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***TECH: 32 RPU Project - Making a RPU into an SUV***

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by NealinCA, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,872


    Some say Hot Rods dont have rumble seats. That may be the case, but what fun are these old cars with out family and friends.

    My brother Mark made a suggestion early on. He said…why don’t you hide some jump seats in the bed for the kids…I’m just not sure if he meant my wife and our 2 kids…or my dad and the three of us “kids”. Anyway, this was when I first hauled the cab home and was just in the planning stages of the build. His idea was to find a floorpan out of a small car…like a Falcon or maybe an import that had fold down rear seats. I started searching the wrecking yards and couldn’t find anything that would fit the space. Then my brother Paul came across a couple of 32 floorpans, one out of a 3W and the other from a Vicky. I was able to borrow the 3W pan for a test fit. It was close to what I wanted, but to fit everything under the floor I would still need to heavily modify the 32 pan. I couldn’t make myself spend the money on something I was going to cut up so much, so I started to make the whole deal from scratch. The plan was to copy the proportions of the 3W pan, just tweak the dimensions to make everything fit. I then made some lucky swapmeet finds, a rear seat pan that had been cut out of a 32 Fordor and the lower rear floor out of what I think is Model A Vicky. I then rounded up a 26-27 T roadster seat riser…thanks to Mild Mitch. With these pieces, I had enough old Ford parts to blend together and end up with something that looked like Henry had made.
    Here’s the 32 Fordor Seatpan and Model A Vicky Floorpan in “as found” condition.


    And the Model T Roadster Seat Riser as Mitch sent it to me.


    Here are the pieces clamped in place for an initial mockup. The square tube clamped across the frame is where the front panel of the bed will sit, so the footwells continue up under the back of the cab.


    Now that there was a plan in place for the “rumble seat”…I had to build the rest of the truck around it. The rear suspension had to be set up so nothing would interfere with the floorpan…shocks, exhaust, gas tank, battery, radius rods, etc. ‘36 rear radius rods were Z-d to keep them low. The torque arm was mounted low on the banjo as well. Lever shocks were mounted out board the frame. E-brake cables were run in conduit in order to keep them down low and out of the way. A small gell-cell racecar battery was tucked under the floorboard. Exhaust was kept minimal using a pair of ‘36 driveshaft “lakes pipes” ending under the back of the cab.


    With the floorpan extending up under the cab, that lead to making a toe-kick area in the lower section of the cab, behind the seat. The lower section of the cab was cut out. Then a piece of square tube was formed to continue the lower body line up and around the opening. A pocket was formed and welded inside, as well as steel bracing to replace the factory wood.



    I had some much needed help along the way...



    To ease the space constraints a little, the floor in the bed was raised 2”. A slice was taken out of the middle of the front panel to keep it stock appearing as well.


    Once the foundation was all in place, it was time to start on the actual seat part of the project. I decided to form new, deeper bottoms for the seat pans. Even with the floor raised 2 inches, I needed the additional depth to allow for the seat back to fold down below the level of the floor.


    Then it was time to start fitting the pieces together in place. The Model a floor piece…once split down the middle became just the right width. I just needed to form a driveshaft tunnel to tie them together.


    I formed the tunnel around one of the pipe columns in my shop. It ended up needing a little extra room on the right side for the torque arm…so I made a little kick out using a home-made bull-nose die in the leaf brake.



    The Model T seat riser got sliced and diced. I wanted to keep as much of it’s character as possible, so after it was cut down to size, I re-formed the raised panels, which ended up much like the originals, just much smaller.


    With the seat riser cut down I had almost all of the puzzle pieces in place..and with some cardboard for lower cushions it actually was starting to look like I had envisioned.



    I de-rusted all of the pieces so I could start welding them together.


    The driveshaft tunnel was flanged and got plug welded into the floor pans.

    Then I needed to come up with some way to hinge the backrest. I made up some hinges from square stock and tack welded some brackets to the center bed cross-member.


  2. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,872


    With the hinges in place, I was able to set the location of the seat pan, as it all needed to clear when the back was folded down.


    I fabricated four tabs to use as seat belt anchor points. This also gave me a place to bolt the seat pan to, so another piece of the puzzle was fixed in place.


    With the seat pan in place, I started the tedious job of filling in the missing pieces.



    After everything was tacked together, I pulled the whole floor pan out for finish welding. Since I had recently bought a TIG machine, this was a good opportunity to practice.


    I then cut in some pockets for the seat frame to fold down into. Don’t look too close at my welds, I have a lot to learn still.




    When the seat pan was finally completed, I gave it an phosphoric acid and Scotchbrite scrub to brighten it up and make it look a little more uniform…like it was supposed to be one piece. Also note here, the flange on the front of the pan bolts to a flange of the cab sub-frame, making it somewhat sealed from the elements on the bottom side.


