79 F350 4x4 beater build

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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:46 pm

Well, I figured it was time that I started a project thread about this truck. I am copying some of the original thread from the general section so you can get some background then I will post an update. I started this build about 2 years ago, and it will never truly be finished...

Hello, my name is Eric, I'm a junk addict...

So I was checking out Craigslist a few days ago and came across an add for a '79 F350 4x4. For a little background for those who don't know, '79 was the last year for the dentside trucks, and the first year for the F350 4x4. The F350 was around for years, but was only available in 2wd. In 1978 Ford started offering the F250 "Snowfighter" package, which got you a high-pinion Dana 60 front axle for use with snowplows. In 1979 this evolved into the F350, which gave you a higher payload rating as well as the high-pinion D60 front. These truck are pretty rare, since Ford changed the frame design in 1980, and the D60 fronts used from then on will not fit the dentside trucks without custom fabrication.

Because of the rarity of these trucks, and the desirability of the high-pinion Dana 60 front axle, the axles alone will oftentime sell for $800-1000 regardless of condition. Also, as a consequence of the desirability of these trucks, people will oftentimes list their F250's on Craigslist as F350's to get people interested. Regardless, I decided to respond to this ad to see if it was a real 79 F350 4x4, turns out it is. When I asked about the price, they said $500 or best offer, so I was on my way to check it out.

Turns out the truck is very rough, with serious cancer in the cab, fenders and hood, but on the plus side it has a rebuilt 460 (not original), pretty nice frame that had been sandblasted and painted a few years ago, and the doors were decent, plus it has the desirable high-pinion D60. After a little negotiation, I got it for $400, and now I have another project on my hands with not enough time to work on it.

Here are some pics of my junk find:

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So, I got more junk. I know I'm in good company here though...


Posts : 32
Join date : 2011-03-02
Age : 37
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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:48 pm

Just an update on the 79 F350 that I bought for $400. I got it home, ran some fresh gas to it, threw in a battery, and she fired right up! The 460 runs real smooth and the tranny works great, all of the drivetrain seems fine. I pulled the bed and sprayed the whole truck down with tire cleaner to get the mold off of it, here are some pics for you all...

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I also took a closer look at the frame. As I mentioned before, there are a few crossmembers that need replaced, but the rails themselves are very solid. I already have a new crossmember for behind the rear axle (from my parts truck), and I have a lead on a crossmember for in front of the rear axle. I'm also going to replace the rear spring hangers, and will be incorporating some lift via longer hangers and a shackle flip at the same time. Here are some detail pics of the frame crossmembers.

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Check out the curtains!

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For all you guys in dry climates who think your surface rust is bad, here is some real rust! This is just the hood...

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That's all for now. I'm thinking of starting up a thread in the project cars section about the resurrection of this thing. It's a little out of the ordinary since it's 4wd, but I think you guys would enjoy the buildup. The plan for right now is to add 4-6 inches of lift via creative spring choices, fabricate a cross-over steering setup, replace the body, swap the motor and convert to 4-spd, and do it all on a tight budget. There will be a lot of low-buck tech, with an emphasis on strength and durability. I'm saving for a new shop which I hope to start this spring, so I can't sink too much cash into this thing.


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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:50 pm

Update on the progress of the 1 ton. When I originally bought this truck I had planned to take my time, build everything right the way that I wanted it. I'm trying to build a house this fall, so I really didn't have time to work on it now, and I had the '77 for heavy hauling, general beating and off-roading while clearing/preparing land for the house. Unfortunately, last week the '77 finally died, which really put me in a bind. I've had to use my '05 F150 FX4 for hauling chainsaws/brushcutters/fuel/etc. in and out of my land, which is really hard on it. It gets covered in mud daily since there is no established driveway yet, and I've constantly afraid of rubbing a tree or scratching the paint. Don't get me wrong, it is a truck, and I use it like one, but when you spend $38K on a truck you try to keep it nice as long as possible.

So, ultimately I have decided to throw the F350 together and get it roadworthy as quick as I can so I can use it for the dirty work instead of the '05. The goal is to make it safe, reliable, and capable. Looks are not important at this point, but I'd like to make it look respectable, if for no other reason but to keep the cops from bothering me. I am also directing most of my cash towards the house at this point, so low cost is also a major focus.

