61 F100 Unibody Build

duh09

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Hey guys,

It's not Mustang and it's not a new project in the slightest but I'm getting closer to having it on the road and thought it may be cool to document what I've done so far on here.

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Last August I ran across this truck on Craigslist, fella was asking $2k for this 61 F100 Unibody. I love the old Uni's and there aren't many around here so finding one local for sale while I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket got me excited. He sent me a few pictures, we may have sent 10 texts before I was hooking up the trailer and headed to check the truck out. The truck was ratty but that's what I dig. The truck had a recently rebuild 292 Y-block under the hood mated to a good ole three-on-the-tree. The truck ran pretty good with it's leaky 2bbl Motorcraft carb but the brakes were absolutely toast. We loaded it up and brought it home after getting it down to $1500. I ended up taking the truck still on the trailer to a car show the next day to show some friends and family but after I got home with it, I got it unloaded and started ordering parts. My original plan was to slap some brakes on it and start hitting the shows since the wagon was going to be down for awhile.

I ordered a Speedway front disc conversion, a dual Master cylinder from a 70's model F100, and a line-lock with the idea of doing sweet sweet pro-street burnouts all the time. I started tearing the front apart first and cleaning the hell out of everything I touched. 60 years of dirt and grease and grime made the spindles almost unrecognizable. I got the front discs on and ended up hurting myself with the wire brush on the side grinder digging into my leg pretty good. It took a little bit longer than I wanted after that to rebuild the rear drums (turns out half the parts were missing, no wonder they didn't work) and once I finally got all my new parts on, I realized the factory lines were not going to hold up. I blew 3 apart while trying to bleed the brakes and ordered a set of stainless lines for the truck. Somewhere along the line of rebuilding the rear drums, I managed to get some rust in my eye and got an infection which slowed me down some more. Either way, a couple months later, I had everything together. I started bleeding, finding leaks and fixing them, bleeding, bleeding, bleeding, bleeding, bleeding.... I could not get brakes to save my life. I spent months, in the shop every weekend tinkering for a bit trying to figure out what the problem was. I ran it by a few people, we tried removing the line lock, adjusting the rear brakes 4 or 5 times... I had went through nearly a gallon on fluid from bleeding and I could not get any decent pedal feel. I took a break for a couple weeks from it and when another friend came down to check our cars, he was asking about the F100 and he made a joke about how funny it would be if my pushrod wasn't reaching the master cylinder enough to fully compress..... and he was right. So did some figuring, got a rod, made it work and boom- I had some pedal. I did a couple more sets of bleeding and finding new leaks now that it was building real pressure and went to take the truck for a drive for the first time as a normal vehicle with normal brakes. Backed it out of the shop, started to drive around it and noticed it sure did seem weird to shift. I thought it was from the clutch not fully disengaging so I got back under the truck and tried to tighten up and adjust the halfway home-made clutch linkage setup only to realize the nut on it was stripped.

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Couple days later, I had it all back together, everything good for the first test drive. Backed it out, and snap- the shift sleeve in the column broke. It was sloppy- which was the real cause for the difficulty in shifting- and finally wore out enough to break the thing. Little bit of research showed me that this was a common issue on the old three-on-the-tree trucks and realized I was going to have to find a new shift shaft, which isn't repo'd for Unibody trucks like it is the later models. I was beginning to think I was going to have to throw something together and pray that it would work but a customer told me of a old dude with a huge Ford junkyard off some backroads about an hour from me. He didn't use the phone so either way I had to make a trip out to hope that he would be there, be open, and have a steering column. I finally found the place and it is freakin' awesome. Almost any old Ford you could think of, shoved all of his property. The old fella had Cobra Jet Torino's and Boss 302 cars rotting under his shed, old race cabovers in his fields, trucks, cars, anything out there. I met his grandson but he had no idea what the old man had and would be willing to sell and didn't know where he was so we poked around for about an hour before the old man finally showed up. I asked him if thought he might have a steering column and I swear he walked over about 3' in his old filled up hoarder looking garage and handed me a complete unibody column that I had been stepping over all morning. I ended up talking to him for a bit and he showed up some of his goodies he had tucked away.

