I have a very ambitious CC (Peugeot 505) and related History of all the classic RWD Pug wagons that I was going to write. But summer has finally come, after the longest coolest spring in decades; highs in the low 70’s, crisp air; perfection. So it just hasn’t happened, yet. Instead I offer this very mentally-unchallenging blog of how I spent yesterday afternoon from 5:30 to 7:00 PM: giving my poor old truck a lick of attention. It really needed it.
For those very few of you not familiar with my ’66 F-100, I promise a very detailed CC next year, when I will have owned it 25 years. In a nutshell: I bought it for $500 to be a dump-run vehicle, and that’s what it has been doing ever since, as well as gravel, lumber, appliances, compost, and everything else imaginable. In fact, it went to the dump just a few hours earlier; my nineteen year-old son and his friends were moving out of their first rental house: you can imagine…
Anyway, it’s a 25 year experiment in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And hardly anything ever does break. But every year about now, I do try to give it a wash, a once over, and I throw it a little bone: on minor improvement. Actually, that tradition is new as of last year, when I finally replaced the plastic turn signal self-return doo-hickky in the steering column. After 23 years of remembering to return the the indicator stalk, I still have to tell myself it does it by itself now.
So to the job at hand. Was it dirty? You be the judge. And I just remembered; I don’t think I did was it last year. So this is two very wet winters’ worth. Embarrassing. Let’s just say it normally sits out back, not in the driveway.
The only way to get this grunge off is with the scrubby side of one of those kitchen sponges. If I’d waited another year, it would have to be a Brillo pad. But there it is, looking worthy to sit among Stephanie’s bounteous flower garden.
A dose of concentrated Simple Green got rid of the sticky puddle of syrup or whatever it was that leaked out of one of my son’s garbage bag all over the bed. Here’s the biggest single reason I picked a Ford over a Chevy pickup of this vintage: its indestructible steel bed. Chevy was still using wood planks in their beds until 1967, and in a place like Oregon…I prefer to use my carpentry skills on houses, not truck beds. It’s still totally solid; no holes or soft spots. The steel on the floor isn’t what they use nowadays. And with a strategic squirt or two of oil, the tailgate still opens and closes perfectly.
So having taken care of the external hygiene, lets pop the hood and make sure everything is still there and properly topped up.
The so-called 240 CID (3.9 L) “Big Six” looks totally lost in there. Which is a true virtue, in as much as I can chose to either sit or stand (with feet on the pavement) when I’m doing some (rare) work in the engine room. Knock on wood, but it’s needed nothing the last five or six years. Now I’ve jinxed it, of course.
The 240 six, which is virtually identical to the 300 CID version except for shorter stroke, was rated 155 hp (gross) and 129 hp (net); old trucks had manufacturers plates with both gross and net hp figures. That may seem like nothing, but it’s quite a bit more than the smogged motors of the seventies and early eighties, when the 300 had less power than the 240, and Detroit’s small block V8s were putting out 110-130 hp.
One more thing: my truck, being as spartan as it is, weighs maybe 3400-3600 lbs. A new F-Series is closer 6500 lbs or so. Anyway, for my use, a lack of power has never been an issue especially since I have six gears to chose from (three speed and manually-selected OD on all gears). That also allows for totally clutch-free shifting; which I will explain and show in a video some other time.The only thing I miss having is a low granny first gear. No wonder my clutch is already sounding and acting a bit funky.
Now that I’ve hosed out the floor and wiped the dash, my little collection of mementos are more prominent.
Back to the tasks at hand: check oil (ok), coolant (needs a splash in the overflow tank I added), brake fluid (ok), and battery (one cell needed a tiny sip). Good to go! I do an annual oil-change and chassis lube sometime later each summer.
Now to that annual improvement. The cardboard headliner rotted away long ago, and the visors have been patched up via the ubiquitous solution: duct tape. But they were really falling apart, so:
Time for a fix. The cardboard sleeves had also rotted away, and the hard-board core was broken because of excessive pressure due to a rusty “axle”.
Cut a replacement out of some nice vintage quarter-inch plywood salvaged from the torn-down house.
Bolt it on, and re-install.
I was going to do the passenger side too, but its hard-board core was still fine under all that rotted cardboard and duct tape, so true to the motto of “if it ain’t broke…” I reinstalled it. Good call, as supper was ready, and then a long walk off into the purple and magenta sunset…
We kind of needed a break from all those French cars anyway, no?