Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Model As Past Winter Project

This winter I decided to make a few more changes to the car. I wanted to change the look of the front of the car as well as a little more of a height adjustment. I had been collecting parts to do this for a while. First I wanted to bring the car down two more inches. To do this in the rear of the car it was just as simple as modifying the rear transversely mounted leaf spring. A weekend of tweaking and I had it right where I wanted. The front was going to be a little more involved. I wanted to do this in the same fashion as would have been done in the forties. I managed to find a front axle from a 1936 Ford. It was slightly bent but the king pin holes were in perfect shape, so the bent was fixed by putting it in the press and loading it in the opposite direction of the bend just enough to straighten it out. This is not something I would ever recommend with a suspension part bought today, the quality of the steel was much better in those days.This 1936 front axle would lower the front of the car 2" just by bolting it into place.
The other addition to the front end change was to "split" the front wishbone. From factory, the front axle is located by a one piece radius rod that pivots on a single point mounted to the bottom of the transmission. When removed from the car, it looks like a wishbone. When early hot rodders were lowering their cars and swapping drivetrains, they were limited by this component and its intended mounting location. To get around this, they would "split" the "bones". This entailed cutting off the single pivot ball and drilling and tapping the end of each bar (it is now two pieces) and threading in tie rod ends at the end of the bone, with the use of a bracket mounted to the side rails of the frame, they were able to gain the clearance needed for the new drivetrain as well as have more control of the caster angle of the front axle.
So I found a good 36 wishbone and proceed to "split" it and make brackets for the frame. This way I was able to get the front axle in the exact location I wanted.
Here is the front end of the car striped and ready for the mock up. After I had made all the measurements of the height the car was at, I then stripped the front end and set the frame up to the new ride height that would be achieved with the install of the 1936 front axle.
 Here are the comparisons of the axles I had. The far left is the stock model A axle, it was very tweaked. the two on the left were both the 36 axles I had found, the one was very straight but the king pin holes were worn out, the other had perfect kingpin holes but was bent. A few careful hours in the 20 ton hydraulic press and it was straight as an arrow.

 Here you can see split bone. It bolts to the front axle and locates it in the correct location. On the rear of the bones, I had welded in machined threaded bungs to accept the 1940 Ford tie rod ends. The tie rod ends allow the bones to pivot up and down as the suspension travels. Using the floor jack, and an angle finder on the axle, I was able to get the front end set up with my desired 6 deg of caster. Now I could measure and make my brackets to mount to the frame and hold the bones in place.
 Here I was determining the angle that the bones would have to be to clear the pitman arm off the steering box.
 With the bracket cut I was able to mount it all up.
 With the front end back in place and waiting to get new bushings reamed for the spindles, I started the next project. That was the installation of a 1932 Ford grill. Very different from the stock A grill and a look I really prefer. This was a common modification in the forties as it was necessary for the newer modern flathead V8 that was normally installed in the older model As. The stock 4cyl radiator would not be able to handle the heat from the V8 so a newer radiator and grill shell would have been necessary.

 After mocking the grill shell and insert over the new 32 radiator I had installed previously, it was time to get it painted. My good friend came through and did a perfect match and spray for me.
 With the spindles back from the machine shop, the front brakes went back together and the car was ready for the summer again.

 I finished it just in time for a cruise with some of my best friends for my 40th birthday party.
This is how the car is sitting as of now. This winter the plan is for the engine and drive train swap.

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