Question: I recently acquired a '75 Ford F-100 4x4. This truck is in fairly good shape for my purposes but for one problem: the steering is shot. It needs all new tie rods, ends, drag links, and so on. I have been unable to locate these parts through Ford, Moog, TRW, Napa, and everywhere else I could think of.
I was wondering about a conversion from another truck that I might be able to do. Ford only made this style of steering system for about 2 1/2 years and no longer has replacement parts. This truck will never see the highway and will only be used around the farm/ranch for work purposes, so I do not want to spend big dollars fixing it. If I can't find something that will work, I will be forced to part it out.
Lacadena, Saskatchewan, Canada
Answer: The first place to look is at Ford Truck Parts (www.7379fordtrucks.com). They specialize in '73-'79 Ford truck parts of all kinds. If they don't have what you need, I am sure that they can direct you to a proper source.
Another place to try would be Sacramento Vintage Ford (www.vintage-ford.com) or LMC Truck (www.lmctruck.com). I would also suggest that you pick up a copy of Hemmings Motor News at your local bookstore. If you're not familiar with it, you should be-it's a monthly publication that is full of ads for all types of vehicles, plus repair parts for sale.
Question: I own an '01 Ford Excursion 4x4. While it is a great truck, the brakes leave a little to be desired with the heavy diesel in front and an automatic transmission.
Can you recommend a product to improve my vehicle's braking performance? I am running the stock wheel diameter. There are a lot of companies advertising rotors, but I don't know what benefit I will get if I do not also replace the calipers.
Answer: There can be a considerable amount of braking performance gained by replacing the rotors with ones with the proper finish and cut-in grooves radiating out from the center to the rotor's edge.
When brakes get really hot, the pads (or the lining on drum brakes) give off a gas that can be trapped between the two friction surfaces. This gas prevents the brake pads from making positive contact and causes what is often referred to as "brake fade." The grooves-or sometimes, holes-release the gas.
A quality friction material can also make a huge difference in braking performance. With some of these performance pads, you may or may not experience some noise or more brake dust, or even the need for more pedal pressure. You could go to larger (and more expensive) rotors, but that would most likely also require new larger-diameter rims and new tires.
You could also consider an exhaust brake. The one I use from BD Power (www.bd-power.com) works great for those steep downgrades with or without a trailer in tow. I sometimes even use mine to save on brakes when getting off the interstate. It's most likely the best accessory I have added to my truck.
Question: I'm trying to find out how you can fit 15-inch wheels on a big-hub Dana 44 (eight-lug) and the GM 14-bolt, because of a much, much better bead than 16.5s. I've been told that you need 3.75- to 4.0-inch backspacing and/or wheel spacers. If so, where can I get wheel spacers?
Answer: It's a really tight clearance issue on several counts. First is the clearance around the calipers. Some people grind the calipers for more clearance, but my thought on this is that if the manufacturer of the calipers wanted them that thick for a reason, they should stay that thick. On the rear, the problem is the size of the drums. Even with about 3.5 inches of backspacing, things are close. It's not only the backspacing, but how the rim's drop center has been designed. Another problem is that the calipers and drums are so close to the wheel rims that they don't cool properly, and in reality transfer a lot of heat to the rim and on to the tire. There is also the problem of not enough clearance for balance weights.
Stockton Wheel (800/395-9433, www.stockton wheel.com) can build a custom set of wheels for your application. I really think that you should consider going to perhaps a 16-inch wheel. There are a lot of tires in various sizes for light trucks offered now in the 16-inch rim size, and there will be more in the future. My guess is that there will come the day when there won't be anywhere near the variety of tires in the 15-inch rim size available.