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!