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Projects From Rat Rod to Hot Rod - Another A Tudor Build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by larryj, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    A neighbor of mine in San Diego in the very early '70s had a Model A Tudor that I thought was the coolest car. So that became the object of my search for a new project. I was looking for something I could drive while upgrading, but something that would take a good bit of work to get to a '60s style hot rod (not 100% H.A.M.B. compliant, but I hope close enough to meet with your approval). The following pictures on eBay caught my eye as the perfect candidate for the build and a deal was struck.

    After driving the A twice, all hopes of cruising it while working on it flew out the window. The brakes absolutely would not work, even after a rebuild. The master cylinder was mounted on the sheet metal firewall with no bracing. The suspension mounts were steel plate welded to the frame with no gussets or any other bracing. The seat sat on four pieces of 5/16” threaded rod run through the unsupported floor with the seat belts attached to the seat frame. Construction was so flimsy I felt lucky to get home with all four wheels still attached. In short, it met the common perception of rat rods - TOTALLY UNSAFE!

    Follow along as I try to restore some beauty to an ugly duckling.


    model a_001.jpg model a_010.jpg model a_002.jpg model a_004.jpg model a_011.jpg
     
  2. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    After a year and a half of collecting parts and planning the build while I got my wife’s O/T ’34 running, it was off to the home of my good friend Randy Dean. While I like the mechanical stuff - wiring, plumbing, engine, trannys, assembly, etc. - my welding, fabrication and bodywork skills and desire are (severely) limited. That is what Randy loves to do. So he started off the project with some heavy lifting.

    Originally, the fan was about 4” from the radiator and the body was so far to the rear the leading edge of the rear tire was not even in the wheel well. I considered moving the radiator and rear axle rearward, leaving a suicide front end. But I really don’t like the extended look, especially with the car channeled but not chopped (a look I do like). So we chose to move the engine, tranny and body forward 2-1/2”.

    Then Randy turned his attention to the flimsy suspension mounting. The front hairpins were attached to the frame by brackets made of 1/8” steel strap with no gusseting or other form of bracing (see left hand photo). Randy bent some extra strap to weld to the original flat plate to form proper hairpin brackets as seen on the right.


    IMG_1218.jpg IMG_1347.jpg
     
  3. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    Notice on the left that the original spring “buckets” were 1/4” steel plate welded on one side only. In less than 500 miles, they had already started to bend. Also notice the fine welds. :eek: Even I can do better than that.

    Randy fabricated a proper bucket for the frame and moved the spring to the top of the axle. A change in spring length sets the rear ride height where it needs to be for the proper stance. The axle has been relocated so that the rear wheel sits in the wheel well properly.

    IMG_1220.jpg IMG_1346.jpg
     
  4. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    Randy called the old rear shocks “tater diggers”. They sorta violated scrub line rules. Castoffs from a monster truck team? They got replaced with some shocks of sensible length from a ‘50s Dodge truck (traditional no less).

    IMG_1219.jpg IMG_1343.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
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  5. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    Originally the steering was controlled by a GM rack with one side cut off. The rack was attached to the front cross member with no lateral bracing. With the car sitting still, the rack would move over a 1/2” laterally when the steering wheel was turned. Off with the rack, on with a Vega box.

    Did I mention there was no fuse box? Look closely at the headlight wiring in the frame corner. All wires were spliced by twisting together and insulating with MASKING tape.

    model a_009.jpg IMG_1351.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  6. OldTC
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 770

    OldTC
    Member

    Should be a fun project. Looks like you've got some decent parts to work with.
    Looking forward to seeing what you're gonna do with it.
     
  7. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    I always thought the front end looked a little too clean. But it took me a long time to realize why - no shocks.

    Randy fixed that. The front axle is a stock ’48 Ford piece. The notched frame and 14” wheels with a shorter tire gets the front end down where it belongs.

    IMG_1205.jpg IMG_1372.jpg IMG_1355.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  8. OldTC
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 770

    OldTC
    Member

    Holy crap! You were posting while I was, I didn't see the last few photos!

    It's good thing you bought it and not someone else who might'a got hurt in it!
     
  9. rpkiwi
    Joined: Jan 16, 2006
    Posts: 285

    rpkiwi
    Member
    from Truckee CA

    Will be following along,I am in a similar situation and am about to start repairing another sedan.I did get to drive mine a little longer than you after doing a couple of quick repairs.Also thought I could do it while driving but not if it is going to be done right.Roger
     
  10. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    Check out the original GM tilt column with the cheesy cheap Grant wheel. The second time I drove the car I pulled into a parking lot, turned off the car and pulled out the key. There I sat with the ignition lock cylinder in my hand :( while my wife :D laughed her a** off. Hello dumpster!

    The “new” column is from a ’46 Ford with a ’48 steering wheel. I insisted on the old ignition switch and column lock but the key was so worn it would no longer turn. So I found a local locksmith who made me a new set of keys from scratch by trial and error. He spent five evenings, probably 20+ hours, and charged a grand total of $20. Said he had not had so much fun in years.

    Randy added bracing for the brake pedal and steering column and mounted the old heater I found on eBay.

    Yes, the column shift lever now controls the TH-400 tranny. You can see the linkage going through the floor just to the right of the brake pedal. Underneath the car the linkage gets a little convoluted, but it works.

    model a_004.jpg IMG_1370_retouched.jpg IMG_1363.jpg IMG_1367.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  11. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    While Randy was working on the chassis, I stretched my body work skills to the limit to replace the WalMart trailer tail lights with those from a ’41 Chevy.

