404 Sub Chassis Rail
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  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger! Ralph's Avatar
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    Icon7 404 Sub Chassis Rail

    I have a friend who lives a couple of doors up who owns a '69 404 sedan. He took it to a mechanic to get the front end redone. This included new front crossmembers and bushings etc. His mechanic told him he couldn't fit the new crossmember as the sub chassis rail was bent and needed to be straightened. Can this be done and what is involved? I haven't seen the damage and know little about 404's. Can anyone help with a bit of advice?

    Cheers,

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    Matt.

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  2. #2
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Default Creased Chassis Rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph
    I have a friend who lives a couple of doors up who owns a '69 404 sedan. He took it to a mechanic to get the front end redone. This included new front crossmembers and bushings etc. His mechanic told him he couldn't fit the new crossmember as the sub chassis rail was bent and needed to be straightened. Can this be done and what is involved? I haven't seen the damage and know little about 404's. Can anyone help with a bit of advice?

    Cheers,

    Matt.

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    Hi Matt,


    This is a fairly common ocurrence when the car sliides sideways into a ditch, curb or something similar. I had it happen to during an off road event where the passengers side wheel hit an embankment (fast and hard). 504s also suffer the same thing.

    You can usually see such damage visually by looking at the front of the chassis rails, if they are bent then there is normally a crease of worse on the inside vertical edge.

    The damage can be fixed by attaching the car to mae rack and stretching it with a porto-o-power and a chain arrangement. It's a job for a GOOD panel beater or chassis aligner and sometimes requires heating the creased area and the consequent disassembly. Confirmation of alignment is usually done by taking diagonal measurements from plumb bobs attached to points to the car. It can be a major undertaking.

    Without seeing the 404 it is impossible to access how bad it is, even a slight bend in the rails ruins the driving dynamic of the car , so, if lurches like a crab as you drive on straight road, the problem may the worn front end stuff AND the bent rail.

    The sad truth is unless it is excellent condition 404 if will cost more that the car is worth to fix it.

    regards

    Robert

  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger! Ralph's Avatar
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    Icon7

    Thanks Rob, I'll give him the bad news.

    Matt.
    On the internet, no one knows that you are only wearing a fez.

  4. #4
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Default Bent Rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph
    Thanks Rob, I'll give him the bad news.

    Matt.

    Matt,


    For heavens get a second opinion, if the car is in Melbourne I hold my hand up to have a look.

    The last thing I want to see is another 404 in the scrap heap.

    I'm talking in general terms.


    Rob

  5. #5
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Default

    Are you sure he was talking about replacing the crossmember?

    Radiator support, maybe, but never the crossmember. Takes more than a huge crash to damage them!

  6. #6
    Fellow Frogger! 604 tragic's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph
    I have a friend who lives a couple of doors up who owns a '69 404 sedan. He took it to a mechanic to get the front end redone. This included new front crossmembers and bushings etc. His mechanic told him he couldn't fit the new crossmember as the sub chassis rail was bent and needed to be straightened. Can this be done and what is involved? I haven't seen the damage and know little about 404's. Can anyone help with a bit of advice?

    Cheers,

    Matt.
    Hi Mat - Here is another possibility to counter the gloom & doom.
    In Australia in the 60s/70s Pugs used to get their 'chassis rails' crunched all the time when they were driven up onto & off old fashioned hoists and wheel aligners (sp?) lots of 404s got tears & creases in their rails which ultimately led to the rails rusting away. You could tell if the car had been serviced at the local service station instead of a dealer. So it was quite common to get them repaired.
    Its no big deal to do - any competent welder could cut & grind the old one off and weld on a new one; providing the body is straight to start with.

    Straightening an older car like a 404 is not rocket science either, as Robert says - usually just a pull or a push in the right spot cures it. Again any tradesman who did his apprenticeship in that era could do it easy. These sort of repairs got more tricky when bodies became lighter & most cars went to FWD.
    I would guess that the guy doing the alignments computer program does not go back that far and he's sacked the old craftsman who had the knowledge to employ his son-in-law - or some story like that!!

    Definately get a 2nd/3rd opinion, 404s are too good to throw away like a Camira
    So many projects - so little time.

  7. #7
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Default Just bought one

    I bought a 404 wagon last week and saw under it that the chassis rails are as described all squashed.
    The one I Have as a dodgy engine (breathing) and rust in botom of doors wheel arches not terribly serious but around lower windscreen has been bogged up a lot.
    Two patches required on floor.

    It has been in use by previous owner for twenty yrs and interior a bit untidy also.

    I saved it from thr wreckers yard.

    Still out on what to do with it. It is licenced but fouled number 3 plug after cold start up.
    Has the old style gear change and has recon box but they put a noisy 2nd gear in it. Cylinder head recon and new clutch and water pump.

    Front gaurd a bit bent not seriosly out of shape and small dent in bonnet.

    I take point about not wrecking these but I guesss if I can fix it cheaply it would be ok.

    Graelin

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts Wildebeest's Avatar
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    Default 404 sub chassis rail ?

    604 tragic'
    You are right, there wouldn't have been many, mainly 404's that don't have hoist damaged buttress panels. The weight of the car taken on these by the two post type hoists collapse the channels, making a neat trough to catch moisture. The RH side seems to rust out first, I put this down to brake fluid from unnoticed m/cyl leaks. This will quickly remove any primer inside.

    The best place to position the hoist pads is under the outer sills, this is a very strong area. Insist on this with your little man at the service dept.
    The cast front X member? Along with the cockroaches they will be the last to survive comes the bomb.

  9. #9
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Default Rails

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildebeest
    604 tragic'
    You are right, there wouldn't have been many, mainly 404's that don't have hoist damaged buttress panels. The weight of the car taken on these by the two post type hoists collapse the channels, making a neat trough to catch moisture. The RH side seems to rust out first, I put this down to brake fluid from unnoticed m/cyl leaks. This will quickly remove any primer inside.

    The best place to position the hoist pads is under the outer sills, this is a very strong area. Insist on this with your little man at the service dept.
    The cast front X member? Along with the cockroaches they will be the last to survive comes the bomb.

    Very true about the butress panels but....

    The post is about bent front longntudinal rails isn't it ?

    These rails don't normally get damaged by hoist or jacks, normally bent by a foray into ditch, embankment or kerb!

    I wouldn't let any "modern" mechanic near a 404 , not even a dealer and least of all the "guy" at the local servo !

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