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Author Topic: Ouch! My rusty bulkhead :(  (Read 4482 times)
happycamperbrat
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« on: March 16, 2011, 02:58:32 AM »

The manual says this is SAE 950A steel. It is spot resistant welded. I suppose I am going to have to cut the sections of rust off and then clamp the steel down to cover and then spot resist weld.... Im going to take a welding class next fall for some other things I want to do on the bus, but maybe I should go to a professional for this? I dont even know where to get this kind of steel or aprox how much $$$ this will cost..... anyone care to weigh in and guide me a little, please?






 
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The Little GTO is a 102" wide and 40' long 1983 GMC RTS II and my name is Teresa in case I forgot to sign my post
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 05:54:19 AM »

That is a simple job for someone with a Mig welder and a little mild steel sheet, probably 18 gauge would do.  I would probably spot weld (electric resistance weld) the bottom flange only because I happen to have such a tool in my shop and rarely find a use for it, but I would absolutely Mig weld the rest of the patch in. Maybe I would joggle in a flange and do spot welds, maybe I would stitch weld it.  Production welding uses spot welds because they can get at both sides with robots or whatever, repair welds use repair techniques.  Stitch welding is basically tack it in all over with minimal heat to reduce warping ( a lot of body shops stop here and go directly to bondo or seal sealer), then go back and do 1" seam, 1" off, then if you want to go back and fill in with seam welds in between.  At the end you get a 100% welded seam and less water intrusion.  Cover with 3M seam sealer front and back, corrosion resistant paint, little bit undercoating, done.

SAE 950 is used in production for a lot of excellent reasons, it is a relatively low strength low carbon steel that is somewhat corrosion resistant, but you can usefully repair that with 1025 mild steel sheet, the strength qualities are  very similar, if not a touch higher.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-strength_low-alloy_steel

Brian
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2011, 06:54:17 AM »

Hi Teresa,

From what is visible in your photo, your damage is not so bad.  Here is my take on the fix:

a)  using your newly acquired grinder with a cutting disc, cut out the bad steel,

b)  change to wire brush and clean the surrounding area to bare metal,

c)  call your local welder, give him the dimensions for the replacement pieces (along with the type steel) and, you should be good to go with only his minimum charge.  Better yet, 'round up' a couple pieces for the repair and, have them 'weld ready' for him.

Getting the parts 'weld ready' makes for a quick and easy job for the welder.  It would be hard for me to imagine more than an hour for this repair under the above conditions.
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gary t'berry
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2011, 08:19:23 AM »

Teresa
   How soon are you taking that welding class?

my $0.02 Talk to your instructor on what welding machine will suit you needs and budget.
  Buy it and have your instructor teach you with your machine.

Now your familiar and have the machine to work with. 

Give a person a fish they eat for a meal.  Teach a person to fish they eat for life...

You go Girl!!!
Brice
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2011, 08:31:54 AM »

Brian thank you for the education! I was searching online last night for SAE 950a for sale and could not find it. Maybe for some reason it is out of production or only for the big producers like GM?

garhawk that is very assuring, especially coming from you because I know what all you did to your own RTS. I havent got the rear end ripped apart yet so I cant speak to that yet..... after finding this Im not sure what I will find when I get back there! I do have this same kind of rust, spread out over the same aprox amount of space and in the same place on both the driver's side and passenger side of the coach on that bulkhead.   Cry  I have about a dozen bolts still standing between me and being able to get to the enitre front bulkhead from the rear facing side. After I get those other bolts taken care of today or tomorrow then I was thinking about scrubbing that entire bulkhead and wire brushing it all to see if there is anymore in that bulkhead. Afterwards I was going to paint a rust preventive on it. The other bulkheads are looking good so far.

Brice, I would be taking the class next fall.... the problem is that I am going to miss my Little GTO this summer. The front tires are being pulled during Easter Vacation until I can fix this. But I have a lot of other work to do on it to get it ready for the conversion. Im thinking I should read up on the manual about long term storage for the engine and get it ready to not drive for awhile.....  Cry Cry Cry

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 08:44:51 AM by happycamperbrat » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 08:47:44 AM »

950 is the old designation according to SAE J1392. The new designation is 340 according to SAE J2340.  It's basically car and truck steel, of an older specification, superseded.

