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Projects A Speedster Comes Out of the Weeds—Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ClarkH, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. Fabber McGee
    Joined: Nov 22, 2013
    Posts: 979

    Fabber McGee

    I agree with Squablow, too British for my taste. Nothing wrong with British.... on a British car. This classic American speedster should remain a classic American speedster. Just thinking out loud.
    Squablow and ClarkH like this.
  2. GuyW
    Joined: Feb 23, 2007
    Posts: 555


    You can try a 6-blade plastic fan which pulls more air than 2- or 4-blades, and space it out, closer to the radiator. shrouds work but not too period-looking...

    MODEL-A FAN AIR FLOW: submitted by Marvin Melage
    The following information was taken in part from the Model-A Times magazine. There has been a lot
    of discussion about which is the best fan to keep that Model-A temperature the coolest. Is the original 2-blade
    metal fan, the later 4-blade metal fan, or the after market 6-blade plastic fan the best?
    For the tests a sophisticated instrument was used to measure the air speed in MPH (Miles Per Hour) at
    three different engine RPM’s (Revolutions Per Minute). The results are not scientific but do give a good indication of which fan produces the most air flow. The test were performed on a stationary vehicle.
    The following tests indicated the fan air flow MPH speeds with engine speeds of 500 RPM, 1,000 RPM,
    and 1,500 RPM. The measurements were taken at the front right corner of the engine block.
    Engine @ 500 RPM Engine @ 1,000 RPM Engine @ 1,500 RPM
    (12 mph ground speed) (25 mph ground speed) (37 mph ground speed)
    Fan Air Flow Air Flow Air Flow
    2-blade 7 mph 18 mph 25 mph
    4-blade 11 mph 24 mph 32 mph
    6-blade 8 mph 22 mph 34 mph
    The above Air Flow test results indicate:
    1) the 2-bladed fan produces less air flow than either the 4-bladed or 6-bladed fan.
    2) the 4-bladed fan produces the most air flow up to 1,000 rpm.
    3) the 6-bladed fan produces the most air flow at 1,500 rpm and higher.
    Summary: The 2-blade fan should be adequate if the cooling system is up to par. If not, more fan blades might be needed. A cars higher speed will increase air flow through the radiator, but also increase engine heat. Remember, a good clean radiator, correct coolant, and tight fan belt are essential to good Model-A cooling.
    jim32, loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  3. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,155

    Ned Ludd

    I only discovered this thread today. I love it! This definitely needs to go on the Specials thread. Moreover it's good to see the later Model AA grille shell getting some appreciation.
    loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  4. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    I completely agree. I've spent 8 years trying to convince myself those Aeroscreens would be OK and could neverbring myself to do it. They're fine on a Bugatti or Jag, but just not right for this car.

    I dug out the original windshield frame and gave it a good hard look. Here it is:
    As you can see, it's designed to have the glass rest directly on the cowl (with a rubber seal, obviosly). A close inspection shows that underneath all the rust and failed chrome, it's actually really well made. Here are some close ups (brace yourselves for more images of rusty steel than even a Hamber might want).

    Nice detail at the top of the center piece:
    Side post bases built up to match the curvature of the cowl (this is the bad side where the stud broke off; other side came apart clean):

    Visors nicely incorporated on both sides; I'd probably get rid of these, but keep the brackets as a provision for a top. By the way you can see a littel wiggle here that needs to be corrected, remnant of the cocked cowl damage--otherwise it's straght:

    Secondary center support nicely flared on either end (ignore the busted up mirror bracket at the top):

    Anyway, you get the idea. If I didn't know any better, I'd think maybe someone adapted an existing windshield frame. The more I look at it, the more I wonder if I can't save it.

