Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break Wrenchin'

There's not much better than having five days off work to spend time with the fam, drink homebrew, and wrench on a classic truck. The time off was Spring Break, the fam was my cousins and grandparents, the brew was my cousin's homebrewed beer, and the classic truck, a 1953 Ford F-100. If you're into classic trucks, or at least classic truck axles, springs, and frames, then keep on reading.

My cousin Alan, the fiery headed mechanic/homebrewer, has been working on this truck in between his offshore work schedule for the last few months or so. He already had the original straight 6 motor machined 30 over and then painted and rebuilt it himself. Alan also rebuilt the axles and bolted on some sweet Kragar rims wrapped in fresh rubber. The truck has already come a long way from the $100 basketcase my Dad bought seven years ago. So check out the photos and enjoy watching my family and I rebuild a piece of history.
Here Alan and I are breaking down the rust encrusted leaf springs for a nice pressure wash followed by a fresh coast of black spray paint.

Here's the same springs after some long awaited tender lovin' care. The front springs have the brass spring inserts in them (on right), the rear springs still need the old worn out inserts smacked out.

And this why you need to replace the 50+ year old spring inserts. This wasn't even the worst of the old inserts; some of the inserts had done broke in half!

Tip: Always lube up your insert before pushing it in. Doing so makes the whole process go a lot smoother.Here's the suspension parts going onto the frame. The parts in baggies were bought from Mid-fifties Ford. Along with the new inserts shown above, we needed new rear u-bolts, shackles, hanger pins all around, new shocks from Autozone (front match rear), and a freshly cast rear spring hanger. This new hanger (bottom hanger left of red shocks) was a pain to work with, mainly because it was the only straight piece on the rear suspension, which meant it was crooked. A little grinding and smacking got everything lined up.

Alan lightly tapping in the bottom shackle pin. Notice the concentration and accuracy. He knows he's gotta hit this pin straight and easy so as not to deform its outer edge or rotate it inside the insert. You don't want the pin rotating because then you can't align the keeper bolt in the hole on the bottom right of the hanger.

With the springs hung front and rear, we rolled the axles underneath and bolted the whole set-up together. We decided to keep the original i-beam front axle instead of messing with all the new aftermarket IFS kits available for modern classic trucks. The suspension, drivetrain, and body will be completely rebuilt, stock equipment. I think we are gonna spring a little extra dough for power brakes and steering. Maybe even an air conditioner.

Speaking of the motor, here she is in all her oilpanless glory. We can't finish dressing out the motor because the thing is so damn heavy its slowly bending Alan's motor stand, so we support the front of the motor with a 2x4. I swear, this thing looks like goes in a tractor, not a 1/2 pick-up. The transmission is really wimpy looking compared to the motor.

So now we've got a roller. When we started working on the truck we had to carry the frame around from the backyard, but now we could roll it down the driveway if wanted to. Of course we can't steer it yet, or stop it, or start it, but hell, the point is the frame is suspended and rolling on some rebuilt axles with killer wheels. It'll probably be a while before we work on the truck together again, up next we're looking to drop in the drivetrain. Should be a blast. Till then, keep wrenchin'.


The following blog post was brought to you by Smack Yo Moma Beer, homebrewed by Alan in sunny south Texas. [No, it's not "Smack Yo Mama," it's "Moma," pronounced like "soma," the drug of choice by many esoteric Indian explorers.


  1. Big thumbs up man, thank you for spending your vacation down here, a garage is not worth having without buds to BS with. Thanks for the beer endorsment too!

  2. Wonderful writing, excellent pictures and the best of experiences. Thanks so much for coming down for Spring Break. New Mexico is next!