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1986 Ford F350 Stepside Truck - Big Red

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2002
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Donnie Baumhoer of Linn, Missouri, was in a quandary. After years of faithful service, his '86 Ford 1/2-ton stepside pickup was showing its age. The TTB front suspension was shot and the 302 V-8 engine was wheezing. He was faced with an age-old question, one that all truck owners must eventually answer: repair or replace? After conferring with his wife, Brenda, he decided to completely rebuild it. But this would not be your normal rebuild, mind you. What he decided to do was completely disassemble the truck and rebuild it using much heavier-duty components. The parameters of the project were simple-he was going to do the majority of the work and the whole project would have to adhere to a preordained reasonable budget. Hence, the adventure began.

The first thing Baumhoer did was obtain a frame from an '86 1-ton Ford pickup. That's because he knew he needed a significantly upgraded drivetrain, and he also knew that a strong chassis was critical to handling the stress created by a beefy driveline. Fitting this new chassis under his '86 stepside body required cutting and removing 18 inches of the frame's length. Upon reassembly, he installed a 36-gallon fuel tank to feed the thirsty big-block engine he planned to install. Next, he purchased a front limited-slip-equipped Dana 60 from a wrecked Ford 1-ton pickup. He completely rebuilt it before regearing it to 5.13:1 using Randy's Ring & Pinion gears. He installed the unit onto a set of used 6-inch-lift front leaf springs that he had re-arched to create 8 inches of lift. With the addition of a 2-inch lift, courtesy of the traction-bar mounts, he had successfully generated the 10 inches of lift he knew he needed to help fit 39.5x18-16.5 Boggers on 16.5x14 Weld Scorpion wheels.

In one of his forays to the junkyard, Baumhoer spotted a GM 14-bolt rear axle. The asking price fit right into his budget, so home with him it went for a thorough rebuilding, regearing and a Detroit Locker. He relocated its spring and shock mounts and mounted it to a pair of re-arched 10-inch-lift leaf springs. Other underbody mods include a Rancho drop pitman arm, a pair of Rancho steering stabilizers and dual Rancho RS 9000 shocks at each wheel up front with single Rancho RS 9000 shocks at each wheel in the rear.

A '74 Ford LTD coughed up the 460ci engine. It's been modified to produce an estimated 400 hp. That power is routed through a Ford C6 transmission.

At this point the chassis was ready for an engine, tranny and transfer case. Baumhoer found a 460ci engine in an old '74 Ford LTD. He bought it and turned it over to Advanced Auto in Jefferson City, Missouri, for block and head machining. He reassembled it with forged TRW pistons, a Melling high-volume oil pump, Crane camshaft, and new stock-spec valves, valve springs and rocker arms. He bolted on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold and a Holley 850-cfm carburetor, as well as a Mallory coil and a Ford distributor.

To make sure the exhaust gases met very little resistance on the way out, he installed a pair of powdercoated Hooker headers, a 2 1/2-inch aluminum dual-exhaust system and glasspack mufflers. Baum-hoer estimates the engine now produces in excess of 400 hp. This power is routed through a C6 transmission that's beefed with a B&M shift kit and cooled by a B&M transmission cooler. A BorgWarner 1345 transfer case splits the power to the differentials via custom driveshafts.

An Auto Meter tach, a Grant steering wheel, a big audio system, new carpet and a pair of power lumbar seats from a '97 Ford make up the Ford's interior mods.

Baumhoer wanted to retain the Ford's basic stock stepside look, so when it came time to modify the exterior he took a less-is-more approach. The '86 stepside body was set on a 3-inch Rancho body lift and a fiberglass cowl hood was grafted onto the factory steel hood. Then the truck was sent to Buscher Paint and Body in Freeburg, Missouri, for a coat of stunning Ford Canyon Red paint.

On the inside of the truck Baumhoer fitted a set of power-lumbar cloth seats from a '97 Ford, a Grant steering wheel, an Auto Meter tachometer, new maroon carpet and a killer stereo system.

Donnie and Brenda Baumhoer set out to create a clean and capable truck, and they achieved their goal in only 8 months. Their Ford is not only beefy, but it looks great, and it proves that even with a tight budget, a project can exceed your goals with a lot of hard work and a bit of creativity.

PhotosView Slideshow


Owner Donnie and Brenda Baumhoer
Vehicle model ’86 Ford F-350 Stepside
Estimated value $20,000
Type ’74 Ford V-8
Displacement (liter/ci) 460
Aspiration Holley 850-cfm carb, Edelbrock aluminum intake, Hooker headers, dual 2 1/2-inch exhaust
Transmission Ford C6, shift kit, cooler
Transfer case BorgWarner 1345
Front Re-arched leaf springs, traction lift, 10 inches of lift, dual Rancho RS 9000 shocks per wheel
Rear Re-arched leaf springs, 10 inches of lift, single Rancho RS 9000 shocks per wheel
Front Dana 60, limited-slip
Rear GM Corporate 14-bolt, Detroit Locker
Ring and pinion 5.13:1
Wheels (in.) 16.5x14 Weld Scorpions
Tires 39.5x18-16.6 TSL Boggers

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