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Old 02-06-2012, 12:15 AM
the peppermint the peppermint is offline
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81 F150 Lightning-ish clone

Hey guys, I'll be keeping up with my project here. There are many plans but the first thing to do is get it running well. It's an 81 302 aod Ranger Lariat with original paint and only 63k miles. It's not in the best shape but it is a good 20 footer. It has been sitting in a garage since 91. The only rust is where the tool box used to lap over the bed rails I'll be fixing that with some sand blasting/primer and a spray in bed-liner.
My plan for it is to be kind of like an early 80s version of the 1st gen lightning. Being able to whip through a corner while carrying my mountain bikes is the goal. I have already ordered Edelbrock ias shocks and NOS lightning front springs. I will be putting Cragar soft 8 17x8s on it with 275/60/17 nitto 420s tires. This is the same size wheel and tire combo as the lightnings. I'll be lowering the rear with two inch shackles. It will also get front and rear sway bars.
The interior is going to get a slight makeover. At first, I'm going to rip all the interior pieces out and put dynamat (or a cheaper rival) throughout. I have a set of 78 Trans Am seats that I am going to do in red and put them in there as well; this will come later though. It will get an upgraded stereo, as it has the stock one now. I am not sure what it will have yet but it won't be anything crazy.
The engine is going to stay stock for a while. Since it is such low mileage it ought to hold up for a while. What I would like for it is the lower Edelbrock power package which is supposed to have around 300-320hp. It's cool because it is a decent price for an entire aluminum top end. The tranny will have to be beefed up and I will probably put 4.11s in the 9" to offset the 30" tires.
After all that, i will probably weld up some patch panels, and box, parts of the "swiss cheese" frame. The truck will eventually get a cowl induction hood and get repainted along with removing some of the trim.
I am going to do all of this in stages. Getting it running well and doing the suspension/wheels/tires will be the first priority. I might see if I can sneek the gears in as well. The engine stuff and the paint job will come much later as funds allow....oh yeah I will be removing the upper trim and putting smooth chrome bumpers on, without the black strip.

edit, the brakes will be upgraded as well, however I'm not sure how much. My previous 84 could stop quick enough, with stock brakes, that the seat belt would leave a mark. This was when it had tires sticky enough to not lock up under full braking. I guess I would like to add disks to the rear. There is a caddilac caliper that has an external parking brake mechanism; I can't remember what car it came from now. I'll have to find rotors that will work and make brackets for it.

Here is a pic of it as it sits. It took a lot of buffing to bring the paint back and i'll probably have to wax it every other week to keep the shine.


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Old 02-06-2012, 01:34 PM
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Here are the shocks and Lightning springs. The front shocks are Edelbrock's 1st gen Lightning specific shocks. They were on clearance for 20 each, a deal I couldn't pass up. I'm hoping the rear won't need a heavier spring set to balance out the handling as the truck is already very light and I don't want it to ride horrible. The Edelbrock shocks are supposed to offer a decent ride, we'll see how that works out for me.

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:38 AM
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Sounds like you got your thinking cap on and your plan is in the works; going be a cool project to tackle. The only recommendation that I would do is remove those factory outside mirror and install a more sporty looking low profile set now; even if paint and body work stuff isn't in the budget.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:16 PM
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Looks and sounds like a cool project!

I've got a suggestion for the rear disc brakes. Those Cadillac rear calipers are pretty much crap. They had problems.

On my 54 project ( 78 F150 4x4 chassis ) I'm going to convert my 9" rear to Explorer rear disc brakes. They have a separate E-brake assembly that is very reliable and easy to work on. The E-brake is a drum type. The drum is on the inside of the rotor hat. Currie sells the whole conversion kit or the individual parts. Summit Racing actually sells the whole Currie kit for less then Currie does. Here's a link to the kit: Currie Enterprises 6012C - Currie Enterprises Rear Disc Brake Kits - Overview - SummitRacing.com

You could also pick up an explorer rear end pull all the brakes off it. And just order the needed spacers and the rotors with the correct bolt pattern from Currie. Currie Enterprises Racing Rear End Categories

This is a lot better set up then most of the aftermarket conversion kits that use a flat plate caliper mount with gm calipers.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:39 AM
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Thanks for the info on the rear brakes. That's not a bad price for such a complete kit.


Here are some pics that I took with my camera instead of the crappy cell phone. I have 5 hours into buffing just this side of the truck, the roof, and half the hood...I'm going to show it off.

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Here is the worst part of the rust. Since it's going to get covered with a spray in bedliner, it won't take much to fix it after removing the rust.

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Here is an actual update. I got the Lightning springs/shocks on tonight. It took the fender height from 30.5" to 29.5". The 30" tires should fill out the fender wells nicely.

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Old 02-09-2012, 12:53 AM
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The truck is looking good!

And I'm envious on that amount of rust on it!!! You've got one solid straight truck there! It is an awesome starting point for your project.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:54 PM
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Looks good all that muscle building activity is paying off. Once you get all that rust scale off of the top of those two spots on the bed rails. I would use Por15 on it or use ospho before putting bed liner over it. Ospho can be purchased at Ace hardware in the paint section it is a rust converter. If you use it be carefull not to get it on the good paint tape off or protect the area you dont want it on. Nice looking truck for a project.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:08 PM
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I saw a video somewhere that the guy used some CLR and a scrubby pad and used it on an old '60's car. It took the surface rust right off. Cleaned the paint up real good. The paint was dull from years of neglect, it didn't make it shine, just cleaned the surface rust and stuff off. Then he buffed it out real good to shine somewhat. But what can you expect for an old '60's car that's been out in the weather for years.
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Old 02-09-2012, 04:13 PM
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I actually have media blasting equipment. It's a siphon feed for small parts cleaning. It should make quick work of the bed rails, then a little self etching/sealing primer and I'll be good to go. Actually I have enough primer left over, the only thing I'll have to buy is a light-medium abrasive blast material. I am also going to use Gator Guard II for the spray in bedliner. That is unless anyone on here has had bad experiences with it. I couldn't find anything bad when looking at reviews.
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:08 AM
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The fuel pump and oil pressure sending unit have been changed. I'm ordering the wheels/tires and a bunch of other stuff on Friday so it should be up and running in no time. Maybe I just wasn't really in a mood to work on it today but the fuel pump seemed a lot harder than it should have been. I kept dropping the bolts and had a rough time with the hard fuel line. Oh well, it's done now.
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:21 PM
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Wheels/tires and many many other parts are on the way!
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:22 PM
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I tried to start it today. I then realized that the fuel line wasn't hooked to the carb. I had taken it off so it would have some wiggle room when I changed the fuel pump. I hooked it up, stuck a battery in it and went to start it. I then looked at my watch and realized that I had about 45 minutes before work and it takes me 30 minutes to get there. Hopefully I'll be able to get it started tomorrow. My plan for tomorrow is to get the oil changed along with the spark plugs. If i can get it running, I'm going to pull it out of the garage and clean the engine bay. My wheels/tires and a bunch of other parts will be in this week so good updates with pictures will follow shortly.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:41 PM
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I changed the oil and there was a LOT of gasoline in it from the crapped out fuel pump. About 8 quarts came out. After dumping the new oil in and putting a splash of gas in the carb, it fired right up and ran. It didn't run well but it was a little victory.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:08 PM
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Some parts came in! Yes there is a fourth wheel/tire. I had already loaded it up to take up to where the truck is.

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Old 02-22-2012, 05:19 PM
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Here is the first time it has ran in a few years.

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Old 02-22-2012, 05:19 PM
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