My question is: How do I determine how high/low to mount the crossmember to get my desired ride height?
What is the minimum and maximum frame width measured on the inside?
When we ran a full service chassis fab/turn-key hot rod shop a number of years ago, it was always useful to have threaded things around to weld into the frame for some kind of mount, etc.
A unique method of running the front brake lines on a solid axle '32 Ford.
If there was one thing about this build that I underestimated, it was the wiring. I thought “meh, some go to the front, some to the rear, a few underneath. Should take about an hour.” OK, I’m exaggerating a little. I rarely give time frame estimates to anyone, because I’m usually wrong. My wife will ask when I’ll be home for dinner. “Don’t pressure me!” It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article, hasn’t it?
Now that you know a little bit more about me, I’ll get back to the topic at hand. We’re using a Ron Francis Express kit with accessory packs for everything – electric choke, headlight relief relays, hot start kit, dimmer control box, etc. etc… this makes it really easy for someone like me, who is a wiring virgin, to accomplish a neat and tidy job, and also one that a future owner of the car will appreciate because all the wires are labeled. This is my first wiring job, by the way.
I don’t plan on going into great detail about how I wired every portion of the car. I think I will add to this article as the job gets completed, so you can see how I accomplished certain aspects of the project. I would appreciate hearing from some more seasoned (not necessarily electrocuted) wirers with little tips and tidbits on how I could have made the job easier.
First off, let me explain a simple principal I learned that will help you wire a vehicle: wires are matter, and matter occupies space. Keeping this in mind, let’s move on.
This is the particular space the wiring is occupying. On the passenger side kick panel/ side panel, I drilled holes on an angle for the a/c & heater lines. Since we’re using Vintage Air’s reduced diameter hoses, the holes are considerably smaller than standard hoses. Three lines have their own hole, but I left some clearance above the fourth hole (almost a shape like the number 8) for the wires. The wires you see will be wrapped and hopefully look pretty neat when it’s all done. Since I used the same feeder wire for every wire that came through this hole, the wires should all stay aligned within reason. Before you begin, I suggest running a feeder wire through every place you think you’ll be running wires. A pillar, over the roof (if yours is hollow like the Bear body), and through the rocker (where I’ve got the most wires). This will ensure that if you ever have to pull a wire out, you know it’s not going to be wound around other wires and impossible to retrieve.
I think this was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I ran the battery cables down the drivers side rocker panel, but since Ron had already factory installed the battery clamps, I had to run the cables forward to the starter. This meant negotiating a 90 degree turn at the end of the rocker in a space 2″ wide and 8″ deep. I can still remember the joy I felt while removing fiberglass slivers from the back of my hand.
Oh well, this is the result.
So, with the battery cables out of the way, I can focus on the little wires. In this picture you can see the cavity I ran the battery cables through, except on the driver’s side.
This is where I’m mounting all the accessory pieces for the wiring, along with the panel itself. The wires in the standard kit are just long enough to do this, but I couldn’t put it too much further back without length becoming an issue. I did need to lengthen one or two wires that I wanted to exit the car with the other wires, but come back under the car along the top of the transmission. To make it easier to troubleshoot in the future, I added a section of wire the same color in the middle of the wire I needed to lengthen. This way, the wire is correctly numbered and labeled at both ends. Make sure you solder and heat shrink the joints. In this picture I’m just mocking up the components. None of the ends have been put on the wires that will connect to the panel, so I can determine proper lengths.
There is quite a bit of wiring in the cavity over the windshield because all the switches, gauges, etc. will be up there.
I had a sort of street rod mentor in to the shop and he suggested that the wires coming out at the bottom of the firewall were a bit too tight. He thought it would be better if I could remove some of the wires and run them some other way. The only wires that would run nicely somewhere else were the headlight wires… so we started to look at fishing them through the frame rail. It seemed like the best option, so I started drilling. This is the first hole which goes into the trunk.
You’ll want to make sure you have enough cable to run the length of the rails before you start. I used wiring conduit like they use to run wires in your house. It’s stiff but flexible, and it pushes nicely over a long length.
Once the fishing wire is through the rail, you can attach the wires to it and gently pull it through. I ran the fishing wire from front to back because the front C notch is an obstacle that I could get around easily from the front. I have fished every wire on this car using masking tape. I think the most important thing is to wrap the tape around the wire you want to fish first, then wrap that “assembly” to the fishing wire. More tape isn’t always better. I have to struggle to break a good taping job.
Once the wires were through, I bent the wire 90 degrees on the end and came through the hole.
The turn signal wires come from the firewall, so they will meet up with these wires where they come out of the rail. I will be putting something on the wires where they contact the boxing plate so they don’t wear.
