was a a product of love and desire...
Now it is a product of time and legacy. The failure to accomplish
much more than a few wins over several seasons of disappointment, the
final race became inevitable. I am not a millionaire by no stretch of
the imagination, so after the money ran out, the fun had to stop. Like a
roller coaster, eventually the wheels fall off if the whole train is not
well maintained. Needless to say there was a lot accomplished during the
racing years. One of the good things was tools and knowledge. The
education gained was price-less no matter if there was a "graduation
ceremony" or not. That learning, in and of itself, made all the
difference in the world. Gary has a good job as a machinist and small
system fabricator. He does assembly work on systems used in military and
medical fields. That job includes operating a large CNC machine. The
hours are long and the work can be tedious but he makes a decent living
for his family. The mechanical background he gained while racing remains
in direct relationship to his mechanical skills today.
So what has racing done for dad?? Actually very little, outside of
making my life more complicated, racing simply forced me in to debt! I
mean, not debt like trillions or millions if that matters; just enough
debt that I will have to die with my boots on...and to me that is the
only way to go. Now, my wife, who I love dearly and honestly, I failed
as a husband, and in some cases I may have failed as a father...but that
remains to be judged by a higher court and order. I did accomplish one
thing...Gary understands personal integrity. That is, he honors his word
and stands by his decisions. I am proud to say, all my children are like
Anyway...that is where we end and
begin...racing was over and Street Rodding took its place in the "not so
grand" scheme of things. Gary decided to build a 1953 Ford F100. A
pickup...that story you can find elsewhere on the website. What I want
to do on this page is tell you about the '32 build I ventured into.
Gary and I have been collecting parts, steel parts, real
parts...not RE-MAN or RE-POP aftermarket items, I mean real 80 year old
"junk" (to most people) that many people would simply scrap for the sake
of a few bucks. Well that is not what Gary and I see at the local flea
market (swap meet). When we select these "gems" we do so understanding
that someone, somewhere, better than half a century ago put his/her
sweat and time into manufacturing these parts. Parts which, when put all
together, became a motorized vehicle. That vehicle served a purpose to
humanity. It may have carried mail, or school children, or a family of
five across the country to a new life. It might have delivered the milk
or a soldier to battle front. But for whatever the reason, it was a part
of our life's history, our American way. Some person was paid to make
this part and because they were paid, our economy grew and our cities
grew and our country became the greatest country on earth. The single
greatest economy man has ever known. That is why we, Gary and I, chose
to build using as much original tin as possible.
I got involved, again, because most of the "stuff" is stored here
in my home. The garage has all of Gary's tools and equipment that was
used for race maintenance. The gas and electric welding gear, plasma
cutter, grinders, chop saw and on and on are here. The compressor and
the blasting cabinet remain in the garage. So it only made sense that I
get involved. I chose to build the 1932. It was after all, the "not so
clean" stuff. The "more or less" junk that we collected. But, Gary
insisted I use the '32 CAB and Model "A" bed...this gave me the
incentive to take on the project.
Ok, building a traditional "B" model pick up can be hard to do because 80 year old parts are
less than easy to find,
but more than that, we are forced by law into consideration. The
Pennsylvania laws are tough enough, but remember, we are going to share
common ground with today's "politically correct" society. That
consideration is met when we take the build to the street. We are not
the only person who will pass over the same miles we do. We must share
our space with others. That means we must consider their safety along
with ours. For that reason alone...Gary and I refuse to build "RAT
RODS". In fact we detest the word and the general consensus that a flat
black car, out of the 30, 40 or 50's is a RAT ROD.
Wikipedia, a "rat rod" is a style of custom car that came from
many builders of the 40's. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Rat Rods are "fashion", but many of them are simply junk. Most HOT
RODDER'S began with a beater. I did at the age of 15, but that was not
where hot rods came from. In
reality as our WWII veterans came home from the war, they looked for a
diversion. Many of them were pilots, mechanics, infantry and tank
operators who had a vast wealth of mechanical understanding, but not a
vast amount of money. They wanted freedom, because they fought hard for
it and the motorized vehicle was a way to express themselves. These
military veterans, God Bless them all, did not coin the phrase "rat rod" any more than they
did "hot rod". Not until the NHRA was founded, did we actually
rod". The veterans built "jalopies". They "souped up" the motors, took
off the fenders, chopped the roof and lowered the chassis. These would
be, wanna be, real life engineers took the automobile, the Ford Model
"A" and "B" and made them go fast. They did not remove the fenders cause
it looked like a "rat rod" they were displacing weight; after all four
fenders and two running boards meant 300 pounds could be taken off and
the 80 horse "flat head" power/pound ratio went down. The lower the ratio, the faster the car
would travel. Speed is what introduced and developed the "time trial" generation from the salt deserts of
California. The desire for speed...not the desire for a "flat black car
body". Think about this...black was the most common color of the 30's
cars...who in their right mind ever thought "rat rod" had to be black??
The popular car for WWII vets was a model "A" Ford. Not because it was
stylish, but because it had a V8 engine. Henry Ford offered these
classics in any color you wanted, as long as it was BLACK. The classic look of the "three
and five window" Ford coupes of the early 30's has become the
traditional basis for the classic American Icon Hot Rod. No, not the
"rat rod". Damn that word, it has noting to do with our
home-coming vets, Hot Rod builders or the cars we create.
One more thing...real HOT RODS are not built from
kits and the "small block Chevrolet" was hallucination until the
mid-50's. The term "restoration" is not vernacular where hot rods are
concerned. Hot Rods are, in many cases only a dream...that is never
complete. I venture to say that there are not two of them alike.
So there you have it...I am 71 years old, and I build for the sake of tradition, and the
fact that I was part of that tradition as a teenager from the 50's. I
managed to excite that tradition into my son's lifestyle. Gary now owns
and maintains his 1953 F100 and a 1955 Fairlane Fordor. Both are FORD
powered; 351 Cleveland in one and a 351 Windsor in the other. The newest
build, the '32 (the '34 waits for parts) will also be Ford power on a stock (beefed up) 1932 chassis.
