Restoring and Hotrodding a 1935 Pickup Truck

What's Next?

I decided to keep the old "what's next" entries to provide some hysterical (I mean historical) perspective, but reserve the right to remove anything really stoopid we might try. Here they are in reverse chronological order:

August, 1999

New "Old Stock" (NOS) in-line thermostats for 1932-1936 Ford flathead V8 engine

After several unsuccessful attempts to order thermostats, I was finally able to locate a pair of NOS replacements at C&G Early Ford Parts. The 1932 through 1936 V8 engines have thermostats that fit inside the upper radiator hose and are much different from the later thermostats that fit in the cylinder head outlet, as you can see from the picture.

May 15, 1999

Our attempt to go to the cruise night at Nick's Drive-in in Natick to show off the finished dual carburetors proved to be more of an adventure than we expected. About twenty five miles from home the right front tire started to go flat and we weren't able to make it to a gas station. We weren't really prepared for this, and while we had some hand tools (combination wrenches and screwdrivers), we had no jack, no lug nut wrench, and the spare tire was about 40 to 50 years old. We did have a cell phone (an improvement over one of the ten best tools of all time) and called home to send someone out with some more tools and a portable air compressor: sometimes it does pay to have teen age children who can drive.

Spare tire that came with the truck

Before they arrived, someone was kind enough to stop and help out. It turned out that not only was the scissors jack in his Toyota convertible a good fit for jacking up the front axle, his lug wrench actually fit our wheels. We tried putting on the spare, but it has almost no air in it. Our rescuer was kind enough to drive me down to a gas station with the spare and the flat tire. That gas station didn't have spare inner tubes or even patch kits, but the spare tire did seem to hold air (the flat tire was leaking pretty badly). Although it was a nervous drive home, the spare tire did hold up for the whole trip.

We had a spare inner tube at home: we had had a flat last year and had bought one spare tube ourselves in case the garage couldn't get one and got the white-wall tire repaired. But since the sidewall has been scraped up (and so we can be less nervous if this happens again), we have ordered a new tire and will use the this other tire as our spare. Since one of the other inner tubes also seems to have a slow leak, we plan to replace all the other inner tubes just in case. I'm guessing that this is all a consequence of the truck sitting over a couple winters.

We also made an excursion to the autoparts store to find a small scissors jack which is now stored under the seat. It's a bit of a nuisance to remove the seat, but better than being stranded. We actually did have a lug wrench that works as a crank handle for a combination tire iron/engine starter, and these are also under the seat along with the hand tools. To keep them all from rattling, we used some of the foam tool box liner and cut out compartments for the wrenches and stuff, and put some pipe insulation around the engine starter shaft.

We also thought briefly about getting some new wheels that would work with modern radial tires on the theory that they would be less likely to go flat in the first place, and more gas stations would be prepared to repair them in the second place. I guess this is still a possibility, but we would have to go to a wider wheel and tire and aren't sure how this would affect the steering plus the spare tire cover probably wouldn't fit either.

April 1999

It's been a year since we've had the truck on the road. Most of the things we did never made it to this "What's Next?" such as the exhaust system. I still need to write up some of the other things like finishing the interior and putting in a wooden bed liner. The project since about January has been to install dual carburetors. First we ordered an Offenhauser 'super dual' manifold but didn't get the one we were looking for. I've seen some of these with a bracket for a fan which I had hoped could be used to mount an alternator, but we got one without the bracket. After eyeballing, we weren't sure if a generator would fit even with a bracket and so sent it back and got a plain dual intake manifold, but decided to spring for the "so bright you'll need sunglasses" polish. We also got a pair of rebuilt Stromberg 97's and some Stelling & Hellings air cleaners.

Polished aluminum intake manifold with two Stromberg 97 carburetors

We're still trying to gather together the last of the accelerator pedal linkage, fuel fittings and vacuum lines for the stock distributor before we put this in. We picked up a NOS replacement fuel pump and a cleaned up fuel pump stand so we'll be able to keep the stock manifold/carburetor/fuel pump together in case we want to fairly quickly swap back to a stock look.

April 18, 1998

We have enough things like lights and wiring working to get the truck registered although we have to get the parking brake installed before it will pass safety inspection. We also have to get shock absorbers installed soon, but we don't think we need it for inspection.

