Upon ripping out the floor and dropping the belly pan in my 1961
Safari, I found a frame that needs some repairs. The main frame rails from hitch to bumper are pretty solid, albeit with ample surface rust.
There are, however, some outriggers and crossmembers that have been thinned out by oxidation, particularly around holes that were cut out for plumbing and not-so-carefully placed floor bolts (I found a few whose original drill holes were only half in the frame).
Here are some of the problem areas. The worst is definitely the bottom right side of the rear crossmember--it looks to have been crushed from beneath. See also the thinned-out areas where pipes had been.
My tentative plan was the following:
1) Weld thin steel patches to the under and back sides of crossmembers and outriggers with holes or deterioration (using flux core wire in my MIG welder)
2) Fill in the tops and fronts of those spots with POR-15 strengthening body filler (called Resto-Grip) and epoxy putty--after I paint the whole thing with POR-15 impermeable paint. The Resto-Grip and POR-15 epoxy putty is made to bond especially well with the POR-15 paint, and, in theory, should allow me to make sure everything is patched level.
3) Cut out the back crossmember out and weld a new one into place.
4) Add mid-frame reinforcing beams that will also hold a gray water tank.
Should I add thin steel flat bar reinforcers anywhere else? I'm considering using 3/4 inch marine-grade plywood, which would already add some weight, but also absorb some of the energy that would otherwise be transferred to the frame.
What do other people who have been through this think? My welding skills are still pretty basic, but improving, and I have a limited budget for this. I don't want to cut corners where doing so would be foolhardy, but I also want to continue to move forward with this project and not turn it into a four-year affair!
I'll attach some more photos of the worst areas, etc. Any advice or opinions are welcome.
You can visit my project blog at: http://projectsafari.wordpress.com/