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1932 Ford Roadster: New hot rod in the shop

27 Jul

For months we’ve been looking forward to the arrival of Todd Anderson’s roadster. The chassis was built and the body assembled by Erik Hansson in Huntington Beach, using an impressive collection of original Deuce parts Todd has patiently gathered over the years. Our job will be to finish the car.

Obviously, the work is just getting underway – the first punch list is already three pages long — but we’ve got a full head of steam and we’ve completed work on the exhaust, fuel system and steering. Click here, we’ve posted a bunch of recent photos: (more…)

’42 Mercury Woodie: Fire in the Hole

18 Jun

EDITOR’S NOTE – Pardon the delay in posting this update. We delivered Carl’s woodie on Wednesday afternoon and hit the road the next morning for the LA Roadster’s Fathers Day Show. I’ll post photos of the event in the next couple of days.  If you haven’t been following this woodies’ progress (Part One, Part Two) here’s a quick recap: The car was treated to an amateur restoration decades ago, had served its past owners well, covered tens of thousands of miles, and was long overdue for a rehab.

The engine and transmission were obviously on their last legs, but as we spent more time under the car, we found other problems as well. The aftermarket fuel pump had been attached precariously to the rear cross member with a big plastic snap-tie, the hot wire splice was a bare connection, and the ground was spliced with a wire nut. Hoses and wires draped over the exhaust system and, when the driver side pipe was added for dual exhaust, its routing prevented full travel of the clutch pedal. The wiring under the dash looked like a snake farm, and none of the circuits appeared to pass through fuses.

It’s as if this woodie had broken down in the 1960’s on a surf safari to Ensenada and the young owners had patched it up just well enough to get back across the border. Somehow, by good grace and great karma, those patches had held all these years. But at this point, the woodie had a good chance of becoming a rolling bonfire.

A project like this needed a Patron Saint. It might otherwise have been a goner. When Carl originally brought the Merc into the shop we discussed rebuilding his motor. When it rolled out of the shop it had a hot little flathead, a rebuilt transmission, rebuilt linkage, a new fuel system, rerouted exhaust, the switch to 12V completed, and more. There’s still much to do, but kudos to Carl for stepping up and doing everything safely and correctly. This is one lucky woodie.

When the motor came out it had valve issues and near-irreparable cracks. The arm and pin in the third photo are part of the clutch linkage. The elongated hole is an indication of its years in service. It was originally round.

Most of the wiring had been replaced – or just bypassed.

We were fortunate to locate a new block and, now in Carl’s car, it features a 3 5/16 bore, an Offy intake and heads, forged pistons, new valves with adjustable lifters, a couple of rebuilt 94 carbs, and a refurbished ignition system. The combustion chambers in the new Offy heads come rough cast, so we spent some time polishing.

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’42 Mercury Woodie Part II: The Big Score

25 Apr

A couple of weeks ago Carl Bigg’s Mercury woodie came into the shop for a major transplant. If you read our last post, you’ll remember that both the engine and transmission had issues: near-terminal cracks in the block, missing teeth throughout the transmission, etc. While the woodie had lived a long and hearty life, a revitalization was overdue. We set out to hunt down a rebuildable block, and tore into the transmission:

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’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part VI

23 Apr

Bill Evan’s coupe is making good progress. The trunk area has really come together; the aluminum panels are trimmed and now secured with Dzus fasteners, the fiberglass body lip has been massaged to jive with the edge of the panels, and we’ve begun routing the battery cables and wiring. After a bit of a hunt we found some nicely-made 90° elbow battery lugs that will allow us to run the cables cleanly out through the tin. The battery area will be covered by a finished, carpeted floor panel.

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Installing a Pines Winterfront Grille on a 1932 Ford Vicky

16 Apr

From fuzzy dice and dummy spots to license plate toppers and laminated dash knobs, accessories have always helped define a car. Unfortunately, some don’t know when to stop. It can turn an otherwise cool car into a rolling curio cabinet.

Then there are guys like Don Triolo. His cars are so subtle that it’s easy to walk right by ‘em. The exquisite craftsmanship, the perfect stance, the flawless finishes; they’re all lost on the unwashed masses. But we know, don’t we? His cars stop us dead in our tracks.

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’42 Mercury Woodie: Driveline Rebuild

1 Apr

Woodie in the house! Carl Bigg’s ’42 Mercury has loads of character. It’s also extremely rare. Just over six hundred were built before production was cut short by World War II.

