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Old 11-04-2010, 01:46 PM   #1
WRCSubey6
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Default Seam Welding?

If anyone feels they understand this area to the best of their own knowledge, to me it appears that there should be a seam welding FAQ for those who do not understand this to the fullest extent. Primarily there are so many applications to seam welding it feels that I only find bits and pieces of solid information and experienced drivers.
At the moment I am faced with researching about what the welding process to the unibody and critical points where "seams" are found? The car we are talking about is a true(making it 02) WRX drift build, weight-reduced(still more to go), and now seam welding and custom fabricated 8-point cage. Lets cut to the chase. The unibody and frame. Okay so I'm already down to the floor and have the cagebuilder at my disposal. Okay ready for seam welding....? We are talking drift. We are talking rigidity and long-term strain. We are talking GTWAW/TIG spot welds? Okay okay. Seam welding means there is a continuous line of welding right? A series of overlapping, inline spot welds. To stop, regroup, and quit asking one word questions. Who can point out where the seams on the unibody are and the important ones? About fully seam welding the entire body and undercarraige. What should I be getting ready to tell my welder to do?

Thanks to anyone who understands my situation and can look into this challenge.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:52 PM   #2
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1.TIG is not necessary, and will prove to be a super tedious task. Go MIG w/ 75/25 mix.
2. do not do long, continous welds as it is very easy to warp the cheap metal
3. triangulate,triangulate,triangulate
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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Take chassis, box it up, send to MSI. Write check, get car back and go. He's done this many times before, and is good at it. Hell, while it's there have him do the cage too.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:01 PM   #4
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Couple things off top of my head from doing this, yes it stiffens things up, undercoating is bane of existence, subaru floors are "thin" for welding, as stated no long beads, tig pointless, if building for drift dont bother as it just adds time in the repair after barrier meeting section (much harder to pull/bend back as everything is tied together). If I remember I did 2" bead and 1" gap, repeat as needed, move often to combat warping/have attack plan.

Find someone who has done this, has a rotisserie or a rig and let them do with the cage at same time to meet series specs.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:54 PM   #5
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I would not suggest 2" beads ever. Too much heat.
You can't tig seams on car unless the car has been acid dipped, forget about it. Too much contamination.

The type, position, and way you will do the welds whether in small beads, or stitches, or sports depends on a lot of things. an 8 point cage ... why not buy one that is already done from a company like custom cages? Will cost less and the engineering is done. You can simply do your own door bars if required (I am not getting into this one here) for various series.

Perhaps check out our build thread, we have a lot of photos of the chassis prep. For the record, we have 14 main anchoring points, and another 6 spots were the cage is welded to the chassis (dash, upper A-pillar, and mid-way up the main hoop / upper door bar)

8 points, were are you putting these points? How are you determining these?
Power, driver skill, and price point of the car? These all effect the level of prep.
No sense spending 40$k to prepare A SHELL if this is your first race car.

-mark
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:36 PM   #6
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Have a Nice Day? Misconceptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSI View Post
I would not suggest 2" beads ever. Too much heat.
You can't tig seams on car unless the car has been acid dipped, forget about it. Too much contamination.
Alright, so this is great misconception A: that seam welding is always done by TIG. So I'm going to ASK, "should I tell my welder MIG?" What about say over the strut towers, and other critical stress points, do I need a "more durable" TIG Weld? Does this acid bath apply to a fully body seam weld or can it still be TIG in some places.

Quote:
The type, position, and way you will do the welds whether in small beads, or stitches, or sports depends on a lot of things. an 8 point cage ... why not buy one that is already done from a company like custom cages? Will cost less and the engineering is done. You can simply do your own door bars if required (I am not getting into this one here) for various series.
The 8 points (rear strut, A pillar, crossbar, to the firewall, dashbar) will involve this scheme. Any cage I look at online hasn't given me an idea of the full dimensions, so I don't feel very sound about getting a tight fit with one of these versus a custom fabricated. I wish I could find a weld-in cage online that makes more since to me, but I just figured get it in and get it in right. I have experienced a severe amount of struggle with cagebuilders and I am becoming very impatient. Otherwise I don't know.. the plan is to mimic one of these pre-constructed cages or one in another 02 and fit it tighter and stronger. The cage will be as open-ended as it needs to be until I figure out what it is about this seam welding that makes it so complicated. What do you think now?

Quote:
Perhaps check out our build thread, we have a lot of photos of the chassis prep. For the record, we have 14 main anchoring points, and another 6 spots were the cage is welded to the chassis (dash, upper A-pillar, and mid-way up the main hoop / upper door bar)
I will do this, I am very curious in MSI now that I have learned a little more about your company. I have heard and known about MSI for some time but did not realize the level of expertise up to WRC, it's very cool. To go on though, chassis prep is definitely one of those other things in the back of my mind. If I cannot find your thread and you have gotten back to me by then and have time maybe go ahead and link that URL if you don't mind as I feel this would really beneficial and helpful as you have already been.

