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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone here gone the steel body route? It's an expensive option, but has to potential to save a lot of prep time and labor cost at the body shop. So if it really does reduce the rework time, prep time, panel and door alignment time, it may not be that expensive. Plus I've seen some builds where areas of the poly body need reinforcement - trunk top and bottom, trunk lid, hood side panels, and hood flex, etc - the time, effort, and expense of material could all be offset as well.

Thoughts...?

Links to Steel builds? [I'm not aware of any]
 

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FFCobra Master Craftsman
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I have a repeat customer that went to SEMA and saw the car. His car is mostly done, so he knows what he's looking at. If the report is correct, I was sad to hear that the metal body is pretty much a clone of the glass body where things are off as much as 1/2" !!! The belt line is a Vee shape and the symmetry is off. In fairness, I get this second hand but from a good source.

According to this report, FFR simply used computer targets on the, very much non symmetrical glass body and just reproduced the same flaws into the metal body.

I hope someone here will correct me on this otherwise, FFR has just continued on producing a lesser product than they are capable of. I hope I'm wrong. If so, I apologize in advance.

You will still have fitment issues, poor hinge design on doors hood and trunk and a bunch of inferior Chinese parts to contend with. Unless you are on the side of the judgers table that looks down on a glass body, not worth the extra cash unless it's right.

Tim Whittaker
Kootenai Valley Customs
 

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There is chinese parts in the FFR?? I am shocked...

But at least when you have steel to modify you don't have to deal with those nasty fibers....
 

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a little better

The improvements I saw on the SEMA car and the savings on some of the body prep should make it a better product than the glass body 33 HR.
It's still not symmetrical but I would drop the coin for it because of the improvements I saw on that steel Beta car;
The top of the doors with the door glass opening in them were still very
rigid. That is a lot better and should hold a rubber seal very nicely.
The body horns forward of the firewall are bobbed back where they don't
have to be spread and tipped when dropping the body on the chassis.
The chin piece is much longer and comes further under the car so it should
add more strength and coverage from road debris.
The gas cap is not stamped into the trunk flange so no more gassing up
in the trunk. They didn't have a final plan/location on that at SEMA time.
Fastening the hard top to the body should to be a better design because it's
all steel, but I don't know those details yet.
The hood sides can be ordered with or without the louvers so that is a nice
option only available on the steel body.
The V line along the steel body did line up well. That may have been tweaked from the glass body detail because a lot of those had to be nudged into alignment with cuts and filler. I didn't think to flex the body by the trunk
latch to see if it's stiffer there so the latch would work better but I'm already registered for SEMA 2017 so I'll give that a look see while I'm there.
The body flange drops over/in front of the firewall so no more odd looking joint and fitment issues there.

I would really love to see better/bigger rear steel fenders so we can run
a proper amount of stagger in tire height for a street rod but that detail
may be too far gone to add at this point.
DB
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies yall!

I'm a CAD guy - a Solidworks Pro - and there is a lot of hype about these cars being designed using Solidworks. If this is true then I don't understand why there are symmetry issues with the body. If the A-surfaces are done accurately on one side, then seriously it's a mirror command to reproduce the other side - perfect symmetry! And for error/tolerance on the mold tool creation - if the models are used for CNC tool cutting, the variation should only be in the .005" range. Even if a clay model was used to design the body, it's merely a simple 3D scan to bring it into CAD and then manipulate the surfaces for symmetry and trueness. These practices aren't cutting edge tech, nor are they expensive.

I guess the only true test if the steel body is any better is when regular builders get experience with it. Seems most of what we know about the steel body is anecdotal from SEMA '16. Then assumptions are made either way based on experiences. Trouble is, that's a lot to spend on an unknown.

Tim, I totally respect your thoughts based on the work of yours I've seen online and read about, but you seem quite pessimistic about it. I tend to be more optimistic until the market proves otherwise - and can see promise in the improvements noted by Buck. Most notably that the body is stronger and the improved firewall interface.
 

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It would be sad if CNC machined stamping dies were not machined to be symmetrical. No excuse for that - pick dimensions from one side or the other, or split the difference, but make both sides the same.

Dash still not removable? The body and dash have to be made from multiple pieces that are joined in some manner. A removable dash would be a huge improvement.

It's nice that they have a window opening in the doors, but the opening should have a vertical flange about 1" wide along both sides of the opening for mounting proper sill weather strip on the outside and whisker strip on the inside.

