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Projects The Wade Model A Coupe: Build Thread & Photo Journal

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bass, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. Bass
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Posts:
    3,287
    Location:
    Dallas, TX

    Bass Member

    The Wade Model A Coupe: Part 1

    (Part 1.5 begins with Post #453)

    I have been asked by several people lately how my '29 Roadster was coming, and the simple answer is usually that "it's not"....because I've been too busy with customer work. Then I'll casually mention that I've been building a chassis to go under a Model A Coupe for a customer out of Kansas City. That customer happens to be a gentleman named David Lindsey Wade, and this is the build thread for his Model A Coupe.

    When Lindsey dropped off the engine, body and front axle for his car a few months ago, he told me that he wasn't interested in an "assembly line" deuce chassis...and that I should build it like I was building it for myself. As a builder I really like to hear my customer say this, because it gives me a chance to be a bit more creative than I might typically be able to be.

    After talking over some ideas with Lindsey, it became clear that he wanted a car that would bring to mind the dual-purpose Early Ford-based race cars that were fairly common in the mid-'50s. A Coupe that could have been run at Bonneville or at the Drags with just a simple gear swap and tire change. It had to be a traditional style car, but not necessarily "period correct". Simply put, it should be a car that represented the dual-purpose race car with emphasis on race-car style fab. work.

    I am a big fan of the Doane Spencer Roadster, and I especially like the work that Doane was doing to the car to get it ready for the La Carrera Panamericana. For the chassis of the Coupe, my idea was to build it with the same mindset....build it as if it was going to be raced in some way, shape or form.

    So with that idea for the car in mind, I ordered a pair of American Stamping '32 rails to base the chassis on. Here they are on the frame table.

    [​IMG]

    Before I could really get started though, I needed to figure out the rearend set-up. A 9" Ford rear was part of the build plan and I decided to use an Early Bronco ('66 or so) housing as it was already the right width. I took lots of measurements and settled on using a '41 Ford rear spring, but needed some sort of spring hangers to attach the spring to the rearend. Here are the beginnings of the rear spring hangers...3/8" plate and some DOM tube:

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    I then used some 3/16" plate to "I-beam" the 3/8" plate. My intention was to mimick what Ford did with their spring hangers on '30s-40s Fords, but different.

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    Getting the spring hanger length and distance between them correct is pretty critical, because proper shackle angle can easily be lost here.

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    I used multiple degree finders to level the housing on my table, and the proceeded to measure as many different ways as I could think of to make absolutely sure that I had the hangers where I wanted them. I put the hanger eyes the same distance apart as they are on a '40 rearend.

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    Before welding, I stuck a narrowing fixture and its corresponding 3rd member in the housing to keep everything a little straighter when welding the brackets. This doesn't eliminate the need to straighten the housing when finished, but it does keep the housing from moving around so much. You can see the fixture sticking out of the housing in the pic below...

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    Welded all the way around...this also helps minimize warpage.

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    Finished rear spring hanger:

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    I decided to use a '39 rear crossmember in the chassis, but it was going to need some modification to get the stance where I wanted it.

    I had to pancake the crossmember to keep the car from sitting too high in the rear. This photo was after it was already completed. If you look at the very first picture of the rails on the frame table up above, you can see what the crossmember looked like before. I think I ended up getting around a 3-4" drop here.

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    Fitting the crossmember in the chassis came next. The wheelbase is set off of the rear crossmember, and the pinion angle also needs to be set before welding the crossmember into the frame with a transverse leaf rear suspension.

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    I wanted to put some holes in the top of the rear crossmember, but I also wanted to add a stiffener to it at the same time, so I came up with this...

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    This is really more of an ornamental detail, but it does still serve a purpose. After the rear crossmember gets fully welded, it will look like these two pieces have been wrapped over the crossmember and riveted in place.

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    With the rear crossmember in place, it was time to move onto the front suspension.

    When I began talking to Lindsey about doing the chassis for his car, he asked if I would be comfortable doing a Doane Spencer/ Rollin' Bones style set-up in the front, as he had a V-8-60 axle that he would like to use.

