1952 FORD F1 PICKUP CAR RESTORATION PROJECT
1952 Ford Truck Restoration Part 9
Last time we recounted to you our decision to install central heating in the Annex so that we could work in some degree of comfort during the winter months. You'll be pleased to know the furnace is working fine and we can now show you what we've done on the project.
More specifically, we can show you what we've done to get the truck engine ready for its first run-up. We would have related the story of the actual test, but somehow we lost the 14 bolts that hold down the dual-carb intake. An hour's search of the Annex yielded no bolts and the sinking feeling that we may have used them for some other project.
Learn From Our Mistakes Tip #1: keep hardware, brackets, etc. in clearly marked plastic bags or cardboard boxes!
Speaking Of The Intake...
While searching for bolts we noticed that the intake's new gasket didn't match all the holes (runners and bolts) properly. If we lined up one end the other was as much as 1/8 inch off, and vice-versa. We could have positioned it in some compromised location but instead we decided to trim-to-fit.
When the gasket is aligned with the oil filler tube, the other holes don't align properly (red arrows).
To do this properly we positioned the gasket over the runners and then pressed it onto the (now misaligned) oil fill tube. This left an impression visible enough to cut away the excess material. To make all the bolt holes line up we took the gasket to the drill press and enlarged the holes from 7/16ths to 3/8ths. Now the gasket will fit as intended, and there's plenty of material left to seal properly.
We aligned the bolt holes, then tapped lightly on the gasket over the oil filler tube. The idea here is to leave an impression on the underside to use as a guide when trimming the gasket.
Back To The Test Stand
We are firm believers in test-running engines before installing them in freshly-restored bodies. Doing so uncovers all sorts of little problems including leaks, misalignments and major tuning issues. The idea here is to get the engine running normally, over several test sessions. If something's going to fail we want it to do so before final installation (sure, it's upsetting but not nearly as much as when the vehicle is completely assembled.)
The nice thing about vehicles with frames is that they make perfect test stands. What better place to test the engine than its dedicated mounts? On the other hand, if you are restoring a monocoque vehicle you'll want to test the engine on a home made stand that can be as simple as a floor dolly and wood blocks to support the engine.
Here's a test stand and engine from an earlier project. It's hard to see in the photo, but the dolley is on wheels.
Myth! Nearly anyone will caution you against running an engine that just sits on a wood support, only held in place by gravity. "It's torque will flip it right off the dolly the first time you rev it up," they will say.
Nonsense! A 500-lb engine is going to have to develop 500 lb-ft of torque just to lift one side, to say nothing of flipping over. All you really care about is vibration, which can cause the engine to move its position. A couple lag bolts or C-clamps will prevent that from happening.
In any case you need to construct a "test dash board" for your engine runs. Usually at this stage the vehicle's instruments are removed from the dash and available for test purposes, so all we need to do is make something to mount them in. For our truck we clamped two vertical wood uprights and screwed a piece of plywood across them, just behind the engine. It isn't pretty, but it's very effective.
For test running the engine - any engine - you need a battery, fuel supply, fuel pump, power to the ignition, starter, temperature and oil pressure gauges. Our test dash board (literally a board, in this case) holds the following:
- Ignition switch (regular home light switch)
- Start switch (same thing, to be used to crank the starter)
- Fuel pump switch (another light switch to control electric fuel pump)
- Direct-read oil pressure gauge (this requires an oil line to the engine)
- Direct-read temperature gauge
- Starter solenoid (Ford used one separate from the starter itself, so we've mounted it on our dash board)
- Remote oil filter assy (eventually to be mounted on the firewall)
With this arrangement we have absolute control of fuel (we can shut it off at any time) and electrical input to the engine. The separate switches for start and running precludes the necessity of wiring up the truck's ignition switch and allows easy routing of wiring. The remote oil filter is connected to the special fittings retrofitted to the engine.
Our test start dash board.
Electrically, the wiring system is simple. The battery ground is connected directly to the engine. The positive terminal goes to the starter solenoid and another cable goes from its output post to the starter motor. We also connected a lead from the battery/solenoid post to the ignition, start and fuel switches to provide power. We then provided separate leads from the ignition switch to the coil, from the start switch to the solenoid and from the fuel switch to the pump. Ground leads were connected from the pump to the engine block and from the battery to the solenoid case.
Why Not Connect This Stuff To The Ignition Switch?
We could have done this, but having separate switches allows us to test the engine in a variety of ways. First, the separate starter switch allows us to crank the engine with the ignition and fuel switches off. This is a great way to get oil pressure up without starting the engine.
Next, we can turn on the fuel pump with the other switches off to test the fuel system for leaks. By the way, our "fuel system" consists of the pump and a fuel hose from it to a small gas can, plus a hose to the carburetors.
Finally, using big easy-to-reach switches allows us to shut things down instantly if something goes wrong. Also, our test system keeps the battery isolated from the engine and frame at all times, thus adding an extra margin of safety.
What About The Exhaust System?
We haven't installed the exhaust system and won't do so until we're sure the engine is running reasonably well. After all, it's just more stuff to disconnect in the event we need to remove the engine. The only disadvantages here are the noise and potential for a fire in the event of raw fuel being blasted out of the exhaust ports.
The former problem is solved by wearing good hearing protection and the latter is solved by having fire extinguishers at hand. Since we can shut down fuel flow and ignition immediately, only limited amounts of raw fuel can be expected.
Stand by for the next installment. We're going to take you step-by-step through the test firings and tell you how it went. There are always some exciting, surprising and frustrating moments in this operation, so stay tuned...