Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Way Cool

I didn't know you could do this.

A scratch-built '57 4x4- in 1/10 scale!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Duke of Frame

AHH- Finally I get to do my own version of Cut-som.
But this time it will be different.

"Z"-ing the frame.
If you've been reading along, you'll know why I'm cutting into the frame. The plan is to get a 2.5" drop in ride height, without sacrificing suspension travel or correct steering geometry.

First things first:
This is everything that I ground, cut, or beat off of the front frame cradle with a sledgehammer:

...... motormounts, leaf spring hangers, and of course, more cutsom brackets. Both of the motor mounts and one of the shock mounts were cracked.

The motor mounts had to go- as they had been miserably welded on with an arc welder (again- sometime in the 80's), and had cracked enough to let the motor sag pretty significantly.
You can see in this photo that the exhaust manifolds were resting on the mounts.

Here is the new motor mount/crossmember from So-Cal in Phoenix, mocked up to check for clearances around the straight axle, oil pan, etc.


Here is the cradle just after getting it back from my dude at AZ Pro-Strip.

The slanted cuts are done, and it's ready for the 1/4" plasma cut frame pieces.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

406: Boat anchor or torque monster?

Of course, this is the 406 I wish we were talking about. That's a really nice period piece of early sixties' Blue Oval, "Total Performance" FE blocked coolness, but I will most inevitably end up with a strong armed iron mouse under my hood- since that was what it came to me with.

After pulling down the 400 SBC that came in the '58, I (we) discovered that water had been standing in three of the 8 cylinders for some time. it was pretty much locked up. Good times.

......but that other than some rust pitting in the cylinders, the motor was original, and in excellent shape. The crank was particularly nice.

With a .030" overbore needed to cover my stupid mistake, new pistons became necessary.
There were only two reasonably priced sources for flat-top "street" pistons for the 400: Keith Black or Speed Pro. The units I ended up with are Speed pro Hyperuetectics, with a + 5cc valve reliefs, and a .022" deck clearance. That yields about a 9.7:1 static comp ratio with the 76cc chambers on my smog "882" heads.

Cam selection, is well, a trip. After reading through Super Chevy magazine's "Danger Mouse"series:
I started with the obvious choice, right?? The Comp Cams XE262 cam.

After playing endlessly, and learning alot ( I actually spoke with Ron Iskendarian on the phone); - the cam that yielded the best torque curve, and the highest HP numbers was NOT the cam with the biggest lift/duration numbers.
I ended up with a pretty modest Isky stick (216°/216° @ .050"- .450"/.450"), but on a 108° lobe separation angle.

108° Lobe separation angles are, well, old school. That is, back from the days when leaded, high octane fuel was plentiful, and cars could run far higher cylinder pressures without pre-detonation. "So", you say? you already knew that?

Here's the thing: Most newer cams are ground on a wider lobe separation angle (like 112°-114°)- which allows vehicles like new Camaros/Corvettes/Mustangs to run longer duration cams/ higher theoretical compression ratios with a smooth idle, vacuum, and no pre-detonation. It also spreads the power curve out more evenly. It makes for somewhat of a boring street motor, though; lower torque numbers, and less throttle response due to lower cylinder pressures at low rpm's.

Fun facts- a narrow LSA will give you a crunchier idle, better cylinder pressure at low rpm's(more throttle response down low). The down side is that the powerband is theoretically smaller. The smaller an LSA gets, the closer the motor gets to being like a "oval track" car. Designed to make peak power in a narrow RPM range. Theoretically, that is..

Hidden power
Here's the thing: A narrow LSA can also help a motor with weak (as in "882") heads at higher RPM's. This occurs through higher velocity scavenging on the exhaust side (where it counts). I am not 100% on the theory behind this, but the Dyno program shows my little Isky cam as making the best peak HP @ 338 (beating the bigger cams by 27+ HP), but also-- while the Comp Cams XE262 and even the XE268 fell dramatically on their face by around 4800 RPM, the little 264 Mega cam shows as making 300 or more HP from 4,000 through 6,000 RPM- this is with the stock heads. It's also worth pointing out that while the larger duration XE Comp Cams got beat on peak HP, they also left TORQUE lieing on the table down low.

The 108 Isky cam ended up making the best torque (420 ft/lbs), and making at least 400 ft/lbs from around 1,500 RPM all the way through 4,000 rpm. That's some serious grunt.
That means that at oh, about 14 mph in 1st gear- I'll have 400 ft/lbs of torque on tap. Tire shred-o-matic.

I mean....if you're into that sort of thing.

A shock less traveled..

I guess I'm weird. I want my truck to sit low AND still have full functionality.
Luckily, with all of the trickery on the front frame suspension geometry, I'll only be stealing 2.0" - 2.5" travel from the stock suspension movement in order to really" get down". Nevertheless, that's probably enough to bottom out the OE spec shocks on a regular basis, and make the ol' Fridge ride like a logwagon.

Classic performance sells "shortie" shocks for the front of the '57-50 F100, but I wanted to know exactly what that meant (in numbers)- and of course if I could find them cheaper somewhere's elst (more numbers).

Starting at both and Rockauto, I found that the the 57-60 F100 uses a Gabriel #5826 for OEM replacement.
This means a compressed length of 10.125", and 6.25" inches of travel ( 16.375" extended).

