Register now to get rid of these ads!

Hot Rods '29 cabriolet build, better late than never

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Russ B, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. [​IMG]
    far from done, but far from just starting. a pic from today.

    I got my very first car in 1958 or 1959, too long ago to remember exactly, but after getting it together, running and mildly rodded, it got put aside in 1964. Three years ago, after some false starts, I started rebuilding it in earnest. ...and fifty plus years after being set aside for another Model A hot rod, it is back on the road.

    This is a car with a lot of family history, as my father bought it brand new in the fall of 1929.
    [​IMG]
    That history made me a bit cautious about how to modify it respectfully. Most of the car's life from 1929 to 1958, it was my grandmother's only car. and she drove it everywhere throughout California during the depression and WWII. It suffered but was a survivor.

    Once I got it, while not yet a teenager, my father's first requirement was that I could not drive it until it got hydraulic brakes installed. So along with adding hydraulic brakes, I got rid of the '35 spoke wheels, in favor of black '49-'51 Mercury wheels, 5.60 and 8.20x15 wide whites, and a dropped axle. It was running by the time I got my driver's license and I drove it everywhere until I got my more serious hot rod that got me through my senior year of high school. The second car, a '29 tudor with a 327, came because I wanted more horsepower, but was not ready to put a V8 in the cabriolet.

    I will continue, focussing primarily on the current build effort.
     
    kiwijeff, daddio211 and kidcampbell71 like this.
  2. A little more description of the original build.

    I kept the BLC sealed beam headlights, added a JC Whitney blue 'naugahyde' seat cover, some white naugahyde door panels, got a white top installed and a fairly cheap lacquer paint job. Most of the chrome was redone, and the drivetrain, excepting '48 Ford brakes was left stock. ...and not one decent photo was ever taken of the car!

    I did have a 2 two barrel carb setup on the car for a while, but the power it was putting out made me fearful the engine was going to blow at any time, so I removed it and gave it to a friend. It was passed on to another friend; but this winter He contacted me and said he still had it, never used it and had no imagined use for it in the future. So today, after months of minor connections, we finally met and I bought it back. ...but that will be part of a future project for this car.
     
    kiwijeff likes this.
  3. love reading these stories, very cool
     
  4. volvobrynk
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,588

    volvobrynk
    Member
    from Denmark

    Thats a damn nice story! And judging from the one hood picture, a damn nice car too.

    Please keep us in the loop, and keep feedning us plenty of picture. :D
     
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    3wLarry
    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

    what I always say goes here...
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  6. On to my current activity.

    I got the frame out of the dog pen in August 2011
    [​IMG]
    A welded up front crossmember is one of the first things to catch my eye as I cleaned up the frame.

    I had another laying around. It had some cracks that were TIGed up and I riveted that one in place.
     
  7. Pay shunt Lee weight teen ? :) I know it's close to that, anyway.
     
  8. weps
    Joined: Aug 1, 2008
    Posts: 501

    weps
    Member
    from auburn,IN

    I know that guy! great story, we are waiting for more info and pics!
     
  9. Before too long I sent the frame to the powder coater.
    [​IMG]
    I know this sounds way too quick for a hot rod. ...but all that was done here was to weld tabs for the hydraulic brakes, add clearance in the middle crossmember for the transmission, and add some holes to bolt in the tubular shock absorbers front and rear. I paid a bit of a price for going to powder so early, but at the time I still had no working space in my shop for the frame.

    Basically, I am still building a four banger powered car, much like my first (this) car was, and need only minimal chassis changes.

    ...fast forward to May 2013, skipping over the body work, I finally assembled the chassis prior to mating the full chassis and body.
    [​IMG]

    a few of the details: '56 Ford Steering box, modified Model A motor and F150 transmission. Bear Metal Kustoms (Alliance Vendor) dropped the original axle for me and made up a set of rims to hold the bias ply Coker BFG's 5.90 and 8.20x15. The aluminum radiator shown above has since been replaced with a Walker radiator that fits.

    Back in the '60s, I ran 5.60s and 8.20s.

