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Technical Engine and Suspension Questions for an AV8 Project

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by K.C. Clem, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. K.C. Clem
    Joined: Feb 17, 2017
    Posts: 22

    K.C. Clem

    I've been collecting some parts for a '30/'31 Ford Coupe AV8 project. I've located 3 main components for my project and am wondering what all the experienced builders here think about how well they'll work with what I have.

    My plan build the coupe on a set of '32 Ford frame rails. I was intending to use Model A front and rear cross-members. I have the frame rails (reproduction) and an original Model A rear cross member. I also have a line on a couple original Model A front cross members and can have one pretty quickly.

    Question 1 - I wanted to use a 59 A-B flathead engine for my project. I located a core that's a little over a 2 hr drive but it's pretty complete (carb to pan, has a clutch and flywheel, generator, and pulleys. The problem is that I won't be able to pull the heads or the oil pan before purchase. Although I'm in an area where freezing is not an issue, I don't know if the engine is originally from this area so it's hard to tell the real condition of the block crank, and rods which are the parts I want most out of that engine. Although the engine looks better than some, I noticed that it looks like some spark plugs are missing. I'm assuming the engine is froze up. This is a Craigslist listing and the person selling it doesn't know a lot about it. Is something like this even worth following up on?

    Question 2 - I located a 1939 Ford rear suspension (rear end, wishbones, torque tube, spring, drum to drum. The price seems very reasonable and I can drive about 3 hours to pick it up. My intent was to use the Model A rear cross member with this, would I need to change the spring or grind the '39 spring pack to fit the cross member? I remember reading somewhere that the later springs don't fit the Model A cross member and they need to be ground down to fit or change the spring. I also remember reading somewhere that the Model A rear cross member can be flipped around so that the angle works better since it will be set back to accommodate the spring being behind the rear end instead of over it. It's not my intent to split the wishbones.

    Question 3 - I also located a 1936 Ford front suspension (axle, wishbones, steering linkage, drum to drum) that has already been converted to juice brakes. It's also in pretty good shape but needs gone through. This is a bit further of a drive for me to pick up but is in the same direction as the '39 rear end mentioned above, I can make a single road trip out of this. Will this work with my plan for a Model A front cross member? I had also planned on using an F1 steering box and column and have some F1 spindles and steering linkage. If I go the F1 steering route, would it be best to switch out the spindles and look for all the F1 brake parts and steering parts?

    Question 4 - I haven't even looked at the center cross member and am not sure what to do there. I've seen some people here use an F1 center cross member and use the F1 pedals with that. I've also seen that some people have installed '35-'41 x-members but I can't seem to locate any of those very cheap. Any advice on what might be the cheapest/easiest way to do the center cross member and pedals with the front and rear suspensions I mentioned above?

    Thanks for any input.
  2. 1. Mostly what you need from that engine is the block. If the block is badly cracked if will not be of much use. Either get a very low price or the ability to get your money back if the block is cracked.
    2. '39 rear will be a good choice. If you use the Model A rear crossmember, you will need to use the Model A spring.
    3. You will want to use a spring over axle setup with the Model A front crossmember. The spring in front arrangement from the '36 will work if you mount the crossmemeber farther forward. This will give you a low stance without a dropper axle.
    4. Several companies, including Speedway sell tubular center x-member structures. You may want to consider going that route.
  3. Aaron D.
    Joined: Oct 27, 2015
    Posts: 293

    Aaron D.

    Welcome to the HAMB KC.
    1. The block is either cracked or not, you have to figure out if you want to chance it or not.
    2. 39 rear is a good choice, I used one on mine. It has a wide 5 bolt pattern so you will need wide 5 wheels or change the spindles, and drums to fit other wheels. You need a model A spring and hangers for a spring over setup and you have to cut off the extensions for the spring behind setup. you'll have to shorten the driveline, torque tube, radius rods and parking brake cable to fit the coupe. You'll also need different shock mounts.
    3. Check the 36 front axle dimensions between the spring perch and king pin. I think it may be different then the A axle and may cause split bones to rub on tires while turning sharp.
    I doing build thread on my 29 Coupe. Most of your questions are addressed in the thread. Check it out, it may help.
  4. Picture this with 32 rails. I've posted them up many times with info. It is also Stock Model A wheel base. Really noting to it. Do a quick search, I'm sure it will all pop up.
    The Wizzard
    02-15-12 002.jpg Basic chassis welding done 12-30-11 002.jpg 02-15-12 001.jpg
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  5. As stated above and with these photo's your going to get a lot of conflicting info and a ton of do this and don't do that. Bottom line is, you can get there a hundred different ways. The choice you make is up to you.
    The Wizzard
  6. Question 1 -

    They seem to be quite common in the US so unless it's super cheap i dunno if i'd bother. All the extra parts can come in handy as they had lots of variations of bits so having different pieces from different years can come in handy down the track for mocking up stuff.

