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Projects Model A Reboot

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by jhutch, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    Well, the work has begun. Here's the back story. 3 years ago, my wife's birthday was approaching and she held her phone in my face and said "make this appear in the driveway for my birthday". It was a 31 hot rod roadster done in a 60s style - matte black, red rims with beauty rings and baby moons with wide whites. 32 grill out front and some pin striping on the trunk lid. I made a few calls and the deal was done - she'd be shipped up in time for the birthday. I hadn't touched a hobby car in a long time and never anything like a Model A. Typical 350/350 running gear.

    We had some basic work performed to make sure the brakes were good and tidy things up. It had been rebuilt in the 90s but the owner was in poor health and it had sat in his garage for the last few years.

    About a year after we got it and put maybe 1500 miles on it I noticed a crack in the frame about 4" in front of the trans crossmember. I also kept having trouble with the rear axle seals they've been replaced 3 times and its leaking again. The trailing arms were 2x3 box tube welded to the axle and bolted to hangers. Frame isn't boxed and there wasn't really a K or X member to speak of.

    So, we stopped driving it for safety concerns and I started tearing it down. I'm not a welder but found a local guy that works at a body shop by day and by night works on rock crawlers and even built his own Model A pickup. I trailer her to his place and we started the teardown.

    Sorry for the long post - I've been doing a ton of research here and we intend on keeping it traditional. We'll keep the running gear for reliability reasons and keeping it simple. Got a lot of parts coming in and I hope to document the progress here. I look forward to everyone's encouragement, comments and critiques.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  2. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 23,252

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    Never know what you are getting when you someone else's ride. Too bad that when you had it first checked that these problems where not found. Important part is that it is getting done. Safety first eauals fun later.

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  3. Craig Owens
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 393

    Craig Owens
    Member

    Coincidence...I was at the Novato cars & coffee cruise-in this morning, and a friend pointed you and your wife out, saying that your wife has a Model A roadster. I almost went up and asked since I've got this thing for Model A's, but something must have distracted me. Looks like you're getting it back in shape...it'll be fun to see another one one the road.
     
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  4. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    Had the wagon out today. Can't wait to take the roadster back out!


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  5. Craig Owens
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 393

    Craig Owens
    Member

     
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  6. waxhead
    Joined: May 11, 2013
    Posts: 1,070

    waxhead
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from West Oz

    Everyone needs a wife who encourages them to buy more hotrods.
     
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  7. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,142

    2935ford
    Member

    For my wife's birthday she would come up in my face and say "All that junk you have in the garage........make it dissappear." :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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  8. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,163

    325w
    Member
    from texas

    You might make the firewall black and white checkerboard.
     
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  9. Even with the problems, your car is pretty far along. You guys are both hardcore, I like it.


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  10. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 3,018

    sloppy jalopies
    Member

    great pair... roaster and wife...
    where the frame is not boxed check it for sag near the stock rear motor / tranny mounts... common problem and now is the time...
    oh yeh, does she have a sister ?
     
  11. Binger
    Joined: Apr 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,600

    Binger
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from wyoming

    I am lucky my wife encourages me and helps with the cars. When you find one of those you hold on and never let go.
     
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  12. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

  13. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    She doesn't, but her brother dresses in drag sometimes ;)

    Sag is probably what was going on - we found a crack once we stripped it down in the same place on the other rail. I bought a Dagel's box kit and Super X Crossmember so hopefully we'll get her straight and tight.

    We also found the front end was too soft - bottoming out and missing a spring - so I ordered new springs from Speedway.


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  14. trollst
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 1,482

    trollst
    Member

    Change all the rearend geometry, swingarm steups belong on bikes, will contribute to further frame issues at the rear and continue to ride like crap. Go to a proper setup and the car will ride a lot better and handle better. Good for you that a ton of info is available on model a suspension.
     
  15. Nice hot rod there........
    I'm redoing the front end on our roadster. Changing the caster.
    I see a degree finder in your 3rd photo. What caster degree are you running on that front end?
     
  16. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,796

    tfeverfred
    Member

    Looks good! I hope your wife is driving it soon.
     
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  17. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    Well, we were checking caster before we took it apart and found it was almost none. Depending on the book you read and the threads on HAMB you find, the answer is somewhere between 5 - 7 degrees of positive caster. When we mock it up to measure in the X frame we'll check it again - we suspect that maybe the radius rods weren't adjusted right - they look like they might have been cut and rewelded some point so hopefully they put in enough. If it becomes too much of a hassle I might just swap out to hairpins so we can fine tune it.
     
