1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

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1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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This post was updated on .

My 4-door diesel project has a hopeless case of what Gary would call scope creep. It hasn’t run since 2013 and still has a long way to go. So late last year I decided to buy another truck to hold me over. Oh wait… make that two trucks… and a huge project to turn them into one truck. A 4x4 swap is easy they said… it will be fun they said. Welcome to my BAD idea! Ten months later it still isn’t drivable and is sitting next to my diesel. In all fairness I am just fighting through the usual onion layers that any old user truck will have, and I did want a light duty straight six gas engine truck in addition to the diesel. I am just taking care of a lot of issues up front while I have things apart. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a cheap truck. All the money that I ~didn't budget to truck shopping is now bleeding out of my wallet and being beaten out of my hide in terms of labor. Here is a recap of my progress so far:
 




1981 F150 2wd T18 300 I-6 at the time of purchase. It has a strong, recently rebuilt engine and meets my criteria of pre-computer engine control and factory AC equipped. Not a peach by any means, but “good bones” as David put it.
 




1982 F150 4x4 NP435/BW1345 300 I-6 parts truck. This truck was much rougher than it looks… cylinder head was cracked in 14 places, front piston cracked in half, primer is covering redneck rust repair etc.,
 




The axle code for the 4x4 donor read H4, meaning a limited slip Ford 9” with 3.00 gears. This makes for pretty rough 2nd gear start outs with the NP435. So I decided to use the close ratio T19 that came out of my diesel. The synchronized first should make for much better starts and the close ratios are better for the low revving straight six which has about the same power band as the 6.9 diesel.
 












First order of business was the front axle swap. This is a direct bolt-over, but the parts are heavy and extremely awkward to handle. In my case I wanted to make the parts truck able to roll, steer and brake to facilitate disposal. This doubled the amount of work I had to do since the 2wd axles had to go back in. Buying a parts truck gives you everything you need cheaply, but has the disadvantage that you can’t just take what you need and leave the carcass at the junkyard.
 




I decided to swap 3rd members instead of a full axle swap for the rear because the 4x4 donor truck had a bad leak. It turned out to be just an improperly installed seal, but I figured that out a little to late (I had already removed the 2.75 ratio 3rd member from the ‘81). The hardest part about a 3rd member swap is chiseling off all the dastardly copper washers. A full axle swap would have been easier, especially since you pretty well have to disconnect the rear axle anyway to add the 4x4 lift blocks (which require the wider U-bolt plates and U-bolts from the donor).





I installed the T19 out of my 1986 F350 diesel. It shifts super smooth, its only flaw is popping out of gear when going down hill and holding the truck back. One day I may rebuild it and see if I can resolve that, but in the ten years that I drove the diesel it never bothered me much. The BW1345 that I installed behind it is what came out of the 4x4 donor. I am thinking of replacing it with the BW1345 from my diesel with the Gear Vendor’s attached, but it will require a shortened driveshaft. For now I'm just putting in the parts that fit to get it going.



SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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Well written!  Looks like you are also qualified to teach the "What To Look For When Truck Buying" class. And probably the "Set A Goal & Keep To It" class. 😉

Anyway, I'm looking for the next installment. Where are you with it today, and where will you be with it one week from today - in all aspects of that question.
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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The next thing I tackled was the power steering pump. It made horrible noises under even the slightest load, and the fluid definitely smelled burnt. Rather than replace it with another crappy C2 Ford pump I wanted to upgrade it with a Saginaw. I also wanted to replace the ridiculous I-6 style oil cooler line with a much longer one from a V8 truck. I am still baffled as to why the straight six trucks got such a chintzy oil cooling tube:
 

 
Of course as soon as I need a V-belt I-6 Saginaw set up I can’t find one to save my life. But I did find a 1982 V8 van that had a Saginaw, and I actually tried installing it on a straight six pickup that was sitting next to it in the junkyard. And… (with a little creativity with spacers) it fit! Yay for me… I thought. I failed to realize that the straight six truck that I tried it on did not have AC, and the particular bracket and pump that I bought rotates the reservoir right into the cast iron hockey stick for the AC when you go to tension the belt on my truck. So, back to the junkyard… still no I-6 vans with V-belts, but I did notice that other V8’s had different bracketry and the pump reservoir is clocked differently. I bought one, and I am really hoping it will tension without hitting the AC bracket. I have yet to try it out.
 

