Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Adapting Major Components of 1948 to 1960 Ford Trucks
Disclaimer and Foreword
The article below is a compilation of information found in hundreds of posts in the Ford Truck Enthusiasts (FTE) 1948-1960 Truck Forum. The authors and editors of this article have directly contributed little, if any, of the actual content. In fact, some say they are all as dumb as posts. That said, every effort has been made to ensure the information from the forum has been summarized as accurately as possible. The authors and editors make no guarantees, however, as to the accuracy of any of the information. Batteries not included. Your mileage may vary. Don’t run with scissors.
Primary Author – R. M. Ferguson
Unlike normal FAQ articles, this one is fairly long-winded. This is due in part to the complexity of the subjects covered, and in part to my inability to be brief on any subject. It is based almost exclusively on existing threads in the Ford Truck Enthusiasts (FTE) 1948 " 1960 Ford Truck Forum dealing with the topics. A search of the forum using the subject keywords like “radiator” or “gas tank” will bring you an average of 225 separate notes on each of these topics.
Q. What is camber?
A. The angle between the plane of a wheel’s circumference and a vertical line, measured in degrees and minutes. The top of a car wheel tilts inward when the camber is negative, outward when it is positive.
Q. What is caster?
A. The angle between the vehicle steering axis and a vertical line, as viewed from the side, measured in degrees and minutes. Think of your spindle tilting forward (negative caster) or backward (positive caster).
Q. What’s the difference in length between a C4 transmission, a C6 transmission, and an AOD transmission?
Distance to the Mount
AOD and AODE
Q. What year of
A. Steering boxes (both manual and power) from the 1979 through early 1984
Q. Which body parts interchange between F-1s, F-2s, “¦ F-8s?
A. Here is a link to a chart that covers exactly that issue. Thanks to Bob Jones (Bobj49f2) for creating & maintaining this chart. F-Series Body Parts Interchange Chart
Q. How much does my truck weigh?
A. The answers to this question and several other common ones can be found at the following link in the 1948-1960 FTE Ford Tuck Forum. Reference Threads
Q. How do I tell the difference between a 302, a 351W, a 351C, and a 351M?
A. By using combinations of the following facts, you should be able to positively identify what engine you have.
- The number of valve cover bolts per head
o FE = 5
o 351W = 6
o 351C = 8
o 351M = 8
o 335 series big blocks = 7
- The thermostat housing location
o 351W has it on the intake manifold
o 351C has it on the block
- Fuel pump mounting style
o 351W has bolts on each side of the fuel pump
o 351C has bolts on the top and bottom of the fuel pump
- Water pump boss
o 302 water pump boss goes right up to the bottom of the head
o 351W water pump boss stops below the top of the block " about 1″ below the bottom of the head
- Firing order
o 302 firing order is 1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8
o 351W and late 302 H.O. firing order is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8
- Dipstick location
o 351C has the dipstick going into the block
o 351M has the dipstick going into the oil pan
- 351W eighth digit in the engine ID number is generally an “H”
Q. What years and models are appropriate donors for the Volare-Style IFS upgrade?
A. The following is a complete and accurate list
o F-body " 1976-1980 Volare,
o J-body " 1980-1983 Cordoba, Mirada, Imperial
o M-body " generally 1977-1989, see below
o Caravelle (Canadian Plymouth model) 1977-1981
o Lebaron 1977-1981
o New Yorker 1982
o New Yorker Fifth Avenue 1983-1987
o Fifth Avenue 1988-1989
o Diplomat 1977-1989
o Town & Country 1977-1981
o Gran Fury 1982-1989
Additional Miscellaneous FAQs
As indicated by the blank question and answers above, the FAQs we’ve covered certainly don’t constitute an exhaustive survey of common questions about these trucks. We hope this will be a living document " revisited from time-to-time with additional comments and FAQs added. Feel free to submit your suggestions in the appropriate thread on the FTE 1948-1960 Ford Truck Forum.
On the F-1/F-100 models for the 1948-1952 and 1956-1960 years, the stock fuel tank is located behind the seat inside the cab. On the F-100 models for the 1953-1955 years, the stock fuel tank is mounted under the cab on the driver’s side with the filler going up through the driver’s side rear cab corner. It seems all panel trucks 1948 – 1960 had a long rectangular tank located between the frame and the drive shaft under the driver’s side of the cab.
It is a common modification for the F-1/F-100 models to move the fuel tank from the cab to the rear of the vehicle " behind the rear axle and between the frame rails " as is the norm on most current vehicles. There are several reasons for this including:
- Getting fumes out of the cab
- Getting that big container of explosive liquid away from the cab or cab area
- Increasing in-cab storage space or space for seating
- Replacing an old rusty tank.
