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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-23-2006, 02:50 PM
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Where to start on my Rat Rod

We just spent the weekend taking the fenders and interior out of my new 1930 Model A Sedan. I am now at the point where I need to figure out the direction I want to go with the car.

I don't want a trailer queen. I don't want something that is going to be on blocks for the next three years because I have to save up for parts. I want a rat rod that I can enjoy driving and working on.

My main priority is to get the engine/drivetrain handled first, so I can transport the vehicle to and from to do bodywork at a later date. Does anyone have any suggestions or How Tos about starting a low-buck project? I've got all sorts of books and magazine that tell you how to swap in a $8,000 frame or $3,000 front end, but nothing that illustrates on how to do it on the cheap.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 01-23-2006, 04:22 PM
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Difficult to say without pics and description of what you are starting with and a solid idea of where you want to end up (engine, trans, suspension, interior, paint etc. etc.). Also, what you mean by "cheap". Cheap to me might mean $2,500 while cheap to the next guy might mean $25,000.

Any good rod starts with a good foundation...the chassis. And the cheapest route with an A is probably to strip EVERYTHING off the stock frame, box it, and then build your way up from there.
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Old 01-23-2006, 04:55 PM
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building a rat rod

to start,figure out what kind of power yopu want to use, small block chevy or ford or mopar. then buy a running,driving car with the engine you want to use. weve all seen running cars for under $1,000.00 dollars.that way you will have all the parts without having to go chase them.some parts wont fit,the radiator for example,get a speedway catalog at speedway.com,lots of info in that catalog....and if you have questions,dont be bashful ASK US,one of us will know the answer to your questions and these guys here will keep you on the right track,welcome to the hot rod club.............where are you located???????????
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Old 01-23-2006, 05:32 PM
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Since you already have a very practical frame (the model A) dont bother looking for a different one unless this one is whacked out of shape. Strip all the the components off and then box it. For the front, the stock suspension will do. If you want to have it fairly low you can buy a dropped axel from speedway that'll fit your wishbones and spring. Split your wishbones and mount them on the side of your frame with HEIM joints...or get hairpin radius-rod style ones from speedway, but if you already have the wishbones why not use them? For the rear, you can "z" your frame if you want to have a lower ride height. The stock rear axel probably wont do for any normal engine choice (SBC, SBF or mopar small block never mind big blocks). The GM 10-bolt axels are nice cause they have a perfect width, are cheap and you can find them everywhere. You can use your stock radius rods for the rear or go with a 4-bar setup if you have the $$$. Keep the stock spring but remove a few leafs, then clean them up and put sliders in between leafs. What you want to do for power if pretty much up to you. SBC is the easiest and cheapest way to go, but then again everyone else has one too right? Mopar 318's are plentifull at wreckers and cheap. Anything other than a small block ford, chevy or mopar will cost ya a bit more. Flatties are getting expensive, and cost lots to build. Nailheads and Olds rocket engines are also getting more costly due to this retro crazy we've been having lately. Make a plan and stick to it. Drag home a whole donor vehicle for your engine...chances are you'll be able to use it for a whole lot more than just the engine (sheet metal, steel wheels, rear axel, seats, wiring etc.). Keep it simple. If this is your first rod then dont go all out, youll only frustrate yourself if it doesnt go the way you want to.
Check in my journals (page 1 or 2) for some pics of a boxed model A frame with a stock model A axel (dropped) and split wishbones. We used a '56 Olds rear and '36 Ford rear radius rods. For spindles we went with 50's Ford F1 and they fit good. The '40 Ford brakes we used also fit perfectly.
Now for me the above is the cheapest....BUT...if you have the $$$ to buy a complete front suspension kit with disc brakes from Speedway then go for it and save yourself a lot of work.


