1956 F100 Explorer Chassis Swap | Page 12 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1956 F100 Explorer Chassis Swap

Appreciate the measurements. Don't think I'm going to be able to use the Explorer dash entirely, because the cab on my '49 is so narrow. Still watching this closely though, because I'm still planning on using as much as I can.

No problem, let me know if you need any other measurements.

You could certainly trim the firewall down to fit and fabricate it to allow the 49 dash to work using classic gauges or even incorporate the Explorer instruments with it. Too bad it's too narrow.

Can't wait to see your progress!!! :)

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I called the tractor rental place Thursday to reserve a tractor/backhoe. My mistake was not knowing what I wanted. The guy told me that since there was rain in the forecast, no one was renting tractors and that there shouldn't be a problem getting a good variety to choose from. Well, my luck would have it that the rain missed our area and that sparked everyone to rush in to rent EVERY tractor and backhoe available for weekend rental. I asked the guy if there was any chance I could be a backup renter or wait around for a return to come in. "Well, let's walk out here and take a look at our yard..... oh, I forgot about this new one we just got in, you'll be the first one to ever use it!"

SWEET!!!! How about that?!?! From nothing to a brand new one that hasn't been abused YET! It had 2 hours on it from loading/unloading etc.


Bad part was the fact that there were no more trailers to rent so I had to pay $80 for delivery. Then another set back... I just put a little over an hour on it, when I realized that the tractor stopped moving. One front tire was pointed far right, the other far left.... WTF?!?!?! The steering arm had come out of socket. Nut and cotter pin were gone. I called them and they said they would send a mechanic to come fix it. HA! This guy was really nice but didn't have the nuts to fix it (pun intended).

Luckily I had several containers of hardware and actually had the right size, thread, and type of nut with the splines to accommodate a new cotter pin. Back in business!

I took other pictures, but they haven't uploaded yet. Going to bed early tonight. Only added 2 hours on the tractor today, so it'll be a long day of work tomorrow.

I put 7.9 hours on the 8 hour rental of the tractor, clearing out about 10 stumps, leveling my yard from the many piles of dirt and rocks, and able to gain a great starting point for leveling the area I'm planning my shop expansion. Doesn't look like much yet, as it will need much more fill and packing it down.

My 2-yr old wants to be a big helper too!

I received a tracking number this morning from LMC for the parts I ordered late last week. Looks like it will be here Wednesday. Can't wait to get the pieces in and start the process of welding them in place! Here's a closer look at the most-damaged corner.

I received my newest LMC catalog today, it reminded me to mention how easy it was to receive timely catalogs by request by visiting their website. Not only do they have old Ford truck parts, they also have a W I D E variety of other makes and models, INCLUDING Explorers!!! May not be a bad idea to visit their site, they might have exactly what you didn't know you needed!

I know some of my posts may not have a lot to do with the build, but it's part of my experience I'd like to share. Nobody has mentioned anything negative about it, but wanted to get that out of the way. Thank you all for viewing, returning, and accepting my posts on this site! Hopefully you'll find plenty tips and ideas to use on your own projects.

Buddy - Great work - Like seeing all those photos ! Keep them coming please ! Ben

LMC package arrived today! Parts were made in Taiwan, but they aren't terrible at all. They seem to have the right curves, mounting areas look good and clean, and they are much larger than the repair sections need to cover. Either I will replace the whole sections or I'll cut them down to my needs.



100% satisfied. The huge box full of styrofoam peanuts kept my kids for about an hour too!

I am off work Friday for vacation, was supposed to go on a hiking trip, but it was cancelled. I'm still going to take off so I can get on the NEXT BIG EVENT!!! It is time to trial-fit the cab onto the chassis, now that the firewall is out of the way. I rigged a contraption to lift the cab onto the frame using my engine crane. Because I need to do a lot of cutting and trimming, I figure this will be the safest and easiest way to lift, lower, and keep things as level as possible.

No pics as of yet, but I've incorporated an engine leveler I bought recently, chain, and some boards. MacGuyver time! Since there's no instruction manual for this build, I'm going to have to make-do with what I have and "wing it" until I get it right.

I mentioned getting a Shop Manual for Christmas but forgot to bring it back up. There are 432 pages chock-full of details, instructions, and plenty of pictures (my kind of book!)



There are 5 main sections covering everything from Engine, Chassis, Electrical, Body construction, Maintenance & Specs. It even discusses special tools with insights to how they built them back in the day! It's been an excellent bathroom book. If you are doing ANY type of restoration, I'd recommend getting the manufacturer's shop manual, specific for your year model.

Here are some sample pages:





Notice the 53-55 cab angles, oops. That's not a 56 cab!

BUT THIS IS!!! Come on Friday! It's time to meet your new firewall


Today I had a good amount of the day to work on the truck. I removed the tarp from the chassis and "drove" it down to the shop.


I used the contraption I made along with the engine crane I had to secure the cab while I sawed the welds off the steel from the top of the stems holding up the trailer.




