and malleable. I am leaning toward the softer metal if the patch is to be done in one piece as the area is far from straight. However, what about mixing and using the ridged metal in the straight area under the A-frame and the softer between the engine mount and A-frame pivot?

I appreciate all the supporting inputs received and apologize if I am becoming a pain.

Ray (64BJ8P1)
 

why

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Ray: Do not give a moments thought to being a pain, you are already making progress on a problem far and above anything many of us would even begin to fix, you have us all cheering for you, good luck!
Jay
'65 3000
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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UPDATE: Torn Frame…and the Saga goes on

Hi All,

I have always appreciated the direction, informative experiences, and encouraging support presented on this forum, especially in those areas I may be more lacking. Frame repair and modification is such an area and this status update presents the summary of my application of suggestions and research found to rectify the frame fractures recently discovered in the highly stressed area between the shock tower and rear A-arm fulcrum on the passenger (right) side of my 1964 BJ8P1.

The first conclusion I have drawn is that I would rather address any other issue before dealing with this type of problem. Randy and Martin (Frameman) hit the nail on the head when they indicated the suspension and alternator must be removed to have any chance of having even a minimum of space to address the problem with the engine installed. Even with a section of inner fender removed, you are still impeded the tight space and brake and fuel lines to make angling the Mig welder’s torch to its target almost impossible and you are left with little choice but to spot weld replacement metal.

To provide sufficient support to the frame so as not to extend the damage further when jacking and supporting the car on stands from my garage floor, I constructed 2 major 4”x4”-based wooden frame supports that were placed in front of the cross member and under the engine mounts. I found these 2 supports necessary to ensure stability of the affected frame area when replacing damaged metal.

Frame%2520Support.jpg
]

The approach I selected was to clean up the area and apply 3 new pieces of 14-gauge mild steal to renew this area. Since the gauge of the original frame steel is approximately 15-gauge, the new metal would be relatively consistent to the original and, as suggested by Steve Byers, reduce the possibility of transferring the stress and fracturing the frame beyond the fix. To provide further rigidity to the A-arm fulcrum, I have also applied a gusset introduced on Healey Rally Cars. Although the welds and fix is not the prettiest, I am relatively confident this fix will maintain suspension functionality and frame dimensional stability. Sometime in the future, whenever I decide it’s time for an engine rebuild, I will remove the engine and re-address appearance of my original frame fix.

Frame%2520Fix.jpg


It should be noted that the Healey Rally cars were fitted with 2 gussets on all A-frame pivots and a plate enclosing the open side of the engine mounts. My choice of applying only the gusset between the forward rear A-frame fulcrum side and the shock tower was to provide that extra support that may be lacking due to my less than professional welds in that close area.

Hope my experiences will prove beneficial to others.

Ray (64BJ8P1) Original Owner
Sorry, I forgot to take interim pictures and now the gusset, suspension, and inner fender eliminate that possibility.
 

BigGreen

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Re: UPDATE: Torn Frame…and the Saga goes on

Ray,

I hope I will never have to go that way.
I like your pictures and information
Geat forums need great users (and sometimes great problems)

Hans
 
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RAC68

RAC68

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Re: UPDATE: Torn Frame…and the Saga goes on

Hi All,

Hi Hans and thank you for your kind words.

Just returned home and couldn’t wait to take my first ride (test ride) since the Saga began. I am elated to report that the brakes worked with no loss of fluid (never did find out where it went), frame stayed together (even under severe turning), and the gear oil remained in the rear end (discovered/created when rebuilding the rear brakes). Looking back, I have to admit I feel fortunate I had my initial loss of brake fluid or I may not have discovered the frame’s condition until it became much more extensive and expensive to deal with.

Thanks to all.

On The Road Again,
Ray (64BJ8P1)
 
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