1963 Unibody For Sale

 

Twin turbo charged big block 427. Over 1000 hp, for real. This thing is fast. The below pictures are all current.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a slideshow of the build.

 

List of details:

  • Chassis includes my Dodge Dakota based front suspension with tubular control arms and needle bearing upper cross shaft pivots. Lower arms are tube with Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings, MOOG ball joints, TRW Coil springs (Full height) with plenty of room to lay frame if you were to change to air bags. Airbagit dropped Dakota spindles with my tie rod drops to eliminate bumpsteer, Bilstein shocks, Custom fabricated 1.25″ 4340 Anti Roll bar.
  • Wheels and Tires, Currently has American Racing Torque Thrust II 17-8.5″ on the front with a Yokohama 255/40-17 tire and the rear is a 17-9.5″ with Nitto 555R 275/40-17 Drag Radials. I have an alternative set of Chrome steel wheels. These were built by Rally America and have 49-50 Ford 16″ wheel centers with 16-6″ wheel bands and the rear is 53-54 Ford wheel centers with 8″ wheel bands. Very nice chrome, have a bad set of Riken tires on the front that need to be replaced. The rears have Nitto 555R 275/65-15 tires. Both sets of wheels are included.
  • Engine is very stout. Consists of a 1989 GM 454 block. Stock 4 Bolt Main with ARP stud and bolt kit. Callies Dragonslayer forged 4340 crank, internally balanced and 3.76″ Stroke (427). Bore is 0.040″ Over and has Probe Turbo pistons, Skirts are teflon coated and have the crowns ceramic coated. Rods are Scat H-Beam with upgraded ARP hardware. Fluiddamper. New SFI rated Steel lightweight McLeod flywheel and Ceramic Street Twin clutch (easy to drive and not hard to push) activated by an externally mounted CNC brand slave cylinder and new Stainless Steel lined CNC master cylinder. Heads are Brodix BBO with mild port work, Cometic MLS head gaskets and exhaust gaskets. ARP Head bolts. Cam is a custom grind from Cam Motion (data sheet available) 288 duration at .050 and .640″ Lift. ISKY hydraulic roller lifters. Comp Pushrods. New Ferrea 2.25″ Stainless intakes, Inconel Exhaust. New Valve Springs and Lightweight retainers. Jessel Shaft mounted rocker arms, Jessel Belt drive timing set. Vintage Air FrontRunner drive system with Power Steering and AC. Intake is an Accel StealthRam and uses Accel DFI computer with wide band O2.
  • Headers are custom built 2″ Primary with 1/2″ flanges and V-bands throughout. The headers are Jet Hot coated. Turbos are Powermaster T70 and wastegates are TiAl 44mm and currently running 15# of boost. Under 2800 RPM drives like a normal rowdy Big Block, past that you better be ready. The rest of the exhaust system is 3″ and has Magnaflow mufflers. Sounds healthy but not overly loud.
  • Drivetrain. Transmission is a Tremec 3350 TKO Five Speed with the forward shifter installed. Driveshaft is a 4″ aluminum piece with 1350 U-joints on both ends. Rear axle is a stock housing 9″ to the truck, but is girdled and has a Strange Aluminum carrier with Daytona style pinion carrier. Strange 3.50 gear set on a Detroit True Trac differential. Strange/Currie 31 spline axles and Baer rear disc brakes. Suspension is a 4130 Torque arm set up with a panhard rod. Transverse leaf and Bilstein shocks.
  • Fuel system is a fabricated aluminum tank, Holley Dominator fuel pump, Aeromotive fuel filters.
  • Body work is mostly metal finished. Mods include the 1963 Mercury grille narrowed to fit within the F100 opening. Custom fabricated front bumper, and chrome grill surround. Front opening hood, shaved drip rails and rounded door corners. Dash has filled glove box and ash tray. Fuel filler and stake pockets filled. Body seams welded and filled. Paint is old, it is in need of a respray at this point. It’s House of Kolor Organic Green candy over Orion Silver base with touches of heavy sliver flake.
  • Interior, ’64 Thunderbird seats on custom platforms. Center console is actually the subwoofer box and a custom fabricated arm rest to disguise it. Arm rest flips up for storage and charging ports. Has a Kicker 3 channel amp, custom fabricated aluminum kick panel pods with Polk coaxial speakers. No head unit, just use an MP3 Player or if your phone still has a headphone jack, plug in and enjoy. Flaming River polished Stainless Steel Steering column and Moon metalflake steering wheel. Vintage Air Gen III 4 Vent AC/Heat/Defrost tucked up under the dash.

This is by no means a show winner, it gets used regularly. Reliable and road trip worth. Very comfortable to drive long distance, handles very well.

 

Putting up Customer Rides

I have a page dedicated to customers that have used our product. HERE

If you would like me to add you to the list, send me some pictures and a description of your build. Anything from K-member legs, brake kits or full chassis builds are welcome.

Customer ride for sale: 1930 Plymouth Rat

Our bud Rick is selling his car and moving to Thailand, yes that place. We saved this rat’s nest from a sketchy death machine into a usable, daily driven art piece. I figured a post was due to give him a hand in exposing his sale, and interesting car from a good guy. IMG_20121210_163343

Check out his Ebay advert, CLICK HERE

1957 Oldsmobile build

Latest out of the shop is Ray Castor’s 1957 Oldsmobile. Ray brought us this car last year just before we got really deep into the 51 Chevy PU For Metro AA. It initially came in for some front suspension work. As we are to understand this car was purchased from Desert Valley Auto, same guys with the TV Show. It had already been sand blasted, painted and subframed with an early 80’s GM full-size clip. Most likely an Oldsmobile because ray told us it had an Olds 455 in it. He found a 1958 Olds 371 J2 engine and trans, had it rebuilt and installed by yet another shop. The problem came when he went to put his tires on it, they didn’t fit under the fenderwell very well at all. The tires actually stuck outside the fenders by a half inch or so and the front crossmember was less than 2″ off the ground.

