Friday, June 24, 2011

'Swiss Support'

Give me a toe board on Rye and hold the swiss!
You can see right threw the bottom of this front sub. Most of that remaining material at the bottom can be poked threw with your finger, so it needed to be replaced.
After getting the cowl back from the blaster, a few things were revealed. Namely the swiss that was the front sub on the drivers' side. There were actually chunks missing complete. Luckily, I had also brought them the drivers side front sub to clean up too!
The first thing was to remove the cowl side, which also had a fair amount of rust and swiss to it. There is an area that these model A's just get rusted out, right behind that support triangle shape. It must just collect dust, dirt and water back there. But instead of trying to fix the immediate rust I could find, I figured I'd just replace the panel and fix the front sub too.
Here you can see my fresh cut 16 gauge replacement panel I cut on the "beverly" shear before tacking into place.
The rear section of the front sub/toe sub also didn't survive mead blasting so I grafted in the old sport coupe piece to the it so there is something to bit on to between the sub rails and the cowl section. You can also see the tear repair on that tow board triangle support and my pattern that I used to cut.

The welds and clean up aren't pretty by a long shot, but certainly better than what it was and still all original 80+ year old stuff. Besides, it probably won't see the light of day.

Lastly, and the most fun, was the discovery of the production date on the cowl:
It was hard to make out the model year in this picture, so I did a quick render so you can see it on the lower half. So, tomorrow is the cowl/gas tank birthday! 83 year young!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Got some help from Iraq

Still piecing this body together here. Some old parts came back from the media blasters yesterday and I also got some help from my buddy/club brother Eric, freshly back from Iraq.
Above you can see the split from the factory pressing on the Drivers side rear quarter got touched up, rewelded and ground back to shape.
Eric came up with this idea to make plates from the door screws that will be welded into place on the cowl pillars. All of them are tapped, but some of them still need to be fitted inside the posts.
Most of the cowl now looks like it's brand new! Unfortunately, other areas are gonna need a lot more attention now. Cutting and fitting new sub rail extensions on the driver's side to take care of the swiss cheese-ness.

Hey! Looky what I didn't realize I still needed for sheet metal… Yeah, it's called a "sill plate", not a rocker like it was thought. It's made up of two separate panels that fit together. Time to get out the check book again. FUDGE!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm no engineer, but….

I guess I fall more under the artist category than engineer, fabricator or builder - but though I often only have to draw finished ideas of the outside, I think it's a healthy exercise to be able to show some real, practical thought into how things are actually going to built. Ignore my 10 minute sketch/doodle lines and such… this was really for my brain to relax.

Taking a break on the body assembly while I wait for the cowl to come back from the media blasters, I got to thinking about my rear end and how it will sit.
When I purchased the rear end I was told it came from a 1948 Ford truck. It's a banjo rear, so will go with that for the example sake. Now, I know I want to do a bit of a kick up on the rear so it's not completely looking like a cat in heat with the buggy spring.

I picked up a medium arch buggy spring for a model A which if memory serves it has a 10" rise. With the stock model A frame it would probably look a little goofy with the rear high up so I know a kick up is in order. Whether it will be 4" or 6" I don't know just yet. I have to see the way things sit before moving too far along.

In this blurry cell phone shot you can see the rear cross member sits directly centered over the wheel well of the rear quarter panel. Knowing the mounts on the '48 Ford rear end are sitting 7" off the center, toward the rear, it means I have to move/add/raise the rear of the frame. The other option that I've read about is to make the mounts sit top dead nuts over the axle itself which sounds like many folks do. My fear in doing this is actually a couple of factors: welding to the old tubes on the axle can warp them or ruin them completely, then it's back to the parts hunt. Secondly, I'll have to still do the kick up in the rear, probably higher as the weld on spring perches are now on top of the axle, making the damn thing sit even higher yet, where the stock perches of the '48 axle sit level with the tubes themselves. I'm estimating the difference being 4-5"s overall in height.

So my mental plan is to keep the stock perches in use (unless someone has some logic that I can see that changes my mind) and while doing the kick up, also lengthen the chassis by 7" so the wheels/tires sit right in the middle of the rear quarter panels so it looks just right. My diagram that's at the top is sloppy, but I drew it up quick before my 2 year old got ahold of it and destroyed it or drew on top. I think the general idea should work. The only thing I now see that I didn't doodle in are the radius rods which should help with the offset of the spring location and of course the shocks too.

If the plan goes well, the rear cross member should be sitting right in front of the rearward trunk braces so the body will sit still looking stock with only big mods happening to the sub rails/trunk scoop area to compensate for the kick up and movement from the stock location.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nip and Tuck on a 80 year old.

It's been a long road even up to this point and the end is still nowhere in site. I often get myself down when working on this roadster project dubbed " The Gow Cart" (psst. that's "Gow" as in Tow, or snow… not as in How)

I've come to some realizations on the sport coupe verse roadster body language. They are pretty much completely different cars. Yes, many folks have told me in the past, but I thought I could pull a fast one and merge the two together… boy, I was wrong. I've seen a few decent jobs doing these cross overs, but I really have my heart set on the look of the roadster, so that's the way it's now going.

So little of my sport coupe body remains going onto the gow cart. Realistically it's really pieces of it being merged into the project. The toe board sub rail area is one, the horizontal sub rail braces is another. I'm hoping now to salvage the trunk drip rails and a few odds and ends here and there for patches and braces. It's being cannibalized to feed the cart.

As of the end of Sins of Steel I started to assemble the body, building on the frame this time after many folks urged me to do so (I'm kinda done with trial and error that I have been doing)
Here are some quick peeks inside the speed barn at the progress (In reverse order, unfortunately)

The new patch cowl side in. Those just don't snap in like legos either. Below you can see the remaining portion of the sport coupe trunk inner that I need to remove yet.