Brian
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2011, 10:22:47 AM »

I would encourage you to get a welder as well. I bought one (MIG) and have had no formal welding classes. I am self taught in this regard. I have some vision issues so welding has been a challenge for me as I cannot see what I'm doing with the helmet on. But, even at that, in my many projects I have found many times the welder to be a handy tool. I do not weld anything I consider safety related/structural, but if I need a tool cart, or making patch panels for my Corvan, or my mower needs a little welding done...anyway, they are really really nice to have. I use it 5 or 6 times a year on average...and welding is FUN! Get a grinder too, it will be helpful when preparing metal for welding..

Boyce

ps I believe galvanized metal I think will release poisonous gas when heated/welded/cut etc. so be careful..oh yeah and metal is really hot after welding! duh huh
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Boyce Rampey
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2011, 10:35:08 AM »

Boyce, without knowing what your vision issues are I will say that I had to buy a pair of drugstore reading glasses to weld with, my regular glasses were no good at all.  I also highly recommend an auto-darkening helmet.  And you are dead right on the galvanized metal, and it's hard to grind off all the galvanizing before welding.  Also spray degreasers can release a gas that can kill you right away, there and then.

Mig is known as the easiest way to start to weld, but also the easiest way to make good looking but absolutely lousy welds!  Typically there is a bad ground to one side of the weldment, or the inexperienced weldor is pushing the bead too fast or is using too little current.  But once you get going, it's like a hot glue gun for metal!

Brian
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2011, 12:52:35 PM »

My night vision in particular is bad. I could almost weld without any lens other than safety glasses! J/K, wouldn't even try it. I do have an auto darkening helmet, and an old type helmet. I can't see anything but a bright light when I weld. I typically see the puddle a little bit if I weld in the dark. In daylight, forget it! I thought about trying the gas welding type goggles to see if that works better for me...

Boyce
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2011, 01:07:22 PM »

Well, Brian beat me to my normal statement.  MIG welding can be dangerous in the hands of an untrained person on structural parts.

As Brian said, it is very easy to make good looking welds that have no penetration.  

I wish that welding schools would teach gas welding first, so folks would get the feeling for proper puddle structure.  

It looks like the area is not a structural area but thatneeds to be confirmed by an RTS person.  If that is the case, then this would be a place to practice.

Now, let's talk about welders.  MIG is fine.  But this is not the place to cut corners.  First of all, I can not say it strongly enough, you need a gas capable welder.  Some folks can do marginally OK with flux wire, but I really think you need to use a shield gas process.  Next, spend the money to buy a name brand welder.  Many off shore units just plain suck.  

Given your situation, you will probably end up with a 110V unit.  That will work on thicknesses up the 1/8 (will probably be rated higher, but that is multiple pass).  I would hope that you could find your way clear to a 220V unit.

If you want to get started before the class begins, buy a bunch of scrap sheet  metal and do a bunch of practicing on a machine that you can find access to (friend?).  Hopefully that person will be a good welder who can help you learn.  My thought is that it might be good to get some practice before you take the class.  You won't do enough welding to form bad habits Shocked

Lastly, it has been touched on, but both MIG and TIG welding are critical of surface preparation.  Any oil will be converted to carbon inclusions and that really hurts the weld.

OK, enough of now.

As was said, go for it girl!!!!

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2011, 01:13:58 PM »

Boyce, good auto-darkening helmets will have an adjustment for amount of darkening.  If yours does, play with it. 

As an option, find a cheap old style helmet (garage sale?) and go to a welding supply store and buy several different shades and try them to see if that makes a difference. 

Many helmets are set for arc welding and you can get by with a lesser shade with MIG and TIG.

For normal welding (arc and to a degree, MIG) I can get by without correction.  However, with TIG, I have to wear cheaters since it tend to be closer to the welding process.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2011, 02:17:18 PM »

Teresa,

  If you would call B&B surplus here in Bako they can help with metal, then when you come over come see me and we can go to one of the fab place's around me and have them bend the flange on it for you. We can put it in the drill press and drill the holes. After that if you would like I can let you use my miller MiG welder and autodarkening helmet and some scrap to practice with, so you can see what they are like. No charge. LOL

Hope that helps

Don
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2011, 06:12:46 PM »

Hang on, let me get my Busconversion crash helmet on.  Grin

Even though I have a full arsenal of conventional metal working tools and skills, if this were my situation I would seriously consider the alternative repair method of panel-bonding. What that would entail basically is to remove the rust-out and to clean a large area to bare metal. Then about a 10 gauge  patch panel could be fabricated for a good fit, complete with a return flange and any necessary bolt holes. The patch panel could then be bonded over the rusted out panel.

