Category Archives: 1940 Ford

About a 1940 Ford Standard

1940 Ford Taking Shape


Jim’s 1940 Ford Standard

Today, I stopped by Jim’s shop – as I always do on Saturdays – and found the 1940 Ford taking shape, essentially fully mocked up.  My cousin Jim has put a lot of effort into his latest creation.  So I took a bunch of photos so this blog post would show off the current progress.

So the following pictures show the front of the car.  I’ve talked about the aluminum hood before because, well…  It is just awesome.  The heat extractor comes right out of the pages of the sales brochure for the 2014 Camaro SS (like mine).  This aluminum hood is light as a feather too.  But…  The hood is not the only remarkable detail.  Take a look at the grill, the “Ford” emblem latch release and the frenched headlights…

Pretty nifty, huh?  Well, there is more…  Next, let me show you how the doors are shaping out.  There has been a huge amount of work done here:


Check out the door/body tolerance…

In an earlier article, I wrote about how Jim had chopped the top on the 1940 Ford.  It required not only cutting the posts, but also adding material to stretch the top to compensate for the change in the roof’s geometry.  This change also forced alteration of the rear windows.  The next challenge required altering the shape of the doors.  As you might have imagined, Jim had to cut and add material to the doors so they would fit properly.  And if you haven’t noticed, check out the precision in the door/body gap.  It is very tight.

Artistic Features

Jim builds cars to suit him and by definition this means some features might make sense just to his tastes.  “Must be nice”, huh?  I call these “artistic features” and the 1940 Ford already has several…

Trunk Hinges

Here is the completed trunk hinges shaped to match a person’s hands.  The aluminum hinges are made from a milling machine, files and an air powered engraving tool – that is all!  Before you say “Nah!”, ask yourself how you would craft this from a thick chunk of aluminum?

Door Handles

Jim’s skill are once again showcased in the door handles for the 1940 Ford.  Take a look:

img_3997This door handle is made, not bought.  I asked Jim about it, and he said in his mind it represents a vase with two rose buds in it.  The rose buds have petals and yes, this is all hand-made from aluminum.  The button operates a latch mechanism of Jim’s own design (more pictures later).

Here are a couple of pictures showing the door handle from a few a couple of feet away:

Running Board / Exhaust

Because Jim wanted to keep things simple under the frame, he made the running boards serve two purposes:  a) finish the look below the body and b) exhaust.  Yes, these running boards serve as exhaust pipes.  You can see this in the two pictures in the previous gallery and in the next photo:


Back of the Car

From the back of the car we can see the recessed tail lights.  You can also see the scars on the roof of the car from the welding of more panels used to solve the missing material from chopping the top.

The Engine

The 1940 Ford has been designed to use a Chevrolet LSx engine…

img_4015And as a bonus, you can see what the hood latch mechanism looks like.  Yes, this is yet another bit of Jim’s handy work.  The latch has been made from scratch and features a hinge for the hood, opening forward.  The “Ford” emblem (seen below the “V”) is attached to a rod that actuates the latch release.


Here is the inside of the doors.  This looks very simple but it shows the door latch release mechanism and the power window actuators.

A great deal of time and engineering went into this effort.  You see the rods that actuate the door latch from the inside have to clear the window runners.

Just Because He Can


Hands on the back of a Ford, because Fords must be pushed…

Today’s post falls in the class of “just because he can”…  You know, “just because he can” – you have the skillz; the artistic “gift”.  And my cousin Jim falls in that category.

In today’s featured image you see the trunk lid on the 1940 Ford that Jim is building.  Jim is a bit of an “artiste” and he wanted something unusual, something unique, something “just because he can” on the 40 Ford’s trunk.  How about those trunk hinges?

What we have here are “hands” made from a slab of aluminum.  Carefully machined, filed, trimmed, polished and etched.  No CAD mind you.  Just Jim’s trusted Porterfield milling machine and plenty of filing.  This, my friends, is “old school”…  Add to that the trunk on this 1940 Ford: it is all aluminum made from scratch.


Helping push the Ford!

I realize this is not for everyone.  Matter of fact, who would want this, right?  All I can say, is “just because he can”!  Jim told me about the “hands”…

  • They are made from a slab of aluminum milled on the Porterfield, the “old-fashioned way”.
  • Lots of hand-filing…  A file!  What is that??
  • The “hinge” part was the most difficult part; the pin through the three-piece hing took some doing.
  • The trunk lid has curvature – it is not flat.  Therefore the entire “hand” has a bit of a curve to it and the pin mentioned before had to be made to fit.
  • Check out the fingernails.  Yes, there are fingernails on the tips of each finger!

And here you go…  Each “hand”!  Just because he can…

Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone.

Our finest moment; Happy Birthday America!!!

Our finest moment; Happy Birthday America!!!


1940 Ford – Rear Quarter Windows


Rear quarter window openings…

On an earlier post I talked about how chopping the top on my cousin Jim’s 1940 Ford caused the rear quarter windows to lose proportion.  I also posted a couple of pictures showing how Jim changed the window opening and restored the size of the quarter windows to something more appealing.

As you can see in today’s featured image, both windows are damn near perfect in both size and shape.  So how did Jim do this?

Well today, I found this on one of the work tables at the shop:


Wooden buck made shaping the opening consistent

And yes, this is a wooden buck.  Jim figured out what sort of arc needed to be reproduced to give the window opening the right “look”.  This arc was then transferred to a wooden buck.  The two openings on either side are there to secure the piece of sheet metal with a screw, washers and nuts.  Then, with a mallet, Jim slowly hammered the sheet metal to take the shape of the arc for the window.  The following two pictures show what the buck looks like compared to the end result.  Pretty cool, huh?

