01 How to Install a Speedway Motors Drop Axle on Your Ford Model A
We have a slight change to an old expression. “What you see is what you get … and then some!” truly applies with this project–and it’s not all good.

Installing Speedway Motors Drop Axle & Bendix-Style Brakes

By Ryan Manson – Photography By Rob Fortier

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s purchased an incomplete project that a myriad of surprises, disappointments, and setbacks can often materialize. This ‘29 Ford roadster is a perfect case study for such a situation. At first glance, it appears to be a neat traditional Model A roadster, but upon closer inspection it starts to show its true self, warts and all.

02 Here_s what the project ’29 Ford roadster looked like when we started
Here’s what the project ’29 Ford roadster looked like when we started. It sat OK, but upon closer look it became clear that we needed to sort out a few things when it came to the brakes and suspension.

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That nice, new paint could hide lackluster metalwork. That running small-block Chevy could have 300,000 miles. The electrical system could be held together with wire nuts and duct tape. It truly is a “buyer beware” world out there, but sometimes the dream can gloss over the deal and we end up with a hot rod project that we probably should have simply walked past.

03 The front end of the old roadster sat on a dropped axle of questionable origin and a mono leaf spring
The front end of the old roadster sat on a dropped axle of questionable origin and a mono leaf spring that had either been de-arched or was plain ol’ worn out, which explains why the ‘29 roadster sat so low. A homemade draglink and tie rod handled the steering duties, while a pair of “vented” Ford hydraulic drum brakes were responsible for providing stopping power.

Not wanting to completely cast the Model A aside, we decided to forge a path forward, save for some of the more questionable components. It just so happens that those components are also the parts most related to the safe operation of such a car, brakes, steering, and front suspension. With that in mind, we turned to the capable crew at Speedway Motors for some much-needed guidance when it came to the direction in which we should take this roughshod roadster. We opted to tackle the most important aspects first, starting with the frontend. The guys at Speedway Motors recommended their 4-inch drop axle kit (PN 91639519), a set of Bendix-style brakes (PN 91065420), shocks and shock mounts, and a handful of other small parts to get our “A” back on the road safely.

04 The Model A front shock mounts serve as an example of a larger looming problem that plagued the ‘29 roadster
The Model A front shock mounts serve as an example of a larger looming problem that plagued the ‘29 roadster: Bad welds and lack of quality build abounds.

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While we found more than a handful of items left to tackle before our old roadster is roadworthy, it doesn’t mean a project like this should be completely ignored. As long as there are shops like Speedway Motors around offering replacement parts for these early Fords, we can continue to upgrade and improve these old cars and keep them on the road, safely, for another hundred years! MR.

05 Christian Arriero proceeded to axe the crooked Model A shock mounts into oblivion
With the original frontend removed, our right hand-shop-man Christian Arriero proceeded to axe the crooked Model A shock mounts into oblivion.
06 Model A components were replaced with Speedway Motors suspension parts for this Hot Rod
To replace the original components, we opted for a Model A 46-inch Radius Rod I-Beam Axle Kit (PN 91639519) from Speedway Motors in addition to a new set of spindles (PN 91032104) and hubs (PN 91065450). The 4-inch dropped I-beam axle and super-slide reversed-eye spring will put the ‘29 roadster back in the weeds but will do so with an increased safety measure.
07 Brake kit upgrades from Speedway motors using Bendix style brake kits
In addition to the new front end, we’re going to upgrade the front brakes with Speedway’s 12-inch Bendix-Style Drum Brakes (PN 91065420), Brake Drums (PN 91065400), and a Master Cylinder/Pedal Assembly for Model T, A, and ’32 Fords (PN 91631926).
08 Front brakes were replaced with parts from Speedway motors with Bendix Style Brakes
Arriero begins the frontend assembly by installing the new Speedway Motors spindles and kingpins on the 4-inch drop axle. Note the top of the spindle has been modified to fit the Bendix-Style brake backing plates.
09 Arriero begins the frontend assembly by installing the new Speedway Motors spindles and kingpins on the 4-inch drop axle.
When it comes to installing early Ford spindles, install the bearing with the seam facing down, not up (as shown here). This prevents moisture intrusion into the bearing.
10 When it comes to installing early Ford spindles, install the bearing with the seam facing down, not up (as shown here)
The Speedway Motors lower shock mounts install under the batwing on the spring perch bolt and utilize a keyway to prevent the shock mount from rotating.