  18. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    I'm working thru a laundry list of things to do (as I'm sure you can all imagine). One item that I'm trying to sort out before we need to install it is the rear axle - It's a late 50's/60's GM Hotchkiss-style differential (guessing - one shop said it was a 57 - no c-clips, pumpkin goes in front, no cover. Thinking it's an 8.2"). I've had the wheel bearing on the drivers side replaced 3 times over the last 1500 miles. I've had it at 2 different shops and the last one felt pretty confident they fixed it - they found an issue with the vent and also said the prior shop used the wrong bearing and sealant. To be fair, his repair latest the longest. Neither shop found any noticeable wear on the axle or housing.

    As I was disassembling I noticed it's leaking... again. The guy doing the welding thinks I should hit the junkyard and find a newer S-10 from a V8 and we'll throw that in. I called a very reputable shop (Rear End Shop in Santa Rosa) to get their 2 cents and he suggested the same junkyard option but also said that the Chinese bearings (Timken included) were junk and I should find a NOS bearing. He felt that the cost to repair mine was not worth the $ because even with my asking about having them doing an inspection, he didn't offer that as an option.

    Looking for 2 cents - what do you guys think? I've had no other issues with the rear end other than this. The advantage of putting a new bearing in the existing housing is that the brackets are there and aside from the repair, it's ready to got back into the frame. It'll probably cost me $100 to have the new bearing pressed on and the cost of the bearing. For $150 I can probably find an entire S-10 diff complete with brakes, etc but it's unknown condition an I'll probably spend the better part of the day junkyard surfing.
     
  19. Craig Owens
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 393

    Craig Owens
    Member

    Consider that any welding you do on the rear end axle tubes can warp the housing, and that may be the reason your axle bearings keep going out. Whether you are able to check this housing for straightness and get it corrected if necessary, or start with a different rear end that requires bracketry welded on, this is a common problem.
     
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  20. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,870

    Squablow
    Member

    Your wife seems damn cool.

    The car did have some super shitty craftsmanship done to it though. Glad to see you're reworking the whole suspension and frame.

    I was all ready to say you should keep the early rearend, if only just for looks (late model rearend in a fenderless car where you can see it, not a good look in my opinion) but Craig Owens brings up a good point. I wonder if that axle tube isn't warped, even just slightly, just enough to make the axle not perfectly on center in the tube and adding undue wear to the bearing and seal. It's possible, those rear axle links look like a caveman engineered and built them. I wonder if there's a good way to check for that?
     
  21. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    Right, my welder (Dale) basically said it's a crapshoot if they can find if the housing is twisted, etc and they'd probably cut the tube and weld a new one on but that's big $ - his suggestion was don't throw a penny that this rear end which feels like the right answer.

    I hear you on the "look". My wallet is currently telling me that on this issue a newer 10-bolt rear will look enough like the old one (especially once painted black and tucked under the car) that it's close enough. And if we set it up right, swapping it a few years down the road for a Winters would be pretty straightforward. :)
     
  22. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    A few updates - I found a complete Ford 9" rear from a 69 Cougar. I'll put fresh fluid, wheel cylinders and brakes lines on it. Give it a good scrub and fresh coat of black and see how she goes. According to the tag, its a non-locking 2.75 rear and it spins smoothly and there does not appear to be any play on the axles so I think the bearings are good.

    We finished the boxing welds and started with the Dagel's Super X. We need to customize it a bit and it's probably overkill, but I should hopefully never need to touch the frame again! [​IMG][​IMG]


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  23. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    Been a slow weeks. We had to order some parts and that created some starts and stops.

    The motor is in and mounted. We decided to make sure the fan would be centered to the radiator. This raised the motor about 2”.

    This brought us to getting x-frame installed. I bought a Dagel Super X frame. Well, I’ve seen many pics of the frames but only 1 or 2 of the car built and I gotta say I was surprised that setting up motor in probably the most traditional way would result in some creative thinking to get it in. The top of the trans driveshaft tunnel sits about 1” higher than the frame. There’s a little cutting to do to get the trans mount in.

    Up next - setting the front and rear ends


    [​IMG]



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  24. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    End of October update - we are days away from full roller status! Long post alert!

