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AWSX1686 GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/8/17 11:28 a.m.

This is awesome. 

Duder New Reader
11/8/17 12:46 p.m.

Thanks guys, I appreciate all the feedback and questions. I'll post a few more quick updates later if I have a chance. We are still making good progress and working to nail down the cab position - there are more factors to consider there than originally thought.

Regarding the shop...yes, it's a co-op type arrangement. A little history: my friend & colleague Nathan started the shop back in 2006 as a place to build a car for the very first 24 Hours of Lemons race actually! I wasn't involved yet at that time, but the first incarnation built an E28 535i, and then another with most of the body removed, in which they won the 3rd race at Altamont Speedway. Since then we have been through E34s and E36s and an AW11 MR2. The latest car is an E36 4-door with an LM7 5.3L swap and a Super T10 4-speed from a big block '78 Firebird. Building, repairing, and storing Lemons cars is the main purpose of the shop.

Image result for "black iron racing" e28


We moved to a better location about 7 years ago, and since then the rent has steadily increased. I took over as "main shop dude" a few years ago. I pay the rent to the property management company and deal with all the administrative stuff. We have about 15 members at the moment including me. Most of us are either Garrett/Honeywell Turbo or SpaceX employees, current or former. It's only a 2000 square foot shop, but we've crammed 8 or 9 cars in there, several lifts, welders, a machine shop area, parts storage for 3 race cars, 2 bathrooms and 3 office rooms. It gets crowded but is a great resource to have. The machines and tools are owned by various members but kept at the shop for common use. I'm not actively seeking more members but when someone drops off I hunt around for a replacement so we can keep making rent payments every month. Insurance is a standard $1M liability policy that costs around $650 per year, which we split. We also split utility payments. It's a pretty informal arrangement and ends up working well. We did set ground rules however, and I try to be fair yet firm in enforcing those.

Duder New Reader
11/8/17 1:11 p.m.

Forgot to add that each member pays a monthly fee to me based on how they use the shop. Just The Tip membership level is $75/mo, which is use of the common areas, tools, and lifts. For use + "stuff storage", it's $100 - $125/mo. Car storage is $200/mo; this is referred to as Balls Deep membership. To keep the shop up and running the cost is about $2100/mo including rent, utilities, and consumables. But we are in the LA area and rent is high here. I'm sure most of the country would pay much less for this type of space.

Duder New Reader
11/9/17 10:56 a.m.

A few days back I pulled the original pickup pedal box and brake pedal to start fitting the Crown Vic pedal box to the firewall, and the booster in engine bay. The pickup originally had a manual trans but the clutch pedal was missing already. The original pedal box is like 1/8" thick steel - super beef - and way heavy. The Vic setup is lighter, has the brake light switch and cruise cancel switch built in already, plus it's linked to the e-throttle via an adjuster cable. We want to keep pedal adjustability since the five of us dudes are of various heights and builds. We'll also be adding a tilt column. Regarding pedal box & booster placement, I think the brake pedal arm should end up sitting just to the left (from driver's POV) of the column. We can modify the pedal arm to get the pedal pad in the best position fore/aft and left/right, once the box and column are mounted. Throttle should be no problem as it bolts to a flat surface on the Vic.

The image above shows the Vic pedals mocked up approximately where I think they should go. The triangular hole in the firewall/floor will get mostly filled, and the column should pass through either right at the top of that existing hole, or just above the flange where the lower firewall joins the upper. Throttle pedal assembly might need spacers at the top of its mounting flange to rotate the whole thing downward and get the pedal closer to the firewall. As it is now, both pedals are way too far away from the floor & firewall meaning severe leg bending would be necessary from the driver.

pheo New Reader
11/9/17 8:57 p.m.

Really cool build and idea!

I really like watching good fabrication, I know it takes forever but the result is worth it. I will be back to this thread!

Keep going!

As an aside, my wife has a Honda Ridgeline, the trunk is great in that thing, I know the trunk fabrication is going to be a pain but it will be so cool! I'd say find a wrecked Ridgeline for the trunk lid, but the bed material is some kind of engineering plastic. Its really stiff and for a while after she bought it I thought it was a plastic sprayed on metal. Do you have an idea for the lid?

