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1975 rust belt wonder


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Hi, having got so much great information from this blog site, I thought it was about time I shared my project.

This 1975 2002 "Slush box" is my second 02. It was purchased last august for $900 and was driven for 3000 miles. The car was retired when an ominous death rattle was heard on a daily basis. With the main bearings clearly shot (220K miles!) I started the task of removing the engine......Well one thing led to another and now the car is a full time "resto" while my 83 Mercedes 240D does the grunt work.

Now some of you "warm weather types" may find this a little insane..Personally I think of this project as a learning aid. I intend on completing as much of the work myself, and money is tight, so alot of custom work will be done. I have only just starting welding so dont expect a "show and shine" resto. Also remember I live in the midwest so the reason for purchasing such a car = PRISTINE shock towers.

Anyway heres the recent work....




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Hope you don't mind me commenting. Thats some nice work for just learning to weld! I'm dealing with the rust to, it gets bad here in ohio, my project sat in a field for 2 years before I pulled it out. My cut and weld work is only just starting. Nice work, and good luck with the project.

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bmdubracing, thanks for the kind comments, Its always good to hear from a fellow mid-westerner who understands the "rust-belt".

Anyway heres a quick update. I dug further into the lower panel and found some nasty rot!. With a few hours this weekend I managed to make some headway,

On the last picture posted, there is a bend in the narrow-'est' part of the panel. Both sides of the car show the same bend...I am wondering if this is normal?....(this car has been hit in the fornt!...only minor though).




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  • 3 weeks later...

Yeah it does and the midwest allergies are unreal this year..

I am using a Hobart Handler 140 (110v) with the MIG setup and 25%/75% mix of CO2 and argon. Its a fantastic little welder and I would recommend this to anyone. The best prices are at tractor supply company. Pay the extras and buy the auto darkening helmet...this makes welding a 1000 times easier.

Metal = 22 gauge for bodywork and 18/16 gauge for structural.

Hope this helps

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  • 4 weeks later...

Congratulations on your project.

I am in Western Michigan.

There are a fair amount of less than primo parts floating around for fairly few dollars. I have been collecting for quite a while hoping to get my '76 going. It's competing with 3 kids in college and maintaining daily drivers.

It's good to see you trying all kinds of bodywork. I just made a run down I69 and east to Batesville then across 50 to 231 to Jasper. Once I even saw a 2002 in a gas station in Bloomington.


'76 2002

'90 M3

'90 535i 5 speed

'89 325is '91 318is

'87 325is

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Thanks for the kind words, It amazes me how the word RUST makes mid-westerners huddle together...Being an Englishman the world of rust is very familiar, however the MOT takes care of the real rust buckets across the pond!!! NOT HERE :) LOL.

Well a little update the car is almost striped bare...The rear diff and subframe came out this weekend. Below shows a really bad picture of how the car currently sits, waiting for an entire winter of welding.

The updates have been slow due to my other German car.....The SLOWEST car in history 1983 Mercedes 240D...LOL but I love it. Makes me feel like a taxi driver in the middle east.

This has been through extensive welding along with allsorts of mechanical things....

More to come soon.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Having just finished removing the rear end, I started on the frame rail shown earlier. The original plan was (posted on Matts forum),

Basically all the rust is at the base of the frame rail (sitting water) and I intend on cutting this out keeping the sides intact. Then I am going to fabricate a 16 gauge U section which will fit between the existing sides. I then intend on welding the seam on the inside, and outside, to keep the strength......

However, as I started working I noticed the rust had attacked the sides of the rail too....this caused me to change the plan of attack, Now I know many people are going to say "this is crazy and will compromise the uni-body construction",,,,,however if this is done correctly, I believe it will be far better than the original rusty frame rails..

The new plan is to cut off the rusty frame rail and fabricate a replacement. This replacement will be welded to the original I will then internally strengthen by bracing the original rail to the new section with an L-beam joining the rail walls...Crazy? Yes!! fun? we will see..........

Now to fabricate the new rail I had to fabricate a metal brake.....which took a lot longer than predicted as 16 gauge is a pain to bend....

Heres the progress so far.






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Guest Anonymous

Lance! You're really digging into this one and doing a bang-up job. Nice work. I'm going to have to get up there to see it sometime in the not so distant future.

I'm LOVING the Merc!

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Heres a small update. The frame rail still needs to be reinforced, but its progress.... Also a big thanks to Tommy for all the great pictures, they really helped me understand how to attack this repair. I am also very jealous of your rotisserie....I am welding upside down with a foot between the ground and the car....Not easy for a beginner...

NOTE all welds still need liberal grinding.....it was Bloody cold so I called it a day and grabbed a cup of tea.





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