The "roller" will host a 302 V8 with a T-10 "toploader".
The "third member" of the drive-line is from a 1957 Thunderbird.
The 3:33 gears were installed "stock" in the T-BIRD and the Ranch Wagon.
However unlike the "nine inch", the T-BIRD used the 8.8" rear carrier in
a ten bolt 360 degree pattern. The "bubble butt"!!! I remember
when I was twenty years old, working for a Ford dealer, I swapped a 1957 Ranch Wagon rear carrier for the stock rear end in my 1955
Thunderbird. I installed a set of 4:10 gears in the Ford "pumpkin" (and
believe me these were round like a pumpkin). This rear axle assembly is
popular for the '32 installation simply because it is only two inches
wider than the stock banjo housing from that vintage. Spring perches and
radius rod brackets must be added in order to assemble the suspension.
We will use the stock '32 leaf spring arrangement in the stock
On to the chassis...this started out as a stock 1932 passenger car
frame. This one is straight and diagonals proved it to be within .25
across the entire frame. That quarter of an inch is very good
considering the age. I have seen some of the 70's GM frames that were as
much as an inch out of square after 20 years of highway use. This 1932
chassis is a damn good foundation. First we must box the center section
from front "X"-member to rear. This is where it all comes together.
Many of the early automobiles incorporated the cab into the chassis
as strength. The 1932 Ford was no exception. There was very little in
the center that held the "C" channel chassis together.
In fact these frames were very light weight and had no real stamina.
Just finding a decent frame that is 80 years old is amazing. Most all
builders today start with "re-pop" frame rails and build up from there.
On our budget, that is not possible!
How you build the center section is up to you. There are kits you
can buy, but the material is questionable, and they are pricey. Gary and
I built race chassis from DOM tubing with cross-members fabricated from
box tubing. I prefer the box tubing. Yes,
it adds weight, but today we can make that up in horsepower.
The center section will be built from two identical sub-carrier
assemblies that will be triangulated and tied together across
mid-section. First...we must reinforce the "C" channel with temporary
supports. Now we cut our "boxing plates" from 1/8 inch steel. We will
use four sections and insert them about 1/8 inch into the "C" channel
and tack-weld in place. Again, you can purchase the kit. It cost about
$250.00 shipped. But at the local "fab" shop I bought more than enough 6
inch by 48 inch plates for less than $75.00. As you can see the LEFT
HAND side of the chassis is boxed in, the opening will be where I place
the steering box. That will be a '56 F150 stock box with alignment plate
or I will use a "reverse" Saginaw 525 manual box from
Borgeson Universal. The 525 is a great
box for this heavy application. Remember that if you purchase the plates
in a kit form, you will be at the mercy of design criteria generally
drawn up based upon the SBC 350 syndrome. Besides, this is not hard to
do. The six inch plate requires very little cutting and can be
fabricated, aligned on the frame rails and tack welded in about five
hours. The actual welding will take another four to five hours to
complete and clean up. In other words, it took us a long weekend...with
much time to relax and not force the issue.
Don't get critical about your welds. Make sure you get good
penetration and push the puddle into the joint. We used .030 wire and a
Lincoln 175 mig welder. The critical eye will not care about the weld as
much as it will care about the art of the fabrication itself. The
engineering you put in the job is where the "gurus" will critic the
project. From a "passer-by" point of view...they will be less impressed
by fancy welds and more excited about the body lines, color, equipment
and the over-all appeal of your "street rod". Remember you are not
building a "Coddington look-alike" and "Chip Foose" is not going to sign
his name on your stuff, so get used to the idea that you are building
for yourself. This is going to be your stuff!!!
So, now we have a boxed in chassis with no front end and no rear
end. There are no motor mounts unless you worked that out ahead of
boxing the chassis as we did.
At this stage you should decide on your engine installation.
Will there be an automatic or manual transmission. Will the pedals mount
on the frame or will you fabricate an under dash setup?? Where will the
steering be set, up front for crossover or back by the fire-wall as
original side steer components will be used?? Knowing this will allow
you to mock the engine in place. Get this stage correct because the
placement will effect the location and design of the sub-chassis.
Setting the engine in place is important. Do not worry about the back
half of the drive train at this point. Make sure you will have steering
clearance and proper alignment to the radiator. The angle you are
looking for is about 5.0 to 5.5 degrees as you place your "smart tool"
on the intake manifold. The height should offer good ground clearance,
but still be low enough in the chassis to maintain front end stability.
If you are planning a "California rake" you must consider crank-case
clearance to ground. The Ford engines can be adjusted higher or lower
depending on the motor mount. I like the crossover installation. It is
far and away more stable. The crossover does not get in the way of
removing the pan without need for your "cherry picker". The Ford mounts
will tuck up under the engine so your headers can hug the block.
Remember that the 32 has less frame room than earlier Ford chassis. Most
1935 and up are also easier to place a Ford under the hood. This is a
challenge to use a Ford where a Chevy does not belong!! In this case the
T-10 is also out of place by the "run of the mill" design. The TH-350
automatic is so much easier to use...but oh so boring!! I know, Mustang
front end, fiberglass body...on and on...I
won't do that!! If I want top build a kit, I will select one at the
local hobby shop!!
OK, this is
going to get a little out of control...
The Saginaw Steering:
I am working on both ends of the chassis now. Trying to square the
car in and design a steering that will work with little effort and offer
me the least amount of bump steer and wheel play. That in general terms
means "screw the side delivery steering". For what it is worth...it can
be a major PIA because unless you are
T-32 spindles you face an issue. The best spindle to use is the 37-40
passenger car and truck spindle. These are shown here along with my
first variation of the steering setup. IN this image you see the drag
link mocked in using a 7/16 bolt. Hardly what you want to use. That is
because the stock Ford spindle arms are designed for a rod end that uses
a 7 degree taper. The taper on the '37 spindles places the DRAG LINK tie
rod end on the bottom up. However the RADIUS ROD - tie rod end is top
down at the outer point on the spindle arm.
