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Putting a 32 Header in a 31 Model A w/Lots of Pics

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by D-Russ, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. A few of you have asked about how I grafted the 32 Ford header and windshield onto my A Vicky, so here's a brief explanation along with a few pictures to help illustrate the steps. I'm sure there's a thousand other ways to accomplish this, but this is how I did it.

    When I decided to build a hot rod, I was searching high and low for a 32 5W that I could afford. That's why my user name is DRuss32 – I was pretty sure I'd find one, but I digress. The more I looked for that elusive coupe, the more I became familiar with the details year to year on early 30s Ford cars. I discovered that in 30/31, Ford introduced the slant window. They had several of the features that I admired about 32s, like slanted and tapered A-pillars and flush fitting doors. Victorias, A-400s and some Fordors are of the slant window variety. I believe all slants were made by Murray, but Scootermcrad would disagree. FWIW, the body tag on my 31 Vicky says Murray Manufacturing Corporation. Anyway, since there was no slant window coupe in 30/31 (although that's an interesting idea for a possible future project) and I wanted only two doors, a Vicky was the obvious choice. And as an added bonus, I'd gain a back seat for the family. So I started looking and found one in Georgia.

    In my humble opinion, the slant window is a beautiful design, but the header panel above the windshield could use some work – it just doesn't flow. I've seen some guys run Model A visors on them – that cleans it up a little, but they still don't look quite right. I intended to change this detail even before I bought my body.



    So now on to the 32 header transplant. It turns out that the angle of the A-pillars and windshield on slant windows is nearly the same as a 32 5W or sedan, so that made this modification much easier. However, the width of the 32 header (and the windshield) is slightly narrower than the A Vicky's.


    The Vicky's A-pillars flare out slightly from the cowl, so with a mild chop of, say, 2-1/4 inches, they lined up nicely with the 32 header. I removed the brackets that bolt the cowl to the roof and cut the A-pillars 2-1/4 inches and then welded the brackets onto the chopped A-pillars.



    The Model A header was originally made up of a wooden block that was bolted to the front of a piece of angle iron that mounts onto the tops of the A-pillars with the brackets mentioned in the previous paragraph that are located on each end. There was a stamped sheet metal skin over the block of wood to finish it off. (BTW, that skin now resides on Scootermcrad's modified) The Model A windshield hinge was a part of the windshield frame and bolted to the header.





    The 32 header was different. It had a steel substructure, probably about 14 gauge, along with a few tack strips of wood to attach the top and headliner. The windshield hinges were bolted to the metal substructure. Since I saw no easy way to attach the 32 header's inner structure to the Vicky's roof wood, I decided to just use the skin off the 32 header in the same way it was done on the Vicky header originally. I drilled out all the spot welds on the 32 header and removed the rotten wood and inner structure. This made it much easier to hammer and dolly out the dents in the 32 skin.


    I then started to fit the skin onto the Vicky to check for clearance issues. I had to cut and grind away the front outer corners of the Vicky's roof wood, cut back a bit of the original roof sheet metal and I had to round the top front door corners. I also cut a big notch into the front of the Vicky's A-pillars to clear the curve in the 32 skin along with a relief cut to pinch them together slightly to match the width of the 32 A-pillars.




    Once the 32 header skin was fitting nicely, I took some rough measurements inside the car to draw up a pattern for the new wood header block. It would bolt to the back of the original piece of angle, but the top and front would be carved and shaped to fit and support the contours of the 32 skin and provide a place to nail the header skin on at the roof opening. It would also be the mounting point for the 32 windshield hinges – of course I still wanted the windshield to open and close.


    Since the rest of the wood in the car is red oak, I decided to make the new header from the same. To get the thickness I needed, and save on the cost of the wood, I glued together three 1x4 pieces and two 1x6 pieces. I then began the long process of shaping and fitting the two blocks. I have almost no woodworking tools, so I used my circular saw to remove the bigger chunks of material, and then used a combination of a block plane, a coarse wood rasp and a palm sander to work the header into it's final shape. After shaping the two individual pieces, I glued and screwed them together to form the new header block.




    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  2. The mounting points for the windshield hinges took some figuring out. I had to modify the original angle iron that the header block bolts to and I cut a slot into the header block itself for the hinges to slide into. I then made some support brackets to strengthen the hinge mounting points out of steel tubing and welded in threaded bungs to bolt the hinges in. This will better support the weight of the windshield. It was necessary to cut and taper the front piece of tubing, grind down the welds and shorten the bolts to clear the 32 skin. I then welded the support tubing to the modified original angle iron.










    Once I was satisfied with the function of the windshield, I screwed the new header block to the original angle iron and to the brackets that bolt the cowl to the roof wood. I then bolted the hinges onto the wood header and fit the 32 skin over the entire assembly. I first tacked the bottom of the skin to the original angle iron. Next, I started final fitting the A-pillars and tacked them together. Then I fit and tacked the back of the 32 header skin to the A roof sheet metal.




    The front of the 32 header and A-pillars have a body line that wraps around the windshield that the Vicky lacks. To fix this, I filled in the edge of the body line in the 32 A-pillars with a few heavy beads of weld and ground it into a smooth transition where it meets the Vicky A-pillars. I then welded everything solid and finished everything with the grinder.





    So what's left? I have two choices for the bottom of the windshield frame. I can use a 32 bottom or adapt the Model A bottom to the 32 windshield frame. If I use the complete 32 windshield, I will have to modify the top of the cowl to match the curve in the 32 windshield frame's bottom, but I won't have to engineer a way to attach the two windshield pieces together. If I use the bottom of the A windshield, I'll have to figure out a way to join the two windshield frame pieces, but there's no modification to the cowl. I'm leaning toward the second option, but the jury's still out.;)
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  3. Rolf
    Joined: Jul 23, 2002
    Posts: 1,832


    Great work, Druss. Looks like it belong there...

