My First Ferd
Q I am 15 years old and in the process of building my first truck, a '77 Ford shortbed F-150. It has a Dana 44 front axle and a Ford 9-inch rear, both with limited-slip differentials and 3.50 gears. It also has an NP205 transfer case, C6 transmission, and a 400M engine. My dad and I are going to put in a 300ci straight-six with four-speed manual transmission. We are building it from the bare frame up, and I want it as my daily driver, but it will also see some trail use. I would like to know what lift I should put on my truck. I want to be able to clear 33s or 35s without cutting the body. Do you think a body lift, suspension lift, or no lift is best? I am on a high-schooler's budget, so it has to be affordable.
A Alex, I have just started a very similar project, my blue '79 Ford F-150 I call BluFerd (see "BDS Betters BluFerd," page 72). I was able to fit 33-inch tires on it with no suspension lift, and they seem to clear just fine. I am now adding a 4-inch BDS suspension (517.279.2135, www. bds-suspension.com) and some 7-degree Daystar radius arm bushings (800.595.7659, www.daystarweb.com) so I can clear 35-inch tires.
I do believe that lower axle gears will be important. The 3.50 ring-and-pinion in my truck doesn't seem low enough off-road. Your manual transmission may have a granny First gear to help it crawl better. Stay tuned to see the other upgrades this old-school tough truck will be getting thrown its way.
Q I have an '88 Toyota pickup with a 22RE that continues to try to overheat. The temperature gauge goes almost to the overheated mark then falls back to normal. The truck does this every morning when I crank it up to go to work. It tries to overheat even faster if I turn the heater on. It only does it once a day unless I allow the engine to cool down again. Could this have to do with the head gasket or something serious?
Polk City, FL
A I think you have a blown head gasket. Check your oil for coolant. Is the oil brownish white and frothy? Or let the oil sit and drain it, then you'll be able to see coolant in the oil that comes out. Also do a leak-down test on the engine.
Q Boy, am I confused! On page 82 of your November issue ("UACJ Part 3: From CJ-7 to CJ-17") the sponsors list includes Hobart Welders yet in the picture you are clearly using a Miller welder to weld up the rollcage. What gives? Now for the really confusing part: Will I win a Hobart welder or a Miller?
A Nice catch, Tim! As it turns out Hobart is the official welder of Ultimate Adventure, but the shop where we built the cage (Poison Spyder Customs) uses Millers. We had planned on using our Hobart MIG welder on the cage, but when PSC offered to TIG-weld the cage instead, we said yes. In the end it's all OK because Miller and Hobart are sister companies and we like both their products. Hobart's Trek 180 portable rechargeable welder is awesome (see page 52 in this issue), and Miller makes many great professional and entry-level machines. Sorry, no welder for you, Tim, otherwise we wouldn't be able to build next year's UA truck, but watch your mailbox. We'll send you something for your dedication.