Quote:
8 points, were are you putting these points? How are you determining these?
Power, driver skill, and price point of the car? These all effect the level of prep.
No sense spending 40$k to prepare A SHELL if this is your first race car.

-mark
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRCSubey6 View Post
Alright, so this is great misconception A: that seam welding is always done by TIG. So I'm going to ASK, "should I tell my welder MIG?" What about say over the strut towers, and other critical stress points, do I need a "more durable" TIG Weld? Does this acid bath apply to a fully body seam weld or can it still be TIG in some places.


Tig is not stronger, it is a large misconception. I will give TIG credit for being sometimes more durable, as it takes much more car to weld than Mig.

Tig hates any contaminants of any sort, whereas MIG will generally move the impurities to the top of the weld pool- creating a strong weld base.

Tig just is not an economical or feasible welding process on a unibody like the Impreza
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:07 PM   #8
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I never stated it was 2" all at once, just mentioning the finished sizing for layout (that I did, not a mandatory number). If you want a cage order one from Custom Cages, maybe Autopower, OMP or take competition guidelines to cage builder.

Whatever you cage builder decides to use (mig/tig/braze/jbweld) should be in accordance with the guidelines for the cage build from the sanctioning body. Also, pricing can be a factor between tig/mig/material experience for some shops.

Basically, if your "cage builder" cannot answer these questions find a shop that can, ask to see completed work, maybe certified cages for competition use.

Start calling around to shops, maybe talk to competitors, get their builder info, talk to sanctioning body for trusted shops list if they have one. The more research the better.
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:56 PM   #9
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I would agree with the above stmnt. One process is not necessarily stronger than the other. The difference is the fit, finish, and precision required. You can't do small (1/8") seams with a MIG. Even if you use a .020" wire .. then there is spatter. However, you cannot TIG is impurities in the surface (I am speaking in generalizations here) Any contaminates (like silcon between panels on a car) must be removed to be able to TIG. The only way to get between the panels without removing them is to dip in acid. You can do it for sure, it will be a super clean weld, pretty, tight, and nice, then you simply have to re-seal all the joints after to keep dust and water from coming in once the job is done. Again, it will make a nicer job for sure, but will also add 10$k to the build for sure.

I personally have never TIG welded seams for the chassis prep. I remove as much debris as possible, then slightly heat the area I am to start welding, then spot weld 1/2" to 1" sections at a time PUSHING the melted debris out and scraping it away as I go.

However, we would choose to TIG weld on new, clean materials, thing wall tubing, and detail work. Question of looks as well as precision that cannot be as easily achieved with a MIG. Both tools at the end of the day are INDISPENSABLE. If I had a choice of one machine to do the most work, a quality MIG would be 1st, a TIG second.

A MIG can do everything, a TIG can't.

-mark
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSI View Post
I would agree with the above stmnt. One process is not necessarily stronger than the other. The difference is the fit, finish, and precision required. You can't do small (1/8") seams with a MIG. Even if you use a .020" wire .. then there is spatter. However, you cannot TIG is impurities in the surface (I am speaking in generalizations here) Any contaminates (like silcon between panels on a car) must be removed to be able to TIG. The only way to get between the panels without removing them is to dip in acid. You can do it for sure, it will be a super clean weld, pretty, tight, and nice, then you simply have to re-seal all the joints after to keep dust and water from coming in once the job is done. Again, it will make a nicer job for sure, but will also add 10$k to the build for sure.

I personally have never TIG welded seams for the chassis prep. I remove as much debris as possible, then slightly heat the area I am to start welding, then spot weld 1/2" to 1" sections at a time PUSHING the melted debris out and scraping it away as I go.

However, we would choose to TIG weld on new, clean materials, thing wall tubing, and detail work. Question of looks as well as precision that cannot be as easily achieved with a MIG. Both tools at the end of the day are INDISPENSABLE. If I had a choice of one machine to do the most work, a quality MIG would be 1st, a TIG second.

A MIG can do everything, a TIG can't.

-mark

Alright, so this has all been very helpful. I am going to speak with a moderator about making this a sticky. Whether or not EVERYONE, and in reality not many, the few that really do need to research this for their build. The only other input that I feel is needed, again as a reference, the definition of a seam, and where they exist. If someone doesn't mind giving some input on this matter as we have the welding type, style, and facts that support both of these, there is no explanation of the unibody.

WRCSubey6,
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:06 PM   #11
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^MSI spot on.

Seam welding is a huge process. It's taking me a lot longer than I expected.

As far as cheap cage kits go, these are awesome. This is what I'm welding in my 93 Impreza rally car...

http://www.dirtyimpreza.com/forums/s...ht=safe+drives

here's their web and a few more cage options...
http://www.safedrives.com/products.asp?cat=103

Your welder should be able to weld that in for pretty cheap if he did MIG. All pieces of the cage come pre-bent, pre-cut, pre-notched and numbered instructions with layout.

