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New Project: 1939 Ford COE

Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by vintagehotrods, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. I must be nuts (my wife says I am for sure, she said she thought I was getting better), but I had a weak moment this week and bought a 1939 Ford COE Cab to build a car hauler. It looks pretty straight but has some rust issues and its actually a 1941 with a 1939 grill. I've wanted one for a long time, ever since I saw a beautifull red 1939 ramp back up at the Twin Cities Roadster's Swap Meet a few years back in St. Paul. Does anyone know the truck or have pics of it?

    I need a lot of advice and information:

    Where to look for a salvage or wrecked motor home chassis. Websites, auctions, salvage yards, etc. The closer to may area the better. I would like to stick with a motorhome chassis because the steering and motor placement is already done and the wheelbase should be long enough. The newer the better, so an expensive rebuild wouldn't be necessary. The perfect candidate would be a late model/low mileage unit that has been rolled and the body completely wiped out without serious frame damage. Cost?

    What wheelbase would you recommend for ramp back at least 16'-18' long?

    Any patch panels available? I seem to remember that a company in Michigan makes some for these cabs (1938-1947).

    Powertrain recommendations. I'd like to stick with a gas engine, and I prefer a Chevy big block. If I find one with a 454/Turbo 400, I already have a Gear Vendors Overdrive to use with it.

    All ideas, leads, comments, information, and pics welcome.

    Here it is:

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2014
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  2. Section 8
    Joined: Mar 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,050

    Section 8
    Member
    from AZ

    Wow, that's cool!
     
  3. Theo Douglas
    Joined: Nov 20, 2002
    Posts: 807

    Theo Douglas
    Member

    Wow,

    Nice score. Those are super bitchen.

    Good luck with it.
     
  4. IAA= INSURANCE AUTO AUCTIONS.

    COPART

    LKQ

    the last two are national salavage yards that have locations in all major cities.
     

  5. Bodacious
    Joined: Apr 4, 2008
    Posts: 286

    Bodacious
    Member

    Damn that fucker's cool! :cool:
     
  6. Section 8
    Joined: Mar 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,050

    Section 8
    Member
    from AZ

    No junkyard is going to let a perfect chassis go cheap. They know what they have.

    I'd pound Craigslist (use one of the national search tools).

    A relative just bought a disgusting tweeker castle on wheels with a 454 and a turbo 400 for $600. With the price of aluminum., you might get your chassis just about free ater a trip to the salvage yard.
     
  7. randydupree
    Joined: May 19, 2005
    Posts: 661

    randydupree
    Member
    from archer fl

    go to any large wrecker company in your area.
    i buy wrecked motorhomes from towing companys a few times a year.
    around $1500 for a wrecked diesel pusher is the going rate,here in Fl.
    also,down in Mo. theres a motorhome junkyard called Colaws,do a google,they will show up.

    if you want a gas front engine coach look on craigslist,lots of cheap coachs on there,they rot away over time,and most are low miles.
    look for one with 19.5 tires,they are a little more heavy duty and the tires last longer than 16''ers.
     
  8. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,176

    The37Kid
    Member

    Nice find! That is on the very TOP of my truck wish list. Wonder why some hot rodder didn't take the headlights.
     
  9. I can't wait to see that Lynwood on the back.....
     
  10. HOT ROD DAVE
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,467

    HOT ROD DAVE
    Member

    very nice

    watch the local police dept auctions as we have alot of wrecked, as in bodys, motor homes with straight frames you can get for a song and a dance
     
  11. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    Saxon
    Member
    from MN

  12. Thanks for the tips, Guys. Keep it coming! It looks like I'll look for something older and running for the right price, unless I get lucky to find something newer. Could someone post or PM me those national search sites for Craig's List. There was a thread listing them last week but it must have been closed, and I didn't get a chance to save them.

    I'm curious about the front track width of the motor homes and if it is narrow enough to fit the cabover without modification. I'll have to start measuring every motor home that I come across. It seems like the older ones are narrower than the newer ones.

    Does anyone have the name of the company that's making the patch panels for these old '38-'47 Fords? I think they might be in Michigan.

    If anyone missed it before, here's the mother of all threads on COE"S with lots of pics:

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=219018&highlight=coe
     
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,176

    The37Kid
    Member

    What is the reason for using a motorhome chassis over a Ford box truck chassis?
     
  14. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,537

    phat rat
    Member

    3/4 or 1T chassis with the motor set behind the cab is a good way to go.
     
  15. You can get practically free old motorhomes. Just search craigslist. I got an old GM chassis motorhome for free, engine missing, and very bad inside. Just cut and sledge hammered all the motorhome crap off and it is a 1-ton GM underneath. Using it for my 51 GMC.