I started into it hard last week. So far, I got the body from the cab forward patched back together enough to get it to pass PA inspection. Major issues were holes in the cab corners and floors. I have another rust-free cab for it, but don't have the time to swap it right now, so I did some Bondo art on the cab corners, and screwed some metal panels over the floors. Flame all you want, but the cab only has to get me past inspection and last about a year. The drivers side door was pretty bad, so I replaced it with a better spare that I had, and both front fenders got pitched in favor of better ones. I also had a spare '79 grille shell that was straight, so that went in along with grille and bezels from my large parts stash. I salvaged the hood off of the dead '77. Everything is getting spray-bombed Rustoleum flat brown for color uniformity. Here are some pics so far of the progress:

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I scored a seat from a late-80s F150 from a swap meet a few years ago for $40, and since the seat in this truck was pretty much shot it got swapped out. This thing is really comfortable, and the material is still in pretty good shape.

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More progress to come in the near future.

I hoped to get more done today, but all I did was mount the Edelbrock intake. I did clean up a lot of crap in the engine compartment, ran new heater hoses, etc. I'll get the rest of the motor back together tomorrow after work.

Here are a few more pics I snapped today. Looks like it's getting worse, but I am making progress. Working on the brakes, just have to get the hubs and bearings repacked and start reassembling.

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Well, I got the front hubs done and reassembled. I put the front wheels back on since my mom was having a garage sale and needed the truck out of the driveway for the weekend. I pulled it back into place today, and started replacing the rear crossmembers, got 2 of the 3 replaced. I snapped a couple pics just to show the 36s on the truck. Enjoy!

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I figured I'd give a quick update on progress since I haven't posted anything for a while.* I've been working like mad on the truck, but it doesn't look like I'm making much progress.* Weather hasn't cooperated lately, it's either raining or too stinkin' hot to do much.* I did get the add-a-leaf installed on the front along with new shocks.* Got an inch of lift out of it, so the tires have a little more clearance.* I also started to tear into the rear axle to rebuild the brakes when I got a little distracted:* I stumbled across a complete 4.10-geared 10.25 Sterling rear axle for $100.* For those that don't know, these are the axles used in F250s and F350s from the mid-late 80's up to the '97 trucks.* This rear is HUGE compared to my measly D60 rear.* Advantages include: Bigger axle shafts, bigger ring and pinion, much larger housing, larger brakes, and outboard drums.* The last point is the best in my mind, since I HATE having to remove the axle shafts and tear the hubs apart just to service the brakes.*

My buddy and I swapped the Sterling rear in last night, but we also discovered that the housing is a large diameter than the original D60, so my u-bolt don't work.* I'm leaving work early to get new u-bolts bent, should have it back rolling tonight.* I also added another leaf to the rear packs while I was in there, just for good measure.* I'll try to get some pics soon of the rear, did I mention that this thing is HUGE?

Anyway, there is a local truck pull here in about 2 weeks, so we are working like mad to throw this thing together in time to make it.* It's gonna suck royally, but it should still be a blast.* This thing isn't even close to being competitive in our class, but I just want to get it out there and run it.* Wish me luck...

Well, crap...

My good luck was bound to run bad at some point, and now it did. My $100 score on the 4.10 geared Sterling turned out to be bite me hard. My buddy and I got it all installed last, and while he was torquing the U-bolts, I knocked the diff cover off to change the fluid and inspect the gears. What did I see??? Yep, right there on the ring gear, is a big 3.55 stamped right on it... Sonava.... So the bottom-feeding moron who INSISTED that this was a 4.10 rear, was totally full of crap and had no idea what it was. Sucks because I now have it installed and am commited to making it work. I think the best approach to get it going is to throw in a set of used 4.10 gears and get it on the road. I located a few used OEM take-out 4.10 sets on Ebay for around $100 each. New gears are around $300!!! I think I'll just go with the used gears to save some coin, and make setting them up a little easier...

I probably would have bought the rear regardless even if it was a 3.55, since it was a good deal, but I wouldn't have installed it right now. Just really burns me when people lie to your face and screw you over. My fault, really for not pulling the cover while I was there and verifying, but the guy was pretty insistent that it was a 4.10, so I took his word... Bastard!!!....

