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.

Prepping the Frame
When it comes to utilizing an original frame assembly there are a few preparatory chores needed before installing new steering and suspension components. The most important of these are making sure the frame is square (by measuring it in an X fashion from the right rear corner to the left front and vise versa (you should come up with an equal length for both, denoting that the frame is indeed square). The next step would be the boxing the framerails so the frame will be able to handle a modern drivetrain installed in a frame originally designed for the rigors of a whopping 200ci, 40hp four-cylinder. Stock framerails should be boxed their full length for the greatest rigidity, though if that's not feasible, box 'em from the front crossmember to at least 5 inches beyond the point at which the hairpin or 4-Bar brackets are mounted to the framerails. The same procedure should be followed on the rear portions of the framerails as well. Also, when boxing the frame, be sure to weld just a portion of the plates at a time so as not to over heat the 'rails and risk warpage. It's also a good idea to tack-weld a couple of temporary supports across the top and bottom of the 'rails (from left 'rail to right 'rail) as insurance, once you're through boxing, the supports can be removed and the tack welds smoothed off with a grinding wheel. With the frame prepped the installation can proceed.

Got Everything You'll Need?
No matter where your components came from the first order of business is to lay them out and match what you've got with the parts listing or diagram in the accompanying instruction sheets. If everything is there you're ready to begin, if something is missing get on the horn and get it handled-this is always the type of install you want to complete from start to finish without a multi-day break in the middle of the process. And, oh yes, use the darn instructions provided. No matter how comfortable you feel performing an install of this kind, reading the instructions will nearly always save time and aggravation by making sure assembly is done in order and nothing is either missed or installed in the incorrect order.

Once you've prepped the frame, laid out and checked all the parts needed are on hand, and gone over the instruction sheets at least once, you're now ready to proceed. So, take a look at the following images. They should give you a good idea of how to tackle what really is a straightforward installation and one that'll get you a long way to a great foundation for a safe, good handling, and surprisingly affordable hot rod.

Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts
  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • View Full Article