Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - Cowl&Corner, Frame & Rear Axle

The deluxe outer cowl panels from ChevyDuty were great. They are well made and replaced the factory panel perfectly. On my originals, the fender flange was gone entirely, the lower portions were mostly bondo, and the indent below the hood hinge was gone. Although my RH original still had some ok metal in the louvers, it didn't make sense to cut an irregular, hard to finish seam and use only part of the new panel. On all my panel replacement, I used a 5/16 cobalt drill to remove the spotwelds. It was cheaper and more readily available than a spotweld cutter and worked just fine. One advantage of the rust - as the drill penetrated the top layer of metal, I would usually see a puff of rust dust and know to stop. In the hood hinge area, the factory went weld crazy in a quite random pattern. I kept finding more as I was trying to get the panels out. I was surprised to see how much solder was used at the factory to cover the seam The joint is recessed farther than would seem necessary.

After wirebrushing the interior and grinding the welds that will show, I painted the interior panels that will be hidden from view using a brush. I started the job in POR15, ran out, then finished with ZeroRust. Both go on easily, but the ZeroRust dries faster. In this photo, I had just finished the underseat area and the ZeroRust was still wet. It dries to a nice satin finish.

The cab corners had been repaired previously with expanded metal and lots of bondo. If you are doing rocker panels too, install them while the corner is cut away to make life easier. Murphy must have been on vacation because I figured this out before I had the new corners welded in. I cut back to good metal then cut the patch panels back to just the area needed. I wish they had been long enough to go all the way to the door post and wrap the corner, but I made do.

[The new ones from ChevyDuty look like they corrected this.]

The passenger side patch panel was a little short over the frame rail. There is a brace inside the cab right there that rusted out and through the back panel. I had to add a separate piece to patch it. The brace repair inside was of the strong not pretty variety, but it won't show so... I fabricated the inner cab corners from sheet stock.

[After it's done multiple coats of ZR followed by bedliner.]

I should have snapped a shot of the rotted frame, but I was momentarily bummed and forgot. The area behind and beneath the front spring hanger and running board support (lower left in above photo) was rusted through on both sides, but well covered with undercoating. The K-member attaches on the inside there as well. I removed the hangers and supports, but I did not want to remove the K-member to replace the complete section. Instead I used a piece of 1/8x2 angle iron 15" long to bridge the rusted area. The welds are into solid metal all around, so I am confident it will be fine. You can see the light reflecting on the top edge of the angle. I will use a plate to shim the frame flush for the running board support; the hangers are unneeded with the new suspension.

[45000 miles -still working fine, but I haven't forgotten it. Still toying with the idea of a new frame from Progressive.]

The rear axle is an 8.5" from a '79 Z28, 3.42 gears. The rear suspension is from Progressive Automotive, their ProSlip setup. It looks light compared to the original springs, but it should put the truck at the right height and rake. If I need to beef it up the local spring shop can help out. Installing the springs, I noticed how the frame lip flexed at the front mount, so I boxed it. These plates were not included in the kit. The shock crossmember is stout and looks like it could be used with coilovers no problem.

[It still rides plenty stiff. The missus grits her teeth if I hit a RR crossing too fast. And I've since been reminded (I knew this) that short sections of frame boxing cause stress risers that can lead to cracking. I'm keeping an eye on it, but next time, I'll fully box it.]

The axle seats will be welded after I get the truck built and on the ground, to get the right pinion angle. This note is mostly to remind me BEFORE I try that holeshot!