Designing a brake pedal assembly for the 1928 – 31 Model A Ford
Many years ago I started with a couple of vintage Plymouths. One was a 1930 and the other a 1931. Both were four door cars. I bought both of these cars for $3500 as the seller did not want to split them up. Maybe the cars had an attachment to each other, who knows? This seller was bit different. He had so many cars and projects, that one person could not finish them all in ten life times. He told me that he could part these cars out and make a fortune. This guy had lots of ideas and stories but a lack of time or maybe interest. This is the usually pit many car builders fall into. Collect lots of stuff, but never do anything with it because they are too busy collecting stuff!!! The 1930 Plymouth was hanging from the ceiling on chains in his shop so he could pack more cars in the building. I must say there was an interesting collection of cars.
A few weeks later I sold the 1931 Plymouth for $3200. Now I was into one car for only $300. The 1930 Plymouth had numerous parts I did not need for the hot rod build so they were all sold via eBay and local advertising. The fellow I bought the cars from was bang on about selling parts from these cars. I guess he didn’t have the time or interest to do what I did.
More money just rolling in and I really haven’t started the build yet. Over time I realize the 1930 Plymouth was not for me and I sold it and finally ended up with the 1929 Ford roadster body. In the process, I bought and sold several cars and kept parts I thought I would need for my build. I did keep a brake / clutch pedal assembly from the 1930 Plymouth and another one from a 1934 Plymouth.
When I designed and built the chassis / frame for the 1929 Ford hot rod, I welded a bracket onto the side of the chassis / frame for the 1930 Plymouth brake / clutch assembly to bolt to. Now it came time to install the brakes. Everything fit as it should except the brake pedal needed a few adjustments. It needed to be shortened slightly. I cut it at the bend and removed what I needed to, and re-welded it with the addition of a gusset for additional strength. Of course I thought it would be a great idea to sit in the roadster on a milk crate and give the brake pedal a try. Just a big kid at heart!! Well that didn’t work out so well and maybe a hidden blessing. One of the brake pedal parts broke along the keyway slot were it attached to the shaft. This could have been deadly if the car was out on the road. I even attempted to repair this part and it broke again. It was then I decided to design and build my own brake pedal assembly. There would be nothing worse than driving a car you cannot stop.
Using the slightly altered original pedal as a template, I traced a pattern onto 3/8 inch steel plate. This was then cut out on the metal band saw and the edges sanded smooth on the 1 inch belt sander. A small shaft collar was then welded to the pivot point of the brake pedal. I reused the shaft form the vintage brake pedal assembly in my new design. At the time, I did not have a lathe or milling machine so I needed to use my imagination to fit pieces together with materials I already had.
Now I traced the base plate onto 0.25 inch steel plate so my new brake pedal assembly would match the bracket already welded to the chassis / frame of my 1929 Ford hot rod. Using some scraps left over from the lower control arms mounts for the lower control arm I made the mount for the brake pedal shaft. A couple of bronze bushings and grease fittings were added to minimize wear of the rotating parts.
Everything was assembled and bolted to the 1929 Ford hot rod for a trial fit. I noticed a minor adjustment would be required on the lower part of the brake pedal. Once this adjustment was made, the new brake pedal assembly was primed and sealed.
The last thing I needed to do was fabricate a new brake pedal pad. Again I traced the original vintage pedal onto 3/8 inch steel plate. A small mounting bracket was added so the pad can be bolted to the pedal. The face of the brake pedal pad will eventually have a piece of ribbed aluminum attached to it to give it a more finished look.
Oh, I forgot to mention. The brake pedal parts from both the 1930 and 1934 Plymouths were sold shortly after completing the one I designed and built. I tend sell or give away anything I do not see a future use for as I do not want to be a collector of stuff that I will never use.
The original floors for many vintage automobiles were made of wood. This was okay 80 years ago. The 1928-31 Model A Ford used a combination of steel floor pans and some wood up front. The Brookville Roadster 1928-29 Ford roadster body is equipped with very nice steel floor pans and was set up for a rumble seat. Having designed a custom frame / chassis for my 1929 Ford roadster hot rod forced me to remove the entire metal floor. Using a C4 Corvette suspension for the chassis / frame on the 1929 Ford hot rod required a narrower frame / chassis width in the rear. My chassis / frame sits inside of the roadsters body rails at the rear of the hot rod. The original Henry Ford design has the entire body sitting on top of the 1928-31 Model A chassis / frame. This was a good design for the time, as the body also provided strength to the lightly made ladder style chassis / frame. Part of my body modifications necessitated the rear floor cross member to be removed and moved a few inches towards the front of the car. Because of this modification the rear floor pan could not be re-used easily. I did consider making new metal floor pans but did not like the 0.5 inch difference between the height of the floor and the roadsters body frame rails and floor cross members. Wanting a nice flat floor even with the top of the roadsters body frame and floor cross members I thought plywood would work but would seal them with fiber glass. Below are a few pictures of this messy process.
Step 1: After giving this a bit of thought, and having done a fair bit of drywall work in all of the houses I have owned, it made sense to trim the edges of the new 0.5 inch plywood floor cut outs with metal drywall j-mold. It fits perfectly over the plywood edges to seal and provide a nicely finished edge. Small nails were used to tack each piece in place.