    ...but most of the time from August 2011 to May 2013 the frame was used as a stand for building the body.
    [​IMG]
     
    volvobrynk likes this.
  10. Since about 1990, the body was completely blown apart, down to the smallest pieces, the quarter panels and cowl were the only really big pieces of the body.

    In the mid 1990's, I had started toward building the cabriolet into a street rod and had a rod shop do some work, patch panels to the rear quarter panel wheel wells and several mod and repairs on the cowl.
    [​IMG]
    When I got back to work this is what the cowl looked like. The big flat firewall just did not look like a traditional hot rod should, particularly if i was keeping the four banger.

    I went to work and reinstalled the lower firewall after cutting away the earlier work.
    [​IMG]
    Briggs bodies are quite different from the 1928 and 1929 Ford produced bodies. The center strip of the firewall is removable to allow removal of the gas tank from below, as the Briggs bodies still used the same gas tank as all other models. It was just hidden by the smoother cowl that more closely resembles that of the '32 Ford.

    Back in the 1960's I had installed swing pedals and firewall mounted master cylinder, this the big patch you see above. the indent on the lower portion was only modified by shrinking out a stamping distortion. As the body build progressed further, the four corners of the center strip had metal added and filed back to get a good tight firewall fit. I also later added D-nuts to the upper firewall to hold the coil and a brace to hold the hood hinge rod.

    The big job on the cowl was to make a sheet metal reveal/bead at the bottom that matched the reveal under the doors and quarter panels. This was attempted by a rod shop in the 1990's, but without having the benefit of a mostly assembled body. It was not until summer of 2013 that i redid the cowl bottoms
    [​IMG]
    The shape was not rounded at the bottom as done back in 1995 or so, but had a sharper bottom bend that was replicated in a replacement sheet metal piece for door sills of four door sedans. I started this work in 2013, redid the right side this summer and still have to finish welding before paint.
    [​IMG]
    In the 1990's the cowl was also modified to remove the cowl light holes, the gas filler neck and the cowl band. These were all modifications that were retained.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
    volvobrynk likes this.
  11. Ford's lower production models, four door sedans and the cabriolet were built for Ford by coach builders ,Briggs Body Company and Murray Body Company, but only Briggs made the cabriolet. Being lower production, the bodies were assembled over wood substructure rather than over metal stampings as used on the mainstream body styles, coupes, tudors, roadsters and touring.

    In the sixties, with the help of my dad, I replaced the back half of the wood substructure, but now the entire wood work needed replacement. In the 1990's I bought a full wood kit but never did install it.
    In the fall of 2011, I started assembly of the wood structure and began mock ups testing fits.
    [​IMG]

    To get started the bottom sheet metal needs to be fitted.
    [​IMG]
    I quickly learned reproduction sheet metal is only a starting point. besides being a couple gauges thinner than the original Ford sheet metal, almost every piece is off correct size by an 1/8" and more, sometimes too wide, but just as often too narrow. ...and some of the critical details of the stampings are not done at all.

    The dotted line showing where the bend is needed is typical.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Body assembly is a highly iterative process, putting it together until fit issue prevents further assembly, marking the problems, disassembly, modifications, reassembly, checking, fitting and teardown, modify, assemble, refit, and on and on repeating the process.

    i fairly quickly found my main rails were not a flat as needed, and had to modify them before going further.
    [​IMG]

    eventually, I got the body pretty well assembled
    [​IMG]
    Then more fitting and modifications could begin.
     
  12. Shaping up nicely
     
  13. walter
    Joined: Nov 4, 2007
    Posts: 597

    walter
    Member

    Nice Job! Keep it comeing,
     
  14. once the basic body assembly was done, fitting, repairs and modifications could begin
    [​IMG]
    less than perfect quarter panel fit. I have seen finished cars not much better. I think the original stamping left a bit of a gap.
    [​IMG]
    I used some 1/8" key stock to shape the bottom edge. It left enough meat for closer filing/grinding to shape.

