Rat Rods are typically a backyard or garage project starting entirely from scratch or by combining parts from two junk cars to put together functional little engines. The ideal Rat Rod should look like it is about to come apart and cannot move. They are prized for their aesthetic and practical value, and need constant adjustments and repairs, which makes them a fun project for scrap dealers with parts and extra time. Read on to learn how to build your own Rad Rod.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare the cage
Step 1. Get an old car
Visit a local junkyard to check out older cars that are still intact, which can be good candidates. Many websites related to Rat Rods also offer many links to possibilities. Look for a car that is not as rusty and that keeps its essential shape intact. Typically, Rat Rods are made from American cars, often pickup trucks, built before 1960. Some popular models for Rat Rods include:
- Mid-century Chevrolet pickup trucks
- 1930s era Ford, especially the "Model A"
- Early generation HEMI Chrystler engines are popular, as are Ford flathead V-8s.
Step 2. Remove all the internal elements of the car
To remove all the elements and start from scratch you will have to remove all the seats, equipment and other accessories from the car. Normally, the cars that are used to build Rat Rods are in very bad shape to start, in terms of the interior, which makes this step a necessity.
Step 3. Drain all the gasoline from the gas tank
Place a container under the drain cock or remove one of the fuel lines and collect all the remaining gasoline in the tank. This is an essential step in preparing the car for a Rat Rod, as you will have to do a lot of welding and any remaining gasoline can be dangerous. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in your workshop or garage at all times while you work.
Step 4. Choose the size you want for the frame
Measure and mark where you want to place the new axles and wheels of the car and then cut the frame to the desired length with a saber saw. Because the main characteristic of the Rat Rods is the style of the car, most of the time you will work on instinct anyway.
The common thing is to shorten the rear of the vehicle a bit to accommodate the axle and eliminate any elements such as roofs or hoods that you no longer want. Make the necessary cuts to accommodate the transmission
Step 5. Improvise
It is also possible to make your own frame using approximately 20 ft (6 m) of 2 x 4 in (5 x 10 cm) rectangular steel pipe in the early stages, cut into two equal sections. Weld them together in a ladder pattern, as square and even as possible. It uses a crossbar in the front, one in the back, and one in the middle to reinforce the bodywork. Match the width of the frame to the body you are going to use.
Part 2 of 3: Build from scratch
Step 1. Set a limit of less than $ 3000
Among the manufacturers of Rat Rods, it is a common goal to try to keep the total price under $ 3000 as a sign of your ability to work with limited materials. If you're up for a challenge, put your skills and wits to the test and try to keep the project as cheap as possible by haggling for a mix of parts at the junkyard or on eBay.
Step 2. Install new axles, shocks and suspension system.
You can customize your suspension by using the latest in modern suspension technology, making the Rat Rod a hybrid of old and new. Have a Ford Model A that turns on a rail? Yes please.
- Begin to measure the width of the rear or rear body and find axles of the appropriate size. The axle should be slightly longer than the width and Leaf Spring rear axles are normally popular choices due to the possibility of modification. Anything from the 60s and 70s is also popular, depending on the price.
- Install coil springs in a side-to-side or parallel pattern by welding the top base to the rear crossbar and the bottom base to the axle compartment. To keep costs low, use a straight axle in the front, used or new.
- Suspension from a Mustang II / Pinto, AMC Pacer, or Corvair are popular and useful options, although ready-to-weld suspension kits are also available, sometimes selling for just a few hundred dollars, complete with frame, axle bracket. and also template guides. It is a good investment if you need new parts.
Step 3. Mount the body on the frame
Old truck bodies are by far the most popular option, but you can also use modern fiberglass, which is tough and easy to work with. Customize the body and work the car however you like, shaping it for that rugged, sumptuous look you want in a good Rat Rod, then weld it to the frame.
Step 4. Reassemble the current motor or install a new one
Remember: a Rat Rod is a ramshackle, almost legal glorified go-kart, so don't go bankrupt by investing in the transmission. An old Chevrolet 350 or a Ford 302 are both very common and usually inexpensive options that you can get and rearm however you like. Just make the thing work. The great thing about the Rat Rods is that if you want to use an engine that really does not fit in the body, there is nothing to stop you but your own creativity and ingenuity. Make it fit. Take off the hood and do whatever you want.
- You may consider selling part of the car that you initially bought, especially if the headlights are worn out. You can then use the additional money from the sale to purchase something from the same era that does work.
- Install new starters or alternators when installing the engine into the frame. Make sure to remove as much grease as you can from the engine before installing the parts, then install the transmission and mount the driveshaft and radiator. Assemble the steering system and install the pedals, soldering any additional joints needed to keep everything in place.
Step 5. Finish the job
You're close to starting your car at this point, but you still need to install the brakes and tires and try to make the Rat Rod as safe as possible. It may not be legal to drive it on the street, but you have to make it capable of braking. Add a seat or cut out an armchair and use something pirate and hilarious. Rat Rods are flexible to whatever weird ideas you have about car aesthetics. Have fun with your car!
Part 3 of 3: Stylize Your Rat Rod
Step 1. Attach a windshield, side mirrors, and rear view mirror, if necessary
Rat Rods often do not have typical car accessories. Windows, covered seats, and even doors are entirely optional. Keep your tools close at hand so that you can continue adjusting your Rat Rod after taking it for its first turn. Customize it creatively.br>
Step 2. Paint the car body using matte or spray paint
Some Rat Rod manufacturers like to leave the rusty exterior almost as is, to show how strong and tough it was originally and still is. If you want a more polished look but want to keep some of the gritty surface, use a matte base coat with a few touch-ups of rust-like brown-toned paint that also seals the exterior and protects it a bit.
Step 3. Give it a topic
Stylized Rat Rods with unique themes are popular at parades and fairs, and often attract the attention of the crowd. For example, using unusual objects instead of the wheel would be a fun project that will make people laugh. Check out other Rat Rods for inspiration and make something unique and fun worth your while.
Step 4. Be original
Unlike Hot Rods, Rat Rods are custom cars that are not made to resemble a dated original. Spice up your vehicle with odd settings and colorful bodywork, or dramatically alter the original frame to create a whole new shape.
- Much of the creative work is done on the back of the car. Try to find another car's bumper that you can weld to your frame. If you have a truck, try cutting the deck to insulate the cab.
- Rat Rods usually need to be shortened to accommodate new steering systems.
- Be careful when cutting and welding old metal. Surfaces can be many times weaker than they appear, and there is a great risk of tetanus if old metal cuts through the skin.
- When making a Rat Rod, always keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Even if you drain all the gasoline, explosions are a possibility when welding.