The shapes of the stock fuel tanks do not lend themselves to this relocation, so people look for newer tanks that will fit. There are numerous alternatives " custom made tanks in plastic or metal or OEM style replacement tanks from modern vehicles. For all years (1948 through 1960), the free width between the rear frame rails, inside edge to inside edge, is between 29 and 30 inches.
There are two basic ways of determining what tank will fit your application. The first is to double check the space between your frame rails to see what dimensions you need and then go to a website like www.spectrapremiumindustries.com or www.gastanks.com and search through their wonderful online catalogs. These catalogs provide dimensions and pictures of the various fuel tanks. These vendors supply a lot of the auto parts chains, so their stock is extensive and the pricing is a lot better than having a tank custom made. It is very important to give some thought to where your filler neck will be exiting the vehicle when you pick a tank.
The second method of locating a tank that will fit is to simply copy what others have done. Here are some alternatives that have been used by members of this forum with good results.
We all understand the limitations of a tight budget and that many folks prefer using parts from wrecking yards. Be aware, however, that new OEM replacement tanks are so economically priced that it is almost foolish to spend money on a used tank that definitely gives off fuel fumes. This is definitely something to consider while you’re doing any welding near the tank (mounts, etc.). A used tank may have many pinholes in it, be rusted on the interior, or contain debris that will clog your fuel system.
The mid-1980s Chevy Blazer tank works well in this case and comes in both 24 U.S. gallon and 31 U.S. gallon capacities. At least one member of this FTE 1948-1960 Forum has successfully used this tank setup.
Another alternative is the 1970 Mustang tank with a 22 U.S. gallon capacity. Apparently, the earlier Mustang tanks discussed below will work on the 1948-1952 F-1/F-100s as well. Since the distance between the frame rails is nearly identical, anything that fits the 1953-1956 models should also fit the 1948-1952 models.
If you want a larger tank, the 1980 through 1986 (and possibly through 1989) full sized Ford Bronco tank is worth looking at. At 33 U.S. gallons capacity, it measures 31.875″ long x 22.25″ wide x 15.75″ deep in steel, and slightly smaller in the polymer version.
Other tanks which have been used, but for which we have little info are from the 1980s GM Suburban and 1984-1985 Isuzu Trooper.
Stock replacement tanks for the original locations are available in polymer or stainless steel from Tanks Inc. and several other sources " but since they are limited production they tend to be expensive.
No discussion of suitable fuel tank alternatives for this range of years would be complete without highlighting the early Ford Mustang tank (1965-1970). Forum member John Niolon has thoroughly documented this tank as a replacement in an article at www.clubfte.com/users/jniolon/mustangtank/newmustangtank.htm (his web site has many other useful articles as well). The Mustang tank comes in three different capacities and all are easily obtained through www.gastanks.com or many Mustang oriented aftermarket suppliers. Another plus with this tank is that the Mustang sending unit will work fine with the stock 12v fuel gauge. A few minor nits however include 1) the inlet for filling the tank comes out the top at the rear, forcing you to bring it up through the bed 2) the filler pipe is approximately 0.75 inch off center towards the passenger side and 3) you may have to grind about a 0.5 inch off the bottom edge of your frame rails to fit the tank " although this is not a big deal. A lot of people have used this alternative, possibly more than any other single alternative.
Mustang Fuel Tank Installation
(Photo Courtesy John Niolon)
Yet another tank option is the full sized Chevy Van 1987-1995 fuel tank. It’s available in two different capacities " #GM8C (Spectra Premium Industries) has a 22 U.S. gallon capacity and a second version has a 33 U.S. gallon capacity. The difference between the two is the depth. The length and width are the same for both tanks. If you’re running fuel injection, you should be aware of the different system pressures that Ford and GM use. To avoid having to deal with this issue, with Ford engines use the non-EFI sending unit (#FG17A) and use an inline fuel pump. The 1990 Ford Ranger works well in this application. If you are running a GM power plant with EFI, then go the other way and use the EFI sending unit (#FG17B) which employs an in tank fuel pump and sending unit.
1987-1995 Full-Size Chevy Van Fuel Tank Installation
(Photos Courtesy Robert Ferguson)
The 1977-1981 Chevy Van tank was offered in both 22 U.S. gallon capacity and a larger size as well. One of our FTE forum members (Tacson, AKA Donald Walker) has some excellent photos in his gallery which clearly show how well it fit and how he mounted it. The only difference between the newer tank used by
1977-1981 Full-Size Chevy Van Fuel Tank Installation
(Photo Courtesy Donald Walker)
Neither of the full-size Chevy van installations discussed above requires any cutting of the frame rails. However, both installations did require routing the filler tube through the frame rails.
