Tunable Tension: An ol’ fashioned fitment fix



Story and photos by Rotten “Rodney” Bauman

Gappin’ doesn’t just happen. When a body on a rotisserie must become reacquainted with the frame rails to which it belongs, or when new mounting pads and a box full of shims aren’t enough to square things up, you’ll likely twist panels and cut parts to get a good gap. In order to achieve panel alignment with uniform gaps, be prepared to do what’s necessary and think outside the box o’ shims.

Wood-framed bodies are particularly tricky and sometimes act as if they have memories or minds of their own. Surprisingly, however, this 1931 Cadillac convertible coupe body has held its shape quite well, both over the years and during its restoration. At the project’s early beginning, my metal-fabricating wife (Mrs. Rotten) welded some bolt-in bracing to keep the door jambs properly spaced during the time that the body would be off the frame. Backed by an additional bolt-in X-member, the bracing did its job. We also received a rare break, as the majority of this car’s original wooden body structure was still solid and strong.

During the old Cadillac’s disassembly, a two-post lift was used to raise the body as the chassis was rolled out from beneath and the rotisserie rolled in its place. With two lengths of 4×4, one on each side between the adjustable rotisserie and the body’s wooden floor, the body was bolted tight. During the frightening “frame to lift to rotisserie” procedure, I heard neither a creek nor a squeak, and I’m here to testify that I witnessed no body flex. Sure, the steps were well thought out and thoughtfully executed, but still, there’s no denying that luck was a factor — at least to that point.


Bad Dust

BAD Dust® Containment Systems

Reusable, modular containment bags designed to shield airborn dust and friable materials created by treating surfaces with media-blasting equipment or other mechanically operated hand held tools. www.baddust.com


Auto Paint Specialists

Tower Paint™. APS/Tower Paint
The Original Custom
Color Spray Can Leader

2120 West Nordale Drive
Appleton, WI. 54914


The CLAMPTITE TOOL provides a means of tightening wires wrapped around an object and then locking it in place. The tool can be used with various wire sizes which eliminates space and strenght issues often encountered with screw operated worm gear type clamps. 1-800-962-2901 www.clamptitetools.com


We specialize in restoration, show quality plating and salvaging damaged chrome parts that other platers have ruined.
We can plate nearly any material. We can remove dents & scratches and polish any item.
email: tmeetz@aol.com


As luck would inevitably have it, luck ran out. During the car’s final assembly, the driver’s side door took a bizarre twist and began to sag. The door fit before. In fact, I’d already gone to great lengths to make it fit when the body went back on the chassis after I’d done all I could with shims. Months ago, when the body was snuggly placed where it was to stay, I’d added and subtracted metal at the edges of both doors to get the gaps I was after.

Mysteriously, after the paint work, things were not as I recalled. That was one of those “walk away” days, but when the rooster crowed the next morning, one possible solution had dawned. It worked for me. It could work for you too. Here’s how:



Classique Cars Unlimited

We Are Your Source for 1958 to 1999 Lincoln and Thunderbird Auto Parts We have one of the Largest NOS inventories of parts available for Ford Thunderbirds and Lincolns in the World. We also carry USED as well as Reproduction Auto PARTS in our stock. You will find these parts and more, from Bumper to Bumper, in our Catalogs. Fast, worldwide shipping the next business day. Catalogs are $15. Shipped within the USA. Order toll-free 800-543-8691. We’re online at


WIZARDS® offers a unique line of polishes, buffing compounds, detailers and finishing products perfect for the automotive enthusiast or professional. Nothing produces a better shine than our Shine Master Polish or Mystic Spray Wax. For people who show their vehicles, our Mist-N-Shine Professional Detailer removes dust and fingerprints and leaves behind a slick, high-gloss shine. We also offer Tire & Vinyl Shine, Leather Plus, Power Clean, Metal Polish, a metal buffing system for wheels, chrome trim, and other metals among a host of other products to make a complete line of specialized professional detailing products. Visit our web site at www.WizardsProducts.com to see the entire WIZARDS® line.

Use coupon code: OCWEEKLY for FREE SHIPPING in our online store.

Northwestern Auto Supply

An old time parts store since 1946 with 4 buildings full of old inventory of antique and classic parts for the quality minded owner who wants to avoid off shore products. Engine, chassis, ignition, and brake parts shipped world wide. Machine shop and babbiting also. www.northwesternautosupply.com

Restoration Supply Company

We are your #1 source for Authentic, hard to find restoration supplies and accessories for the pre-war antique automobile and marine enthusiast. The Right Stuff is all right here—








If you liked this article on fitment, you might be interested in our other restoration products:

More Resources For Car Collectors:



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.