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It wasn't pretty, this cab!  The closer I looked, the worse it got.  Once I had completely disassembled the truck and peeked into all of the nooks and crannies, there was serious rust everywhere.  The floors were rotted through, the corners of the cab had holes all the way through, and the firewall had gaping holes from the installation of a non-Studebaker heater.  The method for the heater installation was unique: use a cold chisel and cut three sides of a square, then fold it back like a sardine can lid.   This technique had been used to poke the fan motor through the firewall and the run the heater hoses through two more holes.  The good news was that the metal pieces were still there.

I hammered the firewall "hanging chads" back into place and then tried to level the surfaces.  My arms were not long enough to hold a dolly on the back side and hammer on the front.  I got my wife to hold the dolly while I swung the hammer.  She crouched in the cab while I beat on the outside.  Of course, this worked well for all of about 10 seconds.  The noise inside the cab was deafening, so I fitted her out with noise-suppression ear muffs (actually, the headsets we use when we fly small planes) and we resumed work.  I welded and pounded while my good wife handled the dolly.   Eventually we got it straight enough.

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The floors were beyond making minor repairs.  They were rotted through in many places and thin everywhere else.  I took some sheets of heavy brown wrapping paper and made patterns for new pieces.  I traced the patterns on to 18 gauge (.048 inch thick) steel and cut them out with some power shears at the restoration shop of Mark Keilen in N. Attleboro, MA.  We used his bead forming machine to emboss some stiffening ribs in the panels.  Then I cut out the old floors with a air-powered cutoff tool and welded in the new floors.  It was pretty scary to cut out huge hunks of the floor and leave only the edges and braces to define the planes where the metal had to fit.  I was fortunate that the floor shapes were relatively simple.  A little persuasion from a hammer and dolly, plus a good squeeze from the Vise-grips got the new panels to the right spot.  They got welded all around, top and bottom.  This might be overkill if you are a good welder, but I'm only a novice.  I figured if half the weld beads were OK, it might hold up.  By the way, I have been using a little Lincoln Weld-Pak 100 MIG welder with 75 % argon/25 % CO2 gas, and have been happy with the results.  I managed to find a welding helmet with auto-dimming window for only $55 at a local car parts store.  Its great!  I can see where the arc will strike before I lay the torch handle towards the metal.  This is very important for thin sheet metal, because I either burned through or welded an inch off the spot before I got the auto-dimmer.   You can also see that I had to make up a new piece for the lower part of the firewall.  This was 16 gauge (.060 inch), and I had to hammer some stiffening ribs into it to match the firewall.  It is much easier to weld on heavy metal.

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The back of the cab was tougher.  Much of the serious rot was hidden by the bed.   When the bed came off, and eventually I got the cab turned over, the entire bottom edge at the rear was rotted through about 4 inches up at the corners and 2 inches up at the center of the cab.  All of these pieces are compound-curved sheet metal that had been stamped in dies.  It wasn't going to be easy to patch them.  The rear corners were double-walled and both the outside and inner panel were rotted through.   I drilled out the multiple spot welds to remove the inner panels at the corners.   At the back center of the cab, the main support area was also rusted and battered.   If you looked at the page on the chassis, you have seen where this support sat on the frame and hammered it to pieces.  The cab rested on a couple of rubber pads and long bolts ran through the cab support and the frame, with big springs underneath.   The rear of the cab was free to bounce every time the truck hit a bump.  How many bumps did the truck hit in its first 35 years of life?  It sat rusting for 15 more years before I got it apart.  I had to make and weld in many new pieces, but I think it is stronger now than when it was built.

I cut away the sheet metal covering the heavy support frame on the inside and outside of the cab.  There was serious rust everywhere, as well as fatigue cracking up into the body.  I cut away most of it, welded up the rest.  I made more paper patterns from old grocery bags for the hunks I cut out, adding in for the sections that had rusted away completely.  I cut out the blanks from 18 gauge steel using a little saber saw with a fine tooth blade and formed up the pieces.  A bending brake would make this easier, but I beat and twisted most of the pieces into shape using a body hammer, Vise-grips, a big bench vise, and a flat dolly block.

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Center support area with outer covering removed.

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Back of cab with three layers of rusty skin cut away to reveal support member.

Eventually, I got the rusty spots cut out and new metal welded into place.  Most of the patch panels were overlapped and welded both sides.  I know that this is not the "best" way to do this, but it is stronger than a butt weld.  I am counting on seam sealer on the inside to keep water from rusting through the repaired places.  A little body filler, primer, and paint will cover and seal up the outside.  I try to remember that the truck is not likely to go through what it had to survive in its first fifty years.  Where I cut out pieces, I sandblasted around the edges before attempting to weld in the new stuff.  It would have been much easier to sandblast the entire cab before beginning the repairs, but my sandblaster is a little Sears suction job.   It does work, but it is slow and goes through a lot of Black Beauty blasting compound.  The plan is to patch the worst of it, then send the cab to the body shop for complete cleanup and paint.

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Inner support pieces cut and rolled from 18 gauge steel.

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Various old and new pieces with brown paper patterns for the rear of the cab.

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You can't let a little winter or snow slow you down when there is sandblasting and welding to do!

The new floors are now in place, along with a number of other patches.  See the separate page on the efforts to create and weld in the corners.  Since I do have to pay the guy who will do the sandblasting and painting, I am trying to make his life easier and the job go quicker.  I built a set of legs with wheels to attach to the body mounts so he can roll the cab around in his shop.  Now the cab rolls around with ease and is ready to go for sandblasting, priming, and RED paint!

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An M-5 "low rider"

There was just one final detail: getting the cab to the shop.  I rented a U-Haul open trailer.  I was supposed to be 5 x 9 feet.  I figured to roll the cab up the ramp, lash it down and drive to the body shop.  Unfortunately, the trailer proved to be something less than 5 feet wide inside and there was no way the cab would fit - front-to-back, side-to-side, or tilted at an angle.  I was too annoyed to drive the trailer back to the rental yard and exchange it for another, so we jacked the cab up on a bunch of 2x6's, sheets of plywood, jackstands, wheel ramps, etc. until it would go on TOP of the trailer.  I took off the "skate wheels" and used some lag screws to mount the legs to some 2x6's, then clamped the 2x6's to the trailer rails with some more wood pieces and deck screws.  Eventually, the cab sat firmly on top and off we went to the paint shop. 

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Here's the cab riding high on the trailer rails.   It took two hours to get it up there and clamp it down.

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Unloading the cab at the body shop.   It came off a lot quicker than it went on, especially with three people to move it.