Posts Tagged ‘build a hot rod frame’

Finishing the 1929 Ford Roadster Frame / Chassis using a C4 Corvette Suspension

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
 

 

 Finishing the 1929 Ford Roadster Frame / Chassis using a C4 Corvette Suspension

 I remember a conversation when first getting started with Hot Rods mentioning to a friend that I was intending to build my own chassis / frame for my Hot Rod many years ago.  His response was, “You can’t do that”.  I thought why not, how silly.  Having built antique reproduction furniture, renovating several homes, designing and building just about anything and everything has been a big part of my life.  At the time I thought, “It’s only steel, what’s the problem”.  That’s true, with a great deal of care and thought, I did design and build this chassis / frame for my 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod.  Not only that, I did it with an independent suspension using C4 Corvette suspension components.  I have to admit, it was not easy.  Most likely if I used traditional suspension parts for my hot rod, I would be driving the hot rod right now!  I never do anything easy, and that’s what makes life interesting.   Not only that, learning and doing new things constantly, keeps us young at heart and very healthy.  It has been said that if you don’t use it, you loose it.  Well, I must say, I am living a dream with every aspect of my life and thoroughly enjoying it.  Enough of that, let’s get on with the build process of the 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod chassis / frame.

It has been an interesting process designing and building the frame / chassis for the 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod.  The chassis I designed and built will work on any 1928 – 31 Ford Model A body.  It has a stock wheelbase, widened slightly in the front and narrowed in the rear to fit between the stock body rails of the Model A Ford.  This chassis / frame is considerable stronger than the original 1928 – 31 Model A Ford frame.  This chassis / frame is intended for a high boy style car which is fender less.  I intend to start out fender less, and possibly use rear fenders and a bike style fender on the front of the hot rod in the future.  That thought is still up in the air.  I do have stock style fenders for the rear made of fibreglass.  In order for them to work, I would need to widen them a few inches to match the track width of the C4 Corvette suspension using stock C5 Corvette rims.  The bike style fenders in the front shouldn’t be too hard to fabricate.  In the mean time, I will let these ideas to work away in my mind and finished the 1929 Ford hot rod chassis / frame.  

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - drivers side front view - almost completed

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - drivers side front view - almost completed

I tend to lay in heavy and deep welds with my Mig welder, and then grind everything reasonably clean and smooth.  It takes a bit more time, but the finished product in the end, I feel looks a bit better and more refined.  This next part, now only takes a considerable amount of time with a minor cost of fillers, primer, and sealer.  The entire chassis / frame was cleaned and smoothed out with body filler.  Using a variety of files, scrapers, sanders, and anything else I could find to make the job easier, hours, and hours of time went into making everything on the chassis / frame as smooth as possible.  Some people would say why waste any time doing this?  Just go out and get some rust paint, a brush, and an hour later call it done.  Well, this is my hot rod and I want to build it my way.  Many hot rodders get sucked into the thoughts of others and loose sight of what they want to build.  Maybe this is why there are so many unfinished hot rods or custom cars.  The builder has lost interest mainly because they were building something that somebody else wanted.  Remember, it’s your car, and build and finish it the way you want to as long as it will be safe to drive.  I do know that if my standard was a bit different, I would be driving the 1929 Ford hot rod now.  For me, it doesn’t matter what I build, I like everything to look a certain way, and that takes time.  Oh well!

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - the drivers side front is almost all smoothed out.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - the drivers side front is almost all smoothed out.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - the filling process has started using auto body filler.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - the filling process has started using auto body filler.1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - using glazing primer filler putty, thin coats are applied over the primer to fill smaller imperfections.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - drivers side front completed and ready for suspension

1928 - 31 Model A Ford hot rod frame / chassis using C4 Corvette suspension - drivers side front completed and ready for suspension

 After many hours of smoothing out the body filler, I sprayed my first coat of primer.  Sanding now with finer grits of sand paper, a few more imperfections were noticed so out came the glazing putty.  The glazing putty is basically a super thick primer and can only be applied in thin coats and then left to cure or dry.  Now, there is a bit of a wait game.  Often I would go into the shop, apply the glazing putty, and come back the next day to sand and spray another coat of primer.  After each coat of primer, I would examine everything on the chassis / frame and make the required touch ups.  I didn’t want to rush this process and it took me about a week to get the desired finish before spraying the final coat of primer and sealer.

My plan is to get the entire 1929 Ford hot rod assembled and running on the road for a short period of time before the final painting.  This will allow me to find and correct any design issues prior to the final finishing and painting of the hot rod.  I suspect that when that time comes, I will still go over the chassis / frame one last time to make it look as perfect as possible before spraying the finish coats of paint. 

