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Projects Tim's (aka anothercarguy) 1938 Ford Club Cabriolet Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by anothercarguy, Dec 10, 2020.

  1. Hi all,

    So, I've been debating whether to jump in with a build thread or not. I have typically preferred to enjoy scrolling through, admiring, encouraging or commenting on other's well documented efforts. That said, maybe this project could provide encouragement or insight that could help others and so I really need to make the effort.

    There will be a lot of quick looking progress at the beginning of the thread but trust me, it was anything but quick, I'm about 3 years in and anticipate another 2-3 years to go. The pace is more tortoise than hare, slow and steady, understanding all of life's other distractions. I pretty much try to not farm anything out so that too can make for a slow build.

    For background, I'm building this car for my wife to replace the '36 Ford sedan that we sold 6 years ago before we moved to the west coast. We've owned this car for 15 years but have known about it for over 30. When we first saw the car it was sitting in a barn in southern Manitoba. The owner at the time had 5 barns full of collectable cars. We met him because we were buying the '36 Ford from him. He was a great car guy and he proudly showed us his collection. After seeing the '38 we expressed an interest in it along with the '36, but he politely declined saying the '38 would remain in his collection. We kept in touch asking if he had changed his mind, but the answer to our inquiries was always the same. After he passed, we purchased the car from one of his sons (who also happens to be quite a gearhead).

    The '38 has patiently waited its turn to get into the shop including a cross country trek from Manitoba to BC. The plan will be: dropped axle, split bones, 9" rear, 283 sbc, tri-power, 4 speed manual super T10 trans, pretty much a stock body in black shiny paint, either a black or tan top Halibrand Sprint style wheels etc. etc.

    I'll start with a picture of the car in the garage waiting its turn to get into my shop...and one of the photoshopped versions thanks to @themoose on the photoshop thread. 20180112_153646_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  2. Next, I need to say that my shop and house garage have about a 100 foot elevation difference with the shop being located down the hill. The car has no brakes and my wife was not sure of my genius plan. I figured, gravity would provide the rolling encouragement and my truck would provide the rolling discouragement, my wife would provide the directional inputs...what could go wrong?
    Fortunately, the plan worked...and my nervous though ever willing wife's worst fears did not come to fruition.

    Once in the shop...tear down began.
    and continued...
    Some bolts loosened, some broke, others were cut...but after a long day the body and chassis were separated. I should add here that before the body was separated I spent some time fitting up the doors and once they were right, I added body bracing (re-bar I had laying around) to hold the body secure as the floor was weak.
    Then the same fastener drill continued until the running gear and frame were completely separated. The bare frame was moved onto my frame table where a center line string was drawn. After much measuring, it was determined the center of the frame needed to be pushed an inch (or so) towards the passenger side. Out came the porto-power and chains...some time monitoring the center string, carefully measuring and pushing with the hydraulics until everything was where it should be...and then it was tacked solid to the table so it couldn't move.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
  3. Once everything was where it should be...time to assess what we're working's a convertible...from mid there was rust. These photos are the passenger side rail, but suffice to say the driver side was equally eaten away.

    So, small bites with the side rails being first, I determined where the good steel met the rusty steel, cut out sections of the the rusted steel, made new steel replacement patches and tacked them in place, repeat (noting that the center string remained in place for constant measurements to make sure nothing was moving with all the cutting and replacing going on). For ease, and to take advantage of steel I had in hand, I worked in relatively small sections. Once welded, it becomes all one piece.
    20180126_163056_resized.jpg 20180127_133536_resized.jpg
    And then the top rail...weld solid, grind, blend, smooooooth and make repair invisible. Repeat on driver's side rail.
    20180127_162605_resized.jpg 20180127_164332_resized.jpg 20180128_140328_resized_1.jpg
    Being called for lunch...back shortly. ;o)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
    bchctybob, 40FORDPU, reagen and 22 others like this.
  4. Kiwi 4d
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,576

    Kiwi 4d

    Fantastic work , that is one huge patch. The sunny side of the 38 looked so good too. Is it rusty in the rear kick up double skins?
    loudbang likes this.