    Fender to quarter panel gap was pretty bad early on.
    [​IMG]

    In time, I worked out each of the fit issues.
    [​IMG]

    Doors were stripped of wood down to the skin
    [​IMG]

    New wood fitted, metal stripped and primed, reassembled with more fitting and a little Dynamat
    [​IMG]

    eventually, door gaps had to be corrected
    [​IMG]

    Body, chassis, and undercarriage were united in the summer of 2013
    [​IMG]

    Once the body was firmly mounted, doors could be aligned. Body was loosened and lifted nine times for shimming adjustments, and door hinges tweaked multiple times to balance and even out door gaps. This was mostly done in the fall of 2013.
    [​IMG]

    A framework for under dash mounting switches and steering column mount was fabricated and fitted.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I made some switch panels
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I converted the rumble seat to a trunk, and cut down the seat panel which is used in both trunk and rumble seat cars alike.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I fitted a tank for behind the seat.
    [​IMG]

    I relocated the filler and made a mount for a modern quick fill cap/inlet
    [​IMG]

    I took a bunch of photos along the way, most not great quality, but they give some idea of the fabrication details. If anything is of interest, I can look for photos that might show what is desired.
     
    kidcampbell71 and stillrunners like this.
  15. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 7,983

    brady1929
    Member
    from Mesa, Az

  16. For a dash, I used a '32 panel and cut it for a 1928 Chrysler instrument gauge setup
    [​IMG]

    I backed the edges of the hole by welding key stock, and softened the edge by flap disk sander and hand filing.
    [​IMG]
    The panel was 'restored' by Redline Instruments with new gauges and Ni plating of the bezel.

    The instrument panel was a tip of the hat to my dad. After giving the cabriolet to his mother in 1930 or 1931, he bought a used '28 Chrysler phaeton for himself. I had been planning to use a '33 Dodge panel, had even sent it out for restoration, when the Chrysler panel hit me in the face while browsing for no purpose on eBay. It was as if it was meant to be. the bezel is still not finished in this photo. The depressed areas need to be a flattened finish and turn signal lights are needed for the bottom holes.


    One of the earliest modifications I made was to fill and peak the radiator shell. I then cut apart the quail radiator cap I had and drilled and tapped the wings so I could mount the quail over the peak. The one Ford accessory my father talked about on the cabriolet was the quail cap. Mounting just the quail drops the bird a bit and cleans up the radiator shell appearance.
    [​IMG]
     
    kiwijeff and kidcampbell71 like this.
  17. early last summer this showed up at my doorstep
    [​IMG]
    for those HAMBers who do not immediately identify it, it is an aftermarket/dealer installed accessory, a heater from a 1937 Oldsmobile. i figured it would provide the perfect face for the heater in the cabriolet. ...and coincidently, a '37 Olds was the car my dad had when he got married.

    Once the paint was off it was looking more like swiss cheese.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It took a good twenty plus hours to tig up all the rust holes and move the hinge points where they should have been when initially manufactured.
    [​IMG]
     
    kidcampbell71 and stillrunners like this.
  18. smitty29
    Joined: Dec 21, 2010
    Posts: 109

    smitty29
    Member
    from Illinois

    Beautiful car and I like the custom touches you have done to it
     
  19. Not to be an asshole, or anything....but how old are you? You move around like a much younger man in my opinion.....getting an awful lot done, and I do realize that TIG has been around a bit....but I expected torch and braze....with the heater repair. I'm happy to see that there is hope for me yet......to pick up the skill myself. I love what you're doing.....it's obvious that the details do matter. Great stash of tools, and work space. Carry on sir, and thank you for sharing.
     
    kiwijeff likes this.
  20. Thanks. I am 68 and healthy. TIG is my tool of choice for welding whenever it is a reasonable choice. I am not too good at brazing, did more of that in the sixties. ...but I still like oxyacetylene for exhaust work.