11 The Speedway Motors lower shock mounts install under the batwing on the spring perch bolt

12 Next, the wheel bearings are packed with high-temp grease
Next, the wheel bearings are packed with high-temp grease …
… and the hub assemblies installed on the spindles. Note the seal on the back of the hub to keep the grease in and the dirt and road grime out.
14 Arriero installs the reversed-eye super-slide spring
After Arriero installs the reversed-eye super-slide spring, it’s time to slide the axle assembly under the ‘29 roadster.
15 With the drop axle assembly installed under the Model A_s frame
With the drop axle assembly installed under the Model A’s frame, Arriero installs the clevis ends on the chromed Speedway Motors radius rods and adjusts them evenly.
16 They are then bolted onto the Speedway Motors bat wings and adjusted so the provided frame bracket can be welded in place
They are then bolted onto the Speedway Motors bat wings and adjusted so the provided frame bracket can be welded in place.
17 Arriero attaches the shock to the mount bracket and then clamps the bracket securely to the frame
A pair of chromed Speedway Motors Gas-Filled Short Tube Shocks (PN 91046222) will replace the old dampers and will mount off a pair of Speedway Motors Weld-In Shock/Headlight Mount Brackets (PN 91036003).
18 Arriero attaches the shock to the mount bracket and then clamps the bracket securely to the frame
Arriero attaches the shock to the mount bracket and then clamps the bracket securely to the frame. A few measurements are then made to ensure the two brackets are even and straight.
19 Next, a spare headlight is used to double-check the bracket_s position
Next, a spare headlight is used to double-check the bracket’s position …
20 before they_re tack welded in place
… before they’re tack welded in place.

21 The roadster was set up with a side steer box and the plan is to stick with that design. A pair of Speedway Motors 3-3_4-inch Dropped Steering Arms

22 The Bendix-style backing plates are installed at the same time as the steering arms
The roadster was set up with a side steer box and the plan is to stick with that design. A pair of Speedway Motors 3-3/4-inch Dropped Steering Arms (PN 7022756) will link the two front wheels while providing clearance for the tie rod, while a Hoop-Style Steering Arm (PN 7204010) will mate the driver side spindle to the drag link.
23 The speedway motors brake upgrade is almost done, at this point, the anchor pin is left slightly loose
The Bendix-style backing plates are installed at the same time as the steering arms, save the internal components, along with the anchor pin and wheel cylinder. At this point, the anchor pin is left slightly loose.
24 Next, the 2-inch brake shoes are installed using the star wheel adjuster and spring to temporarily hold them in place
Next, the 2-inch brake shoes are installed using the star wheel adjuster and spring to temporarily hold them in place.
25 The Bendix brakes use a leading and trailing shoe design_ the shorter-lined shoe is installed toward the front
The Bendix brakes use a leading and trailing shoe design; the shorter-lined shoe is installed toward the front.
26 A retaining pin, washers, and spring hold each shoe in place permanently
A retaining pin, washers, and spring hold each shoe in place permanently.
27 The shoe retaining plate is then placed over the anchor pin and the return springs installed, completing the installation of the internal components
The shoe retaining plate is then placed over the anchor pin and the return springs installed, completing the installation of the internal components.
28 The wheel hub is reinstalled along with the brake drum so that the brakes can be adjusted and the anchor pin tightened
The wheel hub is reinstalled along with the brake drum so that the brakes can be adjusted and the anchor pin tightened.
29 The brakes are adjusted using a brake adjusting tool by turning the star wheel adjuster until the shoes are tight against the drum
The brakes are adjusted using a brake adjusting tool by turning the star wheel adjuster until the shoes are tight against the drum. This serves to center the anchor pin, which can then be tightened. The star wheel adjuster is then loosened until proper brake adjustment is attained.
30 It_s recommended to install all the components as a _dry-fit_ before painting to ensure everything fits together without any interference
It’s recommended to install all the components as a “dry-fit” before painting to ensure everything fits together without any interference.

Source
Speedway Motors
(800) 979-0122
speedwaymotors.com

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