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Projects 1927 Roadster on 1931 chassis

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by DesmoDog, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. And so begins my first hot rod project. I've spent the past 25 years playing around with a certain brand of Italian motorcycle but I've been slowly getting out of those and back in to cars. I've been a lurker here for years but it's time to jump into the deep end.

    A year ago I didn't particularly like Model T's. Then when I started seriously considering what I'd like to put together, a few '26/'27 roadsters caught my eye and I finally decided that's what I wanted to do. A Model T body on a Model A frame showed up in the classifieds here, one thing led to another, and here we are.

    The chassis looks pretty good but the body may need work that exceeds my skills. I guess we'll find out! Initial plan was to go with a flathead but now in the interest of time and money I'm thinking I'll stick with the four cylinder, with a few mods but nothing too wild. I also have a 1962 Buick 215 I thought I might use on whatever I bought... but not this one. I think Red Ram hemis are pretty cool too, so... Did I mention my projects tend to drift on occassion? With drift comes added time and money though, so I'm going to try to stay on target with this.

    This shouldn't take too long. A turtle deck and some touch up paint, and I'm good. And a hood. And different tires. And a seat would be nice, and...

    IMG_0144.JPG IMG_0145.JPG IMG_0140.JPG IMG_0141.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
  2. Subscribed. I have a similar project so Im looking forward to what you build!

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Ron Funkhouser likes this.
  3. I'm realizing that being a newbie to this stuff, much of what I might post in a build thread is going to seem incredibly basic to people who have been there and done that before. The thing is, some of the threads that I've looked at left me with questions on the basics. I figure if I post it here it will be something of a reality check and if I've got a detail wrong, someone will point it out. And it might help some other clueless newbs.

    I've seen some info that made it sound like a '27 T body will drop right on to a Model A frame. Other posts indicated it wasn't quite that easy. I started out by trying to get the body into position so I could get a feel for potential frame mods and a layout for the interior.

    When I started wrestling with it I found a couple areas on my car that prevented the body from sitting where I thought it should go. First, the clutch pedal hits the firewall before the body is centered in front, it needs to move over maybe another inch. I saw one thread here where the pedals were bent to fit. I'm going to remove the clutch pedal for now and save modding anything until I get around to working out the brakes (I've got later juice brakes to install)


    Also, on my car the rear bumper brackets were welded on and keeping the subframe from sitting down on top of the frame.


    I'm guessing welded bumper brackets aren't normal (I've never taken apart a Model A) but whatever, I cut them off and set the body about where I thought it should go.


    I don't have a turtle deck yet so when I was deciding where the body should sit I couldn't just align the wheel well with the rear axle, instead I searched for dimensions and found a few sources. None of them agreed as to where the firewall should be in relation to the rear axle but they all seemed to agree that the rear of the body is 17" back from the axle centerline. My subframe is a bit beat up but I put it at 17" and found that the hole in the rear crossmember almost lines up with the hole in the subframe. It's off by maybe half an inch. I'm not sure if the fix is to pull the body back another half an inch or mod the holes to work. (I really wish I had a turtle deck to see how the wheel wells will line up.) You can just see the slot in the crossmember through the hole in the subframe. No other holes come close to lining up from what I can tell, and the front mounts will need a tab put on the frame to be useful.


    Once the body was sitting in place at the back, the info in Tardell's book about zee'ing the frame made more sense. It seems that if the frame is z'd 4" in front of the rear crossmember, there will be room to put the gusset on without much if any trimming of the subframe's cross member. And I haven't measured things yet but it also looks like once the frame is z'd, only the inner face of the subframe will need to be cut for clearance. With a little trimming of the rear crossmember it should fit up into the subframe.

