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Frame/Suspension/Brake... Talk & Q&A All things... Frame/Suspension/Brake

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Old 05-18-2017, 11:31 AM
hillbillyrat hillbillyrat is offline
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Default Custom or Original Frame

Hello, I'm looking to build my first rat rod. This will also be my first real automotive project of any sort. I've done general maintenance and upgrades to vehicles but nothing major. I do not know how to weld. However, I am committed to learning.

My question is: would it be risky or dangerous for me to attempt to weld a custom frame on my first rat? I am looking to buy a 1940 ford truck cab and there is someone in Albuquerque that has a 40 ford truck frame. Would it be wiser to start with the original frame and alter it as necessary to get it as low as i want it?

I would probably take a class on mig welding and thought i would do the body welding first before attempting to weld a frame. I would like to build a frame becuase I think it would give me more control over the final project. But I also like being alive so I dont want to do it if it would not be safe.

I would appreciate any insight and input. I am quite ignorant on this stuff and will be doing the build solo.
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:31 PM
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Skip Skip is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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40 Ford trucks are way cool.

If the stock frame is in good shape, and reasonably priced, it will fit nicely. You can get it lower with the right tricks without cutting and welding on the frame. That will keep you much safer than an unsafe welding job. It won't likely be the cheapest route to take, though.

For safety sake, hiring out the welding on the frame is something to consider. We can learn to weld, but our first welding project is best not something that will be doing 60+ mph in traffic.

Another consideration, especially if you are going full fendered, is to use a later model chassis like a Ranger or an S10 Chevy, or an import like a Toyota or Mazda. All of these can be lowered with aftermarket components. Using one of these under a fenderless rod will get you some dirty looks, but it will be safe, and if you like it, who cares what that other guy thinks.

For a first time build, I strongly suggest keeping it simple so you don't end up with a big mess on your hands. And still no hot rod!

Here is a pic of my 39 Ford PU. I is my first build from a "pile of parts". I used an S10 rolling chassis with no modification to the frame and suspension other than lowering blocks in the back. The cab is not channeled over the frame at all. It has about 8 inches of running clearance. Not super low, but it looks pretty good I am told. With a straight railed Ranger chassis, or one of the imports, you can get it a bit lower without cutting up the frame.

Good luck! Have fun. Keep it safe.
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File Type: jpg P5300138.jpg (181.5 KB, 22 views)
39 Ford PU Build. http://ratrodsrule.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36459

The thing about a '39 Ford pick-up is that that ugly grille kinda' grows on ya' after a while.

Not taking anything too seriously.
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:22 PM
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Tripper Tripper is offline
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I used the original frame for my truck. Since I was going to run front fenders I used a bolt-in Chassis Engineering MII front end which I also welded in. I boxed the frame & used a tubular x-member for rigidity since I'm running a BB Nailhead & switched to leaf springs on the back end! Good luck & keep us posted.

Here's a link to my build...

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Old 05-18-2017, 05:49 PM
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Dr Crankenstein Dr Crankenstein is offline
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Originally Posted by hillbillyrat View Post

I would probably take a class on mig welding
Highly recommended.

Whether you build or modify a frame, you'll need to do some welding and fabrication... even if it's only a few mounts and tabs.

- The distinction between psychological illness and creative thinking is wafer thin -

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Old 05-18-2017, 10:15 PM
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smallfoot smallfoot is online now
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"However, I am committed to learning."

This is generally what will get you thru....
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:39 PM
hillbillyrat hillbillyrat is offline
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Join Date: May 2017
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I do intend to go without fenders. I'm envisioning basically a bobber truck with maybe a little longer wheelbase than I typically see on those but maybe a little shorter than stock. The asking price for the frame I know about is 400. I don't know if he would come down any and I'm not sure if that includes front and rear axles or suspension. I like the idea of using the original frame because it at least gets me a starting point.

I want it pretty low. I don't know how much of a chop and channel I can get away with as I'm a pretty large guy (6'1" 280lbs). I'll try and find a couple pictures of my ideas on look.
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:56 PM
hillbillyrat hillbillyrat is offline
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I like the ride height and bed length (maybe could stand to be a tad shorter) of the first truck. I like the chop and ride height of the second and third trucks. The fourth truck rides too high for my liking and the wheelbase of the last one does not appeal to me. These are just my opinions and are not meant to disparage anyone else's vision. I just wanted to provide visual of what I want to achieve to see if that changes anyone's advice on what route I should take with my frame if I get the 40 Ford.
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:47 PM
hillbillyrat hillbillyrat is offline
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Join Date: May 2017
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I looked more into the first truck today. It looks like it has the original frame up front with a 4.5" drop axle. I think I would be satisfied with that so I think the original frame is probably the way to go for me. Is $400 a fair price?
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Old 05-19-2017, 04:46 PM
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Old Iron Old Iron is offline
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My advice is to not get too elaborate on the first build.
This is the number one cause of discouragement and can lead to a stagnate or failed build.
I'll bet the first $100 you save on this build will be the $100 the seller will reduce the price of the frame.
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:42 PM
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Torchie Torchie is offline
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$400 is a fair price for the original frame but make sure to check it over well for rust issue. They tend to get rot in the side rails in the area over the rear axle.
1940/41 trucks were the last ones to use what was essentially the frame as the cars.
These stock frames are really stout and a great starting point for a build. Fenderless or otherwise.
That picture of the first truck looks to be channeled. I chopped mine 4 inches and channeled it 6 to cover the frame. The chop won't be the issue as much as the channel. Space in these cabs between the floor and the dash gets kind tight.
I'm a little over 6' 2" and about the same weight as you but with a fake leg and I had mine setup so I cold fit in it but the seat was sitting almost on the floor.
Do some mock ups and you will be fine.
Good luck on your first Build.
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