I like searching the internet for project vehicles. Two of my favorite sites are Iron Planet (ironplanet.com) and Gov Planet (govplanet.com). These are giant auction sites with military and construction equipment, and it is where I found this Ford F-350 I wanted to build for Cheap Truck Challenge. But as we told you in “1993 FORD F-350 CHEAP TRUCK FERD", the big Ford wasn’t perfect when it arrived via car hauler. I had big plans for it, but it didn’t attend CTC 2015. Now I have done most of those upgrades, changing the big blue truck from turd to trail-ready.
When we left off, the Crewferd wasn’t a healthy truck. I ran short of time to get it running, so I took it by the guys at Jim’s Automotive in Morro Bay, California, where they replaced a broken exhaust manifold. The exhaust leak had burnt through some plug wires, and a prior mechanic had set the timing wrong. The basic tune-up and exhaust fix (including the removal of broken-off manifold bolts) got the Ford running well—or at least as well as a small-block–powered 1-ton truck could run.
The extra-long truck looked funny on the little 33-inch tires, and I decided to fit surplus military 37-inch BFGoodrich tires I had. I also had a set of surplus military Humvee (HMMWV) H1 wheels and order a set of PVC inserts from Trail Worthy Fab (TWF). The H1 wheels are plentiful, but the normal insert is either magnesium or rubber and includes a run-flat. The PVC insert goes inside the tire and locks the bead in place with the two-piece 16 1/2-inch rims.
Using liberal amounts of soap, I was able to press the insert in the tire, then I dropped the tire and insert over the H1 wheel. The two-piece wheels use an O-ring to seal the air inside, and as they are bolted together the rim locks the bead in place. The H1 wheels have significant backspacing, but TWF also sells H1s with different backspacing options and offers surplus military tires.
To deal with the significant backspacing, I added a set of Synergy wheel spacers. The 1 1/2-inch wheel spacers required me to trim the stock wheel studs slightly. Other options are to use dualie hubs or get the recentered wheels from TWF.
The 37s would have fit fine with a custom front bumper, but in lieu of that I trimmed the ends of the stock bumper. The bigger tires do rub the springs at full lock, but the 10-mile-long truck never turned sharp anyways, so it is a minor loss.
The 5.8L V-8 and C6 automatic are nothing to write home about in the power and speed arena, so I knew a gear swap was needed. I took Crewferd to Shaffer’s Off Road for a drop from 3.54 to 4.10 gears and to add in a pair of Detroit Lockers. The 4.10s will make up for the lack of an overdrive in the C6 while still helping to get the 37s moving
The big Ford is a pretty simple no-frills truck, and a pair of Detroit lockers fits that theme well. The crew at Shaffer’s had them both installed with the new Yukon gears in short time. This big truck was transformed into a much more capable workhorse. It is just as well that Crewferd was not my Cheap Truck Challenge entry because the new and improved truck surpassed our CTC budget with its fresh tune-up, bigger tires, gears, lockers, and beadlocks, but isn’t that the case with every project we bring home?
How’s It Work?
The bigger tires and lower gears give the truck a more capable look and feel, and the auto-locking Detroits ensure traction, but when we first hit the road in the Ford we noticed severe death wobble. The 37s and Humvee wheels took a lot of weights to get balanced. We put the track bar back on the front end, and the wobble has not returned. If we were keeping the truck for the long term we would consider a more powerful engine, but for now it is fine and gets the job done.
What’s in a Name?
Why do I name my project trucks? I think naming trucks is a good practice if you talk to your vehicle, which probably means you’re crazy, because a truck isn’t a living thing; it’s just a pile of rubber, steel, and glass. I name my projects because there are times when I’m trying to get over a big boulder or up a big hill and I talk to the truck as if that will somehow help. I might say, “Come on, Crewferd. You can do it!” while spinning my tires through a mud hole.
People often ask me what to name their 4x4, and I usually tell them not to because all it does is prove you are a weirdo like me. By the way, I call this truck Crewferd, because I already had a blue Ford that I named Bluferd.