Took a break from blasting parts to fab up the steering box mounting bracket. Here are a couple of pics of it being welded up. You might notice the notch in the front of the bracket just above the frame. That is so the pitman arm can swing all the way to the drivers side. I'll post more pics once I get the newly "chromed" box bolted on.
I had to go to the Rattle Can Store to pick up some more primer for the parts I am running through my sand blasting cabinet and I happened to run across some chrome paint. Now the can said it was not recommended for exterior use AND it was not recommended that you clear coat over it...but I figured what the heck, this is a rat rod, you're supposed to experiment with stuff. Here's the results of some of the parts I've finished blasting and "chroming".
I first primered the parts with a light colored (white) metal primer and then sprayed the Chrome over that. It's Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic if anyone else wants to try it out. I don't know how well this stuff is going to hold up once I get it on the road but even if it doesn't hold up at all, I'm only out $3.19 (I might have $6 or $9 into it if I get carried away and do all the parts with it). And I do like how it looks laying on the bench here in the shop. And even though the recommendation is not to clearcoat it, I might try to clear some of the pieces to see if they hold up any better than just the paint. Might help prevent UV deterioration.
BTW, I took the third shot without a flash, just the shop lights on. I liked the effect.
[Note: This is a "no pictures" journal entry so it will probably only be of interest to those that want to follow along on the thinking and planning part of the process of building this heap.]
Had to suck it up today (11/11/04) and make some final decisions regarding the suspension, both front and rear. These are particularly tough decisions because of they can a major impact on the budget. While I'm actually at the blasting cabinet cleaning up parts for a few days, my next fabrication steps include springs for the front, final mounting of front radius (positioning) rods, and then fashioning the rear suspension. So I've been doing a lot of thinkin' as I've been blastin'.
On the "welding to the rear housing" thread there has been discussion of how my rear end will be set up. I finally decided on a very simple 4 -bar/panhard bar approach (no triangulation). While checking out the parts cost for building the 4-bar (which isn't too bad and was a part of my original budget) I began to rethink the front suspension as well. My original plan was to use the stock F-150 radius rods (locater bars) and then cut the rear leaf springs from the F-150 in half and use them as quarter elliptical springs (parallel with the frame) in the front. In taking apart the rear leaf springs I discovered one was broken in two. While this was not a problem in terms of usage (I was cutting them in half anyhow) it WAS a problem in terms of a gnawing worry about breakage of the other springs in the not too distant future.
The other major problem with the elliptical spring idea was how to do any ride height adjustments (hence camber adjustment) once I had them installed. I had drawn up some elaborate plans for hinging the springs on the mounting plate but once I cut the springs and started mocking them up my concerns about the strength of my "adjustment" system began to grow very rapidly.
The other major component of the front suspension is the radius rod/positioning bar. On my '32 pickup the builder had used the stock F-150 bars so I had intended to do the same on this project. But from the very start I had concerns about these bars not being adjustable once the mounting hardware was welded in. If I made any mistakes in alignment at that juncture I would be living with them for a long time. Like the spring setup, I did numerous drawings and mock ups to see how I could make the mounts adjustable but as soon as I made them adjustable I could see weaknesses in the system cropping up.
The upshot is that I have decided the adjustability of the front suspension is critical enough that I ought to spend the bucks and ditch the stock front radius arms and go with a 4-bar setup in the front as well as the rear. This will not only allow me to adjust the front axles fore and after but to alter the caster as well. It will add roughly $160 to my original estimated cost of doing the front suspension.
I have also decided that the elliptical spring idea is a great DIY concept...but is not very practical in terms of adjusting the suspension and ride height should I make an error in the original fabrication process. So I have ordered a set of Carrera coil overs to replace the leaf spring idea. This not only allows me to now adjust ride height and ride comfort (within certain limits) but it also allows me to adjust the camber (if you noted in an earlier entry, the camber can be changed by changing the ride height.) The coil overs also offer some aesthetic improvement over the elliptical spring idea by cleaning up a lot of mounting hardware. This change in the plan will put a substantial dent of $350 in the budget but after wrestling with all the factors I feel it is the way I have to go. I am offsetting a portion of this cost by changing my wheel/tire budget. Instead of buying all new tires I'm going to utilize the two best tires from the F-150 (they are approximately the same height/width that I wanted and are not in awful shape) and put them on the rear. I'll then only have to buy two new tires (littles) for the front.
