gavinnz

Speedster proportions and design thoughts

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I have the original hood and its in good condition. There is also the matter of the pedals and the outside shifter. In all, its not all that practical to move things. Besides, while I have no problems with building a body to suit myself, I'm very reluctant to make any irreversible changes to the basic chassis. Its a 1910 chassis and I'm trying to keep the design ca. 1912... the sort of thing that was quite commonly done to sell nearly new used cars in a market where their appearance became very dated long before they wore out.

Here's what I'm starting with

Onthetruck.jpg

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Very cool project. It looks to me that if you were sitting in the seat you probably could not reach the dash without leaning forward. One thing you could do (from my view anyway) is to pull the current dash and windshield mount, save them aside. Install a lower seat an Lower the steering column. Then build a new dashboard that you can reach while sitting in the seat. Then fabricate a cowel to fill the space between the dash and the firewall. No permanent changes, and it could be switched back at any time while giving you a longer looking hood line.

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Very cool project. It looks to me that if you were sitting in the seat you probably could not reach the dash without leaning forward. One thing you could do (from my view anyway) is to pull the current dash and windshield mount, save them aside. Install a lower seat an Lower the steering column. Then build a new dashboard that you can reach while sitting in the seat. Then fabricate a cowel to fill the space between the dash and the firewall. No permanent changes, and it could be switched back at any time while giving you a longer looking hood line.

I agree. The steering column is the primary focus to laying out the general design. On many early cars it was set at a 45 degree angle. Lay it out as is on your computer, then start to lower the wheel closer to the frame. You will be able to rough out your seat height, and make sure you leave enough room in the stomach area! Pedal locations can usually be altered with additional/modified linkage. The rest of it will be up to your imagination......have fun and have at it!

Doug M.

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Doug is spot on. The following is my opinion:

Their are two places to start with any speedster design, and they are directly related to each other, and each is as important as the other. The Radiator Shroud and the Steering Wheel. You need to determine the optimum height for the steering wheel. But there is a relationship with the steering wheel height and the Cowl/dashboard height. You need to see over the cowl comfortably and not have to look around to see the gauges. That puts the cowl/steering wheel to the seat in relationship with each other. The cowl on the other hand, is in constant visual relationship with the Hood. The cowl should start level with the hood and slope up a bit to the windshield/dashboard. Of course the Hood needs to start at the radiator shroud. Alternately, the cowl could be flat if it is raised a bit above the hood. You can get away with a completely flat hood to cowl if the front of the Speedster is lower than the rear by a couple of inches. Then the hood and cowl appear to have some rake because the front end is lower. In my opinion, unless you are building a replica era race car, an all flat Radiator Shroud to dashboard looks off. I sometimes see hoodless rods or speedsters and the radiator shroud is higher than the cowl, in my opinion that never looks right to me.

To start a speedster build, you need to set your steering wheel height in relationship to the seat and your physical size. Build your mount for the radiator shroud and mount it. Use strips of masking tape to simulate the hood lines to the firewall. Using cardboard as a template build the dashboard. Use masking tape to simulate the cowl lines from the firewall to the dashboard. Then adjust and tweak until it looks and feels right. Drawing it out on the computer helps an overall and gives you proportions to wheel size etc, but does not take into account your body size, length of your legs and arms. You need to be comfortable and safely reach all of the controls. From the drivers seat back, the sky is the limit, bullets, turtle decks, boat tails, all are good.

Note that my thoughts are geared towards an enclosed body speedster, not a Rootlieb type. The open cars have different lines to work with, particularly in seat height to steering wheel relationship.

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what do you do about the radiator shell ? I have a 27 Studebaker I'm building a speedster from,I would like to use the stock radiator and cowl but they are pretty tall I'm afraid it won't look good Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks

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Well I'm not familiar with the Studebaker parts, but one thing you might do is to move the radiator forward, off of the front cross member Make a new cross member mounted to the bottom of the frame rails and mount the radiator there That will lower the radiator about 4 or 5 inches, and lengthen the hood and cowl, which will give it a longer lower look. Some people do not like the look of the radiator in front of the front axle, but to me, if it has been dropped, then it looks good That is of course in m opinion

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I like that, I could probably lower the cowl to match ,Thanks Joey

That is exactly how I am building mine.

