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How to Build a Hot Rod Chassis - 0760308365

How to Build a Hot Rod Chassis - 0760308365

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SO-CAL Speed Shop's

How To Build
Hot Rod Chassis
Timothy Remus
MOTORBOOKS
First published in 2001 by Motorbooks, an imprint of
M131 Publishing Company, CaWer Plaza, Suite 200, 380
Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55JOI-3885 USA
«) Timothy Remus, 2(]()]
All rights resPfved. With the exception of quoting
brief passnges for the purposes of revie\v, no part of
this publication may be reproduced without prior
vvritten permission from the Publisher,
The information in this book is true and complete to
the best of our knovvledge. All recommendations are
made \vithuut any guarantee on the part of the author
or Publisher, who also disclaim any liability incurred
in connection \vith the use of this data Of specific
details.
This publication has not been prepared, approved, or
licensed by SO-CAL Speed Shop. We recognize,
further, that some words, lTIodcl names, and
designations rnentioned herein are the property of the
trademark holder. We use them for identification
purposes only. This is not an official publication.
MBl Publishing Company titles are also available at
discounts in bulk quantity for industrial or sales-
promotional use. For details ·write to Special Sales
Manager at MBI Publishing Company, Galtier Plaza,
Suite 200, 380 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885
USA
ISBN-13: 97S-0-76113-0836-3
ISBN -10: 0-7603-IlS36-S
On the front cover, main: The SO-CAL Speed Shop '32
Ford roadster uses today's techniques with the best of
yesterday'S esthetics to produce a hot rod for the
twenty-first century. Ua(Jid Fetherston
Inset: The SO-CAL roadster's simple but effective
chassis USE'S traditional hot rod suspension designs to
provide safe, reliable, and comfortable operation. Eric
Geisert, courtesy ( ~ f S t r e e t Rodder Magazine
On the /Jack cover: The SO-CAL Speed Shop offers
complete hot rod chassis, like this one for a '32 Ford.
It features "step boxed" rails, a tubular K-member, an
l-beam axle with hairpin radius rods, and ladder bar
rear suspension. SO-CAL
Edited by Steve Hendrickson
Designed by Jim Snyder
Printed in the United States of America
Contents
Acknowledgments ............................................. .4
Introduction ................................................... .5
Preface .................. ..................................... 6
Chapter 1 Know What You Want ........................................ 10
Chapter 2 The Frame . .................................................. 22
Chapter 3 Front Suspension . .......................................... .46
Chapter 4 Rear Suspension ............................................ 70
Chapter 5 Shocks and Springs . ......................................... S5
Chapter 6 Brakes . ..................................................... 94
Chapter 7 Hardware . ................................................ .1 OS
Chapter 8 Drivetrain . ................................................. 128
Chapter 9 Wheels and TIres . .......................................... 148
Appendix . ................................................... 157
Index ...................................................... .159
Acknowledgments
I
t'S like [ ahV3VS say: You c:m't do it alone. Writ-
ing a book is kind of like building a caL No
niat.tcr how good you are you still need an up-
holstery guy, and help with the paint, and of
cours(;' tht're's a!vvays the vviring to worry about.
In this situation [ have to start by thanking
Pe\(, Chapouris for opening the SO-CAL shop to
nIl' and mv camera. Tonv Thacker, Pete's media
mJn, acted as master of while Twas
there, arranging photo shoots and intervie\\'s and
providing a variety of good ideas. Everyone \vith-
in the SO-CAL organization held out the vvelcome
mat, including foreman Shane Weckerly and front
end expert Jim Sleeper.
Nearby shops like that of Todd Walton and
jerry Kugel took up where the SO-CAL crew left
off. Todd took the time to shovv me hm'" a set of
ralls is converted into a complete SO-CAL frarne,
while Jerry and sons allowed me to do a sequence
that ShO\V5 hovv' a lypical Kugel front suspension
svstem is inst(ll1cd.
rhe other t\VO chassis builders who need
mentiun here include an amateur and a pro. The
4
non-professional is Chris Shelton, the young man
who impressed Pete Chapouris by assembling his
frame in record tilne so he could drive the caT to a
local event. Neal Letourneau is the professional,
who with John Keena's permission, encouraged me
to stop by and photograph every step of their chas-
Sis-building process.
For help with the wheels chapter I need to ex-
press my gratitude to Phil at PS Engineering and
Alan at Budnik. And finally I need to express a col-
lective thanks to everyone in the industry-all the
staff and ad agency personnel who helped by send-
ing images and information on the rails from
Deuce Factory, the frame from TCI (Total Cost In-
volved), the brakes from ECI (Engineered Compo-
nents, Inc), the axle from Super Bell, the motor
mounts from Chassis Engineering, and all the rest.
In closing I have to thank my lovely and talented
wife, Mary Lanz. Mary tolerates my lengthy ab-
sences in California, she helps with proofreading,
and (most important) provides moral support and
pep talks when I don't think there's any way the
book will ever get finished.
B
ig projects get pretty overwhelming. For me,
these projects become manageable only when
they're broken down into a series of smaller
subprojects. Instead of being overwhelmed because
I decided to build a whole cabio, I focus only on the
materials needed to build the basic structure. What
do cabins and cars have in common? Nothing.
Except that both are large undertakings best ap-
proached with the right mixture of planniog, knowl-
edge, enthusiasm, and money. When it came to the
cabio, I worked on the site first, then the foundation,
and finally the task of puttiog up the walls. Almost a
year after hauliog the first load of stuff out ioto the
country, I had the basic structure fioished.
Building a car is no different. If you dwell on
the cost and complexity of your dream car, it will
never be built. Better to start on the foundation of
the car (called a chassis in this case) and focus on
that. Even the job of building a chassis can seem
intimidating, or at least confusing, with all the sus-
pension and brake options currently available.
The goal of this book is three-fold: First, to
educate you as to what's available in terms of
Introduction
complete frames and components. St:'cond, to help
you understand the procedures needed for assembly
of those components. Third, to convince you that you
can build this caf, by yoursel( in a reasonable period
of time and for a reasonable amount of mont'v.
The book is broken do\vn into nine
that parallel the chassis-build ing process. First
comes planning, then the construction or purchase
of the bare frame. Next the purchase and installa-
tion of the front and rear suspension. Before you're
finished you need an understanding of hardvVl1re
and plUlnbing, and some understanding of vvhere
the engine and transmission should mount.
For a look at how they build a SO-CAL chds-
sis or a Kugel Komponen-ts sllspt'l1sion, I've pro-
vided step-by-step sequences from d variety of
shops. Sidebars and intervic\vs allovv you to
share in the vdsdom of men like PetE' Chapouris
and Ken Fenical. At the very end is the sources
section, an ind Llstry listing of l'veryone men-
tioned in the book.
I've tried to provide the information you need
to build a hot rod chassis. The rest is up to you.
5
Preface:
A Short History of the
SO-CAL Speed Shop
U
alike mmw such tales, the story of the 50-
CAL Speed Shop is not one ,nade up by
some clever Inal'keting types; it's a true story
of fripo,cis]t1j hot rods, and the need for speed.
beg;"S on March 22, 1922, in Los
ltorma. with the birth of Alex Xydias.
!\IUH.JU'inl h1s f<1ther was a prominent producer of
silent Atex"s childhood \vas fairly norm at
and like most young boys; he naturally gravitated
to\vard automobHes. lhs first hot rod was a '29
Ford roadster with a milled head and a chopped
flywheeL fIe pilid for the car \vith part-time earn-
ings and drove it to Fairfax High School.
After Alex worked in a gas station
and a '34 three-\vindovv coupe,
Alex Xydias opened hiS first SOCAL shop in 1846 right
after his discharge from the war < One year later he moved
on to shop numbel'two. seen here. in Burbank, California.
The stl'eamliner' is the work of Alex and Dean Batchelor.
Mel'cury powered, it ran 210 mrles per' houl' in 185Dr
by Tony Thacker
which was followed bv a beautifully customized '34
cabriolet, originally f ~ u n d in the -lower basement
garage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. In
1940, Alex joined the Wheelers, a Southern Califor-
nia Timing Association (SCTA) club located in Nor-
walk, California. Then, in 1942, his life, like that of
so many young men, changed when he joined the
Army Air Corps, serving as a B-17 engineer.
According to Alex, "All we talked about dur-
ing the waf was cars, and once, when on furlough,
a friend took me to a street race out in the San Fer-
nando VaHey. I was really surprised at how fast the
cars ran, and I got the idea to open a speed shop."
On the day of his discharge, March 3, 1946,
Alex opened the first SO-CAL Speed Shop, on
Olive Avenue in Burbank, using borrowed money.
Among the fast cars to come out of Alex's shop was
this lakester, powered by a V-8 '60 Ford flathead.
Pete Chapa uris and the car that put Pete and Jake's on the map: the California Kid. Tony Thacker
"I really struggled to keep it going," says Alex.
"Sometimes I made less than S100 a month, but the
hard work paid off. When my one-year lease was
up, I moved the shop to 1104 South Victory Boule-
vard in Burbank where I put up a Sears, Roebuck
and Co. prefab two-car garage.
The hot rods that bore the SO-CAL Speed Shop
logo [all in pretty fast company. For example, a V-8
60-powered belly-tank lakester clocked 136 miles
per hour in 1948 and appeared on the cover of the
january 1949 issue of a fledgling liot Rod magazine.
This early success was quickly ratlfied when Alex
teamed up with legendary auto enthusiast and au-
thor Dean Batchelor to develop a purpose-built
streamliner. Powered by an Edelbrock-equipped
Mercury V-S, the 'liner ran 210 miles per hour in
1950. The following year Alex and some racing
buddies formed the SO-CAL Speed Shop Racing
Team and built the first hot rods to go 160, 170,180,
and 190 miles per hour. In 1952, Mechanix lIlastrated
magazine voted the SO-CAL gang the number one
racing team.
While fast cars continued to run under the 50-
CAL banner, Alex embarked upon another endeav-
or: documenting auto racing events, He filmed
everything from Bonneville to NASCAR, including
Pikes Peak, Indy, and the 24 Hours of Sebring. "It
was hard work/' says Alex. "I'd spend hours be-
hind the wheel getting to an event vvhich f'd then
have to film, before spending hours printing and
editing the film."
Meanwhile, in the adjoining San Gabriel Valley
town of EI Monte, another California Kid was bitten
with the hot rod bug. Born of a hot rod ding father,
A good cigar to smoke and a gr'eat hot r'od to drive,
does it get any better than this" Tony Thacker
Pete Chapouris started "cruisin' the boulevards"
\vith his friends around 1955. Thev'd start at the EI
Monte In-N-Out restaurant on go straight
west to Panner Bovs, then out on Colorado to Bob's
in Glendale turning around and going east
to Henry's in Arcadia. As had been the case during
Alex's childhood, this too was an influentiJJ time
for a young man.
Pete's first hot rod was J ivlodd A coupe atop
Deuce roils. A $20IJ Chevv V-S was mated to a
Packard transmission Jt Blair's Speed Shop, and
Barris Kustom was paid 510 to reverse the wheels.
Like most enthusiasts, Pete \vent through a string
of cars, vvhecling and dealing his way up market
until he could affLird a brand-new '61 T-Bird.
For Alex, the speed equipment business had
undergone many changes. The flathead Porci, in
7
Built With help karl) Pete Eastwood and Jim "Jake" Jacobs, the Limefire car helped garner attention for Pete shortly
aftel' the sale of Pete and Jake's in 19B7. Tony Thacker
The Pete ChapCluris GI'OUp built many fine hot rods, but
some of their most significant work involved restoration of
h,sllml'u"" significant cars, including one that may be the
first " Doane Spencer's roadster. Tony Thacker
which the 5C)'·CAL Speed Shup specialized, was no
longer the hot rodder's favorite, and small firms
like Alex's were under incr(';)sing: pressure from
the "big bOj"s." The final strZl\V came when Alex's
right-hand man at the shop, Keith Baldwin, left.
Alex closed the doors in 1961.
Although Alex's filmmaking ·was doing well,
ht' a position as editor of Petersen Publish-
ing's Cllr magazine in 1963, He stayed with
Pdersen for 12 '1/2 years, transferring to Ho{ Rod In-
dustry i\}CIUS \-vhere he later became publisher. While
there he also served as director of the annual Pe-
tersen Trade Sho\-v, 'which eventually became the
5EMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association)
third largest trade show in the United
States. After leaving Petersen, Alex went to work
with partner Mickey Thompson, organizing the
SCORE off-road equipment trade show.
At the time, Pete Chapouris was working as a
product development technician at Clayton Indus-
tries, a dynamometer manufacturer. During his
tenure there he met Mike Hoag, who left Blair's
Speed Shop to form M&S Welding with Sherm
Gunn, building dragsters. Pete wanted to work for
M&S and consequently took welding classes at
night until they gave him a part-time job. In 1971
he left Clayton and went to work at Blair's.
A member of the Vintage Tin Hot Rod Club,
Pete began work on a chopped '34 coupe that
would have an impact on not only his life but also
the hot rod world. Finished in traditional black
with flames, the coupe was photographed for the
cover of the November 1973 issue of Rod C;' Custom
along with a similarly chopped canary yellow
coupe built by Jim "Jake" Jacobs. The two rodders
hit it oif and decided to start a small hot rod repair
business in Temple City, California. Then came the
call from Hollywood, specifically Howie Horowitz,
producer of the hugely successful Batman series.
He wanted Pete's car for a made-for-TV movie
called The California Kid starring a young actor
named Martin Sheen.
The California Kid put Pete and Jake's Hot Rod
Parts on the map and the pair ran a thriving busi-
ness. Because of their innovative style and seat-of-
the-pants marketing savvy, Pete and Jake took the
hot rod business out of the backyard and into the
mainstream. Meanwhile, in 1982,
Alex was inducted into the SEMA
Hall of Fame.
Pete and Jake's was eventu-
all y sold in ] 987, the yea r Alex
retired, and Pete went to work as
vice president of marketing at
SEMA. Having been instrumen-
tal in the formation of the Street
Rod Equipment Association
(SREA), the job was a natural
and Pete became a driving force
in the transformation of SREA
into the Street Rod Marketing Al-
liance (SRMA), a council of
SEMA. Pete was also inducted Full Circie, Alex and Pete in one of the new SO-CAL roadsters. Tony Thacker
into the SRMA Hall of Fame.
Pete has never been a stuffed
shirt or desk-bound kind of guy,
and when it came time to move on
from SEMA, in ] 990, he formed an
alliance with Bob Bauder called
Syntassien. Among other exciting
projects, the pair completed a pair
of high-profile Harley-Davidsons
known as "HogZZillas" for Billy
F. Gibbons of ZZ Top. The friend-
ship with Billy resulted in numer-
ous projects.
Syntassien was a long word
but a short-lived company. Pete
had a bigger vision and in 1995
he opened the Pete Chapouris
Group (PC'g) at 1357 East Grand
A ven ue, Pomona, California. Un-
der Pete's direction and with the
help of his team of craftsmen,
A perfect merger. Together' Alex and Pete have over 80 years of hot rocl
exper"lence, more industry contacts than anyone alive, and a Shaf'E')d vision for' a
new SO-CAL that combines the best of both old and oew. Steve Coonan
[,C'g quickly evolved into one of the world's pre-
mier hot rod shops, garnering gallons of magazine
ink for the cars it built.
One of the first cars that PClg was involved in
was the restoration, for Bruce Meyee of the Pierson
Brothers' 1934 Ford coupe, which led to an endur-
ing association and the eventual restoration of Alex
Xydias' SO-CAL belly tanker, also for Bruce.
Cover-quality cars were produced by peg with
prodigious speed; the list included Don Simpson's
Killer 1934 Chevy COUPE', several cars for Billy F.
Gibbons (including a 1936 Ford three-window
coupe and "Kopperhed," a 1950 Ford coupe), and an
extended-cab 1929 Model A pickup for Chuck de
Heras. However, the crowning glory in PClg's body
of work was the restoration of the Doane Spencer
1932 Ford roadster for Bruce Mever. Built bv Doane
in 194H to compete in the infamous Carrera
Panamericana Mexican road race, this car has an
impeccable pedigree. By installing Lincoln drum
brakes, 16-inch wheels, and raising the engine,
exhausts, and gas tank to increase ground cJcarann':'1
Doane unvvittingly spawned the classic "highboy'!!
look that enthusiasts the \vorld 0\'('[ continue to em-
ulate more than 50 years Idter. It's also a look that
won the hearts of the Pebble Beach judgt\s, \vinning
the inaugural Pebble Beach l-Jistoric Concours d'EIe-
gance }--:lot Rod class. It also \-\-'on the perpetual Dt'an
Batchelor Memorial Award for Exccllt'ncc.
The win at PebbJe Beach \voldd be a fitting end
to a chapter, but not' before Pete and his friend Alex
were selected as t\l\-'O of the Top HJO Most Influen-
tial People in the high-performance industr)-: anct
as such, were induch:d into the Hot l\.od magazine
Hall of Fame in 1997.
Our story· doesn't end there, though. For ,1
while Alex had been working b(:'hind the scenes
with Pete Chapouris to resurrl'ct the famed SO-
CAL Speed Shop. On NOH'mber 21,1997. that
dream became a reality, and PC'g changt-'d its
name to 50-CAL Speed Shop to begin another
chapter in this on-going hot rod history.
Inow What You Want
Though it sounds too simple,
you need to know what this new car is going to look like,
how it's going to be used, and how much it will cost in dollars
and hours to go from a sketch on the wall to the finished car.
P
lanl1ing for the new hot rod is the most im-
portant step in the whole project. Ordering
bolting the \vheels onto the fran1c to
make a roller, lowering the engine into place; all
those be Ui.ore exciting, but the task of
deci.ding wheels and which engine is ulti-
mately rnore im'portant than buying or instalUng
the parts themselves.
At SO,CAL and at most proiessional shops,
the planning comes before anything else. As Pete
Chapouris states in the interview that follows,
"The first thing \ve do is come up with a concept
for the car. rf
You need to know not only the budget, but
how you intend to usc this new vehicle. Do you
want it to be really fast, or just look fast? The nos-
talgia trend is in full swing; anyone trying to
build a car that looks like it came from another era
needs to lock in that era and get all the details just
right. The hot rod world of today encompasses a
SO-CAL likes to have a rendering of any car they bUild. betore starting on the prolect, The rendering ensures that the
customer and the shop ';see" the same vehicle, and also gives the customer' something to hang on to until the r'ea!
thing arrives, Thorn Tay/or
10
wide variety of car
types and styles. The
good news is that you
can build a back-to-ba-
sics rod, a nostalgia
rod, a billet rod, or vour
own of
what a modern hot rod
should look like. The
bad news is that it can
be hard to pick exactly
what you want from
such a menu.
Many professional
shops use a rendering or
formal drawing to ce-
ment the concept for the
caL If customers do not
have an exact idea of
what they want, a de-
signer like Thorn Taylor
or Chip Foose is hired to
work through a series of
The more unusual the hot rod, the more important the render'ing becomes, Working
from the customer's wish list, the artist will do a whole series of similar concept sketches
until the customer identifies one particular sketch as "the one."
sketches until the customer savs, "that's it, that's the
caL" Then the sketch is used to make a full render-
ing, complete with paint color and graphics.
In the case of your plan for the new hot rod,
start by clipping magazine photos of your favorite
cars, or build a photo-file of cars with the look
you're after. You don't have to build a done of
you see at a show, but if something has the
"look" vou're trving to achieve, it makes sense to
define use the essential parts of that look. The
builders of the stretched Deuce pickup seen farther
along in this book took some frame-to-ground
clearance measurements from cars thev found at
the various car shows. They used th(;se figures
along- 'with some photos from magazines to pro-
vide a starting point for the rake angle and ride
height of their truck.
During the early part of this process, pay atten-
tion to things like the body proportions of the cars
you study. Note whether the top is chopped, the
rake, the tire sizes front and back ... these are all
critical dimensions. As one experienced builder ex-
plained to me, "'what's important is the propor-
tions of the carl not just the dimensions."
In other words, you need to pay attention to
the' relationships between the parts of the car. How
much you chop a top has a major impact on the
car's looks, partly for some not-50-obvious reasons.
The relationship between the height of the top and
the mass of the body is terribly important, and
helps define the look of the car. When YOll chop the
top, or section or channel a body, you've made a
big change in this essential relationship. This is
your car, you can do anything- you like. Just be sure
to think first and cut second.
Designed for Robert Wolf, this radically I'estyled '46
BUick is the work of Eric Aurand. With a car like thiS,
detailed renderings become an essential guide to the
builder. Eric Aurand
Design Like a rro
Plcntv of hot rodders and custom car builders
sketch projects before starting. Some of those
sketches are nothing more than doodles on a nap-
kin. To formalize the process and make it H better
prediction of what the new car will really look like,
you can borrow some ideas used by pi'ofessional
designers and car builders.
First, start out with a stock side \'lew of the car.
This can be a photograph or an image clipped from
a magazine. The important thing in either case is
that it be a straight sicil' view without any distor-
tion. Now, take the image over to the copy machine
and make some big blmvups and a VI/hole series of
11
This chassis, seen under construction further along in
the book, is stretched 3 inches from the stock
dimension. Whether the one you build is bone-stock or
modified in some way, you need to have a detailed
drawing of the chassis before the project begins.
copies. Next C(lmes the fun part With scissors and
tape, cut off the top and raise or lower it to your
heart's cnntcnt Study the effect of a little more or
less cutting. This method will also help you predict
how much you need to add to the middle of the
ro()f dS you \.:ut the posts and lower the lid.
You can LIse the same methods for lowering
the car, trying di.fferent rake angles, or the in1pact
of channeling the car down over the frame. When
you've got the look you want, make some enlarge-
ments of the finished product and hang them on
the refrigerator. Then check and see how they look
in a week. You can ('ven use colored n1arkers to try
different paint colors or graphics packages.
For the more con1puter literate among us, a
SG1l11Wr and PC can make the whole process easier.
Scan the originaJ into the computer, make SOITIC
(opies of the resulting file, then use a software
package like Adobe Photoshop to lower the lid or
change the rake angle. This might be your opportu-
nity to finally learn hovv to use the PC you bought
12
To eliminate the guesswork and save money too)
SO-CAL offers this complete kit, including their chassis
and a steel Brookville body, S[){;AL
the kids for Christmas. Who knows? This could
turn into a family project.
The methods don't really matter. What does
matter is the end product. Just like the big shops, you
want an image of the finished car-one big enough
that you can stand back and appreciate the propor-
tions and overall look of the car. This image will be
the visual blueprint for the project. It will help keep
you excited about the car when energy or money rill1
low and it becomes hard to stay involved. The image
taped to the refrigerator or tool box will also help to
keep you focused. When a new set of wheels or a
new fad shows up in the magazines, you won't be
tempted to begin modifying the plan for the car.
Concrete Planning Steps
You need to know more than just what the car
will look like. Obviously you need to know how
much the car will cost as well. Figuring out the true
cost means being brutally honest about how much
of the car you can build yourself,
We all like to think we're the world's best me-
chanics-that there isn't anything we canlt do, or
can't learn to do. If pressed we could rebuild the
space shuttle before the next launch. However, if
this new car is going to get finished before the end
of the next millennium, you may have to be more
honest about both your mechanical abilities and
your available free time.
We all have to farm out some of the work,
Only a small percentage of us are qualified to do
finish paint work, and even fewer would attempt
to do any upholstery work. Part of the budgeting
process involves breaking the assembly of the car
down into various subunits. Will you buy a com-
plete crate engine, for example, or rebuild the one
sitting in the back of the garage? If you intend to
rebuild the engine, you will need a budget for out-
side machine work. And if the machine shop is go-
ing to grind the crank, bore the block, and fit the
pistons, maybe it makes sense to let them do the
finish assembly of the entire engine. For a little
help deciding exactly which engine best suits the
new ride, take a look at chapter 8.
On a personal level I'm a big believer in "do it
yourself," whether it's a plumbing project in the
house or installing ball joints in the daily driver. In
the real world, though, most of us run out of time.
The classifieds are always filled with project cars and
street rods that didn't get finished. Those projects
started off as sorneone's dream, but somewhere
along the line they turned into nightmares. The idea
is to finish the car, and in order to do that you need to
keep a certain momentum. Something needs to get
done every month, preferably every week. By farm-
ing out some of the jobs you could do yourself, more
total work gets done during a given period, and the
slow progress of turning a sketch on the \va11 into a
finished vehicle is more likely to stay on track.
At SO-CAL they use elaborate planning forms
that list every part on the car along with the price. In
fact, the Chassis Builder's Checklist is available on
their Web site. Another series of forms lists outside
labor for things like sandblasting, polishing, uphol-
stery, paint, chrome, glass cutting and installation,
and even the final detailing. Before the project starts
they know exactly how much it's going to cost, hmv
many hours of 1abor are involved,
and how many of the operations
will have to be performed by out-
side shops.
In the same way you can
make a list of all the parts and
their cost, and all the necessary la-
bor operations. Now break" out
the labor jobs you can't or won't
do yourself and get cost esti-
mates. The planning should in-
clude time estimates as well. ltow
long will it take you to assemble
and paint the frame, and how
long will it take the chassis shop
to narrow the Ford 9-inch rear
end? Trv to schedule the various
labor operations so things dove-
tail. For example, you can't make
the chassis a "roller" until that
rear end is finished and painted.
It's Gotta Be Real
project, it's easy to get \\ihen things
take longer than needed or cost more !-han expect-
ed. Cost overruns can also play havoc with the
family budget and destroy family support for the
new hot rod.
Because the finish bod)/\-\'ork and palnt arc
such a blg part of the project, in terms of both time
and money, some home builders finish c\'('rything
but the body, assemble the car, and drive it in
The finished product of the rendering seen in this
chapter. Consider'lng what it costs to build a nice hot
rod, you don't want any sUf'prises when it's done.
That's why planning IS so important. Tooy Thackel'
The planning and estimating
needs to be as realistic as possible.
If you underestimate either the
time or money needed for the
Fred Fleet's roadster is another very successfol cal' boilt by the SOCAL shop-·wlth
help from detailed renderings done beiDl'e any parts were ordered. Thacker
1:1
Note the detail on the Fred Fleet chassis: the two-tone paint job, the neat routing of the exhaust and the gas lines.
Remember, the chassis is the foundation for the car, Tony Thacker
primer for one year. This strategy does stretch out
the tinlc needed to truly finish the car, but it puts it
on the road that much sooner.
The biggest advantage to this method is the fdet
that you can go out and have some fun with the car
now, instead of one vear from now. Back-to-basic hot
rods always have certain allure and seem to get
more popular as time goes on. You don't have to tell
them it's unfinished. Just paint it primer black (or
gray) and drive it proudly to the local or national
event. [t also gives you a rhanc(' to "debug" the car
an unpainted car for repairs
or adjustments is easier zmd less stressful.
The other advantage of this program 1S the fact
that YOU aHow the bank account to re«wer \,vhile
drivfng the car in primec VVhen it comes time to
pull the body off for that high-quality paint job,
you can have the money already set aside in the
savings account.
Speaking of Money
The topic of money brings up a short discus-
sion of how you pay for this car. Too often home
builders try to pay as they play. Just vvrite a check
for the frame, then the axles one month later, and
14
the vvheels one month after that While the long-
term nature of most of these projects makes this
type of financing possible, there's an Achilles' heel
here as well.
The trouble comes when vour need for some-
thing expensive coincides with a low point in the
family cash flow. Then the purchase of the engine
or tranny or wheels gets put on hold until funds
are available. The project stops moving forward,
vour own attentions are drawn elsewhere, and be-
fore long the "new hot rod" is just that pile of parts
over in the corner of the ga one you
haven't put a vvrench to in six months or 1110re.
When you finish the car or buy a partly fin-
ished car and complete it, it \vill be worth a fair
amount of mDney. Just look at the prices for nice
street rods at a national event or in the back of
StrcctSccnc. \Vhy not borrow money for the project
and thus remove nne more potential speed bump
on the construction highway? Tel1 the banker it's a
finished C<'IT, or bor[(Hv the money against the
house, or take a loan at the credit union. Simply
Illake sure vou have a source of funds so that a
monetary shortfall or a hiccup in your personal fi-
nances doesn't put the project on the back burner.
Things You Need
In addition to the rendering you need to know
the dimensions for the car and the chassis.
Though this is covered more in chapter 2, you
need a vvorking drawing of the chassis so you
know where the firewall, axle centerlines, and
body-mounting holes are.
Pete Chapouris feels strongly that anyone who
is starting from a complete car should take the time
to measure everything before blowing it apart.
Even if you plan major changes, it's good to know
how far the stock bumper was from the ground,
and how much clearance there was between the
frame and the concrete slab the car is parked on for
the measuring session. Get out your camera and
take some pictures, both close up and far away, If
nothing else, these may be the basis for the clip-
and-paste session mentioned earlier.
Disassembly
Though many new hot rods are built entirely
from new parts, many of us are working from an ex-
isting caf, finishing someone else's project, or rebuild-
ing an old stockeL In either case the disassembly
must come first and it should be done with caution.
Keep the camera handy and take plenty of
photos both before and during the disassembly.
They will prove a great aid when you try to put
Humpty Dumpty back together again. Even if you
don't intend to use all the old hardware, gather it
into logical groupings and place each group in a
large zip-lock bag with a label inside. If nothing
else, the labels will help you sell or give those origi-
nal parts to someone who needs them.
It's easy to just rip everything apa rt and then
congratulate yourself for the speedy disassembly.
The trouble comes later when you're trying to fig-
ure out which bolts hold the hinges to the body, or
where the door handles arc, or whatever happened
to the trim pieces after they came back from the
chrome-plating shop. A small investment in extra
time spent during the disassembly I;vlIl pay big
dividends ·when it comes time to screw it aU back
together again.
Sometimes the simplest cars [or trucks) have the rnost
appeal. This "ranch truck" 1929 Model A roadster
pickup from SG-CAL uses steel wheels, stl'alght yellow
paint, and a subtle rake to create a package that's easy
on the eyes. How much the hut rod will be driven has a
majo!" impact on the parts and finishes used on the
chassis. Tony Thacker
Don Simpson's Killer Coupe is another of those cars that reqoire careful planning and detailed rendel'ings. Remembel'
that ondemeath those great lines and that nice body is a chassis that holds it all together' and gives the cm' its stance.
Steve Coonan
15
The assembly-this is actually the second time Chris has assembled
this chassis-starts with a SO-CAL chassis and various suspension
components, This sequence is meant to show how a typical SO-CAL
frame together" and does not exactly match Chris' description of
the assembly,
Chris bought the rear end housing from SO-CAL alr'eady narrowed and
with the ladder' bal' brackets attached, The spring is a 1940-Ford-style
from Posies. Once the spring is attached to the housing, the
can be bolted up to the cross-member,
10
A
s an In the Shop sequence for this
first chapter, we've elected to show a
typical SO-CAL chassis and IIOW it goes
together, The frame forms the foundation
for a project owned by Chris Shelton, Still
in school, Chris is working with a limited
budget and assembling the car in the
small single-stall garage behind his apart-
HIent cornplex.
This little section describes the way
Chris outfitted his frame and stayed with-
in a budget, and documents any troubles
Chris had during the assembly,
The Starting Point
Chris started with a standard 50-
CAL Deuce frame, though this one
has a provision for a clutch instead of
the more common automatic trans-
mission (the difference in the two
frames is covered in more detail in
chapter 8),
Though most of these frames use
the SO-CAL springs on both ends,
Chris chose springs from Posies, In
the rear, Chris used a 1940-Ford-style
spring supplied by Posies and de-
signed speCifically for this frame and
suspension. This spring came with re-
versed eves and hidden sliders, so it
looks as traditional as possible,
Chris reports that the assembly of
the rear suspension and 1940 Ford
spring did involve a fair amount of
work, "It's hard to compress the
spring to install it. I used 1 l/2-inch
box tubing, longer than the spring,
and a great big, 12-inch C-clamp to
straighten out the spring against the
tubing and make it long enough to in-
stalL I did this job alone but would
never do it again without some help.
"I hung the rear end in the frame
first, without the spring, just the rear
end and the ladder bars hanging there,
Then I compressed the spring and put
it on the rear end with the shackles,
Next I raised the whole thing up into
position under the frame and bolted
the spring to the center clamp assem-
bly on the cross-member."
At the front of the car Chris used
a 47-inch dropped axle from Chassis
Engineering, primarily because it's a
With the radius rods already in place, Chris attaches
the main leaf, before bolting on the rest of the leafs.
Here Chris shows us the hidden sliders, designed to
reduce internal friction in the Posies front spring,
The complete assembly, a 47-inch forged axle With Magnum spindles and 'drum' brakes from S(}{;AL, before being
bolted up under the frame.
17
With the frame on Jack stands it's relatively easy to roll
the axle In underneath, and then start the
first attaching the radius rods to the Pivots
on the frame,
stronger, forged steel design, Like the rear spring,
the front spring is from Posies while the spindles
are 1937 to 1941 Ford style from Magnum,
To assemble the front end Chris started with a
bare axle, "Then I put the batwings and perches
on, Next I installed the hairpins on the batwings
(they only go on one way, the long side on the bot-
tom, or the caster is way off), Then I slid the whole
assembly under the frame and installed the bolts
that go through the frame mounts and the hairpin
rods, Then I attached the main leaf without the
rest of the stack, and pulled it up into the mount
and loosely clamped it all togetheL" Chris does in-
tend to use a Panhard rod on his Deuce.
"Then I set the frame at the approximate ride
height and checked the caster with my protractor.
I first measured the caster with the front end
mocked up at approximate ride height without
the spindles attached to the axle, I used the ma-
chined 'flats' atop the axle where the kingpins af-
fix the spindles to the axle, Later I
double checked everything with the
spindles and wheels installed and the
car at static ride height For the final
measurement, I measured using the
flat portion at the very top of the
kingpin flange that holds the felt seal
in place.
The drums are really JUst covers for the SOCAL disc brakes, and go on last.
"I adjusted the axle's caster from 6
to 10 degrees, just to make sure the
spring wouldn't bind, and then 1 set it
at 8 1/2 degrees, Next 1 bolted the rest
of the leaves in with the main leaf,
and installed all the hardware, like the
headlight stands, the Pete and Jake's
shocks, and a Vintique stainless
spreader bar.
bolts to a pad that's part of the rear cross-member,
Some cars use 8 spacer between the frame pad and the spring to
raise back of the cal'
18
"For the brakes I used the 50-
CAL-supplied hardware and instruc-
tions, Without the dustcaps on the
kingpins, I slipped the backing plates
over the spindles and installed the
caliper flange brackets and polished
stainless Pete and Jake's steering
arms. I then assembled the hubs and
rotors and secured them with safety
wire, After inserting the bearings, I in-
stalled the rotating assemblies on the
spindles with the washers and castle
nuts. With the hubs and rotors in-
stalled I shimmed the calipers at the
point where they mount, with the
supplied washers, to center the
calipers over the rotors. Finally, I in-
stalled the pads and inserted the fit-
tings to adapt the SO-CAL hoses to
For brake plumbing, Chris used standard 3/16-inch
double-flared steel lines, The nice thing about using
these lines is the fact that they are readily available in
a wide variety of lengths from nearly any automotive
parts store.
Here you see the proportioning valve mounted to the
frame, and the SO-CAL-installed bracket where the
hard line meets the flexible brake line that runs to
the rear axle.
the NPT threads in the Wilwood calipers, I then
bolted the backing plates to the caliper flanges and
installed the finned brake 'drums,' At this point] left
everything finger tight, since] had to partially disas-
semble everything to bleed the brakes later on,"
For plumbing, Chris chose not to use stainless
brake lines. Instead he installed standard 3/16-
inch steel brake lines from the local Pep Boys
outlet. As Chris explains, "] used the steel lines
because they're not nearly as expensive as the
stainless lines. I also used the regular lines be-
cause I prefer an OEM-style inverted Hare, which
isn't possible to do with stainless [stainless lines
require 37-degree single Hares and AN fittings]. I
suppose it's just a matter of preference, but I feel
the advantage of the inverted Hare's superior seal
Where things like proportioning valves are to be bolted
to the fr'ame, Chris had heavier strap welded in place,
then drilled and tapped, This same method was used to
mount the gas filter to the right frame rail.
Small stainless clamps, held in place with Allen-head
machine screws, keep the lines neat and secuf"81y in place,
outweighs the added labor of the additional
not to mention if 1 damage a line sornevvhere, the
local parts stores carry inverted flare lines and fit-
tings. For brackets I used the SO-CAL fittings
which wefe alreadv attached to the frame. For
clamps I used stainless steel line
clamps with stainless steel hex-head screws and
washers. To fasten the clamps to the chassis, I
drilled and tapped holes into the boxing plates."
The fuel filter is a standard AC brand filter
available at any auto parts store, No. GF 62C Chris
If)
In The Shop continued
The fuel tank from Tanks, Inc., drops right in place
between the rails and bolts to holes alr'eady punched in
the tops of the rarls.
welded 1/ 4-inch strap to the rear of the frame rail,
then drilled and lapped that for mounting the fuel
filter. The hard lines are 3/8-inch steel fuel lines,
while the flexible lines arc the style you can n1ake
up yourself. "For flexible fuel lines' I used Aero-
quip Teflon-lined stainless braided line/' explains
Chris. "The raw hose can be cut \-vith a fine-
toothed hacksa'w f and assembll'd at home \vith
common wrenches."
The fuel tank is from Tanks, rnc., and is a rela-
tively new item. [t has the stock reveal and shape
stamped directly in the top just like an original
1932 tank. This tank has a fabricated bottom that
allows for more volurne but doesn't hang: down
any farther than a stock one. [t attaches to the
three stock tank-mounting holes atop the rear
frame horns. Tanks also supplies the unit with a
vented stainless cap, a cut-to-fit pickup tube, and a
remote-mount aluminun1 vent. The tank also has
provisions for a universal-type sending unit.
Chris added these final details: "I had to weld
a bracket on the rear axle to hold a brake line T.
Bleeding the brakes necessitates unbolting the
front calipers and rotating them back on the rotors
so the bleeders face straight up. Jeff Kugel at Kugel
like most SO-CAL frames, this one uses a Vega-style steering box mounted so the steering shaft comes right
the left-Side motor mount.
20
Komponents made up (] steerjng; shaft \vith some
Borgeson {.3-joints specifically for m:y application.
He also supplied me vvith some nylon bushings
originally meant to fit a Jag-style fcar radius arm,
so I could use them for steering shaft bearings in
the steering column. They had to be cut dmvn for
my application though, since I'm going to run a 1
1 /2-inch steering column, The steering column \vil1
connect to a Vega-style steering gear."
The installed front suspension looks very traditional, right
down to the black SO-CAL fleXible front brake hoses.
Chris explains that the rest of the project will
include a bodY from Rod Bods "and a Richmond
manual from SO-CAL with a long-
sliding-rail shifter. As I started buying parts from
SO-CAL, they helped out by locating parts at
prices better than most mail-order companies,
which really helped. SO-CAL also supplied the
Lakewood bell housing, which they modified
specifically for the chassis and clutch linkage (see
chapter 8 for more on the SO-CAL clutch linkage).
The 22-pound flyvvhecl, disc, pressure platt\ and
throw-out bearing are from McLeod. As for the en-
gine, right now it's the 327 in the garage, but if
everything goes as planned, rll be funnjng a 1-'101-
ley-headed and inducted 350."
Epilogue
Between the time these photos of Chris' pro-
jt'ct were taken, and the publication of the book,
Chris assembled the roadster and drove it to a
few local events. 1"0 quote Pete Chapouris, "We're
all very impressed b),f Chris' eagerness and first-
time ability,"
The finished frmne, ready to be disassembled again so all the pieces can go out for plating. polish. and paint.
21
H
ot rodders tend to spmd <1 large percentage
of their lTWlley on things they can sec, with
the rnost obvious parts of the car often get-
the most attention. Who can fault a builder for
SP'('I1,:llf'l.jl enOr'mOllS amounts of time and energy
bltJddng out aU the body panels <1nd then paying
m(mc'v to have a talented painter apply a
paint job complete with
clearctJats and polisillirlg?
there (lrc times when the best money
should be on things you can't see. vVhich (q
more the chrome valve covers or the
The Frame
roner-rocker assemblies underneath them? 'Ihe
polished intake manifold or the high-lift cam? The
painted finish on the outside of the block or the mi-
crofinish on the reground crankshaft journals?
In this chapter we want to be sure each builder
gives serious consideration to the biggest compo-
nent (or series of components) on the car that can't
be seen. By that, we mean the one thing that ties
the whole thing together: the frame.
Not onlv docs the frame tie the whole car to-
gether, it affects the car's style, height, ride, han-
dling, and cost A pro/street coupe with a 502-cid
crate motor will have a very differ-
ent frame from one thaI's built as a
flathead-powered nostalgia G1L
As discussed in chapter 1,
most of your frame decisions
should b e ~ determined during the
planning part of the project A nos-
talgia car needs a nostalgia frame.
Something like the boxed Deuce
frame offered by SO-CAL, with
buggy springs on both ends and a
dropped axle with hairpin radius
rods. If you want the car super
low, it's far better to determine
that in the very beginning than it is
to assemble the car and then have
to modify the suspension later to
get it down in the weeds.
TillS '32 Ford kame from SO-CAL offel's the benefits of a boxed frame while
still a recessed area along the inside of the frame rail to neatly run
b,'eke and fuel lines. The trame can be set up for highboy or tuil-fendered cars
and comes with coil-overs or buggy rear spring, SO-CAL
Horsepower always has its
cost Not just the cost of the high-
output big-block, or the modified
700 R4 transmission, but the cost
of a chassis strong enough to
handle that power. When you
drop the hammer and send 400
foot-pounds of torgue to two
sticky 12-inch-wide tires, it puts a
hell of a load on the entire chas-
sis, from the axle to the leaf
springs, to the frame rails and
cross-members.
22
Before starting on the frame you need to
know all the basic dimensions for the car: the
wheelbase, the distance between the frame and
the ground at both the front and rear, and the
track width of the front and rear tires. With these
dimensions in hand, you can do a sketch of the
new frame. Unless your project is really unusual,
you will probably want to have a drawing or blue-
print of a stock frame as well-one that shows the
axle centerlines, the location of important body-
mounting holes, and the width of
the frame at various points,
Your Options Are ...
Use That Old Frame
For rodders who bought a complete car, run-
ning or not, the option of using the origin,Jl frame
may be attractive, Cost is always a consideration,
and using that gennie frame means you don't
have to buv a frame from Fat Man or TCI or one
of the m a ~ y manufacturers of new street rod
frames. In your mind you may figure that old
frame needs only a little cleaning and repair bt>
fore being recycled back into service, For anyone
Once you know what you
need in a frame, in terms of the
wheelbase and other hard dimen-
sions, you're faced with three basic
options, each with one or more
variations, Essentially, you can
work with the original frame, build
your own frame from rai1s, or buy
a complete aftermarket frame.
The front cross-member from SO-CAL is designed to both lower the cal' 1 inch
and provide plenty of positive castel'. By prOViding for extra positive caster the
cross-member allows cars to run 6 to 9 degrees of net caster, after the car' is
raked 2 or 3 degrees-all without putting a bind in the front spring. SO-CAL
"
A mechanical drawing like this one for a '32 Ford provides all the basic dimenSions for the frame. Street rod vendor's
and many aftermarket frame manufacturers can often supply a similar drawing for most popular cats.
\vho buys an old Cadillac, Studebaker, or other
"unusu;r' car, llsing the original rails may be the
only logical approach.
Yes, you can use a good original fran1(, and
many hot rodders do. Experienced builders warn,
however, that using an old, substandard frame of-
ten works out to be more vvork and cost more mon-
ey than the builder originally figured.
An original frame should be inspected, but first
you need to get it really clean, vvhich often means
hauling it ovor to a sandblaster. Once it's been
blasted clean, you can carefully inspect the frame.
Look for stress cracks, serious rust (seric)Us enough
to weaken the frame), or evidence of past accidents.
With a factory blueprint in hand, you can check the
gennie frame against the factory dimensions.
~ ~
0
B
/
Updating an Original Frame
Your car's original frame probably wasn't in-
tended to handle the power of a 350-ci small-block,
but boxing \viIl help reinforce it. Templates can be
cut from light cardboard and then used to mark the
boxing material. Most experienced frame fabrica-
tors recommend using sted plate that's the same
thickness as the frame material. You should box at
least the central part of the frame rails \vhere the X-
member will attach. More prudent \vould be using
boxing plates that run up as far as the engine
mounts or even the front cross-member. Pete ex-
plains, "We box from the front (foss-member back
past the firewall, and where all cross-members
mount, if full boxing is not desired,"
The original X-member (if one was used) will
likely have to be reinforced as
well,' and modified to accept the
tail housing of the new transmis-
sion. By the time you've opened
up the cross-member enough to
take a Turbo 400 transmission, it
might be easier just to add in an
aftermarket cross-member. And
by the time you've done that and
b;,xed all or ~ p a r t of the rails, it of-
ten turns out to be less money and
hassle in the long run just to bite
the proverbial bullet ilnd buy a
new frame right from thE.::
1
get go.
There isn't anything that
can't be repaired, though, and
that includes your original frame.
Whether the frame is old or new. it's a good idea to check the measurements
from one corner to the other. Starting trom known reference points-like the
cowl-mounting holes on many Ford frames-you will want to find the axle
centerlines. Once you've found those points, or some other quality
It's more a matter of vvhether or
not it makes sense to repair the
framc, instead of replacing it
with something new. The cost
and availability of a new frame
are a big part of this equation. reference points, rnake sure that A equals B. It's a good idea to check the
X-measurements using more than one set of r'efer'ence points. If no (me n1akes a new frame,
or a set of rails, for your 1914
Hupmobile, then fixing that old frame might look
like a pretty good idea.
With the frame on jack stands you can do some
simple dimensional checks. Perhaps more important
is the check made, corner to corner, to ensure the
frame isn't out-of-square. When measuring, usc the
right reference points. At SO-CAL they recommend
measuring fron1 the rivet holes in the front and rear
cross-members and the cowl-mounting holes. Then,
put the frame on three jack stands, one at each rear
corner, and one in the middle of the front cross-
member or spreader bar. Once you've leveled the
rear cross-member, take the level to the front crOS5-
member and see if that one's level as \vell.
If you're unsure as to whether or not a partic-
ular frame is worth saving, haul it dO'wn to the lo-
cal street rod or fabrication shop and get their
opinion on the frame's condition and the cost for
any needed repairs.
24
Build Your Own
Individuals \vho \vant something unusual,
who have a knack for fabrication, or vvhn simply
insist on doing everything themselves, may opt to
start with a set of new rails and vvork from there.
This way you can easily pinch the front of the
frame rails, or change the axle centerlines slightly
so the wheels better fit the fender openings. The
cross-men1bers can be as simple or elaborate as you
decide you need, crafted by hand or purchased
already fabricated from a company like Chassis
Engineering or Pete and Jake's, ready to install be-
tween your rails. The front sllspension can be as
simple as a dropped axle, as common as a Mustang
This is the start of the Deuce truck project, a pair of stamped rails from Deuce Frame Company on a sturdy surface
table with enough rectangular tubing to make a frame jig or fixture.
II IFS system, or as high-tech as one of the nevver
independent systems with built-in air bags for in-
stant height adjustment.
Frame rails JPpear to be a simple piece of mild
steel, bent to shape and stamped full of holes for
the body and other necessary parts of the car. Like
everything else, though, they're not as simple as
they seem, and they're certainly not all the SJme.
Materials
Most of the frames and framl' components
sold in the street rod industrv are made from
good old mild steel. Yes, chrome-moly is a more
durable materiat with greater strength for a given
Jt1lount of "veight, but in most of these applica-
tions that cxtra strength simply isn't needed. SO-
CAL usC's rails from American Stamping to make
their -1932 Furd frames; American Stamping rails
arE' also seen in the how-to sequencc in this chap-
ter. Those rails, and 99 percent of the frames seen
in catalogs or on display stands at the Nationals,
are fabricated from mild steel.
The exccptions to this mild-steel rule are the
one-off frames. For instance, each tubular frame
rail built bv Steve Moal for the Tim Allen Roadster
is lnade f r ~ ) m two parallel pieces of chrome-moly
tubing. Stc\'c prefers chrome-moly "because of the
very high quality of the raw material Jnd because
it's what rm used to \vorking vdth." A recently fin-
ished Model A truck chassis built at Metal Fab in
Minncapolis is another chrome-moly creation.
"You don't reallv need chrome-molv unless it's a
high-horsepov;er application," explains Jim
Petrykovvski, o\vner of the Metal Fab shop outside
Minneapolis, "or unless it's a real active suspen-
sion" (the Model A truck is powered by a blown
big-block). Many of the frames that came out of the
old Boyd Coddington shop vverc made entirely or
in part from chrome-moly.
Despite Steve Moal's USt' of round tubing for
the RRR Roadster, the typical hot rod frame is
made from rectdngulJr rJlls. The rectangular pro-
file offers good strength, J nice fIat surface to
mount the body on, and a shape that closely mim-
ics the shape of an original Ford or Chevy frame.
Frame Rails, Stamped or Fabricated
In the case of the 1932 Ford rails from Deuce
Frame Company, the rails themselves afe st<lmped
from a flat sheet. That way they get a faithful re-
creation of the signature Ford frame rail. Must of
the other rails seen in the industry are simply made
of flat stock, flame or plasma-cut to size and then
welded up into a C-channel or J box.
The Deuce Frame Company rails are stamped
by an outside company: American Stamping
25
Group in Olive Branch, Mississip-
pi. Barry Carter, owner of the
Stamping Group, describes him-
self as a tool and die maker. "I've
been working in this field since I
was 15 years old. In 1977 I made
the dies needed to stamp out an
automotive bumper; by 1987
they'd made a million bumpers
off those same dies."
Here you can see Neal's frame fixture in position on the surface table. This is
more elaborate thal1 most builders need, but wi!! make it easier to keep
everything in line as the frame is stretched.
The same technology is used
to make the Deuce frame rails.
Barry makes the process sound
simple. "The dies are made from
hardened steel. Each die is actu-
ally made up of various pieces,
no one piece is larger than 18
inches long. That way if you do
have a problem with a die, you
don't have to replace the whole
thing. These are all pretty stan-
dard manufacturing processes."
The frame rails in midstretch, still attached to their
stations. The area Neal cut is just ahead of the area
where the frame kicks up for the rear axle.
The inside of the rails shows the body-mounting nuts in
place. It's a good idea to run a tap through these after
they are welded in place to clean up the threads.
26
With the Deuce rails, there is
a die set for the left rail and another for the right.
"It takes two hits to form each rail," explains Bar-
ry. "The first hit cuts the sheet to size and the sec-
ond hit actually forms the rail. We use 2,000 tons
of pressure to form the rails."
Barry goes on to explain that the difference be-
tween good frame rails and not-so-good rails is in
the dimensions and the way the rai1s are forn1cd.
"Fabricated rails (fabricated from flat stock) don't
have the rounded corners that the originals do.
Fabricated rails may also show evidence of grind-
ing on the corners."
No matter which type of rail you buy, be sure
the dimensions are correct and that any necessary
reference holes or marks are accurate as welL And
whether you buy rails or a complete frame, remem-
ber that shipping can cause unseen damage. For
this reason it's a good idea to carefully check the
basic dimensions of rails and frames, and to do
some height and cross-measurement checks on a
cOlnplete frame.
Often the company that manufactures and
sells the rails will also sell matching boxing
plates. You may even be able to buy the rails
longer than stock for a special application. For a
look at how one hot rodder assembled a '32 Ford
frame from rails, see the In the Shop section later
in this chapter.
If building a frame from rails is the answer for
your project, you first need a set of engineering
drawings for the frame and your own sketch show-
ing where important components like the firewall
and radiator shell are located. (Though some of
these measurements may change slightly after the
first mock-up.)
A wide variety of complete frames are available, including this Model A frame from Pete and Jake's. Advantages include
fully boxed rails, already installed cross'members, and body'mounting holes that are alr'eady drilled and with
3/8 Inch Nut,serts. Pete and Jake's
The second thing you need is a good surface
table, like the one Neal Letourneau built, shown
later in this chapter. The table provides a level
work surface that you can bolt or weld frame-rail
supports to, and (;n which you can mark center-
lines and dimensions. You can't build a frame
that's square and correct in all its dinlensions un-
less you have known and stable references to mea-
sure from. All this depends on a good surface table,
If space is tight in your shop, you can design a
simplified table with removable legs, so it can be
stored against the wall when not in use, But it
needs to be sturdy and flat, with an adjustment on
each leg to help level the table on the garage floor.
A Brand-New Frame
Buying a brand-ncl,v frame offers a nUlnber of
advantages. First is the "new" part of the descrip'
tion. These fr<lmcs come without rust, cracks, or
old repairs.
The second really nice thing about buying a
new frame is the incredible variety of products cur-
rentlv available. Whether you want yours nlodified
in back for a pro/street application, or with the
front suspension already installed, someone likely
makes exactly what you have in mind. If you're
building a Deuce, you can have anything from a
complete nostalgia frame to a high-tech alternative
with independent suspension.
Complete frdn1cs comt,' as complete as ynu
want, Most manufacturers \vill sell the frarne \'\tith
or without the front and rear suspension aJreadv
installed. As mentioned earlier, Tnanv frames ar"c
available vvith t\vo or three different types of sus-
pension. You might have your cholel' of either a
dropped front axle \-'lith four-bar link;:'lge or a com-
plete independent front suspension \-yUh tubular
upper and lovver control arms and coil-over
shocks, Many manufacturers designate their "com-
plete" chassis as Stage I, Stage ll, or Stage III, dc,
pending on the degree of completeness.
Relatively ne\\' on the market arc the air-bag
suspensions, \vhich pn)\'idl' total ride control.
"rhese systems are offered as an option many
of the manufacturers selling complete frarnc as-
semblies; thev're covered in detail in thL'
suspension cl{aptcrs.
Another advantage of the complete frame is
the added strength built into the nt'v\' frame.
Manv of these come with boxed rails Jnd stout
cross-members already in place. You don't have
to box or reinforce your old frame, or (;V('l1 add
boxing plates to th(;se nc\v stamped every-
thing's been done for you. VVhen dccid
whether or not you need boxed rails; consider that
many of the original frames used a doubh:: 'U-
shaped channel, I,vith one inside the other. The
smaller, inside rail oftt'n angled i;-1\v<:yy hom the
27
Most street rod vendors win supply a complete fr'ame either bar'e or already equipped as a mller'. This 1932 Ford
frame comes with either a dropped axle or independent suspension, and a 9-inch Ford housing at the mar. It can also
be ordered with stainless AN brake lines already Installed. Tel
make frames from round tubing in-
stead of channels and rectangular
tubing. The double rcnv of tubing
used to form the "ladder" side
channels makes for a strong framc,
though it may l:w more challenging
to drill holt'S and attach brackets to
,\ round tube. A fe,v nf these frames
{-'yen come in chronIc-moly instead
of mild stcel.
Among the many offerings in the frame category is this complete fl'sme with
air-bag suspension already installed. Art MOrrison
Before buying a brand-new
frame, be sure it \vill match up to
the bod V you intend to use. Some
of the frames iocate
the cross-melllbers in such a way
that a genuine Fnrd or Chevy bod}'
wun't drop into place correctly un-
less 'lOU cut out sections of the
floor 'first. One builder J know had
to cut the floor out of a verv nice,
original Ford bodv in order'to use
nevv frume already pur-
chased. Most manufacturers don't
yolunteer this information, you
havL' to ask!
Tnain rail to form the X-member. Building such
frames is cost-prohibitive today. The boxed rails
offer more strength and a good surface for attach-
ing thc cross-lnembers or X-members.
For those who like things high-tech, Kugel Klltn-
ponents, Mike Adams Rod Shop, and a few others
28
Nevv cross-members ilnd X-
Inembers necd to be considered
with the same criteria in mind.
Make they'll clear the tail housing ()l1 that
TH400 or R4 transmission, and that thev allow room
to run the large-diameter dual exhau'st pipes that
you intend to install. Again, be certain these parts
INiH ,·vork in tandem vvith your intended body so it
will set down into place without any modifications.
Unusual projects cal! for unusual chassis. This fully independent chassis is the result of a collaboration between Kugel
Komponents and Oldsmobile. The rear-mounted engine is an Aurora powerplant. Note the rocker-arm independent
front suspension. Kugel
If you like your rear tires really fat, try this pro/street frame from Tel. Available for 1928 to 1941 Fords, it comes
either- as a bare frame or with front and rear suspens'lon and axles installed. Tel
29
This perimeter frame utilizes 2x4-inch
tubing featuring 0.120-inch wall thickness. These ProFile
frames ar'e available to fit many popular cars and can be
equipped with air suspension, or anyone of a number of
conventional suspension systems. Art Morrison
Not all hot rodders believe in the low and slow
philosophy. This MaxG chassis utilizes Corvette
components in front and a modified four-bar in back, all
designed to maximize cornering abilities. Art Morrison
:lO
Remember that your choice of a frame depends
on the end use. You have to decide how you're go-
ing to use and equip the new hot rod, and then buy
a frame that works best for that use and equipment.
What You Need to Know
Based on your sketches, the original engineer-
ing draWing, and the information provided by the
frame manufacturer, you should know the follow-
ing: where the stock axle centerHnes are located,
where your own choice for axle centerlines is going
to be located (some of this may be determined dur-
ing the mock-up stage), and where the engine will
be located.
Don't forget that by positioning the engine a
little farther back in the chassis you help to even
out the nose-heavy weight distribution of a typical
hot rod. Sometimes a simple dimple in the firewall
for the distributor or a recessed firewall from a
company like Bitchin' will push the engine far
enough back that you can install a higger radiator,
fan, and fan shroud.
Too many street rods have been built with the
engine so far forward that there really isn't room
for a good-size fan, shroud, and radiator. A no-has-
sle car is one that doesn't overheat while you're
cruising around on the fairgrounds. ·1'hese cars
benefit from good components installed with care
and planning.
The other common mistake is to place the en-
gine too low in the chassis. To run a big, belt-driven
fan you need to place the engine high enough in the
chassis that the centerline of the water pump is in
the center, or just above the center, of the radiator. 1£
nothing else, leave a minimum of .5 inches between
the bottom of the oil pan and the ground. As a rule
of thumb for the entire project, nothing should hang
down any lower than the bottom of the wheel rims
when the suspension is fully compressed.
The Mock-Up
Once you have the frame nearly finished, you
can build your car "in the rough." For this exercise,
you want to start with the frame rails sitting at ride
height. The front suspension can be assembled
loosely, enough so you can put the Wheels and tires
on at least one side. You can effectively lock the
height of either the front or rear suspension with
solid rods installed in place of the shock absorbers.
Leave the coil springs out of the car or off the
shocks. For leaf springs, just use the main leaf in-
stead of the whole spring pack. Some builders
leave the frame on the table, in the jig used to as-
semble the frame, but that way you can't experi-
ment with the height of the frame and car.
The idea is to partially assemble the car so you
can be sure the body mounting locations are correct.
You also need to check the location of the engine,
This XHmember and transmission mounting assembly is meant to add strength to your chassis while
most transmissions. Chassis Engineering
room for
radiator, and firewalL If you can get the body and
running boards mounted temporarily on the car,
you can also finalize decisions regarding the rake of
the frame and the final position of the rear axle rela-
tive to the fender opening. This is also a good time
to double check the axle widths, and how they work
with your intended wheels and tires. .
When assessing the overall look of the car dur-
ing these mock-up sessions, it's important to be
able to get back far enough to really appreciate the
car and the proportions. You can't decide how a
slight change in the angle of the radiator grille shell
will affect the look of the car when your nose is
pressed up against the fender. •
If the garage is smali, you need to be able to roll
the car or the whole table outside. At least design the
table so it can be turned and positioned so you can
open the door and stand outside to check the propor-
tions of all the components. Spend some time look-
ing everything over, take some photos. If a body
pane] looks out of place in a visual sense, take time
to reposition it and then stand back for another look.
If a few body panels are missing, create new
ones with cardboard or plywood and tape or
screw them in place. Decide ho\v far back to plaCl'
the engine and ,,".{here that puts tht.:: fircvvall.
Where, in turn, '>vill that put the driver's feet and
the steering column? The builder should avoid
thinking that the steering and exhaust will \,york
out later. The position of the steering column must
be calculated during the early.' stages of building.
As one experienced builder put it, the
space to fit the steering, don't adapt the to
fit the space."
For this exercise, it's handy to have an old en-
gine block and a bare transmission casE'. You may
be able to borrow an old junk engine from a friend,
just be sure to put a 'water pump and fan on the
front and vou vvill need to install a distributor to
ensure tha''t it will clear the firewall. The trann\'
case can often be borrowed ,1S \..vell, or
from the parts bin at the local transmission shop.
Everything you do <:It this stage affects some··
thing else. The Lnv of unintended consequences "is
in ful1 effect here. Don't do this in a hurrv" I .ook for
the ob\'ious mistakes vou can't sec and friends
for their input before {naking the final decisions on
the location of all the major components.
:31
In The Shop: Building a Frame from Scratch
After the stretch the frame looks like any other Deuce frame, except for the two weld beads on the inside of the left
frame rail,
This close-up shows the inside of the rail where the
section was added and he Ii-arc welded into place.
32
T
he sequence that J(',llo7.uS copas the con-
struction (?f" the frame tJlIlt l\/cal Lcfourneau built for
lolin Keena's 19.32 Ford pickup. Tlwugh the frame
they're bUilding is mod(fiedfrom :;tock, there's 110 reason
the sanle steps coufd;d be f()lluwcd to build a standard
7.ulll.:clhasc fi'amc.
deciding whether or not to buy a
complete frame or build one from scratch is a moot
point. 'When John Keena from Minneapolis decided
to build a '32 Ford pickup truck with a stretched
cab, he reilJized that the decision meant an ordi-
nary Deuce frame just wouldn't do the job. John
then asked Neal Letourneau of St. Paul, Minnesota,
if he could build a '32 Ford frame with a 112-inch
wheelbase, instead of lIenry's stock measurement
of 106 inches,
Neal started vvith stamped rails frOll1 Deuce
Frame Company. These rails are actually stamped
by Arnerican Stamping Company from l1-gauge
mild steel and are accurate reproductions of the
originals, right dm,vn to the signature concave sec-
tion along the outside of each frame raiL When
Neal ordered the frame rails, he also ordered
The inside of the frame ['ail shows the boxing plate in place.
not line up with the stretched part of the frame.
The Heidt's Superide kit provides more than Just the front suspension,
cross-member.
:1:1
instalts the front spreader oaf' and a piece of rectangular tubing (temporarily) before the front cross-member
(JOGS Note the and string that mark the frame's centerline.
Neal fir'st rnArks the axle centerline, then makes a second line 1/8 inch
ahead the true centerline. This second line will be the center of the cross-
member and is set aheaD of the original centerline. because positive
c8ster will the new axle centerline back slightly,
H4
matching boxing plates from the
same company < "Some people
onlv box the frame at the front
and the back, where the suspen-
sion attaches," sass Neal, "but 1
like to box the ,;'hole thing, it
adds so much rigidity to the
frame. And originally the cross-
members were riveted to these
frames, but ncrw \Ve \veld them
in. The boxed framp provides a
reallv substanti;:d structure,
to \veld the cross-
members to."
The frame is fabricated on
the surface table in Neal's shop.
This is a simple 4xl1-foot table
with a surface made up of 1/2-
inch steel plate. The \vhole thing
is well supported by a steel
framework, vdth a height adjust-
ment at each leg. "The table is
leveled," explains Neal, "and
that's the reference for every-
thing to follow."
After checking and the position of the cross-member, Nenl USGS the Ilnli"r.:Jrc weidei' to install the
cross-merTlber.
and master cylinder support in the
r8tJon1momieri O""IILion It's a good idea, however, to tack-weld the bl'acket in
is finished, Changes in engine or fimwsll location
btoke podal.
rnc)ck-up allows Neal [on the right) and ,John a chance to see hawaii the
to[Jotleor to create a whole car _ One of the things they need to
this stClge is whether the 'n little" tires (285/70x15 mar
4 ftoot] WOI'k to the truck the look they're after
Neal decided to build the
frame, minus cross-tnembers,
and then lengthen the frame. As
he explains the process: "We
started \yit'h an engineering
dnnving of a stock Ford frame
that \\if' got from Uttle Dearborn
in St. Paul, but some of the street
rod c(1talogs, like the one from
\Vescott's, have them too. The
draw'ing has all the dimensions
of the stock 1932 Ford frame, I
laid everything out on the big
tahle, the centerline and all the
dimensions. "Then I built six sta-
tions to hold the rails, Each one
of these stations bolts into holes
that I drilled and tapped into the
surface plate. \lVhen both the rails
\\icre in the right position, I welded
the rails to the stations,"
Note: Ivlanv builders use
simple vertical st'ands to support
the frame rails, and spreader bars
'-It the front and rear to establish
the initial distance between the
rails. In tJlC'se cases it's important
to measure, and pOSSibly adjust,
the width of the frame through
the center before installing crOS$-
menlbers. Neal built his supports
with enough hL'ft, precision, and
overkill that he only had to
clamp the rails in the (1:adJes and
do a few checks of the width be-
fore he could tack-\·veld the rails
to the supports,
When Neal bought the rails,
he had the foresight to buy ,111 ex-
tra section of raw frame rail. As
he explains, "You can only stretch
the frame near the back, just
ahead of \-vhere the kick starts up
for the rear axle, just before the
spnt v",here the body line dies out.
To lengthen the frame, all I had to
do vvas cut each rail, then unbolt
the stations and move each one
forward exactly 6 inches and
screw it into nE.:vv holes I'd al-
ready drilled in the table,"
Neal's description makes
more sense after VOl1 realize that
what he calls "stations" are very
suhstantial cradles, tied together
side to side. Because they're so
substantial, the ralls couldn't tvvist or ch,mge di-
mension diagonally when the frame Vv'Z1S cut into
hvo pieces.
The extra rail material \-vas then cut and
trimmed to exactly fit the void in the center, and
then welded in place with the hcli-arc VI/cIder.
Once the rails vvere lengthened Neal could cut each
boxing plate into two pieces, weld it intn placc, and
then add the missing 6-inch section.
Grade-8 flange nuts are added inside the fr<lme
for all the Z1ppropriate body-mounting holes before
the boxing plates :;;0 on. As the name suggests,
built-in flange on each nut makes it easy to
these to the rails without damaging the nut itself or
the threads (though it's still a good idea to chase
the threads with a tap before assembly).
The three central cross-members are fabricated
from seamless DOM (drawn over mandrel) mild
steel tubing, 1 5/8-inch diameter with O.12S-inch
walls. Neal explains that each one has a job: "The
front cross-member will hold the back of the
transmission, while the center one gives us :-;omc-
place to mount the exhaust hangers. And the rear
one provides the mount for the four-bar brackets.
Once J've got them in place I can add flanges to
the front one so the tranny can be dropped out
latcr." The complete cross-member won't be fin-
ished until after Neal and John have done the first
mock-up and knov\' exact]'y \-vhere the engine and
transmission mount.
Better Tubes for Better Frames
Terms like DOM mild steel tubillg require us to
back up for a short primt'r on the various grades of
tubing manufactured from mild steel or chrome-
moly. For help in this department we have the input
of Jim Petrvkowski, owner of Metal Fab in Blaine,
Minnesota: Jim spends most of his days building
street rod or race car components, and can often be
found at the local airport, \,vorking on vintage air-
craft Jim explains that you have to begin the discus-
sion with an understanding of mild steel tubing.
"What we call mild steel is available in a \vide
variety of shapes and forms," say:-; Jim. "The IOvvcst
grade of steel is F.R. BllttwelJ. This stuff looks like
exhaust tubing/ the grain is random because it is es-
sentially cold rolled sheet stetd cut into strips, rolled
up, and welded (the [.R. stands for electric-resis-
tance, as in arc welding). It's inexpensive and readily
available. This tubing is moderately strong, but the
seam is a problem. If you form or bend it
l
the seam
will break at the weld, and it's not uniform in size.
"What's called DOM is made by taking largcr-
diameter tubing with a welded seam, and drmv-
ing it over a die set. Usually you're 'necking
down' the tubing to a somevvhat smaller size by
engine IS cc"iti,,,,,,d CDrTnc! iv tD
and the radiator.
fir'C\M.l11
Neal and John want a belt-df'iven fan, Ell'1d realize
at this puint that there isn't clerm::lnce
between the fan and the radiator The ITIOt01"' will be
moved biJck 1 inch frol'"n Lho ,m'cih"" SGen hery)
:37
tor the plWPDS8 of the the rear'
re8r Dnd sits on stands.
mrrol,l\'ll the die \\'Ith a bullet-shaped
the tubing through the tooling
the sizl::.: bCCOtllE5 nl01"(, uniform, the \vall thickness
in<:f'Crases, and tht.' strength of the matprial is in-
creased" The of the weld is minimized
and the can no\v be 11"\Ore easilv formed and
tht' stepl companies take rather
and make it much stronger.
O]:HlHl1c-i tubing is seamless. The easiest
seamless tubing is by taking red-hot
it, clnd then pulling it
"HU""" L The -ecry highest quality tubing
colcl,dral'll in which case a billet of
it's
rna rcriill' s
111akes it
to
D«'fced dnd dr,lwn through dies \vhile
lubrication. This process gets the
in one direction, which
and form."
Deuce
Thc\ front suspension for this car will be a Su-
frorn Heidt's. Fjnding In independent sus-
pension to in a Deuce can be morE' difficult than
sorne other cars. vVith a typicaJ i'v1u5tang II type of
suspensl(Jn, the spring to\vt'r ·welds to the top of the
but on a ]9,32 ford the fender is right there
dnd "vin run into thl' spring tovvcr. The Superide
not a s:vstcm and does not use spring
towers, systcrn is designed to pro\'ide the ad-
vantilg('S of indqx:ndent suspension \vhile fitting:
llnder the fenders of a '32 Ford.
Like 1110st quality hot rod
components, the Superide comes
with thorough instructions. Per
the instructions Neal measures
back a set amount from the refer-
ence point, the second spreader-
bar hole in this cast'. Then it's
really just a matter of milking
SUfE' the cross-member is locilted
evenlv side to side, that it's
square' to the centerline, and that
it's in exactly the spot the instruc-
tiems call for.
"The instructions direct vou
to measure from the set,<Hld
spreader-bilr hole to the cr05S-
member," explains Neal, "and 1
did that, making sure the dis-
tance \vas the same from one side
to the other. And even though
the frame is in the jig a nd I knmv
every1thing is straight, I went
ahead and did mv crOSS-J11ca-
surcments, to be al;solutelv sure
the cross-member is positioned
correctly before doing the first tack welds. f/
The position of the cross-member also affects
the caster angle, and it's possible to get the cross-
member positioned in such a \,vcry that it's difficult
to obtain the right caster through the available ad-
justment Neal explains that he doesn't check the
castcr of the front end before doing the final weld-
ing: ''I'm confident that Heidt's has the caster built
into the cross-member. Someone vvorking at home
for the first time, hovvever, might \'\-'ant to tack the
cross-member in, assemble the suspension, and then
check the caster before doing the final \vclding."
The Mock-Up
The next big step is to take the frame out of the
cradles so the first m{xk-up can be done. Neal uses
a small support to hold up the front of the frame,
and two vertical stands, \vith spacers, to hold up
the back of the frame. Once the frame is set on the
table, the big-block engine and transmission is set
between the rails in the spot \,vhere they think it
will eventuallv sit.
vVith the"' frame stationarv, Neal and John
clamp the cab, radiator shell, and hood in place,
along \vith one rear fender. "We vvanted primarily
to find out \vhere the motor is going to go," ex-
plains Neal. "[ like it belt-driven fan, so we wanted
to sec hmA' big a fan \ve could run and still clear the
radiator. A shroud really helps the fan pull ,lir
across the radiator, so \ve are planning to build a
euston) shroud as welL"
(-l
nf.'t'd to rnake
to the or chassis are
to use that combination," cx-
'ins Neal. i'The 'vvh('('ls and
"As many
we ,In' it's;
to han' i.1 k){Jk no\v,
!to\\' ('V(TVlIm,V fits,"
trw dimensions from
the cowl inc the samt' as
stock. One of the of this
first llioe
ho\'\' far
lYlnn' VOll the In.oror rownrd
With the engine in place and the to thu ,3 tlw 1'1..<lr/ rnure room take
wooden dowel takes the place of the shaft so Neal can check rOI' from the insidc' of the
clearance pr"oblems between the shaft and the rTlotor mount, ciot the
ilnd nns.""1i",r
aff£:'cie(1 by the Joc,)tion pf the cngint' and the firc- One of the lmanswerl'd qUl"stions for Neal
and John is the arnount of rakt' that the truck
should have. By' using simple spacers bt't\'VL'l'n
the top of the Lincoln Versailles rcar end he,,,',;n
and the frame (check the photos in elimin<ltc con-
fusion); Neal and John can easily change the
height at the bflCk of the frame thu.s the rakv.
"T'he height at the front vvith this Heidt's kit is
pretty much :-:et by the suc;pension, though
can use stock or droppt'd spindlcs. \'Vc discussed
this \ll/ith Heidt's, vVe told them what we ;.verc
buUding and ;.vhcre \11/(' \lv,lnted the front end to
sit," explains Neal, "and they fecomrn.cnded that
\'\'e use the dropped spindles that are an option
for this suspension kit.
\\'dll is tlw bTt1ke and 111dster eviin";('r
"We know thl' distance the botton1 of
the frame rail, under the (myl an.:'('l, dnd the grounLt
based on other '32s vv'e'vc looked at. And the Vl'rti-
cal location of the rl'ar end housing is sl't by' the rear
tirt' dian1.ctl'L The thing we don't knm-v cit this point
is how much rake will look good on this truck"
This first muck-up wB] <11so help Nl'al deter-
mine ht)'".\, l11Llch the rear end will hZl\'(.' to bt:l
narrovved, Though it is one of tht' relativel)' narrO\'\'
<}-inch asscrnblit,s from a Lincoln Versailles, this
rear end still appears to bc too \-vide for the Deuce
truck. The wheels (and their offset) used for the
mock-up art' probabJ)-i not thl' final choice. The tires
seen here, however, are the dctual tires that vvill be
used on this truck, so the height of the rear end dur-
ing the mock-up is the same ,1S it will be fnr the
support. rhc mount is frorn
later-mode!
Corvcttcrlw I
mount is often used
substantial
dOt'sn't hc m:'cds a
boo,,[('1'. For
tdck-vveldcd to the It'ft-sidc
tlw pccial sU'PI>Drt
rail i.lt the
bon nxoml1H'ndcd bv Deuce h,ct,,,-v
!n addition to tl1l' firc\,vall, Neal and be-
gin to make pLlns for the column and
shaft. "\Vc some:' /4-inch v'v'oodcn dmvcl
\·vhich we ((1n use to do ,1
than using sh:'('t shafts or U'''''''h'
V\/hCll \Vt' lean' N(';)l and
first d(,terrnitK'd quite bit ;:lbout
thl'ir krHJ\v that if the\'
mon.' alrnnst 1 inch from the
rnock-up there wJl still be room for
morn for <1 nice big fo.n.
dls() know n:'<lr end needs to be ndrrovy'ed,
th(lt the frMnl' ri.lil 11\.'('(.1S to be life_cd" to pro-
\Cidc enough clearance b(\tl/\.'ccn the of the rear
end housing and the frdme. Thev'vc to
work out tlw of thL' column and
shaft, the for the headers.
The next IS off the bodv and I"l'-
move the thcn Hip the frame 0\,('; to install
the rest of the Ct.'niTal cross-nwmber.
:l9
W
hen Pete Chapourls set out
to build a n('\v Deuce
frame, he didn't \ivant to simply
add one more to the long list of
aftermarket hot rod frames cur-
rentlv available. \!\That Pete wanted
\vas '(1 unique, high quality frame
developed specificallv for the
1932 Ford. Having built plenty of
frames himself, Pete had a list of
features he wanted incorporated
into his frame.
At this pOint the frame rails have been cleaned up and mounted in Todd's
rather" substantia! frame Tom has already begun the task of fitting the
The biggest thing that sepa-
rates the SO-CAL frame from so
many' others is the unique Step-
Boxed J'd design. Many frames
offer "boxed" rails as a "vay of
increasing the strength of the "raiL
But in order to make these
franlcs as neat as possible, the to the f'ight-side frame I'ail.
for' body-mounting holes are
nm;ltrrll1FIIl so hold the bOXing plates lust loslde the
lip of the frame n3ii, Additional small "stands" are used
wherever' necessary to help support the boxing plate.
nwee separate make up the boxing plate for
side, Each one must be test fit before being
to one
bead is ground away after the
·welding is finished. No\-\-' this might make for a
nice neat framt' rait but by grinding off the visible
bead )iOU also grind off much of the metal that
holds the boxing plate to the rail.
The other little problem ·with a typical boxed
rail is the \vav the brake .lnd fuel lines, electrical ca-
bles, and an);thing else that's clamped to the inside
of the rail, ,1ft' left out in the open. Yes, you Ci.ln put
S0111e of that plumbing inside the rail, but that in-
troduces a ,·vho\e new set of problems. Pete's idea
\·vas to create a nC'w stvlc of frame rail that \vould
pf()\'ide more strength than the typical boxed
frame \vjthout any of the disad\'antages.
Thus was born the SO-CAL Step-Boxed
frame. By recessing the boxing plates slightly
from the edge of the rail, there is no need to grind
the weld. The resulting rail benefits from the
strength of an unground fillet \veld. And by re-
cessing the boxing plQtes slightly, the brake and
fuel lines can be tucked neatly up into the corner
·where they're out of the way and protected by
the edge of the rail.
The SO-CAL frame also incorporates its own
front cross-member, one designed to keep the front
end lenv while providing plenty of caster for the
front Jxle, even ·with the car on a three or four de-
gree ra ke. The SO-CA L Step-Boxed frame is both
strong alld light. It's a unique frame designed to
provide the enthusiast vdth Q good foundation for
a ullique hot rod.
In order to shenv exactlv what a SO-CA.L frame
is made oC \ve\"c to follow the construc-
tjon of a franle from start to finish. In order to keep
Each piece of the boxing plate is set In place and fit.
then the three pieces are welded into one before being
set back into the frame for the last time,
rnatches the cutout in U'18 plate Dnej ensures
that the boxing plate is in exactly the
41
A ruler or is used to ensure the tdck WF;!c]S will be perfectly spaced 4 inches apart. Final welding wi!! be done one
4»jnch section at 8 time. Tom or Todd will do une section, then move across Of' down the rail to ['educe warpage.
it's time to add the and
fof' like the [_Jf3i:1I"
42
This jig, used here to mark the area that must be cut out
so the axle can be set lower in the ff'cw!'1e, is another part
of Todd's modular fixtum. Once the area is Tom
wil) cut the notch In the frarTle I"ail with a cut·off wheel,
their shop focused on C(H bUilding, Pete has
to hZlVl' the frames (-(lbricated at a nearby
shop. shop is ovvnl'd by Todd V\ialton, long-
tin1.C \\lelder, fabricator dnd hot rod enthusldst.
How it's Done
Construction of a complelc 50-CAL frame
starts with Zl of bdrl', sL:llllped frame rails.
B(lsed nn his lengthy experience at another big
c}1.dssb shop, Todd constructed (j very sturdy
frame fixture. The fixturc, mounted on a H)tisseric
to make fabrication as l:asy as possiblc, ensures
that each frdJTIV constructed for 50-CAL is both
accurate and has exactly the same dimensions as
every other frame.
By working closely with SO-CAL, Todd's been
able to fine tune the fixture to create frames \vith a
very high degree of accuracy--·-·whdt you might can
built-in repeatability. A good example b in the
back of the frame. As Todd explains it "When \\ie
pull the frame out of the jig, the rails spring in a lit-
tle bit due to the of "velding-in the boxing
plate. We noticed that right a\vay' and modified the
jig slightly. No\,,>, , when the rails spring in, they
spring in to ('xactly the right dimension."
Part of the \york of building a frame includes
preparing the rails before construction. "The rails
need a little \\lork vvhen \ve get them," says 'rodd.
"Mv 111ain welder, Tom Blair, takes the time to
trin; <:lway the minor vvavy areas on the top or bot-
tom of the rail, before \ve start construction."
Once the rails are prepped, they can be
mounted in the frame jig. "We locate the rails
using the cowl-mounting hole, already' punched
in the rails, as our reference," explains Todd.
"Each rail is clamped to the side supports and
then tack-welded in place, II yuu just clamp the'ffi
in place there's ahvays the chance they might
shift during fabrication."
With the rails in the fixture, the next job is to
install the backup for the body mounting
holes and the little "stands" used to help position
the stepped boxing plates that are unique to the
SO-CAL chassis, Todd explains that the bod V
mounting holes are already stamped in the top of
the frame rails the manufacturer, "But we put
the plates in behind thc' hole, and later those will
be drilled dnd tapped for the body mounting
bolts," The little "backup" plates are cut and posi-
tioned 50 they also function as spacers to position
the boxing pldte just inside the edge of the rails
(check the photos here to elirnindte confusion).
Todd and Tom put the small stands in any\'\'here
there aren't enough backup plates to hold the box-
ing plate in place.
Todd has the boxing plates laser cut out locally,
from mild steel of the same gauge as the railss.
Though the cutting is quite accurate they often
need u litHe grinding and finjshing to fit just per-
fpet inside the rai1s. Todd tried having the boxing
plates cut out in one piece, but they v\lere just too
long and urn·vieldy. The current program is to cut
thern in three separate pieces for each frelme rail.
After Tom the spacers and small stands in
place inside the rails, each of the three pieces is
trimmed as necessarv and then set into the frame.
Tom tack welds'the three pieces into one, then
pulls the nevv one-piece boxing plate out of the
frame and cardull:y 'welds each of the seams be-
Once the cutout area is finished, Torn can fit the SO·CAL
cross+member to the frarne, Srnall fabricated "buttons"
between the cross-mernbel' Elnd the frarne jig to
correctly position the cross-member.
Among the sub-assemblies that m'e part of the fixture ;are
these designed to aicj in the creation of the rnotor' rYlO1..mt.s,
tween the plates. Before tht_, firlal installation of the
boxing plate Tom grinds the 'I·velded until
they' disappear. To position tJ1l' boxing \viih
precision inside the frame Tom has fabricJted
a small locating span:f that's held in \\'ith a
bolt through the co",vl··mounting hole,
("he boxing plates are damped in vv'ith a
series of Vise Grips, then TonI
every four inchl':-; with d ru kr. The marks heip
Tom keep the tack welds neatly
spaced. When it comes time for
final-welding, Tom and Todd
will only do one four inch sec-
tion at "a time before moving
down or across the rail to anoth-
er four inch section. 1n that way
they avoid concentrating toe)
much heat in one part of the rail.
The finishec! motor' rnount snDps in to part of the frame fixture before being
wn(ded in
Next comes creation of the
notch at the front of the frame
that allows these cars to run in
the weeds. Tom starts by spray-
ing the area at the front of the
rails with Dykem. Then the area
to be notched is marked on the
frame rails based on the outline
of a special template. Following
the outline Tom uses a die
grinder and cut-off wheel to
notch the rail. Small squares of
mild steel are cut and tack-welded
44
into the notched area. Then the small plates, and
the front ten or so inches of the boxing plate, are fi-
nal-welded, and finished with a nifty little mini
belt sander. .
Cars ·with dropped axles must have the front
cross-member positioned correctly or it can be
hard to get the correct caster setting without
putting a bind in the spring. The SO-CALfront
cross-member is specially shaped to allow for
plenty of caster. Yet it must still be positioned
correctly or all the extra engineering that went
into the cross-member will count for nothing.
Tom carefully sets the cross-men1ber in place,
Totl"! pieces together the main centra! cross-
fixtW'8S nC:8ded to hold it in the right position.
vvhich requires trimming some
metal off the ends. The idea of
course is to get the cross-mem-
ber centered between the rails,
which requires some careful
trimming, checking and trim-
ming again before he can tack-
wcJet and then final-weld the
cross-member in place.
Todd's frame fixture is a
modular affair, and includes
subassemblies that 'Tom uses to
correctly locate things like the
motor mounts and the central
cross-member. At this point Tom
uses the fixture to cbeck the po-
sition of the motor n10unts and
to weld in the upper bung needed
to locate the Vega-style steering
gear. A stock SO-CAL frame
mounts the gear below the left
Not the same frame, but 8 slightly different, finished, SO-CAL frame. Though
they look sirnple, a lot of car-Bful planning and attention to detail go into each
one of these chassis.
side rnotor rnnunt, the mounts
themscln::s are vvclded up in <1
sepJratc srnall jig.
The central cro,ss-nH'!Tlbcf,
\vhich in this ('dSl\ could be
called (,1 IIK-mernbe bits
sh,1pe, is made up of <1 of
pre-cut tube'S; nwde from 12()·
inch \\,<111 thickness mild steel
tubing. \'Vith tht, the fix-
tun' and a \'\'1101('
Tom sets tl1l.' in and
then. begins to tdck-'\<\'cld. the
tubing dnd (Cdr motor rnounts
in place.
The used to nlc1ke the
\'i.UiOllS cross-lru,:'rnbl'fs is
to slide into a lna
holl' pre-<ut in the
"This \YdV, there dJ'(' no
fill," l'xplains Todd.
butt-weld the
to fill there!s no
frdme to 'drat'\" to the \\'rong di-
mension after it out oj
the jig."
VVith the cross-members in
plan' 'rom ilnd Todd can careful-
ly \\'ork tbeir dCfOSS all the
sedms with the \\'z'ldcr.
The findl welding lS out
oYer the frarne and over tirnc; to
limit the am.ount of heat into
the franll' and thus r1\ nlmi7c
any vvarpage,
Bdnre being
CAL the frarnl' is Cd
ish('cL Torn ddalls thv
fin-
\\' hol
frame! so thilt vvhen it k'(1\'es thl'
shop it':::. basiGl11y " ariel
ready for paillt.
45
Front Suspension
...... ••
T
hL:.U\.'c:raU vvill be the biggest
factor front suspension b
for VOtL Ul the
extra money ft);, a su:-,pcnsion
if the Cdr is il resto-rod or very trc1ditional ride
As fJdc Iikcs"tu S,I)", "If it's an opcn-
wheeled G1r, tht:l1 it needs d. axIl ... !f it's J
fat cal', then vvl' put an inclcpl:ndcnt
front SU'<I"'U';J()n
In
your personal oprn ,HC' m
Hw Uc.,dgl' dnd
t {:lctors
when to decide vl/hich of the
able front to insLlll. [f
go around cnrnefS like
won't do the \otlrSt'1
drive? VVrhat
handling and con1l'ri
Remember lhat the
the car
mon..' comlcolt'x
pl'1l1ning and fllis is :1 situation
'where each menu leads to another mClllL
Choose a dropped axle for and the next
menu asks vvhether you vvant to usc four-belr
age or split \vishbullcs to hold the (u.lc in place
Click on thl' four-bar o,.,r1<m and thl' next
down \vindovv asks you \!,,'dnt to U,:>l' a
tubular or I-beam tYPl' of axil'.
4fi
With either a 2- or 2 1/ 4-lncfl perch boss. Chrome plating
kits include the thernselv8s, the bushings
tl'iElt to bl:; Into the and then
['comed to fit. the that support the spmdle,
and ass(wted hal'dwcwe Deuce Factory
Which Suspension Is Right?
[n lhL'ory an independent front suspension
hdlH..iles and ridl's bettl'r than (l dropped axle.
\Vith a tl,,'in A-ann system instdlled
under yfOlIr car, d bump encounh'red by one
\-\--'hl'el has less impact on the other vvheel and the
(h:cupants of the car. As the name inlplies, by
acting independently' each wheel is better able to
rise up over bumps and steer around corners
while keeping: a good grip on the road.
I-Beam Axles
Thefl' is, hov,'ever, nothing much cooler than <1
nice dropped axle mounted \vith a buggy spring
up front and a pair of split radius rods to hold it all
in place. So, as Pete Chdpouris points Ollt, the
choicl' of a front axle (especially! on an open-
vvheelcd car) is largely an aesthetic decision.
f'1aving made that decision, the next choice is
the type of jink(lge you're going to use to hold the
axle tn place. The nostalgia craze seems to get
stronger and stronger, which means that more and
more hot rodders are choosing the vcry traditional
split \vishhoncs or hairpin radius rods. The other
option is a four-bar linkage-what might be called
the choice of a modern traditionalist.
For tmditional cars there's
The tr"oditional look CEllis
for' a tmnt Dxle.
This dr'illed axlp is I'Tlode
from steel and
comes in a 47 1
width.
f'Eldius
Purists \vill point out the fact that hairpin radius
rods (or split \vishbones) put d slight twist on the
axle vvhen only one vvheel goes (weI' a bump. The
t\.vist O(.'Cl.trs because each axle end has its o\'vn pivot
rods with stainless steel batwings. CDJT18
with a provision for' the POflhol"d me.1. SQ.C.4L
Buying the front axle and suspension as a kit offers a number of advantages: you know
components are designed to work together. This EasyRider' kit comes with a 47-inch
spring, adjustable shocks, and all necessary hardware. Chassis Engineering
tits, and that 011 the
Cb"1<lCd (Jxle,
47
point. the vv'hecl that hits the bump
"ow;"d nn the afC of the radius roct so jt ex-
De'flt'n(ps .:1 ci);;iC'r change \/,'hile the other docs not.
radius \'-\/ith a four-bar linkage solves
[)eCaUSL' the four-bar link,lgt.' acts as a
one or both t:nds of the axle can go
up or dovnl \vith no cas\'er chdngc and no hvist on
the c1xlc. sure to read Pete's sidebar in this chap-
ter and to check the illustrations.)
fhe tvvist that an L'd axle experiences
\-vhile a burnp is the reason you can't
use a axle 'with split wishbones.
-- --- - - - ------ --- -- - -----------
Modern tubular axles consist of a center tube v'.lith
cast or forged ends welded to it. Tubular structures
resist twisting, so the twist will cause the welds to
fail, if not todav, then next week.
Many of these decisions and their implica-
tions are made easier bv manufacturers who offer
their suspension systems as a kit. Buy the axle and
the linkage comes along as part of the package.
Many go so far as to make the spring, spring
perches, spindles, and brakes all part of the as-
sembly YOU buy.
prefer to buy components individuaJly,

