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Thread: Frame swap, how bad was it?

  1. #1
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    Frame swap, how bad was it?

    Looking for tips and advice for doing a frame replacement. I am about to pick up my second car, this one even a bigger project that my first was. It needs a different frame due to excessive rot, she's past the point of no return. Since this will be the first time I've split the body and chassis I am curious as to some of the issues you may have ran into in doing this project. Thanks!

  2. #2
    EFI'd dn010's Avatar
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    There are numerous threads here on frame swaps, read those so you know what you're getting into and what tools you may need. I've removed my frame more times than I want to remember for repairs and I finally did a swap years ago. My biggest advice is if you can find a rolling frame, get it. If your current frame is bad, many of the components are probably getting bad too. On my frame for example, the trailing arms were bad, the LCAs were bad, brake lines rusting, my stainless braided brake lines were unable to be removed, I had a huge rust hole in a vacuum line going up to the front (now I know why I could never get it to run right), pretty much every bolt and bushing were garbage, etc. I found a rolling frame that needed minor repair and having all the arms and everything else already on it made the swap cheaper and easier. If you want to upgrade your radiator/fans it's easier to do so while the frame is out. Make sure all the bolt holes are good on the new frame, especially the shock tower ones. If your current frame is a manual and the mid section is good, you can cut the mid section and sell it to someone looking to do a auto-manual swap.
    -----Dan B.

  3. #3
    LS Swapper Josh's Avatar
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    Swapping the frame is not the hard part - you can remove and reinstall the body in a day even with just blocks and a floor jack.
    However, everything that is attached to the frame is what you will spend your money and time on. Suspension, cooling system, cooling system, etc etc

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  4. #4
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    What he said. When you do a reframe on a car in that bad a condition you have to figure you will be basically rebuilding everything as you move it over to the other frame. In fact, figure on doing some work on the "new" frame too. Unless you get really lucky (or you pay a LOT for a pretty frame) you will have to buy a frame with at least a little bit of rot. And maybe have to modify it from auto to manual or vice versa. If you can do some sheet metal and welding work yourself you are probably better off trying to fix your frame. Repairing a frame is mostly time. The materiel is just 16 gauge sheet metal. Much can be done without removing the body but if it is really bad, removing the body makes the repairs faster and easier. Getting a frame not only is expensive but then you have to figure shipping costs too. By the time you are all done you can do a LOT for what it can cost to get a frame. They do come around once in a while but they never seem to be nearby. Even worse is getting one that has been in an accident. Check out R:02:01-:03 in the Workshop Manual. The cost of reframing the car is going to be a LOT more than just the cost of the frame and your labor. Budget accordingly. You also need a good place to work and all of the necessary tools. This is not a weekend job. It will turn into a restoration.
    David Teitelbaum

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice guys. I did a big resto job on my current car minus replacing the frame and rebuilding the engine which were both ok. I know this will be a timely and costly venture. Thankfully I have the resources and space available to be able to do this. Just was basically looking for any hang ups or extra difficulties I should know before I dive in. Iíll be replacing as much as I can while the body is off, it wonít be cheap.


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  6. #6
    Senior Member 82DMC12's Avatar
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    I've owned my D for nearly 20 years now and it's going to need some frame work in the near future. Like in under 5 years for sure. I don't know how to weld and I think it will be easier to work on it with the frame out of the car. I live in a big city where I'm sure I'll be able to find someone I can bring my frame to and leave it with them to work on. Front frame extension is the worst part and those can be replaced no problem.

    My strategy, knowing that there are so many other ancillary parts that need to be addressed while the frame is out, is to refurbish most of those parts bit by bit until I get the time/funds to do the frame. I've already replaced the entire A/C, had the engine out, doing brakes and suspension this year, did radiator a couple years ago, new hoses, etc. My thought is if I can address most of those things now as I have time, that leaves only smaller stuff like fasteners and hard fuel lines / brake lines for the frame project. Helps me reduce the mountain of other things to do (and blowing the budget) when that time comes.