I really have to apologize for the tease yesterday and then not delivering the pics.* I meant to come in from working on the truck a little early last night and post up the pics, but that didn't quite happen.* We started to work at cleaning up the wiring last night, and discovered that the previous owner thougt he was an electrical GENIUS!!!* He had the insulation stripped off of almost every wire under the hood, with new wires twisted onto old wires running every which way, most of them weren't even connected to anything.* I'm amazed this thing even ran and didn't catch on fire.* So, even though we didn't feel like we made much progress last night, we pretty much rewired the whole truck.* My buddy made a new engine harness, and I replaced the entire chassis harness with a really nice one from one of my parts trucks.* I started working on the bed harness, but it is a complete mess from many previous owner's attempts to hack in trailer plugs.* I think I will end up making a new bed harness, as the green monster has attacked most of the wires in the harness.* The only thing we haven't messed with yet is the interior wiring, but that needs attention as well due to all of the wires jumpered from the fuse box for the tach, stereo, trailer brake controller, extra lights, etc.* Fixing all of that crap probably won't be necessary to make the truck pulls, but I should at least make sure that it won't burn down on the track prior to taking it out...

But the highlight of the night was at 11:00pm when we were about to quit from exhaustion.* My buddy got the engine harness done and reinstalled and changed the plugs and retimed the distributor.* We fired the motor up just to make sure it ran and all of the gauges worked, and she sounded GREAT!* This thing has been running like dog poop since we initially got it running since we haven't had time to tune it up.* I think it was a combination of the crudded-up plugs, hacked engine wiring, and less-than ideal timing that contributed to the poor running.* It still needs some fine-tuning on the timing, and the idle adjusted, but it really sounded good and responsive.* Really made the night worth it after cursing the wiring problems all night.

Sorry I can't post pics right now, I left my camera in the truck last night because I intended to take some more pics.* I'll try to snap some tonight and get them posted.* It's getting there, and I'm really getting fired up!


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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:52 pm

Ok, finally some pics, and a video!

We spent all last evening removing tons of pointless wiring from the dash, and rewiring the hacked up interior lighting. I think everything is straightened out, just need to reassemble the dash and the interior is done. I didn't get the bed harness done, but I started making the new harness and shouldn't have any problem getting it finished up tonight. Still can't get the fuel gauge to work, but I think that is the only thing that doesn't work at this point.

Anyway, here are the pics, and a short video of it running at the end. Still need some tweaking, but it runs! I have some exhaust leaks to deal with, as you can hear by the motor, and the mufflers need welded on (in the video they are just slid over the pipes). Getting closer, but still waiting on the gears. Still no tracking number and no word on a delivery date...

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And the video!

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It is an HEI conversion setup, although it isn't a DUI brand unit (MUCH cheaper than one of those).* It is an off-brand unit that come on my buddies 86 F350, he gave it to me since he will be upgrading to an MSD setup on the 545.* It works good except for the vacuum advance canister is broke, need to fix that (easy).* It does add a lot of response compared to the Duraspark, and tuning parts can be bought at any auto parts stores (weights, springs, etc.).* He already upgraded the taiwan internals with a Mallory ignition module, and Accel cap and coil.* I also have one on my green '79, and like it as well.* The only drawback is that you MUST run a carb spacer so the air cleaner clears the cap, and the water neck has to be ground slightly to clear the body.* The benefit is extreme simplicity (one-wire hookup) and it really cleans up the engine compartment.

I know what you mean about wiring.* I can understand adding extra electrical components in a vehicle, but simply stripping insulation and twisting wires together with no solid connectors or even electrical tape in most cases is not acceptable in a vehicle.* I'm kinda anal about wiring, since I have a degree in electrical engineering, so everthing gets soldered/shrink wrapped.*

Funny you mentioned the house switch for the starter.* At one point last night when we were laying on our backs on the floor pulling wires out of the dash, we discovered* a hidden switch mounted to the floor heater ducts, with hidden wires snaked inside the vent ducts, eventually running under the hood and connecting into the engine harness.* We eventually figured out that it was an ignition disable switch!* Good thing it was already on, or we might still be trying to figure out why the truck won't run!* I can only imagine the problems that I would have had if the exposed wires in the ductwork would have touched something while I was driving...* I'm really surprised this thing ran!

