Good evening everyone!
My name is Stephen. I have been looking at Ts for a long time now for a fun project car. After drooling at some of the nicer torpedos and brass cars on the market i consulted my wallet... it said no. SO I have decided to build a speedster/period hotrod. I have a fair bit of tin knocking experience and have been working on old cars my whole life but have finally decided to build one for myself.
I have found a 26 Roadster that is in OK shape and plan on turning it into something fun to drive in modern traffic. I am looking for advice on what i should do, shouldnt do, would be nice to do, etc. I have been saving up for a while to do this project so i think i have all the $$ i need for my "warm rod" haha
So far here are my plans,
-Remove the fenders
-install drop axle / lower rear member,
-Re-arch the springs for a bit more lowering
-19" steel wheels (model A?) car has the wire wheel hubs, sure i can get a way to mount A wheels on them
For a transmission i was thinking either of a Warford, or a Ruckstell with 3.0 gears in it. Both ways give me an over drive, but i guss with the Ruckstell i wont have "under drive" with the high speed gear in the back. Is this true? opinions on what would work best would be appreciated here.
Here is what i was saving up for. I am going to go with a Rajo OHV (one of the new ones). Going to give the Mfg a call to discuss the rest of the engine. But any suggestions would be appreciated.(cam, pistons, anything i should know, etc) Also going with distributor. Going to get a new radiator, and probably no water pump (good idea? or should i run a pump)
For a often driven Model T, what other things should i look at? Texas T rear hubs? XY adjustable pinon bearing?
I plan on doing a tear down of the entire drive train and all suspension components, an "inspect and replace" rather than a total rebuild of everything. What should i look out for?
Any other advice, tips, tricks, warnings, or just to call me crazy is welcome
If you are going to run an auxiliary transmission or a Ruckstell, highly recommend you plan on get at least Rocky Mountain brakes or even better just go ahead get disc brakes. All go and no whoa is a recipe for disaster. I see where you have "install brakes!" so I know you're thinking that way anyway. Just depends on how period correct you want to be.
I have a speedster that will do 70 mph but I still have to be extra careful in modern traffic because of limited braking, and I have auxiliary brakes. There are period correct front wheel brakes and guys on the forum who can help you with that. While you won't have any problems getting up to speed with your current plans I'd start with brakes first.
I have a Chicago transmission and a Ruckstell with 3:1 gears and I love it. More gears makes it a lot easier to find a happy gear for any conditions: hills, flats, modern traffic, other T's, or any combination of those. If I lived somewhere more hilly I'd probably want a 12 tooth pinion for 3.25:1 rear end gears. A Warford is also a great choice. If you can get good prices on both the Ruckstell and an auxiliary transmission then I recommend shooting for both.
The Rajo OHV loves domed pistons, so would definitely plan for those. I have a Stipe .280 cam and am looking for something even racier. Chris Becker and Clayton Paddison both run a .300 lift full race cam - I haven't contacted them but that's one of my next projects once I get my new carbs going.
My current project and one of your biggest decisions is what carb(s) you are going to run. Again, this really depends on how "period" you are looking to stay. A pair of Stromberg 81s is a great choice but puts you up in the 1930s. I opted to keep mine '27 and earlier so that ruled those out for me. I personally am not a fan of the huge intake that comes with the Rajo OHV you are looking to get, even though I know it's performance oriented. Whatever carb(s) you end up selecting will go a long way towards determining your speed and acceleration.
A new radiator is a perfect choice and with that no waterpump is necessary. If you're turning high RPMs though I suggest getting an electric fan. I know that's not very period but will let you idle forever or ride in a parade, but you won't run the risk of throwing a fan blade into your new radiator.
For the drivetrain: plan on getting whatever oil pan you have straightened on a jig, and it's worth paying a professional to get it right. Also, for running fast, plan on having all rotating parts spin balanced. I'm a fan of the Fun Projects pinion bearing myself, the XY isn't necessary. You'll want to pay special attention to getting the transmission tail shaft properly aligned.
Obviously still lots of things to think about and decide but one last thought from someone who also runs very high speed: cannot recommend enough panhard bars and friction shocks. Has been one of my favorite upgrades and makes the car ride and handle like a dream. No need for steering upgrade if you have these, they make that big of a difference. Especially while you have the car in pieces and maybe just running gear, it's super easy to add the shocks and panhard bars.
