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oldtamiyaphile 07-02-2016 12:23 PM

Pre-modded: 1949 Ford Freighter Pick Up
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I've been toying with the idea of a 50's pick up for a while. I really was looking at a 55-59 GMC, but it's not like Australia is swimming with these trucks.

So here's my new (using that term loosely) pick up, an Australian Built 1949 Ford Freighter. I assume built CKD from the US Ford F1. The main difference is the taller and wider bed, and of course, it's right hand drive, I was pretty keen on staying away from left hand drives as I am hoping this will be a semi daily driver.

The truck still has the original Flat head V8 and four speed crash box. Drives reasonably well for what it is, but would be very scary to drive daily in traffic. The gearing is super low, the engine is screaming in top at 40mph, even though the PO fitted some oversize rear tyres. Will definitely have to swap out the rear end ratio...

It already came Ecomodded from the factory. Obviously no A/C or power windows, but also no seat belts, no sound proofing, no PS, no power brakes, only a single windscreen wiper (the other was optional!) etc. This truck has no external mirrors, not sure if that's because they're missing or if they weren't required on commercials back then.

A quick internet search shows I should expect 10mpg stock, so there should be some room for improvement :eek:

As it stands, this thing is nearly undrivable on modern roads. At 6' tall I can barely operate the pedals, and certainly not safely. The lack of PS means very slow cornering, limited by how fast I can turn the wheel while bracing myself so as not to slide across on to the passenger seat.

Since the current electrics are 6v, I figure, why not switch to 24v instead of 12, that would be a bit of an efficiency gain.

I have no idea what direction this will take, considering how light it is (3300lbs with a cast iron V8), it could be repowered with something as light and simple as a Ford 3cyl Ecoboost and six speed it would be fast enough (more power and torque with less weight than stock) and economical for a daily but I'd never be able to tell anyone what's under the hood. The Flattie could be souped up and converted to run on LPG (this would also fix the fuel tank in the cabin issue), or just the usual LSx swap. Also thinking of using an alloy Buick/ Rover 3.5 V8, they're commonly converted to LPG and weigh ~200lbs less than the Flattie.

I used to have a Ford I6 on LPG and the best thing about it was the immediate engine starts, some times I'd just accidentally bump the starter and she'd already be up and running. Faster than my factory fitted stop/ start system for sure, would be great for city use.

Oh, and it's going to replace my Prius, Kangoo and Skyline - big shoes to fill. It needs to be as economical, useful and fast as those three (in that order Lol).

me and my metro 07-02-2016 12:27 PM

I fell in love with F-1 pickups when I was a teenager. I have been busy with life and have never built one. But they are still my favorite, I think you have chosen well!

oldtamiyaphile 07-05-2016 07:14 AM

Yeah, what drew me to it in part is the front end which actually looks more aerodynamic than any truck Detroit made for the next 50 years!

The curve radii' are good and the whole front end is quite curved in plan view (like modern Euro vans with 0.31-0.33Cd's). The cab roof radius is also good. I quite like the idea of doing a vintage looking camper shell based on the teardrop camper craze. Rear wheel skirts are of course period correct :thumbup: Will be interesting to coast down test.

Really confusing myself on what to do with it.

My ultimate goal was to buy an Art Morrison (etc) chassis, Vette suspension and gearbox and swap the body, keeping it looking original/ going rat rod but having a sports car underneath :D I think that set up could top 30mpg too.

Problem with that is then why start with an original truck?

The alternative is to keep the Flathead (which does kind of make the truck), the sensible power limit for one is ~140hp, which would do me OK. I've found some evidence on the forums that a Flattie can be run on LPG so that's looking like the first major mod. Accounting for the lower BTU's in LPG, it works out to be 30c/ litre cheaper but mainly interested in it for it's low toxicity burn (that V8 up front stinks out the cab at the moment), no doubt it needs some gaskets though. The LPG tank will go behind the rear axle so help weight distribution.

Any input to running LPG/ Propane on this engine is welcome.

