When I was a kid on the farm the first vehicle I learned to drive, other than the tractor, was a 1949 Ford F5 stake body with a flathead V8. That old truck and I were made the same year and it was one monster of a truck. I was sad the day my dad parked it. He was not mechanical and we couldn’t afford a mechanic to fix it. It was an old beat up truck and we kids had repainted it a few times, with brushes and any old paint dad could find. After sitting a few years, a scrapper came around and dad sold it for $35.00!
I had been looking for a ’49 Ford truck for many years. Most of them were either too expensive, too far away or too far gone to repair. In October of 2016 I found one on eBay that had been sitting in a barn for many years. It was only half an hour away so my wife and I went to check it out. The mice and squirrels had moved in. Walnut shells in the bed and cab and a glove box full of seat padding. Wiring under the dash was horrendous. The owner said it had run, but no guarantee. Close examination revealed that it was mostly original but had been repainted at some time. Not a very good job.
Lucky or unlucky, I had the winning bid.
Trailered it home and went to work. Compression tests were dismal. Only one cylinder had good compression. It had been converted to 12 volts and the 6 volt starter cranked it like crazy. To no avail. A tear down was called for. So I pulled it in my shop and took the engine out. With the heads off things looked bad. Carbon buildup on the pistons was massive. So I reamed the cylinder ridges and pulled the pistons out. The top compression ring on every piston was broken. The cylinder with good compression had no top ring at all! Just a mass of carbon. So off to the engine shop for a re-bore at .030 over, and a crack repair or two.
Transmission and rear differential seals were replaced. It is a four speed on the floor with a “Granny” gear , non-synchronized transmission. The rear is a 486 ratio with 8 lug rims. The GVWR is 6,800 lbs. I expect highway speeds up to 50 MPH!
I now have the 239 Cu. In. V8 rebuilt and reinstalled. It purrs like a kitten. I have rewired the entire truck. Installed a new turn signal control. I even got the original vacuum wipers working. I found and installed a complete rear differential assembly from a 1978 F-250 with a 3.73 gear ratio. The brakes are all working like new. This has been a tremendous learning experience for me.
I have reached my goal of getting it ready for PA State inspection, and having fun in it! It always gets attention when I’m out for a ride. And this past summer I used it as it was intended, as a truck! “Old Henry” has hauled several loads of mulch, lumber, and anything else I needed to haul.
LMC has been invaluable in doing this project. I couldn’t have come this far without your help. Your parts descriptions are accurate and if I had any technical questions, someone would get back to me quickly.
Although a total frame off restoration would be nice… I am still married to my high school sweetheart and want to stay that way. (Maybe this year, though!)