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/11/17 8:33 p.m.

In reply to Duder :

So wait a minute here.  Are you *the* Duder?  Some details finally clicked for me, and I'm pretty sure you are.

therealpinto New Reader
11/12/17 4:35 a.m.

Cool build!

I thought I recognized the Volvo with b8444s from another, Swedish forum, and I was right. That build is really something else!

I like that you're trying to keep the Vic features in the Viccup :-)


Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
11/12/17 3:47 p.m.

Great build, and love the shop sharing concept

Duder New Reader
11/13/17 3:18 p.m.

@pheo: No decisons yet about the rear trunk lid. Although a Ridgeline is on our list of vehicles to benchmark for this, as well as their nifty Magic Gate style tailgate that can also be opened sideways like a door.

@AngryCorvair: I'm not Jeff Bridges, if that's what you're getting at!

@therealpinto: Yep I'm sure that's the same car! Alex and Karl used to bounce around between Sweden and the US East Coast frequently but are based mostly in LA now, hence the "fake race car" being moved out here. The Vic is a great donor vehicle for all the subcomponents and saves us some money. We already bought an aftermarket steering column however, and will likely get a hot rod style wiring harness for lights, etc. Other than that, almost everything will be harvested from the Vic.

@Billy_Bottle_Caps: thank you!

Duder New Reader
11/13/17 8:30 p.m.

Lots of good stuff going on with the Viccup project to report on; first of all, the HVAC retrofit.

The Vic's AC evaporator was extricated from the big plastic box, allowing the box to be mocked up in the cab. We don't want to crack open the AC lines unless it's absolutely necessary. The system is still fully charged at this point. The heater box and AC box are going to be the main things we save from the in-cabin Crown Vic HVAC, and it has been confirmed that they will fit under the dash. Probably won't look much worse than the stock heater box which we have dubbed the SNORK-O-DONG and which has been removed from the vehicle permanently.


The Vic firewall panel will need to be grafted into the pickup as far up & outboard as possible on the passenger side in order for all of the stuff to fit. In the engine bay I believe we can keep everything from the Vic, but under the dash we'll be ditching all of the ducts and doors and whatnot, simplifying air distribution to always blow through both the defroster vents and some simple under dash vents. We'll have to make our own intake duct from the passenger side of the cab, and adapt to the defroster vents with some new ducts (maybe semi-not-flaccid this time).

If this works out it will be significantly cheaper (i.e. almost free) than a Vintage Air system or similar. All the parts are here for us to use already, they just need to be rearranged to suit their new reality.

Duder New Reader
11/13/17 8:40 p.m.

Next up is fore/aft cab position on the frame. Judging by similar builds, especially the Hot Rod Garage videos, the frame doesn't need much modification up here. We didn't find that to be true exactly.

We cut the frame rails back 3" and removed one fender from the front clip. Basically every single speed nut in the '64 Ford sheetmetal broke during the process. We found some solid replacements on McMaster that will work however. At this point we mocked up the fender to check wheel position in the arch. We thought the front cab mount area still needed to come up about 1/2" which will translate to about 1" bump in wheel arch height from where the photo was taken. We were a little worried about radiator clearance with the cab that current position; there would need to be some serious cutting in the grille area to make this fore/aft position happen. At this point we were considering shifting the cab forward about 1"-1.5" or so to alleviate the pain. This may require some notching and clearancing of the AC condenser and blower fan housing but this is potentially a smaller problem than slicing up the entire front clip.


We moved the cab around a little bit and basically settled on a fore-aft position that works. It's about 1" farther forward and 0.75" higher than how it was set originally. Any farther forward gives us more room to fit the front clip, but the wheels end up too far back in relation to the front fender openings and also creates clearance issues between the fan/evaporator box and the cylinder head.

We do not foresee any issues with steering clearance in this position.