Hersbird 07-05-2016 05:52 PM

I personally would think about a 4.0 I6 Jeep conversion including the 4x4. Then again I am in the 100% stock or anything goes camp. If you are going to change a few things, then do whatever you want at that point. I also bet a Cummins 4bt swap would be pretty awesome. That is a beautiful truck no matter what you do.

oldtamiyaphile 07-06-2016 07:33 AM

I've got my 4.0 TJ for that though, 20K miles from new :D I did always want to turn it into a pick up with the AEV Brute kit though. The Jeep 4.0 isn't that much more sophisticated than the Flattie, and just as heavy :( At least I can get alloy heads for the Flattie.

Swapping to a later model frame is a bit complicated here as you need to bring the old body up to the standards of the year for the donor frame.

I'm meeting up with some rodders I know at the weekend so I'll hopefully get some pointers.

Xist 07-06-2016 11:15 AM

Is there any way you can install the three-cylinder engine, but bolt the old valve cover on top? :)

Hersbird 07-06-2016 12:29 PM

AEV is right here in my town, It's fun seeing some of their creations driving around town before the show up at SEMA. One of their technicians lived on my mail route and had one of those $100,000 6.4 Hemi Wranglers there often.

oldtamiyaphile 07-12-2016 08:06 AM


Originally Posted by Xist (Post 517962)
Is there any way you can install the three-cylinder engine, but bolt the old valve cover on top? :)

Sidevalve engines don't normally have valve covers, I'd have to mount up a pair of dummy heads to it :eek:

I did about 120km, mostly country roads, cruising on 70km/h, that's about as fast as she wants to go and about as fast as I want to go too. Did some light city miles just using DWL and some neutral coasting. Towards the end I was confident enough to do a few EOC's :thumbup:

Going by the fuel gauge, I'm getting around 15L/100km (coincidentally 15MPG too). Which is pretty reasonable, all things considered. Although I've been keeping speeds low, the revs sure aren't. She turns around 3000rpm at ~40mph (keeping in mind the ~4500 redline) :eek:

I even did a bit of work with her too.

elhigh 07-12-2016 01:28 PM

I love the original F-1. It is absolutely a creature of its time.

If you want to keep the original mill, you can wrestle a little extra power and efficiency out of that engine with some higher compression pistons. The originals will be pretty soft at about 6.0-6.5:1 CR, so the ignition event is more of a "poof" than a "pop." You can find domed pistons that run in a stock block under stock heads that will bring that up to as much as 8.0:1. Pump gas will run with no problem in that.

Overhead valve heads are not that hard to find either, but obviously that will bring in some replumbing on the exhaust and intake. And if you go that route, you could seriously modernize by converting to EFI at that point.

If you don't want to keep that flattie, post that rascal on Craigslist and hope like hell your phone doesn't catch fire from all the interest. There are avid old-school rodders who would absolutely love to get their mitts on an original flathead.

Repowering with a 2.3 Lima engine keeps it all Ford (if that's important to you, I know there are Aussies who will come to blows over the GM vs. Ford debate), keeps the power comparable to what's already aboard, and has lots of room for further development. The 2.3 Lima made over 170hp in the Mustang SVO with no mods in the bottom end - nice! And it makes decent torque for a motor its size, too, and even more if you go with the Lima 2.5. That's a pretty good truck engine if you're not going to be too demanding. The Mazda-sourced Duratec 25 was available in Australian-market T6 Rangers starting in 2010, you may be able to find one in decent shape in a wrecking yard, along with the transmission and axle to go with it. That would give you modern driveline hardware and running speeds while keeping it all kinda-sorta in the Ford family.

This would be a fun project. I think modding on old body-on-frame trucks has GOT to be more fun (read: less hassle) than trying to mod newer spaceframe designs.


Hey, I just found this:

Among other things, it lists other vehicles that could provide an axle of the correct width. Looking for different ratios, it may be easiest just to find one of these in a wrecking yard and put a whole new rear end under your truck, if the ratio is more in line with your needs.

Fingie 07-12-2016 02:47 PM

A challenge could be to make it as economical as possible using only tech from the 50's :D

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