We'll be taking the truck to a professional mechanic who has experience with flathead engines (he owns a '36 Ford himself) to put in the parking brake cable and check everything else like the brakes. We'll have him look over what we did to make sure we didn't do anything stupid.

  1. It's loud. Loud enough that we've decided that we will spring for some sort of insulation for the firewall. I think that between that, seals on the doors and some interior trim will make it less noisy -- I doubt that it will ever be "quiet".
  2. The oil pressure (at least as indicated by the new gauge) seems very strange: the first several times it was started cold it quickly went to 90 psi and beyond. The first time we let it warm up the pressure dropped to something reasonable (we were expecting around 35 psi at highway cruising speed -- which we didn't reach -- or about 10 psi for each 1000 rpm -- but we don't have a tachometer). After driving for three or four miles, the oil pressure dropped to near zero and then seemed to settle at about 10 psi.The oil level seems okay. It occured to me that the high pressure reading may have damaged the gauge itself, but the high pressure is worrisome in its own right and this is one of the things we'll have the mechanic look at.
  3. The engine warmed up very quickly the first time and the radiator seemed very low. We added more than a gallon of water to bring the level up to the top of the radiator, but now understand that's too high. Our mechanic said not to worry "it will just puke out the extra coolant." During the shakedown trips, the water temperature settled in between 160 and 180 until we let it idle in the driveway. The temperature went a little over 180 and the cooling fan came up, but we didn't let it run long enough to turn off. The fan did go off by itself during a previous test, so we hope the cooling will be okay.

February 28, 1998

Although we've only received two mail-order parts catalogs so far, we've put together a list of a lot of things we know we're going to need. As usual, the cost of these parts is turning out to be higher than the "and you can get this in perfect condition for only X dollars," but we know we're taking the easy but expensive way out on various things. For example we'll probably buy a new bumper (at $155 plus shipping) instead of getting the original one we have cleaned up and rechromed. While we're at it, we'll probably get new bumper brackets as well although we've got two sets of those: one partially cleaned up, the other not cleaned at all. We're quite certain we'll save some time this way, hopefully save the aggravation of finding a good rechrome place, and maybe even save some money.

We have already found that there seems to be a reason for any random thing that hasn't been done on this truck yet. For example, the passenger side tail lamp assembly is already bolted on the truck with a nice new wiring assembly attached. We found all the parts for the driver side tail lamp in the back but without a lens gasket and with ratty old wiring still. We figured we would just have to buy another tail lamp wiring harness rather than an whole new tail lamp assembly: no big deal.

Then when sorting through the stuff in the back, we found a harness just like we were planning on buying. Great! Well, nothing's that simple. The lamp assembly we have uses two separate bulbs for the stop light and tail lamp, but the wiring harness includes a socket for a dual-filament bulb (like an 1157). There's no obvious way to use this harness and this assembly. We looked inside the passenger tail lamp and it uses the same style harness and a dual filament bulb. We could try to replace one of the single-filament sockets with the dual filament sockets, but the tail lamp has a plate dividing the tail lamp from the brake lamp, so we went back to the catalog, chose a different wiring repair assembly, and will have slightly different brake lamps on each side. If it looks too ugly, we have other tail lamp housings that aren't in quite as good shape but might be usable. Worst case, we buy yet another tail lamp assembly (complete).

We've decided to convert the electrical system to 12V negative ground using a one-wire Chevy alternator. Finding the alternator is no problem, but finding a bracket may be a bit of a problem. If you think Flathead V8's are old, the pre-1939 21-stud versions are really old. While lots of companies like Edelbrock are still making things for 1939 and later Flatheads, there aren't as many choices for the older flat head engines like ours.

With a little luck (and timely deliveries by UPS) we should have the electrical system converted and lights installed in a couple weeks, and may even be able to get the truck registered and passing a basic safety inspection.

February 15, 1998

After the truck is in our garage, we'll inventory the parts in the back and get enough of the wiring done to get it to pass inspection and put in some seat belts. Then we'll look at things like finishing off the interior, doing more on the lighting (if we don't have to get turn signal lamps for inspection, we'll add them later), and see how it drives on the highway. My suspicion is that we may want to look into a dual-carburetor intake manifold and dual exhausts if we don't want to take back roads all the time.