Vanagon – syncro – more underbody protection, pretty well finished

Finally got the plate done and installed. I made a change to it since the last update. The length of 1/4″ 6061 aluminum I welded more or less vertically on the outboard edge of the plate was cut off. It didn’t do what I wanted it to do, that is straighten out the warps formed by welding up the individual pieces of the plate, and it made attaching to the frame rail very awkward.

I welded on 2 lengths of 3/16″ 6061 at an angle that would allow me to attach the outboard edge to the bottom of the frame rail. The process of welding those bits (and yes, 2 pieces as I was using scrap again) on took a lot of the warpage out of the plate.  I used those 1/4-20 riv-nut type inserts in the small oval holes that are on the rail bottom. The forward hole was larger than the rest so in that spot I used a 1/4″  5/16″ riv-nut set into a small bit of 1/4″ plate and fed that plate inside the frame and forward to the hole.  The bottom of the frame rail also has large oval openings with I guess you would call flanged edges. Those flanges stop the protection plate from pulling up tight to the frame rail, sits off about 1/8″.

A small cut out at the front edge to clear the front diff mount.

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Still wavy, warpy. But much less than before.

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It did take a little persuasion to get it lined up and in place. The curve of the plate seems to make it much more rigid than if it were flat.

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Not a great job, but not awful. I need to get some of those lower profile machine screws that I used on the propshaft plate and replace the regular phillips head screws.

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Now my coolant lines, heater lines, shift linkage, are all well protected against flying rocks, branches, slush etc.

Update 22/11/2013:

So I’m a little slow on the uptake. I only realized after I installed the side plate that I could eliminate those stainless connector pieces and weld both plates together. So I pulled the plates late yesterday afternoon and welded them together. I was worried about distortion during welding and subsequent mis-alignment of the mounting holes. So I tack welded the plates together with the connectors still in place.

Here are the plates held together by the connectors.

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I made small tacks on the inside and larger tacks like this on the outside of the joint, in about 5 places.

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I then stitched the inside, when I say stitched I mean 3″ welds on about 10 places on the seam. Then back to the outside and stitched in the same way, but only about 5 stitches. Then I welded in between the stitches on the outside. I filled the screw holes on the propshaft plate and opened up the screw holes on the side (curved) plate for drainage. I actually opened them up more than is show in this pic.

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I was surprised and happy that the holes still lined up and the combined plates screwed right up with no bother

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Yeah, still no drain holes on the propshaft protection section of the assembly. I haven’t decided what kind of holes to put in.

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