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Technical Front Axle Options -- Fenderless Hot Rod on '40 Ford Frame

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HenryJGuy, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    I'm working with a '34 Plymouth coupe that's on a '40 Ford frame. It's a fenderless car, and the proportions are wacky. My father-in-law built it in the '60s and used what he could scrape up to build a hot rod on a paper route budget. The '40 Ford frame was nearly free, so he cut the rear frame rails off and built his own rear suspension. He utilized the stock front crossmember and suspension. This resulted in some odd proportions due to the spring being in front of the axle and the giant '34 Pontiac grille. I'd rather not change the grille, since it's been with the car 50 plus years. I'm looking for opinions and some early Ford wisdom here...I haven't started disassembling anything yet.

    The plan in my head is retain the stock crossmember, but use an aftermarket "spring behind" axle kit. I realize clearance between the frame and axle shrinks as the axle moves forward (the frame rails sweep down), but I think I could remedy the clearance issue with the right combination of spring height and axle drop. I'm not concerned with making the car sit any lower than it does now. I just want the wheelbase to be longer. Here are a couple pictures of the car. Any guidance is appreciated.

    34-Plymouth-Coupe.jpg
    34-Plymouth-Coupe-2.jpg
     
  2. LEAVE IT AS IS.....IT"S BITCHIN !!!
     
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  3. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,989

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Cool car
    Definitely move the axle forward
    On thing with the mopars is how far toward the engine can sit due to the firewall depth
    Could you modify the firewall so you can move the engine rearward
    This would let the grill shell move back
     
  4. OFT
    Joined: Jun 1, 2005
    Posts: 557

    OFT
    Member

    Imho it is the grill that throws things off-cow catcher anyone? Looks like the radiator sits near engine so a 32 Ford shell or something like it would fit and add visual impact. Leave rest of car as is.
    Why do you want a longer wheelbase? What is wb now, as Ford A is 103.5" and 32 is 106"
     

  5. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    I agree. It's not my favorite grille ever. My thought is that I can keep my father-in-law's vision by keeping the grille, but just move the axle forward to give a little better proportions.
     
  6. OFT
    Joined: Jun 1, 2005
    Posts: 557

    OFT
    Member

    Your father in law was working with paper route money to build his hot rod. My guess (I'm 72) is he used it because it came with the body=ie free, and was not part of "his vision". Moving the axle would be altering his vision.
     
  7. flamedabone
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,994

    flamedabone
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    When I clicked on this thread, I was prepared to be horrified, but the little car actually looks pretty decent. It looks like the front axle could move forward a bit, which you can do easily by cutting out the stock stuff and putting a new front crossmember where you want it. Also, the grille needs to be tipped back a bit to get rid of the cow catcher vibe.

    Here is the same grille tipped back just a tiny bit.

    [​IMG]

    No matter what you do, make sure to post lots of pictures.

    -Abone.
     
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  8. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 3,228

    oldolds
    Member

    A picture from the side, straight on, would be better to answer some of your questions.
     
  9. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    I had the engine and firewall out of it last year. My initial plan was to move the engine/trans back and then just build a new firewall, or even section the cowl to take some of the meat out of it. What I realized was moving the transmission back further would require cutting nearly the entire X out of the frame. As it is, the X just has a small notch in it, so I decided to leave it.
     
  10. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    Oh wow, that does make a big difference! I think I need to consider this before I start cutting up the frame haha. Thanks for the inspiration!
     
  11. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,989

    anthony myrick
    Member

    That x member mod is not very hard
    I think it would be worth the effort
    The grill shell needs to lean back a littte more
    I would also suggest maybe to section the grill shell. It it were slightly thinner and shorter it may look better

    Don’t think for a second you are messing with your relatives vision. You are continuing it.
     
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  12. studebakerjoe
    Joined: Jul 7, 2015
    Posts: 814

    studebakerjoe
    Member

    I would think you could move the axle forward and mount it under the spring rather than behind it. You'll have to mount your radius rods further forward or make them longer and may need more drop on the axle to keep your ride height where you want it.
     
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  13. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    This is the closest thing I have to a side shot of the car at the moment. 34-plymouth-3.jpg
     
  14. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,989

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Move it forward. No matter what it takes
    Lean the grill back a little

    Ask one of the photoshop gurus here if they can do the mods suggested on computer first
     
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  15. trollst
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 2,069

    trollst
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Actually, the car has good proportions now, but the grille kills it. I'd move the front axle forward about 6 inches, use a 34 plymouth grille to match the car, replace the square tube rear hairpin with round stock and call it good. How does it drive? You're damned lucky to be driving your father in laws car, nice piece.
     