Notice the hood fitment and tire locations.

 

So the first thing to determine was what condition the car was in and what we could do to fix the botched front clip installation. On tear down things became very evident that the persons installing the clip made more than a few mistakes besides choosing the wrong clip for the car.

The entire clip besides being mounted very low on the chassis, was off center a bit and the right side spindle was a full inch behind where it should be as well as being a few degrees off, lower on the Left side. You can see just how high the engine was placed in the chassis. So high in fact that the installer trimmed the upper webbing out of the center X member for transmission clearance. The wobbly engine mounts were pretty comical too. It was about at this point we realized just how hard of a hit this car had taken at some point. There was evidence of a fairly severe diagonal in the whole car.

Next move was to get it on the chassis table and square it up, then start the decision making on what to repair this car with. Of all the choices available, one stood out as something new for me to try. The late 70’s to mid 80’s Jaguar XJ sedan. My friend Scott Zekanis did a similar installation on his 1957 Buick sedan a few years back and has had good success with it. I did my research and found that the Oldsmobile is less than 100 pounds heavier than the Jaguar and had very similar weight distribution. Plus the track width was in the range we were looking for. The stock Olds front had to be close to 59″ wide. The rear axle was right on the money at 59″ so it stands to reason at this point in automotive history that the track widths matched, that and a bit of careful tape measuring and internet sleuthing.

A few phone calls and internet searches, I had myself a line on a 1985 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas. Nice enough car and the price was more than good. Time to strip both cars down, Ray made the decision to use both the front and rear suspensions from the Jaguar (good choice!) as the rear axle in this car was also an unknown. It was stock but if the car was wrecked pretty bad, there might be issues with bent axles or what not. Besides, it just made perfect sense to do a fully independent suspension. Brian and Dr Marvelus AirArced the front clip off after locking the car to the table and Brian and I also disassembled the front and rear subframes from the Jag.

 

Pressure washed clean and time to start figuring out how to make this all work. This was more work that any of us figured. Still not sure if dropping the engine out the bottom was a good choice or not. Regardless, it came apart and the suspension was pretty decent.

 

 

Old clip off, Jaguar front mocked into place, I made my measurements and drew up new frame rails in my 3D software. Made the decision to use as much of the stock Jaguar suspension components as possible. This meant also rubber mounting the front and rear suspensions to give the old Olds the best ride quality possible.

 

 

One of the things that was going to make this a difficult build was the owners insisting on keeping the Factory AC and heaters in place. If you will notice the large black box where we would normally hang a power booster from, that is the AC Evaporator case. This didn’t cause us problems for the frame and engine placement.

Frame clip installed and ready for the engine and trans.

One of our Winged Early Olds engine mounts in place as well as the new shock mounts.

Front end finished to a stopping point, we turned our attention to the rear suspension. It really surprised us how well the whole Jaguar IRS fit while still in it’s cage. I determined that to rubber mount the stock Jaguar rear cage, a section of frame rail would need to be replaced and a bit of the trunk floor coped in for the new bit of frame rail.

 

Trunk floor coped and frame sections ready to install 

Frame rail sections installed and the rear axle assembled for mock up of the trailing arm mounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stock Jaguar trailing arms are critical if you intend on rubber mounting the cage like we did here. If you leave them out you will get some serious tire shake or worse. We also installed this rear axle with 3º of pinion up which goes against all the internet experts out there. I am not willing to just follow trends, so actual investigation went into doing this. The three degrees up not only allowed for a better driveline angle for our universal joints, it also gave us a tiny bit of anti-squat! Yeah, traction is cool!

 

The wrap up was fairly boring stuff, rush to finish meant the camera phone was in my office out of harms way for the most part. We had a custom made radiator done, rebuilt the core support, ran brake lines, installed a hydroboost system with the stock Jaguar master cylinder under the floor, built an exhaust system that snaked it’s way through everything and made engine brackets to hold the air compressor and alternator properly. Didn’t get any final pictures before it left, but if you attend the Goodguys shows, you are likely to run into this car.

 

almost done

Dr Marvelus working on the throttle linkage

Engine and brackets installed

 

Fired up and running, next stop is getting it tuned up! Noice the wheel placement now as well as the slightly lower ride height!

 

The little bit I got to drive the car was pretty darned cool. Very smooth, very controlled. I think once Ray gets the engine and transmission sorted out, he is going to have one hell of a daily driver on his hands. You can say I am a believer in the Jag conversions. Not an easy job compared to other popular choices out there, but for an ambitious home installer or a customer that wants pretty much the best of comfort and good handling this is a solid choice.

 

 

 

 

The Metro Truck project wrap up

We left off the last post with a completed rolling chassis, HERE and it all happened since then. The guys at Metro Auto Auctions asked us to step on the gas and finish this truck for the Barrett Jackson Auction. I have to admit that we did not make the deadline, we missed it by three weeks. Consider this, Dr Marvelus and I took this from a rolling chassis in early July to a completed, painted and upholstered truck at the first of February. Quite a lot of work for the two of us! We did have help though, Doug Stinson of All American Upholstery did the leather work inside the cab and Nessie’s Autocenter did the pink-metal and paint.