    Question 2 -

    Option 1: Use a Model A rear spring on it, have the main leaf reversed first. You can read the "How to build a traditional Ford Hot Rod" book by Vern Tardel and it explains taking out every 2nd leaf in the pack to lower it further. I think retain around 6-7 leafs from memory. I used a '39 Merc rear in my Model A and because they are wider than a Model A rear end and the earlier V8 rears i had to put a 1" spacer on each side, and used Model A spring hangers bolted on spaced inwards. I also used the original shock mounts as well so i had some random spacers going on but i can measure it all and take photos if you need it. It was a bolt in job and really quite easy. There's a bloke on here that sells fabricated spring hangers and i'll probably replace mine with those down the track. You'll need to trim down the torque tube as well.

    Option 2: Reverse the bells so the spring is on the front side, slide the crossmember forward and use a Model A spring. This lowers it a fair bit as the spring sits lower on the later rears than above it on a Model A. I think the spring over look is better for an early style car though.. You'd still need to space the spring inwards an inch either side.

    Question 3 -

    The wishbones are GREAT for a Model A, they are chunky, long and look awesome. Cut the spring hanger off them. Don't know about using the '36 axle.. i'd probably go with a '32 or dropped Model A or just get a new So-Cal one. You might need to grind a 1/4" out of the inside of the wishbone to accomodate the axle if you use a Model A one. I did this on mine. Don't do the whole spring forward thing it extends the wheel base, puts the whole engine bay further out and looks shit.

    Juice brakes are good, if they are converted though they have probably ovalled out the holes for the mounting bolts on the spindles. Not the best solution really.. I would use the F1 steering box, have NealinCA set it up for a '32 frame. He does AMAZING work. Could use the box and column but don't need the steering linkage and brake parts and stuff. Keep it 40's juice brakes and it'll be good.

    Question 4 -

    If it were me doing it over i'd use an X member. Sit it on top of the frame, trim the excess and weld it in. Since you're going with a flathead get the engine in and then bolt the X member onto the gearbox to get the position set and you've got the pedals and everything that all work with it. Easy as. Make sure the pedals are juice brake pedals though as the mechanicals have the clevis pivot fork thingy on the wrong side. As in, they pull instead of push from memory.

    I made my own version of an F1 crossmember for my roadster. Everything is harder for us with RHD stuff though..
  7. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,570


    Have the 36 axle dropped, 32-36 axles are all the same dimensionally.

    Sent from my SGH-T399 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Nailhead Jason likes this.
  8. K.C. Clem
    Joined: Feb 17, 2017
    Posts: 22

    K.C. Clem

    Lots of good info to consider, thanks for all the replies.

    28A, I especially appreciate the long and detail response you took the time to give me. I have Tardel's book and have read through most of it, I think I need usually need to read things two or three times before they start to sink in. I hope to go get the '39 rear suspension this weekend and maybe even the '36 front suspension. I'm a little on the fence about the engine without having a good look at it with the heads and oil pan off of it.

    Pist-n-Broke, thanks for the pics. There's a great thread by a guy in Germany who builds traditional '32 frames for rods. His thread is really detailed and is kind of what I have in mind except I don't have and can't afford a '32 K-member.

    Aaron D, you're not all that far from me, basically just across the bay. I think the '39 rear will work great if I can get up there before someone else gets it.

    31Apickup and FritzJr, the '36 front is about 8 hours drive but is complete. I agree that the spring over arrangement looks best on a Model A rod and I'm going to have to figure that out. I see some of the parts like the spring perches and springs listed here from time to time. I'm going to have to get quicker at buying them.

    Thanks again for all the great input.
    48fordnut likes this.

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