Posts Tagged ‘problems when building a hot rod’

What’s happening at

Saturday, November 12th, 2011


What’s happening at

Well here we are into November and the snow is flying in areas close to our home and shop.  This past summer has been an interesting one for me.  Everything started out right on track with the usual hot rod building distractions.  It was decided early on that we would have our home, yard, ponds, and gardens, on the local garden tour, sponsored by the horticultural society.  That was fine, since I normally just look after grass cutting and occasional hedge trimming.  My wife maintains the vast number of gardens, on our 1 acre property with our Victorian home built in 1868.  Unfortunately, I developed a serious problem with my shoulder in late spring that really limited my level of physical work.  This also affected my work on the computer, as it was simply too painful to use the mouse and keyboard not to mention numerous sleepless nights.  Oh well, I just needed to adapt like the Borg on Star Trek.   I took on the task of wiring the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod and a few other very light tasks.  That did not stress the shoulder at all.  I did manage to get all of the instrumentation installed and connected along with the wiring for the lighting 1929 Ford hot rod.  Of course, nothing is simple when you build a hot rod.  I decided to convert the old original 1930 – 31 Model A Ford headlights to halogen lighting.  This worked out very well.  This will have a separate post later on complete with pictures and video showing the entire process of the headlight modification / conversion. 

Now I needed to place the alternator on the motor as part of the wiring project.  Again, this was not simple, as I wanted the alternator to be mounted low on the 350 cubic inch motor of the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod.  I was not able to use conventional motor pulleys for this since the engine was very close to the radiator and I was also using an electric water pump.  To solve the problem, I machined an aluminum v-belt pulley on my very old Logan metal lathe.  The pulley turned out perfect and will be mounted to the front of the engine.  Up to this point, power steering was not an option due to the space issue.  Having machined an engine pulley for the alternator, I revisited idea of adding the power steering pump to the engine.  Sometime ago I sold a power steering pump to my friend Jim another member of the Forest City Street Rods club.  Jim wanted to use this on his 1937 Chevrolet street rod.  Unfortunately Jim was not able to stop a leak on the oil reservoir and abandoned the GM type II power steering pump.  I decided to give the pump another attempt, only this time I had an aluminum bracket and pulley for the power steering pump.  The bracket for the power steering pump ended up getting a shave and trim and used for the alternator instead.  I then fabricated another bracket using one inch aluminum blocks.  To stop the reservoir leak problem, I machined on the lathe an aluminum press fit adapter to allow for a remote location of the reservoir tank for the power steering pump.  Now that I was able to mount the power steering pump on the engine without any clearance problem, a second engine pulley was made.  Having made one already, the second one was easy to make.  During this process of making pulleys and brackets I realized that a milling machine would make life so much easier not to mention a metal lathe that was not worn out. 

A few weeks after fabricating the new pulleys, mounts for the power steering pump and alternator that a friend provided me with a lead for some machine shop equipment.  As a result of this lead, I am now the proud owner of a decent metal lathe and a Bridgeport style vertical knee milling machine.  The old Logan lathe was sold and a new machine shop room was added to the workshop of 

Finally, a number of weeks ago, had an unfortunate accident and went down causing a service interruption.   The process of restoring the website was a tedious one.  Now that the site is back up, a few more tweaks need to be made and then more information about my build of the 1929 Ford Model A roadster hot rod will start rolling out again.  No pun intended.  There will be lots of information, from wiring a hot rod, fuel gauge calibration, gauges, halogen light conversion, machining parts, to general hot rod building ideas.  Of course I will include many pictures, and video.  It should be an exciting winter season in the shop of



Hot Rod Project Management 101

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Hot Rod Project Management 101

Tomorrow will be Easter Sunday and a day to spend with the family.  A nice meal and the weather outside is absolutely terrific.  What more can a person ask for?  Life is good.

