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Talking Hot Rods with Butch

 

Quality Line of 1928 to 1965 Custom and Rodder Parts

 

GRILLES:
LOWERING: 
MOUNTING:
STEERING:
SUSPENSION SYSTEMS:
 
 

       Desoto Grilles

 

We had a question from Derek about the differences in the Desoto Grilles that customizers use:


OK, the 1951 & 1952 Desoto Grilles have nine teeth with the last tooth on each end having a Park Light built into it going out horizontally. The
1953 Desoto Grille has 11 teeth, with park lights NOT in the grille. The center seven teeth on the 51, 52 & 53 Desoto Grilles are all the same in each grille, (and they all bolt down to the lower pan). In other words they interchange all three years. BUT... all the teeth are different, with the center tooth being the largest, then each tooth going out toward the ends getting smaller, about 1/4" shorter in height and depth. So they are all different part numbers. Naturally, the 1953 Grille is the rarest and hardest to find.


NOTE: These 51-52-53 Desoto teeth are NOT flat on the bottom, and cannot be bolted to a flat pan. You need to curve the metal pan to accept the curve in the Desoto teeth; lots of work to graft a Desoto pan to the Merc pan. But a good body man can do it!


The famous Customizer in California "Gene Winfield" manufactures a new Fiberglass Lower pan that replaces the 49-50-51 Merc original steel lower pans and are made to accept the 51-52-53 Desoto teeth as a bolt on unit. This really saves a LOT of work on installing these Desoto Grilles.


1954 and 1955 Desoto Grilles are what we call FLOATERS. Those teeth bolt to a center bar (not to the lower pan) and are much smaller. I have several diff years shown at the top of my grill page of my website so you can see the difference. The '54 teeth are slightly larger than the '55 teeth are, but are shaped the same.


Check out our NEW Polished Stainless Custom Merc Grille.  They are SUPER NEAT and are a bolt-in unit. And for a lot less dollars than chroming any old Desoto Grill that's FOR SURE!

 


Engine Mount Kits

Q:  I want to install a 318 engine with a 904 push button tyranny into my 1949 pick-up truck, 1/2 ton series "B."  I see your kit #2188CP is for 41/52 Dodge cars, but will it work for my truck?

 

A:  OK, most all PU trucks have what we call an "Open Ladder" type frame, (except the 33/35 MOPAR PU, which has an X-Member center, so it can use the car kits). They also are usually an Open Channel Frame Side Rail with rather straight type cross members throughout. We always recommend that you box the frame rail (welding a PC of 3/16" thick metal to the open side of the rails) at least in the areas of your mounting kits, such as where the eng mounts, trans mounts and the pedal mounts are. A MOPAR PU will usually take a #2184U, Chrysler Eng mount kit along with our 6" Drop Tube Tyranny cross member #2160U (or equivalent Chevy Eng/Trans kits). Even though these show they are for 1928/32 or 34 cars, they will work OK on most PU Trucks. Same goes for our universal Brake Pedal kits. Thanks, Butch  

 

Q:  We have a guy who wants to use one of our kits to install a 351 Windsor in his 1956 Ford Victoria Fairlane 2-door hardtop. His original engine was a 312 8-cylinder engine. He says his car has a round tubular frame eng mount crossmember. He can't see how our frame mount brackets bolt on to the frame or wherever else they would bolt on.

 

A:  Ok, our SB Ford V8 (289-302-351Windsor) Eng/Trans Mount Kit #2507-CP is the correct one for your car. Our frame mounts bolt directly to your original mounts on that factory tubular crossmember. Just follow the illustrated instructions that we include. We also include hardware (bolts, nuts, etc.) to fasten it properly into place. It's a complete bolt-in kit. Our frame adapters are made to work with the V-8 cars, plus with the 6-cyl/wagon/sedan delivery cars, which have that tubular crossmember in a slightly different position (requires slightly shorter engine block adapters for that kit).

 

This particular installation allows the use of the standard Ford Front Sump oil pan for steering clearance. Plus our kits always include exhaust clearance tips, trans mount specifics, and much more info.


