Ever since buying the sporty red Ranger from my ex, I would alarm myself with an overwhelming need to tear the thing apart. Meanwhile, my real truck, an '87 F-150, had its engine die. When the Ranger's engine quit, the answer was obvious: rebuild the 300 from the F-150 and plop it in the Ranger! It just so happened that around this time my friend gave up on a project and had a spare 1940 Ford truck cab. The opportunity was too good to pass up!
I promised myself I would have it done within a year. That was 11 months ago.
The 300 is in pieces in my sunroom. The diagnoses was pretty grim: a cracked head, a spun bearing on the cam that was slapping caved lifters, and rod lands that would make a chicken proud. It looked like I was minting pennies out of the bearings. Got a stock rebuild kit coming in soon. Pulled a good looking head from U-Pull-and-Pay: springs spec out, lapping valves and port matching is as much attention I want to give it. Gonna dingle-ball the bores and put on new rings. Other than a ding in a piston top (where I dropped it), the piston assemblies seem decent. Cleaning out the water-ways has been fun because I tried a pour-in seal for the radiator years ago. Never use that stuff!
I realized my odd fantasies of destruction almost too fast. The frame of the Ranger sits bare, cab and bed removed. As my sawzall ripped into the sides of the engine bay, I considered how my feelings for the poor truck would be evolving. *Insert Phoenix metaphor. I was able to extract the wiring harness intact, by the grace of the brittle plastic gods. Even though I cut away as much of the box as possible, I had to leave the front to hold the radiator up. Cutting back to the firewall allowed me to remove the Ranger's cab by pushing it over sideways. All of this is being done by two men in the back yard, no lifts. I can't help going outside now and then, climbing up behind the engine, and pretending the whole naked frame is actually an oversized surfboard with a hellraising engine driving me straight into the sun... Dark Star baby!
As I write, I can see the naked frame sitting ten feet from its sexy new body. She will get rust converter/primer tomorrow. As far as the cab goes- she was a steal at 500 bucks plus an hour's drive. Minimal rust, most of the windows intact, stock doors and handles, comfortable bench with good vinyl, and some questionably stock gauges. The owner twice removed had mounted it to a Jeep, so although the vintage tilt wheel probably ebays for half of what I bought the cab for, he used a hoist strap around the windows and bent them out of shape at the top. I have been pounding out some dents, getting in that dolly time!
I admit, I am copping out at first and just putting the cab on with the puny inline four. But that is only until a week or two from now when I get the 300 built and pull a "new" tran/shaft/axl. Something tells me the 300 would explode the current drivetrain. Also, I need a chance to install all the cab electronics and build the flatbed.
But Axl, what will it look like? Glad you asked, I ask myself about 1e6 times a day. Here's the story: I live in a quiet mountain town that requires its inhabitants to make fun out of thin air. (see what I did there? mountain town... thin air... heh) So my Gal and I would set up a stripper pole on some cabin's porch rafter and pull up the car with the best stereo. Let's just say we knew how to bring the party! It has been a few years since we embraced our crazy, so this rod will be the embodiment of our "bring the party" ways. That's right, girls and boys: there will be a dance stage WITH POLE! I'm talking a hardwood flatbed with a six foot tall pole and enough lights and speakers to put the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to shame. The rear window of the cab is being replaced with an outward facing touchscreen for the dancer to use, and sensors in the floor operate lighting modes. I have been hoarding trim and lighting from 80's luxury cars for a plush interior. Everything will be run on a mini-computer and multi-node ESP-8266/32 network. Did I mention the lasers? Cause I just picked up a cheap bag of 20 and some motors to swing them! With this much nerd in a build, you know I have to make some Nixie gauges as well... The only question is what color for paint?
My goal is to roll by Jan 1, but I look forward to updating this post with progress- especially when she officially gains two cylinders. If anyone is actually reading this and has experience with drivetrains for the 300, I could use some advice on what vehicles came stock with the most solid trains to poach from Pull-and-Pay. I am researching the manual transmission options, but a good tip goes a long way. Wish me luck!