The radiator/condenser/power steering cooler stack will have to be moved back about 3" to make the front clip fit. We couldn't identify any show-stoppers here. None of the lines should need to be modified. Moving the heat exchangers back will allow us to cut another 4" off the front of the frame rails and will permit us to mount the front clip with minimal hassle. After studying some photos of the Hot Rod Garage Crown Hick, we saw that they did the exact same thing. The article claims they only cut 3" off the frame rails, but it's actually more like 7". We've already cut 3" off the rails, so an additional 4" (limp) is the magic number.


Karl and Alex were discussing shifting the radiator back at least 2" to 3". That would still leave plenty of room for serpentine belt service. The only hose that might need some trimming is the top coolant hose. It has a nice swoopy S-bend that can be trimmed back however much we need, otherwise all the remaining hoses should be fine to stay original.

This stuff should all get locked down pretty soon now that we've considered everything we can find that's worth considerin'.

pheo New Reader
11/13/17 9:58 p.m.

The Ridgeline tailgate does open sideways and fold down. Its a nicely engineered set of hinge/latch mechanisms. Right now it only opens down. My wife has had it for 11 years and I think the wear around the pivot points and stretch of the cables prevents the latch from releasing. If you use Ridgeline parts maybe you can add some extra adjustment into it some how to avoid the same problem.

Heat / AC, I'm sure yours will look better than stock, heck it will probably work better than stock. The cab has a small volume to heat or cool compared to a crown vic.


Duder New Reader
11/14/17 1:33 a.m.

In reply to pheo :

I'm looking forward to reverse engineering that Ridgeline latch system. I was always amazed by the old Ford wagon tailgates as a kid!

The AC and heater will be way over-spec'd for the small pickup cab. It'll be nice to freeze ourselves out of there at will.

Duder New Reader
11/14/17 1:49 a.m.

On to the steering column...

Alex and Karl measured for the column and ordered this bad boy for $169 with free shipping: Amazon China column

It's the same one from the RiverCity guy's build on YouTube, but "stainless" instead of chrome and $10 cheaper. Saves us from having to strip chrome when we paint it. 

The steering column showed up and they played around with that for a bit. The length seemed good, but the Ford steering wheel did not fit. The splines are different and were designed for a GM wheel. There were a few different options for how to proceed:

  • Get a GM steering wheel that matches the look of the stock '64 Ford F250 wheel we have. Our wheel is ~17" in diameter, three spoke, and has ~6" of dish.
  • Machine the included spline-to-bolt-pattern adapter that came with the column to fit the Ford wheel and modify the wheel to attach with bolts instead of the splines.
  • Cut off the GM splines and weld on Ford splines.

We liked the first and third options. It came down to a trade-off between cost and time. Modifying the stock wheel was no bueno since it chained us to using the roached wheel we have, and we may want to replace or restore it eventually. The center hub is also cast-in-place, so we would need to do all the machining operations on the complete steering wheel. Option 3 ended up winning out after some further banter.

While several of us were out in the Desert this weekend, Alex & Karl went to the local junkyard and did some comparing and contrasting of Ford steering shafts. Turns out the spline and taper for the steering wheel mount is identical from at least '59 to '90 Fords. They ended up buying two shafts for $8/ea, one from an '82 Bronco and one from a '90 F250. Also grabbed a shifter cable from a P71 to replace the one we accidentally evaporated into the scrap aether (also $8). As an aside, Crown Vics are absolutely ubiquitous at the yards now; they saw at least two dozen in the Wilmington Hexapus yards (LKQ Pick Your Part).

They then went back to the shop and blew the steering column apart. Turns out what we bought is a direct copy of a Flaming River tilt column, which in turn is a reverse/re-engineered GM tilt column from a million different cars. They proceeded to cut the end off of one of the spare Ford shafts and weld the splined stub onto the Chinesium column, after removing the GM splined end. The factory F250 wheel bolts on now and sits almost perfectly around the stainless shroud on the column. The slip ring for the horn also handles the auto-canceling turn signal duty so all we need to do now is drill a ~.3125 hole in the hub of the wheel for a wire pass-through and we'll be in business.

Both of the spare Ford steering shafts have a Double-D shaft feature on the ends which happens to slip right into the end of the new column. We should be able to weld a section of that to the end of the P71 column which we saved, to make all this stuff work together pretty easily, and connect to the rack. The column drop under the dash will be modified from the original pickup part but moving the column up into the dash to gain leg clearance between the wheel & seat, which was pretty tight on the old truck.

