After our initial diagnosis of the truck’s condition, the plan quickly became to simply get it on the road and reliable.  Making it look good would be done on the cheap, and so long as it was mechanically sound we wouldn’t worry too much about the weathered state of things.  The most important issue was the engine, which to our luck was made to turn easily.  The question remained however… why were the heads removed?  While diagnosing the engine I also decided to remove and completely refurbish the front end including suspension, steering linkage, leaf spring, brakes hubs and shocks.  Everything I took apart appeared to be original parts, right down to the Ford markings on bearings and seals.  The wear on many items also told their age, especially the bushings which had worn halfway through the spring pins, which themselves had worn through the rubber and metal of their bushings and into the axle!

The engine had five broken head bolts stuck inside which could explain why work was abandoned so many years ago.  Without tearing the engine down to the block (which we didn’t want to do) the only way to remove them would be with an EM machine.  A nearby facility took care of the bolt removal but unfortunately one hole was well mangled by the previous owner’s attempted repairs.

The more engine work progressed, the more I felt that a compete tear down would be the best course of action. The engine was stripped, and the block taken to a local machine shop for crack testing. After passing that test (mostly) the block was hot tanked, a valve job performed and bores honed. Everything looked very good inside. In fact, the main bearings looked so good that I reinstalled them. The crank and cam were also perfect, so only the cam bearings were replaced. Pistons and pins were all perfect so a new set of rings fixed that area up nicely. A few rusted rings along with other clues pointed to a seriously blown head gasket before the truck was parked, so at least the mystery was now solved.

Repairing the damaged stud hole would require more than a drill bit since the hole was so hogged out on one side, so I made a template from a piece of 1/2″ steel. This allowed the drill bit to be held straight and in the correct location to drill the hole larger. It was then tapped for an insert.

The block was painted gray but I wasn’t happy with the color, so I painted it again. Picky, I admit. Once that was done reassembly started. The camshaft, gears and valve assemblies were installed, followed by the lower end. All went smoothly for the most part. The heads were skimmed lightly and water pumps rebuilt with modern seals and upgraded impellers. I decided to revert to the early head studs rather than bolts because it would be more period correct for this truck, so each one of the 48 studs had to be cut to fit. These were then topped off with my one splurge item, chrome acorn nuts and washers. I was helpless to resist them… they used the power of chrome against my will to save money.

Eventually all the parts went together, and I didn’t have too many extra parts. I figure that’s a good thing. Most of the non-critical hardware was replaced with stainless steel.

More to come, stay tuned!