The inside of the cowl patch and new/old toe board sub

Drivers side cowl. It's going to be blasted and see what's left of it before moving forward.

A little clean up here. Lots of clamps as my helping hands.

The firewall got stripped . Lots of holes yet to patch up.

This was the mock up. There is a bit of overhang on the patch near the bottom. About an eighth inch or so needs moving.

Old and the new together here. When it's all cleaned up it should look like one.

A bit more trimming involved to get it to fit in place.

The toe board merger between the sport coupe and the roadster.

Testing out the two pieces before trimming and welding it in.

The fresh stamped pieces are going to require some work. Just placed in here with a few tack welds and clamps.

Pins and screwdrivers are keeping the body in place on the rails.

Here is the first side going in for a test. There was still a lot of trimming to make it this far from the stamping.

Look at all that overhang. The sub rails sit back quite a ways

Here's where I started a week ago. I wish I could say I worked for a week on it, but realistically it was only for a few hours on a few days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cadillac in a Ford?

One of the earliest parts of the Gow Cart project was the mill. In this case it's a Cadillac motor, in a Ford. A lot of folks out there ask me why I would choose the engine for an early ford car.

"Why not a Flathead?"
"Did you think about a Y block?"
"What about a 302 Small Block?"

All valid questions, sure. For the Flathead, I've already got one in the '49 Ford. It's been a great engine for the size, but the price for doing another one, I'd rather have something with a lot more power in a Hot Rod. Y-Blocks are pretty cool, but I don't think they are any cheaper to build up than an early OHV Cadillac motor, not to mention finding vintage speed parts for these beasts. And to the the small block 302 fans, well, I just can't do it in a model A with the focus on the mill. I can't argue with the readily available parts and the cost associated with them, but I think there is a lack of style that comes along with just a plain old 302. I just always associate that engine with a Mustang, which conjures a completely different era of cars.

The Cadillac 390 was introduced in 1959 which was essentially a stroked and bored version of it's original first OHV Cadillac motor, the 331, in 1949. Much like the Flathead it shared the center exhaust ports so you only have three exhaust manifold tubes coming out. I don't know what it is I like about seeing that in old Hemis, Desotos, Olds Rockets and Flatheads, but it gets my blood pumping and screams vintage mill!

The thing I love about the Cadillacs of that time period, outside of the loud American styling was the fact that people were in love with cars and many music artists sang songs about Cadillacs owning the road. Folks like Chuck Berry, Doc Starkes & the Nite Riders, Tex Rubinowitz, The Howlin' Wolf, Hugo Peretti, The Spaniels and more contemporary: Brian Stetzer and many more all have songs about Cadillacs.

It's hard to imagine that a 20+ foot long car was a race car to the folks of yesteryear. In todays terms these cars weren't that fast, but when you are comparing a Flathead that is generating 90 HP, stock in 1949 vs a Cadillac 331 spinning out a torquey 325 HP, stock you can see why it would be the natural choice for a kid building a Hotrod, if he could get his hands on a fresh junkyard crash (or a stolen car!) It takes a lot of HP to push around that kind of steel and chrome on a Cadillac!

Besides the fact I was able to pick and pull a Cadillac 390 for the Gow Cart, it's got some history and some advantages that an early rodder would want pushing their roadster down the road.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frame Progress

Well, you have to start somewhere, and the frame is probably the best place to get things going. The search is always on for parts, but it was time to get things rolling on the frame work of this project.
This frame was picked up in Illinois, just a few miles from the border of Iowa. It's an orginal straight model A 28-29 frame.
Step one was to knock out all the old rivets on the cross members for the front and center. Then begin filling those old holes.
A wire wheel and a sanding disk or two revealed the metal under 80 years of rust.
A big task on these old frames is filling up the old holes. There are a ton of them on the top, sides and bottom. I didn't even bother to count, just got down to business. The small holes can be filled by welding with a copper piece to back it, while the larger holes need some sort of filler. A fender washer works well for this.
Here is a larger hole filled with a fender washer and ground flat
Never Never knew there was an 1 1/2" hole here!
Here is the side of the frame with the holes filled.
The old front cross member that was cracked was replaced with a new Model A styled cross member courtesy of Ionia Hot Rods
After as much clean up on the frame that could be done by hand I had the frame blasted to get all the nooks and crannies. After a fresh coat of weld through primer, I started boxing the frame back to front.
The boxing plates are welded in here with clean up left to do.
Heres where two plates came together. It was v'ed on the edges to sink the weld in better. More clean up grinding left to do.
Made some quick gussets for the rear member to the boxing plate. I dunno that it helps all that much but it can't hurt. Passenger side.
Here's a better look at the boxed frame from the inside.
Wanted to finish the box to the other side of the front cross member, but not the whole horn so I did a little looking around to come up with this idea which mimics the curve of the horn tip.
Had to do a bunch of relief cuts to get the curve correct. Here it's roughed out. I sandwiched both sides together then cut away for symmetry.
Here it is all welded in place.
Cut up a small part of my old center cross member to get a nice radius piece to fit at the end of the boxing plate and the front cross member.
the piece worked well with some finessing and grinding.
A quick shot of primer shows the front horn grinding. I may not need much body filler!
Here is the grafted in radius piece ground and primed.

-Up next, Engine mounts and center member.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dash inspiration!

Not that I have any components to make an IP like this, but look and marvel at the beauty of the mid thirties automobiles! The upper from a 1936 Ford Roadster brings the dash to the floor and the lower photo shows a star burst pattern on a panel which is a great showcase for some nice instrumentation. I'm planning a more simple 1935 Ford dash for the Gow Cart and while looking at ideas I came across these and just had to make mention of it. Plans still coming together in my head.