  5. Dooley
    Joined: May 29, 2002
    Posts: 2,964

    from Buffalo NY

    Lol that's how we got my 36 home from paint... Shop was on a hill by my house and we had no seat, or brakes... Had steering and gravity... Worked for us too. Looking forward to this build
    loudbang and anothercarguy like this.
  6. Thanks, the sunny side indeed looked good. My experience has been on "good" cars, we end up replacing the bottom 6-8"...on "bad" cars, we end up replacing the bottom foot. The kick up double area was fine. Most of the rust was likely from water ingress from the interior cabin (did I say it was a convertible lol).
    bchctybob, loudbang and The 39 guy like this.
  7. So, back from lunch (mmmmmm home made pea soup...she steers brakeless cars going down steep hills and makes home made food...a keeper of 36 years for sure!). Now, where were we...oh yes, here's a picture of the still to be finish ground driver side rail just so there's no doubt in anyone's mind that I did both sides (no shortcuts here!). Now, time for a sidebar...Knowing how well you guys scout pictures...notice the plywood box under the gas tank area of the frame? Very simple devise, wooden box made with a 16"x24" opening in the front (same size as a furnace filter), inside the box is a 3 speed house furnace blower and electric motor (I scavanged it for free somewhere) and then an opening on the other/exhaust side. Running this filtered fan/box while grinding, welding, sanding bodywork, rust etc. is amazing how much crap it'll pull out of the air saving your nostril hairs the effort of keeping this stuff out of your lungs. I use a coarse furnace filter in front of a finer filter stacked behind it. I blow the filters out at the end of the's shocking how well it works! Now that the public service announcement is complete, we return to our broadcast. 20180922_103105_resized_2.jpg
    Ok, next up...I want the car to be low. The dropped axle (a Henry original '34 I believe) that I have was dropped by a guy that was doing it as sideline in southern Oregon. Between it, and the reverse eye spring, I figured (with a measuring tape!) I may not be as low as I wanted to, I flattened the front crossmember to get that last inch ('cause who couldn't use another inch right?). I think it ended up being cut into 11 pieces... 20181031_103720_resized.jpg 20181031_105850_resized.jpg 20181031_105900_resized.jpg 20181031_123456_resized_1.jpg 20181031_161506_resized_1.jpg
    And then lastly, I wanted the front axle to be moved forward an inch and 1/4 (or 1/2, I can't quite remember). Again, my tape measure suggested this would look now that the crossmember was one piece again, I ground off the rivet heads and air hammered them out (it made lots of noise so people knew I was gettin' stuff done!). I slid the crossmember forward "one set of holes" and then plug welded it into place. Later it gets fully perimeter welded as well. I then cut, modified and welded the radiator braces so they fit the now closer than it used to be front crossmember.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  8. Next up, I decided I wanted to box the entire length of the frame to help make it sturdy (given the convertible offers no body rigidity to speak of). I removed the center crossmember (with temporary frame bracing holding the same shape), and rolled it outside for a round with the HF sandblaster (dry compressed air and filtering the media through a screen when filling the unit helps to prevent these units from clogging).
    I whipped up some boxing plates with strategically placed access holes cut with my plasma cutter. To ease access for tacking the plates in place I broke the frame free of the table and positioned it for convenience (I hate welding upside down, overhead, or while laying down...I have the burns on my chest hair to attest...I am a girly man, I'm ok with that).
    20181203_122445_resized.jpg 20181203_122609_resized.jpg
    Once the boxing plates were fully welded in place, the chassis was rolled onto it's back. The original crossmembers were trimmed to fit, welded in and the rear suspension/9" was put in place. This was the speedway rear leaf spring suspension kit, though strangely it came in TCI boxes and had TCI instructions. I didn't use the rear shackle mount that came in the kit. Instead I simply bored a hole in the frame/boxing plates and welded in a tube for the upper shackle bushing. For my friends and family back east, note the light and dark portions in the photo...see...we do indeed get sun in the Pacific Northwest! 20181230_124503_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
    bchctybob, reagen, HEMI32 and 8 others like this.
  9. So next up was the front suspension...and splitting the bones. I got the 11/16" weld in bungs and rod ends from Speedway. Cut weld, grind etc. thread in the rod ends and there was a lot of slop!! I posed the question here on the HAMB...and after much discussion, decided to re-drill the bungs larger, and re-thread them up to 3/4" (thanks @alchemy for that suggestion) and use some rod ends that I had left over from another project (that just happened to be 3/4"!).
    And then I set up the front axle. Of course this required heating and moving the front spring mounts on the bones to have them line up properly with the front shackles, figure out a location and mount for the steering box (a Vega copy), heat and adjust the spindle steering arms to clear the bones and axle, and make up mounts that collect the rear of the split bones. 20190207_101201_resized_1.jpg 20190207_101212_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  10. Next up...locate engine and trans.
    Which helped me realize I was going to need more clearance in the center crossmember area. I wanted to use the steel from the original just needed some adjustment. I made the same changes to both sides, and of course, this meant I had to remake the plate that picked up the rear of the front split bones. I've never built a car that I didn't need to re-do something (and sometimes many things!) along the way). Lots of room now.
    20190217_145704_resized.jpg 20190217_153358_resized.jpg
    20190322_121931_resized.jpg 20190322_121948_resized.jpg
    This was when I realized that my axle had way too much positive camber on the driver side after being dropped. I used some box tube I had laying around and chain to strategically anchor the axle. I used a hydraulic jack and my angle finder to bring the camber back into spec. I hadn't done this before, so it was a learning's surprising how much "spring back" a forged axle has before it bends and stays. I put the kingpin in upside down so the jack had something to push against, without distorting the king pin boss. It also gave a good surface for the angle finder to rest against. (I've since purchased a digital angle finder...that old plastic gravity swinger got pretty close!)
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
    Mr.Norton, bchctybob, HEMI32 and 9 others like this.
  11. joel
    Joined: Oct 10, 2009
    Posts: 2,480