Lowering: All Front Axle and Dual Leaf Spring Suspension Cars

This article is for most 1926 through 1938 Plymouth & Dodge cars and light PU trucks to 1946, along with most 1926 through 1941 Chevy cars and light PU trucks to 1946. Plus, they will also work for many other early cars and light PU trucks from the 20s and 30s. Years ago, I built axles and steering kits for a 20s Essex and an old Chandler, plus many others.

 

Rule #1, if your car has what we normally call a Solid Front Axle, or Straight Axle (actually almost none are really straight) and dual leaf springs, there is NO SUCH thing as a dropped spindle. IFS (Independent Front Suspension) cars usually have Dropped Spindles (ball joint IFS cars) or Dropped Spindle Uprights (King Pin style IFS cars) available to lower them, but we will get into that in another discussion.

 

The only way to lower an original solid axle, dual leaf spring car is to have your original axle dropped by a shop that specializes in that procedure. The main problem with using your original axle is that the original spindles may not have any disc brake conversions or steering conversion kits available to update the rest of the system. You may also find a Mono-Leaf (single) front spring made for your car, and while this will drop the front about 2" you still have the original spindles and the same problems, as listed above.

 

An Alternative Not Recommended:  Some Hot-rodder's have tried to mount the original axle on TOP of the front leaf springs, which will give a pretty strong drop of the thickness of the axle PLUS the thickness of the spring. This almost NEVER works, as there is not enough room for the axle to travel properly and it will hit the frame, bottoming out all the time. Yes, maybe you can "C" notch the frame (commonly done on the rear for extra clearance for an extremely low car) for more clearance. But in the end, this is usually TOO low anyway, plus you will have to radically re-work the stock steering arms for tie rod clearance, etc.

 

The Normal and Accepted Way to drop the front end is to install a NEW dropped axle made for your car. Keep in mind that your original axle is probably about a 1" to 2" factory drop, and when installing a new 4" drop axle, this would then only lower your car anywhere from 3" to 2". And, again, if you are looking for more drop than that, you may find a Mono-Leaf spring and that would allow another 2" drop overall.

 

Other Parts Needed to Install a New Axle:  The new axle should come with a pair of weld-on spring perches, and a U-bolt mounting kit. I also use the proven Pete & Jakes Shock mounting kit with their calibrated Hot Rod Shocks. You will need new Spindles (or possibly used, as most new axles are set up for 37/48 Ford car spindles, which are available from many sources). Along with the spindles, you will need Dropped Steering Arms (for both sides) and the Pass side will have the extra Drag Link Rod End Hole to enable you to set your car up with the popular Cross Steering kits. Most of these Cross Steering kits use a Vega Steering Gear Box (a nice small, strong box) again, available new from many sources, and a new Pitman Arm (these are usually tapered from top and bottom to help in the installation). The normal installation kits will include the Vega Mounting Plate (this welds to the drivers frame rail), a new Pitman Arm, a Drag Link Rod with ends (this hooks the Pitman Arm to the Pass side spindle steering arm), and a Tie Rod with ends (hooks Left Spindle to Right Spindle steering arms). It is a good idea to get a kit that is actually made for your car, if it is available.  


Miscellaneous Lowering Kits, all cars, Front and Rear

We get lots of questions on how to safely lower the front end of factory IFS 40s and 50s cars and stay with a decent ride. Mostly, you have two different lower A-Arms on these early cars. We manufacture an easy bolt-in spacer kit for most cars that have a lower spring retainer plate that is separate (riveted) to the lower A-Arm. Our kits will lower 1949/56 Ford/Merc, 37/39 and 55/56 Buick, 55/56 Ply-Dodge, 40/49 Caddy and 39/48 Chevy approx 2" to 2 1/2 ".

 

Take the tension off the springs first, then I usually center drill the rivets with a 1/8" bit, then work my way out to a 7/16" diameter drill bit. You can also use an air chisel to remove the heads (there are many different ways to do this). By installing our custom spacers in between the lower spring mounting plate and A-Arm, with the hardware we provide, it will effectively lower the car 2" (or slightly more) by raising the spindle that much from stock.