So here is what happened in the meantime.

The cab was blocked into place and the floor repairs were assessed. The previous shop did some pretty poor patchwork and did not provide the new body mount holes. All four corners of the cab were either in need of repair or were done improperly leaving rusty substructure in place. Once positioned and attached to the frame, Dr Marvelus mounted up the doors to see how out of square the body was and did the required pushing and pulling to get the new Dynacorn doors to fit somewhat properly. Both the body and the doors were in pretty poor shape but the good Dr kept at it until things lined up correctly. At that point the guys at Metro wanted a custom firewall with a polished aluminum panel. It was my idea to make that panel open up so you have access to the brake system hidden behind and the electrical panel. While I was dropping off Anthony’s 32 3W at the Lone Star Round Up last year, the guys in the booth next to us had a ’55 Chevy dash in pretty good condition. Since the Metro Guys already had the dash and bezel from Dakota Digital for a stock ’55 Chevy it just made sense that we use the entire dash. To make it fit, I cut four inches from the center of the dash and the good Dr cut off the remainder of ’55 that we didn’t need and added new material to the leading edge of the dash to match up to the ’51 Chevy truck windshield.

Firewall structural supports, Dash rail and brake components

Dr Marvelus working on the ’55 dash installation

Kugel Brake system re-engineered for better ergonomics and more compact

 

Door fitment, patch panels

Fabricated windshield trim and dash extensions on the doors

 

Cab fabrication under control we updated the engine compartment to showcase the engine a bit better than the stock fenderwells could. We started with a Direct Sheetmetal kit and to be honest, we would have been better starting without. Dr Marvelus had to do quite a bit of modification to get the panels to fit the radiator support and with the firewall pushed back, the back edges of the inner fenders didn’t reach far enough.

Fitting the Direct Sheet Metal inner fenders

 

Things got pretty hurried and I didn’t shoot too many pictures as we went, but most of it was fairly routine work. At one point we made the decision that the previous shop’s work welding up the seam in the middle of the stock hood pretty much ruined it. Instead of cutting out the recessed joint and flanges, they MIG welded the entire seam and started filling the 1/16″ deep channel for the stock trim with weld. This really distorted the hood and was going to require more work than we or the customers really wanted to get involved with. Metro bought a Dynacorn replacement hood, we regret doing so now. It took more work to get it to fit than the stock hood would have been to repair. I do not recommend anyone purchase one of these hoods unless you are very desperate for one. The hood was short and curled under at the front which required Dr Marvelus to cut the structure out and flatten out the nose more than 1 1/2″. The next problem was the location and shape of the hood hinges and bracing. It had to be cut apart and reshaped. And after two solid weeks of work the hood is taller on the driver side and longer on the passenger side forcing us to move the entire front clip over to the left side of the truck to get the hood gap at the cowl to even be close.

After 80+ hours of work to get the hood to fit this good.

 

The bed, rear fenders, running boards et-al required countless hours of cutting and shaping to get close, it honestly was all a blur to push the sheet metal work fast enough to get out for paint. The guys at Metro AA wanted to accelerate an already hurried pace, the front clip and body went to paint before we even started the bed work. We proposed some changes along the way but they didn’t want to spend the time so style wise, what the other shop had already started was our job to finish and push to paint. As the last piece of sheet metal left our shop it was Thanksgiving time.

With the sheet metal off, the exhaust system and final chassis details got attended to, steering supports, anti-roll bar, threaded bungs for accessories etc. This is when we blew apart the chassis for chrome, polish and powdercoat.  Russel’s Custom Polishing  did an absolute amazing job and some seriously personal service. I HIGHLY recommend these guys! Kerr West did the chrome on rush job and Desert Powder Coating knocked out the frame, parts and even re-coated the headers. It was nice to get a break and catch up on a few of the other projects that got shelved for this build. But as the parts started trickling back in, we jumped in with both feet on the reassembly. All Stainless Steel brake and fuel lines, body color painted engine, trans and rear axle housing. This chassis looks fantastic.

C4 Corvette front end parts all polished up!

Suspension installed and brake lines going on

 

Ready for the cab

 

The day after Christmas, we got the call the cab was painted. Chassis on the trailer and picked up the cab. Then the rush was, wiring was top priority because there was so much of it. Inside the dash there is an Ididit Keyless Ignition (more on that later) Dakota Digital climate control, Dakota Digital automatic headlight and timed dome light module and the Dakota Digital VHX module and a few relays plus a compass and outside temp module, the Haywire Inc E-series fuse panel and a half dozen more relays, line lock, coil, MSD 6al, wiper motor and a Vintage Air Gen II three vent AC/Heat-Defrost unit all snuggled around the brake booster and cylinder.

The wiring fun begins! How did you spend the week after Christmas?

And here is where the fun started. The quality of the components was less than fantastic. The Keyless Ignition gave us nothing but fits. I recommend everyone not use this. The wire leads were less than generous as advertised and literally fell out of the connectors. The functionality of this unit also leaves a bit to be desired. I see no convenience to using this over a traditional ignition switch. Plus, in an emergency the shut down time seems like an eternity and if for some reason you lose your brake lights through an electrical problem or if you have a brake light switch failure or  if you use a hydraulic brake light switch and happen to lose the brake system, you cannot shut the engine off. There is no failsafe.

 

Yep, bad crimps. The wiring just fell out.

