Been a busy few weeks, lots of jobs in and out and progress made on the more long term jobs. The good news is, as we clear out these jobs, the new Dakota Kits are eminent!
Just wrapped up a Vintage Air install on Ron Shives’ 1957 Chevy Hardtop. Such a nice car, we removed the AirTique unit installed a decade or more ago that never quite worked properly and installed a new Vintage Air sure-fit unit. In went a Vintage Air Front Runner package and radiator relocation to the 6 cylinder position so that we had room for a Volvo 850 two speed cooling fan. We also upgraded to a Borgeson Delphi 600 power steering box, Flaming River steering column and did some routine maintenance for him. Overall the car turned out fantastic, very nice daily driver now.
Dr Marvelus is going to town on Tony’s 60 Bonneville, pretty rusty car in all the structural areas, so look for updates on that soon.
Larry Ivy’s 34 PU is roller status, cab goes on and the controls are going in soon.
More importantly, Bob’s 32 5W chassis will be going together next week in preparation for the Deuce Day show. We are doing the second build out of our “Bolt – In” center X-member! These will be available in the store very soon.
And the news you are waiting for, the Dakota kits are in process as soon as Bob’s 32 frame comes off. First up will be the 65-66 frames and the 53-56 and 57-60’s immediately after.
I have a 1953-56 F100 frame disassembled Bill W donated a 1965-66 frame, both ready for drawing up the kits and over the next few weeks I will be spending my after hours getting them ready for market.
Chris Shelton came by a few weeks back and did an installation article showing me install a kit on a 1964 frame clip donated by Dave G (Garbz) and it should hit Classic Trucks magazine in the next few months. So keep an eye out for it!
Just thought I would give you guys a little update
Rendered the frame rails, then placed all the suspension components where I needed them. Some math and a few pot of coffee later I have the basis of the new weld in kit. Enjoy the pictures.
Been busy drawing and thinking hard to come up with solutions to manufacturing and user issues. I have tried to simplify the already simple installation to the point where it is idiot proof to install. There are slots and tabs to lock parts in place like a snap-together model car kit, no guess work and a more precise fit. Anyone with moderate welding skills and a 110V MIG welder should be able to pull this off.
I have been getting quite a few calls requesting not only the bolt in Dakota based IFS kit, but to bring back the weld-in kit as well.
As you know, the economy is on shaky legs right now and everyone’s finances are in shambles and I am not immune from this. We have a few internal jobs we need to work through to get to these kits. If the response stays strong as it has I will get some motivation to build the fixtures and get this project under way.
A good friend of mine T-man put a complimentary post on the HAMB last week and drove traffic through the roof! We average 147 hits per day. That’s over 1000 a week! But on Friday the 8th, we saw over 500 hits. Of course this must have attracted some unwanted attention.
On Sunday we had two people decide to park their butts on my webcams for hours on end. I don’t know what the intent was but all they could do was watch those areas of the shop where the cameras were pointed. And as society goes, it just takes one jerk to ruin it for everyone. So from now on you will have to register and log in to see the webcams. Since I have done this, I may put some new content up for registered only people in the future.
This is more of an open thread, I am considering a run at the kits again but this time I want to make some serious changes to the kit and it’s function. It has been over a year since the split and my former partners plan of manufacturing the old kits. He still may at this point and I encourage him to do so. I want to push the fourth generation of the kit since it’s introduction.
Here is an outline of what I plan on doing.
First off, I want to try and unitize the whole kit and make it a bolt in. I have never been a fan of the current crop of bolt in kits, however I do realize there are many people that were turned off of the old kit because they could not weld but still wanted to upgrade their front suspension.
I also want to make the base kit standard with tubular control arms set up for coil overs. You will still be able to use a stock (modified) upper control arm, spindles and rack and pinion. But one of the major issues we had was matching spring rates. There just were not enough choices for the guys trying to jam this IFS into stuff that was considerably lighter than the Dakotas were.
Your input is welcome!
I have been measuring and brainstorming with this for a month now. I have some ideas to start with but I am actually kind of disappointed in the response from this. I have been tracking my hits on this thread and others related to the Dakota IFS kit and I will continue with my development in the next few months and see if I get any uptick in interest.
I hear you guys want cheap, well that frankly cannot happen unless the kit is very raw and on the level of some of the low end Mustang II kits already available. That is just not something I want to hang my hat on, so sorry guys it will not be sub $500.00. Bolt in IS going to happen and I have a few ideas firing from neuron to neuron with the occasional flash of brilliance. To make it a bolt in, the stock coil springs are gone. The problem I am having is adapting coil overs to stock control arms for you junkyard scroungers. I did however talk to a company over the Fathers Day weekend about aluminum castings. What I am going to have to do is render the entire kit in Alibre’ and start doing my FEAs and initiate a conversation about pricing. My initial introduction with them is very encouraging and they are casting and machining right here in the USA and Anaheim CA no less!
My backup would be to produce a fabricated or tubular control arm. Considering the fixturing required to do a proper run of tube might put them on par with what the cast aluminum would cost. So I have to consider the fabricated steel units for the base kit. My next hurdle will be spindle, rack and brakes. I might have to introduce them sans those parts and tool up for the rest at a later date.
I built a few of these for myself, but as good news travels fast, people found out about them and wanted them. I built them with some future-proofing as best as I could see by making the foot pedal for pullrod or pushrod configuration. Also putting in ten different axle pivot positions so you can choose the leverage you want.
I had ordered an Eastwood deep throat shrinker stretcher with stand to fulfill an immediate need during the chop on Richard’s Four-door Mercury and man was I ever disappointed. It didn’t even work as shipped without modification, the pullrod was about 4 inches short of working AND it needed to be bolted to the floor. Or at least a large plate that would be a pain in the ass to move about the shop. I needed mobility and stability. So a few hours of dreaming on my Alibre’ software and I came up with a base that would meet my needs.
Postprocessed the files and CNC cut the plates out of 1/4″ steel plate and TIG welded my prototype machine together. This first unit had a solid body 3/8″ foot pedal on it and I used a clevis to connect the pullrod. I found out shortly some limitations to this design so I cut a pair of 3/16″ plates and was able to use a HEIM joint instead of the clevis. This freed up the feel and gave me the range of adjustability I needed. The arm pivots on bronze shoulder bushings and has a 3/4″ axle retained by a pair of snap rings. With every hole reamed to size, changing pivot positions was fairly easy to do. Once I found the arc and foot position that felt the most comfortable I threaded some heavy wall tube and welded on a six pointed thumbwheel. This also was changed out to a lighter setup and I added a pair of counter springs to the back of it to improve the pedal feel, it was just too light and was far to easy to over shrink the workpiece.
It didn’t take us long to put it into use…
The most recent one out the door went to our new friend Douglas, member of the Arizona Artist Blacksmiths. He had me build an adapter to work with his Lazze branded Shrinker/Stretcher. I machined an aluminum base adapter and fabricated a new upper clevis to attach to the Lazze piece. I have these on file and can produce them for your machine also.
Other than the minor updates to the foot pedal arm and the pullrod itself, the design has worked fantastic. There are 7 of them in the world now with two available right now. Hit the E-store if your interested in one.
Been working on the site today. I added a whole new page, look at the tool bar at the top and notice the TECH FILES tab. In the drop down of that button you will find information and installation sheets related to each of the front ends we use. It’s a work in progress but, there are now downloadable PDF files of the old instruction sheets. Stay tuned for more!