    I said, "sure, no problem"....but this presented a bit of a challenge for me. I could do the front suspension just like the Spencer car, but with the stance I was trying to achieve the car was just going to sit too high. On top of that, I didn't want to copy anyone else's set-up...I'd rather break new ground...if that's even possible anymore in the world of hot rodding.

    So I brainstormed the front suspension for quite a while before I even got close to starting the fab. work. In my mind, I could see the frame horns being used as the front crossmember by curving them inward to meet themselves and then welding them together. Then to attach the spring, I could mount a bulldog/suicide perch on the front of the new crossmember and do a spring-behind axle set-up from there.

    So that's what I decided to do....actually doing it came next.

    Here's the cut-off frame horns...

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    Trimmed and welded, ready for the bulldog perch...

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    Building the front spring perch...

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    Nearly finished...

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  2. Bass
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    Bass Member

    Now I needed to round the front of the rails, to give the appearance that the frame horns were just bent inward to meet.

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    One side down...

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    Fitting the frame horns/ crossmember back in place...

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    I welded an extra piece of plate to the top inside of the front crossmember, and gusseted the inside...for a little extra insurance.

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    Welded...

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    Finished perch with spring bolted in place:

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    Next is the beginning of the hairpins. These are the mounting flanges that the Model A tie rod ends mount to at the end of the hairpins. Since the front axle is so high in the chassis, the end of the hairpins needed to attach through the side of the framerail.

    I had a pair of tapered bungs machined to accept the Model A tie rod balls. Thanks to Bob Wilson for once again coming to my rescue with top notch machinework.

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    All of this will be concealed behind the boxing plates, with only the hole in these tubes left visible in order to gain access to the nut on the back of the tie rod balls.

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    I put all the original holes that a '32 frame is supposed to have in this spot into the American Stamping rails...it gives it a more authentic look, and it also gives me a good spot to anchor the rear of the hairpins.

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    Inside...

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    This plate is mostly decorative, but it also will keep the paint around the tie-rod ball from chipping, and it sandwiches the frame rail between it and the inside flanges. The Doane Spencer car has a similar set-up, but with a much different shape. The plate will get chromed.

    [​IMG]

    I cut up these wishbones to make the batwings...

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    And these are the spring perches I used...they are '32-34...

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    The perches mount through a hole in the side of the wishbone, and they had to be heated and bent to match the spring.

    I had new bushings machined so that I could use Model A shackles on the '32-34 perches. The spring is also '32-34 style.

    [​IMG]


    Building the batwings...

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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  3. Bass
    Joined:
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    Bass Member

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I had Bob Wilson tap the tube for me to make the hairpins.

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    I used a mandrel bender to make the bends in the tube...

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    I used the ends of a Model A tie-rod for the threaded portion that the tie-rod ends attach to, and drilled out some of the 7/8 tube to sink it into.

    Tacked together...

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    Welded and filed...

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    The rear needed to be C-notched, so that was next.

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    With the C-notch completed, I could box the rails. Here's some shots of boxing the front crossmember...

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    Rear crossmember completed...

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    I like to use '35-40 X-members in the chassis that I build, and this one is no exception. I started with a bare but complete '39 frame...

    [​IMG]

    After dissecting the frame, the X-member was out and ready for blasting.

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    The X-member was then was trimmed and made ready to drop in its new home. The rear crossmember was also used in the new frame.

    Here it is fit and tacked in the frame...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  4. Bass
    Joined:
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    Bass Member

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I made these new horizontal supports to add stiffness to the X-member.

    [​IMG]

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    With the X-member welded in, I could start mounting the engine and transmission.

    The engine that Lindsey provided is a 392 Chrysler with a 1/4" stroker crank and Jahns forged pistons that is somewhere around 424 ci now. It will be running 8 Stromberg 97s on an Edelbrock intake.

    [​IMG]

    I used a bare '55 331 block to build off of, however. The only appreciable difference is the deck height, and the motor mount tabs on the block were in the same spot.

