Register now to get rid of these ads!

Projects The Thomas Rocket Car Restoration

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by mramc1, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    I haven't posted in a while as I have been busy and didn't know how all the picture hosting was going to pan out. This is my first post using the direct uploading so I hope it works okay. Anyway this is build thread for the Thomas Rocket Car, or Car of Tomorrow as it was originally called, designed and built by Charles Thomas in Batavia, NY from 1936-1938.

    rocket-115.jpg

    Here is the car as it appeared in 1941. The car is a completely hand fabricated 2-door sedan. It has unibody construction, 4 wheel independent suspension, dual master cylinders, four fender skirts, a periscope on the roof, hydraulic brakes, and a full belly pan. The design for this car was the thesis of Charles Thomas for his graduation from the GM Institute in 1935. The engine was a '36 Ford flathead with Ford 3 speed. The front suspension is custom independent swing arm using coil springs, the ends of a '36 Ford axle, some sort of pieced together hydraulics and '36 drums. The rearend is also independent created from a '36 banjo, custom half shafts, and swing arms with coil springs.

    Here are a couple of news stories on the car work has begun in the last two years.

    http://www.thebatavian.com/taxonomy/term/10033

    I have been doing all the underside metal repair on the car at my home shop. Eventually the car will be restored and donated to the city of Batavia, NY to be on display for all to see.

    To say this car was rusty in an understatement. I have had to replace the entire belly pan, trunk floor and wheel wells, floor, rockers, lower quarters, and lower doors.

    rocket-001.jpg

    Here is the day it arrived.

    rocket-002.jpg

    rocket-003.jpg
    I started with the trunk floor and worked my way forward.

    I have also documented the full metal work on Instagram at #thomasrocketcar and on my YouTube page. Here is the playlist.

     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
    tb33anda3rd, slim38, AHotRod and 16 others like this.
  2. Chappy444
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 1,113

    Chappy444
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Maryland HAMBers

    Thank you for saving this car.
    Chappy
     
    Hnstray and chryslerfan55 like this.
  3. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,225

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    Wow … looks like the inspiration for the Saab 92 … wonder if Special Interest Autos knew about this one.
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  4. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    I have a ton of pictures and will put some of them in an album called Thomas Rocket Car under my username. Here is the trunk as I started.

    rocket-050.jpg

    rocket-052.jpg

    I started by framing the rear pan and trunk area in angle.

    rocket-058.jpg

    Next came the sides of the trunk area that hold the fuel tank. All bead rolling matches original lines on the car.

    rocket-065.jpg

    rocket-066.jpg

    rocket-076.jpg

    Next I moved on to the rear firewall area and made some bracing.

    rocket-083.jpg
    Starting to cut rust out.

    rocket-094.jpg

    Here is look at the underside. The rearend is '36 banjo, custom half shafts, wide 5 drums with handmade hydraulics, swing arms that mount into floor and GM shocks. Remember this car was built in '36 to '38 before Ford was using hydraulic brakes!
    rocket-099.jpg

    YouTube Rocket Car playlist.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5fFr_sm74j9gz-leSaX9Alw90zV4TV8D
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018

  5. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    After reinforcing the spring tower I was able to remove the rear wheel well. Not too much left.

    rocket-113.jpg

    rocket-114.jpg

    My friend Chad helped do the bead rolling on a manual old Eastwood unit.

    rocket-122.jpg

    Framing the well with some angle made on a Harbor Freight brake and old Eastwood shrinker/stretcher.
    rocket-116.jpg

    Tops of the well in 18 ga.

    rocket-120.jpg

    rocket-121.jpg

    And welded in.

    rocket-127.jpg

    rocket-125.jpg

    Here is the replication of the angle iron bracing.

    rocket-130.jpg

    Throw on a little primer and it looks mint!

    rocket-133.jpg

    rocket-134.jpg

    Then onto the driver's side.

    rocket-156.jpg

    YouTube Rocket Car playlist.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5fFr_sm74j9gz-leSaX9Alw90zV4TV8D
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  6. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,161

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Wow! Big job, but it looks like you're certainly up to it.:cool:
     
    Hnstray likes this.
  7. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    With the rear end dialed in I moved onto the trunk firewall. Here is the first panel out of the bead roller.

    005.jpg

    006.jpg

    007.jpg

    Moving onto the passenger rocker and some door bracing.

    rocket-044.jpg

    rocket-049.jpg

    And then onto the driver's side.

    rocket-135.jpg

    rocket-136.jpg

    rocket-139.jpg

    rocket-143.jpg

    With the rockers done it was time to hack out the floor!

    rocket-017.jpg

    009.jpg

    024.jpg

    019.jpg

    Uh oh. No turning back now!

    027.jpg

    032.jpg

    033.jpg

    More to come...

    YouTube Rocket Car playlist.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5fFr_sm74j9gz-leSaX9Alw90zV4TV8D
     
  8. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,966

    pitman

    Yee Gods, master of TinFlea infestations!
    Incroyable! Pardone my Francais pauvre.
     
    Stogy and brad2v like this.
  9. doug j
    Joined: Jan 21, 2018
    Posts: 12

    doug j

    Real cool car,I like the look.great work!
     
  10. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,487

    Squablow
    Member

    Great metalwork so far and neat story about an historically interesting custom build. Looking forward to seeing more.
     