    My 49 Ford COE is on a 74 GM 1-ton reg cab pickup chassis. Same deal, just stripped off the pickup sheetmetal and then had a full chasiis to work with.

    The idea to put the engine behind the cab is even more valuable with your shorter cab, if you want to make it low and have any kind of room in the pass compartment.
     
  16. I was thinking that the wheelbase of a box truck might not be long enough for the length (16'-20') of ramp bed I want, and I prefer a Chevy drivetrain. I don't want the rear wheels too far forward so I'm dragging it in a driveway. But then that's why I'm asking for any advice anyone wants to offer because I need all the help I can get!.
     
  17. That really makes a lot of sense because with the engine cover in place you have about enough room for just one of your feet, let alone two. A nice flat floor all the way across would be great. Having the motor behind the cab would allow for great access for service too. Doors on each side of the bed and a removeable floor panel above the engine would really let you get at everything to work on it. Another plus would be a shorter driveshaft with less hanger bearings. Would a crew cab dually chassis be long enough though? Are the GM motor chassis longer than the truck chassis? Does anyone have a listing of what was available or what I should look for? If I find one long enough I might have room for a sleeper behind the cab too.

    38Chevy454 - I've just started looking but haven't seen any usable old motorhomes yet but I'm sure there's something out there. I need to get my needs for the wheelbase figured out before I pull the trigger though. Any leads on a fairly long wheelbase GM chassis in the Midwest would be greatly appreciated.
     
  18. sdrodder
    Joined: Feb 8, 2008
    Posts: 509

    sdrodder
    Member
    from Houston TX

    man that is cool. Glad you saved it
     
  19. I forgot to mention that a friend of mine offered me a Cadillac 500/Turbo 400 RWD for FREE for this project if I need it. It came out of a running car, but I don't know how good it is for sure. What do you guys think of that vs. a BB Chevy or ??? Reasonable power, reliability and of course gas mileage are the criteria to consider.
     
  20. Might keep in mind that the 4L80E started in '91, so I guess that you'd need '90 or earlier to get the TH400.
     
  21. key thing by using a motorhome is the steering box is positioned damm near straight up and down, 90 deg. vs 45 deg. making the steering hookup less work. i located a fwd gmc motorhome chassis after i put a "wanted" ad on craigslist from a rv lot. that chassis is going under my 54' chevy 5700 (the one in my avitar). the guys kid damm near begged me to take this one as he explained that older rv's have limited value and the amout of work to get some back in shape labels them for the "scrapper". that ford will be killer!
     
  22. 55Dude said it, the market for an old motorhome is almost nil, especially one where the inside needs a lot of work. The whole frame is just light alum sheet over a wood frame, they come apart real easy. Just a lot of junk to remove, I filled up a car 16 ft trailer about 5 ft high. My only real cost for the chassis was the $85 dump fee to get rid of the body and interior junk. Plus a bit for gas to get the motorhome.

    Engine behind the cab is the way to go, I will do that on my 51 GMC. I am also using a 500 Caddy engine, they are perfect for this application. Lots of torque, get decent mileage. Most Caddy engines are so mild use they have no wear in the cylinders. Free is even better! Take it and use it.
     
  23. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,176

    The37Kid
    Member

    I bet the free motorhomes come with full holding tanks and empty gas/fuel tanks, correct?
     
  24. crashfarmer
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,274

    crashfarmer
    Member
    from Iowa

    I see Copart in Des Moines, Iowa has a bunch of campers sitting on their lot (I can see over the fence from my semi). I assume that they are flood damaged units from all the nice weather we have had this year. I don't know how many of them are motor homes or when they sell but I'll bet they go cheap.
     
  25. If anyone else needs them, I found the patch panels for the lower door skins, cab corners and lower rear cab at: northernclassictrucks.com

    Also I know someone that's looking for the '38-'39 oval grill surround and grill for his project. I had heard at one time that someone is reproducing the surround in fiberglass. Does anyone know who might be doing this?
     
  26. 48fordcoe
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 113

    48fordcoe
    Member
    from In

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  27. 48fordcoe
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 113

    48fordcoe
    Member
    from In

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  28. 48fordcoe
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 113

    48fordcoe
    Member
    from In

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  29. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,738

    Malcolm
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Nebraska

    A friend of mine has this sitting out in front of his garage.
    I'll find out if he'd be willing to part with it....
    [​IMG]

    Malcolm
     
  30. Yep. He lives 15 miles from me. I'll send ya a pm later....;)

    Don't overlook GM stepvans for a donor chassis(scrap the aluminum body and get rich!)....as well as <gasp> school busses:eek: I've got a 80something bus chassis that only needs a vertical steering box. ....and G30 vans have those.

    My 40 cab is going on an E350 van chassis, complete with powerstroke/auto....when I get around to it:eek:
     

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