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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I am not sure this is the right place to post this but here goes.

I purchased a very original 1930 Model A (see photos) a couple of months ago with intentions of turning it into a highboy, my preferred style of hotrod. Now, I should stress that although I have tinkered with cars for 25 years and am comfortable pulling/rebuilding engines etc I have never 'built' a rod. The car has sat in the workshop these past two months whilst I try to decide on whether to tackle it or simply sell it and buy one that is done. Trouble with that is I haven't seen many I truly like and the couple I have are VERY expensive, say 70k!

I am looking for an old school rod...no billet/expensive paint, basically as it would have looked if built 30-40 years ago. I am not looking for a rat rod, just an old school rod.

In case it helps, I have a '55 264 nailhead sitting in the workshop and can use that.

A couple of images that show the type of thing I am after:

http://image.rodandcustommagazine.c...512rc_01_z+1930_ford_model_a_highboy+side.jpg

http://image.streetrodderweb.com/f/...r_01_o+1930_model_a_ford_coupe+front_left.jpg

So, I guess the big question is this. If I am NOT looking for a show queen but a simple but solid rod I can drive and have fund in (isn't that what they were always for?!) how big a job is this?

I know that is a big question but specifically, how much work do I NEED to do to the frame? Do I NEED to switch the frame for a 32 which seems to be 'the' way to go can I simply use the existing frame (boxed). How do I achieve the highboy rake/stance using the existing body/frame? Does this require cutting/welding/fabrication or something simpler? Will simply removing the fenders give me something like the look I am after?

Based upon the images of my ideal look I suspect the biggest job (unless I am about to hear of a dozen others!) is to chop the roof. Looking at the image I am guessing it needs to come down maybe 4-5 inches?

That and getting the drivetrain into the frame appear to be THE big jobs or am underestimating this?

Any feedback will be much appreciated.

I will post back as I move forward as I am sure there are others out there that don't have tons of experience in building a rod but want to do so.

Paul
 

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JS-70
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Wow! looks like a nice car. I am a die hard hotrodder from way back. Had a Model A of my own many years ago. I just have to tell you, it would be a crime to cut that car up. I know some guys will blast me here, but its not like you found this car chopped up in a barn or something. This looks like a nice easy restoration project for someone.. Go buy a Duece frame and glass body if you want a nice highboy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow! looks like a nice car. I am a die hard hotrodder from way back. Had a Model A of my own many years ago. I just have to tell you, it would be a crime to cut that car up. I know some guys will blast me here, but its not like you found this car chopped up in a barn or something. This looks like a nice easy restoration project for someone.. Go buy a Duece frame and glass body if you want a nice highboy!
Richiehd, I wouldn't blast you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect yours. Sorry but glass doesn't do it for me. Be it this car or another, steel is the way I want to go.

The car is nice, I will agree. There are many of them in the $10k-$12k range on eBay so I don't feel like I am cutting up an endangered species but again I understand many will disagree.

Paul
 

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deuce frame ?

If you are going for a highboy, a deuce frame looks best and they make them with the pinched front rails. narrowed to better fit the model A body. It is your choice, When I was 13 or 14 I used to stop and lust after the 2 chopped and channeled A coupes in front of the Gm dealership in town. built by a couple guys that worked in the shop. One metallic red and one metallic blue, one with a caddy and one with and olds, I put an olds in my first T bucket and my brother put a Caddy in his. When we built the olds powered 31 chrysler roadster we channeled it. To us, channeled meant YOU BUILT it. The roadster would be called a rat rod today, It didn't get the bullet holes hammered out or painted, we just started driving and racing it. A high boy meant you just unbolted parts and thru them away. That was our opinion. I have already notched the 31 nash roadster for channeling when I put the steel sub-structure in replacing the wood., My son has gathered up a lot of old steel, he has the quarters and cowls from some unknown makes, and a couple of touring cars. Old doors are hard to find. this winters project is doors for the nash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
timothal thanks for the feedback.

To be honest I am less looking to spend countless hours making the rod MINE and more trying to understand the workload required to achieve a simple, old school highboy look. From your comment above it would almost appear that a highboy is easier than some, consisting of primarily removing parts and having the right stance.

I dont feel the need to do more than is necessary. I am happy to spend time installing the drivetrain etc but am clueless when it comes to what is NEEDED to be done to the frame. Needed is the main word...

I know many opt for the 32 frame but are there examples of a 30 highboy with original frame. Does it looks THAT different or worse with the standard frame? In the 50s and 60s I would imagine there were countless rods running around with original frame...

I know forums can be a difficult place to articulate things sometimes and maybe this is one of those times. Not sure I am getting across what I meant to.

Paul
 

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Deuce (a member here) builds a nice car and has a ton of photos in his journal.
Hot Rod Photo Journal - Deuce's Journal

There's a ton of info here, do a search. Boxing the frame is a must, there's a lot of info for available cross-over parts to use for the old school look.

Also, check out the HAMB site, old school guys, a bit cliquish but if they like your project, they can be helpful. Lots of info there also.

Hokey Ass Message Board - THE H.A.M.B.

