photography HARRY WAGNER ahd FRED WILLIAMS
rOR $50,000 YOU CAN BUY YOU
a desert-rompinq, rockcrawlinq, stump-jumping Ford Raptor, but many of us don't have that type of capital just lying around. So we found this low-buck Blue Oval truck and dragged it home to build our own farm-style tough truck out of (for far fewer ducats than Ford's latest and greatest).
Our '79 F-150 came from the backyard of a family in Nevada. While it has some miles on it, there is little rust and a strong drivetrain, making it perfect for backcoun-
try bashing. BluFerd (as it was quickly christened) has a 3S1M, a CG, an NP205, a Dana 44 front axle, and a Ford 9-inch rear. Over the next year we'll be upgrading the old iron into an everyman's dirtmobile.
When we first came home with our new Ranch Raptor we slapped on some old 33-inch mud-terrains we'd been saving for a Jeep project and hit the dirt. A few qood jumps, a busted brake line, and an enqine fire later, we draqqed the Blue Oval back to the farm for some upqrades. The 33s fit fine stock, but the low nose and limp suspension had us perusinq the BDS Suspension website for an upqrade. The next thinq you know we were in the shed swappinq sprinqs and boltinq on biqqer rubber.
Our '79 cleared 33s on the stock suspension, so we went wheeling and realized quickly that it'll need a few upgrades to become the retro race truck we're imagining. In our short test the throttle stuck, the carburetor caught on fire, and we lost our brakes. Our solution? A lift kit and bigger tires!
After finishing the suspension installation, we bolted on some 35X12.50R15 General Grabbers on 15-inch Mickey Thompson wheels. These cast aluminum wheels have robust steel inserts in the lug seat, and the tires should be perfect for our next desert trip.
Iln the shed and on jackstands for a weekend wrench fest, we had two days to fit 35-inch tires (and get this story in). We had discussed our truck with the BDS Suspension techs and came home with a four-inch lift kit, new rear leaf springs, dual front shocks, and a drop pitman arm for about $1,100. BluFerd's front sway bar and steering stabilizer were ditched to see how much difference it would make. We can always put them back on if it drives erratically, plus BDS offers new components for these.
The front of the F-150 uses radius arms and a track bar to locate the axle. To allow for the lift, we added a BDS drop track bar bracket. This required opening up one hole to align the bolts, easy enough with our Ingersoll Rand rechargeable die grinder. On a linked front suspension, it Is important to have the track bar and steering drag link at the same angle and as close to the same length as possible. The BDS drop pitman arm keeps the bars parallel.
3 We replaced all the radius arm bushings with Daystar Polyurethane bushings. We used a 7-degree axle bushing, which negated needing a drop bracket on the frame.
MICKEY THOMPSON PERFORMANCE TIRES & WHEELS
MILLER ELECTRIC MFG. CO.
6 The BDS 4-inch F-150 lift is available with lift blocks, add-a-leaves, or new leaf packs. We chose the latter. The new Glide-Ride leaves will reduce the axlewrap common with lift blocks. We did need to purchase new shackle and pivot bolts after removing the old ones with the plasma cutter.
7 It was getting dark on the second day of our weekend wrench fest as we bolted on the rear shocks. We had soaked most of the bolts prior with PB Blaster and had the help of a second person to make the install easier, but we were also starting with a nearly rust-free Southwestern truck. We imagine that a truck from the Rust Belt could have taken a little longer. O
4 Replacing the radius arms can be a little complicated. We removed the passenger side first and then the driver side, allowing us to keep the drive shaft connected, and then we installed them in the opposite order. The coil springs popped into place with a few taps from a rubber mallet. We finished the front with a new set of BDS shocks.
5 Replacing the rear leaf springs should have been an easy step, but rusty old bolts required excessive persuasion. We tested the new Miller Spectrum 375 Xtreme plasma cutter and made mincemeat of the old leaves and stinky black smoke from the old rubber bushings.
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