 

We recommend that you cut 1/2 of the height off the lower rubber snubber, as this lowering kit will cause the lower A-Arm to end up riding closer to the frame and you will need that extra snubber clearance for a good ride. You shouldn't have any trouble getting the car aligned properly by your local shops. Caution Note:  If you have cut coils, or heated coils, or shortened coils, you should not use this type kit. It will cause the lower A-Arm to bottom out or actually ride against the frame and you will NOT have ANY ride. Tech Tip:  You may, however, use this type kit with a set of Dropped Spindles or Dropped Spindle Uprights. I do this all the time with my own cars to get a full 5" drop and still retain a Great Ride and Handling car. Of course, it's extra low, and maybe you gotta watch where you go, over speed bumps, etc., but it will be safe and LOOK GREAT!


Lowering: All Early Independent Suspension Cars

This article is for some 1934 through 1956 Plymouth and Dodge cars, along with most 1939 through 1960s Chevy cars. Plus, this will also work for many other early cars and light PU trucks from the 40s through the 60s that have A-Arm, Coil Springs on the front suspension.

 

Most early IFS (Independent Front Suspension) cars used KingPins (up to 1953 Fords), later model cars have Ball Joints (1954-up Ford).  King Pin style IFS cars used Dropped Spindle Uprights to lower them. Ball Joint IFS cars usually used Dropped Spindles to lower them. Most of these new lowering parts are available through Butch's or Fatman's Fabrications and from several other shops. They should come with the necessary instructions and hardware needed. The Fatman's kits usually have a new set of King Pins installed where required, ready to go. Some are available with the matching Dropped Steering Arms, which you must use in order to retain the proper steering geometry for your car. If they are NOT available, then you will need to Heat and Bend your original arms to match the drop of your spindles. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You cannot get by without this procedure.

 

Keep in mind, many of the Dropped Spindles or Uprights reposition the spindle in an area that WILL NOT ALLOW the drum brakes to be re-installed. Therefore, you will be required to install Disc Brakes in place of the drums. This is a plus, in the end, with safer brakes being used.

 

Another way to lower these type suspension systems is to install a set of Shortened Coil Springs, if they are made for your vehicle. There are a couple sources for these (check Hemmings Motor News Publication). It is just a matter of removing your original coils and replacing them with the new, shorter ones. These are usually available 1", 2" or 3" drop, with the 2" normally used.

 

A Couple of Alternatives NOT Recommended:  Some of us old-time HotRodders have heated or cut the stock coils to get a lower stance. The main problem with these techniques is the choppy or stiff ride that ensues. When you heat the coil, you change the tension and when you cut it shorter, it does the same thing. While this will drop the front about 2" or so, I never recommend these types of lowering anymore, from my own experience. Keep in mind, you will always need to have your car re-aligned by a competent shop when you are finished. This is something that MUST be done for a good driving and handling car.

 

Tech Tips:  The Front Shock is also very important. If the front suspension is working properly, you will need to dampen it. If you have an IFS that uses those early Delco Type Upper A-Arms with the built-in shock, you can send them off to some shops to be rebuilt, and they will work fine. Cars that use these types are early MOPAR and many early GM cars. Again, Hemmings is the place to find these type services.

 

Some of the Fatman's kits come with an alternative shock and/or shock mounting kit. 1949-up Fords and Mercs usually have a Gas Charged Shock that you can change-over to. Check with Butch's or other shops for these replacements.

 

Most of these older IFS systems we work with actually work very well on today's highways. Especially the 34/56 MOPAR IFS, which are a very good suspension system. I built Carol a 1934 Ply Model PE LWB Dlx Sedan back in the day. This is one of those Delco Upper Shock IFS that I talked about earlier. I designed and installed MOPAR Disc brakes for it, installed a lowering spacer kit in the lower A-Arm to lower it 2". Rebuilt those upper stock shocks and installed Vega Cross Steering on it. In the next few years, we drove it from Dayton, Ohio to St. Paul Nats, the Oklahoma Nats and the Tampa, FL Nats, all with a custom 20' trailer behind it carrying a display chassis and parts. She really drove GREAT! Shouldn't have sold it, we miss that one.

 

But these suspensions may need to be rebuilt, in which case, most parts/kits are available. Kantor Auto Parts comes to mind, also check Hemmings for many other parts suppliers. 