    Some good work here; I'll be following this build.
  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 4,458


    I'm not following how the blower box works. Does all the bad stuff end up inside the box somehow?
    loudbang likes this.
  13. I think that pretty much brings us to the end of the chassis build for the time being...though the master cylinder and pedals are also mounted but I apparently didn't get any good photos of that portion of the task.

    I needed a bit of a break from the big picture stuff...and decided to spend some time putting together the tri-power set-up (assembled from bits and pieces of about 10 carbs and an old Offy Manifold all of which were sourced at the Portland Swap Meet, lots of reading about setting up tri-power carbs etc. I also rebuilt the Borg warner Super T10, but strangely don't have any pictures of the process...musta been concentrating too hard.


    So now it's time to hang the body back over the frame, but first, I cut out some of the rough and rusty parts, and added additional bracing to secure what was left using some old re-bar I had lying around.
    20191007_135143_resized.jpg 20191007_135202_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  14. All the dust and stuff gets capture in the furnace filters. The fan draws from the face you see, with the filters in front and blows out (filtered) of the side you can't see. I can take a few more photos of's very simple and works great!
  15. Thanks
    loudbang likes this.
  16. Gangrene
    Joined: May 22, 2019
    Posts: 64


    Very cool! Nice work.
    loudbang and anothercarguy like this.
  17. Thanks.

