Elrod's 96 F-150 Restoration

ElrodKTPQ_89

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Decided I would start up a thread on here for my truck. I posted about it some on Instagram for a while but I like being able to document progress this way more. This also serves to fill in the gap on what I've been focusing on for the past couple years while my Mustang sat and collected dust lol. I have a lot to post about this thing so bear with me.

It's a 1996 F-150, single cab short bed, 4WD 351w/auto.

So back in July 2020, dead in the middle of building my house, nearly broke and most definitely the worst possible time to take on a new vehicle project, I saw an old farm truck rotting away in a field and decided I just couldn't let that happen...literally. I went to pick up a friend one day and the truck was sitting in a lot next door and immediately caught my eye. I told my buddy to ask the owner about it when he saw him and let me know if he was interested in selling it. He responded later saying that he would take $500 and I said I would be there the soon as possible to take it home. So that next day, July 4th, with the help of a couple friends we loaded it on a trailer and brought it home where I began to assess things. The bed was literally full to the rails with trash, the interior was absolutely filthy and full of dirt and trash, under the hood was a nightmare, the cats must have been clogged judging from the window cut into one...but overall the truck seemed solid and definitely still able to be saved. I had never even tried to see if it would crank, the p.o. told me the tank was gone and that he had moved it around his yard with a 1 gal. gas can and a small electric fuel pump, and that it did run and drive but ran really rough. So knowing that and seeing the shape it was in I decided to focus first on getting it cleaned and start working my way forward from the back to front.

Here's the first of many sets of pictures to come, these are the first pics I took when I saw it followed by the first time it went into the shop almost a month later.

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I'm gonna be adding posts below.
 
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ElrodKTPQ_89

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I’ll try to let the pics do more of the talking where I can. Started cleaning the inside and getting ready to strip all the interior. Found some evidence of its past life of working on a fish farm which explained how much mud and dust was everywhere.

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When we pulled the dash we found this set of rattlesnake rattles and lost of misc. farm truck things from cigs and trash to ammo etc.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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After a good cleaning inside and out.

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Cleaned the seats.

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Bought some SEM interior paint to see how close it matched.

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Cleaning the interior trim.

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And the parts started to slowly accumulate.

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I think the first thing I bought for it was a new tank and pump, followed by a set of 305/70/16 Interco Irok N/D’s and a fresh set of white steelies.


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ElrodKTPQ_89

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Rear bumper had been welded on and was a chore to get off.

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Coated everything in POR-15 then had to get some shots on the new shoes.

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Got this absolutely mint front bumper from the wrecking yard for $70!

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Then finally decided to take a peak at what kind of engine carnage there was going on. A few vacuum leaks and lots of dirt and mud but surprisingly I didn’t find any bad wires anywhere under the hood besides the battery cable ends.

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This thing only had 157k miles. Also worth mentioning that there was no smog pump on this truck and the e7 heads don’t have the smog ports either.

Next up after pulling the plastic bed liner I found it had a bunch of rust but wasn’t completely rotted out.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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Started acquiring some new brake parts along with a set of Moog springs for an F-250 and Bilstein 4600 shocks front and rear.

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Found some questionable stereo wiring

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Had to weld a few spots in the bed and reinforced all the bolt holes on top with some large washers then primed and painted it with Rustoleum.

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Got another shot once the bed went back on.

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Started back on the interior reassembly. There was an outline of a gun rack in the headliner but it was long gone so I was able to still buy an exact replacement from Big Sky Racks Inc.

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Pulled the gauge cluster for cleaning.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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At this point the carpet and headliner, seats, dash and most of the interior trim were cleaned, restored/repainted and back in the truck.

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Found a grill at the wrecking yard that wasn’t tarnished from mud. Cleaned it up and also repainted the inserts with some DSG dupli color spray paint.