The alternatives already listed provide ample, easily adapted, decent sized tanks. If you don’t mind admitting to using less cool sounding donors, then consider the following.
- The 1996-1999 Isuzu Trooper fuel tank " capacity unknown. There is a question about the availability of new sending units for this tank. However, at least one member of this forum has used it and there is an installation “how to” article in the June 1996 issue of Custom Classic Trucks.
- According to a few of our forum members, the 1961-1966 Ford Econoline Van tank is virtually identical to the early Mustang fuel tank " but the filler tube is on the driver’s side.
- Going back in time a little further, the 1957-1958 Ford passenger car fuel tank (Ford part# B7A9002B or www.gastanks.com part# F-34B) fits easily between the rails, holds 20 U.S. gallons, has a driver’s side filler, and can be purchased for about $200.
- Apparently the 1970 through 1977 Mavericks and Comets are similar to the Mustang tanks but the filler runs out the back.
- If you want to put the tank inside the frame and under the cab like the stock panel truck mounting location, an 1984 Ford Ranger supposedly works.
Given the similarity in width of the rear frame rails for the 1957-1960 and 1948-1956 model years, anything listed for the earlier trucks should fit the 1957-1960 model years. Be aware, however, that no information on actual installations in the later year trucks is available at this time.
Classic Performance Products (www.classicperform.com) offers a tank that will fit under the bed of the 1957-1960 trucks. Again, since this is a limited production item, the cost is higher than a used tank would be. An alternative is an NOS 18 U.S. gallon tank, Ford part # COTB 9002-B available through Green Sales in
Fuel Tank Senders and Gages
A final consideration when using a newer or donor tank is compatibility of the sending unit with whatever gauges you plan to use. You may need to modify either the fuel sender or the fuel gage so that they have matching resistance characteristics. This can end up causing more grief than mounting the tank itself. The following information comes mainly from Autometer (www.autometer.com) and addresses the electrical characteristics of the OEM sending units.
Type of Sender/Gage
Reading Empty (Ohms)
Reading Full (Ohms)
Most pre-1965 GM
Some GM trucks through 1968
Most 1965 and later GM
Most pre-1987 Fords and most Mopar
Ford pre-1987 bi-metallic gauges
Ford 1987 and later F-series trucks magnetic gauges
Note: Ford Motorsport gauges made by Autometer require the Autometer sending unit # 3262 which operates at 240 ohms empty and 33 ohms full unlike the normal Ford compatible senders as detailed above.
There is a lot of discussion on the forum on this topic but there are really only a couple of options that are used. Unless you use one of these common options, you’re pretty much on your own. The first option is a fancy-schmancy replacement kit with a combination heater/air conditioning unit from folks like Southern Air, Vintage Air, or Hot Rod Air. The second option is to just rebuild your heater core and/or replace the heater motor.
From the forum discussion, it doesn’t look like many (or any) folks adapt OEM heater or heater-A/C units to the 1948-1960 trucks. If you choose to rebuild your heater, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- 1948-1954 Ford trucks were 6 V positive ground and 1956-1960 trucks were 12 V negative ground
- Some motors will only turn one way regardless of how they are wired. Make sure you get a reversible motor or one that turns the right way for your heater.
- Many wrecking yards have already pulled a ton of heater motors and keep them on shelves. Take your old motor along to match up against what they have.
- New 12 volt replacement motors can be bought from John’s F-Funhundreds at www.F100.com
The general consensus in the 1948-1960 FTE Forum is that the following are reasonable sources for an A/C-heater combination.
- www.airtique.com Air-Tique (King Cool Model)
- www.classicautoair.com Classic Auto Air (Street Rod Cooler II)
- www.danhard.com Danhard, Inc. (00204-HC and 00205-HC units)
- www.oldairproducts.com Old Air Products
Always at the F-100 Supernationals
Sells all brands
- www.coyoterodders.net Coyote Rodders Supply (AC7072 Model)
Folks are always looking to upgrade their radiators. The old radiator can be leaky or marginal in its cooling capacity. Stock radiators run at about 4 PSI versus modern engines which work at 15 PSI or so. Putting 12 to 15 PSI on an old radiator is
ust asking for coolant all over your driveway. You can take some measurements and pull something at a wrecking yard, but you may be getting a leaky radiator with little or no guaranty on it. Most folks buy a brand new radiator and there are numerous alternatives available.
- You can buy a fancy-schmancy aluminum one from a street rod shop for $450 or more
- You can buy a stock reproduction one from someone like LMC, MACs, or Mid-Fifties for $300 to $400
- You take measurements and buy a new aftermarket radiator meant to be an OEM replacement in a more modern vehicle
The first two options are fairly straightforward " just remember to get a radiator that is designed for your truck so the size is correct and the radiator hoses enter and exit in the correct places.
