Jo Anne’s “Root Beer Float”
“ A Long and Interesting Family Journey”
By Blackie Suede
Carroll Hamilton built this classy 1931 Ford Model A pickup truck for his wife, Jo Anne. But, before we get into the details of the “Root Beer Float” we must go back to the truck’s beginnings.
You see, Jo Anne’s father, Roman Chaike, was a Model A Ford restorer, and upon finishing up his latest 1931 Model A roadster ‘daily driver’ in 1988, he began the next project with a bare Model A frame. Eventually, it became a complete roller, with a rebuilt 4 banger, a rebuilt tranny, etc. With the chassis just waiting for a body, Carroll and Jo Anne stepped in. Jo Anne always wanted a pickup truck, so the Hamilton’s contacted the folks at Brookville Roadster and purchased a complete 1931 Ford Model A pickup truck body package: fenders, bed, tailgate, bed wood, windshield - the whole package. All of the pieces were shipped from Brookville (Brookville, OH), down I-75, to Jo Anne’s father in Florida. It was assumed this would keep ‘Pop’ busy for a few years. Less than a year passed before the truck, while not completely finished, was together and running down the road. Not a big deal, except ‘Pop’ was 87 years old and still building Model A engines, transmissions, installing bodies, etc. He did this mostly by himself, in his home garage. Not long after getting the pick up on the road, Mr. Chaike passed away do to an unfortunate accident.
The truck was shipped back up I-75 to the Hamilton’s garage in Cincinnati, OH, and put in a corner as a project for a future date. In 2002 Carroll and Jo Anne moved to Ponce Inlet, FL and not long after, the truck made another trip back down I-75 to Florida. Again, it sat in the corner waiting as Carroll finished up some other hot rod projects. Finally the time came to draw up a plan for the Model A. Since Carroll is a street rodder, as is Jo Anne, neither had a real desire to finish the Model A restoration, so the plan was to convert the truck into a street rod. The vision was to honor the venerable Model A pickup truck by keeping a classic, although not totally original, look. However, the chassis, drive train, etc. would be street rod all the way. And the finished truck would be a driver.
Brookville Roadster was again contacted to supply their street rod version of the Model A frame. In addition to the frame, Brookville supplied the Posie front spring, a Super Bell dropped axle, Total Cost Involved hairpins, spindles – most of the running gear.
Carroll located an 8-inch Ford rear end in a local salvage yard, and rebuilt the center section using 3:80gears and a rebuild kit, both from Randy’s Ring & Pinion. An additional cross member was fabricated and installed in the frame to facilitate the Pete and Jake’s (Peculiar, MO) ladder bars that were used to locate the rear axle. A Deuce Factory, 1932 Ford, rear sway bar was modified to fit the Model A frame.
Front brakes are F1/F100 Ford truck 11-inch drums, while the rear brakes are the later 11-inch Ford drums. The stainless steels brake lines were manufactured by Classic Tube (Lancaster ,NY) from bent wire patterns that Carroll supplied. The clutch/brake pedal assembly is another Brookville Roadster item.
After all of the cross members, brackets, etc. were welded in place. The frame and all of the suspension parts were sent out for a black powder coat. The black powder coating is in keeping with the stock Model A truck theme, but more importantly it is far easier to maintain than paint or chrome.
A home built steering column and integral drop is topped off with a Root Beer and Vanilla Cream painted, Lime Works Speed Shop, ’40 Ford style, steering wheel. A Unisteer Performance Products rack guides the truck, while Pro Shock coil over shocks on the rear, and Pro Shock standard street rod shocks on the front take the bumps out of the ride.
The wheels of choice were original 1935 Ford wires, powder coated in Vanilla Cream. Coker Tire (Chattanooga, TN) supplied the “Classic” radial tires in the wide white wall style - 6.00 X 16 on the front/ 7.00 X 16 in the rear. Trim rings and V8 caps finish off the vintage look of the rolling stock.
The drive train starts with a much powder coated (more Vanilla Cream), highly detailed, Chevrolet ZZ4 crate engine. A 600-cfm Edlebrock carburetor feeds the engine, while a Pertronix “plug and play” HEI ignition system supplies the spark. Exhaust exits via Sanderson (South San Francisco, CA) CC5 headers into a 2-½ inch exhaust system that was sent to High Performance Coatings (Oklahoma City, OK) for a black ceramic coating. All of this is coupled to an S10, T5 five speed transmission (yes Jo Anne is a real hot rodder and enjoys three pedals). Stan’s Transmission (Daytona Beach, FL) updated the tranny with world class gears, while Denny’s Drive Shaft (Kenmore, NY) supplied the custom drive shaft that connects to the fore mentioned Ford 8 inch.