    I would figure out a way to join the frames, I think it would look more "factory"
  4. Very cool. Thanks for the how-I-did-it!
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  5. Greasy64
    Joined: Nov 1, 2008
    Posts: 198


    Way cleaner lines to the body. Great idea, great job!
  6. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way

    I have seen others try,... only a few nailed it, your's is one of the best, nice job !
    DylanHill1931 likes this.
  7. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,588

    from SUGAR CITY

    I thought about doing this on my '31 Chevy so thanks for tutorial incase I decide to go through with it. Looks awesome!
  8. very good job. Wouldn't it be as simple as mitering the bottom of the Model A windshield frame to fit the legs of the 32 windhshield frame? Or what am I missing that you'd even consider messing with the cowl?
  9. turdytoo
    Joined: May 14, 2007
    Posts: 1,557


    I like the attention to detail and I have been somewhat following this build for a while. I really like what you've done on the subrails and the header. Awesome work, it looks like it belongs there.
  10. Yes, I think it would be that simple, but the cross section profiles of the two are completely different. If I recall correctly, when the flat front of the two pieces are lined up, the window channels don't line up. My plan is to somehow adapt the L bracket that's in a 32 frame to the Model A bottom and go from there.
  11. ah! I figured it wasn't just as simple as butting them together. I wonder if wescott could get you a piece from the 32 frame that hasn't been contoured yet and you could contour it to match the A cowl shape. That is just an extruded frame right? I wonder where they source it??? Might be worth a phone call.
  12. Beef Stew
    Joined: Oct 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,253

    Beef Stew
    from So Cal

    Where the hell did you find a '32 header piece?
  13. They're not extruded. They're made from several pieces of flat sheet stock that have been bent and interlocked together, kind of like the way a few HAMBers have done their drip rails. I suppose the aluminum repop frames might be extruded. Thanks for the brainstorm – we'll figure something out.;)
  14. Ford Barn. $100.

    I've posted several wanted ads on Ford Barn for some pretty obscure stuff and found most of it including a 31 Vicky title, 30/31 Vicky garnish moldings and the 32 header. It's a great resource.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  15. Beef Stew
    Joined: Oct 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,253

    Beef Stew
    from So Cal

    Cool, thanks.
  16. Zombie Hot Rod
    Joined: Oct 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,451

    Zombie Hot Rod
    from New York

    That improved the look of the car by 100%, nicely done.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  17. That's really nice work, Dave.

    Looks kinda stock-ish, but better.
  18. B.A.KING
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,528


    gotta ask,do you tell folks its a late 31,early 32.change over model:D
  19. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,338


    Wow! I'm going to need one too. The one on my 32 5 window has seen MUCH better days! guess i'll post an add over there. Unless someone here has one they wanna sell for 100$ :D:D

    Very nice job on grafting the header on!
    That car's going to be slick!...well, it already is actually :)

  20. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,988

    Member Emeritus

    Just think, if Henry had just fast forwarded 1 year he could have put this idea on the '31's right from the factory. this is a vast improvement in my book. It gives the front roof a much more appealing shape. Good job!

    48fordnut and kidcampbell71 like this.
  21. nice!!! i love tech month!! great work!!!
  22. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

    talented basturd...:p
    pat59 and kidcampbell71 like this.
  23. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,180

    from Yakima WA.

    Dave, Great article!

    Please add this to the TECH contest.

    A couple of questions.
    1. Did you notice very much difference to the profiles of the different years tops? I always thought of the Model A top being fairly flat in the front. Maybe because the windshield goes up higher.
    2. I've thought of doing something similar, to a coupe, for a couple of years. Is there any real difference to the windshield posts, other than the slant? I think that I'm answering my own question here, because the coupe has 3 door hinges and your sedan has 2; so I' d probably have to get A pillars and doors off of a slant window for a modification.
  24. Kreepea_1
    Joined: Sep 17, 2007
    Posts: 448


    I've been hoping someone would post this modification. Thanks!
  25. myke
    Joined: Dec 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,134

    from SoCal

    Wow great work!
  26. 1 & 2. Slant window Vickys and A-400s are pretty different from other Model As because the roof height is about two or three inches lower from the factory than other As. The fordor slants have the taller roof height of non slant windows. See Scootermcrads build thread(s).

    If I was going to build a slant window coupe, I'd probably use the entire cowl from a fordor slant. The doors on Vickys and on a A-400s are the same, and they're several inches longer than a coupe. Remember, slant window doors are flush fitting too, so you may need to work with slant window doors and jambs.

    I didn't notice any major difference between the top profiles of slants and non-slants, but I haven't studied them that closely. However, after I put in the 32 header section, I felt that the rear of the top was too tall and square, so I took out a wedge section from the point that the quarter windows start all the way to the back of the car. I removed a total of one inch of verticle height in the rear. I have before and after pics if you're interested. This made the rear profile better match the new front profile.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009
    dana barlow likes this.
  27. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,180

    from Yakima WA.

    Dave, thanks for the reference to Scootermcrads thread, I'll check that out as well.

    I would be interested in the other pictures of the back and maybe even a side shot of your car.

    Thanks again for posting this.

  28. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,342

    from California

    That is definately what those Vickie's are missing....Nice!!
  29. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,483

    from Nebraska

    Great job! :cool: Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

    I agree - should be a Tech Month entry....


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