Chapter 27

Last chapter was just before I went to the Back to the 50’s event at the Minnesota State Fair grounds in 2014. I trailered over to my buddie Steve’s place on County rd B about 2 miles away from the north end of the fair, and without ever having driven it for more than a few minutes proceeded to amble my way over to the one mile long waiting line to get in. This line is always the most painful part of the event, and idling for long periods has a high attrition rate with many rods.  I was moving along at about a foot a minute, with nicely painted cars ahead of me and behind, and a very stiff clutch, wondering if I would lurch into the car in front, or jerk to a stop and get rear-ended, worrying also about the fact that the cooling system was untested, having run for only 6 minutes at a time on the salt. Why wasn’t I overheating???

I finally got into the fairgrounds, where Bob W was able to catch me moving under my own power amongst other rods. Parked in the dirt lot behind machinery hill and shut her down…. the electric radiator fan ran only for a minute and shut itself off. None of the typical clicking and hot metal sounds, and the engine was actually cool enough to touch!






It was a great time, and I spent a lot of words explaining what was going on with the LP setup.


After 2 days of explaining, it occurred to me what was going on with the cooling. Duhhhh! The heater hoses had been diverted instead to the vaporizer which heats  up the liquid. When this heat exchange occurs, it cools the coolant as liquid goes to gas form!

Fall 2015

Well, despite all my machinations, I have still got a problem getting power to the rear wheel. It seems to just be too much for the chain drive system.

My initial plan was to see if I could make a viable, dependable rear drive system, but arrange things so that if I couldn’t get it to work in a reasonable amount of time, I could make it a four wheel vehicle. I think that 4 years and multiple design changes later, I have spent a reasonable amount of time, and still am not satisfied. It starts right up and everything aside from the final drive would be happy to play along if that was dealt with….. So, I switched gears (so to speak) and started looking for an appropriate rear axle.

I needed something that would be wide enough so that with about 3.5″ to 4″ backspacing of the rear wheels I could clear the frame and bodywork. I needed at least one inch clearance on each side and the frame was about 49″, so I needed about 60″ outer drum to outer drum ( 4+4+1+1+50=60). I wanted drums in the rear, as there would be more choices and drums require less fluid volume. My master cylinder would now need to support one more wheel cylinder and already was using more volume with the front disks than a stock C-10 Chev pickup….

Turns out that a number of 70’s-80’s Fords fit the bill. First, I got a 63″ one from a mustang up in St. Cloud for $75. Turned out to be totally rusted brake parts and when I looked inside, someone had apparently done a crappy job of stick welding together the spyders to make a drift type rear axle! Not a Total loss though, as I used a bit of the upper control arms in my final design.


Inside the Mustang hubs


Mustang axle is junk

I determined that the 8.8 differential was a good one to seek, and in studying them, found that the early 90’s Ford Explorer had a wide enough track, usually came with a 3.73:1 ratio, drum brakes, traction lock and 31 spline axles! The question was whether the offset built into those for the four wheel drive would be a problem. Found one in Eyota Mn. just south of Rochester and paid $80 for it. Yes it was as promised, but didn’t have any brake parts, save one dead shoe hanging on by an emergency brake lever (which it turns out I really needed!).


First look at the Explorer axle


Yes! Traction Loc!


Painted with POR-15


Brake jigsaw puzzle completed


Docking commenses


Front end of upper Mustang control arm mockup to attach to driver’s side swing-arm


And the passenger side, shorter to account for offset axle


Now, how to make it all gel and hopefully minimize any welding on the axle tubes, which I was warned are a bit of a weak link. They are easy to put holes in, and the plugs which attach them to the center casting are known to twist loose. In my reading, I discovered how little Ford did to prevent suspension binding in their rear ends, and I became more aware of how much twisting there was in to the leafs and bushings in typical parallel leaf suspensions. All of this destroys the ability of a vehicle to handle, and go around corners. I think that I have come up with something which cuts this down. Granted, the Tribaker (which will now need to be called the Turbos2de) had only about 2″ of travel, I want it to be a good, free 2″…..  To do this I used the upper Mustang rear control arm bushings (frame end) captured in sliced off pieces of the control arms perpendicular to the axis of the car, attached to each swing arm of the original 3-wheeler. My plan will be to cut the struts that connected right and left swing arms, liberating them from each other, to swing up and down along with their side of the axle. Each 1/4 elliptic spring and shock would be allowed to do its own thing.


bushings added

To further control sideways and pinion angle rotation, I designed “lower” control arms out of old Studebaker tie-rod ends and did the same technique constructing a Watts linkage.  The lower arms are anchored to the frame precisely across from the swing arm pivots, duplicating their arcs. The rear end of the arms, and the anchors for the upper arms are a complicated 1/4″ plate which bolts to the differential and which is also the mounting plate for the cross-bar which locates the swinging center-link for the Watts linkage right over the central axis of the pumpkin. This also brings the roll-center of the vehicle quite low.  All in all, the rake of the entire vehicle remains just a titch greater than with 3 wheels, with additional holes in the plates for further adjustment if I desire after driving it a bit more and deciding how much more weight will go over the axle with bodywork or auxiliary LP tanks.




Now on Cooper 255/60/R15’s



My plan will be to re-design the rear of the frame, bringing the rails closer together to give more wheel clearance and provide a platform for  the Watts linkage frame struts and for a cassette which would allow either the pickup bed or a boat-tail (and maybe a mini-receiver trailer hitch).