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  #1  
Old 07-05-2014, 02:57 PM
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Newbie's First Question

Hi,

I have been reading these forums for a month now soaking up info. I recently bought a '55 F100 and have begun planning and gathering tools. I started body work and such. I am completely new to every aspect of car/truck restoration and want to learn as I go. So far I have flushed the radiator and put in a new thermostat, which is very minor but not to me. It has the original 223 which runs and drives - leaks a bit of oil. I am not building a show truck but want something that I can drive and looks nice. Truck is straight with minor dings and minor surface rust - one cab corner has a small bit of cancer. Other than that is it very solid. I created a gallery if you want to take a look.

Here is my first question: has anyone put a 302 and the 3 speed tranny from a '76 Granada, or similar year, in a '55 f100? My truck is a 5 speed manual and I want to keep it manual but have a more powerful motor. I could spend 3K+ on a crate motor but would rather save money. (a friend told me this is a "smogger" engine and may have only 200hp, so I am uncertain if this is a good choice)

Anything else I could pull from a '76 Granada?

Great forum and I hope to continue learning!
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  #2  
Old 07-05-2014, 03:28 PM
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I would like to welcome you to the best site for your truck, and someone of your skill level. I know this, because I also started my project with no skills, and few tools. I think that you will quickly find that there the folks here are very friendly and range from expert mechanics, body men, painters, engineers, all the down to the beginner. I checked out your album, and your starting with a pretty solid truck, from what I can see. There will be plenty more folks with more experience along to answer your question. This is going to be a very enjoyable venture for you so, have fun.
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Old 07-05-2014, 03:32 PM
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Thanks underthebridgejim. I am having a lot of fun so far!
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Old 07-05-2014, 03:54 PM
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First of all, welcome. Secondly, what do you hope to achieve with a more "powerful motor"? I have had both 302's and 223 in mid-50 trucks. Almost anything you wish to achieve with a 223 can be done for a lot less hassle than a full powertrain swap. The only drawbacks with a 223 is not being able to run a/c and limited transmission choices. Other than that you can add power steering via a Toyo conversion, better highway speeds with a different rear end assembly/taller rear tires. I run my 223 all day long at 68 mph. They can be great motors. They do leak, that's a fact but they do run. Personally, if a motor runs, run it until it doesn't. And don't listen to guys that talk about "more power". Power costs time and money. Enjoy the cool factor of these trucks.

If you have a limited skill set, make the 223 work for you for awhile. Love her, bond with her and when the oil leak gets too much then pull her and put something else in. If she starts, runs, drives, enjoy her. Once you have bonded and learned more, then go into a 302 swap. Just my opinion. Good luck!
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Old 07-05-2014, 03:55 PM
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Welcome! I have a 49F3 with a 5.0 EFI and a 5 speed manual. Check out junk yards that specialize in Mustangs if you don't already own the donor car. There are a lot of guys that will get you great info so don't be afraid to ask You may want to learn to use the search features also as they provide lots of info. Again welcome to the madness of old Fords
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:21 PM
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I have read about the Clifford performance parts for 223's, but with that cost and a possible rebuild, if needed, It would be close to a crate 302. I want to be able to take mid-length trips at highway speeds. Right now I can get it up to about 60 but it runs hot and it's already 100 degrees here. I love the idea of keeping the original engine but I also like the idea of something more drivable. What have you done to your 223, if anything, and what transmissions would you recommend?

My tentative plan is a new front end - Mustang II or Crown Vic, new wheels, new transmission (I don't need the granny gear), and either keep original engine or swap it out for a 302. Until I decide, I am content learning body work, taking the older (not original) wood out of the bed, cleaning up the frame, etc.

It already has power steering which is one less thing to worry about. Thanks for the reply's!
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:51 PM
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Littlegram, Welcome
Sounds like you've got good bones in your 55 to get good gas mileage and crusie the highways both.
What are you meaning by more reliable? It'd probably help if you'd give more specifics on your axle ratio, tire sizes etc so members can help you get your 55 "More Reliable".
Look for AXRACER's project planning guidance. Make a plan and try (it's hard to do) to stick to the plan. Please please please don't start tearing it apart with no plan. There are plenty of "Project" trucks out there that folks have torn up and then lost interest.
Changing engines seems like a no brained and cheap but most of the time alterations end up costing as much as a home rebuild. Just say'n.
Again welcome to FTE and enjoy the Best forum around.
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  #8  
Old 07-05-2014, 07:06 PM
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Appreciate the feedback. I guess the best way to put it is I love the '55 body style and want to keep it that way, but have a truck that runs and rides close to a modern truck. That is why I am thinking of a new engine, tranny, front end, and wheels. I want to learn as I go, but some things I cannot do myself because of space - I have a 2 car garage that I need to park my daily driver in - and knowledge. From what I have read the 302 and Mustang II front end are very common and require little to no modification other than engine mounts. I do not want to cut anything up on the frame or elsewhere.

The only thing I have taken off the truck is the spare tire bracket? which I will not use and the drivers side rear fender. My plan is to take the other fender off along with the bed to have the frame sandblasted. Then put everything back and use a DA sander, sanding blocks, hammers & dollies to find the imperfections and fix. Then get ready for paint. I figure if I invest in a decent air compressor I will try to paint myself. I have a friend that can guide me with this.

The electric has been converted to 12v but looks wrong. I will try to put some picture in my album - I know nothing about how this should look.