The steering column I bought was in about the best shape I could have got it in. Whoever owned the truck kept everything extremely greased to the point that the thing was absolutely packed with hard old grease so everything was in great shape and I didn't really have any rust to deal with. I decided to pull the whole thing apart, get the outer sleeves painted, and clean everything and re-pack the gear box and make sure the shift shaft wasn't in bad shape and even had the piece tig'd to make sure I didn't end up with the same problems as the last column. During all this time, I've ordered a ton of parts. New seals for the cab, replacement sheet metal for the interior, new turn signals, LED taillights, new lenses, Moon Eyes steering wheel and tach, I've cleaned up and painted the factory gauge cluster, got a sweet idea for a shift knob.... and then I bought a house and haven't touched the truck since. The truck is still at my parents in our shop, just waiting for the new steering column to be installed. Last week my dad ordered me a wiring harness for the truck, partly to say thanks for helping him with a bunch of stuff recently and as a bribe for me to help him get his Fairlane back together so I'll be turning wrenches on this truck soon.

Moon Eyes goodies-
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Here's my shift knob idea that still needs to be finished up. It's an old whiskey decanter stopper I picked up in Lynchburg after me and a couple friends toured the Jack Daniel's distillery with a wooden sleeve I turned out on our lathe. It originally was destined to be a shift knob but I wasn't 100% satisfied with the size so I cut it down more to what it is now. I still need to finish polishing the the arm and get it all pinned and epoxied together.
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Here's the gauge cluster after it's refinishing... I repainted the needles but instead of trying to hand paint the speedo, I had an idea to sand the faded paint off the raised letters and polish it out. It was trickier than I thought it would be which is why it's somewhat rough around the center section but I like it. The picture doesn't really show how shiney and reflective the numbers are now. I'm toying with the idea of sending the whole gauge section of the dash off to be chromed but not sure if I can handle having that shine in my face while driving the truck.
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Anyways, that's enough to get this thread started. I'll post some pictures of the brake job soon and will get some updated pictures of the truck with some underhood and interior pics next time I make it to the shop.

The gameplan for this truck is to get the wiring and steering column in the truck to get a test drive out of the way. I'm hoping I can get the guy who is currently doing bodywork and paint on our '36 to fix my floor for me for a reasonable price, then paint the interior of the truck myself. The exterior of the truck is not going to lose it's true patina at all and NO it is not getting clear coated. Then it'll be time for all the new seals on the windows once the glass comes out for paint. 15x10s and some meaty tires will be going on the back of it and I'm thinking very seriously about putting some taller leaf springs under the front and rocking the gasser look- especially if I could find some old school mag wheels for the front. At the point, I should be about done with it.
 

RedTwilight

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Sweet project! It would be cool to see it gasser style. Not a lot of people are building them that way any longer.

I want that wagon!
 

DKblue98GT

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Awesome! I love old Ford trucks. I have been searching for a 67-72 F1oo short bed for a while now. Keep up the good work.
 

Caleb2v

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That's an awesome truck! I like that you're keeping the patina the way it is. Sounds like it fought you back a little bit so I hope you're doing better now.
 

duh09

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Sweet project! It would be cool to see it gasser style. Not a lot of people are building them that way any longer.

I want that wagon!

Thanks! I was halfway between slamming it or going gasser and more I see are down low so I'm going the other way. The wagon should be back on the road soon! I've got a line on a motor that I'm hoping works out.

Awesome! I love old Ford trucks. I have been searching for a 67-72 F1oo short bed for a while now. Keep up the good work.

I'd love to find an older model like that next. It's hard not to like old trucks.

That's an awesome truck! I like that you're keeping the patina the way it is. Sounds like it fought you back a little bit so I hope you're doing better now.

Oh yeah, all that fighting back was last year. Slowed me down and knocked some motivation out of my sails but we're back at it now.
 

96blak54

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Love it!!!!

Write ups like this ^^^ makes forums worth it!
 

duh09

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Bear with me, I’m going to try using Tapatalk for the first time and see if I can get some pics off my phone on here.


Here’s the before, during, and after of replacing the front drums with the Speedway kit. Cleaning the spindles was the most difficult part of the process and the most time consuming. The dirt and grit were so old and tough that I basically had to grind it off with a wire wheel attachment on a side grinder. Which by the way hurts like hell when it digs into your leg.