If you want to exercise the third option, take your measurements to websites such as www.spectrumindustries.com, www.radiatorbarn.com,
discountradiators.com, or www.usradiator.com and start looking around for something that comes close to your measurements. Spectrum shows where the inlet and outlet are and what diameter they are as well as the overall dimensions. To save some time in this process, some common donors are listed below for the various truck years.
1948 to 1952
The 4-row radiator for a 1972-1979 Dodge D-100 pick up with 318 CID engine. Measures approximately 26.25″ wide by 18″ tall. Outlets are top left 1.5″ hose and bottom right 1.75″ hose.
- The 4-row radiator for a 1970 Ford F-100. Measures 26.25″ wide X 19.25″ tall. Outlets are top right 1.75″hose and bottom left 2.0″ hose.
- 1976 Mustang with 351 CID engine. Measures 22″ wide by 21″ tall (excluding the neck). Fits the radiator support easily. Outlets are top right and bottom right.
Since these replacements may be shorter and/or narrower that the original, you’ll need to fill the gap at the top and/or sides to ensure proper air flow through the radiator rather than around it.
- The 1967-1979 Ford F-100 V-8 radiator (Radpro part number 433, Spectra part number CU318 or CU320, AutoZone part number 436002 or 433433). Measures 26.375″ wide by 19.25″ high. Outlets top right 1.5″ hose and bottom right 1.75″ hose. Try AutoZone hoses L-222 upper and M-078 lower. This is probably the most popular substitute for the 1953 to 1955s. It fits the stock radiator support nicely. You just need to relocate a few mounting holes in the radiator brackets. It has ample cooling ability and a moderate price.
- The 1997-2000 Explorer radiator meant for the 4.0 DOHC engine. This is a 4-row aluminum unit with plastic tanks. It requires a bit of playing around with mounts, but nothing too difficult.
- Modine part number 395 is a 2-row and part numbers 433 and 545 are 3-row. 4-row versions of the 433 and the 545 are also available. These units measure 24 to 26.5″ wide. Several folks have raved about how nicely they fit.
- 1969 Dodge Charger
- 1977 Ford Econoline
- Auto-Krafters will apparently sell you a 4-row for your truck made by US Radiator but at a better price than you can get directly from US radiator. This radiator is not an exact copy of the original 1957-1960 radiators visually, but it does come in 2- and 4-row and the 4-row will definitely cool that stocker or warmed up small block. Apparently they are an exact fit physically. According to one of the forum members, this radiator will fit the 1953-1956s trucks as well without much effort.
- Modine part number 395 for the 1974 F-150 without air-conditioning.
General Radiator Notes
The fan shroud from a 1978 F-150 or Bronco seems to work well with our trucks. Do not try running without a fan shroud. In the worst case, build your own.
- Something to keep in mind, especially if you’re running a Ford small block. Ford took perverse pleasure in using many different water pumps on this series of engines. Some are short, some are long, some point towards the passenger side, and some to the driver’s side. Make sure you noted where you want the radiator outlets when you’re ordering a radiator.
- Do not even think about removing that big huge U-shaped bracket that the factory radiator bolts to. This thing ties your whole front clip together. Also, make sure the X-braces across the front of the radiator are reinstalled or duplicated in some fashion.
- Something to think about before you buy an aluminum radiator " What if you should spring a leak in East Armpit, Iowa at 8:00 p.m. " who’s going to weld that ALUMINUM radiator for you? Brass or copper won’t be a problem, but aluminum might make for a long night.
- If you’re going to run an electric fan on the radiator to avoid the power robbing mechanical fan, try to use a puller fan behind the radiator rather than a pusher fan in front as it works more efficiently. Generally speaking a 12″ fan capable of 1200 CFM will do the job unless you’re running a built up 460.
- Don’t forget an overflow tank " either a discolored OEM plastic unit stained with overflowed coolant or one of those sporty looking billet units. The outlet from your radiator needs to be a little above the overflow tank inlet.
- Did I say, run a fan shroud? Run a fan shroud! While a few of our members may argue that a shroud does not help engine cooling, the consensus is that it does in most cases. In order to get the most effective use from a shroud, the air should exit the shroud at a 45 degree angle. This can usually be accomplished by having about 1/3 of the leading edge of the fan within the shroud. Adjust as necessary with a fan spacer.
What are you looking for, a bench or buckets? Think about whether you mind headrests sticking up above the bottom of your rear window. Some people will accept the appearance of the headrests sticking up above the bottom of the rear window to get the increased comfort derived from having a headrest. Also think about what sort of mounting you’ll use for your seat belts (some of the newer seats have the seat belts built right into them).
