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Part 17: New Frame
IMPORTANT OBSERVATION for those thinking of a tilt front clip:
Today I noticed the frame rails, which by the way are 1950's steel, flexing at the firewall. When the car is off the ground, supported under the firewall body braces by jack stands, the weight of the tilt clip and front suspension caused the rails to bend ever so slightly. When the car was placed on the ground the tilt clip did not line up. This warranted a closer look. The flexing is due to the fact that the fenders and inner fenders are no longer bolted to the firewall and no longer give the frame any stiffness. I came to the disappointing realization that I may need to build myself a new frame.
After looking at the firewall with all its bracing removed, I see no way in which to attach strut arms from the front of the frame to the firewall without re-bracing the wall. I've decided to build a complete new frame with 2x4 boxed steel. The 2x4 frame should be strong enough to eliminate flexing. If not, I'll be throwing good money to bad and will have to reinforce the firewall and put in a strut arm after all. I'm purchasing a Shockwave Air Ride system and triangulated 4-link from Air Ride Technologies. Also, an Evolution IFS kit from Horton Street Rods of Breslau Ontario will replace the Heidts Stage 2 IFS I had on the first frame.
Building of the new frame has begun. I started by measuring and marking the Studebaker frame in sections between points on the rails where they change in degrees. Taking strips of cardboard the depth of the frame rails, I then laid the cardboard along the sides of the old frame, cutting and bending to follow the contours of the frame. After I had all my templates made, I began with the center section of the frame, working my way forward -- pie cutting, bending, and welding. At this point I have 2 outside rails made, making up the middle and forward sections. Back half rails will be narrowed, made separate to accommodate the large rear wheels, and then welded in place. I also made the front crossmember by welding 2 identical 2x4 sections together, making up a 4x4 crossmember and I'll weld that in place soon. I felt I needed the extra strength in the front crossmember to accomodate the big horse power I'll be running. So far so good.
Finally some more work done on the frame. I welded the front crossmember in place. Looking at it now, I may have gone overkill with a 4x4 member. It's going to need some trimming and shaping none the less after I've finished welding and trial mounting the hardware.
The frame is now progressing after a long delay. However, I ran out of steel and will have to order more. The differential is sitting on jack stands beneath the frame in preparation for more steel and crossmembers.
Click here for Part 18: Suspension I
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