Once the trailer was free, I was able to carefully wheel the cab over the chassis. I didn't have enough clearance to do this part in the shop, otherwise I wouldn't have done it on a gravel surface. It made for some challenges throughout the day. I moved everything closer to the shop so I could use air, electricity, and close to tools. I did luckily have clearance on the side of the cab from the engine crane, which provided the ability to raise it without damaging the surfaces.





The boards between the beams kept the metal from flexing, which was a bit of a problem. If I had steel left, I would have put some in place of wood. The engine leveler was nice for adjusting.

My goal for this part was to pair the cab with the Explorer chassis for a test fit. I didn't want to attempt all the cutting and prying after doing a lot of body work. I knew I would need to lower, raise, and tweak the cab, so having the engine crane attached throughout the process was important. Once everything is ready to weld, I will remove it one last time to install the new panels, complete the body work, and prime/undercoat the areas that will not be visible.

Some challenges I ran into was the inability to save some of the structure I wanted to keep for the extra strength. I measured the CRAP out of this thing and knew I would have to trim here and there, but hoped for a majority to fit in the pillars of the 56. Here are some of the pics while I was attempting all of this:






As you can see the back was also in the way and needed to be trimmed off once I got a better view of where to cut.


Starting to look like it's coming together



More cutting



Interesting how a vehicle can fit inside of a vehicle



The gap is closing in!


And..... my internet connection is being ridiculous. Basically I still need to come down 5-6" and forward 1". Will post more pics once these pics are available.

Edited with pics now...

With the cab set down as low as I could and centered where it should be, I marked the Explorer floorboard where the rear would be cut off. It happened to be exactly on the glued seam that runs across. You can't see it in this pic, but imagine pulling out your carpet, just behind the rear bolts for the front seats and seatbelts. Couldn't have been a better design for this!



If you are doing any cutting with a Sawzall, it would be in your best interest to have several extra blades or a couple of really good ones. Today I snapped 5 or 6 Harbor Freight blades quickly and ran down to a pawn shop that happened to have 2 name brand blades that didn't break or even bend. $5 (total) was a decent price for a Dewalt and Milwaukee. The HF blades are great for simple cutting, but I'm sure you could imagine all of the angles and various material layers I've needed to cut through that they were not intended for.

I then cut the remainder of the 56 floorboard at the rear beam to retain the strength of that area. I noticed that the hump will be a bit of a challenge as the 56 doesn't have one. I cut a chunk out to overlap the flat areas. Will need more modifications as I go along.

From what it appears, to gain a full drop to align the dash perfectly and keep the cab level, I will have to modify the rear just a bit to accommodate the frame. While I am here, you'll see that the parking break cable is also right there and will need to be routed either through the cab using a bushing, or completely change the route entirely. I'm not considering removing altogether.

(Picture coming soon - forgot to take this shot I guess)

I started to cut the top part of the firewall. Some of my cuts don't even make sense to me. I think I was getting tired and it looks a bit sloppy. Will need to clean that up! The computer box near the center will have to have some modification. Either relocate or cut into the 56 cab. I'd rather it lower than the 56 nose, but even if it's cut into it, I'm ok with it as there is still some protection from the elements. Probably won't drive it much in the rain, not like it will have wipers anyway. (more on that another time)





With the drop of the cab expected to bring it down another 6", imagine what it would look like with the weight of the drive train and all of the other body parts! It's gonna be LOW!!!


So much fun working on this, everyone involved has taken a piece of this project to bed with them!


Nice,...I'm over in MS, so how about I drag mine over to your place. Haha. I'm telling you, your pics motivate me.

Nice,...I'm over in MS, so how about I drag mine over to your place. Haha. I'm telling you, your pics motivate me.

Thanks! What's your progress so far? Love to see pics!

This 3-day weekend flew by! One thing I didn't mention Friday, I was in the middle of slicing, dicing, and making julienne fries out the metal shrapnel, when I was visited by a tree guy who offered services to take down two dead pine trees that were either going to fall on my house, car, or power lines. I've never paid to have a tree cut, but it was worth it..... until.... I realized that the limbs took out my cable and internet. Kids not happy, wife not happy...... I, however, was happy. It meant that there was nothing to watch, but yard work and car work! Yard work took precedence for a good chunk as the weather was going to bring in flooding rain. So, I'm in the middle of writing this on a mobile connection until they repair the lines.

Last night I took the liberty to move the 56 into the shop to prepare for the weather and decided that it would be a good time as any to try another stab at trimming the cab/firewall to get a closer fit. It was a unique attempt with only 8 foot ceiling.


Cutting this box out with this blade was simple enough.




I'll have to cut out a new hole into the 56 to make it work.


Getting MUCH closer. Within 2 inches!!!