    I also put together a 327 from a 1965 Chevelle to replace the 305 that came in the car. While a 350 would have been cheaper and easier, this was one area where I chose to remain traditional and I don’t recall many 350s in the early ‘60s. ;) As this is to be a street driver and not a drag racer, I attempted to retain as much of the original 300 horse low end performance as possible while still running high octane pump gas. Competition Cams cam, .030 over bore with flat top pistons, compression ratio around 9.5:1, stainless steel exhaust valves and seats, etc. A Holley 4160 sits atop an Edelbrock C3B manifold. The original points distributor and coil is retained. This combo should provide adequate performance given the light weight of the car. I have a pair of finned aluminum Corvette valve covers that will replace the chrome ones when I get time to polish them.

    I rounded up some vintage 5 spokes. 14” Fentons for the front and 15” no names for the rear. A good bit of polishing and repaint are still needed here. Yes I know the reputation of Fentons, but these are in excellent condition and were cheap. I will crack test them and have the welds inspected before putting them on the car.

    model a_010.jpg IMG_1241.jpg IMG_1234.jpg IMG_1060.jpg IMG_1268.jpg
     
  12. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    The car is now home from Randy’s. I am in the process of getting the body gutted and removed from the frame so I can run the brake and fuel lines. Once that is done, it will be stripped to the bare frame rails which will be blasted and painted. Then restoration of individual parts and assembly can begin.

    It will be a while before there is more progress to report as my wife is demanding I work some more on her ’34. Just because it is winter she thinks she needs her rear window installed and the heater working, among other things. Nag, nag, nag. But I will post more as soon as appropriate.

    Thanks to all here on the H.A.M.B. whose advice and knowledge have helped me with the planning of this build.
     
  13. shadams
    Joined: Mar 16, 2011
    Posts: 1,489

    shadams
    Member

    Nice, reminds me of when I got my piece of shit. But we are both bustin ass to make it right!! Keep the pics comin...
     
  14. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 5,523

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    Great progress! It's going to be a nice car when you're done!
     
  15. My god that thing was scary!! I think I have a new respect for our harsh Engineering rules!!

    At least it's a good starting point, the work is a thousand times better! Think it needs a rain gutter though!

    Doc.
     
  16. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL


    I went into this one with my eyes open. I knew what it needed and paid accordingly. But I really thought it could be driven a while.

    You think your gas tank was bad? Look at the one I got. Air tank with a piece of exhaust tubing attached with JB Weld as a filler tube.

    IMG_1228.jpg
     
  17. shadams
    Joined: Mar 16, 2011
    Posts: 1,489

    shadams
    Member

    ^^^HAAAAA!!!

    Forgetting about how unsafe and crappy looking it is, you gotta give them creativity points.

    And BTW, I was referring to the actual vehicle, not the circumstances leading up to the purchase of it, but thanks for the reminder....HA!
     
  18. KustomCars
    Joined: Jul 31, 2011
    Posts: 3,457

    KustomCars
    Member
    from Minnesota

    Really cool! Im watching also!
     
  19. WOW. Thanks for saving someone's life with your efforts!

    I nominate you for humanitarian of the year...:D
     
  20. flynstone
    Joined: Aug 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,609

    flynstone
    Member

    cool refabing, it needed it, on the three fifty verses 327, sorry, how many can really tell the difference and about the only diff is the breather, so if your going to go as far as a 327 , now bias tires and a generator? just sayin
     
  21. BOWTIE BROWN
    Joined: Mar 30, 2010
    Posts: 3,254

    BOWTIE BROWN
    Member

    Its not all the hunt , but the kill also . Good luck & keep posted.
    "AND THE BOWTIE ROLLS ON"
     
  22. Bill Rinaldi
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,710

    Bill Rinaldi
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Looks like your on the way to a good looking, safe, hot rod driver. A far cry from the "unsafe at any speed" piece you started with. I could not see any kind of panard/sway bar on the rear suspension. With vertically mounted coil springs you can generate a lot of rear "bump sway" if you don't have something to help keep the rear centered, angle mounted shocks usually aren't enough. At least that was a lesson I learned the hard way. BILL RINALDI
     
  23. barney rubble
    Joined: Sep 3, 2008
    Posts: 340

    barney rubble
    Member

    I have to question the tranny linkage. Unless the motor is mounted solid I think the flex in the mounts is going to shift the transmission.:eek:
     

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  24. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    Ya never know.
     
  25. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    There is a panhard rod, just not visible in those shots.
     
  26. larryj
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 122

    larryj
    Member
    from Madison AL

    That's certainly possible. The linkage inside the car has a sort of ball and socket arrangement that gives it some flexibility. As far as the horizontal rod attached to the bottom of the frame, it rotates which moves the shift arm on the tranny forward and backward to shift, not up and down. The tranny can move up and down some when the engine torques over without angularly moving the shift arm itself. I think this will be enough to prevent engine torque shifting gears. But maybe not. We'll see.

    If it doesn't work, we can always try it again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  27. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,718

    farmer12
    Member

    Good to see you're making this a safe hot rod. (I've never understood this r@t rod theme....) Looking good, keep it up.
     
  28. heatnbeat
    Joined: Jan 6, 2009
    Posts: 184

    heatnbeat
    Member
    from Madera,Ca.

    I think alot of us have a Randy in our build:)
     
  29. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,004

    Doctor Detroit
    Member

    This is a pretty cool build... I respect the fact that you're trying to build this thing correctly, versus getting it on the road as fast as possible while cutting corners.
     
  30. A Rodder
    Joined: Jul 13, 2008
    Posts: 2,477

    A Rodder
    Member

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