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'79 Ford Bronco

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 1997 Comment (0)
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'79 Ford Bronco
A Chevy Dana 60 axle was selected for the front end for strength and a right-side pumpkin for the custom T-case, but installing a Chevy axle in a Ford presented some challenges. The Chevy hubs were replaced with late-model Ford F-250 manual locking hubs and brake rotors. The Chevy stub axles were also swapped for Ford F-350 parts. The outer bearing surfaces of both spindles were machined 5/8 inch deeper (toward the inner bearing surface), the locking threads were chased back 5/8 inch deeper, and the end of the spindles were cut down by 5/8 inch. The steering was changed from left knuckle to right, and a custom-made steering block keeps the drag link nearly level from the top of the steering block to the pitman arm. Custom spring hangers dropped the shackles and the 8-inch springs to meet the axle. Adding a 3-inch body lift into the equation gave the truck 18 inches of lift. A Chevy Dana 60 axle was selected for the front end for strength and a right-side pumpkin for the custom T-case, but installing a Chevy axle in a Ford presented some challenges. The Chevy hubs were replaced with late-model Ford F-250 manual locking hubs and brake rotors. The Chevy stub axles were also swapped for Ford F-350 parts. The outer bearing surfaces of both spindles were machined 5/8 inch deeper (toward the inner bearing surface), the locking threads were chased back 5/8 inch deeper, and the end of the spindles were cut down by 5/8 inch. The steering was changed from left knuckle to right, and a custom-made steering block keeps the drag link nearly level from the top of the steering block to the pitman arm. Custom spring hangers dropped the shackles and the 8-inch springs to meet the axle. Adding a 3-inch body lift into the equation gave the truck 18 inches of lift.
Terry McCraney slapped on a ’73 F-series grille and used early-model Jeep headlights and lamp-mounting brackets on the nose of his ’79 Bronco because he didn’t like the look of square headlights. The front bumper is a custom unit made from 12-inch steel channel with aluminum diamond-plate on top. A 1-inch-diameter U-bolt runs through and is welded to the front bumper and a 3/4-inch steel backing plate, providing an attachment point for a tow strap or a winch cable. Terry McCraney slapped on a ’73 F-series grille and used early-model Jeep headlights and lamp-mounting brackets on the nose of his ’79 Bronco because he didn’t like the look of square headlights. The front bumper is a custom unit made from 12-inch steel channel with aluminum diamond-plate on top. A 1-inch-diameter U-bolt runs through and is welded to the front bumper and a 3/4-inch steel backing plate, providing an attachment point for a tow strap or a winch cable.
The rear axle is a GM 14-bolt with a Detroit Locker and 4.56 gears. It’s slung underneath the truck with the original Bronco springs that have been re-arched and supplemented with additional leaves for a 15-inch lift. The rear spring pads were removed and rewelded to fit the Bronco frame width, and ladder bars were fabricated and mounted inboard of the frame and springs. Caliper stands from Hot Rogers Speed Shop in Lakeland allowed Terry to use 3/4-ton Chevy calipers and rotors to convert the rear axle to disc brakes. The rear axle is a GM 14-bolt with a Detroit Locker and 4.56 gears. It’s slung underneath the truck with the original Bronco springs that have been re-arched and supplemented with additional leaves for a 15-inch lift. The rear spring pads were removed and rewelded to fit the Bronco frame width, and ladder bars were fabricated and mounted inboard of the frame and springs. Caliper stands from Hot Rogers Speed Shop in Lakeland allowed Terry to use 3/4-ton Chevy calipers and rotors to convert the rear axle to disc brakes.
While its guts are stock, the Ford 400 V-8 benefits from a 351C intake manifold, an 850-cfm spread-bore carb, a 0.481-lift High Energy bumpstick, and a set of Competition Cams lifters. An MSD 6A ignition delivers juice to a Blaster 2 coil and a Mallory Unilite mechanical-advance distributor. First gear in the C6 tranny was bolstered with an extra clutch plate. An altered valvebody and a 1,500-stall converter were added, and a TCI cooler keeps the tranny fluid temperature below the redline. While its guts are stock, the Ford 400 V-8 benefits from a 351C intake manifold, an 850-cfm spread-bore carb, a 0.481-lift High Energy bumpstick, and a set of Competition Cams lifters. An MSD 6A ignition delivers juice to a Blaster 2 coil and a Mallory Unilite mechanical-advance distributor. First gear in the C6 tranny was bolstered with an extra clutch plate. An altered valvebody and a 1,500-stall converter were added, and a TCI cooler keeps the tranny fluid temperature below the redline.
No, you’re not seeing double—those are two transfer cases. The lead ’case is an NP205 and the trailer is a Rockwell 223 from a 1 1/2-ton International. Together they provide nearly a 4:1 low range plus right-side output to match the Chevy front axle. The ’cases were connected through a custom 13-inch shaft made from two yokes by Tampa Brake and Supply Company from Lakeland. The Rockwell has a right-side front driveshaft output so the front shaft travels straight into the front diff without hitting the front T-case, and the output shaft locations are lower than the NP205 for better driveline angles. The NP205 is cradled in its stock frame crossmember, but Terry had to fabricate a custom frame support for the Rockwell. The original shift linkage was shortened and made to fit the new access hole cut into the truck’s floor.  No, you’re not seeing double—those are two transfer cases. The lead ’case is an NP205 and the trailer is a Rockwell 223 from a 1 1/2-ton International. Together they provide nearly a 4:1 low range plus right-side output to match the Chevy front axle. The ’cases were connected through a custom 13-inch shaft made from two yokes by Tampa Brake and Supply Company from Lakeland. The Rockwell has a right-side front driveshaft output so the front shaft travels straight into the front diff without hitting the front T-case, and the output shaft locations are lower than the NP205 for better driveline angles. The NP205 is cradled in its stock frame crossmember, but Terry had to fabricate a custom frame support for the Rockwell. The original shift linkage was shortened and made to fit the new access hole cut into the truck’s floor. 

Building a rig your way is half the fun of creating a custom 4x4, and Terry McCraney of Lakeland, Florida, certainly followed that axiom when assembling his ’79 Ford Bronco. Terry had the truck painted with red acrylic enamel (although mud covers most of the paint in our photos) in his own spray shop, Weldon’s Body Shop in Plant City. The Bronco stands on GM axles, is geared through two transfer cases, spins 44x19.5-16.5 Super Swamper Boggers on Bart 16.5x14 wheels that were widened to 20 inches, and sports more custom mechanical features than you can count on all your fingers and toes. And as you can see, the other half of the fun—gassing it with gusto—is something Terry also does well. We found him spinning Boggers in the swamps of Florida when we visited a group of mud slingin’ maniacs (“Whumpin’,” Nov. ’96) in the Orlando area.

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