       MOPAR SB Chrysler Engine/Trans/Steering Mount Tips for many 39/56 Plymouth & Dodge Cars:This tip is for our Custom OFFCENTER, (toward pass side 1"), installation of the small block Chrysler (273-318-340-360V8) engine into most 1939 through 1956 MOPAR cars to allow the STOCK STEERING box & column to clear fine. In the 70's, many SB Chrysler equipped MOPAR cars, ('72 Darts & others, plus mid 70's full size, etc.), had steering column interference and they used a special Cast Iron Exhaust Manifold that dumps in the rear and wraps around the column. This works very well. The Sanderson Tight Fit Chrysler Headers might also clear.

 

The Engine Oil Pan will need to be the rear sump style, like the OEM MOPAR PU Trucks used, ('78 4x4 318 Truck, etc), plus all attending parts for that pan, including dipstick, etc.

 

Our Custom Trans crossmember is off center on the 42/53 Models to clear the original master cylinder/pedal mount. It also allows clearance for our new Bolt-In Pedal kit that uses a new booster-dual master cylinder set up.

 

Tech Tip: Our installation kit instructions will also allow you to CENTER the eng/trans when using our "Fatman's" Power Steering Kit. Then you can use the MOPAR Center-Dump Cast Iron Exhaust Manifolds, (on both sides), or the new Tight-Fit style Headers for great clearance.
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       SB Chevy Engine/Trans/Steering Mount Tips for many 39/56 Plymouth & Dodge Cars:This tip is for our Custom OFFCENTER, (toward pass side 1"), installation of the small block Chevy (283-305-307-327-350-400V8) engine into most 1939 through 1956 MOPAR cars to allow the Steering box and column to clear fine. In the Mid-70's, many SB Chevy equipped cars, had steering column interference and they used a special Cast Iron Center-Dump style Exhaust Manifold that dumps in closer to the block and angles rearward and will clear the column. This works very well. The Sanderson Super-Short Tight Fit Angled Headers also clear.

 

The Engine Oil Pan will need to be the standard rear sump style.

 

Our Custom Trans crossmember is off center on the 42/53 Models to clear the original master cylinder/pedal mount. It also allows clearance for our new Bolt-In Pedal kit that uses a new booster-dual master cylinder set up.

 

Tech Tip: Our installation kit instructions will also allow you to CENTER the eng/trans when using our "Fatman's" Power Steering Kit. Then you can use the Standard Center-Dump style Cast Iron Exhaust Manifolds, (on both sides), or the new Tight-Fit style Headers for great clearance.

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       1947-1954 Chevy/GMC Steering Info
Recently we had a customer with a '52 GMC PU Truck that was interested in installing GM Steering in it.  These type stock axles and spindles normally use a steering box mounted on the left frame rail and use a drag link down that rail that hooks to the driver side spindle.  The original steering arm that bolts to the lower driver's side spindle usually has an extension of some type that goes forward and circles back around to connect to the drag link rod to the steering box.

 

He stated he was installing a dropped axle and was wanting to upgrade the steering at that time.  He asked about our #2225 Vega Cross Steer Kit.  I used to manufacture a Bolt-In GM Steering Kit for the 47/54 Chevy & GMC Pick Ups as Butch's Rod Shop, several years ago, and told him I would do some digging, as I thought I still had all the patterns.

 

The main difference between the #2225 Vega Kit and the #2239 GM Steering Kit is the 47/54 GM Truck Kit has a bolt-in steering mount that will accept a non-power GM Saginaw Steering box (#525 & others) or the Power Steering Saginaw box (#605).  Both of these boxes are very adequate for the weight of these trucks.  The complete GM Cross Steer Kit should be available from us soon, which will include the GM Box Mounting Plate, tie rod with the standard left side Ford end and special TWO hole right side end, and the new drag link rod with both Ford ends.  This kit requires modification of the stock steering arms to accept our new tie rod *ends.  We also include a good instruction sheet to guide you through the process.  I feel this is the BEST steering set-up you can do to these pickups.

 

*Note:  We used to manufacture (and may in the near future) the new bolt-on spindle steering arms with the 2-holds on the pass side.  No modifications are needed, you just replace the stock arms with the new ones; much easier.

