Anytime you begin a project, especially when you start on your hot rod, it is always a good idea to plan your work and work your plan. When we left off last month, the team at the Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop in Greenfield Center, New York, had just completed some of the major surgery required to bring a fresh element of sleekness to Dick DeLuna’s 1934 Ford Highboy coupe.
When we last left off, the...
When we last left off, the frame point had been liberated from the frame, the cowl bottom was shaved off, and the changes to the framerail had created a dramatic update to the overall look of the ’34.
With the groundwork laid, it was time to focus on completing the cowl drop and the fabrication of an updated subrail assembly. Wasting no time, team member Keith Cornell took the reins and got started by using a Powermax 30 plasma cutter to cut the previously removed lower frame point section in half. He then took the rearmost portion and moved it forward along the bottom of the framerail near its original midpoint. By doing so, he reestablished the lower frame line while also adding additional strength to the structure.
The section was then tacked in place using a Millermatic MIG welder. With that completed, it was time to focus on creating the dropped cowl and rocker progression. Instead of fabricating the replacement panel from standard flat stock, a decision was made to utilize a pair of steel replacement panels, which already possessed the needed lower body reveal line.
The original frame point was...
The original frame point was cut in half and its rear section moved forward to carry the newly established line of the framerail.
A call was made to Dick Spadaro Early Ford Reproductions to order a pair of their ’32 Ford five-window coupe lower rear quarter patch panels. Working with the original cardboard template used to outline the initial cowl drop, the first replacement panel was marked for trimming, beginning at the doorjamb side at 4-3/4 inches in height. (Note that the doorjamb reveal will be retained for use at a later date when designing the hood sides and frame covers.)
Following the template, it was then measured rearward to just before the vertical reveal line intersect. These cut lines were then marked with a black marker and square for accuracy. While wearing proper eye protection, Cornell trimmed the panel using a plasma cutter. The section was then deburred with a 5-inch grinder topped with an 80-grit disc. It was then placed atop the doorjamb edge of the second panel and measured rearward to complete the overall length of 29 inches and 1 inch in final height. A plasma cutter was again used to complete the incisions that were also deburred once completed. Using a duckbill Vise-Grip, the two sections were secured together and mocked in place to be sure their dimensions were accurate. The panels were then tacked together using a Lincoln-Electric Precision TIG welder.
Using the original cardboard...
Using the original cardboard template created to illustrate the amount of the cowl drop, the main cowl section panel was marked for trimming.
To create the base for the new subrail, a thin section of cardboard was placed in between the body and top of the framerail. To obtain the measurements, Cornell first measured inside the body from the front to the rear of the cowl base, which equaled 15 inches, establishing the dimension of the new upper subrail base section. From outside the body, the cowl line was then marked to complete the template design that had a gradual increase in width from 2-1/4 inches front to 3-1/2 inches rear.
The body to frame mounting holes were then marked completing the template. The subrail base was then traced out of a section of 1/8-inch mild steel using a black marker and cut out with a plasma cutter. The section was then deburred and its body mounting holes were added using a drill press and 7/16-inch drill bit. Before proceeding, the section was test-fit in place and a graceful curve was added to mirror the top of the framerail. With the upper subrail base bolted in place, a rectangular section of 16-gauge mild steel plate was clamped to the exterior of the framerail adjacent to it. This portion was then tacked to the base using a MIG welder. The subrail section was then removed and the final MIG welding was completed on a workbench producing a rock-solid replacement unit.