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Thread: Continental "cowbelly" frame

  1. #1
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    Barry, In the authenticity manual they make note that the center crossmember that bisects the chassis was deleted mid-production. Did they do this because they had already decided not to have a factory-built convertible or just to save weight?

  2. #2
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    My friend Al, has a '57 and his has the cross-member. I think the missing cross-member is some kind of Mark II myth.

    In fact, while the Mark II was penned as a convertible as early as 1953, the idea was stillborn as the levels of Mark II's sales were unimpressive.

    Interestingly, the Mark II program was cancelled around the time the Derham car was introduced at the Texas State Fair, in October of 1956.

    The frame on my car has been beefed up by the addition of an additional layer of steel (3/16") cut to match the serpentine shape stitch-welded the length of the frame. They also added 1" diameter schedule 80 steel tubing to form an X under the front passenger area, strengthening the "A" and "B" pillar attachments.

    I don't know what values that technically added to the structure. Their engineers added it for a reason, I'm sure. All I can state is that it is the smoothest riding automobile I've ever owned.
    Barry Wolk
    Farmington Hills, MI

    C5681126

  3. #3
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    That's what had me puzzled about the statement I found. Jim had three of these cars at one time, two 56's and a 57, and all of them had that crossmember. You're right about the strength as I've seen 1-ton trucks that didn't have as heavy a frame.

  4. #4
    Huffstutler Guest

    Default Convertible Frame

    Can someone post a photo or manual scan of what the Convertible Frame (including the extra X tubing) looks like?

    Thanks.
    Eric

  5. #5
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    There was no "X" tubing on the stock frame. My car has additional bracing, but it hardly seems necessary as the cowbelly frame was designed for a convertible body.
    Barry Wolk
    Farmington Hills, MI

    C5681126

  6. #6
    Huffstutler Guest

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    True, the stock frame did not have an X configuration. It was quite unique - almost Hudson style. But as you mentioned, the convertible did have extra bracing and from what I read was 1-1/2 diameter tubing in a cross shape placed between the A and B pillar supports. I am trying to picture just how they would fit at the Y backbone area? Do you have a sketch/drawing/photo of this configuration so I will know exactly how it was laid out?

    Also, when one speaks of "cowbelly" design associated with Ford products, I think of the traditional curved side rails starting with the 1957 model Ford / Mercury automobiles like the Fairlane. Since the Continental's side rails were straight, I consider it more of a modified Ladder frame. Am I wrong to think that?

    Thanks again!
    Eric

  7. #7
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    Cowbelly refers to being lower in the center than at both ends.
    Barry Wolk
    Farmington Hills, MI

    C5681126

  8. #8
    Huffstutler Guest

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    The way I understood it was the bowed, rounded side rails that look like the bloated sides of a cow hence cowbelly frame for the 1957-1964 Fords.

  9. #9
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    Hmmmmm.........................

    Wouldn't it have been called a cow-side frame then.
    Barry Wolk
    Farmington Hills, MI

    C5681126

  10. #10
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    Here are some pictures of my car. I need to detail it.

    This picture is looking at the undercarriage from the rear wheel well. You'll note the tube that runs from the "B" pillar area to the center of the three cross members. All 4 tubes from both "A" and "B" pillar locations meet in this area. A large metal plate, approximately 12" square is welded to the frame and cross members, tying all the braces together. in the center. Still working on a drawing.

    Also note in this picture the method of strengthening the frame. Art Sears told me that they took the body off the frame and flipped it over. They made cardboard templates of the frame and boxed cross members. They cut 1/4" steel plate and beautifully stitch-welded continuous steel pieces from front to rear. The cross members that weren't round were plated in a similar manner. Many a professional welder has told me that these results could only have been done with the chassis upside-down. Having just done a bunch of overhead welding, I can attest to the difficulty of it.



    The tubing interfered with the floor pans so they were artfully hammered away creating clearance.



    This picture is looking from the "A" pillar area on the driver's side rearward. You can see the bracing for the much larger front seat floor pan.



    A closer look at the center connection for the tubing. I've never looked, are there corner braces on a stock Mark II frame?

    Barry Wolk
    Farmington Hills, MI

    C5681126

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