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’32 Update… Ride Height Gauge (article 57)

*ahem* “instrument”…

Going way back to this post on exhaust air speed and air ride tune-ability, we’re finally starting to get serious about figuring out the ride height of the ’32, instead of just air pressure. Air pressure is ok for an overview of ride height… if you know what pressure the bags have to be at, with a given load. What we were finding in the ’32 (and maybe it’s because it’s a relatively lightweight vehicle), is that just because the pressure in the bags was 50 psi, didn’t mean the car was sitting where we thought it was. The PSI could read the same with 2″ of ride height variation, depending on the load.


Bags are at 50 PSI and there is 2″ between the wheel well and tire. Add 200 pound passenger. Ride height goes down, PSI goes up, wheel well gap decreases. How much pressure do I have to add to get the gap back at 2″?

Enter the ride height gauge.

We had a few ways to accomplish this, but the idea is pretty simple. Get rid of the pressure gauge (I could care less what pressure is in the bags… I want to know where the car is sitting!) and substitute with a ride height gauge. The gauge would measure actual ride height; optimal being in the middle, with low and high on either extreme. The gauge would measure the relationship between a point on the body and a point on the axle, and show that relationship on the gauge. A friend of mine with an air ride equipped ’76 Mercedes was thinking along the same lines with a thermometer type gauge that would be hard lined to the body with a solid inner cable (think choke cable) that would move similar to the mercury in a thermometer, indicating the ride height.
Another friend (there’s two so far!) actually made a prototype light sensor that would turn on an LED when the beam was broken, indicating optimal ride height.
We discussed the idea with John and Zac at Classic Instruments and they suggested two fuel tank sensors, one mounted on either side, running to a three way switch (driver side/off/passenger side) and then on to a custom printed “fuel” gauge. Two days after telling us they’d first get on it, we have the gauge and two fuel level senders sitting on the bench! Next step will be figuring out where to mount them.

’32 Update: headlight wiring (article 23, archived)

Headlight Wiring

This is what I was making when I discovered that the tire was a great bending die for a large radius.

You can see a very slight bend on the horizontal section of tube.  Basically, I wanted to give it some shape so it wasn’t straight.

The little stainless piece in the back of the headlight is a piece from the Parr headlight conduit kit.  It comes with some braided hose, and two of each frame fittings and headlight fittings.  I machined a shoulder on the headlight fittings and drilled them 3/8″ all the way through, for the stainless line.  There are six wires in a ’32 headlight with turn signals, which *just* won’t fit in a 3/8″ tube.  I took the ground from the turn signal and bolted it to the inside of the light, which is bolted to the frame.  Five wires fit very snugly inside the tube, but they do fit.

'32 Update: booster or no booster (article 24, archived)

Booster or No Booster?
If you can’t decide whether to run power brakes or not, or if you just want to experiment like we did, just run braided lines to the master cylinder from the frame.  It’s a heck of a lot easier to lower the master cylinder – you don’t have to open the system to check levels.  Just unbolt the master and presto whammo, your cylinder is as free as a duck without a leg tag.

Hand made ’32 frame rails

I came across this thread by SamIyam on the HAMB on how he hand build a set of ’32 Ford frame rails from a length of 2×6 tubing.  The tech is really in-depth and hands on… I think you’ll agree with me that it’s quite the fabrication!

Click Here

’32 Update: tank vent (article 40)

A gas tank needs a vent.  Otherwise, as the fuel leaves the tank and is blown up in the engine, a vacuum is created and eventually the fuel pump won’t be able to suck hard enough.  Try this: plug your nose.  Say “wukka wukka wukka!”  No seriously, plug your nose and breathe through your mouth.  Then cover your mouth with your hand.  Not for very long though.  Now release your nose.  Your nose is like the vent valve, your lungs are the engine.  Oxygen obviously represents gas.  As your lungs try to get more air, pretty soon the reserve in your mouth runs out, but as soon as you open the vent (your nose) the engine runs smoothly.  If this experiment didn’t work, see a doctor – you’re not plumbed right.

Moving right along, here’s how I vented the tank.

Revision 1 was slipping a rubber hose over the barbed end of the gas tank vent.  Revision 2 was copying Cam, who slipped a short section of rubber hose over the barbed fitting then transitioned to stainless hard line.  Here’s revision 3:

The brass piece on the right is the rollover valve/ vent.  You can see the barbs on the top of the fitting where hose normally slides over.  I’ve ‘toned down’ the barbs.

The 3/16″ stainless line *almost* fits inside the barbed part of the brass valve, so I machined it down just a bit so it slips tightly in.  Remember, this line is mostly for vapors, with the occasional fuel sloshage.  The two hex fittings are threaded on to a joiner fitting which I machined the hex off, just like the front brake lines.

Here’s the final product (I hope).  You see, the tank is already in place so I had to use a welding rod to get the basic shape I needed, then transfer those bends to the stainless line.  I put the joiner fitting in place so that the fitting can be installed and then hooked up to the vent tube, since there’s not enough room for the whole thing to twirl around as the vent is tightened.