Archive for category f100

Drivability

In addition to working on building a new frame, I also want to get the current “version” of the truck running so I can have some fun with it.

So over the Christmas holidays I worked on the truck trying to get it to pass state inspection. I’ve been carrying tags and insurance on it since I purchased it, might as well finish the last few steps to make it street legal.

On the first day back at the shop my plan was to focus on getting the truck running. When I bought the truck it was running but the owner wanted to keep his carburetor so over the last year I had picked up an Edelbrock 1406. This is a mild carb with an electronic choke. It was easy getting it installed but then I ran into issues with the throttle cable.

I didn’t have the fittings to connect the existing throttle cable with the new carb, so began a search to get all the parts I needed. After several months I had purchased a Lokar Throttle Cable, Lokar Throttle Bracket, Lokar Kick Down Cable for the Turbo 350 transmission and everything mounted, but I was having problems with the throttle petal. It turns out that what I thought was original was in fact the throttle petal from the 1970ish Chevy that the engine/tranny and suspension came out of.

I’ve tried to modify the throttle petal to fit, but I just don’t like the way it mounts and it was affecting the throttle by binding and keeping the throttle return springs from doing their job.

Anyway, while I still have this throttle issue to work out I met one of my shop neighbors. He’s a mechanic and agreed to give me a hand getting the truck to idle correctly. He messed with the mixture screws and the idle adjustment screw as well as timing to get the old 350 running fairly well.

Now I was getting motivated, I had the engine running where it would drop into idle allowing me to put the truck into gear, that’s when I pressed on the brake petal and realized I had no breaks, er brakes.

Jaime, my neighbor, and I talked and we worked out a deal where he’d replace the front brakes. It’s been a while since I worked on drum brakes and while I felt I could have replaced the brakes, I didn’t have the tools and I really needed to make some progress on the frame rail jig.

So while I worked on the frame rail jig, Jaime worked on replacing the front drum brakes. He did this in short order and when it came time to bleed the brakes, we just couldn’t get any fluid out of the bleeders. Trouble-shooting this we realized the flex-lines were bad, so back to the parts store to buy new ones. After arriving we again tried to bleed the brakes – and failed. Trouble-shooting some more we realized the master cylinder was bad. You guessed it, back to the parts store. This time we were finally able to get the front brakes bled and I could now drive the truck in and out of the shop.

The next day since I had a running and driving truck I also had a truck with 3 flats, or slow leaks and the one good tire had sat in the brake fluid from when the brake cylinders went out and I didn’t like the look of that tire. So taking the 4 wheels off, I went to Discount Tires and had 4 new tires mounted and balanced. I’m not going to use the Centerlines on the truck when I’m finished with it, so I just bought some general tires to get me around.

Now things are really starting to come together, until the next day. Went in that morning and noticed that there was water all over the floor. Jaime came over and we went over the engine, we noticed that the coolant was more mud, than water. So we took off the lower hose and flushed the radiator and the engine. Man what a mess. It must have ran for 5 to 10 minutes or so before clear liquid was coming out. So now we were looking at coolant and a lower radiator hose. When flushing the engine we took off the thermostat housing and noticed that it didn’t have a thermostat. Man why are people so cheap. These things are only a few bucks. So off to the parts store to purchase a lower radiator hose, coolant and a thermostat. Also decided to replace the plugs since the previous owner was using a Holley 750 on the old 350 and it was just running too rich and had fouled the plugs.

Once we replaced the lower radiator hose, put in a new thermostat and filled the radiator with coolant, we started the engine and got it up to temperature. This is when it started to squirt out a stream of hot water out of the thermostat housing.

That’s right, back to the parts store for a thermostat housing and while I was there a new radiator cap. One more try. This time everything held and it was looking and sounding much better. Or so I thought.

The next morning, another pool of water greeted me when I went to the shop. Jaime again came over and we traced it down to a leaking water pump. Should have figured with all the mud (rusty water) that came out of the engine when we did a flush.

I talked it over with Jaime and we agreed on a price and he would replace the water pump and while he had it up on his lift he’d look at the rear brakes. I could have replaced the water pump myself but since he had a lift and I was really wanting to get further along with the frame jig, I decided to pay him to replace the water pump. This went without a hitch and the next day I got the truck back with the parts replaced.