    In other news, based on the door sills and a detail on the cowl I think this body is actually a 1927, not a '26. I don't think it really matters for what I'm doing but you never know.
    -Brent- and wedjim like this.
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  4. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,161


    Did a quick measurement on my '27 and from the rear/flat portion of the doors (towards the bottom) to rear axle centerline (which would be dead center of the wheelwell on the turtle deck quarters) is 38-1/4". Hope that helps some.
  5. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,499

    Atwater Mike

    Do take the measurement of rear wheel well center to heart, Desmodog. When you read the invariable posts of, "Oh, it doesn't matter if it's off an inch or two", ignore them.
    They're typing from their basements.
    Be sure that measuring value is accurate. (or live with it, and forever know no peace. -Father Ignacious Herbert.)
    A truck driver dropped by my shop when I was setting up a '29 roadster body on Deuce rails. It turned out I had to do a little trim in the rear subframe to fit, and was raising the body with my electric hoist.
    He got all 'knowledgeable', and told me I was wasting my time to move it 3/4" to center the wheel.
    I told him he was 'shifting with a box full of neutrals'!
    He felt insulted, crushed. I trimmed the subframe and didn't feel anything. :p
  6. Thanks for the info guys. I'm hoping to get a turtledeck before I have to commit to a location for the body, for now I'm trying to get close so I can get a feel for what I'm dealing with.

    I tried pulling the clutch pedal after that last post. The pin is stuck so it's soaking in penetrating oil for a while. In the meantime I was looking at the parking brake lever - it's not mounted because it's too tall. Then I realized it was hitting the old gas tank so I pulled the tank. I'm not sure what the official Ford method is for doing that but I'm guessing it doesn't involve a bunch of cutting tools and a big hammer? I may still have to shorten the lever depending on what I do for a dash, but at least the tank is gone. Now I have ot figur eout what to do with the cowl. Put in a cowl vent? Smooth it out? No rush on that, there is a lot I have to do before that matters.
    Kyle(666) likes this.
  7. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    from BC

    Lemme guess...Moto Morinis?:confused::D
    Blues4U likes this.
  8. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 24,994


    Not the best choice to emulate but it had a reasonably decent looking A frame and the funky wood bed could become a trailer to be towed behind the roadster with a turtle deck in place.

    This one belongs to one of our fellow Hambers and sits on an A frame.

    Packing over 550 miles worth of road dust and a couple hundred miles worth of bugs on the radiator.
    Okie Pete, Nailhead A-V8, bct and 2 others like this.
  9. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan

    My latest is a 26 coupe on an A chassis. The principles are the same with exception of pinching the frame to match the turtle deck.

    The clutch is an easy fix with two pie cuts, a bend, and weld. You will require tabs to mount the body.

    I would get a turtle deck before you commit to body position. With mine and using a banger i wanted the rear tire centered to the well. This required shortening the frame 3 inches so I could get the body as close enough to the engine for the pedals to work. If you shorten it do it behind the crossmember. I made this mistake and caused a bunch more work for myself because the trans wouldn't clear. Personally I prefer the look of the T wheelbase on a T. 103.5 looks off to me..

    This also required some creative bending of the throttle to match the angle of the floor and trim the brake and clutch due to them being closer together.

    Here's a link to my build for info.

    Hope this helps. If you have any other questions shoot away.




  10. Thanks for the info. I do plan on getting the turtle deck before comitting to a position, I just hope I can afford it if/when I find one!

    I hadn't planned on shortening the wheelbase, but I had noticed the pedals seemed to be in the wrong position. I was thinking more along the lines of modding the pedals though. We'll see... right now I'm trying to figure out how to move the body and/or frame into my walkout basement so I can work on this over the winter.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  11. Umm… yeaaaahhh… about that… No. :rolleyes:

    The pin between the clutch pedal/adjusting arm was not responding to penetrating oil and progressively less gentle kisses with progressively heavier hammers, so last night I simply cut the adjuster and got on with life. The threads were pretty shot on it anyway so nothing lost.