First Saginaw pump that I bought



 Second Saginaw pump that I bought


The first Saginaw pump ~not fitting in my truck 😩
 
I also attempted to replace the long tie rod. I say attempted because my replacement part went right back in the box when I discovered that it had no grease fitting. And neither did the U-joints that I bought for the drive shafts. And one of the U-joints turns out is a different size than the others. I am beside myself that it is now standard to eliminate grease points. I bought locally because I wanted to drive the truck to Oklahoma and have it ready on time for the GTG. Sadly that is not going to happen. I simply don’t have enough time. I also noticed that the ball joints on my truck do not have grease fittings. Can I assume then, that these are replacement parts? They seem nice and tight but I am disappointed that I cannot grease them. I was told by my alignment shop that they could only do a proper TTB alignment if the upper ball joints had been replaced with an eccentric sleeve? Can anyone tell by looking at mine if this has been done?
 





SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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Gary, I wish I had better news to report, but the 1981 won't make it to Skiatook. Even if I worked on it non stop I'm just in too deep and I would have no time for a test run. And little details like front end alignment, windshield replacement and registration are appointments that need worked in to my flip flop night schedule. I thought about coming in the 1968 F250, but it really can't go much faster than 50 mph and has no AC. That would make for one. long. hot. drive...
SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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I understand.  I've been there many times.  In fact, I am there right now with Dad's as I wanted to take it to the show in Kansas on a trailer, but won't trailer it that far w/o suspension.

On the eccentric, I think the thing pointed to below is it:

Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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Thanks Gary, I was hoping it had it. The picture I've seen online looks different but since they are aftermarket they probably look different ways:





One of the things that attracted me to buy this truck was the fact that the previous owner is a trusted friend and he said the steering was a little loose and the brakes were a bit spongy but he wouldn't hesitate to drive it across the country. It did run well, but you can see how dangerous perceptions can be... remember that little wheel bearing video clip I sent by e-mail? He had no idea. My wife followed me when I first drove it home and complained that it smelled awful. I messed with the carburetor and found that turning the mixture screw had no effect whatsoever. Things. Just things!
SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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The separate pic appears to be a compound eccentric.  I can post a pic of a stock eccentric in a bit if you want as they are laying on the work table - and need to be put away before company gets here.  

Yes, once person's perception can be quite different than another's.  People that are familiar with a vehicle will often overlook many ills that are glaringly apparent to someone that sees the vehicle the first time.  And I do remember the scary video!
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

1986F150Six
What will you be driving, Jonathan? Does it have room for carrying wheels, etc?
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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And for a radiator support?  Don't worry in my case if not.
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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Guys, most likely I will come in my Jetta TDI. Yes, the bumpers and the radiator support will fit... I brought them home from the junkyard in that car. I should still be able to bring the wheels... David, do they have tires on them or are they bare rims? I have other transportation options but if the Jetta will work it is the most comfortable and the mpg is fantastic.
SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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Ok, thanks!
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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This is the stock eccentric off Dad's truck.  (Was cleaning things up and came across them.)

Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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This post was updated on .
Thanks Gary, that looks like what I have. I am not very familiar with TTB front end parts, I was under the impression that all eccentric bushings were aftermarket, but obviously not. I guess the compound eccentrics are what is needed for aligning front end lifts or "leveling" springs and the like. As long as my shop can correctly align it that's all I care about at the moment.
SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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Here's what the catalog shows:


Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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Thanks Gary that's a good diagram. It looks like mine is stock. As I said, as long as I can get the alignment done I'm good. I guess TIB with king pins don't have the eccentric, so maybe that's what they were referring to?

I spent the afternoon fitting the bumpers and core support in the car. They fit better than expected. David, I had wanted to clean and polish the bumpers but I am just flat running out of time. I had several things come up this month and I am not getting done what I wanted. Tomorrow I need to do an unplanned alternator change on the Jetta. This will be the third one, and another unwelcome obstacle. At least it is happening now instead of on the road to Oklahoma.

I did get a chance to try out the fitment of the different Saginaw pump and I think we have a winner. It tensioned up in the center of the adjustment arc and has plenty of clearance from the AC bracket. The belt was a little tight to get on, but it works. Of course I stripped the pivot bolt, so the success was not complete with a performance test, but I'm getting there...

SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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Agreed - no eccentric on king pins from what I remember.

Good catch on the alternator!  A hit on the time to get ready, but what a blessing for the trip.

