I have a name for those special projects that always seem to have hidden surprises in them. I like to call them icebergs; they don’t look too big on the surface, but underneath they could sink the Titanic. There are more icebergs out there than ever before, and with the proliferation of Ebay, it has made purchasing these projects even more probable. My 1951 Ford Custom is an iceberg, and it is a doozie. I purchased the car on Ebay (after it changed hands 3 times before) for $500, which was probably too much money in hindsight. The car looks pretty decent on the outside, the interior is the bad part. To make a long story short, a family of rats filled the entire floor, trunk and doors with nesting materials. This nest held water, which turned the floor into something not even Fred Flintstone would attempt to sit in. The car needs an entire floor.
There is only one source for shoebox Ford floor pans, Bradley Floor Pans. The pans are good quality, though they do require a little more work than you might expect. The pans are completely flat and square. They have the correct ribbing and pre-cut holes for mounts and what not, but they have to be cut to shape and the edges bent to match up to the tranny and rear-end tunnels. The good thing is that there is plenty of material left over for this purpose. In addition to the floor pans, we purchased a set of floor supports for the front and rear of the car from Mill Supply. The rears were perfect fit, but the fronts were made for 49-50 Fords, and would not work on our ’51, so we had to reuse the originals.
During the tear down of the car, a section of the tranny tunnel was accidentally thrown out. After pitching a good long fit, a call to Shoebox Ford of Midwest City, Oklahoma ended with a new tranny tunnel section to replace it. $50 for the metal is not a bad price, and it was in excellent shape so the crisis had been averted.
The installation process began with removal of the original undercoating. This stuff is nasty, but it came off on large chunks with a metal scraper. The rocker panels were shot too, so we replaced both the inner and outer rockers. This gave us something to weld the new floor to and provided support for the body. The new floors were test fitted and old floors were marked for removal. You don’t want to remove more metal than the new floors will cover, or you will have to add more patch panels. With everything lined up and trimmed, the new floors were tack welded in. The floors do not require full stitch welds, 1\2” long welds along with an assortment of spot welds is sufficient to hold the floors in place and look factory. After the welds were cleaned up with a grinder, every seam was treated to a liberal coating of seam sealer. We used 3M flexible seam sealer and applied it with a caulking gun. To achieve a more original look, a chip brush was used to spread the seam sealer. You could buy brushable seam sealer, but we used what we had on hand and got the same results. To complete the job, the entire floor was sprayed with Duplicolor’s Truck Bed Liner. I prefer using this on interior panels over rubberized undercoating as the texture is smoother and it protects the metal better than undercoating. In addition to that, this floor will get covered with Dynamat sound deadener, which sticks to the bedliner better than it does the under coating.
The results are quite stunning, what once looked like a disaster project now looks like a buildable car. We chipped a big chunk of ice off this ’berg and we have our sights set on the rest; I love a good challenge, don’t you?
Bradley Floor Pans