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Just gimme some traction!

Kevin brought his pro-built ’32 Roadster to us to solve a traction issue.

He had the car built a few years back by another shop here in town. When they set up the car they used common street rod parts but set them up at a ride height they were not intended to be used at. The rear was set up with a triangulated four link and Aldan coil overs. Even with sticky slicks, he couldn’t get decent 60′ times due to the tires dancing and skipping around.

We set the car up on the rack and started measuring things and found he had -65% anti-squat! It’s a wonder he could drag race this car at all. We even tried doing a smokey burn out but could barely leave black marks on the pavement. Notice the exhaust getting pinched between the lower bar and the frame.

We discussed our options and Kevin decided to ditch the under car exhaust for a cone/lakes header arrangement and that freed up the under side for our favorite, the torque arm. I crunched some numbers and determined we needed to shorten the rear links and also raise them about 2″ from their original mounts. With the 39″ long fabricated torque arm and new lower mounts (plus a new panhard) we were able to deliver a 138% positive anti-squat!

Kevin took the car out for a test drive and was very pleased at how much more controlled the car felt. The dancing deuce is no more!

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Machine tool repair and rebuilding

I was given a derelict, Italian made cold saw by a very generous customer who owns an aviation repair shop. He could no longer use the machine as the guard was broken. I sat on it for years  and finally got the thing wired up to see if it even worked, it works just fine except for the coolant pump which seized up and is very obsolete. Without coolant the very expensive blades do not last at all.

I finally had enough of a lull in customer work to put some work on this machine. The guard was held on with a plastic collar. This collar has to have a quick release to make changing the cutting blade easier and it had to be fairly compact to maximize the cutting area of the blade. I found a grinder guard with a nice over-center release mechanism I could re-purpose and put in a day of labor and head scratching to build this aluminum collar with a double jointed hinge that works very well.

With the mechanical pump being obsolete, I could have repaired it but chose to install a more modern electric coolant tank and foot pedal switch. I drilled and tapped the base for a fitting in the back of the original sump and fabricated a new tray to mount the new Little Giant sump pump. I then enclosed the front and sides of the cabinet with 0.060″ aluminum panels held on by Dzus fasteners in case I need to get access to the pump. The panels should keep the majority of the dirt and grime that makes my “dirty room” what it is.

Notice the small foot switch inside the cabinet. I sourced that from Mc Master Carr for $25.00.

The original cover for the coolant reservoir was broken and filthy. I tried to save it but gave up and sliced up a section of 1/4″ aluminum and machined the sump tray on one side and punched a few holes in it to mimic the stock cover. Also needed to make some hardware to hold it down tight.


And it’s ready for service!

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1931 Model A build up: Front Suspension

Last left off with the frame fab, we have done a ton since.

This HAMB thread covers quite a bit of the progress: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=404411

This is one of those things that gets overlooked in the details. The aftermarket has come up with some stellar components and some not so stellar. But when you use high volume production parts, your car will look just like everyone elses. This car does use SoCal hair pins and a SoCal forged heavy beam axle but that’s about where it all ends.

This car runs the spring behind the axle, what is commonly known as “suicide” and requires special batwings or hair pins to mount the spring and carry the entire load of the front of the car. Not one to skimp out we cut and machined a nice pair for this car. Our initial mock up was using the supplied SoCal stainless steel pieces. Very nice with a shock mount integrated. Just not the parts we really wanted.

With a way to attach the spring to the axle, we needed to attach the hair pins to the frame. The shape of the frame plus the location gave us a few different options. Most people would weld a tube or bung into the frame to attach a HEIM or bushing to. We opted for stainless steel tie rod ends from So Cal and fabricated this nifty little plate that cancels the angle between the frame and hair pin.

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Studebaker stampeede


Howdy folks! Been busy as all get out with Studebakers last week. We had a 1955 Commander post coupe in for a suspension upgrade and rare 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo in for an engine swap that may turn out to be a fairly serious build.

The 55 was really straightforward. We had previously build a clip for Mr. Desenberg’s 1960 Hawk and realized we had made a mistake in pushing the suspension too far up int the chassis causing problems installing the engine. A problem with the GT I will get to in a minute. I pulled up all my Alibre’ drawings and revised them to not only correct this issue but also refined the design and now we have a production capable clip. The installation took us about 14 hours in total from remove the front sheet metal, saw off the original suspension and install the new suspension. We included a set of our tubular control arms, Granada brake upgrade and power steering rack all for $4000.00.

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Studebaker clip

Mr. Metivier picked up his car just after we took in the rare Gran Turismo. Nice car on the outside. Someone had swapped the stock front sheetmetal for the older and cooler IMHO 53-54 sheetmetal. Brought in by our good customer, www.steeldreamz.com they were looking to swap out the really low mile small block Chevrolet engine and transmission for a more modern LS series and four speed automatic. As is our normal practice to do such a thing we removed the front sheet metal to get better access to the frame. This gives us more room to work and perform a more professional job. Doing this uncovered the previous owners work. They had installed a Fatman Fabrications front subframe. Due to design of this suspension clip, engine installation is nearly impossible without cutting the floor out and building a new trans tunnel and rebuilding the firewall. Sure it gets the car really low without dropped spindles but if it were designed with more forethought, similar results could have been achieved and made engine installation much easier.

This shows just how much of the inner fender needed to be cut away just to clear the upper control arms.

suspension into the right side inner fender

Rather than cut into the body further the installer decided to modify the suspension. Path of least resistance for him I am sure. However this created an entirely new problem, bumpsteer. Not only was the crossmember cut and dropped the rack and pinion was mounted lower off thick straps. Dangerous and crude, very nice combination.

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We are still waiting for input from the customer on this one. He want’s to replace his Mercedes Benz daily driver with this car. This is something we can do for him, just not with this mess of a front end.

What is desired is a car that will drive very well, handle and brake and last as a new car would. What we would very much like to do is replace the Fatman clip with our kit. Our tubular control arms which are not only stronger but upgrade the ball joints and use OEM rubber control arm bushings for a much better ride without the polyurethane squeak and harshness. A set of Bilstein shocks and matched springs. A Flaming River variable assist rack and pinion would definitely set off the steering feel. And if there is any budget left, we would really like to rebuild the rear suspension with a torque arm system and Bilstein coil overs in the rear.

Here’s the links to the pictures:

http://s206.photobucket.com/albums/bb93/ELpolacko/1953-1962%20Studebaker%20Hawk/1955%20Commander%20Metivier/

http://s206.photobucket.com/albums/bb93/ELpolacko/1953-1962%20Studebaker%20Hawk/1962%20Studebaker%20GT%20Fatman%20Fab%20repair/

I am going to try and make this blog a weekly thing, so, until then. Adios!

Steve