Tech: Vintage Heat for your Vintage Car

This is for our new category: Tech Archives. If you want to read just tech articles you can go to the right side column and click on desired category.

I like to fix, repair and refurbish old things when possible as opposed to buy new stuff.
Old American products are usually of very high quality and all they may need is a cosmetic restoration and some inside updates. Some items look great with original patina and some lend themselves to refurbishing. Only YOU decide what direction to go…not your buddies, not the current trend, just use common sense.

This article is about how to stay warm in your vintage car or truck while still looking old-timey.

Washington state offer some great summers for vintage car cruising but we do get a fair amount of lousy and wet weather as well. While some hardy folks can drive an open roadster in the middle of the winter…I am NOT one of them. I like to be comfortable so a heater is high on the list. You can hide a modern heater unit under the dash or seat but I think a good looking vintage heater is the coolest. (No pun there…) I find these at swap meet and sometimes at garage sales. Up to the late fifties new cars and trucks did not come with heaters but there were many manufacturers that stepped up to produce add-on heathers. Allstate, Firestone, Southwind, HaDees and others made aftermarket heaters and many of them had beautiful designs.

1937 Ford HaDees Heater

This Hadees Junior is sporting some serious art-deco design and it will look great restored.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet heater grille installed This one is part of a larger assembly out of a Ford and I like the crest and simple design. I just kept this rectangle box and it will contain the element and fan. I am debating what color it will be. In the 40’s brown or black wrinkle finish was used. Another favorite coating is the hammer paint. I found the stainless grid at an elevator interior company of all places. It looks like an old radio cloth. Love it! There will be a tech article on this unit down the road.

Today we are going to restore a Tropic-Aire heater:

1930 Ford Model A heater 1

 

Let’s go to work: 1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 2 First order of business: Dissasemble.  Most firewall heaters are rather deep because they have the fan assembly behind it and also the tubing usually designed to go straight thru the firewall. I usually eliminate that by installing a compact brushless fan or small cooling fan similar to the ones you see on small transmission coolers.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 3 This heater contains a round element with the fan motor in the center. This makes for a compact unit and I will duplicate this set up.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 4 I want the heater core as deep as possible in to the unit so I removed this ridge.

 

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 5 I also flattened out the louvers on the side and welded them up.

 

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 7

I welded a stud to the outside louver to keep it in place..

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 8

Test fit…looks good.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 6

After some bodywork and hammer coat paint we got ourselves a nice looking heater body.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater 9

A good coat of a maroon color and some polishing yielded a nice looking louver.
1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire

I polished the stainless trim piece and painted the letters in gloss black.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire 2

Hubba-Hubba !! (technical term) That looks pretty snazzy. Let’s attend to the inside components now.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire 10

This is a 12V clip on fan from that big box store. It set me back a whopping ten bucks.

 

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire fan

I removed anything that did not look like a fan from the clip-on fan and I made a back shroud based on the diameter of the fan blade.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire11

This is the mesh from the fan I bough. I welded it to the back shroud to protect any toes that may find themselves behind the heater.

1930 Ford Model A hot rod heater Tropic-Aire 12 Here it is, all ready to go together. The fan motor squeezed in very nicely inside the core. I used some silicone glue to keep it in place.

1937 Ford Cabriolet heather valve

I use a stand alone heater valve from any parts house. I like this kind with the cable bracket in the same unit. That way you can attach a remote cable without having to secure the heater valve to anything. It can just be in line with the hoses and cable operated without tugging on anything.

 

1930 Ford hot rod heater

…and here it is. Installed in our latest project build, a 1930 Ford Model A Hot Rod.

Note 1956 Chrysler gauges, custom sub dash and vintage style Euro square weave carpeting. Look for this car at the NSRA event in Ridgefield, Washington, June 28-29th.

 

Roller Nailer Engine up-date

This is the FOUR-HUNDRED-TWENTY-FIVE-CUBIC-INCH engine going in the Roller Nailer chassis:

Lonely chassis waiting for POWER !!

 

 

So I met this guy…

I went to the LeMay open house, to attend the old car auction. On my way to the auction site, I stumbled across this cool looking ’32 Ford. It stopped me in my tracks, and it didn’t take long to notice that the car did not have an ordinary engine.

It was powered by a jet engine!

The 1932 Ford Roadster is now owned by LeMay Auto Museum but the builder Lenny was there to show off his engineering masterpiece. Lenny spent a fair amount of time with me, showing the various features of the car. He was fascinated when I told him that I used Ford F-1 shock mounts, dropped axle and split wishbones on my hot rod.

He said: That what we did in the “old” days !

Not just the average 350/350 combo, huh?

Before embarking on the jet build, he spend lot’s of time racing his car.

Lenny also spend several years racing on the salt flats in the early fifties.

Lenny worked for Boeing in Seattle, so the jet engine solution was probably close to home.