f,,===-=,=;I

•• II",
[)t}caITiu with tht} advent of the dropped tube axle, though some people like them simply for their
vislial This kit uses all stainless cornponents and urethane bushings. Oeuce Factory
CASTER
NEGATIVE 0 POS!TWE
the c:urTect CElstDI'" for your car nmans it Wi!! go down the highway in a straight line without the need for'
constant cO!'TnCLions. Caster' ulso helps the steel'ing wheel return to the straight-ahead position after a
tum. The cClster i'8cornrrlendations (in::; ver'y different between straight axles and independent suspension, with most
str'BrrJht ax\t;s mort) positive caster. SO-CAL
Most builders recommend the use of a Panhar'd rod
when a dropped axle is installed with cross-steer' linkage,
as seen in this dernonstration Deuce frame. Tel
you need to bt' slire all the pil'Cl'S \yiH \\"ork togL'ther
on your particular frame. Already mt:ntioned is the
need to avoid using split vvishbol1es with d tube
axle. Another comm{)n mistake is the USl' of l1l'im
joints or spherical rod l'nds at the end of J four-bar
link. As Eric Aurand from Chassis EngiI1l'ering l'X-
plains! "You only VVdnt four-bars to J1l0Vl' in one
plane vertically, but spherical rod ends allovv lateral
movement. That lateral mOVl'ment gives the car
wh<1t I cdll a 'beer truck' kind of ride." \A/hat should
be used there instead are the simple urethclI1l' bush-
ings that come vv'ith most four-bar kits.
Most dropped axles an' available in two or
thrcc \lvidths. Unlike a rear axle assernbly that is
measured flange to flange! front axle \vidths are
measured bl'hveen kingpin centnjines.Thc drilh .. d
and dropped <lxle in the SO-CAL catalog comes in
a 47 1 /2-inch \vidth. The common 46- and 4K-inch
width became standardized in typical hot rod fash-
ion. As Jim Petrykoski from Metal Fab explains:
"The original Ford axles v\lert' something like 50 or
52 inches \-vide, but \vhen people started to drol! thl'
axle! they just reshaped it, which meant it got n<1r-
rO\l\'C'r. \,\lhcn Jim Ewing started Super lkll Axle
Company, hc offered a dropped axle in a 48-inch
width. Then \I\/hen th(, first disc bri.lkcs I.NCfl: of-
fered, the v moved the \'\'l1l'cl out about an inch on
either side, so pretty soon Jim Offefl'd a 46-ind1
axle for cars with disc brakes. In the end, v'I'hat
you're trying to do is put a 5 1/2- or h-inch "Vvhed,
14 or 15 incht,s in diarnder, on a stock car v./ith
fenders and still be able to use the full turn
When with dropped dxles! you dIso
need to consider the distance bet'vveen the bosses
for the spring perches. That measurement must
match the length of the spring you intend to use.
TIll' front cfoss-member used on earl\!-ford frames
is another piece that must be chosen tZ) match all the
CAMBER
KrNGPIN
INCLINATION
Camber is simply the tilt of the tire in or out as seen
from the font. True vertical is zero camber', 8 tilt to the
outside at the top is positive, a tilt to the inside is
l1egative SO-CAL
SteEwing arms corne in a variety of shapes and need to
be rnatched up with the spindle and the axle support
linkage. You have to be sum the steering linkage clears
the four-bars or split wishbones. Super Beff
others. Farly hot rodders discovered years ago that
the use of a Modl.J A front cross-member in a Deuce
frame wtlldd lower the front of the car. Toda'l!
SO-CAL makes (\ cross-member df.:'signed for usc in
both Moclcl A and '1932 frames that lowers the front
end bv 1 inch.
A" discussion of the front cross-member brings
up the subject of caster. (See the illustrations in
this for a refresher course in front-end
alignnwnt terms.) hot rodders \'\'ant their CQr
to haye some ri.lke, with the front end lower than
the rCdr. It gives the car that aggressive stance and
a Sl'nse of likl' they're moving
when they're standing still. That's all fine and
good, but as you raise the back ,Jnd lower the
front, you tip the front axle fonvard and Jose
some of vour caster angle. So vou nct:d to btlv a
cros:,-;··mcl'nber \-vith a little extra caster built in; or
install the cross-mt...'mbl'f \vith d little extra angle.
49
For' extl's sex appeal, try this push rod independent front suspension. It must be used with an extended frame, so there
IS I'oom for the ceil-overs behind the radiator. Kugel Komponents
As Pete Chapouris explains, "People forget that
\vhen you rake the car, the caster goes negative.
You might need 9 degrees of caster to net out at 6.
Our cross-111embcr allows you to run more posi-
tive caster vvithout putting a bind in the spring or
the spring shackle."
Some controversv surrounds the use of a Pan-
hard rod \vith a buggy-spring dropped-axle front
suspension. A Panhard rod attaches tn the axle on
one Side of the car, and to the frame on the other,
and minimizes side-tn-side motion between the axle
and frame. Though there are plenty of hot rods out
there \''lith straight axles and no Panhard rod, Pete
Chapouris feels the Panhard rod is a necessary part
TOP VIEW
STEERING
GEAR
It. •
AXLE
of a straight axle installation. flBasically, if you use a
buggy spring and a cross-steer setup, then you need
a Panhard rod. Without a Panhard rod, vvith a Vega
cross-steec you cause the axle to swing on the
shackles, creating 'bump steeL' We also like to in-
stall a steering damper; it ensures there is no side-tn-
side shimmy. Our straight-axle installations always
include a Panhard rod and damper."
Preventing Bump Steer
We've all heard the term "bump steer," mean-
ing that a bun1p will cause the car tn move from
the steering line chosen by the driver. These little
problems crop up ·when the axle and the steering
SHOCK MOUNT
(PART OF BATWING)
SO..cAL
SO-CAL HAIRPIN
RADIUS ROO
TOP VIEW
STEERING

SPINDLE
SO-CAL HAIRPIN
RADIUS ROO
A straight axle, with buggy spr'ing or transverse springs, can move relative to the frame unless a rod is used.
For this reason SO-CAL recommends the use of a Panhard rod, and has designed a bracket for the rod into
the rlght-slCie batwing. It's important to note that unless it is properly laid out and installed, a Panhacd rod can cause as
many pl'Dblerns as it solves. SO-CAL
GO
Among the many spindles on the market are these
examples, which are investment cast from 17-4
stainless steel. These spindles will accept a wide variety
of disc brake options. Art Morrison
linkage move through different arcs as the car
goes over a bump.
'I'hough problems can occur with any type of
steering, the bump-steer problem is best illustrated
by looking at drag link steering. Bump steer in this
system occurs when the bump causes the axle to
move forward or back more than the drag link as
they swing through their arcs. The effect is a little
different depending on the style of axle mounting,
but the end result is the same. Basically, "!the axle
and the end of the drag link that attaches to the
axle must move through the same arcs as the sus-
pension moves over bumps.
In a cross-steer application, such as with a Vega
or Saginaw steering box, bump steer is caused by
side-to-side axle movement, rather than front-to-
rear. Any axle movement to the side during suspen-
sion travel will push or pull on the drag link, causing
the dreaded bump-steer problem. As mentioned by
Pete Chapouris, street rods with a transverse leaf
spring mounted with a shackle at either end can al-
low lateral axle movement on the shackles. To avoid
this problem, most street rod equipment manufac-
turers recommend a Panhard rod. The Panhard rod
prevents side-tn-side axle movement but it must be
designed and mounted very carefully so as not to
create more problems than it solves.
General installation gUidelines include the
need to keep the Panhard rod parallel to, and the
same length as, the drag link. More specific rec-
ommendations can be had by consulting with the
manufacturer of the front suspension and linkage.
With these cross-steer applications, the steering
gear and linkage should be mounted so the pit-
man arm is pointing straight ahead when the gear
is in the center of its movement. It is also impor-
tant that the gear be mounted so the drag link is
parallel to the tie rod.
Another cause of front-end shimmy is worn
These forged spindles are available to fit a variety of
axles. and come with or without the kingpins already
fitted. The spindle is also available with a "GM snout"
and the COf'rect brackets so the disc brake rotor and
caliper slide right into place. Chassis Engmeering
These Mustang spindles are available either stock
height or dropped. Both are made of steel instead of
cast iron. Heidt's
kingpins or axle l'nds. With loose or worn king-
pins and bushings, a bump in the road can induce
the dreaded "straight axle shimmy." When in-
stalling a dropped axle, YOll have to be sure the
pins fit tight in the ends of thc axle (sometimes a
problem with used axles) and that the bushings in
the spindle are correctly reamed for a good fit
between the bushing and the pin. Many hot rod
suppliers will rcam the bushings before the axle or
51
spindles arc shipped. It's one of those jobs that
requires precision and should be done by an expe-
rienced shop. If you buy spindles and need to
have the bushings installed and / or reamed, any
good shop that services trucks or truck chassis
should be able to help you out The other thing to
keep in mind after the dropped axle is installed is
the need for frequent applications of lubrication.
Though we've all become accustomed to no-lube
tie rod ends and ball joints, kingpin bushings still
require frequent attention from that old-fashioned
grease gun hanging on the vvalL
Independent Front Suspension Designs
Independent front suspension systems come in
a wide variety of styles and pricE'S. For the budget-
minded rodder, a number of companies offer a
Mustang ll-type front suspension cross-member.
You install the cross-member in your nevv' or old
frame and then add the suspension components,
either stock Mustang or aftermarket. These can be
scrounged <It the local used parts emporium or pur-
chased new. Most street rod companies in this market
offer various upgrades over the stock Ford pieces.
The first upgrade usually replaces the narro""v
ItHver arm and its :->upport strut with a much
'vvider [ovver arm that doesn't need the strut. This
makes for a cleaner installation and eliminates the
strut support. Most companies also offer tubular
upper and lower arms to replace the original
stamped steel arms. Of course you can go one step
further and order the anns 1n chrome or polished
stainless for extra glitter.
If you are looking for more than a simple
Mustang II suspension, a number of companies
build complete stand-alone front suspension sys-
ten1S that come with the cross-member, the arms,
spindles, and all necessary hard,vare, Some of
these assemblies have been designed from scratch
These chrome-plated coil-overs are available for
Mustang suspensions and offer the advantage of
adJustabJe ride height and extra spar'kle. Heidt's
Designed for fat-fendered cars, this independent front suspension uses Mustang spindles, but without the Mustang
cross-rnember or spring pockets. Coil-overs make for a cleaner. more compact assembly. Heidt's
52
Stock Mustang 11 suspEmsions use a lower arm with a narrow pivot point, which
necessitates an additional support strut. Most upfJraded Mustang suspension kits
utilize a lower arm with i::l wider stance so no additional strut IS needed. Heidt's
for the street rod market and fed-
ture billet aluminum or tubular
steel arms and polished coil-over
shocks.
H_l'idt's, for exampk, offers
their Superide, \,\,ith upper and
lower arms on each side support-
('d bv a nice coil-o\'er shock as-
sembly. This package comes with
a cross-member that ties everv-
thing togetheL By using the co11-
over shock-spring, the design
eliminates the huge pocket
seen on Mustang systems.
Kugel Komponents offers
their Phase 11 independent front
suspension. This system uses up-
per Zlnd lower arms, a coil-over
on each side for support, and a
cross-member designed to fit vari-
ous hot rod frames. Thev also
make independent suspension for
This close-up shows the Corvette suspension and front-steer used on the Art MorTison M8xG frame.
Art Morrison
5:3
In order to achieve a perfect blend of form and function,
Jerry Kugel hEls the control arms for his independent
fmnt suspension investment cast from 17-4 stainless
steel. Kugel Komponents
(:ars vvith "pinched" frames, and a high-tech push-
rod type of suspension that moves the coil-overs
inboard in Formula One fashion.
Corvette components, both the latest C5 pieces
and thost: from earlier models, are utilized in sys-
tems offered by Fat Man, Chassis Engineering,
M i h : ~ /\dams, and others. This makes it easy to use
the latest Corvette suspension and brakes ()n both
ends if you so desire. Cibbon Fiberglass and Chas-
sis Engineering also offer torsion-bar front suspen-
sions for 1935 to 1940 Ford cars.
Potential Problems
\Nhen buying a front suspension, vvhether it's a
simple Mustang 11 unit or something more exotic,
tht>re art' a fnv things to 'vvatch for.
First, a Mustang It system should use stock
Ford gt>nnletry and the stock mounting position for
the steering rack. Changing the position of the up-
per control arm or the length of the tie rods used
\vith the Ford rack-and-pinion gear can lead to un-
pleas.lnt consequences.
Sl:'cond, there's a lot of unseen engineering
that goes into any good front suspension. While
you don't havl' to understand all the engineering,
it makes good sense to buy froln well-known
con1panies. Ask the manufacturer or the dealer
plenty of questions and don't sign the check until
vou're satisfied with their answers.
fhird, when in doubt about what to buy, find
someone at the next sho\v with a suspension like
the one :you lust for, and ask them how it works in
54
Mustang independent front suspension systems are
available with air bags Instead of coil-over for the
ultimate in adjustable suspension. Heidt's
the real ,vorld. Did the manufacturer provide good
instructions? How hard was the system to install,
and were they there to help with a ~ y questions that
arose during the installation? Most rodders \vilJ be
more than happy to discuss their experiences.
Riding 011 Air
This independent suspension section vvouJdn't
be complete without an examination of the somevv'hat
new air-ride systems. Most of these replaCt.:' the
spring(s) with an air bag from Coodyear or Firestone.
The bags themselves are manufactured from the
same tvvo-ply material used to make the air bags seen
on 18-wheel tractors ill1d trailers. 111is \vhole technol-
ogy is really a carryover from commercial trucks.
That's not to say all these air-suspension sys-
tems are the same. Some arc designed from scratch
to take advantage of the air bags, \,vhHe others sim-
ply replace the spring in a Mustang II front suspen-
sion with an air bag. Tn all cases the bags themselves
are connected to an air compressor controlled by a
panel within the car.
Most independent suspension systems expe-
rience camber change as the suspension moves
up-and-down. Many designs do this intentionally
so that the outside tire tilts in and gets a better
grip on the road as you roar around a curve. Yet,
that camber change might not be such a good
idea when you're dealing with suspension sys-
tems designed to operate over a "vide range of
ride heights.
When considering one of these air-bag designs,
Here you see the components needed for the air suspension on this Art Morrison Air Spring Plus frame. Note the
bags, compressor, reservoir, har'dware, and the control arms designed to work within a wide range of possible heights .


• •
Cross-steer linkage installations can create bump steer by forcing the axle to the side. A Panhard rod like this one will
ensure the 8xle only moves up-and-down. not Side to side. SGCAL
55
decide ho\v much you're really
going to utilize the height adjust-
ment. Do you want to simply find
a good ride height, close to a stan-
dard street rod ride height, and
then lower the car vvhen vou
park? Or do you want to be :lble
to vary the usable ride height by 3
or 4 inches?
Systems designed from
scratch around the air bags tend
to offer the greatest height adjust-
ment with the least amount of
camber and toe-in change. Some
offer a conventional bump stop so
that if you pinch a line or let all
the air out of the system, the sus-
pension can't settle- so far that any
components are damaged. Others
use bags that are designed with
internal cushions that provide a fi-
nal compression or rest stop.
Many early rodders used a Ford F-100 or a Mustang box as part of their drag-
link type of steering linkage. Trouble is. the typloal Mustang box installation
puts the pitman arm up, as shown, and creates poor geometry. Some of Pete
and Jake's cars used a Mustang box and drag-link type of steering linkage. but
with a four-bar linkage. which kept the axle and the outer end of the drag link
moving In the same arc. SO-CAL
The air-bag systems come to
the table \·vith a nun11wr of advan-
tages and disad vantages. On the
positive side, this technology al-
Iovvs the builder to set the car in
the weeds for that really bitchin'
profile, yet drive it home like any
other car, crossing speed bumps
·with impunity. If you load the car
vvith four friends and a smdll trail-
er out back, all you need to dlJ to
compensate is dial up d little more
pressure and head out the drive-
\·vay. Finally, dir suspension .is
progressive (see Chapter Five for
more on air springs). Thdt is to
say, the more the suspension is
at a given pressure
setting, the more it will resist fur-
ther compression.
As Pete Chapouris says. "The early hot rods worked because they stayed close
to stock Ford steering geometry [shown]. Unless you can keep the original
engineering concept from Ford, the system doesn't work. ,the minute you put a
lowered axle in there, no matter what you do It's never going to be right.·' SO-CAL
The cost of this ne\v technolo-
gy includes the cost (literally) of the pump and
control unit, and anv cost tn retrofit one of these
systems to an car. Cars \vith air bags arc
more complex and have more things to go wrong,
but that may not be a consideration for many hot
rodders, Ultimatelv these svstems are best suited
to fat fendered and trucks for one simple rea-
son: the bags are ugly. There's no \vay to build an
air bag that isn't black, or one vvith the aesthetic
appeal of a polished coil-over.
Steering Linkage
Behveen the steering vvheel and the hvo front
tires is the steering linkage. Once again, there are a
few options here that should be mentioned in the
56
interest of making good decisions.
Cross-Steering for Dropped Axles
By far the most common style of steering link-
age currently used with a dropped axle is the
cross-steer system. This style of steering mounts
the steering: gear to the left frame rail. The drag
link runs from the pitman arm, ·which is connect-
ed to the steering gear, across to the right-Side
steering arm.
What we call ffbump steerff can occur vvith
any type of steering linkage, usually because
someone didn't take the time to think through the
various components being used and how they in-
teract as the suspension moves up-and-down. H,
as the suspension compresses or
extends, the steering linkage
moves through a different arc
than the axle itself (check the il-
lustration) then 'lOU have essen-
tiallv "steerL'd" the \'chicle, Axle
mo\:emcnt, front to rear or side
to side, can cause this problem,
In a car \vith a cross-steer
linkage it's important to keep the
tie rod and the drag link parallel,
and the pitman arm pointing
straight ahead when the gear is in
the straight-ahead position (in the
center of its movement). Worm-
gear types of steering gears ha\'e
a built-in "high point" at the
verv center of the movement.
This is built in to compensate for
any wear that might occur over
time. The shaft of a properly
Steering shafts and the necessary U-joints ate avail8ble as a kit like this one
utilizing Borgeson U-joints SO-CAL
adjusted steering gear \vill actually require
slightly more torque to turn as it goes through
this high point. In general, the Vega steering
box (or the newly manufactured copies of it) is
suitable for lighter-weight hot rods, such as Ford
up to 1034. Larger cars, like fat-fendered Fords
and GM cars, should use the slightly larger Sagi-
na\rv 605 box, Saginaw 525 box, or equivalent.
Most street rod builders recommend the usc
of a Panhard rod with a dropped axle to avoid
side-to-side movement of the axle as the car goes
over bumps and around corners (see Pete
Chapouris' comments earlier in this chapter). 1n-
stilllation of the Panhard rod must be considered
carefully, however, so the axle and the drag link
movE' through the same arcs. If in doubt, the
builder can ahvays call the company that manu-
factured the suspension parts for help ",,\lith place-
ment and installation of the Panhard rod.
When it comes to the steering linkage used
\rvith straight axles, there is a plan B. Early hot rods
and a few bucket Ts use what's known as a drag-
link stjrle of linblge, This system positions the
drag link on the left side of the car, connected be-
hveen the steering gear and a left-side steering
arm. Despite the fact that many old fndy roadsters
ran exactly this type of linkage, it can be trouble-
some to install correctlv, Unless the stvle of the car
dictates a drag-link t.ype of systeml most builders
are better off with a cross-steer linkage. Those \vho
go ;;lhead \vith linkage running on the car's left
side need to take care that the ax'le doesn't experi-
ence any fore and aft movement as it moves up-
and-dc)\vn over a bump, and that the steering link-
age is carefully laid out.
When it comes to deciding which type of steer-
ing to install in a solid axle car, Pete Cllapouris is a
big believer in the cross-steer, style of linkage: JlTo
use the drag-link type of steering correctly it has to
be laid out right," explains Pete. "With the Model A,
the pivot points vvere in the general area of each oth-
er, but \-"hen people build l'i;l[S !ike that now, there's
just so many' things that can go wrong. A lot of guys
do it because of the nostalgia thing. But look at the
old cars. T'he Pierson Brothers coupe is a cross-steer
car, and that \NaS built in 1949. \lVhen 11enrv started
using cross-steer the hot rodders of the day followed
suit. The cars \ve build at SO-CAL now, they all use
cross-steer linkage, it's just so much bettee""
If this \vere a class or seminar, someone
\v()Uld be sure to raise a hand at this point and
ask, "What about using a rack-dnd-pinion gear
with a dropped axle?"
The ans\ver is no. You can't. \'\Iel1, vou
shouldn/t use a rJck-and-pinion """lith a drop'ped
axle. Sure, we've all seen it done \vith \'ilrying de-
grees of success. That doesn't mean ifs a good or
a safe idea. first
l
the rack hZls to be mounted to
the axle, then some kind of flexible link must be
fashioned behveen the steering shaft and the gear
which mO\'t'S up-and-dc)\vn with the axle. Not a
good plan.
Where a rack dol'S vvork extremelv well is
\vhen it's used \vith an independent front suspen-
sion and the rack is designed to lvork IVitl! that
pension system. As mentioned before (but vve'JI
mention it again) the rack and the suspension
must be matched. In order to avoid bump steer,
the ends of the tie rods must move through the
same arcs as the control arms, This hdppens only'
\vhen the hvo systems arc deSigned from the start
to vvork someone has carefully
matched an independent suspension package to J
particular steering rack assembly.
57
TIE ROD
ARMS
Above & Below: In a turn, all the tires must rotate
around a common point. Because of the angle of the
steering arms, the inside tire always turns in a little
more sharply than the outside tire.
. _._._._._._.-. __ .-
As the street rod industry matures and many
of us drive bigger, heavier cars, the need arises for
power steering. Not a problem you say-I'll just
use the power version of that Ford rack-and-pinion
and hook it up to the handy dandy GM power
steering pmnp. The problem this time isn't geome-
try, but pressure, namely, the fact that the GM
pun1p puts out way too much pressure for the
stock Ford rack. Correctly solving the mismatch in-
volves the use of a shim kit in the flow control
valve, or an adjustable power steering valve from a
company like Heidt's.
The conventional steering gears are often
called wonn-gears because of the shape of the
internal gear. A good example and longtime fa-
vorite with street rodders is the Vega gear, now be-
58
ing remanufactured so you can pur-
chase one brand-new. Another popu-
lar GM gear is the 525, a late-model
manual gear that's just a bit bigger
than the tried-and-true Vega gear. GM
power steering gears can often be used
in many typical cross-steer applica-
tiems. Most of the steering gear mount-
ing plates will accept either a manual
or a power gear. The problem with
power steering in cross-steer situations
is the tight fit on the left side of most
V -85 ·when installed in most street rod
chassis.
This brings us back to the topic of
mock-ups, already discussed in chap-
ter 2. This concept definitely applies
to the steering column and placement
of the steering gear. In the case of a
worm-style gear, the exhaust headers or manifold
are often pretty close to the gear, whether it's pow-
er steering or not. You probably want to clamp or
tack-weld the mounting plate for the
steering gear to the frame, in what
seems like the most logical location.
Then install the engine and check the
clearance between the shaft and gear,
and the engine, mount, and exhaust.
In addition to good geometry, you
need to consider the ergonomics. That
is, the column should be mounted
where it feels the most comfortable
for the driver. With the column tem-
porarily mounted, make sure the low-
er part of the column is high enough
that you can move you.r foot from one
pedal to the other without running
into the column .
Next, locate the steering gear on
the fralne rail so that the shaH connect-
ing the column to the gear is as
straight as possible. With the wheels
pointed straight ahead, the steering gear must be in
the center of its movement. While many hot rod
builders and shops position the gear so tl;e pitman
arm is parallel to the ground, that isn't necessary
for good geometry and may make for a more com-
plex linkage between the column and the steering
gear.
Relnember that it's easier to modify a header
tube or change to a different style of exhaust
manifold than it is to design a shaft with mul-
tiple U-joints and a support bearing. There are
also a number of different pitman arms available
for the most popular gears. 'fhese can be an aid in
finding the ideal position for the gear, and will
affect the gear's effective ratio and leverage; for
instance, installing a longer pitman arm will make
TOE-IN
1+-------_ STRAIGHT AHEAD _______ ....1
and its bracket, \\'1 Il be magni-
fied and result in loos(' and
vagl.H.' steering.
Among the pa.rts }'OU have
to keep matchcd arc the tapered
ends of the tie-rod ends dnd the
holes in the steering arm or pit-
man arm. Even similar appear-
ing ends use different-diameter
tapered studs, or studs v\"ith i.l
different degree of taper. Bt:'-
cause all the components that
make up the steering linkage are
so CribGll to vour safetv, be sure
the taper anJ diameter "of the He-
rod end matches perfect! y thc'
hole it fits into ... and don't for-
get the cotter key,
(ZERO TOE-IN)
,...------- TOE-lN CONDITION ______ .......
(USUALLY 1/8" FOR
RADIAL TIRES, 3/16"
FOR CROSS BIAS
TIRES)
TOP VIEW
..
Mounting a
Rack-and-Pinion Gear
While some older indepen-
dent front suspension::; use a
cross-steer sy'stem, the m.ajority
of nC\Ner I FS set-ups usc a mck-
and-pinion. The position of the
rack-and-pinion is determined
by the supplier of the front sus-
pension kit. Some cHe "front
steer" and some are "rear
steer," meaning the gear assem-
blv is mounted to the front or
re:u of the front cross-mcIl1I:wr.
Toe-in is very Important to the way your car goes down the road, Too little or too
much can make a car prone to wander. almost like insufficient positive caster.
SO-CAL
As the position of the rack af-
fects the overall geometr).-',
changes to the position of the
rack should be avoided. Stick
the steering quicker. Though the U-joint manufac-
turers say the jOints will work at angles up to 25 or
30 degrees, a smaller angle is ahvays better.
The U-joints you use for the steering shaft must
be high-quality needle-bearing U-joints. There are
less expensive U-joints out there that do not use
needle beJrings to support the cross-shaft. These
an.' generally meant for industrial applications and
ha\'c no place in your steering shaft assembly.
Borgeson and various dealers sell complete kits
with U-joints and a shaft, as \vell as vibration
dampeners and collapsible shafts for safety. Sup-
port bearings and brackets for three-joint shafts are
avaiJable as well.
The mounting plate used for the steering gear
must be well mounted, preferably welded, to the
frame rail. Even a verv miniscule amount of flex
between the bracket ~ n d the frame, or the gear
\"lith the position of the rack as
determined by the engineers at
Ford Motor Company, or
Kugel, or the manufacturer of thL' front suspen-
sion kit.
As discussed in the illustration on alignment,
the shape and angle of the steering arms creates the
effect known as toe-out on turns. The angle of the
arms is critical. Don't use the heat-\vrcnch to re-
shape them and solve a clearance problem.
Things To Do
It seems this chapter is full of "don'ts" and
things to avoid. Rather than leave you on a nega-
tive note, we've decided to finish \·vi th some of the
things that you should do: Buy only quality paris
and kits from kno\;\rn suppliers. Take your time
when you're doing suspension \\lurk. Think your
way through each step to avoid making dumb
mistakes. Have fun and be proud ()f the \york
you've done.
59
The hole is the reference used by in determining
the correct place to put the front cross-member. It's a good idea, though, to
doublEt-check the position of the using other reference points.
T
his demonstratiol1 was donc in
tilt: KII,f\cl ::ihop hy Joe: Kugel, Of1(,
ol fhe t{oC! Kugel SOIlS who do much
(:f fhe day-flHiay runlling the shop
t<wl1ded by tileir father, Jerry Kugel,
This ::icqUC!lCl' slarts at fhe -('cry be-
gilllling [udh the i:f the

At Kugel, all the meaSUf('-
ments st<:1ft with one reference,
the front body-mounting hole or
the cowl-rnounting hole. They
meaSUH' 17.25 inches forward
from the center of the cowl-
mounting hole to find the axle
center line on this
Ford frame.
As Joe explains, "1 go 17 1/4
inches fonvard from the center of
the mounting hole, then i1dd 1/4
Joe measures 17 1/4 inches forward to deterllline the standard axle centerline, then mnves that pOint 1/4 inch
farther forward to compensate for the effect of positive caster. The position of the cmss-member is marked with a
mar'ker j not by scribing the frame rail,
60
With help from a floor lack, Joe positions the cross-
member between the frame rails. Note the straps
tack-welded acmss the very front of the rails.
inch, and that's the ct'l1t('r of the front cross-mem-
ber. We add a quarter inch because by the time
they get the correct caster, it pushes the spindle
back slightly." Next he marks the framE' rails 1
1/2 inches on either side of the adjusted center-
line, because the cross-member is 3 inches wide.
This particular installation useS SAC (Specialized
Auto Components) }'-1ot Rod Products' rails for a
1940 Ford truck (the 1935-1940 Ford frames are all
the same).
Joe likes to double-check the centerline
against other reference points. The SAC rails
havE' the rear-axle centerline stamped, so he can
measure fonvard from that mark; and do a cr055-
measurement as welL
With everything marked, it's time to tack-weld
the cross-member in place, "You have to be careful
that the cross-member doesn't move as you do the
tack-\velds," warns Joc, "and it's important to
move around from side to side as you do the actual
After carefully tack-welding the cross-member ill place,
it's time to position the upper pivots. The left- and I'ight-
side pivots are not interchangeable.
Joe is careful to position the pivots cOfrectly-a mistake
at this point will make it difficult or impossible to get the
alignment correct later.
6]
In The Shop continued
Before doing the final welding of the cross-member and pivots, Joe does a cross-measurement check to be
absolutely sure the parts are positioned correctly, With the frame at ride-rake, a protractor can be used to ensure
that the cross-member is positioned correctly front to rear.
62
The eccentrics seen here are affixed
to the upper-arm pivot shaft with set
screws, By turning the shaft both
eccentrics move, thus affecting the
camber. The shims are used to
move the arm front to rear and thus
set the caster. Kugel upper and
lower arms are investment cast
stainless steel.
The assembly of the front suspension starts with the
"Installation of the lower arm, held in position by this
simple strut.
finish welding, so you don't concentrate too much
heat in one area and cause warpage."
Next he sets the upper A-arm pivots in place;
these are separate pieces of the cross-member. Joe
shows me the difference in the two parts, and
emphasizes the fact that these arc not inter-
changeable from side to side. Once they are both
tacked in place, Joe does a series of double-checks
to make sure they are positioned correctly. As he
explains, "If they are off very much, you proba-
bly vvon't get the alignment within specifica-
tions." He also does a cross-measurement to en-
sure the:r afC square.
No\-v vva install the actual front-end compo-
nents for the Phase Il independent front suspen-
sion. The upper and Io'wer arms are investment
cast, 17-4, heat-treated stainless steel. This suspen-
sion uses iJ rear-steer rack-and-pinion gear.
Joe has assembled the spindle and rotor and now sets
the whole thing in place on the lower ball Joint
Joe installs the lcnver arm first, and a tempo-
rary strut is used to hold it in position. The Kugel
front end shown here uses eccentrics, hvo per up-
per arm, for alignment. The eccentrics an.' turned
to adjust the camber. Shims are used to move the
upper arm ahead or back and thus cbange the
caster angle,
This kit's spindle assemblies are cast from '17-4
stainless as well, and Joe instaJ1s the spindles next.
In this case the rotor and caliper are already.' in
The upper pivot arm goes in last. Once the a l ~ m is in place, the set screws in each eccentric will be tightened
against the fiats machined on each pivot shaft.
camber and cBster gauge is used to do {1
camber adjustment Emel ensure that the cr'Oss-111srnber and related cornponents
are positioned A pmtractm' cDuld b8 used -for this as well
cc-
n.'nl rics ('om!..' out
tht' i nct' ;lS-
scrnbl the upper turn
Hics, need tn [c<1.Ji;;(' that
the set
t'nclj
both rYl(!\'(-' at onn·\ when
the shaft is turned -----ilnd you \vill
1S W('
the earn!.)c)' n
i';1Ct do ;1 camber
clmbl'f
need to
!'h(\ earn,ber_
check
the f,-
cast-
front uo"s-rncmbcr shuuld be
"] dcg-rl'c \\'ilh tlll.' fr(lnw at the ride rake"
Though a Sl;\'dy' beH is d\'(1i!<lblc for this front
end, Joe did not instdjl one at this time.
The finished instal1ation, complete with steer'ing rack, seen in a very similar' frarT18 Clt
G5
,
i
,
idea to start the assembly by first spreading everything out on the floor' or the bench,
includes stainless upper and lower arms and dropped spindles.
T
his sequ,e,m,,",: con tin lies the cons,trllL,"fion a fairly
-typical street rod chnf:'sis for a DClice pickup trllck,
l:he 6amc chassis YL'C S(HU in chapfer 2. The front SllS-
PCllsiim used here is tlte Superidc systcrn from Heidt's
sw;vens/'on., [11 the rlCXt scquence, ruc'pc also included a
front'sw,pcnsiion installatioll sequence photographed at
Koml'onelll's shop.
The Components
This Heidt's kit includes upper and lower
a.nus. made from polished stainless steel. The as-
sorted hardware that comes with this kit is pol-
ished stainless as well. In order tD achieve the ride
want, Neal and John decided to use
dropped spindles, They made this
",,,'al'din>' the spindles after discussing the
the technicians at Heidt's. As Neal ex-
"Heidt's suggested the dropped
spinl:tJe would put the truck where we want it,
on what we said about the rake and ride
we want iH1d the tire sizes."
step, and perhaps the most important
onej is the installation of the front cross-member,
66
already covered in chapter 2. It's a good idea to lay
out all thc parts on the floor, sirnply to ensure you
have all of them, and that vou understand what
bolts to \-"haL By putting all the parts in one neat
grouping, you also lllJke it less likely that you \\'ill
forget to instClll one part or one bolt.
With the cross-member in place, Neal goes
ahead and insta115 the steering rack, which mounts
in straightfonvard fashion to the mounts that are
part of the cross-member. Nl'xt corne the 10\v('r
control arms, which bolt to the mounts on the
cross-member. Neal novtv' bolts the lower shock
mount to the luwer control arm vvith the supplied
hardvvare. The shocks came from Hddt's. These
are adjustable for rebound damping, and include
the springs recommended by Heidt's fnr this par-
ticular vehicle. It's important to face the shocks so
that the adjustment knob is as accessible as possi-
ble. The upper arms bolt on next, fo] (owed by the
dropped spindles,
When installing the front suspension for the
last time, be sure to get the nuts tight enough that
the tapered male part of the ball joints arc drawn
The front cross-rnember is already installed, so Neal can go ahead and instHII the ""'0r,,,,, rack, which bolts to
brackets that are part of the
With the rack in place Neal instaJls the lower anTiS first.
67
c:omes next.
into the' rnatc'hing female hole in the spin-
as,;elnbh Conversely, if you're just doing a
m,x:J<-llP, avoid pulling the pins up too tight, as
can takc ,) set and be hard to H'movc, The
to ,) fter the pin is fu lly d ra \Nn up
is to hold one hammer ht'ad on
ont: side the female spindle assembly while rap-
the other side. This will "pop" the tapered
of the holt,. Don't be tempted to whack the
Lll)('1'(,d stud itself, as d,lmagc to the threads is
sure result. You can also rent or buy a flpickle
fOl"krf that wllt do the S<lme thing.
Once aU the susl)ension anTIS and the spindle
"'i('''''' arc in place, it's time to install the ro-
tors, As mentioned clsevvhere, if VOU'VE' never
pal2kc'cl and instc1lled a set of wheel bearings be-
i1sk for help. Most garages have special tools
or for the grease gun that force the grease
up betvveen the individual rollers. It doesn't hurt
to a bit of grease on the outer bearing races as
ThiS part of the assembly is pretty straightforward. After
installing the lower' alTn and Neal positions the
upper arm and slides the upper pivot bolt in place.
wt'll. 1f the rotors come ·without the bearing races
installed, be sure to use the corfect driver during
the instalL:Hion and be sure the races aft' fully seat-
ed in the hub. The grease you use must be rated for
vvhccl-bearing usc on Cdrs \'vith disc brakes. When
tightening the nut for the wheel bearings, be sure
to folluw the recommendations in a good service
manual so they don't end up too tight or too loose.
Most of these suspension kits and assemblies
come v\'ith their own jnstructions, which may in-
clude a qUick wheel alignment check. Remel;-'ber
that the car needs to be at ride height before you
check the aJignnlent. Camber can be checked easily
placing a digital level or anglt' gauge on the ro-
tor or hub surface. ThE' (aster angle, hov\,'Cver, can
be hard to check on a car \vith independent sus-
pension if you don't have access to the turn plates
that arc pJrt of a good alignment rack.
installing the svvay bar for this kit involves
drilling two holes into the frame on either side.
These holt-'S are used to Il!Ount the two pillow
blocks that locate the swav bar. in the case of
the Heidt's Superidt
1
, the s'wa:y bar needs to be
The Heidt's system uses threaded collars at either end
of the upper arm to adiust both camber and caster.
Note the adjustment knob at the end of the Aldan
shock, used to control rebound cLunn;nn
installed before the front end is fullv asscrnbled,
something Nedl disco\'Cfcd the hard (\,vhich is
why it's a good idea to asscmble most of these
components t\vicc, oncc during the mock-up and
once for the final dssemb1v). Also of notc, the
threads on the end of the svv'"ay' bar \'vere damaged
slightly during \vhy it's nice to
have (l tap and die set in the tool box.
What's left is t.hf-: instiJliation the "ont "o'nnn
hlocks behind
. seen
here mounted
mernbr0f'. with the links
holt
Once the upper and lower arms, coil-overs, and bar' EH'e in
installed. Installing fmnt rotors nnd calipers will be covemd in the brake "h;mt.,o"
cmss-
it to Lhe
SU';OP;ls;cm ;s 8S';8nt:l8