Charles at Safe Drives hooked it up...this kit is awesome!
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:09 PM   #12
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Hey MSI! are you welding with metal core or flux core??
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:15 PM   #13
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Depends, but 90% of the time, solid core (no flux).
The flux is good for impurities, but welds are really nasty looking after.
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:18 PM   #14
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Damn. You guys flux some of your stuff? Do you use flux when doing cages? I don't think some of the sanctioning bodies even allow that for cage construction.

WRCSubey6, you probably don't need this info anymore, but I will give my 2 cents for anyone else.

1. **** TIG.. Unless maybe you have a year of free time. Go Mig. Like MSI said, you are probably good with 75/25 gas and .020 wire for body sheets. The cage and ticker metal could require thicker wire.

2. Prep will be a pain in the ass, but is possibly the most important part. Expect to spend lots more time on this than on the actual welding. Media blasting, sanding discs, or Polycarbide discs on a 4 1/2in angle grinder work very well. Freezing methods (Dry ice, liquid nitrogen), charcoal lighter fluid, and needle scalers can be used for underbody coating removal. You can get the discs cheap here http://www.harborfreight.com/4-1-2-h...eel-94017.html .The wire wheel is sometimes useful for the tight spots. Don't forget to use a prep(like a wax and grease remover) cleaner on all welding surfaces. I have good results with Prep-all. You can get it in gallon jugs to save on cost (home depot).

3. If you are really going to do this, you want a frame rotisserie. Propping the body up with a few 2x8s can be done in a pinch, but is very dangerous. It will not only make it easier to access the welding areas, but more importantly for average welders, it will prevent you from having to do lots of overhead welding. This will improve your weld quality. If you haven't tried overhead welding before, try it. Much more difficult for me at least.

4. Tack everything before you start any seams. Also, trying to avoid welding in one area for long periods of time. They will both help keep warpage down.

5. wear all the required safety gear- Mask, respirator, no exposed skin, etc... It is much easier to work when you are not burning or coughing up a lung.

6. Good areas to spend a little extra time are the areas directly in front of front doors under the fenders. Around strut towers, near suspension pickup points, etc...

7. Realise what you are getting into before you start this. You are talking hundreds of dollars in just gas, wire, blades, respirator filters, etc.. Take for example the early 2000's WRC STI rally cars. Over 1,000 hours of welding was required for each each car. 1,000 hours. Sure they are doing more than you will, but it is still a lot of work.

All that said, I hope you did do or still will do it. Got to love when people go all out. Good luck and hope it helps.

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Old 06-30-2014, 11:57 AM   #15
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Im about 80% done stripping my car to seam weld. Aside from gas/wire, Harbor Freight is the best place for consumables like Roloc discs, sandpaper, blast media. Its super cheap and works just as good as name brand crap, especially roloc/sanding discs

Just gotta pull the glass and sound deadening.

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Old 06-30-2014, 12:00 PM   #16
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Looking good! I doubt I need to tell you this, but a good windshield removal tool will be worth its weight in gold.
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Old 06-30-2014, 01:00 PM   #17
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Yeh tell me about it. I tried a blade-pull tool, that didnt do anything but chip the glass. Im going to get a good wire tool from a friend and give that a go.
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:34 PM   #18
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+1 for Mig, Ive done a number of chassis, and the difference between a successful seam weld and a line of bird ***** along a seam is always prep. While doing the Ford R2's for Team Oneil I dealt with many overlapping seams, with multiple layers of sealant. Similar to what mark said, I used a torch to heat the areas just enough to burn off the stuff I couldn't get, tap the seam closer together for a nice fit, then run a fast, uniform bead. Also worked on a acid dipped car years ago that was incredibly easy to weld, was super clean and gave awesome results, but I found that everything needs to be ready to install immediately because you end up with a nice coat of flash rust all over the car.


Ford Fiesta for Lucy Block:


and some stuff from the acid dipped chassis I mentioned


EDIT: Since this is a drift chassis, I highly recommend removing as much metal from the bumper/crush areas as possible. On the pro cars, the entire front and rear bumpers are made of aluminum, and meant to break away should their be an impact. Heres a more recent project of mine, this bumper was basically on there just to say it had a bumper beam, but was made of thin wall aluminum and barely welded so it would break away, and not correct the drift angle.


Dylan

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Old 07-02-2014, 02:57 PM   #19
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For someone doing this at home, whats the best way to get old sealant out from the seams? I tried torching some of it but its hit or miss. I bought one of these and its the beez neez, the fingers get into the seams really well, skinny and long. But i cant get into corners like up by the cowl and in tight spots.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Avanti-Pr...D01G/202830914
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:05 PM   #20
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I can't see why anyone would seam weld a drift car. Contact with immovable objects is inevitable. You are making your life 10 times harder when it's time to replace crunched parts. Plus instead of parts crushing and/or breaking away, you now transmit all of the impact with said immovable objects into the chassis and your self who is strapped into a seat attached to a cage. Not smart at all.
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:00 PM   #21
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Most of those cars make 600-1200 horsepower, if they werent welded together they literally would be wet noodles after a few events. Its mind boggling being in a 1000hp FRS, those cars get thrown around like rag dolls and they need all the chassis/suspension/steering response they can get.
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