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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 6

Friday, February 12th, 2010
Chassis / Frame Design for the 1928 to 31 Model “A” Ford Street Rod – Part 6 

One of my main goals in the design for the 1928 to 31 Model A Ford Street Rod chassis / frame was to incorporate as many of the 1986 C4 Corvette suspension components as possible.  Initially, I even wanted to use the front mono composite spring from the Corvette.  This spring is huge and at the time did not seem like a practical idea.  Having acquired a variety of automotive parts over a short period of time, I had sitting in the shop, 4 Jaguar coil over shocks.  The distance between the mounting holes was prefect for my application.  These shocks came from the rear end of a mid 1980’s full size Jaguar Sovereign 4 door car.  The Jaguar Sovereign is a heavy car, and my 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod would be much lighter.  I thought there might be a possibility to use the coil over shocks on my hot rod.  Temporary mounting brackets were made for the shocks.  The motor and transmission were temporarily mounted into the hot rod chassis / frame.  I even added several bags of sand for added weight.  The shocks were mounted to the front of the new 1928 to 31 Model A Ford Street Rod chassis / frame.  I measured the ground clearance for a reference point then stood on the chassis and started bouncing my 6’-4”, 250 pound body up and down on the chassis as hard as I could.  Very little movement was observed.  It was then I realized that I could save a bit of money for the time being and use the Jaguar coil over shocks in the front of my 1929 Ford Roadster.  Later on, once the car is on the road, I do intend to replace these shocks with nice and shiny chrome coil over shocks.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - the upper control arm mount is tack welded in place and the lower right angle cross memeber gussets have be installed.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - the upper control arm mount is tack welded in place and the lower right angle cross member gussets have be installed.

Everything is starting to come together nicely with the front 1986 C4 Corvette suspension for the 1928 to 31 Model A Ford Street Rod chassis / frame.  The front suspension mock up produced favourable results with the desired ride height.  Not only that, all of suspension components taken from the1986 C4 Corvette look great on the new hot rod frame.  Now it came time to create a proper chassis cross member, and the required mounting brackets for the front suspension.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - outside view - these brackets are welded to the outer edge of the chassis rails. The chassis rails have a slight taper to them.  The chassis rail width is narrower in the front than in the rear.  I mounted both upper control arm brackets parallel to each other.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view - the shocks are mounted and tested to determine if the spring rate is adequate.

For the cross member I used  2” x 4” x 0.1” rectangular tubing, heavy wall 1.25” round tubing for the lower control arm mounts, and 0.25” plate steel for the upper control arm mounts.  Inside the 1.25” heavy wall round tubing, bronze bushings were pressed into each end providing an inner diameter of 0.5” for the lower control arm mounts.    Originally the lower control arms were fastened to the 1986 C4 Corvette cross member with metric bolts about 3” long for each pivot point on the lower control arms.  I did notice a minor amount of wear on the original C4 Corvette cross member mount holes for the lower control arms.  The design for my hot rod will allow for sealed lubrication in the lower control arm cross member round tubes eliminating wear problems.  The only thing left to do, is enlarge the inside bushing diameter of the C4 Corvette lower control arms.  This was accomplished very carefully, using a 0.5” cobalt drill bit.  High speed drill bits will not work for this task.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the gussets for the upper control arm brackets.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the gussets for the upper control arm brackets.

Wanting a strong chassis / frame, one that will not flex when picked up by one corner of the chassis, I welded in right angle gussets from the lower front cross member to the inside of the frame rails.  Scraps of 2” x 4” rectangular tubing was used for this job.  Now this created a minor problem for the stock 1986 C4 Corvette steering rack.  The steering rack and the intermediate steering shaft needed a bit of clearance space notched out of the right angle gussets I just welded into the cross member / chassis.  To solve the problem, a very small section of round exhaust tubing was moulded into the gusset.  This took a few hours to do and make it look nice.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the gussets for the upper control arm brackets. Now a bit of grinding is in order to make everything smooth.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the gussets for the upper control arm brackets. Now a bit of grinding is in order to make everything smooth.

Work on the upper control arm brackets started.  Using the plasma cutter, and a wooden template, I cut out 2 identical brackets.  The plasma cutter produces a very clean cut, so it didn’t take too long finishing the edges of these brackets.  The highest part of these brackets would stand a little more than 4” from the top of the frame rail.  Again, wanting everything very strong, I fabricated gussets to strengthen the upper control arm brackets to the frame / chassis.   

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the exhaust tubing massaged into the cross member.  This is required to have the proper clearance for the 1986 C4 steering rack and intermediate shaft.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - inside view showing the exhaust tubing massaged into the cross member. This is required to have the proper clearance for the 1986 C4 steering rack and intermediate shaft.

Now it was time to weld everything in place.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - outside view showing my first version of the upper mount for the coil over shock.  I didn't like the way this looked and ended up removing it.

C4 Corvette upper control arm mount for a 1928 - 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod - outside view showing my first version of the upper mount for the coil over shock. I didn't like the way this looked and ended up removing it.

Come back next week to see how this progresses more towards the final product and finished state.  Of course you can have an advanced look at the completed hot rod frame / chassis for my 1929 Ford Roadster.  Just go the “PAGES” section new the top right of the screen and click on “Preview of the 1929 Ford Chassis with C4 Corvette suspension. 

This frame / chassis will work for any Model A Ford from 1928 to 1931.

I am currently working on CAD drawings for this entire chassis complete with template drawings for all brackets.  This will be available soon on this WEB site.

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