Now I’m thinking this is getting close to the point where I can get it inspected. That is until I remembered that the doors were held in place by a screen door eye and hook. No way was this thing going to pass. Good thing that over the last year I’ve owned the truck I was aware of this issue and had purchased new Door Locks and Striker Plates from Mac’s.

Here’s some before shots of what he locks looked like.

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There should be a star shaped gear on that gaping hole. This is what keeps the door closed.

I ended up pulling out the entire side window mechanism. I didn’t need to do this to replace the door locks, but I’m eventually going to replace the windows with single glass and not the glass/vent window combination that is original.

I’m not going to mess with the windows now. I don’t want to get too far ahead working on stuff that I’ll just have to take off when I really start working on the body, that is, once I get the new frame built. For now, I just want to do enough to make the truck safe to drive and street legal.

That about catches me up with the current state of the project. I’ll do a better job of posting more frequent updates to keep these from being so long.

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Frame Rail Jigs

Now that I had the frame rail blanks cut out I needed to start working on the frame rail jig. This is the contraption that will allow me to weld up the two frame rails from it’s parts.

I wanted to use 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch plate, but after pricing a full plate, I didn’t want to spend that much money just on the jig. So off to Westex Metal Recycling to see what I could find.

I found about 16 feet of 3/16 inch plate that was 14 inches wide and of various lengths. This wasn’t that bad in price, though there was a lot of surface rust and they had a slight curve over their lengths. I did all I could to try to flatten out the plate but I couldn’t get it flat enough. That’s when I decided I’d use angle iron to reinforce the plate to straighten it out and give it added rigidity.

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Here I’m laying out a piece that is 14 inch by 48 inch that I’m prepping to weld the first angle iron to. I decided that I would use one angle iron on the bottom that I would line up with the table and clamp to the table rail to keep the jig from moving. The other angle iron I would weld on top of the plate to give it additional rigidity. Here’s a diagram that shows what I’m talking about.

Frame Rail Jig Structure

As I was laying out the angle iron it struck me that I would need to keep the ends of the jig from moving around so I offset the angle iron about 1/2 inch. This gave me a “tab” and on the adjoining piece I would offset the angle iron by 1/2 inch giving me the “slot”.

Here’s a shot (blurry) showing two pieces already welded coming together.

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And another showing the fully assembled jig with the original frame rail laying on it.

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From this I started laying out small tabs of 3 inch by 3 inch angle iron that I had cut. These were to be used to define the shape that the rail blanks would fit within.

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After welding all the tabs to the jig, I removed the original frame leaving the space where I’ll build the new frame rails.

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Frame Rail Templates

Now that I had separated a frame rail from the frame the next step was to make a pattern from the original frame rail. This would allow me to start making blanks that I would use to fabricate a new frame rail.

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I used 16 gauge hot-rolled steel sheet as the template. I bought an 4’ x 8’ sheet that I cut lengthwise to give two pieces that were 2’ x 8’. I then tacked welded these two pieces together to create a piece that was 2’ x 16’.

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I then place the one frame horn on the 16ga steel. I was trying to figure out the best way to make the template when it struck me, just use the plasma torch. I was planning on using the torch anyway to cut out the pattern but what I decided was that I would cut one side of the pattern by running the plasma torch along one side of the frame rail.

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Once this side had been cut I would reposition the frame rail to cut the other side. I measured the distance from the plasma cutter kerf, the cut line it makes, to the outside edge of the handle. This was 1/2 inch. This gave me the offset that I needed to move the frame. For example, the rear of the frame horn is 4 inches. Since I’m going to use the template to cut out new parts, I need the template to be 1/2 inch smaller on each side. This means that I need the template to be only 3 inches wide at the rear. I marked 2 1/2 inches from the new cutline and lined up the frame rail with this mark. With the 1/2 inch offset of the torch it would cut the pattern at the right size. I didn’t take any pictures of this process, I guess I got in too much of a hurry.

Well after I was done cutting out the template I then needed to make it where I could use it on the 1/8 inch plate. After a couple of failed attempts I settled on welding some 1/2 inch nuts on end to raise the template off the plate.

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I also drilled some 1/4 inch holes in the template that I would mark and drill corresponding holes in the plate. This allowed me to further secure the template to the plate.

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How that I had all this prep work done, I could finally start cutting out the blanks. Here’s one with a pair of blanks, front and rear, cut out.

