Q. I'm working on my '35 Ford pickup that I've had for years! I'm going to put a Mustang II front end in it, but there are so many different ones available. What are the differences? Are some better than the others? Heidts say they have the correct anti-dive angle. Are they the only one?
I'm also interested in what thickness of plate I should use to box the frame.
Spokane Valley, WA
A.It wouldn't be right or fair for us to endorse any one over another without personal experience of them all. I'm happy with the installation of the bolt-in Chassis Engineering IFS in my Chevy (which uses Heidts upper and lower arms) but I haven't driven it yet so can't comment on its performance, and I know others who swear by some manufacturers' products, as well as others that disagree with them vehemently. It's personal choice and experience, but of course this is of no help to you!
It's a difficult decision as there are so many variables. For instance do you want a bolt-in or weld-in crossmember? OEM arms, pressed steel, or tubular? Stainless or plain steel? Dropped spindles or not? Large diameter brakes or not? Chrome or paint? Aluminum hubs or steel? What kind of budget are you working with? Answer all these questions and you'll eliminate some products automatically. Check out what seems to be most popular on magazine feature cars, trawl the 'net for information and ask around at shows and see what others have used, and get their feedback on likes and dislikes, how their installations handle and so on. Look for similar pickups to yours and find ones that look like they have some miles on them. You'll soon be able to form an opinion, and based on that make a decision on what to buy. This seems like a cop-out answer but really it isn't, you have to go with what you think is best for you, your car and your budget.
When it comes to boxing your frame, I'd opt for plate of the same thickness as your chassis. Just make sure you trim it slightly smaller than the distance between the outside edges of the upper and lower portions of your chassis rails so you can get a decent 'V' between the new and old steel for maximum weld penetration. A boxing plate is only as good as the weld holding it on after all!
Gas It Up
Q.I'm in the process of building a straight axle gasser from a '56 Chevy 210 two-door station wagon. I've researched this type of vehicle and I'm going to make it as authentic looking as possible. Part of my research was that I subscribed to Rod and Custom magazine but thus far, I haven't seen anything on the installation of straight axles. I think I might have a decent handle on how to do this but I'm not 100 percent sure. Do you know of any publications that might deal with this? Do you have any suggestions, or dos and don'ts on installing a straight axle?
A. A straight axle car is something I've wanted to build for a while, but with two projects on the go it'll have to wait a while longer. A two-door wagon gasser sounds cool. This kind of installation is really no different to any other front suspension install, in that you must ensure your geometry is correct from the outset. We covered basic suspension geometry lessons last year, and a quick search through our tech archives on our website (www.rodandcustommagazine.com) reveals it's posted there, along with Ford wishbone suspension and I beam axle tech stories. One of the traditional ways to add a straight axle is to install the axle and leaf springs from a Dodge van in place of your stock front end, and this would certainly provide the authentic appearance you're after, but straight tube axles and even early Ford axles have been used. Speedway Motors (www.speedwaymotors.com or 800- 979-0122) offers tube axles in straight and progressive drops, available with or without spring pads, as well as other gasser-spec suspension parts, while Jim Meyer Racing Products (www.jimmeyerracing.com or 800-824-1752) offers a complete front chassis clip for tri-fives that may be your simplest solution if you're competent with a welder. By complete I mean it comes with a tube axle in the width of your choice, leaf springs, shocks, Super Bell spindles and steering arms, Flaming River cross-steer box or rack and pinion, drag link, tie rod, dropped Pitman arm, 11-inch rotors and Wilwood four-pot calipers. Cut your frame just ahead of the firewall and weld the new clip in place and you're almost ready to roll.
Wheel You Help?
Q. Do you know of anybody that restores old steering wheels such as a 1959 Olds 88?
A.We know that Rob Fortier, editor of our sister publication Classic Trucks, has had a couple of steering wheels restored by an Australian outfit called Pearlcraft and he's very happy with the results. Well, he wouldn't have sent the second wheel down under if he didn't like the first would he? They can be contacted at www.pearlcraft.com.au and make sure to check out the pearl effect they are able to attain if you fancy a custom steering wheel. Closer to home, depending on where you are of course, are Quality Restorations in Poway, CA, who can be reached at (858) 271-7374 or www.qualityrestorations.com, or Gary's Steering Wheel in Carlisle, PA, at (717) 243-5646 or www.garyssteeringwheel.com.