Building a hot rod or custom car does take a considerable amount of time and determination.  For me, part of the game was to build a very nice hot rod, but cheaply using my acquired skills.  So far, this project has not cost me anything but my time.  Buying cars, and selling cars / parts has paid for this entire project with money in the bank.  Not too bad for such an expensive project sitting in the shop.  This was all at the expense of build time on the hot rod.  There still will be more information coming on this part of the project but for now the chassis / frame is ready for the C4 Corvette suspension components and get the body on the chassis. Below is a short video / slide show showing some the steps and parts of this very unique chassis / frame for my 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod.  Just click on the image below to start the video.

Fast Tube
Fast Tube by Casper

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Chassis / Frame Design for the 1928 to 31 Model “A” Ford Street Rod – Part 4

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Chassis / Frame Design for the 1928 to 31 Model “A” Ford Street Rod – Part 4 

With the new steel at home in the shop it was time to formulate a plan for the construction of my new chassis.  I thought that I would start out easy and duplicate the shape of the front frame rails.  Using the original 1928 – 31 Ford Model A frame / chassis, I traced the pattern of the front frame horns onto a piece of scrap ¼” plexi-glass. This template was almost 3 feet long.  At the time, I felt it would be a good idea to have templates for every bracket and shape I designed for the chassis.  This will save me time if I would like to build another car using the same suspension concept.  The pattern was then cut out on a stationary scroll saw I have in the shop.  Having acquired a full wood shop over the years has a few advantages or benefits towards the build process of my street rod. 

 

1928 - 31 Model A Ford front frame / chassis template pattern to transfer to the 2" x 4" rectangular steel tubing

1928 - 31 Model A Ford front frame / chassis template pattern to transfer to the 2" x 4" rectangular steel tubing

The template duplicating the front end of the original 1928 – 31 Ford Model A frame / chassis was then placed onto the end of each long section of the 2” x 4” rectangular tubing tracing out the pattern.  At the time I did not have my plasma cutter and I needed to figure out how to cut this shape out with some level of accuracy.  Using my angle grinder equipped with a very thin cut off wheel, I very carefully cut the shape out on the sides of the rectangular tubing.  This took a bit of time, but I had no other options for this task.  I used the cut off wheel to slowly score through the steel tubing with a final desired shape of the frame rail.  Once this was completed, I boxed in the openings on the top and bottom of the frame rails with 1/8” steel plate.  In the end, the finished corners edges had the same rounded contour shape as the original 2” x 4” steel rectangular tubing.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 1 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis.  This is showing the riser or kick up of the frame rear section.  A 4" kick up was perfect for my appliction.  The rounded edge of the tubing allowed for a very heavy and deep weld that was ground even with the side edge of the frame for a very clean and even look.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 1 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis. This is showing the riser or kick up of the frame rear section. A 4" kick up was perfect for my appliction. The rounded edge of the tubing allowed for a very heavy and deep weld that was ground even with the side edge of the frame for a very clean and even look.

It then came time to set up the two frame rails on the shop floor using axle stands and small blocks of wood for shims.  Both frame rails were levelled off using the laser level and balancing the diagonal corner measurements.  To help with this, I drilled small 1/8” holes in the center of the rectangular tubing at each end of the frame rails.  This became a constant point of reference to make sure everything was level and square.  Once this was completed, I used some scrap angle iron and welded several pieces across the width of the frame to keep everything in place.  My two most important measurements were the width of the frame along the centre line of the front axle and the width of the rear differential carrier mounts.

 

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 2 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis.  This is the initial view of the rear of the frame.  I ended up making it slightly too long and later shorter the length of the frame so it.  This change will allow the 1931 Ford coupe body to fit nicely over the frame / chassis rails.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 2 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis. This is the initial view of the rear of the frame. I ended up making it slightly too long and later shorter the length of the frame so it. This change will allow the 1931 Ford coupe body to fit nicely over the frame / chassis rails.

The outside frame width at the center line point for the front axle center will be slightly wider than the stock 1928 – 31 Ford Model A frame / chassis.  The width will be the same as taken from the original C4 Corvette front cross member.  An important point to keep in mind, the design for the C4 Corvette suspension must not change.  Any changes to the suspension design will result in poor handling performance on the street rod or possible disastrous and dangerous operating conditions for the street rod and occupants.  You do not want to be on the 6 o’clock new cast. 