Rear Suspension
LaddElJ' bars, as used on many SO-CAL cars and sold in kit form, make a nice, simple, functional rear suspension that
works with either' a spl'ing or a pail' of coil-overs.
W
e in chapter :3 the inlportance of
tbe suspenslnn, That doesn!t mC<lll thE.'
rear !S lInirnportant, or that :you shouldn!t
give careful consideration to the type of rear sus-
pension that best suits your new rod. Many road-
sters leave the rear suspension open to vicvv, v,'hich
means the rcar suspension can be all jmportant
part of the caris visual pack(lge, if yours is a
fat-fendered car with a 1110Stlv invisible rear axle,
the linkage, springs, and the rear-end assembly it-
self certainJy contribute to the ride, handling, and
ride height of the car.
A discussion of independent versus solid rear
axles runs parallel to the discussion of front axles.
An indeperldent rear suspension pnwjdes better
handling and ride (in most situations). The down-
side 1S cost and mechanical complexity.
While the high zoot cars in the magazines
might have ,;1 fully independent and polished
70
fear suspension from KuW.'L or a converted
Corvette or Jaguar sy'stem, that doesn't mean
vou can't install d solid Ftwd 9-inch fear end with
coil or leaf springs. millions of GUS ;:uld
thousands of hot rods arc motoring around to-
day on nothing more sophisticated than a solid
rear axle, two springs, and the linkage necessary'
to keep ita 11 in place.
Solid Axle Options
A solid rear axle can be supported in a variety
of ways: hvo parallel leaf springs, a single trans-
verse buggy spring, a pair of coils, or a pair of air
bags. Henry Ford liked the buggy :->pring! used on
most of his cars up to ]948, Today'! that option is
less popular, though the kits and components
available from SO-CAL (and J fe\v others) are mak-
ing the buggy spring a more viable rear suspension
choice than ever before,
Before df'ciding vvhich is the best suspension
option for your solid rl'Jr Jxle, consider tilt, options.
Leaf Springs
Though len'\' in sex <tppcal, there's nothing
wrong vvith leaf springs. Thl')/'fe durabk ilnd read-
ily available n1akt' a good suspension, especial-
ly under heavil..'f, f<ttkr cars, Spring clssemblies like
those from POS1cS come with slippery! synthetic
buttons under the end of each leaf to rnjnimizt' in,·
tcrnal Ifstictiol1,'! one of the inherent disadvantages
of leaf springs.
Another vvav to fricti()!l fn)nl v,,'it.hin
the spring pack'is to eliminate the pack and use a
single leaf. There seem, 11o\'\'('\'cr, to be' sot'lle prob-
lems vvith these products and mdny lla\'c been
vvithdrawn from the markd.
Hcight adjustment is difficult at best \vith leaf
springs. Sure, you can 'lhYclyS use lovvcring
Installation of a quick-change rear' end in a Deuce frame
f'equires the use of a Model A-style rear cross-
member'. SO,CAL
blocks the kids (lid on their '1952 Fords, but
vvouldn't it be better to the right spring the
first tirnt'? In order to lovver the rCJr of the car,
some rnddt'rs IJ 011l..' or rnOH' leafs from the
sprint:; pack. follo\ving suit hOVVCVCf, con-
sider that '-111 those Jcnfs in the pack \Vefe de-
signed to \york togdher. The best solution is to
ask the who manufactures the spring or
re<1r suspension kit whdht'r or not the springs
ha\'(' been de-arched and wh;:1t the ride height
\'\'iIl be \-\'hen the are used with a (,11' like
yours. In d case thc spring js already cho-
st'n and the redr of the Cill" sits too high, tl good
C;:1n de-<'\rch i:l k'af spring ibsembl:y or
1"e\'('p,;(' till' eyes to lower the caL
Coil Springs
()ftl.'ll the SllSPl'flsion of choke for early cars,
coil-spring rl:ar suspensions COTTIf' in !Twny differ-
ent forms. Coil arc used in at lc'ast four dif-
ferent of rear sllspension, l'd_ch vvith certain
advdlltages and disac1\·antages.
The straight and simple parallel four-bar rrlight
be the best knovvll of thc coil-spring fear suspen-
sion svstC11lS; four-bar kits arc a\Cailahle from ('verv
mJjnr'street rod manufacturer and catalog compi.{-
nv. Just weld the bnckets to thl' rear end, another
set of brClckl'ts to tht' fJ'cHIW, connect 'vvith the four
links, and add coils or Like all redr sus-
pension kits, installing the four-bar suspension \vill
require that .lint! cilrdullv set up the rear end at
ride hl'ighl' wcldillg on the four-bar brack-
ds. One hig adVi.llltdgt' of ,-) four-bar is that there is
no pinion-.:mglt\ change the suspension movE'S
This four-bar kit is designed for Model As and comes with brackets for both the frarne and the re8f' end housing.
It's available in standard steel 0[" stainless. Deuce Factory
71
You Gar! frame construction with the use of this rectangular rear cross-member. Made tram O.120-waH-
thickness mild steel the mounting bungs tor coil-over shocks are already installed, Oeuce Factory
like to weld the Imidel' bar brackets on to the rear end hOUSlllg [with the hOUSlIlg In 8 flxLure) then send
it out for the installation of the ends and straightening of the housing,
AV8dahie to fit rnany cars, this triangulated toul'-bar
!"leeds no Panhard roc!, and comes with standard or
stainless Chassis Engineering
72
through its travel (just as a fou r-bar front end has
no cZlster change).
As mentioned cbe\vhere in this book \,ve1ding
on the rear end housing generally ,"varps the hous-
ing, which must be checked dnd repaired by a
qualified shop after the bri.1ckets are installed.
Unlike some other coil-spring rear suspension
systems, the paraUel four-bar system nceds a Pan-
hard rod to eliminate sidt,-to-sidc axlE' 1110Vemenl.
This means there's nne more bracket to bolt or
weld to the axle housing, and the need for il match-
ing bracket on the frame.
To eliminate the Panhard rod, some builders
use a triangulated four-bew system. This arrangc-
ment positions two of the bars parallel to the car's
axis like a standard four-bar svstem. The other
hvo bars, hc)\\,cvcl', are at an angle so
they can absorb side loads and eliminate the need
This close-up shows the built",in sway bar and triangulated rear' suspension used with the MaxG chassis. Art Morrison
for a Panhard rod. The problem is the \,vay thc dn-
gled bars sometimes get in the wa:y of the exhaust
svstem as it snakes its \vav to the rear of the car.
And though there are thou'sands of these ou t there
in use, some builders don't like the way the lower
and upper links move in different pIa-nest \Nhich
puts the upper bars in a bind \vhen the suspen-
sion mO\'l'S up-and-down.
Ladder bars, another option in the coil-spring
world, are about as simple <lS a suspension sY'stem
gets. Welded to the axle housing, each "ladder"
runs well forvvard and connects to brackets and a
cross-membf'r near the middle of tht.' chassis. Rov
Brizio states that the\! oftt.'n use ladder bars on
cars they build in shop, and for good reason.
°With ladder bars you bring all the torque to the
center of the car, and the torqup acts on the center
of mass, the VVd\/ Henrv liked ie'
A ladder b"ar system requires a. Panh,ard rod
vvhell coil springs arc uSl'd, and tht' bars can get in
the vvav of a dual l'xhaust svstem. The rear end
supported by ladder bars als(") experiences pinion-
angle change as the suspensioll moves up-and-
dO\,.VIl, in much the same' \vay a split \Nishbone
Ladder bars, as used on many SO-CAL cars and
sold in kit form, make a nice, sirnple, functional
suspension that \Norks with either a or'
a pair of
Based on the 9-indi Ford, this assernbly uses its own rear cross-f"nernber and stainless components and is available in
various widths. Kugel Komponents
The a i l ~ bags used for rei:)r 81'e different than those used on the front, The systerTI shown here fr'orn
Art Morrison is intended to be used with its own trame. Art Morrison
74
front suspension experiences
caster change as the \Vhl'eJ goes
over a bump.
fhe final inst,lllment in this
coil-spring: suspension treatise is
a seldom lbed suspension called
a threl'-bar. Think of a parallel
four-bar systt>m vvithnut the top
b<lrs. Novv add one shorter, upper
link and a Panhard rod. Simpler
than a four-bar, the three-bar pro-
\'idcs good traction and c1 good
launch, and is often seen on true
d rag-race cars. 'Thl' Deuce pickup
illustrated in the In thl' Shop se-
For' the ultimate in sex appeal, it's haf"d to beat a polished independent reEH'
suspension. Available in various widths, this assembly is based on the Fcwd
rear' end and comes with its own cr'Oss-mernber for ease of insta!ifltion Heidt's
quences in this chapter uses just such a system,
Act Independent! y
fhe street rod and hot rod industry has grown
tremendously in the past]O or 15 y'ears, No\..vhere
is that growth more i:lppiUenl than in the ,"vide
range of independent rear suspensions a\'ailable
ftn the typical hot rod,
Not long ago thl' options Jist here included
mostly the con\'l'rted Con'l'tte or Jaguar rear
pension systems. A few of the catalogs offered
kits that made it possible to convert one of the
sy'stems to street rod use, BO)id Coddington's
shop tonk thl' Con'ctte independent systt:m to a
new plateau and made it their own. Today, inde-
pendent fear suspensions come in (1S many flavors
as ice erL'am. Kugel, Heidt's, and Outchman arc
just three of the companies that manufacture com-
plete stand-alone independent suspension 5}'S-
tems basl'd on the Furd 9-i1'1ch rear end,
These rear s.ystcms were designl'd
from tht.: stdrt to be installed in vour hot rod If
you're afraid that thl' torqul' of a street {--{etni or
502-ci Chevy v\'ill spit those Jaguar spider gears
out onto the p<:1yement, try' a bulletproof Ford
9-inch as the foundation of a \,('r,Y trick indepen-
dent rear suspension sy'stem. Novv add axles
available in \'arious lengths, cunnected to heavy-
duty U-joints, supported by trick cast or billet
aluminum supports,
This is Yankee ingenuity at its best. Extremely
durablc, these independc·nt rear suspensions
come as a complete assembly vvith their own sub-
framl', readv for installation into the chassis of
vour choice.'
. If the stand-alone dssemblies seefn a bit expen-
Si\'l' or you Jikl' to get your rt.'all:y and
do L'verything yourself, a nurnber of companies of-
fer kits that allovv the adaptation of Corvette rear
sllspensions to street rod usc, Chassis Engineer-
ing offers trailing arms and cross-members to in-
stall pre-C5 COtTL'tte SUSPl'llsion components in a
Early Corvette [1963 through 1978) independent real'
suspension can be adapted to many cars with kits that
include the rnain cross-rnembel', trailing arms, and
necessary brackets, Chassis Engineering
\'ariety of hot rods. Fat Man makes complete rear
to c{)nvcrt C5 (late-model) Corvette
components to neiHl)-.' anyl hot rod application. Art
Morrison, too, has Corvette suspensinn kits meant
for hot [(...leis,
No matter vl.'hich style of fear suspension you
install, independent or solid axle, you should
consider the position of the \.-vhccl in the rear
fender opening (assuming there arc rear fenders).
fat-fendered (.'ars usc an axle centerline
fn.H11 the factory that positions the rear vvhl'el
slightly to the front of the fender opening, vvhich
means you probdbly \vant to move the centerline
back slightly. This is another reason to spend
time vvith the car mocked-up in the shop with the
chassis at ride height.
If you bu.y a [ear suspension kit, ask the manu-
facturer where in the fendenvel1 their kit positions
the rear \vheel. Or, follmy the c·xample of builder
Steve M(ktl, who likes to roll the mock-up outside
so he can stand back and reallv assess ho\v the car
"sits" and how all the parts wo'rk together.
7f'i
Neal deslflnclil the upper' and IOVVElI' rnmHlts to put the
shock which is the
All of this on the
detenTlined the
71)
W
e continue to document the consl'ructiol1 of the
stretched Deuce truc!e This ilI::ifallmcnt pre:scllts
the installation of the rear {Lyle and thrcc",bar ::>uspcJlsion
(i'ilh coi/-crucr sh"ocks.
The installation of the rear end and suspension
reallv started v\'l1l'n Neal and John did the mock-
up ()n the truck. That's when they decided how
much rake the truck neecicLt hcnv tall the tires
\vollld be, dnd ultimately, vvhere the rear end
would sit. The suspension to be used on this Deuce
pickup is ,1 three-bar, supported by coil-over
shocks lnountcd behind the axle housing.
NCJl suggests that two of the major considera-
tions affecting the locJtion of the rcar end and the
installation of the suspension is "thc amount of
trdvcl you \-,\'ant the rcar end to have, and ho'w
much room there is for the shocks."
vVhcl1 it comes to choosing the correct
springs, )/OL1 can weigh the car, figure the angle
of the shocks, and then llse charts and graphs to
determinl' the spring rate. Neal took
the easy \-vay out by calling Aldan and asking
them for a recommendation, vvhich they gave as
250 lb/in hased on the wtwelbase, the engine,
and the capacity of the fuel tank. "But before 1
called Aldan," explains Neal, IIJ already kne\v 1
\votdd hd\'P ;:1 total of 3 inches of travel and that
the shock would be 13 inches long from eye to
eve v\'hen fullv extended. ! determined those di-
nlensions during the mock-up, but if I'd needed
help Deuce Factory CiHl provide some fecom.men-
dations as \Vell."
Like most shock absorber manutJcturers, Al-
dan m<lkl's shocks with various types of attaching
The upper shDck mounts are part of the rear cross-
cnembel', made up fl"tllTI square tubin[j and cut to just
slide between the kame rails,
The must be installed evenly from side to side, and located so the upper' and lower shock mounts ar'[!
pedectly parallel.
Before taCk-welding it into place, Neal rnakes sum the cross-member is level both fmrn side to side, and fmnt to
Ti
These ewe mild steel of the links that will be
swepF18d later for stainless Even
the wH! be mplaced, Ewe the saille
made from the sarTle 3/16-inch wall,
used for the final stainless lirtks.
points on either end. 'The pair installed here have
urethane bushings on either end! dnd J11etal sleeves
inside each bushing. The flexibll' bushings 'will
compensate for minor misalignment of the two
supporting pins, and the urethane makes a high-
qualit)'1 silent bushing.
Based on the suggestions from Aldan, Neal in-
stalled llw ,..,hocks at {j :iO-degree angle, \vith the
frame and axle at ride height. Aldan also n:com-
mends that the shocks be one-third of the wav
compressed VI/hen the- n.:hide is at ride height.
Neal's case, the suspension has:> inches of travel·",·
from ride height to the end of travel (on compres-
sion) is 2 indll\s! while from ride height to the end
of tra\'(:l on extension is 1 inch.
The Aldan shocks dre their lTwdci A54 with ad-
justments for rehound damping, ;::IS \-vell as for ride
height. Neal plans to instaJl a simpk> conjcal rubber
snubber on either side to prOVide a positive stop to
sllsFwllsion movement.
(Vlnunting the suspension lin ks is made casier
with the reiH U1d dnd fr{lme 1110unted on the
Nea! shows the eventual location of the Panhard rod; it will mount lower because there's no upper suspension link
on the left "The bar should be level at ride with travel up and duwn," says Neal. "That way the
[lut.!""IU doesn't lTlove when the suspensiDn goes up and down."
78
In order to match the ride height and suspension travel,
it will be necessary to notch the frame, Neal made a
template from light board (not shown], marked the
frame, and then cut it out with a cut-off wheel.
The filler' piece was formed teorn flat mild steel the
same thickness as the frame rails, though Neal suqgests
that "for' a lot of people, a piece of large-diameter pipe
would be better because it's air'eady fmTned.'"
Neal Will tack-weld the filler Into place and then car'efully finish weld it with the TIG [Tungsten Inert Gas] welder,
79
finishcicl C·section is '1 inch deep, twicE_; us deep as
Neal needed to net the c:cwr8ct E1I'liount of movemellt on
cmnDI'8CISlon. «The C will allow me tu put a
snubber up in the Dpex of the C," Neai.
table at ride height. Once Neal determined the pin-
ion angle (more later), he could Jay out the two
10\\,('[ links and the single upper link. The lower
bars arc made up fronl tubing just for the rnnck-up,
but they are the' same If'ngth ,1S standard, off-the-
shelf four-bar links. By using standard dimen-
siems, il's easy to buy polished stainless links for
the final assembly. VVith everything jn the jig,
Neal was able to tack-weld tabs to the axle hous-
ing and then install the temporary 10\,ver Jinks,
Jnd thus dctcrmint' v\'l1.cre the front mounting
brackets should go. "I put the brackets and bars
insjde the frame rail; normally people instalJ
them on thl' bottom of the frame r<lil," explains
Nl'al. "This \vay they're a little higher and they
abo don't interfere \vith the installdtion of the
running boards_ fl
The shorter upper link is nl0untcd on the
right of the axle housing. Like thl' ]o\ver
links, this shorter link \-\,i11 be replaced 'with a
stainless link, though the finished upper link 'will
With the Cwsections 'finished, Neal able to put the axle housing back into place and weld up the pivot points for' the
thren·bal' links
BO
The rear shocks are model 654 from Aldan, adJustabJe
for rebound damping and for ride height, equipped with
a 250-1b/ln spring. The lower mount acts as a spacer
so the spring doesn't hit the rear end housing, and also
spreads out the load of the lower mount.
be made up special by Deuce Factory from the
same hf.:'ilvy-wa'lI stainless tubing used for the
standardized lower links.
One of the things that Neal likes about the
three-bar is the way it allows more room for the
Panhard rod and the exhaust. Neal shows how,
with a standard four-bar setup, the Panhard rod
\voulJ have to be mounted higher, so it won't run
into the upper link on the left side. Because this
three-bar suspension uses no upper link on the left
side, the Pan hard rod can be mounted lower so
there's no chance it \vill contact the floor of the
pickup box.
for mounting hardware, Neal plans to use
stainless bolts on the lower links because, he says,
"These are loaded in double-shear, so there i s ~ ' t
much load on the bolt itself. Some of the other
bolts, like the uppl'r mounting bolts for the
shocks, are essentially loaded in single-shear and
those will be chrome, grade-I:) bolts. For the nuts I
like Nyloc so r know they won't back off." (See
the hardware chapter for a discussion of double-
shear, Single-shear, and the issues surrounding
stainless bolts.)
To install the rear shocks, it helps to put the frame on
jack stands and then use the fJoor Jack to get the lower
mount to a height that matches the position of the
lower' eye on the shock
The finished suspension, minus the suspension stops
and the final stainless links, Mounting points on the
frame are built fmm 3/16-inch plate. Lower links have
been moved in from their' more common position in
order to keep them higher and out of the way of the
running boal'ds.
81
In The Shop: A Rear Axle Installation at SO-CAL
A
nyone familiar with the typical SO-CAL chas-
sis think that the only rear suspension
use 11 buggy spring supporting a 9-inch
ten,r end.
In SO-C AL ofiers both buggy and coil
rear suspensions desibrned to handle either a
or a quick-change Halibrand rear end.
The most popular of the rear suspension op-
tifms at SO-CAL is the buggy spring matched up to
a Ford 9-inch rear end. Though you can buy the
frame bare and install the rear suspension yourself,
most ar(' money ahead to let SO-CAL set up
the fcar end and chassis. To quote Shane again,
"Y Ott could buv all the brackets and weld them
onto the: housing, but I don't recommend
that YCJlt spend a ton of time getting the brackets
the pinion angle right, and the shocks set
cnrrc,ct1lv All of that is already set on the jigs we
to set the rear end.
H A of ('ight parts have to be welded to the
rear end housing. If you have any of those off a lit-
you create a bind, or too luuch pinion angle.
VVt'! start with the bare housing with no ends, and
vveld the brackets on with the housings in a jig.
the housings go to Currie, where they are
sh'ailsh,terled and the ends are welded on with the
in their jig. It's a lot of work but the results
nPl'fef'tlv straight housing. It's much better to
it's engineered to go together. It's a
tOf'pll)Pr dea l."
Owners of SO-CAL cars report that the buggy
",finl' rear suspension works really well, a testa-
all the work that Pete and Shane put into
Another well-known street rod
Brizio, once stated, "a buggy spring
but only if it's exactly the right
buggy springs used in the back of a
. r,.n,. car are made speCially to their specifica-
tirms. "Basically," explains Shane, II we started with
a '40 Ford spring that we had tweaked, one that
\vas iIt a car that rode really welL We took that to a
company and they"used it as the template,
we is a custom spring."
Befort' spring got's into a car, the crew at
SO-CAL gri.nds and details each individual leaf so
82
there are no sharp corners or rough edges. The
leafs are po\vder coated and the assembly is
greased between the leafs so there is no harshness
to the ride.
The detailing doesn't stop there. "We always
set the suspension up so the shackles are at a 4S-de-
gree angle," explains Shane. wrhat way they don't
need a Panhard rod. Guvs \vho \·vant to race
around corners might st1ll one, but the spring
has the shackles in tension which pretty much
eliminates the need for the Panhard rod."
The typical SO-CAL setup requires "C-ing" the
frame and provides 3 1 /2 inches of travel between
the housing and the snubber. The springs are in-
stalled with a 1- or 1 1 /2-inch spacer between the
spring and the frame, in order to get the back end
of the highboys up high enough. Of course, for
someone \\'ho V\rants the car really low, that spacer
can be removed.
Shane's final 'words of advice to home
builders includes a warning to check that the rear
end is centered and square in the chassis. IIThey
need to make sure that the rear end is square in
the car. When putting in ladder bars, you need to
measure diagonally from either side of the hous-
ing up to the center of the front cross-member.
Lots of people don't do that and the rear end is
cocked and then the car doesn't go straight dtnvn
the road. The other thing to watch out for is
whether or not the lower shock stud positions the
shock far enough away from the axle hOUSing.
We've seen some installations \vhere the shock
hits the axle housing, so now we've had our own,
longer, lower shock stud manufactured."
When asked about the pros and cons of the
venerable f'lalibrand rear end, Shane described it
as /Ian awesome product that is now available on a
timely basis. I just ordered one and it's here today .
The noise is an issue but it can be greatly dimin-
ished by using their helical-cut gears instead of the
straight-cut gears.
"In the past Pete would always take spare parts
when he took one of these cars on the road. After ali,
the rear ends were originally designed for roundy-
round G1fS. But now the reliability is pretty good."
In The Shop: Jerrv Kugel on Suspensions
'Have/un ruhile you work" might be a phrase coined
or by, ferry Kugel. The man running the well-
known Kugel Komponents shop I1dmils that he "gets a
litHe bored on the weekends" Tvller! he doesn't come in
to the shop. The shop isn't huge, just big enough
for Jerry, his tuJO sons, find one or tzuo additional em-
ployee;::.. Neat as a pin, the KlIXel work space houses f1
variety of hot rod chassis under construction, a group
of display chassis with Kugel front suspensions on
them, t1 work area where ferry ossernhles the
dent rear sItspensions, al1d one corner ft!!' their Bon-
neville car. Jerry says that as time goes on he tUrns
morc and more of the business oZier to his tzvo sons,
Jeff and Joe. Most bliSillc" fOllnders in Jerry's posi-
tion, with competent SO/1S to run the busi-
ness, would be looking at reUrenu:nt. That may Hot be
a likt!ly opUon /<)J' Jerry, fuywevCJ', simply becau::>e he's
still lwoins; [uay too much fun at Kugel Komponcl1l's
to give it all lIl'-
Q. Jerry, can you give us a little history on the shop
and tell us how you came to be one of the best-known
manufacturers of street rod suspensions?
A. Well, I started in 1960, as a mechanic, and
then in 1969 [ started my own shop doing general
repair. I always liked the hot rods and I always did
some of that work in the shop. By 1975 the work in
the shop was 50/50, or half hot rod work. In 1983 I
sold the garage and went into street rodding full
time. I was always into suspension work. I built my
first car, a Deuce with Jaguar suspension front and
rear, in 1970.
After doing that first car I started putting sus-
pensions in for other people, and we always used
the Jag components. By the early 1980s, J decided I
wanted to build my own fully-independent front
end assembly. It was all stainless and I was the first
one on the block to make a complete assembly like
that and sell it to street rodders and builders.
Q. Why did you first lise Jaguar components?
A. In the late 1960s there wasn't much to
choose from, most of the OEM stuff from Detroit
had ugly stamped A-arms. The Jaguar stuff was
better looking. It used unequal-length A-arms and
had camber change as the suspension went
through its range of motion, so it had good geome-
try. Jaguar used the same system in their ra"ce cars
of the day. Y ()u could adapt the XKE suspension to
a hot rod easily, and I thought it looked nice. When
I decided to do my own system I used geometry
similar to the Jag's because that's what I'm accus-
tomed to and I know it works.
Q. Why have you chosen to cast your parts from
stainless instead of having them cut out of billet alu-
min urn?
A. You can cast stainless like we do [lost wax
or investment casting] and you have very little Ina-
chining. You don't have to spend all that time cut-
ting a piece out of billet; the labor rates are such
that this method works better for us. There's so
much precision in the part when it's first cast that
we only have to do very minimal n1achining. We
try to build everything in-house, the only thing we
don't do is the casting, which is done in LA.
Q. If I'm in the market for 0 complete suspension,
either front or rear, what should I look for, how can I tell
which is the best system to buy'
A. A fellow can come in the shop, any shop, and
generally he can see good workmanship. If the shop
is orderly and neat it's more likely that the work will
reflect that. Most of our customers are referrals.
83
In The Shop continued
Q. Your business has grown a lot over the yean;,
hOlD big do you see Kugel Kompol1cnts becoming?
A. I prefer to stay small. I don't want 30 em-
ployees, I'm happy with the size we are, that way I
can keep an eye on things.
Q, The independent rear-end assemblies are a more
recent product for you. Can you describe them and how
you came to lHfwup1Clurc those as {oell?
.A. We were using Jag rear ends, installing them
in street rods. But they were getting harder and
harder to find, and when we got one, it was in ter-
rible shape. I knew it would come to a point where
I had to step up to building my own independent
rear suspension. 1 took a lot of the points from a
how the lower control arms are affixed and the
way they use the half shafts as suspension compo-
nents, The Corvette suspension is similar.
[ tried to make it easy to build and install. It's
easier to put the rear end in than the front, and that
helps the builders and dealers. It was necessity. We
use a 9-inch Ford third-member, we cast up a hous-
ing and have that heat treated. Currie makes our
axles, either with 31 or 28 splines. We use Corvette
calipers mounted inboard and our own custom ro-
tors. The lower arms are investment cast stainless
steel or round tube. We use a Corvette hub bearing
pack, the upright is our own, made from cast alu-
minum. The halfshafts are variable in length. On
heavier cars we use two coil-overs per side; it
makes fm a really nice ride. On the lighter cars we
84
only use one coil-over per side. The }{nver arm is
designed so it can be cut off to match the length of
the half shaft. Our normal range in width is from
54 to 62 inches, hub to hub.
Q. What arc the adI1{mtages of using al1 indepen-
dent suspension in the rear of the car?
A. Ride quality and handling. With indepen-
dent on the front and rear, the cars ride better-
there is no comparison. With a typical hot rod go-
ing down the road, you bounce as you go over
bumps and railroad tracks. With an independent
suspension you have less unsprung weight, and
they ride so much better. Plus they look great and
can be tailored to any application.
Q. When a persnn buys or installs a complete sus-
pension systcnl, what should he or she look out for?
A. All of our products are built to perfection.
The installer has the brunt of the responsibility.
I've seen supposedly good installers screw up the
installation. Choose the builder with care--there
are good onE'S and not so good ones. Competition
has kept it good, the bad shops get weeded out.
SEMA helps to police the industry too.
Q. Ally final words of wisdom?
A. I'm real fortunate to have a job I like-on
weekends when I don't come to the shop I get a lit-
tle bored. I also have two great kids who help me
run the shop; they're an enormous amount of help
to me. I'd have to say I'm pretty lucky.
Shocks and Springs
T
he hot rod world uS,es at least three types of
springs and two types of shock absorbers.
Though shocks and springs might seem sim-
ple, they are in fact complex and certainly impor-
tant enough to warrant a separate chapter.
First, let's start with a spring that supports a
weight If you compress the spring and let go, it
doesn't just bounce back to the starting point. No,
it goes well past that point before reversing direc-
tion and going through a series of diminishing os-
ciilations which eventually bring it back to the
starting point.
If we are describing the spring that supports
one con1C-'r of your hot rod, the-up-and down mo-
tion makes it difficult to keep the car under controL
This spring pack is specifically manufactur'ed to work with
the 1940-Ford-style rear main leaf and provide a good
ride and the corl'ect ride height on a 1932 Ford, SO-CAL
The buttons seen on the end of these leafs are intended to eliminate the internal ff'iction and smooth out the rlde. Posies
85
This narrowed Model A rear spring is intended to be
used with the Model A-style quick-change cross-
mecuher. SO-CAL
The front spi-ing needs to be matched to both the
weight of tile car and the specific front axle being used.
Tills exmnple from SO-CAL, designed to work with 1932
Fords, is in three distinct versions. SO¥CAL
To dampen tl.l0se oscillations, a shock absorber is
used to prevent the spring from going through the
'whole series of uncontrolled oscillations.
What's a Spring?
Springs are classified by their rate, that is, how
fa r they move vvhen supporting a certain weight.
rhe spring that's part of a hot rod coil-over might
he rated at 201l pounds per inch, meaning that 200
pounds '.''lill compress the spring 1 inch. Most coil
springs are linear in their rate: if 200 pounds com-
presses the spring 1 inch, 400 will displace it 2
inches (ob\·iously this will change as a coil spring
approaches coil bind).
A variable-rate spring provides a progressive
rate, By winding the coils more tightly at one end
(or by decreasing the diameter of the wire) the en-
gineer is able to create a spring with a soft rate for
the first inch or two of travel, and a stiffer rate for
the final h\'o inches of tr<'lvel. If vou think about it,
a typical It'af spring with five more leafs is a
S6
variahle-rate spring. A soft bump will cause only
the long main leaf to deflect slightly while a big pot
hole might deflect all the leaves in the pack.
What \ve call leaf springs should be described
technically as semi-elliptical leaf springs. Full-ellip-
tic springs are seen on some early cars and consist
of two sets of leaves acting against each other. The
two sets form a full ellipse. Most of these consist of
a pack of flattened "leaves." The !l1<'1in leaf has an
eye at either end; these eyes attach to the frame,
with a bushing at one end and a shackle <'It the oth-
er. Both Detroit and the hot rod aftermarket manu-
facture leaf springs that consist of only one leaf,
with no pack of smaller leafs.
Leaf springs have been very popular from the
earliest days of the automobile and 'were in fact
used to soften the ride on great granddad's bug-
gy. Part of the allure of leaf springs, espeCially in
the early days of automobiles, is the relative ease
with which can he huilt. Even the local black-
smith can hammer one out from a piece of heated
steel and then give it temper with a dip in the vat
of cooling water. Leaf springs have a second ad-
vantage: they locate the axles or suspension
members, thereby simplifying the construction of
early automobiles.
The downside to a leaf spring includes a cer-
tain minimal sex appeal. Besides that, leaf springs
are heavier for a given capacity than a coil spring.
However, they compensate for some of that
weight gain by eliminating one or more suspen-
sion arms.
When I spoke with Ken Fenica 1, o\vner of
Posies and perhaps the best-known manufacturer
of hot rod springs, he was L'xcited about quarter el-
liptic springs. Essentially, these applications take
what we call a leaf spring and cut it in half. Seen
recently on the front of some nifty track-roadster-
type hClt rods, the quarter elliptic bolts the thickest
part of the spring pack to the frame and then at-
taches the end of the main leaf to the axle.
Coil springs take their name from the shape of
the spring. Both the coil spring used on the front of
a Mustang IJ type of suspension and the spring
used to wrap a modern coil-over are coil springs,
yet they display different properties, which we \vill
consider shortly.
As mentio;1ed, coil springs are rated in weight
per distance (lhlin in the United States). The sim-
plest springs arc linear in their strength. Some
springs are said to be "progressive," meaning the
coils are wound tighter on one end than the other.
Some manufacturers offer a dual-rate spring
made up of two different springs stacked on top
of each other. Small bumps compress hoth
springs, vvhich provides a softer effective rah'.
When the softer spring coil hinds, then the rate of
the stiffer spring kicks in.
Buying Springs
Buying leaf springs is pretty much a matter of
matching your needs to the growing number of
spring options in the catalog. These springs are
typically listed by the application, not by their rate.
In terms of strength and how high from the
ground a particular spring will put your car, the
best advice comes from the individual manufactur-
er. Many of the springs are available in standard
form or de-arched to help get the car low and mini-
mize the need for lowering blocks.
De-arching is an option for any leaf spring
(and a better idea than removing individual leafs).
You need to decide how much lower you want the
For the bow-tie fan come these leaf spring kits available
for most 1932 to 1948 Chevrolets. Posies
car and give that specification to the boys at the
spring shop. Before proceeding, consider that de-
arching effectively makes the spring longer and
can create an unusual shackle angle. In some cases
the upper shackle pivot may have to be moved
back an inch or two.
If your street rod runs coil springs at one or both
ends, then the options for spring choice are a little
different. In the case of a Mustang-type suspension,
the springs are usually ordered at the time you buy
the suspension kit. If the springs come from the
junkyard or swap meet, remember that not all Mus-
tang fIs or Pintos carne with the sanle springs. Later
cars and cars with air conditioning or the V -6 engine
used heavier springs. The best recommendation for
spring strength in these cases can probably be had
from the manufacturer of the suspension kit.
When you go looking for coil springs in the
junkyard, remember the formula for coil-spring
stiffness. Stiffness = Diameter of the spring wire
(W) taken to the fourth power, times a constant (G,
the shear modulus for spring steel), divided by 8
times the number of active coils (N), times the di-
ameter of the spring (D) taken to the third power.
Written it looks like this:
Stiffness = W'xG/8xNxD'
Note that very small increases in the diameter
of the coil wire make large changes in spring stiff-
ness. Second, by cutting the number of coils you
make a coil spring stiffer, not softer (the number of
Complete leaf spring kits designed to provide a nice low ride height are available to fit most Ford and 8M cal's.
Chassis Engineering
87
In The Shop: Ken Fenical (Posies) on Hot Rod Springs
Ken Feniest known to most people in the industry as Posies, has been manufacturing springs for more than 25 year's
K
en Fenical, owner of Posies, is well known as
the builder of street rods that expand the enve-
lope in a design sense. He is also the best-known
manufacturer of springs and spring kits for hot
fods. With over 30 years of experience, Ken is a
man with some sound advice for anyone who's
puz:zled by the many different springs 'on the mar-
ket today,
give t l ~ :;orne background 011 you a nd the
is a name that I took off my father's
Hower shop building.
When I was a kid my nickname was Posies,
and when I got myoid 1930 Model A panel truck I
put the name on the side. Later I cut a flower out-
line and the letters from a piece of steel and put
them on my father's building. Then when he died I
took that sign and put it on my own building, be-
cause by then I was ready to open my own busi-
ness. That was in 1964. I've always had an interest
i11 cars, even when I was younger. When 1 was a
kid if something broke Dad would buy me the
88
tools to fix it, rather than giving me the money to
pay someone else to do the repair.
Q: How did YOIl happen to focus on springs and
suspensions?
A: Well, I was already haVing: springs manu-
factured for my customers' cars. Then in 1975 I
had 30 springs made to fit the Super Bell dropped
axle. I took those to the regional Nationals in
Maryland. Joe Mayall from Street Scene magazine
took a picture of the spring and fan it as a new
product release and that's really where it started.
I promised Jim Ewing from Super Bell that if he
brought out more axles, I would n1ake springs to
fit them.
Q: How did you come up with the buttons 0/1 the
end of each leap
A: I started doing that as early as 1963, as a
way to eliminate the friction between the leafs. We
kind of picked our own trade name, moly nylon,
for the buttons. They work good and they've been
well accepted in the industry.
Q: When people talk abon! springs, they talk about
a "Hollywood 1\011." What is a Hollywood Rom
A: When a spring leaf comes out of the furnace
it goes through a set of rollers. And if it's done
properly the leaf will mushroom and thin out to-
ward the end of each leaf. That's the way the Hol-
I ywood Spring shop made the springs in' the 1940s
and that's where the name comes from. Those last
3 or 4 inches of spring are real important, it's what
gives it the right deflection properties.
Q: Suppose I'm building a hot rod with a dropped
front axle. How do Il'ick the right front spring F" my
axle?
A. We have 12 springs for all the combina-
tions of axles on the marketplace today, and they
come in three different heights: stock eye, re-
versed eye, and reversed eye low spring. I should
note that the frame may need to be notched for
spring clearance on most '28 through '34 cars
wht'n using the lowest spring.
If you call us, we will ask you \lvhich brand of
axle have and what is the" perch distance. On
'28 through' 48 cars, we also ask what is your king-
pin distance and the wheel width-this is just so
we know you aren't going to have tire-to-fender
clearance problems, If you call and say it's a '32, we
need to know if the frame has a Model A cross-
member, like the SO-CAL chassis does, because
that will help to lower the car.And we also need to
know if the car js a coupe/roadster or a sedan, so
we can determine how heavy it is.
Q: For rear suspension, zolzat (lre some of the advan-
tages and disadvl7ntages a buggy versus parallel leaf
springs? And how do coil-overs compare to springs?
A: There are no disadvantages to a buggy
spring versus parallel leafs. They ride the same.
lt's more a matter of whether people want that tra-
ditional suspension, and which is easier to install.
In fact our newest spring is a Hollywood
Roll-type of buggy spring with hidden buttons so
it looks reallv traditional.
When comes to parallel leafs versus coH-
overs, the parallels out-ride the coils, hands
down. We sell both, but I've had plenty of cus-
tomers take out the coil-overs and install 1eafs.
It's hard to beat the ride of a multipack leaf
spring. However, the very best riding spring in
my opinion is large-diameter coils, but street rod-
ders don't run them.
Q: What kind of mistakes do people make in buying
springs and suspension for their hot rods?
A: They run the pressure reconlmended by the
tire manufacturer in radial tires, which means
they're too hard for a street rod, which is a lot
lighter than a typical sedan. The result is a stiff
sidewall and a harsh ride.
Sometimes they've put a bind on the front
spring trying to achieve enough caster on a raked
frame with a stock cross-member. Obviously the
spring won't move like it should and the ride is ter-
rible. In those cases they can put in one of our ad-
justable spring perches, which allows for enough
adjustment without binding the spring.
Or they're simply running an old spring, and
it's stiff because of the embrittlement that takes
place over time. They need a new spring. Those are
just a few of the things we see.
89
Built from billet aluminum, this Viper
coil-over is meant for street rod
applications. Available for front or
rear, the Viper has adjustable valving
for rebound damping. Pete and Jake's
Polished shock bodies and chrome-plated springs make for a good-looking coil-
over, especially important when the suspension is highly visible, Like most
high-quality shocks, these are available with a variety of springs and offer a
six-position adjustment for rebound damping, Heidt's
coils is on the bottom of the formula). Third, small
changes in the diameter of the spring itself result in
relatively large increases in stiffness. As the spring
gets bigger in diameter, it also gets softer.
At this point we have to insert a warning label
concerning coil springs: A compressed coil spring
stores an enormous amount of energy.
Coil springs have the capacity to kill and maim. If
you aren't familiar with the removal and installation of
coil spring;:;, ask for help or truck the 'whole thing doum
to the local suspension or front-end shop.
Experienced builders advise owners that it's
better to go too soft than too hard when choosing
springs. Most manufacturers offer technical assis-
tance in the choice of both springs and shocks for
your car. Note that a constant-rate coil spring
should never bottom out, or "coil bind," When
you bottom out the coil it stresses the metal and
causes fatigue. Be sure the coil springs aren't too
long for the job and that the axle hits the snubber
before either the shock or coil spring reach the end
of their travel.
Before buying coil-overs for your car, consider
the mounting angle of the shock and spring assembly.
As the coil-over moves frOlTI vertical to horizontal,
the effective strength of the spring is reduced. At a
20-degree lean, for example, the effective spring
rate is only 88 percent of the original rating. So, if
your coil-overs are mounted at a 20-degree angle
from vertical, you need to use a 227 lb / in spring to
get a true 200 lb/in spring rate.
Some of the charts mentioned earlier are al-
ready corrected for lean; if not, you have to use the
correction factor to arrive at the correct spring rate.
The manufacturer of the spring for your coil-
over may offer to exchange them if they turn out to
be too stiff or too soft-it's something worth
90
considering when looking at two c0l11peting
brands of coil-overs.
New to hot rods is the air spring, d concept that
OEM auto and truck manufacturers have used for
some time. Air springs come to the party vvith a
number of inherent advantages. ()ne is light weight,
another is the air spring's progressive nature.
The formula for an air spring reads as follows:
F = pa, where F is the force applied to the spring
strut, p is the air pressure, and a is the area of the
piston. Assuming there is no temperature change
in the air and that the bag or air spring does not
deflect (which would change the volume), when
you cut the area in half you double the pressure.
In the real world there probably is some bag de-
flection and some temperature change, yet for all
intents and purposes the air spring offers the hot
rodder a spring with a progressive rate without
the need for sophisticated linkages or speci(lily
wound coils.
Shock Absorbers
Damper is the correct term to use when describ-
ing the hydraulic device that dampens the oscilla-
tions of a spring. Like leaf springs, shock absorbers
have been used since the earliest days of the auto-
mobile. The first shocks were friction shocks. As
the name suggests, these early shocks worked by
rubbing a series of discs together to dampen the
up-and-down movement of the springs. The prob-
lem is the tendency of these early shocks to exert
their greatest resistance at the beginning of move-
ment. Once the initial "stiction" is overcome, a
friction shock offers reduced resistance to move-
ment. This is pretty much the opposite of what an
engineer looks for in a shock absorber. Ever the
innovator, Henry Ford was one of the fjrst to
I I
A complete air-suspension system requires more than just an air bag at each corner. In addition to the control pane!,
the system includes an air compressor, reservoir tank, and all the lines and fittings.
understand the importance of shock absorbers,
even on an inexpensive car, \vhen he specified hy-
draulic lever shocks for the new Model A,
Today, tubular hydraulic shocks are \'irtually
the only type used, and many of these use gas
charging (more later) to improve the characteristics
of a standard hydraulic shock absorber.
Unsprung Weight and Shock Absorbers
At this point we need to digress and discuss
sprung and unsprung ,",veight, terms you're llkely to
see jf you pick up a book or article about suspension
design for cars, It's also a factor you should consider
when trying to decidp which shocks, brakt-'s, and
wheels to buy, Most of the car-the frame, engine,
and body-is considered sprung weight, that is,
weight supported by and acting on the springs. The
wheels, tires, and brake components on the other
hand are considered unsprung weight.
Consider your car as it goes do\vn the road and
hits a sharp bump. The bump forces the wheel up,
compressing the spring, One of the goals of any
good suspension system is to keep the tires on the
pavement. When the bump in question drops away
quickly you \\rant the v"heeJ to change direction
rapidly and stay in contact with the asphalt.
The problem at this point is the momentum nf
the wheel and tire, which makes them want to con-
tinue moving in an upward direction even after tht:
pavement falls away, The compressed spring is tr,v-
ing to force apart the wheel and the frame. How
much of the spring's energy raises the car and how
much of it forces the tire dm,vn depends on thl' ra-
tio of sprung to unsprung weight.
A lighter wheel/tire/brake assembly will react
more quickly to irregularities in the road vvhile .1t
the same time feeding less energy into the [est of the
chassis. The compression damping of the shock
sorber controls the sprung \veight of the car, or how
fast the spring is compressed as :you hit a certain
bump at a certain speed, The rebound thunping,
however, controls the movement of the unsprung
weight-the wheel, tire, and hub they.'
change direction and move .:nvay from the car.
Henrv's early shocks were lever-action hv-
draulic though today most cars al'e
equipped with tubular shocks. Simply put, tubular
shocks have a piston inside that pt.lshes oit through
91
internal valves and passages as the shock is com-
pressed and extended. By changing the internal
valving and oil viscosity in a shock, manufacturers
can alter the rate of compression and rebound to
suit a particular vehicle. A Detroit sedan might
come with shocks that are much softer on compres-
sion than thev are on rebound--done as a means of
achieving a good compromise between ride and
suspension contnJ1. l-Iot rod shock absorbers tend
to be valved closer to 50/50 (the same on compres-
sion and rehound).
The mort.' sophisticated shocks use valves that
respond to speed and inertia. A sharp bump en-
countpred at relatively high speed compresses the
shock very quickly. A high-quality shock senses
this speed of movement and unseats a large orifice
so the shock is effectively softer in this situation.
The same shock will open a smaller orifice for a
smaller bump, essentially creating a shock that au-
tomatically changes its rate frolll soft to firm.
Buy the Good Stuff
Fluid friction provides the damping in a mod-
ern shock absorber. A shock that works too hard,
h()\,vever, will heat up as the result of that friction.
Cheap shocks allow air to mix vV'ith the oil, and
the oil itself to change viscosity dut, to the heat.
Either situation results in poor and inconsl:..;tent
damping as the piston moves through an aerated
froth of hot oil.
Inconsistent damping control and aerated oil
are problems overcome by high-quality shock ab-
sorbers, In d quality shock absorber, all the compo-
nents, from pistons to shafts, are larger and built to
higher standards. The valves that control the
damping are much more sophisticated to better
handle a varlety of road conditions and driving
styles. To better handle the heat, the amount of oil
is' increased. ror better cooling, the body of the
shock can be made of aluminum. To prevent aera-
tion of the 011, the shock is gas-charged, or filled
with a premium oil that won't change viscosity.
Mounting Tips
Though it sounds too obvious to mention, ex-
perienced builders say they often see cars \vhere
the upper and lower shock mounting pins (on a
double-eye design) aren't paralleL Though most of
these eves are lined with rubber, the rubber bush-
ings will only compensate for n1inor misaligml1ent.
Serious misaHgnment can cause the shock to wear
out prematurely, bind, or even bre,Jk the mount.
We've stated more than once the fact that
shocks aren't meant to take the place of the rubber
suspension snubbers. Though it's generally alright
for the shock to limit the suspension travel in exten-
sion, you d()n't want the shock to be the limiting
factor on compression. Like aJI rules, this one has an
92
exception. That exception is the shocks, mainly (oil-
overs, that come with a small synthetic donut located
on the shaft just under the head (sec the photo).
These cushions are made from some high-tech ma-
terial developed by firms like Koni to take the place
of the external rubber and synthetic snubbers seen
on most OEM applications. "in some cases the size
and design of the built-in snubber can be changed.
Speaking of snubbers, Jim Sleeper from SO-CAL
points out that in cars vvith very limited suspension
travel, the snubber effectively acts as another
spring. If your car routinely hits the suspension
stops, and those are hard enough to "bounce the
car up into the air" you're going to have a car that's
very hard to handle.
This lower rear coil-over stud is intended to space the
shock far enough away from the housing that the
spring won't I-ub on the rear end. SO-CAL
This lower coil-over bracket comes with three mounting
holes for height adjustment. The spacer rnoves the coil*
over away from the rear end and also spreads the load
to two mounting holes instead of just one. Deuce Factory
I
n a large shop like the one at SO-CAL, eaclt person
has their specialty. Some are zue/ders and some are
{abricators. lim Sleeper might be called the resident
'chassis expert. rim says he got into the chassis business
In/ accident. "I had a '68 Camaro and after 1 did a cnrb
Si1O/ I had to fix the mr myself" .
From fixing Camaros, Jim zeent on to auto111oti7x
classes at Fullerton College and then to a big alignment
shop. More recently Jim 'worked u.n'th companies like
Bell Tech and Koni in the design (!f suspension compo-
nents 1"1' lowered trucks. And before that he did chassis
setup for competition cars, both for drag racing and
SCCA. Today, Jim is a man who can handle a front-end
alignment in tlte morning and then use the CAD/CAM
software on the compllter in the afternoon.
Street rods ask a lot of their suspension compo-
nents. With limited travel and very simple suspen-
sion desit,'Tls, making a street rod ride and handle can
be a challenge. Jim Sleeper is a man with answers to
questions that most of us are asking,
If you ask Jim how to pick the shocks for any
given street rod, he backs up right away and wants
to talk about the suspension. "What street rodders
need in a shock is first to figure out the amount of
travel in the suspension. They need enough up-
and-down travel for the suspension to work. Once
they have eno"gh travel and they have the right
spring, then they need to find the right shock-the
shock is what controls the suspension.
"The shock needs to be the right length, so it
doesn't bottom. It needs enough rebound damping
to control the spring. Compression is important but
rebound is more important-it needs enough
damping on rebound to control the suspension.
Shocks with a single damping adjustment are let-
ting the owner control the rebound damping, so
people who have those shocks need to understand
the shock and get them adjusted correctly."
The limited amount of travel allowed by many
of these sllspensions makes it hard for any
spring/shock combination to work correctly. "The
suspension runs into the bump stop all the time,"
explains Jim, "and then the car gets shot up into
the ail', No shock can control that." Of course, some
builders avoid the problem by ignoring the need
for a bump stop, which greatly shortens the life of
the shock absorher.
Despite the advice of some shock manufactur-
ers, Jim likes his shocks close to vertical. "Shocks
need to be as straight up as possible and as close to
the wheel as thev can be. The shock is the control
part of the suspension; you have better leverage
closer to the tire. If you mount them at an angle,
then you need to pay attention to the compensation
table that most shock manufacturers provide."
The discussion of shock mounting brought up
the subject of coil-overs and how the springs
should be chosen. Jim's approach is very straight-
forward, For a hot rod with a soHd rear axle, he
starts by weighing the back of the car, then sub-
tracting fro111 that figure the unsprung weight-·.fhe
weight of the axle, wheels, tires, brakes, and half
the shocks and springs. Now he divides that
weight by 2. Next he divides that figure by the
number of inches of compression travel in the sus-
pension. Now, he factors in the position of the coil-
over relative to the wheel. If the distance from the
center of the car to the wheel is 20 inches and the
shock is mounted at 15 inches, then it's 3/4 of the
way out to the tire so you divide by .75 to arrive at
the basic spring rate.
So far Jim's example goes like this (all numbers
are rounded to the closest whole number): 1,000
pounds/2 = 500. 500/5 (inches of compression
travel) = 100 pounds per inch.
100/.75 = 133; that's the rate vou need for the
spring half of the vertical If the coil-over
is mounted at a 3D-degree angle, then you need to
compensate for the angle with the correction factor.
The correction factor for a 30-degree lean is .75. We
need a stronger spring to compensate for the lean
angle of the coil-over so we divide the original
number, 133, by .75 = 178 pounds per inch.
Enough math. If you ask Jim where hot rod-
ders and street rodders make their suspension
mistakes, he thinks it's by talking to the wrong
people: "People who don't really know what
they're talking about when it comes to suspen-
sions." :His other advice involves the quality of
the suspension components that people huy: "The
components should come from well-known man-
ufacturers, And street rodders often don't al1o\v
for enough suspension travel. Sometimes they
make it worse by limiting f.'ven that travel, by
binding the front spring on a buggy spring setup,
for example.
"People forget how important the tires are.
You have such a small patch of rubber holding
such enormous weight-they should check the tire
pressures more often and take care that the align-
ment is correct. And the car should be built so that
if all four tires go flat, nothing hits the ground, not
the oil pan or one corner of the fran1e or a 1m,ver
shock mount-that's the most important safety
rule there is.
93
P
e()Ple are always talking about the "good old
days." Well, things weren't always better
. back then. At least not for hot rodders. First,
there weren't nearly as many components and kits
available the first-time builder. Second, some of
the kits and components that were available left a
Jot to be desired.
Case in point is the early Mustang II front sus-
pension often used by street rodders looking for in-
dependtmt suspenSion. While the suspension itself
usually worked fine, many of those kits and clips
Came with the factory Mustang II brakes. The result
was a hot rod with 9-1nch rotors and a Single-pis-
ton factory caliper.
Brakes
1£ the car in question was a nice light coupe,
everything worked just fine. On the other hand, if
the car in question was a fat-fendered sedan with a
big-block, air conditioning, and a small trailer out
behind, well, that's another storv.
You'll notice that all the c u ~ r e n t ads for brakes
in the hot rod and street rod press talk about how
their system uses some derivative of the Mustang n
suspension, but one that's upgraded with '\rented
II-inch rotors and a midsize GM (or something
similar) caliper." Nearly everyone has learned their
basic physics: brakes that work on a 2,OOn-pound
highboy can't stop a car that's nearly twice as
heavy, especially at high speed.
What are called "big Mustang II" kits are not all the same. This example uses 11 inch vented rotor's and full·size [not
metr'ic) GM calipers, along with all necessary brackets and aluminum hubs. Unlike some. this kit does not move the
wheels outboard. Eel
94
Pete and Jake's offers another front brake kit with four-
piston Wilwood aluminum calipers and vented rotors.
When ordering a!uminurn calipers, it's a good idea to
order them with stainless steel pistons. Pete and Jake's
The textbooks ta lk about kinetic (moving)
energy Jnd explain the basic relationship between
kinetic energy, mass, and speed. Another formula:
kinetic energy :::::- 1/2My2. So, your car's kinetic en-
ergy equals half its weight multiplied by the speed
squared. When you double the \veight you double
the kinetic energy. Increasing the speed makes a
nonlinear change in energy, however. Doubling the
speed prOdUCt5 four times the kinetic energy (all
other factors being equal). Of course energy can't
be created or destroyed, only converted to another
form-,-",-in this case, heat, Thus, when you stomp on
the brake pedal at 80 miles per hour, you are con-
verting four times the kinetic energy into heat than
you arc at 40 miles per hour,
What all this really means is that the little,
nonvcnted, wimpy from an American
ecollo-box just aren't going to do the job for your
"1940 Ford sedan. You need bigger rotors and big-
ger calipers that can dissipate the heat. After all,
these are hot rods.
The bigger rotors that now come standard
with many brake kits work to your advantage in at
least three ways: First, the larger diameter gives
the caliper more leverage. Second, larger rotors al-
low you to use larger calipers. T'hese come with
bigger pads that are better ablt' to grab hold of the
spinning rotors. Finaity, the larger components,
both rotors and calipers, are better able to absorb
the heat simply because of their increased surface
arca (espl'cially IArith vented rotors) and mass. The
other bit of physics that we should slip in here is
the fact, probably well known, that the front
Designed to fit 1937 to 1948 Ford spindles, thiS kit
uses an aluminum hub with O.812-inch vented rotors,
caliper brackets, and Wilwood alurninum
calipers. Tel
Vented rotors handle the heat of stopping better due to
the fact that the vents help them cool, and they have
more total mass. These vented rotors 81'e designed to
replace the solid rotors that carne with many Mustano
Us and Pintos, They use stock beal'ings and come in a
variety of five-bolt patterns, Heidt's
brakes do at least 70 percent of the stopping on a
hard brake application.
So, unless there are overriding aesthetic consid-
erations, the front brakes should be discs. Thl'v'rc
self-cleaning, they cool faster than drum brakes,
and they also provide more total braking power for
a given amount of weight than do drum brakes.
Like manv Detroit manufacturers, vou mav
want to use discs in front and drums in Hl(, redL In
that case \vhat you want is more than just
95
Designed to fit 1938 to 1948 Ford spindles, this front
brake kit from Magnum Axle utilizes an aluminum hub,
vented rotor, caliper, and bracket, SO-CAL
What appeal-s to be a 8uick finned brake drum is really
a simple cover, Underneath are the real brake
components: a Wilwood four-piston caliper squeezing a
vented rotor mounted to an aluminum hub. SO-CAL
stopping power. You want balance in the total sys-
tem (more later), Whether it's a disc/drum system
or pure discs, you need brakes big enough h) han-
dle the weight of your car, with front and rear com-
ponents that are compatible, and a master cylinder
with a bore dianlcter of the right size to apply both
the front and rear bakes.
86
The discussion of disc versus drum brakes
brings up the Ill'\'\' disc brake system, designed by
Paul Carrol and sold by the SO-CAL Speed Shop,
A perfect combination of form and function, the
SO-CAL "finned Buick brakes" usc a Wilwood
two-piston aluminum caliper and 11-inch ,"('nted
rotor to provide good, modern stopping power.
With a backing plate styled after an early Ford and
a cover that looks exactly like a Buick brake drum,
the whole affair comes off looking like J very tradi-
tional set of drum brakes.
To match the Buick "drums" used on the front,
SO-CAL has recentlv announced a l1CVV Buick
drum for the rear. T h i ~ new [car brake drum is ac-
tuallva CO\'Cf that slides o\'er the rear drums used
on a- typical Ford 9-in(h [car end. When vie\ved
from the back, these new covers look exactly like a
finned Buick brake drum, -
How Your Brakes Work
When you step on the brake pedzll, you dis··
place hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder and
create hydraulic pressure in the system. Because
the brake fluid is a non-compressible liquid, the
pressure created at the outlet to the master cylinder
is applied fully to the pistons in the calipers or
wheel cylinders. None of this pressure is "used up"
compressing the fluid link between the master
cyUnder and the calipers. When you're buying or
installing the brakes on your hot rod, it's a good
idea to keep in mind the two 1a\\'5 that govern hy-
draulic behavior: Pressure in the brake svstem is
equal over all surfaces of the system, and a fluid
cannot be compressed to a smaller volume.
The problem with all this hydraulic business is
the fact that we need more than pressure, we also
need volume. This brings up the faScinating subject
of hvdraulic ratios.
)\ demonstration might help explain the need
to match the master cylinder with the calipers or
wheel cylinders, The pressure of the hydraulic flu-
id at the master cylinder outlet is determined by
that old formula from high school: Pressure ::::
Force/ Area, If you put 10 pounds of force on the
master cylinder piston with 1 square inch of area,
you have created a pressure of 10 psi, If you apply
the same amount, 10 pounds, of force to a master
cylinder with only 1/2 square inch of piston area,
then you've created twice the pressure, 20 psi.
Remember that the full pressure created at the
nlaster cylinder outlet is available to apply to either
calipers or wheel cylinder pistons. So if we apply
that 10 psi of pressure to the caliper vvith 1 square
inch of piston area, the force on the brake pad will
be ]() pounds (Force ~ Pressure x Area), Now, if
you double the piston area you also double the
force on the brake pad. Thus, the way to achieve
ll1aximum force on the brake pads is with a small
master cylinder piston connected to calipers with
large or multiple pistons and a large total area.
Now you get smart and decide to eliminate
any need for a power booster by using a master
cylinder with a small-diameter piston. There is, as
always, a trade-off here. The smaller piston doesn't
move as much fluid as a larger onef and the pedal
may be right on the floor when you've finally
moved it far enough to displace enough fluid to
push the pads against the rotor.
This brings you to the realization that what's
needed here is a good balance between the master
cylinder and the calipers or wheel cylinders. You
can't Just go to smaller and smaller diameter mas-
ter cylinder pistons or bigger and bigger caliper
pistons. In the real world you probably want more
pressure, but still need a master cylinder piston big
enough to displace a certain volume of fluid.
Most experienced hot rod builders suggest you
build the right system the first time, without rely-
ing on a power booster to overcome deficiencies in
the design of the overall brake system.
You' need to design the system around a good
manual master cylinder and then consider the ideal
balance between front and rear brakes (whether it's
four-wheel discs or not) and how that balance is
achjeved. Detroit uses a combination valve be-
tween the front and rear brakes to help balance out
a disci drum brake system. That combination valve
does morc than "balance" the brakes; in most cases
it helps the system overcome two little problems
with a split, disci drum brake system.
The first little fly in the ointment when build-
ing a combination system is that drum brakes re-
quire more pressure for their initial application
than do disc brakes. Drum brakes, with their big
shoes, return springs, and relatively large distance
between the shoes and the drum, require approxi-
mately 125 psi to actually push the shoes against
the drums with enough force to slow down the car.
Disc brakes
f
however, need only about one-tenth as
much pressure to push the pads against the rotor
with enough force to affect the car's speed.
The first job then of the factory combination
valve is to "hold off" the front brakes until the sys-
tem rcaches approximately 125 psi. In this way the
car uses both the front and rear brakes to do the
stopping, even on a light pedal application.
Job two for the combination valve is to slow
the pressure rise to the rear brakes on a hard brake
application. Consider that on an easy stop from
slow speed, there is little weight transfer and the
rear tires maintain good traction. Now, consider
the same car stopping hard from high speed. In
this case there is a great deal of weight transfer
onto the front tires. This leaves the rear tires with
little bite and in danger of locking up. In this situ a-
tiem the proportioning function in the combination
In a split diSC/drum system. it's important that the r'ear
brakes apply first. This hold-off/metering valve will delay
the applicatron of the front brakes. Eel
valve limits the rate at which the line pressure is
applied to the rear brakes in order to prevent the
rear tires from locking up.
!v1any professional builders, SO-CAL among
them
f
don't use a combination valve sj,mply be-
cause, as Shane explains, "We've never found one
that's designed for a hot rod." Instead they rely on
the often-seen adjustable proportioning- valve to
limit the pressure delivered to the rear brakes.
Using Residual Pressure Valves
A fair amount of confusion surrounds the use
of residual pressure valves in a brake system.
Drum and disc brakes have very different needs
herc
f
and even all the disc s y s t e I ~ s don't have the
same requirements.
A drum brake system, any drum brake system,
needs a 10- to 12-pound reSidual-pressure check
valve in the hydraulic system. On OEM applica-
tions, this valve is usually built into the master
cylinder. As the name suggests, these valves main-
tain a small amount of pn-'ssure on the drum
brakes at all times; this pressure keeps the lips of
the cups expanded out against the \vheel cylinder
bore. This prevents air ingestion past the \vheel
cylinder cups when you release the brake pedal.
This means that when you buy a master cylinder,
you need to buy one with the correct bore diame-
ter, and match it to the type of brakes, disc or
drum
f
used on either end of your new car.
The use of that same lll-pound residual check
valve on a disc brake system will create brake
drag, qukkly ruining the pads and rotors. You
97
lnline residua! pressure valves come in 2 and 10 pound
!'Stings. The 2-pound valve is needed in a disc brake
system wilen the calipers are higher than the master.
The 1 O-pound valve is needed in drum brake applications
when the valve is not built into the master cylinder. Eel
need a check valve on a disc brake system only
when the master cylinder is mounted lower than
the calipers. In this case, a 2-pound check valve
prevents the fluid in the caliper from siphoning
back to the master cylinder.
Brake Fluid
You might think brake fluid is just that, brake
fluid. However, the shelves at the auto parts store
carry at least three separate grades of brake fluid,
which is essentially a very specialized hydraulic
fluid designed to operate in a potentially dirty en-
v ironment under a wide range of temperatures.
Obviously the fluid must stay viscous at below-
zero temperatures, and yet resist boiling at the very
high telTlperatures brake components are often
subjected to. If the brake fluid boils, it becomes a
gas and thus a compressible material, resulting in a
spongy brake peda L
The three grades of brake fluid commonly
available are DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5. DOT 3
and 4 are glycol-based fluids with dry boiling
points of 401 and 446 degrees Fahrenheit respec-
tively. Either fluid is suitable for use in disc brake
systems. There are two basic problems with DOT 3
and DOT 4 brake fluids: they tend to absorb water
from the environment (they are hygroscopic) and
they attack most painted surfaces.
Glycol-based brake fluid containers must be
kept closed so the fluid won't pick up moisture
from the air. Because the DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid in
your car will pick up some water no matter how
careful you are, it's a good idea to flush the sys-
tem with fresh fluid every couple of years. Re-
member that brake fluid contaminated with water
boils at a much lower temperature and can be cor-
rosive to components,
98
DOT 5 fluid is silicone based and has a higher
boiling point of SOO degrees Fahrenheit, dry. This
more expensive fluid doesnft absorb water and
doesn't react with paint (though silicone fluid can
stain paint if not washed off quickly).
Like every other advance, silicone brake fluid
has its trade-offs, As mentioned, silicone fluid costs
more, it is slightly compressible, it aerates more
easily than glycol-based fluid, and it is said to
cause swelling of the brake cups and seals after
long-term exposure. Some brake-component man-
ufacturers don't recommend the usc of siliconc'
fluid, so be sure to check before filling the master
cylinder. And once you have filled the master
cylinder, don't switch from one type of brake fluid
to another-they're not compatible.
The Purchasing Decision
Before buying, consider that job number one is
stopping and slowing the car during street driving
(remember these are street rods). These may be hot
rods, but they are not race cars. Though the race
car stuff Inay look impressive, it doesn't always
work better than-or even as well as-components
and systems designed for street USC
I
and that in-
cludes good old OEM stuff from Detroit.
What you buy will depend on your budget and
intended use, as well as the car's weight, bolt pattern,
spindle, and style. In general you want to buy as
much brake as you can for a given amount of cash.
An engineer once explained to lne: "When you're
conSidering brakes, more is usually better. More sur-
face areal more pistons, and larger calipers."
Given the fact that the front brakes do 70 per-
cent (or more) of the stopping in a hard stop, it
makes sense to put your best foot forward. Always
put the best brakes on the front.
The high-performance brake assemblies with
polished aluminum calipers may look really
trick-and most of that equipment works as good
as it looks-but that doesn't mean you can't adapt
OEM components from Detroit for the front or
rear of the new hot rod. You simply have to be
sure the parts you use are in good condition (if in
doubt buy new or rebuilt components), that they
are large enough to deal with your car's weight,
and that they are matched to the other compo-
nents in the brake system.
When considering the rear brakes, it helps to
remember that you need more than brakes, you
also need a good emergency brake. If you're us-
ing stock drum brake assemblies in the rear, you
simply need to buy cables and hardware and
hook up the stock emergency brakes. If, on the
other hand, you're using four-\vhecl disc brakes,
the choice of rear calipers becomes more impor-
tant because it also determines your emergency
brake options.
Rear disc-brake calipers talI into two cate-
gories: those with and those without an integral
emergency brake. Most of the calipers with an inte-
gral emergency brake are from Detroit, though
Wilwood now makes a rear brake caliper with an
integral emergency brake.
Corvette brake components a re turning up on
hot rods in increasing numbers, and there's certain-
ly nothing wrong with using them, as long as you
keep the system balanced and keep in mind the
fact that not all Corvettes used the same brakes.
The calipers used on pre-1984 'Vettes have a
host of problems all their own and should probably
be avoided entirely. In 1984 the Corvette got a ma-
jor redesign, and that redesign included new
brakes. The new single-piston calipers include a
saddle assembly that reinforces the caliper. Some
clever hot rodders have removed these saddles as a
For anyone with a 9-inch Ford rear end, this kit offers
a l l ~ n e w brake components, 'Including the dr'ul1l, backing
plate, shoes, wheel cylinders, and hardware. SO-CAL
If you plan to install disc brakes on the ,'ear, you also need to plan for the emergency brake. These kits include a
Cadillac rear caliper with integral emergency brake and vented Trans Am rear rotors. The kit can be order'ed to fit
8-, 8.8-, and 9-inch Ford rear ends. Eel
99
One answer to the emergency-brake puzzle is to use
this small rotor and mechanical caliper on the rearmost
U-Jolnt. The tI-ouble is that the car can still roll off
the jack when one real" wheel is jacked up if it's a non-
POSI rosl- end. ECI
vvay to mdke the calipers work \vith small-diameter
wheels. There is such a thing as being too dever,
though: these saddles are part of the caliper assem-
bly and should not be removccL
From 1984 to 19H8, Corvette rear calipers used a
SepilfiJte ernergency brake made up of s111a11 shoes
that expand against the inside of the rotor. A better
choice for the street roc icier might be the 19R9 and
later Corvette rear ca lipers, which feature a cable-
operated emergency brake built into the caliper.
Other cars that use four-\,vhccl discs with an in-
tegral rear emergenc)/ brake include some Camaros,
Toronados, and Eldorados. In the Ford linc, certain
Lincoln Versailles and (!\'en some Granadas used
the 9-inch rear end vvith factory reJr disc brakes,
Jnd these calipers include integral emergency
brakes. Flovvcver, the latest rear calipers fron1 Ford,
used on many Explorers and T-Birds, use a very
slnal1-diameter piston and should be Qvoided.
Aftermarket calipers with no integral elher-
gency brake on the rear axle w ill force you to come
up with your o\vn emergency brake. Some people
choose to install an additional rotor mnunted at the
rear U-joint, clamped by its o\-\rn mechanical
caliper. The potential dovvnside to this is the fact
that with a non-limited-slip rear end, if you jack up
one vvheel, the car can ro1l off the jack. You can also
mount additional, mechanical calipers on the rear
rotors, but be sure these an' substantial enough to
handle elnergency and parking duties nn a ::(000-
pound automobile. In other words, don't use little
100
Mickey-Mouse mechanical calipers meant for a
300-pound go-cart on your Chevy sedan.
Brake Service
Hot rods tend to be the recipients of maximum
TLC during any kind of installation or repair se-
quences. Yet, when working on the brakes it's es-
sential to go that extra mile to ensure that the brake
installation is absolutely bulletproof.
VVhen working on the brakes, it's important to
follo\v the same procedures used by certified me-
chanics when they do brake work. Start with good
attention to detail and follow that up with extreme
cleanliness \vhen dealing with the hydraulic system.
To bleed brakes, most mechanics start at the bleeder
farthest awav from the master cvlinder (or that half
of the cylinder in a svste_m). If
you've never bled the brakes before, you cal; get help
from a good manual, such as Motors, or from the
company who sold you the brakes, Another good
source of brake service information is the Wilwood
Web site (www.vvilwood.com). which also includes
some very good troubleshooting information.
Perhaps the most important step you perform
is the examination of the car's brakes when the
work is finished. Pressurize the system with a size
12 sneaker on the brake pedal, tllen crawl around
under the car to check for leakage or seepage from
every fitting, caliper, and wheel cylinder.
On a drum brake system, it's important to cor-
rectly adjust the brake shOt'S before adjusting the ca-
bles for the emergency brake. Too much tension on
the emergency-brake cables or linkage won't allow
the shoes to come back against the stop at the top of
the backing plate, which makes it impossible to cor-
rectly the shoes. So be sure to adjust the brake
shoes correctly before you worry about adjusting: the
cables and linkage for the emergency brake.
Before vou're finished with the brakes, do a
careful road test. Remember that nevv brake shoes
haven't seated against the d rums yet, and that the
A variety of remanufactured calipers, including rear
calipers with an integra! emergency brake, are available
for your hot rod, as well as the sexier aluminum
aftermarket caliper seen on the right. TCI
hydraulic system might still contain
a bit of residual air. 1n either case,
the result can be a soft pedal and
reduced braking on the first few ap-
plications. So take it easy on the
first few stops. Don't be afraid to
come back in and re-bleed all or
part of the system. Disc brakes
don't need adjustment, but the
drum brakes, whether self-adjust-
ing or not, need to be adjusted per
the recommendations in the service
manual.
A few more tips for drum brake
assembly: Don't get greasy finger-
prints on the new brake shoes. If
you do, carefully sand off the
greasy spot with some SO-grit sand-
paper before slipping on the drum.
When installing used components,
be sure to have the old drums
turned before installation. Have the
shop check the drum's finished di-
ameter against the maximum given
by the manufacturer to ensure they
aren't cut too far. The same applies
to disc rotors, which can't be cut
past a certain minimal point.
Designed for disc brake applications, these chrome-plated, ribbed backing
plates mount inside of the rotor and thus add extra sparkle to the iront end.
Pete and Jake's
Inactivity is very hard on brake parts. Over-
haul or replace wheel cylinders and calipers that
come along with the rear end or front calipers you
drag out of the junkyard. Discard any old factory
rubber hoses and replace them with new compo-
nents, Master cylinders, too, should be overhauled
or simply replaced with new components. Be sure
any master cylinder you use is a two-chamber de-
sign. Solvents will attack the rubber used as seals
in' brake systems, so all cleaning of hydraulic parts
must be done with clean brake fluid.
While not rocket science, caliper overhaul re-
quires a certain finesse. If you've never done it be-
fore, take them to the shop down the street or just
buy rebuilt assemblies. If you ignore our advice
and force the caliper piston from the bore with
compressed air, be sure the piston doesn't becOIne
an air-powered projectile, Stuff the caliper cavity
full of rags first, and be sure to keep your fingers
out of the way when applying air to the caliper
(ouch), Once apart, pitted caliper pistons need to
be replaced, the caliper bore should be thoroughly
cleaned with the correct brake hone, and the
groove for the main piston seal must be cleaned
thoroughly. The new seal and the piston should be
lubricated with brake fluid or brake-assembly fluid
before being installed.
Most of the calipers from Detroit are single-pis-
ton desi!,'lls that float, so the force of a single piston is
div ided equally between two pads. If the pins or the
sliding surfaces are dirty .:lnd rusty, the caliper can't
float. You mllst be sure to clean all sliding surfaces,
and replace the pins on GM caJipers if they're rusty,
Whether the old brakes you're repairing are
disc or drum, consider that many of tho:-;e old pads
and shoes contained asbestos. Wear a good respira-
tor or air mask during the disassembly of used
brake components, avoid the use of air tools, and
don't clean everything up by bh)\ving: the "dust"
off those old assemblies.
If you've never packed and insta!1ed n set of
front wheel bearings before, swallow your pride and
read a service manuaL Plenty of bearings have been
ruined because someone I;\ras overzealous in tight-
ening the spindle nut, or didn't get enough grcase
packed betvveen the rollers where it's needed.
When rebuilding the old drum brake'S, the hard-
ware and springs that hold and retract the shoes
should probably be replaced at the same time you're
doing all the other work. Many good automotive
parts stores and some street rod vendors selJ brake
hardware kits for n10st drum-brake applications.
Caliper brackets should be original or come
from a good aftermarket supplier. The full force of a
panic stop is transmitted to the chassis through that
caliper bracket, so don't skimp. Use a good bracket
and bolt it to the spindle assembly with the hard-
ware supplied with the kit or with grade-8 bolts,
Many of the popular front brake kits mentioned
earlier for the Mustang II and some early-Ford axles
combine an ] l-inch ventilated rotor \vith the
WI
There's nothing wrong with using black, OEM-style
flexible hoses for each front wheel and the rear axle,
They're DOT approved and readily available in a variety
of lengths and styles, Eel
Braided brake lines are available in a variety of lengths
and styles, Kits like these can be ordered with the
adapters needed to convert from the 37-degree AN
fittings to the NPT [National Pipe Thread] or banjo
fittings used on many Wilwood or GM calipers, Heidt's
intermediate or larger GM caliper. The rotor used
in some of these kits is thinner (0.810 inch) than the
stock GM rotor (0,960 inch); that's why some of
these kits also supply a spacer to be used behind
the inner brake pad, If you leave out the spacer, the
piston comes out farther than the GM engineers in-
tended, This might be all right until the pads be-
come worn, and the end of the piston is pushed
past the inner seal and you lose the front brakes.
Nonfloating aftermarket calipers come with a
series of sn1<111 spacers. You will need to use these
to center each caliper as it mounts over the rotor.
That way each piston moves out of the bore the
same distance on a brake application.
102
When you mount your new or rebuilt caliper
to the caliper bracket, you must be sure that the
bleeder screw on your new calipers ends up at the
top. You have to be sure that the bleeder screw on
your new calipers ends up at the top, If not, you
will have to bleed the brakes with the calipers off
the bracket, Next, hook up the hoses, Hoses should
be new and carefully chosen to ensure they are the
correct length. It's easy to install a hose that's too
short or too long-a hose that will tear on a bump
or rub on a tire. During the chassis mock-up, be
sure to run the suspension up-and-downl and turn
the wheels back and forth to check for any poten-
tial clearance problems,
When it comes to flexible hoses, braided lines
look great and may be stronger than stock flexible
hoses. Most however, are not DOT approved and
could cause your car to be failed during a state in-
spection (depending on which state you live in).
As for hard lines, a panic stop can generate as
much as 1,600 psi in the hydraulic system -too
much pressure for anything but an approved steel
brake line, with double-flare fittings or systems
specifically designed for automotive brakes. See
chapter 7 for more on plumbing and fittings ap-
proved for brake systems.
Mounting the Master Cylinder
and Brake Pedal
Most street rods mount the master cylinder to
the frame, This keeps everything mounted low,
and all that hardware off the firewall, A varietv of
mounting brackets are available, or the enter};ris-
ing builder can fabricate his or her own.
The master cvlinder bracket needs to be sturdv,
so the full movement of the pedal is transmitted
into piston movement and not in flexing the brack-
et Many builders mount the bracket solid to the
left frame rail and then find a way (easier on some
cars than others) to tie the bracket to the X-member
or one of the cross-members. While the master
cylinder and booster need to be below floor level,
you don't want them any lower than necessary.
The dimensions of the pedal assembly determine
the pedal ratio, another of those pesky details to be
considered when planning the brake system. The
pedal ratio is the distance from the pedal to the pivot,
divided by the distance from the pivot to the point
where the master cylinder pushrod attaches, A high
pedal ratio (which means a long pedal arm in relation
to the pushrod arm) will provide tremendous lever-
age for your foot, allowing you to generate high line
pressure, though the pedal-travel necessary for a giv-
en application will increase. Conversely, a low pedal
ratio (short pedal arm) will decrease the leverage;
meaning an increase in the leg force needed to gener-
ate a given amount of pressure and a decrease in the
pedal travel, Ralph Lisena from Eel, a manufacturer
Dual chamber master cylinders can be ordered as an assembly, with the under-floor mount and the correct small-
diameter power booster. Eel
of aftermarket brake kits and components, recom-
mends a ratio of about 4.75 or 5 to 1 as the best for
master cylinders with a bore of 7/B or 1 inch.
As mentioned earlier, it's a good idea to mount
the dry master cylinder on the bracket to be sure
the pedal can move all the way to the end of its
travel without hitting the floor or some other ob-
struction. Before you do the final installation of the
master cylinder, 'always "bench bleed" it. Fill the
reservoir with fluid, then use you fingers as one-
way valves, allowing air and fluid to push past
your fingertips when the pushrod is moved into
the cylinder and sealing the outlets as the push rod
is allowed to come back to its rest position. When
you mount the master in the car, the job of bleed-
ing the brakes will go much faster because the mas-
ter cylinder has already been bled.
If you use a vacuum-operated power brake
booster, be sure to install a one-way valve in the
vacuum line. Not only will this provide a more
constant supply of vacuum to the diaphragm, it
will keep gas fumes from flowing from the intake
manifold down the line (remember, they're heav-
ier than air) and into the booster, turning it into a
potential bomb.
Be sure the centerline for the pedal pivot is per-
pendicular to the centerline of the car so the pedal
moves straight and not through an arc. Remember
that the master usually ends up mounted back-
wards from the wav it was mounted in a Detroit
car, so the hoses and reservoirs are backwards. Be
absolutely sure it's plumbed correctly, with the
front brake reservoir connected to the front brakes.
People who say it doesn't make any difference
which way the master cylinder is connected don't
know what they're talking about.
The success of your brake system comes down
to compatibility and attention to detail. You must
take the time to pli:m and buy components that are
matched to the other components. Then you need
to instalJ those new and rebuilt parts in such a way
that there are no leaks, no binding of the master
cylinder linkagt.\ and no chance for the 1 ines or
hoses to vibrate or chafe against a sharp edge.
103
104
mount is from Deuce Factory, welded to the left frame rail
according to the distance from the axle center'line. It's always a
idea to do a mock-up with the driver in the car before final-welding the
rnount,
pivot must he installed so it IS perpendicular to the frame centerline.
I
nstalling the brakes on John's
stretched Deuce pickup occurred
ODeI' time, and parts the installa-
tion have been co7..lcrcd in the sus-
pension chapters. Yet, it seemed
ol1l!j tilir to ibsemblc all the brake il1-
stallrl/"ion il4(irmafiol1 and prescilf it
here.
The Parts
Like lTIOSt current street rods,
this one mounts th(, master cylin-
der helow the floor using a pedal
mount from Deuce Factory. T'he
master cylinder is a split reser-
voir unit meant for a later-model
Mustang with four-wheel disc
brakes. The bore measures 1 1/8
inch in diameter. Neal dnd John
have chosen not to use a power
brake booster. The bracket as-
sen1bly will also mount (] 1968 to
1976 Corvette master cylinder, a
master meant for disc
brakes and no pen,ver booster.
The dual chamber master cylinder being used is a four-
wheel-disc unit from a late-model Mustang unit,
Whenever nonfloating calipers are installed, they must
be centered over tIle rotor, usuaBy with shims that
come with the calipers.
The front brakes use four-piston calipers, the
Dvnalite 3 models, carved from aluminum bv
Wilwood. Each caliper is mated to an l1-inch vented
rotor. All the brake parts came "vith the suspension
kit that Nl'i:l1 and John purchased from Heidt's.
In the feac the Lincoln Versailles rear end
came with factory disc brakes. Neal and John
John insisted on substantial fmnt brakes: an 11-inch
vented rotor and Wilwood Dynalite 3, four-piston calipers.
The caliper bolts to the spindle assembly with hlgh-
quality bolts included with the caliper's, If El separate
bracket is used to rnount the caliper, it's irnportant to
make sure the bracket leaves the caliper square to the
suf'face of the rotor.
chose to take advantage of these OEM disc brakes
and factory calipers, the ones with the integral
emergency brake.
Installation
The first brake part to be attached is the master
cylinder mount, vvhich Nt'a! tack-\'\"f'lds to the
105
In The Shop continued
The nice thing about the Lincoln rear end Neal installed
is the fact that it came with disc brakes. These single
piston calipers have an integral emergency brake-note
the lever on the side of the caliper.
frame early in the project, well before the first
mock-up is done with tbe pickup body. "The front
to rear distance is figured from the front-axle cen-
terline/I explains Neal. "When you install these,
it's important to be sure the pivot is perpendicular
to the frame centerline. How high the assembly is
mounted on the frame depends on the master
cylinder being used. With a power booster you
might have to mount it a little lower so the booster
will ck,ar the fioor."
The rotors come with bearlngs and seals. Neal
starts this part of the installation by installing the
inner bearing races, packing the bearings, in-
stalling the inrH::)r wheel bearing and sea], and set-
ling the rotor on over the spindle. The calipers
tn,ount to twin mounting points that are an inte-
gral part of the cast spindle assembly. Though the
spindJe mounts and the Wilwood calipers are de-
signed to work together, the installer still needs to
ensure that the caliper is centered over the rotor.
The calipers come with a series of sn1all spacers
that afe used to shim the caliper and center it over
the rotor,
The calipers mount to the spindles with two
boits supplied with the kit. Because so much force
106
Though hard to find, the Lincoln Versailles rear end
with disc brakes makes for a neat assembly that
requires no adaptations, special brackets, or second
caliper for the emergency brake.
is transmitted through these lTIounting bolts to the
chassis, it's important to use either the supplied
bolts or replacements of equal or greater strength,
In the rear Neal simply replaced the "used"
calipers with rebuilt components. "These calipers
are kind of expensive," explains NeaL "If you
didn't have the old cores it might pay to buy some
rusty calipers at the swap meet and use those as
cores, because otherwise the auto parts store will
charge you a hefty core charge."
The plumbing of the brakes is covered in more
detail in Chapter 7. The truck will be plumbed
with stainless lines thn1Llghout, with braided No, 3
flexible lines at each wheel.
In The Shop: Shane Weckerly: Choosing Brakes for the Hot Rod
C
hOOSiFlg ()fakes is one of the most important and
moM difficult parts of the building process. There
arc no easy anSlf)Crs fo cornmonly asked questions. For
help with the questions and quandaries of choosing
brakes we asked Shane, foreman, for some
sight illto the way they pick components for the cars
they build.
"Typically in our end of the deal, 50 percent of
the choice is based on appearance. The highboy
roadster guys like the front brake kit
(note: there's a new matching rear brake kit avail-
able as well), so that dictates what goes on the
front. Other guys will opt for something like a
Magnum disc brake kit. But then there's that true
die-hard guy who needs carly-Ford brakes or ear-
brakes with Buick drums.
"When we plan a car the first consideration is,
how hard does the customer drive? We have to design
the brakes around the car and the wav it's driven.
"Weight is a factor too. A lightweight car like
our roadster doesn/t need as much brakes as a '55
Chevy. None of our roadsters have
power brakes. We use a manual,
Ford Mustang master cylinder, made for disc and
drum brakes. That master cvlinder with the Pete
and Jake's pedal ratio, and OUf front and rear
hrakes, works just great.
percent of the cars that we build
use drum brakes on the rear. For the street rod
market you don't need discs in the rear. If you
were driving these cars hard or on a race track that
would be different. But on the street you end up
turning the pressure to the rear brakes down any-
way. So why do you want more brakes on the rear?
"There are exceptions of course. On mv
Willys [ have the engine set way back, and huge
tires on the rear with skinny tires on the front. In
that scenario you want the -'rears to work as "veIl
as the fronts. And the extended cab pickup we
just finished, that has a Kugel independent rear
end that came with disc brakes, so that has discs
on the rear as welL
"For someone building their own car, 1 would
suggest they consider the aesthetics first, especially
on the front of an open-wheeled caL Do they want
or brakes, or Now,
how does that relate to the rear? Do they want to
run disc or d rum in the rear?
"The second thing to consider is the
hon. Is the chotee feasible? Is the owner going vin-
tage road racing? Will the brakes be adequate for
the intended use?
"Third, pick a reliable vendor and buy the
brakes from that one vendor. Your life depends on
those brakes. Don't buy calipers from one guy and
rotors from another and then make up your own
caliper brackets. The Bell helmet people used to
have an ad that said, 'Buv a $10 helmet if vou've
got a $10 head.' It's like that. This is really
tant. Rely on the vendor for things like the master
cylinder diameter and whether or not you need a
power booster. If you buy a brake kit from us, for
example, we recommend a particular master cylin-
der because we know it works with our calipers
and drums."
107
T
he of nuts and bolts, something that
seems i'\t first So very simple, could easily be
the of two Or three separate books. In
fact the specifications used by NASA and
the military indeed fill volumes.
The trick of course is to remember that we're
not shuttles, only hot rods. This
we don't need good bolts, lines,
because we do. Where the space
assembled with titanium fasten-
ers, steel is good enough for nearly any-
thing we can bolt together on our hot rods.
Hardware
So What's a Bolt?
Simply put, a bolt is nothing more than a
threaded fastener designed to screw into a hole or
nut with matching female threads. But let's get a lit-
tle nomenclature out of the way first. Technically a
bolt is a fastener without a washer face under the
head, while a cap screw has a washer face under the
head. For the purposes of this chapter, male threaded
fasteners will be called bolts.
More bolt terms and definitions:
• Minor diameter: the diameter measured at the small-
est point, the hottom of the threads on either side
A quality cap SC"'8W has a raised surface under the head that bears on the surface it is tightened against. A good bolt
or cap screw also has the head affixed at exactly 90 degrees to the centerline of the shank.
L08
• Major diameter: the diameter measured at the
largest point, the tops of the threads on either
side
• Shank: the unthreaded part of the bolt's ShDft
• Bearing surface: the raised and polished portion
just under the head of a quality bolt or cap
screw
• Length: measurement from the lower edgl' of the
bearing surface, or the bottom of the head, to
the end of the bolt
• Crip length: the length of the unthreaded portion
• Thread length: the length of the threaded portion
of the bolt
Load, Stress, and Strain
Before looking too closely at exactly hoy\' good
a grade-8 bolt is, \ve need to look at the types of
loads that bolts arc subjected to and hovv those
loads are measured.
Technically the load
l
measured in pounds, is
the force that is placed on a bo1 t or the force the
bolt is subjected to as it resists an extern;)1 force
(and you thought it \-vas your brother-in-law]).
Bolt descriptions are often followed by a psi
figure. A good steel bolt might be rated at ISO,OO()
psi. The pounds per square inch figure is derived
by dividing the load in pounds by the cross-sec-
tiona 1 area of the bolt. ·This is known as thl' stress
within the bolt.
If you put enough load on a bolt it will change
dimension, if only very slightly, and that change in
dimension is known as the strain.
As 'lOU continue to increase the stress on a bolt
it will continue to change dimension, but not in a
nice linear manner. At I(Hver levels of stress the
bolt will IIsnap" back to its original dimension
when thl' stress is removed. Bevond a certain
point, however
l
the metal will h a v ~ been stretched
so far that it is unable to sllap back. It's that point
we've all experienced, that point where you feel
the bolt "give."
The give that's communicated through the
wrench to your hand is kno\vn as the yield point.
The bolt has stretched so fDr that it can't snap back
to its original dimension. In most cases if a bolt
reaches its yield point and you don't tighten it fur-
ther, the bolt can be screwed out of the hole or out
of the nut, and the bolt may look jLlst fine. But a
very close inspection will reveal that the bolt is
now longer than it was originally. Even if you can't
detect the change with the naked eye, the bolt
should be tossed in the trash.
If you continue to increase the stress past the
yield point, the bolt will continue to stretch until it
can stretch no farther. The ultirnatc tensile streflxth is
the point at which the bolt breaks.
A 11 of this makes a bit more sense when you
consider it graphically. At lower stress levels,· the
Nuts with the Integral synthetic collar make good lock nut.s
and af'e available in stainless Of' chrome plated. The only
downside is the fact that the collar eventually "wears out.·'
Bearing
surface
Shank
~ / -
Pitch
T
Major
diameter I
..
Minor
diameter ..
I
: ...
Though we think of them all as bolts, a "cap screw" IS 8
higher-quality fastener that includes a bearing sur'face
un dec the head.
10»
S
r
c
s
s
Elastic Range
----'---'-'---'-----"-
~ Y i e l d Point
Strain
"
Breakage (UTS)
With a graph it's perhaps easier to understand how
increases in strain, up to the yield point, have no impact
on the bolt's original dimension, even after the strain is
remuved. Increases beyond the yield point, howevel" will
result in a bolt that's deformed or ruptured.
graph of bolt stress versus strain is a nice straight
line. Increases in stress create proportionaJ increases
in strain. Everything is nice and predictable until
the line going uphill across the graph takes a sharp
turn to the right,
The point at which the stress and strain graph
goes to hell is the yield point. It is the point at
which the bolt will not come back to its original di-
mension when the stress is removed. The metal has
deformed at the molecular level and will continue
to deform further with greater and greater
amounts of stress, until the point of rupture.
Though most of us don't think about it (at least
1 never did) we want to tighten the bolt, or bolt and
nut combination, until we've created a strain on the
bolt, but not so far that we've exceeded the yield
point (more on this later). Once past the yield point
we've gone past what is often called the elastic lim-
it, meaning again that the bolt will never snap back
to its original size.
Types of Stress
Bolts, or bolts and nuts, are asked to handle
two very different types of loads. In the case of a
cylinder head bolt, tightening the bolt to 100 foot-
pounds puts enormous tCI1f>iol1 on the bolt. There
is no side-to-side movement of the head. The
bolt's joh is to clamp the head in place and hold it
110
Though single shear applications, like the bottom of this
shock mounting, are common on street cars, the
double-shear mounting at the top is much stronger.
there against the enormous pressure of compres-
sion and combustion.
If the bolt in question is holding an upper sus-
pension arm in place, or locates the shock absorber
in place, then there is very little tension on the
bolt; the load in this case is trying to shear the bolt
into pieces.
Most of the bolts we use on our hot rods are
loaded in tension. We are clamping something to-
gether with little or no side load. It's interesting
to note that most bolts are only about 60 percent
as strong in shear as they are in tension. We
should also consider that shear can be further
subdivided into single and double. A double-
shear joint is much, much stronger than a single-
shear joint (see the illustration for clarification).
Bolts l1wt Get Tired
The subject of stress leads to the related con-
cept of fatigue, the idea that even if the bolt doesn't
break when you torque it down, it might break six
months later after a couple of million" on and off"
cycles. To illustrate, a coat hanger doesn't break the
first time vou bend it. No, it breaks after 10 or 20
cycles of bending back and forth.
High-quality bolts are designed to resist fa-
tigue through the use of good alloys, high-quality
manufacture and heat treatment, and good design.
A good bolt has careful1y manufactured threads
and the correct heat treatment at the right point in
the bolt's genesis. It's important that the head be
exactly perpendicular to the bolt's axis (even an er-
ror of just a few degrees increases stress within the
bolt enormously) and that the threads blend
smoothly into the unthreaded shank of the bolt.
How Bolts Are Made
Most quality bolts arc made in a rolling or
forming operation. The raw stock or "wire" is
rolled through special dies that form the threads
without any cutting. Though the method may seem
odd, the reasons bolts arC made this way are nu-
merous and hard to refute.
First cutting threads is very time-consuming.
Second, cutting leaves rough edges behind, while
a quality rolling operation actually leaves a
smooth, polished surface. Third, cutting threads
means cutting across the grain of the bolt, making
it much weaker. Rolling threads, on the other
hand, encuurages the grain to flow with the
threads. Also, the rolling operation compresses or
forges the surface of the threads, making them
much stronger.
Less expensive bolts are made from mild steel,
steel with a low percentage of carbon (ignoring
stainless and exotic bolts for now). Bolts of this na-
ture are weak and also very malleable. By adding
a higher percentage of carbon the strength of the
material goes up, but so does the brittleness. This is
a costly trade-off when it comes to bolts loaded in
tension, which need to retain some of their springi-
ness to be effective.
Good bolts are commonly made from medium
carbon steel with other alditives that provide
strength without making the material too brittle
or glasslike. One such addithre is manganese; an-
other popular combination is chromi um and
molybdenum (chrome-moly). Good raw material
in combination with careful heat treating can cre-
ate bolts that are both strong and forgiving.
it's important not only that the bolt be heat
treated, but that it be heat treated before the thread
rolling is done. Heat treating done after the threads
are formed tends to anneal or nonnaHze the com-
pressed surface of the threads created by the dies,
essentially undoing the "forging" that was done
during the thread forming process.
Thread Specifications
What we often call NC and NF (national course
and national fine) are actually UNC and UNF (uni-
fied national course and unified national fine). This
system can1e out of the confusion that arose during
World War II when English mechanics tried to re-
pair American airplanes with Whitworth (a British
thread standard) nuts and bolts. The ensuing trou··
bles convinced the allies that thev needed some
type of unified thread form. The ";'nified" system
they settled on retained most of the existing Ameri-
can standards and specifications.
For those of us who still work within this
American or unified system (as opposed to the met-
ric system), those standards developed 50 years ago
Th e R thread uses a
rounded root with a radius
that is .114 X the pitch. Missing
corners makes the design more
fatigue resistant.
Original UN specs
called for flattened
peaks and roots. Rest;!ting
corners create stress nsers.
The specificatioos for' an R thread call for a rounded root of specific radius. The idea is to elimioate the corners and
thus the stress risers.
III
Just add two to the number of marks on the head to get the grade of a bolt or cap screw. Symbols and letters usually
indicate the manufacturer. Grade 2 and 3 usually aren't marked.
are still valid. There has been
smnc evolution of the thread spec-
ifications since those first specifi-
cations \vere written, but most of
those have to do with the radius
at the base of the thread. For ex-
ample, a sharp V-shaped notch at
the base of the threads makes an
ideal stress riser---a spot where
the bolt is likely to fatigue and
break. Most of the better bolts
now specify an "R" thread which
simply spells out a specific radius
at the bottom of the thread (see
the illustration for a better expla-
nation of the R thread).
How Strong Is Strong?
As we explained, bolts are
measured in pounds per square
inch of tension or stress. The ulti-
mate tensile strength, or UTS, is
the point at which the bolt breaks.
The other specification given for
quality bolts is the yield point, the
There are counterfeit bolts on the market and some that are polished and thus
have no markings. it pays to buy Made-in-USA baits from a supplier you trust,
or to rely on known brands like Gardner Westcott and ARP.
point at which the bolt will no longer bounce back
to its original diInension once the stress is removed.
A gradf'··2 bolt, sometimes called a hardware-
store bolt, is rated at 74,()00-psi UTS up to a size of
3/4 inch. This same bolt has a yield strength of
57,IlOIl psi.
Moving up the scale, a grade-5 bolt, the point
where good bolts start, is rated at 120,OOIl-psi UTS
and has a published yield point of n,OIlO psi.
Gra(h __~ - 5 bolts arc considered good enough for
most general purpose automotive usc, engine cov-
ers, and light double-shear duty. These bolts can
112
be identified by the three radial dashes found on
the head.
What many of us consider the ultimate bolt,
the grade-S bolt, is rated at ISO,OOO-psi and 130,000-
psi yield strength. These can be used in heavy-duty
double-shear applications, assuming the shank is
the correct size for the hole it's being inserted into.
A grade-S bolt is generally considered an upgrade
for engine assembly situations. Some builders get
to a certain point where they simply don't want to
use anything of lesser quality. Grade-S bolts have
six radial dashes on their head.
Chmme "Allen" bolts come in a variety of head styles, including the popular button head, Buttons must be used with
discretion as the shallow socket head won't allow them to be tightened as much,
There are a variety of fJstcncrs 'Nith UTS rat-
ings of \vell over 200:000 psi. Aircraft and aero-
space often require bolts vvith these higher ratings.
In automotive use the most common applicdtion
for these very high-strength fasteners is connecting
rod bolts, vvhich may have a rating of 26U,OOU psi or
more, especiaily for competition applications.
Allen Bolts
Universallv knc)\vn as "Allen" bolts (Allen is
actually a trad'c name), socket-headed cap scrCVv's
(SHeS) a[c loved by mtlnY hot fodders and most
motorcycle nuts. The small head can be an ac1\'dn-
tage in-many situations, but most of us use them
for their apparent precision and the fccl of "ma-
chinery71 they lend to anything they touch.
Though many books statc that all SHCS bolts
arc at least 170,O()O psi for UTS, or better than"
grade-8 bolt this fact is no longer true. Like ali the
other harchvare VOli buv, vou novv havE' to be care-
ful when.'; and from vou buy'" ')/our SHeS
bolts. In particular, the are
often only about a grade-5, but you don!t know un-
less vou ask. You dlso have to realize that these
bolts often corne vvith relatively long threads,
which may have to be shortened vvith ,J die-grinder
or hacksaw.
The other little problem "vith these bolts is the
small size of the ht:act meaning it's hard to use the
full strength of the bolt to clamp things together.
And if vou use a standard washer under the head
it vvill deform later, leaving you with i1 loose bolt.
The ansvver is to ust' a hardened dnd ground \vasher
under the head of the" Allen" bolt
The only thing sexier than an SHCS is one
with a button head. These little rounded heads
look like rivets. The problem is the fact that the
button head allovvs for only a verv shalhnv socket
that \von't let you get ,; good grip with the
\vrench. So don't use the button heads if vou need
serious clamping pressure. .
The only people \vho like these socket-headed
cap scrc\vs rnorc than hot rodders are
builders; it follows thcn that anv
good "Harley-Daddson dealership or aftt'flllark(;;t
shop will have <1 great of these bolts.
Chrome plating a bolt weakens it slightly.
Compensation is prcwided by the fact that these
are generally vcry :-;trong bolts to start \-vith.
Anvonl' who has used these bolts soon discovers
that rust often dl'\'elops down inside the head,
becaust' the chrome-plating pro('C'ss just can't get
plating dovvn into those crevices, To make it
\vorse, if the heads point up they hold water!
The ans\ver is to use tht' little chrome caps that
snap into the socket, or to put a dab of clear sili-
con on tht,' end of thc \>\,rrench the first time the
bolt is used.
You can have your O"wn bolts chrome plated,
but considering the availability of already-
chromed bolts, it's not a good trade-off. While the
nickel and chrome plating aren't very thick! the
process add to thc dimensions of the threads,
and that shiny bolt you just had plated might stick
V\rhen it goes into thl' hole (or more likely, when
vou trv to screw it out). If vou do have a bolt
plated, be sur(' to mask off the threads so
they don't gr()\'\' in size.
If in doubt about any bolt or nut, it's a good
idea to chase the threads with a tap or die. If the
dle is doing much cutting, then there's a problem
with the bolt and the best approach is to look for
a replacement.
Stainless Bolts
;\ discussion of stainless bolts is of those
topics sun.' to start an argument at the rod run or
in the local tavern. Many builders swear by stain-
less fasteners. Thev Jove the look and the fact that
they never rust Y"ou might say that chrome bolts
nevcr rust, but there's always the issue of flaking
chrome, or the way the inside of the Allen heads
ahvays seems to rust. There's no problem with
rust in the head of a stainless Allen, because there
is no coating. If you suggest that the stainless bolts
aren't as strong, their proponents respond, "I use
gradc-8 stainless and they're great!"
If you add chromium to steel you get the ma-
terial \VC commonly refer to as stainless steeL The
300 series steels are some of the most
common; a typical example might contain If! per-
cent chromium and <) percent nickel, in addition to
a small percentage of carbon. While 300 series
stainless bolts are resistant to corrosion (they are
often called CRES in the industry, or Corrosion Re-
sistant)! they aTe not as strong" as a grade-5 bolt.
Most fastener-industry charts place them some-
where betvveen a grade 2 and a grade 5, with a
UTS of roughly 85,000 psi and a yield strength of
only about 35,000 psi.
There are stainless bolts rated to more than
20(),OOO-psi UTS, but most of these are 400 series
and are not commonly encountered in shops where
we buy our bolts. The other problem with these 400
series stainless bolts is the fact that they rust!
A good use of stainless steel-door hinge pins for 1932
Fords and nth81' vehicles. Deuce Factory
114
Stainless bolts also work-harden in service.
What all this n1eans is that stainless bolts are best
used for light-load situations. The fael that they
stretch easily and work-harden in service means
that some builders insist on using them only once
(more controversy). Stainless threads also tend to
galt so it's a good idea to use Loctite or anti-seize
compound to minimize metal to metal contact at
the surface of the threads.
What Keeps It Tight
You might think that the lock washer is what
keeps the nut on the bolt, or the bolt in the hole.
Actually what keeps the bolt fron1 unscrewing it-
self is friction between the male and female
threads. By tightening the bolt to somewhere near
the yield point, we have in effect stretched the
threads. This stretch keeps the tension on the bolt
and the friction intact between the male and female
threads. Most locking washers and nuts \vork not
so much by I'locking" the nut but rather by main-
taining this tension between the threads.
Because stronger bolts have a higher yield
point, we can tighten the grade-R bolt tighter than
the grade-S bolt (assuming the female half of this
relationship 15 up to the task) and create more fric-
tion and more tension in the bolt.
The tension that keeps the bolt tight can also be
the bolt's undoing. Consider the threads as a ramp
wound around an axis. When you tighten the bolt
you are using mechanical force to move a load
"uphill." No matter how tight the bolt is, there will
always be a tendency for anything on that ramp to
slide downhill.
It takes only a few degrees of rotation to ('linli-
nate the stress within a tightened bolt. What this
means is that the cotter key that Nkeeps" the nut on
the ball joint, or the safety wire used in competi-
tion, is meant primarily to keep the bolt and nut
from falling off altogether once they become loose.
The cotter key won't keep the bolt tight.
What will help to keep the bolt tight is a Nyloc-
type lock nut, an all-metal lock nut, a good split
ring lock washer, one nut "jammed" up against the
other, or a drop of Loetite properly applied. Loctite
comes in a confusing array of grades, some meant
for light-duty work, others meant for parts that
will never be unscrewed again.
Most of us think of Loetite as "blue or red." Red
is n1eant for heavy-duty applications while blue is
for smaller and presumably less-important applica-
tions. The blue Loctite most commonly encountered
in an automotive shop is either numl;er 242 or 243.
Both are considered "a medium strength thread!ock-
er for fasteners up to 3/4 inch." Number 243 has a
slight advantage in that it's slightly stronger than
242, is quicker to set, and is more tolerant of a little
oil on the threads. The common red 262 Loctite is a
"high-strength threadlocker" and will require" extra
effort and possibly heat for removal."
No matter which one you use they work best
on clean threads, and require free metal ions and
an oxygen-free atmosphere to work. What this
means is that oily threads should be cleaned with
Loctite's own Clean 'n Prime, or something that
leaves no residue behind, like Brake Klean.
Nuts and Other Female Threads
A bolt or cap screw isn't worth a damn without
a matching set of female threads. Those threads
might come in the form of threads cut in a casting,
or a nut with female threads designed to match
those on the bolt.
Most of us ha ve been taught that" a fine-thread
bolt is stronger than a coarse-threaded bolt of the
same size and rating." That statement is true when
you have a bolt and nut combination clamping
something together. The fine-thread bolt and nut
are stronger because the minor diameter of the bolt
is larger than it would be for a coarse-threaded
bolt, and because there is more net contact between
the threads on the bolt and the nut.
The fly in the ointment comes when a high-
quality 170,O()O-psi bolt is screwed into a casting
made from iron or aluminum. Now we have a mis-
match between the strength of the material the bolt
is made from and the material the casting is made
from. In order to compensate for the fact that the
steel is much stronger than the cast iron or alu-
minu ml the threads in the casting are often cut in a
coarse thread. The larger, coarse threads in the
casting increase the shear strength of those threads,
making for a stronger assembly. Coarse threads are
also better suited to the coarser texture of many of
these cast materials.
Final Words of Wisdom
After 3D-some years of turning wrenches, both
as a profeSSional and an amateur, it's embarrassing
to realize that I've been doing many of the wrong
things to bolts for much of that time. What follows
are a few of those mistakes.
Don't cut "just one more thread" on that bolt.
We've explained the care that goes into the manu-
facture of a good bolt-don't undo all that craft by
cutting more threads. If it's the only bolt you have
for the job and it's too long, then put a washer or
two under the head until you can get out and buy
the correct bolt.
Don't torque a stud down into the casting. The
threads at the bottom of the tapped hole are rounded
slightly due to the shape of the tap (even if they are
cut with a bottoming tap). When you torque the
stud into the hole, you put all the force on those few
bottom threads. Studs should be screwed in finger
tight. Use Loctite if necessary to keep the stud in
When it comes time to plumb the chassis, there are a number of companies that will supply all the lines and fittings. in
either 45-degree or 37-degree AN, precut and bent to fit your particular situation. Pure Choice Motorsports
115
Stainless steel thr'Ough-fl"'B!'ne fittings like these make
the lob of plumbing the frame with bl'ake lines much
neatel', Oeuce Factory
Braided high-pressuf'e hoses with Teflon inner liners,
often used as brake lines, come in common sizes like
-02, ,.03, and -04, Remember thot the braid will act like
a saw on anything it touches, which is why some hoses
are available with plastic sheathing covering the braid.
place. Some mechanics go so ftlr as to drop a small
ball bearing down into the hole and then serevv the
stud dm,vn finger tight until it contacts the bearjng.
Donft use bolts with long, threaded shanks in
shear applications. Buy one of the better cap
scrClAlS, nlaybe even an AN, MS (military specifi-
cations), or NAS bolt fron) the airport, "with the
116
proper nonthrcaded shank of the right length and
the right diameter.
A bolt should be long enough, "vvhether used in
shear or tensionj that \vhen the nut is fully tight-
ened, then' is at least one full thread protruding
from the end of the nut
Anvtilne vou're in doubt, take the time to use a
torque When you're torquing a bolt, consid-
er that much of the torque uscd to tighten a bolt is
actually used to overcome friction behveen the male
and thre,l(]s, and not to put the correct
amount of stress on the bolt Anv dirt on the threads
increases the friction, so be sun' the threads are clean.
The other point vvorth repeating is to ahvays
use anti-seize on the threads of chrome and stain-
less bolts.
Plumbing
The Basics
When it comes to moving the common liquids
around under the hood, the aftermarket nO\\" pro-
vides a vast number of choices, Yes, vou can still
use the good old OEM stuff or the m,{tcria1s avail-
able at the local Pep Boys storc, There's nothing
wrong vdth that as long as you use quality materi-
als and install thelTI with can.',
\!v'hen it comes to plumbing, hovvever, more
and morE' builders of hot rods are for an
upgrade, Dri ven by a desire for quality and cer-
tain aesth(ltic considerations, manv builders want
braided hose 'vvith anodized ends.
Companies like Earl's, Aeroquip, and others pro-
vide high-quality hoses with or \vithout the braided
stainless covers, with matching ends. Both the
hose and the hose ends arc available as extremelv
high-quality components suitable for
or in three or four less stringent grades more suit-
dble for street use,
First \Ve have to back up and expIJin that
much of this high-end hose market started as sur-
plus from the military, and thus uses what is com-
monly called the AN (Air Corps/Navy) measuring
system, AN fittings all have 37-degrec flares in-
stead of the more common 45-degree flares used in
most American lines and fittings, Hose sizes
are often indicated by one or tvvo digits, all of
which makes sense when you realize there is a
method to the madness,
Common AN line sizE'S are "dash three," '/dash
four," "md so forth, Dash three is generally written
1'_03". So what does that mean in the real world?
The 3 is the numerator of a fraction with 1 h as the
denominator. So, ......en equals 3/1h inch. Jt gets a lit-
tle confusing because the 3/16 doesn't indicate the
exact inside diameter (r.D.) or even the outside di-
ameter (O.D.) of the line. When the system was
first implemented, each size vvas designed to re-
place an existing hard-metal line with a flexible
Designed to work w'lth the reusable hose ends, this
AQP Racing hose can be used with fuel, oil, or coolant,
in temperatures from 55 degrees below zero to
300 degrees Fahrenheit. Available sizes run from
-04 to -32. Aeroquip
This cutout shows one type of reusable compression-
style hose end. Specific hose ends need to be used
with specific hoses, all designed as part of the same
system. AeroqUip
line of about the same 1.0. Thus, ··03 has about the
1.D. as a standard 3/16-inch brake line. Get
it? A dash four (-04) has the same internal diame-
ter as a 4F!6-; or] /4-inch steel line.
Getting the Hose
'rhe hose you use depends pritnarily on the flu-
id being moved, the pressure of the liquid, and ex-
actly hovv' trick you "vant the finished product to be.
In the case of "vater hoses, there's nothing
\vrong: \..vith using molded hoses from the local
auto parts store. If you kno\v the size of the inlet
and outlet and thc approximate shape (you can
even bend up a template "vith a piece of \vire or
coat hClngert most counter vvorkers will help you
find the right molded hose from among their sub-
sticllltia! stock. The kev is to use brand-name hoses
and avoid the tl'ndencv to force the hose into
something other than the pre-formed shape, as
most hoses \vill collapse at that point.
The stdiniL'ss outer braid most of us are so en-
i.unored of is available ra\v, as are the colored hose
fiends" (v/hich are actually covers for the stainless
hose clamps) that go along \vith the braided stain-
look. This "vav you can buv molded hoses
and then cover \,vith stainless. The
braid does more than provide that nice race-car
look. The stainless covering also protects the hose
from abrasion.
Wh<lt you \vant to avoid afe the corrugated ra-
diator hoses, for aesthetic reasons if no other. If you
have to run the \vater a long distancc, straight
can be used vvith rubber "connectors" at either
AN-style fittinos fOI" fuel, oil, and coolant lines come in various shapes (,-Jnd configurations, some designed for a crimped
collar', some for' a hose clamp, and some for a do-it-yourself compression-type connection. Aeroquip
117
These ver'y neat, high-qualrty fuel manifolds are available
for most popular carburetors. Aeroquip
end. It's important that any hard line like this
have beaded ends so the damped ends can't slip
off. Any good radiator shop can make up a
straight section of tubing and also do a nice job of
heading the ends.
Like \vater hoses, flexible gas lines can be
made up of the black neoprene hose available at
the local auto parts store. Because current fuels
have so many new additives, it's important to usc
on1v current', brand-name fuc1lincs. In most cases
fuel line like this will slip over a simple barbed fit-
ting vI/here it's secured with a hose clamp. Re-
member, EFI systems run far more fuel pressure
in the lines than \vas experienced in any part of a
carbureted fud system, so pick your fuel lines and
eLl mps accordingly. Upgrades in fuel lines in-
dude a variety of reinforced and braided hoses
availJblc from the aftermarket, most of which use
brand-specific anodized ends.
These ends could be a book chapter in them-
selves. A little time spent with an Aeroquip or Earl's
catalog \vill open your eyes to the huge selection of
hoses and ends available. As stated earlier, the very
best art:' good enough for competition use. At the
other end of this aftermarket hose-end selection are
the simple barbed fittings. But unlike the stuff frOlTI
the auto parts store, these fittings are anodized in
red or blue and look great when used with a stain-
less over-braid and clamp cover of the same color.
Remember that for many carburetor applica-
tions, fuel manifolds are available pre-assembled
front a variety of sources. Fuel lines for Honev car-
buretors or a'standard three-deuces setup only
a phone call iHvay.
As ,!l\vavs, you need to make sure the hose
you use is irltended to handle the application, be
it gas, oil., or the high-pressure line to the power
steering gear. The lines used between the auto-
llR
Inatic transmission and the cooler, for example,
are designed specifically for transmission fluid. If
you use sorn_ething besides a barbed hose end, be
sure it is matched to the hose brand and size,
High-quality hose ends come in various configu-
rations so be sure the one vou buv is the one vou
want, and follow the marlUfactu'rer's
for assembly and testing of the hose.
Brake Hoses
If you assemble a radiator hose from aftermar-
ket parts and it blO'ws later while cruising: down
the highway, you've created a mess and an incon-
venience. Tn the worst case, you could damage the
engine if the temperature is allowed to go too
high before you shut it down. If the same thjng
happens \vith a brake hose, you've created more
than an inconvenience.
The only truly approved hard line for brakes
is the OEM-stvle steel hose with double-flared 45-
degree Hot rodders often lean tCHvard the
stainless steel hose with 37-degree single-flare
A N fittings, Though aesthetics drive much of
these decisions, there's also the '-'I want this car to
have the best of everything" mentality at work
here, along with the related refrain, "J want this car
to last forever."
Yes, a stainless llne will last I'forever," but in
reality a standard steel line will last nearly that
long. Working from personal experience, it's obvi-
ous that steel lines commonly last a minimum of 15
to 20 years even when the car is used daily in Min-
nesota's salt-infested winter driving environment.
When it comes to the flexible brake hoses, a
similar dilemma arises. The DOT-approved hoses
are the big, ugly black ones. The hoses everyone
wants to use are the braided stainless hoses with
anodized or polished ends. These braided hoses
are made up of a Teflon liner inside a stainless
braided cover. The hose can be purchased raw
from companies like Earl's and Aeroquip, ()f pre-
assembled hoses can be purchased vvith a variety
of ends factory installed. Most of these are rated at
a minimum (;f 2,OOO-psi operating pressure and a
burst pressure of more than 1O,OO() psi,
For most brake applications, a hose is the
right size. Clutch hydraulic systems probably re-
quire a because they are moving a larger vol-
ume of brake fluid. Call me conservative, but I
recommend buying the hoses factory assembled
with the ends already installed. They can be or-
dered in nearly any length; if you can't get exactly
the right fitting on the end, a whole raft of
adapters is available to convert the pipe fitting
thread in the caliper to the AN fitting on the brake
line (for example).
A few final notes on brake lines and fittings.
Pay attention to the try to mate a
37-degree hose with a 45-degree fitting on the
caliper or chassis. Yes, the materials arc soft and
will probably "give" enough to mate the two, but
seepage and failure are likely results. If you have to
mate the typical American 45-degree system with
the AN 37-degree system, conversion fittings are
available to do just that.
Be sure all the hoses you mount, especially the
flexible ones, can't corne in contact with a suspen-
sion member or the edge of the tire as the suspen-
sion goes from full extension to full compression,
or as the tires go from lock to lock. If YOll run the
lines inside the frame, don't put any connectors
where you can't see them and be sure to test for
leaks. Leak testing is part of the installation
process. When everything is finished and the sys-
tem is bled, get someone to literally stand on the
brake pedal while you carefully crawl around un-
derneath with a light inspecting every fitting for
any sign of leakage.
Whether YOll run the lines inside the frame or
outside, they must be clamped in place. A variety
of aluminum and stainless clamps arc available
from the aftermarket to make your installation as
neat as possible.
We should mention that for individuals who
don't want to spend their days measuring, cutting,
and flaring stainless brake lines, companies 1ike
Pure Choice Motorsports will cllstom ellt and flare
all the lines and ship them to you ready to install.
The brake lines. whether steel or stainless. must be
clamped to the frame so they don"t vibrate. Simple
clamps like these. available in stainless. are uften used
to hold the lines in place. Pure ChOice Motorsports
119
, Ii i
Like any othel' part of the building and fBhl'ication prolect,
the brake lines I"equires specialized tools. From
with debut'l'ing too!, hand debtJrI'ing tool,
tool, and high,quallty tubing bondor,
A
t this point the Deuce truck frame is nearly
hied (only to be disl7sscrnhfcd again ftJr painting).
lA/hat's left is the plumbing.
The materials Neal is using to plumb John's
truck arc all top-shelf. The hard lines, for example,
are all 3/16 stainless, "We used lines that are (),028,
inch \vall thickness," explains Neal. "These lines
are seamless 3041, stainless. You hav(> to be sure
the lines are seamless or thev \vIU crack \'\'he11 vou
bend or flare them. We bought ours at a
wls-supply shop, though you could also get them
from ;J company like Pure Choice Motorspnrts./I
The linings afC all AI',] 3;'· des fee sillSfc flare, the
type that use a srnl1!l tulle sleeve bchcccn the fine nut
and the flare.
Neal cuts his stainless tubing with a cut-off wheel, not a tubing cutter, because it doesn't crush the end of the tube.
120
A small sander is used to clean up the end and ensure it is cut 90 degrees to the centerline of the tubing,
Neal deburrs the inside of the cut-off end. It's also a good idea to clean up the outside diameter of the tubing at the
cut with a small file (w some sandpaper' [not shown].
121
Neal uses a stl'aightedge to make sure the tubing comes up through the clamp part of the flaring tool. The end of
the tube should be flush with the top surface.
A little lube placed on the cone of the flaring tool means
it's less likely to gall against the stainless. Stainless
doesn't flare and bend easily, and thus requires quality
tools and attention to detail if it's to be used effectively.
122
The four flex hoses are -i)3 braided with the
Teflon inner liner. Neal bought these from a local
supply company with the ends installed, though
they're also available from high-performance re-
tailers. A few adapters were required, like the 1/8-
inch pipe to No.3 AN for the front Wilwood
calipers, and the 7/16-inch banjo to No.3 AN for
the Lincoln calipers used on the rear of the truck.
The installation is made easier by Neal's care-
ful attention to detail and by his use of high-qual-
ity tools. "Imperial Eastman or Parker make
some pretty good bending tools," says Neal.
"They help you to do a nice, neat job. A good sin-
gle-tubing bender will probably cost you $45 or
$50, but you get smaller bend radii out of that
tooL My bender will bend a 3/16-inch tube to a
5/R-inch radius. That's a good size for a project
like this, and about as tight as you can go with-
out collapsing the tube."
Fabrication of each section of tubing starts by
cutting the tubing to length. If you're new to this
notion of cutting, bending, and installing brake
lines you might want to mock up the whole thing
in standard 3/16-inch steel line, or even some
heavy welding rod materiaL That way you can
As Neal explains, "The flaring tool is tightened down against the end of the tubing until you feel the metal stop moving."
figure out the exact length you need, taking into
account the amount needed for each bend.
Neal does the actual cutting with an air-pow-
ered cut-off wheel, being careful to make the cut
square. After cutting the tube, he carefully dresses
and deburrs both the outside and the inside of the
tube. Neal goes on to explain, "You can use a stan-
dacci tubing cutter but it tends to squash the tubing
and the size of the hole ends up pretty small." After
cutting the tubing to size, the outside of each cut is
cleaned up with a small file while the inside is
deburred with the appropriate tool.
Now it's time to flare the tubing, which must
be done \vith a quality flaring tool designed for a
37-degree single flare, not the 45-degree double
flare seen on most American OEM applications.
Neal warns that "the end of the tube needs to be
reallv clean without any nick" or burrs. You can use a
lubricant of some kind hl'tvveen the cone and the tube
so it won't gall against the tubing. The cone of the
Here's the properly flared stainless tube with the sleeve
and the AN nut bellind it.
12:3
In The Shop continued
in QI'der \,Q make a nice 90-degree bend, Neal actually takes the tubing past 90 degrees because there is always
some back" when he take the pressure eff the tool.
Here Neal holds the finished line before Installing it on the fral11e.
l24
A vanety of clamps are available to hold the line in place
aiong the frame.
The complete installation requires a 2-pound residual
pressure valve in the line to both the front and the rear
br-akes as well as a proportioning valve in the line to the
rear brakes. Also shown are a few of the fittings used
tn complete the job.
flaring tool needs to be nice and clean, without any
nicks. On better toots the (ones can be replaced, and
if you use the tool a lot you might need to do that."
The tubing is positioned in the damp part of the
Aaring tool so the end is Hush with the top surface of
the tool. Neal says you h':1\'8 to exert pressure, by
turning the cone down against the tubing, until "you
can't go any further." Remember that the tubing \vill
be damaged jf you continue to exert pressure after it
has been funy flared out against the clanlp. 'rhis is
the time to install the nut and the tubing sleeve; from
the other end, before doing the second flare.
The nuts that are part of this AN system are
made from steel, 'Vvith a protective coating of cad-
mium or zinc. Many of the fittings used here are
These through-frarne fittings are used to very neatly get
the line on the other side of the frame, where it
gene('8Uy attaches to a flexible hose 01' !ine.
anodized aluminum. ln spite of the fact that both
the steel and the aluminum are "coated," they are
in fact dissimibr metals and Neal recommends the
judicious use of a little anti-seize on the threads.
Just remember to flush a little extra bn1ke fluid
through the lines when it comes time to bleed the
brakes so anv anti-seize is flushed out as \\'eJL
Instead (;f using one flex line at the rear end and
then attaching the hard line to the axle housing, Neal
attached the hard line to the frame and uSt'd a flex
line at each wheel, because he thought it \vas neater
125
In The Shop continued
To tighten the fittings, it's important to put a wrench on
both "halves" of the fitting, And you must check each
one of these for possible seepage before you consider
the job finished,
that way. And instead of running the hard line up
and over the frame to a fitting or bracket, Neal used
through-frame fittings for a very sanitary installation.
Brakes lines will vibrate and crack if not secured
in place. The lines on the Deuce truck frame are held
in place with small two-piece clamps. Each clamp is
secured to the rail with a machine screw threaded
into holes tapped in the frame rails. It's important to
drill all the holes and weld on any necessary brack-
ets now while the truck is in mock-up stage,
Plumbing the frame is pretty much a nuts and
bolts kind of deal, fitting adapter A into flexible line
B, the other end of which screws into another fitting
and then the hard line. Like most parts of this hot-rod
building project, a neat plumbing job requires pa-
tience and attention to detail. Don't skimp on materi-
als or time. If you find the line you just bent up has
the bend in the wrong place, throw it away and start
over, bending and rebending may fatigue the line. At
the very least, it makes for a sloppy-lrx)king job. And
that's the one thing we're trying to avoid here.
Neal likes to use the two-part line clamps seen here. Each one requires that you drill and tap a hole in the frame rail.
121l
I
n order to lintl out {uhat proj()ssiorlll! builders are us-
ins flJr jilstcnCfs and plumbitIs, in the real (corld, we
spent a jf"LU minutes zvith Shane, foreman the SO-
CAL shop.
Q. Shane, arc grade-/') and gmde-8 good enough for
most tasks encountered while building u hot rod? And
yvhcrc do 1/0U hUll !/Otlr nuts and bolts?
A. Yt'S, are wonderful for almost
everything. We don't like grade-8 as nluch because
they're more brittle than the grade-5. The only time
we usc something like an NAS bolt (National Aero-
space Standard) is when we're looking for a really
trick-looking bolt or nut. We only do it for aesthet-
ies. \,yp buv most of our bolts from the hardware
store or a -fastener supplier. For the specialized
stuff \-Vt' use either King Bolt in Los Angeles or
South Coast Specialties in Lake Havasu, Arizona.
Q: £lOIu do you fcc! about lock nuts?
A: We use lock nuts on anything we can. I like
lock washers just as well but they tear up finishes.
We try to use an AN washer and then a lock nut.
The Nyloc type of lock nut is really good but guys
need to be d\'vare that after one or two uses, that
nut is tired. They should do the mock-up with reg-
ular nuts so they don't wear out the Nylocs. We do
like the Nvlocs, but of course we can't use them on
exhaust, the heat melts the nylon part of the nut.
On the exhaust we use a pinch nut, a lock washer,
or a jam nul. Using a second nut jammed up
against the first is a real good way to go.
Q: What about plumbillg under Ihe hood, do you
use a lot 'if' the fancy braided hoses'
A: Typically we use standard rubber hoses be-
cause that's what Pete rubber
hoses for fueJ with typical stainless hose clamps.
For the radiator hoses we use standard Gates
molded hoses. We bend up a pattern out of weld-
ing wire or lightweight "corrugated" aluminum
and take that to the parts store. They usu-
ally let LlS walk around behind the counter until
we've found the right hose.
We use some braided lines depending on the
sitnation. The drag racing sanctioning bodies like
everything to be braided hose or hard line, so the
type of hose you usc dependS on the intended use.
Pete alwavs savs, "if vou're in the middle of
nowhere and nc(;d a it's hard to find the fancy
AN stuff." -
Q: What ahout brake fines and/ittirIgs?
A: Typically we haven't done much stainless,
unless that's "vhat the cllstomer wants, we're always
afraid the customer will have trouble finding a fitting
or line if thev have trouble on the road. So vVC usc the
standard mild steeJ brake line for most of our cars.
From the frame to the rear end we use a standard
rubber, OEM-style hose. Our SO-CAL brake kit in-
cludes braided hoses, but they're black-plastic co\'-
ered because Pete doesn't like the look of braided.
Q: Shane, you do service on cl1r;:; that other people
have built, z.u/zai' kinds (?f hardv')are mistakes do you sec
on those cars?
A: Guys will have a clevis on a piece of clutch
linkage, for example, and they' put a bolt through
it as the pivot. The problem is the bolt they use
has threads along the complete Jength so the
threads 'wear out the clevis and the eve and then
there's too much play. H's really just l;l'cause thl')'
used the wrong bolt for the pivot. They should
have used a bolt with a long shoulder (1 nd then
shortened the threads.
The other problem is vvith stainlt'ss and
chrome bolts and hardware. Cuys don't put anti··
seize compound on chrome or stainless bolts; the\'
have to have anti-seize on the threads. The stairl-
less tends to galt even 'when it's a stainless bolt
and nut combination; stc1inless has a real affinitv
for itself.
Chrome bolts can be too big, and even if they'
aren't, chrome can do the same thing as stainless,
Under the chrome there is nickel. If vou wear
through the chrome you get to the nickel, "vhieh
tends to gall like the stainless does. I tell people to
buy the best anti-seize they can and llse lots of it.
And people don't use lock washers or lock
nuts. They don't use anything and pretty soon
things start to fall apart. They need to use some
kind of locking device. The final thing is the guys
who don't use the right length bolt so it has too
much thread sticking out. It just doesn't look good,
it looks sloppy.
Q: How abolll door latches, what docs 50-CAL like
to see for door latches?
A: Almost all of our cars use stock OEM factorv
door latches. There arc a couple of exceptions,
the '51 Merc in the shop. We used late-model bear
claw Jatches on that because the original design is-
n't very good. But all of our '40 Fords and Deuces
use Ford latches.
The stock '32 latch works good, espeCially
when we hveak them so they're properly.' adjusted
and lubricated. When we first fit up the 01f, we
take the time to make sure the door fits correctlv
and we stiffen up the pillars, so the door jamb
doesn't just bend in when you dose the cloof.
127
D
uring chassis {'md construction,
you have to not only vvhcrc to put
the but. which engine to put there.
So whHc it seem at first to be outside the
re,;1im of a book/' Vlt/ve df'cided to in-
dude some information designed to help you with
one of the 111()St important decisions :you're going
to make in this car. The engine choice
will character, the placement of
the and the type of motor mounts.
--l
Drivetrain
Engine Choices
The criteria for choosing an engine include
cost, character, and end usage. The builder on il
budget might ed.s1!y settle for a late-model 3S0
"borrmved" from dn older Caprice Of discovered
in the COlTIPf of a buddy's garage.
The other end of the spectrum includes a \vide
range of crate engines from all the major manufac-
hirers. eM has the best-known crate-engine pro-
gram, but Ford and Chrysler aren't far behind. You
For a nostalgia car, there is simply no engine with the same allure as a flathead. like all things, the flathead has its
cost, in terms of both increased maintenance and modest performance.
12fl
Seen in the SO-CAL shop, this roadster is powered by a nice new small-block--a Ol'flctical
nearby Chevy dealer or an aftermarket specialist like Street and Performance
can easily buy a ne"v 502 from your local Chevy
dealer, a" high-output 460 from" nne of the Ford
dealers, or a 52S-ci Hemi from the Mopar
They say that small-block engines are
like got one. When it
comes to buying Gll engint', hovvever, the small-
block is easilv the best value on th\:.' street. GM has
produced COllJ1tless millions of small-blocks, and
many of those engines arc still uut there, just
\vatting to be given one more life under the hood
of your personal hot rod.
The other advantilge to the' small-block is the
relative case of installation. Engine mounts Jrc
available in a number of different configurations,
and a \vide varictv of transmissions, both automatic
and standard, \vill readily bolt up. This little bovV'-
tie engine is relatively short and has the oil pan
sump at the back of the engine, both of which
make it a good match for most hot rod situations.
Some cars call out for something a bit different.
A nostalgia Deuce pickup likl' the one seen in the
back of the SO-CAL shop matches up perfectly
vvith tht' flathead installed between the rails_
Among the many trends seen on the street of late is
the tendency to look beyond the small-block for
Another' Roy Brizio project, this one rm3tes a [-are Aroun
overhead convers'lon on a flathead with a 1 Fan]
129
The Ford 5.0 engine IS available both new. from Ford
Motorsport, and used. In either case it makes a good
powerplant for a Ford hot rod.
alternative forms of power. In the GM linc, these
include the ahvays-popular nail-head Buick V-Sf
Oldsmobile engines from the early I 950s to the end
of the line, and assorted engines with the word
"Cadillac" stamped on the valve cover.
Once YOU start to look beyond the small-block, the
range of possible engines is }luge. How about <ill old
Chrvsler r-Icmi stuffed between the rails of that ne\v
or better yet, a rare SOI"JC Ford V-S? Don't
think you absolutely gotta install the small-block.
What's needed here is a balance between your
budget, the design of the car, YOU1' mecha;1ical
skills, and vour intended use of the vchicle. For
the fodder intends to drive the car extensive-
ly and requires good power and no maintenance,
J eM srnall-block is the way to go. As mentioned
before, the local dealer has a complete line of crate
motors that represent great bang for the buck. For
the maverick in the crovvd, however, the small-
block won't do. 1f you want to build something
unusual, or want gobs of power, or love Bemis,
then follovv your nose down another path.
rhe dm,vnside to an alternative form of power
is the increased cost and reduced parts availability.
If YOU Vhlnt a two-four intake for an old Hemi, be
.sure to bring cash. And if you want a high-lift cam
for the same engine, you may have to scrounge the
used parts nehvorks, or have a stock cam re-
ground. Engine mounts become an issue as well.
Though mount kits are available for a surprising
number of engines, the really old V-8s often
mounted the engine at four points insteJd of three.
Be SUIT you understand all the irnplications of us-
ing an older or unusual engine.
The other issue is one that too many people
don't consider. To quote Pete Chapouris again,
"People forget that these cars need maintenance just
like anv other vehicle." This means that hot rod mo-
tors w{th blowers or solid lifters require more from
their mvners than \\'ould a typical small-block. And
J:10
trying to find a \vater pump for an old Ford ur
Oldsmobile engine on a Sunday afternoon might
mean you get tn spend an extra day in Louisville.
None of which is to say the engine )iOU install
under the hood shouldn't be pure, unadulterated
fun. You're not trying to build the ultimate, practi-
cal, commuter car, after Jl1. The idea is to weigh all
the ups and downs of your ideal engine choice.
You need, more than anything else, a car that's us-
able and dependable. You also need to understand
all the costs of building and operating that car.
At this point it might heIp to through a
few of the crate-engine options availablE.:' from
Ford, eM, and Chrvsler.
Ford Engines
Ford Motorsport SVO will sell you a variety of
mild 302 short-blocks or complete 460 and DOlle
4.61. Cobra engines. Complete 424 Boss engines
with aluminum heads are available, originally de-
signed to run the NASCAR tracks in 1969. The
most popular of the Ford offerings include the 302
long-block with high-flow CT-40 heads, and the
351 \J\Tindsor block with aluminum heads and a
Victor Jr. intake manifold.
Many Ford engines have the disadvantage of a
longer \vater pump and a front-mounted dbtribu-
tor/oil pump, which puts the oil pan sump at the
front of the engine as \vell. SVO has C0111(' to your
rescue with a short \vater pump for 2S4, 302, and
351 W engines, and another shorty \vater pump de-
signed for serpentine belt use (reverse rotation).
They also sell an oil pan kit that moves the sump to
the rear of the engine, eliminating interference prob-
lems with the front cross-members of many hot rods.
Mopar
The Mopar guys apparently heard that old say-
ing that you can't beat cubic inches, because they've'
punched out the biggest crate Hcmi to 528 cubic
inches. The more sophisticated might opt instead for
the V-I0 Viper engine (assuming you have a larger-
than-average engine compartment). Less jaded, but
no less dedicated, Mopaf guys \vill find the catalog
also includes a \'ariety of 360-ci small-blocks.
GM
GM crate motors start with {l 2::;0-horsepo\ver
350-ci small-block a,·ailablc in long-block form
complete with all the sheet metal. Next up is a .300-
horse 350-cube crate engine. The final stop in this
ladder of ascending horsepower is the ZZ4. This
fourth-generation double-zee attains 355-horse-
power and over 400 foot-pounds of torque. There's
even a limited edition ZZ 430 rated at 430 horses
from the standard 350-ci displacement.
The GM Performance Parts cJtalog also lists
some high-tech small-blocks like the LT4, a 335
The cont,lllued popularity of the old Chrysler Heml means new life for a design that's nearly 50 years old Today you can
buy oearly everything you need to blilid a 392, without going tn the Suoday swap meet
horsepovver, 350-ci V-B, This cngine liSt'S a cam-
driven vvater pump and aluminum heads \vith
2-inch intake valves and sodium-filled 1.SS-inch
exhaust valves. Combustion chambers fC<lturc fast-
burn 54-.4-c( combustion ch.1mbers that prodde a
10)):1 compression ratio. The relatively mild roller
camshaft normally installed in this enginc C<:111 be
swapped for a hot LT-l camshaft good for another
20 horsepower.
Fans of the big-block haven't been forgotten.
The bow-tie catalog offers 454- and 502-ci big-
blocks in ratings from 425 to .502 horsepower.
The 425-ho1's(' 454 uses cast-iron heads with rec-
tangular ports and big valves mated to a cast-
iron block \.vith a roller cdmshaft, forged crank,
and cast 8.75:1 pistons. large displacement
and mod cst compression mean this engine can
live eaSily on the street burning pump-premium
and still provide 500 foot-pounds of torque at
3,500 rpm.
The top of this big-block battle is the
SOl/S02, available as a complete long-block or a
complete kit. This street motor comes with big-
valve aluminum h(,Jds, roller camshaft, complete
induction system, ignition s:ystem, and starter. To
ensure the engine's longevity; GM engincers start-
ed with a four-bolt block; and added forged pis-
tons, heavy-duty connecting rods, and a forged
steel crankshaft.
Where to Put the Engine
Engine placement is both a topic of its own
and an essential part of planning and
You need first to sketch oul the logical engine
lociltion, ilnd consider where that puts th<-' fire-
wall Jnd hovv much room it leaves for the radi-
ator and cooling fan(s}. We all kncH'v that by
setting the engine farther back, more of the
\veight is transferred to the rear whpds. The
trade-offs incl ude the need to install a recessed
firevvall, or at least notch the firewa!! to clear
the distributor.
\-\Then Neal Ldounwdll did the first mock-lip
on the stretched DeliCt' pickup seen in this book,
the engine proved to be a bit too fa.r forward. During
the first mock-up session, Neal and John dt.'dded to
If seen too many FOI'd roadster's with small-block Chevys for power, tryout this 1934 Dodge with V-10 power.
13urlt III Roy BrlZIO's shop, the p"GJect IS the giveaway car for the Goodguys.
The small-hlock Chevy IS a toogh act to beat. They're inexpensive and readily available both new and used. Perhaps the
host IS the stagger'lng amount of speed equipment available for the little bow-tie,
move the engine] inch farther back, "in Ordl'f to
mZlke room for d nice bigl belt-driven fan."
As push the motor farther back, ho\ve\'er,
the bl'll housing and heads begin to impinge on the
floor a.nd the firevvall. Once ')gainl you're looking
for balance, though \\.'hen in doubt it's probably
better to be too far back than not far ('nough,
Nears eXZlmpJe should be noted, If y!()U \\'ant a
car that can cruise the fJirgrounds all day long
without overhpating, you \vant a big, bdt"·driYcn
fan, pulling air ;Kross a nice thick radiator cnre,
aided by a wt..'lI-designed cooling shroud, vVhat
this mpans is that you cun't ha\'t' the nOSl' of the
WJter pump LIp ag:linst the insldt' of tlw rddiaror
Air conditioning adds another heat load to the ra-
diator and cooling system, During the mock-up,
lw sure to mount i1 water pump and fan on the en-
gine and be sure you make provision for the radi-
ator shroud.
Though technically not a part of the t'ngine place-
Ilwnt discussion, vou also need to consider ilirflow
through the r<.1diator and engine compartment. If the
hood sides arE' smooth
l
VOU need to be surt' there's
enough room around the engine that the air can
move into and then out of the engine comparhywnL
In the frame chapter, \;\'(' provided S inches as
the minimum clearance beh,vecn the bottom of the
oil pan Jnd the ground. Take d look at the Lwtter-
known cars! and some of the mock-ups seen in this
book. Thl' engines look almost too high in the framl'!
but they're placed that woY for a variety of good n.'a-
sons. By avoiding the tendenc:v to locate the engine
tno lmv in the chassis, you sidt'stcp the problem that
comes from having the water pump and fan hub too
}m.v on the radiator to mount an effectln::' fan,
1n a side-tn-side sense, the enginl' nccds to be
in the center of the frJme even if Detroit does
sometimt'S OffSi;.'t the engine slightly' to the right.
During the mocbup sessions, be sure to spend
time considering the engine only for
clearance and airfltnv, but to make sure the stl>C'r-
ing shaft and possibly the steering box wj1J clear
the engine and exhaust
The Moullts
Nearly all modern engines an' mounted to the
frame by three engine mounts, The two front mounts
handle the bulk of the \veight and also handle the
enormous torqtll' generated by a modern V-H.
The mounts themsel\'cs can be stock fdctorv-
style rnounts, or something from the aHermarkt:t.
Companies like Chassis Engineering manufac-
tUft' (1 series of motor mount kits designed to
help you install a \\'ide variety' of engines into an
equally' \'vide variety of frames. Among the
stronger Zlnd cleaner of the motor mounts cur-
rently available for popular engirws are the trian-
gulated tubular mounts seen on many hot rods.
We've said it before. if it doesn't coo! it isn't worth a
damn, Pick your radiator \Nith sure '11, has
enough capacity for' ymw car and accessories. Bt] sure.
too, that the cooling air can get into< and out of. t,he
engIne compartment
Every engine installation should include a n3clifltor
and shroud. A shmud hBS a dramatic effect on the
amount of air moving over the corD and the
temperature of the coolant
If you want engine mounts that ar'e both strong and
sexy, try these cast stainless mounts, complete with
tabs to be welded to the frame. Deuce Factory
Chassis Engineering makes available kits that ease the
installation of nearly any engine into nearly any chassis.
The engine, frame brackets, and cushions are sold
separately from a large menu. Just mix and rnatch,
Chassis Engineering
These mounts are very strong and can be pur-
chased as a kit from Deuce Factory or made up
from tubing and bushings meant for a four-link
kit. In a structural sense, remember that triangles
are good, \vhile flat \velded to the rails to
meet the engine, without any supporting mem-
bers, is not so good.
At SO-CAL, they like to llse factory engine
mounts. As Shane explains, "The factories spent lots
of time designing a mount that doesn't vibrate, so we
usc theirs. The triangulated ones are sexier, but they
only use the little urethane bushing so they transmit
more vibration. Our cars are built to drive, and the
customers don't like to feel those harmonics,"
In terms of the driveline angles, Shane and
the crew at SO-CAL follow a time-tested proce-
dure, \ve mount the engine ·with the
carb base level, v,rhich usuaH:v puts the crank at il
2- or 3-degree angle (the tail shaft 10"\"cr). There's
a rule that the pinion angle should be the same ,IS
the crank angle, so we rotate the rear end pinion
to the same angle."
rvlounting the engine and transmission In the
frame, especially during the mock-up phase'! is
made much easier \vith a small rack to set the en-
gine on. This can be ,J birIy simple affair, strong
enough to hold the engine and transmission up
off the table. If vou make it a little short, blocks
and shims can be used to get the engine and tran-
ny in the perfect position for height <lnd angle. If
vou don't have a rack as described, ,"'ou'Jl be
\vith an engine dangling on a L:hain, try-
ing to determine the location of the mounts and
how much angle is enough.
A lot of shops use a simple trick to ensure the
engine is level from side to side: First they install
two bolts in the front of the engine block, through
timing cover or water pump holes. Then they run a
piece of square tubing across the fralTl(, rails, and fi-
nally let the engine CODle dnvvn so the bolts touch
the tubing (note the photos).
To Shift or Not to Shift
Once you've chosen an engine for the hot rod,
YOll need to pick a transmission. The easy' \-\'oy out
is to bu.v an engine and transmission as a unit. The
other easy default setting is to use a TH 350 trans-
mission behind the ever-present small-block
Up until recentl),', 9') percent of newly built hot
rods came ·with an automatic transmission. That is
no longer the case, in part because many of tIlt:' big-
ger builders arc incorporating a clutch linkage in
their most popular chassis, In fact, both Roy Brizio
and SO-CAL have designed dutch linkages that
make a manual transmission a viable option.
Linking tlte Clutch Pedal
with the Throw-Out Bearing
JJesigning and installing the clutch
often the most daunting part of adding J stick
shift-is now easit..'r because of the tl\'ailabilitv of
hydraulic clutch linkage asSt'mblies. Instead of
trying to figure out the pivot points for the under-
hood linkage and hO\'I/ to 1110tmt a clutch pedal
and pivot assembly, :you simply need one clutch
pedal with a master cylinder, one hydraulic line,
and one clutch slave cYlinder, The slave cylinder
can be mounted to the "'outside of the bellllousing
or internally, on the transmission's front bearing
retainer. The internal slave cvlinders, often called
hydraulic thn)\.v-out save space and
simplify the linkage! though they require that you
pull the transmission if you have to servic(' the
slave cylinder assembly.
Complete clutch pedal assemblies with the
master cylinder and the pi\'ot lllC'chanism <lfC avail-
able from companies like Wi!\v()od, [Vfzmy Ameri-
can cars and trucks l1env use hvdraulic Iinkagt'. (f
you're installing a Ford engint' ;'md transmission, a
stock bell housing and slave cylinder plumbed to
an aftermarket master cylinder lnig-ht IX' the CJ':;icst
\,vay to proceed.
At SO-CAL, they've dc'signed a longer pedal
pivot with roorn. for [I,VO pedals inste(1d of just one.
The pedilis themselves ,we blanks pUfchast'd from
the aftermarkcl and then welded up in the SO-CAL
shop. The pivots are from the GM parts
catalog, \rvhile the cross-shaft is a fabricated piece.
For a bell housing, thev use a L.aKewood unit, mod-
ified with the addition of a pi\'ot on the hous-
ing's Jeft side. The thnnv-out bearing fork i:-; a
Corvette piece.
At Roy Brizio's shop do it a littk different-
ly, but then, the example they provided was for a
Ford engine and transmission. Roy explains thiJt
when they usc a Ford bell housing, thry "like to
use th(: Mustang cable systt'm. Inside use a hot
rod clutch pedal <-lnd pivot. We attach a heim joint
to the upper end of the Mustang ('able and ust' the
stock bell housing pivot, arm, and throw-out as-
semblv. It's a nice svstcm and vou can thnnv a
spare cable in the tnH1k just in
In building a car with a stick transmission, you
don't have to follow either one of these fl'cipes <.'x-
The point is that the installation of a four- or
fivc-:-;pecd tfJnsmission i:-; a viable option. An op-
tion that, \vhcn exercised, will require somt' modi-
fication to the otherwise standard chassis.
The tim!:' to figure out the linkagt' b during the
mock-up. At that time you v\'ill also need a bell
housing: and transmission, so can decide
where to put the rear cro:-;s-member and mount.
The rear cross-member should be removable.
This \\,'av the transmission can be removed from
under tl{e car, and you won't have to pull the en-
gine just to service the transmission. The rear trans-
missinn mount doesn't hold a tremendous arnount
of weight, and most shops use the factory mount
adapted to their o\\,n cross-member.
Four, Five, or Six;
Choosing a Standard Transmission
T'v\"enty years ago, it seems there \vas only nne
drivetrain in use for 90 percent of the street rods
being built. That drivetrain can be abbreviated by
three numbers: 3S0, 350, and 9. The standard en-
gine was a 350 small-block, and behind that sat the
st-<lIldard TH 350 eM automatic transmission. A lit-
tle farther back was the final member of the drive-
train trio, the 9-inch rear end.
The only part of this scenario that hdsn't really
changed is the rear end. While there are more
Simple rnotor-rnount brackets like these USB factory GM
mounts, which means rninimal engine vibrat,ion
transferr'ed to the CQr Oeuce Factory
rear ends turning lip under modern
hot rods, the 9-in(h Ford is still the :'lingle most
popular choice, \t\/hat has changed is both of the
first tvvo numbers in the typical dri\'etrain descrip-
tion. Tn fact, theft' may/ no longer be d typical, or
standard, and transmission combination.
Engine choices range from flatheads to I'Jemis, and
trdnsmission choices include both slush-boxes and
gear-grinding four-, fivt'-, and six-speeds.
For those who \V£l11t to install a stand,ud trans-
mission behind their big- or small-block, three of
the more popular options include an old standard
four-speed sourced at tht' s\vap meet, a four- or
fi\'e··speed already.' attached to the used engine of
your choice, or a four-, fivc-, or six-speed sourced
from Richmond Ccar Company.
S\,vap meet transmissions sufft"r thE' same
caveats as anything else purchased on Sunday
morning frum unkno\vn suppliers without any
warranty intend<,'d or implied. Parts for ITIdny of
the old tr£lI1smissions are vcrv hard to come bv,
so unlcst-' vou knovv the tnlnsrnission
bu:ving is j;j perfect condition, it can be :1 risky
undertaking.
At 50-CAL, Shane reports that "prettI' much
all of our cars with stkks usc transmist-'ions from
Richmond Ccar, though we have done a few cars
\'\lith (l Muncie or 1-10 transmission." In most cat'-
es SO-CAL their own clutch linkage, as
shovv'n els('\vhere in rhis book, but occdsionallv
they USt' thc hydraulic thnnv-out bearing asscn{-
bly on one of the five- or six-speed tnlnS111issions
from Richmond CCde
One of t!w better \·vaY1s to obtain a transmission
that \vill bolt up to your engine is to buy the engine
and transmjssIon as a unit such as an engine and
tranny lifted from a !vlustang CT or Carnaro. On
the plus side of the Jedgt)r, consider th,Jt you get
the cnrrl'ct dutch dnd fly\vhccl assembly along
with the bell hOUSing, and possibly some usable
clutch linkage.
rhough )/ou can't buv a nc"w Muncie four-
can buy;) ne\'\" Super T-10 from Rich-
. As Ste\vart HdlTtilton at Richmond
explains: U\,Vhen Borg vVarner quit making the Su-
per T Doug Nash bought the rights to the trans-
mission, Then he started manufacturing a five-speed
transmission i.lS w(>11. Eventually vn,' bought out
Doug Nash, so nm'\' we make the Super T-10 and the
fh'l'-Spec(L \Ve also <llided a gear to tlw five-speed to
make our own six-speed transmission."
Stewart reports tha t the 'ill per T -I () is av a il-
able "just like they vven' 2() years <lgO, or with im-
pro\'vd hc,:1\':,'-duty synchronizers ilnd a sturdier
L1!! housing. The heavy-d Ul
J
l version of the Super
r·,! 0 was devcloped for \Vinslon Cup cars and is
still used in many of the schools, like the Richard
Pdty Dri\'ing Ex!)eriencl'."
Anyone who calls Richmond Cear looking for
a lransrnlssion to fit their hot rod \vill first have to
,111S\Ver;) series of qu('stions, all desigm.'d to ensure
that they get exactly the right transml%lon f()[ their
particular situation.
"First, Jl!vant tn kncnv the \veight of the car," ex-
pL:1ins Stc\-vart "Next, the tire size, both the diame-
tt'r and thc vvidth. 1 need to knmv \vhat pOv\'erplant
using, IS it a big-block or a small-block, for
eXDmple. I need to know what the rear end ratio is
Jnd finallv, I \vant to know how the car \,,-,ill be used.
(..')n the or street and strip, and the percentages
of each. I need to kJl0\N if it will be equipped vvith
:-;Jirksr in order to get a fed for ho"\-\' much torque
going to transmit through the drivetrain."
The nc\.v heayy-duty Super T-10 is rated at
foot·vounds of torquc, and that is enough for
ruosr stn."l:t dri"\,'cn cars. "Even if the engine dynos
at 600 foot-pounds," explains Stewart, "it's real
unlikely you're going tn pass all of that torque
through the dri\'etrain."
If the Super T 10 is deemed insufficient for the
job, then the tech at Richmond Gear will recom-
rncnd using a five- or six-speed, either of which
will handle much more torque. "If the torque is
too high, we move him or her into a five- or
si tran .... mission," explains Stewart. "The
tremendous]v different between the four-
and the five-speed, bl,lt the six-speed transmission
is quite (l bit more money' than the fh'e-speed. We
\YJ.nt to get enough information from the buyer so
the transmis::'iion does what they expect it to do. In
tlwold the T-l0s worked because the tires
were skinny and the rubber \vas hard. Nmv we've
got sticky radial tires and engines that are often
fl.10rC p()\-verful than thc)' were then, so you need a
bdh;'!' transmission."
fhL' Richmond gear five-speed uses a one-to-
one fifth gear, just like a con\"entionai four-speed,
but it has a much lower first geJL /JOur first gear is
3.2S to l," sa}'s Stevvart, '\vhile first in a four-speed
1:l6
is something like 2.22 to 1. Our lov\' gear is so low
it's like having a 4,11 or 4.56 rear end ratio when
you take off. They need to run something like a
3.08 rear end with our five-speed. That way "vhen
they get into fifth gear the rpIlls will be the same as
\,vith an ovcrdrh'e. II
Stevlart feels that most peoplc do fine \,\,jth a
fi\'c-speed, that the sexy sixth gear 1S really only
useful for special applications. "It's a rare applica-
tion vvhere they need t1 Six-speed. The six-speed is
good for guys who street and strip the car, or
someone who does road-racing. But for most peo-
ple, th(,y gear the rear end c()rrcctly, the five-speed
will work just fine."
\IV hen I asked about the mistakes people make
in choosing a transmission, Stewart reports a lack
of planning as the main culprit. "They don't sit
dO\\ln and plan out what they are trying to do
ahead of time. If they' \\'ould spend more time up
front thinking, they would be happier, and so
\vollld our tech guy."
Shiftless Options and Considerations
S/Iloking is badfor the hcalth transmission
Most automatic transmissions that die prema-
ture deaths do so because of excessive heat.
Burnouts, drag racing, and trailer to"wing all gener-
<lte excessi\'e heat. \t\fithout a good cooler, your
nice rebuilt transmission could easily die an earlv
death. Most Detroit cars incorporatt.'" the transmis-
sion cooler into the radiator. The hot rod aftermar-
ket also makes radiators for most cars that have
built-in tranny coolers, but it's still a good idea to
use a separGte cooler. During the mock-up, be sure
to plan the installation of a cooler somC'\vhere on
the car where there's good airflow, The added ben-
efit of the separilte cooler is the filet that it takes one
more load off the radiator.
If you buy a used transmission, it's a good idea
to have it overhauled before installation. At the
very least change the fluid and filter before you fire
it up for the first time. When it comes to the clutch
in a sealed lock-up torgue converter, there's no
\vav to check these sealed units. Tn ensure the
clutch is good, you have to bite the bullet and buy
a rebuilt torque converter.
Some Tramttl Choices
Ford '
Ford Motor Company offers three automatics
that often find their wav into hot rods. These in-
clude the C4, C6, and the newer AOD automatic
The C4 is fine for small-block Ford engines of
modest power (the C4 can also be adapted to Ford
flathcilds with a couple of aftermarket kits), while
the C6 is a much stronger transmission. Parts for
the C6 are still readily available, despite the trans-
mission's age. Much younger than the C6 is the
AOD, used behind current Ford small-blocks in-
cluding Mustang GTs. This is a true four-speed
transmission, though Ford uses mechanical con-
trol of the lock-up torque converter instead of
electric control.
eM
Among the many offerings from the General,
the Turbo Hydro 350 is still the most popular.
This transmission "vas built from 1969 to 1979
vvith a standard torque converter, and from 1980
to 19H6 in a lock-up version. There arc cd-zillions
of these transmissions out there in the bone yards
dnd at svvap meets. The advantages include the
relatively small sizer short length, and overall
shape, \-vhich means this transmission usually fits
n.:'adilv even in frames vvith the factorv X-member.
The other big plus here is the ready a'vailability of
parts. Earlil'r, pre-lock-up, transmissions are the
more desirable to buy, Most of these TH 350 hous-
ings are identical \vith the exception of some four-
by-four housings and reinforced truck housings.
Differences in length from one Tr'l 350 to another
are alvvays in the tail-shaft housing. Most of these
housings measure either 6 or 9 inches long. The total
tranny length with the short housing is just over 28
inches from the edge of the bell housing to the end of
the tail-shaft housing. The rear mount bolts to the
main transmission case, not the tail-shaft housing.
This is a good thing, as the location of the rear mount
is not affected by your choice of tail-shaft housings.
Another difference to \vatch for is in the diameter
of the speedometer drive housings. Chevrolet trannys
used a speedo housing that was about 1 inch in diam-
eter, vI/hill' most of those used in Bukks,Oldsmobiles,
and Pontiacs have a much larger hole and speedome-
ter-gear housing. The installation of a TH 350 will re-
quire a shift linkage, a v{]cuum line to the transmis-
sion's modubtor, and a kick-down cable.
The hea\Cv-dutv member of the older CM line is
the Turbo H\'dro -'400. This trdnsmission was in-
stalled behinZi many high-horsepmver engines and
eM trucks. Installing a TH4()O might be more work,
as these units are somevvhat heavier and longer by '1
inch than a I'll 350. They are also slightly larger in
diameter and vvider across at the n:ar, v",hich mav
interfere with some X-members. The hot rodder
'vvlth a very heavy foot or a hpavy car rnight do vvell
to consider the TH400. Again, you need shift linkage
and a vacuum line to the vacuum modulator. In
place of a kick-down cable, the 400 uses a throttle-
activated electric switch to downshift for passing,
You may have hedrd of the s\vitch-pitch
a-1400, uS('d onlv from 1965 to 1967. This transmis-
sion used a (the vaned unit pOSitioned be-
t'ween the drive and driven members of the torque
converter) \\'ith pivoting vanes. The angle of the
vanes could be changed from a 11(\:;11 stall speed for
acceleration to a luw stall speed for cfficiL'nt hig!nvay
cruising. These units make a good street rod trans-
mission, though they might be hard to find. If
you're interested, check \vith a specialty (lutomatic
transmission shop.
Overdrh'e transmissions from the eM line in-
cludl' the well-knovvn 700 R4, a real four-speed
transmission vvith d lock-up torque converter. The
700 R4 gi\'es you a !tn-v first-gear ratio, :3.06: J, and dn
ovcrdri\"e fourth gear, 0.70:], You can ht1.\"e vour
cake and eat it too: d good hole shot and low )"('\"s on
the highway.
A good 700 Rt can handk' substanti,Jl amounts
of torque and horsep<nver. I'hese transnlissions
come with two bolt patterns; the 2.8 \;-
6 and four-cylinder cars used () bell housing with a
slightly different (lIletric) bolt pattern, while Iran
nil'S for the 4.3 V-6 and all smdll-blocks ha\'(' what
most of us would consider the correct bolt pattern.
The hvo upper mounting holes ml.'asurC' 8.25 inchl.'s
from Cl'nter to center on the" right" transmission,
Units assembled after ]987 <:lfe superior to (,<1r-
lier units (later trannies hd\'t' pressure ports on the
side next to the servo, v\'hile the earlier models do
not). The earliest 700 R4s can be upgraded with the
latest parts, hovve\'er.
eM introduced a lighter-duty o\'cn.irin.' trans-
mission, the 200 4R, in the earlv 19BOs. Nol 10 be
confused \vith rl modified 350: the'st' are totaJjy
separate from the 700 R4 /\
gOLxt four-speed transmission, the 200 4R pnwid('s
milny of the advantages of the 700 R4 in a smdll,
less expellsivl.' package. The smaller size of thl' 200
Though the Turbo 350 transmission from GM
se8m an antique, it has one very nice attribut,(}-,,--it fits
fairly eaSily into a Ford frame With an X"IT18fTibFJI'
4R means it often fits a fat-ford frame with little or
no of thc X'·member.
/v1°1!1lf
The best known of the Chrvsler transmissions
is the venerable Torqueflite, -a design that was
produced in two versions, the 904 and the 727.
The bigger 727 is certainly the best unit from the
perspcdivl: of stn'ngth, Howevcr, d 904 \vill work
just fine with small-blocks of reasonable power.
Physically the two transmissions are vcrv close to
size, though the 727 is a bit ll1eatier
through the cent'l'r of the housjng. The big
Torqucfl1te can be built to Hemi specs and be-
yond. There are also hvo ()vcrdrive versions of the
'[orqueflit", the ;\500 and which correspond
to the 904 "nd 727 respectively,
Final Tnmsmission Notes
1£ you (<"m't decide or aren't sure \vhich auto-
matic transmission to run, it's i1 good idea to cail
up and speak with an expert. Creg Ducato from
Phoenix Transmission Products in Phoenix sug-
gests that the potential builder have a really good
unlh' 1'standing of what he or she wants front the
car and base their decisions accordingly. Do they
intL'nd to race the car or just cruise to \\'t.'ckcnd
events? Greg ,liso feels that people don't think
enough about the rear end ratio. "If you h.ave c1 2.7
or rear end and lots nf povver, yuu don't need
an overdrive. But if the car has a 4:11:1 gear .you
don't need a 350 or 400 If VIJU install
tl1<' 350 or 4IJIJ with the 4:11 gear" then" you can't
drive it any distance because the l'ngine is spinning
so fast on thL' high\vay."
Mounting the Rear End
Rear end choices are covered prl'tty \Ncll in
the H'dr suspension chapter. At thb point it is
worth rep<-'ating Sharu/s comments that at SO-CAL
they gel1l'rally install the l'ngine and transmi.:-.sion
at il 2- or 3-degrec' angle (\vith the tail-shaft 10lvver)
and the H.'iH end at tlw same (1ngle, It's abo vvorth
noting that many of these rear suspensions allow
the user to ,1lter 1'hl' pinion angle once the end
housing is installed, This doesn't mC'iU1 YOLI don't
have to be careful about welding the brackds on,
you do. But often is d bit of adjustment left
if you decide your initial \vas uff slight-
ly, or )iOU feel the lwed to try a slightly diHerent
pinion angk'.
When you look at most chdssis in the top
view, the rear end has an uffsd to one
)-roke is not exactly cenkn:d bt?tvvl'en the
two backing plates. Seen from above, the Cl'nh.'r-
line of the pinion and the engine dft;' usually
offset sllghtly, though the two cvnteriines an'
p<ualh.'L Must builders leave this offset intact so
the finished, narrowed rear end housing \vill posi-
tion the driveshaft in the center of the driveshaft
tunneL Shane adds that, "Some people might want
the rear end 'centerl'd' for uppearance reasons."
Before welding on the suspension brackets, the
rear end should be mocked up in the chassis with
everything at ride height. The brackets should be
welded on to the housing: before any narrowing
work is finished. The idea is to have all the welding
that vvill cause warpage done before the housing
ends arc final-welded in place. The housing: ends
themselves should be \velded in place by an
enced shop that uses a fixture to keep the housing
straight and true.
No mattc'r how cdreful the shop is when they
weld on the ends, the housing may still becnme
warped and need to be sent out to a shop like Cur-
rie's to he straightened.
Rear End Choices
The overwheJn1.ing choice \IV hen it comes to
solid axle rear ends is the Ford 0-inch housing and
center sl'ction. There are ulternatives, and they in-
clude everything from the smaller, 8-in(h Fonf rear
end to tllt' venerable quick-Change.
The big 9-inch Ford rear ends are popular for a
number of reasons. First, the rear l'rH.1 is very
durable and will easily withstand the abuse dished
out by a typical hot fodder. Even nostalgia drag-
raCl'rs 'will find the Ford rear end more than able to
pass after pilSS down the strip. And because
of their popularity, a large varidy of aftermdrket
parts are aVdilabk' for the 9-inch, including com-
plete ultra heavy-duty third-members.
When deciding which to run you need to
consider rno["8 than just cost and gearing, Though the
R4 shown here rnakes a gr'eat overdrive transrnission,
the r'ight side ot the case otten intertel'es with the
frame's X-fTlember, The 200 4R, though not as heavy-
duty, IS an overdr'ive transmission that often fits more
easily in many stmet rod trarnes.
Despite its popularity \vith drag-racers, hot
fodders, and off rnadel's, the 9-1nch Ford rear end
is still available from most used parts emporiums
or at the Sunday sll\"ap meet. As the hobby Ina-
tures, mort:' and mOfE' parb become available as
complete units, rL'ad:y to install, and this is certain-
Iv trul' of <;)-inch rear t'nds. If \'OU elect to let vour
flngers do the vvalking; (omp,,1nies like Currie En-
terprises 'vvill provide you with a complete <;)-inch
assembly, including a new "smooth" center hous-
ing, narn)\ved to meet your specifications. You
can havc any bolt path.'rn you need to match up
with the front axle, and either disc or drum brakes
alrcadv installed.
Fo"r hands-on rodders who like to 'walk be-
hvcen the ro\vs of rusty cars stacked three high
looking for just thl' right parts, there is more than
one stv1l' of Ford I)-inch n.'ar end. First, understand
that the 9-inch was uSl,d in passenger cars from
1957 to 1973, in pickup trucks until 1984, and in
full-size \'dns all the vva\, to ]987. Factorv 9-inch
reJr ends come in widths, with different
diamdt'r axles and difft'rent numbers of splines on
the end.
One of the that makes the 9-inch a good
choice is the fact that the area just behind the <:lXli.:'
splines \"\'ith the rt..'duced diameter shorL This
makes it more likelv that after the axle is cut, the
axk-t'nd will b"e the full diameter so it can be
rt..'-splined. 'rhe factory axles come in hvo diame-
ters, with either 2H or 3] splines.
The larger-diameter axle c;)n be either 2S or 3]
splines, vvhile the smaller diameter is always a 28-
spline dxh,. Larger-diameter axles come \vith larg-
l'r-diaJ1wter whet'i bearings mounted in larger-di-
ameter axk hou::.ings. The hot ticket for hot rod
USl' is d long housing from a pickup truck or a sta-
tion vvagon (so the axles are longer) 'with the larg-
er-diameter housing. If can find a used one
vvith thl' positraction, that makes it that much
mort' desirable.
vVe suggest buy'ing a wide housing because
in most cases vou have to narrow the rear end
any'vvay, and longer axles it's more likely
that shortening the axle \vill remo\'c enough ma-
terial to gel past the small-diameter area behind
the splines.
'There are some Lincoln Vefsailles Jnd Cranada
rear ends that measure about 58 inches flange to
and may vvork in some fat-fendered street
rods. SOfTie of these hm'e the added advantage of
factorv disc brakes. Most, hovvever, vvill need to be
so you might just as 'vvell get one as
vvide as vou can.
Ford abo made an 8-inch rcar end. Though not
as bulletproof as d 9-inch, this is a perfectly suitable
rear end for the street rodder \vith d milder engine
under Hw hood OJ" a lighter foot. Though they typi-
call V cost less than a 9-inch and are a third-member
design, the 8-jnch Ford isn't i.l\'dilable in as many'
gear ratios and is becoming hard to find.
Also available from the blue-oval folks is an
8.8-inch rear end. These come standard in Mustang
GTs and may be available in the junkyards.
Ford SVO also sells the B.B new through their
catalog with gear sets as deep as 4.Hl; 1. In addi-
tion, SVO offers complete 4-inch housings with
the large-diameter bearing retainers narf(HY'
enough to fit the Mustang bodh:s, another pos-
sible source for 9-inch housings that don't need
narroyving.
At SO-CAL. they stal-t with raw 9-ll1cl1 Ford rear end
housings and put them in a jig before the brackets can
be Installed.
Other options in the rear end dl'partment in-
clude the 12-bolt eM housing, though thc'st:' an'
not third-member-type rear ends; this makes it
harder for the typicdl strect rodder to service the
rear end or change gear ratios.
The Chrvsler 8 3/-I--ln("h rCdr ends (lH' \'erv
durable and y\,ork \veU for the Mopar fanatic.
Readily available in the junkyard, these rear ends
are another third-menlber design. If you (an find
one from a Dodge Dart or Duster, it might even be
close enough for use \vithout narn)\ving. If you
can't find a ndlTOW enough rear end, though, you
,"viII likely' have to buy new axles, as the Mopar
axles tend to have a lengthy small-diameter area
behind the splines.
Some Mopars, like the Street H.emis from the
wild and craz\, '60s, ran the Dana 44 or Dana AO
rear end. Th(::5(' heavv-dutv real' ends are still
available in the aftermarket. though very durable,
both these re,l[ ends are ncm-third-rnl'mber de-
signs and are seldom secn on street rods.
The best reason to usc i:1 9-inch is similar to
the reasons often cite for running a smal1-
block Chc\'y engine: BecausE' the 9-indl is so
common, parts and service are ei.1sy to come by
and relativt'ly inexpensive. Somdimes it pay's,
literally, to run the same equipment as every-
one else.
1:l9
After the and shock brackets 8re installed, the
reElr end goes to Currie Enterprises tor installation of
the ends and any necessary straiohtening
The of the 9-inch I"'ear end means that complete
118i3Vvclul'! cBnter snctions are available br'i:md-nnw
\t\!IUlt About if Quick-Change?
vVlwri it comes tu rCdr l'l1cb, no I1dme h<ls quite
the th'::lt H"libt\lnd does. b:trlv hot rodders
borrowecl ideas and cornpol1ents f'rl;m race Cdrs of
the to enhal1Ct' both the pertorrnance <lnd
the nern.'l\t'u fJerrorrnancc uf their strt'd machines.
same timl'.
sprint Cdrs, d Halihrand rl.'ar t.'nd in-
tvlodel i\ or Dcuu;' made
that \VdS both hot dnd cool at thi..'
Richard LeJucrn1l't current owner of Halibrand,
t'xplains that Hll: ('arlil'st blueprint they C<in find for
a quick+chdnge rear end carries a ljatc of 1948,
thnugh the cOInpany \,vdS fonne(l one yl'M e,ulieL
"Aftt,'r the Will' -red t--ialil.)Llnd built products simply
to improve the performancl' of his own race cars" }"le
started vvith the rnag vvht:cls (md thcn the
quick-dldngl' rear end ltlteL Hot rodders ildopted
his parts, dS ,.,oon ib d supply beGH11t' available from
old race (,<1rs."
Ted Halibrand \vas a gredt designer, though he
tw\'ef could sec the aftermarket To hilT! these were
140
Billet steel axle-housing ends are available for narf'Owed
rear ends, in both a small- and a large-bearing model.
f,lCl'-car parts, period. ToddY, HaIibrand still makes
hvo versions uf the nriginal fear end, the Champ
and the V-8 rear end. Unlike in Ted's ddV, however,
_Halibrand now sells components both" to race car
and stred rod builders. And though it's hard to tdl
an old l-lalibrand from a nnv one, the v have
changed over the years. "We h,1\'e upgraded the
redr ends for bl'tter scaling," cxpl<\ins Richard, "and
we added positrilCtioll and so on. But somc of these
ca:->tings come from the same sand patterns first
used afh;'r the ,"val'. We're about to finish thl' third
generation of independent rear end assernbJies uti-
lizing the original center sL'dions. All of this allows
us to oHL'r more products that fit a wider range of
possible applicati{)J)s."
Though they might be the coolest rear ends on
the street most hot n )dders set' three reasons not to
in:-:.taH a J-'Ialibrand: pric(J, clearance, and noise. "Our
rl'iH ends do cost more than a complete C)-inch
Ford/' ddmib I\ichdfd, "but not -by as much as you
would think. Thc difference might only' be $400
\vhen you compare ours to a ('omplete assembly you
buy from one of the companit's advcrtising in Street
Whether or not a is extra work to install
depends on the chaSSIS. In the case of this Oeuce seen
III the SO-CAL shop, the frame n8eds the cormet rear
cross-member, and a notch in the gas tank.
What we think of as a "quick-change" rear' end actually comes in two ver'sions from HaJibrancJ: t!'le larger
end, and the V-8 assembly, shown here, The V-8 quick-change uses a ring gear 8.8 Incl'les in diameter', The
change gears mean you can have your choice of gear ratios all the way from 7,95: 1 to 1.80: 1, The rmw end
comes in 55- and 57-inch widths, flange to flange. It can also be cornbined with ear'ly-For'd axle housings to make (3
complete nostalgia package. Halibrand
Rodda. And the clearance issue depends on the car.
I have one in mv '32 Ford, which meant I had to
notch rear In mv '3Y Ford it wasn't
a problem, I used a Pete and Jake's cross-member
and there's no clearance problem at al1."
As for the noise isslle (a whine caused bv
straight-cut gears), Richard rcports that "We
helical-cut gears available for both rear ends, and
they eliminate 95 percent of the noise, There's still
a ,"vhine, but vou hear that in a nc\v '40 Ford rear
end as \'vell just because of the design."
In tl.'rrns of strength, the V-8 rear end uses an
S.8-inch ring gear that Richard reports is,
t--
o
2Inch