Comparison using the Monroe shock catalog (see below) shows a shock with exactly 2.125" shorter compressed height- and exactly 2.0" less travel: #5811 is my lucky number here.

A search on rockauto reveals that the Gabriel SpecTrac 5811 shock is specified for most '66-'73 Chrysler big cars: Newport, Fury, and Monaco.

Beyond just the numbers- my common sense tells me that this is a perfect match: exactly short enough, with predictably less suspension travel for a car (or lowered truck), made for a very similarly sized/weight vehicle. Score.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Style Points: Nerf Bars

Nerf bars are a polite way to make fun of other cars with full bumpers.

Axle Follies

My 58 f100 came to with a huge set of meats on the back- pretty killer, huh?
They're so wide that they hang outside the wheelwell....

Well, those are actually 225/75/15 whitewall cheapies.......and that's the WRONG axle in my truck.

After cleaning off the tag, and running the numbers- it ends up being out of one of these bad-boys.
Very cut-som, indeed.

A guy from the HAMB came and got this old '68-'71 E100 bone for like $100, before I could put it out of it's misery and bury it.

The new Pig
So I haul a new rearend home- this time from a 1957 f100.
Turns out to be a 3.25 open gearset

A quick rebuild and limited slip diff install are next.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Git Low

There are a couple different ways to take the "Green Acres" right out of your 57-60 F100, if you so desire.

First off:
1) Remove the spare tire from inside the bed.


...Do what the man says:
2) Decrease overall ride height 6-8 inches:

OK- the first can be done with your wife's tool kit in a few seconds, the latter- well, it can be more like a second job. Of course it depends upon your knowledge and skill level. Let's just say that it's been a learning experience so far.

There are several different ways to approach this- I'll cover each one, including Pro's and Con's of everything I've learned so far:

First things first- this ain't happening. For a couple different reasons:
1) This truck isn't being built for road racing, or for "layin' rocker"
2) It's nowhere near as cheap or easy as everyone thinks, to pull off CORRECTLY.
3) If I wanted a '96 F-150, or a Volare, or a '70-'81 Camaro, I'd go buy one.

With that out of the way, here's some choices for lowering it "old skool".

Dropped mono Leafs
First, and by far the easiest.
You can get these from Sacramento Vintage Ford pretty reasonably. I think for abut $400 per axle.
1) Quick and relatively easy.
2) You can choose a from couple differently sized drops.
1) Makes for a "bouncy" ride.
2) Forget about actually using your truck as a truck- hauling potential is about a "2" on a 1-10 scale.
3) Possible bump Steer/Steering geometry issues.

Here's a photo of a mono leaf setup. Looks like about 2" of suspesnion travel before bottoming out. This is with no front end sheetmetal or driver (another 400-500 lbs):

Dropped Tube Axle
Commonly available drop axles are actually created for the '53-'56 F100, and then modified slightly for the '57-'60 (the 57-60 has a 1/4" wider leaf spring).
Here's a caveat of sorts- the the stock 57-60 axle geometry has a 1.0" drop over the 53-56 axle. So....all of the 3.0" dropped axles available will only drop your Fridge by 2.0".

1) The "Right" way
1) Gives a "true" geometrical drop (not just a compromise in suspension travel)- steering geometry issues resolved by using a relatively inexpensive "Tie Rod Drop Kit".
2) You get a new axle.
1) Pretty pricey. Kingpins, U-Bolts, Tie Rod Drop Kit, and Axle will run you almost 6 bills for a 2.0" drop.
2) Installation not easy.

Classic trucks magazine did a feature on this kind of drop:

Dropped I-Beam Axle
You can have the factory I-Beam axle "Dropped" by a drop axle service. There are a couple of them around in California and Arizona. Price is comparable to new dropped tube axle.
(I hear that you can safely drop a stock axle to 4.0". HINT: I'm guessing that this is common wisdom for a 2600lb open car, and not 3600lb truck.)
1) I'd call this a reasonable price to pay for lowering.
2) Again- a "true" drop, but you're on your own in resolving bump steer issues.
1) No guarantee that you will ever get your front end aligned properly, or have a tight hole for kingpins.
2) Same gig as tube axle as far as Installation.

Here is a another great link from the HAMB:

"Trick" the stock leaf springs
You can do this three ways- by removing one or more of the seven leafs in each leaf spring, by having the spring eyes "reversed", or by having the springs de-arched.
OR, a combination of all three:

There are two basic approaches to removing leaves :
1) Removing #2, or #2 and #4 combined. These are both within the leaf spring "pack"(#1 being the longest leaf with the eyes in it). This allows you to keep the bottom helper springs intact. The exact effect of this as far as modifying ride height/spring rate is a guess at this point.
2) Removing the helper springs, #7, or #7 & #5 combined.
Same applies.

The last two are work for your local spring shop;
Reversed Eyes:
Just from looking at the diameter of the eye on a 57-60 leaf spring, I'm thinking that you will get a bout 1.25" drop from a reversed eye- all other factors being the same, including the arch of the spring.
Valley Spring service in Phoenix,AZ reveresed the eyes on both front springs fro about $65.

No problem. The same shop will de-arch for a little extra $$.