The Bonehead Truck Build

Rat Rods Rule

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Skull Master
May 11, 2007
Fruita, Colorado
I know some of you guys have seen this build before. My plan is to show more pictures and explain more of what I did, and why I did it.

I had been going to car shows all my life and in the Spring of 2004 I was at the Moab, Utah car show, and ran into some rats, I fell in love with the idea of a car put together really well, but not really finished. These Rats belonged to some guys from Delta, Colorado. They were kind of a rough looking crowd, but they had some really cool cars. Well built, overpowered, and un-finished.

I started looking for a suitable old truck cab to start my new project. At the time I was finishing a tube frame rock buggy, and could not start a project anyway. I found a truck for $100 bucks. A 1939 Chevy pickup. Another guy had bought several old cars out of the woods, behind a guys house. He wanted one of them, bought them all and sold them off to get not only a free project for himself, but some $ in his pocket too. He loaned me some tires and wheels to get it on my trailer, and I was off. Below is the truck in the field, on the trailer, as it would have looked new, also one of the inspirations.


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Having just built the Rock buggy, which as you can see is almost a jeep "T" bucket cross, I jumped in on the Hot rod project. I made up a rough design as to what I wanted. I didn't go out at that point to see how anybody else was doing it. I wanted something original. I drew from all the cool parts and pieces of all the hotrods I had seen growing up. I rolled that all into one design, in my head. I remember a 33 Ford show truck I had seen in about 1975, at the Starbird show. It was low, chopped, overpowered, and had a short-short bed. It was all chromed out, with metalflake purple high gloss paint. In High school, all the hotrod SS's and Bad Plymouths had shackles and wide skinny combos. I have always like the looks of a good T as well. At the track I liked the full cages and tube frames of the drag cars. Engines were being set back in the funny cars.


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A few years before all this, I had bought a 1961 Ford pickup. It was in the paper for $500 bucks, and I think I paid $450. The truck was slighly wrecked, with a bent rear axle. But the motor ran really good. I used the transfer case and front axle in another project, and gave away the front fenders to guy who was building a ford. The engine was a Ford Y block and was perfect for my new project. Later I would use the steering and many other parts from this donor truck.


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It was not until Jan. of 2006 that I was able to get started on the project. My son and I pulled the cab off of the 39 frame, and put it on a pallet. That way I could use the forklift to move it around. The chop was the first thing we did.

You guys can jump in and comment, it won't hurt the thread. Ask questions or whatever. Did you notice how my computer generated blue print and those of Maddogs are of about the same quality.
There was a car show comming up the first week of April that I wanted to try to make. That gave me 3 months of nights and weekends to build the truck.
SO, off with it's head.

This was a quick build, and I cut some corners to make it happen. But I was not building a show truck here. I used minimal bracing inside, and it worked out okay for me. A sawzall, and a portaband made quick work of the chop.
You can see how I made the rear window come out even, by stepping the chop. This is because the flatter part of the truck was not the center of the window. You can also see how much i would have to add to the roof to make the front posts line up. Another thing you can see, is the quality helper I had for this build.


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Thanks Jeff. looking forward to whats coming . How much did you chop your top. Is your new mail slot rear window useable , in other words can you see out of it ok thru your rear view mirror? How much did you take out of the original window what does it measure now.How far up is the bottom of the window from the ridge in the back of the cab getting ready to mail slot mine this wnter and want it to be in the right location LFE Your helper looks to be around my Grandsons age.Dont get any better than that my friend. My 7 year old Greatgrandson is almost ready for some garage time.He has to grasp the concept "what happens in mexico stays in Mexico" if you get my drift.
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I'm reading this one like a book.
Seems like I remember reading this build thread on KB as one of the main reasons I signed up over there.

Keep posting it Bone, I will read it all again.

For the record, it is still as bad@$$ truck...
LFE, the body line to window measurement is the same, and the window is 4 inches smaller in height. It is mild 4 inch chop. 4 inch is a old time standard, I think because NHRA rules, but the salt flat boys went super low. I am 6-1 so I was interested in fitting inside okay, and I do. I could have gone 5 inches, and now wish I had. I use the outside mirror to look back. The area above the windshield on the inside is where my gauges are. I did that so I could keep the old time dash the way it was, really cool.
To me, I like the mail slot look. It offers as much attitude as the chop itself.

I look over my shoulder, and I am even with the window, perfect for backing up.
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I had been stockpiling parts for this build for a while, but UPS was coming by about everyday, and dropping off parts.

THE FRAME: The build pictures of the frame are really non-existant. I went in the shop on my big welding table, and built the back section. I used what I had on hand, leftovers from other projects mostly. The big rectangular tubing was a perfect frame for the back half. I put a huge step in the rear section. Since I was going leaf springs, I gusseted the step with two pieces of 3/8 plate, and drilled 4 options for locating the front of the rear springs. I can adjust the springs and lower the truck. I used structural tubing (EWT mild steel) to make the front frame rails.
At first I was going to build the cage, and make the cab lift off. Then I realized how much more narrow the bottoms of the cabs are compared to the top. I wanted the cage to fit really tight inside the cab. The only way was to build it inside the cab. I welded down a scrap length of angle iron at an angle to the front frame rails to keep them square and straight. It got three cross members in the rear portion, made with round tubing.
I had picked up a narrowed 9 inch rear on E-bay less the 3rd member.
The old bent axle from the '61 had a 4:11 with a factory posi in it, and it fit right in.
Watch the rest of the build pictures and you will see how the cage/frame went.
These are mock up pictures. I had picked up a set of 21.50 MT tires for the back. I was still undecided about the front axle at this point.

I am one of those guys who jumps around from project to project. The chop is welded on one side.


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Thanks Don. I am trying to cover the build a little more in depth here. I didn't take as many pictures as I should have. Thats what I like about your build threads, you photographed every weld, nut, and bolt.
The truck is starting to take on its' attitude already. The chop, the forward tilt of the cab and the full cage. These tires are 33x12.50x15s because they are the same height as the ones I will use in the end. I notched the cab in the back so I could move it closer to the tires. This put the front of the rear springs inside the cab.
You know, I have seen alot of builds on these forums, and you guys have too.
But I have never seen a build like this one. Unconventional, with similar end result. At this point I still don't have a front axle. I built a temp. to roll it in and out of my shop. When the guys that work for me came to work in the morning we rolled it out, so we had room to work in the shop. At the end of the day we rolled it back in so I could put a few hours in on it.
The body work is coming along on the chop.
You can see where I used a hole saw to bring the front tubes through the fire wall. This took alot of figuring, (guessing), to make it hit the cage in the right place, It worked out exactly as I guessed. The rear tubes come out the rear window, kind of a pro street- drag race look. But the real reason for these are they are the frame. The cage is a part of the frame as well.


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I don't know how you hit the exact spot for the holes. I don't think I have ever drilled or cut one and have it end up in the right spot. I can measure, make templates, etc and I still miss the mark. :eek:

Keep the posts coming, this is good stuff.


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