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Since this thread is about design ideas... I'll hazard my opinion on "later" chassis used as speedsters. The speedster is really a product of the late brass period and the early 20s when there were lots of earlier, good running but hopelessly old-fashioned cars to be had. Styles changed very quickly and people in 1920 were every bit as fashion conscious then as now, perhaps even more so as there was no panache attached to "old"... antiques dated from the 18th century and earlier, most everything else was junk. There was no "nostalgia" industry and people who affected "old fashioned" were more likely to be laughed at than admired. Ask yourself how often you've seen a street scene photograph from 1925 with a 10 or 12 year old car in it? I don't think anyone would have built a speedster on a 20s chassis (presuming the car was already 4 or 5 years old when assembled) that looked anything like one from the brass period. They'd be far more likely to make some sort of faux-racing car...

Were I to build a car on a 20s chassis, I think this one, (courtesy of The Old Motor, one of my favorite web sites) is probably one of the best I've seen. Notice the use of the original gas tank too. Actually this chassis is a 1913 Hudson, rebodied in the 20s and looking newer, not older than it really was. I've no idea how to attach the photo so it shows up, so here is the link.

HarperI | The Old Motor

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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Forgive my ignorance, but how does one lower the steering column? Is it just a matter of re-positioning the steering box by drilling new mounting holes. Or will the steering column drop enough inches as-is?

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Since this thread is about design ideas... I'll hazard my opinion on "later" chassis used as speedsters. The speedster is really a product of the late brass period and the early 20s when there were lots of earlier, good running but hopelessly old-fashioned cars to be had. Styles changed very quickly and people in 1920 were every bit as fashion conscious then as now, perhaps even more so as there was no panache attached to "old"... antiques dated from the 18th century and earlier, most everything else was junk. There was no "nostalgia" industry and people who affected "old fashioned" were more likely to be laughed at than admired. Ask yourself how often you've seen a street scene photograph from 1925 with a 10 or 12 year old car in it? I don't think anyone would have built a speedster on a 20s chassis (presuming the car was already 4 or 5 years old when assembled) that looked anything like one from the brass period. They'd be far more likely to make some sort of faux-racing car...

Were I to build a car on a 20s chassis, I think this one, (courtesy of The Old Motor, one of my favorite web sites) is probably one of the best I've seen. Notice the use of the original gas tank too. Actually this chassis is a 1914 Hudson, rebodied in the 20s and looking newer, not older than it really was. I've no idea how to attach the photo so it shows up, so here is the link.

HarperI | The Old Motor

Here is the photo that he linked to seen below. On The Old Motor we have many photos of speedsters and in our pre war auto racing section you are sure to find many more.

HarperI.jpg

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RE: Steering column, all (or most... I can't remember every one) of the early ones I've looked at are kept up by a bracket or the mounting attached to the fire wall or floor boards. I remember working on one, years ago, that was adjustable, not because it was going to be lowered but because they were supplied to multiple manufacturers who had different requirements. Steering boxes were often made by specialists, not by the car companies themselves, unless the company was very big.

I don't remember seeing one where the box itself is bolted to the frame and, since the steering shaft is round, it can pivot down. I'm certain there may be exceptions and can't say what was going on in the late 20s or the 30s because those are "new" cars in my world!

An afterthought... the steering column rake was often dictated by the body design and the column had to be adjustable to some degree to accommodate the different styles. A sedan often had a higher column than a roadster on the same chassis.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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Guest BillP

These are "new" cars for a couple reasons: both are of recent construction and both are outside the era of this discussion, I sense. Neither is a speedster of the type discussed, one being more correctly called a sports tourer and the other is a closed car. Nevertheless, they are utterly striking. I have misspent a bit of time drooling (figuratively of course) over each.

