The chassis


And now to the springs and back axle. The Ford has transverse springs which were slightly collapsed so had to be removed and sent for re-tempering in a specialist shop in London It’s amazing how many old manufacturing workshops still exist hidden down back streets but they are there and make a good job. A previous owner had decided for some reason to cover everything under the body including the springs and axle with a heavy coat of underseal. The long process of stripping this using petrol and other products which no doubt were bad for your health (or my health) started.

Before removing the axle we spent some time trying to work out the ratio. There were no markings to help us so we had to revert to turning the engine in third gear (obviously whilst still in the car) and measuring the amount of wheel turn. The third gear has a ratio of 1:1 and after some indecision we came to the conclusion that the axle / diff was a ratio of about 4.5 : 1 , which seemed to be more appropriate for a lorry than a car.

So then we had to change the crown wheel and pinion as well as the worn spider gears. There is nothing in my opinion that Nigel regards as too much of a challenge (possibly with the exception of the headlining as this did need non oily hands !). Therefore after many nights of studying the internet he came up with a plan of how we would progress.

Royal Kustom supplied us with a new (to us) crown wheel and pinion which was a ratio of 3.6: 1 and therefore a lot faster. There is a complicated system of very thin gaskets which have to be added to the casing of the diff to make sure the back pressure is correct and then the torque on the drive shaft is adjusted to a pressure of 1lb foot. So how to do this? The picture shows a rather Heath Robinson set up of a length of wood 1 foot long attached to a bottle of water weighing 1lb. The torque was adjusted on the nut to allow this contraption to just move and we were happy. Whether our rebuild will work is of course a worry, but as time progresses I seem to have forgotten this for the moment. The replacement spider gears were required to fit the new gears, and they do sort of rattle worryingly but Jim tells us this is normal for a Ford ……….

The springs are back looking great (quite sad how excited one can get about such things) and after a lot of grinding, welding and at last some paint spraying the main chassis is complete. We can now fit the springs and get some wheels so that the chassis is more mobile in the workshop. Luckily amongst many contraptions in Nigel’s massive workshop, alongside 3 steam engines, we found a massive spring compressor device which other than it took 2 of us to lift it proved to be the best tool for replacing the springs. It was only after we had congratulated ourselves, or rather Nigel’s father for buying this device many years ago, that we discovered that the right way to rebuild the spring is simply leaf by leaf onto the chassis. Well at least we don’t need to take the compressor with us!

The gearbox is a challenge and it seems that most of these cars have been fitted with a newer 5 speed gearbox which is wider and longer than the original. To fit this we had to split the prop-shaft tunnel and then add a new piece to it so that it was wider. The original prop shaft was enclosed and didn’t fit, so yet more parts were purchased from Jim including a set of rather tidy anti- torsion bars to stop the back axle twisting forward and a new shorter exposed prop shaft.

The basic Ford chassis is based on a cross design which meets at the centre of the car just where the new gearbox lies, so all of this had to be cut out to widen the frame and allow the gearbox to fit. Nigel is obsessed with two things…. weight (not his own) and strength (car). We have therefore built a massive metal structure at the cross over of the chassis to take the new gearbox, and to fix the forward and rear suspension wishbones which meet in the middle of the car.

Written by: Richard

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