Monday 30 November 2015

Fabrication of a support bracket

I thought this topic deserved a dedicated 'in depth' post as I could not find anything definitive on the interweb about these support brackets.

You may recall that my rear floor pan outriggers were completely shot and so I removed them (see original post here). I was left with these little support brackets/feet that attach to the u-shaped mounts that come off the torsion bar housings:

The problem was that both sides were slightly different lengths, so I assumed that they had been arbitrarily hacked about at some point in the past. This meant that I had no reliable point of reference to work from. I wanted these brackets to be factory correct (if it is a job worth doing, its worth doing right, right?!), so I spent several evenings scouring VW forums for images of other peoples floor pans and amassed a small library of reference photos that revealed glimpses of these elusive brackets. I eventually concluded that there were two distinct types of these support bracket. For all VW Beetle's up to 1967 a short bracket was used and later models had a much longer type.

So, my '65 should have the short type. This was the answer I was hoping for because I was now fairly confident that the bracket on the passengers side of my chassis was correct and unmolested. Unfortunately the other side had not faired so well over the years; it had evidently been trimmed too short and the metal was alarmingly thin in places with pinholes beginning to appear in the corner edges (see pic above). The only course of action was to remove the old crusty bracket and fabricate a replacement using measurements from the good one. Started by grinding off the remains of the old bracket on the drivers side:

Took some initial measurements from the passengers side and devised a plan of action:

Then made a card mock-up of the good bracket:

I transferred the dimensions of the card template to 2mm sheet steel (template was flipped over on to the reverse side of course) then bent, cut and began shaping. Made a series of pie cuts to get the upward curve:

Once I had finessed the gaps to ensure they were forming the correct incline, I filled the spaces using weld. Once again I utilised the copper plate which acted as a backer:

Those welds were then ground off flush. A little welding was required to close up the other curved edge:

Finally the bottom edge was shaped, all welds dressed and given a lick of zinc primer:

It is a difficult shape to show in photos, so I produced a short video clip of the finished article (grab your popcorn!):

The finished bracket looks pretty good and is very close to the original. Shame the only person who will ever see it will be the MOT inspector! Still I think it was beneficial to spend the time making a faithful reproduction as I am still learning and developing my fabrication skills. Might as well perfect these metal working techniques on the unseen areas of the car so that I am semi-pro when I move onto the visible areas of the shell.

The difficulty I am facing now is deciding how best to weld this bracket to the torsion bar housing without negatively affecting the alignment of the new outrigger which fits over the top. I think the best option is to drop the shell back on the chassis to ensure correct alignment of the outriggers, as I can use the bolt holes in the shell for reference. Once am happy that everything fits up nicely, I will weld the support bracket onto the torsion bar housing and then plug weld the outrigger onto the support bracket. This may sound convoluted and vague, but all will become clearer once I start doing it (I hope!)...

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