Seeing this ’55 start coming together and becoming a solid car again has been nothing short of a magical experience for me. After playing in the car as a kid while it sat derelict in my parents’ garage and dreaming of one day actually driving it, every step that brings this car closer to hitting the street again is fairly euphoric. And I honestly enjoy being able to use the ’55 to share useful tips and techniques that can help you guys (and gals) get your own cars back on the road.
Thanks to Jim Barber and his crew at Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists in Belews Creek, North Carolina, our last installment (Chevy Classics, 2011 issue) saw us dealing with the cowl ears/shoulders and getting them back into shape along with the areas inside the cowl exposed to moisture and that had rusted out. Because the ’55 (and her Tri-Five siblings) predate the use of galvanized steel in body construction (mid-to-late ‘60s) pretty much any unprotected steel area that can collect water will rust.
On our car, the rockers suffered from extensive rot, especially the passenger side, which had most of its bottom completely rusted out. Not content to just eat the rocker, the corrosion spread to some of the body braces/mounts, necessitating their replacement. Because the floor braces also act as body mounts, having these parts weakened by rust also compromises the car’s structural integrity and connection the chassis.
The good news though is repairing these braces isn’t that hard, and our friends at Danchuk offer all the necessary replacement pieces to handle the job. Making things even easier, Danchuk also offers the end sections of the center and front floor braces, so you don’t have to remove the whole piece and replace it if just the end sections next to the rockers are rusted out. Another beautiful thing about the Tri-Five design was that all three years used the same body braces spread across the different models (hardtop, sedan, sport sedan, four door sedan, wagon, etc.) so it doesn’t matter what year your car is, Danchuk’s got the parts.
Since our car had several braces with issues, we raided the Danchuk catalog and got the parts necessary to replace them all. We’re just focusing on one brace in this story, but the installation is pretty much the same for all of them. The equipment used is simple and straightforward: 110-volt MIG welder, drill, hammer, and chisel—stuff any guy can have in his garage.