El Cheapo: Building A Rat Rod For $1,500. Episode 12-Back Peddlin’

Last episode we covered a very cheap way of doing a brake pedal assembly and frugal is what we’re all about here! It’s my desire to usher in as many newcomers to the hot rod world as possible. I feel like many of the young guys employing builders/tuners are only doing so because they don’t know any different. I think it’s my obligation as one of the old guys to pay something back.

I’ve had a ton of hot rods over my lifetime, and all the knowledge I have gained will only die with me if I’m not willing to pass it on.  If I don’t present a cheap way of doing it, the young will be “eliminated by default,” because what twenty-something has a spare $89,000.00 laying around to spend on a hot rod? It didn’t work when we were young, and it won’t work now. Kids don’t have money, so in keeping with an entry-level project, we will continue with our miserly  cockpit.

The accelerator is nothing more than a lever that moves in an wide arc.

We direct our attention to the gas pedal. Loud pedal … go faster pedal, or whatever you want to call it. If you’ve ever noticed today’s go pedals, they are simply a lever on an arc. As you push down on the front part of the arc, it raises the back part of the arc. Depending on how much of an arc your pedal has, you may need to add pedal stops to prevent stretching the connecting rod or cable.

Welding a couple of L brackets to the pivot point on the pedal assembly will provide a mounting point for your pedal assembly.

This can be easily made from scratch or you can pick one up at the junk yard. Some mount flat on the floorboard and some mount to the side of the tranny tunnel.  This is the type I found laying in the floor board of a junk car without having to crank wrenches. The pics show that I cut the side mount off and left only the pivot. Two L-brackets attach to the pivot and then welded to a flat plate. For about ten American dollars and a couple of welds later and you’ve got a proper gas pedal.

The pedal part of the assembly can be anything that you dream up. In our case we decided to use a Maltese cross brake pedal and a V8 accelerator.

The pedal itself can be anything you can dream up. A cable of any kind can be used with a clasp on both ends. It just needs a rubber or plastic grommet to pass through the firewall with a spring on carb and pedal and you’re in business. The next issue is how to shift this rod in an equally cheap way.

With a coat for paint, these homemade pedals are primetime for a Rat Rod.

If you ever go to swap meets you will notice the price of shifters are all over the map. The cheapest new automatic shifter is $239.00, the price of a name brand used one is $100.00 or so. The cheapest shifter there will be a no-name three-speed floor shifter.

You can pick up shifter assemblies at the local wrecking yard, but don’t pay anymore than a sawbuck on one. Thirty dollars on a shifter is too much for this budget project.

No one wants one and so the cost is $10 to $30 dollars used. If you notice the markings on mine says $30.00 with a tag on the side marked down to $20.00, but at the end of the meet, I bought it for $10.00. The beauty of these old shifters is you can cut the back leg off, and the front leg has plenty of travel to make all the gears on an automatic transmission.

The U-bracket that shifts the tranny can be altered by cutting the sides off leaving the back piece and bolts-on using one of the cut off pieces to weld to the top of the back bracket. This gives a hoop to hook our linkage too.

Linkage is always a nice addition, but there are ways around it if your swap meet purchase didn’t dome with linkage.

If you’re lucky the linkage came with the shifter, but if not, a stick of all-thread will serve the purpose. A small bolt welded to either end will thread through both shifter and trans brackets and a nut will keep it in place. That’s what I’m talking about….. $20.00 for both, a gas pedal and a shifter. This is in the ball park of any twenty-year old kid.

Once again L-brackets and flat plate provide the mounting support.

 

The next step will be a gauge setup. Any older type speedo will work. This is where you can get creative. The dashes at a swap meet are big-buck, but the speedometer units are pretty cheap. I love the 55 Ford, 49 Merc and 50 Chrysler. They are easy to cut a pattern for in your dash and give it a really cool look.

On the other hand you can pull a round one out of a wrecked semi truck or even one from a motorcycle will work just fine. As for the gauges themselves such as temp, gas, oil, alt and so on, it’s better not to use that part of these old units. It cost too much to make them work right again where as, the speedo is mechanical and only requires a cable. You can be creative here, mix and match, make it interesting and something unique to you.

You are better off to go with the 3 gauge units you can buy at any parts houses or swap meets. The reason I say this is because one little plastic tube runs the oil pressure gauge and one little copper line runs your temp gauge and one wire runs your alt or volt gauge.

Any combination of gauges will work. Just make sure that it fits the build aesthetically.

It just makes your life much more simple and you can mount them under the dash or cut them into the dash and you’ve got gauges for days. These sets also have lights in them that can be wired to your light switch. Speaking of wiring, next episode I will get into the most difficult part of any Hot Rod.

Wiring can seem overwhelming, but thanks to some of the companys that saw a need and simplified the process, you can get through this. I will navigate this process next issue and explain do’s and don’ts and a few tips I’ve learned the hard way. Check us out at, RingRods-HotRods.com. Till then, happy rodding.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
Read My Articles

Classic Street Rods in your Inbox

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Rod Authority, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Rod Authority NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

We'll send you the most interesting Street Rod articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Rod Authority NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Classic Chevy Magazine

Corvette Enthusiasts

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Classic Chevy Magazine
  • Corvette Enthusiasts

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading