Archive for category chassis

Frame Rail Templates

Now that I had separated a frame rail from the frame the next step was to make a pattern from the original frame rail. This would allow me to start making blanks that I would use to fabricate a new frame rail.

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I used 16 gauge hot-rolled steel sheet as the template. I bought an 4’ x 8’ sheet that I cut lengthwise to give two pieces that were 2’ x 8’. I then tacked welded these two pieces together to create a piece that was 2’ x 16’.

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I then place the one frame horn on the 16ga steel. I was trying to figure out the best way to make the template when it struck me, just use the plasma torch. I was planning on using the torch anyway to cut out the pattern but what I decided was that I would cut one side of the pattern by running the plasma torch along one side of the frame rail.

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Once this side had been cut I would reposition the frame rail to cut the other side. I measured the distance from the plasma cutter kerf, the cut line it makes, to the outside edge of the handle. This was 1/2 inch. This gave me the offset that I needed to move the frame. For example, the rear of the frame horn is 4 inches. Since I’m going to use the template to cut out new parts, I need the template to be 1/2 inch smaller on each side. This means that I need the template to be only 3 inches wide at the rear. I marked 2 1/2 inches from the new cutline and lined up the frame rail with this mark. With the 1/2 inch offset of the torch it would cut the pattern at the right size. I didn’t take any pictures of this process, I guess I got in too much of a hurry.

Well after I was done cutting out the template I then needed to make it where I could use it on the 1/8 inch plate. After a couple of failed attempts I settled on welding some 1/2 inch nuts on end to raise the template off the plate.

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I also drilled some 1/4 inch holes in the template that I would mark and drill corresponding holes in the plate. This allowed me to further secure the template to the plate.

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How that I had all this prep work done, I could finally start cutting out the blanks. Here’s one with a pair of blanks, front and rear, cut out.

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Turns out I didn’t take pictures of all 8 pieces cut out, but it ends up being 4 front pieces and 4 rear pieces that I’ll need to make 2 frame rails.

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Truck Parts

I’ve realized from talking to friends and family that I may be getting too technical in my explanations of what’s going on so I’m going to take this post and describe the different parts of the truck that I’m working on.

What I’m building right now is a new chassis for the truck. The chassis is made up of several major parts.

F100 Chassis

The frame is the steel framework that everything is attached to. In the case of the ‘56 Ford it looks like a large ladder and is comprised of two parallel frame rails. These frame rails are connected to one another through cross-members at various locations along the length of the frame.

The frame sits on a front and rear suspension. The original frame had a solid front axle and a live rear axle. A live rear axle contains the differential that turns engine power delivered via the driveshaft into rotating the rear wheels.

In the picture above the front suspension has been replaced on this frame with an Independent Front Suspension or IFS. Most modern cars and trucks have an IFS and it means that each side of the suspension moves independently of one another.

I’m taking it a bit further by placing both an Independent Front Suspension and an Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) under the new frame I’m building.

1984 Corvette front suspension1984 Corvette rear suspension

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Breaking apart the original frame

The next step I needed to take care of was to break apart the original frame to give me one frame rail to work with.

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I’m planning on building a new chassis but didn’t want to use the original frame, but I needed to get measurements from the original frame rail. So I began the process of cutting a cross-cut across the rivet heads and using a cold chisel to hammer off the rivet heads. Then once that was complete I’d knock out the rivets using a hammer and punch. At the time I had loaned out my shop compressor to a friend so I didn’t have use of my air tools and had to do this by hand. Man was this a back-breaking chore. It must have taken close to 30 hours to punch out all the rivets and get the frame to a state where I could separate the two frame rails.

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I then dragged the frame into the shop where I tried some creative solutions to try to separate the frame rails. In hindsight I probably should have spent more time punching out the rivets as this would have made the job easier. As you can see in the pictures I used the engine hoist to raise one side of the frame while the other side of the frame was kept under the engine hoist. While I stood on the engine hoist’s legs and jacked up the engine hoist, this provided the necessary leverage to allow the parts to break apart. I didn’t want to put too much stress on the frame, joist and myself so I took my time making sure I was working the frame to release any tension.

After a bit of work i was able to separate one frame rail from the frame.

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Suspension

I’m planning on putting a Corvette C4 suspension under the ‘56 F-100 frame. I found a company Flatout Engineering, that offers brackets for doing this and I just have to find an ‘84 through ‘96 Corvette suspension.

Looking on EBay I found a great deal to get both for around $800. This serves me well because shopping around for an IFS I’m looking at spending around $1800 just for the IFS. Throw in the IRS at another $3000 and I’m way into the red for this chassis.

Here’s what I picked up from EBay.

1984 Corvette front suspension1984 Corvette rear suspension

Now that I have the suspension I can hang it under the frame and figure out the ride height. But first I need to build the frame.

That’s the next project.

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