    [​IMG]

    Mocking up engine height...

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    So, I had this crazy idea for the motor mounts where they would not only hold up the front of the engine but also support the radiator over the front axle. I also thought it would be cool to carry the I-beam look of the rear spring hangers over to the motor mounts.

    I drew this on the airplane back from Seattle after Christmas...just a rough sketch to get an idea of what I was going to do. The sketch on the bottom right is pretty much what I decided to go with.

    [​IMG]

    This is the base of the motor mounts. The hardware is all blind hardware, coming up from the bottom. I plugged and welded the top side of the holes after drilling and tapping, because I didn't have a bottoming tap handy. The mounts will be held by 4 hidden 7/16-20 allen bolts, and they screw into this 1/2" plate.

    I want the mounts to be chromed when finished, so they need to be able to bolt on and off.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After making 5 different patterns, here is the shape I decided on. I cut this piece out of 3/8" plate.

    [​IMG]

    Six different hole sizes, all cut with hole saws...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here I was figuring out the relationship of the urethane bushing to the tabs on the block. I have the pieces tacked in place.

    [​IMG]

    Starting the top of the I-beam...bending 3/16" plate.

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    Starting to look like something...

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    Before and after...

    [​IMG]

    Welding the other mount...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
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  5. Bass
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    Bass Member

    Mostly finished...

    [​IMG]

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    These four pieces are what attaches the mount to the block....sort of like a shackle.

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    Here they are welded together...

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    And here it is mounted to the block and motor mount...

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    These are going to be one of the focal points of the front of the car, so I wanted them to be nice....I spent a lot of time fitting and welding. There's not going to be any issues with these breaking or bending either..they are really stout.

    I will get to the frame side of the motor mounts a little later in the thread.

    Here I am mocking up the grille to get an idea of where the radiator needs to go...

    [​IMG]
  6. Bass
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    Bass Member

    On to the radiator mounting. I decided to build a crossmember that the radiator could sit on top of and also support the front spring perch as well. The crossmember would be visible through the front of the grille insert, so I felt it would be nice to emulate the look of a Model A front crossmember.

    I started with 3/16" plate...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is the plate that attaches the spring perch to the radiator crossmember...

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    After test-fitting the radiator, I realized that the bottom tank was going to hit the crossmember...

    [​IMG]

    So I added a recess to the top of the crossmember.

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    Here is the finished crossmember....it took FOREVER to make this piece.

    [​IMG]

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    The grille shell clips onto these notches at the ends of the crossmember...

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    The radiator now fits like a glove...

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    Finished motor mounts/ radiator crossmember....

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    Rear suspension is next....starting with the ladder bars. I coped the tube by hand to fit the sleeves for the Pete & Jakes bushings.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  7. Bass
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    Bass Member

    Gussets...

    [​IMG]

    Welded....

    [​IMG]

    Mocking up the ladder bars...

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    Close-up...

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    Front ladder bar mounts...

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    Bottom of the X-member. under the ladder bar mounts...

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    Starting the panhard bar... I wanted to make it as long as possible, and I decided to put it in front of the rearend housing.

    [​IMG]

    The other end of the panhard bar is mounted to this bracket....

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    Upper rear shock mounts....

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    Beginning of the lower shock mounts...

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    Finished panhard bar bracket...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8. Bass
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    Bass Member

    Ladder bar bracket detail...

    [​IMG]

    Finished lower shock mount also...

    [​IMG]

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    Back to the front....the front shocks I decided to go with are Armstrong lever shocks, commonly found on British sports cars.

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    I made pads to weld to the frame that will mount the shocks.

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    I then heated and bent the shock arms to make them match the shape of the motor mounts. I kept a pail of water close by to keep the shock body cool as I heated the arm.

    [​IMG]

    Before and after...

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    I used a piece cut off the front of a wishbone on the batwings for the spring perch to go through. I also added a 1/4" spacer to get the spring perch eye width just right.

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    Ugly, but welded...