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Turns out I didn’t take pictures of all 8 pieces cut out, but it ends up being 4 front pieces and 4 rear pieces that I’ll need to make 2 frame rails.

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Truck Parts

I’ve realized from talking to friends and family that I may be getting too technical in my explanations of what’s going on so I’m going to take this post and describe the different parts of the truck that I’m working on.

What I’m building right now is a new chassis for the truck. The chassis is made up of several major parts.

F100 Chassis

The frame is the steel framework that everything is attached to. In the case of the ‘56 Ford it looks like a large ladder and is comprised of two parallel frame rails. These frame rails are connected to one another through cross-members at various locations along the length of the frame.

The frame sits on a front and rear suspension. The original frame had a solid front axle and a live rear axle. A live rear axle contains the differential that turns engine power delivered via the driveshaft into rotating the rear wheels.

In the picture above the front suspension has been replaced on this frame with an Independent Front Suspension or IFS. Most modern cars and trucks have an IFS and it means that each side of the suspension moves independently of one another.

I’m taking it a bit further by placing both an Independent Front Suspension and an Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) under the new frame I’m building.

1984 Corvette front suspension1984 Corvette rear suspension

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Suspension

I’m planning on putting a Corvette C4 suspension under the ‘56 F-100 frame. I found a company Flatout Engineering, that offers brackets for doing this and I just have to find an ‘84 through ‘96 Corvette suspension.

Looking on EBay I found a great deal to get both for around $800. This serves me well because shopping around for an IFS I’m looking at spending around $1800 just for the IFS. Throw in the IRS at another $3000 and I’m way into the red for this chassis.

Here’s what I picked up from EBay.

1984 Corvette front suspension1984 Corvette rear suspension

Now that I have the suspension I can hang it under the frame and figure out the ride height. But first I need to build the frame.

That’s the next project.

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Frame Table

The first project that I wanted to tackle on my week off was to buy some steel since most steel yards are not opened on the weekend.

I remembered a place that my dad and I went one time when he was still around but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name. Then one day while searching on the web the name just came to me and I was able to find out where Willbanks was. The funny thing was one weekend I vaguely remembered where it was even though I couldn’t remember their name so I drove into Fort Worth, went north on North Main Street to North East 28th Street and headed West. I thought I remembered it was on 28th Street. I drove around for a while but I just couldn’t find it. The funny part is that once I remember their name and was able to search for it, they ended up being east of North Main Street on 28th Street instead of West.

So I rented a trailer and headed over and bought a load of steel.

First load of steel for the framing table

After unloading it and organizing it I started working on building the framing table. I’m using plans that I bought off EBay from Desert Hybrids.

After cutting the main rails at 14’ feet and a few of the cross pieces I realized I should have figured out my cut lists first because I ended up with scraps that were too short. So I had to make another trip to the steel yard.

Second load of steel for the framing table. Should have paid more attention to the plans. It would have saved me a second trip.

After the second load I started laying out the main rails. Part of the plans call for using 2 x 3 rectangular tubing. I kept these at their 20’ length. Since they were strong enough to hold the main rails they made an excellent level platform for building the framing table.

After cutting the main beams and the joists for the framing table. Lining up the joists to ensure they're square to the beam.

After measuring the spacing for the cross braces and tacking one side to the main rail, I measured the spacing and marked the second rail. Before I tacked the cross pieces to the second main rail I remembered the rule about a square versus a parallelogram. So I checked the diagonal dimensions to ensure the table frame was square.

Checking for square before I tack weld the joists to the second beam (on the right)

Once this was all tacked together I started working on the legs. First thing up was I needed to cut 4 pieces of 4 1/4 flat bar at 5 1/2 inches long. So out came the plasma torch to make quick work of this job. These pieces are used to bolt the legs to the frame top.

Using the plasma cutter to cut out some 4 x 1/4 flat bar stock. This will be used to attach the legs to the top of the frame table.

I had to drill 3/8 holes in the flat bar to allow the legs to be bolted to the top. I didn’t read the plans well and what it called for was to drill and tap the holes for a 3/8 bolt. Since I already drilled the holes with a 3/8 through hole I’ll have to come up with another way to bolt the legs to the top. I’ll figure this problem out later.

Next up was the diagonal braces for the legs. This called for some 2 inch flat bar that would be welded to a 1 1/2 square tubing.