Sounds crazy huh? Believe it or not, a bonded repair would be far stronger than a welded panel and any loads would  be distributed evenly over the entire patched area, rather than concentrated at weld seams. Meanwhile, if welded, the panel's  "field" areas would  remain as two separate pieces.

As far as strength goes, I'm sure that in a destructive test the bonded panel "sandwich" would be so strong that the base metal would rip away before the bond separated. Whereas with the same destructive test to a welded panel, I'm sure that the panel would probably separate in the field area and then tear away at the concentrated weld seams or spots.
 
I realize that at first thought panel bonding may seem like a flimsy makeshift repair, but until you've seen its strength demonstrated, it's hard to believe. And after all, bonding is now the preferred method for many OE panels. I think it would be the fastest easiest way to a permanent repair that would get Happycamper passed this setback and on to more pressing conversion work.

Ted
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 06:29:18 PM by TedsBUSted » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2011, 06:24:41 PM »

I was waiting for someone to make ted's suggestion

Besides bonding would rivets be out of line -- with the holes filled of course to keep moisture out

Now you have the repair and no major learning curve or overt expense

Melbo
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2011, 07:02:35 PM »

I am with Ted. First is DON"T remove those wheels. You have found a small problem but you have far more you can do on your bus and still use it. Those are small issues. This is not something that is going to fall apart anytime soon. I would check with your comunity collage and see if they have an auto body class. You will find they teach you welding sheet metal working and paint. The big plus is They provide all the tools.They have welders, plasma cutters,sheet metal breaks, stretchers, shrinkers, air tools and what nots. The best part is they have power for it all. When I was taking the class i would leave my car there the whole time I was in it. There were guys in the class for years. They just used it as a shop to work out of. The talent was amazing. So if you have allot of repairs, do all of them while the wheels are on it. Remove them last after you have an idea of what you are doing. You don't want the rest of the bus rusting away while your sitting over the dirt and it on blocks until next year. You will learn how to make custom doors and any thing else custom from sheet metal. It will make you a well rounded fabricator. Anyway back to your rust that looks to be shield panels not structural. cut out the rust and make a big patch and weld it over. after some flat black paint you will never notice it behind the wheel or behind carpet in the cargo bays. Your not repairing the body of a Shelby cobra. I spent 4 weeks once restoring a door on my mustang to find out 6 months later they finally started selling the full door shell. In other words don't waist time where it is not needed. Just think after your in the class awhile you will be able to remove windows and have it all ready to paint. I just don't want you to get overwhelmed with it dead in the water for a long period. It becomes committed to doing all repairs where it sits. At least now you can drive it to have it fixed if needed or get it out of the mud.
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2011, 09:25:58 PM »

WOW!! I love this group!! You guys have given me a LOT to digest and think about, even what kind of helmet to get  Wink Yes, this is structual. The RTS is designed in several different modules all welded together to form the strength of the coach. Fortunately, to my eye anyway, it isnt swaying or bowing or anything and is straight. The rust issues are at the lower part of the bulkhead behind both front tires. I didnt notice it before blocking the bus up and climbing under when I spotted an area that just didnt seem right, so I started poking around with a screw driver and quickly found lots of red powder! All around the rusted area seems pretty solid still, I really want to clean it up with a wire brush on my drill and the grinder like Geoff said to be sure though. The Good Samaratin that is coming out here for Easter Vacation to teach me how to remove my tires will know what to do about this I think, I just want to have that area all ready for him when he gets here.

Thanks Guys! Each and everyone of you truely are the best!! I am honored to be in this group  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2011, 09:47:16 PM »

I agree that those rust spots do not need to be on your priority list. I would concentrate on safety items as brakes and air leaks first. I would use some rust conversion product on the spots to keep them from further rusting. Here is a product that I have used and it works great. I put it on a spot about 3 years ago and the rust spot has not grown. I have used it on some of my older trucks around the fender wheels and and so far has worked there to even with all the road salt.

http://store.interstateproducts.com/1_step_rust_killer_1gal?sc=2&category=7605
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2011, 02:16:58 AM »

On the subject of rust removal, ya'll may find this thread interestng to look over....

http://corvaircenter.com/phorum/read.php?1,389884


Boyce
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Boyce Rampey
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2011, 06:01:19 AM »

picture didn't look structural to me. looked like it was protecting structure from elements. I'd say cut out bad and make sure it did not go past and effect structure behind. If it didn't simple screw/ rivet and seal a patch over hole. Take a look at original picture and see what you guys think. the holes in fender well were the source of moisture to get behind rusted area and cause rust out from back side. What is missing ;plugs  / mud flap mounting?Huh
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 06:05:23 AM by robertglines1 » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2011, 06:54:56 AM »

I believe the RTS is a pure monocoque design made up of modules that are welded together.  That tends to make everything structural to some degree, although i also thought they were stainless steel, not low-carbon mild steel.  Anyway, fixing what you have to very achievable I would think, but now that you've started you have to keep looking...