If my plan is goofy or wrong please advise! I tend to get very into hobbies like this and want to rush, so I have been reading and watching a lot of videos and taking it slow.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:08 PM
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Look through some of the member build threads, the second thread listed on the threads page. You will at least need to remove the front clip (all body to the cowl) to do the MII front end and remove the solid front axle, springs, steering, motor and trans. Read the build threads and look for what you like and want to do on yours and check out how they did it on several to see what works the best. Make a list of everything you want to do and the order in which to do them. And listen to some of the more experienced members here about specific items. Build your truck how you want it, if you want to use a 302 then go for it - they are good motors and there are lots of aftermarket parts that fit them and your truck. Research the transmission and rear you want to use and you will be able to get lots of help here. Enjoy!
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:52 PM
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Hey Littlegram,
Welcome Aboard. Hmmmm.... Advice for someone just starting out...

o Keep it running - It is very difficult to keep up your momentum when your truck has become a pile of parts in your garage. Do smaller (2) week projects & try to resist the urge to do "major surgery" & take it all apart.

o Installing a Mustang II style front suspension is Major Surgery. It requires cutting into your front frame & extensive complex welding. We did this one & we were down 6 months. You have to pull the engine, transmission, rip out all the wiring, re-do the steering, etc.. Personally I'd recommend restoring the current front end with some improvements like the Toyota power steering. Less than a month & nothing super complicated.

o An easier place to start is replacing the Rear Suspension. You can put in an 8.8 or Ford 9.0 inch rear axle with better highway gearing - Under (2) weeks to accomplish.

Small bites my friend. Good luck over there in Idaho!! Nice looking truck.

Ben in Austin
1950 F1
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  #11  
Old 07-06-2014, 11:11 AM
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Thanks Ben & Top. The main thing by friends who have done restoration have told me is to keep the truck running so I do not lose interest. Seems you echo this and I should listen to this advice!

I did not realize installing a Mustang II front end required cutting the frame. I must have read wrong. I will look into what you said about improving the original front end and the rear suspension. Would the rear be something I would look in a junk yard for? I do want better gearing.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:29 PM
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I posted how to create a build plan in this topic:
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...1955-f250.html
In addition to the above advice I'll add: listen to friends and aquaintances, then go and do what you want, can afford, and have the ability to complete. These "advisors" likely have no experience with building your year and model truck, are likely promoting their imagined "wish list" rather than yours without regard to cost, time, or work involved.
For a more grounded opinion/experience: I am a nationally ranked autocross racer, handling is extremely important to me and I can appreciate the differences. I also have >50 years hot rod and race car building experience and am a very accomplished metalsmith, there is very little I can't do. I have a 56 Panel truck. It has the stock (completely rebuilt) front beam axle with lowering springs, Toyota power steering. The rear axle is a 58 F100 9" with stock drum brakes and lowering springs. i am a heretic here with a 400 SBC and T56 6 speed manual tranny. I am very satisfied with this drive train and suspension with a set of quality shock absorbers, it rides and handles quite well, about as well as my 2007 Silverado. No it doesn't corner like a sports car (I have a real sports car for that experience when I want it), but one of these trucks with their high center of gravity and extreme front axle weight bias never will.
I could throw a lot more money at my truck (an MII IFS would cost 3.5 - 5 K with me doing the work) for a very marginal gain, but I won't.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:59 PM
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My two cents worth would be to listen to Ben and AX. Keep your mods reasonable and enjoy driving between projects.

For the suspension, I did as AX and kept the front axle, replaced all the wear parts (kingpin bushings, spring bushings, etc). I also added the Toyota power steering conversion (simple and works great). I also added power brakes and did the Speedway front disc kit to the front axle. Very happy with all of it. As AX said, it will never handle like a new car, but it works well for everyday driving (which I do).

For the rear, I have a 3.25 geared Ford 9" from a 1969 F100. It was in the truck when I got it, but I had to redo everything. Even so, that only involved rewelding in the spring perches to the proper angle, rebuild the brakes, new pinion seal, and getting a driveshaft cut to fit.

My 50 came with a 66 289 and a 74 C4 roughly installed. I again had to redo everything and go through the top end of the engine as it had been sitting outside uncovered for a couple of years. I was fortunate in that everything works fine now with relatively little $$ invested. That being said, if mine had a stock engine that ran ok, I would go with it until it was necessary to swap. I do think that the 289 is a great engine for the truck as it fits well and has more than enough power for me (I use mine as a daily driver - mainly around town or 20 miles to the next towns).

It is your truck, so do it however you want. As you have seen, there are a lot of very helpful enablers on this site who will try to help with whatever you need.

Enjoy the journey.
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:27 PM
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Ax, Ben, Dmack all have great advice. I will add one thing -- it may be the most important -- have fun!! No matter what only do the things necessary and have fun doing them.
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:41 PM
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welcome to the club!!!! great bunch of guys that will do anything they can to help you along to achieving your goal. they have been great for me and I know i'll need them time & time again.

that being said, be careful who you listen to....and who you trust to work on your baby.

I'm getting on in years and can't do a lot of the things I use to. hense, I have to depend on others. now, one of my projects has been in a professional garage for a year LONGER that was originally quoted me and another is 4 months late and not even close yet. so.....be careful who you deal with and if you contract with anybody for any amount of work....get definite completion dates and let them know you mean business. the good ones will respect you for it and the pikers will go running down the road!

enjoy you truck at every level you get to and don't get discouraged.

we'll all be looking for pix soon!

qman
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:41 PM
 
 
 
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