And the pump fits nicely!  Congrats. 👍
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

1986F150Six
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Wheels only, Jonathan. Don't worry about cleaning... drive safely!
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

85lebaront2
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
King pins are a mixed blessing, mine are still original and still no play to speak of (inspection guy said they'll probably outlast both of us). Alignment, right! The actual I-beams have to be bent and very few places even have the capability and of them, only a few are competent. I have been fortunate in that one of the best in VA was close to me and recommended by two other Ford owners, one of whom is very particular about his vehicles.

He did my 77, and when my older son had it and went to get new tires, the shop that he went to asked him who had aligned it, my son said he didn't know the name, but it was a fellow in Gloucester County. The front tires were worn dead even across! Needles to say Darth went to him also, he had taken on an apprentice and asked if I minded if he did the work under supervision. I told him that if he thought enough of the boy to take him and train him, I had no problem.
Bill
"Getting old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
Darth Vader 1986 F-350 460 converted to MAF/SEFI, E4OD 12X3 1/2 rear brakes, traction loc 3:55 gear, 160 amp 3G alternator
Wife's 2011 Flex Limited
Daily Driver 1994 Taurus LX
Project car 1986 Chrysler LeBaron convertible 2.2L Turbo II, modified A413
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Gary Lewis
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Here's what's going in Dad's:



And, by the way, that pic was rotated 90 degrees when I previewed it here, although Photoshop showed it correctly.  All I did was to open it and then save it in Photoshop and it fixed it.
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/ZF5/3.55's, D60 w/Ox locker in front & 10.25 Spicer/Trutrac in bac, & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: 1981 straight six manual 4x4 project

Ford F834
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In reply to this post by Ford F834
Yesterday I worked some more on the truck and got a lot of things started and nothing finished... typical unraveling sweater adventure with this thing!

The Saginaw pump pivot bolt had stripped out in the captive nut, so I tapped it for a slightly bigger one and that part is good and solid now, but my eyes keep playing tricks on me. I can't 100% tell if the PS pulley is in the same plane as the others. I made myself cross eyed looking at it. I guess I will just have to run it and watch the belt to see how it does. I have plenty of washer shims that I can move around if I need to.


Next I removed the vacuum booster. It made a lot of psssshhhhhh sound when you stepped on it and the brakes were horrible. It had duct tape around the rim of the canister 😳, so I'm thinking that was an attempt to seal a leak? I had an extra F450 hydroboost system laying around so I put that on. Which of course requires a different pedal, so the steering column and pedal box came out:







Really, I am ~trying to fight scope creep, but I am also trying to use what I have and take care of some improvements while I'm in there. Of course that always backfires...

I've heard of folks using the cast iron master cylinder on the hydroboost assist, but on mine the two mounting holes on the flanges were too close together and it did not fit. So I have to use the F450 MC. But the brake line flare fittings are opposite, the F150 has the large threads in the rear port, the F450 has the large size in the front port. The O'reilley employee was a riot. First he told me to just switch the lines 😳😬😬😬. Then he found a reducer for the front, and a step fitting for the rear that wasn't quite big enough... but tried to sell it to me anyway because that was all he had 😡🙈. Then he basically told me I was an idiot for putting hydroboost in a F150. Sheesh. I'm heading to Napa today before work. I need a hydraulic hose made anyway that fits the hydroboost but has the Saginaw end piece.



Since I have the steering column out I wanted to change to a manual tilt column, but mine had a very stiff key action and the key won't come out of the tumbler. I tried to turn it to run, push the pin and remove the tumbler but no go. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but it won't budge even with gentle prying.

The last thing I wanted to work on was the radiator. The last time I drove the truck I noticed it was overheating when idling in place. Once moving it cools down. I'm thinking clogged radiator, and I have one that looks almost new from the 4x4 donor. Well, it's wider (33" vs 27") which I guess is the extra cooling option, but still just a two row core. C'mon, at least give us straight six guys a three row 🙄 some of us live in Arizona... so anyway, the upper radiator hose has to be longer, but the one the books say is right looks like it will interfere with the AC compressor and belt. I can't be 100% sure but it does not look like this will work. Will I ever get this truck driveable? This is an uphill Ford!



SHORT BED 4-DOOR DIESEL: 1986 F350 4x4 SRW under construction-- 7.3 IDIT R&D 64mm intercooled turbo 150cc IP stage 1 cam main girdle 13" Southbend clutch ZF-5 + GearVendors overdrive 4.10 axle gears hydroboost brakes

STRAIGHT SIX 4X4: 1981 F150 2wd to 4x4 conversion-- 300 I6 close ratio diesel T19, hydroboost brakes, Saginaw steering
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