Modern drivetrain, classic styling. Our 1939 Ford Four Door has its original flathead V8, trans and torque tube style rear rear end. While many would rebuild these components, our 39 is destined for a modern, more reliable drivetrain with parts that are readily available at reasonable prices. Four our project, we chose a Chevy 350 with a 350 trans. Our rear will most likely be a 10 or 12 bolt gm and connected via a conventional driveshaft. Also, we will need to update all electronics to 12 volt from 6 volt. This also means updating gauges, lighting, etc.
The Teardown – Be sure and take the time to correctly label, photograph and document your teardown. Our objective is to have the engine appear “similar” to its predecessor with its color, style, and accessories. Do not get in the habit of ripping and tearing wiring, hoses, misc. You never know when any of these parts can be salvaged for use again or even resale to offset some of your projects’ costs. Keep your eyes open for accessories like valve covers or air cleaners that will give the look of the original engine.
Disassembly – First things first. Remove hood and find a nice home for it. It wont see the car for a short while. After removing hoses, wiring, and misc bolt ons, carefully remove the radiator and grille shell and it doesn’t hurt to remove the front bumper as it allows you to get closer to the engine without breaking your back.. The radiator should be at least pressure tested and cleaned. We are choosing a modern aluminum radiator so there are no issues of keeping our lead sled cool. Ours are available in the correct size. If yours isn’t, you might need to have one custom made. Remove all engine/trans mounting and disconnect driveshaft tube from trans. Attach your engine hoist and be sure to use a leveler. Our vehicle has a perfect exterior, and we do not want to damage it at all. The leveler helps to remove and install the motor/trans with keeping damage down to a minimum.
Engine Compartment – Our engine compartment on our Hot Rod was typical for the year. Very greasy, and the battery leaked and acid had eaten away some of the undercoating and began to rust the frame. Not terribly, but needing attention. We also found many holes on the firewall that needed to be filled in to keep with our “clean” look. Removal of the interior firewall paneling and insulation is imperative as we don’t need any fires. Prior to any fitting, it helps to have a pressure washer and some degreaser. You want to be able to see the metal and all of its surprises, plus, its just makes working on the car that much more fun. Thank goodness, no rust bucket here. No one really wants to be covered in grease either, so take some time here and really do a thorough job. It makes for a better finished product and helps to weld later as well.
In the next part we will dive into mounts and modifying the frame for the different powertrain.
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