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Looking at a '56 F-100 service truck

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Old 02-09-2018, 11:34 AM
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Looking at a '56 F-100 service truck

Hi guys. Newb in town!

Reason for post: I'm looking into the purchase of a 1956 service truck as a project. Something a bit different to the usual pickup. You guys clearly know your stuff, so I thought I'd wade in and seek your opinions and advice on the following, please:

I have already got something in mind (to be honest I hadn't heard of a service truck until I saw the ad, but instantly liked it cos it's different). Everything seems solid - the vendor states no welding has ever been needed, nor does it need any now. The cab is rubbed down and lacquered (so looks like a bit of a rat) and the utility body is half matte green paint and half bare alloy, so it looks eve more of a rat. I kinda like it. From the large format photos he sent me, the cab corners, floor, fenders - everything - are all spot on, so his testament seems to be on the money. It has a 292 'Y' up front, and a 4.27 down the back. The 'Y' is on a 4bl Holley, tubular headers and brand new dual pipes straight out the back. The rear seems a bit low - tired springs? No power brakes, no power steering. Cab interior is almost perfect and intact.

If it comes to a sale (to me, I mean) I would straighten up the odd ding here and there, replace the girder bumpers for more appropriate (standard) ones, and then have a proper paint job done. 56panelford's dark metallic green looks to be about the perfect shade - especially as it gives a nod back to its presumed phone company heritage. I'd like to replace the rear cycle fenders for proper pickup ones because they just look far better. I'm aware that the passenger side one would need modification to clear the utility body side door. I'd keep the 'Y' as is, but change the back end for something longer-legged. Would a 3.73 make a big difference? because there's an option to take a 3.73 whole axle with the deal. I'd be happy to do the swap myself if I can source a new speedometer drive gear to match. Other than that I'm more of a 'keep it standard' kinda guy than a 'rod it to hell and back' one. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, just not my preference.

A couple of questions:

1. Do all service trucks come without a driver's door lock? None of the photos I've seen of them have a separate lock on this door. The standard pickups always seem to have one.
2. Is that back axle swap a good idea, or should I look to go even 'longer' to make it a good cruiser?
3. What should I look for on the inspection? Cab corners, floors, general frame - check. But what else?
4. Did other utility companies use the same rear body as the phone companies? Reason I ask is that the cab is light brown, not green, so I wonder if this one wasn't a phone company truck after all.

I'm sure I can come up with a whole raft of other questions to keep you all busy, but in the meantime please feel free to post your advice/thoughts/opinions/questions/ridicule as you see fit.

Many thanks in advance.

YBL
 
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Old 02-09-2018, 12:45 PM
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Welcome to the forum. Those pictures the seller provided to you would allow us to be on the same page as you when we comment.
The driver door lock was a deluxe cab feature.
A 3.73 axle might perform well depending on where and how you drive it.
Inspection, what you mention.
Independent companies built utility bodies that were available to anyone with cash or financing.
The 272 would have been original engine size.
Again, welcome.
Pictures, please.
 
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Old 02-09-2018, 01:45 PM
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YBL, let me add my welcome to FTE the best Ford Truck Forum on the world wide Web.

Answers to some of your questions.
1. Standard cab trucks came with a lock on the passenger door only. Deluxe Cabs (53 and 55) and Custom Cabs in 55 and 56 came with locks on both doors.
2. What Ray said, but if you go much lower, it will be slow pulling out from dead stops.
3. What Ray said.
4. What Ray said.

And show us pictures!
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 04:15 AM
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Thanks, guys.

OK - you asked for it - here are some pictures to work with.











Please feel free to have a closer look and give any critique.

Thanks again for the welcome and responses so far.