Well, the first test drive was umm, less that impressive. Ya, that's it. It was pretty much a dog. No secondaries, power was pretty flat everywhere. Refused to rev beyond 3000rpm.

I did a little research on the Holley carb that was on it, turns out that it was a base model Holley 4160, 600cfm. Only 600cfm total, and no secondaries on top of that? No wonder it didn't run.

So, tonight we swapped the carb out for an old Holley 750 double pumper that my buddy got a while back along with a bunch of 460 parts. First drive was better, but still not good. A little bump on the timing, things got better. Another bump, better yet. A little more timing, oops, too much. Back it off a little, and we found the sweet spot. ;D It runs about as good as we can do for a stock smogger 460. As far as it having a cam, no such luck. With the timing turned up to where it should be, idle is stone stock smooth. Oh well, at least it runs decent enough to make the pulls... We even strapped it up to the '95 F150 woods beater and drug it around through the field a little in 4lo just to make sure everything works good. I think we are just about ready for the pulls!

Tomorrow I'm going to organize some of the wiring, change the tranny fluid and filter, check the transfer case fluid and power steering fluid (pump growls), and start cleaning it up a little. It is 95% there now.

No new videos yet, but I did snap a few pics of it sitting in the yard tonight before it got dark. Enjoy!

The lineup. The neighbors joke all the time that we are running a used truck dealership... or maybe they aren't joking...
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In this pic you can just barely see the exhaust poking out in front of the rear tire. Dual 3" stainless tips with rolled edge, leftovers from the Magnaflow catback I put on the 05 F150
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If you look at the side of the truck in this photo, you can see a dark area on the cab area. That was from a small fire we had last week while I was removing the old gas line and my buddy was grinding on the front bumper of the woods beater truck... Ooops. It isn't burnt, just blackened.
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I was trying to keep the total out-of-pocket cash to under $1000, but given the fact that I got screwed on the rearend, it cost me a little more than that. I also has to buy a new reciever hitch so I could make the pulls this weekend, so that was a little more cash out of pocket. I've probably got a little under $1400 in it total cash out of pocket, including purchase price. I reused a lot of parts from my old truck, my buddy pitched in a bunch of parts, and I shopped around for deals on other stuff. I ended up with a pretty solid one-ton truck that drives pretty nicely, runs pretty good, and stops on a dime. Can't ask for much more (other than more power... Wink)

I was just thinking about everything that I've done to this truck in the last 2 months, so I figured I'd start a list. Here's was I got so far:

Used door (parts truck)
Used fenders (parts truck, swap meet)
Used hood (dead '77 F150)
Used bed (dead '77)
Used front and rear bumpers (leftover from my green '79 2wd)
Used mufflers/exhaust pipe (dead '77)
Used Edelbrock intake/Holley 750 (donated by neighbor)
Used wheels/tires (dead '77)
Add-a-leafs, all four corners (sourced from extra springs packs from parts truck)
Used seat (swap meet)
Used floor mat (dead '77)
Used grille shell (Craigslist score)
Used instrument cluster (dead '77)
Used calipers/rotors/hoses (dead '77)
Used rear/gears/posi (Craigslist/Ebay)
Used rear shock (dead '77)
Used frame crossmembers/spring hangers (local Pick-a-part)
Used wiring harness (parts truck)
New metal brake lines
New front shocks/air cleaner (Summit)
New receiver hitch/trailer plug (local shop)

Of course, even though this thing is on the road now, it still isn't done. It will never be done. I've got a solid platform now, I'll keep building up from here.


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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:55 pm

Sorry for the slow reply, we were pretty busy yesterday getting the truck ready and busy today cleaning up all of the mess that we left yesterday. There are pulls around here on average about 2-3 times a month, and they usually bring 20-30 4x4 trucks each night. Usually as long as it isn't raining during the pull or a ton right before the pull, the track is fine. They water the track anyway to keep the dust down and help it pack, so a little rain doesn't hurt. If there is a lot of rain just before a pull, sometimes they will just scrape the top layer of mud off, chew up the dirt, and pack it down. We rarely have rain dates.