Step 2: I decided to use a gray colour pigment made for polyester resin to match the grey primer I have been using on the car. Now it is very important to mix the correct amount of catalyst with the amount of resin to be used. Another consideration is the ambient air temperature in the shop. This means if your shop is very warm you can use less catalyst and if it is on the cool side of things, more catalyst is required. Not enough catalyst will be a disaster as the resin will not ever harden. Too much catalyst will cause the resin to set too fast and get very hot. Only mix enough resin for a time period you can handle. The resin is expensive and you do not want a waste any product. I used plastic bowls from the dollar store to mix up the resin. Using a permanent marker, I marked out a 4 ounce and 8 ounce points. From the local farm supplier or even the drug store, purchase several small syringes. These are great for getting the exact measure of catalyst. I used 2 teaspoons or about 6 cc of catalyst for 8 ounces of resin or gel coat. When I did this, my shop temperature was about 65 degrees f. From the dollar store I also purchased heavy duty rubber gloves, several paint brushes, and small paint rollers. For clean-up I used lacquer thinner. Do this in a well-ventilated area and wear safety glasses. I do not clean my rubber gloves or mixing bowls. Once the resin hardens, the hardened resin just peels off the gloves and breaks away from the plastic bowls. When applying the resin to the fibre glass matt, make sure you work out all of the air bubbles to maximize adhesion to the plywood. This is a very messy and smelly process that cannot be rushed.
Step 3: Once all of the floor boards had the fiber glass matt applied with a good coat of resin, I started to paint on the gel coat. Again, I used a colour pigment in the gel coat and used the same amount of catalyst as I did for the resin. Several coats of gel coat were applied. Eventually, I will sand the bottom side of the floor panels smooth for an even finish. All edges were sanded smooth on my stationary 6 inch belt sander. The entire process to seal the wooden floor panels took several nights out in the shop.
All of the panels fit into my 1929 Ford roadster without any problems. These will all get screwed down with a heat shield and rubber padding applied to the interior to reduce noise and heat. These floor panels will be extremely strong and well-sealed from the elements. A similar technique is use to make light weight but very sturdy cedar strip canoes.
Over the last number of years, I have bought and sold many cars, either in a complete form or parted them to pay for the 1929 Ford hot rod project. One of these cars was a 1991 Ford Mustang. I sold many parts from this car, kept several, including the headlights with the intention of converting the old Model A Ford headlights to halogen lighting. These sat around in the shop for a couple of years before I actually got around to this. Now that I am very close to having the 1929 Ford hot rod on the road, headlights are important.
The first step in my conversion process was to cut out the section that was used to contain and hold the halogen light bulbs. I used air cut off saw for this. Of course the friction from the cut off wheel created a bit of heat in the plastic head lamp housing resulting in the plastic to melt around the cut. This was not a problem for me, as I was intending to mount this roughed out bulb socket from the head lamp into my metal lathe and round it up. I suppose you could use the drill press and a two inch hole saw for this provided you had a safe way to hold the head lamp housing securely while drilling.
With the socket removed and turned round on the lathe, place the socket on the Model A Ford head light reflector. Using a pencil trace the socket outline. The Model A Ford headlight reflectors that came with my vintage headlight, were not in great shape. These were perfect for my experiment. One reflector was all dented and the other had no silver on it. This conversion will be the proto type for a much better set of reflectors later on.
Before I could enlarge the hole in the Model A Ford reflectors, the original headlight sockets needed to be removed. Using a pair of pliers, the sockets twisted off without any problems. The die grinder fitted with a variety to burrs. The socket hole was enlarged to the required diameter. To finish this step off, a larger grinding wheel in the die grinder was used to perfect the shape and diameter. I did notice that one of the Model A Ford reflectors had very brittle metal causing larger pieces to be torn away rather that ground away. This was a bit hair raising. The other reflector was easy to enlarge and did not have the same problem. I’m not sure why this happened as both reflectors were made of brass?
The modified 1991 Ford Mustang headlight sockets were then attached to the Model A Ford reflectors using only two #6 by 32, half inches screws.
In order for the halogen light bulbs to fit inside the vintage Ford headlights, the back side of the halogen bulb needed to be trimmed. The rear plastic portion of the bulb shielding the electrical terminal /plug needed to be trimmed even with the electrical terminals on the bulb. This is also necessary to allow soldering of wires to the terminals. With the terminals exposed, they now needed to be bent back 90 degrees. The original wiring plugs for the halogen light bulb was 16 awg, so I soldered new 16 awg wires to the halogen light bulb terminals. The wires are about 12 inches long. A plug will be made later on to attach the headlights to the hot rod.
Five minute epoxy was use to seal the terminals and the newly soldered wire connections on the bulb.
As an in term measure, I decided to paint the Model A Ford reflectors with a high heat silver paint that had decent reflective properties. These newly modified reflectors using halogen bulb will do till I replace the reflectors later on. As luck would have it, I found in the workshop two identical stainless steel mixing bowls that would make perfect reflectors in the Model A Ford headlights. As a future post, I will have a video, showing the entire process of making new headlight reflectors using parts from an old Ford Explorer and the stainless steel mixing bowls. Both of these conversions will only cost me my time and no out of pocket expense. I do intend to sell the first set I converted in the next while. These would be perfect for a daily driver or rat rod.