    Moving back to the upper seat frame, I welded in some tabs to mount the seat cushion.


    Then cut a piece of plywood to shape. This piece will be used to attach the upholstery, but I wanted it finished off from the backside as well. I was going for a commercial/utilitarian look, kind of like a school bus or a Jeep. So rather than upholstering the backside of the seat cushion, I used the plywood as a hammerform and formed a sheetmetal back with a ¼” flange.








    I had my official test fitters try it out again....


    I then cut out some 2” high density foam to fit the seat cushion frames, tacked on some temporary canvas seat covers and installed seat belts.


    Because this is what this project was all about…


    Maybe Hot Rods can have rumble seats after all.
  3. GARY?
    Joined: Aug 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,626


    nothing short of amazing.
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  4. cactus1
    Joined: Apr 10, 2006
    Posts: 6,884


    I give up.
    That rules.
  5. mattcrp1
    Joined: Aug 20, 2007
    Posts: 404


    WOW... cant wait to see the next phase.
  6. MR. FORD
    Joined: Aug 29, 2005
    Posts: 1,601

    MR. FORD
    from Tulsa, Ok

    The truck rules, and your ideas turned out something really great. Hats off...
  7. scottybaccus
    Joined: Mar 13, 2006
    Posts: 4,119


    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but this just makes me want to burn down my shop with everything in it. I am a feeble minded wann-be....

    And I am so gonna steal this idea!
  8. Dyce
    Joined: Sep 12, 2006
    Posts: 1,594


    That's just plain cool!! Nice work on the floor. What did you use to make the beads? They look really good and finished off nice on the ends. Your welds look fine by the way.

    Growing up my Dad had a closed cab model a pickup with 3 kids. It would have been tight, but you back seat would have been better then sitting on the hard wood floor bouncing around with no seatbelts.... I survived :)

    Just drill into your kids heads to keep there hands clear of the tires!!
  9. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 19,921


    Really nice addition to a great truck! It never rains in California so no drain holes are need in the floorpan, not so here on the East Coast.
  10. lil_screamer29
    Joined: Apr 12, 2011
    Posts: 17


    wow, thats really cool
  11. 40streetrod
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 477

    from nj

    i bet it was the cute little helper's idea all along.
    great idea - workmanship and just plain amazing
    gets my vote for this weeks tech thread winner
  12. Wow! Your tech and build threads never cease to amaze me. Great idea and nice execution. That's one way to haul your kids around legally in a truck bed again.
  13. attitudor
    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 2,964

    from Finland

    We have a winner.
  14. THE_DUDE
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,605


    Great idea,and Outstandig work
  15. RocketDaemon
    Joined: Jul 4, 2001
    Posts: 2,081

    from Sweden

  16. HotRod33
    Joined: Oct 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,216

    from MO

    That is pretty dam cool..........
  17. woodbox
    Joined: Jul 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,090


    SpecFrikkentacular!! You my friend are a visionary! Well done!
  18. striper
    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 4,479


    My first time on here this week. I haven't checked out the rest of the tech threads but I say you win. That is such a good home grown idea, well executed.

  19. Peter Mc Mahon
    Joined: Jan 1, 2009
    Posts: 199

    Peter Mc Mahon
    from Ontario

  20. Binga
    Joined: Aug 10, 2006
    Posts: 1,745


    Un Fricken believable
    Man you have some great ideas and the talent to pull it off.
  21. Great Job!!! Keep the Family involved!
  22. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,539

    from Garner, NC

    That's the sweetness...
  23. maplefrm
    Joined: Aug 15, 2010
    Posts: 341


    WOW! That is great, very useful and can be well hidden.
  24. Mat Thrasher
    Joined: Nov 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,057

    Mat Thrasher

    Great idea and nice job on the execution!
  25. GlenC
    Joined: Mar 21, 2007
    Posts: 758


    I don't care if it is a 'non-traditional' rumble seat, that's good l' hot rodding ingenuity, right there!

    Cheers, Glen.
  26. brokenspoke
    Joined: Jul 26, 2005
    Posts: 2,718


    This blows me away....great idea and you pulled it off hats off to ya
  27. dustdevil
    Joined: Mar 2, 2009
    Posts: 810

    from illinois

    I believe this will win the tech week! Great idea and well executed plan. Looks awesome! I'm not a kid and I'd love to ride back there. Looks cool!:) Got my vote soon!
  28. general gow
    Joined: Feb 5, 2003
    Posts: 6,026

    general gow
    Staff Member

    holy crap. coolest. tech. ever.

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