,
I 3.375Inch I
:.
Small-bearing housing
t
2.35
Inch
-'---
"comparable in strength to a C)-inch Ford ring gC'dL
But when }'OU start to sC'e 450 horsepower clnd
above, then Ws time to step up to the Champ f(',lr
end. Surprisingly:, the limiting fador in terms of
strength is the qUick-change gears, not thl' ring
and pinion."
The more substantial Champ ds:-,C'rnbl-y uses 11
ring gear nearly 10 inches in diaml'ter and is
available \'vith a Detroit Locker limited-slip dif-
ferenti(ll. Both redr ends come '\-",ilth TJ
axles in 55- and 57-inch \vidths and can b(' or-
dered with a \'ariet)---' of vVil\.vnod l'l'df disc brakl'
c<llipers and rotors.
o
Big-bearing housing
Taka tillS sketch
when you
to the swap meet
to make sure that
hpcwinn·· 9-
is us advertised
141
The installation of the ciutch linkage starts with the
installation of the engine, Lakewood bell housing, and
sixMspsed transmission.
Greg Petersen sets the engine down on factory mounts,
both in the front and the I'ear
142
T
hiS short 111ock-up sequence shows how J typ-
ical enginc i.<, set up and installed at the SO-
CAL shop. Also shown here is the assembly of the
mechanical clutch linkage. The frame is a typical
SO-CAL framt..' except that the main cross-mem-
ber is positioned 1 1/4 inches farther back to
make room for a six-speed transmission from
Richmond Gear. Bt..:causl' of this change, the lad-
der bars have been shortened 1 inch to match the
new position of the The other dif-
ference is in the bar that supports the master
cylinder. This frame is designed for J st'::ll1dard
transmissinn, so this one tube has a different an-
gle than it \'l/ould if the frame were meant for an
automatic transmission.
Creg Petersen starts thl" installation by first
mating the engine block, with the Lakewood bel1
housing attached, to the Richmond C;ear six-
speed transmbsion. Once the engine dnd trans-
mission are united ,1S a unit and \\'e11 balanced on
the engine hoist, Creg slides the assembly into
place. We should note that the engint-' has the fac-
torv-stvle mnunts aIrt-'adv attached, anti thev
mate up vvith the SO-CAL mounts, aIn'ad)7
to the frame in their standard location.
The pal'ts that make up the SO,CAL clutch linkage are
sourced fl'On1 the local GM dealer, the hot rod
afterTnarket, and the SO-CAL shop,
An electronic level gauge IS a handy too! and a way
to ensul'e the frame is Sitting at I'ide height--a
necessary first step in checking the angle of the engine.
Because the mounts are already in position,
Creg knmvs that the engine is sitting in the frame
<Jt an angle of about 2 degrees. The next project is
the assembly of the clutch linkage.
At the heart of this linkage is the cross-shaft, a
piece fabricated at the SO-CAL shDp, Greg starts
by bolting the inner pivot to the bungs already
welded to the bell housing, Next, he slides the
cross-shaft in place and then attaches the outer
pivot to the left frame raiL Though not shovvn
here, the cross-shaft vvill be equipped with a
grease zerk for periodic lubrication.
The double pedals are mounted on the extra-long pivot
shaft and held In place with a bolt that screws Into the
end on the shaft,
Here you can see the
inner mount bolted to
bungs welded to the
bell housing, and the
outer rnount bolted to
the frame rail,
The hvo pedals are both made up in the 50-
CA L shop from blanks, and slide on to the extra-
long pivot shaft already installed in the frame.
With the rods supplied as part of the SO-CAL
clutch linkage kit, Creg is able to attach the clutch
pedal to the cross-shaft, and then the Cfoss-shaft
to the clutch arm. The master cylinder pllshrod
attaches directly to the bottom of the brake pedal
and runs straight back to the dual-chamber mas-
ter cvlinder.
Both the clutch and the brake linkage are sim-
ple mechanical connections that should serve for
a long
l
long time without the need for mainte-
nance or repair.
Here's the fln'lshed linkage Installation-neat, simple,
and pretty rnuch foolproof
14:J
As mentioned in 2, part of the rrlOck-up session was spent trying to determine whem the engine would have
to be in order to sHow room fa!' 8 big, belt-driven fan.
L
ike most
Ihe dri;'wll'tllll
Ii hot rod, installation oj"
,trek/wi! Deuci' picf(up didn't
all at Of/CC. The St)flIlCI1Ce" ffwf ,till/OW I{h'r{' of-
Tocek.'), 'while j'\'(}/ll waited parts or
do anotlier of the /Juilding and .fiIlJri,"
cation process,
the Engine and Transmission
and transmission ,He instdlled
Unw 3S of the first mock-up. Tlw
casi..' is bolted to thl' Chevy
bl)Hltl\l,ck,2l water purnp dnd fan arc addl'd ,{t
tbe and the \.vholp affair b set in placC'. For
this first mock-up session, the engine b supported
at the front tvvo J/H bolts screwed in to the
front of the on square tubing run
across from one frame rail to another, The back
of the is held up by a snldll hydraulic
floor
144
s sinlple syistem 111akcs it easy to
the angle of the t'ngine by adding or
deleting spacers under the tubing at the front
of the t'ngine. The tront mounts are bolted to the
engine, though the tahs on the trame are not yet
weldt:d in place.
Though some builders preft-'f to usc' the facto-
ry mounts bl'CdUSL: they do a bl'ttl'r job of absorb-
ing vibration, Neal dnd John have chosen to use
the small triclnguiar mnunts with a ure-
th,1ne bushing.
You can buv rnounts likt' these from a varidv
of sources, but- NCdl chose to make the mOtlllt.<.;
sel'n herc. J'1e that the mounts are made
from readily available components: "ft's all stan-
dard four-bdr P<lftS. Most of it is four-bar tubing,
DOM mild steel; D.H75 inchL's in diameter and
OJ56-inch wall thickness. The sleeve is 1.:175 inches
in diameter, vvhich takes 1.1 standilrd four-bdr ure-
thane bushing. J cut the plate from quarter-inch,
cold-rolled mild steel. For a lot of hot rod builders
this is all stuff they've already got in stock." Neal
much these 1110unts to those Llsed by the
The motDr mounts are made In Neal's shop from r'eadlly available components: four-bar tubing and cold-rolled rnlld steel.
With an arr-dnll, a hnle saw, and a fixture like this from
JD Squamd; you can cut a nice neat notch on tubing,
factory "l1l'cause this is a much neater design, a lot
cleaner than a eM mount. And a lot stronger too."
As mentionl'd l'arlier, Neal and John set the
engine and transmission in place and then mocked
up the body to sec hovv cVt:rything fit. Based on
those calculations they decided to move the engirl.l'
back -1 inch farther in order to providt, room be-
hind the radiator for a big, belt-driven fan.
Neal a straight t'dge, placed across the en-
gine from front to rt_'<H, and a protractor to ch('ck
the angle of the engine (more
The next time the l'ngil1l' is Iovvered in pLlC('t
Nea! kno\-vs where the engine should bl.' set rela-
tive to the radidtor and thl' cowL At this time he
moves the l.'ngine to the corrl'd positiun and then
tack-\.ve1ds the engine-mount tabs h) the fram(\ At
the rcaT of thc transmission, Nt'ai uses a factory
transmission mount.
The three mounts locate the engine at an angle
of 2 degrees, \vith tht' fear of the engine 10vvor than
the front. The engine is centered in the frame
tween the two rails, high enough to provide 5 inch-
es of clearance between the bottom of the oil pan
and the ground, dnd tn put the fan in the center of
the radiator.
When it comes to determining the U-joint and
pinion angles, Nl'alllkes to work vvith a drive shaft
in place, "Wl.' moch'd lip a drive shaft from J-inch-
diaml.'ter tubing. It slides over the transrnission
tail-shaft then slides back to \,vhere the U-joint yoke
\vould bi..\ Then I measure the angle of the drive
145
transmit mar'e vibr'8tion, these mounts can't be beat for their nice clean design and very high strength.
tab is from Deuce Factory, designed to interface with the standard GM f ' e a l ~ engine mount
14G
Not everyone agrees on the best drivehne angles. Neal
installs this big-block at 2 degrees from hOrIZontal, with
the rear of the engine slightly lower' than the front
shaft and subtrdct "1 degree to determine my ide,ll
pinion angle. If the drive shaft is at I degree from
horizontal, for example, the pinion-shaft angle
would be at 0, With the three-link suspension, the
pinion angle never changes. The whole idea is to
load the U-joints slightly, so they "work" as th,'
shaft spins; otherwise the needle bearings don't ro-
tate in the cups and they wear out much faster."
Once Neal knows what he wants for a pinion
angle, it's a simple matter of positioning the fear
end at that angle (in the brackets Neal made for
just such a task) and then mocking up the thrl'e-bar
linkage. About vvelding the brackets on the hous-
ing, Neal feels it's "in1possible to avoid warping
the housing." Some minor warpage Gln be corrected
for when the ends are cut off and then re-inshlllQd
as part of the narrowing process. An:y serious
warpage, however, will require that the housing be
straightened by a shop with a huge hydraulic press
and the personnel vvho understand how to use the
press and a set of V -blocks to correct for the ('Heets
of too much heat.
With a mock-up drive shaft in place and the rear end housing sitting on stands, it's easy to ('otate the housing until
ther'e's a difference of about 1 degree between the drive shaft and the pinion.
147
Wheels and Tires
A
s stated and again in this book, the
\1,,11112('18 you choose for your I1t,'W hot rud
are as important as any other part. Pete
l.flaf"Vllr1<S states emphatically that wheels and
tires ul'nake the car," 'More than style is at stake
here. 'Your choice of wheels and t"ires will help
determine hrnv the car handles, turns, ,1nd stops.
Buying H'\e right wheels tn,cans YOll need to know
what will bolt ooto the hub, what will fit under
the and what vvHI dear the brake caliper
or drum on the backside.
Such an inT[JOrtant part of the au tomotivC'
nec(ls careful consideration before the
final choice is made" Before making a decision, it
might help to understand the various types of
wheels currently on the market.
Cast or Billet? One Piece or Two?
Most of the wheels that most of us covet are
made from aluminum. Why aluminum? Because
it's durable! light, L'asily C'ast, caslly machined,
and polishes readily. 1\10St aluminu111 whcds
are either cast or carved from billet. The differ-
ences aren't as obvious as they might seem, and
some wheels fall into a gray area bet\-vcen the
two types.
A fairly tradltlonal r'(ledster' needs tradltlonal cast wheels with tall tires, Uke Pete says, "The wheels make the car."
148
Some cars, and even trucks, like this Hemi-powered F1 QQ, need nothing more than steel wheels wide enough to mount
a decent set of tires, ,Just paint 'em to match the body and add center caps with beauty rings,
And sorne eady cars, like this unique SO-CAL creation, call for nothing fancier than a set of original "wir'8s,
149
Billet wheels corne in every
style, size, and shape
irnaginab!e. Designs run the
gamut from traditional to very
modern. Budnik
tho center section into a
before the cutting
starts, Budnik is able to rT18ke a
wheel like this III less tilTle and with
less waste. Budmk
The FalTlOsa is one of the more
traditional looking wheels curTenely
available in billet aluminum. Budmk
Shaped like an eal'ly cast wheel, the
Muf"OC is another two-piece billet
wheel available in a Wide variety of
sizes. Budnik
/\ true billet wheel uses a center :->ection ma-
chined from a solid piece (or "billet") of aluminum.
These \VheL'!s .1n' often described as being made from
"6061-16," The number (7061 describes the alloy of
alurninurn, \,,/hile the T6 describes the heat treatment.
Most billet wheels start as a blank of alu-
minum. :)0111e comp.:mies buy these blanks aln.'ildy
cut into circles of the correct diameter, so thev need
only to be machined and mated 'with the rim."' Other
wheel rnallufacturcrs buy the aluminum In large
shevts and do the "cookie cutting" themselves.
until recentlv, most billet wheel manufac-
tun,:rs tcln the blan"ks through a series of CNC
ISO
(Computer-Numeric Control) 111illing machines
where the designs, and holes for whed studs, were
milled and drilled into the j'aw piece of aluminum.
In an effort to reduce the huge piles of w,lSk' i:du-
minum generated every day, at least one billet
\vheel manufacturer currently forms the blank \vith
forging dies before the machining starts.
After machining, the centn section is mated
to an already forrned aluminum rim, J11dking this
iJ. t\-vo-piece \vhcel. The center sl'ctions are de-
signed to have a slight interference fit rclati\'c to
the rim. First the center sections an' pressed in
place and positioned for the correct back spacing.
Next comes a check for funout, and then the cen-
ter section and rim are juined with a bead vvelded
aU along the back side.
The beauty of the billet wheel lies in the infinite
number of designs that can be uSt,d on the center
section, combined with the high strength of the
6061 alloy_ As the CNC lathes and mills become
more ad"vanced, the designs get more and more
complt'x. Tapered and fluted designs thdt \vould
have required careful handvvork (if they could be
done at ;)10 d few years back can now be pro-
grammed into tht, computers that run the machines.
rhe result is some truly outstanding designs.
ellst W/ICds
A cast wheel is just that, cast. To oversimplify,
molten aluminum is poured into a mold and allo\ved
to cool. Once cool the wheel can be pulled out of the
mold, cleaned up, and sent to the polishing shop.
Cast wheels generally include the rim as part
of the casting, making this a one-piece wheel. Just
to ket'p things intl'resting, a cast section can
abo be combiI1l'd vvith an already-formed rim to
create a two-piece \..vheet much th(, way most billet
whel.'ls are And just because the \vheel
is cast with tlw concave facE' and the slots alre(Klv
in place doesn't mean the \'vhee1 doesn't get m;-
chined (they do) after the cdsting.
The nature of the casting process dictates that a
cast wheel is a less complex design. Generally, cast-
ing doesn't allow for the fine, intricate detail seen
on billet wheels. Those details can be added after
the casting process, but usually aren't.
Cast wheels have their own look, a "softer"
look with more gentle curves and fewer angles.
the best kno\vn of the cast wheels is the
Halibrand. Part of the nostalgia wave currently in
vogue includes a nevv-found fondness for cast
wheels, including the IMLllibrand and similar de-
signs. The softer shapes seen in a cast \vheel are
definitely part of a time gone by, a time when a lit-
tle extra metal was no bad thing.
In reality thl' casting process is a little more in-
vohTd. First there's the question of the alloy. Most
cast \vheels are made from 356 aluminum. Of
course not all 356 is created l'qual. An "A" prefix,
for example, designates d highcr quality dlloy, one
\vith less variance in tht' a!1iJY specifications.
The casting process is a bit of a black art. We've
all hl'ard the term, "sand cast/' but few of us under-
stand the intricacies of actuallv making the mold in
the sand, The questions that drisl' include which type
of sand to use and how to avoid porosity problems
in tht, finished vvheels. Porosity is l'nough of d prob-
lem that some cast V\,'heeJs are not rated as tubeless.
Because most of these wheels are cast in one
piece, making a vvheel with vari()Us back spacings
b more difficult than it is with a two-piece wheel.
Though we think of billet wheels as being two-piece
designs, these two-piece wheels use a cast center, This
type of wheel makes it nasier to pmvide a wide range of
backspaCing Simply by changing the position of the
center relative to the r'im,
Changes can smnetimes be made b)r machining off
more or less of the material on the inside of the
whel'l where it mates up against the brake drum or
rotor. That process can only be Llken so far! of
course; that significant changes in back
spacing require a different casting alttJgcthl'f,
vvhi('h requires more v\'ork and more inventory for
the manufacturer.
When it comE'S to building: your n('\v hot rod,
the importance of the wheels and tires {'arl't be
151
Phil Schmidt started his wheel company with little more
than a background in engineering and an interest in
vintage race c a l ~ s . The cDrTlbination 111USt work; today
PS Engineering manufactures both on8- and two-piece
cast wheels in a variety of designs and sizes.
Hallbrand calls thiS traditional wheel the Speedway
spindle mount, It's designed to leave room for disc
brakes on the back side. Hal/brand
At PS EnOlneering. the wheel lathe IS used to clean up the castings and ensure there IS essentially no runout
152
A mix of old and new, this Hahbrand Sweet Swirl puts a
tWist (literally) on the V'editional cast wheel. HaltlJrand
overstated. The \vheels arl' what YOU build the car
around, so whether thev're cast, "billet, steelies, or
\vires, give the dccision plent.y of thought.
Ttll' Lc.yicoll
To describe a \vheel, any \<\'hecL requires a few
technical terms like bolt circle and olr"ct, A defini-
tion of each term follovvs. ..
• The bolt circle is the diameter of the bolt circlc,
preceded by.' the number of lugs. For example,
4x4-5 means the rim has four bolt holes and that
the diameter of the bolt circle is 4 1/2 inches,
You can figurc the bolt circle diameter on a \vheel
vvith five studs with a simple formula. You
nnlv lWl'd to knc)\v the distance bet\veen tvvo
adjzlCent studs (the centerline distance) and
then multiply thdt figure by" a constant
(1.7013).
• fhe huh diall/eter is the diameter of the hole in the
center of the vvheeL
• The rill! widlh is the distance across the rim, mea-
sured on the inside of the rim flange.
• The [elIce! back spacins is the distance bt'hve('n
the wheel's mounting surfaCi:' and the rirn's
inside flange.
• The {{"heel front spacing is the distance from the
whee! mounting surface to the rim's outer
fbnge.
• The is where this confusing. Offset is
Two vel-Y similar tires, likely to have very different
effects wt'len driven in the rain. Note how the siping 011
the left-hand tire is designed to help the w8ter exit from
under the tire, while the tirE) on the right is likely to trap
that same water.
a measurt' of how far offset the centcr of the
rim is from the wheel mounting surfal'c. A
chrome rt __ '\'crse rirn is one \vith th(' offset to
the outside. Modern front-\vheel-dri\'t' cars of-
ten exhibit offset to the insidc. T'rving to de-
cide if offset to the outside of thc"e"'lr should
be referred to as positive or negative depends
on \vho vou ask, so we vvon't use the terrns at
all here.'
• The ('{!hccl load capacity refers to the arnount of
weight the \vheel can safely withstand.
\Vhen buying a set of wheels you also need to con-
sider tht.., type of lug nut required by.' i1 particu-
lar rim. Also keep in mind that disc brake
calipers sometimes hit the back side of (crtdin
rims and that the big-finned Buick brake
drums like\\'ise need extra clearance on the
backside of the rim.
Tires
Like \vheels, describing a tire requires the use
of certain technical terms.
The aspect ralio (or how "tall" a tire is) can be
describcd as the section height divided by the
section width. Thl' smaller the number the
"\vider" the tire, relative to irs hcight. A
205j.50R15 is a 1S-inch tire \.vith an aspect ratio of
50. This tire is 50 percent as high as it is wide. A
15::l
205/75R15 is a IS-inch tire \vith an aspect ratio of
75; this tire is 75 percent as high as it is wide. In the
IlFGoodrich line, their All-Terrain P205/75R15 is
27.-') ind1f's in total diameter and 6 inches wide,
while in their Comp T / A line, the 205/50ZR15 is
23.1 inches in total diameter and 6.2 inches ·wide.
The sidewall of nearly any tire is n1<trked with
a confusing orray of n-llmb"ers and letters em-
bossed into the rubber. Among all those numbers
and codes is the speed rating, a letter code that
indicates the highest sustwined speed the tire is
designed [() \-vithstand.
Code Top Speed
N R7 mph
P 93 mph
Q 99 mph
R 1011111ph
S 113 mph
T liS mph
II 130 mph
V 149 mph
Z Speeds in PX(t?SS of 149 mph
The speed r;]ting can be integrated into the tire
sin'. P205/60SRlS, for example, (<tn be interpreted
as follows: the P indicatl's passenger c<tr ust', the S
is the speed rating (up to 113 mph), and the R sim-
ply indicates that the tire is a radial.
When buying tin's, you have to keep a f('\v more
things in mind, like the relationship betvveen rim
\vidth and tin' If you try to put too \'vidc j) tire
nn a particular rim, the tire's tread ·will never flatten
out when it's on the «lL Tire m,111ufadurers provide
charts that provide the recnmn1L'nded rim width for
a certain tire. You (an only vary so far from rec-
ommended rim widths. <1ften -a good tire salesper-
son (an provide some real-world advice as to how
much rim vou need for 0 certain tire. Remernber, too,
that the uftin1ate \vidth of an installed and inflated
tire is affected bv the rim width. The wider the rim
the wider the tin? profile (you can only go so far \vith
this of course). If you're in doubt about the right
combination of rim and tire, ask to see the published
recommendations for your new tires.
E.ach manufadur"cr makes available a chart of
specifications. Listed is the diameter and the width
of the tread. Also listed is the "section width" and
how that width changes as the rim width changes.
There is also a situation known as the "plus fit-
Inents." !\ plus 1 fitment is a \>\,-'ay of going from a
14- to a 15-inch tire with the same ()\'erall diameter.
A P205/70SR14 is the same diameter as a
P2l5/60R15 in one particular brand of tire. The dif-
ference is in the sidewall dimension. The] 5-inch
ti re has a much shorter sidewall, which has a major
impact both on how the tire looks and on how the
car rides and handles.
],,4
Tlte Effect of Tire Size
Most hot rods fun some pretty big tires on the
rear. Highboys in parhcuJdf run tires that are not
only wide, but tall as vvell. When vou've chosen the
tired you w<tnt from the perspectj{,e of looks and fi-
nal rake, relnember to consider the effect of the tire
diameter on tht.' car's final gC;:lring< Coing from a
"standard dutomoti\'e tire" to nne of the tall tires
often used on highboys and similar hot rods can
make a deep 4:ui to 1-re<'lr end seem like someone
.... Rim Width
Wheel Offset
I ... CCfHcr of Wheel
Front Spacing
• Back Spacing
The whee! mounting surface seldom ends up in exactly
the middle of the rim; thus. most wheels have some
offset one way or the other. Remember that there
needs to be enough room on the inside of the rim to
clear the brake drum or caliper. When planning a car,
the chassis manufacturer can offer guidance in picking
an ideal wheel. If the car IS already bUilt, a good wheel
manufacturer can tell you how to measure to get the
right amount of offset.
slipped in an o\'erdrin: unit /\ll
of this will "Iso bp "fleeted bv the
type of car you're
much highway cruising (or drag
racing) you intend to do, and the
choice of a tr'lnsmission. Be sure
to check out the tin.' diameter/
RPM ch,ut seen in this chapter be-
fore making the final decision on
}'our I\.'ar end ratio, transmission,
and rear tire siZl'.
c
) (
Nothing says "hot rod" in
quite the same \vay' as a set of real-
Iv wide rear tires. The only down-
side to that drag-rdcc IOt)k is the
fact that fat tires tend to hy-
droplanl' more ('asHy than a tire
\yith a narrower footprint. It's
a matter of physics; the
vl/ider the tin.' the fiuther the \\'ater
needs to traveJ to get out from
lIndt"r that footprint. Slicks are
illegal on the street for good rt'a-
the body, frame, and chassis members all move as you drive, thum must
be at least 1 inch of clearance beDJVeen the frame, or fender lips, and your tires
son, they're \'ery dangerous in \vet conditions. If
you want to race, buy the slicks and put them on a
separate set of rims. BFCoodrich makes a Comp
T/ A Drag Radial that combines a sticky com-
pound \,\'ith minimal siping to keep tlll' tires street
legal. VVhi!e they may be legal for driving to dnd
from the strip, .you probably don't want to run
these full timC'.
As HalTev at the Paul vVilliams Tire Center in
Minneapolis slates, "When you're looking at vvide
tires, you need one that moves the ,"vater J\,vay
from the center of the hre. Something with big
channels in the center so the \vater c,m't build up
under the tire." At Paul vVilliams they point out
that you need large enough sipes at tht, \'ery edge
of the tire so the \vater can actuallv exit from under
the tread. The better tires are designed to channel
or punlp vvater from under the tire through the
various channels and sip("'s and thus minimize any
build-up of watl'r under the tire.
Some tires that <He rated All VVeather or e\'cn
Mud Jnd Sno\rv, don't do an especially.' good job as a
rain tire. Before bUydng tires, spend tinw reading the
manufacturer's charts and recommendations dnu
talking with knovvlcdgeablt' people at the tire store.
If tire;.; that are too big pose (l potential prob-
lem, the other cxtrerne can be just as bad. The big-
'n-little look might be great, as long as the little
part of the equation isn't taken too far. Among the
data printed for each tire is a recommended load
limit. The point is that those little tires in front
might look really cool, but they do most of the
stopping on a hard brake application and they do
all the turning, Don't compromise the safety or
handling of the car just to be cool.
A \'aricty/ of schemes and formu);Js have been
contrived over the years, all intended to help you
determine the right rim with the right offset for
that ne\v or existing car. As Pete Ch.apouris ex-
plains, however, the best way to be really' sure you
get the right tire and wheel combination for the car
is to mock up the car at ride height and stick \vh.at
you think are tht' right tires and rims under the
fenders, assuming then.' arc dny' fendl'{s. instc<ld of
using i.l (alculator, Pete would rather ha\'(; you use
a tape measure. During the mock-up, be sun: to
move the suspension up-and-dm.vn, and turn the
front \vhl'l'ls from lock to lock
When measuring there dre a few things to keep
in mind. First on the rear end VOl! neL,d at least 1
inch of clearance betw(:'cn the side of the tire and
the frame rail or fender lip. This minimum clenr-
ance must be con:;idered during the' building
process because car bodies move from side to side
as the car moves up-and-do\vn on the suspension.
Panhard rods tend to jack the frame slightly from
side to side as the suspension moves up-;uld-dm,vn.
Rubber bushings often have enough gl\'C that the
axle housing \villmove over just a little bit.
It is often better to buy an axle vvHh the right
dimension, or to have the rear end nnrro\\,(:,(j to fit,
instead of centering the tire under the fendn with
an unusual offset. That wav \,ou cnn usc rt .. 'lntivelv
standard rims without a }()t 'of extra offsl:t. In tht;
case of J somewhat standard hot rod, don't be
afraid to ask around. If the fnlme is from SO-CAL
or Tel, call ilnd ask them for a recommendation on
axle width, rim offset, and tire Si7(" befofl' pulling
yOUI' hair out trying: to decide hc)\\:, big ,1 tire to nm
and how much offset the rim should have.
1 fiG
)
A
lan Budnik, namesake the huse Dlldl/ik Wheels
operation, started flis coreer as i1 m(l(liinisL 011
the nrachinist to
Ll)orked 'with .some siglli/fumt charl7Ctcrs in
rod industry, including lack Chiscnhall, OICl1cr
Air; and Boyd Coddil1g/on. Doing thi;.;
interuieLu UNl::; made especially fii/FicHU because
AlflN had to (holdc his time between IIII' '{u/u'l'!
tion find the construction of a neLP /lui/ding ill Hunt-
CalijlJrnia.
Q. Alan, let's start (Pith some hockground, How did
,1/011 started nwnufllrturillg wheels, what'.:; your
background?
A, j started out as {l m;)chinist, working (It a lo-
cal machine shop. First it vv'as manual machines,
and then I learned hov.' to do the programming on
the CNC machines. I worked with Jack Chisenhall,
CHvner of Vintage Air, on sorne of his projects,
About that time I met some p,'opie like Jamie Mus-
selman, who owned some Boyd Coddington cars,
and .r ended up \vorking with Boyd at the very be-
ginning of his \vhed operation. I helped him buy
his first CNC machine. After two years I split off
from Boyd and had my l)\'Vll shop. ! was doing job-
shop stuff, aircraft and hot rod parts. Then I decldt,d
to do wheels because J still hod ideas for \-vheel de-
signs that I never used at Boyds. At that time the
were all three-piece !'vheels, and f had an
idea to do some hvn-piect' wheels. And my dad
and older brother were into hot rodding and I
wanted to be able to make a product that they
could appreciate.
Q. What arc the ad'vantages or 11117kin,Q,' a wheel from
hillet aluminum instead olfrom a Cf7sting?
A. The material itself is stronger; the 6061 alu-
minum is very strong and it can be polished to a
very bright finish. Cast wheels generally are
heav especially the onp-piece cast \·",heels.
vVith bHlet "ve can credte new designs faster. We
have shorter R&D cycles. And billet wheels are
perfectly balanced because of the precise way
they are rnade.
HiD
Q. You make all !follr cClltcrsfrmll bOb] aluminl/lIl?
A. People think \'\'e machine the centers from
aluminum plate! but actually the centers are incii-
vidually forged from a blank before 'vve do any ma-
chining. VVl' forgi:' the ct'ntt'rs \,vith dies so thev
h '-1 \'{' l';'ost of necessary shapt', then \ve
treat them to a T6 specification! dnd then 'vve do the
finish l1lJchining. By forging the material we makl'
it much stronger, but it also requires less machin-
ing because tht) forgings alreildy have much of the
necessary shape.
Q. Arc alJ hiIll't wheels two-picce i'olleds?
A. Yes! pretty rnuch all ,He two-piece vvheels.
The rim assembly is spun-,formed frOJ11 aluminum
sheet and butt-fusion \velded into a completl) rim.
We buy those complcte and then press in our ma-
chined center section. After checking the runout,
\ve Wt;,ld the center section to the rim assembly.
Q, Arc ;:'0111(' hillct (dlee!s bett('r than others! alld
how does fhe CO}lSUl1ler tl'll the different!'?
A. The differences arc in th(l quality of the de-
sign, how w(;'11 the manufacturer controls the
runout and balann\ But ITlost of that is hard for the
consumt..'l' to determine. You H'al1)r han.' to go pret-
ty much on the reputation of the company.
Q, H07P ::holild pmplc Il'II'il511fC so they Xet tilt riS:hf
si:zc {chcel 7Pith t!ie right off<;;ct?
A. We tell people to call us, or visit our \Veb
site, in order to get the instructions as to hovv to
measure the car. If you call us we ask qUl'stions!
not just about the car or its track! but things like,
do vou want to use disc brakes, because thpn you
room behind the rim for the caliper.
Q. arc the mistake:, pcople make ill VUyillg
ltillct wheels?
A. They buy from a company that doesn't
make a qualjty product! which means they ha\'l'
runout Jnd balance prnbh.'11ls that the company
might not stand behind. Or they buy wheels that
dnn't pnwidl' enough room for the cJliper.
ARP
531 Circle
Oxnard, CA 93()30
800-B26-3045
High-pCfj(nmnnce /wni7uarcfor racing !lnd street usc
Art Morrison Enterprises
5301 8th St. E.
Fife, W A 98424
80()-929-T188
Fax: 2.53-922-8847
\v\vw.artmorrison.com
Chassis and SlISjh'J1SiOllS for drag racing and street usc
Aeroquip
1695 Indiall \Nood Circle
Maumee, Of! 43537-0700
419-891-SHlO
\v'v\,\v.Jcroquip.com
f figh'pc(fi)rlflIlJlCC plulIfl!il1X alld /ittillgs
Budnik Wheels
7412 Prince Dr.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
714-848-19%
I/\/\N\v.budnik.com
Billd l/,'liccls mill accessories
Chassis Engineering
119N.2nd
West Branch, lA 52358
31 ')-64,·2645
w\\'\v.c hass iSt'n gin cering-. com
CJul':;sis und slIspensiun component-; for street usc
Currie Enterprises
1480B N. Tustin An'.
Anaheim, CA 928()7
714-528-6957
{<cay clld hOIf'.'>iJlgs, {crlc:;, componellts, ilnd scrpicc;;
Appendix
Deuce Factory
424 W. Rowland
Santa Ana, CA 92707
714-546-53%
wVv'W .deuccfactorv .com
Chassis,
and other components for 1932 Fords
Earl's Performance Products
825 E. Scpu h'cda
Carson, CA 90745
213-830-1620
PClj()rmance plumbillg, lillt's, alld fittings
Engineered Components, Inc,
P.O. Box 841
Vernon, CT ONJ66
860-872-7046
\VWI,V .ecihotrodbr akes.com
Hot rod brake componel1ts and kif:.;
JD Squared Inc,
1601 S.W. 18th Ave.
Oca1il, FL 34474
352-351-3H2H
Letourneau, Neal
308 Lion La nc
Shorevic\v, MN 55120
651-483-6958
f-{ot rod fabrical iUi I
Ford Motorsport SVO
Ford Motorsport Performance Fquipnwnt
44050 N. Crocsbeck Highway
Clinton Township, M148036
Tech line: 810-408-1356
Performance equipment/i)r Ford engines awl zY'hicil's
Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, Inc
5420 Newport Dr. #49
RoIling Meadows, 11 60008
800-841-8188
Hot rod slIspensioll kits and components
157
Kugel Komponents
451 Park Industrial Dr.
La Habra, C A 90631
.562-091·7006
Hot rod suspellsion kits and cornponcl1{,<';
Mopar Perfornlance
248-853-7290
800-348-46%
Pert()fm17.IlCC equilmlclltlf)f Mopar CI1SillCS and vehicles
Pete and .Jake's
4tH Legend Lane
Peculiar, MO 64078
soo-3'14-nto
W\V\V kt.'s.com
Hot rod chassis, suspensions, and other compo/rents
Phoenix Transmission Products
922 Fort Worth l-lWY.
Weatherford, TX 76(186
SI7-S99-7680
Pcrf(1rJlll1!1CC automatic transmissions and components
Posies
219 Duke St.
Hummelstown, PA 17ln6
717-566-3340
suspension kits,
a11d other hot rod comp(lnents
PS Engineering
2675 Skypark Dr. #102
Torrance, CA 90505
310-534-4477
Traditional cast alloy Lulleds
Pure Choice Motorsports
2155 W. Acoma Illvd.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 8M03
520-50.5-8355 .
Pn:t{1rmanCc plumbing, lincs, fittings, and kits
1,,8
Richmond Gear Company
1208 Old Norris Road
Liherty, SC 2%07
864-R43-923I
Mal'luallnmsmissiolls al1d rrar end gmr:;
Roy Brizio Street Rods
263 Wattis Way S.
SJn FrJncisco,"CA 94089
6.5(l-952-7637
Hot rod ella::;::;.!s, compol1{'nts, and fahricatior1
Sharp Enterprises
WO'i ColE' St.
Laclede, MO 64651
660-963-2330
Chrome alld stainfes::; sleel ja::;tencrs and llardLPare
SO-CAL Speed Shop
1357 Grand AvE'.
PomonJ, CA 917h()
909-4n9-6171
WW\V .so-ca lspccdshop.com
Hot rod chassis, component::;, and filhricatiol1
Total Cost Involved
1416W. BrooksS!.
Ontario, CA 91762
909-984-1773
Hot rod chassis, suspension, and comr)(JI1Cl1tc:
Wilwood
4700 Calle Bolero
Camarillo, CA 9301 2
805-388-1188
\VW\v.\,,'ilwood.com
PCI}{lrIuanec disc hake kits and components
Adams, Mike, 54
Air springs, 90
Ai r-bag suspension, 27, 54-56,
74
American Stanlping C01llpany,
25,21l,32
Assembling a SO-CAL Speed
Shop Chassis, 16-21
Aurand, Eric,l]
Baldwin, Keith, 8
Barris Kustom, 7
Batchelor, Dean, 7
Bauder, Bob, 9
Blair's Speed Shop, 7
Bolts, lOS-llll
allen bolts, 113,114
chrome plating, 113
grade-2,112
grade-5, ]]2
grade-8, 112
how they are made, III
Loctite, 114, 115
materials, III
socket-headed cap screws
(SHCS), 113
stainless bolts, 114
thread specifications, 111,
112
types of stress, 110
what kc('ps it tight, 114,
]15
Boxing plates, 40, 41, 43
Brakes, <)8-lO6
buying,9iHOO
caliper overhaul, 101
choosing, 104-106
c0l11bination valv0, 97
drum, lOO, 101
fluid,9il
front, 98
how they work, 96, 97
installing, 107
pedal, mounting, 102, 103
rear, SIR, 99
residual pressure valves, 97,
98
road test, 100, 101
service, 100-102
using rotors, 95
Budnick, Alan, 156
Bump steer, 56, 57
Bump steer, preventing, 50-52
Camber, 49
Cap screw, lO8, 109
Carrol, Paul, 96
Carter, Barrv, 26
Caster, 48-50
Central cross-member, 45
Chapouris, Pete, 7-9
Chassis Builder's Checklist, 13
Chassis Engineering, 16, 24, 54,
75
Clutch linkage, installation,
134,135,142,143
Coil springs, 71-75, 86, 87, 90
Coil springs, buying, 87,90
Computer design, 12
Corvette suspension, 53, 54
Cost, estimating, 13
Cross-steer linkage, 56-59
De Heras, Chuck, 9
Designing a car, It 12
Deuce Frame Conlpany, 25, 26,
32
Disassemblv,15
Disc brakes; ')5-97
Drag link steering, 51
Drag-link linkage, 57
Dropped axles, 47-52
different widths, 49
Drum brakes, 95-97
EashvoocL Pete, B
EasvRider kit, 47
Emergency brake, 98-100
Engine choices, 128-131
Ford,130
GM,130
installation, 142-147
Mopar, l30
mounts, 133, 134
placement, 131, 133
Fat Man Filbrications, 23, 54, 75
Index
Fenical, Ken ("Fosies"), 89
Fleet, Fred,13,14
Foose, Chip, 11
Four-bar linkage, 48, 49
Four-bar suspension, talkl,
71, 72
Four-bar suspL'nsionr triangu-
lated, 72, 73
Frames, 23-45
boxing, 24, 26, 27
build your own, 32-
45
m(lterials, "hrmn
25,37
inspection, 24
materials, mild steel, 37
measuring, 24
new, 27, 29
originat 23, 24
rails, stanlpeu \'5. fabricated,!
25,26
Front cross-lnembcf,
50
44,4<),
Front Suspensionsuspensioi'l,
installing, 66-69
Front suspension, potential
problems, 54
Gibbons, Billv F, ')
Gunn, Shern{, 8
Hairpin radius rods, 47, 48
Heidt's Superide kit, 38,
66-69
Hoag, Mike, R
Horowitz, Howie, 8
Hoses, 116-1l9
brake hoses, 1 19
flexible g"s lilles,1 j S
installing, 120-1
water hoses, 117, 118
I-Beam axles, 46-52
Independent front sllspc'nsion,
52-56
Independent fear suspension;
75
Jacobs, Jim "Jake", 8
Kingpin kits, 46
159
Kingpins, 'worn or loose, 5'}
KugelIFS, installing, 60-65
Kugel Komponents Phase II in-
dependent front suspension,
::;3
Kugel Komponents, 20, 21, 28,
29
Kugel, Jeff, 20
Kugel, Jerry, 83, 84
Ladder bars, 70, 72-74
Leaf springs, 71, 86, 87
Leaf springs, buying, 87
Little Dearborn, 36
M & 5 Wt'lding, 8
Master cylinder, n1ounting,
102, 11)3
MaxC chassis, 30
Metal Fab, 25
Mever, Bruce, i..)
Mike Adams Rod Shop, 28
Moa 1, Stevp, 24
Mock-Up car, :1O, 31, 38, 39, 58
Model A frame, 27
Morrison, Art, 75
Mustang II suspension, 52, 53
Nuts, 109, 115
Panhard rod, 49-51, 55, 5772
P e t l ~ & jake's Hot Rod Parts, 8,
24,27
Pete Chapouris Croup (peg), 9
Planning, '12, 1.3
Pro IStreet frame, 29
ProFile frames, 30
Push rod independent front
. suspension, 50
Rack-and-pinion gear, 57-59
Rear axle, installation at
SO-CAL,82
Rear axle, solid, 70-75
Rear cross··n1cluber, 71, 72
Rear end, choices, 138-141
160
12-bolt CM housing, 139
Chrysler 8 :1 14-inch, 139
Da;a 44,139
Dana 60, 139
Ford RB-inch, 139
Ford R-inch, 139
Ford 9-inch, 138, 139
Halibrand Champ, 140,
141
Halibrand V-8, 140, 141
mounting, Bil
Rear suspension, build ing,
7681
Rendering, 10, 11
Rod Bods, 21
SEMA (Specialty Equipment
Markd Association) Show, 8
Shock absorbers, l)()-92
buying, 92
mounting tips, 92
Simpson, Don, 15,9
Sleeper, Jim 92, 93
SO-CAL '32 Ford frame, 22
SO-CAL "finned Buick brakes",
96
SO-CAL Deuce frame, 16-21
SO-CAL Frame, fabrication of,
40-45
SO-CAL Speed Shop Racing
Team, 7
SO-CAL Step-Boxed frame,
40-45
Southern California Tin1ing
Association (SCTA), (,
Spencer, Doane, 9
Spindles, 51, 52
Split wishbones, 47, 4R
Springs, buying, R7-90
Springs, different types, 86
Standard transmission, choices,
135,136
Steel, grades of, 37, 3R
Steering arn15, 49
Steering gears, SR, 59
Steering linkage, 56-"54
Street Rod Equipment Associa-
tion (SREA), <)
Street Rod Marketing Alliance
(SRMA), <)
Surface table, 27
Suspension kits, 4fl
Svntassien, 9
T:1nks, Inc, 21l
bylor, Thom, II
TC'!, 2:1, 29
Till' CIlIi{imlin Kid, 8
Thompson, Mickey, H
Three-bar suspension, 73, 76
Tin1e, estiluating, 13
Tires, lS.'l-1.55
dfect of tire size, 154, 155
speed rating, 154
wide, 154, 155
1()('-in, 59
Transrnission cooler, 136
Transluisslon, installation,
144-147
Transmissions, 134-13R
Ford, 136, J:l7
GM,137
Mopar,138
Tubular axles, 48
Tubular hydraulic shocks, 91,
92
U-joints, 59
Weckerlv, Shane, 104-106
Wheele(s, the, 6
Wheels, 148-153
billet, 14R--151
cast, 151-153
one-piece, 151
two-piece, 1.50, 151
Wolf, Robert, 11
Wnrm-gc·ar, 57, 58
Xydias, Alex, 1l-9

SO-CAL Speed Shop's
How To Build Hot Rod Chassis

Timothy Remus

MOTORBOOKS

First published in 2001 by Motorbooks, an imprint of M131 Publishing Company, CaWer Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55JOI-3885 USA
«)

On the front cover, main: The SO-CAL Speed Shop '32 Ford roadster uses today's techniques with the best of yesterday'S esthetics to produce a hot rod for the twenty-first century. Ua(Jid Fetherston Inset: The SO-CAL roadster's simple but effective chassis USE'S traditional hot rod suspension designs to provide safe, reliable, and comfortable operation. Eric Geisert, courtesy (~fStreet Rodder Magazine On the /Jack cover: The SO-CAL Speed Shop offers complete hot rod chassis, like this one for a '32 Ford. It features "step boxed" rails, a tubular K-member, an l-beam axle with hairpin radius rods, and ladder bar rear suspension. SO-CAL
Edited by Steve Hendrickson Designed by Jim Snyder
Printed in the United States of America

Timothy Remus, 2(]()]

All rights resPfved. With the exception of quoting brief passnges for the purposes of revie\v, no part of this publication may be reproduced without prior vvritten permission from the Publisher,
The information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knovvledge. All recommendations are made \vithuut any guarantee on the part of the author or Publisher, who also disclaim any liability incurred in connection \vith the use of this data Of specific details. This publication has not been prepared, approved, or licensed by SO-CAL Speed Shop. We recognize, further, that some words, lTIodcl names, and designations rnentioned herein are the property of the trademark holder. We use them for identification purposes only. This is not an official publication.

