Building a custom car frame requires time, effort, money and the right kind of tools. A full garage with professional accessories is the only way to build a custom car frame, especially if you are dealing with older antique cars. While it is possible to find frames in good condition through the junkyard or dealers, there are always customised options that creative minds add to the frames for a completely customised vehicle and doing so requires specialised skills to work around materials that are not always readily available.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Fully-stocked garage with car-building tools
Decide the type of custom car you want to create and go from there. Purchase basic frames from companies such as TCI and Speedway Motors or head to the junkyard and look for older vehicles that have their frames still intact, such as the Model A frame Ford used from 1903 until 1931. Order online from vendors if you cannot find anything locally at your junkyard or through a basic frame manufacturer.
Stock up on raw steel tubing as well as steel frame pieces to use in the customisation process. Begin the process by modifying the frame you already have. Cut off any mounts or brackets that you do not plan on using, such as running board brackets and bumper mounts if you plan on having a bumper-less vehicle. Remove any suspension and axles from the frame and keep all the spare parts for later use, as you never know what you might need in a custom project.
Place the entire frame on a centerline gauge tool once you have cleaned it up. Use a telescoping tram with the gauge tool to check the alignment of the frame and adjust it as necessary with a hydraulic ram and push/spread tools. Continually check the alignment throughout the process if your frame needs any straightening.
Improve any weak spots on older frames by analysing the sections and boxing in the frame as necessary. Weld flat steel plates or rectangular steel tubing across weakened sections such as where rust has deteriorated the metal over time. Cut away any old sections and replace them with new, and bolt/weld on any new brackets you think you will need for the new frame, suspension, engine and other accessories.
Grind and sandblast the entire frame down to the metal and remove all burrs, bumps, rust and other imperfections. Purchase car frame paint and paint the entire frame to finish the customisation. Apply primer first, then two or three coats of the frame paint, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Allow to dry and finish building your custom car.
Tips and warnings
- Building a custom car frame can only be done by individuals with a working knowledge of tools, vehicles, wiring, engines, welding, metalwork and a fully-stocked garage with professional-grade tools.
- Always wear safety gear when working with power tools of any kind.
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