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Any automotive project is a giant puzzle in some way, shape, or form. The 1937 Ford race car Davin is getting back into usable shape is an expert-level puzzle, but luckily there are some hints as to how the pieces were intended to go back together—but is that the correct way?
The Ford is hardly a Ford anymore, more of a hodgepodge of parts from multiple years and multiple manufacturers. The front suspension is probably the best example of that. Davin talks through all the parts on the table and what it amounts to is a lot of backyard engineering done by the original builder. The straight axle is never going to drive like a modern independent front suspension, but with a few thoughtful changes and making sure there is minimal binding, it will work better than most might think.
One of the first things to change is the jackscrews for the front leaf springs. That’s right, two leaf springs for a single solid axle. The short springs are transverse and have jackscrews that are used to adjust the attitude of the chassis. The problem Davin sees with the current setup is that these jackscrews are so far outboard that the effective spring rate is nearly infinite. With the engine and transmission in place, he could jump on the front end and there was next to no deflection from the suspension. That’s a setup for understeering into the wall.
So Davin adds four additional jackscrew locations so he will have some additional tuning capability and hopefully will be able to make those small leaf springs work for the chassis rather than against it. Of course, those are not the only pieces working against the system.
The steering arm seems to be bent or otherwise angled in a way that binds things up before any weight is placed on the suspension. The shocks are also hitting their respective brackets so some clearance and redesign will likely be needed. A whole host of bushings will need to be turned on the lathe to tighten things up appropriately. As a whole though, this mock-up is a success and lays a perfect baseline for the improvements and changes Davin has brewing. You have to tune in to a future episode of Redline update to see just what all those changes are, so be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an upload.