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Pulled the entire front suspension then discovered that the passenger side had a complete spindle assembly from an earlier model truck so I began searching for the correct knuckle/spindle/hubs/brakes etc. Picked up a pair from a wrecking yard but wound up at a later time buying a complete suspension from a clean low mile truck, you’ll see why a few posts from here.

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Picked up a nice stock bumper and receiver hitch from the wrecking yard. Notice a pattern here? A lot of the parts on this truck I sourced from a local wrecking yard.

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Cleaned up the coated in POR.

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Next step was getting the front of the frame clean and ready to POR.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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Found a minty set of door panels at the wrecking yard. I still have the trim and have plans on wrapping it in something pretty cool soon.

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Pulled the engine after realizing the freeze plugs had popped out. One thing I haven’t really touched on is just how dirty this thing was…EVERYWHERE. Every nook and cranny inside and out had mud built up on it.

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It cleaned up pretty well though and didn’t look as bad inside as I expected.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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Throughout all the work I found a couple of small cracks in the frame that were easily fixed. One where the cab and bed meet on the passenger side then two small crack on the passenger side just in front of the engine cross member. Then found the big one after I pulled the steering gear box.

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Cleaned it up and welded it and did some reinforcing to tie the top of the frame into the lower section and beef everything up.

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Got the new suspension from the wrecking yard donor and began tearing it down and cleaning up parts to POR then reinstall with all the new bushings and other little suspension goodies needed to freshen everything up.

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Got some clear headlights from LMR and had these extra corners and park lights from my other F-150. I love the way the front end of these trucks look.

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Old springs vs new.

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And here’s why I decided to get a completely new front end, there were no bearings in the front differential on the original suspension which led to this carnage. No worries though because it left me with a complete extra TTB setup to build in the future if I ever decide to do a gear change or any kind of long travel, who knows. It’s currently 3.08 open diff front and rear so it will definitely be getting a gear change in the future.

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After I had already coated the frame I had a friend build these reinforcing plates for the steering gear box area. So now I have no worries of the frame ever cracking again.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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I debated what to do about the engine for a while then decided you guessed it: pull a donor from the wrecking yard. So I was able to find a 95 E-150 with a 351w roller block that had a timing cover oil leak and got it for $500. Unsure of mileage because the cluster was gone from the van and I couldn’t find anything that may hint to it. I wanted to try and do this as budget friendly as possible. Without going any farther into the engine that I had to.

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Got it cleaned up and inspected and it was really clean inside. I did break off a couple of lower intake bolts and exhaust bolts in the heads though. So I pulled the heads and had a friend at a machine shop extract the bolts for me.

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The bottom end looked good enough to run as is so I prepped everything and started the paint process.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

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And last post for right now. Still getting dirt out of the frame even this far into it. Look at all the layers.

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That brings us to February of 2022. I tried to keep things rolling right along without depleting my funds or myself.
At some point along the way I was able to meet the second owner who had owned it for the longest time and learned that he had been using it as a work truck on catfish farms. On his way home one day the passenger wheel assembly locked up so he swapped the passenger side with an older parts truck to get him back going then parked it not long after when he got a new truck. So it sat in a field behind his house from 2003-19 when he sold it to a guy he worked with, who later traded it for a tire machine which landed it where I bought it from. From what he knows the truck had been bought by a farmer originally for farm use then sold at auction when he came along. So it lived the entirety of its 157k mile life on farm duty which really began to explain a lot of things lol. It was cool to hear some history on it though.

There's plenty of more from here on though. I’ll post some more tomorrow, I think this is a good start. If anyone has made it this far thanks and let me know what you think about it.
 
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Wow you definitely gave the truck a chance! And the amount of work you are doing is crazy! Great job tho. Truck is making a come back.

Them white steelies, what brand and size are those? We looked for a new set of US wheels for my sons '89 f250(8 lug) to replace his old rusted out ones and them bastards are expensive! Like $270 per wheel. I cant tell if yours are the brand US wheel or not but I think they look just as good.
 
