Now that we are fairly certain everything will fit with the body outline it's time to start making the actual skeleton for the body. This will be done with 1x1, 1x2, and 2x2 rectangular tubing.
As shown in the prior step, I have the bottom edges of the body roughed out with 1x2 tubing. Next I am going to attempt the "ribs" which will form the trunk deck/rear section of the roadster. This is also the very top line of the body. To bend the 1x1 tubing into the proper curvature I need to fabricate a mold or buck. I am going to make the mold from 3/4" thick fiberboard. I would have used 1" to match the tubing itself but neither Menards or Home Depot had it in stock. So I'm going to attempt it with 3/4".
To get the buck to the proper size and shape I need to transfer the curve from the profile drawing which I already have (see prior steps). I know from taking measurements from my two plastic kits that the body should be a total of approximately 93" long. By slightly altering the size of my drawing using Photoshop I can make one inch on my drawing the equivalent of 9" in real life. (I did this through a bit of trial and error and a couple of print outs).
Photo #1 - Once the drawing is the proper size I drew a grid work of lines, 1/2" apart both horizontally and vertically.
Photo #2 - I then draw corresponding lines on a 4x8 sheet of fiberboard to the scale of 9 to 1. The lines on the fiberboard are thus 4.5" apart. I draw these lines using an aluminum strait edge.
Photo #3 - Using the very low tech (and very ancient) technique, I then copy each "square" from my scaled down paper drawing into each "square" of my full size fiberboard grid as shown in the photo. If you look closely at the lines you will note a rather dark top line and then one inch below that line is a lighter line. Since the "rib" is one inch thick, this lighter line is where I will cut for my mold and the square tubing will be bent around and conform to this line.
At this stage I have also marked out on the larger grid pattern the other major components like the door openings, cowl, rear kick up, windshield posts etc. I will use these markings to cut a number of straight skeleton pieces as well.
We now grow the mock up into its vertical dimension by extending two "verticle posts". The front "post" is a piece of tubing perpendicular to the base guide at the point we marked for the firewall. The rear "post" is a piece of tubing perpendicular to the base guide at the point we marked for the very rear of the body.
The top line of the body, like the sides of the body, forms a basic wedge shape. The wedge begins at an imaginary line which runs from the top of the radiator grill shell at the front and then rises to the highest point of the body in the rear.
Using my two plastic models I determined that the height of a stock '32 roadster body is approximately 27" from the lowest point at the base to the highest point at the top. However, as you might note in the drawing, I have elected to alter the body slightly and add more height in the rear (to make the body now 33" at its highest point). This accentuates the wedge shape a bit and to my eye, at least, will give the car a better looking profile and stance.
I can now mark the rear vertical guide post at 33" and can then run a tight string from that point forward to the top of the radiator (grill shell). I then make another mark where this string intersects with the front vertical post which was clamped at the point we previously established as the firewall. This gives me the highest point of the top of the firewall. I can then clamp a piece of 1x2 rectangular tubing at these two points (the 33" point on the rear vertical post and the string intersection point on the firewall vertical post). This gives me top line of the body.
With this line established, and the body now in 3 dimensions, I can start testing out seat position/height and steering wheel positions as well as insuring that this body configuration will not interfere with any other necessary components of the car. I can also adjust the angle and height of this top line to fine tune the profile and stance of the car.
Photos 1,2, and 3 show the top line mock up in place and starts to give the three dimensional look and feel of the body.
I am beginning by mocking up a very crude framework of the body outline to 1) determine what the final dimensions of everything will need to be, 2) to make sure that all the existing components of the chassis and drive train will fit with the body, and 3) to get a look at things in 3 dimension.
My first decision is that the bottom of the body will be set at a height identical with the bottom of the frame rails from the firewall back to the rear of the door openings. To establish this line I simply clamp two pieces of 2x3 square tubing (as shown in the photos below) to the under side of the frame rails.
As shown in Photos #1,#2, and #3, a piece of 1x2 rectangular tubing is then laid on top of these pieces of tubing to represent the bottom edge of the body on each side of the car. This "base guide" as I will call it, is positioned to form something of a wedge shape to the body. The front of this "wedge" begins at what will be the outermost point of the grill shell and then extends to the outermost point at the very rear of the the body. For my particular situation the grill shell is going to be approximately 34" wide and the rear of the car is going to be 54" wide (This width is established by the distance between the insides of the rear tires - which is 56").
Once the base guides for each side of the body were roughly in place I began a series of measurements to insure that each guide is equal distance from certain reference points on the frame - near the front, near the rear, and at a couple points in between. I then clamped the two base guides firmly to the two pieces of tubing running under the frame rails. At this point I was also able to determine a more precise location for the firewall, about an inch and a half to the rear of the transmission bolt heads, and marked this on my base guides. This also then gives me the width of the firewall at the bottom of the body. Using this point as a reference I then marked off the total length of the body, which according to measurements I took from a Monogram and then a Revelle plastic model, is 93".
I now have the "footprint" of the body and I can identify its dimensions at the base of the firewall, the base of each side of the body, and the base of the roll pan at the rear. I can also determine, that at its base, this body configuration will not interfere with any chassis components.
After a couple days off for the Holidays and a little time to sit back and mull over the next big phase of this project - it's on to fabricating a body. But beware...this is totally uncharted waters for me so be prepared for some nasty twists, turns, errors, and do-overs. The fact is I have only scratch built one body in my whole life and that one was a) done in fiberglass and b) turned out quite miserably (although somebody drove by one day, saw it sitting in the driveway, and bought it on the spot). Anyhow this is my first shot at a steel (or at least partially steel) body.
About the only guidance I have is the work done by Charlie Titman - the builder of my '32 pickup (you can see his work on the first four pages of this journal). I am going to use his basic "skeleton/skin" technique. The basic foundation of the body is done in a skeleton of 1x1, 1x2, and 2x2 square tubing and then the skeleton is skinned with 18 gauge sheet metal. I am also anticipating that the compound curves on the body might require the use of fiberglass and the grill shell will also be laid up in glass. (It took Charlies Rod Shop two weeks just to do the grill shell for my truck - and Charlie is a Pro - so I'm not even going to attempt to do that part in steel).
And obviously, before anything starts at all, we need a basic body design and we need to determine if that design will "fit" given the chassis and drive train components we have already constructed.
Below is a very simple profile of what I am shooting for (minus the rims) and what I will use as the basic outline for building my skeleton. The early '30s roadster has some of the most basic body lines around and some of the simplest to mimic. That doesn't mean I can DO it, it just means it is probably my best shot at getting it half way right.