New guy, old truck

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New guy, old truck

Post  jwood on December 31st 2011, 1:45 am

All - hello from Georgia!

First - this is a great site, I can't believe I'm just now finding it. The projects I've seen that you guys are working on are incredible. I'm envious of you very talented and ambitious builders out there.

Seeing as how I'm always taking things apart to figure them out, and then (with varied levels of success) reassembling them with modifications, I figured I'd buy myself an old beater and fix it up. Here's what I found.

Sitting in front of the guy's house was a beautiful burgundy and rust colored 1959 F-100 with 15" wheels and a custom bed - advertised as a "daily driver".


Please note the water bottle filled with gasoline sitting on the hood. The previous owner took the fuel tank out and bolted it (haphazardly) to the front of the bed, citing safety concerns. It hadn't run in a year, thus I prime the carburetor and teased life from the beast.

And when I opened the hood...


Low and behold a GM 5.7L, 350 ci engine. The owner let me know that there was some damage - a couple of busted lugs on a wheel, bad brakes and poor steering. Not surprising to me for a '59 in the southern U.S., kept unprotected from rain and sun alike. Once I figured out I would have to tow it, and paid the man, I managed to get her into the first long ride she'd taken in years.


And so it was that I got my new project into the garage at the house, towed by a spry 2000 F-150 less than a quarter of its cargo's age. And there she has sat since, about six months.

The engine in the picture above has been rewired, retuned and improved from the original version by yours truly. Since I'm no real mechanic I've limited my tinkering to what I can bolt and unbolt. I changed out the long headers for shorties and made a few modifications I'll post later. I'll add some pictures I can find from projects to date - to include a power steering upgrade I'm sure will draw oohs, aahs and WTFs.

More later,

Jason

king

jwood

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re: New guy, old truck

Post  Admin on December 31st 2011, 11:00 am

Hello Jason thank you for joining. I am in Georgia also. I talked to the guy you bought the truck from. I was going to check it out. I am glad you bought it. I buy and sell these trucks. I have 5 in Douglasville. If you are ever in the area stop by. Once your truck is up and running, we should go to some cars shows. What town are you in? Check out our Facebook group also. It's huge and very active. Here's a link http://www.facebook.com/groups/57to60fords/

Thank you again for joining, Bill
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Re: New guy, old truck

Post  jwood on December 31st 2011, 5:49 pm

Admin wrote:Hello Jason thank you for joining...

Bill,

I appreciate the note! I'm in Columbus, working on Fort Benning and getting ready to head to South Carolina in February-ish. I own a place up in Conyers (near Atlanta), and that's how I happened to find this guy. Good deal really.

I did get the Facebook request in last night. Looks like a pretty good group. I've got some more picture posting to do, so enjoy the read!

Jason

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Re: New guy, old truck

Post  jwood on December 31st 2011, 6:39 pm

Hello again,

Well, here it is, the truck as she sits. Today was little more than a good cleaning in the engine bay and some shining of the chrome. Which should really be called restoration. There were (are) so many rust pits and flakes in that stuff that I'll be amazed if I ever get it looking good again. Replacement parts are in my future, I'm sure.


Anyway, my latest, greatest project has been the steering upgrade. I started out with the OEM steering box, which is manual, of course. Once I got the truck into running condition by cleaning up the carb and rewiring everything (EVERYTHING), I gave her a test drive. At 20 mph I headed down my street, and made it almost 50 yards before I stopped - scared. This thing had 4-5 inches of play and even when the slack was taken up, wandered down the road like a drunk after last call. Bad. So I backed her up and decided to replace the steering box, and that I would further make it power steering. Easy, right?

There are a bunch of makers for the steering upgrade. Apparently mid-late 80's Toyota 4x4s have a power steering gearbox of similar size and only requires a bracket to install. I know there are about three or four makers/carriers of this kit, and each of them goes for about $800. Not for this guy - oh no, that would be easy. I couldn't see why any other gearbox wouldn't work with a little modification and figured I could make my own brackets. So I bought a 2001 Wrangler PS gearbox from a local auto parts store and focused on fitting the square peg in this round hole. To make a long story short, I don't weld and only have basic machining tools - as in a drill press, reciprocating saw and WD-40. I eventually figured out how to get it in there without cutting the frame with a simple solution to the big problem.

As you well know the original pitman arm was vertical, and attached to the gearbox output shaft, which protrudes through the frame rail. There was no way I was going to make that work without a welder and cutting my frame, so I figured I could run the pitman arm under the frame rail to attach to the steering arm on the hub, and make the parts from existing tie rods/tubes. That was only moderately successful since your average tie rod end is too big for the application. So I made my own out of some heim joints and a threaded rod. 3/4 inch style.

Enough typing. See below.

The mounted box. I gotta build a small bracket out of some angle steel to finish up the attachment by getting to that top mounting hole (follow the edge of the frame rail and you'll see the nub sticking up from the gearbox - that's it). After that, the whole box will be securely fitted. I'll probably end up making a complete bracket in the future, I'm thinking a saddle that fits over the frame rail and only requires minor cutting on the fender.

Here it is from underneath. Note the nylon spacers to line up the steering. Original pitman arm, un-original bolt to hold it.


And the clearance of the joint between frame rail and leaf springs (worryingly close). I have the OEM rubber bumper (in good condition) that I'll put in there, spaced from the frame rail to ensure no contact, but I believe that I'm in for a bumpy ride here. I'm all but certain that I'm going to pound on that rubber bumper like a kid on a drum set. My eventual fix will be stiffer leaf springs which will (hopefully) allow less play. Until then, careful right turns and Advil for headaches. And please, no jokes about my template still being under the bolts - that's embarrassing.


And from the wheel well, with the steering member. I have it detached to bleed the system and continue fine tuning. Once I'm finished with the exhaust (later) I'll reconnect and try it out.


Here's the steering joint. Idiot me bought the double u-joint before I bought my new steering column, so I had to also install an adapter and some 3/4 DD stock. Cheap, but not free.


And the column and interior. Yeah, I'm going to have to learn to weld to fix some of that rust.


And finally, looking through the hell hole. A well-aligned steering column thanks to a column drop and home-made floor joint - a scrap piece of angle aluminum and a 2 inch u-bolt. Works very well and should be easily covered down the road.


I'm very interested in your opinions here. I have NO idea if the box will hold in the current configuration, but I'm confident of the mounting and very confident of the steering arm set up. If there are some other ideas about clearance for that pitman arm joint - I only need another 3/4" to be 100% confident - I'm open to suggestions.

- Maybe a longer shackle in the front?
- Any other ideas for a smaller joint that doesn't sacrifice strength? Right now it's a straight bolt with nylon lock nuts holding the pitman arm to the universal joint, so there's bound to be some play later on, which I may need to figure out.

Anyway, thanks for looking.

Jason

cheers

jwood

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