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51dueller 07-09-2013 12:43 AM

Frameswap 3.0: The Reckoning
Warning this is a long post of me rambling/tech article with lots of pictures

Some of you are probably wondering why 3.0? Well you kind of have to go back 9 years to read what a crazy 18 year old (ask Dick) did when he put his 1951 Mercury M-3 on a 1978 F-250 chassis. If your so inclined you can read about V2.0 here:
1948-52 Ford Truck Frame Swap
Version 1.0-1.5 is a little fuzzy with changing M-3 frames and mixing F-1 axles/suspension but that is a totally different story...

Back to the story at hand, I must note I'm probably going to ramble and go on tangents. At the end of V2.0 the truck was pretty much put into storage (Okay under a tarp in the farm equipment line) as I went to post secondary school to become an automotive service technician. I have to say working as one, you get to see what works and what doesn't plus solutions to older problems.

This time it isn't take a different chassis and go make it work. Been there, did that, got the FTE shirt. Now I'm building the chassis from scratch! It's kind of an evolution based on past mistakes, solving issues, new part additions and being a slight perfectionist... (almost qualify for the frame swap “hokey pokey” if anyone gets that reference)

Your going to have to bare with me as I try to explain the method to the madness. (This is my opinion)

There is no “perfect” frame swap. There is will always be a compromise to make something fit. Frame profiles will never quite match, component interference etc. Personally I think grafting the entire “donor” floor to make it fit is redundant. Always make the chassis fit the body. Parts interchangeability is key. So when that big storm “nicely” puts a tree through your roof, you can swap out the cab easily. I'm not saying there won't necessarily be minor trimming for drivetrain choice or accessories but it will be replicable in a weekend. Or if you get tired or move onto another project, it can be reverted back to stock (if owner chooses) instead of being on a barge to china.

My current modified frame has several issues: (in no particular order)
1. Front bumper frame horns are welded in crooked.
2. Steering box to column interference. (Big issue)
3. Rear suspension is too high.
4. Rear crossmembers don't allow room for gas tank.
5. Frame is joined to correct wheelbase. (personal preference not to be)

The goal is to have a frame that hasn't been cut in half, same frame profile as stock plus updated suspension and fits all the accessories I plan to use. Should note that my entire truck build is being done with all Ford parts. There won't be any Chevrolet or Dodge parts if I can help it.

The big issue to fix is the steering box location. The 1965-1979 Twin-I-Beam suspension utilizes a tall rear steering box which doesn't line up with the factory location.

To make it work would require a rather convoluted steering shaft which would be ugly and rather unsafe. The way to solve this is to change to front steer which is somewhat easier said than done.

I guess I should mention why I'm sticking with the 1965-79 style suspension than going with the front steer 1980-97 suspension. The 1980+ has a 37.5” front frame width vs -1979 34” front frame width. The 1965-79 also has the longest and equal length I beams which reduces camber change while driving.

If I had unlimited funds I would be using 1999+ 2WD Superduty I beams as they went back to equal length and are almost full length. I would make a custom crossmember to narrow the width back to 34” to make it fit but then I'd also would have a 5.0 Coyote engine with 6spd auto...

So to make it front steer requires 1980-86 HD F-250/350 spindles. They use the same kingpin diameter as the 1967-79 F-350 but are longer and had a slightly taller I beam. The kingpin inclination is also 8 degrees vs the 1965-79 4 degrees so I will have to bend my beams to correct the camber (just have to find the correct alignment tools). You'll also need the matching steering box and steering linkage. You can't just flip the original spindles side to side as ackermans angle will be out of spec plus will handle terrible. The spindle “itself” is 1976-?? as the Superdutys and Econolines still use the same wheel bearings today.

The other issues are solved by making new frame rails. I decided to change up the rear suspension a bit. Instead of getting custom leaf springs to get the right height I went to a custom 4 link which uses Econoline front springs. I still want a payload capacity of stock and good ride. Stiff leaf springs aren't ideal with a stiff boxed chassis as they will want to fight each other.

I didn't simply plan this all out in a week either. This have been drafted out off and on over the last two years as I've been collecting parts. I pretty much overlayed the Twin-I-Beam front clip over the stock chassis.

So this past Canada Day long weekend, I bought 2 – 2”x8”x20' 3/16 rectangular tubing, 4 – 2”x20' 3/16 flat stock and a 2”x5”x10” rectangular tubing. I bought 2”x8” rectangular tubing as I can cut out the profile I want without having any vertical seams. I will need to add a slight section on top of the rail at the front as the Twin-I-Beam crossmember has a higher kickup than the 2”x8” allowed me. I still have much more cutting to do as I ran out of time and also let the smoke out of my angle grinder.

I took some frame design from the newer fords as they have the crossmember go right through the entire chassis. The last two crossmembers only go through the inner layer as they would nearly cut the rail in half. I will be integrating the 4 link mounts into the third crossmember.

Can see what the front profile will sort of look like. All mounting holes will have nuts welding inside the rail before its sealed with the flat stock.