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The speedway kit went together really well and was incredibly affordable. The kit uses 70’s Impala calipers, 90’s model F150 rotors, and adapters to mount the calipers for $280. I did not use the supplied generic brake lines and brackets and instead had a local hose shop make me some custom hoses that could utilize the factory thru the frame mounting hole instead of having a bracket attached to the bottom of the frame; my thought process being that I was worried about clearance issues in the suspension travel if I did drop the truck on it’s nuts. They will have to be replaced when I lift the nose for the gasser look but they weren’t too expensive to have made. I added a 70’s F100 dual master cylinder from local parts house and ended up ordering prebent stainless lines to replumb the truck.

And if you were curious was a wire wheel does to flesh within a couple seconds... luckily the switch on the grinder I was using is a little loose and you have to hold it down the entire time so when it caught my leg and pulled out of my hand, it shut off almost immediately.
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The dirt on it almost hides how deep it was. But I wasn’t done once it happened so I kept on until it was done before I finally went to the house and cleaned it out. It was sore for a couple weeks which kept me out of the shop until it healed up enough to not worry about keeping bandages on it.



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duh09

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Here’s a picture of the ghetto riggin on the clutch linkage I was talking about... it worked so after I found another nut to fit it and slapped a new bushing in it, it went back under the truck.
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Here’s the “new†steering column for the truck.
I’ll try and explain how it works, it’s pretty simple but it was neat to pull it all apart and get a firm understanding of it. As you can see, the gear box is actually made onto the end of these columns. It took a lot of cleaning to figure out exactly how it goes together because the grease was holding section of this together but basically the outer shell of the column on the right just slides down over the inner steering column that runs from the steering wheel straight into the gear box. There is a rubber seal at the bottom of it that slides over the end cap of the gearbox. The shift mechanism is made up of three little arms that the shift shaft (on the left) slides into right above that seal. The linkages to the transmission attach to those little arms. That shaft runs the entire length of the internal steering column. The end cap shown on the shift shaft in the picture has a notch in it that catches a tab on the shift shaft. That tab has a hole in it and that’s what the shifter slides into. The tab is actually what sheared off of the old shift shaft and is a common issue on these things. Anyways, So when you’re pulling the shifter towards and away from you, it’s lifting and dropping that shift shaft to catch the different arms and then of courses you have that up and down motion that spins the shaft and then whichever arm you have a hold of. On top of that is the bearing which is housed in basically the filler piece between the shifter housing and the steering wheel. It slides down and locks in with the shifter housing deal and all the electrical parts are attached to it followed by the steering wheel and the nut that keeps the whole shebang together.
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Here’s a better picture of the bearing housing and shifter housing striped down.
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Shifter mock-up while I was deciding whether or not to cut down the knob for the sleeve.
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Here’s a shot of the gearbox/internal steering column. This was right after I pulled the column completely out and cleaned all the old grease out and repacked it. I cleaned it up and shot the whole lower section with some epoxy paint to keep it looking good under the truck.
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duh09

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Almost missed it! I don’t have many pictures but here’s a crappy teaser of the paint I had shot on the column pieces inside the truck. It’s Tuxedo Black and I got a little heavy handed on the flake and pearl. It’s a little dusty in the picture but it ought to look real good next to the sparkly Moon Eyes wheel.
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duh09

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American Autowire kit showed up today! About time to start sweating my balls off and start knocking some work out on the truck again.
 

evilcw311

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Nothing better than an old f100. I really want an early 50’s model myself but the unibody you found will be one sick ride!!!


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duh09

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Started laying out the wiring harness in my living room floor today to start getting an idea of what’s going on. Phew.


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Caleb2v

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That's a pretty cool fix for the clutch linkage. Good luck with the wiring. Keep us posted!
 

duh09

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Haven't gotten a lot of work done lately on the truck. I did bring the ole gal home so I could start knocking out more of the wiring but it's been so hot that I haven't really messed with it much. I did drop the gauge cluster surround and shifter off at the powder coaters. It should be done by the end of the week- I'm going with chrome powder on it, excited to see how that turns out.

Here's a couple shots from when I loaded it up and brought it home for you folks like me that live through pictures.


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duh09

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24hr turnaround on my powder work!
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duh09

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Finally got around to assembling my gauge cluster. Been doing some more talking with my powder coater and getting ready to get a few more interior bits blasted and coated. Hopefully I will have them dropped off by the end of the month! Goal is to have this thing at the Redneck Rumble, a rat rod show/swap meet a couple hours from me the weekend of Sept 14-15.
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