    Trouble is, I know what my options are because I just went through this with my hood side panels. I could pay a LOT for a full restoration and rechrome, or I can pay sort-of-a-lot to have the old chrome and rust stripped off, then spend hours filling the pits with all metal before finally painting the thing... and then spend the next decade wishing it was chromed. :confused:

    But against this, I have the fact that it would be easy to install. I only filled the holes on the side of the cowl, which would be easy to redrill. I did not fill the holes for the center supports, because they were too close to lead work that I did not want to risk messing up. Figured I'd repurpose those holes for a mirror or something. Like the orginal windshield, maybe?

    Anther issue is the kind of ugly stainless covers--they thru-bolt to the frame for holding the glass in.

    I wonder if these were added by somebody after the fact. They do not have the same elegance as the frame.
    brEad, catdad49, loudbang and 2 others like this.
  5. Any old boat salvage yards near you ?? You could very well see something that may work. Although old Chris Craft boats are sky high done .... a great many never got restored .... they got parked and parted. My dad had an old Martin ( ? ) boat that had a windscreen I always pictured perfect on a roadster.
    ClarkH, loudbang and Stogy like this.
  6. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    I actually check in on your Specials thread from time to time for inspiration. It really captures the esthetic I'm going for. Thanks for adding Clementine (my wife's name for the speedster)--I'm honored to have it included in your roster of specials.
    loudbang and Ned Ludd like this.
  7. Fabber McGee
    Joined: Nov 22, 2013
    Posts: 979

    Fabber McGee

    Somebody built it long, long ago with much simpler tools than are available today. A good HVAC sheet metal shop should be able to reproduce the straight parts for you and you can build the fittings yourself easier than fixing the old ones. If it were me, I'd just make a new one.

    You can make any dimensions you want to change the appearance a bit and still have the original style windscreen.

    I'd load the pieces in the car and drive it right down to the metal shop, or a few of them and let them see what you're doing. Somebody will no doubt get excited by the project and say, " Oh Hell yeah, we can do that. Leave that stuff here and come back Tuesday.". They can make the pieces 8 or 10 feet long and you just cut to the lengths you want. Then if you goof or decide you made a piece too short, just cut another that's longer.

    Another thought, you could change the design a bit to use standard windshield rubber like boats and heavy equipment use. Radius corners are the easiest, but you could miter the corners if you want to look more original.
    I prefer the one piece gasket. There is a special tool, or you could make one from an old screwdriver that tucks that flap in under the lip and locks the glass in place. Much easier than automotive glass rubber installation. Installed it looks like the picture at the bottom left.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  8. V4F
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 4,152

    from middle ca.

    great find ! MERCURY !!!!!!!!!! extra cool
    ClarkH and loudbang like this.
  9. whtbaron
    Joined: Sep 12, 2012
    Posts: 571

    from manitoba

    You've come a long way from that first post, and I must say, it looks great in blue... I may have to drink a Blue in your honor...
    loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  10. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Merry Christmas to all! To mark the third anniversary of this thread, I’ll start out by posting this holiday pic that @Stogy provided a few years back, complete with my speedster photoshopped into the foreground. Think of it like those holiday TV specials—you’ve seen it before, but still get a kick out of it.


    It’s been a big year for the speedster. Got it on the road several times and even got it to a show. Credits to @Hitchhiker's girlfriend Lee for the pics below, with at a shout-out on the second pic to @themoose, who removed the modern cars parked on the street so that you see exactly what I was imagining at the time. That was a great day.

    (My wife says I look goofy here. What else is new?)

    Three takeaways from these summer outings: the speedster gets a lot of attention wherever it goes, it’s a blast to drive, and it still has many issues demanding attention. The latter isn’t a surprise—like people say, they’re never done. To address some of these issues, I’ve torn into everything for winter and you will get a status report soon.

    In the meantime, Christmas morning strikes me as a good time for an origin story. My first post from four years ago summarizes the state of things on the day I took possession. But it didn’t start there, obviously. So here’s the backstory, somewhat expanded from a post I did recently on the What Was the Cheapest Cool Thing You’ve Ever Gotten thread.

