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5-Ball Racing Salt Torpedo Chapter 12--the Frame

Construction Shifts Gears

By Bandit with photos by Wrench
12/11/2018


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One of our original sketches by George Fleming.
One of our original sketches by George Fleming.



It’s incredible how life twists and turns, but now we’re in the fast lane and of course the
Redhead contributed. She’s the manager of a marina in the LA Port ghetto and comes across interesting characters, who end up living on boats for one reason or another.

Part of her job is to interview and access whether the new entrant is capable of living on a swaying sailboat and capable of paying the bills. There’s a rule in most marinas. Only 10 percent of the customers are allowed to live on their boats and there’s an additional fee for live-aboard status.

Kevin Kahl, already dreaming.
Kevin Kahl, already dreaming.



So, as it turned out, while I was thinking about buying cage pieces from dragster frame manufacturers, to form the front half of the frame, the Redhead had a conversation with a new boater, Kevin Kahl, the owner of The Hot Rod Underground, a brother with a serious illness, who needed a place to relax between surgeries.



As it turns out Kevin built chopper frames for Bourget’s, he’s built numerous dragster frames and even funny car frames. The Redhead’s warm eyes lite up and she scrambled to the headquarters with the news.



Kevin needed to return to Kansas City for an operation, but he made the time to come to the headquarters where his eyes lit up and we played with various elements of the Salt Torpedo and I gave him a copy of the FIM rulebook. I printed out four from the web site and had them bound for just this reason. Over the next week we discussed my homework assignments, while he was gone. He made a list of needed tubing. We laid the body over the frame and discussed options.



I told him I was going to shorten the frame by 6 inches. We also need to build a barrier wall between the engine compartment and the rider.



Kevin planned to return from Kansas with his tubing bender, and I needed the proper bits for notching the tubing I was headed to buy. I had the cutter jig. I called a couple of local steel distributors and got tubing pricing. I made a run and had the necessary tubing in a quick morning jam around town.

Other goals included cutting the body to fit around the axle. That would be nerve wracking. It was like a delicate eggshell, but fortunately I had a meeting with Charles from Strictly Hawgs, who fell in love with the project and wanted to include a fiberglass master brother, Mick. Suddenly, I wasn’t as worried.



Okay, Kevin was suddenly gone like a cool breeze heading into the snow, and I found myself in touch with another master of car and bike building, Gary Mauer, who kindly shipped me a steer box and a steering wheel. Although, we are trying to run a small set of handlebars for several reasons.

The rider must keep his hands on the bars during a pass. It actually might be good to have the clutch and throttle on the bars, the brakes and shifter pedal for the feet. We will see.



I went to work violently cutting the frame six inches and then cutting the chunks away from the front plate. I tacked the mock frame members to the plate again and tried the body panel.


James the tile man had problems with his 1999 Dyna handling and kept popping over for help with machining wheel spacers and pulley spacers. During the industry party Eric Bennett of Bennett’s Performance suggested access to a chain hoist. “You’ll take the body off and on a thousand times during this process.”






His statement reminded me of something John Reed said a few years ago about designing parts. James and I reconfigured the shop to allow the Torpedo to reside under the shop chain hoist. I could lift body parts or the frame to slip the body panel under the Torpedo chassis. Up and down it went.

In the middle of the action, we were forced to put down our head of security, Tank. A sad couple of days.
In the middle of the action, we were forced to put down our head of security, Tank. A sad couple of days.





The frame was still too long and another consideration kept looming about the front suspension. The Paughco leaf spring system had to go, which would save me almost 2 inches. I remove it and modified the rear axle to give me almost and inch from side to side. Suddenly there was hope for the body to fit.





I spoke to Denis Manning, one of the very few masters of Streamlining on the earth. We discussed whether the body needed to stick out in front of the wheels or not. We had a lot considerations and restrictions to deal with.

Had to start adding the 5-Ball touch.
Had to start adding the 5-Ball touch.



With the leaf spring system removed, we started to discuss other suspension systems. I had just come across a ’72 Ford F-250 and wanted to lower it. I searched and searched and discovered no modified arms for the F-250. I started to learn little bits about front suspension systems. Most dragsters don’t have front suspensions other than the flex in the long nosed frames. We wouldn’t have a long-nosed frame.



I always wanted to have this puppy completely suspended and rubbermounted for rider comfort and durability, but as you will see stuff started to get in the way both front and rear. We will see as the process unfolds. We’re not done yet and I discussed inboard front suspensions with several folks and will continue to study options.

Denis suggested more ground clearance. I moved the front axle down 3/4 of an inch. It made a big difference.
Denis suggested more ground clearance. I moved the front axle down 3/4 of an inch. It made a big difference.






As you can see the shocks would not fit in the frame without notching the body. I ended up messing with the shocks and Jeremiah suggested some offset shock mounts. I don’t want to be forced to make struts.



Just recently I moved the front axle down to allow more ground clearance. The body fit even better. Next we will extend or make struts on the rear to raise the body even higher.

Had to take a break and attend a couple of holiday events including Mooneyes. I'm still in trouble for not making the Chopperfest. That's Jeff Holt and his lovely wife. Her tattoo is amazing!
Had to take a break and attend a couple of holiday events including Mooneyes. I'm still in trouble for not making the Chopperfest. That's Jeff Holt and his lovely wife. Her tattoo is amazing!





The next report will hopefully be significant. You will see the frame come together, body adjustments. I need to speak to Kent Weeks. He set up the transmission and I need to discuss installing the engine and trans for clearance purposes. Hang On!



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The truck is coming along...
The truck is coming along...


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Reader Comments


I worked with Kevin Kahl. He's one of the best

Steve Gagliardo
Wichita, KS
Friday, December 28, 2018
Editor Response He's easy to work with.
--Bandit
Good article, keep the progress reports coming. You must share some DNA with Eric Buell.
Nice old Ford.


Timothy Remus
White Bear Lake, MN
Friday, December 14, 2018
Editor Response Thanks. I may make a book out of this build if we can make some successful passes on the Salt this year.

--Bandit

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