If the top is a single layer of steel with some reinforcement it would actually be an improvement, so the top could be properly insulated to reduce heat.

While you won't have to deal with glass fibers, you will need to deal with rust. When paint gets chipped by rocks thrown off the rear tires, it will start rusting.

Paint prep will undoubtedly require a fair amount of body filler and/or several coats of high build polyester primer and blocking every square inch to insure the body is straight and all the panels match. I've seen articles on prepping other brands of steel replica bodies. One showed a trunk lid about 90% covered with a thin layer of filler, after sanding. I'd apply epoxy primer first, then spray 3 coats Evercoat super build, rather than coating an extensive area with filler. It would take far less sanding.
 

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yes and no

Thanks for the replies yall!

I'm a CAD guy - a Solidworks Pro - and there is a lot of hype about these cars being designed using Solidworks. If this is true then I don't understand why there are symmetry issues with the body.

I guess the only true test if the steel body is any better is when regular builders get experience with it.

Tim, I totally respect your thoughts based on the work of yours I've seen online and read about, but you seem quite pessimistic about it. I tend to be more optimistic until the market proves otherwise - and can see promise in the improvements noted by Buck. Most notably that the body is stronger and the improved firewall interface.
Not sure when FF went to Solidworks but the 33 body was likely not designed that way and IIRC was bought as is by FF so the flaws came with it.
The SEMA steel car was painted by Da-Bat in a patina job and was shown at the HB show recently so you can ask the westies how it looked there.

Tim W. was politely withholding my name but for clarity I'm the one that gave him the rundown on the SEMA car. I share his disdain for the quality of some of the FF components and their missed opportunities to improve on them along the way. I suspect the reason the 33 steel was left as is was a financial decision and a domino effect one as well on the other kit pieces.

I do wish they had improved the symmetry but FWIW the steel body is a better product than the glass one and worth the money IMO< Isn't that what the original question was ?
DB
 

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There is chinese parts in the FFR?? I am shocked...

And in (nearly) every other reproduction steel bodied car made today.
 

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Mike,

Perhaps a little pessimistic as I've been with FFR from early on and see them introduce a new MK# or revision that I know is costly when such small changes would make the basic kit easier for builders, a better end product with less work required to complete. A number of these issues could be corrected with a simple programming change on a sheet metal piece for example or a minor change in glass production that would make a better product.

It a mammoth undertaking to produce a kit car and not all problems present themselves in the beginning. Dave Smith is not to be slighted for this accomplishment. It's just sad that with just a little more attention to what the builders complain about, very little added production expense would make the kit much better.

I recent times, I have received a number of calls from customers that basically feel they were left on their own after the sale was made. A lot of comments from customers who complain about having to argue with FFR about replacing parts that shouldn't have been sent out in the first place. Often the way we do business in the USA these days. It's all about profit.
 

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Mike,

Perhaps a little pessimistic as I've been with FFR from early on and see them introduce a new MK# or revision that I know is costly when such small changes would make the basic kit easier for builders, a better end product with less work required to complete. A number of these issues could be corrected with a simple programming change on a sheet metal piece for example or a minor change in glass production that would make a better product.

It a mammoth undertaking to produce a kit car and not all problems present themselves in the beginning. Dave Smith is not to be slighted for this accomplishment. It's just sad that with just a little more attention to what the builders complain about, very little added production expense would make the kit much better.

I recent times, I have received a number of calls from customers that basically feel they were left on their own after the sale was made. A lot of comments from customers who complain about having to argue with FFR about replacing parts that shouldn't have been sent out in the first place. Often the way we do business in the USA these days. It's all about profit.
Well said my Friend!
 

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WHY! Why If FF scan the glass car.Then why not use the numbers from one side and flip them for the other side? I can do this on my C.N.C. wood working program .I know that they are not the same but there must be a way! I asked FF and was told they payed some one to make the car like it is because the real car was like this.I wonder what H. Ford would say .I gave up after that call. They could also use the numbers to cut a plug for the glass car . Then life would be goood. They payed a guy to screw up my car? why
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Perhaps a little pessimistic as I've been with FFR from early on and see them introduce a new MK# or revision that I know is costly when such small changes would make the basic kit easier for builders, a better end product with less work required to complete...

It a mammoth undertaking to produce a kit car ... Dave Smith is not to be slighted for this accomplishment.