    My fear is being in a situation where once the frame is out you find so much other stuff to do that now it's apart for months and my garage turns into a junkyard. I want to minimize that risk and working on this other stuff bit by bit will keep me sane.
    VIN 11596 Jan 1982 build - owned since Nov. 2000!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 82DMC12 View Post
    I've owned my D for nearly 20 years now and it's going to need some frame work in the near future. Like in under 5 years for sure. I don't know how to weld and I think it will be easier to work on it with the frame out of the car. I live in a big city where I'm sure I'll be able to find someone I can bring my frame to and leave it with them to work on. Front frame extension is the worst part and those can be replaced no problem.

    My strategy, knowing that there are so many other ancillary parts that need to be addressed while the frame is out, is to refurbish most of those parts bit by bit until I get the time/funds to do the frame. I've already replaced the entire A/C, had the engine out, doing brakes and suspension this year, did radiator a couple years ago, new hoses, etc. My thought is if I can address most of those things now as I have time, that leaves only smaller stuff like fasteners and hard fuel lines / brake lines for the frame project. Helps me reduce the mountain of other things to do (and blowing the budget) when that time comes.

    My fear is being in a situation where once the frame is out you find so much other stuff to do that now it's apart for months and my garage turns into a junkyard. I want to minimize that risk and working on this other stuff bit by bit will keep me sane.

    A good strategy, it gets the car more reliable and keeps the cash flow more manageable. As for welding, most places have an adult education place where you can learn welding. If not, you can go to a welding supply and they often will have welding demonstrations where you can learn and they can sell you the equipment. It also gives you more time to find a frame. You don't need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment to weld or repair sheet metal. You could do it all with an oxy-acetalyne torch. Or a buzz box and stick weld it. MIG and TIG takes more skill and the equipment is more expensive. I say, learn a new skill!
    David Teitelbaum

  8. #8
    Senior Member 82DMC12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David T View Post
    A good strategy, it gets the car more reliable and keeps the cash flow more manageable. As for welding, most places have an adult education place where you can learn welding. If not, you can go to a welding supply and they often will have welding demonstrations where you can learn and they can sell you the equipment. It also gives you more time to find a frame. You don't need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment to weld or repair sheet metal. You could do it all with an oxy-acetalyne torch. Or a buzz box and stick weld it. MIG and TIG takes more skill and the equipment is more expensive. I say, learn a new skill!
    I actually like that idea and didn't really consider it before. Maybe I should be a welder when I grow up.
    VIN 11596 Jan 1982 build - owned since Nov. 2000!

    -5MT-Stage 1 w/custom Magnaflow muffler-Tinnerstedt steering linkage-Marty Maier shocks-K&N filter-PJ Grady front lowering springs-Michelin Pilots-Centerforce clutch-Alpine CDE-HD137BT-Monitor1 and JL Audio amps-Kicker S8L7-Boston Acoustics-Ample Audio

    http://www.500px.com/AndyLien

    Was Fargo, ND
    Now Olathe, KS

  9. #9
    LS Swapper Josh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David T View Post
    A good strategy, it gets the car more reliable and keeps the cash flow more manageable. As for welding, most places have an adult education place where you can learn welding. If not, you can go to a welding supply and they often will have welding demonstrations where you can learn and they can sell you the equipment. It also gives you more time to find a frame. You don't need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment to weld or repair sheet metal. You could do it all with an oxy-acetalyne torch. Or a buzz box and stick weld it. MIG and TIG takes more skill and the equipment is more expensive. I say, learn a new skill!
    I want to watch you stick weld 16ga sheetmetal together Mr. Guru. lmfao

    5.3L LS4 + Subaru 6spd 314whp/348ft-lbs
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  10. #10
    EFI'd dn010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    I want to watch you stick weld 16ga sheetmetal together Mr. Guru. lmfao
    +1. I also want to know how MIG takes more skill than stick welding.
    -----Dan B.

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