Bodywork Wire Frame Buck

Bodywork Wire Frame

With the engine running, I’ve turned my attention back to the bodywork. I’ve started the wire frame for the bodywork buck.

Although essentially this started as a Haynes Roadster, depending on my bodywork skills, will end up as a late 1930’s style Hot Rod. There will be elements of 37 Ford, Chevrolet and many other makes. Before the 1960’s many people, including collectors, would struggle to differentiate certain cars once things like grills and wings were removed. I have the remains of a 1939 Austin, and several car geeks have said that ‘Morris’ needs some work. Dimensions and features are also similar to my old Ford Pop.

In the past I mocked up several designs firstly in Photoshop then in 3D CAD and finally as a full sized wooden buck. A 2D mock up was good start, but there was so much scope for elements being of cartoon proportions, I went a little further with a CAD wire-frame. This was reassuring but still didn’t satisfy my imagination on the exact shape the car should take.

Haynes Roadster Hot Rod

The AutoCAD wire-frame

37 Ford CAD

I started an open style wooden buck from MDF but the holes still made it hard to see how line would flow into each other and which parts were simply wrong. I therefore filled in all the gaps to make a solid wooden buck. Once solid, the buck was cut up, stretched and re-proportioned numerous times. This proved that my wire-frame although a very good start was far from perfect. A solid MDF wire-frame, covered in MDF would have been great if I intended to make a fibreglass body, but I want a steel shell.

Wooden Buck

My solid buck would prove very hard; for me; to use whilst checking panel fit. I’m therefore making a wire-frame equivalent. Once complete, this metal mesh will be lifted over the actual chassis and things such as suspension and steering clearances could be checked.

Bodywork Wire Frame

Once I have a solid wire-frame, I will mount a vertical steel bar at the centre of the car. The diagonal extremities from this spike or bar will be identical. I’ll make it fairly substantial as it might be used an awful lot. 

Wire Frame Buck

I made the chassis on a flat and very solid jig. All tube locations were calculated, measured and carefully aligned. With everything clamped down hard, distortion was virtually non-existent. However, with a floating wire-frame constructed of flexible 5mm steel bar, the moment any weld is made, the whole structure could pull and distort by countless mm. It’s been well documented that many hand built cars have significant dimensional discrepancies. These cars were built by skilled craftsmen with decades of experience and a vast selection of tools. Although I’m hopeful about the outcome, I know it’s going to be a very hard a slow process. Given that bending one running boards worth of bars took several hours, I’m in for a very long haul.

I wanted every bar to touch the buck with no gaps or pressure. I clamped them to the buck as I welded. Once finished, luckily they were all touching with no distortion. Next, I’ll project a grid of horizontal laser lines all over the buck. I’ll mark these on permanently with a fine marker.  When making bars they will only be bent in one direction. Hopefully this will make it easier to replicate one side to the other.

I expect there will be days where all I’m doing is setting up laser lines and measuring.

I will start the metalwork by making the front of the door pillar. Firstly, however I need to finish making my English Wheel.