In keeping with the rat's "economy" budget, I am using a Mr. Gasket universal floor shifter. This shifter incorporates a mechanical linkage, not a cable, so the installation can be a bit of a challenge, particularly in a closely confined vehicle like a 30's era Ford. There are not only difficulties due to obstructions but there are also matters of "throw" to contend with since the distance the linkage must move to make a shift changes as you shorten or extend the major shift arm. I first installed the shifter exactly level with the top of the transmission cross member. This provided the shortest length for the shift arm and thus the longest throw. And the longer the throw, the better the control over each shift (since the shift knob has to travel a further distance you can "feel" each shift much better and have less chance of pulling the lever too far and missing the shift.) However, once I put the seats in, I quickly discovered this position put the shifter ball about 1" into the seat cushion. Unfortunately, the shifter mechanism could not simply be slid forward because the linkage shift are then struck various points on the transmission and transmission oil pan.
Photo #1 Next I moved the shifter up high, on top of the transmission. Here you can see the shifter bolted to the 3/16 piece of flat stock which forms the top of the transmission tunnel. This got the shifter out of the seat cushion but now, because it was mounted so high, it had the shortest throw possible due to the extremely long main shifter arm which is the shiny vertical piece you can see extending below the shifter in the picture. With a short throw you only move the shifter ball a very very short distance between shifts. In this position I simply could not control the shifts, often going beyond the next gear (and worse, slipping right past a forward gear into neutral and, god forbid, into reverse). So although I liked the look of this shifter position, it simply would not do mechanically.
Photo #2 I then moved the shifter down again, this time sitting right on top of the finished floor level. To move it far enough forward to clear the seat cushion I had to fabricate some new shifter arm pieces (not shown in the photo) in order to clear all the obstructions under the floor boards (like the transmission oil pan). Fortunately, Mr. Gasket includes lots of brackets and metal plates for all the "universal" applications so I was able to find some parts that would work after being coaxed along by some minor cutting and welding.
Photo #3 Is a close up of the final shifter installation spot. The shift ball will still just touch the seat cushion when it is in the Park position and it will also protrude through the transmission tunnel at a rather odd looking spot (on the side rather than the top). But otherwise it has a good feel to the throw and clears all the other obstructions. Lesson to be learned: there are some advantages to spending the extra $60 and getting a B&M cable shifter.
One final note, the Mr. Gasket shifter does not come with a neutral safety switch or a reverse light switch. However, I was able to retain the stock unit from the F-150. I've seen rats (and other rods) without a neutral safety...but I wouldn't want to take the chance myself.
Photo #1 To make the floor boards themselves I first made a template. Since the floor board is so irregular in shape I used four separate pieces of heavy paper stock to make the template, cutting and shaping each one for its particular area of the floor. I then scotch taped the pieces together. This is much easier than trying to fashion the template out of one large piece of construction paper. This is the template for the driver side floor.
Photo #2 & #3 I then transfered the shape to some 18 gauge and cut it out. Here are a couple views of the floor piece cut and laid in place. I am not going to tack the floor pieces in until I have the mufflers, brake, and fuel lines installed.
Photo #1 shows the driver side floor board supports being clamped and tack welded in place. I found I had to do this piece by piece, tack welding in one piece and then measuring and cutting the next. There are a lot of odd angles here which are necessary to conserve as much floor space as possible. It will be very tight quarters already with the transmission protruding so far into the cockpit so I need to get every square inch of space I can.
Photo #2 The passenger side floor board supports being fabricated. I am primarily using as much of the scrap 1x1 and 1x2 tubing I have left over so the supports are a bit ugly to look at. Note also on this passenger side I have to put an indentation in the firewall end of the floorboard for the exhaust to clear.
Photo #3 The cockpit floor board supports nearly completed.
I purposely did not install an X - Member during the earlier fabrication of the frame. I wanted to wait to see what space I might need for such things as a master brake unit, mufflers, battery, fuel tank, brake lines etc. Now that I have determined where everything is going to fit, I can move forward with installation of an X member.
Photo #1 The X member will be tied in with the transmission cross member. The pieces are very simple 1x2 tubing with a 45 degree angle at each end.
Photo #2 and #3 Here are a couple views of the X member welded in place. You will note that the front pieces of the member had to be shorter than the rear pieces for clearance reasons so they don't form a perfect X in the center of the car. Also, this "X" is relatively short. If you are intending to run a stout engine and make lots of power, you would probably want to make each part of the X longer so that they reach further to the front and rear of the frame. I'm going to be running a bone stock engine and I don't light 'em up very often so this member should be adequate to prevent twisting or racking of the frame.
Photo #1 With the front and rear seat supports in place I measure and cut 3/4" particle board for the seat bottom and the seat back. Those with a sharp eye might notice that the 3/4" material came from the full scale drawing of the body which I used very early in the project to measure and cut many of the pieces for the body skeleton. Getting double duty cuts down on expenses. Here the bottom and back have been cut and mocked up to check fitment. You will also notice that the pieces needed to be notched for the C'd rear cross support and around the top of seat back. For the time being the bottom and back are being held in place by a few metal tabs welded to the rear support member. I want to make the seats relatively easy to remove so I am still working on how I will attach them permanently.
Photo #2 Here is a mock up of the seats with just one 4" cushion in place on the bottom and back.
Photo #3 Here is a mock up of the seats with two 4" cushions for the bottom and back. This is more comfortable but also causes leg room problems with the steering wheel. I'm going to keep the options open before I determine the exact thickness of the seat cushions. Oh, these cushions are something I found in the attic from very early in our marriage. We don't use them at all anymore so I'll strip off the upholstery and use the foam when I get to that stage.