Best, YBL
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 07:57 AM
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That truck looks to be in very good shape, no obvious rust-through especially in the drip rail area. That service bed is what we called a "phone company" box. The Bell Telephone Company trucks all had that box and they all were painted that olive drab green. A local guy here in San Diego has a 1951 F series truck with a phone company bed and it is really an eye-catcher. If I had that truck the first thing I would do is to mount some original Ford rear fenders on it, something about the way they tied those rear fenders to the 56 running boards doesn't look so good. I think that for the right price this could be a cool project. Good luck...
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 08:18 AM
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A very nice refrigerated beer hauler . Find a brewer and put his brand on for sponsor and your good to go. Very nice truck.
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:06 AM
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Yep, Charlie got it right, a Bell telephone service body. The other half is Pacific Gas and Electric, large utility company in California, and a large buyer of Ford trucks in California. The special order factory brown paint is the give away. IMO, the interior on this truck should never be repainted under any circumstances! Here is an ex P G and E with a fuel tank body. This truck was originally all brown, but fleet colors were changed to brown and tan in the 70's. This truck was also originally a 6 cylinder automatic.
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by artscott61 View Post
A very nice refrigerated beer hauler . Find a brewer and put his brand on for sponsor and your good to go. Very nice truck.
I'll drink to that - cheers...!
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by tripleframe View Post
Yep, Charlie got it right, a Bell telephone service body. The other half is Pacific Gas and Electric, large utility company in California, and a large buyer of Ford trucks in California. The special order factory brown paint is the give away. IMO, the interior on this truck should never be repainted under any circumstances! Here is an ex P G and E with a fuel tank body. This truck was originally all brown, but fleet colors were changed to brown and tan in the 70's. This truck was also originally a 6 cylinder automatic.
You beauty! Thanks for this - I knew there was something to it. The data plate says this was originally a 6-pot, but with the 4-speed all-synchro 'box, which it still appears to have. Also the paint code is "SS". Special something??

Your comment about keeping the interior 'as is' is very interesting. Originally I was looking for a standard pickup, and when I saw this I thought it would be a good one to junk the rear end and put a pickup bed on it. But when I saw the photos of the condition and completeness of the body, I quickly changed my mind. Then I thought about the overall dark green. Now I'm wondering what to think!
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 11:07 AM
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Welcome to the site, looks like a great project..
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 02:20 PM
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Welcome!
There were three different shades of Bell Green depending on the service area, a light, medium, and dark variation of the same color. If the truck was originally from the states, the brown color seems to be the same as used by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in California. They had hundreds, if not thousands, of these utility trucks.
Incidentally, the rear fenders are the correct ones for that utility body.
 
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:12 PM
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Here is a pic of a restored phone truck for ya, Yblock Limey!



 
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Old 02-11-2018, 04:19 AM
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Excellent stuff! Thanks guys for posting your comments and welcomes.

I know I've got to secure the thing first, so I probably sound like I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. But I've got plans! I like the originality of the truck - it's not been cut, slammed, and the gauges junked for digital, that kind of thing. But I'm not really looking to keep the old utility schemes going either. At the end of the day, Pacific Bell and PG&E mean nothing to anyone over here, so restoring it back to its service life (and colours) would equally mean nothing.

With it having the Bell utility box on the back, I had thought about getting a Wichita licence plate made up, but if the cab is PG&E then that spoils the joke cos I don't know any Glen Campbell songs about a power company employee.

I found an interesting picture a few weeks ago (posted below) which shows the proper rear fenders (I know its a 'Shopped picture, but it shows you the idea). That rear end looks a lot more integral (ignoring the ladder rack!). Even the tailpipes exit at the right place for my tastes! That with the previously-mentioned metallic dark green (or perhaps even a dark bronze) with contrasting brightwork, possibly with nice fat chrome smoothies, would finish the look. But I think I would have to keep at least one old bakelite phone in the back...

 
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Old 02-11-2018, 10:11 PM
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I have one like that as well. Except mine will be mounted on a '48 F1.

Welcome to FTE!
 
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:38 AM
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Cheers, Havi.

I am hopefully going to get down to see this truck in the flesh next week, if the vendor can accommodate me. Wish me luck!

Forgive my ignorance, but I have a few other questions:

1. What grade fuel do Y-blocks run on? Looking at the embossed F O R D on the valve covers, I presume this is a late '50s/early '60s motor. Certainly not '56 anyway. Does that make a difference?
2. The 'missing' lock on the driver's door. Does this simply not lock at all, or do you lock it from the inside then clamber across and exit from the passenger's door, and lock that from the outside?
3. The ride height at the back looks great, but how easy (or otherwise) is it to drop the front to match? I'd guess we're talking about a 2" drop. I really don't want to get into frame notching if that helps with your anwsers!
4. Would a drop like that cause any issues with the front tyres fouling on the fenders on full lock?

I'll take my camera and a torch with me for the inspection, so I hope to have some more photos to post here soon.

Thanks again for your help guys.
 
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