The hours rolled on and the zip ties copped for it in the hundreds as Dr Marvelus and I restrung the entire underdash.

 

Driver side of the under dash wiring

 

Under dash done, Doug had been taking apart out harnesses going down the toe boards and flattening them out.

 

Just as we were wrapping up the wiring the painted parts for the front sheet metal started showing up and we could get out of the cab and let Doug do his thing. But first we had to install the power windows. This is where things really started to fall off the tracks. The Dynacorn doors are decent, but not exact reproductions. An the New Relics power window regulators did not fit as advertised. Dr Marvelus had to cut away the landing ledge inside the door just to be able to install the regulator, then there was no tail mount to keep it from moving around once bolted in to the stock three holes of the original regulator. When the glass went in, the regulators hit themselves and the windows would not go up or down. Many frustrating hours clicked by before deciding to grind and round off everything on the regulators so that if they did hit, they wouldn’t hang up on each other.

Dr putting in the felts for the first or second time, I don’t recall

 

That problem solved, the next one popped up. We built the dash extensions onto the original door window moldings. The truck is a ’51 and have a vent window and frameless glass. The doors and windows we got are for an earlier truck with framed glass. The window channels are 1/4″ thicker than the door moldings were designed for. This caused a major problem that required stepping back a few steps. We made a new template for glass without the frame and used the narrower felts to get the door frames to fit properly and this also gave us extra clearance for the mechanisms, HOORAY!

 

All sorts of things were going together, AC and heater lines, inner fenders and such, the radiator and gear went in and I started fabrication of the aluminum shroud and mount for the Lincoln Mark VIII electric fan.

Fan shroud in the raw

Fan shroud polished and installed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time was running out on us and we were still missing parts to put on. The week before the dead line my good friend Tom brought in the bed wood but we still didn’t have a bed or front fenders. But we had the dash so that went and got wired up.

Dash installed and working

 

Just a few days before our deadline the bed and front fenders showed up. Doug had the headliner and door panels in and the carpets done. Seat was MIA but it didn’t matter. The deadline came and we had way too much to get done. So we took a solid weekend off for the first time in three or so weeks.  The following Monday the push was back on. I had to make headlight mounts as the one we needed were long gone. Tail gate supports, hood supports, stereo system, glove box and fabricated trims to finish off the dash around the steering column. We were still plagued with weird issues like the fan coming on if you had the driver side door closed but the passenger side open. Broken glass from a stray broken drill bit and a fuel sending unit that didn’t work with the gauge system. It is all sorted out now and I have to say, this is one of the best driving cars/trucks to come out of my shop. It’s a blast to drive, handles incredibly well and is very well manner even on rough pavement.

Here are the final pictures.

From the rear

From the front

Engine compartment

Bed, yes it’s that orange out in the sun. Great depth and color, thanks TOM!

Shot of the interior, nice place to sit. Thanks Doug

 

 

 

 

The Metro Truck: ’51 Chevy PU

As started by yet another shop in town and resultant failure to build a sound foundation, this 1951 Chevrolet 1ton was altered, shortened and modified into a mess of a chassis. Way past budget and nearly two years after it was commissioned the truck ended up on my doorstep. What showed up was powdercoated in a grey and black hammered finish. The weld porosity was clearly visible through the coating, the rails were not straight and every hole to attach the body, bed and running boards was welded up and boxed to prohibit future attachment.

As delivered by our client fresh from the other shop.

A keen eye will spot the bow in the rail and possibly the twist

this front end poorly installed, nothing lined up side for side. Notice the offset and non-level mounting of the rack?

This rail had a pretty severe twist to it.

Not only was the frame not square or true, the front end was un-alignable, no mounts for the coil overs on the lower control arms, the rack was offset to the passenger side over an inch. It took 5/8″ shim to get the left side to align and no shims in the right I still got over 1/2º positive Camber and only 1º positive Caster. Because of the offset of the rack and it’s misplacement, the front end had a pretty severe bumpsteer on the left side and a proper connection between the rack and the spindle on the right was not possible without inches of toe out.

The rear suspension was so poorly installed that the bars could not be installed without forcing things into place and the coil overs were in a serious bind if the rear was adjusted for proper pinion angle. The panhard rod was also too long and so far out of alignment that it couldn’t even be forced into place.  Even the rear axle housing was warped so bad that the axles didn’t fit properly and would have caused some premature wear issues.

The center tubular crossmember was insufficiently installed and triangulated. It provided no resistance for vertical support of itself nor for twist or beam resistance. Not even the forethought to support the transmission, it just took up space and added weight.

The decision was made to pretty much scrap the whole frame. We sent the frame over to our powdercoater to have them bake the coating off and sand blast back down to good metal. I don’t know if anyone has ever done it, but welding on anything with powdercoating is nasty stuff.  What we got back shocked us even  more, there were sections of boxing plate and front suspension crossmember that were not welded at all, others so poorly welded they were doomed to fail. No choice but to cut it apart.

Front crossmember already gone, much more ahead

Right rail getting the treatment in the dirty room.

There were a few areas like this with poor surface preparation, no weld penetration and no structural substance to hold the truck together.

Once down to bare rails Dr Marvelus and I commenced building some fixturing to hold the rails in place. This is where we spent far too much time on this build but we have some solid frame building gear to build the next one of these frames that come through the door. This also helped us get the frame rails straight and true, I believe the Dr spend nearly a week stripping and straightening to get to this point.