    The front end is assembled and in. The new springs have an extra leaf which holds the car bit higher but we'll see if it settles down after a few miles. I meant to get a pic, but the old front spring had 5 leaves in the pack and was bottoming out onto the I-beam and actually was wearing a flat spot on the spring. It was time to go. The new hairpins are in - I might mount the radius rods on the wall in the garage. Maybe the next build we can use them! The hairpin comes super close to the steering pitman stud but we should have it setup where it won't hit. I went with the shiny Socal Ford Tie Rod ends for the hairpins since they'll be in view. Headlight/Shock mounts are last to consider the front "finished".

    On the rear, all new brackets and hairpins. I had QA1 heim joints initially purchased for the front but felt they might be better in the rear. After much debate (and I'm sure since I'm mentioning this there will be more here) it looks like we will have to mount the rear hairpins to the bottom of the frame on the outside of the body. We initially thought they would hang inside, however, they will most likely hit the x-frame.

    One other thing to note - the spring in the rear was super stiff - we did some checking in old Model A books and think that this spring is from an AA (truck). It's 2" wide and has 7 leaves in the pack (if I remember right). We cut down 1 of the springs get a bit more play in it but we needed to have it in there as a spacer.

    Getting a rear end setup with the proper angles and getting that rear spring under tension is quite the process - I'm happy to have Dale on this project and that this isn't his first rodeo! I went with the Speedway hairpins with the Z for strength. The finish matches the front ones and all the drag/tie links nicely. He should have the welds finished up on the rear axle and the hairpins this week.

    Hopefully by next weekend we can start on the body. I ordered some patch panels to repair some holes in the rear by the trunk and multiple body braces were breaking due to the frame twist that we need to repair. We are also going to rework the floorpan in the trunk to accomodate a new fuel tank and battery box and to make a bit more space.

    We need the rain in Norcal, but if the weather holds up we should make some good progress in November!
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  25. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 14,235

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Before you weld the rear hairpins in, try mounting them with the fronts pointing inward toward the transmission tail. This will prevent twisting parts that shouldn't be twisted. Maybe your trucker fab man might be familiar with straight ahead control arms, but that's not what you want on a hot rod. The solid mount of hairpin to axle housing makes the whole combination act like a giant sway bar as one wheel goes over a bump and the other stays flat. Not good for the joints or the other non-bendy parts.

    Do a little search of the Pete & Jake's catalog, and you will see how the recommended method of rear hairpin mounting makes sense. And, it will fit great with your new X member.
     
  26. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    As I mentioned this is a very hot topic. It seems some recommend them in and others say they have worked ok mounted out (with many years and miles on them). If I'm being honest, he's the professional who's done it before (as I'm sure many of you are as well) and wasn't real warm to a conversation about moving them inwards. (real warm meaning he felt I was challenging his years of experience and was quick to suggest if I didn't like the way he was doing it I could come by with a trailer anytime - apparently this is a real sore spot for him).

    A comment on the P&J ladder bars vs what I see on cars with Hairpins. The P&J ladder bars have a rubber mounted bar end, right? So the only flex you'll get from that is what little the hard rubber will twist. I understand that the inward angle is what allows the travel there. On the helm, it allows for twist by the way the heim works. Again, I realize that it's straight (or near straight) that amount of twist might not be enough and then it forces the next weakest link in the equation to have to flex.

    This topic is really interesting to me because when I search HAMB and other sites I rarely am seeing examples of what I'm trying to do. I see ladder bars as mentioned above. I see hairpins with Coilovers, but topic of a buggy spring with a hairpin configuration is rarely mentioned. I'd love to see a Model A, buggy spring'd hot rod from the early sixties... any one have any pics there?

    I'm going to run it as he's recommending at this point and see how it behaves. I can always move them in later.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  27. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 14,235

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Before anything is welded solid, I recommend doing an experiment. Tack weld the brackets to the axle and frame in the arrangement the pro wants it set up like, and remove the spring. Grab one end of the axle and lift it up as if it was going over a bump in the road. Make it at least a few inches. What happened to the rest of the setup? Any tack welds break? Did the rest of the car come up as well, as if there was binding? If everything doesn't work smoothly now, what do you think will happen when it's all welded up solid and a few small heims are the only thing allowing movement?

    Axle housings don't flex. What is going to flex in your setup?
     
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  28. jhutch
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 134

    jhutch
    Member

    That's a great suggestion - in fact, a thought I had myself around asking him to show me the travel we'll see.
     

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