I just have everything tacked into place as I only have an arc welder at the farm. Final welding will be done at work with the 250 amp mig.

Here I grafted in sections of the original crossmember for my 1993 F-350 chassis cab gas tank. They are required for the upper gas tank straps. I did this with the mig at work before I got to the farm.

I still need to do preliminary draft work on my updated pedal, booster/master cylinder and transmission mount. I've had to change over to a Superduty hydroboost as the aftermarket 7” dual diaphram booster is incapable of powering my huge 4 wheel disc brakes. Of course needed to change the master cylinder as well since I need the Ford cruise control cancellation switch. It took a while of researching to find a big bore master with the switch in the vertical position. The Superduties and Econolines both have it facing down which isn't ideal in an under floor setup. Finally found that 2002 F-150/Expedition uses a 1 1/4” bore with the switch in the correct position. For comparison sake the original Superduty master is 1 3/8” bore.

Much more still to come.

4tl8ford 07-09-2013 08:21 AM

So if all you future Frame Swappers want to see what the impossible is like this is the thread that will either make you or break you.
Read all Nathan's posts to see the what, why and how things need to be done for a proper frame swap
Shine On You Crazy Diamond

ALBUQ F-1 07-09-2013 09:55 AM

Why are the photobucket pictures so small? edit: never mind, I figgered it out

Very ambitious project! will be watching

FP 07-09-2013 10:00 AM

I'm seeing them small too.

51dueller 07-09-2013 10:01 AM

Click the link under the thumbnail picture for a large view. I used thumbnails to make browsing easier and keeps the big pictures from overtaking your monitor as most are 3200x2400.

ALBUQ F-1 07-09-2013 10:13 AM

Originally Posted by FP (Post 13324594)
I'm seeing them small too.

Do you have a PB account yourself? Log out of it, see if that works

Nathan, even the links were coming up small. I've had this problem with all PB hosted pics, it has something to do with their new format.

tinman52 07-09-2013 10:35 AM

Photosucket seems to have a "mobile" mode which makes everything small.....maybe that's it. You have to keep switching it back to normal.

That site sucks so bad now. I have 1k pictures stuck there forever

Harrier 07-09-2013 10:45 AM

I look forward to following this. You doing a big job like this makes me think I'm still sane.
Dick, you are lucky I have Wish You Were Here on my iPhone or I would be cussing you right now. :)

70BumpClubCab 07-09-2013 11:20 AM

I don't wanna know what that metal costs, but WOW that is gonna be a stout frame!!!!!

51dueller 07-09-2013 11:28 AM

It was surprisingly cheap. Everything I bought was under $500. The pictures work for me but I'm using a computer. Photobucket mobile sucks and forcing desktop mode on my phone usually doesn't work.

The Horvaths 07-09-2013 12:01 PM

Make two while you're at it. I want one! ;)
Mayhaps you'll think about providing/selling the drawings?

havi 07-09-2013 04:45 PM


(this is in the works for my KB2)

AXracer 07-09-2013 05:17 PM

Next time the frame swap question comes up (which probably won't be long...) I'm going to link to here. I've always been of the opinion it would be easier to build a new chassis from scratch. If it needed to be all Ford, why didn't you go with an IFS like a CV rather than a DIB?

51dueller 07-09-2013 06:41 PM

Ford has never used a 3/4-1 ton grade A arm suspension. I'm building this truck to be able to work. I assume DIB means Dumb I Beam? Quite frankly the Twin-I-Beam is the strongest independent 2WD suspension available. If you compare the newer Superdutys to Chev/GMC HDs. The Twin-I-Beam has higher ground clearance, higher weight capacity (up to 5250lbs), bigger ball joints (last twice as long as GM ones as they only used for turning) and bigger tie rods (24mm vs 16mm GM).

The main weakness of the Twin-I-Beam is the haltenberger steering. It's not overly responsive and allows slight toe changes on bumps. Tire camber wear isn't really an issue with the full length beams on the 1965-1979 and 1999+. I've seen GM's truck IFS destroy more tires as people never change shocks on them. The GM's also come out of the factory with the front suspension on the bumpstops. You have to buy aftermarket torsion bar keys to raise the front suspension slightly.

Too be honest it really isn't worth using the whole 2wd suspension out of 1980-97 F-series, 1976-2013 E-series, 1983-97 Ranger, BII etc. The Twin-Traction Beam is a whole other mess entirely.

AXracer 07-09-2013 07:00 PM

Nathan, Not trying to give you a hard time, you have obviously done a lot of research on this, but just to play devils advocate with you for grins to get my head into thiese big guys. When you say to work do you mean off road or load capacity? It would seem to me that the CV IFS (interceptor version?) with the right springs would handle the loads since most of the additional load weight would be carried by the rear axle not the front? The 1st gen TIB suspension is what turned my brother off Ford trucks, he could never keep tires on his. I guess hub bolt pattern would be the back breaker tho.

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