So, yes I did pull yesterday. We thrashed all afternoon to get the truck ready. The biggest concern I had was that the soft C6 would not last through the pull, so I figured I should at least change the fluid. Good idea, since that was the first time that it was ever. 30yr old tranny fluid really stinks, especially when it's running down your arm into your shirt... Razz There was all kinds of good stuff that had settled into the pan, no metal, just clutch material. Also, the filter screen was plugged completely shut. You couldn't even see through it if you held it up to the light. So, fresh fluid and a bottle of Lucas, and the tranny works much better. Still soft, but better. We also swapped out the 36 in favor of a set of 33's from my buddies F350 to gain a little lower low range. Here are some pics of the truck loaded up and ready to go:

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We weighed in at 5875 with about 650lbs of weight in the bed, I was surprised at how light this thing was. Iron headed big block, auto trans, one-ton axles, a half-tank of gas. I really thought this thing would scale in about 5500, and the weights would get me close to the limit of 6200. Not a big deal, though, because i had no problem at all with traction. Never even broke a tire loose.

So, how did it do? Well, I told you not to expect much. It definitely wasn't the class winner, but not the worst either. I went 224 feet out of 300 total. I'm not even sure where I placed, but I think it was probably about mid-pack out of about 15-16 trucks. My biggest problem was power - more specifically the lack thereof... We already started working on a fix for that problem - more details to come... ;D


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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:56 pm

Here's all I got so far. It has actually gotten cleaned off a lot the last few days from the incessant rain, but you get the picture. I'll get some off-road pics of it this week.
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Spent most of the day Saturday in the garage tinkering around with this thing. Just minor things, but it was fun to tool on it for a while as a change of pace from my house planning/land preparation. Finally got my new tie rod fabricated. Used 1.5" DOM tubing (1/4" wall, 1" ID) for the tie rod, then welded on threaded inserts on each end to accept the Chevy 1-ton tie-rod ends. I think it turned out pretty good. Ended up with about $160 in everything to make the new tie rod, including $50 for a reamer to ream out the steering knuckles for the Chevy ends. A new stock-type passenger side tie rod for this truck is $170 alone, since it is integrated into the tie rod, and I replaced both ends, plus got a reamer that can be used on future jobs for less than just the passenger side end. I think it looks much better than the stock one too, much cleaner and simpler. The stock tie-rod had a bend in it to go around the diff cover, but it really isn't necessary. My fabricated rod only barely touches the diff cover at full lock to the left, and not enough to cause a problem.

After I aligned the truck back up I took it for a ride and it handles much better when the tie-rods are tight and not ready to fall apart. Should have my new steering shaft today, so that will eliminate pretty much all of the play in the steering. Looking forward to that!

Here is the new tie-rod mocked up next to the old one just prior to welding the inserts on.
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Here is the completed tie-rod welded, painted, and ready for installation. I eliminated the steering stabilizer for now. It wouldn't fit on the larger tie-rod, and it was junk anyway (leaking fluid everywhere), so it's getting trashed. I will see how well it works without one for now, a lot of people run without them unless they are going to much larger tires (38" and larger).
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Detail shot of the driver's side installed. I did have the entire suspension and undercarraige painted when I initially assembled the truck, but this is what a few weeks of mud-running does to it. The best part is that I don't care... ;D
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I also took some time to trim the front fenders a little with a sawzall so that the 36s won't rub anymore. Touched up the paint with a little Rustoleum.
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I figured I'd post a little update and show the truck in action. I've been digging drainage ditches this week, and had to haul in some limestone to cover the pipe. Here is what the truck was built for:

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4000lbs of limestone, no problem. Really wish I had a dump truck though. Sucks shoveling all that limestone off, and I still have 5 or 6 more loads to haul.

I also ordered a new cam for the other 460. I've been driving the green 2wd a lot lately, using it for my daily commute to work, and have really grown to like how well the motor runs in it. Lots of low-end power, great mid range punch. I really think the motor combo would work really well in this truck. So, I went ahead and ordered the same cam, the Lunati Voodoo 61600. Now I just need to get the motor together before the tranny pukes... which may be tomorrow...