    Let’s go back nine years or so. I’d already been eying the remains of the speedster for some time, and even made a few cursory inquiries. They went nowhere. Frankly, even though the car sang to my heart, my head kept telling me the old hulk was several years on the wrong side of toasted. So truth be told, I didn’t push too hard. The thing was looking to fizzle like so many pipe dreams.

    Then out of the blue, the sister of an old departed friend contacted me for help in dealing with a vintage car that had turned up in a nearby garage. It was a 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood, straight and complete and last licensed in 1967. She’d already taken pictures into the service department of the local Caddy dealership, and they’d shown no interest whatsoever. Somebody offered $400. She needed the garage space and was kind of stuck for what to do.

    I told her I could help get the word out and she could do a lot better than $400. Then she asked if I wanted it. I said sure, but I wasn’t in a position to offer much more than the $400. That didn’t matter, she said, because she wanted to give it to me.

    Turned out she’d inherited the house and contents from her childhood piano teacher. Seriously. They’d stayed in touch, but she’d had no idea she was even in the will, let alone the primary beneficiary. I guess she figured karma dictated passing some of that good fortune along. My brother and I winched it onto his hauler and it came home with me.
    (Goofy looking again...sigh...)

    Well, what does a guy with a newly acquired Fleetwood do? He searches the internet to find out exactly what he has. That was what led me to the Hamb—I still remember the thread that brought me here, some guy who’d put a 331 into his on-the-cheap hotrod. I loved it. I started poking around the site, and couldn’t believe what I’d stumbled onto. I mean, look at this place! A whole community of guys resurrecting ancient tin. I saw cars saved on the Hamb that made the old relic I’d spotted in the weeds look pristine. Could I do that?

    “What are you going to do with that Cadillac?” my wife asked one day. It had been several months and all I’d accomplished was oiling the cylinders and getting it to turn over with a breaker bar.

    “I don’t know,” I said. “It’s cool, but it doesn’t speak to me.”

    “Well, what does speak to you?”

    “To be honest, I keep thinking about that beat-up old boat tail in the bushes.”

    “Well then, you should get it.”

    My wife is very smart, as I’ve commented before. The very next day we investigated tax records and began the multi-month discussions that finally led me to possession of the speedster, as summarized in my thread’s first post.

    As for the Caddy, I put it up for sale on the Hamb to help fund the speedster project. It sold on the second bump. I couldn’t believe somebody would send payment-in-full for an unseen, non-running car to a guy with just 4 posts to his name. But the buyer got a heck of a good deal. Then again, so did I.

    I’ll never forget the day the Cadillac left. The transporter showed up with a double-decker carrier, half full. It was 9:00 pm and getting dark—he’d been held up in Tacoma waiting for a 4wd pickup to clear customs. The guy was jacked up on 18 cups of coffee and god knows what else, planning to make Idaho before he slept. He took one look at the car and whipped out a phone to call his office.

    “Dude, nobody told me how big this car is… no, I’m telling you, it’s BIG…no, I’m telling you, it’s the BIGGEST FREAKIN’ CAR I’VE EVER SEEN.”

    Only he didn’t say freakin’...


    Me and a couple neighbors helped push the Cadillac onto the street, and then the driver towed it onto his carrier using the pickup truck he’d just collected in Tacoma. When it was time to leave he had to back out of our side street onto a busy arterial. “You want me to go out there and stop traffic for you?” I asked. “Oh no,” he said as he rumbled backward into the darkness. “They’ll stop.“ They did and away he went while I returned to the garage and my seemingly insurmountable speedster project.

    So that’s the story of how a free Cadillac led me to the Hamb, which in turn led me to believe I could single-handedly revive a rusted hulk, which in turn is what led me to my successful pursuit of the speedster, and ultimately this thread.

    Cheers, everyone. That’s it for my Christmas morning reminiscing. I promise actual build updates are coming soon.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
    brEad, catdad49, BradinNC and 22 others like this.
  11. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 18,197


    Merry Christmas to you @ClarkH and thanks for your very thorough journey of resurrecting a vintage connection to the love of speed from the past...its literally taking a torch that was extinguished and relighting it and moving forward again...look forward to your continued adventures with it...and I think an upgrade to the Station may be in order...;)...even without the addition that old pic was an incredible shot by a very talented Photographer and for that matter the Owners of the speaks of a passion...I have also thought the Stripped down Goggles and Speedsters were a form of Hotrod and may in fact been the first real Street Demons...
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
    cactus1, ClarkH and loudbang like this.
  12. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    So after yesterday’s historic digression, it’s back to the speedster. Like I said, a lot of issues identified themselves as I drove the car last summer. Key among them was the transmission conversion.

    I love the ’39 transmission I installed with the vintage Ansen adaptor. But I’m not comfortable with the funky clutch and brake pedal system it came with. These adaptors have a secondary mount for the pedals—it attaches to the bell housing and transmissions top. The Ansen adaptor oriented the pedals considerably differently than stock—moved both pedals 5/8” to the left, to be exact.

    I’m guessing maybe alignment was less of an issue with stock Model A. Mechanical brakes still connect, clutch still works, no big deal, right? But my configuration isn’t stock, and that extra 5/8” put the brake pedal out of alignment with the master cylinder, and also created interference with my lowered steering column. Meanwhile, the clutch couldn’t depress fully without hitting the cowl side. (Yes, it’s that tight in there.)

    As shown earlier in the thread, I solved these problems initially by grinding down the barrel of the brake pedal to make everything line up, removing the factory backstop in the process. I rigged up a stop on the floor. Everything worked, but seemed hokey.

    My bigger concern was the flex I was getting out of the pedal shaft. Even with the brace I made for it, depressing the clutch would deflect the pedal shaft half an inch or more. I’m guessing this is probably OK, but thoughts of metal fatigue danced in my head every time I drove it. If it was the just the clutch, I wouldn’t worry—worst case the pedal falls off and I can’t shift. But the brake pedal rides on the shaft as well. Not stopping is a far bigger concern than not going.

    OK, it wasn’t as sketchy as this brake setup posted by @klawockvet on the Wall of Shame. But I couldn’t live with it, and last fall I bought a new pedal adaptor from Cling’s. Right away I could see it’s a well-made and much sturdier unit. And, as shown below, it looks to be aligned properly.

    Above: With the mount holes of both adaptors lined up, the ruler shows the difference. The Cling’s adaptor is on top. Not surprisingly, this measurement corresponds to what I ground off the pedal:

    Above: My ground-down pedal on left, with its provision for master cylinder. Unmolested stock pedal is on right.

    So this should work and I’m happy… or am I?

    Next up: an attack of the While We’re At Its.
    brEad, catdad49, Stogy and 4 others like this.
  13. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    As I intimated a couple days ago in my cheesy cliffhanger, there’s more things I should do to the car while I’m at it. Chief among them is the steering box. And yes, I’ll admit right away that a steering box conversion is pretty rudimentary stuff for a Hamb crowd accustomed to, say, Flop's latest wonder. But maybe you’ll find it interesting.

    A lot of people say the stock Model A steering box is a piece of shit. Last summer I learned a lot of people are right. Heavy, leaky and binding (insert your favorite mother-in-law joke here), there’s not much to say for them other than that they fit into the stock frame and more or less turn the car.

    Two years ago I bought an F-1 column and box from @Chris. I’m glad I got it when I did, because if you’ve been watching his posts recently, Chris is on the verge of cornering the market for ‘50s Ford trucks and parts across the entire Pacific Northwest Region. Soon we’ll all be at his mercy.

    Anyway, the thing has been hanging from my garage rafters ever since, taunting me. With the floor and pedals out and me full of energy, I figure now is the time.