MBl Publishing Company titles are also available at discounts in bulk quantity for industrial or salespromotional use. For details ·write to Special Sales Manager at MBI Publishing Company, Galtier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885 USA

ISBN-13: 97S-0-76113-0836-3 ISBN -10: 0-7603-IlS36-S

.... ...46 Rear Suspension .............5 Preface ....... ...........................159 . ......................... ....................................................................................Contents Acknowledgments ........................................... .............................................22 Front Suspension ........4 Introduction .148 Appendix ................................... ................................................................................... ............................. ....... ................6 Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Know What You Want .......................70 Shocks and Springs ...................94 Hardware ...............S5 Brakes ........................................................... ....................1 OS Drivetrain .. ........... .................... .......................................... .........128 Wheels and TIres ............... 10 The Frame .....157 Index ........

the young man who impressed Pete Chapouris by assembling his frame in record tilne so he could drive the caT to a local event. and (most important) provides moral support and pep talks when I don't think there's any way the book will ever get finished. For help with the wheels chapter I need to express my gratitude to Phil at PS Engineering and Alan at Budnik. who with John Keena's permission. and of cours(. the motor mounts from Chassis Engineering.tcr how good you are you still need an upholstery guy. Inc). arranging photo shoots and intervie\\'s and providing a variety of good ideas. Neal Letourneau is the professional. encouraged me to stop by and photograph every step of their chasSis-building process. Tonv Thacker. while Jerry and sons allowed me to do a sequence that ShO\V5 hovv' a lypical Kugel front suspension svstem is inst(ll1cd. Nearby shops like that of Todd Walton and jerry Kugel took up where the SO-CAL crew left off. In this situation [ have to start by thanking Pe\(. and help with the paint. In closing I have to thank my lovely and talented wife. including foreman Shane Weckerly and front end expert Jim Sleeper. acted as master of ~ccremonies while Twas there. The is non-professional is Chris Shelton. 4 . she helps with proofreading. Pete's media mJn. and all the rest. Writing a book kind of like building a caL No niat. rhe other t\VO chassis builders who need mentiun here include an amateur and a pro. the axle from Super Bell. Everyone \vithin the SO-CAL organization held out the vvelcome mat. the frame from TCI (Total Cost Involved).Acknowledgments I t'S like [ ahV3VS say: You c:m't do it alone. Mary tolerates my lengthy absences in California. Todd took the time to shovv me hm'" a set of ralls is converted into a complete SO-CAL frarne. And finally I need to express a collective thanks to everyone in the industry-all the staff and ad agency personnel who helped by sending images and information on the rails from Deuce Factory. Mary Lanz. the brakes from ECI (Engineered Components.' tht're's a!vvays the vviring to worry about. Chapouris for opening the SO-CAL shop to nIl' and mv camera.

Instead of being overwhelmed because I decided to build a whole cabio. Building a car is no different. For me. Except that both are large undertakings best approached with the right mixture of planniog. then the foundation. Third. 5 . What do cabins and cars have in common? Nothing. by yoursel( in a reasonable period of time and for a reasonable amount of mont'v. and finally the task of puttiog up the walls. At the very end is the sources section. Sidebars and intervic\vs allovv you to share in the vdsdom of men like PetE' Chapouris and Ken Fenical. to convince you that you can build this caf. or at least confusing.Introduction B ig projects get pretty overwhelming. to educate you as to what's available in terms of complete frames and components. Before you're finished you need an understanding of hardvVl1re and plUlnbing. knowledge. Better to start on the foundation of the car (called a chassis in this case) and focus on that. then the construction or purchase of the bare frame. First comes planning. an ind Llstry listing of l'veryone mentioned in the book. I worked on the site first. Next the purchase and installation of the front and rear suspension. and some understanding of vvhere the engine and transmission should mount. For a look at how they build a SO-CAL chdssis or a Kugel Komponen-ts sllspt'l1sion. Almost a year after hauliog the first load of stuff out ioto the country. I've provided step-by-step sequences from d variety of shops. these projects become manageable only when they're broken down into a series of smaller subprojects. I've tried to provide the information you need to build a hot rod chassis. The book is broken do\vn into nine ~'haptcrs that parallel the chassis-build ing process. If you dwell on the cost and complexity of your dream car. I had the basic structure fioished. When it came to the cabio. Even the job of building a chassis can seem intimidating. it will never be built. to help you understand the procedures needed for assembly of those components. and money. with all the suspension and brake options currently available. St:'cond. The rest is up to you. enthusiasm. The goal of this book is three-fold: First. I focus only on the materials needed to build the basic structure.

!\IUH. using borrowed money. in 1942. it's a true story of fripo. serving as a B-17 engineer. his life. the story of the 50CAL Speed Shop is not one . and the need for speed. lhs first hot rod was a '29 Ford roadster with a milled head and a chopped flywheeL fIe pilid for the car \vith part-time earnings and drove it to Fairfax High School.nade up by some clever Inal'keting types.cis]t1j hot rods. changed when he joined the Army Air Corps. in Los ltorma. California. Alex Xydias opened hiS first SOCAL shop in 1846 right after his discharge from the war One year later he moved on to shop numbel'two. a friend took me to a street race out in the San Fernando VaHey. like that of so many young men. "All we talked about during the waf was cars. In 1940. and I got the idea to open a speed shop. Mel'cury powered. According to Alex. . 1922. powered by a V-8 '60 Ford flathead. on Olive Avenue in Burbank. which was followed bv a beautifully customized '34 cabriolet. it ran 210 mrles per' houl' in 185Dr < Among the fast cars to come out of Alex's shop was this lakester. he naturally gravitated to\vard automobHes. in Burbank.Preface: A Short History of the SO-CAL Speed Shop by Tony Thacker U alike mmw such tales. Alex opened the first SO-CAL Speed Shop." On the day of his discharge. California. 1946. a Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) club located in Norwalk. I was really surprised at how fast the cars ran. seen here. with the birth of Alex Xydias. March 3. originally f~und in the -lower basement garage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. beg. The stl'eamliner' is the work of Alex and Dean Batchelor."S on March 22. Then. After Alex worked in a gas station and a '34 three-\vindovv coupe. when on furlough.JU'inl h1s f<1ther was a prominent producer of silent Atex"s childhood \vas fairly norm at and like most young boys. Alex joined the Wheelers. and once.

this too was an influentiJJ time for a young man.180.Pete Chapa uris and the car that put Pete and Jake's on the map: the California Kid. The hot rods that bore the SO-CAL Speed Shop logo [all in pretty fast company. Like most enthusiasts. Powered by an Edelbrock-equipped Mercury V-S. 170. in 7 . and Barris Kustom was paid 510 to reverse the wheels. I moved the shop to 1104 South Victory Boulevard in Burbank where I put up a Sears. the 'liner ran 210 miles per hour in 1950. but the hard work paid off." says Alex. Roebuck and Co. When my one-year lease was up. A $20IJ Chevv V-S was mated to a Packard transmission Jt Blair's Speed Shop. the speed equipment business had undergone many changes. go straight west to Panner Bovs. In 1952. does it get any better than this" Tony Thacker Pete Chapouris started "cruisin' the boulevards" \vith his friends around 1955. A good cigar to smoke and a gr'eat hot r'od to drive. Pete's first hot rod was J ivlodd A coupe atop Deuce roils. For example. a V-8 60-powered belly-tank lakester clocked 136 miles per hour in 1948 and appeared on the cover of the january 1949 issue of a fledgling liot Rod magazine. Born of a hot rod ding father. another California Kid was bitten with the hot rod bug. Alex embarked upon another endeavor: documenting auto racing events. vvhecling and dealing his way up market until he could affLird a brand-new '61 T-Bird. including Pikes Peak. This early success was quickly ratlfied when Alex teamed up with legendary auto enthusiast and author Dean Batchelor to develop a purpose-built streamliner. The flathead Porci. "Sometimes I made less than S100 a month. While fast cars continued to run under the 50CAL banner. "It was hard work/' says Alex. in the adjoining San Gabriel Valley town of EI Monte. Mechanix lIlastrated magazine voted the SO-CAL gang the number one racing team. As had been the case during Alex's childhood. For Alex. and the 24 Hours of Sebring. before spending hours printing and editing the film. then out on Colorado to Bob's in Glendale befor~ turning around and going east to Henry's in Arcadia. and 190 miles per hour. Indy. Thev'd start at the EI Monte In-N-Out restaurant on V~·tlley. Pete \vent through a string of cars. Tony Thacker "I really struggled to keep it going. prefab two-car garage. The following year Alex and some racing buddies formed the SO-CAL Speed Shop Racing Team and built the first hot rods to go 160. "I'd spend hours behind the wheel getting to an event vvhich f'd then have to film. He filmed everything from Bonneville to NASCAR." Meanwhile.

Pete wanted to work for M&S and consequently took welding classes at night until they gave him a part-time job. While there he also served as director of the annual Petersen Trade Sho\-v. At the time. After leaving Petersen. Pete Chapouris was working as a product development technician at Clayton Industries. including one that may be the first " Doane Spencer's roadster. producer of the hugely successful Batman series. California. Although Alex's filmmaking ·was doing well. Then came the call from Hollywood. specifically Howie Horowitz. Tony Thacker which the 5C)'·CAL Speed Shup specialized. organizing the SCORE off-road equipment trade show." The final strZl\V came when Alex's right-hand man at the shop. The California Kid put Pete and Jake's Hot Rod Parts on the map and the pair ran a thriving business. Alex closed the doors in 1961. In 1971 he left Clayton and went to work at Blair's. was no longer the hot rodder's favorite. the Limefire car helped garner attention for Pete shortly aftel' the sale of Pete and Jake's in 19B7. ht' cl(cl~pted a position as editor of Petersen Publishing's Cllr C'rr~rt magazine in 1963. transferring to Ho{ Rod Industry i\}CIUS \-vhere he later became publisher. The two rodders hit it oif and decided to start a small hot rod repair business in Temple City. and small firms like Alex's were under incr('. left. Tony Thacker The Pete ChapCluris GI'OUp built many fine hot rods. Because of their innovative style and seat-ofthe-pants marketing savvy. Pete began work on a chopped '34 coupe that would have an impact on not only his life but also the hot rod world. He stayed with Pdersen for 12 '1/2 years. A member of the Vintage Tin Hot Rod Club.Built With help karl) Pete Eastwood and Jim "Jake" Jacobs. Keith Baldwin.sllml'u"" significant cars. but some of their most significant work involved restoration of h. the coupe was photographed for the cover of the November 1973 issue of Rod C. Finished in traditional black with flames.' Custom along with a similarly chopped canary yellow coupe built by Jim "Jake" Jacobs. Pete and Jake took the hot rod business out of the backyard and into the . who left Blair's Speed Shop to form M&S Welding with Sherm Gunn. Alex went to work with partner Mickey Thompson. During his tenure there he met Mike Hoag. 'which eventually became the 5EMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show~thc third largest trade show in the United States. He wanted Pete's car for a made-for-TV movie called The California Kid starring a young actor named Martin Sheen. building dragsters. a dynamometer manufacturer.)sing: pressure from the "big bOj"s.

and raising the engine. Built bv Doane with Pete Chapouris to resurrl'ct the famed SOin 194H to compete in the infamous Carrera CAL Speed Shop. brakes. Pete has never been a stuffed shirt or desk-bound kind of guy. Pete and Jake's was eventuall y sold in ] 987. [. For .exper"lence. Heras. more industry contacts than anyone alive. Syntassien was a long word but a short-lived company. also for Bruce. garnering gallons of magazine look that enthusiasts the \vorld 0\'('[ continue to emink for the cars it built. a council of SEMA. It also \-\-'on the perpetual Dt'an Xydias' SO-CAL belly tanker. Alex was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. were selected as t\l\-'O of the Top HJO Most InfluenGibbons (including a 1936 Ford three-window tial People in the high-performance industr)-: anct coupe and "Kopperhed. On NOH'mber 21. but not' before Pete and his friend Alex Killer 1934 Chevy COUPE'.mainstream. The friendship with Billy resulted in numerous projects. though. Gibbons of ZZ Top. this car has an impeccable pedigree. \vinning was the restoration. and a Shaf'E')d vision for' a der Pete's direction and with the new SO-CAL that combines the best of both old and oew. ." a 1950 Ford coupe). were induch:d into the Hot l\. However. and Pete went to work as vice president of marketing at SEMA. Pete was also inducted Full Circie. in ] 990. the job was a natural and Pete became a driving force in the transformation of SREA into the Street Rod Marketing Alliance (SRMA).1997. and an as such. Alex and Pete in one of the new SO-CAL roadsters. 16-inch wheels. Together' Alex and Pete have over 80 years of hot rocl A ven ue. Pete had a bigger vision and in 1995 he opened the Pete Chapouris Group (PC'g) at 1357 East Grand A perfect merger. The win at PebbJe Beach \voldd be a fitting end Cover-quality cars were produced by peg with prodigious speed. It's also a look that won the hearts of the Pebble Beach judgt\s. he formed an alliance with Bob Bauder called Syntassien. Having been instrumental in the formation of the Street Rod Equipment Association (SREA). and gas tank to increase ground cJcarann':'1 Doane unvvittingly spawned the classic "highboy'!! mier hot rod shops.1 of work was the restoration of the Doane Spencer while Alex had been working b(:'hind the scenes 1932 Ford roadster for Bruce Mever. By installing Lincoln drum name to 50-CAL Speed Shop to begin another chapter in this on-going hot rod history. the list included Don Simpson's to a chapter. and PC'g changt-'d its Panamericana Mexican road race. the yea r Alex retired. that dream became a reality. One of the first cars that PClg was involved in ulate more than 50 years Idter. for Bruce Meyee of the Pierson the inaugural Pebble Beach l-Jistoric Concours d'EIeBrothers' 1934 Ford coupe. Tony Thacker into the SRMA Hall of Fame. Pomona.C'g quickly evolved into one of the world's preexhausts. the crowning glory in PClg's body Our story· doesn't end there. and when it came time to move on from SEMA. Batchelor Memorial Award for Exccllt'ncc. in 1982. Steve Coonan help of his team of craftsmen. California. Among other exciting projects. Meanwhile. Un. which led to an enduring association and the eventual restoration of Alex gance }--:lot Rod class. several cars for Billy F.od magazine extended-cab 1929 Model A pickup for Chuck de Hall of Fame in 1997. the pair completed a pair of high-profile Harley-Davidsons known as "HogZZillas" for Billy F.

Ordering bolting the \vheels onto the fran1c to make a roller. the planning comes before anything else.see" the same vehicle. and how much it will cost in dollars and hours to go from a sketch on the wall to the finished car.ore exciting. lowering the engine into place. or just look fast? The nostalgia trend is in full swing.ding wheels and which engine is ultimately rnore im'portant than buying or instalUng the parts themselves. At SO. P lanl1in g for the new hot rod is the most important step in the whole project. you need to know what this new car is going to look like. Do you want it to be really fast. all those be Ui. but the task of deci. Thorn Tay/or 10 . You need to know not only the budget. anyone trying to build a car that looks like it came from another era needs to lock in that era and get all the details just right. how it's going to be used.CAL and at most proiessional shops. As Pete Chapouris states in the interview that follows. and also gives the customer' something to hang on to until the r'ea! thing arrives. The hot rod world of today encompasses a rf SO-CAL likes to have a rendering of any car they bUild. betore starting on the prolect. The rendering ensures that the customer and the shop '. but how you intend to usc this new vehicle.Inow What You Want Though it sounds too simple. "The first thing \ve do is come up with a concept for the car.

the tire sizes front and back . start by clipping magazine photos of your favorite cars. The bad news is that it can be hard to pick exactly what you want from such a ~'ast menu. you need to pay attention to sketches are nothing more than doodles on a napthe' relationships between the parts of the car. take the image over to the copy machine to think first and cut second. and First. start out with a stock side \'lew of the car. you've made a a magazine." sketch th~jr projects before starting. In the case of your plan for the new hot rod. When YOll chop the This can be a photograph or an image clipped from top. the mass of the body is terribly important. They used th(. How kin. these are all critical dimensions. Designed for Robert Wolf. You don't have to build a done of ~vhat you see at a show.. that's the caL" Then the sketch is used to make a full rendering. and make some big blmvups and a VI/hole series of 11 .wide variety of car types and styles. To formalize the process and make it H better much you chop a top has a major impact on the prediction of what the new car will really look like. partly for some not-50-obvious reasons. you can do anything. or vour own interpretatio~n of what a modern hot rod should look like. tion to things like the body proportions of the cars detailed renderings become an essential guide to the you study. car's looks.'with some photos from magazines to provide a starting point for the rake angle and ride height of their truck. Now. "that's it. a billet rod. the builder. the more important the render'ing becomes. or build a photo-file of cars with the look you're after.The more unusual the hot rod. this radically I'estyled '46 During the early part of this process. The builders of the stretched Deuce pickup seen farther along in this book took some frame-to-ground clearance measurements from cars thev found at the various car shows. but if something has the "look" vou're trving to achieve. This is that it be a straight sicil' view without any distoryour car. it makes sense to define ~nd use the essential parts of that look. the artist will do a whole series of similar concept sketches or Chip Foose is hired to until the customer identifies one particular sketch as "the one. Note whether the top is chopped.se figures along." work through a series of sketches until the customer savs. With a car like thiS. As one experienced builder exDesign Like a rro plained to me. complete with paint color and graphics. Working signer like Thorn Taylor from the customer's wish list. Just be sure tion.you like. a de. The important thing in either case is big change in this essential relationship. or section or channel a body. you can borrow some ideas used by pi'ofessional The relationship between the height of the top and designers and car builders.. a nostalgia rod. Some of those In other words. "'what's important is the proporPlcntv of hot rodders and custom car builders tions of the carl not just the dimensions. pay attenBUick is the work of Eric Aurand. Eric Aurand rake. The good news is that you can build a back-to-basics rod. helps define the look of the car. Many professional shops use a rendering or formal drawing to cement the concept for the caL If customers do not have an exact idea of what they want.

When you've got the look you want. or can't learn to do. make some enlargements of the finished product and hang them on the refrigerator. is stretched 3 inches from the stock dimension. for example. Then check and see how they look in a week. You can LIse the same methods for lowering the car. Will you buy a complete crate engine.:ut the posts and lower the lid. the kids for Christmas. If pressed we could rebuild the space shuttle before the next launch. make SOITIC (opies of the resulting file. a SG1l11Wr and PC can make the whole process easier. S[){. seen under construction further along in the book. cut off the top and raise or lower it to your heart's cnntcnt Study the effect of a little more or less cutting. Figuring out the true cost means being brutally honest about how much of the car you can build yourself. Next C(lmes the fun part With scissors and tape. This image will be the visual blueprint for the project. Whether the one you build is bone-stock or modified in some way. Obviously you need to know how much the car will cost as well. The methods don't really matter. Who knows? This could turn into a family project. Part of the budgeting process involves breaking the assembly of the car down into various subunits. including their chassis and a steel Brookville body. It will help keep you excited about the car when energy or money rill1 low and it becomes hard to stay involved. copies. you won't be tempted to begin modifying the plan for the car. if this new car is going to get finished before the end of the next millennium. The image taped to the refrigerator or tool box will also help to keep you focused. or rebuild the one 12 . Only a small percentage of us are qualified to do finish paint work. you may have to be more honest about both your mechanical abilities and your available free time. and even fewer would attempt to do any upholstery work. We all have to farm out some of the work. This might be your opportunity to finally learn hovv to use the PC you bought Concrete Planning Steps You need to know more than just what the car will look like. Scan the originaJ into the computer. then use a software package like Adobe Photoshop to lower the lid or change the rake angle. You can ('ven use colored n1arkers to try different paint colors or graphics packages. you need to have a detailed drawing of the chassis before the project begins. However.To eliminate the guesswork and save money too) SO-CAL offers this complete kit. We all like to think we're the world's best mechanics-that there isn't anything we canlt do. or the in1pact of channeling the car down over the frame. What does matter is the end product.fferent rake angles.AL This chassis. For the more con1puter literate among us. you want an image of the finished car-one big enough that you can stand back and appreciate the proportions and overall look of the car. This method will also help you predict how much you need to add to the middle of the ro()f dS you \. Just like the big shops. When a new set of wheels or a new fad shows up in the magazines. trying di.

and fit the pistons. In fact. but somewhere along the line they turned into nightmares. bore the block. polishing. project. assemble the car. The planning should include time estimates as well. For example. Because the finish bod)/\-\'ork and palnt arc such a blg part of the project. upholstery. you can't make the chassis a "roller" until that rear end is finished and painted. you don't want any sUf'prises when it's done. and how long will it take the chassis shop to narrow the Ford 9-inch rear end? Trv to schedule the various labor operations so things dovetail. some home builders finish c\'('rything but the body. and drive it in The finished product of the rendering seen in this chapter. On a personal level I'm a big believer in "do it yourself." whether it's a plumbing project in the house or installing ball joints in the daily driver. and in order to do that you need to keep a certain momentum. you will need a budget for outside machine work. The idea is to finish the car. Something needs to get done every month. ltow long will it take you to assemble and paint the frame. And if the machine shop is going to grind the crank. Another series of forms lists outside labor for things like sandblasting. though. and all the necessary labor operations. If you underestimate either the time or money needed for the Fred Fleet's roadster is another very successfol cal' boilt by the SOCAL shop-·wlth help from detailed renderings done beiDl'e any parts were ordered.sitting in the back of the garage? If you intend to rebuild the engine. it's easy to get dis~lppointed \\ihen things take longer than needed or cost more !-han expected. For a little help deciding exactly which engine best suits the new ride. and how many of the operations will have to be performed by outside shops. the Chassis Builder's Checklist is available on their Web site. In the same way you can make a list of all the parts and their cost. Now break" out the labor jobs you can't or won't do yourself and get cost estimates. Consider'lng what it costs to build a nice hot rod. hmv many hours of 1abor are involved. and even the final detailing. and the slow progress of turning a sketch on the \va11 into a finished vehicle is more likely to stay on track. glass cutting and installation. In the real world. Those projects started off as sorneone's dream. Cost overruns can also play havoc with the family budget and destroy family support for the new hot rod. more total work gets done during a given period. The classifieds are always filled with project cars and street rods that didn't get finished. At SO-CAL they use elaborate planning forms that list every part on the car along with the price. Thacker 1:1 . That's why planning IS so important. Before the project starts they know exactly how much it's going to cost. maybe it makes sense to let them do the finish assembly of the entire engine. chrome. in terms of both time and money. Tooy Thackel' It's Gotta Be Real The planning and estimating needs to be as realistic as possible. take a look at chapter 8. paint. preferably every week. By farming out some of the jobs you could do yourself. most of us run out of time.

instead of one vear from now. Simply Illake sure vou have a source of funds so that a monetary shortfall or a hiccup in your personal finances doesn't put the project on the back burner. it \vill be worth a fair amount of mDney. Just paint it primer black (or gray) and drive it proudly to the local or national event. then the axles one month later. vour own attentions are drawn elsewhere. the neat routing of the exhaust and the gas lines. The other advantage of this program 1S the fact that YOU aHow the bank account to re«wer \. there's an Achilles' heel here as well. [t also gives you a rhanc(' to "debug" the car easily~disassemb}jng an unpainted car for repairs or adjustments is easier zmd less stressful. Remember. Too often home builders try to pay as they play. The project stops moving forward. \Vhy not borrow money for the project and thus remove nne more potential speed bump on the construction highway? Tel1 the banker it's a finished C<'IT. or bor[(Hv the money against the house. and before long the "new hot rod" is just that pile of parts over in the corner of the ga rage~the one you haven't put a vvrench to in six months or 1110re. you can have the money already set aside in the savings account. The biggest advantage to this method is the fdet that you can go out and have some fun with the car now. the chassis is the foundation for the car. You don't have to tell them it's unfinished. The trouble comes when vour need for something expensive coincides with a low point in the family cash flow.vhile drivfng the car in primec VVhen it comes time to pull the body off for that high-quality paint job. This strategy does stretch out the tinlc needed to truly finish the car. but it puts it on the road that much sooner. Just look at the prices for nice street rods at a national event or in the back of StrcctSccnc. Speaking of Money The topic of money brings up a short discussion of how you pay for this car.Note the detail on the Fred Fleet chassis: the two-tone paint job. Back-to-basic hot rods always have ~ certain allure and seem to get more popular as time goes on. or take a loan at the credit union. Just vvrite a check for the frame. Then the purchase of the engine or tranny or wheels gets put on hold until funds are available. Tony Thacker primer for one year. When you finish the car or buy a partly finished car and complete it. and 14 the vvheels one month after that While the longterm nature of most of these projects makes this type of financing possible. .

the labels will help you sell or give those original parts to someone who needs them. How much the hut rod will be driven has a majo!" impact on the parts and finishes used on the chassis. Sometimes the simplest cars [or trucks) have the rnost appeal.Things You Need In addition to the rendering you need to know the dimensions for the car and the chassis. Even if you don't intend to use all the old hardware. or where the door handles arc. these may be the basis for the clipand-paste session mentioned earlier. A small investment in extra time spent during the disassembly I. and how much clearance there was between the frame and the concrete slab the car is parked on for the measuring session. Steve Coonan 15 . axle centerlines. It's easy to just rip everything apa rt and then congratulate yourself for the speedy disassembly. The trouble comes later when you're trying to figure out which bolts hold the hinges to the body. If nothing else. Though this is covered more in chapter 2. Pete Chapouris feels strongly that anyone who is starting from a complete car should take the time to measure everything before blowing it apart. finishing someone else's project. Disassembly Though many new hot rods are built entirely from new parts. Even if you plan major changes.vlIl pay big dividends ·when it comes time to screw it aU back together again. Remembel' that ondemeath those great lines and that nice body is a chassis that holds it all together' and gives the cm' its stance. Keep the camera handy and take plenty of photos both before and during the disassembly. This "ranch truck" 1929 Model A roadster pickup from SG-CAL uses steel wheels. Tony Thacker Don Simpson's Killer Coupe is another of those cars that reqoire careful planning and detailed rendel'ings. both close up and far away. or rebuilding an old stockeL In either case the disassembly must come first and it should be done with caution. or whatever happened to the trim pieces after they came back from the chrome-plating shop. gather it into logical groupings and place each group in a large zip-lock bag with a label inside. and a subtle rake to create a package that's easy on the eyes. and body-mounting holes are. stl'alght yellow paint. Get out your camera and take some pictures. many of us are working from an existing caf. it's good to know how far the stock bumper was from the ground. you need a vvorking drawing of the chassis so you know where the firewall. They will prove a great aid when you try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. If nothing else.

The Starting Point Chris started with a standard 50CAL Deuce frame. Still in school. and documents any troubles Chris had during the assembly.s an In the this chapter. without the spring. Though most of these frames use the SO-CAL springs on both ends. primarily because it's a The assembly-this is actually the second time Chris has assembled this chassis-starts with a SO-CAL chassis and various suspension components. This sequence is meant to show how a typical SO-CAL frame together" and does not exactly match Chris' description of the assembly. Chris bought the rear end housing from SO-CAL alr'eady narrowed and with the ladder' bal' brackets attached. The frame forms the foundation for a project owned by Chris Shelton. just the rear end and the ladder bars hanging there. The spring is a 1940-Ford-style from Posies. though this one has a provision for a clutch instead of the more common automatic transmission (the difference in the two frames is covered in more detail in chapter 8). so it looks as traditional as possible. longer than the spring. "It's hard to compress the spring to install it. 12-inch C-clamp to straighten out the spring against the tubing and make it long enough to instalL I did this job alone but would never do it again without some help. the can be bolted up to the cross-member. and a great big. Next I raised the whole thing up into position under the frame and bolted the spring to the center clamp assembly on the cross-member. we've elected show A firstSO-CAL Shop sequencetofor goesa typical chassis and it IIOW together. Chris reports that the assembly of the rear suspension and 1940 Ford spring did involve a fair amount of work. Then I compressed the spring and put it on the rear end with the shackles. Chris is working with a limited budget and assembling the car in the small single-stall garage behind his apartHIent cornplex. This spring came with reversed eves and hidden sliders. In the rear. I used 1 l/2-inch box tubing. 10 . Once the spring is attached to the housing. "I hung the rear end in the frame first. This little section describes the way Chris outfitted his frame and stayed within a budget. Chris used a 1940-Ford-style spring supplied by Posies and designed speCifically for this frame and suspension. Chris chose springs from Posies." At the front of the car Chris used a 47-inch dropped axle from Chassis Engineering.

before bolting on the rest of the leafs. designed to reduce internal friction in the Posies front spring. Chris attaches the main leaf. Here Chris shows us the hidden sliders. a 47-inch forged axle With Magnum spindles and 'drum' brakes from S(}{. before being bolted up under the frame.With the radius rods already in place.AL. 17 . The complete assembly.

With the hubs and rotors installed I shimmed the calipers at the point where they mount. and go on last. I used the mafirst attaching the radius rods to the Pivots on the frame. Next 1 bolted the rest of the leaves in with the main leaf. After inserting the bearings. Finally. "Then I put the batwings and perches on. like the headlight stands.stronger. just to make sure the spring wouldn't bind. Without the dustcaps on the kingpins. and then 1 set it at 8 1/2 degrees. Then I slid the whole assembly under the frame and installed the bolts that go through the frame mounts and the hairpin rods. calipers over the rotors. Then I attached the main leaf without the rest of the stack. or the caster is way off). the Pete and Jake's shocks. to center the bolts to a pad that's part of the rear cross-member. With the frame on Jack stands it's relatively easy to roll I first measured the caster with the front end In underneath. To assemble the front end Chris started with a bare axle. spreader bar. with the supplied washers. forged steel design. and pulled it up into the mount and loosely clamped it all togetheL" Chris does intend to use a Panhard rod on his Deuce. Like the rear spring. the long side on the bottom. and a Vintique stainless The drums are really JUst covers for the SOCAL disc brakes. "For the brakes I used the 50CAL-supplied hardware and instructions. chined 'flats' atop the axle where the kingpins affix the spindles to the axle. and then start the mocked up at approximate ride height without the axle the spindles attached to the axle. I installed the rotating assemblies on the spindles with the washers and castle nuts. I measured using the flat portion at the very top of the kingpin flange that holds the felt seal in place. Next I installed the hairpins on the batwings (they only go on one way. Later I double checked everything with the spindles and wheels installed and the car at static ride height For the final measurement. and installed all the hardware. I inSome cars use 8 spacer between the frame pad and the spring to stalled the pads and inserted the fittings to adapt the SO-CAL hoses to raise back of the cal' 18 . I slipped the backing plates over the spindles and installed the caliper flange brackets and polished stainless Pete and Jake's steering arms. "Then I set the frame at the approximate ride height and checked the caster with my protractor. "I adjusted the axle's caster from 6 to 10 degrees. the front spring is from Posies while the spindles are 1937 to 1941 Ford style from Magnum. I then assembled the hubs and rotors and secured them with safety wire.

For clamps I used airc~aft-stylc stainless steel line clamps with stainless steel hex-head screws and washers. GF 62C Chris If) . then drilled and tapped.' At this point] left everything finger tight. keep the lines neat and secuf"81y in place. I drilled and tapped holes into the boxing plates. but I feel the advantage of the inverted Hare's superior seal Small stainless clamps. and the SO-CAL-installed bracket where the hard line meets the flexible brake line that runs to the rear axle. the NPT threads in the Wilwood calipers. Chris used standard 3/16-inch double-flared steel lines. The nice thing about using these lines is the fact that they are readily available in a wide variety of lengths from nearly any automotive parts store. Chris had heavier strap welded in place. As Chris explains. I then bolted the backing plates to the caliper flanges and installed the finned brake 'drums. the local parts stores carry inverted flare lines and fittings.For brake plumbing. which isn't possible to do with stainless [stainless lines require 37-degree single Hares and AN fittings]. "] used the steel lines because they're not nearly as expensive as the stainless lines. No. outweighs the added labor of the additional flar(''''~ not to mention if 1 damage a line sornevvhere. held in place with Allen-head machine screws. I also used the regular lines because I prefer an OEM-style inverted Hare. Here you see the proportioning valve mounted to the frame. For brackets I used the SO-CAL fittings which wefe alreadv attached to the frame. I suppose it's just a matter of preference. Where things like proportioning valves are to be bolted to the fr'ame." For plumbing. Chris chose not to use stainless brake lines. This same method was used to mount the gas filter to the right frame rail. To fasten the clamps to the chassis. since] had to partially disassemble everything to bleed the brakes later on." The fuel filter is a standard AC brand filter available at any auto parts store. Instead he installed standard 3/16inch steel brake lines from the local Pep Boys outlet.

while the flexible lines arc the style you can n1ake up yourself. this one uses a Vega-style steering box mounted so the steering shaft comes right the left-Side motor mount. Tanks also supplies the unit with a vented stainless cap. rnc. and is a relatively new item. "The raw hose can be cut \-vith a finetoothed hacksa'w and assembll'd at home \vith common wrenches. Chris added these final details: "I had to weld a bracket on the rear axle to hold a brake line T. [t has the stock reveal and shape stamped directly in the top just like an original 1932 tank. The hard lines are 3/8-inch steel fuel lines.. Jeff Kugel at Kugel f like most SO-CAL frames. [t attaches to the three stock tank-mounting holes atop the rear frame horns. welded 1/ 4-inch strap to the rear of the frame rail. Bleeding the brakes necessitates unbolting the front calipers and rotating them back on the rotors so the bleeders face straight up. and a remote-mount aluminun1 vent. drops right in place between the rails and bolts to holes alr'eady punched in the tops of the rarls.In The Shop continued The fuel tank from Tanks.." The fuel tank is from Tanks. a cut-to-fit pickup tube. The tank also has provisions for a universal-type sending unit. 20 . Inc. This tank has a fabricated bottom that allows for more volurne but doesn't hang: down any farther than a stock one. "For flexible fuel lines' I used Aeroquip Teflon-lined stainless braided line/' explains Chris. then drilled and lapped that for mounting the fuel filter.

disc. 1"0 quote Pete Chapouris. which they modified specifically for the chassis and clutch linkage (see chapter 8 for more on the SO-CAL clutch linkage). which really helped. and paint." The finished frmne. shaft \vith some Borgeson {. 21 . He also supplied me vvith some nylon bushings originally meant to fit a Jag-style fcar radius arm." The installed front suspension looks very traditional. "We're all very impressed b). right down to the black SO-CAL fleXible front brake hoses. As I started buying parts from SO-CAL. and the publication of the book. They had to be cut dmvn for my application though. Chris assembled the roadster and drove it to a few local events." Chris explains that the rest of the project will include a bodY from Rod Bods "and a Richmond manual tTans~ission from SO-CAL with a longsliding-rail shifter. so I could use them for steering shaft bearings in the steering column. The steering column \vil1 connect to a Vega-style steering gear.Komponents made up (] steerjng. pressure platt\ and throw-out bearing are from McLeod.3-joints specifically for m:y application. ready to be disassembled again so all the pieces can go out for plating. Epilogue Between the time these photos of Chris' projt'ct were taken. they helped out by locating parts at prices better than most mail-order companies. polish. rll be funnjng a 1-'101ley-headed and inducted 350. right now it's the 327 in the garage. but if everything goes as planned. As for the engine. SO-CAL also supplied the Lakewood bell housing. The 22-pound flyvvhecl. since I'm going to run a 1 1 /2-inch steering column.f Chris' eagerness and firsttime ability.

Not onlv docs the frame tie the whole car together. but the cost of a chassis strong enough to handle that power. Something like the boxed Deuce frame offered by SO-CAL. and comes with coil-overs or buggy rear spring. vVhich (q more the chrome valve covers or the roner-rocker assemblies underneath them? 'Ihe polished intake manifold or the high-lift cam? The painted finish on the outside of the block or the microfinish on the reground crankshaft journals? In this chapter we want to be sure each builder gives serious consideration to the biggest component (or series of components) on the car that can't be seen. with buggy springs on both ends and a dropped axle with hairpin radius rods. from the axle to the leaf still a recessed area along the inside of the frame rail to neatly run springs. it's far better to determine that in the very beginning than it is to assemble the car and then have to modify the suspension later to get it down in the weeds. with the rnost obvious parts of the car often getthe most attention. handling. If you want the car super low. and cost A pro/street coupe with a 502-cid crate motor will have a very different frame from one thaI's built as a flathead-powered nostalgia G1L As discussed in chapter 1. ride. The trame can be set up for highboy or tuil-fendered cars cross-members.:llf'l.jl enOr'mOllS amounts of time and energy bltJddng out aU the body panels <1nd then paying m(mc'v to have a talented painter apply a paint job complete with clearctJats and polisillirlg? there (lrc times when the best money should be on things you can't see. to the frame rails and b.'eke and fuel lines. Who can fault a builder for SP'('I1.The Frame H ot rodders tend to spmd <1 large percentage of their lTWlley on things they can sec. most of your frame decisions should be~ determined during the planning part of the project A nostalgia car needs a nostalgia frame. we mean the one thing that ties the whole thing together: the frame. or the modified 700 R4 transmission. When you drop the hammer and send 400 foot-pounds of torgue to two sticky 12-inch-wide tires. Horsepower always has its cost Not just the cost of the highoutput big-block. By that. it puts a hell of a load on the entire chasTillS '32 Ford kame from SO-CAL offel's the benefits of a boxed frame while sis. it affects the car's style. SO-CAL 22 . height.

SO-CAL " A mechanical drawing like this one for a '32 Ford provides all the basic dimenSions for the frame. running or not. Unless your project is really unusual. and the track width of the front and rear tires. Essentially. Use That Old Frame For rodders who bought a complete car. after the car' is raked 2 or 3 degrees-all without putting a bind in the front spring. Street rod vendor's and many aftermarket frame manufacturers can often supply a similar drawing for most popular cats. each with one or more variations. Cost is always a consideration. For anyone Your Options Are . By prOViding for extra positive caster the cross-member allows cars to run 6 to 9 degrees of net caster. With these dimensions in hand. build your own frame from rai1s. the location of important bodymounting holes. you will probably want to have a drawing or blueprint of a stock frame as well-one that shows the axle centerlines. you're faced with three basic options.Jl frame may be attractive. The front cross-member from SO-CAL is designed to both lower the cal' 1 inch and provide plenty of positive castel'. or buy a complete aftermarket frame... the distance between the frame and the ground at both the front and rear. In your mind you may figure that old frame needs only a little cleaning and repair bt> fore being recycled back into service. you can do a sketch of the new frame. you can work with the original frame. . the option of using the origin. Once you know what you need in a frame. in terms of the wheelbase and other hard dimensions.Before starting on the frame you need to know all the basic dimensions for the car: the wheelbase. and the width of the frame at various points. and using that gennie frame means you don't have to buv a frame from Fat Man or TCI or one of the ma~y manufacturers of new street rod frames.

or other "unusu. and where all cross-members mount. rnake sure that A equals B. or evidence of past accidents. corner to corner. or some other quality and availability of a new frame reference points. is the check made. to ensure the frame isn't out-of-square. The member and see if that one's level as \vell. And by the time you've done that and 0 b. or vvhn simply cross-members and the cowl-mounting holes. With a factory blueprint in hand. or a set of rails. may opt to put the frame on three jack stands. Updating an Original Frame Your car's original frame probably wasn't intended to handle the power of a 350-ci small-block. haul it dO'wn to the loalready fabricated from a company like Chassis Engineering or Pete and Jake's. for your 1914 Hupmobile. one at each rear start with a set of new rails and vvork from there.r' car. measuring fron1 the rivet holes in the front and rear who have a knack for fabrication. you can check the gennie frame against the factory dimensions. Then. substandard frame often works out to be more vvork and cost more money than the builder originally figured. and that includes your original frame. Pete explains. it often turns out to be less money and B hassle in the long run just to bite the proverbial bullet ilnd buy a new frame right from thE. Once you've found those points." The original X-member (if one was used) will likely have to be reinforced as well. crafted by hand or purchased ular frame is worth saving. It's more a matter of vvhether or Whether the frame is old or new. corner. serious rust (seric)Us enough to weaken the frame). X-measurements using more than one set of r'efer'ence points. Starting trom known reference points-like the framc. There isn't anything that can't be repaired. you can use a good original fran1(. Studebaker. It's a good idea to check the are a big part of this equation. When measuring. as common as a Mustang ~~ / 1 24 . usc the Build Your Own right reference points.\vho buys an old Cadillac. You should box at least the central part of the frame rails \vhere the Xmember will attach. simple as a dropped axle. you can carefully inspect the frame. that using an old. though. if full boxing is not desired. The front sllspension can be as any needed repairs. Perhaps more important like a pretty good idea.:: get go. "We box from the front (foss-member back past the firewall. Once you've leveled the frame rails. Yes. insist on doing everything themselves. Once it's been blasted clean. instead of replacing it with something new. and many hot rodders do. but first you need to get it really clean. it might be easier just to add in an aftermarket cross-member. Most experienced frame fabricators recommend using sted plate that's the same thickness as the frame material. Templates can be cut from light cardboard and then used to mark the boxing material. Experienced builders warn. or change the axle centerlines slightly rear cross-member. Look for stress cracks. take the level to the front crOS5so the wheels better fit the fender openings. At SO-CAL they recommend Individuals \vho \vant something unusual. however. The cost cowl-mounting holes on many Ford frames-you will want to find the axle centerlines. ready to install becal street rod or fabrication shop and get their opinion on the frame's condition and the cost for tween your rails. llsing the original rails may be the only logical approach. More prudent \vould be using boxing plates that run up as far as the engine mounts or even the front cross-member. then fixing that old frame might look With the frame on jack stands you can do some simple dimensional checks. An original frame should be inspected. If no (me n1akes a new frame.' and modified to accept the tail housing of the new transmission. By the time you've opened up the cross-member enough to take a Turbo 400 transmission. and one in the middle of the front crossThis way you can easily pinch the front of the member or spreader bar. but boxing \viIl help reinforce it. vvhich often means hauling it ovor to a sandblaster. it's a good idea to check the measurements not it makes sense to repair the from one corner to the other. cross-men1bers can be as simple or elaborate as you If you're unsure as to whether or not a particdecide you need..xed all or ~part of the rails.

flame or plasma-cut to size and then welded up into a C-channel or J box. Despite Steve Moal's USt' of round tubing for the RRR Roadster. Many of the frames that came out of the old Boyd Coddington shop vverc made entirely or in part from chrome-moly. Materials Most of the frames and framl' components sold in the street rod industrv are made from good old mild steel. are fabricated from mild steel. The exccptions to this mild-steel rule are the one-off frames. bent to shape and stamped full of holes for the body and other necessary parts of the car. Yes. The Deuce Frame Company rails are stamped by an outside company: American Stamping 25 . Those rails. Frame Rails. "or unless it's a real active suspension" (the Model A truck is powered by a blown big-block). o\vner of the Metal Fab shop outside Minneapolis. Must of the other rails seen in the industry are simply made of flat stock. II IFS system. the rails themselves afe st<lmped from a flat sheet.er application. the typical hot rod frame is made from rectdngulJr rJlls. but in most of these applications that cxtra strength simply isn't needed. they're not as simple as they seem. chrome-moly is a more durable materiat with greater strength for a given Jt1lount of "veight. each tubular frame rail built bv Steve Moal for the Tim Allen Roadster is lnade fr~)m two parallel pieces of chrome-moly tubing. and a shape that closely mimics the shape of an original Ford or Chevy frame. SOCAL usC's rails from American Stamping to make their -1932 Furd frames. "You don't reallv need chrome-molv unless it's a high-horsepov. Frame rails JPpear to be a simple piece of mild steel. Like everything else. though. or as high-tech as one of the nevver independent systems with built-in air bags for instant height adjustment. and they're certainly not all the SJme." A recently finished Model A truck chassis built at Metal Fab in Minncapolis is another chrome-moly creation." explains Jim Petrykovvski. For instance. a pair of stamped rails from Deuce Frame Company on a sturdy surface table with enough rectangular tubing to make a frame jig or fixture. Stamped or Fabricated In the case of the 1932 Ford rails from Deuce Frame Company. J nice fIat surface to mount the body on. and 99 percent of the frames seen in catalogs or on display stands at the Nationals. American Stamping rails arE' also seen in the how-to sequencc in this chapter.This is the start of the Deuce truck project. The rectangular profile offers good strength. Stc\'c prefers chrome-moly "because of the very high quality of the raw material Jnd because it's what rm used to \vorking vdth. That way they get a faithful recreation of the signature Ford frame rail.

For a look at how one hot rodder assembled a '32 Ford frame from rails." Barry goes on to explain that the difference between good frame rails and not-so-good rails is in the dimensions and the way the rai1s are forn1cd. ber that shipping can cause unseen damage." No matter which type of rail you buy. "The dies are made from hardened steel.) they are welded in place to clean up the threads. If building a frame from rails is the answer for your project. We use 2. rememstations. there is a die set for the left rail and another for the right. no one piece is larger than 18 inches long. you first need a set of engineering drawings for the frame and your own sketch showing where important components like the firewall and radiator shell are located. Fabricated rails may also show evidence of grinding on the corners." explains Barry." The same technology is used to make the Deuce frame rails. "Fabricated rails (fabricated from flat stock) don't have the rounded corners that the originals do. It's a good idea to run a tap through these after first mock-up. In 1977 I made the dies needed to stamp out an automotive bumper. but wi!! make it easier to keep dard manufacturing processes." everything in line as the frame is stretched.000 tons of pressure to form the rails. "It takes two hits to form each rail. 26 . "The first hit cuts the sheet to size and the second hit actually forms the rail. For this reason it's a good idea to carefully check the basic dimensions of rails and frames. With the Deuce rails. You may even be able to buy the rails longer than stock for a special application. "I've been working in this field since I was 15 years old. These are all pretty stanmore elaborate thal1 most builders need. Barry Carter. be sure the dimensions are correct and that any necessary reference holes or marks are accurate as welL And The frame rails in midstretch. (Though some of The inside of the rails shows the body-mounting nuts in these measurements may change slightly after the place. owner of the Stamping Group. you Here you can see Neal's frame fixture in position on the surface table. still attached to their whether you buy rails or a complete frame. Each die is actually made up of various pieces. That way if you do have a problem with a die. Barry makes the process sound simple. and to do some height and cross-measurement checks on a cOlnplete frame.Group in Olive Branch. describes himself as a tool and die maker. by 1987 they'd made a million bumpers off those same dies. see the In the Shop section later in this chapter. Mississippi. Often the company that manufactures and sells the rails will also sell matching boxing plates. The area Neal cut is just ahead of the area where the frame kicks up for the rear axle. This is don't have to replace the whole thing.

with an adjustment on each leg to help level the table on the garage floor. A Brand-New Frame Buying a brand-ncl. dc.v frame offers a nUlnber of advantages. or Stage III. Pete and Jake's The second thing you need is a good surface table. Manv of these come with boxed rails Jnd stout cross-members already in place. Another advantage of the complete frame is the added strength built into the nt'v\' frame. Most manufacturers \vill sell the frarne \'\tith or without the front and rear suspension aJreadv installed. or old repairs. or with the front suspension already installed.' as complete as ynu want.serts. Many manufacturers designate their "complete" chassis as Stage I. The table provides a level work surface that you can bolt or weld frame-rail supports to. Whether you want yours nlodified in th~ back for a pro/street application. shown later in this chapter.-1\v<:yy hom the 27 . Stage ll. like the one Neal Letourneau built. All this depends on a good surface table.:'lge or a complete independent front suspension \-yUh tubular upper and lovver control arms and coil-over shocks. I. Complete frdn1cs comt. You can't build a frame that's square and correct in all its dinlensions unless you have known and stable references to measure from. Advantages include fully boxed rails. These fr<lmcs come without rust. \vhich pn)\'idl' total ride control. You might have your cholel' of either a dropped front axle \-'lith four-bar link. someone likely makes exactly what you have in mind. As mentioned earlier. inside rail oftt'n angled i. First is the "new" part of the descrip' tion. or (. and body'mounting holes that are alr'eady drilled and with 3/8 Inch Nut. already installed cross'members. Tnanv frames ar"c available vvith t\vo or three different types of suspension. consider that many of the original frames used a doubh:: 'Ushaped channel.n which you can mark centerlines and dimensions. If space is tight in your shop. If you're building a Deuce. you can have anything from a complete nostalgia frame to a high-tech alternative with independent suspension.se nc\v stamped everything's been done for you.vith one inside the other.V('l1 add boxing plates to th(.A wide variety of complete frames are available. "rhese systems are offered as an option many of the manufacturers selling complete frarnc assemblies. pending on the degree of completeness. cracks. The second really nice thing about buying a new frame is the incredible variety of products currentlv available. and (. Relatively ne\\' on the market arc the air-bag suspensions. But it needs to be sturdy and flat. VVhen dccid whether or not you need boxed rails. you can design a simplified table with removable legs. You don't have to box or reinforce your old frame. The smaller. including this Model A frame from Pete and Jake's. so it can be stored against the wall when not in use. thev're covered in 11"lOr(~ detail in thL' suspension cl{aptcrs.

It can also be ordered with stainless AN brake lines already Installed.v nf these frames {-'yen come in chronIc-moly instead of mild stcel. Tel make frames from round tubing instead of channels and rectangular tubing. Art MOrrison Nevv cross-members ilnd XInembers necd to be considered with the same criteria in mind. and that thev allow room frames is cost-prohibitive today. original Ford bodv in order'to use th~ nevv frume h~"d already purchased.·vork in tandem vvith your intended body so it For those who like things high-tech. you Among the many offerings in the frame category is this complete fl'sme with havL' to ask! air-bag suspension already installed. A fe.Most street rod vendors win supply a complete fr'ame either bar'e or already equipped as a mller'. The boxed rails to run the large-diameter dual exhau'st pipes that offer more strength and a good surface for attachyou intend to install. Make sun~ they'll clear the tail housing ()l1 that Tnain rail to form the X-member. though it may l:w more challenging to drill holt'S and attach brackets to . One builder J know had to cut the floor out of a verv nice. Mike Adams Rod Shop. The double rcnv of tubing used to form the "ladder" side channels makes for a strong framc. ponents. Before buying a brand-new frame. This 1932 Ford frame comes with either a dropped axle or independent suspension.\ round tube. and a few others 28 . Most manufacturers don't yolunteer this information. be certain these parts ing thc cross-lnembers or X-members. be sure it \vill match up to the bod V you intend to use. Building such TH400 or R4 transmission. Kugel Klltnwill set down into place without any modifications. and a 9-inch Ford housing at the mar. Again. Some of the '1ft~rrnarket frames iocate the cross-melllbers in such a way that a genuine Fnrd or Chevy bod}' wun't drop into place correctly unless 'lOU cut out sections of the floor 'first. INiH .

The rear-mounted engine is an Aurora powerplant. Note the rocker-arm independent front suspension.Unusual projects cal! for unusual chassis. Kugel If you like your rear tires really fat. Tel 29 . it comes either. try this pro/street frame from Tel. Available for 1928 to 1941 Fords. This fully independent chassis is the result of a collaboration between Kugel Komponents and Oldsmobile.as a bare frame or with front and rear suspens'lon and axles installed.

but that way you can't experiment with the height of the frame and car. leave a minimum of . the original engineering draWing. The idea is to partially assemble the car so you can be sure the body mounting locations are correct.120-inch wall thickness. nothing should hang down any lower than the bottom of the wheel rims when the suspension is fully compressed. fan. in the jig used to assemble the frame. You also need to check the location of the engine. Don't forget that by positioning the engine a little farther back in the chassis you help to even out the nose-heavy weight distribution of a typical hot rod. all designed to maximize cornering abilities. and then buy a frame that works best for that use and equipment. These ProFile frames ar'e available to fit many popular cars and can be equipped with air suspension. What You Need to Know Based on your sketches. Too many street rods have been built with the engine so far forward that there really isn't room for a good-size fan. Art Morrison The Mock-Up Once you have the frame nearly finished. belt-driven fan you need to place the engine high enough in the chassis that the centerline of the water pump is in the center. Some builders leave the frame on the table. This perimeter frame utilizes mandrel~bent 2x4-inch tubing featuring 0. The other common mistake is to place the engine too low in the chassis. and the information provided by the frame manufacturer. Leave the coil springs out of the car or off the shocks. enough so you can put the Wheels and tires on at least one side. You can effectively lock the height of either the front or rear suspension with solid rods installed in place of the shock absorbers. 1£ nothing else. For leaf springs. Not all hot rodders believe in the low and slow philosophy. and radiator. You have to decide how you're going to use and equip the new hot rod. As a rule of thumb for the entire project. you should know the following: where the stock axle centerHnes are located. To run a big. This MaxG chassis utilizes Corvette components in front and a modified four-bar in back. and fan shroud. just use the main leaf instead of the whole spring pack. you can build your car "in the rough.5 inches between the bottom of the oil pan and the ground. where your own choice for axle centerlines is going to be located (some of this may be determined during the mock-up stage). Sometimes a simple dimple in the firewall for the distributor or a recessed firewall from a company like Bitchin' will push the engine far enough back that you can install a higger radiator. ·1'hese cars benefit from good components installed with care and planning." For this exercise. The front suspension can be assembled loosely. shroud. you want to start with the frame rails sitting at ride height. A no-hassle car is one that doesn't overheat while you're cruising around on the fairgrounds. of the radiator. or anyone of a number of conventional suspension systems.Remember that your choice of a frame depends on the end use. or just above the center. and where the engine will be located. Art Morrison :lO .

lrce~i from the parts bin at the local transmission shop. the space to fit the steering. take some photos. Chassis Engineering room for radiator. At least design the table so it can be turned and positioned so you can open the door and stand outside to check the proportions of all the components.This XHmember and transmission mounting assembly is meant to add strength to your chassis while most transmissions.ook for the ob\'ious mistakes vou can't sec and ~lSk friends for their input before {naking the final decisions on the location of all the major components. Don't do this in a hurrv" I . Spend some time looking everything over. don't adapt the to fit the space. The trann\' case can often be borrowed . create new ones with cardboard or plywood and tape or screw them in place.:: fircvvall.' stages of building. The position of the steering column must be calculated during the early.1S \. in turn. you need to be able to roll the car or the whole table outside. it's important to be able to get back far enough to really appreciate the car and the proportions. This is also a good time to double check the axle widths. • If the garage is smali. it's handy to have an old engine block and a bare transmission casE'.vell.. and how they work with your intended wheels and tires.york out later. you can also finalize decisions regarding the rake of the frame and the final position of the rear axle relative to the fender opening. The Lnv of unintended consequences "is in ful1 effect here. You can't decide how a slight change in the angle of the radiator grille shell will affect the look of the car when your nose is pressed up against the fender." For this exercise. Where. As one experienced builder put it. and firewalL If you can get the body and running boards mounted temporarily on the car. or sOl. If a body pane] looks out of place in a visual sense. just be sure to put a 'water pump and fan on the front and vou vvill need to install a distributor to ensure tha''t it will clear the firewall. When assessing the overall look of the car during these mock-up sessions. You may be able to borrow an old junk engine from a friend.. :31 . Decide ho\v far back to plaCl' the engine and . '>vill that put the driver's feet and the steering column? The builder should avoid thinking that the steering and exhaust will \. take time to reposition it and then stand back for another look.".{here that puts tht. If a few body panels are missing. . Everything you do <:It this stage affects some·· thing else.

ulll.tep-by~5tep they're bUilding is mod(fiedfrom :. 'When John Keena from Minneapolis decided to build a '32 Ford pickup truck with a stretched cab. instead of lIenry's stock measurement of 106 inches.d be f()lluwcd to build a standard 7.:clhasc fi'amc. the thebuiltconlolin Keena's Ford Tlwugh frame tJlIlt ::. S()m~timt's deciding whether or not to buy a complete frame or build one from scratch is a moot point. he sequence that J('.tock. Minnesota.llo7.vn to the signature concave section along the outside of each frame raiL When Neal ordered the frame rails.uS copas the l\/cal Lcfourneau for T struction (?f"19. Paul. right dm. if he could build a '32 Ford frame with a 112-inch wheelbase. This close-up shows the inside of the rail where the 6~inch section was added and he Ii-arc welded into place.32frame pickup. Neal started vvith stamped rails frOll1 Deuce Frame Company. These rails are actually stamped by Arnerican Stamping Company from l1-gauge mild steel and are accurate reproductions of the originals. there's 110 reason the sanle steps coufd. he also ordered 32 .In The Shop: Building a Frame from Scratch After the stretch the frame looks like any other Deuce frame. except for the two weld beads on the inside of the left frame rail. John then asked Neal Letourneau of St. he reilJized that the decision meant an ordinary Deuce frame just wouldn't do the job.

The inside of the frame ['ail shows the boxing plate in place. cross-member. The Heidt's Superide kit provides more than Just the front suspension. :1:1 . not line up with the stretched part of the frame.

then makes a second line 1/8 inch ahead the true centerline. The boxed framp provides a reallv substanti. "The table is leveled." sass Neal. "and that's the reference for everything to follow. "but 1 like to box the . This is a simple 4xl1-foot table with a surface made up of 1/2inch steel plate. but ncrw \Ve \veld them in. it adds so much rigidity to the frame. And originally the crossmembers were riveted to these frames. because positive c8ster will the new axle centerline back slightly.:d structure. vdth a height adjustment at each leg. matching boxing plates from the same company "Some people onlv box the frame at the front and the back.(JOGS instalts the front spreader oaf' and a piece of rectangular tubing (temporarily) before the front cross-member Note the and string that mark the frame's centerline. where the suspension attaches. This second line will be the center of the crossmember and is set aheaD of the original centerline. Neal fir'st rnArks the axle centerline." The frame is fabricated on the surface table in Neal's shop." explains Neal." < H4 .'hole thing.. The \vhole thing is well supported by a steel framework. soml~thing to \veld the crossmembers to.

After checking and dOlJble~checking the position of the cross-member. .:Jrc weidei' to install the cross-merTlber. Nenl USGS the Ilnli"r.

and spreader bars '-It the front and rear to establish the initial distance between the rails. I laid everything out on the big tahle. tied together side to side.here the body line dies out. As he explains the process: "We started \yit'h an engineering dnnving of a stock Ford frame that \\if' got from Uttle Dearborn in St. In tJlC'se cases it's important to measure. As he explains. precision. \lVhen both the rails \\icre in the right position." Note: Ivlanv builders use simple vertical st'ands to support the frame rails. all I had to do vvas cut each rail. Changes in engine or fimwsll location btoke podal. just before the spnt v". however. "You can only stretch the frame near the back. Paul. then unbolt the stations and move each one forward exactly 6 inches and screw it into nE. to tack-weld the bl'acket in is finished. I welded the rails to the stations.111 extra section of raw frame rail. and then lengthen the frame. but some of the street rod c(1talogs. Each one of these stations bolts into holes that I drilled and tapped into the surface plate. he had the foresight to buy .and master cylinder support in the r8tJon1momieri O""IILion It's a good idea. minus cross-tnembers. Neal built his supports with enough hL'ft. To lengthen the frame. like the one from \Vescott's. "Then I built six stations to hold the rails." Neal's description makes more sense after VOl1 realize that what he calls "stations" are very suhstantial cradles. The draw'ing has all the dimensions of the stock 1932 Ford frame. Because they're so . the centerline and all the dimensions.John a chance to see hawaii the to[Jotleor to create a whole car _One of the things they need to this stClge is whether the 'n little" tires (285/70x15 mar 4 ftoot] WOI'k to the truck the look they're after Neal decided to build the frame.:vv holes I'd already drilled in the table. just ahead of \-vhere the kick starts up for the rear axle. rnc)ck-up allows Neal [on the right) and . and overkill that he only had to clamp the rails in the (1:adJes and do a few checks of the width before he could tack-\·veld the rails to the supports. When Neal bought the rails. the width of the frame through the center before installing crOS$menlbers. and pOSSibly adjust. have them too.

This tubing is moderately strong. Once the rails vvere lengthened Neal could cut each boxing plate into two pieces. and then add the missing 6-inch section. owner of Metal Fab in Blaine. Usually you're 'necking down' the tubing to a somevvhat smaller size by l Neal and John want a belt-df'iven fan. and it's not uniform in size.m'cih"" SGen hery) :37 .R. the ralls couldn't tvvist or ch. and welded (the [. Jim.0 on..omcplace to mount the exhaust hangers." say:-. "What's called DOM is made by taking largcrdiameter tubing with a welded seam. as in arc welding). \. Ell'1d realize clerm::lnce at this puint that there isn't between the fan and the radiator The ITIOt01"' will be moved biJck 1 inch frol'"n Lho . It's inexpensive and readily available.l11 Better Tubes for Better Frames Terms like DOM mild steel tubillg require us to back up for a short primt'r on the various grades of tubing manufactured from mild steel or chromemoly. The three central cross-members are fabricated from seamless DOM (drawn over mandrel) mild steel tubing. stands for electric-resistance. For help in this department we have the input of Jim Petrvkowski. engine IS cc"iti.. while the center one gives us :-." The complete cross-member won't be finished until after Neal and John have done the first mock-up and knov\' exact]'y \-vhere the engine and transmission mount.. CDrTnc! iv rf~18tive tD fir'C\M. The extra rail material \-vas then cut and trimmed to exactly fit the void in the center. Once J've got them in place I can add flanges to the front one so the tranny can be dropped out latcr. BllttwelJ.vorking on vintage aircraft Jim explains that you have to begin the discussion with an understanding of mild steel tubing.12S-inch walls. Minnesota: Jim spends most of his days building street rod or race car components. As the name suggests. Grade-8 flange nuts are added inside the fr<lme for all the Z1ppropriate body-mounting holes before the boxing plates :. but the seam is a problem..d and the radiator.substantial. tht-~ built-in flange on each nut makes it easy to wf~ld these to the rails without damaging the nut itself or the threads (though it's still a good idea to chase the threads with a tap before assembly). And the rear one provides the mount for the four-bar brackets.. Neal explains that each one has a job: "The front cross-member will hold the back of the transmission. This stuff looks like exhaust tubing/ the grain is random because it is essentially cold rolled sheet stetd cut into strips. weld it intn placc.R.. rolled up.mge dimension diagonally when the frame Vv'Z1S cut into hvo pieces. 1 5/8-inch diameter with O. and can often be found at the local airport. "What we call mild steel is available in a \vide variety of shapes and forms. and drmving it over a die set. "The IOvvcst grade of steel is F. and then welded in place with the hcli-arc VI/cIder. If you form or bend it the seam will break at the weld.

~rhls systcrn is designed to pro\'ide the advantilg('S of indqx:ndent suspension \vhile fitting: llnder the fenders of a '32 Ford. The Superide not a s:vstcm and does not use spring towers.tor the plWPDS8 of the the rear' re8r Dnd sits on stands. The position of the cross-member also affects the caster angle. The easiest seamless tubing is by taking red-hot it. A shroud really helps the fan pull . \vith spacers. to hold up the back of the frame. and two vertical stands. and hood in place. Fjnding In independent suspension to in a Deuce can be morE' difficult than sorne other cars. along \vith one rear fender.solutelv sure the cross-member is positioned correctly before doing the first tack welds. Someone vvorking at home for the first time. the \vall thickness in<:f'Crases. to be al. the second spreaderbar hole in this cast'.vhere they think it will eventuallv sit. radiator shell. making sure the distance \vas the same from one side to the other. and then check the caster before doing the final \vclding. mrrol. Neal uses a small support to hold up the front of the frame. Then it's really just a matter of milking SUfE' the cross-member is locilted evenlv side to side.32 ford the fender is right there dnd "vin run into thl' spring tovvcr. the spring to\vt'r ·welds to the top of the but on a ]9. I went ahead and did mv crOSS-J11casurcments. might \'\-'ant to tack the cross-member in. "We vvanted primarily to find out \vhere the motor is going to go. so \ve are planning to build a euston) shroud as welL" to Deuce Thc\ front suspension for this car will be a Sufrorn Heidt's. Once the frame is set on the table.: bCCOtllE5 nl01"(.<Hld spreader-bilr hole to the cr05Smember. the big-block engine and transmission is set between the rails in the spot \. And even though the frame is in the jig a nd I knmv every1thing is straight.l\'ll the die \\'Ith a bullet-shaped the tubing through the tooling uniform. Neal and John clamp the cab. clnd then pulling it "HU""" L The -ecry highest quality tubing colcl. Like 1110st quality hot rod components. "[ like it belt-driven fan." 111akes it the sizl::.' strength of the matprial is increased" The weaknc~s of the weld is minimized and the can no\v be 11"\Ore easilv formed and tht' stepl companies take rather and make it much stronger. and that it's in exactly the spot the instructiems call for." explains Neal. Per the instructions Neal measures back a set amount from the reference point. This process gets the rna rcriill' s in one direction. that it's square' to the centerline.dral'll in which case a billet of D«'fced dnd dr. "and 1 did that. vVith the"' frame stationarv. assemble the suspension." f/ The Mock-Up The next big step is to take the frame out of the cradles so the first m{xk-up can be done. hovvever. .lir across the radiator.vcry that it's difficult to obtain the right caster through the available adjustment Neal explains that he doesn't check the castcr of the front end before doing the final welding: ''I'm confident that Heidt's has the caster built into the cross-member. so we wanted to sec hmA' big a fan \ve could run and still clear the radiator. the Superide comes with thorough instructions." explains Neal. "The instructions direct vou to measure from the set.lwn through dies \vhile it's lubrication. and it's possible to get the crossmember positioned in such a \. vVith a typicaJ i'v1u5tang II type of suspensl(Jn. and tht. which and form. O]:HlHl1c-i tubing is seamless.

vVe told them what we .lnted the front end to sit.'('(." cx'ins Neal. to install the rest of the Ct.<lr/ rnure room take from the insidc' of the ciot the lYlnn' VOll ilnd nns.. rhc mount is mount is frorn later-mode! I often used Corvcttcrlw dOt'sn't boo.n.pension. Neal and John can easily change the height at the bflCk of the frame ~1nd thu. Thev'vc to work out tlw of thL' stccriI~.1 "As many it's. rOI' the In.s the rakv.lil 11\.lt the bon nxoml1H'ndcd bv Deuce h. are the dctual tires that vvill be used on this truck. And the Vl'rtical location of the rl'ar end housing is sl't by' the rear tirt' dian1. By' using simple spacers bt't\'VL'l'n the top of the Lincoln Versailles rcar end he.. For substantial hc m:'cds a tlw pccial sU'PI>Drt tdck-vveldcd to the It'ft-sidc rail i.V the cowl fonv~lrd trw dimensions from inc the samt' as of this stock.In' to han' i. th(lt the frMnl' ri.'ccn the of the rear end housing and the frdme.oror rownrd tlw 1'1.)l and first thl'ir mon. dnd the grounLt based on other '32s vv'e'vc looked at.g column and shaft.'en the botton1 of the frame rail. dls() know n:'<lr end needs to be ndrrovy'ed. i'The 'vvh('('ls and we .ctl'L The thing we don't knm-v cit this point is how much rake will look good on this truck" This first muck-up wB] <11so help Nl'al determine ht)'"..:lbout krHJ\v that if the\' alrnnst 1 inch from the there wJl still be room for morn for <1 nice big fo..-v !n addition to tl1l' firc\.s from a Lincoln Versailles.1S to be life_cd" to pro\Cidc enough clearance b(\tl/\.(-l nf.verc buUding and . The wheels (and their offset) used for the mock-up art' probabJ)-i not thl' final choice..terrnitK'd quite bit .3 wooden dowel takes the place of the shaft so Neal can check clearance pr"oblems between the shaft and the rTlotor mount. "T'he height at the front vvith this Heidt's kit is pretty much :-:et by the suc.ct. ~lnd the for the headers.. fits.' rnock-up d(. though ~/Oll can use stock or droppt'd spindlcs.('. "and they fecomrn. "We know thl' distance bl'tv\'~. . One of the first llioe ho\'\' far With the engine in place and the to thu frmm~. so the height of the rear end during the mock-up is the same .vhcre \11/(' \lv. however.n and the frame (check the photos in elimin<ltc confusion).'.vall.'t'd to rnake to the or chassis are to use that combination. k){Jk no\v." !to\\' ('V(TVlIm.[('1'.cnded that \'\'e use the dropped spindles that are an option for this suspension kit. The tires seen here. l11Llch the rear end will hZl\'(. \'Vc discussed this \ll/ith Heidt's. "\Vc some:' /4-inch v'v'oodcn dmvcl \·vhich we ((1n use to do .. The next IS off the bodv and I"l'move the thcn Hip the frame 0\. Neal and begin to make pLlns for the column and shaft.)tion pf the cngint' and the firc\\'dll is tlw bTt1ke and 111dster eviin".1 than using sh:'('t shafts or U'''''''h' V\/hCll \Vt' lean' N('. under the (myl an.' to bt:l narrovved..:'('l.'niTal cross-nwmber.r One of the lmanswerl'd qUl"stions for Neal and John is the arnount of rakt' that the truck should have. Though it is one of tht' relativel)' narrO\'\' <}-inch asscrnblit.\." explains Neal.. this rear end still appears to bc too \-vide for the Deuce truck. :l9 .1S it will be fnr the aff£:'cie(1 by the Joc.('r support.""1i".

The resulting rail benefits from the strength of an unground fillet \veld. Pete had a list of features he wanted incorporated into his frame. high quality frame developed specificallv for the 1932 Ford. Yes.lnd fuel lines.thing else that's clamped to the inside of the rail. the brake and fuel lines can be tucked neatly up into the corner ·where they're out of the way and protected by the edge of the rail. one designed to keep the front end lenv while providing plenty of caster for the front Jxle. Having built plenty of frames himself. electrical cables. and an). Each one must be test fit before being to 8noth81~ one tjon of a franle from start to finish. In order to keep . The biggest thing that separates the SO-CAL frame from so many' others is the unique Step- Boxed J'd design. even ·with the car on a three or four degree ra ke. No\-\-' this might make for a nice neat framt' rait but by grinding off the visible bead )iOU also grind off much of the metal that holds the boxing plate to the rail. you Ci. Pete's idea \·vas to create a nC'w stvlc of frame rail that \vould pf()\'ide more strength than the typical boxed for' body-mounting holes are frame \vjthout any of the disad\'antages. The SO-CA L Step-Boxed frame is both strong alld light. bead is ground away after the ·welding is finished. \!\That Pete wanted \vas '(1 unique. the weld. . but that introduces a . In order to shenv exactlv what a SO-CA. there is no need to grind wherever' necessary to help support the boxing plate. he didn't \ivant to simply add one more to the long list of aftermarket hot rod frames currentlv available. The other little problem ·with a typical boxed rail is the \vav the brake .·vho\e new set of problems. By recessing the boxing plates slightly from the edge of the rail. It's a unique frame designed to provide the enthusiast vdth Q good foundation for a ullique hot rod. nm. Many frames offer "boxed" rails as a "vay of At this pOint the frame rails have been cleaned up and mounted in Todd's increasing the strength of the "raiL But in order to make these rather" substantia! frame Tom has already begun the task of fitting the franlcs as neat as possible.1ft' left out in the open.ln put S0111e of that plumbing inside the rail.ltrrll1FIIl so hold the bOXing plates lust loslde the Thus was born the SO-CAL Step-Boxed lip of the frame n3ii. Additional small "stands" are used frame. And by recessing the boxing plQtes slightly.W hen Pete Chapourls set out to build a n('\v Deuce frame. The SO-CAL frame also incorporates its own front cross-member. the to the f'ight-side frame I'ail.L frame nwee separate make up the boxing plate for is made oC \ve\"c decided~ to follow the construcside.

then the three pieces are welded into one before being set back into the frame for the last time. rnatches the cutout in U'18 plate Dnej ensures that the boxing plate is in exactly the 41 .Each piece of the boxing plate is set In place and fit.

A ruler or is used to ensure the tdck WF. ensures that each frdJTIV constructed for 50-CAL is both 42 . Final welding wi!! be done one 4»jnch section at 8 time. their shop focused on C(H bUilding. is another part of Todd's modular fixtum.dssb shop. Tom wil) cut the notch In the frarTle I"ail with a cut·off wheel. This jig. used here to mark the area that must be cut out so the axle can be set lower in the ff'cw!'1e. mounted on a H)tisseric to make fabrication as l:asy as possiblc.!c]S will be perfectly spaced 4 inches apart. fabricator dnd hot rod enthusldst. shop is ovvnl'd by Todd V\ialton. then move across Of' down the rail to ['educe warpage.C \\lelder . it's time to add the cross~rTlember"s and [_Jf3i:1I" fof' like the B(lsed nn his lengthy experience at another big c}1. Todd constructed (j very sturdy frame fixture. sL:llllped frame rails. Tom or Todd will do une section. Once the area is rnal~ked. longtin1. Pete has d1!dl"~lU to hZlVl' the frames (-(lbricated at a nearby shop. The fixturc. How it's Done Construction of a complelc 50-CAL frame starts with Zl ~l't of bdrl'.

