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52b3b Joe

48 Desoto Project

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I thought I'd share my current project with everyone. I'm normally on the truck side, but my dad bought a 48 Desoto Custom 4 door a few years ago. We've been working on it VERY slowly mainly due to time constraints. The body has seen better days, the rockers were completely rusted out, and the drivers side of the car was vandalized in the 1970's (bricks were thrown at it). The sheet metal is pretty solid though, and the doors are rust free. When we bought it the engine was rebuilt in the late 70s, but they never fired it up. We got it running and drove it up and down the road. We went though the front end, resealed the rear axle, and rebuilt the brakes, so mechanically it is ready.

Now all we have to complete is the dreaded rust repair and body work. I've never done anything this invasive on a car, but it wasn't too bad once you dive in. Over the 4th of July weekend, and last weekend I was able to get the rockers done on the passenger side of the car. It took a lot of time, but it is done. Don't laugh too hard, I'm not a welder or body guy. I'm just trying to make a nice driver. I'm ok with the results, so that's all that matters. Now I have one more side to do.... Pictures are below. 

I had to do a lot of other metal work under the car (body mounts and braces), the rear wheel well, and the front rocker/A pillar structure. A lot of it was rusted through and needed patches. It seems plenty strong now, and I think it will be good for another 50 years. I seam sealed and undercoated the inside of the rockers before welding the sill plates on. 

I'll try and post pictures every so often when I work on it but I can't promise it will be frequent. 

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Looks as good to me as any of pro panel replacements that I have seen.

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Really nice and a great job! I need to do the same for the bottom portion of my rocker panels as well. :unsure:

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Thanks for all the comments! It makes me want to dive into the other side! Here is a picture the day I towed it home. When we bought it, it was stuffed in a garage buried under a lot of "stuff". The body looked good rust wise from what we could see (minus the drivers side dents) so we "assumed" it was pretty solid, but we were wrong. My dad and I aren't the type to turn down a project, so here we are. The car was a good buy. The interior is in very good shape. The car came with most every piece of NOS trim, and what wasn't NOS, the previous owner had parts re chromed already. Most of the NOS parts are in the original boxes and wrapping. We even have NOS bumpers. The engine came rebuilt, and we know who did the work. We are trying to make a nice driver, and as long as I can get the driver side body straightened out good enough for a Black car, we will have one! 

I'll post pictures of the drivers side damage when I get a chance. 

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looks great Joe! you make it look soooo easy

for a minute there, I thought we were going to revoke your truck membership and confiscate that SS grille from your B3 :)  

wonder how slow a guy would have to move, that would cause someone to throw bricks at the car, LOL 

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30 minutes ago, Brent B3B said:

looks great Joe! you make it look soooo easy

for a minute there, I thought we were going to revoke your truck membership and confiscate that SS grille from your B3 :)  

wonder how slow a guy would have to move, that would cause someone to throw bricks at the car, LOL 

Lol, revoke my truck membership?? I put too much time into my truck for that to happen! And besides that, I finally have all the bugs worked out of it! :D

From what I understand, some kids broke into the garage the car was parked in sometime in the mid 70s and there were cinder blocks against the wall. They got the idea to pick them up and do some damage! You can see the outline of the blocks in the car!

Lucky for us, the car has some thick metal to work with and I was luck to find a good used rear fender from a Chrysler that will work. Just need to fill an extra hole on the Chrysler fender for a rear bumper support. 

Edited by 52b3b Joe

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Update:

I finally was able to start the other side yesterday. Too much other stuff has been getting in the way. I was able to get the body braced and I got most everything cut out yesterday. This side is a little worse than the other was. If you look in the first picture, there isn't really anything left of the inner rocker to speak of. 

I did start to make a new rocker support/body mount from some scrap pieces of steel in the garage (you can see it in the second to last picture, and it wont exactly look factory, but it will work). I need to finish the support and I have a lot of patching to do around the A pillar/rocker area. Once I get the patches made and welded in, it should be smooth sailing to fit and weld the rockers in. From there it's a few patches in the front clip, some patches around the bottom truck lip, and some body work. I'll try to post more pictures as I go. Again, I'm no expert at body work or a great welder/fabricator, so it isn't perfect! I'm only going for a nice (and safe) driver. 

On a side note, I am still continuing to find some more darn mouse homes! I think the car served as an apartment complex for the mice! 

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4 hours ago, 52b3b Joe said:

I am still continuing to find some more darn mouse homes! I think the car served as an apartment complex for the mice!

Public housing needs all the help it can get. 

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Looking good.  Keep us updated.

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That's great work, the kind of work most of us DIY's are afraid to even try.  Are you going to buy repro DeSoto rocker panels?  Or make them yourself? 

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7 hours ago, MarcDeSoto said:

That's great work, the kind of work most of us DIY's are afraid to even try.  Are you going to buy repro DeSoto rocker panels?  Or make them yourself? 

I bought reproduction panels, but with the amount of fitting and trimming, I should have just made them. The passenger side I already repaired in the first post shows the new panels installed. 

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Here are pictures of the previous two weeks worth of work. This side was a lot worse than the other. I had to make a lot of panels in the A pillar area, and I had to get into the floor a little more too. I am farther along than the pictures (I didn't take any pictures this week). I have the drivers inner and rockers in and welded. I have the rear dog leg by the fender repaired, and the rear wheel well is rust-free now. All I have left is to fit and install one small floor patch and the sill plates. I feel like I'm getting there though!

After this is done, I will move on to the rear of the body by the trunk (two small patches), and it will need a patch in each fender it looks like. I am hoping to get some of the filler and blocking done this year in hopes to paint it in the spring (or late fall maybe). It would be really nice to get the body done and painted before it gets too cold so we can assemble it in the winter. I'm probably being too optimistic though, but time will tell! 

You can also see the damage on the doors that I'll have to straighten. I worked on them a few hours already, but I have a long way to go. Its going to a challenge with a black car! 

Once again - Disclaimer - I'm no expert! 

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27 minutes ago, casper50 said:

You'll get there Joe.  One patch at a time.  Been there done that.  Glad it's over.  Looking real good.

Thanks!

15 minutes ago, Bingster said:

The car came with 2 or 3 of most trim pieces for it (including many NOS). I believe I have a re-chromed hood ordainment already. I need to go in the attic and figure out what I have! The previous owner started collecting parts, and his neighbor owned a chrome shop, so (lucky for me) all the chrome is done between NOS parts and what he had plated. 

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Through the course of the weekend and Monday night, I was able to get the rockers and floor 99% done (minor details left)! From here I have the front sheet metal, the truck area, and the driver's inner fender to tackle. In all, it shouldn't be as bad as what I already did so I'd say I'm over the hump! 

The last picture is the inner fender that I started messing with a little. I'd say the battery was leaking a little...

 

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Could I trouble you to show the screw/bolt combination fasteners used to hold down your floorboards? I have a '47 Desoto and need the info. Thanks.

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