Brian
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« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2011, 08:14:10 AM »

Robert, you are right. Those bolts were for the mud flaps and the tires were kicking water up behind the mud flaps and it had no where to go...

Brian, yes the RTS is a monocoque design with all the modules welded together. The photo is actually 2 modules with a welded seam and the rust went thru the 1st module, the weld, then the mating module to create a hole. From 1982 thru about 1986 the lower bulkheads were made of mild steel while the upper area remained stainless steel. During this era the lower bulkheads came with an option to be stainless, obviously mine didnt take the option  Sad Before 1982 they had stainless lower bulkheads. As I recall, after about 1986 they started putting the stainless back for the front and rear bulkhead. Ive been looking at my other bulkheads since finding this and they all seem to be fine with only a few places of minor surface rust. The hardest place to get to on the RTS is the rear bulkhead though, and I still have aways to go before I can get to it....... but it is also the place I hear the most complaints about rust in the RTS groups.. So Im working on it.

My bus came from the San Fransisco Bay area and used to run Hwy 17 (that's why I have one of the very few transists that came with highway gears). I never expected to find rust, but I really didnt read enough about them having any mild steel before purchasing it either. I thought it was from a rust free area and all made out of stainless steel, but I guess the salt in the air got to it and I was dead wrong about the whole body being stainless. You would think that GM would have considered the stainless in the lower part of the bus to be more important then stainless up where the passengers are if they were going to start cutting corners  Roll Eyes......
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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2011, 08:41:19 AM »

Stainless has little flex it cracks and buses have to flex at some point mixing mild steel with stainless is a easy way to achieve flexing



good luck
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2011, 08:59:18 AM »

Here are some updated photos, with the bolts for the mud flaps removed and a shot of the driver's side as well

Driver's side looking from behind tire



Passenger side looking towards front of bus



Passenger side looking from behind front tire


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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2011, 09:39:45 AM »

I agree that those rust spots do not need to be on your priority list. I would concentrate on safety items as brakes and air leaks first. I would use some rust conversion product on the spots to keep them from further rusting. Here is a product that I have used and it works great. I put it on a spot about 3 years ago and the rust spot has not grown. I have used it on some of my older trucks around the fender wheels and and so far has worked there to even with all the road salt.

http://store.interstateproducts.com/1_step_rust_killer_1gal?sc=2&category=7605


Oh and I wanted to say too that I did have the brakes checked out by a DD garage shortly after buying my bus. I saw some black oil coming out of one of the rear wheels and it concerned me. The DD told me that the brakes were brand new and had recently been rebuilt (I already knew the engine and tranny were recently rebuilt by the City of Santa Cruz but did not know about the brakes too  Grin ) The brakes just needed breaking in! It also has new tires on it that I bought last year, and I have never noticed major air leaks...... so dont worry, you are safe if Im in range lol
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« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2011, 03:45:33 PM »

So what was the black oil that you saw?

God bless,

John
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« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2011, 04:21:44 PM »

The DD guy said it was oil from the brakes..... I cant remember now, but an RTS person thought it was a bearing or something at the time from my description of the oil. So I then nursed the bus to Bakersfield to be checked out. When the RTS guy saw the wheel though he said that from my description that he had thought there was much more oil then he saw. But I took it to a shop in Bakersfield just to be on the safe side as I was going on a 1000 mile trip at the time. Im not exactly sure where the oil was coming from anymore but it was something to do with the brakes being new and needing to break in according to the DD guy...
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« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2011, 04:54:00 PM »

Interesting. In my limited brake experience, I can't say that I have heard of that before. Thanks for the fuller explanation.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2011, 05:31:34 PM »

Theresa

 Something isn't jiving here.  My MCI brakes are a dry brake all actuation is by air servo with a cam inside the brake assembly.

I can't think of how any fluid could be generated by breaking in dry brake pads on a steel brake drum.  Were you driving in the wet so brake dust could have been carried away with water?  This could explane a black fluid but not Oil!!!   Oil sounds like a leaking wheel bearing or axle seal.

Check it out. Any one else got something?
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« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2011, 06:09:34 PM »

Huh Well now that I think of it, maybe it wasnt oil........ but it was black  
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