So I just finished ordering all the parts from Speedway and now it's back to the blasting cabinet.
These two pics show a bit of how I positioned and aligned the two I-beams. I placed a 4' steel ruler across the frame rails, centered it and made certain it was exactly parallel with the front cross member. I could then place a carpenters level on various point of the axle (kingpin, radius rod pin etc) and take readings off the steel rule. In this way a could bring the kingpins and radius rod pins into near perfect alignment both fore and aft and side to side. Once I got everything in position I clamped down the radius rod brackets located on the frame. This holds the front in end in place on a temporary basis while I undertake the next two steps - building the front spring setup and fabricating the final frame mounts for the radius rods.
This journal entry is being made on 11/9/04 and just over one month into the project. The bad news is the project will now slow down for a few days. The good news is the project is slowing down because my new Harbor Freight blasting cabinet just arrived this morning and I have a ton of parts for this project that I have to blast. I previously had a very simple Sears blaster which I would use outdoors and collect the sand on a big old blue tarp. That's really a difficult and dirty way way to blast parts so I have put off cleaning up my parts until the new cabinet arrived. And now it's here. But pictures of me standing at a blasting cabinet are not very exciting so I'll start posting again once I'm done with that and back at fabricating the rod.
The next step is to install the rear I-Beam bracket. This is the axle for the passenger side wheel.
From my prior measurements I had determined the distance from the second axle "eye" to the first and also the distance the second eye was behind the first. This, along with a few other reference point measurements, allowed me to locate the approximate position of the mounting bracket for the rear I-Beam and cut it to its proper height.
However, it was now time to see just how accurate the measurements I had taken off the donor really were. I knew certain measurements were very accurate from both a practical and engineering viewpoint. The distance from the center of the frame to the center of each kingpin HAD to be the same on both sides. But in order to determine this distance accurately, I had to position the kingpins in a direct line with each other AND parallel with the front cross member - thus placing them square with the entire frame. In addition the caster (the amount the top of the kingpin is tilted forward or backward from top to bottom) had to be the same for both kingpins - otherwise the measurement could be slightly off on one side vs. the other. To do this I had to temporarily install the stock radius rods which I had stripped off the donor. I also had to return to the scrap heap and find the frame section with the original frame mounts for the radius rods. Unfortunately they were riveted onto the frame so I had to torch them off. On the plus side, I was able to turn the stock mounting brackets upside down and reverse the sides and they fit perfectly for hooking up the the radius rods. This allowed me to set both kingpins in the same fore/aft position in relation to the front cross member and also allowed me to set the caster identically for both axles.
Once this was done I went about checking the camber (the amount the wheel tips in or out from the top of the wheel to the bottom.) I basically wanted to set the camber at zero for both wheels. Actually almost any camber would be okay as long as it was the same for both wheels at this point. The camber will later be adjusted by making small adjustments to the springs tension which will, in turn, alter the ride height of the frame which, in turn, will alter the height of the axle "eye" which, in turn, will alter the camber for that axle. (Confused? Me too.)
I had already checked the camber on the front I-Beam wheel when I did that installation. But now checking the camber on the rear I-Beam wheel, it was off by a degree or two. (I did the camber measurement by simply putting a carpenters level against the wheel and lining it straight up from the floor at the middle point (the center of the spindle) of the wheel. Not rocket science - but close enough.) In order to correct the camber I had to cut about 1/2" off the mounting bracket for the rear I-Beam - thus moving the "eye" of that beam 1/2" higher causing the top of the wheel to tip further in the outboard direction until the wheel was is a perfect vertical position as determine by the carpenters level.
Then it was just a matter of making a number of measurements to make sure the kingpin of the rear axle was the same distance from the centerline of the frame as the kingpin of the front axle which was already installed and was not movable at this point. Once that position was found I clamped the mounting bracket for the rear axle and welded it in place.
Pictures one and two below show the rear I-Beam mounting bracket being positioned on the cross member. The third picture shows a bit of detail of how the stock radius rod brackets were used to temporarily mount the radius rods.