Truck-The Second Coming
It all started with the purchase of a 1973 Scout II from an impound yard for $50 for a parts truck. I was planning on just swiping the driveshafts, axleshafts, lockouts, brakeparts, etc., for spare parts. After moving to a place with a garage, I decided to keep the truck with plans in mind for a super-monster frame-up rebuild. Here begins my story...
Once in the new garage, I began to remove all the body parts with a reciprocating saw. I weighed each part and noted where it came from so that I could get a rough approximation of the weight distribution when it came time to determine the spring rates for the new coil springs.There's quite a bit more there that you might think. I got almost 1000 pounds, not including the hard top that the truck did not come with.
Here sits the bare frame, waiting for the next step. I planned on cleaning the frame off with a sandblaster that I had purchased at Home Depot (the local home improvement chain). After about half an hour of blasting, I determined that it was in my best interests to have a commercial blaster do it for me.
I installed the freshly cleaned frame on a couple of stands that allowed me to rotate the frame around, allowing easy access to the underside parts.This ended up being a very cool and helpful idea, if I say so myself. Before doing so, I used a plumb bob to determine the placement of the axles under the frame, and marked the frame with a centerpunch directly above the axles. I cut off all the leaf spring mounts,emergency brake cable mounts, engine mounts, and other misc items from the frame. I left all the body mounts in place.
The rear crossmember was bent and mangled, so I decided that replacement was needed. I tacked on some steel to hold the frame ends in place, cut off the crossmemeber, and welded in its place a 3x4 .25" wall rectangular tubing. Stout, beefy steel to provide a good platform for a receiver-mounted winch.
I picked up a set axles, a Dana 60 front and Dana 70 rear, from a 1992 Dodge 1-Ton truck that I saw an ad for in a local classified ad for $1500. I thought that was a pretty good deal after seeing ads for rebuilt units for twice that amount. The only bad thing about the axles was their 3.54 gears and the 70 having 31-spline axleshafts. I cleaned up the axles, cut off the spring perches and shock mounts, and set them on jack stands underneath the bare frame.
I had thought long and hard about how I was going to attach the axles to the frame. I had always planned on using some kind of multi-link setup, but had never really laid down detailed plans. About this time, Petersen's Off Road magazine was beginning a Dakota build-up project in which they replaced the stock suspension with a multi-link. From their methods, I designed. I created a rigid A-frame design to locate the 70 side-to-side, and to allow vertical movement and movement axially along the frame(suspension twist type of movement). I attached the 'top' of this A-frame to a semi-circle structure that spanned over the top of the 70 differential case (which I got the idea for from a Warn suspension lift kit for a Jeep). I then planned on individual side links to locate the ends of the axle tubes. The 60 I located with two side links, and a third link on the drivers side above the axle to control axle wrap. I then planned on a panhard bar for side location. I used this design mostly due to physical space constraints that the engine and engine components would create. In addition, a properly designed pandard bar would tend to reduce bump steer.
On both axles, I had wondered about the abuse that heim joints would be subjected to.On normal leaf suspensions, the metal components are isolated from each other by rubber bushings. I thought that this would be a good idea to incorporate into my suspension design, as well. In speaking to some of the many people I talked to about my plans, I had been told that street cars that used heim joints on both end of the links often had problems with premature failure of the joints. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to use some type of rubber bushing on one end of the links that would be subjected to the most stress, specifically the side links on both front and rear axles. The A-arm link was already rubber-isolated, and the only other links are the front top link and the panhard bar. Both links, I figured, would not be under nearly as much stress as the sidelinks (this, I'm sure, we will real-world test when the time comes). I used stock replacement rubber radius-arm bushings from a Ford F150 for the bushings on the frame end of the side links.
I welded all the frame-end link mounts to 4" .25" thick flat steel stock, and drilled holes through the frame to bolt these plates to both sides, sandwiching the frame between them. This would allow me to easily make changes down the road by simply making new side plates and bolting them in place (rather than have to cut things off the frame itself).
I found an awesome deal on four Hummer tires at $85 each. I've heard that they go for as much as $350, so I snatched them up. They have a D load rating, which would tend to give them a stiff sidewall. This may or may not be a good thing. Either way, $90 is hard to pass up. If nothing else, they can serve as street tires.
I ordered 4 coil-over remote-reservoir Race Runner shocks from Sway-A-Way.They had 16" of shock travel, and sported user-replaceable shock valving. I wanted the shocks to be at the mid-travel point at curb height, which ended up being 32.5"total shock length. After calculating how high I wanted the frame to be, and tack-welding shock mounts to the tops of the axles, I measured for the shock hoops. I build some el-cheapo mock-ups first to get a better idea of placement and see if there were any interference points between the springs and anything else.
I then designed the final shock hoops. I wanted to bend some 1.25" tubing in 180 degree hoops. Due to space limitations around the steering gearbox, I needed a radius of around 4". I called many places in Kansas City, and the only folks that could do it wanted lots of money and were 4-6 weeks out on getting it done. I decided I needed my own bender. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a bender and dies, I decided to make my own. Again, I used the photographs of an production bender and designed from that. I bought a 2" chunk of 8" diameter solid steel stock and turned it on a lathe to make the die itself. I used the 8 ton hydraulic ram from my engine hoist to provide the power.