    With the braced body back on the frame, metal work began on the shell. First order of business was rebuilding the bottom 6" of the door post...but again, no pictures (doh!!). Then followed the passenger cowl and kick panel area. I should note that no commercial patch panels were used. All panels were hand formed and beat with hammers until they approximately conformed to the shape needed and then welded (sometimes mig, sometimes tig) in place .
    20191007_135212_resized.jpg 20191007_135233_resized.jpg 20191107_120219_resized.jpg 20191107_120302_resized.jpg 20191201_160300_resized.jpg 20191201_160316_resized.jpg
  18. And then the drivers side (tig welded)...old speaker magnets (Alpine in this case) work well as welding clamps.
    20191202_111730_resized.jpg 20191202_152133_resized.jpg 20191213_105544_resized.jpg
    I then turned my attention to the cowl vent. It had some real deep pitting that I decided was best to replace. This piece (the gutter area) was made with a hardwood hammerform cut to shape...and more time beating flat pieces with hammers until they conformed. Apparently I need to take another picture of this area welded and finished. I'm happy with the results. And, I had to make the same repair on the passenger side of the cowl vent as well.
    20191212_121514_resized.jpg 20191212_121531_resized_2.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  19. With the cowl mostly taken care of, I turned my attention to building the rockers and subrails that the floor attaches to. I don't seem to have pictures of just the rockers at the door sills, but trust me they are there. I also took this opportunity to recess the rear wheel wells, though you'll see later that I end up re-doing them.
    20191229_161545_resized.jpg 20191229_161554_resized.jpg 20191229_161628_resized.jpg 20191230_130621_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
  20. Now I had something that I could begin attaching floor pieces to. I started at the rear seat riser and driveshaft tunnel moving forward towards the firewall that wasn't there.
    20200126_115731_resized.jpg 20200126_115742_resized.jpg
    Followed by figuring out what I wanted to do with the firewall. As you'll see, I like to weld on the inside corners on the firewall which allows me to grind a nice radius and ensuring there is still plenty of meat in the area. I'm getting ahead of myself, of course first there was cardboard patterns (Ram board at the Home reno type stores works great for's used to protect new floor when contractors are building houses). The beadrolls were formed on my homemade bead roller which is similar to the cheapy HF versions with a bit of added braciing.
    20200126_115625_resized.jpg 20200126_115632_resized.jpg 20200127_154204_resized.jpg 20200129_133730_resized.jpg 20200129_133745_resized.jpg 20200129_160738_resized.jpg 20200129_160831_resized.jpg
  21. Now, there is somewhere for the front of the floor to next up floor panels.
    20200206_160128_resized.jpg 20200210_145015_resized.jpg 20200210_145042_resized.jpg
    And the quarter panel patches for both sides...the floor was plug welded with the mig, the quarters were tig welded in order to aid metal finishing. The quarter panel patches got a slight roll/shaping on the English wheel, and some flanges along the lower edge that were folded with the brake.
    20200217_144119_resized.jpg 20200217_144200_resized.jpg
    If you look at the bottom of the quarter patch in the last picture, there are 3 small raised areas. I hand punched 3 mini louvers for drainage (open side of the louver to the rear).
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  22. We're moving right along here...I should say that in the not too distant future, this thread is going to significantly slow to real time. That said, next up was the continuation of the floor toward the rear. This required the replacement of the sub-rail. So, I removed the old wheel well in the area and ended up replacing it with new steel. The flange is 18 gauge steel folded on the brake and then run through the hand (foot) operated shrinker/stretchers until it was close to the shape needed. Again, plug welds are mig, others are tig.
    20200229_163311_resized.jpg 20200229_163337_resized.jpg 20200229_163354_resized.jpg 20200316_105600_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  23. As I was working towards the rear anyway, now seemed to be a good time to remove the rear of the car. This gave better access for the floor replacement and allowed me to cut apart the tool tray to see what I was up against there. I decided it was better to replace than repair it. I decided to include a floor access panel for the gas tank sender.
    20200323_144635_resized.jpg 20200323_144640_resized.jpg 20200326_130333_resized.jpg 20200327_161748_resized.jpg 20200327_161806_resized.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2021
  24. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,144


    Wow! Some great fabrication going on here! Nice job so far.
    AmishMike, loudbang and anothercarguy like this.
  25. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 3,378


    Nice job, I think most people would have looked for another frame. Look forward to see it move forth.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  26. 40ragtopdown
    Joined: Jan 13, 2015
    Posts: 25,958


    Great work thanks for sharing. That's going to be one nice rag top.
  27. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 2,058

    J. A. Miller
    from Central NY

    Nice '38 ragtop! We don't see any in any body style around here. Great work on all the fabrication. You mentioned body rigidity at one point, Ford convertibles of this era used one gauge heavier steel for the chassis than the closed cars - I think 10 gauge vs 11 gauge. Same with the pickups. Also these brackets are convertible specific they help tie the A pillars to the frame and crossmember:
  28. Thanks guys.

    Thanks for that info and the kind words. I removed those little brackets (not realizing they are convertible specific...doh!). I'll hope that the boxed rails more than make up for them not being there any longer.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
    bchctybob, loudbang and The 39 guy like this.
  29. Carrying on with our story...while the tail pan and tool tray looked pretty good in place, once they were off the car, and apart their true conditions became clearer. This is just a few of the problem areas noted.
    20200412_105628_resized.jpg 20200412_105637_resized.jpg 20200412_110030_resized.jpg
    Hence the decision to start over on the tool tray etc.
    20200427_120256_resized.jpg 20200427_120305_resized.jpg
  30. cjtwigt
    Joined: Dec 23, 2017
    Posts: 148


    Great fabrication skills! Thank you very much for sharing your build with us. I’ll eagerly wait to see your updates despite ‘em coming less frequently.

    Awesome stuff!


    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.

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