Longer and a little more luxurious than their Ford siblings, these Merc woodies were among the flagships of all of Henry’s cars. Carl’s car probably enjoyed a great life, but eventually it was literally put out to pasture. At some point in the 70’s it was rescued from its resting place in an orchard by a young surfer from Santa Clara. He treated it to an amateur restoration, then drove its wheels off; Early Ford V8 Club event tags from throughout the western U.S. decorate the maple header above the windshield.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese idiom that describes the kind of rough, natural, imperfect beauty that only comes with age. We call it patina, and this woodie is loaded with it. Carl has done much to fix things on the car without disturbing its natural state of grace, but recently its driveline began to complain. The engine ran rough, it wouldn’t hold oil pressure, the transmission was popping out of gear. It was time for some attention. (more…)

A torsion-bar, track-nose, tube chassis, T-roadster

26 Mar


A few years back, a couple of talented guys, Ron Attebury and Dick Jones, teamed up on a high tech T-roadster they hoped to offer as a kit. The car combined a space frame tube chassis and torsion bar suspension with a svelte, track-nosed fiberglass T-roadster body. Three of the kits were produced. One was nicely finished with a 4.3 liter V6 and made it into the feature pages of the 12/93 issue of Rod & Custom. A second is somewhere in the wind, its parts scattered after the owner passed away. The third eventually made its way to the garage of our friend Mason Peters.
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Building a ’39 Ford Transmission with Lincoln-Zephyr Gears

13 Mar

With few companies manufacturing speed parts, hot rodders in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s used junkyard ingenuity to coax more performance out of their cars. It didn’t take these guys long to discover that the taller ratios offered in the Lincoln-Zephyr gear clusters allowed them to wind out further in first and second gear, a definite advantage both on and off the track. The fact that a 26-tooth LZ cluster dropped right into a ’39 Ford transmission case made this conversion extremely popular.

Taller transmission ratios don’t automatically translate to better performance. Heavier cars with stock motors actually lug down under taller gears, but the kind of stripped-down, hopped-up soup jobs we drive definitely dig ‘em. Francis Bonamy’s ’36 five window falls into this latter category. With its hot flathead he has no trouble getting off the line in a hurry. We built one of our Banjo Pinion Seals for Francis. After it arrived he came back and asked if we could build him a transmission. What made the project especially cool was the fact that Francis lives in France.

The popularity of this conversion wiped out the supply of OEM 26 and even rarer 25 tooth LZ clusters years ago, but reproduction units are now available. We located one at a reputable supplier, and went off to hunt down a ’39 trans to build. Our buddy Brian Eakin had one available and, like all Brian’s stuff, it was in immaculate condition. The thrust washer faces were cherry as was the case and all the components we’d be using. ’39 transmissions come in two flavors: Standard and Deluxe. The Standard uses the old-style synchros and narrow shift fork. The Deluxe uses the later versions. While our new box was in great shape, it was a Standard. To be able to update the synchros, we’d need both a mainshaft and shift fork out of a Deluxe. We’d also need a ’36 style bearing retainer and rear mount so the trans would drop right into Francis’ chassis. Paul Jennings, one of the veteran Ford authorities in our area, came through with the parts. (more…)

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part V

27 Feb

If you’ve been following the build on Bill Evans’ coupe, you saw in our last post that we’d progressed into the trunk area with fabrication of the trunk’s aluminum side and rear panels. The cockpit of the car, originally designed by Chip Foose, features broad, swooping expanses of brushed aluminum, trimmed with leather inserts. (You’ll find several photos of the interior metalwork here). The same motif carries into the trunk. Follow along  as Gary hammers out and welds up these panels.

The body of the car is vintage fiberglass from Poliform and is, as you can see from our earlier posts, heavily modified. Unfortunately, much of the work was left rough. It’s taken a good deal of labor and a lot of itching but the aluminum-to-fiberglass fit is coming together.

Although not nearly as photogenic, we’ve made a lot of progress on the wiring, too. We’re close to conquering the snake farm that energizes the coupe’s audio visual system/computers/back-up camera/GPS/remote controls/etc, etc. Check back in, we’ll keep you posted.