Another jig to make sure the leg supports are welded together at a 45 degree angle and spaced evenly. The flatbar is 2 inch wide, the square tubing is 1 1/2 inch wide so I used a spare piece of 1/4 bar stock to center the tubing on the flat bar.

Corresponding holes needed to be drilled and tapped into the table top. This time I read ahead and was prepared for the job. A quick run to home depot to buy a drill and tap for making 1/4 inch holes I was back.

Taping holes for the leg supports

I didn’t get a picture of how I centered punched the holes from the flat bar or the jig I made on my small drill press to make the holes as consistent as possible, but here’s what it looked like when I was through.

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Then I started working on the legs. I need to make sure they were plumb (or vertical) to the table so I used my machinist square to line it up and some c-clamps to keep it in place while I centered punched the holes in the 4 x 1/4 plate.

One set of lets are nearing completion. Need to center punch and drill the holes for the leg mounts

After doing the other pair of legs and building the cross brace for the legs I chamfered the bottoms of the legs so I could butt weld the leveling pads to.

Before welding the leveling pads to the bottoms of the legs, I champfered the ends to get a better butt weld

The leveling pads called for 3/4 inch bolts but my drill press couldn’t drill the 3/4 inch holes, so I reduced it down to a 1/2 inch bolt. Welded 1/2 nuts to the top side of the leveling pads.

Nuts are welded to the leveling pads.

Once the pads were welded to the bottom of the legs I was ready to flip the table over and finish welding all joints. Out came the hoist and I took my time turning the table over. As I younger man I would have tried to man handle it over but this table is heavy and I decided to work smarter not harder. Glad I did.

Welding table is finished, getting ready to flip the table.

Half way through the flip

It's upright. Boy I didn't realize it was going to be so high when I built it. Not sure I like it at this work height.

This is how level the table was after I flipped it over. Hadn’t even used the leveling bolts yet to really dial in the table.

Not bad. This is even before using the leveling screws.

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F100 Progress through September

As I’ve been working on the truck over the last few months I’ve come across a few things that I don’t like about the truck. Namely, the frame and suspension suck.

From what I was told by the previous owner, at one time he had a late 70’s Nova front click put under the truck. Looking at the truck from the side you can see this effect:

F100 Driver

Notice the extreme rake? I just don’t like this at all with the truck’s ass up in the air. From the rear there is a noticeable lean to one side where the frame wasn’t welded together square and plumb.

My idea is to buy or build my own frame and put at least independent front suspension under it and maybe an independent rear as well.

Digging around on the web I came across two manufacturers that are offering manufactured frames for a 56 F-100. Total Cost Involved and Art Morrison. But after checking out their prices I just can’t justify spending seven grand at a minimum to get a new frame.

So I started shopping around for an original frame with the idea that I’ll either box an original frame, or build a new one using the original as a template.

After posting on the HAMB I found someone in Missouri who had one for sale. We scheduled a time and place and one day in February I drove up to Springfield Missouri to meet him and pick up the frame. I drove back the same day. Got up at 4 AM and got home at 11 PM. Got it taken care of in one day so I still had Sunday to mess around the shop.

Then work happened.

I got really busy with work and I wasn’t able to make it down to the shop (other than ensuring that the place didn’t burn down) from March until late September and that was only because I took some time off from work.

I took a week off from work after spending a few preceding weeks thinking about what I was going to do on my week off. I thought I would just go buy some steel and build a new frame in a week. Boy was I wrong. It must have taken me 3 days or more to clean up the shop and get it in a position to start working on the F100.

The last time I was in the shop I was working on a woodworking project so I had all the woodworking tools out and sawdust everywhere. It took some time to put all the woodworking tools up and move the table saw over in the corner.

After that was taken care of, the next step was to get the original frame in order so I could start using it as a pattern. It still had the original spring shackles and leaf springs attached and boy was it heavy. Not having a plasma cutter at the time I proceeded to remove the spring shackles from the frame by drilling out the rivets. It must have taken 6 hours of work for each spring. So after a couple of days, I had the leaf springs removed.

I then moved on to trying to separate the cross members from one of the frame rails. My thinking was that it would be easier to deal with if I was working with one frame rail instead of the entire frame. I made some good progress getting the one frame rail separated before my week off hit and I ran into my next project.

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