    Getting the clutch pedal off let me set the body about where I think it will end up. It's right at 17" from the end of the body to the rear axle, which puts it about half an inch off of evintho's number. It's in the ballpark, good enough to see how things will fit but I'll wait for a turtledeck to start welding on tabs and drilling new holes.


    I have been thinking about the wheelbase. It looks like the body could still slide forward maybe 2" before the engine and firewall started to interfere? The farther forward the body is, the more room there is for the pedals. To keep things simple I was going to stick with the stock wheelbase, but the frame's already getting cut to Z it, and I've been secretly lusting after/watching a few threads on more modern transmissions. One of those would require cutting the torque tube and wishbone so changing the wheelbase wouldn't be a big deal? It seems tempting but it also seems like a slippery slope.

    The steering column is in the wrong spot too. I hadn't planned on using the stock dash but the wheel might be a bit too close to the side of the body? Are people compensating for this somehow or just going with it? Cowl steering appeals to me for a few reasons but getting back to the keep it simple mantra I decided against it.



    The purists are going to be pissed, somebody cut the dash!

    I'm trying to think of anything else I want to do before I pull the body off and tear it down to the bare frame. Tear down needs to start soon.
    wedjim and falcongeorge like this.
  12. flatheadpete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2003
    Posts: 9,365

    from Burton, MI

    Great project. I have a '27 Tudor on an A frame in the works. That coupe is a killer!
  13. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan

    Did I miss it or are you still up in the air on motor choice?
  14. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,523

    from So Cal

    A more modern trans will be great for a street only car, but may prevent you from using the car in any vintage car event's like hill climbs or beach racing, etc. That may not matter to you, just thought I'd mention it in case you had any interest in taking it out and joining other banger/flat head owners in wringing out the cars in some good spirited competition. In any case, I'm signing on to watch this one, looks like a great project. (and I'm a lover of Italian bikes too!)
  15. Andrew Mccann
    Joined: Aug 2, 2016
    Posts: 235

    Andrew Mccann
    from Bristol UK

    I'm on board with you on this one. I'm in a similar vein though sticking with a T frame.
    Regarding boxes, the Volvo M30/M40 3/4 speed has been successfully mated to an A bell housing. Vintage look, modern syncros. But again you may suffer getting into events.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  16. At this point I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with the original engine. Using a flathead would be more "ideal" but it adds more work regarding frame mods and changing other parts. As the years go on it seems projects take me longer and longer, the fewer changes I have to make the better off I'll be.

    I hereby reserve the right to disregard everything I just said if a suitable flathead comes along at a time I have the funds to aquire it.

    Yeah that's a good point. I'd like to think I'll use the car in some vintage events but I built a bike specifically for moto giro events, then never used it in one. It's also part of that slippery slope I mentioned. Well gee, if the transmission isn't vintage, I may as well go with that 215 V8, and with the V8 I may as well use a different rear end, and why not better brakes front and rear, and maybe a four link suspension, and… pretty soon I've got a whole different car

    I think I just talked myself out of a modern transmission.

    In other news, I was cleaning up my basement shop in prep for the new project when I came across a little something I thought I'd try out in the T&A:



    It damn near fits the stock dash as is. With how much time I've put into those things over the past 25 years it seems fitting. How many people do you suppose would know it's about 15 years too new for the rest of the car? And for the guys who think that 150mph is a bit too optimistic for the car, well, yeah, I realize that. But when that speedo was made most of their bikes struggled to reach 100mph! Gotta love those Italians.

    I also have one that had the graphics on the glass. That opens up a lot of possibilities for calibrating and face designs.


    But I'm really getting ahead of myself here. A speedo is the least of my worries at this point.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
    Okie Pete and wedjim like this.
  17. I like the way this is going. I dig your speedometer too, its not the most "traditional" but still fits non the less. The turtle deck I found and bought was missing the deck lid, needed to be straightened out, but had no rot. I paid $600 for it. I honestly have no Idea if it was a fair price or not but just letting you know so you can at least have some kind of number in your head. Ive heard about a perfect one with original paint going for 1500 FWIW..

