Passenger floorboard patch

I have been procrastinating on welding over the holes in the Jeepster’s floorboards but today I had a day free and decided to go for it.  Of course it was 90° out so it was a long hot day.  Did I mention I don’t know much about metal work or welding?

Here are the seat mount braces my wife bought me last Christmas from Just Jeepsters.  These are in the proper location on the floorboard but are upside-down at the moment.  My diagram and measurements are next to it.

My original plan was to cut out this whole section of floorboard and make a patch panel with these braces attached to it.   But the metal between the braces (where the pencil is sitting) is really solid and the rear brace is actually not that badly rusted.   So I switched gears to just replacing the front brace.  Note that the passenger side seat pivots forward and only bolts to the front brace using all 4 of the welded nuts you see there.

Here you can see what I am talking about.  The front mount is basically gone.   In this picture I am using a laser level to make reference lines so I can get the patch lined up in exactly the right spot.

The reference lines are drawn with a Sharpie.  As I work on this area I will have to keep these lines intact so I can use them to line up the patch.

I made a paper template of the patch and got the location of the seat brace marked on it.   Oddly the braces both extend into the transmission tunnel under the car.   So the tunnel end of the patch can’t be welded to the patch.   That should not matter.  The welds are basically just to keep the brace from falling off during assembly.    The seat mounting bolts really are what clamps everything together.   The factory braces were just spot-welded in a few places.

I traced the paper template on some sheet metal and used my throatless shear to cut it out.  This is a cheap Harbor Freight tool but it made this task super easy.

When the metal was cut to shape I taped the template to it.  The four welded nuts in the brace are NOT evenly spaced and the brace is not symmetrical.   So the template only works one way.  I clearly marked the orientation to keep it me from getting confused.   I checked the fit one more time then used a center punch to mark the hole locations.  Then I removed the template.

Drill press time!  I started with pilot holes.

Then moved up to full size.  I clamped the part down for the actual drilling.

Boom!  All the holes lined up perfectly.

Next I bolted the patch to the remains of the factory brace.  This let me transfer the reference lines to the patch.  I also traced around it so I know where to cut.  Notice the marks to keep me from putting it in backwards or upside down.

Moment of truth time.  No going back now.  I plan to to a lap joint rather than try to flush-weld the patch in.  I picked a 1/2″ for the overlap so I measured in that far and marked my cut line.  Then I used a hole saw to cut the corners.

Then I used a cut-off wheel in my 4″ angle grinder (one of my favorite tools!) to cut out the hole.   I think I made a good call here, the metal all round is very solid.

The brace area is certainly not solid.  In fact it is about gone.   I will use this as a practice piece for welding the patch in.

I am not sure if this is wise or not but I primed and painted the new brace and the patch panel where the brace will be attached.  I used tape to keep the weld areas clear of paint.  Welding heat may do a number on this but I don’t see now it can hurt to try.

Now it is time to weld, but my paint has to dry and it is really hot and getting dark so I will have to continue this later.

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