No\. . and later those will be drilled dnd tapped for the body mounting bolts. Before tht_. We noticed that right a\va y and modified the ' jig slightly. "Mv 111ain welder. After Tom ha~ the spacers and small stands in place inside the rails.. "We locate the rails using the cowl-mounting hole. The current program is to cut thern in three separate pieces for each frelme rail.mt. Todd's been able to fine tune the fixture to create frames \vith a very high degree of accuracy--·-·whdt you might can built-in repeatability. Srnall fabricated "buttons" to between the cross-mernbel' Elnd the frarne jig correctly position the cross-member." Part of the \york of building a frame includes preparing the rails before construction. but they v\lere just too long and urn·vieldy. By working closely with SO-CAL. already' punched in the rails. ("he boxing plates are damped in vv'ith a series of Vise Grips. Todd explains that the bod V mounting holes are already stamped in the top of the frame rails b~/ the manufacturer." With the rails in the fixture.are these designed to aicj in the creation of the rnotor' rYlO1. <:lway the minor vvavy areas on the top or bottom of the rail.>. then TonI every four inchl':-.s.vl··mounting hole. when the rails spring in. "The rails need a little \\lork vvhen \ve get them." explains Todd. the rails spring in a little bit due to the stre~ses of "velding-in the boxing plate.lm~ until \viih they' disappear. the next job is to install the backup plate~ for the body mounting holes and the little "stands" used to help position the stepped boxing plates that are unique to the SO-CAL chassis. Tom Blair. firlal installation of the boxing plate Tom grinds the 'I·velded Sl'. Todd has the boxing plates laser cut out locally. As Todd explains it "When \\ie pull the frame out of the jig. before \ve start construction. Among the sub-assemblies that m'e part of the fixture . Todd tried having the boxing Once the cutout area is finished... they spring in to ('xactly the right dimension. "Each rail is clamped to the side supports and then tack-welded in place. then pulls the nevv one-piece boxing plate out of the frame and cardull:y 'welds each of the seams be- tween the plates." says 'rodd. from mild steel of the same gauge as the railss. they can be mounted in the frame jig. To position tJ1l' boxing precision inside the frame Tom has fabricJted a small locating span:f that's held in \\'ith a bolt through the co". Torn can fit the SO·CAL cross+member to the frarne. each of the three pieces is trimmed as necessarv and then set into the frame." Once the rails are prepped. plates cut out in one piece. as our reference. Tom tack welds'the three pieces into one. II yuu just clamp the'ffi in place there's ahvays the chance they might shift during fabrication. The marks heip . with d ru kr.accurate and has exactly the same dimensions as every other frame. A good example b in the back of the frame. takes the time to trin." The little "backup" plates are cut and positioned 50 they also function as spacers to position the boxing pldte just inside the edge of the rails (check the photos here to elirnindte confusion). Todd and Tom put the small stands in any\'\'here there aren't enough backup plates to hold the boxing plate in place. Though the cutting is quite accurate they often need u litHe grinding and finjshing to fit just perfpet inside the rai1s. "But we put the plates in behind thc' hole.

1n that way they avoid concentrating toe) much heat in one part of the rail. The SO-CALfront cross-member is specially shaped to allow for plenty of caster. Yet it must still be positioned correctly or all the extra engineering that went into the cross-member will count for nothing. Then the area to be notched is marked on the frame rails based on the outline of a special template. and finished with a nifty little mini belt sander. The idea of course is to get the cross-member centered between the rails. Cars ·with dropped axles must have the front cross-member positioned correctly or it can be hard to get the correct caster setting without putting a bind in the spring. Todd's frame fixture is a modular affair. A stock SO-CAL frame Totl"! pieces together the main centra! crossmounts the gear below the left fixtW'8S nC:8ded to hold it in the right position. Then the small plates. Next comes creation of the notch at the front of the frame that allows these cars to run in the weeds. When it comes time for final-welding. Tom starts by spraying the area at the front of the rails with Dykem. and the front ten or so inches of the boxing plate. Tom carefully sets the cross-men1ber in place. checking and trimming again before he can tackwcJet and then final-weld the cross-member in place. and includes subassemblies that 'Tom uses to correctly locate things like the motor mounts and the central cross-member. which requires some careful trimming. Small squares of mild steel are cut and tack-welded into the notched area. are final-welded. At this point Tom uses the fixture to cbeck the position of the motor n10unts and to weld in the upper bung needed to locate the Vega-style steering gear. Tom and Todd will only do one four inch section at "a time before moving down or across the rail to another four inch section. .Tom keep the tack welds neatly spaced. 44 . Following the outline Tom uses a die The finishec! motor' rnount snDps in to part of the frame fixture before being grinder and cut-off wheel to wn(ded in notch the rail. vvhich requires trimming some metal off the ends.

The central cro.side rnotor rnnunt.1pe. The findl welding lS out oYer the frarne and over tirnc. \'Vith tht.1 IIK-mernbe bits sh. \vhich in this ('dSl\ could be called (.ss-nH'!Tlbcf. Though they look sirnple.' in and then. the mounts themscln::s are vvclded up in <1 sepJratc srnall jig. out oj the jig. butt-weld the to fill there!s no frdme to 'drat'\" to the \\'rong dimension after it com('~. but 8 slightly different. a lot of car-Bful planning and attention to detail go into each one of these chassis. to limit the am." l'xplains Todd.<111 thickness mild steel tubing." VVith the cross-members in plan' 'rom ilnd Todd can carefully \\'ork tbeir dCfOSS all the sedms with the \\'z'ldcr.UiOllS cross-lru. The used to nlc1ke the \'i. there dJ'(' no fill. 45 . Bdnre being Not the same frame. finished. the fixtun' and a \'\'1101(' Tom sets tl1l. nwde from 12()· inch \\. SO-CAL frame. begins to tdck-'\<\'cld. basiGl11y " ariel ready for paillt. the tubing dnd (Cdr motor rnounts in place.ount of heat into the franll' and thus r1\ nlmi7c any vvarpage. is made up of <1 of pre-cut tube'S.:'rnbl'fs is si~ned to slide into a lna holl' pre-<ut in the "This \YdV. CAL the frarnl' is Cd finish('cL Torn ddalls thv \\' hol frame! so thilt vvhen it k'(1\'es thl' shop it':::.

_.. Chrome plating T hL:.J()n In Hw Uc. d bump encounh'red by one \-\--'hl'el has less impact on the other vvheel and the (h:cupants of the car..' comlcolt'x kits include the thernselv8s.I)". tht:l1 it needs d. As the name inlplies.dgl' dnd your personal oprn . the bushings to bl:.~• •~~0i~I' Front Suspension With either a 2. by .... .iles and ridl's bettl'r than (l dropped axle....U\.'dnt to U. axIl.or 2 1/ 4-lncfl perch boss. \Vith a tl. !f it's J fat cal'. "If it's an opcnwheeled G1r..r1<m and thl' next drop'~ down \vindovv asks you \!.'in A-ann ~uspensjon system instdlled under yfOlIr car.~_. Into the and then ['comed to fit. . 4fi Which Suspension Is Right? [n lhL'ory an independent front suspension hdlH. ._. then vvl' put an inclcpl:ndcnt front SU'<I"'U'.lc in place Click on thl' four-bar o. a if the Cdr is il resto-rod or very trc1ditional ride As fJdc Iikcs"tu S. the that support the spmdle. [f go around cnrnefS like won't do the \otlrSt'1 drive? VVrhat handling and con1l'ri Remember lhat the t {:lctors tl'iElt the car mon. . and ass(wted hal'dwcwe Deuce Factory net:~d pl'1l1ning and fllis is :1 situation 'where each menu leads to another mClllL Choose a dropped axle for and the next menu asks vvhether you vvant to usc four-belr llnk~ age or split \vishbullcs to hold the (u..'c:raU vvill be the biggest factor front suspension b for VOtL Ul the su:-..:>l' a tubular or I-beam tYPl' of axil'. .pcnsion extra money ft).HC' m when to decide vl/hich of the able front to insLlll.

as Pete Chdpouris points Ollt.vist O(.4L Buying the front axle and suspension as a kit offers a number of advantages: you know components are designed to work together. and all necessary hardware. This EasyRider' kit comes with a 47-inch spring. and that 011 the (Jxle.'ever.C.trs because each axle end has its o\'vn pivot For tmditional cars there's f'Eldius rods with stainless steel batwings. the choicl' of a front axle (especially! on an openvvheelcd car) is largely an aesthetic decision. adjustable shocks. Purists \vill point out the fact that hairpin radius rods (or split \vishbones) put d slight twist on the axle vvhen only one vvheel goes (weI' a bump. the next choice is the type of jink(lge you're going to use to hold the axle tn place. 47 .1. This dr'illed axlp is I'Tlode from steel and comes in a 47 1 /2~inch width. The other option is a four-bar linkage-what might be called the choice of a modern traditionalist. So.The tr"oditional look CEllis for' a tmnt Dxle. CDJT18 with a provision for' the POflhol"d me. SO~{)1L acting independently' each wheel is better able to rise up over bumps and steer around corners while keeping: a good grip on the road. which means that more and more hot rodders are choosing the vcry traditional split \vishhoncs or hairpin radius rods. SQ. The t\. I-Beam Axles Thefl' is. Chassis Engineering Cb"1<lCd tits. hov. nothing much cooler than <1 nice dropped axle mounted \vith a buggy spring up front and a pair of split radius rods to hold it all in place. f'1aving made that decision. The nostalgia craze seems to get stronger and stronger.'Cl.

s mort) positive caster. If-y(~u prefer to buy components individuaJly._lI"'~bars vislial [)t}caITiu with tht} advent of the dropped tube axle."d nn the afC of the radius roct so jt exDe'flt'n(ps . though some people like them simply for their This kit uses all stainless cornponents and urethane bushings.I II".point. sure to read Pete's sidebar in this chapter and to check the illustrations..lith cast or forged ends welded to it.===-=. with most str'BrrJht ax\t.--. spindles.. Many of these decisions and their implications are made easier bv manufacturers who offer their suspension systems as a kit. •• FOl. radius rod~ \'-\/ith a four-bar linkage solves [)eCaUSL' the four-bar link..=::~= -~~"). Oeuce Factory CASTER NEGATIVE 0 POS!TWE the c:urTect CElstDI'" for your car nmans it Wi!! go down the highway in a straight line without the need for' cO!'TnCLions..' acts as a one or both t:nds of the axle can go up or dovnl \vith no cas\'er chdngc and no hvist on the c1xlc. Many go so far as to make the spring.----------- Modern tubular axles consist of a center tube v'.lgt. Tubular structures resist twisting. ver'y different between straight axles and independent suspension. and brakes all part of the assembly YOU buy. then next week. ~~~~- ~cc~--.-----. f. Caster' ulso helps the steel'ing wheel return to the straight-ahead position after a constant tum...iC'r change \/.=.-.::. SO-CAL . the vv'hecl that hits the bump "ow.::iiiiii\!t ~~~C. if not todav. The cClster i'8cornrrlendations (in::. so the twist will cause the welds to fail. spring perches.) fhe tvvist that an L'd axle experiences \-vhile a burnp is the reason you can't use a axle 'with split wishbones.'hile the other docs not. ---. Buy the axle and the linkage comes along as part of the package.:1 ci).

but spherical rod ends allovv lateral movement. d and dropped <lxle in the SO-CAL catalog comes in a 47 1 /2-inch \vidth. you tip the front axle fonvard and Jose some of vour caster angle.. You have to be sum the steering linkage clears the four-bars or split wishbones.··mcl'nber \-vith a little extra caster built in.and 4K-inch width became standardized in typical hot rod fashion. Another comm{)n mistake is the USl' of l1l'im joints or spherical rod l'nds at the end of J four-bar link. Toda'l! SO-CAL makes (\ cross-member df. In the end. v'I'hat you're trying to do is put a 5 1/2. or install the cross-mt. So vou nct:d to btlv a cros:.s in diarnder.NCfl: offered. which meant it got n<1rrO\l\'C'r. 8 tilt to the outside at the top is positive. but as you raise the back . Super Beff others./ith fenders and still be able to use the full turn radill~. As Jim Petrykoski from Metal Fab explains: "The original Ford axles v\lert' something like 50 or 52 inches \-vide.or h-inch "Vvhed. True vertical is zero camber'. Unlike a rear axle assernbly that is measured flange to flange! front axle \vidths are measured bl'hveen kingpin centnjines.." \A/hat should be used there instead are the simple urethclI1l' bushings that come vv'ith most four-bar kits. Most dropped axles an' available in two or thrcc \lvidths. (See the illustrations in this ch~lrt()r for a refresher course in front-end alignnwnt terms. 14 or 15 incht. hc offered a dropped axle in a 48-inch width.) Mo~t hot rodders \'\'ant their CQr to haye some ri. Tel Camber is simply the tilt of the tire in or out as seen from the font. first disc bri.'mbl'f \vith d little extra angle. That's all fine and good.lke. but \vhen people started to drol! thl' axle! they just reshaped it.-. 49 . That measurement must match the length of the spring you intend to use.lkcs I. As Eric Aurand from Chassis EngiI1l'ering l'Xplains! "You only VVdnt four-bars to J1l0Vl' in one plane vertically. Farly hot rodders discovered years ago that the use of a Modl. so pretty soon Jim Offefl'd a 46-ind1 axle for cars with disc brakes.Jnd lower the front. A" discussion of the front cross-member brings up the subject of caster. on a stock car v.. It gives the car that aggressive stance and a Sl'nse of motion~·-aJmost likl' they're moving when they're standing still. Then \I\/hen th(.CAMBER KrNGPIN INCLINATION Most builders recommend the use of a Panhar'd rod when a dropped axle is installed with cross-steer' linkage. \. the v moved the \'\'l1l'cl out about an inch on either side." When workin~ with dropped dxles! you dIso need to consider the distance bet'vveen the bosses for the spring perches. TIll' front cfoss-member used on earl\!-ford frames is another piece that must be chosen tZ) match all the SteEwing arms corne in a variety of shapes and need to be rnatched up with the spindle and the axle support linkage. Already mt:ntioned is the need to avoid using split vvishbol1es with d tube axle. with the front end lower than the rCdr..:'signed for usc in both Moclcl A and '1932 frames that lowers the front end bv 1 inch. a tilt to the inside is l1egative SO-CAL you need to bt' slire all the pil'Cl'S \yiH \\"ork togL'ther on your particular frame.J A front cross-member in a Deuce frame wtlldd lower the front of the car. as seen in this dernonstration Deuce frame. That lateral mOVl'ment gives the car wh<1t I cdll a 'beer truck' kind of ride. The common 46.\lhcn Jim Ewing started Super lkll Axle Company.Thc drilh.

a Panhacd rod can cause as many pl'Dblerns as it solves. creating 'bump steeL' We also like to install a steering damper. These little problems crop up ·when the axle and the steering TOP VIEW SHOCK MOUNT (PART OF BATWING) SO.cAL AXLE SPINDLE STEERING SO-CAL HAIRPIN RADIUS ROO G~' STEERING GEAR SO-CAL HAIRPIN RADIUS ROO I t . flBasically. then you need a Panhard rod. Without a Panhard rod." Preventing Bump Steer We've all heard the term "bump steer. A Panhard rod attaches tn the axle on one Side of the car. the caster goes negative. Though there are plenty of hot rods out there \''lith straight axles and no Panhard rod. Our straight-axle installations always include a Panhard rod and damper. so there IS I'oom for the ceil-overs behind the radiator. can move relative to the frame unless a Panhal~d rod is used. with buggy spr'ing or transverse springs. if you use a buggy spring and a cross-steer setup. it ensures there is no side-tnside shimmy. You might need 9 degrees of caster to net out at 6. SO-CAL GO ." Some controversv surrounds the use of a Panhard rod \vith a buggy-spring dropped-axle front suspension. and minimizes side-tn-side motion between the axle and frame. Our cross-111embcr allows you to run more positive caster vvithout putting a bind in the spring or the spring shackle. For this reason SO-CAL recommends the use of a Panhard rod. try this push rod independent front suspension. It must be used with an extended frame. • A straight axle. Pete Chapouris feels the Panhard rod is a necessary part TOP VIEW of a straight axle installation. It's important to note that unless it is properly laid out and installed." meaning that a bun1p will cause the car tn move from the steering line chosen by the driver.For' extl's sex appeal. Kugel Komponents As Pete Chapouris explains. and has designed a bracket for the Panhal~d rod into the rlght-slCie batwing. vvith a Vega cross-steec you cause the axle to swing on the shackles.. and to the frame on the other. "People forget that \vhen you rake the car.

"!the axle and the end of the drag link that attaches to the axle must move through the same arcs as the suspension moves up-and~down over bumps. The spindle is also available with a "GM snout" and the COf'rect brackets so the disc brake rotor and caliper slide right into place. These spindles will accept a wide variety of disc brake options. 'I'hough problems can occur with any type of steering. bump steer is caused by side-to-side axle movement. The Panhard rod prevents side-tn-side axle movement but it must be designed and mounted very carefully so as not to create more problems than it solves. Basically. the bump-steer problem is best illustrated by looking at drag link steering. It is also important that the gear be mounted so the drag link is parallel to the tie rod. but the end result is the same. Art Morrison These forged spindles are available to fit a variety of axles. the steering gear and linkage should be mounted so the pitman arm is pointing straight ahead when the gear is in the center of its movement. the drag link. Any axle movement to the side during suspension travel will push or pull on the drag link. As mentioned by Pete Chapouris. Another cause of front-end shimmy is worn These Mustang spindles are available either stock height or dropped. To avoid this problem. which are investment cast from 17-4 stainless steel. Chassis Engmeering linkage move through different arcs as the car goes over a bump. Both are made of steel instead of cast iron. Heidt's kingpins or axle l'nds. The effect is a little different depending on the style of axle mounting. Many hot rod suppliers will rcam the bushings before the axle or 51 . rather than front-torear. General installation gUidelines include the need to keep the Panhard rod parallel to.Among the many spindles on the market are these examples. causing the dreaded bump-steer problem." When installing a dropped axle. street rods with a transverse leaf spring mounted with a shackle at either end can allow lateral axle movement on the shackles. In a cross-steer application. most street rod equipment manufacturers recommend a Panhard rod. YOll have to be sure the pins fit tight in the ends of thc axle (sometimes a problem with used axles) and that the bushings in the spindle are correctly reamed for a good fit between the bushing and the pin. and come with or without the kingpins already fitted. such as with a Vega or Saginaw steering box. More specific recommendations can be had by consulting with the manufacturer of the front suspension and linkage. a bump in the road can induce the dreaded "straight axle shimmy. Bump steer in this system occurs when the bump causes the axle to move forward or back more than the drag link as they swing through their arcs. With these cross-steer applications. With loose or worn kingpins and bushings. and the same length as.

any good shop that services trucks or truck chassis should be able to help you out The other thing to keep in mind after the dropped axle is installed is the need for frequent applications of lubrication. more compact assembly.spindles arc shipped. spindles. and all necessary hard. a number of companies offer a Mustang ll-type front suspension cross-member. For the budgetminded rodder. These can be scrounged <It the local used parts emporium or purchased new. kingpin bushings still require frequent attention from that old-fashioned grease gun hanging on the vvalL Independent Front Suspension Designs Independent front suspension systems come in a wide variety of styles and pricE'S. Most street rod companies in this market offer various upgrades over the stock Ford pieces. The first upgrade usually replaces the narro""v ItHver arm and its :->upport strut with a much 'vvider [ovver arm that doesn't need the strut. Though we've all become accustomed to no-lube tie rod ends and ball joints. but without the Mustang cross-rnember or spring pockets. Some of these assemblies have been designed from scratch These chrome-plated coil-overs are available for Mustang suspensions and offer the advantage of adJustabJe ride height and extra spar'kle. You install the cross-member in your nevv' or old frame and then add the suspension components. If you buy spindles and need to have the bushings installed and / or reamed. this independent front suspension uses Mustang spindles. either stock Mustang or aftermarket. This makes for a cleaner installation and eliminates the strut support. Heidt's 52 . the arms.vare. It's one of those jobs that requires precision and should be done by an experienced shop. Heidt's Designed for fat-fendered cars. If you are looking for more than a simple Mustang II suspension. Of course you can go one step further and order the anns 1n chrome or polished stainless for extra glitter. a number of companies build complete stand-alone front suspension systen1S that come with the cross-member. Coil-overs make for a cleaner. Most companies also offer tubular upper and lower arms to replace the original stamped steel arms.

for exampk. Thev also make independent suspension for This close-up shows the Corvette suspension and front-steer Art Morrison rac:k-af1d~piniof1 used on the Art MorTison M8xG frame. Heidt's for the street rod market and fedture billet aluminum or tubular steel arms and polished coil-over shocks. and a cross-member designed to fit various hot rod frames. offers their Superide. which necessitates an additional support strut. the design eliminates the huge sprin~ pocket seen on Mustang systems. Kugel Komponents offers their Phase 11 independent front suspension.ith upper and lower arms on each side support('d bv a nice coil-o\'er shock assembly.\. a coil-over on each side for support. 5:3 . This package comes with a cross-member that ties evervthing togetheL By using the co11over shock-spring. Most upfJraded Mustang suspension kits utilize a lower arm with i::l wider stance so no additional strut IS needed. This system uses upper Zlnd lower arms.Stock Mustang 11 suspEmsions use a lower arm with a narrow pivot point. \. H_l'idt's.

Heidt's (:ars vvith "pinched" frames. Most independent suspension systems experience camber change as the suspension moves up-and-down. it makes good sense to buy froln well-known con1panies. are utilized in systems offered by Fat Man. Tn all cases the bags themselves are connected to an air compressor controlled by a panel within the car. fhird.:' the spring(s) with an air bag from Coodyear or Firestone. Potential Problems \Nhen buying a front suspension. Changing the position of the upper control arm or the length of the tie rods used \vith the Ford rack-and-pinion gear can lead to unpleas.lnt consequences. This makes it easy to use the latest Corvette suspension and brakes ()n both ends if you so desire. Sl:'cond. Did the manufacturer provide good instructions? How hard was the system to install. Cibbon Fiberglass and Chassis Engineering also offer torsion-bar front suspensions for 1935 to 1940 Ford cars. Many designs do this intentionally so that the outside tire tilts in and gets a better grip on the road as you roar around a curve. a Mustang It system should use stock Ford gt>nnletry and the stock mounting position for the steering rack. and a high-tech pushrod type of suspension that moves the coil-overs inboard in Formula One fashion.vorld. Corvette components. Chassis Engineering. The bags themselves are manufactured from the same tvvo-ply material used to make the air bags seen on 18-wheel tractors ill1d trailers. 54 . While you don't havl' to understand all the engineering. Kugel Komponents Mustang independent front suspension systems are available with air bags Instead of coil-over for the ultimate in adjustable suspension.In order to achieve a perfect blend of form and function. Jerry Kugel hEls the control arms for his independent fmnt suspension investment cast from 17-4 stainless steel. Yet. That's not to say all these air-suspension systems are the same. and ask them how it works in the real .vhHe others simply replace the spring in a Mustang II front suspension with an air bag. First. Ask the manufacturer or the dealer plenty of questions and don't sign the check until vou're satisfied with their answers. 111is \vhole technology is really a carryover from commercial trucks. both the latest C5 pieces and thost: from earlier models. Some arc designed from scratch to take advantage of the air bags. when in doubt about what to buy. that camber change might not be such a good idea when you're dealing with suspension systems designed to operate over a "vide range of ride heights. tht>re art' a fnv things to 'vvatch for. there's a lot of unseen engineering that goes into any good front suspension. vvhether it's a simple Mustang 11 unit or something more exotic. find someone at the next sho\v with a suspension like the one :you lust for. Mih:~ /\dams. Most of these replaCt. \. When considering one of these air-bag designs. and others. and were they there to help with a~y questions that arose during the installation? Most rodders \vilJ be more than happy to discuss their experiences. Riding 011 Air This independent suspension section vvouJdn't be complete without an examination of the somevv'hat new air-ride systems.

har'dware. Note the bags. • • • • 55 Cross-steer linkage installations can create bump steer by forcing the axle to the side. compressor. SGCAL . A Panhard rod like this one will ensure the 8xle only moves up-and-down. reservoir.Here you see the components needed for the air suspension on this Art Morrison Air Spring Plus frame. and the control arms designed to work within a wide range of possible heights . not Side to side.

decide ho\v much you're really going to utilize the height adjustment. Do you want to simply find a good ride height. the more it will resist fur.·' SO-CAL ther compression. control unit. This style of steering mounts to fat fendered car~ and trucks for one simple reathe steering: gear to the left frame rail. There's no \vay to build an link runs from the pitman arm.moving In the same arc. close to a standard street rod ride height. the typloal Mustang box installation pension can't settle. at a given pressure setting. across to the right-Side appeal of a polished coil-over. dir suspension . Ultimatelv these svstems are best suited cross-steer system. and creates poor geometry.the minute you put a compre~sed. crossing speed bumps ·with impunity. few options here that should be mentioned in the 56 . as shown. there are a various components being used and how they interact as the suspension moves up-and-down.is progressive (see Chapter Five for more on air springs). and then lower the car vvhen vou park? Or do you want to be :lble to vary the usable ride height by 3 or 4 inches? Systems designed from scratch around the air bags tend to offer the greatest height adjustment with the least amount of camber and toe-in change. Finally. The cost of this ne\v technology includes the cost (literally) of the pump and interest of making good decisions. the system doesn't work. . Others and Jake's cars used a Mustang box and drag-link type of steering linkage. By far the most common style of steering linkbut that may not be a consideration for many hot age currently used with a dropped axle is the rodders. but use bags that are designed with with a four-bar linkage. yet drive it home like any other car. The drag son: the bags are ugly. The air-bag systems come to the table \·vith a nun11wr of advantages and disad vantages.so far that any puts the pitman arm up. Thdt is to As Pete Chapouris says. What we call ffbump steerff can occur vvith Steering Linkage any type of steering linkage. which kept the axle and the outer end of the drag link internal cushions that provide a fi. all you need to dlJ to compensate is dial up d little more pressure and head out the drive\·vay. the sus.link type of steering linkage. Once again. "The early hot rods worked because they stayed close say. Some of Pete components are damaged.lowered axle in there. Cars \vith air bags arc Cross-Steering for Dropped Axles more complex and have more things to go wrong. SO-CAL nal compression or rest stop. or one vvith the aesthetic ed to the steering gear. usually because Behveen the steering vvheel and the hvo front someone didn't take the time to think through the tires is the steering linkage. no matter what you do It's never going to be right. H. Some offer a conventional bump stop so that if you pinch a line or let all Many early rodders used a Ford F-100 or a Mustang box as part of their dragthe air out of the system. the more the suspension is to stock Ford steering geometry [shown]. If you load the car vvith four friends and a smdll trailer out back. Unless you can keep the original engineering concept from Ford. On the positive side. this technology alIovvs the builder to set the car in the weeds for that really bitchin' profile. and anv cost tn retrofit one of these systems to an exjsti~g car. ·which is connectair bag that isn't black. Trouble is. steering arm.

however. If in doubt. But look at the na\rv 605 box. In order to avoid bump steer. \lVhen 11enrv started of a Panhard rod with a dropped axle to avoid using cross-steer the hot rodders of the day followed side-to-side movement of the axle as the car goes suit. should use the slightly larger Sagido it because of the nostalgia thing. the with a dropped axle?" builder can ahvays call the company that manuThe ans\ver is no. they all use over bumps and around corners (see Pete cross-steer linkage. This hdppens only' and-dc)\vn over a bump. someone \v()Uld be sure to raise a hand at this point and stilllation of the Panhard rod must be considered carefully.ype of system most builders pension system.lhead \vith linkage running on the car's left must be matched. and that \NaS built in 1949. That doesn't mean ifs a good or \rvith straight axles. The shaft of a properly adjusted steering gear \vill actually require big believer in the cross-steer. Axle mo\:emcnt. the steering linkage moves through a different arc than the axle itself (check the illustration) then 'lOU have essentiallv "steerL'd" the \'chicle. to vvork together'~'·'-or someone has carefully When it comes to deciding which type of steermatched an independent suspension package to J ing to install in a solid axle car. and that the steering link\vhen the hvo systems arc deSigned from the start age is carefully laid out. so the axle and the drag link ask. like fat-fendered Fords just so many' things that can go wrong. In a car \vith a cross-steer linkage it's important to keep the tie rod and the drag link parallel. but \-"hen people build l'i. l l 57 . then some kind of flexible link must be link stjrle of linblge. connected bewhich mO\'t'S up-and-dc)\vn with the axle. arm. old cars. Unless the stvle of the car sion and the rack is designed to lvork IVitl! that Sll~ dictates a drag-link t. vou factured the suspension parts for help ". This system positions the fashioned behveen the steering shaft and the gear drag link on the left side of the car. Pete Cllapouris is a particular steering rack assembly. side need to take care that the ax'le doesn't experithe ends of the tie rods must move through the ence any fore and aft movement as it moves upsame arcs as the control arms. the Vega steering be laid out right. You can't.l[S !ike that now. it can be trouble\vhen it's used \vith an independent front suspensome to install correctlv. first the rack hZls to be mounted to and a few bucket Ts use what's known as a dragthe axle. style of linkage: JlTo slightly more torque to turn as it goes through use the drag-link type of steering correctly it has to this high point. box (or the newly manufactured copies of it) is the pivot points vvere in the general area of each othsuitable for lighter-weight hot rods. \'\Iel1. there is a plan B. In general.as the suspension compresses or extends. or equivalent. Steering shafts and the necessary U-joints ate avail8ble as a kit like this one This is built in to compensate for utilizing Borgeson U-joints SO-CAL any wear that might occur over time. Those \vho mention it again) the rack and the suspension go . Wormgear types of steering gears ha\'e a built-in "high point" at the verv center of the movement. Larger cars. we've all seen it done \vith \'ilrying deWhen it comes to the steering linkage used grees of success. Despite the fact that many old fndy roadsters Where a rack dol'S vvork extremelv well is ran exactly this type of linkage.. T'he Pierson Brothers coupe is a cross-steer Most street rod builders recommend the usc car. axle. Not a hveen the steering gear and a left-side steering good plan.\lith placeshouldn/t use a rJck-and-pinion """lith a drop'ped ment and installation of the Panhard rod. and the pitman arm pointing straight ahead when the gear is in the straight-ahead position (in the center of its movement). 1nIf this \vere a class or seminar. As mentioned before (but vve'JI are better off with a cross-steer linkage. front to rear or side to side. Early hot rods a safe idea." explains Pete. "What about using a rack-dnd-pinion gear movE' through the same arcs. it's just so much bettee"" Chapouris' comments earlier in this chapter). Sure. can cause this problem. there's up to 1034. "With the Model A. The cars \ve build at SO-CAL now.. Saginaw 525 box. A lot of guys and GM cars. such as Ford er.

e pitman arm is parallel to the ground.r foot from one pedal to the other without running into the column . . a late-model manual gear that's just a bit bigger than the tried-and-true Vega gear. installing a longer pitman arm will make 58 ._. that isn't necessary for good geometry and may make for a more complex linkage between the column and the steering gear. __ ._. make sure the lower part of the column is high enough that you can move you. all the tires must rotate around a common point. With the wheels pointed straight ahead. Not a problem you say-I'll just use the power version of that Ford rack-and-pinion and hook it up to the handy dandy GM power steering pmnp.TIE ROD ARMS Above & Below: In a turn. Correctly solving the mismatch involves the use of a shim kit in the flow control valve. the column should be mounted where it feels the most comfortable for the driver. the inside tire always turns in a little more sharply than the outside tire. The conventional steering gears are often called wonn-gears because of the shape of the internal gear. for instance. Because of the angle of the steering arms. now be- ing remanufactured so you can purchase one brand-new. mount._. That is.- As the street rod industry matures and many of us drive bigger. the need arises for power steering. Next. The problem with power steering in cross-steer situations is the tight fit on the left side of most V -85 ·when installed in most street rod chassis. This brings us back to the topic of mock-ups._. While many hot rod builders and shops position the gear so tl. you need to consider the ergonomics._. the steering gear must be in the center of its movement. In addition to good geometry. whether it's power steering or not. In the case of a worm-style gear. 'fhese can be an aid in finding the ideal position for the gear. A good example and longtime favorite with street rodders is the Vega gear. GM power steering gears can often be used in many typical cross-steer applicatiems. and the engine. Relnember that it's easier to modify a header tube or change to a different style of exhaust manifold than it is to design a shaft with multiple U-joints and a support bearing. and will affect the gear's effective ratio and leverage. You probably want to clamp or tack-weld the mounting plate for the steering gear to the frame._. in what seems like the most logical location. namely. Most of the steering gear mounting plates will accept either a manual or a power gear. With the column temporarily mounted.-. The problem this time isn't geometry. but pressure. This concept definitely applies to the steering column and placement of the steering gear. the exhaust headers or manifold are often pretty close to the gear. There are also a number of different pitman arms available for the most popular gears. Another popular GM gear is the 525. or an adjustable power steering valve from a company like Heidt's. heavier cars. the fact that the GM pun1p puts out way too much pressure for the stock Ford rack. Then install the engine and check the clearance between the shaft and gear. locate the steering gear on the fralne rail so that the shaH connecting the column to the gear is as straight as possible. already discussed in chapter 2. and exhaust.

much can make a car prone to wander.1 (ZERO TOE-IN) .. There are effect known as toe-out on turns. Mounting a Rack-and-Pinion Gear While some older independent front suspension::.. ." meaning the gear assemblv is mounted to the front or re:u of the front cross-mcIl1I:wr.. use a TOP VIEW cross-steer sy'stem.. Among the pa.. we've decided to finish \·vi th some of the port bearings and brackets for three-joint shafts are things that you should do: Buy only quality paris avaiJable as well.. 59 .H. and don't forget the cotter key. 3/16" FOR CROSS BIAS TIRES) and its bracket.TOE-IN 1+-------_ STRAIGHT AHEAD _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .. Too little or too fects the overall geometr). or studs v\"ith i. or the manufacturer of thL' front suspenturers say the jOints will work at angles up to 25 or sion kit. preferably welded. an. Bt:'cause all the components that make up the steering linkage are so CribGll to vour safetv. Things To Do Borgeson and various dealers sell complete kits It seems this chapter is full of "don'ts" and with U-joints and a shaft.. be sure the taper anJ diameter "of the Herod end matches perfect! y thc' hole it fits into .-'. ..ajority of nC\Ner IFS set-ups usc a mckand-pinion. Some cHe "front steer" and some are "rear steer. as \vell as vibration things to avoid. Stick \"lith the position of the rack as determined by the engineers at Ford Motor Company.l different degree of taper. to the way through each step to avoid making dumb frame rail. As discussed in the illustration on alignment. The U-joints you use for the steering shaft must the shape and angle of the steering arms creates the be high-quality needle-bearing U-joints. . Suptive note.... almost like insufficient positive caster. The angle of the less expensive U-joints out there that do not use arms is critical..TOE-lN CONDITION _ _ _ _ _ _. Even a verv miniscule amount of flex mistakes. As the position of the rack afToe-in is very Important to the way your car goes down the road. (USUALLY 1/8" FOR RADIAL TIRES. \\'1 Il be magnified and result in loos(' and vagl. and kits from kno\.\rn suppliers. Though the U-joint manufacKugel. or the gear you've done. ..' steering.. These shape them and solve a clearance problem. Take your time The mounting plate used for the steering gear when you're doing suspension \\lurk. the m. Think your must be well mounted.rts }'OU have to keep matchcd arc the tapered ends of the tie-rod ends dnd the holes in the steering arm or pitman arm. or the steering quicker. Don't use the heat-\vrcnch to reneedle beJrings to support the cross-shaft. a smaller angle is ahvays better. changes to the position of the SO-CAL rack should be avoided.' generally meant for industrial applications and ha\'c no place in your steering shaft assembly. 30 degrees. Rather than leave you on a negadampeners and collapsible shafts for safety.. Have fun and be proud ()f the \york between the bracket ~nd the frame.. . The position of the rack-and-pinion is determined by the supplier of the front suspension kit. Even similar appearing ends use different-diameter tapered studs.

f\cl ::ihop hy Joe: Kugel.~t(/llalioll i:f the At Kugel. then mnves that pOint 1/4 inch farther forward to compensate for the effect of positive caster. the front body-mounting hole or the cowl-rnounting hole.. It's a good idea. As Joe explains.T his demonstratiol1 was donc in cross~llu'nlhcr. "1 go 17 1/4 inches fonvard from the center of the mounting hole. ol fhe t{oC! Kugel SOIlS who do much (:f fhe day-flHiay runlling (~f the shop t<wl1ded by tileir father. Of1(. This ::icqUC!lCl' slarts at fhe -('cry begilllling [udh the in'. Jerry Kugel. The position of the cmss-member is marked with a mar'ker not by scribing the frame rail. tilt: KII. They meaSUH' 17. to doublEt-check the position of the cross~rT\ember using other reference points. though. all the meaSUf('ments st<:1ft with one reference.25 inches forward from the center of the cowlmounting hole to find the axle center line on this 1935~1940 Ford frame. j 60 . The cow!~mountlng hole is the reference used by ~Joe in determining the correct place to put the front cross-member. then i1dd 1/4 Joe measures 17 1/4 inches forward to deterllline the standard axle centerline.

The left. so he can measure fonvard from that mark. it's time to position the upper pivots. it's time to tack-weld the cross-member in place. With help from a floor lack. "and it's important to move around from side to side as you do the actual Joe is careful to position the pivots cOfrectly-a mistake at this point will make it difficult or impossible to get the alignment correct later.and I'ightside pivots are not interchangeable." Next he marks the framE' rails 1 1/2 inches on either side of the adjusted centerline. "You have to be careful that the cross-member doesn't move as you do the tack-\velds. The SAC rails havE' the rear-axle centerline stamped. 6] . it pushes the spindle back slightly. Joe positions the crossmember between the frame rails. and do a cr055measurement as welL With everything marked. We add a quarter inch because by the time they get the correct caster. because the cross-member is 3 inches wide. and that's the ct'l1t('r of the front cross-member.After carefully tack-welding the cross-member ill place. Note the straps tack-welded acmss the very front of the rails. Joe likes to double-check the centerline against other reference points. This particular installation useS SAC (Specialized Auto Components) }'-1ot Rod Products' rails for a 1940 Ford truck (the 1935-1940 Ford frames are all the same)." warns Joc. inch.

With the frame at ride-rake. The shims are used to move the arm front to rear and thus set the caster. Kugel upper and lower arms are investment cast stainless steel. 62 . By turning the shaft both eccentrics move. The eccentrics seen here are affixed to the upper-arm pivot shaft with set screws.In The Shop continued Before doing the final welding of the cross-member and pivots. Joe does a cross-measurement check to be absolutely sure the parts are positioned correctly. a protractor can be used to ensure that the cross-member is positioned correctly front to rear. thus affecting the camber.

"If they are off very much. you probably vvon't get the alignment within specifications. The Kugel front end shown here uses eccentrics.' turned to adjust the camber. The eccentrics an. hvo per upper arm. In this case the rotor and caliper are already. Joe does a series of double-checks to make sure they are positioned correctly. No\-v vva install the actual front-end components for the Phase Il independent front suspension. these are separate pieces of the cross-member. 17-4.The assembly of the front suspension starts with the "Installation of the lower arm. This suspension uses iJ rear-steer rack-and-pinion gear. and emphasizes the fact that these arc not interchangeable from side to side.' in ." Next he sets the upper A-arm pivots in place. finish welding." He also does a cross-measurement to ensure the:r afC square. held in position by this simple strut. and a temporary strut is used to hold it in position. and Joe instaJ1s the spindles next. Shims are used to move the upper arm ahead or back and thus cbange the caster angle. The upper and Io'wer arms are investment cast. Once they are both tacked in place. As he explains. heat-treated stainless steel. Joe shows me the difference in the two parts. for alignment. Joe has assembled the spindle and rotor and now sets the whole thing in place on the lower ball Joint Joe installs the lcnver arm first. This kit's spindle assemblies are cast from '17-4 stainless as well. so you don't concentrate too much heat in one area and cause warpage.

The upper pivot arm goes in last. Once the al~m is in place, the set screws in each eccentric will be tightened against the fiats machined on each pivot shaft.

ccn.'nl rics ('om!..' tht' i nct' out
;lS-

scrnbl Hics, the set
t'nclj

the upper turn <l~;s('mneed tn [c<1.Ji;;(' that

both rYl(!\'(-' at onn·\ when the shaft is turned -----ilnd you \vill the earn!.)c)' n i';1Ct do ;1 camber
clmbl'f

need to

!'h(\ earn,ber_
camber and cBster gauge is used to do

~,'m,o'ir

{1

camber adjustment Emel ensure that the cr'Oss-111srnber and related cornponents

check the f,cast1S W('

are positioned

A pmtractm' cDuld b8 used -for this as well

front uo"s-rncmbcr shuuld be "] dcg-rl'c \\'ilh tlll.' fr(lnw at the ride rake" Though a Sl;\'dy' beH is d\'(1i!<lblc for this front end, Joe did not instdjl one at this time.

The finished instal1ation, complete with steer'ing rack, seen in a very similar' frarT18 Clt th(~

G5

,

i

,

idea to start the assembly by first spreading everything out on the floor' or the bench, includes stainless upper and lower arms and dropped spindles.

-typical street rod for T his sequ,e,m,,",: con tin liesinthe a l:he chassis
chnf:'sis

cons,trllL,"fion (~f a fairly DClice pickup trllck, 6amc YL'C S(HU chapfer 2. The front SllSPCllsiim used here is tlte Superidc systcrn from Heidt's sw;vens/'on., [11 the rlCXt scquence, ruc'pc also included a

front'sw,pcnsiion installatioll sequence photographed at Koml'onelll's shop.
The Components
This Heidt's kit includes upper and lower a.nus. made from polished stainless steel. The assorted hardware that comes with this kit is polished stainless as well. In order tD achieve the ride want, Neal and John decided to use dropped spindles, They made this ",,,'al'din>' the spindles after discussing the the technicians at Heidt's. As Neal ex"Heidt's suggested the 2~inch dropped spinl:tJe would put the truck where we want it, on what we said about the rake and ride we want iH1d the tire sizes." step, and perhaps the most important one is the installation of the front cross-member,
j

already covered in chapter 2. It's a good idea to lay out all thc parts on the floor, sirnply to ensure you have all of them, and that vou understand what bolts to \-"haL By putting all the parts in one neat grouping, you also lllJke it less likely that you \\'ill forget to instClll one part or one bolt. With the cross-member in place, Neal goes ahead and insta115 the steering rack, which mounts in straightfonvard fashion to the mounts that are part of the cross-member. Nl'xt corne the 10\v('r control arms, which bolt to the mounts on the cross-member. Neal novtv' bolts the lower shock mount to the luwer control arm vvith the supplied hardvvare. The shocks came from Hddt's. These are adjustable for rebound damping, and include the springs recommended by Heidt's fnr this particular vehicle. It's important to face the shocks so that the adjustment knob is as accessible as possible. The upper arms bolt on next, fo] (owed by the dropped spindles, When installing the front suspension for the last time, be sure to get the nuts tight enough that the tapered male part of the ball joints arc drawn

66

The front cross-rnember is already installed. rack.... which bolts to With the rack in place Neal instaJls the lower anTiS first. 67 . ""'0r.. so Neal can go ahead and instHII the brackets that are part of the cross~rnember.

After installing the lower' alTn and coi!~over. 1f the rotors come ·without the bearing races installed. as d. The to . in the case of the Heidt's Superidt the s'wa:y bar needs to be 1 .-'ber that the car needs to be at ride height before you check the aJignnlent. avoid pulling the pins up too tight. if you're just doing a m.x:J<-llP. Remel. These holt-'S are used to Il!Ount the two pillow blocks that locate the swav bar. You can also rent or buy a flpickle fOl"krf that wllt do the S<lme thing. can be hard to check on a car \vith independent suspension if you don't have access to the turn plates that arc pJrt of a good alignment rack. Don't be tempted to whack the Lll)('1'(. be sure to use the corfect driver during the instalL:Hion and be sure the races aft' fully seated in the hub. Once aU the susl)ension anTIS and the spindle "'i('''''' arc in place. The grease you use must be rated for vvhccl-bearing usc on Cdrs \'vith disc brakes. It doesn't hurt to a bit of grease on the outer bearing races as wt'll. .) fter the pin is fu lly d ra \Nn up is to hold one hammer ht'ad on ont: side the female spindle assembly while rapthe other side. as can takc .) set and be hard to H'movc. Most of these suspension kits and assemblies come v\'ith their own jnstructions.elnbh Conversely. which may include a qUick wheel alignment check. if VOU'VE' never pal2kc'cl and instc1lled a set of wheel bearings bei1sk for help. into the' rnatc'hing female hole in the spinas. As mentioned clsevvhere. it's time to install the rotors. ThE' (aster angle. Most garages have special tools or for the grease gun that force the grease up betvveen the individual rollers. c:omes next. installing the svvay bar for this kit involves drilling two holes into the frame on either side..ThiS part of the assembly is pretty straightforward. Camber can be checked easily b~y placing a digital level or anglt' gauge on the rotor or hub surface.lmagc to the threads is sure result.'Cver. be sure to folluw the recommendations in a good service manual so they don't end up too tight or too loose.. Neal positions the upper arm and slides the upper pivot bolt in place.d stud itself. hov\. This will "pop" the tapered of the holt. When tightening the nut for the wheel bearings.

The Heidt's system uses threaded collars at either end of the upper arm to adiust both camber and caster.~Iav (\. the threads on the end of the svv'"ay' bar \'vere damaged slightly during shipping-~that's \vhy it's nice to have (l tap and die set in the tool box.s 8S'.OP. oncc during the mock-up and once for the final dssemb1v).o" SU'. seen here mounted hlocks behind cmssmernbr0f'.nn installed before the front end is fullv asscrnbled.vhich is why it's a good idea to asscmble most of these components t\vicc. something Nedl disco\'Cfcd the hard \.8nt:l8 6~) . used to control rebound cLunn.hf-: instiJliation . the "ont "o'nnn What's left is t.ls. coil-overs. and anti~sway bar' EH'e in installed. with the links it to Lhe lowc)l~ cClil~over holt Once the upper and lower arms. Note the adjustment knob at the uppel~ end of the Aldan shock.cm .mt.. Installing fmnt rotors nnd calipers will be covemd in the brake "h. Also of notc.

a single transverse buggy spring. simple. Many roadsters leave the rear suspension open to vicvv. We in chapter :3 the inlportance of suspenslnn.~n if yours is a fat-fendered car with a 1110Stlv invisible rear axle. v. . Today'! that option is less popular.1 fully independent and polished tbe 70 fear suspension from KuW. though the kits and components available from SO-CAL (and J fe\v others) are making the buggy spring a more viable rear suspension choice than ever before.'L or a converted Corvette or Jaguar sy'stem. Henry Ford liked the buggy :->pring! used on most of his cars up to ]948. make a nice. that doesn't mean vou can't install d solid Ftwd 9-inch fear end with coil or leaf springs. a pair of coils. While the high zoot cars in the magazines might have . The downside 1S cost and mechanical complexity.Rear Suspension LaddElJ' bars.:uld thousands of hot rods arc motoring around today on nothing more sophisticated than a solid rear axle. and the linkage necessary' to keep ita 11 in place. A discussion of independent versus solid rear axles runs parallel to the discussion of front axles. functional rear suspension that works with either' a spl'ing or a pail' of coil-overs.'hich means the rcar suspension can be all jmportant part of the caris visual pack(lge. and the rear-end assembly itself certainJy contribute to the ride. An indeperldent rear suspension pnwjdes better handling and ride (in most situations). or that :you shouldn!t give careful consideration to the type of rear suspension that best suits your new rod. as used on many SO-CAL cars and sold in kit form..' rear !S lInirnportant. Literall~y millions of GUS . the linkage. and ride height of the car. Solid Axle Options A solid rear axle can be supported in a variety of ways: hvo parallel leaf springs. or a pair of air bags. handling. That doesn!t mC<lll thE. E\'t. springs. two springs.

SO. Just weld the bnckets to thl' rear end.:1t the ride height \'\'iIl be \-\'hen the are used with a (. installing the four-bar suspension \vill require that . f<ttkr cars. another set of brClckl'ts to tht' fJ'cHIW. coil-spring rl:ar suspensions COTTIf' in !Twny different forms. options.' or rnOH' leafs from the sprint:.'ll the SllSPl'flsion of choke for early cars. but vvouldn't it be better to the right spring the first tirnt'? In order to lovver the rCJr of the car. Deuce Factory re8f' end housing. connect 'vvith the four links. Thl')/'fe durabk ilnd readily available ~lIld n1akt' a good suspension.hin the spring pack'is to eliminate the pack and use a single leaf.'liminah: fricti()!l fn)nl v. consider that '-111 those Jcnfs in the pack \Vefe designed to \york togdher. tl good ~pring C. four-bar kits arc a\Cailahle from ('verv mJjnr'street rod manufacturer and catalog compi.'! one of the inherent disadvantages of leaf springs. Coil ~prings arc used in at lc'ast four different of rear sllspension. there's nothing wrong vvith leaf springs. The straight and simple parallel four-bar rrlight be the best knovvll of thc coil-spring fear suspension svstC11lS. follo\ving suit hOVVCVCf..'it.Before df'ciding vvhich is the best suspension option for your solid rl'Jr Jxle. consider tilt.. Spring clssemblies like those from POS1cS come with slippery! synthetic buttons under the end of each leaf to rnjnimizt' in. Leaf Springs Though len'\' in sex <tppcal.llltdgt' of .CAL This paral1E.. There seem.11' like yours.lint! cilrdullv set up the rear end at ride hl'ighl' b~'fort:' wcldillg on the four-bar brackds. some rnddt'rs IJ 011l.(' till' eyes to lower the caL Coil Springs ()ftl. and add coils or coil~o\'('rs. In d case thc spring js already chost'n and the redr of the Cill" sits too high.:1n de-<'\rch i:l k'af spring ibsembl:y or 1"e\'('p.-) four-bar is that there is no pinion-. l'd_ch vvith certain advdlltages and disac1\·antages.~1 four-bar kit is designed for Model As and comes with brackets for both the frarne and the It's available in standard steel 0[" stainless. One hig adVi. Sure. 71 . pack.. especially under heavil. 11o\'\'('\'cr. to be' sot'lle problems vvith these products and mdny lla\'c been vvithdrawn from the markd. Hcight adjustment is difficult at best \vith leaf springs.{nv. you can 'lhYclyS use lovvcring If blocks lih~ the kids (lid on their '1952 Fords.· tcrnal s tictiol1.:mglt\ change c1~ the suspension movE'S Installation of a quick-change rear' end in a Deuce frame f'equires the use of a Model A-style rear crossmember'. The best solution is to ask the ~"erson who manufactures the spring or re<1r suspension kit whdht'r or not the springs ha\'(' been de-arched and wh. Another vvav to ~. Like all redr suspension kits.'f.

Oeuce Factory like to weld the Imidel' bar brackets on to the rear end hOUSlllg [with the hOUSlIlg In 8 flxLure) then send it out for the installation of the ends and straightening of the housing. are mount~)d at an angle so they can absorb side loads and eliminate the need 72 . the paraUel four-bar system nceds a Panhard rod to eliminate sidt. and comes with standard or stainless fou('-bal~s. Unlike some other coil-spring rear suspension systems. To eliminate the Panhard rod. and the need for il matching bracket on the frame. which must be checked dnd repaired by a qualified shop after the bri. The other hvo bars. Chassis Engineering through its travel (just as a fou r-bar front end has no cZlster change). This means there's nne more bracket to bolt or weld to the axle housing.1ckets are installed.120-waHthickness mild steel the mounting bungs tor coil-over shocks are already installed. some builders use a triangulated four-bew system. AV8dahie to fit rnany cars. this triangulated toul'-bar !"leeds no Panhard roc!."varps the housing. hc)\\.-to-sidc axlE' 1110Vemenl. As mentioned cbe\vhere in this book \. Made tram O.ve1ding on the rear end housing generally . This arrangcment positions two of the bars parallel to the car's axis like a standard four-bar svstem.You Gar! frame construction with the use of this rectangular rear cross-member.cvcl'.

Rov Brizio states that the\! oftt. Ladder bars. .ard rod vvhell coil springs arc uSl'd.vay thc dngled bars sometimes get in the wa:y of the exhaust svstem as it snakes its \vav to the rear of the car. The rear end supported by ladder bars als(") experiences pinionangle change as the suspensioll moves up-anddO\. are about as simple <lS a suspension sY'stem gets.. The problem is the \.VIl.This close-up shows the built". some builders don't like the way the lower and upper links move in different pIa-nest \Nhich puts the upper bars in a bind \vhen the suspension mO\'l'S up-and-down.in sway bar and triangulated rear' suspension used with the MaxG chassis. °With ladder bars you bring all the torque to the center of the car. and for good reason. in much the same' \vay a split \Nishbone Ladder bars. Art Morrison for a Panhard rod. And though there are thou'sands of these ou t there in use. functional or' suspension that \Norks with either a a pair of coH~overs. and the torqup acts on the center of mass. Panh. another option in the coil-spring world. Welded to the axle housing.'n use ladder bars on th~' cars they build in th~'ir shop. sirnple. make a nice. each "ladder" runs well forvvard and connects to brackets and a cross-membf'r near the middle of tht. and tht' bars can get in the vvav of a dual l'xhaust svstem.' chassis. as used on many SO-CAL cars and sold in kit form. the VVd\/ Henrv liked ie' A ladder b"ar system requires a.

Kugel Komponents The ail~ bags used for rei:)r 81'e different than those used on the front. The systerTI shown here fr'orn Art Morrison is intended to be used with its own trame. Art Morrison 74 . this assernbly uses its own rear cross-f"nernber and stainless components and is available in various widths.Based on the 9-indi Ford.

'ars usc an axle centerline fn.'hich style of fear suspension you install. Chassis Engineering offers trailing arms and cross-members to install pre-C5 COtTL'tte SUSPl'llsion components in a Early Corvette [1963 through 1978) independent real' suspension can be adapted to many cars with kits that include the rnain cross-rnembel'.. No\. trailing arms. BO)id Coddington's shop tonk thl' Con'ctte independent systt:m to a new plateau and made it their own. Think of a parallel four-bar systt>m vvithnut the top b<lrs. has Corvette suspensinn kits meant for hot [(.('r.y a [ear suspension kit. If the stand-alone dssemblies seefn a bit expenSi\'l' or you Jikl' to get your b~1nds rt.H11 the factory that positions the rear vvhl'el slightly to the front of the fender opening. you should consider the position of the \. Not long ago thl' options Jist here included mostly the con\'l'rted Con'l'tte or Jaguar rear sus~ pension systems. independent or solid axle.' . This is Yankee ingenuity at its best.' anyl hot rod application. Available in various widths. the three-bar proFor' the ultimate in sex appeal. fhe final inst. and necessary brackets. Kugel. A few of the catalogs offered kits that made it possible to convert one of the sy'stems to street rod use. independent fear suspensions come in (1S many flavors as ice erL'am. Fat Man makes complete rear subframc~ to c{)nvcrt C5 (late-model) Corvette components to neiHl)-. and is often seen on true d rag-race cars. who likes to roll the mock-up outside so he can stand back and reallv assess ho\v the car "sits" and how all the parts wo'rk together. No matter vl. Or. too. If you bu. upper link and a Panhard rod. try' a bulletproof Ford 9-inch as the foundation of a \. Novv add axles available in \'arious lengths. readv for installation into the chassis of vour choice.Y trick independent rear suspension sy'stem.. Som(~ fat-fendered (. This is another reason to spend time vvith the car mocked-up in the shop with the chassis at ride height. vvhich means you probdbly \vant to move the centerline back slightly. 7f'i .-vhccl in the rear fender opening (assuming there arc rear fenders).'all:y dirt~/ and do L'verything yourself.front suspension experiences caster change as the \Vhl'eJ goes over a bump.. Act Independent! y fhe street rod and hot rod industry has grown tremendously in the past]O or 15 y'ears. these independc·nt rear suspensions come as a complete assembly vvith their own subframl'. and Outchman arc just three of the companies that manufacture complete stand-alone independent suspension 5}'Stems basl'd on the Furd 9-i1'1ch rear end. Chassis Engineering a \'ariety of hot rods. a nurnber of companies offer kits that allovv the adaptation of Corvette rear sllspensions to street rod usc. 'Thl' Deuce pickup rear' end and comes with its own cr'Oss-mernber for ease of insta!ifltion Heidt's illustrated in the In thl' Shop sequences in this chapter uses just such a system. this assembly is based on the Fcwd 9~inch launch."vide range of independent rear suspensions a\'ailable ftn the typical hot rod.lllment in this coil-spring: suspension treatise is a seldom lbed suspension called a threl'-bar.vhere is that growth more i:lppiUenl than in the .leis.: stdrt to be installed in vour hot rod If you're afraid that thl' torqul' of street {--{etni or 502-ci Chevy v\'ill spit those Jaguar spider gears out onto the p<:1yement. Art Morrison. Extremely durablc. ask the manufacturer where in the fendenvel1 their kit positions the rear \vheel. cunnected to heavyduty U-joints. Novv add one shorter. Heidt's. Today. supported by trick cast or billet aluminum supports.ystcms were designl'd from tht. Simpler than a four-bar. These rear ~uspenslon s. follmy the c·xample of builder Steve M(ktl. it's haf"d to beat a polished independent reEH' \'idcs good traction and c1 good suspension.

mendations as \Vell.:1 total of 3 inches of travel and that the shock would be 13 inches long from eye to eve v\'hen fullv extended. "But before 1 called Aldan.\'ant the rcar end to have. vvhich they gave as 250 lb/in hased on the wtwelbase. made up fl"tllTI square tubin[j and cut to just slide between the kame rails. NCJl suggests that two of the major considerations affecting the locJtion of the rcar end and the installation of the suspension is "thc amount of trdvcl you \-. The suspension to be used on this Deuce pickup is .bar ::>uspcJlsion (i'ilh coi/-crucr sh"ocks." explains Neal. Neal took the easy \-vay out by calling Aldan and asking them for a recommendation. and the capacity of the fuel tank. figure the angle of the shocks. )/OL1 can weigh the car." vVhcl1 it comes to choosing the correct springs. supported by coil-over shocks lnountcd behind the axle housing. vvhere the rear end would sit. but if I'd needed help Deuce Factory CiHl provide some fecom. The installation of the rear end and suspension reallv started v\'l1l'n Neal and John did the mockup ()n the truck.1 three-bar. ! determined those dinlensions during the mock-up. That's when they decided how much rake the truck neecicLt hcnv tall the tires \vollld be. Aldan m<lkl's shocks with various types of attaching Neal deslflnclil the upper' and IOVVElI' rnmHlts to put the shock which is the t~lcJan All of this on the detenTlined the The upper shDck mounts are part of the rear crosscnembel'. and ho'w much room there is for the shocks. and then llse charts and graphs to determinl' the necessar~/ spring rate. 71) . IIJ already kne\v 1 \votdd hd\'P . the engine. dnd ultimately.W e continue to document the consl'ructiol1 of the stretched Deuce truc!e This ilI::ifallmcnt pre:scllts the installation of the rear {Lyle and thrcc"." Like most shock absorber manutJcturers.

and located so the upper' and lower shock mounts ar'[! pedectly parallel.The cross~rnember must be installed evenly from side to side. Neal rnakes sum the cross-member is level both fmrn side to side. and fmnt to Ti . Before taCk-welding it into place.

These ewe mild steel mock~ups of the links that will be swepF18d later for stainless Even the wH! be mplaced, Ewe the saille made from the sarTle 3/16-inch wall, used for the final stainless lirtks.

points on either end. 'The pair installed here have urethane bushings on either end! dnd J11etal sleeves inside each bushing. The flexibll' bushings 'will compensate for minor misalignment of the two supporting pins, and the urethane makes a highqualit)'1 silent bushing. Based on the suggestions from Aldan, Neal installed llw ,..,hocks at {j :iO-degree angle, \vith the frame and axle at ride height. Aldan also n:commends that the shocks be one-third of the wav compressed VI/hen the- n.:hide is at ride height. f~ Neal's case, the suspension has:> inches of travel·",· from ride height to the end of travel (on compression) is 2 indll\s! while from ride height to the end of tra\'(:l on extension is 1 inch. The Aldan shocks dre their lTwdci A54 with adjustments for rehound damping, ;::IS \-vell as for ride height. Neal plans to instaJl a simpk> conjcal rubber snubber on either side to prOVide a positive stop to sllsFwllsion movement. (Vlnunting the suspension lin ks is made casier with the reiH U1d dnd fr{lme 1110unted on the

Nea! shows the eventual location of the Panhard rod; it will mount lower because there's no upper suspension link with travel up and duwn," says Neal. "That way the on the left sid8~ "The bar should be level at ride [lut.!""IU doesn't lTlove sid8~tu~side when the suspensiDn goes up and down."

78

In order to match the ride height and suspension travel, it will be necessary to notch the frame, Neal made a template from light board (not shown], marked the frame, and then cut it out with a cut-off wheel.

The filler' piece was formed teorn flat mild steel the same thickness as the frame rails, though Neal suqgests that "for' a lot of people, a piece of large-diameter pipe would be better because it's air'eady fmTned.'"

Neal Will tack-weld the filler Into place and then car'efully finish weld it with the TIG [Tungsten Inert Gas] welder,

79

finishcicl C·section is '1 inch deep, twicE_; us deep as Neal needed to net the c:cwr8ct E1I'liount of movemellt on cmnDI'8CISlon. «The C will allow me tu put a rubbel~ snubber up in the Dpex of the C," Neai.

table at ride height. Once Neal determined the pinion angle (more later), he could Jay out the two 10\\,('[ links and the single upper link. The lower bars arc made up fronl tubing just for the rnnck-up, but they are the' same If'ngth ,1S standard, off-theshelf four-bar links. By using standard dimensiems, il's easy to buy polished stainless links for the final assembly. VVith everything jn the jig, Neal was able to tack-weld tabs to the axle housing and then install the temporary 10\,ver Jinks, Jnd thus dctcrmint' v\'l1.cre the front mounting brackets should go. "I put the brackets and bars insjde the frame rail; normally people instalJ them on thl' bottom of the frame r<lil," explains Nl'al. "This \vay they're a little higher and they abo don't interfere \vith the installdtion of the running boards_ The shorter upper link is nl0untcd on the right ~jde of the axle housing. Like thl' ]o\ver links, this shorter link \-\,i11 be replaced 'with a stainless link, though the finished upper link 'will
fl

With the Cwsections 'finished, Neal i~; able to put the axle housing back into place and weld up the pivot points for' the thren·bal' links

BO

the Panhard rod \voulJ have to be mounted higher. for mounting hardware. like the uppl'r mounting bolts for the shocks. and the issues surrounding stainless bolts.) The finished suspension. For the nuts I like Nyloc so r know they won't back off." (See the hardware chapter for a discussion of doubleshear. so it won't run into the upper link on the left side. minus the suspension stops and the final stainless links. Because this three-bar suspension uses no upper link on the left side. 81 . Lower links have been moved in from their' more common position in order to keep them higher and out of the way of the running boal'ds. he says. are essentially loaded in single-shear and those will be chrome. grade-I:) bolts.The rear shocks are model 654 from Aldan. One of the things that Neal likes about the three-bar is the way it allows more room for the Panhard rod and the exhaust. Mounting points on the frame are built fmm 3/16-inch plate. Single-shear. the Pan hard rod can be mounted lower so there's no chance it \vill contact the floor of the pickup box. Neal plans to use stainless bolts on the lower links because. so there is~'t much load on the bolt itself. Some of the other bolts. Neal shows how.:'ilvy-wa'lI stainless tubing used for the standardized lower links. The lower mount acts as a spacer so the spring doesn't hit the rear end housing. with a standard four-bar setup. "These are loaded in double-shear. and also spreads out the load of the lower mount. it helps to put the frame on jack stands and then use the fJoor Jack to get the lower mount to a height that matches the position of the lower' eye on the shock be made up special by Deuce Factory from the same hf. To install the rear shocks. adJustabJe for rebound damping and for ride height. equipped with a 250-1b/ln spring.

"We always set the suspension up so the shackles are at a 4S-degree angle.ct1lv All of that is already set on the jigs we US(.nds and details each individual leaf so H II there are no sharp corners or rough edges. The noise is an issue but it can be greatly diminished by using their helical-cut gears instead of the straight-cut gears. once stated. most ar(' money ahead to let SO-CAL set up the fcar end and chassis. a testaall the work that Pete and Shane put into VI.. VVt'! start with the bare housing with no ends. In SO-C AL ofiers both buggy and coil rear suspensions desibrned to handle either a or a quick-change Halibrand rear end. I just ordered one and it's here today . Shane's final 'words of advice to home builders includes a warning to check that the rear end is centered and square in the chassis." explains Shane. or too luuch pinion angle. "Basically. "a buggy spring but only if it's exactly the right buggy springs used in the back of a . you need to measure diagonally from either side of the housing up to the center of the front cross-member. and vveld the brackets on with the housings in a jig. lower shock stud manufactured. so now we've had our own." Befort' spring got's into a car. The leafs are po\vder coated and the assembly is greased between the leafs so there is no harshness to the ride.terled and the ends are welded on with the in their jig. the rear ends were originally designed for roundyround G1fS. It's much better to it's engineered to go together.r end. But now the reliability is pretty good. the crew at SO-CAL gri." When asked about the pros and cons of the venerable f'lalibrand rear end. The detailing doesn't stop there. "In the past Pete would always take spare parts when he took one of these cars on the road. Though you can buy the frame bare and install the rear suspension yourself. longer. for someone \\'ho V\rants the car really low.U~:Jdm. one that \vas iIt a car that rode really welL We took that to a company and they"used it as the template." The typical SO-CAL setup requires "C-ing" the frame and provides 3 1 /2 inches of travel between the housing and the snubber. Another well-known street rod Brizio. "Y Ott could buv all the brackets and weld them onto the: 9-inch~ housing. Tht~n the housings go to Currie.finl' rear suspension works really well.or 1 1 /2-inch spacer between the spring and the frame.. where they are sh'ailsh. car are made speCially to their specificatirms. If you have any of those off a lityou create a bind. but the spring has the shackles in tension which pretty much eliminates the need for the Panhard rod." explains Shane. We've seen some installations \vhere the shock hits the axle housing. Of course. A of ('ight parts have to be welded to the rear end housing. Guvs \vho \·vant to race around corners might st1ll n~ed one. It's a lot of work but the results nPl'fef'tlv straight housing. The most popular of the rear suspension optifms at SO-CAL is the buggy spring matched up to a Ford 9-inch rear end. that spacer can be removed." 82 . After ali.n. we is a custom spring.In The Shop: A Rear Axle Installation at SO-CAL A nyone familiar with the typical SO-CAL chassis think that the only rear suspension use 11 buggy spring supporting a 9-inch ten. To quote Shane again. The springs are installed with a 1. Shane described it as /Ian awesome product that is now available on a timely basis. wrhat way they don't need a Panhard rod. but I don't recommend that YCJlt spend a ton of time getting the brackets the pinion angle right.~ to set the rear end.r. IIThey need to make sure that the rear end is square in the car. When putting in ladder bars. The other thing to watch out for is whether or not the lower shock stud positions the shock far enough away from the axle hOUSing. we started with a '40 Ford spring that we had tweaked. It's a tOf'pll)Pr dea l. and the shocks set cnrrc. Lots of people don't do that and the rear end is cocked and then the car doesn't go straight dtnvn the road. in order to get the back end of the highboys up high enough." Owners of SO-CAL cars report that the buggy ".

Neat as a pin. a Deuce with Jaguar suspension front and rear. which is done in LA. When I decided to do my own system I used geometry similar to the Jag's because that's what I'm accustomed to and I know it works. Jerry. what should I look for. The Jaguar stuff was better looking. In the late 1960s there wasn't much to choose from. or by. ferry Kugel. and we always used the Jag components.~)r. any shop. would be looking at reUrenu:nt. find one or tzuo additional employee. and then in 1969 [ started my own shop doing general repair. simply becau::>e he's still lwoins. as a mechanic. the only thing we don't do is the casting. By the early 1980s. his tuJO sons. J decided I wanted to build my own fully-independent front end assembly. I built my first car. and generally he can see good workmanship. most of the OEM stuff from Detroit had ugly stamped A-arms. I always liked the hot rods and I always did some of that work in the shop. It used unequal-length A-arms and had camber change as the suspension went through its range of motion. so it had good geometry. In 1983 I sold the garage and went into street rodding full time. Y()u could adapt the XKE suspension to a hot rod easily. Jaguar used the same system in their ra"ce cars of the day. [uay too much fun at Kugel Komponcl1l's to give it all lIl'- Q. just big enough for Jerry. The shop ifsc~f isn't huge. how can I tell which is the best system to buy' A. We try to build everything in-house. either front or rear.In The Shop: Jerrv Kugel on Suspensions Q. Most of our customers are referrals. the KlIXel work space houses f1 variety of hot rod chassis under construction. Why have you chosen to cast your parts from stainless instead of having them cut out of billet alumin urn? A. can you give us a little history on the shop and tell us how you came to be one of the best-known manufacturers of street rod suspensions? A. Q. 'Have/un ruhile you work" might be a phrase coined . Q. with competent SO/1S to run the succes~ful business. You don't have to spend all that time cutting a piece out of billet. By 1975 the work in the shop was 50/50. There's so much precision in the part when it's first cast that we only have to do very minimal n1achining. Why did you first lise Jaguar components? A. The man running the wellknown Kugel Komponents shop I1dmils that he "gets a litHe bored on the weekends" Tvller! he doesn't come in to the shop. I started in 1960. or half hot rod work. A fellow can come in the shop. al1d one corner ft!!' their Bonneville car. Jeff and Joe. That may Hot be a likt!ly opUon /<)J' Jerry.. I was always into suspension work. After doing that first car I started putting suspensions in for other people. a group of display chassis with Kugel front suspensions on them.::. t1 work area where ferry ossernhles the indcpen~ dent rear sItspensions. If I'm in the market for 0 complete suspension. and I thought it looked nice. the labor rates are such that this method works better for us. 83 . Well. If the shop is orderly and neat it's more likely that the work will reflect that. You can cast stainless like we do [lost wax or investment casting] and you have very little Inachining. fuywevCJ'. in 1970. It was all stainless and I was the first one on the block to make a complete assembly like that and sell it to street rodders and builders. Jerry says that as time goes on he tUrns morc and more of the business oZier to his tzvo sons. Most bliSillc" fOllnders in Jerry's position.

In The Shop

continued
only use one coil-over per side. The }{nver arm is designed so it can be cut off to match the length of the half shaft. Our normal range in width is from 54 to 62 inches, hub to hub.
Q. What arc the adI1{mtages of using dent suspension in the rear of the car?
al1

Q. Your business has grown a lot over the yean;,

hOlD big do you see Kugel Kompol1cnts becoming? A. I prefer to stay small. I don't want 30 employees, I'm happy with the size we are, that way I can keep an eye on things.

indepen-

Q, The independent rear-end assemblies are a more recent product for you. Can you describe them and how you came to lHfwup1Clurc those as {oell? .A. We were using Jag rear ends, installing them
in street rods. But they were getting harder and harder to find, and when we got one, it was in terrible shape. I knew it would come to a point where I had to step up to building my own independent rear suspension. 1 took a lot of the points from a how the lower control arms are affixed and the way they use the half shafts as suspension components, The Corvette suspension is similar. [ tried to make it easy to build and install. It's easier to put the rear end in than the front, and that helps the builders and dealers. It was necessity. We use a 9-inch Ford third-member, we cast up a housing and have that heat treated. Currie makes our axles, either with 31 or 28 splines. We use Corvette calipers mounted inboard and our own custom rotors. The lower arms are investment cast stainless steel or round tube. We use a Corvette hub bearing pack, the upright is our own, made from cast aluminum. The halfshafts are variable in length. On heavier cars we use two coil-overs per side; it makes fm a really nice ride. On the lighter cars we

A. Ride quality and handling. With independent on the front and rear, the cars ride betterthere is no comparison. With a typical hot rod going down the road, you bounce as you go over bumps and railroad tracks. With an independent suspension you have less unsprung weight, and they ride so much better. Plus they look great and can be tailored to any application.

Q. When a persnn buys or installs a complete suspension systcnl, what should he or she look out for? A. All of our products are built to perfection. The installer has the brunt of the responsibility. I've seen supposedly good installers screw up the installation. Choose the builder with care--there are good onE'S and not so good ones. Competition has kept it good, the bad shops get weeded out. SEMA helps to police the industry too. Q. Ally final words of wisdom? A. I'm real fortunate to have a job I like-on

weekends when I don't come to the shop I get a little bored. I also have two great kids who help me run the shop; they're an enormous amount of help to me. I'd have to say I'm pretty lucky.

84

Shocks and Springs
T
he hot rod world uS,es at least three types of springs and two types of shock absorbers. Though shocks and springs might seem simple, they are in fact complex and certainly important enough to warrant a separate chapter. First, let's start with a spring that supports a weight If you compress the spring and let go, it doesn't just bounce back to the starting point. No, it goes well past that point before reversing direction and going through a series of diminishing osciilations which eventually bring it back to the starting point. If we are describing the spring that supports one con1C-'r of your hot rod, the-up-and down motion makes it difficult to keep the car under controL

This spring pack is specifically manufactur'ed to work with the 1940-Ford-style rear main leaf and provide a good ride and the corl'ect ride height on a 1932 Ford, SO-CAL

The buttons seen on the end of these leafs are intended to eliminate the internal ff'iction and smooth out the rlde. Posies

85

This narrowed Model A rear spring is intended to be used with the Model A-style quick-change crossmecuher. SO-CAL

The front spi-ing needs to be matched to both the weight of tile car and the specific front axle being used. Tills exmnple from SO-CAL, designed to work with 1932 Fords, is 8V8i~8ble in three distinct versions. SO¥CAL

To dampen tl.l0se oscillations, a shock absorber is used to prevent the spring from going through the 'whole series of uncontrolled oscillations. What's a Spring? Springs are classified by their rate, that is, how fa r they move vvhen supporting a certain weight. rhe spring that's part of a hot rod coil-over might he rated at 201l pounds per inch, meaning that 200 pounds '.''lill compress the spring 1 inch. Most coil springs are linear in their rate: if 200 pounds compresses the spring 1 inch, 400 will displace it 2 inches (ob\·iously this will change as a coil spring approaches coil bind). A variable-rate spring provides a progressive rate, By winding the coils more tightly at one end (or by decreasing the diameter of the wire) the engineer is able to create a spring with a soft rate for the first inch or two of travel, and a stiffer rate for the final h\'o inches of tr<'lvel. If vou think about it, a typical It'af spring with five ~)f more leafs is a
S6

variahle-rate spring. A soft bump will cause only the long main leaf to deflect slightly while a big pot hole might deflect all the leaves in the pack. What \ve call leaf springs should be described technically as semi-elliptical leaf springs. Full-elliptic springs are seen on some early cars and consist of two sets of leaves acting against each other. The two sets form a full ellipse. Most of these consist of a pack of flattened "leaves." The !l1<'1in leaf has an eye at either end; these eyes attach to the frame, with a bushing at one end and a shackle <'It the other. Both Detroit and the hot rod aftermarket manufacture leaf springs that consist of only one leaf, with no pack of smaller leafs. Leaf springs have been very popular from the earliest days of the automobile and 'were in fact used to soften the ride on great granddad's buggy. Part of the allure of leaf springs, espeCially in the early days of automobiles, is the relative ease with which ~)I1e can he huilt. Even the local blacksmith can hammer one out from a piece of heated steel and then give it temper with a dip in the vat of cooling water. Leaf springs have a second advantage: they locate the axles or suspension members, thereby simplifying the construction of early automobiles. The downside to a leaf spring includes a certain minimal sex appeal. Besides that, leaf springs are heavier for a given capacity than a coil spring. However, they compensate for some of that weight gain by eliminating one or more suspension arms. When I spoke with Ken Fenica 1, o\vner of Posies and perhaps the best-known manufacturer of hot rod springs, he was L'xcited about quarter elliptic springs. Essentially, these applications take what we call a leaf spring and cut it in half. Seen recently on the front of some nifty track-roadstertype hClt rods, the quarter elliptic bolts the thickest part of the spring pack to the frame and then attaches the end of the main leaf to the axle. Coil springs take their name from the shape of the spring. Both the coil spring used on the front of a Mustang IJ type of suspension and the spring used to wrap a modern coil-over are coil springs, yet they display different properties, which we \vill consider shortly. As mentio;1ed, coil springs are rated in weight per distance (lhlin in the United States). The simplest springs arc linear in their strength. Some springs are said to be "progressive," meaning the coils are wound tighter on one end than the other. Some manufacturers offer a dual-rate spring made up of two different springs stacked on top of each other. Small bumps compress hoth springs, vvhich provides a softer effective rah'. When the softer spring coil hinds, then the rate of the stiffer spring kicks in.

Buying Springs Buying leaf springs is pretty much a matter of matching your needs to the growing number of spring options in the catalog. These springs are typically listed by the application, not by their rate. In terms of strength and how high from the ground a particular spring will put your car, the best advice comes from the individual manufacturer. Many of the springs are available in standard form or de-arched to help get the car low and minimize the need for lowering blocks. De-arching is an option for any leaf spring (and a better idea than removing individual leafs). You need to decide how much lower you want the

car and give that specification to the boys at the spring shop. Before proceeding, consider that dearching effectively makes the spring longer and
can create an unusual shackle angle. In some cases

the upper shackle pivot may have to be moved
back an inch or two.

If your street rod runs coil springs at one or both ends, then the options for spring choice are a little different. In the case of a Mustang-type suspension, the springs are usually ordered at the time you buy the suspension kit. If the springs come from the junkyard or swap meet, remember that not all Mustang fIs or Pintos carne with the sanle springs. Later cars and cars with air conditioning or the V-6 engine

used heavier springs. The best recommendation for spring strength in these cases can probably be had
from the manufacturer of the suspension kit.

For the bow-tie fan come these leaf spring kits available for most 1932 to 1948 Chevrolets. Posies

When you go looking for coil springs in the junkyard, remember the formula for coil-spring stiffness. Stiffness = Diameter of the spring wire (W) taken to the fourth power, times a constant (G, the shear modulus for spring steel), divided by 8 times the number of active coils (N), times the diameter of the spring (D) taken to the third power. Written it looks like this: Stiffness = W'xG/8xNxD' Note that very small increases in the diameter of the coil wire make large changes in spring stiffness. Second, by cutting the number of coils you make a coil spring stiffer, not softer (the number of

Complete leaf spring kits designed to provide a nice low ride height are available to fit most Ford and 8M cal's. Chassis Engineering
87

Then when he died I took that sign and put it on my own building. for the buttons. Q: How did you come up with the buttons 0/1 the end of each leap A: I started doing that as early as 1963. has been manufacturing springs for more than 25 year's K en Fenical. I've always had an interest i11 cars.orne background 011 you and the is a name that I took off my father's Hower shop building. I would n1ake springs to fit them. even when I was younger. When I was a kid my nickname was Posies. They work good and they've been well accepted in the industry. I promised Jim Ewing from Super Bell that if he brought out more axles. Ken is a man with some sound advice for anyone who's puz:zled by the many different springs 'on the market today. is well known as the builder of street rods that expand the envelope in a design sense. When 1 was a kid if something broke Dad would buy me the 88 . With over 30 years of experience. Q: How did YOIl happen to focus on springs and suspensions? A: Well. rather than giving me the money to pay someone else to do the repair. We kind of picked our own trade name. give tl~ :. Joe Mayall from Street Scene magazine took a picture of the spring and fan it as a new product release and that's really where it started. He is also the best-known manufacturer of springs and spring kits for hot fods. and when I got myoid 1930 Model A panel truck I put the name on the side. as a way to eliminate the friction between the leafs. tools to fix it. That was in 1964. moly nylon.In The Shop: Ken Fenical (Posies) on Hot Rod Springs Ken Feniest known to most people in the industry as Posies. owner of Posies. I was already haVing: springs manufactured for my customers' cars. I took those to the regional Nationals in Maryland. because by then I was ready to open my own business. Later I cut a flower outline and the letters from a piece of steel and put them on my father's building. Then in 1975 I had 30 springs made to fit the Super Bell dropped axle.