Obviously, primary concerns are
- Fit and ease of mounting
There are several outfits that make really nice looking and comfortable seats for our trucks " Teas Design, Rod Doors and Glide just to name a few. If you’ve got the money they will supply something that looks sharp, fits well, and can be covered in just about anything you could ask for.
If you haven’t got that kind of coin, then you might want to hit the wrecking yards with a mind to find something suitable that simply needs to be reupholstered and installed in your baby.
Here are some measurements that you might want to consider when looking for a new seat.
- Inside cab width from door panel to door panel (where the seat bottom is the widest)
o 1948-1952 F-1 = 53.5 inches
o 1953-1956 F-100 = 58 inches
- Distance between the door handle tips
o 1949 F-1 = 51.5 inches
- Distance between the fat part of the door handles
o 1949 F-1 = 45-5/8 inches
- Distance across the cab at the rear door post
o 1949 F-1 = 57 inches
- Distance from door panel to door panel
o 1957-1960 F-100 = 62 inches
- Distance from door handle to door handle
o 1957-1960 F-100 = 56 inches
- Stock bench seat width
o 1960 F-100 = 59 inches
There seems to be an issue (particularly found by older members of the forum) with the space between the steering wheel and the seat shrinking over time, resulting in limited intestinal accommodation. Fortunately the newer seats use a different type of spring so they tend to be thinner in the back. This provides more room in that area. This is something to think about before you buy a big, fat seat out of a Cadillac or
The following suggestions are based upon input from this forum. There is also an article in the August 2004 issue of Classic Truck that deals with this subject and contains many pictures of the suggested alternative seats. Note that we are not spending time discussing bucket seats. Once you ditch the console, you can pretty much fit any bucket into any truck, although generally you’ll end up with a built in headrest sticking up in your back window.
1948-1952 Trucks " Seat Width No More Than 52 Inches
- 2000 Ford Escort buckets
- Mid/late 1980s to 1996 Ford Ranger or Broncos
o 60/40 bench or buckets
o Perfect fit
o Used by many
o Bench is 51″ wide at it’s widest point
o Back folds forward
o No headrests to poke up in the back window
o 2-door donors fold, 4-door donors don’t
o Very popular with members of the forum
- 1989 through mid 1990s Ford Explorer
o Buckets or 60/40 bench
- Middle or rear seats out of a 1996 Dodge Caravan
- 1996 and newer Chevy Astro Van
- 1996 and newer full sized GM van middle or rear seats
- 1995 and newer Toyota Tacoma
- 1994 and newer Chevy S-10/Sonoma
1953-1960 Trucks " Seat Width No More Than 58 Inches
- 2001 F-150 NOTE: There are several different styles of bench seats used in the late 1980s through late 1990s GM trucks " quasi-buckets, 60/40s and full benches. They all tend to have thin backs which helps to increase leg space where needed. Some have built in arms rests and a level of seat bottom sculpturing to them, some don’t. These seats are also well liked by a number of the members of this forum.
- 1988-1998 GM truck seats
o Excellent looking brackets
o Easy to adapt
o Headrests tend to be removable
- 1988-1994 Chevy Silverado bench
o No headrest
o Fold down arm rest
o Very stylish
- 1997 and newer F-150 bench
o Has a built in headrest
o Brackets are a bit of a challenge
- Late 1990s Chevy Suburban
- 1987 Chevy pickup bench
- The 2000 and newer Suburban
o 60/40 bench
o Removable headrests
o Not the most stylish thing
o Brackets are clunky looking
The 1999 and newer GM Silverado 40/20/40 “bench” is an interesting possibility. It’s 60 inches wide, but it’s really more like two buckets with a “jump seat” between. You could easily omit the middle section and put in a narrower console or nothing. They do have built shoulder belts, saving you the issue of mounting the shoulder restraint to the wall between the rear window and the doors. You might fit this whole set up into a 1953-1960 F-100. The 1994 through 2001 Dodge truck also has a similar set up, though less stylish than the GM version. It will have the same pluses and minuses.
Another issue to consider is that you need to build some sort of bracket to mount your new seat(s) to your truck. If you’re using the 1988-1998 GM seats, it’s pretty straightforward. Just look at the stock GM mounting brackets and it’s a no brainer. However, if you’re using Ford seats or buckets, this can get a little tricky. For a few good pictures of the brackets one member made to install a later model seat check out this thread. www.ford-trucks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114729 The work was done by KAI – our German buddy. He was putting a 1980 F-350 seat in a 1954 F-100. His brackets deal quite nicely with the weird bend/angle in the front of the stock Ford brackets. They are wonderful in their simplicity and could easily be modified to compensate for a shorter driver.
