Several of my best adolescent car/ truck memories involve first rides: one was in my cousin's shortened-exhaust four-banger Model A Sedan. The interior was stripped down to bare chicken wire. It was loud and drafty, but a most exciting experience for a pre-teen looking forward to the driving privilege. Another neat ride was in an Oklahoma farm truck that was a "patina truck" 50 years before the term was invented. Also drafty and well worn--the experience of riding with my uncle in the high cab is still a vivid memory. The rattles and creaks and smell the fresh-cut alfalfa as we drove to town were as exciting as a picnic shared with kissin' cousins.
When I rescued my basket-case '40 Ford pickup, that distant farm truck ride with my uncle visited me like a ghost. Restoring the desert derelict would be a nifty reminder of a time when excitement was as uncomplicated as a vacation ride to town in an ancient work truck. This project's journey has largely moved along at a snail's pace. Several extended dead-end excursions at hot rod shops did nothing more than delay progress. On the other hand, the experience of seeing Art Barker's crafty restoration of the rusted and wrinkled cab was a special one ("Saving Private Henry," CCT, Jul., Aug. '04).
Another special experience occurred recently as I watched the experienced chassis-building crew at Total Cost Involved build a new chassis for my '40 Ford pickup. Perhaps you can relate to achieving a goal set years ago. The original chassis had a bent framerail and the engine mounts were positioned too far forward. Several other space/location problems needed to be resolved--these were going to be expensive as well. We plan to drive this truck anywhere and everywhere; thus a solid foundation will provide the confidence and reliability to do just that.
The chassis construction began early on the morning of May 17 at TCI. We photographed each step of the construction much like a proud dad videotaping a birth. At each station the crew performed their tasks with confidence and precision. By mid-afternoon the frame and crossmembers were assembled and the brake lines were plumbed. The following week the suspension was assembled and the chassis was a roller.
You may remember, last year CCT covered the development of a new Ford F-1 chassis from TCI in our Mar., Apr., and Jun. issues. We also featured the powdercoated chassis prominently in the October '04 issue as Altered Engineering was beginning the pickup's body panel assembly. Needless to say, the new F-1 TCI chassis was a big hit with vintage '48-52 Ford pickup owners.For those of you who wish to see the improvements and the assembly process of a modern reproduction chassis, follow our photo essay. Then, if you're still pondering the merits of purchasing one, consider how much satisfaction you might have knowing your vehicle will survive another 50 to 60 years.