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Project "Johnny Cash"

Rockabillyrat

Well-Known Member
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Ohio
Well after a crazy summer I'm finally back to working on the truck. I just couldn't catch a break this year. We had record flooding and rain fall in the spring that set back alot of outdoor projects. Most of the farm fields near me either didn't get planted or look horrible this year, including mine. I feel bad for the local farmers. On top of that I was working two jobs. Which took away most of my free time. So any progress I made on my large to do list was slow. But by far the hardest thing about this year was my long time girlfriend and future wife lost her father. It was very sudden and has been extremely hard on her. I couldn't imagine what it feels like to loose one of your parents. But through it all I'm about 95% done remodeling and fixing up the property on our house. I bought it foreclosed and I plan to sell in a few years.

The summer hasn't been a entire wash though. Most of the outside work I did cost little to no money. So i had a chance to save up and buy some parts. The first purchase was a p400 rotating assembly I got from Twisted Steel Performance. Man this stuff looks awesome. I can't wait to see how far I can push my optimizer.20190610_195104.jpg

Before I can get to the engine work I need to get the chassis and cab finished. That way I can test fit everything and see what clearance I have for the up pipes and turbo. So I ordered most of the steering and suspension parts I will need from Off Road Design. I got new leaf springs and a shackle flip kit to do a 4" lift. With new bushings for everything and some of their HD shackles. I also got their cross steer kit. I'm really excited about this because it will help the truck handle better and eliminate bump steer. They require the flat top knuckles. So I tracked down a used set from a Spicer distributor that came with new Spicer ball joint.

Next it was time to get steel for frame boxing and crossmembers. DIY4x4 had a nice frame boxing kit. They don't offer a LWB kit for the k10/20 frames. So I purchased the K30 kit and I'm going to trim the middle to fit. That gave me the length I needed. I also picked up a set of their B52s. I'm running stock length front springs but the factory core support mount/leaf spring hanger on these trucks are ugly. I asked them to leave it unwelded that way I can set it up for stock springs and trim off what I dont need. CFM industries had a really cool engine crossmember that will add alot of strength to the front of the frame. And it has a tab for a track bar. With the combination of cross streer and a track bar the truck should drive like a 99-03 Ford. I'm going to build the rest of the crossmembers from 3/16 street and rectangular tubing. The factory crossmembers are weak and it will be much easier to box the frame if I change them. Not to mention it will look ALOT better. I measured them out but haven't had time to run to the steel yard to get what I need. Once the cross members are built I can box the frame and get the new suspension on.20191017_183440.jpg

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The first thing was to cut out the factory engine crossmember and get the new CFM unit in place.20191024_200030.jpg

I'm trying to keep the frame from moving too much. So my plan is to do one crossmember at a time. I'm going to remove them build the new one then weld it in place. This weekend I'm going to spend time cleaning the frame and prep it for welding. I should have steel next week to start the fabrication work. Chassis work is my favorite and I'm going to have some fun with this truck.
 

Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
Made some progress on a rainy Saturday. I started off by taking a wire wheel and flap disk to the frame. I'm going to start with the rear so I cleaned every from the front cab mount back. I removed all the brackets I didnt need that were riveted to the frame other than the leaf spring hangers, and crossmembers...for now. Also the original owner had welded on a home made hitch to the frame and bumper. So I cut all that off and cleaned the rear of the frame up. I was surprised how clean the front of the frame is. The rear on the other hand has typical pitting in the rails from rust. Nothing serious enough to affect the strength of the frame. It just looks bad and with the amount of work I'm putting into this truck I want to fill them. The boxing plate will hide the inside of the frame but I want to do something about the top. Mig welding and grinding seems way to time consuming. So I've been thinking maybe brazing them or I've heard great things about Lab Metal. I'm open suggestions if anyone has done this before.
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Also I figured out something cool about Off Road Design's shackle flip hangers. The 4" lift brackets can be used as front leaf spring hangers as well. I was planning to build my own front hangers. So I took some measurements and drew something up. For some reason I picked up the ORD shackle hanger and placed it on the frame and it all came together. ORDs hanger uses a 3" bushing and positions the spring the same distance from the frame as the OEM one. As I figured since the frame is straight in the rear. The only difference is it will move the front of the spring up 3/8". That shouldn't affect the lift much at all. And it will give the leaf spring suspension a nice look. So ordered another pair. Oh and here's a better picture of the front crossmember since it was dark in the first picture.
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I'm picking up steel for fabrication next week. Once I get the new suspension under it I can start to build the crossmembers. But next weekend is King Of The Streets at Dragway42. So I don't think I will have time to get much done.
 

Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
Well after getting over the flu I finally got all the steel and brackets I need to start fabrication on the crossmembers, and front cab mounts. Also picked up some u bolts and HD plates. I'm going to get the new rear suspension in place tomorrow and see if I have time to cut some steel this weekend. 20191108_205322.jpg
 

Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
Had a productive Saturday. I wasn't sure if I'd have time to work on the truck this weekend. But I managed to get a few hours in. I started by removing the rear leaf springs. I supported the frame and got busy with the torch. I cut out the rear leaf spring hangers so I could install the shackle flip kit. I then welded a piece of angle iron to hold the frame together and removed the rear most crossmember. With both of those out of the way I cleaned the frame up with a flap disk. There is some pitting at the front most spot the rear hanger was touching the frame. I'm going to have to fill that with weld and grind it down. But it goes to show you if your going to restore one of these old trucks. It's worth removing all the riveted brackets to inspect the frame underneath. I'm going to add a plate to the inside of the frame for the new hangers to bolt though. That should add some strength. I will deal with that at a later date. For now I'm going to get everything bolted up for mock up. So I got the new rear hangers installed and measured my distance from the center of the new rear hanger to the old front one. That way I know where to position the new one to keep the axle centered. Lastly I had time to cut the back 3 crossmembers to length. The 2 rear ones are 3x4x.180. And the third one is 3x6x.180. The frame is .180 so I figured I'd keep the crossmembers the same thickness. But I suppose .120 would have been sufficient enough.The 3x4 fits in the frame nicely. I'm going to cut a few circles in it to shave a little weight and add aesthetics. Once that's done I will clean the mill scale off and burn them in. The 3x6 is a little tall to fit into the frame. So I'm going to mill .100 off each end so it will slide into the frame. And again more circles and cleaning before it will be welded on. That should finish up the rear suspension minus the traction bar. But I need to get the drive train back in to measure for that.
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Rockabillyrat

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Location
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Finally got some time to get the plasma cutter fired up and finish the rear two crossmembers. I started by sitting down and laying out where I wanted the holes to be. After a little math I came up with this.
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I went with 1.75" holes. That's gives it a nice look, while leaving enough material to not weaken the crossmember. I cut both sides to match then position both of them into place. After determining their location I welded the top seams and tack welded the bottom. That should hold everything in place. But if for some reason I need to move either one can easily cut them out.

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While I was measuring out for the rear crossmember I grabbed my hitch and test fit it to make sure I would have no issues. Well it turns out the shackle flip bracket covers the front most mounting bolt for the hitch. So I'm going to have to come up with a solution for that later. But at least I'm aware of it.

Once the back two crossmembers were welded it was time to brace the third crossmember with angle iron and remove the original. With that out of the way I could lay out the front hangers and drill the frame for the mounting bolts. To my surprise the front lower bolt holes in the flip bracket lines up perfectly with the front lower rivet holes for the OEM front hanger. It only moves the axle back a 1/8". So the front leaf spring mount ends up moving the hole back a 1/8" and up 3/8". And the distance from the hanger to hanger bolt hole center lines are only a 1/8" shorter. That should not be noticable at all. So I drilled them to 7/16 then used a transfer punch to mark the other 3 holes. With the first 4 bolts tight I then looked into the bottom mounting bolts. I couldn't use the original holes on the flip brackets do to my crossmember location. So I ended up using two holes in the frame from the OEM crossmember. I counter punched their location and cut them out with the plasma. Then filled the original mounting holes with the welder. I had to trim the one bottom brace to clear the new bolt hole but it turned out nice. Lastly I trimmed the flip bracket to be even with the inside of the frame. Here are a few pictures to show what changes I made to mount them.
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Lastly I got the third crossmember measured out and cut with the plasma. I had my father mill down the ends of the 3x6 steel so they fit into the frame. When I did a test fit and stepped back I realized it was kinda ugly. I even with holes the 3x6 would look massive in the frame. So I decided to make some changes to give it a nicer look. The OEM crossmember steps up for drive shaft clearance. So I though if I mimicked that it would look better. Well I must say I'm pleased with how it turned out. The rough cuts are done. I need to clean it up and box the bottom and its finished. Hopefully I can wrap up the rear suspension soon. I'm happy with how its coming together.