Mounting Brackets for Ford Seat
(Photos Courtesy Kai Liebig)
For an excellent example of brackets fabricated to hold the 1996-2000 Ranger 60/40 bench/bucket, check out these made by Scott123 (Scott Jones). He has provided pictures and plans, so you could make a copy of the “Scott123 Super-Duper seat frame 2000″ if you wish.
Mounting Brackets for Ford Ranger Seat
(Illustration and Photo Courtesy Scott Jones)
Changing steering columns is a very popular modification. It is done mainly for the tilt column feature, but also for more stylish appearance, built in signal lever, and automatic transmission gear indicator. Some things to keep in mind when looking at possible donors:
- Do you want the tilt-column feature?
- Do you want the ignition key in the column, or on the dash?
- Are you running an automatic or a manual transmission?
o Do you want the gear indicator on the column?
o How many speeds for your gear indicator?
o Will the gear indicator settings line up with the transmission shift linkage you’re using?
- Can you get an aftermarket steering wheel adapter for this donor?
- Which type of wiring harness will you be working with? (GM, Ford, and Mopar columns are wired differently)
As with the windshield wipers, you have several options for updating the steering column.
If you’ve got the budget, then slick, brand new paintable or polished stainless steel/chrome units can be bought in various lengths from Ididit, Billet Specialties,
Generally speaking " if you’re running a Mustang II style front suspension, you’ll likely want a 32 or 35 inch column length. Otherwise, a 30 to 32 inch column length should do the job with a conventional steering box. Keep in mind that Ididit measures from the front/top of the wheel adapter down to where the inner shaft ends at the first connection (i.e. a rag joint or Borgeson type joint) on tilt/telescopic columns. Both Ididit and
Ididit Will Also Want the Thickness of the Steering Wheel Adapter
(Illustration Courtesy John Niolon)
Adapting Columns from Other Vehicles
Another option is to read this section and go wrecking yard shopping. The downside of going this route is you could end up with a steering column in which most of the wearable parts are already worn out. Rebuilding a used steering column is not cheap or easy. More than one person has dismantled a steering column to rebuild it and not been able to put it back together. There are an amazing number of parts inside these buggers. However, if I haven’t scared you off yet, then here are a whole bunch of possibilities.
- 1969 Lincoln Mark III " tilt, no ignition.
- 1978-79 Ford F or E series " tilt, integral gear indicator, no ignition switch.
- 1990 Ford Van " key on column.
- 1970s GM Van " tilt, no key, sleek design.
- 1970s Camaro " no shifter on the column.
- 1976 Ford Torino " tilt
- 1969-1972 Chevy truck/Blazer " no key on column (in heavy demand w/Chevy crowd)
- 1969-1981 GM Vans and motor homes
- 1984 Chevy pick up
- 1973 and newer " key on column
- 1977 through mid 1980s Chevy/GMC Van
- 1978 through mid 1980s Ford F or E series " tilt, integral gear indicator, no ignition switch
- 1983 Ford E-150 " some have AOD gear indicator, ignition on column
- mid-1960s Cadillac
- 1986-1988 Cadillac " tilt and telescopic
- mid-1970s Camaro " no shifter on the column, steel housing to the floor
- 1986 Jeep Laredo " GM wiring scheme.
- Late 1980s " early 1990s Jeep Cherokee " GM wiring (same donor will get you a wiper motor and intermittent relays for a 1953-1955 F-100)
- 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis
- 1978 GM – tilt
- 1979 Cadillac
The above list is not a complete authority on what fits. It’s simply what our forum members have used. A steering column listed under one range of truck years above may work perfectly fine on the other ranges of years. The Chevy then Ford vans and pick ups seem to be the most common donors used by this group. But just about everything has been used by at least member. Try to go with something as late model as possible for reduced wear and ease of locating replacement parts.
One special consideration, forum member Cowman used a 1990 or so Jeep Cherokee donor (the one with the boxy lines) for both the steering column (comes with GM wiring) and the wiper motor (and the relays between the two that gave him intermittent wipers) in his 1954. In this neck of the woods, there are tons of these things in wrecking yards without a lot of hot-rodders or anyone displaying any real interest. In my mind, this is a very interesting alternative that folks should seriously consider. Here are a few pictures from (Chuck) Cowman’s gallery.
Jeep Cherokee Steering Column Installation
(Photos Courtesy Chuck Cowman)
General Steering Column Notes
Use Borgeson (www.borgeson.com) joints to connect it all together. 30 degrees maximum on a 2 joint system. Check their website for tips or do’s and don’ts regarding couplers.