The P71 shifter cable is about 5x too long for what we need but we can possibly just loop it and stow the extra in between the cab and trans and it should work fine. Alex saved the transmission-side mounting bracket from the new cable; we can re-use that to mount the column end of the cable. Should be pretty straightforward to make the shifter work.

Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
11/14/17 8:26 a.m.

Great progress! Lots of little work, that hot rod garage didn’t cover.

Mezzanine Dork
11/14/17 10:54 a.m.

This is one of my new favorite builds. Thanks for sharing the little details - you're all doing great work!

pheo New Reader
11/15/17 7:30 p.m.

Duder wrote -- It'll be nice to freeze ourselves out of there at will.

I started laughing, the thought that ran through my head was, "Cooler? No, the beer is in the cab..."

I wish I was as good at documenting stuff, keep up the great work!


Duder New Reader
11/16/17 10:54 p.m.

The little details are where the magic happens. Creative thought clouds start swirling around the shop and before long there's a thing, where there wasn't one before. I try to keep my eyes, ears, and camera ready to document this little stuff. It adds up to tell the full story of how you move in one particular direction or another while solving problems. 

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/16/17 11:47 p.m.

In reply to Duder :

did you work on FSAE at UM-Dearborn?

Duder New Reader
11/17/17 2:39 a.m.

In reply to AngryCorvair :

Nope, but if you're basing that on the guys in most of the photos (who are not me), then maybe.

I volunteered for many years at the FSAE West competition in Fontana at California Speedway, but never Michigan or Lincoln. However my friend Alex who you see in several photos is an FSAE judge.

I was a dweeb among geeks in college and joined a Supermileage team and built little bitty single cylinder cars out of carbon fiber and bicycle tires. Just a side note. 

Edit: I realize now that you were asking if I went to school at UM-Dearborn. The answer is also no. I considered Kettering in Flint but I'm from CA and stayed out here. UC Berkeley is my alma mater. 

Duder New Reader
11/17/17 2:52 a.m.

More fun with cab position and front clip sheetmetal. Last night Alex and I did some further fit-up of the front clip and fenders to the Vic. Alex cut about 4" more off of the frame horns, and moved the heat exchanger stack back about 2". After some standing around and ball-scratching we offered up the front clip using a floor jack and wood blocks to get it to the correct height. We were able to slide it back to within 6" of where it needs to be. There are two vertical panels behind the grille that were on either side of the original pickup radiator - these start to foul on the AC condenser and its hard lines if we go back any further. So these will have to be clearanced with yet-to-be determined bites taken out of them.

Before further cutting:



Watch those hardlines!

The frame horns end up quite a bit lower in the front clip than we first thought. This makes it possible to notch them like we've seen others do, to avoid cutting so much out of the pickup body crosspiece below the grille (where the original body to frame mounts are).

Passenger's side looking down, frame horn on the right. Sheetmetal on the left still needs to move 6" to the right.

Driver's side:

We then discussed scooching the radiator and heat exchangers back even more. The limiting factor right now is clearance between the coolant surge tank and one of the serpentine belt idler pulleys. If that becomes a problem we could relocate the tank and gain a bit more scooch. Then the gigunto fan shroud will start to run into the pulleys after that. We could replace the fan & shroud with Volvo 960 parts if necessary, which are far slimmer (like maybe only 30% of the width of the Vic fan & shroud). At that point the end tanks and hoses will start to interfere with the ABS module on the driver's side and the AC receiver/dryer on the passenger side.

By getting the heat exchangers closer to the engine we will make our lives much easier not having to notch & cut the old pickup sheetmetal as severely behind the grille. But the tradeoff is that we'll loose air gap between the fan & engine, meaning at some point we will start to restrict flow through the exchangers.

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In any case there will be some surgery necessary in the pickup front clip. Any mods can be spraypainted black and they won't be too visible behind the grille.

Regarding cab position: I'm happy with where it sits right now after seeing the wheel to fender longitudinal position in person. It will be interesting to see if we need to roll the front fenders at all; it looks like there's some potential for the tire to rub on both front and rear edges of the wheelarch. Can't easily test that until we get the column hooked up though.