    I’m using the Tardel method—cut the snout off the F-1 box, cut the snout off a Model A box, and weld the two together. I’m doing this because it seems relatively easy and won’t compromise the frame. (If the car wasn’t already assembled and I was dealing with a bare chassis, I might do it differently.)

    Now, a quick aside on my neighborhood. A great thing about Seattle’s Ballard area is that even though it’s rapidly being taken over by hipsters and software engineers, there’s still a lot of great industry located here. The wrecking yards are gone, but we still have repair shops, machine shops, fitting shops, powder coaters, welders and equipment suppliers,. Oh, and Bardahl. Man, I always get a kick out of driving by the Bardahl plant. (Ole Bardahl frequented the gas station I worked at as a kid.)

    Anyway, a little before Christmas I took my F-1 and Model A boxes into the machine shop down the street from Bardahl. They did it while I waited, and I got to watch and talk old cars with the machinist. (7 dizzying seconds follow.)

    For a couple extra bucks, he cut a provision into the Model A snout for a sector shaft seal. No more leaks! (Or less leaks, at any rate.)

    Next step was to mock up the two halves for fitment in the car. This is where I discover the steering column is now hitting the dash.

    The shaft comes out of the bottom of an F-1 box, whereas the it comes out of the top of a Model A box. So everything got reoriented. I supposed I could have avoided this by using an F-100 box, where the shaft comes out the top, but I didn’t have one. And I expect Chris is hoarding them all by now, anyway.

    I was preparing to make a new column drop when @Hitchhiker reminded me you can get extensions for these. Well, having just learned my lesson about trying to fabricate parts that are already avialable, I got one from Limeworks.

    I fear this means my car now sports a dreaded piece of billet, but it will be hidden by semigloss black. Here’s where the upper column rests now.

    I got to this point a week or so ago. I figured there was no point to trying to find a welder Christmas week. I spent yesterday bending a new set of clutch and brake pedals to fit. Sorry, no “in-process” pictures; I was working outside with the torch and it was raining and miserable. Here’s where I am now. It’s a tight fit, but they'll clear.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
    brEad, catdad49, barrnone50 and 11 others like this.
  14. Nice work! I love this little car!
  15. Surprised you had so much grief with an A box on a light speedster. Putting on a shorter pitman arm made my 31 roadster feel like power steering.
    ClarkH and Stogy like this.
  16. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    That’s interesting about the pitman arm; I’ll make note of that for the future. Maybe I’m too hard on the stock A steering box. Lots of guys use them no problem. Truth be told, we rebuilt the box on my Dad’s ’31 using one of those needle-bearing replacement sector housings and now it steers nicely. But mine sucks and I'm not putting any more time into it.

    Another upgrade motivator is that I need a smaller steering wheel, and I’m hoping the later box will help compensate for the loss of mechanical advantage. The 17” stock wheel proved to be a knuckle-buster on this small car. I’m looking to use this old 14.5” Schroeder I got from @JWindsor13.
    catdad49, Squablow, cactus1 and 7 others like this.
  17. cederholm
    Joined: May 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,621


    How have I missed this thread?!?! What an awesome build!

    ~ Carl
    Stogy, loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  18. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,704


    How does the length compare between the F-1 and Model A column you were using? I have an A box/column in my T and the box is shit, was thinking of doing what you're doing.
    loudbang likes this.
  19. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Hey @Squablow: The columns were essentially the same length. I was pleasantly surprised. My Model A column was a 1930. I don't know what year F-1 column this is, or whether that makes a difference.

    I just walked out to the garage and got some dimensions for you: Measuring from where it exits the box, the tube comes up 38.5". The shaft is 40". Of course, the boxes are configured differently--on an A box the shaft comes out the top, on an F-1 it exist the bottom. So a better measurement might be from the center of the sector shaft. This looks to be roughly 40.5" to top of tube/42" to top of shaft.