This means that if you use "hair pins" or "radius arms" that are mounted
on the chassis along the frame rail, well the steering RADIUS ROD is
going to bind with these arms, or in serious cases where you have
lowered the car, the RADIUS ROD may even bind with the frame rail.
You don't want this to happen so you may be forced into bending the
spindle arm down.
This is a tricky move and if you do not have the proper expertise, don't
go there. There are a lot of videos on H.A.M.B. that will explain the
technique, but remember...you probably do not have a spare set of these
spindles laying around. There are other ways to skin this cat.
Note where I show you the incorrect placement of the RADIUS ROD...the
Heim joint is on the bottom of the spindle arm. Well that cannot go
there. The taper for this hole is DOWN not UP as shown for the DRAG
LINK. So, if you flip the joint to the top it will bind with the "hair
pins". There is a way around this. you can stand off the joint above the
"hair pin". This will work, but there will be some bump steer issues you
will have to deal with.
I will show you a picture of this, but I do not recommend you follow
this plan. Any time you angle a drag link or steering rod dramatically
you can bet on "bump steer"
(here). In some radical cases.
the steering wheel can actually be torn from your hands and you lose
So lets look at the issues for a moment. If you choose to use "side
delivery" steering, you will need to do some fancy playing with angles.
I mean this stuff can get real ugly. The best Ford side delivery
vehicles came from the 59-63 Ford F150. These vehicles used a very hefty
box that was smooth as silk. But mounting it into a T-34 chassis, well
that is a nightmare. Yes, it is doable, but the biggest headache you
will encounter is the PITMAN ARM angles and finding the proper RADIUS
ROD length. Most of these arms are long lost and there is no third-party
units, so you will be machining your own. Not worth the effort (period).
The other alternative is "cross-over steer". This uses a steering box
like the VEGA box mounted just behind the radiator along the left side
frame rail. In the picture here you see my Saginaw 525 manual box
located pn the left rail. The box is held in by clamps right now. I made
the perfect mounting bracket out of 1/4 plate. I used three 3/8 inch
sleeves 7/8 inch diameter with a 1/2 inch ID hole. These space the box
properly off the rail and allow me to hang the box just slightly below
the oil filter. The longer shaft of the 525 clearly offers better
alignment under the Ford cross member. The 302 V8 mock up block clears
the '32 frame rails with room to spare. The 525 box rests comfortable in
this location. The OEM PITMAN arm allows me several angles for the
RADIUS ROD, but I am thinking "outside of the box" these days...
What say if I manage to split hairs and add a center link pivot on the
DRAG LINK?? If I do this I can remove the "INCORRECT" link as shown in
the image previous. But first I must explain...I ma going to use Heim
joints on the LEFT and RIGHT side of the spindle arm. The proper part
number for this modification, when used with '37 spindles is: Allstar
Performance Bump Steer Kit No. 56284. This is a Pinto style stud
mount with a 5/8 inch shaft for the Heim joint. The taper is correct for
replacing Ford 7 degree rod ends with heavy duty Heim joints. They are
available at Summit Racing. I suggest these kits over any of the others
on the market. Don't ask why...simply take my word and eliminate wasting
time and money. You will need 2 or 3 depending on your setup. Word for
the wise...there is no kit available for
the stock PITMAN ARM off the Saginaw steering box.
will get to that shortly.
But before I move along...I must remind you that the 525 is a serious
steering box compared to the Vega Saginaw 140. They are a good box, but
if you are going to build with any kind of serious power between the
rails, go for the 525. The usual "run of the mill" SBC 350/350 "turbo"
will not over work the 140 box, but a 347 Ford "stroker" tied into a
Toploader...well all bets are off. You get on the juice and that "left
frame rail" is going to do some "fancy dancing". The 525 has been
cranked into some rather radical "hot rods" and it seems to keep those
"hot puppies" headed down the "quarter mile" on a rail. My choice the
525...or the 700, if you look for "power steering".
If this is a kit...go with the flow, but if this is a "hot rod" go after
it like a winner would!!
Lets get on with it. I believe I can eliminate the "bump steer" and
still allow the 525 and a RADIUS ROD in the stock position, similar to
that of a '65 Chevelle. Ford also used a Saginaw box in the '65 - '69
Galaxie. The steering arm arrangements are similar. The DRAG LINK has a
RADIUS ROD "tapered eye" located about one half way along the DRAG LINK.
This gives me a great idea. Not only will this configuration eliminate
the "hair pin" bind, but it will clean up the front end physical
The final arrangement is completed. You might want to consider this if
you decide to build. Here is the steering configuration and part numbers
that I ended up with. I scraped all the above ideas that
implemented using the stock '37 spindle arms. This just does not work.
You can chose between OEM spindles and remove the arms or buy the
Bell '37 spindles. I chose to cut off the arms and clean up neatly so I
could use a set of Speedway 3.75 inch dropped arms
(7022756). These arms
afford all the clearance I need for the hair-pins
connected to the Magnum 4 inch drop "tube" axle
Note: The Magnum is one heavy axle. It may not be
as traditional as you might want, but if you are going to use a big
engine, I would consider using this "brick".
What made this a perfect choice...I can use top or bottom 7 degree rod
ends or Heim joints. I chose the 3/4 over 5/8 Heim joints using
bump steer kits from Allstar Performance on both sides
(56284). The Heim
joints are Speedway (175-0527 RH).
I use a total of four Heim joints (LH/RH). The steering box is a Saginaw
525 with a drilled out (5/8 inch)
pitman arm from Speedway (91032552)
attached to a Heim joint using a No. 8 hardness 5/8 bolt. The pitman arm
I chose renders a parallel drag link to radius arm configuration (see
pictures). Remember that keeping the steering arms parallel to ground
and each other greatly eliminate "bump steer". You know, the nasty shit
that tears your arms off while steering your rod on a long cruise or
over a bumpy road. I will give you a better idea where to place your
steering box, as soon as I get the rear engine mount completed.