Mike
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Old 01-23-2006, 05:36 PM
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I forgot, ask questions, lots of them. You cannot ask more stupid questions than I have in the past. I came here about 2 years ago fresh to the hobby eager to learn. I asked lots of questions, most of them in the hr basics forum and I always got many responses that helped me understand. Pick up rod magazines and browse through them, read the tech articles etc. and be willing to learn. When I started I knew NOTHING, now I still dont know much but I bought an old truck that I learned how to wrench on, I help my unlce with his T-project and fortunately I have the chance to try my hand at my own t-bucket this coming summer. Dont be afraid to ask and learn. Theres tons of knowleadgable people here willing to help you.




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Old 01-23-2006, 05:37 PM
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Cheap is probably around $2,000 for chassis/drivetrain. I'd like a V8, but it doesn't have to pull the front wheels off the ground. I'm not opposed to a donor car. I'm not considering any body or interior work in that $2,000. My main concern is to get something that runs solid and can get me from place to pplace - then I'll worry about the cosmetics.

Right now I have a 1930 Model A Sedan in pretty good shape (bodywise) and is/was a complete running/steering/driving vehicle.

The plan is to strip it down to the frame, which we've almost got done, but once it gets there, I'm not sure where to begin. I have a lot of old timers and shadetrees telling me to buy this and buy that, without too much consideration to money. I don't mind doing the work, I just want to make sure that I'm going down the right path.

In my line of work, if you throw a lot of money at something, it's going to look hot - they trick is to make something look hot without having to throw a bunch of money at it. I think the same philosophy can apply to hotrods, but I need an alternative well of ideas than my current (and valuable) batch of mechanics.

Thanks for your input guys, I appreciate it.
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Old 01-23-2006, 07:48 PM
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JB
I think Nightfire is right on with what he has to say about the frontend, drop axel, update the brake system, good rearend from a yard and a good running engine/tran combo from a yard, go steel rims, and your down the road. I got to say Nightfire maybe young but he knows what hes talking about, hit the junk yards or recycle yards with tape measure and you can be going for fairly cheap, just be safe.

30dee
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:46 PM
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It looks like they told you some good stuff. On the rearend of my Model A coupe I used a Nova rear end and used a four bar system with coil over shocks and did away with the original model A spring. Instead of buying expensive hot rod coil overs, I bought some coilover motorcycle shocks used at a bike junkyard. One set was not enough so I used two sets. I have one HarleyDavidson and one Yamaha coil over shock on each side, it works perfect. I also used a panhard bar on the front and another on the rear. I boxed my frame full length and ised a 67 Mustang steering box coulpled to a Camaro tilt column to side steer it with. It works great.
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Old 01-24-2006, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Highrise
One set was not enough so I used two sets.
Henry,

The bike coil overs are an interesting tip. Did you try just one set first and then discover they didn't provide enough spring or did you just go ahead and install double shocks right from the start.

I think in many cases, light weight rods are WAY over sprung, particularly in the rear. This can result in a rather harsh ride. I used lightweight coil springs from a set of "helper" springs in my roadster but I like your idea of the motorcycle coil-overs even better as a cheap alternative to traditional coil-overs.

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Old 01-24-2006, 08:30 AM
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You want a V-8... because eveyone else has one? It doesn't take a lot of power to make someting as light as a model A a lot of fun. It weighs about the same as a Mazda Miata or MGB. Those have 2.0L engines or less. A big four with EFI would be plenty fun and real cheap. A turbo would be a nice addition later, unless of course you find a good donor with one already -- something like a Merkur XR4ti, T-bird Turbo Coupe, etc. 2.3L with a turbo, about the same power as a nice 5.0L V-8. If you don't want to go EFI, I've seen an early Olds Quad Four with a pair of Webers sticking out the side -- very cool looking. The 2.5L GM Iron Duke can have the same. Small V-6s are a reasonable choice too -- the 2.8L or 3.1L from a Camaro. The A rear axle would even stand up behind a small V-6 or four for a while, but isn't it a torque tube? You wouldn't have to worry about frame strengthe as much either. If I were going with a non-turbo four I wouldn't even worry about boxing the rails, just build/buy strnger cross members to stiffen things up a bit. Gas isn't getting cheaper -- so the four or small V-6 is something to consider. Personally I don't like the look of the small V-6, I think a four would look better and would go that route. A 4.3L V-6 is physically big enough to look right and is worth serious consideration, but if you're going to build it up any the frame rails probably need boxing like a V-8. An S-10 truck or Blazer would provide a rear axle, engine, and trans -- and a choice of four, small V-6, or 4.3L V-6. Ford Ranger or any other foreign small truck would do the same (Ranger is basically a Mazda since 98 or so?). So would an Explorer, which would be the more logical choice. Disc brake rear axle, 4.0L V-6 (didn't early models have a four?), auto OD trans, and all Ford!