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       Steering for STOCK Early Car/PU Front Dual Leaf AxlesThis tip will work on most all 26/38 Ply & Dodge cars and 26/35 Chevy cars plus many others makes including PU Trucks.

 

These type stock axles and spindles normally use a steering box mounted on the Left Frame rail and use a drag link down that rail that hooks to the Driver side spindle. The original steering arm that bolts to the lower Drivers side spindle usually has an extension of some type that goes forward and circles back around to connect to the drag link rod to the steering box.

 

We normally replace this type steering with what we call a "Cross Steering Set-Up", thus eliminating any "Bump Steer: problems you might incur with the old set-up. This will mount a Vega, (small, yet strong box), Steering Gearbox on the Drivers Side Frame rail, sometimes just under your late V8 Engine mount. This requires welding a boxing plate (3/16" thick metal) to the rail to box it in for strength. Then our Vega Mount Plate welds to it. We have Instructional Guides for most applications.

 

Next step is to remove the lower steering arm from the drivers side spindle & drum. You will be required to cut (saw it off approx 3/4" forward of the front mount hole) the forward part of the arm from it that goes to the drag link rod, since it will no longer be used. You will need to also remove the right side steering arm from the spindle. Then, both of these original steering arms tie rod end holes will need filled and redrilled and re-tapered to fit early Ford ends. Any machine shop can do this. We drill the original holes out to 3/4" and make a 3/4" mild steel slug to fit into the steering arms holes, and heli-arc (Tig) weld them in place. Also, at this time, the overall thickness of these end holes are slightly too thick, so we will grind up to 1/8" from them to get them to allow the Ford Ends to fit OK with the cotter key properly through the castle nuts when tight.

 

You will need a complete new Tie Rod with a Ford End on the Drivers Side and one of those TWO HOLE ends (we used to call this a "Jeep" end) for the Pass Side. It is also a Ford Taper and 11/16" Thread. It has an extra Tie Rod End Mounting hole in it to allow a new Drag Link Rod to be installed to be able to steer that right side. Then, you will need a new Drag Link Rod with new ends to hook up the Vega Box and Pitman arm to the Pass Side Spindle.

 

The complete Vega Cross Steer kit is available from us, which will include the Vega Box Mounting Plate, Tie Rod with the standard Left side Ford End and Special TWO Hole Right side end, and the new Drag Link Rod with both Ford ends. We also include a general instruction sheet to guide you through the process. I feel this is the BEST steering set-up you can do to these cars.

 

When you change over to the Vega Cross Steering there will be room to mount a good shock kit, since that old steering hoop will be gone. I use the proven Pete & Jakes Shock mounting kit with their calibrated Hot Rod Shocks. They will work GREAT on most all early MOPAR, CHEV and most other cars & PU Trucks. This steering kit and shock kit, along with a good set of smaller Radial Tires, will do more for the ride and handling of your Hot Rod than most anything else. This, PLUS a "BCS" Spring Tune-Up kit will make an amazing change in your car.


SUSPENSION SYSTEMS

            FRONT LEAF SPRING INFO for STOCK Early Car/PU Front Dual Leaf AxlesThis tip will work on most all 26/38 Ply & Dodge cars and 26/41 Chevy cars plus many others makes including PU Trucks.


These type stock multi-leaf springs are usually in need of a good tune-up to make them ride and handle better for today's highways & roads. Friction is the main enemy of a multi-leaf spring, and is usually caused by rust. Also, they were designed when roads were terrible and rutted, etc. So we like to tune them down a little for our better roads that we use today.

 

The first thing to do is disassembly, checking for any cracks or even broken leaves. Replace any leaves, as needed. If the 3rd leaf is broken on one spring, then always replace that leaf on BOTH front springs so they will set at the same rate & height. Also, remove any bushings in each end of the Main Leaf (to be replaced with NEW bushings later).

 

BUT FIRST: I like to look them over, with the weight still on them, to see if I can change the spring rate to a little bit lighter ride. If the arch is still pretty strong, then I like to trim anywhere from 1/2" to 1" off the end of each leaf. I do not remove any leaves except for maybe the shortest one or two at the most. NEVER remove any leaves in the middle area as this will make for a weak spring when you do occasion into that big hole in the pavement from time to time. This is a trial and error effort that is very important! You cannot add anything back, so I only remove 1/2" from each end first, then try them out for ride and handling.

