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When i bought my 1994 Dakota, i noticed that the fan shroud was missing. They had rigged an overflow bottle on the core support. When i tried to put a new fan shroud on it hit the fan, so after some searching, i found that the frame was bent right behind where the core support mounts to the frame, which in turn pushed the radiator and core support back a bit. The reason i didn't notice it at first was because they had also made sure to realign the headlights, as well as replace the grill, so all i noticed was that the bumper was bent in. The bend is in front of where the front suspension mounts to, and after talking to a frame shop and alignment shops, the bend won't affect normal driving, and according to them, it isn't critical that it even be repaired. But i don't like having the overflow bottle mounted with bungee cords and zip ties, plus i have plans to eventually install a tube style bumper with a hidden winch, and with the frame bent like it is, the bumper won't attach properly. The frame shop wants what i consider an extremely large amount of money just to pull the frame back, so, after talking to a couple people, their suggestion is to heat up the frame where the bend is, and straighten it back out. My concern is, would heating up that area of the frame stress the metal to where it would weaken it? Also, is it possible the frame would just bend again over time? I don't want to straighten out the frame, only to put undue stress on the new bumper from the frame trying to bend again. I have attached a pic of where the frame is bent. The black piece in the pic is the bottom of the core support where it meets the frame.
I posted a topic at the welding and metal fabrication forum on one way to restore a bore in a stamped steel piece: "Weld Mold 26-C 'How-to' Oxy-Acetylene Repair: Restoring a Stretched Bore in Stamped Steel". In that 'how-to', I mention heat treated metals and also refer forum members to one of the magazine's slideshow video presentations. The slideshow discusses a major concern when welding, brazing or silver brazing (hard silver soldering) near heat treated parts. Many automotive parts, especially wear points like gear teeth, shafts, splines, thrust washers and running surfaces, have been heat treated to the depth and hardness required. When we weld near any heat treated alloy metals or forged parts, there is always concern about damaging the heat treatment. Even the use of specialized, hard alloy filler materials (some as high as 140K or more tensile in the weld) will not prevent problems at the nearby heat treated areas. If you raise metal temperature high enough during the welding process, any through- or case-hardening will be lost. This means that the metal will soften and be rendered either unsafe or no longer capable of handling its intended function, especially wear points like splines, gear teeth, shafts or thrusts. It is absolutely certain that adjacent to a metal fusion weld, any heat treatment or case hardening will be lost. If parts like a gear or shaft are heat treated or "case hardened" and need welding, you must first "normalize" the metal. This is similar to annealing, but is intended to simply reduce the hardness in the case area, typically the surface 0.030"-0.040" zone if we're talking about common automotive transmission gears and shafts. A ring-and-pinion gear set, due to the size of the gear, is often much deeper case hardening, and some components, especially hardware and fasteners, even get "through-hardened" as opposed to case hardened. Once normalized, a gear or shaft can be welded with an appropriate filler that matches the base metal material. If the match is correct, the part can be machined before re-heat treatment, then heat treated to the component's original Rockwell hardness (prior to normalizing) and case hardening depth if dealing with a case hardened piece. For selecting niche filler materials on alloys and exotic metals, I turn to Weld Mold Company. One way to know the original hardness is a Rockwell C test before normalizing. Determine the depth of case hardening and adjust the final heat treatment accordingly. In the magazine slideshow video, I show and talk about an 8620 cluster gear repair process. There is much more to say about metal prepping, niche welding filler materials and heat treatment...Looking forward to a dialogue in this subject area, we're just beginning! If you have questions, please share. Moses
Metallurgy and heat treating are a vital part of metal fusing. It is not simply a good bead or welding technique that assures a safe, quality weld. Filler material must match the base metal. Heat treatment is often involved after the machining and finish of alloy metals. Chemistry is a critical part of metal selection and the choice of welding filler materials used with specific alloys. Metallurgy and heat treatment are not abstract processes for manufacturing only. I have repaired obsolete gears with chipped teeth, where the 8620 base metal has been case hardened to 0.035" or so depth at 56 or higher Rockwell C hardness. To repair such a gear requires "normalizing" first to nullify the heat treatment. I have the heat treating shop "normalize" the piece, then the weld repair is made with a specific filler that will fuse with 8620 completely and also heat treat with the same characteristics as 8620 going through heat treatment. After welding, still in a normalized state, the gear is machinable without destroying the tooling. Once machined correctly, the gear can be returned to the heat treater for re-heat treatment. This will be a carburizing process in this case, again with case depth to 0.030" to 0.040" depth, preferably 0.035", with a finished Rockwell C hardness around 60. Does this sound intriguing? It's simply a part of the process when you repair a heat treated, damaged part. TIG, MIG, stick and oxy-acetylene filler materials from a source like Weld Mold Company assure the chemistry that will not only fuse and match the base metal, but also allow the finished product to be heat treated successfully, with uniform results. For insights and sharing of metallurgy strategies and filler rod choices, join this forum and other welders striving for professional results!—Moses Ludel