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    I shortened the dog bones to keep them from sticking up so high behind the axle. The Doane Spencer roadster has an almost identical set of shortened dog bones on it.

    [​IMG]
  9. Bass
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    Bass Member

    Finished front shocks/ dog bones....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On to the transmission mount now....

    The transmission Lindsey decided on it an Autogear Muncie M22....A really nice trans.

    [​IMG]

    Mocking it up on the Tilton bellhousing and Hot Heads adapter...

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    The transmission mount uses the stock Ford mounting locations and Chassis Engineering biscuit style rubbers.

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    I needed to heat and bend the steering arms on the front spindles to get the tie rod to go underneath the hairpins.

    [​IMG]

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    For the front brakes, I had initially planned on using a set of Bob Wilson's Lincoln style brakes and the new 2 inch "Lincoln-style" drums. But after talking to Bob, he gave me an idea by saying that it was possible to convert a set of Early Ford hydraulic brakes to later Bendix style. He had a done a pair of backing plates sometime in the past and offered to let me borrow them to use as a guide in converting a set for this chassis.

    So I started with a set of Early Ford backing plates...

    [​IMG]

    And here is one of the brakes after the conversion...(the slot for adjuster access is not cut in these pics.)

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    I am going to be offering the conversion on an exchange basis in the near future....but price is yet to be determined.

    Mounted on the spindle, it's hard to tell that anything has been changed unless you have a really sharp eye. Early Ford looks, but modern Bendix style braking power!

    I'm using '40 style pedals, but the clutch pedal was going to bottom on the X-member.

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    So I made a pocket for the clutch pedal to swing into...

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    Finally, it was time to put the frame bungs in place that would mount the motor mounts. I once again had Bob machine some tube for me to make the bungs. Socket cap screws fit inside the bottom tube...

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    It was pretty critical that these holes were drilled in the right place, because the tolerances were pretty close everywhere else.

    [​IMG]
  10. Bass
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    Bass Member

    [​IMG]

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    Left side finished....

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    With the motor mount bungs in place..it was time for the first "on the ground" chassis mock-up.

    Thanks to Michael aka 'crackerhead' for helping me get the frame off the table and assembled.

    [​IMG]

    Wheels are 16x4 and 16x5 Ford, and the tires are Excelsior 5.50-16 and 7.50-16.

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    First time on the ground after weeks of fabrication...

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    Now the stroker 392 could go in.

    If I look a little tired, it's because it was about 4 AM when this photo was taken...and this was the second long night in a row.

    [​IMG]

    I'm going to space the rear wheels out a 1/2" to get a little more space between the rear tires and the rear spring hangers. The rear axles are also going to get replaced with new 31 spline Strange axles.

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    This sucker is low....but ground clearance is more than sufficient.

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    I was a little worried about turning radius with the v8-60 axle, but it looks like it will be just fine.

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    Detail of rear suspension...

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    Hairpin radius rods...

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    The 4-blade fan needs to be trimmed, and the crank pulley is going to have more than enough room to get a belt on it since I'm only using a single groove pulley.

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    Here's some mock-up shots of the grille shell...it's a Vintique shell and I think a Dale's insert. The sides of the shell will get trimmed above the axle once I decide exactly how tall the shell needs to be. I think it's pretty close to the right height in these pics though...

    [​IMG]

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  11. Bass
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    Bass Member

    [​IMG]

    There's still a lot left to do, but I couldn't hold out any longer...I had to show some pics. :)

    Plans are for the coupe body ('30-31) to get mounted in the next couple of weeks....then it's going to get an agressive visor-less "lakes-style" chop. I also am going to work on finishing the brakes, plumbing the engine, building headers, and get the cowl steering in place in the near future, among other things.

    I'll keep you guys posted on the progress. If you have any questions, fire away. Thanks for looking!