...the way we do business in the USA these days. It's all about profit.
That pessimism is understandable, and founded, as evidenced by your extensive experience. I agree. I work in an engineering field and it's a constant battle between Engineering and Marketing to do evolutionary improvements to a product instead of generational jumps. Marketing usually sways the board. I'm a big fan of Dave Smith - never met him, but it is quite an accomplishment to produce a kit that can be built in so many combinations, and for what you pay is a good quality kit. Truth is, if you want to survive you need to make a profit. Plus you have to work the margin so you can afford decent labor, which unfortunately affects component quality.

Yeah, you can build a custom tube chassis, fit a Brookville or ASC body around it, and fit it with top quality suspension like Heidts. But all that will cost MUCH more, EVERYTHING will have to be sourced separately, and hope it all works together. Then you still have to do all the fabrication and fitting. If you want top quality, you can do it, and you'll pay for it!

Not sure when FF went to Solidworks but the 33 body was likely not designed that way and IIRC was bought as is by FF so the flaws came with it...
I've heard similar reports that the initial design was purchased...

The SEMA steel car was painted by Da-Bat in a patina job and was shown at the HB show recently so you can ask the westies how it looked there.
Yeah, I love that paint job! I've been looking for more pictures of this car, but have only seen the few that FFR posts on their website and facebook.

I share [Tim's] disdain for the quality of some of the FF components and their missed opportunities to improve on them along the way. I suspect the reason the 33 steel was left as is was a financial decision and a domino effect one as well on the other kit pieces.
I'm sure there could be improvements in components, but I'm one of the potential builders that are willing to compromise in order to get a decent kit at a good price point. With a house, wife, two kids, a full time job, and everything else - I'll compromise to get my butt in a hot rod. I think a lot of people are looking for an Aston Martin at Camry prices.

I suspect the reason the 33 steel was left as is was a financial decision and a domino effect one as well on the other kit pieces.
I'm sure... A body tweak or component tweak could have a trickle-down affecting many other things - actually possibly necessitating a generational [expensive] change.

I do wish they had improved the symmetry but FWIW the steel body is a better product than the glass one and worth the money IMO< Isn't that what the original question was ?
DB
Yes, that was the question. I'm still leaning toward steel. My idea is to leave to body fairly rough - not rat rod rough, more like traditional jalopy rough in flat black - and let the mechanical components be the centerpiece. As such, I think the steel body would be better looking "unfinished".

As far as the complaints about "Chinese" components... Everything is made in China. Thank domestic costs of pensions, healthcare, and ridiculous environmental regulations. Not everything made in China is bad - companies who produce in Chine with low quality standards make bad stuff. If your quality and process controls are good, you will make good product - regardless of where it is produced. That is the basic tenant of Manufacturing Engineering.
 

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TxMike,

Your points are all well taken. However, remember that the opinions you are refuting are, for the most part, being made by people who have already experienced the frustration that comes with building this kit. Much of the frustration comes from things that could seemingly be fixed at the factory level fairly easily. But some of the frustration comes from the lack of response or action on the part of FFR.

Yes, the kits are pretty reasonably priced - from the outside looking in. However, you will find that your hot rod will be one heck of a lot more expensive car to build than you initially guess. If you really want a budget hot rod, there are plenty on the market already built that will cost you a LOT less to purchase than you are about to spend to build one!

As far as FFR using Chinese parts; First off, everything is NOT made in China! There are plenty of U.S. companies producing high quality products. However, I agree that Chinese-made components tend to be a fact of life when trying to keep costs down. No problem with items like headlight buckets or mirrors. A few hundred bucks well spent on better quality components fixes that problem - if that's important to you (as it was to me.)

A major problem does crop up though when a major part, like the grille or windshield, is made with unforgivably low quality. Those items are very difficult (AND expensive) to source or repair for the average builder.

Then there's the terrible quality of the (U.S. made!) fiberglass body. I won't go into that right now. Those issues are documented and repeated every time a new builder gets to that point. The real frustration is that FFR decided to go the cheap route and duplicate all of those flaws (except the porosity, I guess) in the new steel body.

Don't get me wrong. I really love my car - flaws, frustration and all. But, when finished, I will have over forty grand in it - and I already had a donor car. Blew my $28K budget right out the window!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm not trying to refute anyone, I'm asking questions and throwing ideas and thoughts in a discussion. That is how we learn - and that's all I'm trying to do, and I want to learn as much as I can before making any decisions. It may be a character flaw, but I don't take opinions/statements as truth without explanation. If someone has an opinion I try to find out "why", regardless of their knowledge or experience, not out of lack of respect but because I'd like to learn from those who know!