    There is always hope for picking up new skills. I did brass casting work, not the actual casting, for the first time this summer. I made the right and left mirror brackets for this car in oak, prepared them for the mold maker, and had them cast. I will be showing that later. Working on old Fords keeps me feeling young.
     
    kiwijeff and kidcampbell71 like this.
  21. Headlights, tail lights and turn signals are all details of some importance for a hot rod.
    The headlights are BLC's the car has had since probably about 1940. original lights look out of place on a rod that is a survivor as most original lights were discarded by about 1940 in favor of sealed beam headlights. I did place the lights on a modified dropped bar.
    [​IMG]

    The stems for mounting the tail lights were shortened by 1-1/2" to bring the lights closer to the body and fenders.
    [​IMG]

    That necessitated angling the license mount back a bit to flow better with the fender's side profile/
    [​IMG]
    The plate here was the one I ran in 1963-64. I have not yet been able to officially get to use that number.
    [​IMG]
    ...and my HAMB topper for the other side.

    Turn signal lights on the front are an issue for me as I think the original cowl lights look very out of place on a hot rod. I wanted something that was mostly not noticeable. I found some motorcycle lights that I thought would work and made a stand for them to fit close to the frame and under the fenders.
    I started fiddling around:
    [​IMG]
    making a holder and worked on getting a tight fit to the fender.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Then filled in the shape.
    [​IMG]
    Rounded them off a bit.
    [​IMG]
    and mounted them under the fenders
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  22. 29ToyA
    Joined: Oct 29, 2010
    Posts: 413

    29ToyA
    Member

    Good looking build.
     
  23. RoddyB34
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 528

    RoddyB34
    Member

    Great build thread Russ ,being a Briggs body presents a challenge on the wood platform but you are doing a great job with a lot of nice detail,,,were the 29 cabriolet different to the 28 body ?,,I like the transmission upgrade ,,you mentioned your 327 powered Tudor from the 60s ,what trans did that run at that time ?,,,,keep up the good work,,,,
     
  24. Thanks to you and everyone else for the comments.

    I really enjoy the F150 all synchro transmission as compared to the original Model A non=synchro three speed. The gearing is close to the original Model A ratios for the first three gears. I am still breaking in the motor and going through general shakedown of the car, so have not spent much time in OD gear on the freeway yet. ...but I am sure the tranny will be great once I do more freeway driving.

    The cabriolet was not introduced until 1929, but the four door Briggs cowls had several variations between 1928 and 1929. In general the earlier body's cowls were more simple and clean looking. Some were essentially as mine is modified to be, no cowl band and no cowl lights. A very few sedans had vents along the sides; these may have been the late 1927 prototypes. My general building style is to remove and simplify, but add detail to what is kept, i.e., to nose and deck my '51 while adding a simple pinstripe where the emblems were.

    My high school tudor had a wide ratio Chevy three speed with Hurst linkage. With the side box shifter, the flat shift lever had to be bent into an "s" shape to move the knob to the center of the body and get it away from being under the right leg.
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  25. For me and my cars, a steering wheel and an instrument panel are two of the most important parts. It is because that is what you are looking at the most while you are driving. I started getting serious about picking a steering wheel in December 2013, but had been thinking about it for much longer. I had a '56 Ford PU steering box, adapted to an A steering wheel and steering column when I started. It took a while until I realized any option other than what I had was going to be a significant amount of work.

    One of the early wheels under consideration was a Packard Banjo, unique for its curved and bent spokes and rim-spoke shape.
    [​IMG]
    The overall look and size were not quite right for this car.

    [​IMG]
    The flow of the spokes is nice, but it has an overall heavy look.

    The next wheel i gave serious consideration to was a '38 Studebaker banjo
    [​IMG]

    It has attractive tapered spokes and stamped detail
    [​IMG]

    the overall look is lighter than the packard wheel, but still too large for the A interior
    [​IMG]

    I decided this was the one, but I needed to make a new column first and give up the Model A throttle and timing advance levers.
    [​IMG]

    The overall diameter was a bit too big so I rolled a new rim for the wheel
    [​IMG]

    Well actually, I rolled a bunch of wheels until I got the size I wanted. I bought 60' of rod, knowing the learning curve for rolling might be significant, and I got the "good" one after 50'.
    [​IMG]
    maybe I will use some of them later.

