So, I welded up the boxed frame sections. We mocked up the front spalsh pan and bumper to check clearances.
All looked like it was aligned well and in place. Only the lower splash pan will need to be trimmed to fit around the radiator. Next step was to build a frame to support the radiator. We formed this out of 1" square tubing:
We had some sheetmetal (from an art filling cabinet) that was fairly thick, and already had a 90 degree bend in it that we thought would make a great radiator mount. We trimmed off the ends (see pic below) and tack-welded it in place.
Here you can see how we welded the two opposite pieces together to form an "L" shape- it repositioned the radiator more forward into the grill area, to eventually provide clearance for an electric fan. When mocking this up, the mount itself sat too close to the engine for fan clearance, so we needed to gain more space for the radiator like this:
Below you should be able to see what I meant about making the radiator sit more forward using the "L" brackets:
At this point, I figured out a way to use the factory '51 Merc radiator mount. It's basically a big "U" shaped piece of thick metal. On a stock Merc, it holds the radiator, and ties the two inner fenderwells together. There is a body mount directly underneath it.
I figured if I could incorporate this into the front end, it could tie everything together, like factory, while holding up the '64-up early Mustang-style radiator at the same time. It would not, however, directly support the entire front sheetmetal as it did from the factory.
The first step in using the original radiator support involved cutting down the stock inner fenderwells. These bolt to the fenders, and keep the road grime from splashing into the engine compartment. Because of the newer Lincoln frame, they were WAY to big (tall) to use in stock form, and had to be cut down to fit. Below is a stock, unmodified (Driver's side) inner fenderwell:
After trimming, it was down to this size, for both sides. Quite a bit had to be trimmed:
Next up we determined the best way to mount the inner fenders to the frame stubs...and at the same time, hold up the radiator support. The inner fenders will mount on rubber bushings using custom-fabbed brackets, and the radiator cradle will bolt to the inner fenderwells using some of the stock bolts. First order of business: build the radiator cradle:
(Above) You can see how we took the existing square tubing support frame we built, and adapted it to the stock 1951 "U" shaped radiator fixture. We took sections of the square tubing and welded it off the sides to center the radiator. Next, we welded in plates at the bottom of the Merc radiator support to anchor the down tubes, and tacked it all together. Below is a detail of the square tube/radiator-mount-to-Merc radiator support:
(Below) Detail of how radiator support mounts to bottom of stock Merc radiator support:
(Below) Overall view of how radiator is mounted in old Merc mount.
(Below) Looking towards the passenger side from the driver's side, you can see the inner fenderwell, and new holes drilled to accept the modified radiator mount:
(Below) Here's what the new radiator support looks like bolted in to place:
(Below) Another view, passenger side- inner fender bolted to new radiator mount:
(Below) Here is what it looks like from the front of the car, passenger side. I had to trim off about 1/2 inch of the stock Merc inner grille surround to make it work- the light brown section to the left. The factory grill still fits in place:
Basically, the inner fenders will mount to the Lincoln frame on rubber bushings, supporting the front-end sheetmetal. See below.
Don't worry, I couldn't picture how it all would come together at first in my head either, until I actually saw what needed to be made to sit the inner fenders on the frame. We made it overly strong, since it supports so much weight.
I needed a solid, yet flexible way to mount the front sheetmetal. I decided to weld a large nut to a washer, then drill a hole in the frame and weld this in. The core support sits on large rubber body mounts, and a large bolt threads into this. Much like the way modern full frame cars are built at the factory. See below for pics:
Here is a better picture of the support structre bolted to the inner fenderwells that will mount to these bolts:
And here is how it will all come together:
I will be adding some additional supports (in green) to make it even stronger:
Above is looking up from inside the passenger side wheelwell.
Below is driver's side, looking into empty headlight opening, into wheelwell.
Finally, for the first time in years, the front end is supported on it's own, without the use of vice grips, cinder blocks, or jacks!