The result is a stiff sidewall and a harsh ride. It's hard to beat the ride of a multipack leaf spring. If you call and say it's a '32. so we can determine how heavy it is. but street rodders don't run them. How do Il'ick the right front spring F" my axle? A. which allows for enough adjustment without binding the spring. Obviously the spring won't move like it should and the ride is terrible. the very best riding spring in my opinion is large-diameter coils. We have 12 springs for all the combinations of axles on the marketplace today. We sell both. And if it's done properly the leaf will mushroom and thin out toward the end of each leaf. Those are just a few of the things we see. reversed eye. and which is easier to install. In those cases they can put in one of our adjustable spring perches. and they come in three different heights: stock eye. they talk about a "Hollywood 1\011. They need a new spring. it's what gives it the right deflection properties. If you call us. That's the way the HolIywood Spring shop made the springs in' the 1940s and that's where the name comes from. we will ask you \lvhich brand of axle y~)U have and what is the" perch distance. Q: Suppose I'm building a hot rod with a dropped front axle. When it~ comes to parallel leafs versus coHovers. Or they're simply running an old spring. and it's stiff because of the embrittlement that takes place over time. However.Q: When people talk abon! springs. They ride the same. because that will help to lower the car." What is a Hollywood Rom A: When a spring leaf comes out of the furnace it goes through a set of rollers. On '28 through' 48 cars. In fact our newest spring is a Hollywood Roll-type of buggy spring with hidden buttons so it looks reallv traditional. Q: For rear suspension. 89 . lt's more a matter of whether people want that traditional suspension. we also ask what is your kingpin distance and the wheel width-this is just so we know you aren't going to have tire-to-fender clearance problems. hands down. but I've had plenty of customers take out the coil-overs and install 1eafs. and reversed eye low spring. the parallels out-ride the coils.And we also need to know if the car js a coupe/roadster or a sedan. which means they're too hard for a street rod. zolzat (lre some of the advantages and disadvl7ntages (~f a buggy versus parallel leaf Q: What kind of mistakes do people make in buying springs and suspension for their hot rods? A: They run the pressure reconlmended by the tire manufacturer in radial tires. like the SO-CAL chassis does. Sometimes they've put a bind on the front spring trying to achieve enough caster on a raked frame with a stock cross-member. springs? And how do coil-overs compare to lCi~f springs? A: There are no disadvantages to a buggy spring versus parallel leafs. we need to know if the frame has a Model A crossmember. Those last 3 or 4 inches of spring are real important. which is a lot lighter than a typical sedan. I should note that the frame may need to be notched for spring clearance on most '28 through '34 cars wht'n using the lowest spring.

d concept that OEM auto and truck manufacturers have used for some time. you need to use a 227 lb / in spring to get a true 200 lb/in spring rate. As the name suggests. Experienced builders advise owners that it's better to go too soft than too hard when choosing springs. Coil springs have the capacity to kill and maim. As the spring gets bigger in diameter. where F is the force applied to the spring strut.Built from billet aluminum. it also gets softer. The problem is the tendency of these early shocks to exert their greatest resistance at the beginning of movement. or "coil bind. Pete and Jake's Polished shock bodies and chrome-plated springs make for a good-looking coilover.. At this point we have to insert a warning label concerning coil springs: A compressed coil spring stores an enormous amount of energy. Note that a constant-rate coil spring should never bottom out. Before buying coil-overs for your car. especially important when the suspension is highly visible. ask for help or truck the 'whole thing doum to the local suspension or front-end shop. you have to use the correction factor to arrive at the correct spring rate. yet for all intents and purposes the air spring offers the hot rodder a spring with a progressive rate without the need for sophisticated linkages or speci(lily wound coils. Be sure the coil springs aren't too long for the job and that the axle hits the snubber before either the shock or coil spring reach the end of their travel. Once the initial "stiction" is overcome. Shock Absorbers Damper is the correct term to use when describing the hydraulic device that dampens the oscillations of a spring. ()ne is light weight. this Viper coil-over is meant for street rod applications. these are available with a variety of springs and offer a six-position adjustment for rebound damping. these early shocks worked by rubbing a series of discs together to dampen the up-and-down movement of the springs. and a is the area of the piston. Like leaf springs. The first shocks were friction shocks. shock absorbers have been used since the earliest days of the automobile. a friction shock offers reduced resistance to movement. New to hot rods is the air spring. In the real world there probably is some bag deflection and some temperature change. if your coil-overs are mounted at a 20-degree angle from vertical. Available for front or rear. Like most high-quality shocks. if not. Ever the innovator. As the coil-over moves frOlTI vertical to horizontal. So. This is pretty much the opposite of what an engineer looks for in a shock absorber. Henry Ford was one of the fjrst to . The manufacturer of the spring for your coilover may offer to exchange them if they turn out to be too stiff or too soft-it's something worth 90 considering when looking at two c0l11peting brands of coil-overs. the effective strength of the spring is reduced. the Viper has adjustable valving for rebound damping. Air springs come to the party vvith a number of inherent advantages. Heidt's coils is on the bottom of the formula). consider the mounting angle of the shock and spring assembly. another is the air spring's progressive nature. Some of the charts mentioned earlier are already corrected for lean. Third. If you aren't familiar with the removal and installation of coil spring. p is the air pressure." When you bottom out the coil it stresses the metal and causes fatigue. small changes in the diameter of the spring itself result in relatively large increases in stiffness. when you cut the area in half you double the pressure. At a 20-degree lean.:. The formula for an air spring reads as follows: F = pa. Assuming there is no temperature change in the air and that the bag or air spring does not deflect (which would change the volume). for example. the effective spring rate is only 88 percent of the original rating. Most manufacturers offer technical assistance in the choice of both springs and shocks for your car.

One of the goals of any good suspension system is to keep the tires on the pavement. and many of these use gas charging (more later) to improve the characteristics of a standard hydraulic shock absorber. which makes them want to continue moving in an upward direction even after tht: pavement falls away.vn depends on thl' ratio of sprung to unsprung weight. understand the importance of shock absorbers. and body-is considered sprung weight. terms you're llkely to see jf you pick up a book or article about suspension design for cars. and all the lines and fittings. and wheels to buy. tubular hydraulic shocks are \'irtually the only type used. It's also a factor you should consider when trying to decidp which shocks.lshes oit through 91 . tires. weight supported by and acting on the springs. and hub asse111bly-'~'"as they. controls the movement of the unsprung weight-the wheel. Consider your car as it goes do\vn the road and hits a sharp bump. tubular shocks have a piston inside that pt. reservoir tank. that is. Today. or how fast the spring is compressed as :you hit a certain bump at a certain speed.:nvay from the car. the system includes an air compressor. Henrv's early shocks were lever-action hvdraulic ~hocks. even on an inexpensive car.". and brake components on the other hand are considered unsprung weight. In addition to the control pane!. engine. \vhen he specified hydraulic lever shocks for the new Model A.I I A complete air-suspension system requires more than just an air bag at each corner. Simply put. The problem at this point is the momentum nf the wheel and tire.veight.ving to force apart the wheel and the frame. The compressed spring is tr. The compression damping of the shock Jb~ sorber controls the sprung \veight of the car. however. A lighter wheel/tire/brake assembly will react more quickly to irregularities in the road vvhile . compressing the spring. Most of the car-the frame.. brakt-'s. The bump forces the wheel up. The rebound thunping. The wheels.though today most cars al'e equipped with tubular shocks. Unsprung Weight and Shock Absorbers At this point we need to digress and discuss sprung and unsprung .' change direction and move . tire. When the bump in question drops away quickly you \\rant the v"heeJ to change direction rapidly and stay in contact with the asphalt.1t the same time feeding less energy into the [est of the chassis. How much of the spring's energy raises the car and how much of it forces the tire dm.

. A shock that works too hard. the snubber effectively acts as another spring.internal valves and passages as the shock is compressed and extended. exception. or even bre. Jim Sleeper from SO-CAL points out that in cars vvith very limited suspension travel. h()\. manufacturers can alter the rate of compression and rebound to suit a particular vehicle. The spacer rnoves the coil* over away from the rear end and also spreads the load to two mounting holes instead of just one. from pistons to shafts. and the oil itself to change viscosity dut. "in some cases the size and design of the built-in snubber can be changed. Like aJI rules. l-Iot rod shock absorbers tend to be valved closer to 50/50 (the same on compression and rehound). In d quality shock absorber. ror better cooling. all the components. the body of the shock can be made of aluminum. The valves that control the damping are much more sophisticated to better handle a varlety of road conditions and driving styles.. To prevent aeration of the 011.Jk the mount. essentially creating a shock that automatically changes its rate frolll soft to firm. This lower rear coil-over stud is intended to space the shock far enough away from the housing that the spring won't I-ub on the rear end. A high-quality shock senses this speed of movement and unseats a large orifice so the shock is effectively softer in this situation. These cushions are made from some high-tech material developed by firms like Koni to take the place of the external rubber and synthetic snubbers seen on most OEM applications. will heat up as the result of that friction. Speaking of snubbers. The same shock will open a smaller orifice for a smaller bump. and those are hard enough to "bounce the car up into the air" you're going to have a car that's very hard to handle. That exception is the shocks.tent damping as the piston moves through an aerated froth of hot oil. the amount of oil is' increased. Cheap shocks allow air to mix vV'ith the oil. Deuce Factory 92 . bind. to the heat. this one has an This lower coil-over bracket comes with three mounting holes for height adjustment. To better handle the heat. experienced builders say they often see cars \vhere the upper and lower shock mounting pins (on a double-eye design) aren't paralleL Though most of these eves are lined with rubber.vever. Inconsistent damping control and aerated oil are problems overcome by high-quality shock absorbers. mainly (oilovers. Either situation results in poor and inconsl:. Though it's generally alright for the shock to limit the suspension travel in extension. are larger and built to higher standards. Buy the Good Stuff Fluid friction provides the damping in a modern shock absorber. Serious misaHgnment can cause the shock to wear out prematurely. SO-CAL Mounting Tips Though it sounds too obvious to mention. you d()n't want the shock to be the limiting factor on compression. By changing the internal valving and oil viscosity in a shock. If your car routinely hits the suspension stops. The mort. We've stated more than once the fact that shocks aren't meant to take the place of the rubber suspension snubbers.' sophisticated shocks use valves that respond to speed and inertia. or filled with a premium oil that won't change viscosity. the rubber bushings will only compensate for n1inor misaligml1ent. A sharp bump encountpred at relatively high speed compresses the shock very quickly. the shock is gas-charged. A Detroit sedan might come with shocks that are much softer on compression than thev are on rebound--done as a means of achieving a good compromise between ride and suspension contnJ1. that come with a small synthetic donut located on the shaft just under the head (sec the photo).

Street rods ask a lot of their suspension components.)Ve~. We need a stronger spring to compensate for the lean angle of the coil-over so we divide the original number." The discussion of shock mounting brought up the subject of coil-overs and how the springs should be chosen.75 = 178 pounds per inch. If the coil-over is mounted at a 3D-degree angle. 93 . If the distance from the center of the car to the wheel is 20 inches and the shock is mounted at 15 inches. "Shocks need to be as straight up as possible and as close to the wheel as thev can be. "and then the car gets shot up into the ail'.75 = 133. the might be calledand some are {abricators. by ." Of course. And the car should be built so that if all four tires go flat. If you mount them at an angle. So far Jim's example goes like this (all numbers are rounded to the closest whole number): 1. tires. Once they have eno"gh travel and they have the right spring. then you need to pay attention to the compensation table that most shock manufacturers provide. If you ask Jim where hot rodders and street rodders make their suspension mistakes. he thinks it's by talking to the wrong people: "People who don't really know what they're talking about when it comes to suspensions. More recently Jim 'worked u. wheels. For a hot rod with a soHd rear axle. he starts by weighing the back of the car. then it's 3/4 of the way out to the tire so you divide by .75. you have better leverage closer to the tire. The correction factor for a 30-degree lean is . eaclt person their Some are zue/ders I hasa large specialty. Sometimes they make it worse by limiting f. both for drag racing and SCCA. he factors in the position of the coilover relative to the wheel." explains Jim. for example. then subtracting fro111 that figure the unsprung weight-·. And before that he did chassis setup for competition cars. No shock can control that." :His other advice involves the quality of the suspension components that people huy: "The components should come from well-known manufacturers. You have such a small patch of rubber holding such enormous weight-they should check the tire pressures more often and take care that the alignment is correct. Jim likes his shocks close to vertical. rim says he got into the chassis business In/ accident. If you ask Jim how to pick the shocks for any given street rod. then you need to compensate for the angle with the correction factor.75 to arrive at the basic spring rate. Today. "I had a '68 Camaro and after 1 did a cnrb Si1O/ I had to fix the mr myself" . "The shock needs to be the right length. "What street rodders need in a shock is first to figure out the amount of travel in the suspension. Now he divides that weight by 2. Jim Sleeper is a man with answers to questions that most of us are asking. then they need to find the right shock-the shock is what controls the suspension. "People forget how important the tires are.ver shock mount-that's the most important safety rule there is.'Tls. 100/. Shocks with a single damping adjustment are letting the owner control the rebound damping. that's the rate vou need for the spring half of the vertical coil-. "The suspension runs into the bump stop all the time. Jim zeent on to auto111oti7x classes at Fullerton College and then to a big alignment shop. which greatly shortens the life of the shock absorher. so people who have those shocks need to understand the shock and get them adjusted correctly. he backs up right away and wants to talk about the suspension. Enough math.n shop like one at SO-CAL. brakes. Now. Compression is important but rebound is more important-it needs enough damping on rebound to control the suspension." The limited amount of travel allowed by many of these sllspensions makes it hard for any spring/shock combination to work correctly. With limited travel and very simple suspension desit. Jim is a man who can handle a front-end alignment in tlte morning and then use the CAD/CAM software on the compllter in the afternoon. Despite the advice of some shock manufacturers. The shock is the control part of the suspension. It needs enough rebound damping to control the spring. 133. And street rodders often don't al1o\v for enough suspension travel. Next he divides that figure by the number of inches of compression travel in the suspension. From fixing Camaros.'ven that travel. nothing hits the ground. by binding the front spring on a buggy spring setup.000 pounds/2 = 500.n'th companies like Bell Tech and Koni in the design (!f suspension components 1"1' lowered trucks.fhe weight of the axle. They need enough upand-down travel for the suspension to work. making a street rod ride and handle can be a challenge. some builders avoid the problem by ignoring the need for a bump stop. and half the shocks and springs. Jim's approach is very straightforward. so it doesn't bottom. 500/5 (inches of compression travel) = 100 pounds per inch. not the oil pan or one corner of the fran1e or a 1m. lim Sleeper the resident 'chassis expert.

1£ the car in question was a nice light coupe. This example uses 11 inch vented rotor's and full·size [not metr'ic) GM calipers. Eel 94 . What are called "big Mustang II" kits are not all the same. Second. things weren't always better . You'll notice that all the cu~rent ads for brakes in the hot rod and street rod press talk about how their system uses some derivative of the Mustang n suspension. some of the kits and components that were available left a Jot to be desired. that's another storv.OOn-pound highboy can't stop a car that's nearly twice as heavy. especially at high speed. well. if the car in question was a fat-fendered sedan with a big-block. The result was a hot rod with 9-1nch rotors and a Single-piston factory caliper. back then. there weren't nearly as many components and kits available the first-time builder. along with all necessary brackets and aluminum hubs. Case in point is the early Mustang II front suspension often used by street rodders looking for independtmt suspenSion." Well. While the suspension itself usually worked fine. everything worked just fine." Nearly everyone has learned their basic physics: brakes that work on a 2. and a small trailer out behind. many of those kits and clips Came with the factory Mustang II brakes. At least not for hot rodders. this kit does not move the wheels outboard. Unlike some. but one that's upgraded with '\rented II-inch rotors and a midsize GM (or something similar) caliper.Brakes P e()Ple are always talking about the "good old days. On the other hand. air conditioning. First.

probably well known. you are converting four times the kinetic energy into heat than you arc at 40 miles per hour. and they also provide more total braking power for a given amount of weight than do drum brakes.-in this case. and they have more total mass. they cool faster than drum brakes. Another formula: kinetic energy : : :. Pete and Jake's Designed to fit 1937 to 1948 Ford spindles. unless there are overriding aesthetic considerations. are better able to absorb the heat simply because of their increased surface arca (espl'cially IArith vented rotors) and mass. thiS kit uses an aluminum hub with O. heat. caliper brackets. redL In that case \vhat you want is more than just r~l\V 95 . After all. When ordering a!uminurn calipers. that the front Vented rotors handle the heat of stopping better due to the fact that the vents help them cool. Heidt's brakes do at least 70 percent of the stopping on a hard brake application. When you double the \veight you double the kinetic energy. wimpy r~tors from an American ecollo-box just aren't going to do the job for your "1940 Ford sedan.812-inch vented rotors. They use stock beal'ings and come in a variety of five-bolt patterns. So. it's a good idea to order them with stainless steel pistons. Doubling the speed prOdUCt5 four times the kinetic energy (all other factors being equal). and Wilwood fOUf'~piston alurninum calipers. and speed.Pete and Jake's offers another front brake kit with fourpiston Wilwood aluminum calipers and vented rotors. your car's kinetic energy equals half its weight multiplied by the speed squared. So. mass. nonvcnted. vou mav want to use discs in front and drums in Hl(.1/2My2. the front brakes should be discs. Finaity. You need bigger rotors and bigger calipers that can dissipate the heat. Tel The textbooks ta lk about kinetic (moving) energy Jnd explain the basic relationship between kinetic energy. Of course energy can't be created or destroyed. when you stomp on the brake pedal at 80 miles per hour. These vented rotors 81'e designed to replace the solid rotors that carne with many Mustano Us and Pintos. Second. the larger components. Thl'v'rc self-cleaning. Thus. these are hot rods. larger rotors allow you to use larger calipers. both rotors and calipers. What all this really means is that the little. The bigger rotors that now come standard with many brake kits work to your advantage in at least three ways: First. T'hese come with bigger pads that are better ablt' to grab hold of the spinning rotors. The other bit of physics that we should slip in here is the fact. Like manv Detroit manufacturers.-". only converted to another form-. the larger diameter gives the caliper more leverage. however. Increasing the speed makes a nonlinear change in energy.

the pressure created at the outlet to the master cylinder is applied fully to the pistons in the calipers or wheel cylinders. Thus. of force to a master cylinder with only 1/2 square inch of piston area. these new covers look exactly like a finned Buick brake drum. When you step on the brake pedzll. If you apply the same amount.The discussion of disc versus drum brakes brings up the Ill'\'\' disc brake system. you dis·· place hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder and create hydraulic pressure in the system. the way to achieve ll1aximum force on the brake pads is with a small 86 . 20 psi. With a backing plate styled after an early Ford and a cover that looks exactly like a Buick brake drum. then you've created twice the pressure. and a fluid cannot be compressed to a smaller volume. The pressure of the hydraulic fluid at the master cylinder outlet is determined by that old formula from high school: Pressure :::: Force/ Area. Thi~ new [car brake drum is actuallva CO\'Cf that slides o\'er the rear drums used on a. When you're buying or installing the brakes on your hot rod. it's a good idea to keep in mind the two 1a\\'5 that govern hydraulic behavior: Pressure in the brake svstem is equal over all surfaces of the system. So if we apply that 10 psi of pressure to the caliper vvith 1 square inch of piston area. If you put 10 pounds of force on the master cylinder piston with 1 square inch of area. designed by Paul Carrol and sold by the SO-CAL Speed Shop. this front brake kit from Magnum Axle utilizes an aluminum hub. This brings up the faScinating subject of hvdraulic ratios. SO-CAL has recentlv announced a l1CVV Buick drum for the rear. and bracket. caliper. you need brakes big enough h) handle the weight of your car. Whether it's a disc/drum system or pure discs. we also need volume. Remember that the full pressure created at the nlaster cylinder outlet is available to apply to either calipers or wheel cylinder pistons. The problem with all this hydraulic business is the fact that we need more than pressure. When vie\ved from the back."('nted rotor to provide good. Underneath are the real brake components: a Wilwood four-piston caliper squeezing a vented rotor mounted to an aluminum hub. SO-CAL What appeal-s to be a 8uick finned brake drum is really a simple cover. Now. Because the brake fluid is a non-compressible liquid. the SO-CAL "finned Buick brakes" usc a Wilwood two-piston aluminum caliper and 11-inch . vented rotor. the whole affair comes off looking like J very traditional set of drum brakes.typical Ford 9-in(h [car end. the force on the brake pad will be ]() pounds (Force ~ Pressure x Area). SO-CAL stopping power. 10 pounds. - How Your Brakes Work Designed to fit 1938 to 1948 Ford spindles. with front and rear components that are compatible. modern stopping power. None of this pressure is "used up" compressing the fluid link between the master cyUnder and the calipers. To match the Buick "drums" used on the front. and a master cylinder with a bore dianlcter of the right size to apply both the front and rear bakes. you have created a pressure of 10 psi. if you double the piston area you also double the force on the brake pad. A perfect combination of form and function. )\ demonstration might help explain the need to match the master cylinder with the calipers or wheel cylinders. You want balance in the total system (more later).

The first little fly in the ointment when building a combination system is that drum brakes require more pressure for their initial application than do disc brakes. these valves maintain a small amount of pn-'ssure on the drum brakes at all times. Drum brakes. any drum brake system. require approximately 125 psi to actually push the shoes against the drums with enough force to slow down the car." Instead they rely on the often-seen adjustable proportioning. this pressure keeps the lips of the cups expanded out against the \vheel cylinder bore. Disc brakes however. need only about one-tenth as much pressure to push the pads against the rotor with enough force to affect the car's speed. and relatively large distance between the shoes and the drum.valve to limit the pressure delivered to the rear brakes. qukkly ruining the pads and rotors. On OEM applications. You f f f 97 . In this way the car uses both the front and rear brakes to do the stopping. you need to buy one with the correct bore diameter. return springs. In this case there is a great deal of weight transfer onto the front tires. disci drum brake system. Most experienced hot rod builders suggest you build the right system the first time. disc or drum used on either end of your new car. You can't Just go to smaller and smaller diameter master cylinder pistons or bigger and bigger caliper pistons. this valve is usually built into the master cylinder. As the name suggests. with their big shoes. A drum brake system. even on a light pedal application. Now you get smart and decide to eliminate any need for a power booster by using a master cylinder with a small-diameter piston. Detroit uses a combination valve between the front and rear brakes to help balance out a disci drum brake system. Job two for the combination valve is to slow the pressure rise to the rear brakes on a hard brake application. Now. f Using Residual Pressure Valves A fair amount of confusion surrounds the use of residual pressure valves in a brake system. in most cases it helps the system overcome two little problems with a split. This brings you to the realization that what's needed here is a good balance between the master cylinder and the calipers or wheel cylinders. The smaller piston doesn't move as much fluid as a larger one and the pedal may be right on the floor when you've finally moved it far enough to displace enough fluid to push the pads against the rotor. That combination valve does morc than "balance" the brakes. The first job then of the factory combination valve is to "hold off" the front brakes until the system rcaches approximately 125 psi. consider the same car stopping hard from high speed. This prevents air ingestion past the \vheel cylinder cups when you release the brake pedal. Eel valve limits the rate at which the line pressure is applied to the rear brakes in order to prevent the rear tires from locking up. This means that when you buy a master cylinder. This hold-off/metering valve will delay the applicatron of the front brakes. In the real world you probably want more pressure. SO-CAL among them don't use a combination valve sj. as always. "We've never found one that's designed for a hot rod. as Shane explains. it's important that the r'ear brakes apply first. You' need to design the system around a good manual master cylinder and then consider the ideal balance between front and rear brakes (whether it's four-wheel discs or not) and how that balance is achjeved. !v1any professional builders. Drum and disc brakes have very different needs herc and even all the disc systeI~s don't have the same requirements. but still need a master cylinder piston big enough to displace a certain volume of fluid.mply because.to 12-pound reSidual-pressure check valve in the hydraulic system. In this situ atiem the proportioning function in the combination f In a split diSC/drum system. This leaves the rear tires with little bite and in danger of locking up.master cylinder piston connected to calipers with large or multiple pistons and a large total area. needs a 10. There is. without relying on a power booster to overcome deficiencies in the design of the overall brake system. The use of that same lll-pound residual check valve on a disc brake system will create brake drag. and match it to the type of brakes. a trade-off here. Consider that on an easy stop from slow speed. there is little weight transfer and the rear tires maintain good traction.

so be sure to check before filling the master cylinder. DOT 3 and 4 are glycol-based fluids with dry boiling points of 401 and 446 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. which is essentially a very specialized hydraulic fluid designed to operate in a potentially dirty env ironment under a wide range of temperatures. Either fluid is suitable for use in disc brake systems. you're using four-\vhecl disc brakes. bolt pattern. dry. Obviously the fluid must stay viscous at belowzero temperatures. You simply have to be sure the parts you use are in good condition (if in doubt buy new or rebuilt components). An engineer once explained to lne: "When you're conSidering brakes. silicone fluid costs more." Given the fact that the front brakes do 70 percent (or more) of the stopping in a hard stop. The 1O-pound valve is needed in drum brake applications when the valve is not built into the master cylinder. the shelves at the auto parts store carry at least three separate grades of brake fluid. These may be hot rods. consider that job number one is stopping and slowing the car during street driving (remember these are street rods). and style. the choice of rear calipers becomes more important because it also determines your emergency brake options. resulting in a spongy brake peda L The three grades of brake fluid commonly available are DOT 3. Always put the best brakes on the front. that they are large enough to deal with your car's weight. it's a good idea to flush the system with fresh fluid every couple of years. In this case. as well as the car's weight. Eel DOT 5 fluid is silicone based and has a higher boiling point of SOO degrees Fahrenheit. it aerates more easily than glycol-based fluid. you also need a good emergency brake. and it is said to cause swelling of the brake cups and seals after long-term exposure. it becomes a gas and thus a compressible material. on the other hand. it makes sense to put your best foot forward. As mentioned.lnline residua! pressure valves come in 2 and 10 pound !'Stings. If. When considering the rear brakes. spindle. Glycol-based brake fluid containers must be kept closed so the fluid won't pick up moisture from the air. If the brake fluid boils. more is usually better. This more expensive fluid doesnft absorb water and doesn't react with paint (though silicone fluid can stain paint if not washed off quickly). Because the DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid in your car will pick up some water no matter how careful you are. The Purchasing Decision Before buying. it helps to remember that you need more than brakes. I need a check valve on a disc brake system only when the master cylinder is mounted lower than the calipers. and DOT 5. Brake Fluid You might think brake fluid is just that. More surface areal more pistons. and that they are matched to the other components in the brake system. silicone brake fluid has its trade-offs. a 2-pound check valve prevents the fluid in the caliper from siphoning back to the master cylinder. And once you have filled the master cylinder. In general you want to buy as much brake as you can for a given amount of cash. The 2-pound valve is needed in a disc brake system wilen the calipers are higher than the master. The high-performance brake assemblies with polished aluminum calipers may look really trick-and most of that equipment works as good as it looks-but that doesn't mean you can't adapt OEM components from Detroit for the front or rear of the new hot rod. brake fluid. and yet resist boiling at the very high telTlperatures brake components are often subjected to. it doesn't always work better than-or even as well as-components and systems designed for street USC and that includes good old OEM stuff from Detroit. 98 . it is slightly compressible. What you buy will depend on your budget and intended use. you simply need to buy cables and hardware and hook up the stock emergency brakes. don't switch from one type of brake fluid to another-they're not compatible. However. Though the race car stuff Inay look impressive. There are two basic problems with DOT 3 and DOT 4 brake fluids: they tend to absorb water from the environment (they are hygroscopic) and they attack most painted surfaces. If you're using stock drum brake assemblies in the rear. Remember that brake fluid contaminated with water boils at a much lower temperature and can be corrosive to components. Like every other advance. and larger calipers. but they are not race cars. Some brake-component manufacturers don't recommend the usc of siliconc' fluid. DOT 4.

though Wilwood now makes a rear brake caliper with an integral emergency brake. and there's certainly nothing wrong with using them. Corvette brake components a re turning up on hot rods in increasing numbers. The kit can be order'ed to fit 8-. shoes.8-. Eel 99 . Most of the calipers with an integral emergency brake are from Detroit. backing plate. Some clever hot rodders have removed these saddles as a For anyone with a 9-inch Ford rear end. The new single-piston calipers include a saddle assembly that reinforces the caliper. These kits include a Cadillac rear caliper with integral emergency brake and vented Trans Am rear rotors. you also need to plan for the emergency brake.'ear. In 1984 the Corvette got a major redesign. this kit offers all~new brake components. and that redesign included new brakes. The calipers used on pre-1984 'Vettes have a host of problems all their own and should probably be avoided entirely. and hardware. 'Including the dr'ul1l.Rear disc-brake calipers talI into two categories: those with and those without an integral emergency brake. SO-CAL If you plan to install disc brakes on the . as long as you keep the system balanced and keep in mind the fact that not all Corvettes used the same brakes. 8. and 9-inch Ford rear ends. wheel cylinders.

On a drum brake system. most mechanics start at the bleeder farthest awav from the master cvlinder (or that half of the maste~ cylinder in a dual-~eservoir svste_m). or from the company who sold you the brakes. To bleed brakes. Start with good attention to detail and follow that up with extreme cleanliness \vhen dealing with the hydraulic system. Some people choose to install an additional rotor mnunted at the rear U-joint. TCI . as well as the sexier aluminum aftermarket caliper seen on the right. In other words.com). The potential dovvnside to this is the fact that with a non-limited-slip rear end.vhccl discs with an integral rear emergenc)/ brake include some Camaros. Too much tension on the emergency-brake cables or linkage won't allow the shoes to come back against the stop at the top of the backing plate. A better choice for the street rocicier might be the 19R9 and later Corvette rear ca lipers.Mickey-Mouse mechanical calipers meant for a 300-pound go-cart on your Chevy sedan. Brake Service Hot rods tend to be the recipients of maximum TLC during any kind of installation or repair sequences. get help from a good manual.end. The tI-ouble is that the car can still roll off the jack when one real" wheel is jacked up if it's a nonPOSI rosl. Before vou're finished with the brakes. Flovvcver. Yet. it's important to follo\v the same procedures used by certified mechanics when they do brake work. Corvette rear calipers used a SepilfiJte ernergency brake made up of s111a11 shoes that expand against the inside of the rotor. and Eldorados. but be sure these an' substantial enough to handle elnergency and parking duties nn a ::(000pound automobile. Another good source of brake service information is the Wilwood Web site (www. though: these saddles are part of the caliper assembly and should not be removccL From 1984 to 19H8. So be sure to adjust the brake shoes correctly before you worry about adjusting: the cables and linkage for the emergency brake. ECI vvay to mdke the calipers work \vith small-diameter wheels. Perhaps the most important step you perform is the examination of the car's brakes when the work is finished. such as Motors. which feature a cableoperated emergency brake built into the caliper. Jnd these calipers include integral emergency brakes. don't use little 100 A variety of remanufactured calipers. do a careful road test. mechanical calipers on the rear rotors. use a very slnal1-diameter piston and should be Qvoided. which also includes some very good troubleshooting information. and that the One answer to the emergency-brake puzzle is to use this small rotor and mechanical caliper on the rearmost U-Jolnt. clamped by its o\-\rn mechanical caliper. you cal. tllen crawl around under the car to check for leakage or seepage from every fitting. the car can ro1l off the jack. are available for your hot rod. used on many Explorers and T-Birds. including rear calipers with an integra! emergency brake. and wheel cylinder. Toronados. Aftermarket calipers with no integral elhergency brake on the rear axle w ill force you to come up with your o\vn emergency brake. if you jack up one vvheel. If you've never bled the brakes before. Remember that nevv brake shoes haven't seated against the d rums yet. caliper. In the Ford linc. Other cars that use four-\. You can also mount additional. the latest rear calipers fron1 Ford. which makes it impossible to correctly adju~t the shoes. VVhen working on the brakes.vvilwood. when working on the brakes it's essential to go that extra mile to ensure that the brake installation is absolutely bulletproof. Pressurize the system with a size 12 sneaker on the brake pedal. it's important to correctly adjust the brake shOt'S before adjusting the cables for the emergency brake. There is such a thing as being too dever. certain Lincoln Versailles and (!\'en some Granadas used the 9-inch rear end vvith factory reJr disc brakes.

The new seal and the piston should be and bolt it to the spindle assembly with the hardlubricated with brake fluid or brake-assembly fluid ware supplied with the kit or with grade-8 bolts. swallow your pride and read a service manuaL Plenty of bearings have been While not rocket science. too. but the drum brakes. should be overhauled tor or air mask during the disassembly of used or simply replaced with new components. buy rebuilt assemblies. consider that many of tho:-. Wear a good respirarubber hoses and replace them with new components.'lls that float. If you ignore our advice When rebuilding the old drum brake'S. and be sure to keep your fingers parts stores and some street rod vendors selJ brake out of the way when applying air to the caliper hardware kits for n10st drum-brake applications. haul or replace wheel cylinders and calipers that and replace the pins on GM caJipers if they're rusty. Many of the popular front brake kits mentioned Most of the calipers from Detroit are single-pisearlier for the Mustang II and some early-Ford axles ton desi!. the hardand force the caliper piston from the bore with ware and springs that hold and retract the shoes compressed air. 1n either case. Stuff the caliper cavity should probably be replaced at the same time you're doing all the other work. Many good automotive full of rags first. the result can be a soft pedal and reduced braking on the first few applications.e old pads and shoes contained asbestos. so all cleaning of hydraulic parts If you've never packed and insta!1ed n set of must be done with clean brake fluid. Overfloat. sign. If you do. aren't cut too far. The same applies Pete and Jake's to disc rotors. The full force of a cleaned with the correct brake hone. avoid the use of air tools. Disc brakes don't need adjustment. need to be adjusted per the recommendations in the service manual. so don't skimp. Master cylinders. Once apart. the caliper bore should be thoroughly from a good aftermarket supplier. Inactivity is very hard on brake parts. ribbed backing by the manufacturer to ensure they plates mount inside of the rotor and thus add extra sparkle to the iront end. be sure to have the old drums turned before installation. which can't be cut sliding surfaces are dirty . So take it easy on the first few stops. take them to the shop down the street or just packed betvveen the rollers where it's needed.hydraulic system might still contain a bit of residual air.:lnd rusty. these chrome-plated. A few more tips for drum brake assembly: Don't get greasy fingerprints on the new brake shoes. or didn't get enough grcase fore. pitted caliper pistons need to Caliper brackets should be original or come be replaced. so the force of a single piston is combine an ] l-inch ventilated rotor \vith the div ided equally between two pads. Be sure brake components. caliper overhaul requires a certain finesse. Solvents will attack the rubber used as seals in' brake systems. You mllst be sure to clean all sliding surfaces. If the pins or the WI . Don't be afraid to come back in and re-bleed all or part of the system. Have the shop check the drum's finished diameter against the maximum given Designed for disc brake applications.\ras overzealous in tightening the spindle nut. When installing used components. Whether the old brakes you're repairing are come along with the rear end or front calipers you drag out of the junkyard. If you've never done it beruined because someone I. before being installed. front wheel bearings before. be sure the piston doesn't becOIne an air-powered projectile. (ouch). whether self-adjusting or not. and the panic stop is transmitted to the chassis through that groove for the main piston seal must be cleaned caliper bracket. carefully sand off the greasy spot with some SO-grit sandpaper before slipping on the drum. Discard any old factory disc or drum. and any master cylinder you use is a two-chamber dedon't clean everything up by bh)\ving: the "dust" off those old assemblies. the caliper can't past a certain minimal point. Use a good bracket thoroughly.

This keeps everything mounted low. a panic stop can generate as much as 1. The rotor used in some of these kits is thinner (0. and the end of the piston is pushed past the inner seal and you lose the front brakes.600 psi in the hydraulic system -too much pressure for anything but an approved steel brake line. meaning an increase in the leg force needed to generate a given amount of pressure and a decrease in the pedal travel. OEM-style flexible hoses for each front wheel and the rear axle. A high pedal ratio (which means a long pedal arm in relation to the pushrod arm) will provide tremendous leverage for your foot. with double-flare fittings or systems specifically designed for automotive brakes. When it comes to flexible hoses. This might be all right until the pads become worn. Ralph Lisena from Eel. so the full movement of the pedal is transmitted into piston movement and not in flexing the bracket Many builders mount the bracket solid to the left frame rail and then find a way (easier on some cars than others) to tie the bracket to the X-member or one of the cross-members. That way each piston moves out of the bore the same distance on a brake application. During the chassis mock-up. If not.810 inch) than the stock GM rotor (0. a manufacturer Braided brake lines are available in a variety of lengths and styles. you don't want them any lower than necessary. hook up the hoses. Nonfloating aftermarket calipers come with a series of sn1<111 spacers. the piston comes out farther than the GM engineers intended. If you leave out the spacer. While the master cylinder and booster need to be below floor level. braided lines look great and may be stronger than stock flexible hoses. It's easy to install a hose that's too short or too long-a hose that will tear on a bump or rub on a tire. Kits like these can be ordered with the adapters needed to convert from the 37-degree AN fittings to the NPT [National Pipe Thread] or banjo fittings used on many Wilwood or GM calipers.960 inch). be sure to run the suspension up-and-down and turn the wheels back and forth to check for any potential clearance problems. Conversely. See chapter 7 for more on plumbing and fittings approved for brake systems. You will need to use these to center each caliper as it mounts over the rotor. The pedal ratio is the distance from the pedal to the pivot. Most however. or the enter}. allowing you to generate high line pressure.rising builder can fabricate his or her own. you must be sure that the bleeder screw on your new calipers ends up at the top. you will have to bleed the brakes with the calipers off the bracket.There's nothing wrong with using black. Next. divided by the distance from the pivot to the point where the master cylinder pushrod attaches. and all that hardware off the firewall. a low pedal ratio (short pedal arm) will decrease the leverage. are not DOT approved and could cause your car to be failed during a state inspection (depending on which state you live in). The master cvlinder bracket needs to be sturdv. Heidt's intermediate or larger GM caliper. Hoses should be new and carefully chosen to ensure they are the correct length. They're DOT approved and readily available in a variety of lengths and styles. l Mounting the Master Cylinder and Brake Pedal Most street rods mount the master cylinder to the frame. Eel When you mount your new or rebuilt caliper to the caliper bracket. As for hard lines. 102 . though the pedal-travel necessary for a given application will increase. A varietv of mounting brackets are available. The dimensions of the pedal assembly determine the pedal ratio. that's why some of these kits also supply a spacer to be used behind the inner brake pad. You have to be sure that the bleeder screw on your new calipers ends up at the top. another of those pesky details to be considered when planning the brake system.

103 . When you mount the master in the car. Before you do the final installation of the master cylinder. If you use a vacuum-operated power brake booster. Then you need to instalJ those new and rebuilt parts in such a way that there are no leaks. it will keep gas fumes from flowing from the intake manifold down the line (remember. Be sure the centerline for the pedal pivot is perpendicular to the centerline of the car so the pedal moves straight and not through an arc. with the under-floor mount and the correct smalldiameter power booster. You must take the time to pli:m and buy components that are matched to the other components. 'always "bench bleed" it. Be absolutely sure it's plumbed correctly.\ and no chance for the 1ines or hoses to vibrate or chafe against a sharp edge. allowing air and fluid to push past your fingertips when the pushrod is moved into the cylinder and sealing the outlets as the push rod is allowed to come back to its rest position. recommends a ratio of about 4. People who say it doesn't make any difference which way the master cylinder is connected don't know what they're talking about. As mentioned earlier. the job of bleeding the brakes will go much faster because the master cylinder has already been bled. no binding of the master cylinder linkagt. turning it into a potential bomb. Remember that the master usually ends up mounted backwards from the wav it was mounted in a Detroit car. be sure to install a one-way valve in the vacuum line. The success of your brake system comes down to compatibility and attention to detail. it's a good idea to mount the dry master cylinder on the bracket to be sure the pedal can move all the way to the end of its travel without hitting the floor or some other obstruction.Dual chamber master cylinders can be ordered as an assembly. Not only will this provide a more constant supply of vacuum to the diaphragm. Eel of aftermarket brake kits and components. they're heavier than air) and into the booster. so the hoses and reservoirs are backwards. then use you fingers as oneway valves.75 or 5 to 1 as the best for master cylinders with a bore of 7/B or 1 inch. with the front brake reservoir connected to the front brakes. Fill the reservoir with fluid.

ver booster. mount is from Deuce Factory. The bracket assen1bly will also mount (] 1968 to 1976 Corvette master cylinder. Yet. T'he master cylinder is a split reservoir unit meant for a later-model Mustang with four-wheel disc brakes. Neal dnd John have chosen not to use a power brake booster. pivot must he installed so it IS perpendicular to the frame centerline. It's always a idea to do a mock-up with the driver in the car before final-welding the rnount. 104 . nstalling the brakes John's I stretchedand partspickuponoccurred Deuce the installa(~r tion have been co7.ODeI' time.. a master meant for four-\~'heel disc brakes and no pen. master cylinder helow the floor using a pedal mount from Deuce Factory. welded to the left frame rail according to the distance from the axle center'line. it seemed ol1l!j tilir to ibsemblc all the brake il1stallrl/"ion il4(irmafiol1 and prescilf it here. The bore measures 1 1/8 inch in diameter. this one mounts th(. The Parts Like lTIOSt current street rods.lcrcd in the suspension chapters.

it's irnportant to make sure the bracket leaves the caliper square to the suf'face of the rotor. Neal and John chose to take advantage of these OEM disc brakes and factory calipers. Installation The first brake part to be attached is the master cylinder mount. usuaBy with shims that come with the calipers. four-piston calipers. the ones with the integral emergency brake. vvhich Nt'a! tack-\'\"f'lds to the 105 .The dual chamber master cylinder being used is a fourwheel-disc unit from a late-model Mustang unit. they must be centered over tIle rotor. the Dvnalite 3 models. Each caliper is mated to an l1-inch vented rotor. The front brakes use four-piston calipers. John insisted on substantial fmnt brakes: an 11-inch vented rotor and Wilwood Dynalite 3. Whenever nonfloating calipers are installed. All the brake parts came "vith the suspension kit that Nl'i:l1 and John purchased from Heidt's. The caliper bolts to the spindle assembly with hlghquality bolts included with the caliper's. In the feac the Lincoln Versailles rear end came with factory disc brakes. If El separate bracket is used to rnount the caliper. carved from aluminum bv Wilwood.

or second caliper for the emergency brake. is transmitted through these lTIounting bolts to the chassis. With a power booster you might have to mount it a little lower so the booster will ck. and setling the rotor on over the spindle. Neal starts this part of the installation by installing the inner bearing races. Because so much force Though hard to find. the installer still needs to ensure that the caliper is centered over the rotor. Though the spindJe mounts and the Wilwood calipers are designed to work together. The calipers mount to the spindles with two boits supplied with the kit. special brackets. installing the inrH::)r wheel bearing and sea]. These single piston calipers have an integral emergency brake-note the lever on the side of the caliper. "These calipers are kind of expensive. with braided No. "When you install these. The calipers come with a series of sn1all spacers that afe used to shim the caliper and center it over the rotor. 106 .ount to twin mounting points that are an integral part of the cast spindle assembly. The truck will be plumbed with stainless lines thn1Llghout. "The front to rear distance is figured from the front-axle centerline/I explains Neal. In the rear Neal simply replaced the "used" calipers with rebuilt components. the Lincoln Versailles rear end with disc brakes makes for a neat assembly that requires no adaptations." The rotors come with bearlngs and seals. The calipers tn. because otherwise the auto parts store will charge you a hefty core charge." The plumbing of the brakes is covered in more detail in Chapter 7.ar the fioor. it's important to be sure the pivot is perpendicular to the frame centerline. packing the bearings. frame early in the project.In The Shop continued The nice thing about the Lincoln rear end Neal installed is the fact that it came with disc brakes. it's important to use either the supplied bolts or replacements of equal or greater strength. well before the first mock-up is done with tbe pickup body." explains NeaL "If you didn't have the old cores it might pay to buy some rusty calipers at the swap meet and use those as cores. 3 flexible lines at each wheel. How high the assembly is mounted on the frame depends on the master cylinder being used.

and OUf front and rear hrakes. 50 percent of the choice is based on appearance. so that has discs on the rear as welL "For someone building their own car. low~ or high~tech? Now. and huge tires on the rear with skinny tires on the front.' It's like that. for some in~ sight illto the way they pick components for the cars they build." 107 . And the extended cab pickup we just finished. Don't buy calipers from one guy and rotors from another and then make up your own caliper brackets. how does that relate to the rear? Do they want to run disc or d rum in the rear? "The second thing to consider is the applica~ hon. "Typically in our end of the deal. 'Buv a $10 helmet if vou've got a $10 head. If you were driving these cars hard or on a race track that would be different. "Weight is a factor too. Is the chotee feasible? Is the owner going vintage road racing? Will the brakes be adequate for the intended use? "Third. But on the street you end up turning the pressure to the rear brakes down anyway. that has a Kugel independent rear end that came with disc brakes. how hard does the customer drive? We have to design the brakes around the car and the wav it's driven. works just great. 50~CAL foreman. That master cvlinder with the Pete and Jake's pedal ratio. for example. There hOOSiFlg ()fakes is one of the most important and arc no easy anSlf)Crs fo cornmonly asked questions. A lightweight car like our roadster doesn/t need as much brakes as a '55 Chevy. so that dictates what goes on the front. especially on the front of an open-wheeled caL Do they want early~ or late~style brakes. On mv Willys [ have the engine set way back. "When we plan a car the first consideration is. pick a reliable vendor and buy the brakes from that one vendor. The Bell helmet people used to have an ad that said.mpor~ tant. We use a manual. 1 would suggest they consider the aesthetics first. "Ninety~nine percent of the cars that we build use drum brakes on the rear. But then there's that true die-hard guy who needs carly-Ford brakes or early~Ford brakes with Buick drums. This is really . Rely on the vendor for things like the master cylinder diameter and whether or not you need a power booster. made for disc and drum brakes.In The Shop: Shane Weckerly: Choosing Brakes for the Hot Rod CmoM difficult parts of the building process. Your life depends on those brakes. So why do you want more brakes on the rear? "There are exceptions of course. Other guys will opt for something like a Magnum disc brake kit. 15/16~diameter. If you buy a brake kit from us. Ford Mustang master cylinder. we recommend a particular master cylinder because we know it works with our calipers and drums. In that scenario you want the -'rears to work as "veIl as the fronts. The highboy roadster guys like the SO~CAL front brake kit (note: there's a new matching rear brake kit available as well). None of our SO~CAL roadsters have power brakes. For help with the questions and quandaries of choosing brakes we asked Shane. For the street rod market you don't need discs in the rear.

For the purposes of this chapter. could easily be the of two Or three separate books. only hot rods. the hottom of the threads on either side A quality cap SC"'8W has a raised surface under the head that bears on the surface it is tightened against. something that seems i'\t first So very simple.Hardware T he of nuts and bolts. But let's get a little nomenclature out of the way first. lines. a bolt is nothing more than a threaded fastener designed to screw into a hole or nut with matching female threads. This we don't need good bolts. because we do. The trick of course is to remember that we're not shuttles. Technically a bolt is a fastener without a washer face under the head. male threaded fasteners will be called bolts. So What's a Bolt? Simply put. More bolt terms and definitions: • Minor diameter: the diameter measured at the smallest point. steel is good enough for nearly anything we can bolt together on our hot rods. A good bolt or cap screw also has the head affixed at exactly 90 degrees to the centerline of the shank. In fact the specifications used by NASA and the military indeed fill volumes. while a cap screw has a washer face under the head. L08 . Where the space assembled with titanium fasteners.

s and af'e available in stainless Of' chrome plated. is the force that is placed on a bo1 t or the force the bolt is subjected to as it resists an extern. I Though we think of them all as bolts. Technically the load measured in pounds..)1 force (and you thought it \-vas your brother-in-law]). If you put enough load on a bolt it will change dimension. 10» . At lower stress levels. or the bottom of the head.. The bolt has stretched so fDr that it can't snap back to its original dimension. It's that point we've all experienced. A good steel bolt might be rated at ISO. a "cap screw" IS 8 higher-quality fastener that includes a bearing sur'face un dec the head.• Major diameter: the diameter measured at the largest point. if only very slightly. The pounds per square inch figure is derived by dividing the load in pounds by the cross-sectiona 1 area of the bolt. and the bolt may look jLlst fine. The ultirnatc tensile streflxth is the point at which the bolt breaks. But a very close inspection will reveal that the bolt is now longer than it was originally. Stress.·' Bearing surface Shank Pitch ~/- T Major diameter Minor diameter . In most cases if a bolt reaches its yield point and you don't tighten it further. the bolt will continue to stretch until it can stretch no farther. The only downside is the fact that the collar eventually "wears out.· the l l Nuts with the Integral synthetic collar make good lock nut.OO() psi. Bevond a certain point. to the end of the bolt • Crip length: the length of the unthreaded portion • Thread length: the length of the threaded portion of the bolt Load. Bolt descriptions are often followed by a psi figure. and that change in dimension is known as the strain. As 'lOU continue to increase the stress on a bolt it will continue to change dimension. that point where you feel the bolt "give. the bolt can be screwed out of the hole or out of the nut. A 11 of this makes a bit more sense when you consider it graphically. . the bolt should be tossed in the trash.. At I(Hver levels of stress the bolt will IIsnap" back to its original dimension when thl' stress is removed. \ve need to look at the types of loads that bolts arc subjected to and hovv those loads are measured." The give that's communicated through the wrench to your hand is kno\vn as the yield point. the tops of the threads on either side • Shank: the unthreaded part of the bolt's ShDft • Bearing surface: the raised and polished portion just under the head of a quality bolt or cap screw • Length: measurement from the lower edgl' of the bearing surface. ·This is known as thl' stress within the bolt. If you continue to increase the stress past the yield point. I : . and Strain Before looking too closely at exactly hoy\' good a grade-8 bolt is. but not in a nice linear manner. Even if you can't detect the change with the naked eye. however the metal will hav~ been stretched so far that it is unable to sllap back..

Types of Stress Bolts. Most of the bolts we use on our hot rods are loaded in tension. It's interesting to note that most bolts are only about 60 percent as strong in shear as they are in tension. then there is very little tension on the bolt. much stronger than a singleshear joint (see the illustration for clarification). tightening the bolt to 100 footpounds puts enormous tCI1f>iol1 on the bolt. up to the yield point. like the bottom of this shock mounting. Though single shear applications. Increases in stress create proportionaJ increases in strain. The metal has deformed at the molecular level and will continue to deform further with greater and greater amounts of stress. the idea that even if the bolt doesn't break when you torque it down. until we've created a strain on the bolt. graph of bolt stress versus strain is a nice straight line. until the point of rupture. are common on street cars. If the bolt in question is holding an upper suspension arm in place. howevel" will result in a bolt that's deformed or ruptured. or bolts and nuts. Though most of us don't think about it (at least 1 never did) we want to tighten the bolt. A doubleshear joint is much. there against the enormous pressure of compression and combustion. There is no side-to-side movement of the head. but not so far that we've exceeded the yield point (more on this later). even after the strain is remuved. or locates the shock absorber in place. It is the point at which the bolt will not come back to its original dimension when the stress is removed. Everything is nice and predictable until the line going uphill across the graph takes a sharp turn to the right. have no impact on the bolt's original dimension. it might break six months later after a couple of million" on and off" cycles. We should also consider that shear can be further subdivided into single and double. We are clamping something together with little or no side load. The bolt's joh is to clamp the head in place and hold it 110 Bolts l1wt Get Tired The subject of stress leads to the related concept of fatigue. To illustrate.----'---'-'---'-----"- Elastic Range ~Yield S r c s s Breakage (UTS) " Point Strain With a graph it's perhaps easier to understand how increases in strain. or bolt and nut combination. a coat hanger doesn't break the . Increases beyond the yield point. the double-shear mounting at the top is much stronger. meaning again that the bolt will never snap back to its original size. are asked to handle two very different types of loads. the load in this case is trying to shear the bolt into pieces. In the case of a cylinder head bolt. The point at which the stress and strain graph goes to hell is the yield point. Once past the yield point we've gone past what is often called the elastic limit.

The idea is to elimioate the corners and thus the stress risers. Heat treating done after the threads are formed tends to anneal or nonnaHze the compressed surface of the threads created by the dies. but so does the brittleness. By adding a higher percentage of carbon the strength of the material goes up. it's important not only that the bolt be heat treated. essentially undoing the "forging" that was done during the thread forming process. The ". III . and good design. making them much stronger. encuurages the grain to flow with the threads. Good bolts are commonly made from medium carbon steel with other alditives that provide strength without making the material too brittle or glasslike. The raw stock or "wire" is rolled through special dies that form the threads without any cutting. while a quality rolling operation actually leaves a smooth. which need to retain some of their springiness to be effective. It's important that the head be exactly perpendicular to the bolt's axis (even an error of just a few degrees increases stress within the bolt enormously) and that the threads blend smoothly into the unthreaded shank of the bolt. on the other hand. One such addithre is manganese. For those of us who still work within this American or unified system (as opposed to the metric system). but that it be heat treated before the thread rolling is done. The specificatioos for' an R thread call for a rounded root of specific radius. Good raw material in combination with careful heat treating can create bolts that are both strong and forgiving. High-quality bolts are designed to resist fatigue through the use of good alloys.'nified" system they settled on retained most of the existing American standards and specifications. This system can1e out of the confusion that arose during World War II when English mechanics tried to repair American airplanes with Whitworth (a British thread standard) nuts and bolts. Third. Though the method may seem odd. Bolts of this nature are weak and also very malleable. No. Thread Specifications What we often call NC and NF (national course and national fine) are actually UNC and UNF (unified national course and unified national fine). This is a costly trade-off when it comes to bolts loaded in tension. steel with a low percentage of carbon (ignoring stainless and exotic bolts for now). those standards developed 50 years ago Th e R thread uses a rounded root with a radius that is . How Bolts Are Made Most quality bolts arc made in a rolling or forming operation. making it much weaker. A good bolt has careful1y manufactured threads and the correct heat treatment at the right point in the bolt's genesis. it breaks after 10 or 20 cycles of bending back and forth. high-quality manufacture and heat treatment. The ensuing trou·· bles convinced the allies that thev needed some type of unified thread form. cutting threads means cutting across the grain of the bolt. the reasons bolts arC made this way are numerous and hard to refute. Missing corners makes the design more fatigue resistant.!ting corners create stress nsers. Less expensive bolts are made from mild steel. Original UN specs called for flattened peaks and roots. the rolling operation compresses or forges the surface of the threads. cutting leaves rough edges behind. Rest. Rolling threads. Second. polished surface. Also.114 X the pitch. First cutting threads is very time-consuming.first time vou bend it. another popular combination is chromi um and molybdenum (chrome-moly).

are still valid. How Strong Is Strong? As we explained. the point at which the bolt will no longer bounce back be identified by the three radial dashes found on to its original diInension once the stress is removed. bolts are measured in pounds per square inch of tension or stress. store bolt. The ulti. double-shear applications. is rated at 74. Grade-S bolts have ers. Most of the better bolts now specify an "R" thread which simply spells out a specific radius at the bottom of the thread (see the illustration for a better explanation of the R thread).OIlO psi. but most of those have to do with the radius at the base of the thread.OOO-psi and 130. a grade-5 bolt.There are counterfeit bolts on the market and some that are polished and thus mate tensile strength. where good bolts start. A gradf'··2 bolt.OOIl-psi UTS A grade-S bolt is generally considered an upgrade and has a published yield point of n. Grade 2 and 3 usually aren't marked. For example. engine covuse anything of lesser quality.Just add two to the number of marks on the head to get the grade of a bolt or cap screw. or to rely on known brands like Gardner Westcott and ARP.IlOIl psi. is rated at 120. for engine assembly situations. or UTS. assuming the shank is Moving up the scale. the head. is rated at ISO. These bolts can six radial dashes on their head.0003/4 inch. 112 . the point the correct size for the hole it's being inserted into. There has been smnc evolution of the thread specifications since those first specifications \vere written. is have no markings. These can be used in heavy-duty 57. the point at which the bolt breaks. sometimes called a hardwareWhat many of us consider the ultimate bolt. This same bolt has a yield strength of psi yield strength. a sharp V-shaped notch at the base of the threads makes an ideal stress riser---a spot where the bolt is likely to fatigue and break.()00-psi UTS up to a size of the grade-S bolt. Some builders get Gra(h_ ~-5 bolts arc considered good enough for to a certain point where they simply don't want to most general purpose automotive usc. The other specification given for quality bolts is the yield point. it pays to buy Made-in-USA baits from a supplier you trust. Symbols and letters usually indicate the manufacturer. and light double-shear duty.

including the popular button head. vvhich may have a rating of 26U. Chrome plating a bolt weakens it slightly. be sur(' to mask off the threads so they don't gr()\'\' in size. While the nickel and chrome plating aren't very thick! the process doe~ add to thc dimensions of the threads.OOU psi or more. In particular. vou buy'" ')/our SHeS bolts. socket-headed cap scrCVv's (SHeS) a[c loved by mtlnY hot fodders and most motorcycle nuts.. The other little problem "vith these bolts is the small size of the ht:act meaning it's hard to use the full strength of the bolt to clamp things together. becaust' the chrome-plating pro('C'ss just can't get plating dovvn into those crevices. And if vou use a standard washer under the head it vvill deform later. it's not a good trade-off. but considering the availability of alreadychromed bolts. but you don!t know unless vou ask. especiaily for competition applications. Allen Bolts Universallv knc)\vn as "Allen" bolts (Allen is actually a trad'c name). To make it \vorse. or better than" grade-8 bolt this fact is no longer true. The only people \vho like these socket-headed cap scrc\vs rnorc than hot rodders are cu~tom Harley-David~()n builders. the chn)~l>-pJatC'd ~variety are often only about a grade-5. . but most of us use them for their apparent precision and the fccl of "machi nery they lend to anything they touch. In automotive use the most common applicdtion for these very high-strength fasteners is connecting rod bolts.' end of thc \>\. The small head can be an ac1\'dntage in-many situations. There are a variety of fJstcncrs 'Nith UTS ratings of \vell over 200:000 psi.O()O psi for UTS. leaving you with i1 loose bolt. Compensation is prcwided by the fact that these are generally vcry :-. If vou do have a bolt ~:hroml' plated..t shop will have <1 great sel(~dion of these bolts. The problem is the fact that the button head allovvs for only a verv shalhnv socket that \von't let you get . it follows thcn that anv good "Harley-Daddson dealership or aftt'flllark(. which may have to be shortened vvith . You dlso have to realize that these bolts often corne vvith relatively long threads. and from Y\~h(. The ansvver is to ust' a hardened dnd ground \vasher under the head of the" Allen" bolt 71 The only thing sexier than an SHCS is one with a button head. if the heads point up they hold water! The ans\ver is to use tht' little chrome caps that snap into the socket. .trong bolts to start \-vith. These little rounded heads look like rivets.J die-grinder or hacksaw. when vou trv to screw it out). good grip with the \vrench. Buttons must be used with discretion as the shallow socket head won't allow them to be tightened as much.'. Like ali the other harchvare VOli buv.rrench the first time the bolt is used. or to put a dab of clear silicon on tht. Aircraft and aerospace often require bolts vvith these higher ratings. So don't use the button heads if vou need serious clamping pressure. and that shiny bolt you just had plated might stick V\rhen it goes into thl' hole (or more likely. vou novv havE' to be careful when. Though many books statc that all SHCS bolts arc at least 170. You can have your O"wn bolts chrome plated.Chmme "Allen" bolts come in a variety of head styles.m. Anvonl' who has used these bolts soon discovers that rust often dl'\'elops down inside the head.

The common red 262 Loctite is a A good use of stainless steel-door hinge pins for 1932 Fords and nth81' vehicles. but most of these are 400 series and are not commonly encountered in shops where we buy our bolts. If you suggest that the stainless bolts aren't as strong. Thev Jove the look and the fact that they never rust Y"ou might say that chrome bolts nevcr rust. their proponents respond. What all this n1eans is that stainless bolts are best used for light-load situations. Most locking washers and nuts \vork not so much by I'locking" the nut but rather by maintaining this tension between the threads. It takes only a few degrees of rotation to ('linlinate the stress within a tightened bolt. Actually what keeps the bolt fron1 unscrewing itself is friction between the male and female threads.000 psi and a yield strength of only about 35.000 psi. Many builders swear by stainless fasteners." No matter how tight the bolt is. This stretch keeps the tension on the bolt and the friction intact between the male and female threads. there will always be a tendency for anything on that ramp to slide downhill. but there's always the issue of flaking chrome. it's a good idea to chase the threads with a tap or die. because there is no coating.er 242 or 243.OOO-psi UTS.' to start an argument at the rod run or in the local tavern. Loctite comes in a confusing array of grades. Most fastener-industry charts place them somewhere betvveen a grade 2 and a grade 5. Deuce Factory 114 . What will help to keep the bolt tight is a Nyloctype lock nut. The blue Loctite most commonly encountered in an automotive shop is either numl. we can tighten the grade-R bolt tighter than the grade-S bolt (assuming the female half of this relationship 15 up to the task) and create more friction and more tension in the bolt." Red is n1eant for heavy-duty applications while blue is for smaller and presumably less-important applications. Stainless threads also tend to galt so it's a good idea to use Loctite or anti-seize compound to minimize metal to metal contact at the surface of the threads. one nut "jammed" up against the other. The cotter key won't keep the bolt tight. or the bolt in the hole. a typical example might contain If! percent chromium and <) percent nickel. What this means is that the cotter key that Nkeeps" the nut on the ball joint. or the way the inside of the Allen heads ahvays seems to rust. or the safety wire used in competition. others meant for parts that will never be unscrewed again. is meant primarily to keep the bolt and nut from falling off altogether once they become loose. or Corrosion Resistant)! they aTe not as strong" as a grade-5 bolt. "I use gradc-8 stainless and they're great!" If you add chromium to steel you get the material \VC commonly refer to as stainless steeL The 300 series stainlf~s~s steels are some of the most common.\ discussion of stainless bolts is on{. There's no problem with rust in the head of a stainless Allen. What Keeps It Tight You might think that the lock washer is what keeps the nut on the bolt. Consider the threads as a ramp wound around an axis. with a UTS of roughly 85. If the dle is doing much cutting. we have in effect stretched the threads. some meant for light-duty work. While 300 series stainless bolts are resistant to corrosion (they are often called CRES in the industry." Number 243 has a slight advantage in that it's slightly stronger than 242. When you tighten the bolt you are using mechanical force to move a load "uphill. in addition to a small percentage of carbon.If in doubt about any bolt or nut. Both are considered "a medium strength thread!ocker for fasteners up to 3/4 inch. and is more tolerant of a little oil on the threads. or a drop of Loetite properly applied. The tension that keeps the bolt tight can also be the bolt's undoing. Most of us think of Loetite as "blue or red. The other problem with these 400 series stainless bolts is the fact that they rust! Stainless bolts also work-harden in service.~ of those topics sun. The fael that they stretch easily and work-harden in service means that some builders insist on using them only once (more controversy). then there's a problem with the bolt and the best approach is to look for a replacement. is quicker to set. Stainless Bolts . By tightening the bolt to somewhere near the yield point. There are stainless bolts rated to more than 20(). Because stronger bolts have a higher yield point. an all-metal lock nut. a good split ring lock washer.

from. precut and bent to fit your particular situation. Now we have a mismatch between the strength of the material the bolt is made from and the material the casting is made Final Words of Wisdom After 3D-some years of turning wrenches. What this means is that oily threads should be cleaned with Loctite's own Clean 'n Prime." That statement is true when you have a bolt and nut combination clamping something together. Studs should be screwed in finger tight. Don't torque a stud down into the casting. The fly in the ointment comes when a highquality 170.O()O-psi bolt is screwed into a casting made from iron or aluminum. If it's the only bolt you have for the job and it's too long. When you torque the stud into the hole. there are a number of companies that will supply all the lines and fittings. making for a stronger assembly. l Nuts and Other Female Threads A bolt or cap screw isn't worth a damn without a matching set of female threads. and require free metal ions and an oxygen-free atmosphere to work." No matter which one you use they work best on clean threads. it's embarrassing to realize that I've been doing many of the wrong things to bolts for much of that time. Those threads might come in the form of threads cut in a casting. then put a washer or two under the head until you can get out and buy the correct bolt. The threads at the bottom of the tapped hole are rounded slightly due to the shape of the tap (even if they are cut with a bottoming tap). Most of us ha ve been taught that" a fine-thread bolt is stronger than a coarse-threaded bolt of the same size and rating. you put all the force on those few bottom threads. Don't cut "just one more thread" on that bolt. or a nut with female threads designed to match those on the bolt. coarse threads in the casting increase the shear strength of those threads. What follows are a few of those mistakes. Pure Choice Motorsports 115 . Coarse threads are also better suited to the coarser texture of many of these cast materials. like Brake Klean. The larger. We've explained the care that goes into the manufacture of a good bolt-don't undo all that craft by cutting more threads. In order to compensate for the fact that the steel is much stronger than the cast iron or aluminu m the threads in the casting are often cut in a coarse thread. The fine-thread bolt and nut are stronger because the minor diameter of the bolt is larger than it would be for a coarse-threaded bolt. and because there is more net contact between the threads on the bolt and the nut. or something that leaves no residue behind. in either 45-degree or 37-degree AN. both as a profeSSional and an amateur. Use Loctite if necessary to keep the stud in When it comes time to plumb the chassis."high-strength threadlocker" and will require" extra effort and possibly heat for removal.

"with the 116 . There's nothing wrong vdth that as long as you use quality materials and install thelTI with can. threaded shanks in shear applications. Common AN line sizE'S are "dash three. Both the hose and the hose ends arc available as extremelv high-quality components suitable for competitio~. place. \!v'hen it comes to plumbing. more and morE' builders of hot rods are lookin~ for an upgrade. When you're torquing a bolt." '/dash four. each size vvas designed to replace an existing hard-metal line with a flexible Stainless steel thr'Ough-fl"'B!'ne fittings like these make the lob of plumbing the frame with bl'ake lines much neatel'. Remember thot the braid will act like a saw on anything it touches.{tcria1s available at the local Pep Boys storc. Hose sizes are often indicated by one or tvvo digits. come in common sizes like -02. Oeuce Factory Braided high-pressuf'e hoses with Teflon inner liners. all of which makes sense when you realize there is a method to the madness. and -04. consider that much of the torque uscd to tighten a bolt is actually used to overcome friction behveen the male and f~male thre. . take the time to use a torque ~. vou can still use the good old OEM stuff or the m.03.vrench. or NAS bolt fron) the airport. which is why some hoses are available with plastic sheathing covering the braid. and thus uses what is commonly called the AN (Air Corps/Navy) measuring system.D. . manv builders want braided hose 'vvith anodized al~lminum ends. First \Ve have to back up and expIJin that much of this high-end hose market started as surplus from the military. Jt gets a little confusing because the 3/16 doesn't indicate the exact inside diameter (r. with matching ends.D.vn finger tight until it contacts the bearjng. Donft use bolts with long." "md so forth. and others provide high-quality hoses with or \vithout the braided stainless covers. Yes. en equals 3/1h inch. Companies like Earl's. so be sun' the threads are clean. the aftermarket nO\\" provides a vast number of choices. The other point vvorth repeating is to ahvays use anti-seize on the threads of chrome and stainless bolts. Dri ven by a desire for quality and certain aesth(ltic considerations. then' is at least one full thread protruding from the end of the nut Anvtilne vou're in doubt. "vvhether used in shear or tension that \vhen the nut is fully tightened. . hovvever. j Plumbing The Basics When it comes to moving the common liquids around under the hood. When the system was first implemented. and not to put the correct amount of stress on the bolt Anv dirt on the threads increases the friction.'. So what does that mean in the real world? The 3 is the numerator of a fraction with 1h as the denominator. or in three or four less stringent grades more suitdble for street use. So.) of the line. nlaybe even an AN.. often used as brake lines. MS (military specifications). Dash three is generally written 1'_03". . Buy one of the better cap scrClAlS. Aeroquip.proper nonthrcaded shank of the right length and the right diameter. A bolt should be long enough. AN fittings all have 37-degrec flares instead of the more common 45-degree flares used in most American OE~1 lines and fittings. Some mechanics go so ftlr as to drop a small ball bearing down into the hole and then serevv the stud dm.) or even the outside diameter (O.l(]s.

or coolant. as a standard 3/16-inch brake line. If you have to run the \vater a long distancc. Aeroquip 117 . If you kno\v the size of the inlet and outlet and thc approximate shape (you can even bend up a template "vith a piece of \vire or coat hClngert most counter vvorkers will help you find the right molded hose from among their substicllltia! stock. as are the colored hose fiends" (v/hich are actually covers for the stainless hose clamps) that go along \vith the braided stainh. Thus.0. The kev is to use brand-name hoses and avoid the tl'ndencv to force the hose into something other than the pre-formed shape. Aeroquip This cutout shows one type of reusable compressionstyle hose end.D. oil.line of about the same 1. Get it? A dash four (-04) has the same internal diameter as a 4F!6-. saml~ Designed to work w'lth the reusable hose ends. AeroqUip Getting the Hose 'rhe hose you use depends pritnarily on the fluid being moved.-Jnd configurations.\. there's nothing \vrong: \. as most hoses \vill collapse at that point. some designed for a crimped collar'. all designed as part of the same system. some for' a hose clamp.~ss look.vith braid~d stainless. The stdiniL'ss outer braid most of us are so eni. for aesthetic reasons if no other. In the case of "vater hoses. straight ~~ipe can be used vvith rubber "connectors" at either AN-style fittinos fOI" fuel. in temperatures from 55 degrees below zero to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. and coolant lines come in various shapes (.. this AQP Racing hose can be used with fuel. The braid does more than provide that nice race-car look. Specific hose ends need to be used with specific hoses. oil. or] /4-inch steel line.vith using molded hoses from the local auto parts store. Wh<lt you \vant to avoid afe the corrugated radiator hoses. This "vav you can buv molded hoses and then cover the~11. and exactly hovv' trick you "vant the finished product to be. Available sizes run from -04 to -32.unored of is available ra\v. ··03 has about the 1. and some for a do-it-yourself compression-type connection. the pressure of the liquid. The stainless covering also protects the hose from abrasion.

If you use sorn_ething besides a barbed hose end." but in reality a standard steel line will last nearly that long.!l\vavs. Because current fuels have so many new additives. These ver'y neat. The hoses everyone wants to use are the braided stainless hoses with anodized or polished ends. these fittings are anodized in red or blue and look great when used with a stainless over-braid and clamp cover of the same color. Though aesthetics drive much of these decisions. EFI systems run far more fuel pressure in the lines than \vas experienced in any part of a carbureted fud system. along with the related refrain. or the high-pressure line to the power steering gear. A few final notes on brake lines and fittings. Fuel lines for Honev carburetors or a'standard three-deuces setup ar~ only a phone call iHvay. it's important to usc on1v current'. flexible gas lines can be made up of the black neoprene hose available at the local auto parts store. A little time spent with an Aeroquip or Earl's catalog \vill open your eyes to the huge selection of hoses and ends available. fuel manifolds are available pre-assembled front a variety of sources. oil. Aeroquip end." Yes. are designed specifically for transmission fluid. They can be ordered in nearly any length..OO() psi.OOO-psi operating pressure and a burst pressure of more than 1O. you need to make sure the hose you use is irltended to handle the application. Call me conservative. High-quality hose ends come in various configurations so be sure the one vou buv is the one vou want. you've created a mess and an inconvenience. be it gas. you've created more than an inconvenience. a ~03 hose is the right size. But unlike the stuff frOlTI the auto parts store. Tn the worst case. "J want this car to last forever. for example. high-qualrty fuel manifolds are available pl~8-assembled for most popular carburetors. As stated earlier. the very best art:' good enough for competition use. ()f preassembled hoses can be purchased vvith a variety of ends factory installed. Pay attention to the flare-~don't try to mate a llR . Hot rodders often lean tCHvard the stainless steel hose with 37-degree single-flare A N fittings. a stainless llne will last I'forever. you could damage the engine if the temperature is allowed to go too high before you shut it down. Remember. there's also the '-'I want this car to have the best of everything" mentality at work here. As . but I recommend buying the hoses factory assembled with the ends already installed. The DOT-approved hoses are the big. a similar dilemma arises. For most brake applications. The hose can be purchased raw from companies like Earl's and Aeroquip. most of which use brand-specific anodized ends. The only truly approved hard line for brakes is the OEM-stvle steel hose with double-flared 45degree fitting~. Any good radiator shop can make up a straight section of tubing and also do a nice job of heading the ends.Inatic transmission and the cooler. a whole raft of adapters is available to convert the pipe fitting thread in the caliper to the AN fitting on the brake line (for example). it's obvious that steel lines commonly last a minimum of 15 to 20 years even when the car is used daily in Minnesota's salt-infested winter driving environment. These ends could be a book chapter in themselves. if you can't get exactly the right fitting on the end.f 2. Remember that for many carburetor applications. brand-name fuc1lincs. Most of these are rated at a minimum (. ugly black ones. Clutch hydraulic systems probably require a ·~04 because they are moving a larger volume of brake fluid. At the other end of this aftermarket hose-end selection are the simple barbed fittings. and follow the marlUfactu'rer's djrc('ti~)ns for assembly and testing of the hose. Working from personal experience. In most cases fuel line like this will slip over a simple barbed fitting vI/here it's secured with a hose clamp. These braided hoses are made up of a Teflon liner inside a stainless braided cover. Like \vater hoses. be sure it is matched to the hose brand and size. so pick your fuel lines and eLl mps accordingly. It's important that any hard line like this have beaded ends so the damped ends can't slip off. If the same thjng happens \vith a brake hose. The lines used between the auto- Brake Hoses If you assemble a radiator hose from aftermarket parts and it blO'ws later while cruising: down the highway. When it comes to the flexible brake hoses. Upgrades in fuel lines indude a variety of reinforced and braided hoses availJblc from the aftermarket.

If you have to mate the typical American 45-degree system with the AN 37-degree system. Yes. get someone to literally stand on the brake pedal while you carefully crawl around underneath with a light inspecting every fitting for any sign of leakage. If YOll run the lines inside the frame.37-degree hose with a 45-degree fitting on the caliper or chassis. Leak testing is part of the installation process. Simple clamps like these. must be clamped to the frame so they don"t vibrate. can't corne in contact with a suspension member or the edge of the tire as the suspension goes from full extension to full compression. especially the flexible ones. they must be clamped in place. and flaring stainless brake lines. but seepage and failure are likely results. When everything is finished and the system is bled. cutting. Pure ChOice Motorsports 119 . whether steel or stainless. A variety of aluminum and stainless clamps arc available from the aftermarket to make your installation as neat as possible. Be sure all the hoses you mount. don't put any connectors where you can't see them and be sure to test for leaks. The brake lines. We should mention that for individuals who don't want to spend their days measuring. or as the tires go from lock to lock. the materials arc soft and will probably "give" enough to mate the two. conversion fittings are available to do just that. available in stainless. Whether YOll run the lines inside the frame or outside. companies 1ike Pure Choice Motorsports will cllstom ellt and flare all the lines and ship them to you ready to install. are uften used to hold the lines in place.

quallty tubing bondor. lA/hat's left is the plumbing. You hav(> to be sure the lines are seamless or thev \vIU crack \'\'he11 vou bend or flare them. 120 .028.'· des fee sillSfc flare. the type that use a srnl1!l tulle sleeve bchcccn the fine nut and the flare./I Like any othel' part of the building and fBhl'ication prolect. and high. "These lines are seamless 3041. not a tubing cutter. "We used lines that are (). because it doesn't crush the end of the tube. Neal cuts his stainless tubing with a cut-off wheel. The linings afC all AI'.] 3. for example. inch \vall thickness. are all 3/16 stainless. tool. From with debut'l'ing too!. The materials Neal is using to plumb John's truck arc all top-shelf. though you could also get them from . Ii i At this point the Deuce truck frame is nearly aS5cm~ hied (only to be disl7sscrnhfcd again ftJr painting).J company like Pure Choice Motorspnrts. We bought ours at a locall~ct­ wls-supply shop. stainless." explains Neal.. the brake lines I"equires specialized tools. hand debtJrI'ing tool. The hard lines.

121 .A small sander is used to clean up the end and ensure it is cut 90 degrees to the centerline of the tubing. Neal deburrs the inside of the cut-off end. It's also a good idea to clean up the outside diameter of the tubing at the cut with a small file (w some sandpaper' [not shown].

The four flex hoses are -i)3 braided with the Teflon inner liner. but you get smaller bend radii out of that tooL My bender will bend a 3/16-inch tube to a 5/R-inch radius. That's a good size for a project like this. Neal bought these from a local supply company with the ends installed. bending. and the 7/16-inch banjo to No. "Imperial Eastman or Parker make some pretty good bending tools. The end of the tube should be flush with the top surface. "They help you to do a nice. neat job. If you're new to this notion of cutting." Fabrication of each section of tubing starts by cutting the tubing to length. Stainless doesn't flare and bend easily. or even some heavy welding rod materiaL That way you can 122 .3 AN for the front Wilwood calipers. and thus requires quality tools and attention to detail if it's to be used effectively. A few adapters were required." says Neal. and about as tight as you can go without collapsing the tube. A good single-tubing bender will probably cost you $45 or $50. though they're also available from high-performance retailers. The installation is made easier by Neal's careful attention to detail and by his use of high-quality tools. A little lube placed on the cone of the flaring tool means it's less likely to gall against the stainless.3 AN for the Lincoln calipers used on the rear of the truck. and installing brake lines you might want to mock up the whole thing in standard 3/16-inch steel line.Neal uses a stl'aightedge to make sure the tubing comes up through the clamp part of the flaring tool. like the 1/8inch pipe to No.

which must be done \vith a quality flaring tool designed for a 37-degree single flare. Now it's time to flare the tubing. You can use a lubricant of some kind hl'tvveen the cone and the tube so it won't gall against the tubing. 12:3 . "The flaring tool is tightened down against the end of the tubing until you feel the metal stop moving. The cone of the Here's the properly flared stainless tube with the sleeve and the AN nut bellind it. the outside of each cut is cleaned up with a small file while the inside is deburred with the appropriate tool. Neal goes on to explain." figure out the exact length you need. Neal does the actual cutting with an air-powered cut-off wheel.As Neal explains. "You can use a standacci tubing cutter but it tends to squash the tubing and the size of the hole ends up pretty small. he carefully dresses and deburrs both the outside and the inside of the tube. Neal warns that "the end of the tube needs to be reallv clean without any nick" or burrs. After cutting the tube." After cutting the tubing to size. being careful to make the cut square. not the 45-degree double flare seen on most American OEM applications. taking into account the amount needed for each bend.

In The Shop continued in QI'der some \. l24 . Neal actually takes the tubing past 90 degrees because there is always back" when he take the pressure eff the tool. Here Neal holds the finished line before Installing it on the fral11e.Q make a nice 90-degree bend.

The nuts that are part of this AN system are made from steel. anodized aluminum." they are in fact dissimibr metals and Neal recommends the judicious use of a little anti-seize on the threads. by turning the cone down against the tubing. Also shown are a few of the fittings used tn complete the job. Just remember to flush a little extra bn1ke fluid through the lines when it comes time to bleed the brakes so anv anti-seize is flushed out as \\'eJL Instead (. ln spite of the fact that both the steel and the aluminum are "coated. where it gene('8Uy attaches to a flexible hose 01' !ine. Many of the fittings used here are These through-frarne fittings are used to very neatly get the line on the other side of the frame. from the other end. Neal attached the hard line to the frame and uSt'd a flex line at each wheel." The tubing is positioned in the damp part of the Aaring tool so the end is Hush with the top surface of the tool. because he thought it \vas neater 125 . flaring tool needs to be nice and clean. and if you use the tool a lot you might need to do that. On better toots the (ones can be replaced. The complete installation requires a 2-pound residual pressure valve in the line to both the front and the rear br-akes as well as a proportioning valve in the line to the rear brakes.A vanety of clamps are available to hold the line in place aiong the frame. 'rhis is the time to install the nut and the tubing sleeve. until "you can't go any further. before doing the second flare.f using one flex line at the rear end and then attaching the hard line to the axle housing." Remember that the tubing \vill be damaged jf you continue to exert pressure after it has been funy flared out against the clanlp. Neal says you h':1\'8 to exert pressure. 'Vvith a protective coating of cadmium or zinc. without any nicks.

it's important to put a wrench on both "halves" of the fitting. It's important to drill all the holes and weld on any necessary brackets now while the truck is in mock-up stage. throw it away and start over. The lines on the Deuce truck frame are held in place with small two-piece clamps. Each clamp is secured to the rail with a machine screw threaded into holes tapped in the frame rails. Neal used through-frame fittings for a very sanitary installation. Each one requires that you drill and tap a hole in the frame rail. Don't skimp on materiTo tighten the fittings. Brakes lines will vibrate and crack if not secured in place. fitting adapter A into flexible line B. bending and rebending may fatigue the line. the other end of which screws into another fitting and then the hard line. And instead of running the hard line up and over the frame to a fitting or bracket.In The Shop continued that way. it makes for a sloppy-lrx)king job. Plumbing the frame is pretty much a nuts and bolts kind of deal. Neal likes to use the two-part line clamps seen here. And that's the one thing we're trying to avoid here. And you must check each one of these for possible seepage before you consider the job finished. At the very least. Like most parts of this hot-rod building project. als or time. 121l . a neat plumbing job requires patience and attention to detail. If you find the line you just bent up has the bend in the wrong place.

Pete alwavs savs. foreman lintl ins jilstcnCfs the jf"LU (~f CAL shop. Cuys don't put anti·· seize compound on chrome or stainless bolts. So vVC usc the standard mild steeJ brake line for most of our cars. We only do it for aestheties. Using a second nut jammed up against the first is a real good way to go. "vhieh tends to gall like the stainless does. The drag racing sanctioning bodies like everything to be braided hose or hard line. we're always . gr~a(ie-S are wonderful for almost everything. stc1inless has a real affinitv ~ for itself.yp buv most of our bolts from the hardware store or a -fastener supplier. a lock washer. the heat melts the nylon part of the nut. The only time we usc something like an NAS bolt (National Aerospace Standard) is when we're looking for a really trick-looking bolt or nut. They usually let LlS walk around behind the counter until we've found the right hose. The problem is the bolt they use has threads along the complete Jength so the threads 'wear out the clevis and the eve and then there's too much play. Q: What about plumbillg under Ihe hood. We try to use an AN washer and then a lock nut. espeCially when we hveak them so they're properly. The Nyloc type of lock nut is really good but guys need to be d\'vare that after one or two uses.u/zai' kinds (?f hardv')are mistakes do you sec on those cars? A: Guys will have a clevis on a piece of clutch linkage. OEM-style hose. The other problem is vvith stainlt'ss and chrome bolts and hardware. we I n order to minutes {uhat proj()ssiorlll! buildersthe SOspent a zvith Shane. and they' put a bolt through it as the pivot. that other people have built. the\' have to have anti-seize on the threads. I like lock washers just as well but they tear up finishes. we take the time to make sure the door fits correctlv and we stiffen up the pillars. but of course we can't use them on exhaust. so the type of hose you usc dependS on the intended use. It just doesn't look good. On the exhaust we use a pinch nut. 127 Q: What ahout brake fines and/ittirIgs? A: Typically we haven't done much stainless.d a hos~ it's hard to find the fancy AN stuff. For the radiator hoses we use standard Gates molded hoses. you do service on cl1r. for example. For the specialized stuff \-Vt' use either King Bolt in Los Angeles or South Coast Specialties in Lake Havasu. Under the chrome there is nickel. but they're black-plastic co\'ered because Pete doesn't like the look of braided. We don't like grade-8 as nluch because they're more brittle than the grade-5. that nut is tired. so the door jamb doesn't just bend in when you dose the cloof. We bend up a pattern out of welding wire or lightweight "corrugated" aluminum flex~hose and take that to the parts store. The final thing is the guys who don't use the right length bolt so it has too much thread sticking out. chrome can do the same thing as stainless. From the frame to the rear end we use a standard rubber. H's really just l. Q: How abolll door latches. Q. But all of our '40 Fords and Deuces use Ford latches. The stairlless tends to galt even 'when it's a stainless bolt and nut combination. They don't use anything and pretty soon things start to fall apart. We do like the Nvlocs." - afraid the customer will have trouble finding a fitting or line if thev have trouble on the road. it looks sloppy. \. and even if they' aren't.:. z. I tell people to buy the best anti-seize they can and llse lots of it.' adjusted and lubricated. Our SO-CAL brake kit includes braided hoses. what docs 50-CAL like to see for door latches? A: Almost all of our cars use stock OEM factorv door latches. in real (corld. We use some braided lines depending on the sitnation. Shane. They should have used a bolt with a long shoulder (1 nd then shortened the threads. There arc a couple of exceptions. The stock '32 latch works good. or a jam nul. Chrome bolts can be too big. arc grade-/') and gmde-8 good enough for most tasks encountered while building u hot rod? And yvhcrc do 1/0U hUll !/Otlr nuts and bolts? A. "if vou're in the middle of nowhere and nc(. unless that's "vhat the cllstomer wants. Arizona.out are usflJr and plumbitIs. We used late-model bear claw Jatches on that because the original design isn't very good. They need to use some kind of locking device. do you use a lot 'if' the fancy braided hoses' A: Typically we use standard rubber hoses because that's what Pete likes~standard rubber hoses for fueJ with typical stainless hose clamps. When we first fit up the 01f. If vou wear through the chrome you get to the nickel. They should do the mock-up with regular nuts so they don't wear out the Nylocs. Q: £lOIu do you fcc! about lock nuts? A: We use lock nuts on anything we can. Yt'S. lik(~ the '51 Merc in the shop.l'cause thl')' used the wrong bolt for the pivot. And people don't use lock washers or lock nuts. Q: Shane.

like all things. You For a nostalgia car.s1!y settle for a late-model 3S0 "borrmved" from dn older Caprice Of discovered in the COlTIPf of a buddy's garage. seem at first to be outside the So whHc it re. there is simply no engine with the same allure as a flathead. The engine choice will character. the placement of the and the type of motor mounts. the flathead has its cost. The other end of the spectrum includes a \vide range of crate engines from all the major manufachirers. 12fl . you have to not only vvhcrc to put the but. in terms of both increased maintenance and modest performance. uring chassis Engine Choices The criteria for choosing an engine include cost. The builder on il budget might ed. character. which engine to put there.1im of a book/' Vlt/ve df'cided to indude some information designed to help you with one of the 111()St important decisions :you're going to make in this car. eM has the best-known crate-engine program. and end usage.--l Drivetrain D {'md construction.. but Ford and Chrysler aren't far behind.