    I drilled the rim and fitted the spokes inside
    [​IMG]
    ...and welded the spokes up with the new rim
    [​IMG]

    For temporary, I wrapped the rim with cord; and here is the horn button
    [​IMG]

    The horn button is a '34 Studebaker President, adapted to the '39 Stude hub , by Strock Brothers.
    Its significance is that President Roosevelt once owned a '29 Model A Ford cabriolet, prior to his becoming the President.

    The wheel was adapted to the Ford steering shaft by splicing the shaft using a machined inner sleeve and welding a Studebaker upper shaft to the sleeve and lower shaft. It was a five month period from start to having a useable wheel, a much longer time than anticipated.

    Next step, a new plastic rim will be cast while the car is apart for painting and the hub will be painted.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
    kiwijeff and kidcampbell71 like this.
  26. One of the other major tasks on building this car was to get the convertible top fitting and functioning properly. As with everything else aftermarket parts just give you a starting point for fitting.
    [​IMG]
    Early on I did roughly fit and install the bows, but I waited until I had the car running in May 2014 before I seriously started fitting and full assembly of all the top irons and fittings.
    [​IMG]
    I quickly learned that a lot of things did not initially line up
    [​IMG]
    and everything affected the fit of the other pieces, and reproduction bows were not the right size.
    [​IMG]
    I had to make new corners to the vertical bow in order to narrow the bow by an inch, mol.
    [​IMG]
    I did a mini mock up of the top to ensure the middle (angled) bow was set at the proper height
    [​IMG]
    The belt rail corners had to be redone as well to properly fit the lower landau iron mount
    [​IMG]
    new corners were needed for the windshield header bow to make sure top fabric would be smooth once the top was finally installed
    [​IMG]

    Basically, fitting and refitting everything took more than two weeks but is mostly done at this point
    [​IMG]
    One landau iron has a pivot hole that needs to be bushed back to round. Plating will be done when everything is apart for paint. Top will be installed after paint and reassembly; but all is generally smoothed out so no fabric fit surprises should show up.
     
    kiwijeff and kidcampbell71 like this.
  27. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,318

    50Fraud
    Member

    Nice work, Russ. Keep us in the loop.
     
  28. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,479

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Amazing job on the wood / top. Wow. Gary
     
  29. I previously posted info on the mirrors for my cabriolet:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/outside-mirror-for-model-a.936838/
    here is another pic of the mirror bracket I did:
    [​IMG]

    The above pic also show the hood and then we are pretty much up to the current status of the build.

    For the hood there were two issues I wanted to 'correct' with my hood design. Model A hoods with their typical long single row of louvers on the side have a problem with the last louver going flat when the hood is fastened down. The second issue is that on the Briggs Body 1928-29 cars the reveal ends awkwardly at the radiator shell.
    [​IMG]
    Last February I started working on my design for improving the bead appearance
    [​IMG]
    I ended up with this:
    [​IMG]

    In May I went to visit Rootleib in Turlock and talked with Rod Wood to see if he could make what I wanted for the top of my hood. We also ran through what would work best for the hood sides.
    [​IMG]
    I was ready for the hood last month and took my car there, and two weeks later I had my new custom hood
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This thing is starting to look like the car that has been sitting in my brain for a half century.
    [​IMG]

    I am currently working on paint color decisions by doing sample panels. This is Andalusite Blue and a slight variation of it on the bottom half of the old hood top. first pic is low light.
    [​IMG]
    Second is the same piece, but under bright light
    [​IMG]
    I am having the other hood half shot now in two additional paint mixes. I hope to decide on the final paint formula next week. I am looking to get a color close to the left side of the above photo, but a little less dark and a little less red. Andalusite Blue was the color of the car when my father bought it in 1929. As with everything else, I am making subtle changes in my little hot rod, all of which I am sure my father would approve.

    The thread is now close to being up to date on the status of my build. A lot more to do before pulling it all apart again.
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.