Except for the ’32 Ford grill shell, filled with a Vanilla Cream grille insert, and a rolled rear pan, the Model A body and pickup bed is all stock Brookville Roadster. The hood is a Rootlieb (Turlock, CA) piece with the stock Model A louvers, but made to fit a ’31 Model A cowl and a ’32 Grille shell. The hood hinge is ’32 Ford style as well. Model A headlights (Halogen), Model A tail lights (LED), cowl lights (turn signals), rubber running boards, door handles, exposed door hinges, wind wings, and a ‘dummy” gas cap on the cowl, all add to the look that Henry Ford produced. The 2-1/2 inch chopped windshield is hardly noticeable.
Tim Buckley, at Old School Paint (Edgewater, FL) prepped the body and applied the, eye catching, House of Kolor, Shimrin’ Cocoa Pearl (Root Beer) finish. In keeping with the theme, Tim coated the underside of the body, as well as the underside of the fenders and running boards with a two-part, black pickup truck bedliner. Keep in mind this hauler is a driver.
The Model A dashboard has been discreetly modified to hold a, Vanilla faced Haneline quad gage setup, an ignition switch and a light switch. Horn and turn signal switches are in a panel mounted to the left side and under the dashboard. The goal was to keep the dash simple and clean. Carroll wired the truck using a Rebel Wire, 8 circuit, wiring kit.
LeBaron Bonney (Amesbury, MA) supplied the interior kit and Carroll installed the interior himself. Normally, LeBaron Bonney supplies the kit in the basic, no frills, utility vehicle, design of the original Model A pickup truck. Since Jo Anne wanted more frills than that, LeBaron Bonney did the seat cushion and seat back in the wide rolls and pleats found on the more luxurious Model A Roadster. The Vanilla vinyl matches the wheels, grill shell, and engine colors nicely. The carpeting is Dark Brown German Square Weave, supplied by Easy Boy Rod Interiors (Indian Orchard, MA).
Carroll modified a set of stainless steel, 1931 Ford Roadster, top bows to fit the truck. The slightly longer roadster bows form a small sun visor at the windshield. Del Lyons, “The Upholstery Man” (Port Orange, FL) stitched up the tan Hartz Cloth top.
The oak lined pickup bed holds a Total Performance gas tank, hidden inside a restored “Potters Trunk’, while the battery resides in a vintage beverage cooler.
As the truck neared completion Jo Anne began referring to it as her “Root Beer Float”. Carroll took the hint and found an old 5 cent root beer bottle cap for the knob on the headlight switch and a bottle shaped root beer keg tap for the shift knob.
Jo Anne’s only regret is that her Father is not here to see the finished truck, but she is sure he would be very pleased with the outcome of this journey that ‘Pop’ began a number of years ago – and the truck’s next trip up I-75 will be under its own power.
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The ‘bones’ before the beginning of the street rod transformation.
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A Brookville Roadster, Model A street rod frame, anchors the rolling chassis. The drive train features a Chevrolet ZZ4 crate engine, a T5, five-speed tranny, and 3:80 gears in a Ford eight-inch. The rolling stock is Coker Tire’s “Classic”, WWW, radials
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A powder coated and detailed Chevrolet ZZ4 crate engine, replaced the ‘banger’. A T5 five-speed transmission coupled to a Ford 8 inch gets the power to the ground. An old “Offenhauser” fuel block mounts to the firewall and holds a fuel pressure gage and the fuel line.
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LeBaron Bonney supplied the, Vanilla vinyl, Model A pickup truck interior kit, but to add some frills they did the seats in the wide rolls and pleats found on the more luxurious Model A roadster. The shoulder panels, door panels, and kick panels are of the plain, flat, no frills design Henry chose for the utilitarian pick up truck
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A Total Performance, 10 gallon, gas tank resides in a restored, 1930’s, “Potters” trunk, while the battery resides in a vintage beverage cooler. Clear-coated oak and stainless steel bed strips add the finishing touches.
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After removing the gas tank portion of the Model A dashboard/gas tank combo, the center area was filled in and Vanilla faced Haneline gages were installed. The Hire’s Root Beer cap is the knob for the headlights. The Limework’s ’40 Ford style steering wheel attaches to an owner built steering column with and integral steering column drop. Carpets are dark brown German Square Weave.