01 The model A coupe has a center line running from front to back to assess squareness
Rayce Lefever’s Model A coupe was squared on father Rick’s frame fixture. As you can see, a center line runs from front to back and plumb bobs are dropped down at the front, middle, and rear before measurements are taken to ascertain squareness.

Part 1: Lowering the Lid on a 1932 Ford

By Tony Thacker – Photography By the Author

Guys typically don’t read instructions, right? Well, I would suggest that before you dive into a roof chop you do a little research, which is exactly what Evan and Justin Veazie of the Veazie Brothers did before they jumped into the chop of Bruce Fortie’s ’32 Ford highboy three-window coupe. Why? Because it was to be their first ever chop.

02 Extensive bracing is required for a top swap of the Model A coupe
Rick “Speed” Lefever is a perfectionist and takes no chances or short cuts, just look at the extensive bracing in son Rayce’s Model A coupe. If you want to do it right then this is the way to do it.

Evan called a few people who might know, like the Kennedy Brothers and Jimmy Shine, among others, and as you would expect got as many answers. The only answer was to plan carefully and then have at it.

Read More: How To Recess A Firewall On A 1934 Ford Five Window Coupe

Before any cutting is done the body has to be braced. In this case, it was a brand-new Brookville Roadster three-window coupe that one would expect to be square, and it was. If, however, you are chopping an old body, one that may have been repaired—more than once—you should check the body for squareness.

03 Protip use turnbuckles to adjust bracing if the body isn_t perfectly squarejpg
Some people, for example Bobby Walden, like to use turnbuckles at the ends of their bracing bars so that any imperfections in body squareness can be dialed out by simply adjusting the turnbuckle.

You can do this by bolting the body to a frame that you know is square or to a frame fixture. Next, hang some plumb bobs, preferably three at the front, center, and rear of the body before measuring every which way to make sure the body is square. If it’s not then you have some pushing and pulling to do to get it into shape. There’s no point in proceeding with the chop until you have the body square.

Once you have the body square you can begin to brace it. Most people, Evan included, use 1-inch square steel tubes and what you’re trying to do is hold the body together when you take off the roof. It will have a tendency to spring apart so you need to tie it together front to rear, side to side, and diagonally. As with actually chopping the top, there are many ways to do this; it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it.

04 another view of the Model A coupe_s extensive crossbracing and turn buckles
Here’s a different view of that same coupe at Bobby Walden’s showing the extensive crossbracing and the various turn buckles. If the professionals do it this way there’s no reason for you to use a short cut.

Read More: Fabricating a Custom Three-Piece Hot Rod Hood

Don’t underestimate the work involved in bracing, particularly if like some builders you use turnbuckles to facilitate some adjustment. That is particularly useful on an old body that is possibly out of square.

Even after some extensive bracing Evan discovered that he had mounted the crossbrace from the bottom of the door up to the cowl too high and that had to be moved down. Of course, you can salvage the tubing and use it for another project.

05 The 34 Five Window Ford Coupe at Walden Speed Shop
A wider angle of the ’34 Five Window Ford Coupe at Walden Speed Shop shows the extensive bracing complete with turnbuckles. Of course, if you were not experienced, you could buckle up and make more of a mess than you started with.

Considering he had never chopped a car before, Evan did a bang-up job and executed perhaps one of the best and certainly cleanest 2-inch chops I have ever seen. He did the major part of the chop in just one day, however, that did not include bracing, finishing, doors, and so on. That is to follow. MR

06 The work required to square a chassis is expectational, body shop level of expertise is required
The Kennedy brothers, Joe and Jay, are a little less constructive with their bracing, but remember, they have years of experience and have chopped dozens of cars. Take shortcuts only if you know what you are doing.
07 The front cowl of the Brookville Roadster 32 three-window coupe, the crossbraces tie the braces together
The front cowl end of Bruce Forte’s Brookville Roadster ’32 three-window coupe partway through the bracing process. Notice there are longitudinal braces running from front to back and crossbraces tying them together.
08 The Brookville Roadster needs bracing before any structural bodywork is carried out
It’s a roadster and therefore not for the chop, but you can see that these bodies need to be well braced before any structural bodywork is carried out.
09 The bottom of the rear door opening up to the A-pillar above the latch mechanism
Initially, these diagonal braces ran from the bottom rear of the door opening up to the A-pillar above the latch mechanism but it was found to get in the way of the part of the A-pillar that needed to be worked.
10 The shop makes an adjustment to the diagonal brace so it doesn_t interfere with the A-pillar work
Greg Hirata is seen here adjusting the diagonal brace by moving it down below the latch mechanism so that it doesn’t interfere with work on the A-pillar.
11 Rear bracing behind the door of Brookville Roadster Three-Window Coupe
This is the rear bracing that Evan Veazie installed behind the doors of Forte’s Brookville Roadster three-window coupe. The longitudinal braces are anchored to a rectangular frame that itself is crossbraced and anchored to the floor and the body sides.
12 A look through the trunk up to the firewall of the three window coupe body
The view looking in through the trunk up to the firewall of the three-window coupe body, here you can see how the rectangular frame in the back is crossbraced and tied to the front cowl.

Brookville Roadster
(937) 833-4605

Veazie Brothers Fabrication
(909) 438-6632

Subscribe to our Magazines