If you look close you will see the rotor setup that comes with the
Speedway brake kit (91031945).
This kit is easy to install and will certainly be required on those
builds that are going beyond 250 HP setups.
little HINT: The bearing sleeves will be very easy to install if you
place them in your wife's oven for about 30 minutes at 420 degrees. I
used my infra-red temperature gauge, when the sleeves reached 410
degrees I pulled them out and slid them onto the spindle shaft..."piece
Consider the engine location:
I modified a set of NAPA engine mounts (602-1152)
in order to set the engine in at the proper angle (3.3
degree to rear). Now I must design and weld
up the cross member for the back mount on the "top loader" transmission.
I have the correct rear mount now and I can build a cross member that
will be removable.
The drive shaft is also coming together. I chose a 28 spline
slip-yoke with a dampener that will receive a set of 1310 external lock
u-joints. At the rear, I will use the U-JOINT conversion kit available
2-0291) to tie a Spicer joint to a Ford
"wing style" flange. A friend of mine located the 1310 driveshaft and
yoke for me. They are available from most 80-88 Mustangs with 302 V8 and
should be reasonably priced. You will need a good "drive shaft"
technician to weld and balance the completed assembly. My shaft overall
will be under 28 inches long (drive shaft that is). That length is the
TUBE overall and does not include YOKE length (5"). So
I can measure up CENTER to CENTER from U-JOINT cups on the YOKE to
U-JOINT cups on the PINION FLANGE, I must properly set the rear motor
mount and place the chassis at ride height.
The rear transmission uses a stock "rubber" mount attached to the
output shaft housing. Basically it looks like a table and two legs must
be bolted to some kind of cross member. There are several cross members
available that can be modified for a '32 chassis, but all will require
adjustments. The pre-fab units all create the same issue. Most of these
are designed for a SBC to a 350 TURBO and if you are going all Ford, you
will be frustrated.
That also remains true for the prefabricated kits that you must weld
together. However, a few of those are available to set a Ford drive
line. But, in these cases, the engine choice must be determined ahead of
time. If you go with a flat-head, those chassis setups are different
from a "Y" Block and different again from the SBF family. The SBF in a
"pre-fab-big-buck" chassis sits too high!! These installations offer
plenty of room for headers but what you gain, you may not be happy with.
I was (too old now) a racer, and I liked my motor "down and to the
rear". Well I can't go back very far, so down is the only way. Creating
my own Ford small block mounts was the answer, and believe me I looked
at several mount types and no matter what, each came with some kind of
Well that brings me to the rear mount now. I have bounced
all over the place and by now there is no way to get back to a
chronological order, so just deal with it, please!
The one thing you should pay attention to is your level of skill. I am
not a genius like "Bleed", that would be Bob Merkt, but my fabricating
skills are not bad. So, along side my son, we can tackle most all
problems or issues that may arise. If you do not have these skills,
don't build your own chassis. The equipment required is expensive
enough, and paying someone else, well your wallet has to be fat and
over-stuffed. That is why most "hot rods" you see are KITS.
I needed a good rear cross member to handle the weight and continue
to tie the mid section sub frames together. I built one using 2 pieces
of 1 1/4 by 3/32 square tube. I fabricated the angle after setting the
engine angle at 4.5 degrees to the rear. I calculated this with the
chassis at 2 degrees. That would give me an engine angle of 2.5 degrees
when at ride height. The 302 will be naturally aspirated, so the
carburetor angle is critical (some positive degree to the rear). In
order to get the proper angle, I uses a small piece of "metal lumber"
and cut angles in the material until I found that 40 degrees was perfect
for both sides. I calculated a plate for mounting. and fabricated this
from 1/8 plate. I decided on a three point mount that will "bolt on" so
transmission removal will be possible after the body is on the chassis.
Remember this is going to be a 4 speed
and that increases design consideration for clutch linkage and shift
linkage. Again, this is so much easier if the tranny is a "slush
pumper". Don't get started, I have no time for arguments about
transmission types. I do know that "high stall converters" are no fun on
You can see the stock mount (1973
Cougar) sitting on the center section.
Those round tubes make a perfect weld filler for the odd 40 degree bend.
I have over-built the mounts so I can drill through the sub chassis and
attach the member. at three points with 7/16 bolts.
EDITOR NOTE: Did you know, neither Lowes or Home
Depot stock any 7/16 hardware? WTF!!
So there it is mounted and ready for us to complete the roller and put
this "pup" on all four paws. This must be done before we do the final
math on the drive-shaft.
This is a very important issue that must be covered properly. Most
"driveshaft technicians" are aware of the issues that can be
encountered when two inanimate objects, separated by an unknown distance
come together...disaster can be the result.
In the image to the left you see proper and improper angles for
driveshaft installation. This is not rocket science and not hard to
understand. Most novice builders will attempt to align the drive line in
a perfect "zero degree" plane. That is a very poor way to do things. Let
me explain: If you align the driveshaft parallel and in the same plane
the U-JOINTS will not rotate. The U-JOINT needle bearings will remain
static and fail shortly after installation. Like any bearing, these
"needles" must turn.
The proper way to insure rotation is to set the PINION and the
TRANSMISSION TAILSHAFT in planes that are parallel but not meeting each
other at "zero degree" (a straight line). Instead, draw two lines that
are parallel to each other. Using an angle finder, set the pinion at 2.5
degrees forward and the transmission shaft, through the crankshaft to
2.5 degrees rearward (same angle). But be sure the transmission "TAILSHAFT"
is not in the same plane. The further the two objects are from each
other, the wider that plane can be. But, as a good rule, never exceed
10%. For my drive line, the settings are 2.9 degrees (+ - 5%) on both
transmission and third member, however the drive shaft angle is 4.6
in the image above.