For a nice affordable driver, that's the way I'd go. There are lots of four cylinder track T's and such out there now, and more being built. A while back one of the mags had an article where someone even built an A four with modern internals, but a lot of machine work was involved. Still, it put out very good power, and IIRC the roadster was cutting mid 13's with it. Not shabby at all! Remember, 60s muscle typically ran mid 14's.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:16 AM
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Man, you guys have been great. What it sounds like here is that my best option (pricewise) would be to find a donor car that can provide me with updated brakes, rear end, trans, engine and possibly electrical.

Personally, that sounds like it would work best as I can always hop into a donor car, make sure it drives/runs/works and go into the project knowing my components are functional.

I'm going to talk to my mechanic buddy today to bounce some of these ideas off of him, so please feel free to keep posting - I appreciate everyone sharing their knowledge - it's not going to waste!
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:36 AM
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Just remember you want a rear drive car (truck, SUV), and preferably one that isn't to wide. S-10, Ranger, Explorer should have the right width rear axle, Mustang might work, but anything bigger (like a Crown Vic) would be to wide. I'd not get anything newer than around 96 without checking the vehicle thoroughly. A lot of the cars and SUVs made after 96 have integrated security systems, especially on the upper end. Those can be a PITA to get around.

Last edited by farna; 01-24-2006 at 10:37 AM. Reason: correction in info
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:10 PM
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C-Boy I put one set of the motorcycle coilovers on and it was not enough so I went back to the cycle junk yard and got another set. It is just right. I got them for cheap and they are chrome plated and look great. Another plus is..they are adjustable. Your right most of these small coupes are in my opinion over sprung on the rear, there is just not that much weight involved there.
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Old 01-30-2006, 07:16 PM
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Donor cars...

Inline 6's are another cheap alternative to V8's. They look cool and are period correct (if that's your thing). They can also be hopped up fairly easily. I scored a complete Chevy 292 inline six for 50 bucks. You have a lot to work with already since your car complete. All the little things add up quick. I strongly recomend picking up Mike Bishop's Hot to build a traditional ford hot rod. There's tons of good information in that book.

Where to start really depends on what sort of look you are going for. If you're going straight traditional some minor modifications to your frame is all you need (kick up the rear, box it, new k member). A dropped axle, split wishbones (since you've got them) or hairpins and a brake upgrade will have your front end in order. Your rear end is easy since it's not really exposed, any similar width axle with a pair of model A spring perches is all you need. Not to sure about running split bones on a non stock axle, but hairpins are easy enough. A 4 link would work well too.

Hope that helps.
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Old 02-01-2006, 06:28 AM
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If you can find a two wheel drive Jeep Cherokee or Comanche pickup with the 4.0L six you're way ahead of the game! Nice EFI in-line six that doesn't look to modern (no big curved intake like the 300 Ford) but has more power than a 305 V-8. I made an adapter to run a standard chrome air filter on mine, and most people don't notice the fuel rail -- they assume a carb is under the air cleaner! Of course a real gear-head notices, but takes a second look to find it. Most of the electronics can be hid under the cowl. Not to hard to just lift everything from the Jeep and drop in another car. Mine's in a 63 Rambler (see my album for a pic of car and engine). If/when I get around to building a track-T, I want to use a Jeep 2.5L EFI four. Mainly because I'm an AMC guy and that engine is basically the AMC in-line six with two cylinders missing. Regardless of how I go, it will be a four though.

Last edited by farna; 02-01-2006 at 06:30 AM. Reason: added info
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