Sub-frame disaster, needs any advice
This is our late '26 coupe, I see too much concrete floor, and not sure where to start.
Ouch! Do you know a good priest? (last rites). It is saveable, but not for the faint of heart. This is probably the one time where an earlier car with a wooden subframe would be easier! I'll let those with more experience with the "Improved Ford" provide guidance. Looks like you will need patch panels and subframe parts. I don't know what's available out there for these. Of course, all this has to be "jigged up" so everything stays aligned.
There has to be a better coupe body around!!
Seems like I've seen a classified for a non-rusted subframe on the site....
Anything can be rebuilt, repaired or remanufactured it all depends on time, money investment, attitude, desire, and skill level. If you want it bad enough it can be done. If your in a hurry then look for a replacement.
I would begin the search for a better body. They can't that rare and the work involved to save this one will far exceed the value of the car. It's just too far gone. Who knows, maybe you'll find a body with bad top-sides and between the two...
Think I would find a better car or body. If your interested in a 26 or 27 you can find one in better condition and use what you have for a parts car. There are cars still around in better shape.
Here's one that's rough but better. Looks to be a 26-27 but I'm guessing roadster.
I did talk with Jesus about this. The last time I saw a priest, he was burying the owner of this T and I'm not kidding since we got it from his brother about seven weeks later.
Thanks for the idea. Looked on the classified this morning.
You're right. It is rough but better than what we've got.
Vern, you may be able to combine two to make one. This looks like the bottom of the body was in dirt or something to rust it out, yet the rest isn't rusted? How do the doors look? How does the chassis frame look, or was it in a different location than the body?
Did not mean to hit a nerve, was trying to gently say that it is really far gone. I've been doing this since 1967, and I think I'd walk away from this body. OTOH, I'm rebuilding a piano right now that I should have let go to the dump, so I don't like to give up on anything either!! I may have to let this piano go actually. . . .
We have decided to stay with this body and fix it the hard way ourselves. I suppose there is always the option of looking for another coupe when times get too tough but I sure would hate regretting that we didn't at least try to resurrect this one first. I don't even know what parts are supposed to be there as I've never seen a blow-out drawing which would allow me to compare the drawing to whatever metal pieces are available to be purchased.
A jig was mentioned, great idea. The service manual on page 4, 12(h) states, "When the body is removed it should be placed on a flat truck..." So, maybe the parts could be nailed to a piece of plywood to hold them in place before tack welding them together. Browsing through the service manual, I didn't notice any sub-frame pics. I did purchase the steel floor panel under the seat, the one opposite the battery, and the wood floorboards with the idea that the correct sub-frame has to fit around these pieces. The sides don't seem to be for sale. I could use dimensions of someone's coupe sub-frame as my front and rear sections aren't even connected together.
Yes, the body was removed years ago and sat on the ground but the top is solid. The doors were stored on the ground upside down, maybe to prevent the bottom from rusting out? Here's a pic of a door and replacement door, and a pic of the restored frame. I found (2) eight feet of 1-1/2" square tube for the sides and enough dogleg sheet metal to make a stretch-T limo, if someone wanted to do such a thing.
Wow, things must have sat in the dirt fir quite a while, or you have some very active metal termites in your soil!
There must be another Couple near you that you can look at and measure to figure out the sub-framing. Depending on who made your floorboards they may or may not be valid to use as a measurement. I've seen some pretty horrific reproduction floorboards, one set that even the vendor thought were terrible. I think there's some pictures here on the site, maybe on some of the older forums that showed coupe details; I recall one photo of a body upside down.
You will have a real "Lazarus" body when you're done!
I think it's great that you're going to rebuild this car. Take a lot of pictures and document your progress. You'll have a finished car to be proud of. Good luck and keep the forum up dated on the build.
This Forum thread may help.
John Page, Australia
The problem is not the rusted floor, its the lower areas of the body. You must have solid metal to weld the crossmembers and rails to. Rather than encourage you to jump in, I would say keep looking. I did autobody repair for 40+ years...this one is too far gone. A heroic reconstruction is possible, but by the time you scout out what you need and repair the side and rear panels another body would be far easier and probably cheaper.
Thanks for the photos, links, and tough love everybody. I have printed them off and punched for three ring binder to use in the garage. Most parts have come in and are arranged but they are not cut to length, especially the three cross members. We have also acquired the lower body patch panels all around.
Someday Vieux, you're going to look back on this project and say to yourself "what the hell was I think'n". For the price of all those patch panels you coulda bought a decent/better body. These cars come and go, chances are you'll get rid of this, better hope the buyer doesn't look too close. DO NOT hide/cover up all the repair work when selling it, now you've got legal issues !!! The ol' saying, "thought about it, laughed about it then forgot about it" applies here. Save your money and buy a better body, someday you'll thank us for the honest/straight forward advise.
Well, the floorboards came in yesterday which were ordered on May 24th as they have been holding up the redesign/rebuild. Glad Big M sent them before getting hit by the hurricane on the FL east coast, not wishing them any ill will. The last piece of the puzzle is the panel opposite the battery which came thru Big L but no one seems to know the correct dimensions, about 3" too long, side to side.