    Stogy and chryslerfan55 like this.
  11. Bugguts
    Joined: Aug 13, 2011
    Posts: 662

    Bugguts
    Member

    Wow! When you said rusty, you meant RUST!
    Very cool that your bringing it back from the dust. Good job!
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  12. VANDENPLAS
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,603

    VANDENPLAS
    Member

    Neat car!
    Some pretty great metal fab. Read the history on it cool car !
     
    Hnstray and chryslerfan55 like this.
  13. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 16,688

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Cool stuff...That was right at the same time the Phantom Corsair was debuting and it shares similarities...Great job your doing @mramc1...a look forward to your progressing adventure.
     
  14. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,583

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Great back story and wonderful photos. Thanks so much for posting. Subscribed for future updatse!

    Ray
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  15. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,462

    BJR
    Member

    It sure looks like the right person got this car. You are doing a wonderful job, please keep posting.
     
    chryslerfan55 and Atwater Mike like this.
  16. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Way ahead of it's time.
     
    Stogy and Atwater Mike like this.
  17. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,242

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Hambsters stand honored. This is a feat that just wouldn't have happened if not in the right hands. But it's happening. Right. And...Quick!
     
    Stogy likes this.
  18. bobbytnm
    Joined: Dec 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,367

    bobbytnm
    Member

    Holy cow! what an interesting project. Thanks for taking time to document the process. You're doing a great job

    Bobby
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  19. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    Began the floor/bellypan reconstruction with a new 1 x 3" spine. You can see how the floor was designed to mimic an airplane wing.

    rocket-178.jpg

    rocket-179.jpg

    rocket-180.jpg

    Corner supports for the torque tube tunnel.

    rocket-182.jpg

    Here I am starting the main inner rails. Originally all sheet metal channel I am replacing everything with square tubing. I think it will be stronger, easier to work with.

    rocket-184.jpg

    Starting to frame out the driver's side structure.

    rocket-187.jpg

    rocket-188.jpg

    rocket-189.jpg

    Here is the passenger side starting to fill in as well. rocket-193.jpg

    Here you can see the structure for the torque tube tunnel.

    rocket-194.jpg

    rocket-196.jpg

    rocket-197.jpg

    Here are the bead rolled panels for the torque tube tunnel.

    rocket-202.jpg
     
  20. 62rebel
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 2,768

    62rebel
    Member

    To undertake handbuilding a car unibody from scratch in 1935 is incredible IMHO. Your restoration of it is amazing.
     
    Stogy likes this.
  21. oldandkrusty
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,101

    oldandkrusty
    Member

    Josh, I'm speechless! The work you and the guys are doing is just friggin' awesome. Keep on hammering, my friend.

    John
     
    chryslerfan55 and Stogy like this.
  22. goatboy
    Joined: May 9, 2009
    Posts: 617

    goatboy
    Member
    from kansas

    wow glad youre doin it !!!! I woulda let that one stay in da junkyard !!! lol
    good luck, looks like you have a ton of talent to pull it off, will watch
     
  23. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 16,688

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    009.jpg

    I would like to alert everyone who works on old cars...

    This is not to alarm but just be aware that some of the stuff they used may have contained asbestos...when I saw this pic thats the first thing I thought...now I could be wrong...

    Asbestos isn't nessesarily a threat but when its upset and broken apart the danger exists.

    It was also used in vintage brake shoes and probably clutch discs...

    It can and should be treated and safely removed and should be replaced with another type of material if possible.

    It is truly dangerous and if it is and is still in your shop I think they wet it down and wrap it in heavy plastic and seal/encapsulate it to dispose of.

    This is in respect to you and the membership as I want you all to live long and free of terrible things caused by love of an old car....

    One other thing is if you don't know what it is assume it may have rather than not...it may save your life.

    @mramc1 I did watch your video and you identified this as a heat shield only...again we must be very careful of things we encounter. I was glad to see you at least wearing a dust mask and some other protective equipment. That thing was built like a plane you are correct.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  24. cederholm
    Joined: May 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,621

    cederholm
    Member

    Amazing work!
     
  25. Extremely nice work on saving a unique piece of automotive history. HRP
     
    nochop and chryslerfan55 like this.
  26. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    It's not actually exhaust. It's a rear seat heater to duct air from an exhaust heat exchanger to under the rear seat. The checkerboard pattern in little strips of copper wrapped around asbestos wrapped around wire mesh. So yes, the air being piped into the rear of the car probably contained asbestos fibers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
    chryslerfan55, Stogy and flatford39 like this.
  27. mramc1
    Joined: May 26, 2006
    Posts: 418

    mramc1
    Member

    Thanks for pointing this out. I didn't mention it to not muddy the waters, but I guess it is important. So I didn't have the white stuff tested, but I am almost sure that being built in 1936, before an knowledge of asbestos being bad for you, that that stuff was probably "hot." I work where they have an asbestos remediation program so I treated the insulation as it was asbestos. I watered it down really well, removed it with as little disturbance as possible, wore gloves, throw away clothes, a respirator, and double bagged it all in asbestos bags which were disposed of properly.

    This was all done before any grinding was done to make the stuff friable. Thanks for bringing it up though as some people are probably unaware that there can be unforeseen dangers while working in the old car hobby.
     
  28. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,195

    woodbutcher
    Member

    :D Very nice.I`ll saddle up and go along for the ride.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
    Leo
     
    chryslerfan55 and Stogy like this.

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.