Old Friend, New Flame Part Three: Good Bye old stock mufflers; Hello Rhino Linings and much more!
How To Bring an Old F-100 Back to Life Without Busting the Bank--or at Least Not Too Much
When we left off, I had told you about buying my long-time buddy's parents' 1962 Ford F-100 longbed. They purchased it new and it had been in the Newton family ever since. No longer used every day, it moved into an Old Trucks Retirement Home a few years back, and I was hoping to catch it before it went completely to seed. After a long and protracted negotiation ("Hey, Dan, how much?" "Oh, I don't know. Couple hundred bucks?" "Yeah, sure."), we loaded the little guy on the back of a Jerr-Dan-equipped Dodge Ram 5500 Heavy Duty, and dumped it onto my mechanic's driveway.
I decided to get my new project running reliably and fix up the well-worn interior, plus I wanted to make a few minor mods. We covered most of that in the last installment (Truck Trend, January/February 2010). I previously mentioned that the stock single muffler was about the size of a Civil War cannon, it leaked, and the exhaust note coming from the 1.5-inch pipe sounded nasal.
My old 292 Y-block V-8 used an odd crossover exhaust system where the driver-side manifold dumps out the front, toward the radiator, into a crossover pipe that joins it to the passenger-side exhaust manifold, then onto the single exhaust that exited just aft of the right rear tire. To switch to true dual exhausts, you have to use headers or get manifolds from a Y-block-powered Ford (like a Thunderbird) that originally had dual pipes. Dan had found a set in the boneyard and given them to me with the truck. My mechanic recommended not doing the change at that time, as the studs holding the old manifolds to the engine looked pretty rusty; if we broke one, we'd have to pull the heads, something I wasn't ready to mess with at the moment. My local muffler guy had a single-inlet, dual-outlet Flowmaster on his shelf, so we cut the old single system off, welded up the new muffler, and fabbed up a cool set of side-exit pipes with two-inch chrome tips, which exit just in front of the right rear tire.
The leaks were gone, and in their place, a modern, throaty burble -- not too loud, with the sound of an American-V-8 all the way. This was money well spent, until I'm ready to swap the manifolds and build a proper dual exhaust system.
The bed had lived a hard life, showing its share of dents and surface rust, so I decided to get a spray-on bedliner to make it look cleaner and reduce the risk of rust-through. I connected with the owner of a nearby Rhino Linings franchise. He recommended an industrial-looking medium gray color, with a finish coat of a slightly darker gray containing a bit of metallic fleck and a healthy dose of UV protectant.
As with any sort of sprayed- or painted-on surface, prep is everything. Ray, a technician at Rhino Linings of Orange County, pulled out the grinder and sanders and got to work buzzing down the well-worn bed surface. A primer-prep solution was then rolled/brushed on to seal the rust and etch the metal in preparation for the Rhino material. The latter is heated and mixed with a catalyst in the gun, so it comes out hot and sticky and dries to the touch in moments.
After about 20 minutes of curing in the sun, the topcoat can be applied with a roller or brush. The result is a tough, yet nice-looking surface; the Rhino coating covered up many of the bed's small dents and gouges. We also shot the cab steps, as all the original paint had worn off and they looked pretty scrungy and were in need of protection. What a difference! The bed looks great and is now protected, which is important as this F-100 still gets used like a truck.
I agonized over wheel and tire choices and am very pleased with the smooth steelies I got from Wheel Vintiques. The caps look like baby moons at first glance, but are actually replicas of the wheels on 1946-47 Ford passenger cars. Another outfit, called simply Vintiques (not affiliated with Wheel Vintiques), has just released a credible replica of the original early '60s Ford truck "scalloped pancake" cap. Unlike the originals, these are highly polished stainless, but the shape and detailing otherwise look stock. Should I tire of the '46-style caps, I may run a set of these, as they're right for the truck's vintage.
The original sealed-beam headlamps were as bright as two wet matches in a snowstorm, so I dumped them in favor of Sylvania Silver Star replacements, which are much brighter, with a cleaner light quality, and are legal everywhere. We also added a small round pair of driving lights courtesy of LMC Truck. They help a lot, although I may at some point swap them for something a bit more vintage, like an old set of Perlux lights if I can find a set in good shape for the right price. We'll see as time goes by.
Tire RackSouth Bend, IN 46628