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ElrodKTPQ_89

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Love it! It’s pretty unbelievable how far this thing has come. I never knew the shape it was in before you got ahold of it. You’ve definitely given this one a second chance at life.
Thanks Will! Yea if you can remember back when I first got it I still didn't have internet at the new place and had trouble trying to send pictures so a lot of that stuff just went unseen.
Wow you definitely gave the truck a chance! And the amount of work you are doing is crazy! Great job tho. Truck is making a come back.

Them white steelies, what brand and size are those? We looked for a new set of US wheels for my sons '89 f250(8 lug) to replace his old rusted out ones and them bastards are expensive! Like $270 per wheel. I cant tell if yours are the brand US wheel or not but I think they look just as good.
Thanks man! The wheels I wanna say are US wheels and I know for a fact the center caps are US wheel. I got them from Summit and back then I think I paid close to $100/each. They're 16x8 I think.
 
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ElrodKTPQ_89

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I spent a lot of time cleaning parts and repainting everything before I assembled the engine. Also in these pics you’ll notice a set of long tube headers, I picked them up cheap and planned to run them but later on swapped to some 96 specific JBA stainless shorty headers that allowed me to retain the stock egr and dpfe sensor.

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Once I started finishing up the front suspension reinstall I realized that one of the radius arm brackets had been messed up and repaired at one point so off to the yard to snag another radius arm bracket. Never even paid any attention to this when I was coating everything and only realized it when my new radius arm bushings didn’t fit right on that side.

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Starting to get all the front suspension back together now.

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Once the suspension was back in place I rolled it outside for the first time in quite a while to clean the engine bay one more time before putting the engine back in. Gave the truck a bath again while I was at it.

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April 29th, 2022.
At this point it was a roller and was just waiting on me to have time to get started on getting the engine back in.
 
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Finally got the engine back in at the end of June.

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At this point things slowed down a bit while I decided what I wanted to do with my exhaust. This is when I bought the JBA shortys, and already had a 3” stainless Magnapack muffler and 3” stainless high flow converter so I started piecing together the parts needed to build my exhaust full stainless.
2.5” into a 2.5-3” Y pipe, 3” converter, 3” Magnapack, 3” single side exit. I started buying parts around thanksgiving week and finished the exhaust just before Christmas.
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During this time I he also taken the original short block to the machine shop to have it checked for cracks and told them to freshen it up if it checked out ok. It came out good but needed to be bored .030” over along with new cam bearings and freeze plugs installed. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet but I have it at my disposal anyway.

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Decided to drop the transfer case and noticed a lot of slack so I tore it down and considered rebuilding it, then during a wrecking yard trip (I stop by pretty often lol) I found a t-case already pulled and sitting in the cab of a truck and found out it was pretty low mileage so picked it up for $300 and cleaned it up some then tossed it back in. Also not pictured but I had to find a front and rear driveshaft at the yard as well since the front was long gone and the rear had some flange damage. Cleaned them both and reinstalled with new u-joints.

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First time powering the truck on and looking for bugs.

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I had purchased some new tail lights and found even more mud when I pulled the old lights.

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Note the extent of this dent, to my surprise the old tail light was not damaged from it. I went back and forth on how to fix it and even cut a section out of another bed but eventually just left it once I made sure it wouldn’t interfere with the new tail light.

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At this point the truck was about 90% complete but I had never gotten it fired up. I worked out a few kinks here and there but to no avail so I pulled off for a bit to focus on some things around the house and also started a new job in April.