And here are two pictures side by side, of both window openings.  They are the mirror images of each other.

A few years ago I visited the Studebaker museum.  Among all the wonderful things to see there was a full size buck made from wood for a Studebaker pickup cab.  Yes indeed, this is the way custom bodies were made!  Having said that, can you imagine what it would be like to see all the bucks that must be stored in some special, secret vault in Maranello?

1940 Ford – Chopping the Top – Part 2


1940 Ford top taking shape…

In the earlier post, I described the cutting and sectioning of the  top on the 1940 Ford my cousin Jim is working on.  Today’s post is a follow-up on the progress, which incidentally has been a lot!

As you can see from today’s featured image, the top has taken shape once again and looks more finished.  During this process, Jim found out there were alignment issues with the top itself.  Not from the alterations, but from the original stamping of the sheet metal.  As it turned out, the passenger’s side was not exactly symmetrical and required the use of a friction jack devise mounted inside the car while Jim welded the sheet metal inserts to make the top line up.

In the earlier post I described how a “filler” of sheet-metal had to be welded on the top to account for the material lost from chopping the top.  This section has been completely TIG welded, shaped and rough-sanded as shown in the following picture gallery…

If you look closely, you will notice the drip rails past the door opening have been cut off (more about that later in this post).  Also, you will notice the seam has some partial amounts of brass rod welded in.  This will eventually be filled all along the seam and sanded down to a smooth finish.  Think of this as a way of “leading” the seam.

And so we move to the back window opening…

As you can see, stretching the top required yet another filler, this time above the rear window.  Without the filler, the slope of the back top would not line up with the windshield and trunk area.  Amazing what cutting the top down by a couple of inches does to the geometry of the car!

Looking at the left picture above presented yet another problem:  the opening is out of proportion with the front.  But, that is the way it came from the factory, right?  Yes but that dimension made sense when the top was originally made.  With the “chop” the geometry went to hell and Jim decided – right or wrong – to make the window opening smaller.  Take a look…

A new section of sheet metal now takes up some of the space and makes the rear window opening proportional to the front.  And yes, this will need all new safety glass specifically cut to the new opening.  You can also see more details of the seam I mentioned earlier, with the brass rod filler.

Next, the following gallery shows a collection of pictures from the second section of filler…

What are all those black spots?  As it turns out, even with careful heat management during the welding of the filler strip, the top material warped.  What you see in those black spots is the result of careful heating followed by hammer and dolly work.  This method provides relief to the metal to shrink and expand, and thus remove the “oil can” effect introduced during the welding process.  I’ve seen Jim do this before and it takes careful application of heat otherwise it only makes the warping worse.

Here is a closeup of the area where the drip rail was removed:


No more ugly drip rail over the rear window opening…

Only a small part of the drip rail was left over the opening of the door.  The rest has been cut off and the seam will be eventually filled with brass welding rod.  Why not just use Bondo?  Well, this is a stress area and as flex takes effect the Bondo filler will crack.  So in a case like this it is best to fill the opening with metal.

And finally, the rear glass opening…


Note the side pillar weld has been filled in…

The opening has been left very large as to allow room for a “frame” that will eventually fit around a donor piece of glass.  One of Jim’s buddies has a junker Chrysler convertible with a nice glass rear window.  The plan is to cut the soft top on the Chrysler and remove the glass, cut all excess off and then make a frame to fit in this opening.  I’ll have more details on that in a future article.

1940 Ford – Chopping the Top

IMG_3638My cousin Jim has been very busy since last time, as you can see in today’s featured image: the 1940 Ford has had its top chopped by about 1½ inches.  Also, if you look closely you can see the fenders have been modified to accept the headlights.  Jim has made special brackets to french the headlight buckets while retaining the original headlight surrounds (I’ll have more about this in a future post).

So how does one go about chopping a top on a 1940 Ford?  Well, you would start with a helping of courage and then “biggie size” that.  This is the kind of stuff left to the experts.  The famous disclaimer of “Do not attempt this at home, except by trained professionals…” comes to mind.  As you can see, Jim’s shop is very well equipped; matter of fact, this is the same room where we built bowtie6.

All pillars were cut and material removed, and it looks something like this (for those of you in the mailing list, please go to the website because galleries won’t show in the email):

As you have already figured it out, when material gets removed dimensions and geometry go to hell and things that used to line up, no longer do so.  The picture gallery above shows all pillars lining up as well as the windshield opening.  However, not all is so great.  Take a look at what the back looks like…

See what I mean?  Things don’t look so great here.  Amazing what taking 1½ inches off does to a top on 1940 Ford.  The back window opening has also taken a hit.  Jim plans to make a new opening to hold a new rear glass.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  By now, I am sure you are asking yourself “How does one fix this?”…

Well, this is where one must be good at a) using a welder b) having the skillz, c) talent, d) vision.  All welds – mind you – are just tacked welds using a TIG welder.  The welds look like this for a reason:  heat.  By doing tack welds like this with the TIG welder, prevents heat from warping the top.  This stuff takes hours do complete but prevents the top from “oil canning” which could take even longer to remove.  Pretty cool, huh?

And there you have it…  Something out of an old Frankenstein movie…  The top has been not only chopped but it has also been sectioned.  The solution called for a strip of sheet-metal, cut and shaped to fit and then welded in place.  This essentially “stretches” the top so the window openings and pillars all line up.  As you have already figured it out, there will be another cut (or cuts) where material will be added in order to make the back window and sides line up.

Chopping a top is similar to Fido’s asshole:  there are many and they all accomplish the same thing.  In this case, the top gets cut and shaped to fit.  I can’t wait to see final the result.  Stay tuned, I’ll have updates soon…