Scratch building a Ford Hot Rod to Scale- Building a skeleton

Posted: December 4, 2014 By: MattM

Here at Eastwood, we’re constantly working to come up with new products and perfect old products that will help a DIY enthusiast build his project easier and more efficiently. One of the ways that we come up with new products is by working on our own projects. Project Pile House and Product Manager J.R.’s Ford Capri are perfect examples in recent years. While they weren’t meant to be test mules, many new products were tested and developed because of the difficulties that came up when building them. There’s no better way to test a product than to use it in the shop like all Eastwood customers would!

Product developer Mark R. recently built a 30’s Ford Hot Rod to scale. This project allowed him to test a number of Eastwood Metal Fabrication tools and accessories we have coming down the pike – and it was fun! We decided to document the process and give you some sneak peeks at new products along the way.

Believe it or not, many chassis over the years have been built just the way you see below: using tape or drawing on the ground to get the shape. First, Mark took some measurements and penciled some reference marks on the ground. He then laid painters tape down to give himself a pattern to work off of when cutting and assembling the box tubing for the chassis.



Next, he took box tubing and cut it to length, putting angle cuts on the ends. This allowed him to pinch the frame rails in by using an Eastwood Horizontal Metal Band Saw prototype. With the ends cut, he was able to cut and fit the front portions of the frame rails to match so the desired pinch to the front frame rails was accomplished.




With the pieces cut, Mark was able to lay them out on the tape lines to match the contour of the frame that he chose. The halves to be welded were then beveled on the ends to allow for a full penetration TIG weld to be laid. The pieces were then clamped to a welding table and welded with the TIG 200. After checking that the rails hadn’t warped or skewed during welding, Mark was able to blend the welds. You can see the start of his hot rod golf cart frame rails.



The next step was to make capped front ends of the frame rails. Like earlier, an Eastwood Horizontal Metal Band Saw prototype was used to cut angles into the ends of the rails. Then, a 1/4″ flat plate was TIG welded and bent around the rails to cap off the ends for a nice finished look.





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With the basic pieces of the frame setup on risers, Mark decided to start wire framing the basic shape of the car. He used 1/4″ round bar stock and bent pieces for the outer skeleton of the car. The trick here is to make sure that he made identical parts for the car so that both sides of the car match each other. Mark attached zip ties to both pieces as he bent the second piece every 6″-12″. This helped Mark mirror the shape of the first piece and keep them symmetrical. He also used a trick of lying flat bar stock on top of the chassis to give him a platform to build a skeleton off of. This also kept it level with the chassis so it wasn’t sitting too low or high.

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The idea was to make the major points of the body skeleton first, such as the cowl and rear body contours. Once those pieces were made, he began “filling the gaps” by making pieces that connected the rear halves to the cowl. During this process, you can see the shape of the car coming to life and what Mark is envisioning! The grill shape was then wire formed – inspired by a ‘34 Ford front grill. With the pieces in place, the silhouette of this mini Ford was visible. Next, Mark continued filling in the skeleton and bracing it so he could use it as a pattern when shaping the body panels. Mark has a few tricks up his sleeve for making the panels and we can’t wait to see how the car starts transforming! He hopes to have that coolest golf cart at the Eastwood Summer Classic next July!


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