It'll be tricky around the blower motor. The mount sticks up too high. (not pictured, though clearly visible in the first picture)


Now that I am this close, I can judge things much better as to what I need to cut. Trimming here and there slowly has been a much better method than just hacking it apart. Less to have to re-install later. One method I have been doing is marking where the metal touches, so I know these areas are in the way, and then pull the cab off to trim. A couple times I cut more than needed, a couple times not enough. Last night I used red spray paint to make good visible notes.

This was the remaining parts of the 56's vent. Had that not been away, I would have been MUCH closer!


Even though this looks ok, the cab widens as it goes down and I was already pushing the bottom pillars outwards about 1/2" out from the original measurement prior to deconstruction.


Just a little clean-up here and it will make a great welding point for strength where the hood, fender, cab, and firewall ALL meet.


Here at the back of the cab, it looks like it may actually work in my favor that I won't have to modify much. It's sitting right on the Explorer floor pan and has plenty of space, but not too much! (not level due to the cab being tweaked a bit where it was stuck.


The parking brake cable is just touching the cab, so maybe a little trim will give it the travel space it needs.


That's all for tonight, will do more throughout the week and post when my regular internet service is back up.

looking good.

Excellent work!

Great use of the engine hoist to lift the cab into place. Who woulda' thunk:dunno:

Thanks Sluggish and Rick! The engine crane was just sitting in the corner begging to help and saved my back for sure!!!!

The cable guy came out last night, pulled up the wires in the driveway where the tree was drug over Friday. He replaced the wires and the internet is back up.


IT'S A small WORLD! He turned and looked at my brother's green F250 and said, "Hey, that's my old truck!" He owned it before the last person we bought it from. THEN, my wife got home and knew him as a former classmate to her sister. Cable all taken care of, plus set us up with a few extras :)

Back to Friday, I found an item that got shook out of the body during all the cutting and grinding I did. It's an old "skeleton" key. I thought it would be cool to use it like a key chain and retain it as it "stays" with the truck. One way I can differentiate this key ring from all the other Ford keys I have!!!


We endured nice weather over the weekend around the 70's and 80's. Then rain storms came in. Usually this means warmer weather. All of a sudden it dropped down to 32 degrees! Tonight it just a hair under 50, but no wind, so I'm heading out til midnight or so to trim the spots I marked. Hopefully the next pics you'll see will be with the cab sitting in the exact place it needs to!!! Probably posting that info tomorrow.

It would be really cool if you could turn that into the key to a reed switch connected to the fuel kill switch by magnetizing the key. Then the truck would have its own key to history, and would also protect against theft.

That's a really cool memento that the old truck gave you. Who knows, could go back to the original owner.

Hmmmm.... I guess I need to research reed switches. That would be interesting! I do have a battery cutoff switch that I was planning on installing to shut down power while parked for long periods of time, but I'll need to consider additional daily security for sure.

Since the truck didn't have a vin when I got it and it's changed hands so many times, I don't think I'll ever get to find out who originally owned it. I really like the key being on the keychain, something I can hold and has meaning to me and maybe my boys one day to continue handing down.


I've trimmed the remainder of the protruding metal keeping the cab from sitting down. It is flush with the areas I was intending for, but it comes with a few flaws. The first obstacle was the blower bracket. The cab was hanging on the bolt and the plastic framing was in the way as well. It was either trim it down, or cut into the 56 cab. I think that trimming it like this is perfectly fine to me.



It appears to be about an inch away.....


But that's all I can do. It's basically sitting on the blower motor and just enough clearance to allow the brake booster to be replaced if ever necessary.



So, just to seal the deal to ensure it would all work, I carefully replaced the dash and trimmed the edges of the 56 dash - it was sharp and I was concerned that it could scratch or puncture the soft padding of the Explorer dash. Here it is! (just for trial fit purposes, of course!)



A little gap on the sides, but that's why I kept the 56 dash pieces.



I am liking it!



The black defrost vent cover fit's nicely, but will need some trimming, otherwise, I am satisfied with the way this fits!!!



Just a little less rounding on the center part and there will be a metal trim piece that fits in front to finish it off. Voila!



I have only a little room to work with the fuse panel, less with the other piece in place, but I'll make it work. Got a few ideas.


Tonight I'm preparing for tomorrow's big day of putting the cab onto the trailer one last time. This might be a bit of a process. The cab will be getting mucho attention! Repair panels, sanding, blasting, and other bodywork. I've marked out the cab corners, ready to cut into. I've removed the dash now that I'm comfortable with it's position.

I've also carefully place the hood into position to see how that fits with this setup..... Not so good. More trimming of the inner fenders than I was hoping for. I'll need to relocate most items that attach to them. Pics will be updated later.

I'm still in the shop tonight getting pictures, mapping out the next moves, and staring at this thing wondering if I should have done things differently.

I can't wait to install the seats to see how much legroom I'll have once the reinforcement framing is removed. Plus I'll have a comfortable seat to relax!

Well, no time to relax right now, going back to it. More tomorrow!!!

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Looking great Buddy!