The F100 project page contains a complete BIO of our projects and how they have evolved from original Ford cars and trucks!
08/18/09 Latest Entry
How it all started: Racing
season was over. Another year of struggling to keep up with the money pit that
was engulfing all that we owned and did. The rules, the rules and the rules
changes were sucking the bank account dry. Every time we stepped up to the plate
we struck out because we just could not afford to play the game anymore. Our
sponsors were not willing to increase their input and we could not do what we
liked best without them...so we ended a 9 year romp around dirt ovals.
One of Gary's friends came over one day and gave him an ad that he had found for a 1953 F100 project. The truck was rough and the work completed was less than professional, but I gave Gary the green light to make a decision. He inspected the truck closely and decided to purchase the project. We towed the truck home early September of 2006. The race car was put up for sale and Gary started his first hot rod truck project.
The truck was far from perfect and the parts included were not very valuable. The hood, fenders and running boards were fiberglass. That was not what Gary wanted so he started looking for steel components all the while he went to work on the chassis. In order for Gary to use a 351 Cobra Jet, the frame would need some serious repair. New shackles, new springs and of course, the frame must be boxed to add strength.
That brings us to bump number 2. The 34 Model "B" cab and tub. This will be project number three and it will be the long time project that Gary has always dreamed of. A 1934 Ford B Model Pick Up with a Flathead engine and a 4 speed tied to an 9 inch locker. The front end will be a dropped axle and we will adapt a 4 link to the rear. Believe it or not, the cab is actually in decent shape and after some early sheet metal work, we managed to clean up the doors and prepare a new floor (all steel). The next big investment will be a chassis for this one. We plan on building most of it ourselves, with only the rails, front x-member and rear member in place before we start. Our chassis jig is limited so we must start with a square box first. Gary's background with racecar chassis makes this a "piece of cake" and certainly he will incorporate some ideas that he has used in his race cars. He already boxed and "x" braced the 1953 F100 chassis. That turned out rather nice and will be put to the test with the high torque Cleveland when we finish it up some time in May.
So with all this in
mind, we come to the final glitch. Gary gets married this May. His wife-to-be (I
hate French) is a car nut too and she insists that the '53 make it to the Church
on time. Well good luck with that, but I will certainly try to accommodate them
on their wedding day in Late May. If I get my behind in gear, I might just get
the F2 running also. So let me get back to work.
IN THE BEGINNING...
You may or may not know by now that this project, and all that you see on this website is done on a budget. That does not mean they will be done like a "rat rod" or some "junker" that reeks of "bondo". The real form of a period Hot Rod is building the vehicle from parts that were available during "that period" which the vehicle was actually driven. No one really drives a 1953 F100 as a daily ride, you can be certain there is something else in the driveway that runs the owner back and forth to work.
On that same thought, "period custom" vehicles were made of fiberglass formed parts and multiple coats of lacquer, each one polished before the next, to build the paint to a high gloss shine. We did not have "clear coat" over base coat paints back in the days. We did not have "fiberglass" stock parts. It we wanted a fiberglass fender, we made it from custom built wood forms, we covered the forms with "glass sheets" and brushed on gallons of glass hardener. It took hundreds of hours to prepare those parts for use.
Today we can buy re-man (remanufactured) steel fenders, cabs, bodies, doors and just about all the parts you will ever need, but that is not building a true "period" hot rod. Many of the builders in the 60's used stock parts from cars found in bone yards. We would pay 5.00 for a running board, 15.00 for a hood and 25.00 for an old engine to put in "our" car or truck. For that reason alone, it was common to find a 1954 car grill in a 1950 truck. It was out of parts availability that many custom cars were built. We would add "Caddy" tail lights to our vehicles because they were "neat" and they were cheap at the local "you pull". On $1.25 per hour at Isaly's Dairy, who could afford a new set of tail lights from a Caddy dealer? If you could afford "new parts" for that '32 Coupe, you were one of those "stuck up" little "rich kids" that we all tried hard to beat on the street and at the strip.
Many Hot Rod builders were members of our armed services, they fought for our freedom in Europe and Asia. When they returned to the states, they wanted to have some fun. They turned to building Hot Rods. These young men had been thrown into war while they were still teenagers. They were home know and they wanted those good times back again. After all, they fought for this countries freedom and they had a right to be free too. So they took the old "tin lizzy" out of the barn, took off the fenders, put in a "flathead" and went fast! But thank God it did not stop there. Many of those kids had to improvise. They took parts off of Dad's family sedan to make their rides work. They borrowed parts from the neighbor's car and yes, they combed junk yards all over the planet for that perfect piece of art that made their Hot Rod different from the next.
In the 50's Hot Rods were common place. Times were good, cause we had an "auto shop" in our school. It was a place for us to become greasers. We had car clubs in the area that was based out of a local garage. Many of the garage owners had teenager mechanics working part time changing tires, doing oil changes and "lube jobs". Me, I was a "ham radio operator" and when it came to electrical problems, the guys who did not understand electricity, called on me to fix the lights, starters, generators and radios for their rides. I had a small shop in the corner of the garage and our driveway was the place where many a car was repaired. My father was a salesman and he was "out-of-town" a lot, so I had free run of the place, but I did not have the resources to build a street rod until I went to work for a Ford Dealer. I worked at Ford (mostly dealers) for about ten years while I went to school for electronics. I left the automobile business in '70 to become a Color TV technician. May be the biggest mistake of my life. I really lost touch with my Hot Rod roots and never really recovered until I divorced and married again. It was my second wife that gave me a son who was truly a "chip off the block" so to speak. I have three other children, from my first wife and from them, several lovely grand children that I love very much. But Gary is the son I bonded with. I was given the chance to teach him all about being a good man with a strong commitment to life and his country. My wife Maureen, is a beautiful woman who allowed me to be a father. I missed that with my first kids; I was "asked to leave" at a time when my first three kids were becoming closer to me.
Now I channel my Hot Rod days through Gary. I am teaching him tradition and the sense of building from what you can afford or what is lying around in the shop. Gary raced dirt late models for a few years. he learned all about building race engines, designing, preparing and repairing a racecar chassis, building car bodies and playing with stock suspensions to make the car "turn". But after a few bad wrecks and the expense of repairs, he grew tired of going no where, even if it was fast. He had no interest in bracket racing, so he turned to Hot Rod building. He bought a project truck from a newspaper ad, and began to start from scratch to build it "his way".
So Gary and I have to do what is necessary to build these vehicles. We use the Internet today like we used the local clubs, back alley garages and scrap yards in those early days. Problem seems to be that E-Bay has raised the bar to extinction. Parts that are covered in rust pits, bent and missing hulks of days gone by and plain old "pieces of shit" are going for hundreds of dollars to the highest bidder; while the seller is bidding against the buyer. We use HAMB and CraigsList to find most of our parts. We have brought home more donor cars and trucks than our neighbors want to speak about (to our faces). They drive by and watch these 30 and 40 year old hulks slowly disappear, while our parts are stored in the shop or in the back yard shed. In these articles you will see "how we did that" to save money and make it all safe to drive. This is the real heart of "hot rodding", or at least, as I know it.
CHURCHFIELD...an on going editorial.