 

After getting the leaves the way I want them, then I bevel the end edges, (you may also ROUND them off for less friction if you want), so that they will not have anything sharp to dig into the leaf below them. This eliminates more friction. Then I sandblast all the leaves completely clean and paint them with a good primer and paint to preserve them. Please, let them dry good before any re-assembly.

 

Then, just using scissors and a center hole punch, I cut the individual Poly-Ride Spring Liner Material to go between each leaf. I leave each liner a little longer that the spring leaf, about 1/4" to 1/2" longer on each end. Then, using the leaf as a pattern, I mark the center hole position and cut it through with a hole punch for the center bolt to go through.

 

Now it's time to replace the bushings in each end of the main leaves as needed. Some of our kits also come with a new set of Shackles to replace your old ones, and these will have a split half Teflon or Moly-Nylon type bushing set. Always replace the main leaf fixed end bushing if they are available. Then install new spring clamps to keep the spring leaves from "walking" edgeways. Even if you cannot find correct ones for your size spring, these can be made from S/S Band Clamps (radiator hose type) with a slip of cut rubber between them and the springs.

 

Our "BCS" Front Spring Tune-Up Kits for most all 1-3/4" springs (except 33/35 Ply-Dodge front), will normally come with the following: 2 - 20ft rolls of Spring Liner Material, 2 - 5/16" diameter Spring Center Bolts & Nuts, (cut off excess length as needed when assembled), 6 - 1-3/4" wide Spring Clamps with 1/4" Bolts & Nuts, Pair of Special Spring Shackles with Moly-Nylon Bushings.

 

Now that you have made your springs softer for a good ride, you will need to make sure they are dampened properly. I use the proven Pete & Jakes Shock mounting kit with their calibrated Hot Rod Shocks. They will work GREAT on most all early MOPAR, CHEV and most other cars & PU Trucks. Our shock kit & spring tune kit, along with a good set of smaller Radial Tires will do more for the ride and handling of your Hot Rod than most anything else.

 


       REAR LEAF SPRING INFO for STOCK Early Car/PU Front Dual Leaf Axles This tip will work on the rear springs of most all 26/52 Ply & Dodge cars and 26/54 Chevy cars plus many others makes including PU Trucks.

 

These type stock multi-leaf springs are usually in need of a good tune-up to make them ride and handle better for today's highways & roads. Friction is the main enemy of a multi-leaf spring, and is usually caused by rust. Also, they were designed when roads were terrible and rutted, etc. So we like to tune them down a little for our better roads that we use today.

 

The first thing to do is disassembly, checking for any cracks or even broken leaves. Replace any leaves as needed. If the 3rd leaf is broken on one spring, then always replace that leaf on BOTH REAR springs so they will set at the same rate & height. Also, remove any bushings in each end of the Main Leaf (to be replaced with NEW bushings later).

 

BUT FIRST:  I like to look them over, with the weight still on them, to see if I can change the spring rate to a little bit lighter ride. If the arch is still pretty strong, then I like to trim anywhere from 1/2" to 1" off the end of each leaf. I do not remove any leaves except for maybe the shortest one or two at the most. NEVER remove any leaves in the middle area as this will make for a weak spring when you do occasion into that big hole in the pavement from time to time. This is a trial and error effort that is very important! You cannot add anything back, so I only remove 1/2" from each end first, then try them out for ride and handling.

 

After getting the leaves the way I want them, then I bevel the end edges, (you may also ROUND them off for less friction if you want), so that they will not have anything sharp to dig into the leaf below them. This eliminates more friction. Then I sandblast all the leaves completely clean and paint them with a good primer and paint to preserve them. Please, let them dry good before any re-assembly.

 

Then, just using scissors and a center hole punch, I cut the individual Poly-Ride Spring Liner Material to go between each leaf. I leave each liner a little longer that the spring leaf, about 1/4" to 1/2" longer on each end. Then, using the leaf as a pattern, I mark the center hole position and cut it through with a hole punch for the center bolt to go through.

