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Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage


Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

1952 FORD F1 PICKUP CAR RESTORATION PROJECT

1952 Ford Truck Project Part 8 — (Sort of)

We were going to publish the next part of our Ford truck restoration project in this issue. It was going to cover the final assembly and a test-firing of the engine, complete with a temporary "dash board" consisting of gauges and switches mounted on a piece of plywood. It was going to be pretty cool...

The problem is: we're doing this work in the Second Chance Garage Annex, which is unheated, and normally the weather here in the Washington DC area isn't so bad that you can't work without freezing your schnoogies off. This season, unfortunately, has been an exception to the rule and the daytime temps are hovering in the low 20s. That's just too cold for detailed work that requires patience. Besides, the digital cameras don't like being that cold.

We wouldn't write about this if there weren't a solution, would we? Our solution was to install central heating in the Annex, and we thought you'd like to see how easy and inexpensive this is.

Why did we choose central heating instead of one of those kerosene "blowtorches" like they use at construction sites or electric baseboards or propane camp heaters? Well, those kerosene things are incredibly noisy and smell bad, and the other alternatives won't heat up the space (uninsulated) in a reasonable amount of time. Besides, we know where you can get a gas or oil furnace really cheap!

And that's what we did: we called HVAC Willy up in Minnesota (where they know something about heating!) and he sold us a brand new, 100,000 BTU furnace with a propane gas conversion kit. For a total price of less than $400 we were on our way to comfort! (HVAC Willy can be reached at hvacwilly@prodigy.net or on the phone at 612-518-6683 and he takes credit cards, cashier's checks and money orders. Feel free to tell him Satch and Les recommended his services)

The Installation

Disclaimer: while our installation is specific to the Annex, it's reasonable to expect your situation to be similar. However, you must check local fire and safety codes if you plan to install a furnace yourself. Most codes require that a furnace be located where a vehicle can't hit it or shielded with a metal "fence" of some kind, not to mention limitations on location of oil or propane tanks and piping. Also, if you're uncomfortable for any reason about attempting this on your own...don't do it...hire a professional. (If you're still looking to control costs, you can have a pro do the furnace installation, and do the ductboard yourself...it's easy!)

To complete the installation we needed a propane supply, appropriate lines and pressure regulator, ducting, thermostat and wiring, flue duct and chimney cap. We obtained the basic stuff from the local home center, plus some 2x3's for the stand we'd need to mount the furnace. We also made a trip to the local gas supply center, where they fixed us up with a 100-lb propane tank and a pressure regulator (rental on the tank is $65 year and a fill-up is $75. Prices may vary depending on your location. (Smaller, barbeque-type tanks will freeze up during use unless you daisy-chain a few of them, so don't bother)

We chose to use duct-board to create the overhead ducting. Duct board comes in one-inch thick sheets that are four feet by 10 feet. It is easy to cut and shape the material to form any duct of any size. It is held together by metal reinforced duct tape, and is also adhered to the furnace the same way.

Working with ductboard is pretty easy. The stuff is made of fiberglass covered with a thin fiber-reinforced aluminum foil and it cuts easily with a utility knife.

Working with ductboard is pretty easy. The stuff is made of fiberglass covered with a thin fiber-reinforced aluminum foil and it cuts easily with a utility knife.


The furnace is only 36 inches tall, so we decided to place it above the storage area where the propane tank is located. Also, the furnace's intake air comes from the bottom so all we need to do later is fabricate something to hold the filter. Using the 2x3's we constructed a framework on which the furnace would sit. The location is completely out of the way of any work area, so no shielding from vehicles was needed.

It was "only" 35 degrees the day we installed the furnace, so we decided to get it running and let the warmed air bounce off the inside of the roof to help heat the area while we fabricated the ducting. So, with the furnace's jets converted to propane and the unit lifted into place, all we needed to do was connect the gas fittings and run the flue pipe through the roof to get the system running.

It took only about a half hour to run the duct through the roof and seal everything from the weather. Then we connected the electrical feed and thermostat wiring to the furnace and, voila, we had heat!  Onward to the ducting...

To make our long duct piece we measured the ductboard and marked each bend with chalkline. We cut a V centered on each mark, being careful not to cut clear through.

To make our long duct piece we measured the ductboard and marked each bend with chalkline. We cut a V centered on each mark, being careful not to cut clear through.


After cutting the V, we pull out the fiberglass strips.

After cutting the V, we pull out the fiberglass strips.


We then folded and taped the ductboard. It's not perfectly square, but it doesn't need to be, but if you're a perfectionist, it's just a matter of taking more time to make the cuts and folds.

We then folded and taped the ductboard. It's not perfectly square, but it doesn't need to be, but if you're a perfectionist, it's just a matter of taking more time to make the cuts and folds.


We also fashioned the plenum out of duct board. The process is the same, just the dimensions are different. Throughout the process we use a tape made for duct board that's made out of the same reinforced aluminum foil as the duct board outer surface.

We also fashioned the plenum out of duct board. The process is the same, just the dimensions are different. Throughout the process we use a tape made for duct board that's made out of the same reinforced aluminum foil as the duct board outer surface.


It took a couple hours to take all the measurements, mark lines and cut the duct board to shape, then assemble the sections. Everything fit perfectly and we tape-sealed all joints, transitions and furnace-connections. The ducting runs through the roof trusses, out of the way of any potential harm. To direct hot air to specific areas of the work space all we need to do is cut a hole in the duct board with a knife.

At our 90 degree turn, we cut the board at a 45 degree angle (see red circle) to allow better air flow.

At our 90 degree turn, we cut the board at a 45 degree angle (see red circle) to allow better air flow.


We had to cut the long duct in half to get it to clear the roof when putting it into the rafters. We taped it back together and then cut vents where we wanted them.

We had to cut the long duct in half to get it to clear the roof when putting it into the rafters. We taped it back together and then cut vents where we wanted them.


Almost finished! This photo shows the support frame and the top of the gas tank. To comply with local codes, we still need to add a sheetmetal cover to protect the gas line and the regulator. A safety chain is also required to prevent the tank from tipping over. We taped the instruction manual that came with the furnace to its side for future reference.

Almost finished! This photo shows the support frame and the top of the gas tank. To comply with local codes, we still need to add a sheetmetal cover to protect the gas line and the regulator. A safety chain is also required to prevent the tank from tipping over. We taped the instruction manual that came with the furnace to its side for future reference.


The furnace now keeps the work space at any comfortable temperature desired, in our case around 65 degrees. For our air filter holder, we measured the depth of the furnace and cut two pieces of 2x3 to that length and dado'ed it to accept the filter. We screwed this into the support frame just below the bottom of the furnace and slid the air filter into place. We still need to install a means of securing the propane tank from falling over, and we want to create some sort of warning light to remind us to turn off the furnace power and shut the gas valve, but that's only going to take a little more effort.

But, now we can get that Ford engine running...