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'59 Ford Project Update

In my last blog on this subject, I talked about the removal of the '84 F-150 body from its frame complete with some photos.  Since then, I sold the complete body to a young guy from Carthage, MO.  Pictured here is the body sold, all loaded up, and being carted away.  I got a good price for it and was thrilled to have both the cash in hand and get all the body parts out of my shop and out of my way.

That was almost 3 months ago.  You'd think that I'd be eager to get to work on my '59, but my wife's birthday took priority.  The truck got rolled out of the shop to make room for all the work I would soon put into making things for her party.  More on that in an upcoming blog, I'm sure.

Back to work on the '59, I changed my strategy some.  Before, my plan was to clean and paint the entire frame before putting the truck together.  If I were building a show truck that would be a great strategy but since I am building something to be driven and used, it seems more a monumental unnecessary effort.  So, I remounted the newly-painted fuel tanks back under the frame and got to work hoisting the cab into the air.  I spent a lot of time trying to accomplish putting together a system for lifting the cab while I would be on the ground, but neither of my two theoretically-sound designs realistically worked.  In the end, I hoisted it using pretty much the same system I used to remove the '84 cab off the frame in the first place.  The big difference was that this time I was up in the rack operating the winch on a platform I threw together rather than dangerously standing on a ladder right by the cab being lifted.

With the cab roughly in place on the frame, I measured how the front clip and bed would line up to the wheel wells.  They didn't.  My measurements would require the cab to be scooted forward seven inches.  The problem is that the firewall-side of the engine is sitting about two inches from the firewall.  In an effort to gain stability and better handling through improved weight distribution, Ford began mounting the engines closer to the center of the vehicle in later model pickups in comparison to the 57-60 model.  As you can see from these two photos, the '84 cab has a nice indentation in the firewall to accept the engine being mounted further back on the frame.  The '59 doesn't have this.

So the best solution I have is to cut out a section of the '59 firewall.  Then, I'll have to fabricate a panel to cover that hole.  Initially, this reminds me of the E-150 vans I once owned.  The engines of the E-150 vans intrude so much into the cab that they have a removable panel so that it's easier to service the engine from the inside of the cab.  What I have to do to the '59 will not be near this dramatic.  It should only be about four to five inches deep of a bump.  In fact, from the inside of the cab it would look similar to how the '84 looks in this picture.  The '59 has no bump, but I'll have to change that.  However, unlike the '84, I believe that I'll make my panel removable so that the engine is much more accessible when in need of maintenance.  Also, the '84 bump extends into the floor in the form of a raised hump to make room for the top of the transmission and driveshaft. I won't need a raised floor in the '59 like shown in the '84 because I am forced to give the whole body a minimum 3" body lift.  This is due to the fact that the '59 frame rails are flat from the front to the back.  The '84 frame, however, has a 3" drop between the axles.  So, to get everything to mount and line up I have to ignore the drop and raise the cab to level out with the bed and front clip.  This will consequently remove the need to fabricate a matching hump in the floor of the cab since the '59 cab will sit above that requirement.

Cutting into the firewall is no small job.  I'll be busy with that for a while since I will want to measure thirty times before I cut.  I want to remove the least amount of firewall as necessary but ensure that any required maintenance has the space it needs to be performed whether that be the removal of the valve covers, spark plugs, etc.  Once that is complete, I can then move my cab into its future location and start working on fabricating my custom cab mounts.  I'll post an update here when I have one.


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