    One odd kicker--neither of the two available Grant steering wheel adaptors for early '50s Ford will fit this column. The spline patterns don't match. I tried Grant part #4257, which is specified for 49-57 truck. I also tried part #4267, which is specified as 49-56 Ford, but the Speedway website calls out for F-1, as seen here:

    Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 10.07.29 AM.png

    It's a head scratcher. I gave up and decided to make my own adaptor. So now there's one less usable F-1 steering wheel in the world.

    Still needs to be welded, drilled and tapped, but you get the idea. Kind of crude, but at least I know it will fit.
    Stogy, loudbang, tomkelly88 and 2 others like this.
  20. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,704


    Good info to know. Steering wheel depth/distance to dash is critical in my car, I suppose I could have just measured the two but that stuff is put away at the moment and I was real curious.

    The homemade steering wheel adapter seems like the way to go. I bought a '28 A frame and running gear a couple years ago and it had a similar adapter made out of a steering wheel center for the crazy '28 spline pattern, they did a really clean job of it too, I imagine that's just what people did before adapters were commonplace. Historically accurate, once again.

    brEad, Stogy, catdad49 and 4 others like this.
  21. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,607


    She's a beaut Clark!
    loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  22. What a fantastic build!
    loudbang, kidcampbell71 and ClarkH like this.
  23. Billy_Bottle_Caps
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 246


    Any updates?
    ClarkH likes this.
  24. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Well, yes, there’s been progress. For starters, Broomfield in Ballard welded up the steering box for me. Their main business comes from the fishing fleet, but I’m told their old man did a lot of hot rod stuff back in the day and the guys seemed to get a kick out of the project.
    welded box.JPG
    My brother and I rebuilt the box one afternoon while waiting for a transporter to come take his ’29 coupe to its new home.
    The worm gear and roller were in great shape, so we just replaced the bearings and bushings. Little tip: if you don’t have the right size reamer, you can get the job done with a wheel cylinder hone. Hone, test, hone, test. Takes about an hour. :oops:

    Also finished the steering wheel adaptor: it’s welded, drilled and tapped. Not as pretty as a Grant, but kinda cool, I think.
    Also did an organ transplant on the brake pedal. The donor was this F1 pedal:
    It gave it’s little all so the Model A pedal now works with the master cylinder.
    finished pedal.JPG
    Snowed in this weekend, but with the heaters going I managed to get the garage warm enough to brush paint everything.
    Kind of a messy job, but I was getting cabin fever and needed a project. These aren't high visibility items and I'm too eager to get them installed to wait for outdoor spray paint weather.

    Temperature is up and the snow is melting now, hopefully it will clear in time for the Early Bird Swap Meet this weekend.
    Stogy, Shadow Creek, catdad49 and 5 others like this.
  25. I wish I'd known you planned to cut apart a perfectly good set of pedals for that piece...

    Sent from my SM-G965U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    loudbang likes this.
  26. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Not a set. The clutch pedal was already torched in half when I got it. From YOU, I hasten to add, after you couldn't get $10 for it in Puyallup. :D
    stealthcruiser, Stogy and loudbang like this.
  27. A rare and valuable set of automatic transmission pedals!!!

    Sent from my SM-G965U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    brEad, Stogy, loudbang and 2 others like this.
  28. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    I guess now it is an even rarer and more valuable set off the self-driving F-1.
    brEad, Stogy and loudbang like this.
  29. Loose Ctrl
    Joined: Dec 21, 2014
    Posts: 48

    Loose Ctrl
    from Upstate,SC

    Cutting, grinding, welding, using what you have on hand, making miss matched parts work from various vehicles, and topping it off with brushed on paint, seems like traditional hot rodding to me. But whadda I know. I'm one of the younger kids around here at 41, it seems. :p
    brEad, Stogy, ClarkH and 1 other person like this.
  30. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 4,593


    My, you are a Crafty Devil. All of the parts are one of a kind and the results are One Of A Kind!
    Stogy and ClarkH like this.

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