 

Now it's time to replace the bushings in each end of the main leaves as needed. Some of our kits also come with a new set of Shackles to replace your old ones, and these will have a split half Teflon or Moly-Nylon type bushing set. Always replace the main leaf fixed end bushing if they are available. Then install new spring clamps to keep the spring leaves from "walking" edgeways. Even if you cannot find correct ones for your size spring, these can be made from S/S Band Clamps (radiator hose type) with a slip of cut rubber between them and the springs.

 

Our "BCS" REAR Spring Tune-Up Kits for most all 1-3/4" springs, will normally come with the following: 2 - 20ft rolls of Spring Liner Material, 2 - 5/16" diameter Spring Center Bolts & Nuts, (cut off excess length as needed when assembled), 6 - 1-3/4" wide Spring Clamps with 1/4" Bolts & Nuts, Pair of Special Spring Shackles with Moly-Nylon Bushings.

 

Now that you have made your springs softer for a good ride, you will need to make sure they are dampened properly. You might use one of our rear end mounting kits which come with a good set of Gas Charged Shocks They will work GREAT on most all early MOPAR, CHEV and most other cars & PU Trucks. Our spring tune kit, along with a good set of smaller Radial Tires will do more for the ride and handling of your Hot Rod than most anything else.

 


Q: Q:  Got a question from a guy looking for a dropped front axle and disc brake setup for his 1937 Plymouth Sedan Delivery. Wants to know if this setup will be the same as the ones that we show for the cars we have listed.

 

A:  OK. This answer is YES!  I have been building these old car chassis, in shop, for 40 years! I have actually worked on many, many MOPAR & Chevy Sedan Delivery's and ALL of them were the same as the car chassis of the same year.

 

So... Sedan Deliverys will use all the parts/kits we manufacture for the same year car chassis/frames. Everything from eng/trans/rear axle mount kits to dropped axles and steering kits. Very understandable that one would think the Sedan Delivery would be different than the normal cars, but I have never run across one that wasn't on a car chassis. And, that makes these ride and drive much better than a truck chassis does.

 

Now... the PANEL TRUCKS are a different breed, as they are on a Pickup Chassis, NOT a car chassis. They do not use many parts that we make for the car chassis/frames. Please call if you need info for these early Panel or Pickup Truck Chassis.


WWe get this question a lot:  I would like to install Power Steering on my Hotrod, what do you have? This answer works for most all 26/38 Ply & Dodge cars and 26/41 Chevy cars, plus many other makes including PU Trucks through the 40's. First, my experience (40+ years) tells me that Power Steering is normally NOT needed on any of these cars. Plus, the fact that most Power Gearboxes are quite large and usually make the car feel "light" in the front end, not a good "feel" for a Hotrod.

 

While on this subject, we should always remember that the engine pan, exhaust and engine mounts are always a concern for Steering Box and Steering Rod Clearance. You should ALWAYS know in advance or do the steering installation at the same time you do the engine mount installation. Otherwise, maybe moving that engine 1/2" lower, taller, or farther back or forward might make a tremendous difference for exhaust or steering clearance, etc.

 

Back to my steering recommendations. PLEASE NOTE:  An axle car/pu should NEVER have a 7" or wider front wheel and 225/70R-15 Tire on it. First, it's impossible to get the alignment correct with that combination. It will steer like an old "TRUCK."  The Non-Power Cross Steering Set-Up, working in conjunction with nothing wider than a 5" or 6" front wheel, and a fairly small Radial Tire on the front, will make most any early Hotrod steer like it has power steering. It will drive excellent!  I prefer the small, yet strong, and very available & affordable Vega Steering Box, or the slightly larger GM '67 Up Non-Power Saginaw box #122 or the more readily available Saginaw #525 Non-Power box (from a 70's-up Nova, Camaro, etc.).

 

This eliminates any "Bump Steer" problems you might incur with the old set-up. This will normally mount a Vega Steering Gearbox on the Driver's Side Frame rail, sometimes just under, or close to, your late V8 Engine mount. This usually requires welding a boxing plate (3/16" thick metal) to the rail to box it in for strength. Then our Vega Mount Plate welds to it. We have Instructional Guides for many specific applications.