Chinese-made, US-made, Whatever-made... the quality of a product is only as good or as bad as the companies quality standards.

I don't think it will be too difficult to build a '33 the way I would like and stay within a reasonable budget - probably somewhere in your $28k range, but mostly due to the fact that I don't want a finished body (perfect gaps, multi-stage deep color paint job). I actually want it rough and the idea I have in my head will be more attainable with a steel body, but that's another $10k I need to consider. Still I would consider under $40k a decent budget, especially when spread over a few years. After all, it's the experience of the build that you can't put a number on that is valuable to me.

And I'm not looking for top-level components. Good enough is good enough to get it together. And later on down the road if I choose to upgrade something, well then I get an excuse to turn wrenches on the project again! If I'm in a hurry to build it so I can drive it, then I'd be better off to go out and buy any one of a million cars out there and go drive.

But I'm getting off topic.

I read a snippet somewhere there's a steel body customer waiting on his body to be delivered. I'm curious to learn more about why FFR is delaying delivery.
 

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I would do the steel body in a heartbeat. If you want really, really good stuff....you pay a really, really big price. Every metal body out there needs work. If you start with FFR's and sink some money into it you will still be ahead of most of the other bodies (way ahead in some cases) I don't have a problem with the glass body,,,it's just work. After 20 of them I have learned lots of great tricks.....Here is the problem and I say this with love (and some will be offended) You're not car builders....you don't have a life of experience with this stuff to draw from and maybe not much naturel ability....AND THAT'S OK. If you have one of these 33's you are really good at what YOU do. Buying a kit and putting pieces together means you can follow directions and advice but if you can't problem solve fitment issues you should have someone who can do it for you....Yes, there are issues that could be addressed but they aren't deal breakers. You can still make a car. For a first, second, third time builder to expect perfect results or have it look like the 150k car (where most of them start these day)parked two spots down at the car show ain't gonna happen. They could make these cars fit perfect and some guys would still screw it up. Take your daily apart in the driveway, now put it all back together, now paint it,,,,,does it look like the day you drove it home from the dealership ??? Honestly, I'm not trying to be harsh,or a jerk but you need to keep things in perspective....Your skill level, cost of what you bought and expectation of the final product......guess I'll stop there (think I'm gonna be sorry already). I love that metal body and I could make that sucker sing. You guys know me for working on glass cars but I grew up chopping tops,channeling, Frenching, rolling, skirting, corner rounding, sectioning, louvering.....aint a metal rod out there (that's not a rat) without filler in it (lead doesn't count, lead is crap compared to todays filler).....don't hold back, I just bought a gallon of Kraken and I'll take all comers (unless you hurt my feelings) :crying2:then I'm TELLIN MY MOM>:)...DA bAT
 

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Discussion Starter #16
...You're not car builders... For a first, second, third time builder to expect perfect results or have it look like the 150k car (where most of them start these day)parked two spots down at the car show ain't gonna happen.... keep things in perspective....Your skill level, cost of what you bought and expectation of the final product... DA bAT
Well said.

Hey where can I see more of the red patina-ed '33? Love that car!
 

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You sure are right. I'm certainly no car builder compared to guys like you, mr Tim, mr dan. I've built 2 roadsters (a 2 and a 4), a 23 t bucket, restored a couple mustangs and a whole heap of street mustangs, but I sure am gonna try my heart out to make the builder of that 150k$ car come down and at least look at mine and not find immense flaws. I do this to challenge myself, to see if I can do it. It might take me longer and I probably have to ask gracious fellows like yourself for tips and guidance. But when I'm done, it's mine. Imperfections (which I am shooting for none on this one!) and all.

My next project will be a steel body car. Or truck maybe. But for now, I can do glass work so that's the route I went. But my goal is to get the looks and admiration that you guys garner and then when asked who built it, be able to say me with a big grin.
 

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And you can call anytime and I'm more then happy to walk any of you through a tough spot (I could write a book on the doors alone) Cheers...da Bat 951-676-0191
 

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I will probably take you up on that when I get to that point lol!

Aligning me getting gaps the doors and trunk and such has always been my weakness.

Great guys on these forums.
 

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For me it's all about the experience, the journey, and the sense of accomplishment. All of my life I have wanted to build a car from the ground up but life has gotten in the way. Before I'm done here on this earth I hope to get that accomplished. When I finish, it won't look like that $150,000 car, but it will be the one I built, and that's more than the average citizen can say.
 
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