Some cars call out for something a bit different. both automatic and standard. When it comes to buying Gll engint'. and many of those engines arc still uut there.' street. both of which make it a good match for most hot rod situations. This little bovV'tie engine is relatively short and has the oil pan sump at the back of the engine. A nostalgia Deuce pickup likl' the one seen in the back of the SO-CAL shop matches up perfectly vvith tht' flathead installed between the rails_ Among the many trends seen on the street of late is the tendency to look beyond the small-block for Another' Roy Brizio project. hovvever. or a 52S-ci Hemi from the Mopar glly~.Seen in the SO-CAL shop. and a \vide varictv of transmissions. GM has produced COllJ1tless millions of small-blocks. a" high-output 460 from" nne of the Ford dealers. They say that small-block Ch~'\'y engines are like bellybuttons~C'\'eryone/s got one. \vill readily bolt up. The other advantilge to the' small-block is the relative case of installation. this roadster is powered by a nice new small-block--a Ol'flctical nearby Chevy dealer or an aftermarket specialist like Street and Performance can easily buy a ne"v 502 from your local Chevy dealer. this one rm3tes a [-are Aroun overhead convers'lon on a flathead with a 1 ~j32 Fan] 129 . the smallblock is easilv the best value on th\:. just \vatting to be given one more life under the hood of your personal hot rod. Engine mounts Jrc available in a number of different configurations.

For the maverick in the crovvd. and 351 W engines. from Ford Motorsport. unadulterated fun. because they've' punched out the biggest crate Hcmi to 528 cubic inches. There's even a limited edition ZZ 430 rated at 430 horses from the standard 350-ci displacement. And if you want a high-lift cam for the same engine. And J:10 Ford Engines Ford Motorsport SVO will sell you a variety of mild 302 short-blocks or complete 460 and DOlle 4.sure to bring cash. a car that's usable and dependable. In either case it makes a good powerplant for a Ford hot rod. Engine mounts become an issue as well. intake manifold. and assorted engines with the word "Cadillac" stamped on the valve cover. practical. The most popular of the Ford offerings include the 302 long-block with high-flow CT-40 heads. be . commuter car. They also sell an oil pan kit that moves the sump to the rear of the engine. For the fodder ~'hn intends to drive the car extensively and requires good power and no maintenance. SVO has C0111(' to your rescue with a short \vater pump for 2S4. The other issue is one that too many people don't consider. None of which is to say the engine )iOU install under the hood shouldn't be pure. Many Ford engines have the disadvantage of a longer \vater pump and a front-mounted dbtributor/oil pump. after Jl1. Cobra engines. then follovv your nose down another path. and vour intended use of the vchicle. the really old V-8s often mounted the engine at four points insteJd of three.1ical skills.61. the design of the car. The GM Performance Parts cJtalog also lists some high-tech small-blocks like the LT4. "People forget that these cars need maintenance just like anv other vehicle. This fourth-generation double-zee attains 355-horsepower and over 400 foot-pounds of torque. a 335 . 302. the local dealer has a complete line of crate motors that represent great bang for the buck. The more sophisticated might opt instead for the V-I0 Viper engine (assuming you have a largerthan-average engine compartment). Complete 424 Boss engines with aluminum heads are available. The final stop in this ladder of ascending horsepower is the ZZ4. The idea is to weigh all the ups and downs of your ideal engine choice. and the 351 \J\Tindsor block with aluminum heads and a Victor Jr. or want gobs of power. Mopar The Mopar guys apparently heard that old saying that you can't beat cubic inches. eM. As mentioned before. Mopaf guys \vill find the catalog also includes a \'ariety of 360-ci small-blocks. which puts the oil pan sump at the front of the engine as \vell. a rare SOI"JC Ford V-S? Don't think you absolutely gotta install the small-block. Next up is a . To quote Pete Chapouris again. or love Bemis. and used." This means that hot rod motors w{th blowers or solid lifters require more from their mvners than \\'ould a typical small-block.·ailablc in long-block form complete with all the sheet metal. and Chrvsler. Once YOU start to look beyond the small-block. more than anything else. alternative forms of power. these include the ahvays-popular nail-head Buick V-Sf Oldsmobile engines from the early I950s to the end of the line. 1f you want to build something unusual. and another shorty \vater pump designed for serpentine belt use (reverse rotation). the smallblock won't do. YOU1' mecha. You need. You also need to understand all the costs of building and operating that car.0 engine IS available both new. originally designed to run the NASCAR tracks in 1969. but no less dedicated. Though mount kits are available for a surprising number of engines.:' from Ford.0-horsepo\ver 350-ci small-block a. however. GM GM crate motors start with {l 2::. rhe dm. or have a stock cam reground. J eM srnall-block is the way to go. What's needed here is a balance between your budget.vnside to an alternative form of power is the increased cost and reduced parts availability.trying to find a \vater pump for an old Ford ur Oldsmobile engine on a Sunday afternoon might mean you get tn spend an extra day in Louisville. How about <ill old Chrvsler r-Icmi stuffed between the rails of that ne\v higl~boYJ or better yet. Be SUIT you understand all the irnplications of using an older or unusual engine. eliminating interference problems with the front cross-members of many hot rods. Less jaded. The Ford 5. You're not trying to build the ultimate.300horse 350-cube crate engine. In the GM linc. If YOU Vhlnt a two-four intake for an old Hemi. you may have to scrounge the used parts nehvorks. the range of possible engines is }luge. At this point it might heIp to \~ralk through a few of the crate-engine options availablE.

1mbers that prodde a 10)):1 compression ratio. This cngine liSt'S a camdriven vvater pump and aluminum heads \vith 2-inch intake valves and sodium-filled 1. complete induction system.500 rpm.75:1 pistons. The trade-offs incl ude the need to install a recessed firevvall. ilnd consider where that puts th<-' firewall Jnd hovv much room it leaves for the radiator and cooling fan(s}. available as a complete long-block or a complete kit.502 horsepower. and added forged pistons. heavy-duty connecting rods. The top of this big-block battle is the SOl/S02.lllued popularity of the old Chrysler Heml means new life for a design that's nearly 50 years old Today you can buy oearly everything you need to blilid a 392.and 502-ci bigblocks in ratings from 425 to . During the first mock-up session. You need first to sketch oul the logical engine lociltion. The 425-ho1's(' 454 uses cast-iron heads with rectangular ports and big valves mated to a castiron block \. ignition s:ystem.Jds.vith a roller cdmshaft. or at least notch the firewa!! to clear the distributor. The relatively mild roller camshaft normally installed in this enginc C<:111 be swapped for a hot LT-l camshaft good for another 20 horsepower. without going tn the Suoday swap meet horsepovver. and a forged steel crankshaft. \-\Then Neal Ldounwdll did the first mock-lip on the stretched DeliCt' pickup seen in this book. 350-ci V-B.SS-inch exhaust valves. ~rhl' large displacement and mod cst compression mean this engine can live eaSily on the street burning pump-premium and still provide 500 foot-pounds of torque at 3. We all kncH'v that by setting the engine farther back. roller camshaft. Where to Put the Engine Engine placement is both a topic of its own and an essential part of planning and mock~up. the engine proved to be a bit too fa.'dded to . more of the \veight is transferred to the rear whpds.r forward. Neal and John dt.4-c( combustion ch. Fans of the big-block haven't been forgotten. To ensure the engine's longevity. and cast 8. forged crank. GM engincers started with a four-bolt block. Combustion chambers fC<lturc fastburn 54-.The cont. This street motor comes with big- valve aluminum h(. and starter. The bow-tie catalog offers 454.

The small-hlock Chevy IS a toogh act to beat. Perhaps the IS the stagger'lng amount of speed equipment available for the little bow-tie. the p"GJect IS the giveaway car for the Goodguys.If 13urlt III seen too many FOI'd roadster's with small-block Chevys for power. They're inexpensive and readily available both new and used. tryout this 1934 Dodge with V-10 power. Roy BrlZIO's shop. host .

The two front mounts handle the bulk of the \veight and also handle the enormous torqtll' generated by a modern V-H. pulling air . Thl' engines look almost too high in the framl'! but they're placed that woY for a variety of good n. Nears eXZlmpJe should be noted. Companies like Chassis Engineering manufactUft' (1 series of motor mount kits designed to help you install a \\'ide variety' of engines into an equally' \'vide variety of frames. you sidt'stcp the problem that comes from having the water pump and fan hub too }m. During the mock-up. By avoiding the tendenc:v to locate the engine tno lmv in the chassis. Pick your radiator \Nith car'e'~-bf:'. too. \. If y!()U \\'ant a car that can cruise the fJirgrounds all day long without overhpating. Bt] sure. aided by a wt.\'(' provided S inches as the minimum clearance beh.vecn the bottom of the oil pan Jnd the ground. If the hood sides arE' smooth VOU need to be surt' there's enough room around the engine that the air can move into and then out of the engine comparhywnL In the frame chapter.'hen in doubt it's probably better to be too far back than not far ('nough.nd the firevvall.he engIne compartment The Moullts Nearly all modern engines an' mounted to the frame by three engine mounts. During the mocbup sessions.1diator and engine compartment. ho\ve\'er. Once ')gain you're looking for balance. lw sure to mount i1 water pump and fan on the engine and be sure you make provision for the radiator shroud. vou also need to consider ilirflow through the r<. Take d look at the Lwtterknown cars! and some of the mock-ups seen in this book.'asons. that the cooling air can get into< and out of. the enginl' nccds to be in the center of the frJme even if Detroit does sometimt'S OffSi. be sure to spend time considering the engine lo(ation~·not only for clearance and airfltnv. you \vant a big. The mounts themsel\'cs can be stock fdctorvstyle rnounts. Among the stronger Zlnd cleaner of the motor mounts currently available for popular engirws are the triangulated tubular mounts seen on many hot rods. Though technically not a part of the t'ngine placeIlwnt discussion. bdt"·driYcn fan.. t.'t the engine slightly' to the right..move the engine] inch farther back. A shmud hBS a dramatic effect on the amount of air moving over the corD and the temperature of the coolant .Kross a nice thick radiator cnre. vVhat this mpans is that you cun't ha\'t' the nOSl' of the WJter pump LIp ag:linst the insldt' of tlw rddiaror Air conditioning adds another heat load to the radiator and cooling system. has enough capacity for' ymw car and accessories. the bl'll housing and heads begin to impinge on the floor a. or something from the aHermarkt:t. "in Ordl'f to mZlke room for d nice big belt-driven fan. 1n a side-tn-side sense.'lI-designed cooling shroud. if it doesn't coo! it isn't worth a damn." As ~/ou push the motor farther back. though \\. sure '11. Every engine installation should include a n3clifltor and shroud.v on the radiator to mount an effectln::' fan. but to make sure the stl>C'ring shaft and possibly the steering box wj1J clear the engine and exhaust l l l We've said it before.

in part because many of tIlt:' bigger builders arc incorporating a clutch linkage in their most popular chassis. To Shift or Not to Shift Once you've chosen an engine for the hot rod. trying to determine the location of the mounts and how much angle is enough. Instead of trying to figure out the pivot points for the underhood linkage and hO\'I/ to 1110tmt a clutch pedal and pivot assembly.J birIy simple affair. one hydraulic line. and the customers don't like to feel those harmonics. There's a rule that the pinion angle should be the same . Then they run a piece of square tubing across the fralTl(.'r because of the tl\'ailabilitv of hydraulic clutch linkage asSt'mblies. they like to llse factory engine mounts. "The factories spent lots of time designing a mount that doesn't vibrate. If vou don't have a rack as described. A lot of shops use a simple trick to ensure the engine is level from side to side: First they install two bolts in the front of the engine block.v an engine and transmission as a unit. The engine. YOll Chassis Engineering makes available kits that ease the installation of nearly any engine into nearly any chassis. If vou make it a little short. remember that triangles are good. but they only use the little urethane bushing so they transmit more vibration. especially during the mock-up phase'! is made much easier \vith a small rack to set the engine on. through timing cover or water pump holes. need to pick a transmission." In terms of the driveline angles. \vhile flat platt~ \velded to the rails to meet the engine. jfBasicall~/ \ve mount the engine ·with the carb base level. without any supporting members. The other easy default setting is to use a TH 350 transmission behind the ever-present small-block Up until recentl).or 3-degree angle (the tail shaft 10"\"cr). . and cushions are sold separately from a large menu. As Shane explains. :you simply need one clutch pedal with a master cylinder. is not so good. often called hydraulic thn)\. Just mix and rnatch. complete with tabs to be welded to the frame. frame brackets. The easy' \-\'oy out is to bu."'ou'Jl be ~vr('stling \vith an engine dangling on a L:hain. so we rotate the rear end pinion to the same angle.rhich usuaH:v puts the crank at il 2. blocks and shims can be used to get the engine and tranny in the perfect position for height <lnd angle. This can be . The triangulated ones are sexier. 9') percent of newly built hot rods came ·with an automatic transmission. and one clutch slave cYlinder. Deuce Factory dure. That is no longer the case. so we usc theirs. The slave cylinder can be mounted to the "'outside of the bellllousing or internally. . Our cars are built to drive. try these cast stainless mounts. and finally let the engine CODle dnvvn so the bolts touch the tubing (note the photos). rails. At SO-CAL. The internal slave cvlinders. In fact.IS the crank angle.'. on the transmission's front bearing retainer.If you want engine mounts that ar'e both strong and sexy. both Roy Brizio and SO-CAL have designed dutch linkages that make a manual transmission a viable option. Chassis Engineering These mounts are very strong and can be purchased as a kit from Deuce Factory or made up from tubing and bushings meant for a four-link kit." rvlounting the engine and transmission In the frame. v. In a structural sense.v-out beari~gsr save space and simplify the linkage! though they require that you pull the transmission if you have to servic(' the slave cylinder assembly. strong enough to hold the engine and transmission up off the table. Shane and the crew at SO-CAL follow a time-tested proce- Linking tlte Clutch Pedal with the Throw-Out Bearing JJesigning and installing the clutch linkage~ often the most daunting part of adding J stick shift-is now easit..

vay to proceed. a four. fivc-. ~:'ngint. S\.'av the transmission can be removed from under tl{e car.'d or implied. or Six. Roy explains thiJt when they usc a Ford bell housing. though we have done a few cars \'\lith (l Muncie or 1-10 transmission. the example they provided was for a Ford engine and transmission. At that time you v\'ill also need a bell housing: and transmission." In building a car with a stick transmission. and most shops use the factory mount adapted to their o\\. it can be :1 risky undertaking.or six-speed tnlnS111issions from Richmond CCde One of t!w better \·vaY1s to obtain a transmission that \vill bolt up to your engine is to buy the engine and transmjssIon as a unit such as an engine and tranny lifted from a !vlustang CT or Carnaro. Five. but occdsionallv they USt' thc hydraulic thnnv-out bearing asscn{bly on one of the five. The point is that the installation of a four.' and transmission combination.or small-block.'md transmission. For those who \V£l11t to install a stand. thev use a L. That drivetrain can be abbreviated by three numbers: 3S0. consider th. This \\. The pivots are sourCt~d from the GM parts catalog. so unlcst-' vou knovv the tnlnsrnission \'out~e bu:ving is j.'ou can decide where to put the rear cro:-. The standard engine was a 350 small-block. and six-speeds. 350. Shane reports that "prettI' much all of our cars with stkks usc transmist-'ions from Richmond Ccar. and behind that sat the st-<lIldard TH 350 eM automatic transmission. or six-speed sourced from Richmond Ccar Company. [Vfzmy Ameri- can cars and trucks l1env use hvdraulic Iinkagt'.' attached to the used engine of your choice. \rvhile the cross-shaft is a fabricated piece. three of the more popular options include an old standard four-speed sourced at tht' s\vap meet. It's a nice svstcm and vou can thnnv a spare cable in the tnH1k just in cas~). On the plus side of the Jedgt)r. and possibly some usable clutch linkage.we blanks pUfchast'd from the aftermarkcl and then welded up in the SO-CAL shop. but then. and throw-out assemblv. thry "like to use th(: Mustang cable systt'm.pecd tfJnsmission i:-. \vhcn exercised. An option that.')(~1l hous- Simple rnotor-rnount brackets like these USB factory GM mounts. The only part of this scenario that hdsn't really changed is the rear end.. ing's Jeft side. or a four-. which means rninimal engine vibrat.s-member and mount.'xactl~/.j perfect condition. will require somt' modification to the otherwise standard chassis. arm. At SO-CAL.icst \. and trdnsmission choices include both slush-boxes and gear-grinding four-. \t\/hat has changed is both of the first tvvo numbers in the typical dri\'etrain description.Jt you get the cnrrl'ct dutch dnd fly\vhccl assembly along with the bell hOUSing. (f you're installing a Ford engint' .Complete clutch pedal assemblies with the master cylinder and the pi\'ot lllC'chanism <lfC available from companies like Wi!\v()od. Engine choices range from flatheads to I'Jemis. The rear cross-member should be removable. a viable option.VO pedals inste(1d of just one. The rear transmissinn mount doesn't hold a tremendous arnount of weight. it seems there \vas only nne drivetrain in use for 90 percent of the street rods being built. as shovv'n els('\vhere in rhis book. a Corvette piece. for [I. and you won't have to pull the engine just to service the transmission. the 9-inch [~ord rear end. Parts for ITIdny of the old tr£lI1smissions are vcrv hard to come bv. so ~. modified with the addition of a pi\'ot on the f.aKewood unit.ion transferr'ed to the CQr Oeuce Factory ind~?ppndent rear ends turning lip under modern hot rods." In most cat'es SO-CAL us(~s their own clutch linkage.or fivc-:-. theft' may/ no longer be d typical. Choosing a Standard Transmission T'v\"enty years ago. Four. The tim!:' to figure out the linkagt' b during the mock-up.ud transmission behind their big. While there are more . We attach a heim joint to the upper end of the Mustang ('able and ust' the stock bell housing pivot. A little farther back was the final member of the drivetrain trio. they've dc'signed a longer pedal pivot with roorn. and 9. or standard. At 50-CAL. Inside v~'(' use a hot rod clutch pedal <-lnd pivot. The thnnv-out bearing fork i:-. the 9-in(h Ford is still the :'lingle most popular choice. At Roy Brizio's shop the~/ do it a littk differently. The pedilis themselves .vap meet transmissions sufft"r thE' same caveats as anything else purchased on Sunday morning frum unkno\vn suppliers without any warranty intend<.n cross-member.or fi\'e··speed already. you don't have to follow either one of these fl'cipes <. Tn fact. fivt'-. For a bell housing. a stock bell housing and slave cylinder plumbed to an aftermarket master cylinder lnig-ht IX' the CJ':.

We \YJ. I \vant to know how the car \." expL:1ins Stc\-vart "Next.11 or 4.' bought out Doug Nash. Nmv we've got sticky radial tires and engines that are often fl. 1 need to knmv \vhat pOv\'erplant ~·01. so nm'\' we make the Super T-10 and the fh'l'-Spec(L \Ve also <llided a gear to tlw five-speed to make our own six-speed transmission. They need to run something like a 3.t'n' using. and so \vollld our tech guy. but it has a much lower first geJL /JOur first gear is 3.~O foot·vounds of torquc." The nc\." Stewart reports tha t the 'ill per T -I () is av a ilable "just like they vven' 2() years <lgO. I need to know what the rear end ratio is Jnd finallv.rhough )/ou can't buv a nc"w Muncie fourcan buy.'" the transmission cooler into the radiator. bl. During the mock-up.08 rear end with our five-speed. Much younger than the C6 is the 1:l6 . and the percentages of each. "They don't sit dO\\ln and plan out what they are trying to do ahead of time." II Shiftless Options and Considerations S/Iloking is badfor the hcalth (~fyollr transmission Most automatic transmissions that die premature deaths do so because of excessive heat." explains Stewart. \t\fithout a good cooler. The six-speed is good for guys who street and strip the car. The hot rod aftermarket also makes radiators for most cars that have built-in tranny coolers."l:t dri"\. C6. you have to bite the bullet and buy a rebuilt torque converter.Jirks in order to get a fed for ho"\-\' much torque ~/ou'n: going to transmit through the drivetrain. or with impro\'vd hc. despite the transmission's age. I need to kJl0\N if it will be equipped vvith :-. "It's a rare application vvhere they need t1 Six-speed. "Even if the engine dynos at 600 foot-pounds. they would be happier. These include the C4.nt to get enough information from the buyer so the transmis::'iion does what they expect it to do. "it's real unlikely you're going tn pass all of that torque through the dri\'etrain.vith an ovcrdrh'e. That way "vhen they get into fifth gear the rpIlls will be the same as \.'d to ensure that they get exactly the right transml%lon f()[ their particular situation. ~f th(..v heayy-duty Super T-10 is rated at 4. If you buy a used transmission.. IS it a big-block or a small-block. either of which will handle much more torque. Burnouts. there's no \vav to check these sealed units.or six-speed. (. Stewart reports a lack of planning as the main culprit.ill be used. Stevlart feels that most peoplc do fine \.Vhen Borg vVarner quit making the Super T Doug Nash bought the rights to the transmission. As Ste\vart HdlTtilton at Richmond (~ear explains: U\. it's a good idea to have it overhauled before installation. so you need a bdh. Parts for the C6 are still readily available. and trailer to"wing all gener<lte excessi\'e heat." explains Stewart.! 0 was devcloped for \Vinslon Cup cars and is still used in many of the schools. then the tech at Richmond Gear will recomrncnd using a five.2S to l. At the very least change the fluid and filter before you fire it up for the first time.) ne\'\" Super T-10 from Rich. '\vhile first in a four-speed l r is something like 2. the five-speed will work just fine.) series of qu('stions.10rC p()\-verful than thc)' were then. In tlwold the T-l0s worked because the tires were skinny and the rubber \vas hard. But for most people.. that the sexy sixth gear 1S really only useful for special applications.or si tran .-.'-duty synchronizers ilnd a sturdier L1!! housing. your nice rebuilt transmission could easily die an earlv death. Most Detroit cars incorporatt. Jl!vant tn kncnv the \veight of the car.lS w(>11.56 rear end ratio when you take off.y gear the rear end c()rrcctly. we move him or her into a five. The added benefit of the separilte cooler is the filet that it takes one more load off the radiator.:1\':.\. "First.'!' transmission." sa}'s Stevvart. for eXDmple. If they' \\'ould spend more time up front thinking. drag racing. mission." If the Super T 10 is deemed insufficient for the job. Our lov\' gear is so low it's like having a 4. the tire size. and that is enough for ruosr stn.lt the six-speed transmission is quite (l bit more money' than the fh'e-speed. "The tremendous]v different between the fourand the five-speed. Eventually vn. Tn ensure the clutch is good. and the newer AOD automatic The C4 is fine for small-block Ford engines of modest power (the C4 can also be adapted to Ford flathcilds with a couple of aftermarket kits)." fhL' Richmond gear five-speed uses a one-toone fifth gear. "If the torque is too high.22 to 1. or someone who does road-racing.')n the stl~C('t or street and strip... like the Richard Pdty Dri\'ing Ex!)eriencl'. When it comes to the clutch in a sealed lock-up torgue converter. all desigm. while the C6 is a much stronger transmission. Then he started manufacturing a five-speed transmission i." Anyone who calls Richmond Cear looking for a lransrnlssion to fit their hot rod \vill first have to . just like a con\"entionai four-speed.jth a fi\'c-speed.'cn cars. but it's still a good idea to use a separGte cooler. The heavy-d Ul J version of the Super r·. Some Tramttl Choices Ford ' Ford Motor Company offers three automatics that often find their wav into hot rods.111S\Ver." \IV hen I asked about the mistakes people make in choosing a transmission.. both the diamett'r and thc vvidth. be sure to plan the installation of a cooler somC'\vhere on the car where there's good airflow.

hovve\'er. :3. not the tail-shaft housing. The rear mount bolts to the main transmission case.hich mav interfere with some X-members. Units assembled after ]987 <:lfe superior to (. transmissions are the more desirable to buy. You can ht1. There arc cd-zillions of these transmissions out there in the bone yards dnd at svvap meets.'asurC' 8. v\'hile the earlier models do not). the 2. The hvo upper mounting holes ml. and Pontiacs have a much larger hole and speedometer-gear housing. This transmission "vas built from 1969 to 1979 vvith a standard torque converter. the 200 4R pnwid('s milny of the advantages of the 700 R4 in a smdll. Most of these TH 350 housings are identical \vith the exception of some fourby-four housings and reinforced truck housings. a real four-speed transmission vvith d lock-up torque converter. Another difference to \vatch for is in the diameter of the speedometer drive housings. vI/hill' most of those used in Bukks.' transmission. though Ford uses mechanical control of the lock-up torque converter instead of electric control.\"e vour cake and eat it too: d good hole shot and low )"('\"s on the highway. This transmission used a stat~)f (the vaned unit pOSitioned bet'ween the drive and driven members of the torque converter) \\'ith pivoting vanes.8 \. Overdrh'e transmissions from the eM line includl' the well-knovvn 700 R4.25 inchl.' package.AOD. You may have hedrd of the s\vitch-pitch a-1400. This is a true four-speed transmission. The hot rodder 'vvlth a very heavy foot or a hpavy car rnight do vvell to consider the TH400.3 V-6 and all smdll-blocks ha\'(' what most of us would consider the correct bolt pattern.'s from Cl'nter to center on the" right" transmission. and dn ovcrdri\"e fourth gear. 0. it has one very nice attribut. The advantages include the relatively small sizer short length. They are also slightly larger in diameter and vvider across at the n:ar. the Turbo Hydro 350 is still the most popular. In place of a kick-down cable. eM Among the many offerings from the General. These units make a good street rod transmission. the 200 4R. pre-lock-up. as these units are somevvhat heavier and longer by '1 inch than a I'll 350. and a kick-down cable. a v{]cuum line to the transmission's modubtor. the 400 uses a throttleactivated electric switch to downshift for passing. The smaller size of thl' 200 Though the Turbo 350 transmission from GM se8m an antique.(}-.. uS('d onlv from 1965 to 1967. The installation of a TH 350 will require a shift linkage. in the earlv 19BOs. /\ p('rft'ctl~· gOLxt four-speed transmission. while Iran nil'S for the 4. and overall shape. Chevrolet trannys used a speedo housing that was about 1 inch in diameter. you need shift linkage and a vacuum line to the vacuum modulator. used behind current Ford small-blocks including Mustang GTs. as the location of the rear mount is not affected by your choice of tail-shaft housings. This is a good thing. The angle of the vanes could be changed from a 11(\:. A good 700 Rt can handk' substanti. \-vhich means this transmission usually fits n.70:]. If you're interested.<1rlier units (later trannies hd\'t' pressure ports on the side next to the servo. and from 1980 to 19H6 in a lock-up version. The hea\Cv-dutv member of the older CM line is the Turbo H\'dro -'400. though they might be hard to find. Most of these housings measure either 6 or 9 inches long. Earlil'r. Installing a TH4()O might be more work. eM introduced a lighter-duty o\'cn. The other big plus here is the ready a'vailability of parts.11 stall speed for acceleration to a luw stall speed for cfficiL'nt hig!nvay cruising.06: J. Again. The total tranny length with the short housing is just over 28 inches from the edge of the bell housing to the end of the tail-shaft housing.Jl amounts of torque and horsep<nver. Differences in length from one Tr'l 350 to another are alvvays in the tail-shaft housing.--it fits fairly eaSily into a Ford frame With an X"IT18fTibFJI' . I'hese transnlissions come with two bell-hou~ing bolt patterns. less expellsivl. v". The 700 R4 gi\'es you a !tn-v first-gear ratio. The earliest 700 R4s can be upgraded with the latest parts.6 and four-cylinder cars used () bell housing with a slightly different (lIletric) bolt pattern. Nol 10 be confused \vith rl modified 350: the'st' are totaJjy separate from the 700 R4 tran~rnissions. check \vith a specialty (lutomatic transmission shop.Oldsmobiles. This trdnsmission was installed behinZi many high-horsepmver engines and eM trucks.irin.:'adilv even in frames vvith the factorv X-member.

Mounting the Rear End Rear end choices are covered prl'tty \Ncll in the H'dr suspension chapter. Final Tnmsmission Notes 1£ you (<"m't decide or aren't sure \vhich automatic transmission to run." Rear End Choices The overwheJn1. the finished. the 904 and the 727. 8-in(h Fonf rear end to tllt' venerable quick-Change. including complete ultra heavy-duty third-members. though the 727 is a bit ll1eatier through the cent'l'r of the housjng. Physically the two transmissions are vcrv close to th~ sam{~ size. The big 9-inch Ford rear ends are popular for a number of reasons."the U~joint )-roke is not exactly cenkn:d bt?tvvl'en the two backing plates. There are also hvo ()vcrdrive versions of the '[orqueflit". narrowed rear end housing \vill position the driveshaft in the center of the driveshaft tunneL Shane adds that. the rear l'rH. d 904 \vill work just fine with small-blocks of reasonable power. .liso feels that people don't think enough about the rear end ratio. If VIJU install tl1<' 350 or 4IJIJ with the 4:11 gear" then" you can't drive it any distance because the l'ngine is spinning so fast on thL' high\vay. the r'ight side ot the case otten intertel'es with the frame's X-fTlember. "Some people might want the rear end 'centerl'd' for uppearance reasons. No mattc'r how cdreful the shop is when they weld on the ends. Seen from above. Though the R4 shown here rnakes a gr'eat overdrive transrnission.sion at il 2. the housing may still becnme warped and need to be sent out to a shop like Currie's to he straightened.:-. The housing: ends themselves should be \velded in place by an experi~ enced shop that uses a fixture to keep the housing straight and true.or 3-degrec' angle (\vith the tail-shaft 10lvver) and the H.\500 and /\51~. Do they intL'nd to race the car or just cruise to \\'t. There are ulternatives. -a design that was produced in two versions. The bigger 727 is certainly the best unit from the perspcdivl: of stn'ngth.7 or ~HYI rear end and lots nf povver.ing choice \IV hen it comes to solid axle rear ends is the Ford 0-inch housing and center sl'ction. It's abo vvorth noting that many of these rear suspensions allow the user to .1lter 1'hl' pinion angle once the H~ar end housing is installed.you don't need a 350 or 400 transmi~sion. the . The 200 4R.'rline of the pinion and the engine dft. /v1°1!1lf The best known of the Chrvsler transmissions is the venerable Torqueflite. the rear end has an uffsd to one sjde~-.'ckcnd events? Greg . The idea is to have all the welding that vvill cause warpage done before the housing ends arc final-welded in place.'L Must builders leave this offset intact so When deciding which tl~ansfTlission to run you need to consider rno["8 than just cost and gearing. the Cl'nh. which correspond to the 904 "nd 727 respectively." Before welding on the suspension brackets. it's i1 good idea to cail up and speak with an expert. yuu don't need an overdrive. though not as heavyduty. But if the car has a 4:11:1 gear . and they include everything from the smaller.ave c1 2. First.' usually offset sllghtly. "If you h. IS an overdr'ive transmission that often fits more easily in many stmet rod trarnes.1 is very durable and will easily withstand the abuse dished out by a typical hot fodder.'iH end at tlw same (1ngle. though the two cvnteriines an' p<ualh. And because of their popularity. The big Torqucfl1te can be built to Hemi specs and beyond. At thb point it is worth rep<-'ating Sharu/s comments that at SO-CAL they gel1l'rally install the l'ngine and transmi. This doesn't mC'iU1 YOLI don't have to be careful about welding the brackds on. Creg Ducato from Phoenix Transmission Products in Phoenix suggests that the potential builder have a really good unlh' 1'standing of what he or she wants front the car and base their decisions accordingly. a large varidy of aftermdrket parts are aVdilabk' for the 9-inch. But often thl~rL' is d bit of adjustment left if you decide your initial estinlatl~ \vas uff slightly. When you look at most chdssis in the top view. the rear end should be mocked up in the chassis with everything at ride height. you do. The brackets should be welded on to the housing: before any narrowing work is finished. Even nostalgia dragraCl'rs 'will find the Ford rear end more than able to rnakl~ pass after pilSS down the strip. or )iOU feel the lwed to try a slightly diHerent pinion angk'.4R means it often fits a fat-ford frame with little or no ml)dific~1til)n of thc X'·member. Howevcr.

though thc'st:' an' not third-member-type rear ends. Though they typi- call V cost less than a 9-inch and are a third-member design. to ]987. it might even be close enough for use \vithout narn)\ving.)n be either 2S or 3] splines.. If \'OU elect to let vour flngers do the vvalking.emis from the wild and craz\. If you can't find a ndlTOW enough rear end. Also available from the blue-oval folks is an 8.l\'dilable in as many' gear ratios and is becoming hard to find.1sy to come by and relativt'ly inexpensive. and this is certainIv trul' of <. both these re. Readily available in the junkyard.. they stal-t with raw 9-ll1cl1 Ford rear end housings and put them in a jig before the brackets can be Installed. literally. Larger-diameter axles come \vith largl'r-diaJ1wter whet'i bearings mounted in larger-diameter axk hou::.d in passenger cars from 1957 to 1973. with either 2H or 3] splines. that makes it that much mort' desirable. as the Mopar axles tend to have a lengthy small-diameter area behind the splines. and \~fith longer axles it's more likely that shortening the axle \vill remo\'c enough material to gel past the small-diameter area behind the splines.Hl. At SO-CAL. 1:l9 . understand that the 9-inch was uSl. These come standard in Mustang GTs and may be available in the junkyards. ran the Dana 44 or Dana AO rear end. another possible source for 9-inch housings that don't need narroyving. 'There are some Lincoln Vefsailles Jnd Cranada rear ends that measure about 58 inches flange to flan~e and may vvork in some fat-fendered street rods. the 9-1nch Ford rear end is still available from most used parts emporiums or at the Sunday sll\"ap meet. and either disc or drum brakes alrcadv installed. SVO offers complete 4-inch housings with the large-diameter bearing retainers narf(HY' enough to fit the Mustang bodh:s. including a new "smooth" center housing.)-inch rear t'nds.1nies like Currie Enterprises 'vvill provide you with a complete <.. rL'ad:y to install. Some Mopars. If ~/ou can find a used one vvith thl' positraction.' y\. the 8-jnch Ford isn't i. narn)\ved to meet your specifications. The larger-diameter axle c. First. though very durable. As the hobby Inatures. SOfTie of these hm'e the added advantage of factorv disc brakes. If you (an find one from a Dodge Dart or Duster. Somdimes it pay's.8-inch rear end. 1. with different diamdt'r axles and difft'rent numbers of splines on the end. Ford SVO also sells the B.'duced diameter i~ shorL This makes it more likelv that after the axle is cut. Though not as bulletproof as d 9-inch. you . One of the thing~ that makes the 9-inch a good choice is the fact that the area just behind the <:lXli.Despite its popularity \vith drag-racers.)-inch assembly. this makes it harder for the typicdl strect rodder to service the rear end or change gear ratios. vVe suggest buy'ing a wide housing because in most cases vou have to narrow the rear end any'vvay. vvhile the smaller diameter is always a 28spline dxh. Most. 'rhe factory axles come in hvo diameters.'rn you need to match up with the front axle. hovvever. '60s. vvill need to be narro~ved. and off rnadel's.l[ ends are ncm-third-rnl'mber designs and are seldom secn on street rods. Other options in the rear end dl'partment include the 12-bolt eM housing. there is more than one stv1l' of Ford I)-inch n. the n('\~' axk-t'nd will b"e the full diameter so it can be rt. so you might just as 'vvell get one as vvide as vou can. Factorv 9-inch reJr ends come in vario~!s widths. to run the same equipment as everyone else. Ford abo made an 8-inch rcar end. though."viII likely' have to buy new axles..'-splined. mort:' and mOfE' parb become available as complete units. The best reason to usc i:1 9-inch is similar to the reasons pt~ople often cite for running a smal1block Chc\'y engine: BecausE' the 9-indl is so common. parts and service are ei. (omp. The Chrvsler 8 3/-I--ln("h rCdr ends (lH' \'erv durable and ~'naJ.B new through their catalog with gear sets as deep as 4. in pickup trucks until 1984. like the Street H. Fo"r hands-on rodders who like to 'walk behvcen the ro\vs of rusty cars stacked three high looking for just thl' right parts. this is a perfectly suitable rear end for the street rodder \vith d milder engine under Hw hood OJ" a lighter foot. The hot ticket for hot rod USl' is d long housing from a pickup truck or a station vvagon (so the axles are longer) 'with the larger-diameter housing.'ar end. these rear ends are another third-menlber design.:' splines \"\'ith the rt. In addition.ork \veU for the Mopar fanatic. hot fodders. You can havc any bolt path.ings. and in full-size \'dns all the vva\. Th(::5(' heavv-dutv real' ends are still available in the aftermarket.

the frame n8eds the cormet rear cross-member.ulieL "Aftt.'l\t'u fJerrorrnancc uf their strt'd machines. "and we added positrilCtioll and so on.and a large-bearing model. ToddY. though he could sec the aftermarket To hilT! these were the SO-CAL shop. After the fOlJf'~bar and shock brackets 8re installed. Richard LeJucrn1l't current owner of Halibrand. Thc difference might only' be $400 \vhen you compare ours to a ('omplete assembly you buy from one of the companit's advcrtising in Street old race (." cxpl<\ins Richard.' roadsti. the Champ and the V-8 rear end. HaIibrand still makes hvo versions uf the nriginal fear end.'ar t. and noise. the v have changed over the years. 140 .'r the .m race Cdrs of the to enhal1Ct' both the pertorrnance <lnd the nern. "We h.. dS .. thnugh the cOInpany \. "but not -by as much as you would think." Though they might be the coolest rear ends on the street most hot n )dders set' three reasons not to in:-:." tw\'ef Whether or not a qUlck~chan~Je is extra work to install depends on the chaSSIS.Billet steel axle-housing ends are available for narf'Owed rear ends.oon ib d supply beGH11t' available from f. period. the reElr end goes to Currie Enterprises tor installation of the ends and any necessary straiohtening The of the 9-inch I"'ear end means that complete 118i3Vvclul'! cBnter snctions are available br'i:md-nnw \t\!IUlt About if Quick-Change? vVlwri it comes tu rCdr l'l1cb. in both a small. however. We're about to finish thl' third generation of independent rear end assernbJies utilizing the original center sL'dions.vdS fonne(l one yl'M e.1\'e upgraded the redr ends for bl'tter scaling. t'xplains that Hll: ('arlil'st blueprint they C<in find for a quick+chdnge rear end carries a ljatc of 1948..'nd intvlodel i\ or Dcuu.'r the Will' -red t--ialil.)Llnd built products simply to improve the performancl' of his own race cars" }"le started vvith the rnag vvht:cls (md thcn in\. And though it's hard to tdl an old l-lalibrand from a nnv one. "Our rl'iH ends do cost more than a complete C)-inch Ford/' ddmib I\ichdfd. But somc of these ca:->tings come from the same sand patterns first used afh.t'ntt~d the quick-dldngl' rear end ltlteL Hot rodders ildopted his parts..taH a J-'Ialibrand: pric(J.<1rs. d Halihrand rl. In the case of this Oeuce seen III Ted Halibrand \vas a gredt designer.' same timl'.lCl'-car parts. All of this allows us to oHL'r more products that fit a wider range of possible applicati{)J)s. _Halibrand now sells components both" to race car and stred rod builders.~r made that \VdS both hot dnd cool at thi. clearance. and a notch in the gas tank."val'. Unlike in Ted's ddV. b:trlv hot rodders borrowecl ideas and cornpol1ents f'rl. no I1dme h<ls quite the th'::lt H"libt\lnd does. sprint Cdrs.

and they eliminate 95 percent of the noise.375Inch ~: I Big-bearing housing Taka tillS sketch when you Small-bearing housing to the swap meet to make sure that hpcwinn·· 9is us advertised 141 . And the clearance issue depends on the car. which meant I had to notch tht.95: 1 to 1.sp!ine axles in 55.vnod l'l'df disc brakl' c<llipers and rotors. the V-8 rear end uses an S. "comparable in strength to a C)-inch Ford ring gC'dL But when }'OU start to sC'e 450 horsepower clnd above. Richard rcports that "We hav~ helical-cut gears available for both rear ends.lr end. Surprisingly:.C'rnbl-y uses 11 ring gear nearly 10 inches in diaml'ter and is available \'vith a Detroit Locker limited-slip differenti(ll. I . flange to flange. I have one in mv '32 Ford. It can also be cornbined with ear'ly-For'd axle housings to make (3 complete nostalgia package. but vou hear that in a nc\v '40 Ford rear end as \'vell just because of the design.8 Incl'les in diameter'." As for the noise isslle (a whine caused bv straight-cut gears). the limiting fador in terms of strength is the qUick-change gears." In tl. Both redr ends come '\-". shown here.'rrns of strength.~ rear cro~s-membeL In mv '3Y Ford it wasn't a problem. t-2Inch o 1_~ 2. and the V-8 assembly.and 57-inch widths. then Ws time to step up to the Champ f('.35 Inch t o :.80: 1."vhine. Halibrand Rodda. not thl' ring and pinion. -'--3." The more substantial Champ ds:-. There's still a . The rmw end comes in 55.8-inch ring gear that Richard reports is. The V-8 quick-change uses a ring gear 8. The change gears mean you can have your choice of gear ratios all the way from 7.What we think of as a "quick-change" rear' end actually comes in two ver'sions from HaJibrancJ: t!'le larger end.and 57-inch \vidths and can b(' ordered with a \'ariet)---' of vVil\. I used a Pete and Jake's cross-member and there's no clearance problem at al1.ilth TJ ~.

. to the Richmond C. This frame is designed for J st'::ll1dard transmissinn.. both in the front and the I'ear The pal'ts that make up the SO. 142 . with the Lakewood bel1 housing attached. the ladder bars have been shortened 1 inch to match the new position of the cross-m(~mber. An electronic level gauge IS a handy too! and a ~jood way to ensul'e the frame is Sitting at I'ide height--a necessary first step in checking the angle of the engine. Also shownsequencethe assembly oftypCAL here is the J i. Creg Petersen starts thl" installation by first mating the engine block. The frame is a typical SO-CAL framt. aIn'ad)7 Weldl~d to the frame in their standard location.:causl' of this change. Greg Petersen sets the engine down on factory mounts. We should note that the engint-' has the factorv-stvle mnunts aIrt-'adv attached.1S a unit and \\'e11 balanced on the engine hoist. and the SO-CAL shop. The installation of the ciutch linkage starts with the installation of the engine. Bt.CAL clutch linkage are sourced fl'On1 the local GM dealer. Creg slides the assembly into place.short 111ock-up shows how ical enginc set up and installed at the SOT hiSshop. The other difference is in the bar that supports the master cylinder. mechanical clutch linkage. and sixMspsed transmission. so this one tube has a different angle than it \'l/ould if the frame were meant for an automatic transmission.ear sixspeed transmbsion. anti thev mate up vvith the SO-CAL ~1otl)r mounts.' except that the main cross-member is positioned 1 1/4 inches farther back to make room for a six-speed transmission from Richmond Gear. Lakewood bell housing.<. Once the engine dnd transmission are united . the hot rod afterTnarket.

and pretty rnuch foolproof 14:J . a piece fabricated at the SO-CAL shDp. simple. and the outer rnount bolted to the frame rail. The hvo pedals are both made up in the 50CA L shop from blanks. Creg knmvs that the engine is sitting in the frame <Jt an angle of about 2 degrees. The master cylinder pllshrod attaches directly to the bottom of the brake pedal and runs straight back to the dual-chamber master cvlinder. and then the Cfoss-shaft to the clutch arm. Because the mounts are already in position. The next project is the assembly of the clutch linkage. Here's the fln'lshed linkage Installation-neat. Both the clutch and the brake linkage are simple mechanical connections that should serve for a long long time without the need for maintenance or repair. At the heart of this linkage is the cross-shaft. With the rods supplied as part of the SO-CAL clutch linkage kit. Greg starts by bolting the inner pivot to the bungs already welded to the bell housing. and slide on to the extralong pivot shaft already installed in the frame. the cross-shaft vvill be equipped with a grease zerk for periodic lubrication.Here you can see the inner mount bolted to bungs welded to the bell housing. Next. Creg is able to attach the clutch pedal to the cross-shaft. l The double pedals are mounted on the extra-long pivot shaft and held In place with a bolt that screws Into the end on the shaft. he slides the cross-shaft in place and then attaches the outer pivot to the left frame raiL Though not shovvn here.

For a lot of hot rod builders this is all stuff they've already got in stock.1 standilrd four-bdr urethane bushing.<. You can buv rnounts likt' these from a varidv of sources.'wll'tllll Ii hot rod. Tlw casi.:175 inches in diameter.{t tbe and the \. J cut the plate from quarter-inch. Like mostat all Ihe dri.vholp affair b set in placC'.H75 inchL's in diameter and OJ56-inch wall thickness. cold-rolled mild steel. vvhich takes 1.2l water purnp dnd fan arc addl'd . D.. The St)flIlCI1Ce" ffwf .As mentioned in 2.He instdlled of the first mock-up. the Engine and Transmission and transmission . belt-driven fan. sel'n herc. the engine b supported at the front tvvo J/H bolts screwed in to the front of the rt~stjng on square tubing run across from one frame rail to another.fiIlJri.' is bolted to thl' Chevy bl)Hltl\l.'). Most of it is four-bar tubing. The tront mounts are bolted to the engine." Neal much prefer~ these 1110unts to those Llsed by the 144 . part of the rrlOck-up session was spent trying to determine whem the engine would have to be in order to sHow room fa!' 8 big. For this first mock-up session. The sleeve is 1. J'1e l~xpldins that the mounts are made from readily available components: "ft's all standard four-bdr P<lftS.trek/wi! Deuci' picf(up didn't Of/CC.NCdl chose to make the mOtlllt.." cation process. 'while j'\'(}/ll waited parts or do anotlier of the /Juilding and . DOM mild steel. installation oj" .ck.till/OW I{h'r{' ofTocek. The back of the is held up by a snldll hydraulic floor s sinlple syistem 111akcs it easy to the angle of the t'ngine by adding or Unw 3S deleting spacers under the tubing at the front of the t'ngine.1ne bushing. Though some builders preft-'f to usc' the factory mounts bl'CdUSL: they do a bl'ttl'r job of absorbing vibration. but. though the tahs on the trame are not yet weldt:d in place. Neal dnd John have chosen to use the small triclnguiar mnunts with a ~imple ureth.

' moch'd lip a drive shaft from J-inchdiaml. a lot cleaner than a eM mount. When it comes to determining the U-joint and pinion angles.l' back -1 inch farther in order to providt. Neal use~ a straight t'dge.vhere the U-joint yoke \vould bi. The next time the l'ngil1l' is Iovvered in pLlC('t Nea! kno\-vs where the engine should bl. dnd tn put the fan in the center of the radiator. And a lot stronger too. Neal and John set the engine and transmission in place and then mocked up the body to sec hovv cVt:rything fit." As mentionl'd l'arlier.'ngine to the corrl'd positiun and then tack-\. room behind the radiator for a big.ve1ds the engine-mount tabs h) the fram(\ At the rcaT of thc transmission. belt-driven fan. you can cut a nice neat notch on tubing. factory "l1l'cause this is a much neater design. \vith tht' fear of the engine 10vvor than the front. The three mounts locate the engine at an angle of 2 degrees. placed across the engine from front to rt_'<H.'ter tubing. a hnle saw.\ Then I measure the angle of the drive 145 .' set relative to the radidtor and thl' cowL At this time he moves the l. Nl'alllkes to work vvith a drive shaft in place. Based on those calculations they decided to move the engirl.. It slides over the transrnission tail-shaft then slides back to \. Nt'ai uses a factory transmission mount. and a fixture like this from JD Squamd. high enough to provide 5 inches of clearance between the bottom of the oil pan and the ground. The engine is centered in the frame be~ tween the two rails.The motDr mounts are made In Neal's shop from r'eadlly available components: four-bar tubing and cold-rolled rnlld steel. With an arr-dnll. "Wl. and a protractor to ch('ck the angle of the engine (more lah~r).

transmit mar'e vibr'8tion. these mounts can't be beat for their nice clean design and very high strength. tab is from Deuce Factory. designed to interface with the standard GM f'eal~ engine mount 14G .

for example. otherwise the needle bearings don't rotate in the cups and they wear out much faster." Once Neal knows what he wants for a pinion angle. Neal feels it's "in1possible to avoid warping the housing. With a mock-up drive shaft in place and the rear end housing sitting on stands. the pinion-shaft angle would be at 0. 147 . If the drive shaft is at I degree from horizontal. With the three-link suspension. it's easy to ('otate the housing until ther'e's a difference of about 1 degree between the drive shaft and the pinion." Some minor warpage Gln be corrected for when the ends are cut off and then re-inshlllQd as part of the narrowing process. with the rear of the engine slightly lower' than the front shaft and subtrdct "1 degree to determine my ide. so they "work" as th. About vvelding the brackets on the housing. however.ll pinion angle. An:y serious warpage. the pinion angle never changes. it's a simple matter of positioning the fear end at that angle (in the brackets Neal made for just such a task) and then mocking up the thrl'e-bar linkage.Not everyone agrees on the best drivehne angles. will require that the housing be straightened by a shop with a huge hydraulic press and the personnel vvho understand how to use the press and a set of V-blocks to correct for the ('Heets of too much heat.' shaft spins. The whole idea is to load the U-joints slightly. Neal installs this big-block at 2 degrees from hOrIZontal.

Cast or Billet? One Piece or Two? Most of the wheels that most of us covet are made from aluminum. and some wheels fall into a gray area bet\-vcen the two types. Buying H'\e right wheels tn." 148 . 1\10St aluminu111 whcds are either cast or carved from billet. L'asily C'ast. .flaf"Vllr1<S states emphatically that wheels and tires ul'nake the car. Uke Pete says. it might help to understand the various types of wheels currently on the market.." 'More than style is at stake here.Wheels and Tires and again in this book.11112('18 final choice is made" Before making a decision.cans YOll need to know what will bolt ooto the hub. 'Your choice of wheels and t"ires will help determine hrnv the car handles. The differences aren't as obvious as they might seem. Why aluminum? Because it's durable! light. the you choose for your I1t. caslly machined. Pete l. Such an inT[JOrtant part of the au tomotivC' nec(ls careful consideration before the A s stated \1.1nd stops. and polishes readily. "The wheels make the car. A fairly tradltlonal r'(ledster' needs tradltlonal cast wheels with tall tires. what will fit under the and what vvHI dear the brake caliper or drum on the backside.'W hot rud are as important as any other part. turns.

like this Hemi-powered F1 QQ. And sorne eady cars.Just paint 'em to match the body and add center caps with beauty rings. . 149 . like this unique SO-CAL creation. call for nothing fancier than a set of original "wir'8s.Some cars. and even trucks. need nothing more than steel wheels wide enough to mount a decent set of tires.

and shape irnaginab!e. Budmk Shaped like an eal'ly cast wheel. and holes for whed studs. First the center sections an' pressed in place and positioned for the correct back spacing. J11dking this iJ. Budnik is able to rT18ke a wheel like this III less tilTle and with less waste." The number (7061 describes the alloy of alurninurn. at least one billet \vheel manufacturer currently forms the blank \vith forging dies before the machining starts./hile the T6 describes the heat treatment. t\-vo-piece \vhcel. :)0111e comp. until recentlv. ISO . Most billet wheels start as a blank of aluminum. Budnik tho center section into a before the cutting starts. After machining.Billet wheels corne in every style.:rs tcln the blan"ks through a series of CNC (Computer-Numeric Control) 111illing machines where the designs. The center sl'ctions are designed to have a slight interference fit rclati\'c to the rim. the centn section is mated to an already forrned aluminum rim. the Muf"OC is another two-piece billet wheel available in a Wide variety of sizes.. Budnik /\ true billet wheel uses a center :->ection machined from a solid piece (or "billet") of aluminum. Designs run the gamut from traditional to very modern.'ildy cut into circles of the correct diameter. most billet wheel manufactun.1n' often described as being made from "6061-16. In an effort to reduce the huge piles of w. were milled and drilled into the j'aw piece of aluminum.lSk' i:duminum generated every day."' Other wheel rnallufacturcrs buy the aluminum In large shevts and do the "cookie cutting" themselves.:mies buy these blanks aln. Budmk The FalTlOsa is one of the more traditional looking wheels curTenely available in billet aluminum. These \VheL'!s . so thev need only to be machined and mated 'with the rim. size. \.

Cast wheels generally include the rim as part of the casting. the designs get more and more complt'x. Because most of these wheels are cast in one piece.. designates d highcr quality dlloy.)10 d few years back can now be programmed into tht. Part of the nostalgia wave currently in vogue includes a nevv-found fondness for cast wheels. vvhi('h requires more v\'ork and more inventory for the manufacturer. combined with the high strength of the 6061 alloy_ As the CNC lathes and mills become more ad"vanced. "sand cast/' but few of us understand the intricacies of actuallv making the mold in the sand. To oversimplify. Tapered and fluted designs thdt \vould have required careful handvvork (if they could be done at . In reality thl' casting process is a little more invohTd. Though we think of billet wheels as being two-piece designs. Porosity is l'nough of d problem that some cast V\. Just to ket'p things intl'resting. The softer shapes seen in a cast \vheel are definitely part of a time gone by. and then the center section and rim are juined with a bead vvelded aU along the back side. making this a one-piece wheel. The nature of the casting process dictates that a cast wheel is a less complex design. way most billet whel. That process can only be Llken so far! of course. We've all hl'ard the term. finished vvheels. And just because the \vheel is cast with tlw concave facE' and the slots alre(Klv in place doesn't mean the \'vhee1 doesn't get m. cast. a "softer" look with more gentle curves and fewer angles. for example. cleaned up. making a vvheel with vari()Us back spacings b more difficult than it is with a two-piece wheel. and sent to the polishing shop. computers that run the machines. Changes can smnetimes be made b)r machining off more or less of the material on the inside of the whel'l where it mates up against the brake drum or rotor. molten aluminum is poured into a mold and allo\ved to cool. First there's the question of the alloy. The questions that drisl' include which type of sand to use and how to avoid porosity problems in tht. The beauty of the billet wheel lies in the infinite number of designs that can be uSt. Those details can be added after the casting process. Of course not all 356 is created l'qual. An "A" prefix. but usually aren't.vheet much th(. these two-piece wheels use a cast center. the importance of the wheels and tires {'arl't be 151 .'ls are a~scrnbled. mt~aning that significant changes in back spacing require a different casting alttJgcthl'f. intricate detail seen on billet wheels.chined (they do) after the cdsting. Perhap~ the best kno\vn of the cast wheels is the Halibrand. Generally. including the IMLllibrand and similar designs.'heeJs are not rated as tubeless.Next comes a check for funout. The casting process is a bit of a black art.d on the center section. a time when a little extra metal was no bad thing. This type of wheel makes it nasier to pmvide a wide range of backspaCing Simply by changing the position of the center relative to the r'im. casting doesn't allow for the fine. Once cool the wheel can be pulled out of the mold. When it comE'S to building: your n('\v hot rod. Most cast \vheels are made from 356 aluminum. a cast Cl~nter section can abo be combiI1l'd vvith an already-formed rim to create a two-piece \. ellst W/ICds A cast wheel is just that. rhe result is some truly outstanding designs. Cast wheels have their own look. one \vith less variance in tht' a!1iJY specifications.

The cDrTlbination 111USt work.and two-piece cast wheels in a variety of designs and sizes. Hallbrand calls thiS traditional wheel the Speedway spindle mount. It's designed to leave room for disc brakes on the back side.Phil Schmidt started his wheel company with little more than a background in engineering and an interest in vintage race cal~s. the wheel lathe IS used to clean up the castings and ensure there IS essentially no runout 152 . Hal/brand At PS EnOlneering. today PS Engineering manufactures both on8.

\Vhen buying a set of wheels you also need to consider tht. This tire is 50 percent as high as it is wide.('t. likely to have very different effects wt'len driven in the rain. preceded by. give the dccision plent. . 4x4-5 means the rim has four bolt holes and that the diameter of the bolt circle is 4 1/2 inches. steelies. "billet.7013). The aspect ralio (or how "tall" a tire is) can be describcd as the section height divided by the section width. measured on the inside of the rim flange. You nnlv lWl'd to knc)\v the distance bet\veen tvvo adjzlCent studs (the centerline distance) and then multiply thdt figure by" a constant (1.50R15 is a 1S-inch tire \. • The {{"heel front spacing is the distance from the whee! mounting surface to the rim's outer fbnge.. • The (~ff. Note how the siping 011 the left-hand tire is designed to help the w8ter exit from under the tire. T'rving to decide if offset to the outside of thc"e"'lr should be referred to as positive or negative depends on \vho vou ask.is where this ~ets confusing. • The bolt circle is the diameter of the bolt circlc. so we vvon't use the terrns at all here. For example.' i1 particular rim.yicoll To describe a \vheel.A mix of old and new. The \vheels arl' what YOU build the car around. relative to irs hcight... so whether thev're cast. type of lug nut required by. A definition of each term follovvs. Lc. Also keep in mind that disc brake calipers sometimes hit the back side of (crtdin rims and that the big-finned Buick brake drums like\\'ise need extra clearance on the backside of the rim. A 205j.' the number of lugs. Thl' smaller the number the "\vider" the tire. Tires Like \vheels. • fhe huh diall/eter is the diameter of the hole in the center of the vvheeL • The rill! widlh is the distance across the rim. describing a tire requires the use of certain technical terms. A 15::l . any \<\'hecL requires a few technical terms like bolt circle and olr"ct. while the tirE) on the right is likely to trap that same water. You can figurc the bolt circle diameter on a \vheel vvith five studs with a simple formula.vith an aspect ratio of 50. Modern front-\vheel-dri\'t' cars often exhibit offset to the insidc. • The [elIce! back spacins is the distance bt'hve('n the wheel's mounting surfaCi:' and the rirn's inside flange.y of thought. Offset is a measurt' of how far offset the centcr of the rim is from the wheel mounting surfal'c. Ttll' ~Vh('d Two vel-Y similar tires. A chrome rt_'\'crse rirn is one \vith th(' offset to the outside. this Hahbrand Sweet Swirl puts a tWist (literally) on the V'editional cast wheel. or \vires..' • The ('{!hccl load capacity refers to the arnount of weight the \vheel can safely withstand. HaltlJrand overstated.

relnember to consider the effect of the tire diameter on tht. CCfHcr of Wheel Q R S T II V Z 1011111ph 113 mph liS mph 130 mph 149 mph Speeds in PX(t?SS of 149 mph The speed r. Remember that there needs to be enough room on the inside of the rim to clear the brake drum or caliper. Also listed is the "section width" and how that width changes as the rim width changes.-'ay of going from a 14.. too." !\ plus 1 fitment is a \>\. When vou've chosen the tired you w<tnt from the perspectj{. There is also a situation known as the "plus fitInents. When planning a car. their All-Terrain P205/75R15 is 27. and the R simply indicates that the tire is a radial. ask to see the published recommendations for your new tires. this tire is 75 percent as high as it is wide.e of looks and final rake.:lring< Coing from a "standard dutomoti\'e tire" to nne of the tall tires often used on highboys and similar hot rods can make a deep 4:ui to 1-re<'lr end seem like someone .111ufadurers provide charts that provide the recnmn1L'nded rim width for a certain tire. The difference is in the sidewall dimension.205/75R15 is a IS-inch tire \vith an aspect ratio of 75. the tire's tread ·will never flatten out when it's on the «lL Tire m. Listed is the diameter and the width of the tread.ach manufadur"cr makes available a chart of specifications. P205/60SRlS. thus. like the relationship betvveen rim \vidth and tin' ~jze. the S is the speed rating (up to 113 mph). while in their Comp T / A line. which has a major impact both on how the tire looks and on how the car rides and handles. for example. Rim Width Code N P Top Speed R7 mph 93 mph 99 mph Wheel Offset I .. you have to keep a f('\v more things in mind.. Highboys in parhcuJdf run tires that are not only wide. You (an only vary so far from thi:~ recommended rim widths.to a 15-inch tire with the same ()\'erall diameter. most wheels have some offset one way or the other. a letter code that indicates the highest sustwined speed the tire is designed [() \-vithstand. the chassis manufacturer can offer guidance in picking an ideal wheel.' car's final gC. The] 5-inch ti re has a much shorter sidewall. but tall as vvell. the 205/50ZR15 is 23. a good wheel manufacturer can tell you how to measure to get the right amount of offset. <1ften -a good tire salesperson (an provide some real-world advice as to how much rim vou need for 0 certain tire.. The wider the rim the wider the tin? profile (you can only go so far \vith this of course). In the IlFGoodrich line.. ]. If the car IS already bUilt. Back Spacing The whee! mounting surface seldom ends up in exactly the middle of the rim. Tlte Effect of Tire Size Most hot rods fun some pretty big tires on the rear. If you're in doubt about the right combination of rim and tire. that the uftin1ate \vidth of an installed and inflated tire is affected bv the rim width.-') ind1f's in total diameter and 6 inches wide. Among all those numbers and codes is the speed rating.]ting can be integrated into the tire sin'. If you try to put too \'vidc j) tire nn a particular rim.2 inches ·wide.4 Front Spacing • ~. . When buying tin's. A P205/70SR14 is the same diameter as a P2l5/60R15 in one particular brand of tire. E.1 inches in total diameter and 6.. (<tn be interpreted as follows: the P indicatl's passenger c<tr ust'.. Remernber. The sidewall of nearly any tire is n1<trked with a confusing orray of n-llmb"ers and letters embossed into the rubber.

or to have the rear end nnrro\\. VVhi!e they may be legal for driving to dnd get the right tire and wheel combination for the car from the strip.(:.you probably don't want to run is to mock up the car at ride height and stick \vh.at these full timC'. and how much offset the rim should have.Js have been / you want to race.' diameter/ RPM ch. During the mock-up. instc<ld of Minneapolis slates.1 tire to nm handling of the car just to be cool.idered during the' building various channels and sip("'s and thus minimize any process because car bodies move from side to side build-up of watl'r under the tire. be sun: to from the center of the hre.'lntivelv part of the equation isn't taken too far. This minimum clenror punlp vvater from under the tire through the ance must be con:. Rubber bushings often have enough gl\'C that the rain tire.(j to fit.vay a tape measure.vn. As Pete Ch. Among the standard rims without a }()t 'of extra offsl:t.\'ith minimal siping to keep tlll' tires street plains.. and turn the channels in the center so the \vater c.. and your tires illegal on the street for good rt'ason. big . That wav \. all intended to help you separate set of rims. talking with knovvlcdgeablt' people at the tire store..d at least 1 of the tire so the \vater can actuallv exit from under inch of clearance betw(:'cn the side of the tire and the tread.vn. they're \'ery dangerous in \vet conditions. . the vl/ider the tin. or fender lips.slipped in an o\'erdrin: unit /\ll of this will "Iso bp "fleeted bv the type of car you're buildin~"'how much highway cruising (or drag racing) you intend to do. and the choice of a tr'lnsmission. don't be limit.ut seen in this chapter before making the final decision on }'our I\. the best way to be really' sure you legal. Pete would rather ha\'(. If A \'arict y of schemes and formu). lem. Slicks are be at least 1 inch of clearance beDJVeen the frame. It's simpl~/ a matter of physics. It is often better to buy an axle vvHh the right If tire. Some tires that <He rated All VVeather or e\'cn Panhard rods tend to jack the frame slightly from Mud Jnd Sno\rv. spend tinw reading the manufacturer's charts and recommendations dnu axle housing \villmove over just a little bit. you think are tht' right tires and rims under the As HalTev at the Paul vVilliams Tire Center in fenders. c ) ( ) 1fiG . frame. you use tires. but they do most of the or Tel." At Paul vVilliams they point out When measuring there dre a few things to keep that you need large enough sipes at tht. don't do an especially. rim offset. thum must lIndt"r that footprint. The biginstead of centering the tire under the fendn with 'n-little look might be great. as long as the little an unusual offset. Don't compromise the safety or yOUI' hair out trying: to decide hc)\\:.' the fiuther the \\'ater needs to traveJ to get out from B(~cause the body. Nothing says "hot rod" in quite the same \vay' as a set of realIv wide rear tires.'ar end ratio. The better tires are designed to channel the frame rail or fender lip. the other cxtrerne can be just as bad. that are too big pose (l potential probdimension. call ilnd ask them for a recommendation on stopping on a hard brake application and they do axle width. as the car moves up-and-do\vn on the suspension. transmission. and tire Si7(" befofl' pulling all the turning."vater J\.ou cnn usc rt.apouris expound \.l (alculator. BFCoodrich makes a Comp determine the right rim with the right offset for T/ A Drag Radial that combines a sticky comthat ne\v or existing car. Be sure to check out the tin.' arc dny' fendl'{s.m't build up front \vhl'l'ls from lock to lock under the tire. If the fnlme is from SO-CAL might look really cool. The point is that those little tires in front afraid to ask around. First on the rear end VOl! neL. \'ery edge in mind.uld-dm. In tht. Something with big move the suspension up-and-dm. assuming then. you need one that moves the .' good job as a side to side as the suspension moves up-. Before bUydng tires. The only downside to that drag-rdcc IOt)k is the fact that fat tires tend to hydroplanl' more ('asHy than a tire \yith a narrower footprint. and rear tire siZl'. data printed for each tire is a recommended load case of J somewhat standard hot rod. and chassis members all move as you drive. however. "When you're looking at vvide using i. buy the slicks and put them on a contrived over the years.

What arc the ad'vantages or 11117kin. your background? A. How did started nwnufllrturillg wheels. First it vv'as manual machines. interuieLu UNl::.r ended up \vorking with Boyd at the very beginning of his \vhed operation. Cast wheels generally are heav especially the onp-piece cast \·". let's start (Pith some hockground. made especially fii/FicHU because CalijlJrnia.. then \ve he~{t treat them to a T6 specification! dnd then 'vve do the finish l1lJchining.ct? A.'l' to determine. And billet wheels are perfectly balanced because of the precise way they are rnade. H07P ::holild pmplc Il'II'il511fC so they Xet tilt riS:hf si:zc {chcel 7Pith t!ie right off<.some siglli/fumt charl7Ctcrs in rod industry. started flis coreer as the huse Dlldl/ik Wheels i1 m(l(liinisL 011 Q..' to go pretty much on the reputation of the company. . They buy from a company that doesn't make a qualjty product! which means they ha\'l' runout Jnd balance prnbh. VVl' forgi:' the ct'ntt'rs \.' to do the programming on the CNC machines. At that time the whL~ets were all three-piece !'vheels. or visit our \Veb site. the 6061 aluminum is very strong and it can be polished to a very bright finish. CHvner of Vintage Air. and then I learned hov. ! was doing jobshop stuff. After checking the runout. Arc how does fhe CO}lSUl1ler Q.:'0111(' Q. j started out as {l m. aircraft and hot rod parts.A the lan Budnik.. About that time I met some p.'opie like Jamie Musselman.)chinist. ~ Q. how w(. \ve Wt. Or they buy wheels that dnn't pnwidl' enough room for the cJliper. The differences arc in th(l quality of the design. You H'al1)r han. The material itself is stronger. Doing thi. I worked with Jack Chisenhall.Q. pcople make ill VUyillg ltillct wheels? A. If you call us we ask qUl'stions! not just about the car or its track! but things like.1/011 Q. on sorne of his projects. AlflN had to (holdc his time between IIII' '{u/u'l'! ()pcra~ tion find the construction of a neLP /lui/ding ill Hunt- . We tell people to call us. ~AJhf7f arc the mistake:. We have shorter R&D cycles. vVith bHlet "ve can credte new designs faster.' necessary shapt'.' a wheel from hillet aluminum instead olfrom a Cf7sting? A. The rim assembly is spun-. nrachinist to wcll~kllO(lln It)hcellllallUfa(~ Ll)orked 'with . hillct (dlee!s bett('r than others! alld tl'll the different!'? A. and . Then I decldt.heels.d to do wheels because J still hod ideas for \-vheel designs that I never used at Boyds. And my dad and older brother were into hot rodding and I wanted to be able to make a product that they Q.'11 the manufacturer controls the runout and balann\ But ITlost of that is hard for the consumt. but it also requires less machining because tht) forgings alreildy have much of the necessary shape. including lack Chiscnhall. Q. who owned some Boyd Coddington cars. and Boyd Coddil1g/on. OICl1cr Air. Yes! pretty rnuch all . namesake (~F operation. do vou want to use disc brakes.:. in order to get the instructions as to hovv to measure the car.vith dies so thev h '-1 \'{' l'. and f had an idea to do some hvn-piect' wheels.He two-piece vvheels. We buy those complcte and then press in our machined center section. could appreciate.formed frOJ11 aluminum sheet and butt-fusion \velded into a completl) rim. what'. By forging the material we makl' it much stronger.. I helped him buy his first CNC machine. People think \'\'e machine the centers from aluminum plate! but actually the centers are inciividually forged from a blank before 'vve do any machining.. After two years I split off from Boyd and had my l)\'Vll shop. Alan. because thpn you m'e~i room behind the rim for the caliper. You make all !follr cClltcrsfrmll bOb] aluminl/lIl? A. HiD .ld the center section to the rim assembly. Arc alJ hiIll't wheels two-picce i'olleds? A. working (It a local machine shop.'ost of th~.'11ls that the company might not stand behind.

'>iJlgs. Box 841 Vernon.Jcroquip. Inc 5420 Newport Dr. {crlc:. MN 55120 651-483-6958 f-{ot rod fabrical iUi I Ford Motorsport SVO Ford Motorsport Performance Fquipnwnt 44050 N. ilnd scrpicc.Appendix ARP 531 Sp(~(trum Circle Oxnard.budnik. Of! 43537-0700 419-891-SHlO \v'v\.V .c hass iSt'n gin cering-.W.'liccls mill accessories Chassis Engineering 119N. CA 92707 714-546-53% wVv'W . CA 93()30 800-B26-3045 High-pCfj(nmnnce /wni7uarcfor racing !lnd street usc Art Morrison Enterprises 5301 8th St.sis und slIspensiun component-. Fife. Crocsbeck Highway Clinton Township. Huntington Beach.53-922-8847 \v\vw. JD Squared Inc. P. #49 RoIling Meadows. SllspcJlsi()n~ and other components for 1932 Fords Earl's Performance Products 825 E. 18th Ave.deuccfactorv . W A 98424 80()-929-T188 Fax: 2. Rowland Santa Ana.·2645 w\\'\v. 1601 S. CA 92647 714-848-19% I/\/\N\v.com Deuce Factory 424 W.O.. CT ONJ66 860-872-7046 \VWI. Tustin An'. lA 52358 31 ')-64.artmorrison. Neal 308 Lion La nc Shorevic\v. CA 90745 213-830-1620 Chassis and SlISjh'J1SiOllS for drag racing and street usc Aeroquip 1695 Indiall \Nood Circle Maumee.2nd West Branch. CA 928()7 714-528-6957 {<cay clld hOIf'.com f figh'pc(fi)rlflIlJlCC plulIfl!il1X alld /ittillgs Budnik Wheels 7412 Prince Dr. lillt's. M148036 Tech line: 810-408-1356 Performance equipment/i)r Ford engines awl zY'hicil's Heidt's Hot Rod Shop.com Chassis.com PClj()rmance plumbillg. Anaheim.. 157 . Oca1il. 11 60008 800-841-8188 Hot rod slIspensioll kits and components Billd l/. com CJul':. FL 34474 352-351-3H2H Letourneau. alld fittings Engineered Components. Inc.\v.. componellts.ecihotrodbr akes. Scpu h'cda Carson.com Hot rod brake componel1ts and kif:. E. for street usc Currie Enterprises 1480B N.

suspension.Jake's 4tH Legend Lane Peculiar. Roy Brizio Street Rods 263 Wattis Way S.nto W\V\V . suspensions.'ilwood. CA 91762 909-984-1773 Hot rod chassis. compol1{'nts. C A 90631 .so-ca lspccdshop. Pn:t{1rmanCc plumbing. Lake Havasu City. Acoma Illvd. and fahricatior1 Sharp Enterprises WO'i ColE' St.!s.5-8355 .com PCI}{lrIuanec disc hake kits and components Posies 219 Duke St.. BrooksS!.562-091·7006 Hot rod suspellsion kits and cornponcl1{.\. SC 2%07 864-R43-923I Mal'luallnmsmissiolls al1d rrar end gmr:.. sleel ja::. TX 76(186 SI7-S99-7680 Pcrf(1rJlll1!1CC automatic transmissions and components Hot rod chassis. component::. Hummelstown. CA 90505 310-534-4477 Traditional cast alloy Lulleds Pure Choice Motorsports 2155 W.5(l-952-7637 Hot rod ella::. and kits 1. Laclede. Mopar Perfornlance 248-853-7290 800-348-46% Pert()fm17.. and other compo/rents Phoenix Transmission Products 922 Fort Worth l-lWY. SJn FrJncisco. PA 17ln6 717-566-3340 Ln~r.tencrs and llardLPare SO-CAL Speed Shop 1357 Grand AvE'.pring~. fittings. suspension kits.8 . and filhricatiol1 Total Cost Involved 1416W. and comr)(JI1Cl1tc: Wilwood 4700 Calle Bolero Camarillo.com Hot rod chassis. MO 64651 660-963-2330 Chrome alld stainfes::. Weatherford.Kugel Komponents 451 Park Industrial Dr. lincs.::.pett~andjJ kt.:. PomonJ. CA 917h() 909-4n9-6171 WW\V . Ontario. #102 Torrance. CA 9301 2 805-388-1188 \VW\v. AZ 8M03 520-50. a11d other hot rod comp(lnents PS Engineering 2675 Skypark Dr.'s.IlCC Richmond Gear Company 1208 Old Norris Road Liherty.. La Habra."CA 94089 6.com equilmlclltlf)f Mopar CI1SillCS and vehicles Pete and .<'. MO 64078 soo.3'14.

III Loctite. 25. 97. 117. 142-14 7 Mopar . 128-131 Ford. 114 thread specifi cations . 113 grade. stanlpe u \'5. Bob. 104-106 c0l11b ination valv0. 29 origin at 23. l30 mount s. 24 materi als. ')5-97 Drag link steerin g. 54 Air spring s. <)8-lO6 buying . Shern{.8. 27 build your own. 40. 66-69 Hoag. It 12 Deuce Frame Conlp any. 26 Caster . 97 install ing.steer linkag e. 90 Ai r-bag suspen sion. SIR. 133 Fat Man Filbrications. 48-50 Centra l cross.5. 1 19 flexible g"s lilles. Jim "Jake". 71. 74 Ameri can Stanlp ing C01llpany. 96. 49 Drum brakes . 86. "hrmn 32- 25. 27. 73 Frame s.32 Assem bling a SO-CAL Speed Shop Chassi s.13 0 install ation. 72. 101 choosi ng.13 5. 71-75. lOO.114 chrom e plating . 54 Cost. 46 159 . 133. 89 Fleet. 95-97 Eashvo ocL Pete. 7 Baude r. 102. 87. estima ting. 49 Four-b ar suspen sion. 54 Gibbo ns. 75 25. 134. 56.l] Baldw in. Howie . 97 road test. 103 rear.15 Disc brakes . 131. 66-69 Front suspen sion. 156 Bump steer. talkl. 118 I-Beam axles.37 inspec tion. Billv F. 8 Barris Kustom . 98 how they work.1 30 GM. 107 pedal. Pete. 96 Carter . Ken ("Fosies"). 52-56 Indepe ndent fear suspen sion. 143 Coil spring s. 50 Front Suspen sionsu spensi oi'l. 43 Brakes. 120-1 water hoses. 24. Barrv. 9 Blair's Speed Shop. 16-21 Auran d. 11 Four-b ar linkag e. Chip. 113 stainle ss bolts. 57 Dropp ed axles.90 Comp uter design . 16. Keith. 9 Design ing a car. 114. 26. 48. 113. 45 m(lteri als.9iHO O calipe r overha ul. 54-56. 51 Drag-l ink linkag e. measu ring.memb er. 44. B Fenical. Chuck . 110 what kc('ps it tight. 56-59 De Heras. Fred. 25. preven ting. 8 Hairpi n radius rods. 98 EasvR ider kit. 95 Budnic k. 134 placem ent. Mike. mount ing. potent ial proble ms. 24 new.14 Foose. 23. mild steel. 45 Chapo uris. 72 Four-b ar suspL'nsion r triangu - lated. 101 fluid. 112 how they are made. install ing. 75 Clutch linkag e. 47-52 differe nt widths . 41. 47 Emerg ency brake. 24 37 rails. III socket -heade d cap screws (SHCS). 100-10 2 using rotors. 116-1l 9 brake hoses.112 grade. lOS-ll ll allen bolts. 90 Coil spring s. lO8. 13 Chass is Engine ering. 27. 7-9 Chassi s Builde r's Check list.142. 75 Jacobs.2.! drum. R Horow itz. 38. 111. 100. 109 Carrol . 115 materi als. 32 Disass emblv . 24.Index Adam s. 114.9 il front. 8 Hoses . 98-100 Engine choices. 54. 8 Kingp in kits. 99 residual pressu re valves. buying . fabricated. 47. 112 types of stress. 49 Cap screw. 54. 87. 50-52 Cambe r. Dean.1 3. Paul.1 j S install ing. 7 Batchelor. ') Gunn.4<). Mike. Alan. 48 Heidt' s Superi de kit. 13 Cross. 12 Corve tte suspen sion.21l . 23-45 boxing . install ation. 46-52 Indepe ndent front sllspc'nsion. 101 service .26 Front cross-l nembc f. 26. 7 Bolts. ]]2 grade. 53. 57 Bump steer. Eric. ]15 Boxing plates.

i. Halibrand V-8. 141 mounting. Panhard rod.) SO-CAL "finned Buick brakes". 20 Kugel. 87 Leaf springs. Jerry. 87 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Markd Association) Show. 84 7681 Ladder bars. 5772 Petl~ & jake's Hot Rod Parts. 139 Street Rod Equipment Association (SREA). 72 Steering gears.82 Steel. 30 Metal Fab.9 MaxC chassis. 11 Rod Bods. 115 SO-CAL Step-Boxed frame. 136. Thom. 59 Weckerlv.27 Pete Chapouris Croup (peg).55 dfect of tire size. 86. 53 SO-CAL Speed Shop Racing Team. 27 Morrison. 4R Push rod independent front Springs. 57-59 Standard transmission. 71. 154. Shane. 8 Master cylinder. 57.50. Don.138 Tubular axles. 58 Xydias. 1l-9 160 . 139 KugelIFS. 55. choices. ::. 28 Moa 1. 140. 59 Steering linkage. <) Street Rod Marketing Alliance (SRMA). 5'} Ford RB-inch. 151-153 one-piece. 134-13R Ford. 138. 'worn or loose. 48 Tubular hydraulic shocks. J:l7 GM. 139 Chrysler 8 :1 14-inch. :1O.'l-1. 39. 92 102. 83. 148-153 billet. 92 Simpson. 91. 21. 16-21 SO-CAL Frame. installation at 135. Mickey. Planning. 24 96 Mock-Up car. 4fl Svntassien. different types. build ing. H Three-bar suspension. 38. Kugel. 1.139 Dana 60. 58 SO-CAL Deuce frame. the. 72-74 Rendering. 9 Association (SCTA). 51. Bruce. 151 two-piece. 11 Wnrm-gc·ar. fabrication of. 3R Rear axle. 93 SO-CAL '32 Ford frame. Rear axle. Halibrand Champ. 30 Split wishbones. 140.137 Mopar. 49 Rear cross··n1cluber. Bil 29 Rear suspension. 10.. Jim 92. 8 Thompson. 154. l)()-92 M & 5 Wt'lding. 70. 7 Nuts. <) Surface table.3 Spencer. Model A frame. 73. R7-90 . II TC'!. 155 speed rating.a 44. 22 Mever. 71. 29 Till' CIlIi{imlin Kid. 14R--151 cast. n1ounting. buying. grades of. 59 Transrnission cooler. 36 Shock absorbers. 52 ProFile frames.Kingpins. 6 Wheels. 92 U-joints. Art. estiluating. 139 Ford R-inch. buying. installation. 154 wide. 144-147 Transmissions. 11)3 mounting tips. 70-75 Steering arn15. Mike Adams Rod Shop. 50 Springs. 28. 2:1. 75 40-45 Mustang II suspension. 136 Transluisslon. Doane. 8 Little Dearborn. 47. installing. 155 1()('-in. (. 104-106 Wheele(s. 8. 49-51. 13 Tires. choices. 37. 27 Suspension kits. 151 Wolf. 60-65 Kugel Komponents Phase II inFord 9-inch. 138-141 12-bolt CM housing. Stevp.3 141 Kugel Komponents. 76 Tin1e. buying. SR. suspension. 9 T:1nks. 29 Spindles. 21l bylor.136 SO-CAL. 139 dependent front suspension. 20. Jeff. 15. lS. 56-"54 Rear end. 1. 9 Pro IStreet frame. 109. '12. Inc. 86 Rack-and-pinion gear. 25 Sleeper. 40-45 Southern California Tin1ing 24. 21 Leaf springs. 139 Da. solid. Robert. Alex. 52. 31.

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