I then bent the tubing for the shock hoops. All are triangulated with three points attaching the hoop to the frame, and will be bolted to the frame in the manner as the side suspension links, sandwiching the frame between two.25" flat steel pieces. In addition the front and rear pairs will have crossbars between them at the top. Both of these crossbars will bolt in rather that be welded,allowing for installation/removal of the engine in the front, and the body tub in the back.
I nabbed a Dana 300 transfer case from a Jeep (round boltpattern) for $250 a while back. Although the bolt pattern matched, it was off-clocked quite a bit. In addition, the transmission's output shaft is a 29-spline and the tcase input shaft is a 32-spline. I found an input shaft adapter kit from Advanced Adapters which consisted of *just* a replacement input shaft. I replaced the tcase shaft, bearing,and seal, and bolted the input shaft assembly to the rest of the tcase for a test fit onto the tranny. I knew that the tranny shaft length would be too long, but this was where Ifound out how much. I needed to space about 5/8" for shaft length, and I needed to clock the tcase about 15 degrees back to its normal angle, so I began to design and build an adapter plate. My brother had access to a lathe at the time, so we turned a chunk of steel to the proper dimensions and bolted it in place with few modifications (no pics right now. sorry).
The engine would consist of a 454 from a 1986 1-ton truck. It required boring, which ended up being .060 over, complete head rebuild, etc. I ported the intake runners in the heads and cc'd the chambers prior to the head rebuild. I put 9:1 pistons instead of the stock 8.3:1. I threw the lowest-end torquer cam I could find in it. It already had a 4-bbl manifold and QuadraJet carb, and I kept those intact.
With the engine complete, bolted up to the tranny and tcase, I fit the engine, built the engine mounts, tranny mount, and hooked it all up. It this image the electric fan mounts are being built, with the fan in front of the radiator for easy access.
I picked up some super-hardening apply-over-rust whamodyne paint called POR-15. Short term tests indicate it rocks. Long term tests are still pending. I painted the entire frame and all bolted-on components, suspension linkages, axles, etc., with the stuff. Once dry, it will take a respectable whack with a hammer without chipping off (sorry, no pictures.imagine everything a shiny black).
After many months of looking for a respectable tub, good brother Joe happened to spoto ne in Lincoln, NE as he was driving around. It had been used as an inertial impact tool in an attempt to dislodge a telephone pole from the ground, so the passenger side was a bit shorter than design spec. The hood, pass fender, bumper, underlying structural parts, and inner fender were all mashed beyond repair, so they were slated to apply their gravity-induced downward force elsewhere on the planet. The impact also broke the front passenger leaf spring mount off the frame, and drove the front axle into the front driveshaft, breaking the transfer case off the transmission in a most violent way.
After stripping the interior disposables out, poking out loose rust and grime, and doing a quick once-over with a wire wheel, I ended up with the best tub I've seen in quite some time. The steering was disconnected, brake booster and mounts removed, blower fan, hood latch, doors, and other misc parts taken off. Before the hard top was unbolted, I built a tubular frame in place of the doors, and cross-braced from side to side, as well, to keep everything in place as the body was lifted. The hard top then found a temporary place on the lawn. The body mount bolts were removed.
Although the original plan was to lift the body off with a modified engine hoist, the breaking of a factory weld on the hoist during the attempt made us fearful of a second try. We then lifted by had the body one side at a time and slid 2x4s underneath supported by jackstands. The tires from the backwheels were removed and the frame carefully slid out from underneath the body. Since the frame in the garage was pointed the wrong way in relation to the body, the body needed to be turned around. The swivel shop stool just happed to fit under the flat part of the tube ever so nicely, and so we simply walked the tub around 180 degrees. The receiving frame rear shock towers, shocks, and tires were removed, and the rear diff supported by a floorjack. the frame was then rolled back underneath the body. With minor problems encountered during the process, it was really that simple.
Many more months have passed. Ive pulled the tank and tank skid plate, and changed all the hoses. I cleaned the tank and painted the entire tank, skid plate, filler neck, and underside of the body above the tank with POR-15. I pulled wiring through the drivers frame rail for the tail lights and fuel level sender. I wired the entire dashboard, from scratch (which I will never do again). I wired vital engine compartment wiring like temp sender and oil pressure sender. I put a 2" x 1/4" x 5" copper bus bar on the firewall to act as power distribution point. I put a temp battery tray in and cabled it to the bus bar. I got all the needed details done to get ready to fire up the engine.
I fired the engine, broke the cam in, etc. I then took it for a drive only to discover a nasty miss. With the help of my bro (he did all the work) we (he) discovered that I had swapped the plug wires to cylinders 4 and 8. Silly me. Once that was remedied, we took it for another spin. Seems to have the balls that I hoped it would.
I went about trying the design a clamshell-type hood for the beast. Its hard enough reaching all the places the way it sits now, let alone having to reach over a fender. I cut the fenders at an angle from the base of the cowl down to a point on at the fender that offers the most regidity for the portion still bolted to the doorpost. I then made a temp frame that fits under the hood and fender panels so that they could all be bolted into place rather than welding them. I created the rest of the frame from 1/2" conduit, as it is cheap and easily cut and shaped. The result is what you see in the pictures. Im planning on making a better frame from more rigid tubing, and creating a hinge system that better balances the whole hood unit for easier opening.