> From Rough to Righteous

From Rough to Righteous

Perfecting the Panel Gaps on a ’36 Ford Pickup

The first step is to align the body as much as the factory tolerances will allow. To do so, we loosen all of the hinge bolts and the striker and see how close we can get. The factory assembly line did not have very close tolerances in the ’30s, so additional work will be required to obtain a perfect fit.

Pickup trucks from the ’30s were never meant to be high-quality hot rods, but several builders, including Jeff Lilly Restorations, are ready to change that theory. Lots of beater trucks are being built and driven frequently, and it’s great to see some of the cool ideas that come from these old farm or service trucks. Pickups are hot right now, and while some rodders are using low-gloss paint for their final coatings, many opt for a super-slick appearance with precision gaps and laser-straight panels.

It’s hard to notice the nearly perfect gaps on a late-model truck because we’ve come to expect the best out of modern auto manufacturers, but one look at an original truck from the 1930s is all it takes to appreciate the panel fitment of today. Pickups from the ’30s and ’40s lived as farm implements and service trucks, but rodders are ready to see a change in the endless sea of coupes and roadsters at rod runs. The only major problem that comes from this outbreak of pickup truck fever is that some shops are not taking the extra time to align the panels properly. The tolerances were not close back then, and it takes hours of work to improve them. We’re going to show you what it takes to make the doors and hood fit the cab perfectly.

The recipient of this work is a ’36 Ford pickup, but these techniques are very universal and can be applied to any old car or truck. We’ll be cutting, welding and grinding, so the proper eye protection should be worn for each part of the process. No special tools are required for this project, but an air blower should be kept handy at all times to cool the welds and keep the metal from warping.

The crew at Jeff Lilly Restorations goes to great lengths to turn out some of the industry’s top-notch work, and the alterations performed on this ’36 Ford pickup will take it to a new level of quality. If your pickup truck or passenger car has lackluster gaps and you want to change it, then take a look at the photos and utilize the tips on your own project. And whether you want to make minor modifications or perform the extensive work as Jeff Lilly Restorations did, it will take your hot rod hauler from rough to righteous by improving the panel gaps and fitment.


Article Sources

Jeff Lilly Restorations


11125 f.m. 1560 n San Antonio, TX 78023

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