Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Modify Ford F1 shock mounts

1932 Fords originally came with lever action shocks but I wanted to use modern tube type shocks which Ford started using on pickup trucks in the 40's. So, I got a pair of Ford F1 pickup front shock mounts and had to adapt them to the '32 frame. Vern Tardel & Mike Bishop covered this in their book on how to build a traditional Ford hot rod and the basic idea is the same for a '32. The stock F1 shock mounts are not a direct bolt on swap because the distance between the mounting holes is different from the distance of the frame mounting holes on a '32 frame or on a Model A frame.

The first thing I had to do to the frame was enlarge the 2 holes in the side of the frame where the original rivets held the cross member onto the frame to 7/16th and that also is the size of the bolts needed to bolt the shock mounts to the frame.

I had the mounts media blasted so they were easier to work with & weld on. I started to cut the first mount with a cutting disc on an angle grinder just below the first mounting hole and I cut off that entire piece of metal. As you can see, you will have 2 pieces once you are finished cutting. You can also use a hacksaw for this if you wanted to but do not use a torch!

Next, I bolted the assembly to the frame to see exactly where the shock mount would be when it was tightened against the frame. I did need to grind away at the small piece I cut off in order to make it fit more snuggly against the other piece of the mount and it makes it more symmetrical if it follows the edges of the frame.

Placing it this way told me where to tack weld the assembly in place for a more precise fit.
Once I tacked it up, I unbolted it all and put the shock mount in a vice and filled in the metal all around making sure I had good penetration and lots of build up because you will end up grinding away a good majority of the metal in order to blend the metal from the shock mount and the weld together. Then, I smoothed out the rough spots some more with a 120 grit sanding disc on the angle grinder.

You could also go over the entire piece, making sure to grind off all the flashing left over from the forging process. You could also polish them and have them plated if you wanted to go that far!

These shock mounts will probably need to be cut down some more because I want to use short shocks on this car, but you could leave them exactly the way they are depending on where you put the lower shock mounts and the size of the shocks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Running Gear

So, once I had the front end parts together, I needed to find an engine, transmission and rear end. It makes the most sense to find as much of that together as possible because it will save you time & money in the long run. So, I started looking for deals on running gear. I mostly looked on Craigslist, Ebay, the HAMB & Fordbarn.

I found a complete, rebuilt late 1938 81A flathead engine and transmission in Colorado Springs for $1,750. The engine came out of a restored pickup and was rebuilt by Aaron's Machine shop in Roseville CA. I turned the engine over by hand with a large socket on the crank pulley just to be sure. The seller had the rebuild sheet so luckily I knew what went into the engine. The transmission was also rebuilt and all the helical gears looked brand new when I took the transmission cover off.

Now, I was damn lucky to get all this at that price!! The engine rebuild sheet had a total of $4,300 for all the machine work. That's about what you'd pay if you took a flathead to a shop and had them rebuild it.

If you are a hot rodder, you are probably wondering what an 81A is. That is the first 24 stud flathead Ford made in 1938 and in 1939 it was called the 59AB. The 81A was actually an 85 HP engine but this engine that I got has adjustable lifters and has been bored over and with the dual carbs, aluminum heads & headers I plan to add, it should have plenty of HP for a '32 roadster.

The '32 came with it's original banjo rear end but someone had taken the driveshaft out of it, rendering it useless unless you change the complete banjo center section. Since the '32 rear is basically a Model A rear end, a later model rear end was in order.

I found a '40 Ford rear end on Craigslist complete with the drums, backing plates, torque tube, wishbones, brake lines, rear spring and the speedometer gear all for $250. It was all in great shape, just surface rust but all there.

So, now I have all my running gear!

However, when swapping a later banjo rear end into a '32, a shortened driveshaft will have to be made and the torque tube will have to be cut down to the correct size and welded back together.

Also, the stock '32 rear spring cannot be used with a later banjo rear end because it alters the wheelbase which is 106 inches on a '32 Ford. I ended up using the '40 Ford spring and had to grind grooves into the side of the spring in order for it to fit into the stock '32 rear crossmember. When I bolted it together and checked the wheelbase, it was 106 like it's supposed to be. That is an old hot rodder trick in case you were wondering.

Most guys remove the '32 crossmember and replace it with a Model A crossmember and spring. I wanted to keep the frame 100% 1932 so I used the '40 spring and I also removed 7 leaves from the spring pack and had the main leaf spring eyes reversed. All that lowered the rear end quite a bit!

Pretty soon, I will be taking the frame with the front & rear ends to the media blaster along with a few other parts bolted on to remove 78 years of rust, crud, & yellow house paint!

Talk soon.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The next step

Once I got the chassis home, I immediately got out the tools!! You might have noticed in the last blog pictures that there were some clunky pieces of metal welded to the front side & rear. Those were braces welded on to hold up the platform of the hayride! Some were bolted on so I unbolted what I could and finished the rest off with my angle grinder.

Then, I set about taking apart the front end. I needed to send out the '32 heavy front axle to be dropped so I needed to get everything apart, easier said than done!! Years of sitting out on a Nebraska farm really took it's toll. Everything needed to be heated and beaten into submission to get it all apart which didn't actually work, in the end I ended up taking the axle/wishbone to my friend Nick with a Bridgeport lathe and we had to drill out what was left of the spring perches to get the wishbone off and then we had to heat and pound out what was left in the axle! Whew!