If your setup uses two leaf springs parallel left to right, you
will have some axle windup. Allow 1 inch of play at your YOKE and try to
set the pinion angle to a compromise. If you have ladder bars as I am
using, you will have less wind-up and less pinion motion. Set "slip yoke
clearance" at 3/4 inch. My tube will be 28 inches long, so my variance
will be about 2 inches front to back or about 5 degrees total motion.
If you look at the "blue" lines above in the illustration, keep a
number system in mind..."0" is poor and "10" is Very bad.
Good will be a "2" while "8" is bad. My drive line falls
into a "3 or 4" and that is more than acceptable.
EDITOR: I hope this helps you understand driveshaft angle and why we try
to maintain these parallel lines.
Here is the finished product...The technician at Point Spring and
Driveline here in Pittsburgh did a fine job. The price to shorten, weld,
balance and prepare the driveshaft for installation, was less than
Let me take this one step further. Most Ford axles
are offset pinion. Therefore if the driveshaft is in a poor angle
plane, it will not destroy the U-JOINTS because the parallel lines are
"offset" even though they are in the same plane. If the transmission and
the third member are "centered" in the chassis the driveshaft is angled
3% left, when looking through the crankshaft...the needle bearings will
rotate. In simple terms...look at the angle
alignment image above
LEFT TO RIGHT and TOP DOWN...compare it to your configuration. Look at
your angles from both prospective.
Ok!! Time to mount that steering box...to do this I had to remove
the engine. I could not do that till I had the driveshaft complete and
in the car. Now I can set my engine exactly. All I have to do is finish
the 302 build and drop it in. Everything will square up, the oil filter
and headers will clear the steering box and shaft. I have often stated
that you must build the "roller" first. The body will get in the way and
it is the one thing that can be adjusted to fit. The running gear and
drive-line are very important and should be lined up and secured in
place prior to mounting the body on the chassis.
The SAGINAW 525 steering box, as we discussed earlier, is a heavy
duty version of the standard Vega box that is so common. The Vega box is
great for converting SIDE DELIVERY early Fords into a more stable "cross
steer" configuration. The cross steer offers greater strength and less
bump steer. You will have a smoother operating steering using the
"cross-steer" system. The 525 boxes are far easier to find than their
smaller counterpart. Yes, you will have to do a little "shoe-horn"
manipulation, but when set properly it will satisfy your driving
experience, without hacking your '32 chassis into a pony car kludge!!!
In the picture to the right, you see the home brew 525 chassis
mount. It blends in well and was cut into the frame at a slight angle.
Look close and you can see this. I attempted to tie this into the frame
so the pitman arm would be 90 degrees to the drag link, while parallel
to the frame rail. It worked out perfectly. I used Heim joints (like
those on sprint cars) and large diameter aluminum tube. This gave me
very strong yet lightweight steering components; similar to racecars. I
prefer using Heim joints over tie rod ends. They are easier to maintain
and the joint shaft is 3/4 inch while tie rod ends are 11/16. Using Heim
joints allows me to use adjustable "bump-steer" kits on the ends. I can
adjust the "bump" up or down as needed after the car is finished. You
cannot do this with the basic tie-rod type drag link. You will also have
a little more clearance using the proper steering arms for your axle
If you are going with the stock axle and
ride height...this is all a waste of your time.
you look at the image to the right, you see the 525 in the stock
The sleeved bung is through the frame and a 1/2 in. ARP stud is threaded
into the box. Use an ARP nut to hold the box tight while you weld the
bung in place. The spacers are threaded for a small insert locking bolt.
This holds the stud to the plate and insures the 525 box will stay put
during the worst road conditions.
The bottom bolts mount through the bracket and hold the box at rest up
against the bracket.
The "bracket" was made from 1/4 inch flat plate. You can buy this
bracket at many locations on-line, but why pay $45.00 for an $8.00 item
you can fabricate in house.
Your steering should look like
As you can clearly see the box is located directly behind the stock 32
cross member. The height of the box was critical for two reasons. I am
using a Ford in a Ford, so the oil filter arrangement must remain just
above the steering box. I will use the short version of the FL-1, so it
will fit inside the frame rails and clear the box. The second reason
reason for lowering the box into the chassis was to keep the drag link
and radius rod parallel to each other and as possible to the ground. The
525 output shaft clears the engine crossover with 3/8 inch of clearance.
That is plenty when using the Borgeson couplers on 3/4 shaft. The
overall job took several days to complete, so if you decide to follow my
lead...take your time and measure as often as possible...then measure
again!! What you want is a steering configuration that offers you
smooth handling with a solid manual feel. The 525 Saginaw box is
perfect!! All you have to do is keep the links "out of bind". Everything
will work out fine.
Don't forget the king-pin stops!!!
Ok, the steering is done...the engine mounts are complete and aligned. The
rear axle is aligned and in place. The drive-shaft is complete and in
place. The center section sub-frames are all welded in and cross-members
are installed. The entire front end is done for exception...shocks. I
will begin the front shocks and rear shock mounts next. I have a set of
rear shocks that will work fine. I will order front shocks after I
fabricate the mounts. I have decided that I will convert the stock 32'
Ford headlamps to Halogen lighting. I will fabricate mounts that will
incorporate the lamp fixture and the shock tower in one piece. These
will be cut from 3/16 flat plate. I will build brackets that will be
"bolted" to the chassis. I may want to run stock fenders some day using
the stock '32 headlamp bar...so I do not want to hack the frame at the
shock mounts up front. In the rear of the car...piece of cake.
More to come...
I will get to this ASAP...watch for
updates...meanwhile here is a picture of the roller (8/26/14). Note how
low the block is in the chassis. This will be far more stable. The drop
axle is 4 inches. The rear ride height is stock. This makes a very nice
stance. The hair pins mount below the frame rail. This should help ease
strain on the bat-wings.