This was a 1Ton frame, so the shape is slightly different and the arch over the rear axle was much lower and didn’t allow for sufficient axle travel at the ride height we wanted. After a mockup of the body, bed, fenders and running boards we determined how much more arch over the axle we could use. We documented the important stuff and I drew up some new frame parts, cut and the good Dr MIG stitched them together and finished them to a stamped clean finish before grafting the new arches into the frame. Meanwhile I went about the front end, the stock front horns of the frame rails were absolute trash. Bent, welded and twisted out of working condition I decided to build new rails, but make them parallel from the firewall forward. I did similar on other trucks like the one we did for the Dynacorn Corporation, it gives you quite a bit more room for engine mounts and accessories as well as steering and so on.

New axle arches installed

New front frame horns and core support

I’m trying something a bit different with my boxing plates these days. Instead of the traditional plate or stepped-in boxing plates, these are C-shaped and thicken the frame rails to 3″ wide. The thicker frame rail will be much stronger and because of the lap joint, bowing after welding should be kept to a minimum, stronger weld and almost no finish grinding is necessary.

Boxing plates going in.

Boxing plates and front clip

Next up was getting the front suspension in place and the center tubular crossmember. The front end is late C4 Corvette, fully polished and has Global West Del-A-lum bushings installed otherwise stock. The rack is FOX platform stuff and I had to render everything in my software to determine the geometry. The goal wasn’t ultimate handling but a good compromise between good handling and ride comfort. I think I found a good mix that keeps the roll center near ground level, has reasonable camber change and of course near zero bumpsteer. I could not dial it all out because of the FOX tie rod ends. Then I could go about designing the crossmember to hold it all in place.

Late C4 Corvette parts in mockup

suspension crossmember details

Parts in mockup

Center tubular X-member

The tube center X-member and integrated transmission mount got bent up, coped and TIG welded together. Note the lower two tubes of the X-member are parallel. This makes transmission swaps possible without having to fabricate new mounts. The trans mount itself has an offset to it so that a slight tap and twist counter clockwise lets it drop right out of the structure. If it didn’t, it would be very difficult to remove it.

 

The rear is a triangulated four link, designed to be close to the 100% anti squat and adjustable somewhat for pinion angle and centering. Nothing too special, just repurposed TCI parallel four links in stainless. We used the lower bars as is but shortened the upper bars to 17″. I fabricated a new crossmember to transition the frame rails at the front attachment point of the four bars. additional crossmembering for the four link to attach and to stiffen the frame rails.

 

The old narrowed housing was out of alignment and was in sad condition that we were asked to retube it. The rear axle housing was completely TIG welded and I made custom brackets to hold the lower bars and coil overs. Dr Marvelus made the upper bar tabs. The last bits were fabricating motor mounts, upper control arm mounts and coil over mounts then we went in in a flurry of activity. Then two intense days of TIG welding to finalize everything as it came out of the frame fixutring and became a roller.

 

 

Welded and out of the fixture

Assembled and rolling

If you would like to see all the details I took photos of, click here

The rolling chassis complete, we are moving forward with the build. Right now we are adding exhaust, fuel tank and fitting the cab to the frame. Stay tuned for more updates!

Rat-rod Reconing: Epic post from the HAMB

The story goes like this, Mr Funk called my sidekick Dr Marvelus on a late Friday night just after picking his “Rat Rod Hudson” from another shop here in town. Mr Funk was pleased as punch to get it on the road after his two year build process and many foldable greenbacks, but was absolutely terrified by what he now owned. The good Dr told him to bring it in Saturday morning.

What showed up on my doorstep may just be……. I digress. On with the story.

Lets back up a few hours, yes hours.

Upon picking up his car, the owner at Puerile Customs told Mr Funk to take it easy, don’t go out on the highway and learn the car because its a bit of a handful. Mr Puerile assured Mr Funk that the car was sound and he “stood by” his work. By Mr Funk’s account this car needed your undivided attention 100%, no taking your eyes off the road even for a second to look at the oil pressure or temp gauges. He was uneasy but had no major complaints as he drove his car home. Enjoying his conveyance it was time to hit the local, ahem, pub. Mr Funk recounted a tale of showing off his new joy to some colleagues and after some good natured ribbing and displays of encouragement, Mr Funk stepped on the gas and the trouble began.

The car careened in an uncontrollable manner and started the dreaded “death wobble” with the brakes applied at maximum sphincter gripping pressures, nothing happened. No control, four lanes of traffic were crossed before the car came to rest. Now terrified, Mr Funk made the call to Dr Marvelus.

And so, this is what landed at my doorstep.

As delivered by another shop here in the Phoenix Metro area.

Initial inspection, the drastic negative Ackerman, Model A wheels and steering location warranted a closer inspection. There was quite a lot to take in. Someone had obviously spent some time trying to produce something that would stagger its onlookers.

This car is definitely not HAMB material. Certainly not worthy of our notice. A breed that deserves our disdain and upturned noses. However there is a lesson to be learned here, an example needs to be made of those who have wronged Mr Funk and an opportunity for myself and Dr Marvelus to showcase our finely tuned skills and abilities.

Let me bore you with the intricate details of this so called “rat rod” shall we?

This first set of pictures is from my initial inspection, all I was truly concerned with was the condition of the front suspension and why it had the guidance system similar to that of a Scud Missile.

