We are in preparations to be at the 2017 LA Roadster show in Pomona, CA at the Fairplex on June 17-18th (Fathers Day weekend) in two locations this year. We will have our indoor booth again this year, but will also have a spot out in the swap area.
So far we plan on bringing out three ’32 frames with our full X members with show pricing. One will be pinched for 28/29 Model A use. We will also have our accessory K-member legs, stock style brake pedal sets and other bolt on chassis parts.
If you want to pre-order any of the product and have us deliver at the show, give us a call @ 866-553-8996
It’s almost upon us. This June 18 and 19th, Father’s Day weekend, is the 52nd Anniversary Roadster Show and we will be inside building 4 for the first time!
In years past we were in the Swap Meet area but changes over the last few years has made it difficult for us to set up there. That and we were bringing out the used goodies you guys could use. Well this year, it’s all new stuff. We are bringing ’32 Ford stuff and working on a few new products. I will have two frames ready to go, full knock down at a Roadster Show special price.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We usually prefer to mount a vacuum brake power booster on the firewall but it doesn’t work in all instances. This is one of those situations, we have a customer who brought us his Ford F1 frame and cab. His plans with this build are to use a Ford Powerstroke 7.4L diesel engine and a reasonably heavy duty suspension. The frame supplied was pretty bent up and required some extensive frame rail straightening. Once within spec, we boxed the rails and added a 1.75″ DOM tubular crossmember with enough room for the rather large automatic transmission and a crossmember kit to accept the Dodge Dakota components. The owner has been doing some research into using Dodge Van brake rotors to give him a 12″ X 1″ rotor with a 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern to stop this very heavy power plant.
To round out the upgraded brakes we need the rest of the system to be just as serious. Given that diesels do not have manifold vacuum our choice is to use an electric pump or the Hydro-boost system that uses power steering pump pressure to give you some serious assist. The tubular structure under the cab restricts pretty much any braking system to be installed between the frame rails. So our option is to utilize the unused space outside of the frame rail. We did this same trick on the Dynacorn build in the summer of 2008 and it works extremely well. We used the stock brake pedal arm and location to retain the original look. This put the pivot through the middle of the body mount. It was much easier to measure it up and replace it.
Making the stock pedal work for us in this situation we used a 3/4″ X 36 spline steering shaft and coupler housed in a tube with bronze bushings for long life and durability. The splined shaft also gives us the ability to service the system and make it easier to remove the cab if ever need be. Or just to make putting it all together when painted less of a chore. The old clevis mount was band sawed off and the bushing hole drilled out to 1″ to accept the steering coupler and TIG welded into place. A bit of machine work on the shafting for bushing clearance was need also. With all the components mocked into the proper positions a bell crank arm was fabricated from 3/8″ Cold Rolled Steel and welded to the shaft.
The final connection was from the bell crank arm to the Hydro-Boost pushrod. I used a shoulder bolt, spring wave washer and a bronze washer along with machining a small bushing to compensate for the differing sizes. In the end we have a very durable and serviceable braking system that should be more than up to the task.
If you’re interested in having this sort of work done, drop us a line!