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post-30966-143141873423_thumb.jpg

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Forgive my ignorance, but how does one lower the steering column? Is it just a matter of re-positioning the steering box by drilling new mounting holes. Or will the steering column drop enough inches as-is?

The only ignorant question is the one you do not ask! We all get a little smarter by asking questions.

I can only speak for an Ford Model A, but it is easy on an A. There is a bracket under the fuel tank that supports the steering column If you are using the original tank, you get or make a longer bracket. There is a hole in the floor, and you are probably going to replace the floor, but if not, then the hole needs to elongated a bit. Where the steering box is bolts to the frame yo remove the two bolts, tilt the column down where you want it, and re-drill the frame to put the bolts back in.

I have a set of the Rootlieb kit instructions, it covers the steering column, but leaves a lot for you to figure out.:confused:.. If you want a copy, let me know, I would be happy to share.

Edited by QGolden (see edit history)

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Guest BillP
post-30966-143141873981_thumb.gifI should clarify my previous. This car was built recently (30 years ago?) as a reproduction of the original that was lost in a fire shortly after construction. This car is very accurate to the original and is in the museum in LaPorte, Ind.

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BillP,

Wow, those are nice. I love cycle fenders, I am putting them on my current Speedster Build.

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Nice pic Howard, I wonder what the extension on the exhaust is for?

The driver is obviously a very skilled engineer with an advanced knowledge of exhaust systems.

In their 1962 book 'Scientific Design of Exhaust & Intake Systems', Philip H Smith and John C Morrison devote almost an entire chapter on 'idler interference branches' and their effect.

post-51681-143141922048_thumb.jpg

post-51681-143141922041_thumb.jpg

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Interesting idea oldcar but as already pointed out it looks like an exhaust cut out and a close examination of the photo certainly supports this suggestion.

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If I can go back to lowering the steering column for a bit. Mine had a clamp with one bolt ,I was able to loosen that bolt and drop the column about 5 in ,makes for a lower look. Later I will center the pitman arm.

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From a Design perspective this is on of the better examples of well thought out proportion that I have seen in a speedster. Although I would bring the cowl back a bit further so the Dash was within reach of the driver while sitting back in the seat. The higher side that you step over to get in eliminates the need for doors and subsequently makes it easier for fabrication and strength, but put you "in" rather than "on" the car.

182571d1363135447-saxon-saxon-smaller.jpg

Wow, does anyone know what year that Saxon debuted? It is remarkably similar to an L-head Mercer raceabout of 1915-23 . I mean, really close, even the cowl spacing, bucket seat design etc.

Also of some interest here are photos of a Buick speedster special near me in an abandoned airport. I'm guessing body was built in sixties.

post-71557-143141956482_thumb.jpg

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Edited by ersatzS2 (see edit history)

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Cool picture - looks like they are having fun!

I do not think Saxon either, though. The running boards for example, on the car that QGolden posted are significantly longer than on the car pictured. Even though the Saxon was another small car I am thinking Model T with one of the many aftermarket speedster bodies that were available in period. I will take a look at my reference books tonight and see if we can come up with a ringer - often the kits included body, hood and grill shell as well as fenders. Also, wheels look like T to me as well; sturdy closed car units like I have on my speedster.

The oval tank is nice. Love the angle, gives the impression of speed even if it is just a nice pose!

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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Took a look at my books last night and while I could not positively link this car to one of the aftermarket body suppliers for the Model T, it does show up as a rendering in a couple of articles along the lines of "speedster body ideas" in just about the exact form from the pic - hood w/slanted louvers, smallish full cockpit, slanted oval tank and rear mounted spare(s).

Of course it is possible these bodies would have been adapted to other small cars, as I learn about the halcyon days for speedsters I am pretty amazed at just how popular this seems to have been in period, which follows another poster's opinion about the 20s likely being the time many of these "old fashioned square riggers" were rebodied for a more modern look and better performance.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
clarity (see edit history)

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