After completely measuring how all the components are fitted into the original chassis (and writing them all down in a notebook), it is time to strip all the parts and get that ugly frame cut up and into the dump pile. As things were taken apart I tagged every wire, hose, tube and cable with a piece of duct tape and a label. I'm hoping to use the original wire harness in the final build, so this will ease construction when I try to put it all back together. Pulling the engine, trans, rear, front etc., is just plain grunt work. So not any exciting pictures.
After all the parts have been stripped comes a fun step, leaning the major components back together to get an idea of what we really have to work with and how it all might go together in the experimental rod.
The first pic below is a mock up, shown from the rear, of the basic pieces positioned in their approximate relation to one another. There are certain dimensions for the new rod which we are stuck with, primarily the width. To keep the cost down I decided not to narrow the rear end...and as a result the front end will all stay the same width (55 inches from inside tire to inside tire). This means the entire rod will end up with a somewhat wider stance than a normal 32 roadster. I intend to compensate for that, and actually accentuate the fact, by fabricating the roadster body myself and making it a little shorter (height wise) and wider than stock. This same trick was used by the builder of my '32 pickup and I'm hoping to have a similar result with the roadster.
Pictures two and three point out one of the bigger dilemmas I faced early on. I wan't to try to use the stock radiator off the F-150 to save money and because I know it will cool this engine. So I have to deal with the fact that it is not the same dimensions as a stock 32 radiator and will not fit in a stock grill shell. In these pictures I am testing the "look" of the car with the radiator in the verticle position (rotated 90 degrees from how it was positioned in the F-150). I believe I can make it work properly in this position so the big question boils down to looks. Is it better to have the radiator in this vertical position and be "too tall" or to rotate it back to its stock horizontal position and have it be too short and too wide.
Oh the horror......Rod's are pretty grungy looking things when they are in their early early stages. The first shot below shows the 351 engine, C6 trans, and Twin I beam front suspension components. Unfortunately the 351 is an M rather than a W. Ah, one of the sacrifices of doing a rod T.O.W. You just have to run what ya brung. I had intended to keep whatever engine I got nearly stock anyhow so the lack of "M" speed parts will not be a problem. Same with chrome goodies. To keep the cost down I had intended to just paint the engine rather than dress it up with new parts. I'll also have to live with the M not having much punch to begin with. Sacrifice #1 in what will probably be a long list of sacrifices.
The second shot shows the 9" rear. It has a 3.0 gear and is "open" (no posi). The only drawback here is that the pig is offset about 3" which will create a bit of a problem in the driveline. Something we will deal with a little later.
The third shot shows the steering box and some of the front suspension components. I'm going to try to adapt this big old ugly box and the power steering unit to the new rod primarily because the F-150 is front steer and whatever box I use will have to contend with the way the IFS is set up. So I figured the donor box was as good as any.
Since the donor was a king cab AND had an extended bed, the frame was about a mile and a half long and, as you can see, has been "holed" for lightness. I quickly made the decision to completely discard the frame and build a new frame from scratch. It would just be too difficult to try to shorten and adapt this frame for my intended use.
This is the beginning of an experimental rod build. The idea emerged out of a couple of threads on H.R. Com about how we used to build rods in the old days on an absolute minimum budget using what we had laying around or finding a low buck donor vehicle. My goal in this project will be to build a safe, fun, vehicle with an interesting look and a minimal investment. I've set a budget of $3,000 - not including tools or expendables (welding rod, grinding wheels etc.).
Note that the goal was to achieve an "interesting" car, not necessarily the most handsome car or even a typical rat rod. I have chosen to attempt to mimic a '32 Ford Roadster style, mostly because of the simple lines and minimal compound curves in the body panels. However, it should be noted from the start that I do not intend to "replicate" a '32 Ford...only mimic the general body lines. I'm sure it will be necessary to keep things very simple to achieve the budget limits...so lots of sacrifices will need to be made in terms of "looks"
With that in mind I set out first to deter,ome the basic chassis design. After searching the web for anything resembling a "traditional" 32 ford chassis it became very apparent that the entire budget could be eaten up with just the front suspension setup. So I looked for possible donor vehicles that might provide the basis for such a rod. I didn't have to look far since the rod I already own is a '32 pickup and it is built on a highly massaged Ford Econoline/Ford F-150 chassis. I decided to steal some of these same chassis concepts and apply them to the T.O.W - Rod.
After a couple weeks of searching I found a suitable 1981 F-150 to use as a donor vehicle. I will be able to use the 351 engine, C6 trans, 9" rear, Independent I Beam front suspension, steering box and power steering unit, power brake unit, rear leaf springs (to be moved to the front), wheels, front disc brakes, rear drum brakes, wiring harness, and a few other odds and ends. I got the truck for $400.
On 10/4/04 I brought the donor home and began to strip it down. The first picture is the debris that is left of the body and frame after stripping everything that I wanted.
The second picture shows basic rolling chassis of the donor once I cut and removed the body panels. At this point I started a notebook of all the measurements of the basic body components and their relationship to one another. I had to pay very strict attention to measurements of the IFS since I intend to use it in the TOW-Rod
and knew that proper alignment of the components would be necessary later. If anything, measure WAY more than than you think you might ever need to use because you'll no doubt find a need for that measurement sometime later.
The tonneau cover is made of two equal sized pieces of 3/4 inch oak veneer plywood so that there is a "front" cover and a "back" cover as can be seen in the first photo. The plywood is sealed with 3 coats of marine varnish.
To secure the front cover in place a metal rail (I used shelf bracket material) is screwed onto each side of the bed liner near the top edge as shown in the second photo. A similar metal rail is then attached to the underside of the front tonneau piece on each side. The rail is secured to a piece of 1 1/4 x 1 1/2 clear pine which is screwed to the underside of the tonneau piece as shown in the third photo. The front lid is put in place by laying it on the back half of the bed liner and then sliding it forward so the the metal rails on each side engage each other. This prevents the lid from being lifted upward. A wooden stop is screwed in place on the bottom of the tonneau piece to prevent the lid from being slid too far forward.
Shot one shows the outdoor carpet being installed on the bottom of the bed. First measure and cut the carpet and then do a trial installation making sure it slides into the rubber edging far enough to lay perfectly flat. Then remove the carpet and apply the exterior carpet adhesive to the wood bottom using a notched trowel per directions for the adhesive. The carpet is then installed again sliding all the edges into the rubber edging pieces using a wide putty knife. At this point the carpet can still be moved slightly in one direction or another to insure it slips into the edging all around. Once it is in place, I used a common wooden rolling pin to push out any bubbles in the carpet.
Shot two shows the finished carpet and edging installed on all the surfaces.
Shot three shows the finished bed liner in place with the tailgate removed to show how it fits. I later installed two brass handles per side on the inside of the bed to allow for easy removal.