Continuing with my quest of designing and building the chassis for the 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod using C4 Corvette suspension components from a 1986 Corvette Indy Pace car has not been an easy one.  There have been many changes and modifications to the hot rod project.  The chassis is an example of what some would say is a design prototype.  I did not work from any plans, and everything is created as I move forward.  This is a design created on the shop floor away from the computer screen.  If all I could do is work on the hot rod that would be great.  The average person building a hot rod cannot.  There is work to contend with.  You need to pay the bills, so you need to work.  We have families, and everyone in the family deserves some good attention.  You cannot ignore your family.  If you do, then you get into big trouble.  Then there are your accommodations.  In my case, the old Victorian house I live in.  It requires a great deal of attention in the way of renovations.  In the summer there is grass to cut, weeds to trim, and in the winter time, snow to shovel.  If you have anything else on the side like I do, with a couple of apartments, then you have to deal with tenants.  There are so many things that will interfere with the build process of a hot rod.  I guess this is why we see all sorts of unfinished hot rods for sale.  The builder lost focus and interest.  It takes time to build a hot rod, lots of time.  You need to keep on track and be determined to finish any project.

There are all kinds of theories of Project Management.  The most recent dictate how to develop a scope statement that defines the project, gantt charts that set out time lines for the project, and define who does what. Project management theories are of little use in this situation.  You can set out time lines and make charts but you have to put your hands on the materials and the tools and do the work.  People who can formulate an idea and then flesh it out by actually finding, and assembling the materials with the necessary tools are becoming more and more rare.  With your own projects or any project on any scale, there is a time to leave the computer screen or the pencil and paper and the “visioning” sessions and put your hands to work.  As time moves on, we are generating a society of individuals that do not know how to build or make anything with their hands. Shops and shop classes of all kinds have slowly disappeared from secondary schools and engineering schools. No one builds anything in a shop.  Students are taught to draw a picture of something in AutoCAD.  I have noticed this in the College program that I teach over the last 25 years.  Students now do not have the same hand skills when compared to students 25 years ago.  They are not familiar with the qualities of the materials they are putting into their designs.  Now the world has the plastic snow shovel.

A good example of problem solvers, builders, real project managers would be the group in MythBusters. Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, and the cast of MythBusters have the right approach to engineering. All you need to do is watch their show and you will get the idea. People like Jamie and Adam are few and far between. You cannot teach these types of skills, they are acquired. These fellows are a very rare breed of problem solvers.

As a teaching professional that has been building anything and everything for my entire life, I find that these project management theories and methods are nothing but useless.  These are positions filled with people that do not know how to build anything.  The old and probably politically incorrect saying use to be:  “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”  Now it is too many project managers and not enough builders.  There are many things that cannot be predicted from the screen of a laptop.  If there is any doubt about the veracity of this statement in your mind, answer one question. Has any project manager been able to finish a project on time and within budget?  There is bonuses paid and after the dust has settled they give themselves awards within the associations they belong to.  Oh well!! 

Back to your own project. You better know how to feel whatever it is you are building.   Working on a computer in front of a monitor does not give you that experience.  It is the start, but a designer needs to get dirty hands out on the shop floor.  These designers think that the 3-D image on the computer monitor is all they need.  Do not fall into the trap Toyota has fallen into.  Here we have a group of designers blaming the acceleration problem on driver error, floor mats, and the gas pedal.  Maybe some of this is true and maybe not.  These designers are not listening to the problem.  Designers are quick to pass on blame, even going so far as to blame the problems on the assembly line workers in some cases all to avoid taking ownership of the problem.  Many critics believe it may be an electronic problem based on their own experience with their own Toyotas.  Okay, some of the facts might be hidden.  Car manufacturers are good at holding back information.  They assess risk and determine what the risk will cost them in the courts.   Let’s stop and think about run away Toyota’s.  Modern electronics are getting smaller.  We are using electronic devices that are very small, even microscopic.  The automobile has one of the most hostile environments around.  There are extreme temperature changes, salt, sand, dust, grease, moisture, and all sorts of grime and dirt.  It is very hard to seal out, prevent contamination, and effects of these foreign elements.  With electronics getting smaller, it takes less to create an electronic problem on circuit board.  With vibration, and the expansion and contraction of parts due to temperature, it is not that hard to have an electronic malfunction especially an intermittent one.  These intermittent problems are the most difficult to find and address.

What does this have to do with building a 1929 Ford Roadster?  Whenever a project is created, you better be prepared for the unexpected and adapt to it.  You need to be like the Borg on Star Trek, “ADAPT”.  When something is not right, not working the way that you want it to, change it. This is what I have been doing for the entire build process of the 1929 Ford Hot Rod.

In the next day or so, I will show how the rear sway bar from the 1986 Corvette Indy Pace car was added to the 1929 Ford hot rod with Corvette IRS.