How To Build Motor Mounts
Choosing the right engine for your hot rod requires much consideration. I spent many hours thinking through possible engine choices for my '29 Ford Roadster. I thought about how far and how often I planned on driving the car, parts availability, and budget and in the end chose a 1954 Dodge 241 Red Ram Hemi to power my hot rod. I wanted something reliable, period correct to the mid-fifties, and more unusual than a small block Chevy.
The decision was helped by the fact that I already had the engine in my garage. About ten years ago I purchased a complete but rusty '54 Dodge Coronet from a farmer for $400. I drug it home and pulled the 241 Red Ram hoping I would have a car to put it in some day. I decided that while it would not be the cheapest engine to rebuild from a financial standpoint it would be a good focal point for a simple, mid-fifties hot rod.
In this article I will document the fabrication of engine frame mounts to locate the '54 Red Ram between a pair of pinched deuce rails. I will talk about the process, the tools used, and briefly touch on what other options are available if you are thinking of an early hemi for your build.
Here is where the first chapter of my 241’s life ended and a new one began. This is the old Coronet photographed in my car trailer the day I pulled it home. I remember the winch in my trailer groaning as it pried the car from the cold Nebraska soil. A couple days after this photograph was taken I disassembled what was a very rusty car, and salvaged everything I could.
After carefully removing the engine, I placed it on a home-made wood stand where it sat for about ten years. Recently, after my pinched deuce chassis began taking shape I disassembled the engine and brought it to the machine shop to begin the rebuild.
Pretty soon I found myself at the point where I needed to locate the engine so I could build exhaust, mount the body, brake pedal, and other important pieces. Unfortunately no one makes a foam mock up block for early Hemi’s like they do with more popular engines, so having the block tied up at the machine shop was a dilemma that would slow down my build. Not wanting that to happen, I placed a wanted ad on Craigslist explaining my need of another 241. As luck would have it a retired National Guard pilot 8 blocks away had one in his garage! In amazement I rushed over, paid him $500 for a mill better than the one I sent to the machine shop, and brought it home feeling like a kid at Christmas. I was now in business and could start figuring out how I would mount it!
This engine came on an old wood stand which fit just inside my frame rails. I decided to put some spacer blocks underneath it, so the engine would sit approximately where it would end up once mounted.
With the engine was sitting in the car I started thinking about the style of mounts I wanted to use. Dodge 241, 270, and 325 engines did not have engine mounting ears on the side of the block. Instead they utilized a mounting pad underneath the original water pump housing. For mounting a 241 there are a couple of options that are dependent upon what you do with your water pump: You can purchase a conversion kit to utilize a big block Chevy water pump on the front of early Hemi’s, but you must machine off a threaded snout from the cam and utilize an adapted or cast timing chain cover (without the protruding cam bump). This works great to gain clearance on the front of the engine and it makes it nice if you need to replace your water pump out on the road. The downside is if you decide to run the Chevy pump you lose the stock engine mount up front. No worries if this is the way you want to go, because Speedway Motors offers a great saddle type mount, P/N 1355355 that will do the job. It mounts off the front cover bolts and is used in conjunction with our Universal Bolt-Through Engine Mount Cushion Kit, P/N 720-9314, and 1928-1934 Ford Frame Adapters P/N 135-3274.
This mount design also works if you want to run your stock water pump and would be period correct going back to the early 60’s when Hurst began producing a mount like this for Chrysler, Dodge, and Desoto motors. In the interest of keeping my car correct to mid-fifties parts availability I decided to run the stock pump. I also have always liked the wing-style engine mount originally used by Dodge. It mounts to the engine with two bolts going through a rubber dampener under the pump. These were identical through the years for the 241, but I noticed one of my mounts is die-stamped with the words “Floating Power”. I think this is cool and it gives me one more reason to incorporate it into my car!
Some worry that by using this stock mount it will allow the engine to rock too much when revved. If I decide there is a need to stiffen things up later I may run a secondary mount off of the transmission, but I am going to try it first and see how things go. Because this mount originally bolted to the Dodge Coronet cross member I would need to design some frame mounts for my frame to mate things up. I had a couple pieces of 1 ½” x 3” .120 wall tubing laying around the garage so decided I could use it for my frame mounts. I cut some flat cardboard to the same dimensions and started trimming it to come up with a good design.
First I spaced the engine within the frame rails exactly where it needed to sit. I used a DECO Angle Finder Tool, (P/N 91089409) and placed it on the carburetor pad of the intake manifold. You want this to be perfectly level (0 degrees) with the car at ride height.
Once I had the engine located and it was perfectly level, I measured side to side and front and back to make sure it was centered in the frame. I also made sure the height was right giving me ample room for headers, belt driven fan, and even the original style oil filter housing on my hemi if I decide to run it (most people go with the spin on filter conversion). With everything looking right propped up on the wooden stand I began cutting up cardboard into mock up mounts with different looks. I was after a design that looked better than crude angle iron, but nothing too exotic and artsy. I really want the car to look utilitarian and true to the time for someone building a car in their home garage like I am doing. After I had a good plan with my cardboard I traced it onto the tubing and put my chop saw to work. I cannot stress enough how much I love my Makita metal chop saw with carbide tipped blade!
I picked up four grade-8, ¾” bolts and the corresponding nuts. I also picked up some .120 wall flat strip. I performed the rough cuts on both the drivers and passenger side to ensure they were identical side to side. Then, starting with the driver’s side, I tacked the flat strip into place so I could mark it for drilling. Once the holes were drilled, I welded the nuts to the underside, then welded them up solid.
I then used a flapper wheel to clean up all of the welds and rough edges. I built the driver’s side completely, welded it to the frame rail, and then bolted the engine to it. I double checked to make sure everything was still level, and centered. It looked good so then I began working on the mount for the passenger side.
I marked the passenger side holes, and followed the same steps to finish it up. I then welded it to the frame. Once both lower frame mounts were completed I lifted the engine up, removed the wooden crate below, and brought the engine down again to rest on the mounts.
Everything lined up perfectly. It was also satisfying to see some weight pressing down on the chassis!