Quiet Time of the Day: drilling holes in the side of the radiator for the riv nuts to hold the junction blocks. If you didn’t know already, the outside tubes in Walker radiators are dummies. The second tubes, however, are not. The junction blocks are so the headlights can be disconnected and to minimize the number of wires running out of the lights. From this block, the wires will go to a block on the other side, then to the light.
I decided I wanted to hide the wires coming out of the fan motor. I mentioned a while ago about wireless cars – this would be one of the places it would be nice to have a Bluetooth electric fan.
I was able to tuck the wires just beside the fan motor so they would run along the inside of the blade guard. I connected wires of the same color and covered it with shrink tube.
And here are the wires exiting through a hole in the case. Shrink tube covers the blue wire where it will be seen. I used small black zip ties to hold the wires to the blade guard on the inside. Yes, there’s lots of clearance for the wires. Yes, I hope the fan doesn’t hit them.
That’s it for now! Thanks for your time.
It’s always a treat trying to figure out which profile of weatherstripping to use. Typically, the stuff you use for the window channel is “cat whiskers”, and is usually attached with screws or weatherstrip adhesive. Since the garnish molding is a part of the door, it’s not easy to drive a screw through the inside lip of the door (where you rest your arm while cruising). So I began to explore the different weatherstrip profiles in the Soffseal sample baggy.
I needed to detach the power window channel from the door so the glass would drop right down inside and give me clearance where I would install the weatherstrip.
If I haven’t been able to explain where I’m putting the weatherstripping, this should do the job.
With this style of seal, it’s important not to make the fit too tight between the glass and weatherstrip, or the glass won’t want to slide up and down – it will get stuck. You may have to combine two different thicknesses to get the spacing right.
The inside door panels which hide the power window motors are attached with machine screws, but there isn’t a seal preventing them from rattling. I took some sample pieces from the Soffseal sample bag and filet’d the side with the adhesive to the thickness I needed. After sticking a fw of these skinny pieces around the perimeter of the panel, it keeps it away just far enough that it won’t rattle.
This is the profile I used for the window seal. I took this picture to show there is a good side and a not so good side to this piece. This profile is manufactured as two strips side by side, connected by a thin bridge. Afterwards, they are seperated. This process leaves a tiny ridge along one side (in this picture, the left side). I chose to install it with the ridge facing down.
To trim the blade for a chopped windshield, we had to set up the arm length and the blade length properly to get the maximum windshield “clearage”.
It will need to be marked at the outside and inside of the blade to make sure you’re not interfering with the windshield frame.
As an aside, I did a little experimenting with a 3/8″ stainless tube, a mill, and a wiper blade. I like how it turned out, but more work would be required to hook it up to an arm, as well as finishing off the ends. I think it has some potential though!
We used Specialty Power Window’s wiper arms and blades for flat glass. They are easy to trim, pretty stable (they don’t flop around a lot), and nicely finished.
A few articles ago, I talked about why I had to trim the front edge off the air ducts.
They are pretty tight, but with the ducts trimmed, as well as the outlet duct trimmed, airflow is great!
For the defrost vents, my original plan was to run a bolt through the vent, the dash, and the plastic piece that the hose hooks up to, which had flat spots at the same width as the vent mounting holes. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the plastic ducts (which go under the dash) wouldn’t fit tight against the slots. I ended up trimming them, but I trimmed so much that there were no longer any mounting tabs. Vette panel adhesive to the rescue! I made a ridge along the edge of the duct where it would meet the dash, then carefully maneuvered it into place. I used a toothpick to smooth out the goop from the top. I used a few blade inserts to attach the vent from above instead of trying to get a nut on under the dash.
If you’re trying to plan ahead and want to trim the defrost slots in your dash, make sure to account for the thickness of the glass. Of course I did!
Just a miscellaneous shot of the underdash. That’s the wiper gear/motor mounted to the column support.
Here is the aired out parking lot profile.
I installed our brake pedal pad bracket and thought I’d show the progress…
Here’s the kit – stainless brackets, stainless hardware, and instructions.
One bracket goes on the outside of the pedal, and the other bracket sandwiches the pedal on the inside. The masking tape is how far the pedal goes during full travel. As you can see, I’ll have to trim the leading edge of the pedal.
The two holes in the pedal let you set up the bracket to a comfortable angle for your foot.
The slots in the two brackets line up for your pedal pad to mount to.
Another feature of the slots is to let the pedal pad move up and down, effectively modifying your pedal ratio.
I will try to refrain from punning this article to death. However, it will be difficult.