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Rockabillyrat

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One more thing. I dont think I'm going to sleeve the holes in the box steel. But the option is there. I will see how I feel as the project comes together. But I did add drainage holes to them just incase I leave them open.
 

Rockabillyrat

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Got some time to finish up the third crossmember over the Thanksgiving day weekend. Luckily I received a few days off work so I was able to get a couple solid days of work in. I got all the rough cuts cleaned up and boxed the bottom section in with 3/16 plate. I really want a press brake some day. But for now I can do most of what I need without one. With the help from the torch and big c clamp I was able to get the job done. I used a piece of round tube to get the corners right. Usually I don't grind down my welds. But I thought this piece would look better smoothed out. So I cleaned it up with a flap disk. Then centered it between the front spring hangers and welded it in like the other two.
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Once I got the third crossmember welded in it was time to get the front spring mounts back in. Then finally hang the new leaf rear springs in place. I went with the stock 7 spring pack leafs found the heaviest rated 3/4 ton trucks. I then did a light cleaning on the rear end and installed the new cover. Eventually the rear end will be rebuilt and converted to disk brakes. But for today all I need is to get it back in place. It went in with little effort and I installed new plates and u bolts. Then I got it back on the groung with my 33's I had from my old 78.
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Finally I had time to start the fourth crossmember. Im making it from a 2x6x.180" rectangular tubing. I cut the holes for the body mounts then added a few more across the top side. Then added large holes on the bottom for the bushing to fit through. The carrier bearing will mount in the middle so I left a place in the middle for that to be built on. But I need to get the drive train back in first to determine the angle and height of the bracket. My original plan was to just weld the tube steel right to the frame and no other support. But after thinking about it I decided to add a lower support for the crossmember to sit on. So I got 2 pieces of 4x6x.180" to build them. I got them rough cut to size but still need to finish the angle cuts and also level them to the frame. The z starts right where I need to weld them. So I cut the one side to 3" and left the other side full length so it can follow the drop in the frame. Also I cut a radius into the top edge of the crossmember. I can't get a welder in there to weld it so I though that would make it look nicer. Even though no one will ever see it unless they look through the body mount hole. I'm just picky and couldn't let it go like that.
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Rockabillyrat

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Location
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The holidays have kept me busy. So progress has been slow. Got a few hours to myself last weekend so I finished up the fourth crossmember. I did the last cuts on the support brackets. And after about a dozen test fits and adjustments I got everything within 1* and 1/32 of my measurements from the original crossmember. I tack welded the bottom supports then removed the crossmember so I could weld the top side of the supports to the inside of the frame. Then tacked the crossmember in place. The plan is to finish the frame except for the boxing plates for now. I want to test fit the body and drive train before I commit to welding everything in place. That way if I need to make any adjustments its not a big set back.
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Next on my list was stripping the front end. I took measurements of the front cab mounts, front leaf spring hangers and the front crossmember locations. Welded on my angle iron support. Then fired up the torch and liquified some rivet heads. Even with an air hammer it took me nearly an hour to get all the brackets off. With everything out of the way I was able to flap disk the frame and prep it for fab work.
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Next on the list if seeing if the DIY4x4 B52's I got will work with my stock length front springs. I got them unwelded so I could easily modify them if I need to. I also have the front crossmember and front cab mounts to build. And for insurance I got a set of the plates for the gear box mounting area. These frames are notorious for cracking there and I'm not taking any chances.
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Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
I've been slacking on posting some of my progress over the last few weeks. Unfortunately our daily drivers kept me busy with maintenance and repairs so I haven't gotten as far as I'd liked. But I think I'm still on good pace to get the drivetrain back in and start on the cab by the end of February.