Sure looks like a nice start on something like this, don't you think?
Dang, Vern, I thought my Grandfather's Louisiana T (from the Lake Charles area) was bad, it mine had been that bad, I'd have looked for a diferent, better condition body. You make me realize how lucky I was and am.
Getting back to this project, here's an update.
Originally, the "rails" for the sub-frame were folded 18ga steel and open on the bottom. These puppies are about 1/8" boxed tubes seen with the first of two bends. The three cross members were cut to length, as pictured on the vendor's site and I was depending on that but when I received them they were wider than the car.
The body is mocked up for the first time on the sub-frame, which it too long at the moment.
We bought a bead roller and made a test floor panel out of our broken washing machine. There was a lot of measurement taking and still is.
I went to the scrap yard, found thicker sheet steel and remade the part for real this time. The sub-frame is laying on the frame for body mount measurements.
Since the "rails" were longer than needed, they were cut to fold around and welded. I think this was more about the challenge than doing it the easy way.
The "rails" also have steps beside them on the original sub-frame and I determined that a poor man's brake press was needed. Back in the day I operated a 50 ton brake press but I know how much those cost. Using nothing more than a grinder, the punch (A) and the die holder (B) were made, eight inches long from some scrap yard 3/8" plate steel. The angle iron (C) was sharpened and narrowed to form die, placed on top of the die holder.
This is a test piece as formed on a three ton arbor press.
Here is everything put into action. There are 80 inches total of welds on the two pieces. Since there are no alignment pins, everything has be set up with slight pressure from the press before starting the bend. So far it has made twelve bends.
I must say, I am quite impressed! I like to see people take on challenges like this. It can be done. Regardless of the naysayers.
I do hope to see further updates.
"We have decided to stay with this body and fix it the hard way ourselves."
Stubborn and tenacious American ingenuity right here Vern.
Very cool. Thank you for updating!
Here are some bottom side pictures if this helps...
Thanks for the encouragement, perhaps this project will likewise encourage others.
Don, do you have closeups of the two rear corners underneath?
This is some of the finest work I have seen and goes to prove that anything can be saved if you're willing and able to do the work. Great job.
When there's a will there is a way. Good illustration of that!
This is all I have on the corner, but I can crop some other photos later today if you want. Hope this helps.
Looks good so far. Keep it up!
I replaced the bottom side of a '29 Phaeton some years ago. Even with having a body/frame jig, that's a job I wouldn't wish on anyone. The new subrails came premade but with no holes. They had to be cut, fitted, drilled and riveted to match Ford rivets (waffle pattern). I think the toughest part was getting the front cowl and riser assembly together.
This is the old with just enough metal to setup some of the jigging points.
A ruler photographed with the corner bracket would be best but I get the idea now.
Stephen thanks, the sub is only 1/16" out of square by the X measurement and crowned about 3/32".
Just to document for anyone else in the future: When removing the old sub-frame from the cowl area, leave the triangle brackets attached to the firewall. The rails do not butt up against the firewall but slide underneath. This adjustment can be used to set the lower door width opening but also changes the length of the wood toe board.
Yep,I like this kind of thread.
It is not about the "cash value" sometimes.It is not about the amount of work.
It is a challenge. Some of us like them.
Some folks look up at a mountain and think,"I am going to climb that 1 day".
Some folks look at a lake and think, "I am going to catch that big fish 1 day".
Some folks look at a piece of our history and think, "I am going to drive the damn thing"
That is exactly what I told the fellow that gave me this 26 that I decided to go the speedster route as I did not have a body like your project has.Just some rusted sub frame.I had it running 2 weeks after this pic was taken.
If you are interested, I have a 26 coupe sub-frame in good shape but It's only the front half from just behind the brackets for seat back. If you are interested contact me. email@example.com
I like how you rebuilt the subframe in spite of people saying you couldn't. I've done the same.
Not the greatest but it might help some..
This is one side of the sub-frame inside rail which holds the floor pans and boards. It will get welded to the left rail and cross members. Now it's time to start on the other side.
Beautiful work. You are an inspiration to people,like me, who would never attempt such a project. Best of luck and looking forward to future accomplishments.
This might help in the corner pieces...
Don, that is excellent.
I am sure that the two rear most screws were temporary in that they would interfere with the panel below the trunk lid.
No photos but finished constructing the other inside rail and secured both sides with a calculated 128 inches of welds.
Holy crap Vern, I just checked out your website photo's and I have to say that you aren't intimidated by this project. Its great that you are reviving what others would scrap. I do have a thought on the front cross member being bolted. If you are modifying the radiator mount then disregard this, if you plan to use the original radiator mounts then you may have problem. The bolts will interfere with the spring system and the bolt heads will raise the radiator to the point the hood won't fit correctly... Not trying to be critical of your work but feel the need to point this out. Keep up the excellent engineering!!