- Many folks using the Volare IFS system might also be using the tilt column that came with the IFS donor car, especially since it seems to be the perfect length. If you are planning on using the tilt column from your IFS donor car, then take these items into consideration.
o Can you get an adapter to mount that favorite style of steering wheel you want to use?
o The Mopar brake and signal lights are separate bulbs, so you’ll have to mess around with that issue, unless you want to run two bulbs for the two functions.
o The Mopar columns have key on column (which can be a good thing or a bad thing " depends on your taste).
o Make sure you have the correct spline on the rag joint if you are using a Mopar based IFS.
- Ford, GM and Mopar all use different wiring color codes and connectors in their columns. Keep this in mind when ordering a wiring harness for your truck. If you use anything other than an older GM column, it is worth it to buy a GM column conversion kit. Painless carries part number 30805 for around $5, but all wiring harness vendors should have them. The conversion kit includes the proper pieces so you can correctly plug in a Ford, Mopar, or other common column into the aftermarket wiring harnesses. There are several threads in the 1948-1960 FTE Ford Truck Forum that provide the color codes for the different donor manufacturers.
- There are several threads in the 1948-1960 Forum dealing with connecting your column to your box and getting around those exhaust headers.
- The neutral safety switch on Ford and Mopar units is in the transmission, GM has it on the column.
- For those of you that end up going with a GM column, apparently Julianos (www.julianos.com) offers a plastic sleeve that covers all the junk on the column (ignition, wiring, etc.). The jury is still out on whether it’s any good.
- Once again, if you’re a little queasy about tackling this swap, head on over to John Niolon’s website or check out the Tech Articles section of FTE. Yes, John did a “how to” on steering columns too with pictures, lots of pictures.
- Provided your column pokes out through the firewall about an inch or two (and it has to due to your transmission linkage), the shorter column you use, the easier it’ll be to route around headers etc to that steering box.
- Here is a link to a tech article by our member John Niolon where he provides a “how to” replace a steering column based upon his own experience. This is a great resource if anyone has trouble visualizing what’s involved in replacing a stock F-1/F-100 steering column with a tilt version from a later model vehicle. John Niolon Steering Column Tech Article
First " a little background on vacuum wipers. For anyone that isn’t really familiar with vacuum wipers, it’s important to realize these things aren’t really meant to work properly, or at all. They were a sick joke by the Society of Automotive Engineers back in the 1930s that an embarrassed public was too shy to say anything about until about 30 years later. They run on vacuum “¦ you know “¦ the stuff you have none of when you pull out to pass in the rain “¦ and the stuff you have very little of when you’re cruisin’.
All Ford trucks from the model years 1948 through 1960 came stock with vacuum wipers. Electric wipers were an option from 1951 on. There are several ways to address the problems associated with vacuum wipers " and in this article they all involve replacing the stock wipers with electric units. Keep in mind that 1948-1954 Ford trucks were 6 V positive ground and 1956-1960 trucks were 12 V negative ground.
If your truck came with electric wipers, you can buy new replacement electric wiper motors for all 1948 through 1960 Ford F-1/F-100 trucks. For 1948-1952 trucks you can buy 6 volt or 12 volt replacements. For 1953-1960 trucks, you can buy 12 volt replacements. These replacements are available at various vendors including LMC Trucks (www.lmctruck.com), MAC’s Antique Auto Parts (www.macsautoparts.com), and Sacramento Vintage Ford (www.vintage-ford.com).
Vacuum-to-Electric Upgrade Kits
Kits to upgrade from vacuum to electric wipers are also available. The prices for these kits vary from about $150 to about $350 or so, depending upon whether you need just an electric motor or a whole motor and linkage set up. If your linkage is worn out or your truck only came with a driver’s side wiper (or you just like to spend money for fun), you can go to a whole new kit including a heavy duty motor, new linkage, mounting hardware, etc.
Sacramento Vintage Ford sells such a kit for the 1948-1952 trucks for about $285. The picture in their catalog looks pretty good. They also sell a “universal” kit, but do not indicate what years it fits. Presumably, “universal” means it will fit 1948 through 1960 trucks. Based strictly on looking at the photo, it doesn’t look as robust or of as high a quality as their 1948-1952 specific kit. While I have no firsthand experience with either kit, it has been my experience that when something is advertised as “universal”, that means it fits everything equally poorly.
Another alternative is Newport Wipers (www.newportwipers.com). They make electric kits for 1948 through 1955 trucks. More than one member of the 1948-1960 FTE Forum has used their wipers and mentioned that they are top quality. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for, and these kits ain’t cheap.
Motor, switch, and wiring harness
Motor, switch, and wiring harness
Motor, switch, wiring harness, linkage
Motor, switch, and wiring harness
The cheapest aftermarket electric motor for the early trucks seems to be one available from Speedway Motors. One of our forum members said it was a good fit and easy to install.