The first thing to draw my eye was the steering linkage, made up from pipe wrenches and connecting rods with a few machined bits thrown in for good measure. The steering box is a Saginaw 525 possibly from a Jeep because it takes 6.5 turns from lock to lock. The box mounted on studs just aft of the radiator were not sleeved. The holes were near edges and the plates were not fully welded. The steering shaft back to the steering wheel consisted of welded couplers, universal joints and a stub shaft from a VW bug mounted in a single bushing hanging from the dash. No substantial support left the steering wheel a bit flaccid. I apologize for letting that tidbit escape my camera’s eye.

Non hot rod related parts used as vital components and done very poorly at that.

For someone whom claimed to have studied how this steering works and is to be properly set up, I give this an -F

If you would take notice, the welds holding the pipe wrench to the steering system in the above pictures. Notice how over temp and undercut the welds are.

I broke that bit off with a two foot prybar and about 30 pounds of force.

The next bit of bother was the tie rod. Most of you fine chaps know that mounting the tie rod out ahead of the axle is not always the best solution to your problems. However when building a “rat rod” getting the car as low as possible is your only concern. This means placing the front beam axle ahead of the radiator. This not only allows the lower tank of the radiator to be as low as possible, but also nudges the front axle out for at least another foot of wheelbase. This leaves the problem of what to do with the tie rod. Behind the axle is an issue as it interferes with the radiator and it’s rakish angle so your best bet is to flip the steering arms around front. If Mr Puerile had known about the work done by Mr Rudolph Akerman he could have avoided this folly into a steering system that caused the vehicle to push so severely that turning the wheel to full lock had a turning radius somewhat inside that of the Queen Mary.

The steering arms you see are most likely from a 1953-1956 Ford F100. Wait for the more creative uses of more of this donor vehicle.

So much horrible in one place.

Not truly concerned with the air spring mountings or any of the other gear, Mr Funk and I agreed to a figure and the vehicle was left to me. I pulled the vehicle inside my shop. It took me 20 minutes to achieve this due to the small 8′ door and 90º turn to enter the shop.

I shut the doors late Saturday night and left the little Hudson to think about where it had been. On the following Monday when I opened the doors and flicked on the lights the little Hudson greeted me by pops and creaks. It was resting firmly on the ground and the air pressure in its scuba tanks was at naught, but still, the suspension was so bound up that it continued to settle over 24 hours later.

The entire air system would not hold pressure for more than 20 minutes. In fact, it leaked so badly that it needed adjustment every 5 minutes or so just to maintain altitude.

And on to that. In adjusting the suspension from drivable to flat on the floor was not even remotely smooth. It did take a considerable amount of time to build up enough pressure to overcome the sticktion of the suspension mountings. And it was not easy to replicate the driving position. Dr Marvelus and I donned our handschuhes and went to work.

We found many things awry, the connecting rod bell crank system was merely hand tight, without any manner to keep the Grade 5 bolt in place that acted as the pivot. No inner sleeves, no bearings or bushes. We now know just some of what caused all the creaks and moans.

Cutesie idea that did not work in reality. Someone truly doesn’t understand materials and structures

Note the twist in the bellcrank already

To be generous, this is some of the best welding on the car by this other shop. A prime example of what not to do -F

No bushings for the bellcrank to pivot on

And on top of not having a bushing for the bellcrank to pivot, the bolts were finger tight and had no means of retention.

Hardware store scrap iron and an improper use of tubing gussets from the oval track racer supply

Note the crack forming at the top of the left hand side of the pivot mount

During dissasembly we notices several of the “welds” were poorly executed and were already showing cracks. The problems were mounting up and the agreement I made with Mr Funk were starting to fall out of favor with me. But a deal was struck and I needed to stick to it.

As the dismemberment went on and I was cooking up a plan on how to save this car for Mr Funk more exciting fabrication work was found. The good Dr and I assume that this car was concepted and built by stacking items against each, on the floor, other until pleasing to the eye then scraps of metal and what ever was lying about were used to make connections between the aforementioned items.

Split wishbone mounts

Passenger (Right) side wishbone mount

Note the missing retention bolt in the brake pedal arm and the unsupported brake lines and residual pressure valve.

Panhard bar mount, radiator mount and frame construction -F -F -F

This is half of a 53-56 F100 axle repurposed as the bellcrank for the rear airbag suspension. No bushings, sloppy fitment and no means to service.

Rear suspension from the underside, note instead of cutting the threaded bung off, shortening the tube and re-attaching the bung they decided to split the links in the middle and sleeve them. Dumbfounded.

I reviewed what lay before me with the intent on just trying to fix what was here to make the Scud-Hud safe and reliable but was stymied at every turn. I could not find a frame or fitment satisfactory. My options were dwindling and knew I was just wasting time and energy. I decided that everything forward of the cowl was a lost cause. Nothing save for the brakes, spindles, HEIM joints and air springs themselves were about the only items worth salvation.

I went through quite a process to create a whole new front section of frame. I was unsastisfied with the look and condition of the 1941 Ford front I-beam axle and decided to trade Mr Funk one of my standard Model A axles. I also wanted to improve the pedigree of the old rat to a more upright citizen of the motoring kind. This meant standing the radiator and shell proper upright and rearranging a few items bringing the car into fine shape rather than the slough it was mimicking.

Firing up my digital computing machine and manipulating my figments the new front end started to grow on my screen. New formed frame rails with giant speed holes to help shrink the overall visual size of this car, it is rather large. I also placed a facsimile of the Model A axle and placed new connecting links and “batwings” to hold all the various bits in place as “traditionally” as possible given the circumstances.

