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April 14, 2015

Body Rotisserie

Well, it's Spring again, and the weather on the Great Plains is getting suitable for working outdoors (or in the garage).  According to the Master Plan for the TR6 restoration, it's time to begin work on the body, which has been stored all winter while I worked on other parts in the warmth of my basement shop.

I'd seen a few blogs on body tub work done on various kinds of rotisseries, and thought this would be very nice way to simplify a lot of the work.  I used a rotisserie on my frame refurb, and I can hardly imagine doing it any other way.  So, armed with a lot of good advice and examples from really helpful people on some great TR6 forums, I had a plan.  I was really concerned about the strength of my body in the rocker area, which was very heavily rusted.  This suggested to me that I wanted to provide all the support I could to the tub to keep everything aligned and located.  I decided to build a "faux frame" fixture--one that would support all of the key body mounting points.  This should keep the tub rigid no matter what direction gravity is pulling on it.

After a successful trip to the salvage yard, I came home with three 16-foot pieces of 3 x 1-1/4" channel steel.  They look like they might have been uprights for the pallet racks in a warehouse or big box store.

I cut and welded two of them into a rectangle 32" wide, and about 13 feet long.

I was able to reuse the uprights from the frame rotisserie, but had to lengthen the swivel arms.  The idea is to run the rotaton axis through the center of gravity of the tub, and one set of the adjustment holes in the swivel arms should get me close.

I added a couple of cross pieces to fit the support points on either side of the cabin floor.  I only welded one of them at this point--the other would be welded when the tub was in place.

Now it's time to get the tub.  This is a picture from last fall just after I'd tucked it away for the winter.

If you look closely at the first pic, you'll see a nice little square hole I punched in the ceiling with the boom.  Too many things to keep track of.

Now time to see if my contraption can hold the body.  The tub reportedly weighs less than 250 pounds, so it shouldn't be a problem.  But still...

Everything went OK, and the rails barely have detectable sag under the load.  Before trying any acrobatics, I wanted to add supports tot he fore and aft sections of the tub.  These supports not only locate the tub sections vertically, but also horizontally.  The fore and aft supports are bolted to the rails rather than welded.  This is so they can be temporarily removed to derust or paint under them.  Even the main middle supports have a short chunks of wood 4 x 4s between the rails and the tub that can be individually removed.

I've been waiting a long time to try this...

After a little adjustment of rotation axis, I'm pretty close to neutral.  With the friction I have in the hubs, the tub will stay in about any position I put it in.

It even takes up less space when I have to put it away for the night.

This was a fun project, and pretty cheap, too--around $60 for the salvage metal, plus some assorted hardware.

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