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Bringing Home The Groceries: Building a rolling chassis for a Model A

StreetRodder MagazineStreet Rodder

November 2005

By: Carroll Hamilton
Photos by: Carroll Hamilton

We are constructing a traditional hot rod, Model A roadster pickup truck. The project started off with a fairly complete Brookville Roadster-bodied, restored truck built by my father-in-law, Roman Chaike. Roman had several Model A restoration projects under his belt when he started this pickup truck for his daughter. Not being a restorer, but instead a traditional hot rodder, I had slightly different plans for my wife's Model A.

In this article we plan to show more than the normal "how-to" buildup process.

Despite our desire to search junkyards, massage junkyard parts, tour the swap meets, etc., the actual build time can be reduced significantly by utilizing as many manufacturers' parts as our old-school habits will allow. Lessons learned tell us the savings made on a used part is often lost when the part is restored, reworked, or sometimes thrown away because it's beyond repair or doesn't fit.

The theme is a homebuilt, no frills, traditional, full-fendered Model A pickup truck. A dependable, driveable, drivetrain will be utilized as well as a good-handling suspension design - after all, this truck is going to be a "grocery getter." For ease of cleaning and maintenance (we live in an ocean air environment), chrome will be kept to a minimum and powdercoating will be extensively utilized.

Now that we have a theme - a traditional '31 Ford hot rod pickup truck, with full hood, full-fendered, wire wheels, slightly chopped windshield, '32 Ford grille shell, etc. "we are ready to get out the catalogs, shop on the Web, dial those 1-800 numbers, and start ordering parts. Building the rolling chassis will be the first order of business.

CHASSIS BUILD

The original 75-year-old Model A frame had a fair amount of wear. We found it much easier and less costly to purchase an aftermarket frame.

Credit for the stainless steel (SST) brake lines and overall braking system goes to Classic Tube, who formed the lines from templates we constructed from 1/8-inch welding rod. We marked our template ends where they were to terminate and Classic Tube supplied the lines complete with the correct end fittings for each line application (master cylinder, wheel cylinder, residual pressure valve, etc.). We also ordered two 10lb residual pressure valves, a proportioning valve, two "trailer Ts," four beautiful DOT-approved SST flexible brake hoses, and a bag of SST line clamps.

TIP: Ten-pound residual pressure valves for drum brakes, and 2lb residual pressure valves for disc brakes.

With the rolling chassis completed, we can now move onto engine, drive line, clutch, etc., so stay tuned.

Model A Rolling Chassis