Good luck with your project, I hope that you build the car and make it your "own". You have a good start, that's a beautiful car to start a project. And I wouldn't worry too much about chopping up an original, Henry made a gazillion of those cars and you certainly will not create a shortage. Keep us posted, please! Dan
 

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I, too would have a hard time cutting up a nice car like that, but - it is yours to do as you wish.

Time - lots. And that's just for planning on where you want to be when done.

Building it - a heluva lot - especially if you have never done a ground up build. Once that body comes off, the interior out, you may find that there was some body work that covered a multitude of rust pain.

Budget - it WILL cost in the realm of $30,000 and most likely more by the time you get a reliable engine, transmission, differential, brakes, gas tank, new interior, gauges, cooling system, boxed or replacement frame, exhaust system wheels, tires, paint etc, etc, etc. And then there are the changes you decide are better then your first idea(s). If anyone tells you it's different then this - they are dead wrong. Especially for a newbie.

This '31 of mine - well up in cost and I did everything but the upholstery:


Dave W
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys, food for thought. None the wiser as far as utilizing the current frame but will certainly look at the HAMB to see if I can get anything there.

Totally agree that a lot of time is likely involved here although I am sure the 'it will cost in the realm of 30k' is influenced to a large extent on specs etc but I am not fooling myself that this can be done for 10k. To be honest cost is less of an issue than time... again I suspect the required investment in terms of both time and cost varies massively depending on objective.

I will indeed perform more searches. I spent an hour searching this morning and came up empty handed as far as converting original to highboy.

Thanks again for all input, appreciated.

Paul
 

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Wow! looks like a nice car. I am a die hard hotrodder from way back. Had a Model A of my own many years ago. I just have to tell you, it would be a crime to cut that car up. I know some guys will blast me here, but its not like you found this car chopped up in a barn or something. This looks like a nice easy restoration project for someone.. Go buy a Duece frame and glass body if you want a nice highboy!
Times 2, I hate chopped tops anyway. Monkey see, monkey do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This has some good information.

Hot Rod Model A build
Thanks, a useful reply. I will check that site out.

At the risk of, as an earlier poster said...being blasted, this thread was to try to understand the scale of the project and steps required rather than start a debate on whether I should use this car or buy a new body.

Taste is obviously very subjective and despite some posters stating a preference for a new frame and glass body it is most decidedly NOT something that appeals to me. As we used to say back in the UK, it just isn't my cup of tea.

On the topic of chopped tops, I do agree that a large chop is not, purely in my opinion, something I want but a 3'ish(?) inch reduction is probably what was shown in the image I posted this morning (repeated below) and so IS something I would consider.

http://image.rodandcustommagazine.c...512rc_01_z+1930_ford_model_a_highboy+side.jpg

Thanks again to all those that provided relevant input. I will be checking the links provided.

Paul
 

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classic highboy

A friend of mine's son. (I am old enough that some of my old buddies kids are now into building cars) had me stop by at his project A, It was a drivable A coupe like yours that needed restoration, after crunching the numbers, he removed the body and sold everything else except radiator, grill shell and hood. He then bought another A frame that had been stripped of running board and fender brackets, ready to box. He said selling a complete running chassis brought more money than trying to piece out the things he wasn.t going to use. Next locate a dropped 40's ford front suspension pieces , spring over axle pieces, an 8 in maverick- comet rear are cheap. then decide on the engine and trans you are going to run. I have a 401-or 425 nailhead ( casting numbers are the same ) I just haven't decided which project to put it in. I had a nailhead in my willys years ago, and put a 401 in my 56 cameo years ago. It's either hard to find old parts or expensive to buy new pieces to run something other than an old dyna-flo trans.
 

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This has some good information.


Hot Rod Model A build
That looks like a decent buildup after I did a quick look through.

There are a couple of statements the author made that tell me he needed to do some additional homework before and during his build.

Handful to drive - huh! Why? I'm at well over 300Hp and not a bit difficult to handle at road speed and twisty roads (Upstate NY has them) and not a bit squirrely at full throttle acceleration.

Noise, vibration and harshness. Again, why? Yeah, I'll agree to some noise with my '31. Open hood, roadster with and without a top, mufflers contribute. Vibration and harshness on a properly built chassis are not necessary. Yep, I have IFS, but even a solid front axle work well if the correct springs and shocks are used. Coil over rears are probably the best way to alleviate much coming from that end.

Paul - that's what I meant in my first post about doing lots of planning. Get it right, the car wont be a chore and a physical pain to drive and enjoy.

Dave W
 

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more input

on the hot rod model A build , My 2 cents worth, I don't like the ford biscuit style front motor mounts. they can generate some clutch chatter from the engine moving, on a ford flathead with an enclosed drive line, the engine trans and drive shaft were all bolted solid together, No movement. The 40's ford drum brakes he used on the front are not the best. If you have to rebuild the brakes go to the hamb and check out how to use early 50's F1 or lincoln brakes., or later chevy 12 in rear wagon drum brakes or just go to front disc's. but as you have read so far, lots of different opinions on what to do..... JUST DO IT YOUR WAY . and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That looks like a decent buildup after I did a quick look through.

