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How to determine frame ground clearance


Youngster, since you mentioned Ray Sisemore's T build up in Car Craft mag in '64-'65 in another post, I pulled mine out and took another look at his build. His T has so much ground clearance it almost looks a like a jacked up 4x4 pickup. Now on to the question. How do you come up with a close approximation of frame ground clearance when setting up your frame and suspension? Would you use a front spring perch that was higher than his and a higher rear frame kick up? The reason I ask is because my friend that I sold my '46 Ford to is not going to use the flathead engine and running gear. We are working on a deal and I thought I could use your frame plans and his build up and build a flathead powered T.

Ron A
I have used this very set up several times. If you look closely Ray used a full stack of leaves in his front spring (8 of them).I take 3 leaves out or every other one starting with the 3rd using the main leaf as #1. You should end up with 5 leaves. If you are running a flat motor you can take the top one out too. If it is still to high after the wet motor's in, Swap the main leaf for a reversed eye one. Here's a picture of that set up, the front cross member sat 3" lower with the motor in;


As for the rear, unless the car needs to sit low, I use a 6" kick in the frame. that will put the top of the rear axle on a level plane with the top of the front rails. I also mount the spring to the top of the perch. It's much easier to evenly tighten the spring to the perch that way. Use a piece of 1/4" shaped to match the curve of the A spring. If you want the rear of the car to sit lower, just add to the kick. A word of caution here. Any more than 6" in the kick and you will lose some depth in the pick up box or you will have to raise the box on the back of the bucket.

I am doing the same thing. I just drove up to Atlanta last weekend and picked up the complete running gear and flathead from a '46 Ford too. Another member is putting trick suspension and stuff in his '46 coupe, and I got the leftovers. :D I can't wait to get my '39 Dodge truck done so I can start building a little roadster pickup with the parts off the '46.

When I built my T I bought the Speedway kit. The spring perch was about centered vertically on the front cross member. The coilovers in the rear were mounted to ears on the side of the frame and to a bracket on the top of the rear axle housing. The car was way too high. I bought and installed a new front cross member from Jim Zail in California that had the perch mounted high. On the rear I mounted the shocks inboard on the rear cross member and welded three position shock mounts that I bought from Speedway under the axle housing. This brought the car down considerably and made it a lot easier to get into. A stepladder was no longer needed.

Another way to lower the front is to get an axle with more drop. Most kits come with a 4" dropped axle but 5" and 6" drops are available.

I'm going to do my next T pretty much the same way except I'm going with a higher kick, probably go from 6 or so inches to maybe 9", and I'm going to Z the frame to get it really down in the dirt. I'm older and fatter now and it is getting more and more difficult to climb in and out of a T. I'm going to set up the chassis height high enough above the scrub line to allow for exhaust clearance but still keep the body low enough to climb over. Speed bumps will be a problem but they were a problem with my old T. I'm a sportscar junky too so I like sitting low.

Hope this answered your questions a little bit....Steve

P.S. Isn't it past your bedtime Youngster?,
This is the only picture I have handy to show the rear end set up. Notice the spring. This is with a 6" kick.There are 5 more pictures of this in my gallery under "'91 build.


Ron've got a great start on that RPU with the stuff your son gave you. I cant wait for you to finish your Dodge either. Be careful though or you'll have as many projects going as I do.

Steve.. judging from the vid on your T, you made the right choices. That car sat just perfect. I have made the same mods to a speedway frame. I would have thought Ol' Bill would have changed that by now.

Thanks for the replies. Youngster, I just discovered your post on 105" after I posted the question. This is what I needed to know. If I can work a deal for the flathead and running gear, I think I could be in a T a lot quicker, plus I have always liked the sound of a good running flathead.:D

Don, I have followed your build on your T and it has been a trip.
Steve, where can I see the vid Youngster mentioned about your T? I am getting older and fatter too, so entry and exit in a T will become a challenge for me also.

Talking about bedtime, it is late and I need to get to bed also.


Ron A

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