First frame rail mock ups

Batwings, transfer shafts and revised rails

Rumaging through my pile of cast offs I found a set of Delco Lovejoy shocks from the rear of a 1938 Cadillac that were in fine sporting condition and though they would be a very nice addition to the front of the Scud-Hud. As the car had no shocks front or back and the nature of the “suicide” mounted front mounted axle tends to not be friendly to airplane shocks. The long lever shocks could be mounted on the flanks of the frame rails with their spindly arms reaching forward to the axle.

My intent was to clean the lines of the new front frame section and draw your eyes away from the tidbits that were visually unappealing. The placement of the Cadillac engine afforded me just a bit of space behind the engine mounts to create a location for mounting the somewhat repulsive air springs. To connect the axle to the air springs I created a shaft and lever system mounted on bearings. This gave the appearance of torsion bars, a much more accepted look to the discerning Trad-Rodder.

Just installing simple levers did not satisfy my visual intent and did not articulate the air spring properly. I tipped the air springs outboard by 30º and created an unequal length and nonparallel linkage system that pushes the top of the air spring reasonably close to the the 30º line the air springs are mounted on and this also gave me the opportunity to use longer bellcranks for the leverage ratio I wanted. As an added bonus, I could install a polyurethane bumpstop under the upper control link and make it adjustable if needed to prevent the newly built vehicle from actually touching the pavement.

The clevises used in the four link bars are common rod ends available from my favorite hardware dispensary, McMaster-Carr. The ends are attached to the fabricated “batwings” using large shoulder bolts and PEEK plastic bushings That allow rotation in one plane. Using a HEIM on this end would not work properly as the weight of the car is going to be hanging from the batwing and a few inches aft of the axle. There will be forces to pull the batwings inboard, this arrangement of connection will hamper this action.

Shocks, bellcranks and air bags mocked up

More tabs, slots and crossmember bits in place.

While I was designing the save for the front half of Mr Funk’s Scud-Hud, he had a conversation with Dr Marvelus about repairing the less than satisfactory body panels and possibly taking care of a few more items on the car. I was waiting for materials and supplies to show up so in order to keep things moving along, the good Dr Marvelus sheared up some sheet steel and went banging away.

As the materials showed up, I processed the solid model drawings I had made into a language understood by my plasma machine. Cut the parts and started to assemble the individual components to make up the front clip.

I spend some time machining tubes to accept the bearings of the lift shafts and securely welding them into my motor mount/air spring structure and radiator core support.


And Dr Marvelus attacked the rear with a new apron to cover the Scud-Hud’s neither regions.

More parts added into the mix and the front half of the frame is taking shape. The four bars are fabricated using 1.25″ X .125 DOM steel tube for the uppers. The 1″ clevis at the front and the salvaged 3/4″ HEIM at the rear. The lowers are 1″ X .125 DOM steel tube with a 3/4″ clevis at the front and a 5/8″ HEIM at the rear. The linkages connecting links from the shaft bellcrank and guide link have bronze bushings and sleeves to allow free but controlled movement. The front of the lift shafts are connected to the batwings using standard 1.75″ spring shackles.

The day came and the Scud-Hud was to become a bit more Sir and a bit less Rat. Dr Marvelus and I scuttled the Hud from the two post lift to the fabrication table and continued to centerline and level the Hud out. Clamping it to the table we realized how out of square the frame was, twisted and deformed. The engine and trans were pulled from the solid mounts and the cutting began. The weld slime was removed and the remaining frame chunks were trimmed to a reasonable size and condition for me to attach my new front frame section to.

Mr Funk asked me to inspect every element of the car to ascertain the proper function and serviceability. While assembling the front suspension to set up the new steering arms, I needed to remove the brake rotors from the spindles. Upon pulling the dust caps I found blacked grease. I am familiar with the type of grease, it was Lucas Red Tacky and was gritty and burned. Not only that I noticed there was not a tang-washer in sight! This was a disc brake kit ordered directly from Speedway Motors and I would be a bit dismayed that the kit did not come with one. Regardless of whether it was supplied or not, there was a machined and zinc plated spacer between the outer bearing and the spindle nut.

I inspected the bearings, there was a liberal amount of grease applied to the spindle stud but superficial amounts were packed into the big end of the rollers. It also appeared as if the protective coatings the bearings were shipped with was not removed and this contaminated the bearing grease. Moving on from that, I fitted the king pins to the new Model A axle and modified the Speedway caliper brackets to work with the CE bolt on steering arms and cut and threaded a proper tie rod.

Proper steering arms, tie rod and fitted king pins. Caliper brackets modified to work with proper steering arms.

It was about this time when I realized what type of vehicle these RadRodsters are trying to emulate, I think they are enamored with the Fuel Coupe but just miss the mark by a bit.

We’re going to help the proportions of this car quite a bit.

It was about this point where Mr Funk reached his ultimate frustration with the Scud-Hud. He wanted Dr Marvelus and I to remove the silly ammo box wiring control system, seats and expanded metal drive shaft tunnel to get the floor out. At the same time to investigate why the rear axle was offset to right by over an inch.

What we found made us quicken our pace at deconstruction. There was literally everything from a dollars worth of Nickles to exhaust U-bends, Rebar, All Thread and multiple layers of scrap metal that made up the floor. All manner of square tubing and plate was used to weld the rotten body to the frame. Two flex plates copped it for the seat mounts and they were cut in half so haphazardly that who I assume was Mr Puerile that had done this work, filled over a 1/2″ gap with MIG weld to attache the half flex plated to the 16 gauge sheet metal floor.

Hey, your welds look like a stack of nickles… wait just a minute

Flex plate seat mounts and a gap weld of epic proportions!