Then last year on the weekend before July 4th, Will came up to assist on my black car along with a buddy of mine. Towards the end of the day we had reached a stopping point with the car and decided we would mess with the truck for a bit. We quickly realized we had no fuel so off came the intake and injectors of which none were working lol. We wound up scrounging a set of 24# injectors that had once been in my OG mustang engine, cleaned them and put everything back together and the truck fired up first try! Just three days shy of three years since the day I bought it. However, I had the power steering hoses plumbed backwards and couldn’t get it to move in gear but to hear it fire up was enough success for me. Will had to return home the next day so I started back work on it myself over the next week. Turns out I hadn’t reconnected all of the shifter linkage when reinstalling the t-case and it was stuck in neutral. After fixing that we had movement. I made a short trip down the driveway and back then brought it back into the shop. I had done a poor job at coating the back of the frame the first time around and missed a lot of spots so I pulled the bed off again and got it right this time.

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Crossett, AR
First time leaving the homestead, I drove it about a mile to some family’s house for a cookout. Front still hadn’t been aligned and lots of little quirks like brake lights and blinkers and other things not working.

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Found some of these Ford flush mount tie downs in the wrecking yard. I’ve tried really hard to track down all of the little misc things that were missing from the truck like throttle cable cover, owners manual and any little Ford accessories that seemed like they fit the build as it would have appeared back in its day. As you can tell I’ve kind of strived to keep it looking as original as possible with a few updated touches such as the new bumpers, mirrors, headlights/tail lights and grill/trim.

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Finally got it loaded up to haul down to the alignment shop on the Monday before Thanksgiving. My dad got to haul it with his new truck, 2022 F-250 6.2L.

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Stopped a few miles from home after the alignment and unloaded it so I could drive it on to the house and see how it felt.

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The next day drove it to town for the first time and got the almighty first full-up pic.

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Had the windshield replaced and then had the windows tinted. 15% back and sides with 50% over the windshield.

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ElrodKTPQ_89

ElrodKTPQ_89

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Was told by the alignment shop that my steering gear box had a lot of slack, which I wasn’t surprised to hear since I used the one out of the van just to get me by. So I replaced it with a new unit from redhead steering gears along with a Borgeson steering shaft.

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Went out for a stroll on the weekend before Christmas and made a loop around the lake levee near my house.

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Later on that night it blew an exhaust gasket and has been parked inside my shop ever since as I still have a few other things to address along with the exhaust leak. I haven’t mentioned before but I’m now running a Saginaw steering pump that was part of the van engine and using a Desolate Motorsports power steering hose kit. After a bit of driving a leak developed from the pump which I’m guessing is bad seals. I will try to fix it all while I have it down this time. As for the interior most everything is in working order but I do still have a few fixes to make. The driver door speaker doesn’t work, just has a bad ground connection (I did replace all speakers in the truck with Pioneer). Clock spring needs to be replaced to get rid of an air bag light and fix my cruise control and horn functions. Passenger door cable was replaced but it still has trouble opening from the inside, almost like the new cable is still a little bit long. So for now it gets opened from the outside as I don’t want to take a chance on busting the door panels I searched so hard for. And the heater controls are froze up along with a vacuum problem causing only the dash vents to work.

The biggest problem yet to be addressed is the transmission. From the start I knew it would be the last thing I was going to touch. So to describe what’s happening, it takes forever to shift from 1-2…I either have to run it up to around 3500rpm then let off and ease back on the throttle or just hold throttle until it eventually makes the shift. 2-3 shift goes pretty smooth then 3rd to overdrive is a little iffy at times and there is a horrible shudder in OD. I’ve replaced the fluid and filter as well as added some additive but haven’t seen much improvement. So I’m currently deciding between having the trans rebuilt or just dropping it off to a mechanic I deal with and let him replace it. Once the trans is sorted I feel confident in going anywhere and doing whatever I need with the truck. The engine runs great, and the truck rides as well as a 4wd from that era would be expected with the all new suspension parts. Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out. It took a while for me to reach this point but it’s been a slow and steady race and trying to do things the right way without cutting any corners.

So this is where we are currently. I skimmed thru a few sections of the build history but mostly everything important has been covered. Again if anyone has made it this far thanks for checking it out and let me know what you think. I’ll continue to keep this thread updated as I go along from here.
 

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