 

These complete Cross Steering kits are available from us, (parts also available separately), which will include the Box Mounting Plate, Tie Rod with the standard Left & Right Ford Ends and the new Drag Link Rod with both Ford ends. We also include a general instruction sheet to guide you through the process. I feel this is the BEST steering set-up you can do to these cars.


       Steering kits for 50's Fords and Mercs      OK, we get this question a lot: Why won't the simple steering conversion kit we make for the 49/51 Merc cars work on the 49/51 Fords? Well, as some may know and many do not, the 49 Merc was going to be a Lincoln originally when it was first designed, so it ended up being quite a bit different than the Fords of the same year. The 49/51 Ford Gearbox is set up completely different, (it is actually reversed), than the 49/51 Mercs.

 

We manufacture a bolt-in conversion kit for the 49/51 Merc and also the 52/53 Mercy & Ford (which are now very similar by these years) that allows the use of a 68/76 Ford F-100 Steering box in place of the original box. The 49/51 Merc Pitman Arm actually fits the newer F-100 box after filing the raised keyway out of the old pitman arm. The 52/53 Pitman Arms do NOT fit, so we modify the original F-100 Pitman arm by heating and bending it straight on the end, then filling the rod end hole and redrilling and tapering it to fit the 52/53 Drag Link end.

 

For the 49/51 Ford cars we offer a "Fatman's" Power Steering kit that uses the GM Center-Steer Rack & Pinion that works very nicely. This kit is offered in a weld-on kit for 49/51 Fords and also a bolt-on/weld-on kit 54/56 Fords & Mercs.

 

NOTE:  "Borgeson", the Steering & U-Joint people, just came out with a major Power Steering Conversion package that says it fits 1952 thru 1972 models. So, I can only assume that my 52/53 Ford Conversion kit should also fit the 54/56 Ball Joint cars. I am planning on checking this fit out in the future, but at the present time, I cannot verify fit for these later years. I will be glad to send you a kit to try yourself, with the promise of a complete refund if it does not fit your 54/56 Ford car. Let me know?

 


       Spindle Tech for Cars/PU Trucks using Dropped Axles

The most reproduced front spindle for axle cars is the 37/41 Ford, commonly known as the "Round Back" Ford Spindle. The 42/48 Ford car Spindle, (also same as the 42/47 Ford PU Spindle), is commonly called the "Square Back" Spindle. It is basically the same in the shaft and bolt hole area and will accept most all Disc Brake Conversions for either spindle.

 

Most all Dropped Axles are set up for the Ford Spindles, since they are the most readily available, new or used. The Reproduction spindle does not have the lower Steering Arm built into it, so you must also purchase a set of the Repro Steering Arms to go along with these new spindles. It is also a good idea to purchase a set of spindles with the KingPins already FITTED as this is a machine shop job and will simplify the installation.

 

If you use a set of Original 37/48 spindles, you will have to heat and bend the original (part of the spindle) steering arm to lower it to allow the tie rod and drag link rod to clear everything. NOTE HERE: You must always keep the rod end hole in the same relationship to the face of the spindle & kingpin, (centerlines must remain parallel). It can be lower, but it must stay the same, in and out, to keep the "Ackerman Principle" the same. This allows the car to turn properly.

 

ALIGNMENT TIPS: Normally, the Caster Angle, (KingPin Tilted rearward) will average approx. 4 to 6 degrees Positive. Camber Angle is set by the alignment shop while it is on the rack. You will always have to have a new axle installation aligned on the car after installation is finished with all the weight on the suspension.

 

BOLT CIRCLE - BRAKE TIPS: Normally we want the front and rear Wheel Pattern to be the same. If you are running a 4-1/2", 5-Lug Ford Rear axle, you will want to purchase a Disc Brake conversion that uses that pattern. Of course, using a 4-3/4", 5-Lug Chevy Rear Axle, same pattern for the Disc kit.

 

Disc Brake Conversions: The kits we sell are a completely Bolt-On kit that use commonly available OEM Rotors, Calipers, Pads, etc. Check us out!
Hope I have explained this satisfactorily.

 

 

 

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