Welcome to the fifth installment in our series documenting how Bob Hamilton, the star of the informative StreetRod 101 DVD Library, builds a 1927 T roadster using only a modest budget and loads of experience. You’ll recall from the previous four installments that Bob started with a fiberglass body that had been carved up for drag racing purposes. He filled in a cut out section of the rear deck, installed a floor and began building a tapered frame that follows the 1927 T’s body contours. Follow along this week as Bob shows you how he constructs the 1927 T Bucket front crossmember as well as the rear crossmember.
How to Build a T Bucket Front Crossmember and Rear Crossmember
“On to the front section of the frame and construction of the T Bucket front crossmember. One of the reasons I built this in sections is the fact that small pieces of tubing are easier to handle than a ten foot section – especially when I am doing this as a one man project. The other reason is that there is going to be a round tube T Bucket front crossmember and it is easier to use a hole saw to cut the tubing than a torch. Although I have used that method in the past. Notice that the hole is offset to the top. This is to accommodate the taper in the lower part of the rail that I mentioned earlier. The tube is heavy wall – schedule 80 pipe. This piece was actually scrap from a welding yard and was used for boiler tubes at a power plant. It is good to use heavy wall tubing as opposed to thin wall. Years ago I saw a T hot rod that hit a chuck hole and the force just peeled the spring perch back and tore the T Bucket front crossmember to shreds. I’m a quick learner! Also notice how the rails are aligned and held in place for tacking. Again, use the pins to measure the distance to the holes on each side. I can’t tell you how important measuring is on a project like this.”
“Here is the T Bucket front crossmember tacked and partially welded in place. The frame is upside down – notice the difference in material from the T Bucket front crossmember to the top of the rail. Again – this is for the taper that will be cut later.”
“Frame is right side up showing the T Bucket front crossmember and the rear crossmember. Measurements were taken again and this frame is within 1/32nd of an inch of being square. Not bad for a table top frame jig.”
“Time to get down to setting the frame at ride height. Notice the stands used to hold the rear end housing , rear of the frame and the front. The rear end is set so that the center of the axle housing where the wheel bearings go is half the diameter of the tires to be run. For example: If the tire diameter is 28 inches, then the center of the axle will be set at 14 inches and the stand height built accordingly. The frame height is up to you. I always allow at least 1 1/2 – 2 inches for the frame to settle (loaded) and at least 3 to 4 inches for axle to frame clearance. The angle of the frame is also up to you. This frame is going to have a greater forward rake than most cars I build. This is the effect that I am trying to achieve. Remember – this car will have a suicide front end with a tubular T Bucket front crossmember. Therefore, I can have a greater angle on the front. If I were running a stock type suspension, the frame would be higher to accommodate the spring and axle under the frame.”
“Another view showing the set up and this time the focus is the rear crossmember instead of the tubular T Bucket front crossmember. Notice that the frame is leveled from side to side. If this is not done, all of the brackets will be off and the car will ultimately sit awkward.”
“I make all of my brackets, spring perches, and other assorted needed accessories. The spring perches along with a lot of other information is shown in detail in my StreetRod 101: Hot Rod Frame and Chassis Construction DVD available at StreetRodPlans.com. The rear spring shackles on the bolt end are cut down so that the head of the bolt ( grade 8 ) will not turn. I make a lot of things for my cars and wind up saving a ton of money. Rods on the cheap are great and just as much fun and look just as good!”
“Mocking up the rear spring using bailing wire, masking tape and spacers to take the place of the actual spring leaves. The spring perches and axle brackets along with the spring shackles are all necessary in order to arrive at the correct distance for the spring to be installed. When all are in place, the spring shackles should be almost parallel to the ground when installed. This way when the frame is fully loaded, the spring shackles will ride at about a 45 degree angle. After this is figured, set up the brackets to the axle and tack in place.”
That’s all for this installment on how to build a T Bucket front crossmember, rear crossmember and set ride height. It’s fascinating to actually watch Bob build a frame like this and his 4-1/2 hour DVD covers it in great detail. Hopefully, you’ve already been inspired to purchase the StreetRod 101: Hot Rod Frame & Chassis Construction DVD and have already begun benefiting from Bob’s world of helpful advice. But, if you haven’t we highly recommend you click on the DVD box image below and check it out.
If you’ve been checking back regularly, you’ve seen that we’re adding new installments very frequently and we’ll continue to do so over the coming weeks. There’s much to learn and we’ll continue updating this cool 1927 T roadster series.
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- First Rail Dragster: “The Bug”, Dick Kraft’s Model T ex-roadster - July 30, 2020
- The Gadberry “Low Bucket” - July 20, 2020
- Bob Johnston’s T-Bucket, Later to Become Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Tweedy Pie: Part 1 - July 20, 2020