Anyone repair their frame or am I boned pt2?

Al Steel

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I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. I anyone recalls (or cares) I bought a completely trashed 03 Expy earlier in the year (Read Part 1 Here ). Thought it was good just needing a few repairs but literally EVERYTHING was bad on it, except the interior which was quite nice. Sold it for scrap and was sad... Fast forward about 3 months and I found my current rig and picked it up for a song... happy again. It had issues that I am slowly working through but the biggest one is staring me in the face right now and I need some advice.

There is a gash in the bottom of the frame just rear of the front driver side (pics later). It's on the bottom of the frame and the metal is split, like someone drove a jack or something right through the steel. It's literally an open gash about a foot long, not rust. Looks like the PO jumped curb or a cliff or something and impaled it on a pointy rock. It's not deformed or bents. There is no rust anywhere else on the frame but the gash is starting to rust underneath. I seriously doubt it has compromised the safety of the truck because the surrounding metal is solid on all 3 other sides. So here is my plan.

- Cut out the jagged parts of the gash so I have a nice straight clean opening.
- Grind away any surface rust I find.
- Undercoat/stop rust the INSIDE of the frame opening liberally.
- Get a piece of steel the same wall thickness or thicker.
- Weld it to the bottom of the frame to cover the hole as cleanly as possible.
- Grind down / blend the edges so it doesn't look so much like a home grown repair.
- Paint / undercoat it and drive it on a dirt / muddy road to cover up the freshness of the repair.
- Take it to an inspector and cross my fingers!

I wouldn't even worry about repairing it, but in Northern VA we have some very strict safety inspections. If an inspector sees any kind of frame damage it will fail. Then I'm boned because that is a scarlet letter that will follow it to any other inspector I take it to.

Anyone think this will work? I only have one shot to get it to pass for that repair. I REALLY don't want to have to scrap this truck too, I finally got it riding nice and running smooth. Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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David E

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Sounds like a pretty solid plan. I would also have someone who specializes in frame work (not unheard of) and have him validate the work for a small fee, that would be YOUR safety slip. I did similar when had to cut my whole front end, and welded new steel back on.
Good luck.
 

Hamfisted

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Have you run it by a body shop or one that does frame repair ? Virginia has some pretty strict regs on frame damage and repair. It could very well be why the previous owner sold it.
Your idea doesn't sound bad to me, but I'm not a Virginia vehicle inspector.


Virginia Vehicle Inspection Regs regarding vehicle frame condition....

" Frame or unitized (monocoque) body of any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer possesses one or more of the following defective characteristics: rust holes; any area of the frame or its components is broken, cracked, sagging, or bent; or damaged at any location to include any welded joint; the frame is corroded to the point where it is weakened; or any holes are drilled in the top or bottom rail flanges of the frame or the frame or cross-member (except as specified by the manufacturer).

NOTE: Any welded repair of the frame must be in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. "







.
 
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Al Steel

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Thanks guys. Taking it for a pre-inspection inspection is not a bad idea. Unfortunately there are damn few shops in NoVA that will touch a frame. There is a truck shop west of me that may do this kind of work so worth a shot.

I live in a very uppity county and good, honest repair shops that won't rip you off or charge you ridiculous prices for modest repairs are non-existent. I had a shop quote me nearly $1300 to replace the front struts on a 05 Caravan! Wtf?! I bought the OEM LKQ quick struts for $300 for the pair and installed myself in less than 2 hours. Crazy!

So I'm not hopeful that I'm going to find a local shop for this repair that won't want an arm and a lease on my leg to fix it.
 

whtbronco

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@Al Steel, you could try calling a body shop out in Winchester. It'd be a bit of a drive for ya, but we have more shops willing to work with you on stuff than you're likely to find around the beltway and at lower prices. I'm guessin' you're in or around Arlington, Fairfax or Loudoun, I grew up in that turd hole. You could call Jeff at Costello's Body Shop and talk to him about it, https://www.costellosbody-paintshop.com/ .

Why not have a good welder cut out the bad area, weld in a piece that fits and grind the weld flush. Then spray undercoating on the frame and call it a day.

I drilled all kinds of holes in my truck frames in years past and never once got questioned on that during inspection. With all the mods on my lifted Broncos and Ranger the inspectors in Fairfax and Loudoun were always very picky with me.
 