 

Gotta love those shocks !

Once he learned that Your Humble Editor was born in Sweden, he told me he worked in Sweden for Volvo Airplane Division in the sixties.

Funny story: Most of the engineers in Sweden at that time spoke good English, but most of the mechanics did not. There was one air plane mechanic that really wanted to learn English, especially the name of various engine parts. So every time Lenny pointed out a part, the mechanic would pull out his note book and write it down.

One day they were working on an engine that was just run, and Lenny leaned in on the exhaust pipe and burned himself. He said “Hot Mother F…..he stopped abruptly, realizing that was not appropriate language. As he walked away, he turned around and saw the Swedish mechanic mutter to himself while he wrote “Hot Mother” for the English name of the exhaust pipe.

We can only be grateful that Lenny did not complete the sentence !

 

1932 Ford hot rod: The fendering is finished

1932 Ford Five window Coupe fenders

After all the fenders had been test fitted I shot the inside of the fenders with etching primer and then applied a rubberized undercoating. This prevents “tneds”  That would be “dent” backwards as the rock would leave the tire and make an “outie” Get it?

 

1932 Ford Five window Coupe fenders

Also, the wheel wells got a shot of the undercoating as well.

 

1932 Ford Five window Coupe fenders

I made these simple upper shock mounts that clears the fender.

 

1932 Ford Five window Coupe fenders

Then it was time to squirt some paint on the frame rails as well.The rear quarter panel was not painted when I originally painted the cowl and doors to remove the ugly lettering so this was a good opportunity to make sure everything match.
Puh, that was a long sentence!

 

Back in the “showroom” for assembly. The Volvo wheel is just temporary until I get new rear rims. I ordered new 16’s with 5 on 4.5 bolt pattern in order to solve the axle width. This way I can eliminate the adapter and save an inch. Hopefully it will be enough as I really don’t want to tear down the rear axle this year.

 

Yup, the whole damn shop is red. My interior decorator is going to be sooo pissed!

The white paint on the headers was peeling badly and now would be the time to fix it.

As I will not run hood sides and the fenders and top hood with sort of picture frame the engine it better look good. This looks cleaner.

So how did it come out? Pretty damn good I think, It certainly changed the look and feel of the car.

 

The OE frame horn covers fits better than the repop

 

I was concerned that there would be too much red but the chrome acorns and adding a chrome license plate frame it looks pretty balanced.

 

The not so faux Olds engine is nicely framed between the hood and fenders.

I plan to change the top insert to black and also the dash and steering wheel should be black. For right now I just plan to drive the crap out of it.

1931 Ford roadster parts chasing

A hot rod should have it’s own personality and you don’t achieve this but installing mail order components. For example, I am always on the look-out for interesting guages for my hot rod builds. Usually something comes along that grabs my attention at a swap meet or in this case, my friends garage.

This 1947 Volvo PV 444 instrument cluster was doing service as garage art but now it will once again do what it was designed to do: report speed and other vital information about the engine.

The model A roaster will use this1932 style dash. I did not waste any time testing the fit. I approve. Volvo cluster it is.

Now I best get back to the ’32 Ford and the issues with the rear wheels.

1932 Ford five winda…fender install up-date

Burning the mid night oil on this one. I don’t want it to interfear with my day to day business so I get to work on this at night. Soon we will have hot rod weather in Washington state and this car needs to be READY for action!

 

After some slicing and dicing of the rear fenders they finally fit the body I am finally pretty happy with the fit. Applying Swedish Volvo standards to eighty year old American cars can cause hair dramatic loss though.

 

In the Uh-Oh department…You have heard the expression “Cause and Effect”…Well, this is a good example…I caused it…by hanging fenders…the effect is now that the axle width does not work with the fenders. Acually, multiple issues going on here. The axle is too wide and the wheel is not really centered in the wheel opening. The latter is a common deuce problem.

Now what? I will have to shorten the axle. If I tear it down I should fix the parallel ’36 rear bones as they are not really part of a good suspension. They should connect in the middle like stock. If I change the wish bones I need to re-route the exhaust. Then I may go to coil springs or coil overs for comfort.

Don’t you love hot rodding??!!

 

 

Roller Nailer, getting started

New project:

We should show the humble beginnings of our new project:

Introducing the Roller Nailer. Custom built for a serious customer that is looking for some serious fun.

A fourhundredtwentyfive cubic inch roller rocker stump pulling Buick Nailhead powered four speed posi traction 1931 Model A Hot Rod. Ya know what I mean???

An opportunity to build another Ford hot rod coupe and improve on some solutions.

To see all posts on this project just go to “categories” on the right column and click on “Roller Nailer”

We build a frame…

We install a Buick nailhead motor.

 We blow apart and blast away any rust.

We reassemble.

We build a new subframe.

We chop.

We build some cool exhaust.

We make shock mounts from F1 truck mounts.

We build some suspension.