Adapting Wipers from Other Vehicles
Probably the most frugal method of upgrading your wipers is to do your shopping at the local wrecking yard. Listed below are some options for the various year trucks.
Some people have modified the motors and/or kits for 1951-1952 trucks to fit the 1948-1950 models. While it is doable, expect to have some trouble fitting the linkage around the dash support braces and the defrost duct. You will have a lot of trouble trying to fit an electric motor in a 1948-1950 if you are running a factory radio in the dash (in the 1951-1952, the radio sits lower in the dash and avoids this problem).
Electric motors from 1960s and 1970s Triumph Spitfires, Jags and various other British cars have also been adapted for use in the 1948-1952 truck series. I personally have never been a fan of anything electrical with British origins. They didn’t call Lucas the Prince of Darkness for nothing!
Jeep Cherokees from the late 1980s through early 1990s (the ones with the square lines) are an easy fit to the 1953-1955 trucks. Simply enlarge the holes on the stock Ford bracket to accept the Jeep motor. Check out these pictures from our forum member Cowman’s (Chuck Cowman) gallery of this motor adapted to his stock linkage.
Jeep Cherokee Wiper Motor Adapted to Stock Linkage
(Photos Courtesy Chuck Cowman)
A 1974 Volkswagen wiper motor is also an easy fit. Again, the holes on the VW motor line up well with the Ford bracket, they just need a little enlargement. Some work on the shaft arm to fit the Ford linkage ( a couple of hours) and you’re good to go.
A 1989 Dodge Ramcharger has also been made to work. One mounting hole had to be redrilled to mate the motor to the stock mounting bracket. This may be the same motor as is found on the Chrysler minivans from the 1980s and 1990s. Wiper motors from 1990 on Dodge minivans can be adapted without a lot of work, as can the 1995 Ford Windstar.
1974 & 1975 F100 wiper motors have been made to work as well. These have been used with the intermittent switch from a 1980-1987 F-150 by several forum members.
In 1956, the wiper motor was moved to the firewall. If you decide to move it under the dash, you’ll be cleaning up the look of your firewall as well. One would think that adapting a motor and the linkage that fits under the dash on a 1955 to a 1956 under the dash installation would be easy. Unfortunately, on the 1953-1955 the wipers rotate in the same direction and the pivot points are offset on the cowl. On the 1956, they rotate opposite one another and the pivot points are equidistance off the center of the cowl. The 1953-1955 to 1956 transplant can be done though – one of our forum members is adapting the 1955 linkage to his 1956.
Check out the gallery for forum member krautwolf (Michael Wolfe). He has a pictorial “how to” showing his adaptation of a 1979-1983 Ford Ranger wiper motor using an F-150 switch. The pictures are numerous and clear and the commentary is important and useful as well. Here are some selected images from his gallery.
Ford Ranger Wiper Motor Installation " Selected Photos.
See Gallery for additional photos.
(Photos Courtesy Michael Wolfe)
Most of our forum members with 1956 through 1960 trucks seem to be using either the factory 12 volt motors or the replacement motors previously mentioned.
A final note on wipers has to do with intermittent wiper controls. We all want our new electric windshield wipers to be intermittent just like our wife’s or girlfriend’s car. There are several ways to achieve this result.
There is a brief article already in the FTE Tech Article section written by Thomas Hogan (www.ford-trucks.com/article/idx/17/128/article/How_to_install_interval_wipers_on_a_7379_Ford_pickup.html). It specifically covers intermittent wiper controls on a 1973-1979 F-series, but the principle is the same on our earlier trucks. Basically, you need the switch and the control box. The parts were available as an option on the 1973 to 1979 F-series, so you can get them at your local parts house or your favorite wrecking yard.
There is another tech article entitled “Installing an intermittent two speed push/wash windshield wiper system on a 1961-1966 Ford pickup” by Wm Dahn (www.ford-trucks.com/article/idx/8/027/article/Installing_An_Intermittent_Two_Speed_PushWash_Windshield_Wiper_System_On_A_6166_Ford_Pickup.html). Mr. Dahn was after a stealth installation " i.e. it appears stock, so a lot of his article is devoted to adapting the knob to the later model switch. His donor for the switch, etc. was 1984 through 1990 Ford pickup.
Intermittent switches are easily obtainable at parts houses or wrecking yards " just make sure to get any related relays and controls. The fun part begins with wiring them up to your motor. There is an old thread on the 1948-1960 Forum that discusses this issue at some length (www.ford-trucks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=53856). In this thread, one of our members (BlueOvalRage) was trying to help another member (fatfenders) get his wipers wired correctly. It’s a lengthy, thorough thread that should provide you with some useful information on the wiring involved in adapting another motor. See krautwolf’s pictures above and in his gallery for the right parts.