If you were wondering when these kids were going to start running the exhaust, your wait is over. Before we began, there was a bit of a checklist that we needed to accomplish. Install starter. Oil filter clearance. Brake booster clearance. Over or under the rear axle? Try to keep most of the system out of view.
With that list in mind, on we go.
Hey, look… Welder Series parts! These are #21836 stainless flanges for 2-1/2″ tubing. The flange just slips over the tube – that’s great but the stainless Edelbrock mufflers we’re using are expanded to slip over the tube! I’m going to weld a flange to one side of each muffler. It’s a good idea to plan the system like this before hand… where it’s going to separate, etc.
This is why it’s nice to have the flange slip over the tube – you can tig weld it on the inside and therefore don’t see anything on the outside!
Silent Moment of the Day #2: parting off the collector in the lathe. I don’t know why, but when something’s not round, it tends to look like it’s spinning a lot faster and more violently. I did this to tuck the first bend up about 2″.
Producer Paul and Director Dorothy check out the progress.
If you have a mill handy, it’s a great way to square up the ends of the tubing.
Here’s the shortened collector in place. I needed a small wedge to point the bend where I needed it to go. In this picture, you can also see my ground cable running from a motor mount bolt to the insulator bolt. I’ve run the rest of Ron Francis’ grounding kit, and there’s basically nothing grounded to the frame except headlights. I’m grounded direct to the starter from the battery.
Here, we’re trying to achieve symmetry as much as possible. The first side is always the easy one! Now I know why some guys run single 3″….. In this picture, you can see a few things that will sneak up on you: the angle of the bottom of the engine oil pan is tilted towards the drain, and the transmission pan is offset.
It took a bit of muscle to flip the car on to its side for this shot, but I hope you’ll agree it was worth it. We haven’t installed hangers yet, but they will go just in front of the flange at the muffler. This way, we can remove the rear section and the hangers will still support the front section.
Unless you’re one of the few 2′ tall street rodders, you’ll have a hard time seeing this exhaust.
All gaps are not created equal. Having said that, once I decided which weatherstrip profile to use, the job itself was rather simple.
You’ll have to start with your doors hung and latched. To determine the size of the gap, I used what I’ve been telling people to use for years, but never had the opportunity to do it myself: playdough. Do I have to put a letter C in a circle after that word? Actually, I didn’t use playdough. I used Sticky Tack. Man, what’s the generic word for stuff that’s pliable and somewhat sticky and holds posters to the wall? From now on, it shall be called “Silly Putty”. Oh, never mind.
Roll the Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator (don’t worry, I don’t require a Registered Trademark symbol) into a ball, and set it in the place you want to measure.
Close the door all the way.
When you open the door, you’ll be left with a positive mold of the door gap that you can use to see which weatherstrip profile will work best.
I got one of Soffseal’s sample packs and compared each sample with my Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator.
It turns out I was able to use one of their smallest profiles on both the door and the body. I like this, because I have weatherstrip sealing against weatherstrip. This profile fit the edge around the door opening perfectly.
In this picture, you’re also able to see the courtesy light I installed in the bottom of the door. At night, it will illuminate the ground as you’re getting out of the car. You never know what will be waiting in the hotel parking lot.
Are the mounting holes for the rack and pinion setup at 16" or 15 1/2" on center??
How to mount our sway bar to a round tube.
Some Miscellaneous Stuff
Here are a few random shots of what I’ve been up to lately. They don’t each require a separate posting, so I’ll just throw them all in here.
Here you can see my heater lines. I decided not to run #10 heater hose just because of the size of the car. A #10 hose has a 1/2″ i.d., so by running 3/8″ hard line, I’m not losing all that much flow. I’m using the head as one connection, and the water pump for the other. The hose clamp on the hose going to the water pump will be replaced and eventually will look like the one just below it. Remember to flare the end of the hard line so it’s tight in the hose. I’m also trying to figure out where to run the spark plug wires.
I made up two 3/8″ double clamps to hold the e-brake cables to the floor and keep them out of the way of the driveshaft.
Here you can see the Specialty Power Windows wiper motor that’s mounted to the steering column mounting plate.
I couldn’t exactly hide the A/C drain behind the upholstery (because what you see is the “upholstery”), so I had to come up with another way. I decided to use the leftover trunk weatherstrip I had. It’s hollow, flexible, and has an adhesive back. It’s not stuck to the firewall yet, but when I’m ready I can just peel off a few small sections of backing and hold it in place. It drains out a hole under the toe board area.
And here’s where we are, pretty much up to date. [wow, look how shiny it was!]
Well, the body is off and it's time to start welding up brackets and tabs that were just tacked in place this whole time.