Tag Archives: welding

Rusted and… Rebar

While looking at rat rods on Pinterest, we found this rusty old truck with a visor made out of license plates. We were extremely inspired by this idea, and decided that we could do something similar, but add a unique twist to it. We devised a plan to create a frame for the visor using rebar, which is a type of steel reinforcement bar that is often used in construction for reinforcing concrete. We would then fill in the frame with smaller fragments of rebar, and stitch pieces of license plates to fit over the frame.

The rebar was extremely difficult to cut and work with. Steel is pretty solid. Especially thermo-mechanically treated steel with a tempered core.  The rebar ate through several grinding wheels before we even finished making the outer frame. Luckily, the thickness of the rebar makes it excellent for welding.

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We used a straight piece of steel for the center, which would act as the main support, as well as a mounting point for our acrylic cow skull. The two side brackets were designed to sit above the side window tracks, using the spider webs to support the sides of visor.

Once the outer frame was complete, it was time to fill in the gaps. Since these structural pieces would be visible from inside the car, we decided that we should make them somewhat uniform.

The sparks from the grinder burned a lot of holes in the workbench, which can be seen slowly deteriorating throughout this progression of photos.

grinder

Once the frame was complete, we started filling in the gaps with license plates. Most of the plates we used are from the 1930s and 1940s because these license plates are made of a much thicker gauge steel than modern license plates, which makes them more suitable for welding.

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After getting the visor welded to the car and sprayed down with our Secret Rust Solution, we fastened on our cow skull and sealed the surface with clear coat to stop the rust from venturing any further.

licenseplatevisor

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Creature Comforts

Checker Marathons were used as taxis in many major cities back in the 60’s and 70’s. They were designed as fleet vehicles with rugged frames and a massive interior.

Most rat rods are bare bones when it comes to the interior. To the surprise of many hot rod enthusiasts, this rat rod’s interior is fully furnished. When we first picked it up, both rear arm rests were rotted out, as well as most of the body under the back seat.

before2

The floor was covered in various Bondo patches, and there were still quite a few holes where we could see the ground from inside the car. Once we got all the holes patched up with sheet metal and street signs, we had a lot of space to decide what to do with. We both agreed that a Persian rug would be the best option for a carpet.

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The original heater was also not operational, so we found an old Cadillac heater on eBay for a good price, and it fit under the dash quite nicely. Many older cars run on six volt systems, however the Checker runs on a 12 volt system like most modern car batteries. This heater had a 6 volt blower, so we had to put a 12 volt blower in the heater so that the extra thermal load wouldn’t immediately fry the blower motor when we turn on the heater.

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The armrests in the rear were still missing, so we made new ones out of wood.They’re filled with spray foam too, for added stability and structural support. The door panels were also in bad condition, so we added new fabric to the door panels and used it to cover the arm rests as well.

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The original pieces remaining in the back seats are the two metal ashtrays that we managed to save and install into the new armrests. My dad also did some custom airbrushing and added some lightning.

Fossil Fabrication

Working on old cars can be a very frustrating task. Although it seems as if this car is frozen in time, most of the bolts are frozen too. As we get closer to the completion of the Checker, one question has been arising quite frequently: “what have we gotten ourselves into?”

three-quarters

After reading this blog post about the vintage car culture of Cuba, I was reminded why I love these machines so much. Some people see cars as simply transportation, but car enthusiasts see them as living fossils, preserving the technology of their day. In Cuba, it became be very difficult to import cars after the embargo, meaning that most of the cars in Cuba are restored classics because they couldn’t import new cars. The embargo has been recently lifted, but the effects of the embargo can still be seen today.

Cuba’s entire car culture is literally frozen in time. The only way for them to drive is to fix the classic cars that were already in Cuba before the embargo. They can’t order parts either, so they are forced to fabricate their own parts and salvage components from other machines, such as boats, lawnmowers, and other cars. If we take care of our cars and maintain them, they will last for generations, like the two-stroke 75cc Coco taxis of Cuba which can still be seen today.

It can be quite disheartening when unknown issues arise, eating up more time and money; but problem solving is what it’s all about. It’s a really cool feeling when you figure out how to solve a mechanical problem. Driving is awesome, but turning the wrench is the most rewarding aspect of custom car culture.

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The license plates for the Checker should be arriving from the RMV any time now, which is perfect timing since the weather is finally starting to cooperate. We’re still trying to straighten out a few frustrating issues with the emergency brake and reverse lights, but the beast should be roadworthy within the upcoming weeks.

 

Welding on the World Wide Web

 

After we ran out of license plates and scrap metal, we started to look elsewhere for steel. There are quite a few sellers on eBay with large selections of steel. This eBay store specializes in selling plasma-cut low-carbon steel shapes, which are perfect for rat rods because low-carbon steel will rust quickly if it is not painted or coated. We were able to find a few spiderwebs on eBay that matched the theme quite well. After some hammering and welding, it was a perfect fit.

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Once we had scoured every eBay store and international seller we could find, my dad came across an ad for SPEEDCULT. This place has it all: a blog, an Instagram page, and even an online store that specializes in selling the exact pieces of steel we were looking for at very reasonable prices.

After seeing what SPEEDCULT had to offer, we couldn’t resist putting some of their art on the Checker. We ordered several really unique pieces from them and they all turned out to be extremely cool. They are made of heavy, thick quality steel and they are all cut with laser precision. For all of your rat rod needs, I highly recommend SPEEDCULT.