79 F350 4x4 beater build IMG_1422


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Post  ford141 on March 2nd 2011, 11:58 pm

Well, old Ugly did pretty good last night. 3rd place overall out of 12 trucks in my class, and I had a blast. I won $40, so after figuring in my $25 entry fee, and $14 for food, I ended up with an extra dollar in my pocket to go toward gas in the V10. Overall it was a great night, I had some of my neighbors come out to watch, as well as some guys I work with. Ugly held together well and nothing broke, so I'd call it a success.

In all of my rushing around, worrying about unimportant things like chaining the truck down on the trailer, I forgot my memory card for my camera, so I personally don't have any pics from the pulls that I can share with you right now. My girlfriend did get some video of the pull with her camera, so once I get it downloaded onto a computer I'll post it up. One of my former student interns is also an amateur photographer, and he said he got a lot of pics, so hopefully he can send some to me so I can post them up.

In the meantime, I'll post up some more photos that I took prior to the pull in the field behind my house.

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Little update. Pulled again this past weekend in Stoneboro, Pa in a pretty tough class. My class (street gas) was pretty loose on rules, as you were allowed any cam, race fuel, high compression, and headers. My measly stock 460 with the towing cam and stock manifolds sounded pretty tame compared to the rumpity-rump of all of the trucks around me, BUT, the track was very loose, and as everyone knows horsepower doesn't mean a thing if you can't put it to the ground. I was one of the few trucks there with mud tires, and as a result I came away with 5th place out of about 18 trucks. Good enough for a $40 payout, which payed for my entry fee and food for the night. Pretty fun overall. I have video, I'll try to get it loaded up and posted soon.

In the meantime, however, I realized that I never posted pictures from the Big Butler Fair pull like I promised. Here they are finally.

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Got the video posted on Youtube of the pull at the Stoneboro Thunderpull last Saturday. One note on the truck that I forgot to mention. This class did not allow a "double pumper" carb, or any carb with mechanical secondaries. Since I've been running an old borrowed Holley double pumper on the truck, I decided that it was time to buy a new carb that could meet class rules. I drove out to Summit Racing on Saturday morning and bought one of their new Summit-brand 750CFM vacuum secondary carbs. I took the carb with me to the pulls, and my buddy and I swapped installed it in the pits literally momements before I had to pull. I was still finishing the carb install as they were teching me. I was pretty impressed at how good the thing ran right out of the box with no tuning. I'm going to tweak on it a little this week prior to the next pull this weekend.

Here is the video of the pull at Stoneboro with the new carb installed. Track was very loose and muddy, but the truck dug in and pulled hard.



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Post  '65 T-BOLT on March 3rd 2011, 12:51 am

very cool Eric! we use to have a bunch of 73-79 fords I miss them. in the past ten years we bought and sold/parted 23 trucks
'65 T-BOLT
'65 T-BOLT

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Post  EVE on March 3rd 2011, 1:56 am

I don't care what anyone tells you, that is a sweet truck. Keep up the good work and it's nice to see someone actually enjoying and competing with a budget build.


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Post  ford141 on March 3rd 2011, 12:59 pm

Thanks guys, I'm having a blast with this truck. It really is a POS but it gets a little better every time I work on it. I have well under $2K in it so far, hoping to have less than $1500 in the new motor, so it really is a low budget deal.

Discussion on the new motor: http://www.429-460.com/t9263-new-street-class-pulling-truck-motor

I currently have 3 RUNNING 73-79 Fords. This 79 F350 4x4, a 79 F250 2wd with a mild 460/built C6 and a 3/5 drop kit, and a '77 F350 dump truck. I also have 4 parts trucks currently, and I've had numerous other parts truck that I either parted and scrapped or traded for other parts. It really is an addiction.


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Post  schmitty on March 3rd 2011, 1:00 pm

EVE wrote:I don't care what anyone tells you, that is a sweet truck. Keep up the good work and it's nice to see someone actually enjoying and competing with a budget build.

X1000. Very Happy That is sweet. I love the 70's Fords, and have owned more than I can count. Had a lot of fun with all of them.

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Post  dfree383 on March 3rd 2011, 1:41 pm

Cool Truck

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Post  Bill Dozzer on March 9th 2011, 11:43 pm

Sweet truck man. I have an old 78 I'm playing with as well. Just love that old body style. Very Happy
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