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1948 - 1956 F1, F100 & Larger F-Series Trucks Discuss the Fat Fendered and Classic Ford Trucks

53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

 
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Old 05-29-2003, 09:59 PM
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Question 53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

First some background. Been lurking here a bit before I registered and now I figure I might pose a question without getting blown too far out of the water, so here it goes:
16 years ago I bought a ’56 f-100 that was basically stock except for the drivetrain was replaced with a SBC and turbo 350. I used it as a daily driver for a few years and then it was put away wet till now. I would like to get it running again but with the luxuries of power steering, fuel injection, disc brakes, AC etc etc etc…

After adding up all the kit prices from the various vendors and seeing how big that number i$ I started looking for a modern donor chassis. It seems that as far as wheelbase, track, frame width, vehicle weight and all, that a four door Explorer would fit the bill with the added benefit of having the truck all Ford.

Is there something that I’m overlooking that would make this much more work than it’s worth or is this a cheap and easy way to get a late 20th century drive train with a classic body?

Thanks for any input
Vacek
 

Last edited by vmiglus; 05-29-2003 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 05-29-2003, 10:24 PM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Vacek

Are the frames shaped the same? Does an Explorer frame kick up anywhere? I have some friends who have swapped to Ranger/S-10 frames on classic trucks. The biggest drawback was the thousands of hours spent fabbing. You will have to fab countless mounts and brackets to make it work. If you are good at fabbing and have the time, then almost anything is possible. Personally, I think you could get a second job at McDonalds and pay for the aftermarket upgrades to a stock frame and come out way ahead. That was surely the case for my bodywork.

Welcome to FTE.
 
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Old 05-29-2003, 10:42 PM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

The frames are "generally" the same shape. While the F-100 is just about the same width all the way back the explorer widens under the drivers seat but not enough to make it problematic.
The Biggie will be the height if the frame as it sits. To get the ride I want I will have to drop (or is it raise the bed floor about and inch and a half. The cab floor looks like Swiss cheese in places so raising that will be just part of the job. Of course new cab mounts will have to fabricated. The big issuse may be that in a stock configuration the chassis rails in front are below the top of the tires while in the explorer the tops of the springs are well above the tires which will mean the inner fenders will have to be modified, some? A lot?
The second job at McD’s would just cause me to get fatter so when the project was done and paid for I wouldn’t be able to fit behind the wheel.
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 04:17 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

I like this guy, He takes shots at himself!
I've considered the Explorer frame for my 48 F1, for the same reasons. I've come to the conclusion that there will be way to much cutting, welding, cussing, and blood spilled to make it worth while.
I'm basically back to two choices.
Stock front with a 9" rear
IC Front with a 9" rear
About the only way I would try anything else is invite all the Gearheads from this site, with all their equipment in for a few weeks of work.
Major drawback to that is that we only have 63 Beer Distribators in town.
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:36 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Hi fellows greetings from Iraq
I was having the same thoughts with my 1955 I just went with rebuilding the front end, different shackles and leafsprings/axel for the rear. I thing it would be much better to keep the originsl frame, then add you disc brakes, IFS, etc. There are a lot of parts that you can get from the salvage yard and just buy main brackets from dealers. A friend of mine used the mustang IFS that just welded between the frame, it works very well its just very low he had to raise his cab/front.
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:10 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Vacek

Sorry to be so negative on your first post here. It is just a huge undertaking and I hate to see a truck go to the point of no return. Few people really have an idea what they are jumping into when they undertake a project. I still haven't learned to stop blowing smoke up my own hind-end when I talk myself into my next project.

I assume a custom frame purchase is financially out of the question as it is for most of us. I would recommend you explore the compromise solutions. An LTD/Camaro/Volare/MII style IFS clip job would be FAAAAR easier. You get a cool stance and the modern conveniences. Without significant risk of a truck you can't complete in this life. All of this is said without any idea how your fabbing skills are. Critique yourself here and you'll get more advice on which specific direction we think you should head.

BTW, they make little steering wheels for all you "round boys". They make some real sappy lookin ones too. All without any reference to the reason why you're buying it on the packaging.

Greeting to you Jaye, hope all is well for you in the Mid-East. At least as well as it can be. Take care of yourself and thanks.
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:55 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Let me play devils advocate for a second. First, are you interested in driving the truck anytime soon? The frame switch would take a large amount of time and skill. Second, do you possess the skill to fab and cut and weld. Third, are you willing to devote serious $ to do it?

No doubt the ride and handling technology of the explorer is superior to the effie, but can you overcome the obstacles? Consider the cost of the donor car also....If you cut up your S.O.'s Explorer she may take you to the woodshed or at least the dreaded "alienation of affection.