Images and more coming soon. 9/10/14
This is where it
Sorry for jumping around again and again, but this is how I build. I do
what I must get done and move to the next issue. I cannot afford the
"Boyd Coddington" aproach so I do this when I have the resources
I just happenned to afford the pedals, not the ones I wanted (over
450.00), I bought the ones I could afford. That means, and I knew it
going in, I would have to make adjustments.
all, there are a lot of these kits out there and none of them fit
perfectly. That is because they are designed to fit a custom chassis.
They are not designed to fit into the stock frame rails. They can't be,
because power brakes were not an option on the '32 Ford. In fact, power
brakes were available as early on as 1910, but till the 30's, the brakes
on domestic automobiles were mostly all mechanical.
The TCI kit I
purchased is universal for most Ford and others applications. The kit is
available under 200.00 and that can make a big difference when it comes
to budget builds. The pedal bracket however is short and requires
some adjusting when fitting these pedals into a "hot rod" that will
support a robust engine and standard transmission.
I first made
a small adjustment to the "frame mounting bracket". I cut it to fit the
side rails. I tack welded it in and installed the pedals after placing
the firewall floor pan in the correct location. However, when I added the engine block with bell housing, nothing
fit...I mean forget this setup, so I pulled all the parts off the
chassis and started over...this time with the block and clutch housing in place.
Remember I am going to use a "side mount Hurst shifter" on a "top-loader", so
I need all the room I can get around the bell-housing.
For my set of pedals, I tore out the sub frame first and mounted the bracket where I
believe it should be hung.
NOTE: There are no directions with these kits, so
you better be on your toes.
I used 1/8 steel plate to box my frame
rails, I can weld direct to this plate with out any issues. The pedal
mount bracket bolts to the frame bracket.
Here is an image of TCI kits available for under floor pedals. If you build using an automatic, well this is a
"piece of cake". If you are building a "real hot rod" you might find
yourself just a tad out of your league. The physical room between the
frame rails of a '32 Ford chassis is limited to say the least. The fact
that actually pinches in toward the front makes this matter worse.
I can not offer suggestions, in this case you are on your own, but I
will give you dimensions and location information that should help. I
will modify my "pedal stock" to fit closer toward the floor pan. I need
the room for my headers. I will say, if you can mount your pedals to the
rear you will have more clearance, but the longer linkage travel adds
another dimension for possible problems.
If you missed my "vibrations", well so did I...
get much time in the garage from October to March simply because it gets
way to cold to do much out there. In the past I would use a heater or
two, but that is impossible now...there is no room for a heater with all
the stuff I have accumulated.
Since last September, I have changed my lifestyle a little (a
little means I had open heart surgery). This Spring (2105) was a time of
rehabilitation and doing what I must to get back to some level of
physical ability. I was hit over the head after a recent "stress test".
I was told that I had a sixty percent level of blockage in my arteries
leading to the heart. I did have some symptoms of weakness, but I never
suffered a single cheat pain. What I felt was weakness in my arms and
legs, but outside that I felt good. The test displayed far more than I
expected. My provider explained the situation and I took my best shot.
The surgery went well and the recovery was a success. Now I feel much
like I did some twenty years ago. I still have some issues, but if I
watch myself and control my diet and exercise, I should be capable of
finishing the "32" project.
Preparing the wiring harness...
If you recall, I have mentioned several times that I have no set
pattern for this article. It is actually a series of venues that will
culminate in a finished project.
I was thumbing through a hot rod magazine (not Motor-Trend or Car
Craft) when I came upon an article about chassis wiring. The very first
photograph was that of some commercial harness designed for the "IDIDIT"
minded builder. You know, the guy with the deep pockets. The same fellow
who won't cruise unless the AC is working and the windows have "up/down buttons"
in place of cranks. Sounds more like the fellow who won't cruise at all.
Like, that is my neighbor across town...he leaves his glass wonder
inside the trailer between shows. But I digress again...meaning I don't
own a trailer and my shit is steel. We sold our trailer after we gave up dirt track racing; which
means, we have to build them for driving purposes only!!
In this article I also noted that each accessory had a neat little plug
and a receptacle on one end that one would use to connect the horn, lights
or etc. There was a wire for every conceivable accessory possible, but the
fact that these harnesses are available is neat, but who uses all these
connections?? Yes we need wiring for lamps, ignition and starter. We
must wire our gauges, but not all gauges need wired!! There are a few
accessories like the radio and heater. If we have electric wipers, we
must wire that circuit as well, but why do we need a multi-circuit
harness for a dozen or so connections? Well to
tell the truth...you don't!!
Vehicle wiring is not rocket science...
Now I will build each circuit for you
and describe a simple wiring diagram as well. Let's continue...
What you do need is a basic idea of the circuits you must control
and from there you can follow your nose. If you have never wired a lamp
socket, you probably will be out of your league wiring a hotrod. But I
am going to help you decide which way to go. Consider this, current and
voltage. In your hot rod you will be working with "twelve volts negative
ground". The starter is your highest "DC current" device. That means you
must wire the starter properly using a "starter relay" or solenoid. The
typical "starter relay" is shown here. This is the place to start (no
pun). Start your wiring here!! Find a convenient location for the
"starter relay" and mount it secure. Your battery location is important.
If you choose to wire from under the dash, you have two possible
locations to take...under the hood or inside the trunk. Some battery
cases can be mounted under the seat (not advised) or under the floor
boards. However if you have lowered your hot rod, chances are under the
floor is the last choice you have. The placement of your battery
determines the amount of "heavy current" wire you must use to get
"juice" to the starter relay and on to the starter. I suggest you place
the "starter relay" under the hood, in any case, because you will want
your charging system wiring to feed the battery.
First, let us understand that many circuits in the modern automobile use
a relay system. That means a low current voltage is under the dash,
while all the heavy current circuits are out under the hood. The low
current circuits operate relays that in-turn handle the high current.