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Al Steel

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@Al Steel, you could try calling a body shop out in Winchester. It'd be a bit of a drive for ya, but we have more shops willing to work with you on stuff than you're likely to find around the beltway and at lower prices. I'm guessin' you're in or around Arlington, Fairfax or Loudoun, I grew up in that turd hole. You could call Jeff at Costello's Body Shop and talk to him about it, https://www.costellosbody-paintshop.com/ .

Why not have a good welder cut out the bad area, weld in a piece that fits and grind the weld flush. Then spray undercoating on the frame and call it a day.

I drilled all kinds of holes in my truck frames in years past and never once got questioned on that during inspection. With all the mods on my lifted Broncos and Ranger the inspectors in Fairfax and Loudoun were always very picky with me.

Yeah, LoCo is major PAIN and big $$$ for everything! It was great until about 20 years ago when it went from mostly rural to nothing but rich suburbia. I have no problem driving out to Winchester (grew up near that area) and was actually trying to find a shop out that way or in Berryville to do the work. Maybe an inspection shop that isn't as picky about non-structural frame rust. I will call Costello's, thanks for that! A friend of mine in PA welds and I was also planning on going to see him if I couldn't get it done here for a reasonable price... which leads me to..

I took it to a local shop for an estimate and pre-inspection inspection. He not only confirmed the spot that I saw, but also found two other spots near the back of the car that I didn't get to see which he stated would be a larger issue. In fact, he suggested scrapping the vehicle based on that (!!). Pics below. To me, the frame looks to be in good shape with just these two spots. Yeah, there is some rust but it's certainly not to the point of condemnation. Doesn't look like a Herculean effort to fix but I'll let you guys be the judge.

Welders, body people please weigh in..

The ugly but not so bad... looks like someone tried to jack it up from the bottom of the frame and it didn't go well. Cut out the jagged bits, hammer sides flat, weld in a flat piece on the bottom and it would be good.

Picture1.jpg

The bad... inside of passenger rear frame, outside is good. Looks like a candidate for a steel slip on repair, if it exists... otherwise ???

Picture2.jpg

Seriously though, are these frames made of CHEESE or just a bad design that allows water, salt and grime to pool in these spots?! Not the first I've seen to rust out there. Advice appreciated. Thanks!
 

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sjwelds

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I'm a welder by trade.

I wouldn't want to tackle that. Too many curves and irregularities, plus, with that much rust, there's no telling how much you'd have to cut back to get to good solid steel.

Also, I don't think you'll be able to hide the fact that the frame has been repaired. Any decent sharp-eyed inspector will be able to see it, no matter how good your welder is.

Last but not least, anytime you weld on a frame, you crystallize the steel right next to the weld, and chances are pretty good it will crack right next to the weld.........
 
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Al Steel

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sjwelds - Thanks for your reply. I've seen that the Expys have a separate rear frame that is welded to the front. Would it be possible to purchase a donor rear frame (can be had for ~$300), pull out the old and just weld in the replacement. Won't require a full, off-frame replacement, just drop the rear 1/3rd? Maybe that's a novice question because you would have to pull the entire frame to get the front and back to mate up properly?

Just looking for options to scrapping a perfectly good truck. NoVA SUCKS with their restrictions.

I don't think the fact the frame was repaired will fail an inspection. it just has to be repaired to manufacturer specifications... w/e the F' that means.
 
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whtbronco

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Ahh the good 'ole days when LoCo was farm land and rte 7 was a 2 lane road.

Well that area in the front doesn't look too bad to me. The rear area is pretty impressive. I'm kinda lost on what to suggest here. The idea of replacing the rear of the frame isn't bad, and if the drivers side is even close to that condition it may be the only option. I wonder if the cost would be worth it though. Maybe Jeff can give you some guidance on that.

I've had some old trucks, that I dearly miss, and none had frame rust anywhere near that extent.
 

Broncoholic

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That frame is scary. It's literally rusting from the inside out. My opinion, that "gash" in the front of the frame is also rust from the inside out and the previous owner either accidentally put a jack throug it, or purposely bent the edges in to see how bad it was and do a visual inspection. That's probably when he decided to sell it for a song and let it be some else's problem.

I bet if you used a welders hammer, or the claw of a regular hammer, to do a tap test front to back along the bottom of the frame you'll punch a lot of holes in the frame.
 
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