On the other hand, almost every part you can imagine is available for a resto or restorod....and one of the fine members here has probably done the mod and will be more than happy to give tech help.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do.

BTW welcome to the greatest collection of folks anywhere oh yeah and me too

Steve
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:35 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Vacek,

first ...welcome to the FTE... anyone who would consider this type of undertaking is gonna fit in just fine.. one other criteria is that after you complete it... you cut it out and do something different !!!

When I was just getting into this "career", I considered the same thing and actually found a guy in Michigan that has done it... He bragged about being able to take it to the dealer and have it serviced and how well it rode... but when I started asking him specific questions.. well.. he started crawfishing a little... finally admitted he had "HAD" it done by a body shop friend. he did give me his name so I gave HIM a call..

He used a '86 explorer and after I introduced myself and the reason for the call... he STARTED the conversation with "It will be a cold day in hell before I'll ever do anything like that again !!" You could feel the regret in his voice. Even though he said he made a bucket of money on the job it was 10 times the aggrevation and problems that he had anticipated... everything had to be fabbed from scratch and his conclusion was that you could build from scratch easier and cheaper than "just rolling the chassis under the cab"

that ended my quest for newer suspension (via that route) I've since, as my friends here will agree... been down a couple of paths until the light shone on me and I went with Mustang II IFS..

First choise was Volare and it's a good choice... good ride, handles well, infinite adjustability... unless you're running a big ole honkin 460... interference problems out the wazoo for me...

Talk around to some other owners and look at what you can find...I don't think you'll find any who'd advocate a complete chassis swap for the time / money involved...

don't let any of these yahoos try to talk you into it... they just want to point and laugh at you behind your back . Don't ask my how I know !!

again welcome and don't be shy about joining into any conversation or discussion... we all have experience in some facet of this hobby and it should be shared... besides it gives us more people to make fun of and ridicule. Just remember that everything is harmless fun and intended good naturedly... There is no one here I don't consider a good friend.. well maybe one or two

later

john ... too cool for MORE chassis changes
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:01 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Let's see, Fabbing skills: I'm in my mid-forties and have always had a job that required thinking up things and then developing those thoughts into real things. Never had to do anything on this size scale at work but have been wasting the free time I could of spent working on trucks renovating old houses. The whole thing carpentry, plumbing, electrical, cabinetry, etc.
I also have very good support at work as far as real trained machinists and a truly excellent welder.

I have also spent the past three years thinking about this project, making lists, making more lists flipping through car mags for ideas and in the end as you all know the for the price of all the parts I want I could buy someone else’s finished truck and drive off in style with all the shin on my knuckles intact.

The scale of all the separate things is what scares me, IFS (vette would be nice $500 - $900) rear end (another $800 for a vette) and associated mounting kit$, motor and tranny, steering column, AC and more, I don't have my lists in front of me.
Interior, gauges body and paintwork would have to be done in any case

The rolling chassis appeals to me because so many major jobs are replaced by one very big one of mounting the body to get the right stance. Explorers can be had for the price of a mustang II front end, I'm OK with the plasma cutter and the only way to improve my welding skills is to practice.

I'm off to see my kid graduate from college this weekend when I get back I'll post some pictures of the rust and swiss cheese.

Thanks for all the input so far, it’s making me think this trough with a new prespective.
Sorry about the lenght.
 
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:29 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

"It will be a cold day in hell before I'll ever do anything like that again !!"

John, that’s funny… A guy here in Brazil who installed a Ranger chassis on a ’51 F1 said almost the same thing to me… He told me that he would have to die and be born again at least 3 times before he would do something like that again…

Vacek, frist of all, welcome to FTE! I think you’re on the right path. These guys here know a lot. They have lots of experience, and they should give you an idea of what to consider, what to expect and some other good information that should lead you to a good decision… But, the final word is always up to you…
I’ve been called nuts when I said I was going to install a VW Golf engine into a Beetle.
I never did, but helped a friend who had the $$ to do it… Several others came after that one was built… But, I don’t mess with VWs anymore…

