Putting together a neat homebuilt hot rod is a heck of a lot of fun, but being able to do so without spending a king's ransom makes it an even more enjoyable endeavor to say the least.
Recently our pal Michael McKernon mentioned he was just starting to whip together a '30-31 coupe he'd been collecting components for over the last few months. Nothing fancy mind you, just a low-budget traditional-style driver that he planned on throwing together in his home workshop during his spare time. Since Michael's shop is nearby close enough for us to buzz by and offer a hand if needed, at least we might get a chance to shoot a few images to share.
As one can tell by the plethora of ads between the covers of STREET RODDER, there's a huge number of aftermarket companies that offer every conceivable component needed to assemble a homebuilt hot rod or street rod and, as the quality has taken great strides over the years, a lot of times the decision of whose components to use often boil down to some basic tenets: quality, price, selection, and design. In this respect Michael chose components from Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts as he'd been using P&J products for years with great results.
The install in question is really a simple and straightforward affair and one that can be accomplished in short order with basic hand tools (and depending on your particular situation, a bit of welding skills needed for prep work). That said, there are a few little tips we'd like to pass along to those who may be contemplating an installation of this sort as they hold true for any traditional solid axle frontend install.
Shopping for Components
As we stated earlier, options are many when it comes to choosing components and often in real-world situations requires weighing wants against budget. Sure, chrome-plated or fancy stainless looks great, but we've got to be realistic when it comes to using a finite budget to get the most bang for our bucks. Michael relied on his prior experience with Pete & Jakes/Super Bell Axle Co. and utilized the company's basic components (i.e. standard steel over polished stainless or chrome-plated versions of said parts) to stay within budget while still saving a bit of cash that he'd be able to put into play for the other components required to complete the coupe's foundation. Michael also stressed the seamless engineering that affords perfect harmony between P&J's products so front or rear suspension and related components work perfectly together. That, along with ease of ordering from P&J's catalog and/or website and their awesome tech support whenever it had been needed in the past (though he did admit that was a rarity) just plain makes him comfortable.
In keeping with the desired...
In keeping with the desired traditional styling and the most bang for a buck a complete I-beam and suspension assembly from Pete & Jakes was Michael's choice for the Model A coupe's chassis. It's a great value and includes all the important components needed for a quick and easy install all in one package.
Michael's coupe utilizes an...
Michael's coupe utilizes an original '31 Model A frame assembly that's been modified with an aftermarket front crossmember and will, after the frontend install, more than likely receive a modified trans crossmember and mount as well. Boxing a stock C-channel frame is a must when building a hot rod, The stock configuration was designed to handle a little 40hp banger and the torque provided by anything more powerful would be way too much for an unboxed frame. Ideally the rails should be boxed along their entire length-at this point Michael had only fabbed and installed boxing plates (.120-wall cold-rolled steel plate) that run from the front crossmember to a few inches past where the radius rod brackets will mount. He will be boxing the balance of the frame as he works his way rearward though.