That has always been the norm when it comes to the starter. But in a hot
rod build, traditional wiring just will not allow many relay controlled
circuits. Not to mention, it will take a lot of additional wire, time
and expense to modernize a simple hot rod schematic. You will use relays
for starter, horn and high/low beam operation. You may use a relay if
you are cooling your engine with an electric fan, but beyond that you
don't need a dozen relay circuits.
Let us realize that wire diameter limits current draw. Most all
automotive circuits can be wired with 12 or 14 gauge wire depending.
However, starter and charging circuits will require 10 gauge and battery
cable to complete the circuits. Keeping this in mind, you can off-feed
all other circuits from one (120mm) heavy battery cable. These cables
are available in black and red, starting at 60mm in diameter (use 100mm
minimum). In the case of wiring your "starter relay" you can use 12
gauge wire from the 12+ TERMINAL to the START BUTTON. Closing this
circuit, the "starter relay" will send 80+ DC AMPS to the STARTER (vrrooom).
Remember that your ignition switch is in series with the "starter
button", and it may be integrated into the "ignition switch" assembly.
In the drawing, you see the basic starter wiring diagram. You can mount
your circuit components in any manner you choose, but try to keep the
"starter relay" under the hood near the starter. This would place the
relay on the passenger side of the car. The longer the "battery +" lead
to the relay, the heavier it must be. I start at 100mm multi copper
stranded cable. The finer the strands the more flexible the cable will
be. You will need at least three cable eyelets (ends) Use the solder
type. Also use quality solder and generally clean techniques. Please be
Note: You can purchase pre-assembled battery
You will use 10 gauge stranded copper lead to the fuse block and to
(from) the charging circuit. I recommend an alternator. These can be
standard 30 AMP types or some exotic unit that resembles an old
generator. You can use a "one wire" alternator circuit. I will discuss
the charging circuit later.
You should tie your ignition system into the fuse block, or wire it
with the ignition switch. I prefer a separate switch for the ignition (MSD)
circuit. This allows me to crank the motor and charge the oil system
before I fire the motor. Many times these cars sit for weeks without
running the engine. I would rather not fire up the engine until I have
an oil pressure indication.
Note: Complete this circuit now and continue
You can test the starter circuit now. No, the engine
does not have to be in the car. Simply connect the battery and the
starter. Place the starter where it can touch the chassis and complete
the circuit to ground. Now close the "starter button", the starter motor
should spin. Ok, let us move on...
I have to inject something here...As
I think about this, many "hot-rodders" understand the basic premise that
automotive devices and accessories run on 12 volts DC, but do
they actually know what that means? Well DC stands for Direct Current
that can be expressed as "positive" or "negative". The "+" or "-" simply
represents the neutral or ground. All circuits, AC, DC (analog or
digital) requires a ground or a second conductor. Most technicians
reference "second circuit" conductors as "common" or "neutral", while
they refer the "primary circuit" as "positive" or "hot". This can be
confusing. What you want to remember, in a DC "negative" circuit,
current (EMF) flows from "negative to "positive" pole. The "load" is
anything connected in the circuit between the "-" and "+" poles. While a
No.1034A (12 V) lamp cares less how it is wired, a DC motor for your
"cooling fan" does. Automotive lamp wiring is basic and simple, but
wiring an accessory such as a "fan motor" will require proper "pole to
A word about AC or "alternating current"...DC uses two state
conductivity; that is DC has two poles, one pole to flow from and one
pole to flow to. AC on the other hand, has three poles, while we only
see two in our house wiring, the third pole potential is "ground". AC
flows from a "positive" pole to ground and continues to a "negative"
pole and back through ground. This is one "current cycle", and AC
"non-commercial" (single phase) applications use 60 of these cycles per
second (analog). DC has only two cycle states, one is ON and the
other is OFF. When DC is in one state, it will remain in that
state until acted upon by some other influence. AC turns itself on/off
120 times during a single second. AC peaks "positive" 30 times per
second and "negative" 30 times per second.
Note: AC dual phase operation still exists
today...in Philadelphia PA. Some early automotive alternators were dual
phase AC generators.
Next we will wire the lights. We need several circuits. The
headlamps (lo/hi beam), the running lamps (front and rear), the turn
signals (R/L) and stop lights. We will also need a license plate lamp
circuit. We will want dash indicators and interior lamps. We can wire
all these circuits from one fuse, but I prefer two. I will explain as we
move along. The headlamps require the greatest current and they should
be wired with 12 gauge wire. The other lamps can be wired with 14 gauge.
Note, we will use incandescent lamps, but there are LED replacements for
all modern automotive lighting.
Removing The 33-34 Firewall:
This is a real test, and a real
solution to the problem. The 1932 Ford "B" model firewall is a bolt in
stand on it's own unit that is very flat and simple to work with. Most
33/34 owners will tell you the firewall in a 33 or 34 can be a real
bitch to modify, but one has to remove it before any other work can be
accomplished. The process to remove is a "love of labor". The job is
very intensive and often frustrating. Let me give you some basic tips.
I am not a professional by any means...yes I have the
experience and I have been around automobiles like forever...but this is
one task I have never attempted before. It took a few days to consider
my approach. At first I was going to cut it out. Then I was going to
leave it alone and modify the firewall inside the cab shell. Finally I
decided that drilling the "gazillion" spot welds was the correct
procedure. I soon found out how difficult that was going to be.
First...don't ask me or anyone how many welds there are. I don't believe
it makes much sense trying to count them. No matter, there will be more,
a lot more, than you thought possible. Remember, back in 1933 automation
was not a pure science and so the amount of "spots" was basically left
to the welder. If your cab was built before 9AM there might be more than
if the cab was built after lunch!! It is just that simple. You must
train your eye to see them.
Note that the firewall in a 1933 Ford "B" Model cab extends out from the
shell opening. You can gain about 2 inches by moving the firewall inside
the cab. In my case this will allow clearance for the bell housing, but
I will need a little modification to clear the big heads. Since my cab
and firewall are in excellent condition (North Carolina car) I will
should be able to make the modifications and remain a decent level of
"stock look" to the cab.