Regards,
Lobo
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 12:19 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Here is my two cents. Up until about a month ago I was torn between a Volare and Crown Vic frontend. I did my research and I asked and did a lot of looking at the F100 Nats. I would be of the opinion that that Explorer swap is going to cause you more tears and dollars and time than it will be worth in the end result. MII's expensive as they are would be a better option. If you look in the ALbum titled Thunder you will see a 56' being built with a 69 LTD frontend. That is a great handling and riding suspension. Yeah there is some fab work involved but not nearly what you are going to run into with that Explorer. If you run 70's series tires in the rear you could use the same rear end. The 77-79 T-bird/Cougars alond with the 80-91 Crown Vic/Grand Marguis are great suspension plus they are all Ford. The Volare is also a good front end. That 80-91 Ford front end will allow drop in mounting of a 302,351, and the 4.6, if you wanted to run a big Block Ford you would need to run like either a 68-71 Galaxie, LTD, or T-bird or any Fullsize 76 Ford like T-bird, Marquis, etc. The T-bird and COugar changed for 77'. But if your hearts tell you to try the Explorer Best wishes. If you would like any info on the Ford Front ends and Rear ends email and I can get you plenty of info. Take care
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 12:37 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

At the risk of spinning this thread off the subject. (What's new I guess) I also looked at a bunch of the Ford clip jobs Tacson speaks off. After reading all the magazine advertisers trashing the idea, I made it a point to check them out at PF. Don't know for sure what years I was looking at but I suspect early 70s Torino, LTD and such. Anyway, I saw some very impressive clips. The frame rails are larger than the stock. Might even be as tough as the Ultra HD Volare setup. Seriously though, I have no doubt its at least as stout as a Volare. No doubt it takes more skill than a Volare or MII to install correctly. Weld failure is a guaranteed bad day.

When installed correctly, I would be quite comfortable with this IFS. Even with one of them Biggie sized Niolon Town Car engines in there.
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 01:25 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

Fatfender the way to tell what you were looking at is the steering box location. If the steering box is behind the Crossmember it is a Rear Steer which Ford ran from about 67-79. Quite a few of the ones you saw were most likely 68-71 T-bird or LTD or 72-79 Midsize (Torino, Ranchero, Elite, or 77-79 Bird, LTD II, and Cougar) and maybe a few Front Steer from 80 - present. The front steer is what allows a 4.6 to drop in on factory mounts because you don't have manifold/steering box interference. If anybody saw the Black 56' F100 at the F-100 Nats at the Dennis Carpenter booth inside the Convention center. That truck has a 1968 LTD Frontend and Rear end. Since that LTD came from the Factory with a 302 and 390 option the motor mounts would allow you to run anything probably but a MOD (4.6, 5.4) motor. You are correct if the welder is not a skilled technician. It is a Bad day. But think about it a Volare and a MII are attached underneath if those welds are not good this is also a bad day. IF you can't steer and stop YOU can't steer and stop. Once again it is all in taste and preference. I did see a red 56' from Arkansas across at the Grand Inn where the owner had just put his sheetmetal over on the frame and drivetrain of the a 96 Crown Vic. He used the dash and all including the AC system. Now that is what you call recycling. He also gets 27MPG. Which is excellence bar none for one of these trucks. My 55' hopefully will be done by the end of June. It will have a 86 Crown Vic Front end along with a 68 Fairlane 8" rear with a 87 Crown Vic 302 EFI and AOD. I will post pictures when done.
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 07:46 AM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

"But think about it a Volare and a MII are attached underneath if those welds are not good this is also a bad day."

TACSON

I studied it long and hard and it's not even close. I'm living proof a monkey with a MIG welder can install a Volare. Yes you cut a notch in the frame. Then you fill it with a K-member that is quite substantial. It turns the front two feet of your truck into one massive crossmember. The notch surrounds the K-member with F-100 frame. You could literally test fit it, attach a couple aircraft ratchet straps and go with for a brief test drive. 90% of my Volare welds are horizontal which is obviously preferred, and there is probably about 8 linear feet of weld holding it in. It is absolutely the strongest part of my truck at this time. The front of my frame is now so covered up with crossmembers that it's a pain to work on from underneath.

If a Volare has a weakness it is not at the attachment point. A lot of folks run when they hear the word frame notch. But in many cases it is simply their ignorance of the procedure. The same folks may have no problem installing a low end MII kit with stock MII components to avoid a frame notch in the name of safety. That's a good one.

The clip jobs that require complete frame cut off at the firewall probably get the bulk of the bad wrap from too many Jethro's installing one up in a day or two without the necessary skills. But the fact remains there is a potentially catastrophic failure point you can't really avoid. I believe it can probably be done safely. But it starts off as a real bad idea right from the start, and you recover from there. Most of us should have this part of the install professionally welded.

Thanks for the other info, I saw some F100s that had a very nice stance. I'll check my PF engine PICs and try to figure out what clip it was. Wish I had seen the Crown Vic frame swap.
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 01:52 PM
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53-56 f-100 w/ explorer chassis?

I would just like to note there are some clips that you can buy. You just cut off some of the front clip. You then slid the new clip into what is left frame and attach some bolts to hold it in place so when you weld it doesn't move to wreak your frame geometry.
 

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