There are a couple of statements the author made that tell me he needed to do some additional homework before and during his build.

Handful to drive - huh! Why? I'm at well over 300Hp and not a bit difficult to handle at road speed and twisty roads (Upstate NY has them) and not a bit squirrely at full throttle acceleration.

Noise, vibration and harshness. Again, why? Yeah, I'll agree to some noise with my '31. Open hood, roadster with and without a top, mufflers contribute. Vibration and harshness on a properly built chassis are not necessary. Yep, I have IFS, but even a solid front axle work well if the correct springs and shocks are used. Coil over rears are probably the best way to alleviate much coming from that end.

Paul - that's what I meant in my first post about doing lots of planning. Get it right, the car wont be a chore and a physical pain to drive and enjoy.

Dave W
Dave

Please don't take my most recent post as a jab, it wasn't mean to be one. I do appreciate every post made in this thread. I totally agree that planning is required and lots of it. I have also spent some time perusing a solid book (How to Build a Traditional Ford Hot Rod) which is providing more answers, AND questions.

The more research I am doing (and will continue to do) the more I am actually coming to the conclusion that I might sidestep the Buick nailhead and instead keep the banger. Cant get more old school than the original engine huh? It (keeping the banger) wasn't even something I had considered. Would appear to simply things a tad.

As for the whole chop/no-chop discussion, i have spent the last while looking at unchopped A's and have to admit, I am wavering...!

Paul
 

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Fore-ever Fours.

Building a Four can be expensive if go full out. I have a 22 T speedster. The more I looked at an A crank and overhead valve conversiona and the $ $ required , I decided not do a whole lot. I was teaching the Auto engine classes at the college so I hauled in 6 model T engines I had collected. Once you get a machine set up , the machine time isn't that long. I picked out the best block, bored 60 over, new aluminum pistons, new 3/4 cam , timing gears and machined for adjustable lifters, decked the blocks on the head machine, faster on a little engine and milled all the stock heads to remove water corrosion. balance all the rods and pistons, You don't have to be the fastest to still have fun. but I did come in no 11 out of 70 cars.
 

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Dave

Please don't take my most recent post as a jab, it wasn't mean to be one. I do appreciate every post made in this thread. I totally agree that planning is required and lots of it. I have also spent some time perusing a solid book (How to Build a Traditional Ford Hot Rod) which is providing more answers, AND questions.

The more research I am doing (and will continue to do) the more I am actually coming to the conclusion that I might sidestep the Buick nailhead and instead keep the banger. Cant get more old school than the original engine huh? It (keeping the banger) wasn't even something I had considered. Would appear to simply things a tad.

As for the whole chop/no-chop discussion, i have spent the last while looking at unchopped A's and have to admit, I am wavering...!

Paul
Paul - I did not take your post as a jab. What I'm trying to emphasize is that you need to spend a lot of time considering the options. Plus whatever time framework you expect to have it done in, real life interferes, i.e. honey do's and kids if married, a job if not retired, the lawn needs mowing, the daily driver needs a day in the shop, the a/c just quit ....... and so on. That top chop you are considering - lots of work, especially if you aren't a metal worker/welder now. And hot rod shops - they get real expensive plus trying to get a quality job in a reasonable amount of time and within their quoted price can be frustrating. Engines - the 'A' was replaced by both the 'B' and 'C' engines, both of which should bolt in place and are better choices. Another to consider is the Ford turbo 4 cylinder SVO from '86 on for 5 or 6 more years. Modern and reliable power, relatively easy to find parts, much more so then that earlly nailhead or the original 4 cylinder. Again, planning. :D:D


Dave W
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Building a Four can be expensive if go full out. I have a 22 T speedster. The more I looked at an A crank and overhead valve conversiona and the $ $ required , I decided not do a whole lot. I was teaching the Auto engine classes at the college so I hauled in 6 model T engines I had collected. Once you get a machine set up , the machine time isn't that long. I picked out the best block, bored 60 over, new aluminum pistons, new 3/4 cam , timing gears and machined for adjustable lifters, decked the blocks on the head machine, faster on a little engine and milled all the stock heads to remove water corrosion. balance all the rods and pistons, You don't have to be the fastest to still have fun. but I did come in no 11 out of 70 cars.


Thanks, to be honest I think I see the gap here between my expectations and the majority. I would certainly not need to go full out with the engine. If it could cruise at highway speed I am more than happy. The objective here is to cruise... A little extra pep would be nice but certainly nothing major.

As per Dave's posts, I will continue research...

Thanks again,
Paul
 

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Modified A's

A mild A , B or C engine would still be fun and there are several different transmission options, reworked modern transmissions to work in an A, good for cruzing. , I have an antique Moore gear box behind my T transmission, I now have 4 foreward and 2 reverse speeds in the T. originally a T only had 2 foreward speeds.
 

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May I suggest going resto-rod with that car..that is stock body with late model running gear..Boxed "A" chassis..disk brakes all around..Perhaps the turbo 4 as suggested..Main thing if you have not built a ground up car before is keep it simple..Even that buick you have could work..just do a rebuild and some dressy pieces and you are good to go..

Sam
 
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