1952 FORD F1 PICKUP CAR RESTORATION PROJECT
1952 Ford Truck Project Part 1 — Assessing The Scope
You have no doubt noticed our two articles on a 1952 Ford truck starter and steering column rebuilds. We mentioned the truck as having been "donated" to the Second Chance Garage. We thought you might want to know the particulars...
Our resident expert, Dr. Crankshaft, has an acquaintance by the name of Casper, who bought the truck a few years ago (seems he owned one just like it in the early 1950s.) He had every intention of performing a frame-off restoration, but the limitations of advancing age caught up with him (he's 81 now), as it eventually does for us all.
Rather than sell the old Ford, he thought, why not give it to the guys at Second Chance Garage for a real-time restoration project? He could help out on some of the less-strenuous activities, monitor the progress and, with luck, drive the finished truck for a few years. In return for the restoration labor he is covering the costs of all materials, tools and supplies, not to mention the costs of a new fridge and coffee maker, two desperately-needed items here at the Garage (turns out Casper is a bit of a coffee snob who grinds his own beans and uses only Chemex glass coffee brewing equipment. We've got to admit; his coffee is better than anything the local Starbuck's can produce.)
We picked up the truck, in pieces actually, during the early spring. Overall its condition is very good and some initial work has already been accomplished. Lots more needs to be done, but the place to start is always the same: go through everything and assess the project. Here's what we found.
The frame had been completely stripped using chemicals, sander and wire brushes. It was then treated with metal-prep (phosphoric acid) and primed, then painted a low-gloss black. There were no structural rust problems. The complete suspension system is attached, and most components are new.
Fortunately for us, all the really dirty work has been done.
The front brake drums and cylinders are new and the wheel bearings have been replaced and properly adjusted. All steering components are new and seem to be properly installed.
The short block on our flathead V8 has been professionally rebuilt and close inspection reveals excellent workmanship. Since it's a flathead, we don't have to worry about doing any valvetrain work ourselves.
Here's our engine, mounted on an engine stand (made by Ranger Products and sold by Eastwood). We're sorry to say this stand is extremely poorly designed for moving around and is therefore going to be replaced.
Casper had purchased a pair of Edelbrock heads and an Offenhauser twin-carburetor intake (plus two remanufactured carburetors) for the engine, so we expect to do minimal work to assemble and test-run the engine. We plan to repaint the engine a bright red and use the same color for the non-finned area of the heads.
The original 3-speed manual tranny had been disassembled. Looking at the parts in the box we quickly ascertained that very few of them are salvageable. The cluster gear is shot, 3rd and 2nd gears have broken teeth and the mainshaft is badly worn. The transmission's case is the only useful component.
Casper had a modern Borg Warner T5 transmission out of a Chevy S-10 that he wanted to mate up to the flathead. Seems the T5 is a common conversion in these old Fords, and an adaptor was easily located. Of course it requires that we do some frame cutting to create a rear mount.
We did a quick test-fit to be sure that the T5/adapter would bolt up ok. So far, so good.
Doing the transmission swap required removal of the column shifter, which we did under Caspar's direction in our steering box restoration article.
The rear axle is attached to the springs on the frame and the axle shafts are separate. New bearings and spacers have been pressed onto the shafts.
We opened up the differential case to inspect for ring and pinion (and bearing) wear, only to discover the entire assembly is new. All parts are new and properly adjusted. We counted teeth and found the ratio is 3.93:1, a quite acceptable one considering we now have an overdrive transmission.
To our surprise, the differential was brand new. Caspar didn't even know he had new gears.
Casper went with the original drum brake system on the car, but we've decided to modify it to a dual master cylinder from a '72 Mustang. There are no brake lines on the frame, so we'll be installing new ones. Depending on how the finished truck is going to be driven, we may opt to upgrade to disc brakes at a later date. The wheels look to be in very good condition.
There isn't one! We have to make up an entire harness from wire stock, a relatively easy job that we've done many times before.
The main cab is in surprisingly good condition. The top rear seam has some rust and a little hole, but very little metal will be needed to fix that. There had been previous repairs done to the front bottom of the cab and overall these look well done, if not very pretty.
Top rear seam has a little hole (left). There had been some previous repairs done, adequate, but not pretty (center two photos), and some rust needs to be tended to just below the windwhield (right).
The window flange looks intact and there is some rust here and there on the floors, but overall we shouldn't have to devote more than a few days to get the cab ready for finishing.
The doors are in pretty good shape, again showing rust in some seams. Someone replaced a broken window in the driver's door with plastic, so we need to cut some safety glass later on.
The doors are in pretty good shape. We were amused by the plastic window.
The fenders show the most damage. They have a fair amount of new metal that was welded in some time in the past, so we need to strip them and determine what can be saved and what needs to be redone.
And what about the bed? Well, we don't have one because Casper said the original bed was too far gone. We'll be doing some research on the best way to replace it.
All other body parts are repairable. So far, so good...
We have the dash instruments and they are quite restorable, although we'll have to address the problem we are about to create by using the T5. There's no mechanical speedometer drive in the T5, so we either have to have the speedo/odo converted or find some other way of driving the cable.
There are several old radios to choose from, so that's not a problem. The seat is in good structural condition and we will decide later whether to reupholster it as original or do a little "sprucing up."
We think we have all the little trim items that came with the truck, but repro parts are available.
We're going to air condition the truck and convert the electrical system to 12 volts. That means conversion to an alternator and electronic regulator, as well as the appropriate light bulbs and relays.
Next month we plan to assemble the engine and transmission, and mount them onto the frame in preparation for creation of a new transmission mount. In addition we will assemble the axles and brake plates to the rear end.
We'll complete the assembly of the engine and install the distributor. Once all that is done we will temporarily install a cooling system and makeshift electrical system so we can test-fire the engine.
Assuming that goes well we'll get the original driveshaft re-sized and fitted to the T5. We'll run the chassis through the gears and make sure everything works before going on to other projects on the truck.