Time to gut this Hudson like a fish. You get a fantastic shot of the rear suspension here.

Now we were getting down to the meat of the matter. Just how so much of this car got off track and why so much was out of square. The frame rails were tapered, narrower at the front than the back under the body. However, the builder squared the crossmember tubes to the right side frame rail making the cross beams not square to the centerline of the car. This mistake was further compounded in the rear kick up that supported the entire triangulated four link system. While the brackets were close to correct on the axle, the frame they were attached to were not.

My judgement was to cut the rear kick up off and the last rear cross beam and try to rebuild the frame from there back. After deconstruction it was clear that there was no saving what was left without many hours of laborious work and for little gain. It all had to go. Out came the Air-Arc to remove my clip from what was left of the sorry frame.

Back to the computer for me. I had to construct a simple and cost effective frame that would actually work well with what I had already created but didn’t rupture Mr Funk’s wallet. I also needed to reuse as much of what already existed and keep it all under the envelope of the body. I regret my decision (you will see later) but the end result works quite well and Dr Marvelus and I can finally cut this project short and get back to repairing.

I chose a triangulated rear four link system with a air spring mount that keeps the end caps of the bellows parallel to each other.

What would you trust, this or what was?

While doing my set up for the upper bars of the four link system I found the last bit of rubbish I had to deal with. While the lower fourbar/coilover brackets were at least centered on the housing, they were not clocked properly. The right side bracket was at least 15º forward of the left side. This pushed the rear axle back over 1/2″ on the right. They had to come off.

Note the square to the left of the picture is on the table and the bracket is rotated forward so much that nothing will align properly.

The lower bars of the rear four link are a bit complex, but considering what I am going to ask of them they will need to be heavy duty. The sides consist of 10 gauge Cold Rolled steel plate, machined bushings and a length of 1.25″ CR Bar threaded with 3/4″ 16 on the end to accept the Heavy duty HEIM end. Then the rest of the assembly came together rather quickly. Upper bar and bellows mounts, and damper strut mountings.

Lower bars in place before the rear axle loses it’s brackets

Bars and bags

I reversed a Corvette steering gear I had lying about and attached it to a mount sprouting out the back of the left front frame horn and then fabricated a new steering arm to finish up the front. A set of engine mounts and transmission pad to tie up all the loose ends before disassemblely and final weld out of the frame.

Steering box mount

 

Steering arm

Off the table and onto the floor for another mock up. This time with the new wheels and tires, no adapters and a whole new attitude. These last few shots are without the bumpstops in place, so yes, the frame can touch the ground. With the stops in place it cannot.

There is still quite a bit for us to do yet, but for now it’s off the table and is ready for true progress for a total redemption. While it may not be your style of car, it will be a sound and safe driving car with a flair.

Dr Marvelus and I will be repairing more of the bodywork, installing a true floor that seals out nature. As well as adding a few styling cues that will help prevent the Scud-Hud from being terribly dated and keeping Mr Funk happy for miles to come.

UPDATE:

The project took a turn, Mr Funk didn’t want to spend the greenbacks to properly repair the Hudson body. It was discussed that if he could find a better body with a bit more value it would be in his best interest to do so.  He found a very rough 1931 Model A coupe body with a horribly botched chop and quarter repair. This is the body that the car left with. I will do updates in a while.

 

I am just bringing this up because someone brought it up on the HAMB today.

Power Steering Upgrade

Larry V dropped off this 1956 Thunderbird a while back for us to do a power steering upgrade and install a tilt steering column. Very cool little ride he has here, so nice that Rick Amado spotted it in the back room during our open house and had to shoot it for one of the magazines. Lowered with Jamco springs and shocks front and back. Stock running gear and brakes but someone removed the stock hydraulic assisted power steering ram and installed a smaller diameter steering wheel. The smaller wheel made ingress and egress slightly better, but made steering this machine a bit more difficult than it needed to be.

 

I drew up a couple of ways to put power steering back on this and Larry made the decision to go with Gearhead Cruiser Products and their 605 Power steering conversion and a Flaming River tilt steering column. The PO’s were placed in mid November, hopefully ahead of the holiday rush and before our open house party. There was confusion on the order with Gearhead, somehow I forgot to add the steering gear to the order but Theresa caught the mistake early enough and corrected the issue. I also spoke with Flaming River on the steering column to make sure we got the correct column. When the column  arrived just after Christmas, it was for a stock steering gear application. Very nice part but would not work for the situation and not what I had ordered, got an RTA and returned the column for the correct one.

I received the power steering pump and hose kit from Gearhead shortly after receiving the wrong steering column. Decent enough bracket and nice quality hose and fittings.

The correct steering column showed up the just before the new year and the steering gear showed up on January 4th. All the parts here it took Joel just three days to disassemble the original steering system and install the new stuff. Everything went very straightforward and the instructions from Gearhead were very decent. Joel had to create a notch in the fan blades to clear the snout on the power steering pump and the odd way Gearhead attaches the bracket to the engine required a bit of shimming to get the belt to line up. Outside of that there were no other issues of installation. The results are very noticeable, steering effort is very modern and ingress is much more comfortable with the tilt column.

We did have a small leak on the steering box after we got the system bled. A simple tightening of the adjuster stopnut on the sector shaft cured the issue. The little ‘Bird is good to go!

 

Thank you to Theresa @ Gearhead Cruiser Products for the very professional service. Our customer is sure to be satisfied with the quality of the new power steering.