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 3 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis.  This view show the mounting for the C4 Covette stablizer rods or "dog bones".  I used 4" square steel tubing cut to the shape in the picture.  One side of the tube was cut off to make the tube into a channel.  This give me the proper width for the stabilizer or control rods.  The open end of the tube was welded to the side of the frame.  A piece of 2" square tubing was used to created the final mounting bracket for the stabilizer rods.  I used a metal cutting band saw for all of the metal cutting here.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 3 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis. This view show the mounting for the C4 Covette stablizer rods or "dog bones". I used 4" square steel tubing cut to the shape in the picture. One side of the tube was cut off to make the tube into a channel. This give me the proper width for the stabilizer or control rods. The open end of the tube was welded to the side of the frame. A piece of 2" square tubing was used to created the final mounting bracket for the stabilizer rods. I used a metal cutting band saw for all of the metal cutting here.

After measuring the mounting distance for the C4 Corvette (1986 Corvette convertible) rear differential carrier, I decided on another deviation from the original 1928 – 31 Ford Model A chassis / frame.  The new mounting brackets for the differential carrier will be welded to the outside section of the frame rails.  I designed tear drop brackets and cut them out using 5/16” plate steel.  These brackets required a small notch to be removed from the body frame rails.  I also remove the rear floor panels and one of the rear cross braces on the body.  This will allow the 1931 Ford Model A coupe body to be easily mounted to the new chassis with the new chassis just fitting in between the body rails of the coupe body.  I will explain more on this later, in another section,  on how to strengthen the rear of the body to compensate this modification.  Using this type of chassis design, will not allow the use of a rumble seat.  Again, to make design process easier, I removed all floor and trunk panels on the 1931 Ford Model A coupe body.

 

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 4 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis.  This view shows a cross member tacked in place.  It will provide a mounting location for the center differential carrier housing and add much needed strenght to the 4" kick up on the frame.  It will act as a gusset for the kick up.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 4 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis. This view shows a cross member tacked in place. It will provide a mounting location for the center differential carrier housing and add much needed strenght to the 4" kick up on the frame. It will act as a gusset for the kick up.

A few more measurements on the length of the chassis frame rails needed to be made.  I discovered that the rear of my new chassis was slightly too long.  The body would not drop over chassis frame rails.  The chassis was hitting the rear of the body frame.   I quickly shortened that rear of my new chassis making it just long enough to keep the frame nicely within the 1931 Ford coupes body  frame rails.

C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 5 for the 1928 - 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis.  This shows the tear drop brackets I made for mounting the C4 Corvette rear suspension unit to the frame.  I perfer heavy and very deep welds and then grind  them smooth for a very finished look.
C4 Corvette rear suspension veiw # 5 for the 1928 – 31 Model A Ford frame / chassis. This shows the tear drop brackets I made for mounting the C4 Corvette rear suspension unit to the frame. I perfer heavy and very deep welds and then grind them smooth for a very finished look.

 

C4 Corvettes (1986 Corvette convertible) use an aluminum support beam that is fastened to the rear of the transmission and the front of the differential.  This would not look too good on a street rod.  Instead, I decided that two new cross members would be used on the chassis.  One cross member for the transmission and another cross member for the differential.  These two cross members would also increase the strength of the new chassis.  I used 2” x 3” rectangular steel tubing for these cross members.  I tack welded the cross member in place for the differential.  The addition of this cross member to the rear of the chassis will also form as a gusset to help strengthen the welds for the rear kick up.  The angles of the transmission and differential carrier are very important.  Both the transmission and differential cannot be mounted straight.  The transmission must be angled downward 3 degrees from horizontal and the pinion on the differential must angled upwards 3 degrees from horizontal.  This will avoid driveline vibration and help preserve your universal joints on the driveshaft.  I will include a section later on with more details on setting up the driveshaft, transmission, and differential.

The next step was to mount the upper and lower control arms to the side of the new chassis.  Now I had a bit of a problem.  The chassis was to narrow.  How would I make the chassis wider to allow the mounting of the rear control arms?  I did not want to use the original mounting brackets.  They were just too ugly and I did not have anything to attach them to.  After a bit of thought, I decided that if I used 4” square steel tubing with one side cut off, that I could mount the rear control arms tastefully to the side of the chassis.  A new set of control arm mounts were designed and constructed from 2” square tubing with the ends rounded and one side cut off.  These mounts will be welded to the 4” square tubing that was already tacked to the side of the frame rails.  Again I matched up the angle for the control arm mounts to the same angle found on the 1986 Corvette convertible donor car.

Please note:  I will be including complete measured drawings and templates for the various sections of this 1928 – 31 Model A Ford Hot Rod frame / chassis to purchase in the very near future. 

Come back next week to see how I created and started the design for adapting the C4 Corvette (1986 Corvette convertible) front suspension to the new 1928 – 31 Ford Model A chassis / frame.

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