    -Brian

    [​IMG]
  12. Bullington
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    Bullington Member

  13. The Law
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    The Law Member

    Your welding is phenomenal.
  14. cretin
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    cretin Member

    That looks so bad ass! I will definetly be watching this one as close as I watched the fastback build. I love the way you think, and design. What I would do to get just one welding lesson from you. Keep up the good work, you are a RULER!
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  15. alteredpilot
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    alteredpilot Member

    You have got to be freaking kidding me.
  16. GEBHARD
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    GEBHARD Member

    damn! you do nice work, cant wait to see more
  17. Dutch Courage
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    Dutch Courage Member

  18. spence-d
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    spence-d Member

    Wow this is so much to take in at once - My mind is going into overload....
    This is Art & Brian you are an artist of the highest order!!!
    Some real original ideas for sure
    Thanks for the great post!
    Spencer.
  19. donut29
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    donut29 Member

    that looks awesome you are going some of the best fab work I have ever seen:D


    keep the pix coming
  20. landst
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    landst Member

    Jessus or god ol mighty
    I'm going home and burn mine.
    That is awesome. I don't think nice work would quit discibe that.
  21. Tom Branch
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    Tom Branch Member

    WOW!
    Bitchin chassis!
  22. langy
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    langy Member

    Love the theme Brian, keep us all posted on progress please, Gonna be a spectacular car.
  23. CoolHand
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    CoolHand Alliance Vendor

    Dammit Bass!

    Just when I think my TIG welds may be improving, I look at yours and realize that mine might as well be so much chewed bubblegum.

    Is there going to be a mid-plate to locate/control the engine laterally, or are you relying solely on those front I-Beam mounts to do the fore/aft & lateral control?

    The only reason I ask is because I-Beams don't like being loaded out of plane much, especially when unsupported on one end like these are.

    I had the same concern with the rear shackle mounts as well. Long stick-out (high L/D ratio) which sees some out of plane loads.

    I'm sure you've taken this all into account, I was just wondering about your process/what your plans are.

    Whatever else they are though, those I-Beam mounts look fantastic.

    Your fabrication skills are truly awe inspiring.

    I would kill four or five regular people and help hide the bodies to be able to weld like you. :D
  24. cretin
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    cretin Member


    I know it's not my place to answer, but I think the answer to that question will be answered in a future episode.

  25. CoolHand
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    CoolHand Alliance Vendor

    Ahhhhhh.

    See? Told ya he'd have it figured out. ;)

    Now, not only can I not weld as well as Bass can, apparently, I also cannot read in a satisfactory manner.

    As Mork (from Ork) would say, "Boy, do I feel like a clone."

    :D

    EDIT:

    I went back to see how I could have missed that.

    When I opened the thread, there were only four posts up, with the end coming just as he was finish welding the two motor mounts (thus my questions).

    After it had loaded, he continued to add posts (filled with wonderful pictures), in which he not only answered my questions, but again amazed me. I replied thinking he was done at four.

    I just happened to open the thread while he was in the middle of posting the whole thing.

    Damned fine build all around.

    Lots of "Right Click, Save As" going on, I can assure you. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  26. Crazy Backyard Builder
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    Crazy Backyard Builder Member

    Bass,

    It just kept getting better and better the more I watched the more I saw the more my mouth was hanging open. Amazing fab work, Wade is a lucky man.


    CBB
  27. srosa707
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    Sacramento

    srosa707 Member

    Un------- believable.




    Bass, how to you precision cut those pieces of steel? i.e. motormounts, rear crossmember braces, front spring perch...
  28. paulatxntric
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Posts:
    1,266
    Location:
    Ryton-on-Dunsmore, UK

    paulatxntric Member

    it's a pity the work is gona get covered by a body.....outstanding work....as close to art as engineering gets......post some of them pics on the art show it deserves it!
  29. gnichols
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Posts:
    7,309
    Location:
    Tampa, FL

    gnichols
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Astounding work. By the time this thread gets to 5 pages, you are going to need a bigger hat. Just astounding work. Gary
  30. cretin
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Posts:
    1,685
    Location:
    S.F.V. CALI.

    cretin Member

    Coolhand, I can understand that. It actually took me a minute to find the specific post that said that. I kept refreshing hoping there was more too it, thats the only way i found it.

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