A nasty setback!!!
As part of the restoration, I removed the louvered engine protection panel under the frame and saw something that should not be there. The inner flanges of the frame had rusted away and the web had pinholes in it from rust. But then I noticed that the two frame rails had a third unexpected piece of rusty metal running along them. So I called Bob and we examined the chassis closely. The extra piece of metal turned out to be a previous repair which had also started to rust through
So we also decided to use a mirror and a flashlight to look under the new piece of bottom skin that had been welded to the front of the platform. We noticed that the new skin was 16 AWG, which is a rather heavy replacement but we could also see that the flange on the lower part of the internal frame was rusted completely away and had not been repaired before the new thick skin had been welded on.
To repair all this means cutting off the front legs of the frame and forming new ones. To get them into place would also mean cutting off the thick metal skin which had been added to the underside of the platform. Because this skin has been welded all around the periphery, removing it would mean hours of grinding and would further damage flanges of the frame rails So, hours of grinding, rebuilding the flanges of the frame within the chassis, building new front legs – and the frame would still be full of repairs and therefore possibly weak.
At this point, I was wondering if I should just give up and send the whole thing to the dump. After several days to mull things over, and calm down a bit, I have decided that a new frame is in the cards. It is the only safe thing to do.