1926 Ford Model T Boat-tail Speedster
Diary of a
A journal of the build for those who share the
interest and passion.
Comments and feedback are welcome!
Keith "Kraz" email@example.com
|Dec. 2009: Boattail Fabrication - Welding, Grinding, Hammering and More Welding
With most of the rough fab finished the boattail is complete minus the lower-center filler and trunk lid. In order to improve the lines between the rear section and the body, the top-rear section of the body was cut down 2-1/2" where the rear boattail blends in. Without a sheet-metal roller, a piece of exhaust tube was used as a mandrel to form the filler along the upper-center section. This was actually fabbed in three pieces to accommodate the compound curve.
Some of the detail work, including flares for spring clearance and the recesses for the mounting bolt access, have also been completed.
This project started in the fall of
2008. Actually, the idea of building a boattail speedster was
conceived a year or so prior to that. My initial concept was
to build a speedster based on a Model A chassis and running a flat
head, straight-8 of some flavor. However, a close friend and
avid "T" fanatic was also building a speedster and talked me into
basing it on the "T" chassis and drive train. The
project "officially" kicked off in September of 2008 when a
complete 1926 Ford Model T roadster "barn-find" found its way into
my garage. The intent now is to maintain as many
original and period correct components
possible. However, the plan for a boattail
This is car number 3 for me, but my first
ground-up project. My first car was a '63 Nova back in the
college days which never made it past the primer stage. After
a prolonged sabbatical from the hot-rod scene, I acquired a 1930
Model A coupe a number of years ago. Much effort has gone
into building and customizing the coupe to my liking.
However, I really wanted to build a car from start to
The added challenge of this project is that
this is an amateur, home-garage build. "Weekend warrior"
sums it up best. Basic garage tools, a small MIG welder, and
handful of Harbor Freight tools are about all of the resources I
own with limited access to a few machine shop tools.
|Sept. 2008: The Beginning
Pictures of the 1926 Roadster as we pulled
it from a barn in Bremerton, Washington. It was complete car
with turtledeck and pickup bed, '26 motor, and Ruckstell 2-speed
rear end. It is unknown when it was last
|Oct. 2008: Disassembly
Beginning of the tear-down.
The body is in decent shape though there is some
rust and thin spots in sheet metal. A couple of patch panels
had been previously (and poorly) installed and will likely be cut
out. The frame is rough, but usable. Drive train is
|Dec. 2008: Rear-Frame "Z" Mod
Model T's sit surprisingly high
off the ground. Since the intent is build a 1920's
era racer, a lowered stance is desired. The
critical consideration is maintaining ground clearance
for the engine/transmission drain plug. After some
research on the internet, I settled on an 8" drop.
This is very aggressive and will leave only 5-6" clearance
on on the transmission. If needed the rear spring
can be shimmed to raise the rear of the car.
The z'd section of the frame was
accomplished using a section from another frame and
welded in place.
Here the Ruckstell 2-speed rear axel has
been rebuilt and painted (however, the color scheme has since
changed....a couple of times).
|Feb. 2009: Front Axle Mock-up
To lower the front of the car to match the
drop in the rear, the front axle is pushed forward of the radiator
and stock position by about 7 inches--suicide
The original intent was to use the stock,
transverse mounted spring. However, after seeing a
quarter-elliptical spring setup on another speedster (and is a
stock setup on some very early Chevy's) I changed the
approach. The springs were custom fabricated by cutting down
aftermarket Model A front springs.
|May 2009: Front Axle Fab
The hope is that quarter-elliptical front
suspension and split wish-bones will give the front a clean
look. The down side of the
suicide front end is that the manual starter crack will not be
accessible--making the electric starter
Here the stock wishbone has been split and
attached to the frame rail using Model A steering ball
joints. The dropped bracket was necassary to keep the caster
at about 5 degrees. Gussets will be added
later. The custom spring mounts have also been welding in
|Jun 2009: Steering & Tie
The tie rod was a challenging
engineering hurdle. It is a Model A tie-rod
cut and shaped to clear the frame cross member, springs and
axle. The spindle attachment arms are a hybrid--Model T lower
arm with ball welded for tie-rod and a Model A upper arm for the
drag link attachment. A Model A steering box is
|August 2009: Body Placement
In attempt to give the car a
stretched and sporty appearance, I moved
the body aft 12". I started at 18" back, but liked
how the rear wheel complimented the natural body lines a bit
This picture is actually a bit later,
showing the start the boattail which will be built
using the original turtledeck. Since I don't own an english
wheel or plannishing hammer for doing the compound curves of the
boattail, I decided to utilize existing sheet
|Sept. 2009: The Boattail Begins
The first step was
to separate the rear quarters of the roadster
turtledeck. Next, the recess and reveal of the wheel wells
were cut out and will be replaced with smooth panels. Some
cancer spots were also removed.
The stock deck curves down, but ends at an
angle. Since I wanted the rear curve to end vertically, the
quarter panels need to be reshaped. This was accomplished by using a die grinder to
slit the sides of the quarter panels in about 8 places, reshaping
the curve as desired, and tack welding the slits
together. This resulted in the desired curve and shortened
the overall length about 3 inches.
Next, the two quarter panels were mounted
on to the body and positioned with some temporary
bracing. The overall shape of boattail can now be
It was at this point that I decided that I
wanted to maintain the joint between the body and the rear
section. Since I am using an original body, I figured that
maintaining the body lines and joint would keep a bit of
originality and show off that this is based of an original
|Oct 2009: Boattail Mock-up
Mockup of the soon-to-be boattail using
poster board to get the overall shape. The paper pieces will
then be used as templates for fabricating the sheet
|Nov. 2009: Boattail Fabrication
Sheet metal construction begins.
The rounded corners of the rear deck give it a clean
look. However, with just a basic metal brake and
shrinker/stretcher this was quite a challenge. The first
several attempts were disasters but perserverance paid off.
Though, the realization of how much work is ahead is starting to
become very daunting.