Full bolt in, actually stiffens the frame and allows for a transmission change. Now includes front frame horn liners and “bolt-in” front split wishbone mounts.
Available now, hit the store!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Here we are folks, #2 is installed and this is #3 and the first one to ship.
Installation is much easier than before and the frame stiffness is unmatched. I have been test fitting parts and making small corrections so that you get a high quality part you won’t have to fight to install and will enjoy for years to come.
Rather than recount the whole series of the build here, I want you to follow the link over to the HAMB by clicking THIS HYPERLINK
You will get to see the whole build from beginning to end on how we build a custom fabricated hot rod.
Started by my other Dad, Ron Olmstead, this show is turning out to be quite a thing. Now run by George Walker (also former customer) it is held at the Sanderson Ford dealership.
And Joel and I will be there with Anthony’s 3W and a few of our rear K-member legs will be on display. Stop on by and enjoy the cars and see Anthony’s car in person before it goes home to Alabama.
There is a renewed interest in the K-member legs and have had several requests to update them and also make them work with the 3W and Sedan dropped floor pans. Well, here you go!
These systems are designed to be bolt in and non-intrusive to the stock frames. NO welding or drilling holes are necessary. They pick up on the existing stock transmission bolts and the rear fender bolt holes in front of the axle.
I got around to updating the existing flat floor legs with the missing front center brace. This works with either style of legs.
Click this text for the flat floor image: 1932 Ford K-member system FLAT FLOOR
Click this text for the stock floor image: 1932 Ford K-member system STOCK FLOOR
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.
Bruce had bought a kit from Morrison A&M for his truck and had done the majority of the installation himself. He didn’t realize just how much work those universal kits take to install. So he contacted us to check his work and if it was good to TIG weld everything in place. When he dropped it off, we discussed what had been done and what needed to be done. The frame still needed boxing plates for the front and for the rear plates to be final welded. I offered to build a tubular crossmember system just like the ones we built for our frames and Bruce went for it.
Brian and I set off on a metal flinging frenzy of crossmember removal, cutting, grinding and tube bending. A bit more measuring and I placed the engine and trans then fabricated a nifty set of engine mounts that clear the steering rack and pinion. Thirty plus hours later, we had this!