I began by purchasing several 1/8 inch high speed Drill bits
Studer Industrial Tool
here in Plum Boro. I then began to carefully
look for signs of "spot welds" This was not simple because over the
years the welds have treated themselves and surface rust has many of
them hidden. It can be frustrating but you can follow a couple of
suggestions. Luckily you can see a few of them on the outside of the
shell. Start your drill, and make a center drill, try not to go all the
If you think you see a "spot" try feeling your way around inside the
cab. You may get a better idea trom that point. You can also drill out
to firewall lip around the shell. either way, make sure you center the
"spot weld" so the remover tool will work without destroying the cab
shell lip. Remember, you are going to re-weld these spots.
Now, after you detail your "spots" prepare to use the "spot removal
drill". These are simply 3/8 drill bits, but instead of drilling all the
way through, these will drill out the weld material and break the
firewall out of the shell.
The "weld removal bits" are available on-line from
Kester's Services. They have a website
and a store on eBAY. I purchased a package of three 3/8 inch spot-weld
drills. These things are great. They are American made high-speed bits that
will outlast cheaper tools.
I only used one to complete my 33 firewall removal. I do
recommend you buy the three pack, just in case you manage to break one
on a weld. The cab shell is rather soft steel so a good "high speed" bit
does a cleaner job ripping through the welds. The firewall is heavier
material and the welds have been built up and in some cases are
mushroomed just a little. Remember these old "B" cabs were farm trucks
in many cases and they took a beating over their lifetime. They had to
be built "Ford tough".
Drilling out the "spot" requires a careful touch. You
do not want to rip into the metal like a bear. I do not recommend using
a conventional 3/8 drill to do this job. you will drill holes into the
make a total mess out of your shell.
I looked everywhere on-line for a tutorial like this. There was none, so
I decided to write one as I completed my '33 firewall removal. The
project took two nights to complete. I did take my time...the job should
be no more than four hours by a professional.
Notice, I drilled into the center of the "spot" using a 1/8th inch bit.
This gave me a good center punch for the removal tool. From here it was
just a matter of drilling out what looked like "spot welds". Yes, I
missed a few (damnit) but that was to be expected. In a few cases I
ripped into the firewall when the bit caught a weld and pulled the drill
into the weld core. That can also be expected. You will feel this, and
when it happens, simply clean u p the work and be sure you removed the
After you have drilled, and drilled, and drilled some more...you
will begin to see the firewall peel away from the shell. This will
happen at the bottom first, but you are not finished. On some of these
cabs, Ford added a pair of horizontal supports halfway up the inside of
the cab. There will be two rivets tied into the shell and two along the
door edge. You must carefully remove these rivets. You must also remove
the floor pan. This pan bolts in to the firewall across the bell
housing. In most all cases, building a custom replacement will be
required. If you plan to set the firewall back, you will take some leg
room out of your cab, but I don't think it will cause severe pedal
cramp. We will look at this problem later...
You 1932 builders certainly know the advantage of the flat '32 firewall.
The fact that it bolts in makes it very easy to remove. But because it
sits flat in the shell side to side, it allows a SBC to integrate very
easily. My build will be all Ford...and so I have already made the job
harder than the 350/350 conversion. I will be using a close-ratio top
loader from a 1964 Galaxy. These came with a Hurst shifter stock. They
also had a very beefy main shaft and input shaft. These 4 speed boxes
are popular but a decent one can set you back some serious money. I
know I will have to squeeze in my pedal set. Building a 33/34 with an
automatic will be far easier. I have clutch and brake pedals to
fabricate into the cab, which I am already making smaller inside. I will
be using a SBF 302 CID mill with Ford Motorsport parts and AFR heads. I
plan to start with a 4BBL, but there will be three duces in the future.
Back to the job at hand, now that all the
spots are drilled out and you are certain the seal is broken around the
shell, you must remove the two in-cab brackets and the floor mount
rivets that are located along the base of the cab near the cab rails.
Cut off the heads and use the spot remover drill to clean up the rivet.
This will render perfect results.
Now you will carefully strike a flat chisel between the firewall and the
cab shell opening. The firewall will begin to break seal. As you insert
the tool use a small hammer to "pop" the spot weld. You will know if you
must drill more material. Don't become too impatient. Give this part of
the job some loving care.
work is completed the shell can easily be pulled apart and the firewall
may be removed. It must rotate up from the bottom into the cab. You
cannot push it out and you cannot simply push it in. If you lift up on
the center pull to the rear it will clear the floor pans and the side
rails. Simple to remove from here.
the image below you can see the seal edge for the cab shell. Note the
spot weld holes in the shell, but not in the firewall. We did not drill
the welds out, we cleared them from the shell. This was a very neat job
considwering that I am a novice at this kind of work. I have done a lot
of metal work in the past, but this was a first for me. I am 73 years
young, so most anyone can manage this easier than me.
The following images show the end result with the firewall out of the
shell. Now I can get back to where I need to be. I figure that I can
flatten the firewall below the upper hump. That way I can maintain a
little of the original look. I will be setting the firewall back about 2
inches into the shell. This should give me the room I need for pedals
and steering shaft to exit the cab at a comfortable driving position.
In the image above, you can see the steering tube opening. I am going to
maintain that angle if I can. Chances are that I will have to fabricate
a plate for mounting the steering shaft tube. The steering column will be from a 1937 coupe.
The two inch
recess will clear the AFR heads. The flat section of the firewall will
be trimmed to allow room for the bell housing. The big flywheel requires
a 164 tooth housing. These are higher and wider at the top than the 289
CID small ring gear version. I wanted to use an 11 1/2 inch clutch
Note in these images that the
firewall has a lip all the way around. I have not decided how I will be
reinstalling the wall into the shell, but I suspect it will require some
cutting and narrowing of the material around the firewall.
Much More to come...