Keep us posted on what you decide!
Forget the overhead for starters. Building a good flathead is much more economical and faster. Get a second block and take your time building an overhead. While you work on and get the "right" parts you want you will be running and using your car which allows for a chance to figure out just what you like on the chassis. When you do finish your overhead engine by all means drop it in, by this time you will have figured out T driving and your car with "less" power. Once the overhead is in you will then have a spare engine ready to go in the off chance that something happens to your engine and you still want to run your car.
As far as lowering goes there aren't too many ways to gracefully lower the rear a decent amount due to that spring. The front however can be done quite gracefully without a dropped fron axle. For example giving a slight sucide then running the spring under a new cross member that is flat can give you 3-4", an inverted eye another inch, find some Chevy spindles and you are pushing 6+ already.
As far as transmissions go it has a lot to do with what kind of terrain you plan on driving on.
I've found a warford with 4:1 works well (flathead speedster) and a ruxtel with 3:1 (rajo speedster) depending on the car.
First of all...Welcome
I was, and still am in the "young and new to the hobby group" and ironically had very similar project guidelines when I bought my '27 Roadster 10 years ago.
Originally, I wanted to go OHV myself, but in the interest of time and money, stuck with a good ol' Z-head from Lang's. They are a great "Bang for your buck" speed part and I have to agree with Chadwick......built a strong flatty first and get used to it. You can always convert it later.
I actually have both a Chicago and a Ruckstell with 3:1 gearing in my car and I love it. I have gearing to climb hills, cruise around town and do 70 on the interstate. Shifting one is a challenge to learn, but don't let anyone tell you, you can't shift on the fly.
I do strongly agree with the "Add Breaks!" bullit point. When adding a Warford, Jumbo, Muncie, Chicago, etc OD box....you NEED to have aux. breaks and a foot throttle.
Here are some specs on my T:
-1927 T Block, bored .080 over
-Custom Egge Aluminum Pistons
-Aluminum 6:1 compression Z-Head
-289/302 Ford Hi-Po Hardened Stainless Valves/seats
-Full Race T cam shaft
-12v ignition system w/ Mallory Auto Advance Dizzy
-1947-49 Burns 2x2 Model A intake
-Two Stromberg 81 carburetors
-Cast Iron High-Flow Model A Header w/46 Ford Torque Tube exhaust.
- Chicago Mark-E 3-spd Overdrive Box (made in 1922 Bryan, Ohio)
- Hall-Scott Ruckstell 2-speed Rear axle with 3:1 gears
- Rocky-Mountain rear wheels brakes
-Uncut 1926 T frame
-Unaltered 1926 T front axle.
-Model A wishbones split and modified to hold the front spring perches (all custom built)
-Custom rear lowering brackets based on an old Robert Roof design (improved for strength)
- 19 Buffalo Pin-drive Wire wheels (21 Ford Wires originally)
My front lowering setup (using Model A wishbones)
The frame mounts for the split 'bones (using Model A tie-rod ends and ball studs)
The Rear axle lowering brackets
If you want any help or advice, let me know....always happy to help.
Nice looking rear drop Clayton. On my first T we simply "Z"ed the frame, worked well but gosh that Z takes up alot of space. My first engine was simply a low head, bug oil pump, pressurized mains (dips on rods), pressure bypass to the timing gears, a damn for oil, "A" cam, Bosch dist (T mag removed), and stromberg carb on an inverted vaporizer intake with stock exhaust. I started with 4:1 rear and a warford (foothills) but changed to a 3.63 (bay area). While not being quick off the line I could drive on the CA freeways 60-65. Not bad for a original T head.
Welcome to the forum and some really good ideas from the responses above. Brakes - critical if you do either a Ruckstell or aux trans. Go power - overheads are real sexy and great if your budget allows but you can get similar performance from a flat head motor. If I were shopping for one I'd grab a Prus head for about $400 last I checked. Higher compression than the Z and the guys I know that run them claim a real step up from a Z head on the same motor. Stipe 290 or other cam, several options are out there. If you go flat head open the intake and exhaust ports some. Chevy small block 1.5" exhaust valves with keepers etc. work nice.
