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Modifying Axles to Lower a Hot Rod

10/14/2019
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If you have been around any kind of drag racing or car shows, you may have heard the term 'hopped-up!' What does it mean to you? To me, 'hopped-up' always had a meaning of something being fast and having a nasty motor. Upgrading your car in a one-way shape or form was the meaning. Even if you look up the meaning, the internet says it’s slang for modifying something to increase its power or performance. If you haven’t noticed, we speak that kind of slang here at Speedway Motors.

That stock stuff stank! I can hardly leave anything alone and for good reason. The real fun in life is making something from scratch or modifying something to make it your own. There aren’t a lot of guns, cars, or equipment that shouldn’t be modified for the better. I haven’t heard of a car too nice to chop or lay on the ground.

Some of the earliest hop-ups were very simple in form, but had amazing results in function. Even before drop axles, people were figuring out ways to get their car lower to the ground. One of these early modifications that you may hear about is just using factory parts to somehow get your hot rod closer to the ground. In this story's case, it’s taking a 1937-41 Ford axle with wishbones and putting it under your Ford Model A. You remove the spring in front set up originally on the 1937-41 Ford I beam axles and install a spring over the axle. Leaf springs with the proper spring length and reverse eyes could net you 2-3” of lowering to your Model A hot rod.

Have you ever heard of this or done it before? I love hearing about people doing this before I was even alive. The history of it is very cool to me. Posies provides the perfect spring for this hop-up! They make a beautiful Reversed Eye Spring that is 33.5”. This spring has the moly-nylon button at the end of the springs to reduce friction and possibly screeching noise. This also creates a smoother and more comfortable ride.

I have a crazy deep desire to build a traditional hot rod. I don’t want to lower the car a ton. However, I don’t want to use an obvious drop axle either. I want a little better performance out of this build, so using this spring to lower it along with some smaller diameter tires will be exactly what I need. This spring conversion is perfect for this idea, and I am extremely happy that Posies provides us with this piece!

The operation is fairly simple. I acquired a decent 1937-41 Ford axle setup with un-split wishbones for $100. With this build being traditional and the 37-41 Ford axle having a very short dimension from the kingpin to perch center, I don’t want to split the wishbones. If I leave them un-split and raise my Flathead motor a bit, I should still be able to make this all work and keep a very traditional look.

I simply removed all the leaf springs except the main leaf. I removed the front leaf spring mounts by slicing them nice and straight so that I can sand the front of them to look like the perch was never there. I had to try extremely hard to get the stock perch bolts out of the axle, but with a little heat and some love, those babies finally broke loose! I consider this a win!

I have had a few early Ford projects kick my butt because of the decades the pieces have been together. They don’t always want to separate easily. Once the axle was cleaned up, I checked the bores of the kingpins and spring perch areas to make sure they weren’t too worn; this axle was a little loose. Thankfully, I had a nice 37-41 Ford axle I bought at a swap meet for $40. I swapped that axle in. Tag you’re it.

I then used Solid Axle Leaf Spring Perches and Leaf Spring Shackles to install this spring to the axle. I will eventually get the whole setup painted, install the new perch bolts and kingpins with some anti-seize, and install this in my nice Model A-frame. I am excited to get a couple of inches lower and have a better-looking attitude. I think you will enjoy this conversion on your Model A! Have any questions about this install? Give us a call at Speedway Motors, and we will do our best to help you get the parts you need or guide you into a better setup for what you have going on!

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