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  18. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan

    Do you plan on running a hood?

    Sorry for one question at a time. I'm prepping for a long post that may help with some direction while saving some time and work. I like the banger idea for sure... I was so pumped to go v8 but I love my banger and it was a lot less work.
  19. 1-SHOT
    Joined: Sep 23, 2014
    Posts: 1,479


    You can angle the steering box over a little to line up with the hole in dash.
  20. Yes, I want to run a hood (top and sides) but figured it would have to be custom no matter where I put the body. Premature question perhaps but if I run a model A grill shell how does the profile for the Model T cowl work with it? I haven't decided on a shell yet, I'm just curious. I set an A shell on there today and noticed it was too high, so it would need to be cut down at the very least.

    And I'm all for long posts that save me work! I have no problem blatantly stealing ideas from those who have already done it.

    I was wondering if there was any give in things... I figured I hadn't seen anyone mention it before so the fix can't be too difficult. I'm not even sure I'll use a model T dash yet.
  21. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan


    I'll work on the post. Gotta fire up my laptop. It's too much for my phone. I'll cover everything I can think of that I encountered including steering.

    You have a lot to factor in running a hood and keeping it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This will play a large part in body placement as well as the shell. Personally I'm not a fan of A shells on a T and you are correct about the height difference.
  22. You are asking Q's, and that's a good thing, Follow those that have worn the shoes....... Like the build, Please continue on.........
    bct likes this.
  23. bobbytnm
    Joined: Dec 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,205



    I have something similar happening....well, hopefully starting to happen....
  24. The title I got with this has been "open" since November of 1991. The seller back then signed it, but it was never transferred to any of the subsequent owners over the past 25 years. I wasn't sure how that was going to go over with the state but I went in today and it turned out to be a non-issue. I also brought along a motorcycle title that was basically the same story except from '99. I had been stressing over that for one for years, too many horror stories I guess. Anyway, now for the first time in a long time, all my projects will have clean, 100% legit numbers matching titles. Sweet! Barring a rejection from the people in Lansing anyway. Damn, knock on wood… probably shouldn't celebrate until the new titles are in hand I suppose.

    I have decided to keep the stock Model A wheelbase, for a few reasons. Not the least of which are A) it saves me having to modify the torque tube and everything else, and B) It keeps my options open for alternate bodies. I'm not going to lie, I'm kinda stressing about not having a turtle deck for it, and even more so the condition of the left side.

    I decided not to spend the time/money trying to make it run before tearing it down. What's the point? I'm running out of nice weather so time to being the project indoors! I have the next couple days off work so I started tearing this down. The parts all need to move out of the garage, down and across a hill, then back up the hill to the door of our walkout basement. Not a big deal but I'll be doing it alone.

    Step one, removing the body. Not too hard as it was just sitting there anyway. Sidenote: Engine hoists are pretty handy to have around!


    Step two was putting some wheels under it. Then I just rolled it to where it needed to be. I won't mention how things were going so well on the down and across part that I decided to get a run on the uphill part. Worked great until I got a bit too close to a deck post and caught the end of an eye bolt I had installed in the body. Oops. Suffice it to say I ended up on my ass but no harm done. I just hope the neighbors weren't watching.


    Step three was getting it through the door. The door is about 30" wide. The body is about 44" wide, but only 26" tall. So I put a board on the ground, a blanket on the board, unbolted the wheels, and flipped it onto it's side. Then wrestled it through the door and onto a moving dolly. Once it was inside I put the wheels back on a moved it into it's new home, the space that used to pass as my paint booth.


    I'll build a body dolly for it later. Tomorrow I'll attack the chassis. That's Desmo checking out the progress.


    If all goes well the rest of the car will be out of the garage in the next couple of days too.
    Okie Pete and tomkelly88 like this.
  25. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,177

    Gary Addcox

    That roadster/woody/pickup could be used to carry all the beer for the group. You will find that your choice of ride is very popular with nearly everyone. It is a far cry from a T-bucket, with or without fenders. Any help you need can be found right here on the HAMB. Welcome to the sickness !
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2016
  26. dakotajayne
    Joined: Jun 8, 2008
    Posts: 143

    from 3c1

    Mine is a driver at this point and would be a good reference for your similar build. My pedals all (3) inside car. This car is an absolute blast to drive. Will be for sale this time next year. I'm in Elkhart, In.
    48fordnut likes this.
  27. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan

    Although I am an advocate of shortening the chassis in the end always build it how you want it. I will say you may find some proportion issues running a turtle deck and hood. Below are some thoughts and other things I ran into. Also... If you ever decide to get rid of your body, let me know. I'm a Michigan boy too and have always wanted to build a T roadster.

    Considering you don't plan to shorten the wheelbase even though it's not that much work you have 3 inches to accommodate for. When trying to center the rear wheel to the well this three inches visually turns into more at the front of the car considering the T hood is shorter than the A so in total it's around 5 inches added to the hood to make it work the way you plan to build it. I don't know about you but 5 inches visually blows it for me, unless you like that look of course. It's much easier for guys building pre 26 cars without fenders due to no rear fender well. I feel this allows them to work visually and not appear so long.

    Railjob's super special T on A chassis with a banger informational post thingy......

    From the front of the car.

    Depending on the crossmember pocket for the radiator the A rad will be around 2 inches taller than a T rad. A modified or custom radiator will be required to run the hood. It will need to be shortened as well as the upper hose, and water neck angle due to the angle change. As you bring the radiator down the fan will also need to be trimmed to avoid the upper tank. During mock up I also suggest having the lower hose assemble installed to ensure clearance for the hose as well as a good set of motor mount springs so the engine is correctly in place. Once this is finished you can use a T rad shell to match the contour of the cowl or get fancy with something custom, or an A... Personally I'm not a fan of the A shell on a coupe but it might work on a roadster.

    We already covered this a little. If you plan on using the A starter switch the rod needs to me lengthened and bent to match the angle of the T floor board.

    The steering column can work with minor adjustment. On my car I ground out a factory T dash mount and added a piece of stock matching the diameter of the A column. Once I had the column centered in the dash I shimmed the box accordingly with no issues. The angle it needs to move at the frame was very small. I would also have this mocked up during body placement to see if it's comfortable for you if the body is going to be 3 inches farther back. In my car it was a none issue with the factory seat and my 5 foot 11 frame.

    Since you are not shortening the frame that's all the issues I can think of off hand. If anything else comes to mind I'll add it.

    Hope this helps.
    26 T Ford RPU likes this.
  28. Thanks for the info, it gives a lot of food for thought. I hadn't considered how shortening the radiator would work with the fan.

    I'm going to have to lay it all out again before comitting to the wheelbase, I thought I had it pretty much figured out but now I'm doubting myself. I'm still pretty sure I want a hood, maybe not sides but at least the top. I'm not sure why I'm so hesitant to mess with the wheel base, it's not like Model A frames are rare and expensive. Worst case I find another one. Or, if I were to bail on this body and go with a Model A, I could use it as an excuse to go with '32 rails. :D

    Let's see, slide the body forward 3", give up on finding a turtle deck and go with a pickup bed, keep the wheelbase the same and stretch the bed... now an old Ducati single would almost fit back there, especially with a tail gate down. Hmm...

    Enough second guessing, time to get back to work tearing it down.
    Dan Trudel likes this.
  29. rail job
    Joined: Feb 16, 2013
    Posts: 143

    rail job
    from Michigan

    No problem, man.

    Believe me. I was squeamish about the wheelbase but, the more I measured the more it made sense.

    The RPU is a good idea and could totally work. Gary White here on the forum is actually building a hop up version of one. It would make a cool little bike hauler for sure!

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