|Bus Beam Narrowing|
|This is a step by step of what I went through while narrowing the beam off a '65 single cab a full four inches. If you have a bakelite bushed beam I would imagine it would work about the same, but I've never looked at one of those beams up close so I really don't know. If you are narrowing a bakelite beam only two inches your best bet is to search thesamba.com forums for a post by NAES. If you are taking a needle bearing beam down only two inches then I will get into the problems you will have with this method a little later. In the pictures you may notice that I have two beams going on at once, and you would be right. Just thought I'd mention it before it caused any confusion. Last, if you decide you may like to do this to your own beam, realize that it is a lot of work and that the beam is rather crucial to your handling. This is not where you want to learn steel fabrication.
The pictures really only show one side of the beam being narrowed, but of course you will have to narrow both sides, one side at a time. Narrow the first side, cut both the plates at once, and weld one on the first side to finish it off, then cut 2" out of the other side and replace the shock tower with the second plate, pound in all the bearings at once, and have a beer.
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|The more measurements the merrier. This will allow me to maintain caster and prevent twisting. Good idea to make sure you are on flat ground and the jack stands even so as to prevent any flexing.||This is what we're starting with, a nice clean beam all stripped down. A twisted wire wheel on a 4 1/2" angle grinder will polish any old beam, and strip a lot of paint off this one yet.|
|My bearing puller. A 7/8" hard washer ground on the radius to the inside diameter of the tube, and flat on the sides in order to slip through the bearing. A 1/2" nut and washer are welded to the back end. I can slip this through the bearing, turn it upright and seat it on the backside on the bearing, and screw in a piece of all-thread.||Presto- a slide hammer.
|This part is just like narrowing up a bug beam. Cut two inches out of the center and stitch it back together. All I'm doing here is using a center punch to mark distances on the beam so that I can bring them two inches closer together.||Darn thing won't fit in the chop saw so here is how to use pipe wrap to draw a cutting line for, say, a sawzall with a thick demolition blade.
|Using angle iron to align the beam. It sure helps to have a flat work surface, but if you have adjusters welded in you may need to block it up in several places along the length. Chain clamps are nice and I sure wish I knew where mine are. Also note the use of the brace. Before cutting off the shock tower you may want to add another a bit closer to the end being opened up.||After it's welded back together the shock tower on that side has to go. I used oxy-acetylene and an angle grinder. This is what you're left with, and where the problems arise with going less than four inches. At three inches the plate you are going to weld on will stradle the shoulder of the bearing housing, and at two inches you pass over it onto the beam itself. Either way presents a big gap weld onto the thin metal of the beam itself without a lot more work either cutting and pasting the bearing housing which would have to be tacked back on with the bearing and arm installed, or going out of sequence and somehow having a plate ready to slip on the beam when you cut the beam shorter. In short either get a bakelite beam or just pony up and pay someone else. It'll probably save money in the long run anyways.|