I decided to start on the front cab mount brackets first. Since I dont have a press brake I bought 2 5×4×.250 pieces of box steel to make my mounts from. After taking some measurements off the old mounts and their location this is what I came up with.
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Once I got them cut out and cleaned up I mocked them up to the frame. I though they needed something to give them a better look. So I made a jig and circle cut the corners. I like the look of it and it will make it easier to weld. I triple checked the location then tacked them in place. Then I bolted the new ORD leaf spring bushing mounts in place.
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Then I moved on to the front crossmember. I'm going to make this out of a .250" plate and cut it to match the shape of the original crossmember. I'm not running the factory sway bar because of the cross steer conversion. And on top of that boxing the frame around the original crossmember would be a challenge. Like the rest of the factory crossmembers, I'm removing it and building something that's not only stronger but easy to add my boxing plates around. So my plan is to build a I beam style crossmember. It needs to be strong since it mounts between the gearbox. But the bend in the frame makes it hard to get a piece of box steel in there. My original idea was to fit the I beam between the frame rails and mount it evenly spaced within the gear box mounting bolts. Once I cut it out and mocked it up... i hated it. The angle was way off and looked out of place. But I didn't want to waste a expensive piece of steel. So I added the top part of the I beam and made due with what I had. I leveled it to the frame instead. This is what I came up with.
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I really liked the look of this. And once the lower part of the I beam was on. I thought it would look even better. BUT.... since I changed my plans after I cut it out it didn't fit the way I liked. In the last picture you can see how the upper piece of the I beam runs under the frame an leaves a weird gap. And after dwelling on it I decided to cut it out and redo it. This time I'm going to cut the center piece to fit the frame correctly. I'm going to notch it to bring it even with the frame. That way the top and bottom of the I beam can overlap the frame rail. I'm going to put a small notch in the top and bottom plates so I can twist them to lay flat on the frame. That will be much easier with it going on top of the frame rather than under. Also it should make it not only easier to weld but easier to box around. I got the center cut out. It needs a little more trimming to level it in the frame. But I really happy how it came together. Next I will clean it up and tack it in. Then I can bend the top and bottom plates up. If that goes well I can move on to the front leaf spring mounts and front axle. Cant wait to get this thing back on all 4 wheels!!
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Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
I put the finishing touches on the front crossmember last weekend. A little more time with the grinder and I got the center section leveled and straight in the frame. The top and bottom of the crossmember I made from 2 pieces of .180" x 1 1/2 steel. I make some 1/2 circle cuts with the plasma so I could put in a twist to match the frame. It was a time consuming project since I had to spend so much time setting up the steel to make the bends. I have been eyeing SWAG off roads press brake kit. Definitely a must have for the next house. I also got the steering box brace tacked in place. I had to clamp it HARD with c clamps and bolts to get it to fit how I wanted it to. But for the most part it went smoothly. I'm not going to use the bottom piece of the brace though. For one thing my new crossmember is in the way. And secondly my frame is getting boxed. So I see no reason to use it. I just wanted to add some strength to a area prone to crack.
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Rockabillyrat

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Location
Ohio
Thanks guys! Always good hearing some positive feed back on my fab work. Buying a plasma cutter has helped push my fabrication abilities into a whole new area. Now I want a CNC table more than ever!!

Honestly I have no idea what I'm painting the frame with. I've been a mechanic for 16 years and know nothing about the body shop side of the industry. So that's going to be a learning curve for me. I've saved a few products to look into when I get to that point. Right now I'm keeping busy with fabrication and injecto pump stuff to have time to look into it. But I'm open for suggestions. I did use POR15 in the past and I hated it.
 
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