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  16. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,989

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Another suggestion
    A slight drop with taller tires would help proportions
     
  17. The car does not look that bad actually. The easiest option would be to run the axle spring over. You can get a main leaf for that and some standard spring perches. That will move the front axle forward about 4" (just measured the spring in front setup on my dragster). A reverse eye main leaf should easily make up for the difference in ride height.

    My old dragster has a suicide mount hung off the very front of the frame that is also an option. But the easiest way to go would be spring over the axle.
     
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  18. rd martin
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 2,450

    rd martin
    Member
    from indiana

    what about moving axel forward, and clip off the bottom of grill, lean alittle lean back?
     
  19. HenryJGuy
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 234

    HenryJGuy
    Member
    from Dayton, TN

    It drives pretty terrible, and I blame most of that on the rear suspension. The home made rear hairpins are located at the bottom of the axle housing, and there is no real support on the top side of the axle.

    I agree that I'm very lucky to have a car guy for a father-in-law. Here's a video I put together on this car to show a little bit of its history. Pretty cool to be a part of it and put a LITTLE bit of my own spin on it.

     
  20. flamedabone
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,994

    flamedabone
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The more I look at that little car, the more I like it.

    Nice story too.

    -Abone.
     
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  21. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,989

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Post some pics of the rear axle set up
     
  22. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,915

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I, too, was prepared to hate this car when I read the title of the thread, but was pleasantly surprised when I saw the photos. I just want to say I concur with about all the others have posted, so I'll just leave it at that.
     
  23. Mopars actually had some tough frames back then.
     
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  24. deuce1932
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 107

    deuce1932
    Member
    from Australia

    some well placed smallish headlights
    like the ones in the picture flamedabone posted in post #7
    might help give it a face.
     
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  25. thirtytwo
    Joined: Dec 19, 2003
    Posts: 2,641

    thirtytwo
    Member

    I know you want to keep the grill but moving the axle forward so it’s under the radiator and a repop 32 ford shell would fix the car to me ... the rest looks like a neat old hotrod

    Moving the axle forward wil probably cure a ton of its handling problems you talk about, what steering is in it ? Cross steer ?, does it have a panhard? What’s the caster at?

    6x2 or 2x4 cross ram and different headers would be the other things I would personally add in the looks department
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
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  26. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,602

    adam401
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That's a real cool car on a paper route budget. You Also have to admire a young mans perseverance to be working with that combo of parts and budget and getting it done and on the road. Great story.
     
  27. GuyW
    Joined: Feb 23, 2007
    Posts: 573

    GuyW
    Member

    Since Pop is thankfully still around, you have the definitive answers to determining his "vision", go with that. If left to my own judgement, I would fix the mechanical stuff like the rear end linkages, and leave the rest alone albeit with a coat of paint.
     
  28. treb11
    Joined: Jan 21, 2006
    Posts: 3,694

    treb11
    Member

    I will go against the crowd and say the grill is awesome. the whole car is a great example of the '60's vibe.
    Now, things I see that could be improved or changed:
    -the grill shell is mounted to the original crossmember via a bracket going to the original '40 fender brace hold. probably to position it around the (original '40?) radiator. changing and tilting the grill would help the flow of looks but will involve changes to all these parts.
    -the engine is front mounted via chunks of 2x4 tube and biscuit mounts to the original '40 engine mount holes. functional but looks bulky, side engine mounts would help a bunch, and you could re-locate the engine to help proportions.
    -the front spring has a reverse eye, but no drop to the axle. a drop axle with conventional springover axle would help proportions a bunch and you would not have to jack with the wishbones or crossmember.
    - seeing the single trailing arm and coil springs on the rear, yeah, that definitely needs improvement. Is there a panhard bar to keep it centered?
    Now, you have a running, driving car that's pretty righteous. Any major work to the chassis will mean serious downtime. consider having a new chassis built to incorporate the changes everyone is pushing, but will minimize downtime. I would be sad to see this survivor blown apart, then sit and you become disappointed. of course, budget will dictate what you do.
    Good luck.
     
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  29. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,494

    Squablow
    Member

    I think the OP is right on, the grille is part of the history and should remain, although a repositioning would look nice. Front axle centerline is way too far back, and rear suspension could use some rework. Everything else I'd keep. Neat car with history.

    Sent from my LG-M153 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  30. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,203

    BamaMav
    Member
    from Berry, AL

    Axle for sure needs moved forward. Grille shell needs to lean back a bit, and needs a surround built to go on the bottom from the frame rail down, it looks cobbled the way it is now with only the grille below the frame and the surround above the frame.
     
    HenryJGuy likes this.

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