I run a Fronty on my speedster and love it. Friends run Prus or Sherman heads with multiple carbs, more open ports and larger exhaust and we run pretty equal. For a fresh motor I think I'd first go to building up the bottom end (large journal Scat crank), balance everything, and then work on the top end.
Gearing: I keep mine simple - Chicago (similar to Warford) aux trans with overdrive and 4 to 1 rear gears. I don't need to cruise at 70 (hate freeways in the speedster) but can. Much prefer 55 to 60 range with the added torque for climbing hills and curves in direct drive. Others run a Ruckstell (which gives an underdrive) and 3 to 1 rear gears. Similar to end to what I have in overdrive and the Ruckstell is easier to shift. Shifting the Chicago on the fly works fine but takes some practice. If you really want freeway speeds you can combine a Ruckstell with 3 to 1s and an aux trans but expect to bog down at the first sight of a hill. Ruckstell with standard rear gears or possibly 3.25 to 1 married to a Warford would be a better balance. For the initial build (these things tend to evolve) I'd go with either the aux trans or the Ruckstell until you get on the road with a good feel for how you want to run the car.
Thanks for the suggestions all. I am sure i am going to lean on you all for plenty of support in the future.
Clayton's car turned me onto this project when i saw it on TV to be honest. So i fully blame him
My plan of attack is to first pull the fenders, rad, remove the engine/ tranny to go out for rebabbitting and boring. I will build the rest of the motor myself (i have knocked together more than a few SBCs, so i am confident i can do a T, with the manual)
When that is all being done i will be rebuilding the rear/ruckstell install and will work my way forward.
For such a light car wouldnt a 3:1 ruckstell be enough? That would be four forward (but effectively two forward and OD) I do have the budget to do a ruckstell and a Chicago/Warford, but that seems like a lot of rowing?
This was my car in highschool, 1980 corvette i put new heads, hot cam, and dual 4 barrels, because dual quads are always cool. (When i got the car I had to chase squires out of it)
Ten years later I have finished the body work, paint, interior, and now on its fifth engine, and i am calling it done for now. Chevy 377 with an EFI setup that my friend and i built.
You really don't need the Ruckstell or the Chicago/Warford at all. It just makes the car more drivable. If you haven't driven a T yet you can't quite appreciate how truly narrow the power band is if you're trying to maintain speed up different hills or maintain power when riding slower with other T's. There is a MASSIVE gap before Ford low and Ford high.
As for rowing through gears, your shifting is really situation-specific. There's not that much rowing, it's mainly between two gears. I don't usually use the Ruckstell in normal shifting and driving. It's reserved for maintaining speed when going up inclines that are too steep for the gear I'm in, but I don't want to do a full shift with the auxiliary transmission.
Honestly, before you spend any money, I highly recommend you find your local T group. Go ride (and most likely there will be plenty of people who will let you drive) in a mostly stock T. And appreciate the power limitations in terms of top speed and hill climbing. Right now with your Vette hills don't mean anything to you. Even better, ride in a T with a Ruckstell and see the difference that it makes. Ride in one with an auxiliary transmission and see the difference between direct and underdrive versus the in-between underdrive that the Ruckstell offers. Then ride in a speedster and see the differences with better head/carburation and lighter body.
Generally I start out in Ford low pedal, Chicago underdrive, and leave the rear end in 3:1. This just gets me rolling, then let the pedal out to Ford high. Use that to really accelerate and shift into Chicago direct. That's where 90% of the driving takes place. Between Chicago direct and under but staying in Ford high gear. The Chicago shifter is in the center of the car and the Ruckstell shifter is outside the body by my left hand. I just use the Ruckstell here and there for inclines or if I'm slowing down a good bit and need to speed back up. Overdrive is reserved for anything over 55.
One more thought - skip the flathead, HA! Just get domed pistons and the Rajo to begin with. These guys saying to build two separate motors . . . Idk. I guess if you have the money for that, sure. But I certainly don't. That's just my opinion though.
The only reason I suggested starting out with a flathead was in order to be able to get something sooner and save some money before investing alot into a car that you might find out isn't one that is fun for you to drive. The added benefit of having a spare engine doesn't hurt. Now if money wasn't an option I would be going overhead cam . . .