I finally was able to send the axle to Joe's Speed Shop in Oklahoma and he did a 1 3/4" drop a.k.a "gentleman's drop", and straightened the axle. While it was being worked on, I bought some '46 thru '48 Ford front spindles & brakes I saw on Craigslist and when the axle came back, I was ready to put together the front end with hydraulic brakes.

When you put hydraulic brakes on a '32 Ford with a stock uncut wishbone, the best way to do it is to heat and bend the spindle arms up about 2 or 3 inches and ream the top of the spindle eye in order to run the tie rod on top of the assembly. From the factory, Ford spindles only have the bottom of the eyelets tapered for tie rod ends because Ford only ran the tie rods on the bottom with the tie rod threads poking up through the hole and the nut on top.

I also needed a new tie rod, the original '32 tie rod was bent like a pretzel so I found one off a fat fendered Ford and had my friend Nick cut it down to length and tapped it in his lathe. Nick also TIG welded together some old tie rod scraps I had and tapped one side with 11/16th RH thread to make me a drag link to hook up the '53 Ford F100 steering box to the steering hoop that I bolted on to the left front spindle so that the chassis would at least steer with a temporary steering wheel when the time came to trailer it to the media blaster.

At this time, I took apart the front spring and removed about 4 leaves from the spring pack to lower the front end. I also re arched the front main leaf using a hydraulic compressor. This is the old school method used by early hot rodders. You lay the main leaf down a flat cement floor making an outline with a piece of white chalk. Then you slowly bend the leaf in the press until it's flat. Then, you try to re arch the leaf back into it's original shape using your chalk outline as a guide but bending it the opposite way. When you are done, the shape or the arch should be identical but the spring eyes will now be reversed. It takes a while but it works.

I also had to buy new spring perches to replace the ones we destroyed and I got new shackles. I did also get new tie rod ends. All of this stuff can be bought from Speedway or Mac's or if you know a restorer with this stuff lying around, try to get the real Henry Ford stuff, nothing is better than Ford steel!

Once I had all the pieces, I temporarily bolted it all together. I say temporarily because again at this point in the game I'm bolting it together for a trip to the media blaster soon. That trip will come when I get a later banjo rear end from a '40 Ford or Merc and bolt it under the frame.

A lot of hot rodders & kustomizers name their cars. As silly as it sounds, a lot of them do it!! I have been thinking about naming this '32 soon to be roadster. The fact that this chassis came from Nebraska and was used as a hayride for most of it's life, I was thinking of calling it "Nebraska Hayride", hmmmm, not sure yet, sounds corny. Maybe "Horsepower Haywagon".
'32 Roadster still sounds better. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How this whole thing started...

I was checking through the Denver Craigslist as I often do back in February 2010 and I typed in 1932 under auto parts and up came an ad for an original1932 Ford chassis for an unbelievable low price. I really did not need another project but it was too good not to at least make a phone call.

I called the number the next morning and talked to the seller. He was a car guy so he knew it was what the ad said it was and not a Model A or '26 Hubmobile!! He said he'd be home after 5pm if I'd like to see it. I went to work and told work I was leaving early, I got directions from Mapquest and was the first one there and the seller had just gotten home a few minutes before, perfect timing.

He led me to his backyard and there was a rolling 1932 Ford chassis, all original front & rear end, all stock cross members were there and it was rolling on '40 Ford steel wheels. Wow, what a find. The frame was in great shape but it had surface rust and brush painted yellow paint on it. He said that he bought the chassis in Nebraska and that it had been used as, get this...a hayride! Someone actually cut up a '32 Ford to make a hayride pulled by a tractor! Jeez!

I told him I'd take it and we shook hands. Now again, I really didn't need another project but this was a great oportunity. I think most people when they want to build a hot rod, think '32 Ford Roadster highboy. That is exactly what I started building with this. Now, there are a million ways to build a hot rod out of a '32 Ford frame. It is the perfect foundation for a '32 body, a Model A body or a Model T body.

I chose to build a '32 and the hunt began for parts, not just any old parts but the correct parts to build a traditional 1932 Ford Roadster Highboy in the tradition of hot rod heroes like Doane Spencer, Walker Morrison, Ray Brown, Vic Edelbrock, Joe Nitti, Bob McGee and many others.

A traditional '32 has to have the following running gear: Ford Flathead v8 engine, '39 Ford 3 speed transmission, closed driveshaft and banjo rear end. It also should have a dropped front axle and big and little tires. Personal preference now takes over, you can build it with steel wheels or wire wheels, a hood or no hood, top or no top, any color you want, black walls or whitewalls and whatever interior you want as long as it looks vintage.

This '32 will have a rebuilt late 81A flathead engine & Ford 3 speed transmission and the closed driveshaft with banjo rear end. It will have Maroon steel 16 inch wheels, the body & frame will be gloss black with an oxblood colored interior if I can find a shop that can do that! I will run a hood but no top.I'll wear a hat instead. :)

So, please check the progress on my '32 as I will be blogging in the future, the build has just begun and I'm still gathering parts but it's looking more & more like a '32 Ford everyday.