Building a ’40 Ford Chassis

11 Feb

The hot rod and woodie worlds are circles that intersect. We know a number of guys that have their feet firmly planted in both. It was in the woodie world a few years back that I stumbled across a compete ’40 Ford chassis. By complete I mean it included the engine, trans, rear end, brakes, wheels, tires, gas tank – everything. The old owner wanted a brand new, air-bagged, disc-braked, 350/350 chassis for his car. He didn’t want any of “that old flathead crap.” I saw it as the beginnings of a traditional coupe or roadster build, so I jumped on it.

I have a pair of original Deuce frame rails that these parts will eventually go into, so I put the ’40 frame up for sale. A customer wanted it for his ’40 coupe and let us build it for him. We set it up with split wishbones and a dropped axle, a parallel leaf rear end, and a center cross member modified to accept his modern 350 transmission.

Chassis Engineering (West Branch, Iowa) is the go-to source for the parts needed to convert these frames. CE stuff is well designed, sturdy, and proven. They call their parts “bolt-on” components, but anyone that’s built a car knows what that means. We thought you might like to follow along as we “bolt” this project together. (more…)

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part IV

15 Nov

If you’ve been following the progress on Bill Evans’ coupe, you know we had to relocate the air conditioner from the trunk to the firewall. There were some fitment problems on the passenger side, which were addressed in our last post, plus a small area on the driver’s side where the corner of the A/C unit hit the underside of the dash. As the dash went in and out, it became clear we had another problem.

The big one-piece bushing we’d inherited along with the column drop wasn’t going to work with Bill’s newly polished column. (more…)

Torque Tube Pinion Seal

14 Oct

If you’re running a banjo and torque tube — especially if your car sits on a rake —  you’ve probably wrestled with the problem of your rear end oil drilling it’s way up the torque tube, starving the banjo and flooding the trans. When this problem resulted in a banjo fry in a friend’s roadster, it was time for some pre-emptive action.

Gary’s roadster has a ’35-’36 banjo and torque tube, with a ’34 driveshaft and 4.11 gears. He was getting ready to switch to 3.54’s, so it was an ideal time to attack the oil migration problem.

It worked out to be three part solution: a machined Insert Sleeve designed to sit in the bell of the torque tube, a simple Ford seal, and a Pinion Collar designed to replace the locknut on the pinion.

The Insert Sleeve slides into the torque tube bell and is fixed by three set-screws that have been drilled and tapped into the tube. Ford didn’t precision-machine these bells – in fact Gary’s was slightly cone shaped – so the sleeve was machined for O-rings to accommodate Ford’s variations. (more…)

Top Chop II: Model A Ford Coupe

21 Sep

In our last post, we’d finished the cuts to Adam’s  coupe, freed the top, then temporarily set it back on for a sneak peek at its new profile. We’d put some effort into the layout of our cuts, so the sheet metal came down square and required very little trimming.

Hot rod folklore says Model A chops are easy: just cut ‘em, set the top back down, and weld it all together. Right. (more…)

Top Chop: Model A Ford Coupe

10 Sep

Adam Barton is a Santa Cruz-based tattoo artist. Extremely talented, he travels the world in pursuit of his craft. He’s also a hot rodder who has owned an impressive succession of traditionally-styled cars. His latest is this full-fendered, flathead-powered ’31 Ford coupe. Adam, screen name xadamx, is a regular contributor to the HAMB. When he first posted photos of his new coupe, he also posed the question “should I chop it?” An overwhelming majority of the respondents cried “leave it alone!” Conformity and herd mentality are obviously not part of his character, so Adam, true to his hot rod roots, launched plans for a haircut.

In our humble opinion, four inches is the ideal chop for these coupes. Any more and the car gets cartoony: the corners of the quarter windows loose their graceful flow, and the proportions begin to look squashed. Any less just isn’t worth all the work. (more…)

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part III

30 May

Gary and I continue to work on Bill Evan’s ’34 coupe. If you’ve been following its progress, you know the car has been under construction for a number of years, and that several famously talented craftsmen have laid hands upon it. While the past workmanship is awesome, one of the design elements we inherited was not: a trunk-mounted air conditioning system.

Mounting the Vintage Air A/C-Heater on top of the gas tank in a sealed trunk presented a variety of problems, not the least of which was the need for fresh air circulation these units require. But we had an additional problem: we also needed someplace accessible to mount the car’s complex electrical system. The solution was to move the A/C unit up into the dash area, and move the electrical to a new bulkhead panel in the trunk.

With a little work, the A/C dropped in behind the aluminum dash Gary has fabricated. He modified an area under the dash to accommodate the heater hardware…

… then louvered a panel to provide fresh air to the system.

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