Crackers HalfDork
11/17/17 11:00 a.m.
Dusterbd13 said:

Where did you get that kind of flap wheel? I think i need a few.

Home Depot. They're like $16. 

Duder New Reader
11/22/17 5:51 p.m.

More fun and lots of progress this past weekend. We started out by moving the heat exchangers, again. When I refer to the heat exchangers I mean the big stack of cores in front of the engine: radiator, AC condenser, power steering cooler. The electric fan and shroud are attached to the back side of the radiator, along with the coolant surge tank and PS reservoir. The whole mojangus is rubber mounted via two big bushings on brackets bolted to the tops of the frame rails, and supported from underneath with a bolt-on crossmember. The engine oil cooler clips onto the back of the lower crossmember.

We cut the spot welds from our initial bracket mods and scooted the bushings back even more on the brackets. There's still plenty of room between the fan and the front of the engine, but the left side of the radiator started to foul on the AC receiver/dryer, so we unbolted that and will have to remount it later. Still haven't cracked open the AC refrigerant lines and don't plan on doing so. Underneath, the bolt-on crossmember ran out of places to bolt to, so we drilled the frame and added some new weld nuts with the MIG. Some custom aluminum spacers were whipped up to go between the crossmember and frame at the front bolt holes, to level out the crossmember again and reduce stress on the radiator mounts. The area of the frame we're now mounting this to is angled downwards.

The frame horns were also cut back another 1.0 inch I think. I've lost track of how much we've removed from the frame, but it's waaay more than the "three or four inches!!!" claimed on the youtubes.

With these few small modifications we got the front clip back on for another test fit and were surprised that we were only about 1.0 - 1.5" from where it needed to be. So the radiator bracing on the back side of the core support was the next thing that had to go. It doesn't serve much purpose except to mount the original pickup radiator and to act as shrouding. Since our radiator and other exchangers are mounted to the frame and not the body, we don't need this structure anymore. Mikko and I were cutting spot welds and breaking drill bits when our other friend Alex Vendler showed up and suggested that we were boneheads for not breaking out the most excellent LOTOS Chinese plasma cutter. He was right! The plasma made quick work of these brackets and pretty clean cuts since we used the core support as a guide to drag the torch along.

AC hard lines on the passenger side protrude out from in front of the condenser, so Vendler twerked them a bit and Mikko cut a clearance notch in the pickup core support. Offered the front clip back up, and...huzzah! It fits!

We decided to lock down the cab position now before committing to building the 4 cab mounts. A few scraps of thin gauge steel were cut and tacked between the frame and cab at all four corners. We also shimmed the back with various scraps to get the height dead level vs. the frame rails, front to back and side to side.

What proceeded next was a bunch of delicate fiddling and fettling of sheetmetal. Climb up into the cab, bolt the fenders on through the little access holes in the kick panels. Use a threaded muffler support post to align the front to level everything out. Put some more bolts into their holes to limit movement of the fenders & core support vs. the cab. Check door gap. Loosen fenders to tweak. Tighten fenders. Adjust threaded jack. Sight along the cab a bunch of times. Take measurements. Repeat.

Alex B. then busted out some of the Crown Vic body mounts and proceeded to make lower brackets to mount up the front clip to the front of the frame. Before that he made some plates to cap off the open frame horns and extend down low enough to build the body mounts from. Cut some 1" diameter holes in the bottom surface of the core support assembly, weld in some nut plates. Weld the mount platform to the frame extensions. Realize that the whole front clip is shifted a bit to one side, so cut the tacks off the nut plates and try again. Make some angled braces back up to the frame to stiffen the mount platforms.

It's looking like a damn low pickup truck now!

Pics of the vehicle up in the air show the suspension at full droop. This is promising. It's going to tuck tire with the best of them, but still have the entire full travel of a P71 for bombing over rough pavement, curbs, and sweet jumps.


noddaz GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/22/17 8:08 p.m.

Looking fantastic!

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
11/22/17 8:29 p.m.

How was the radiator core support on your truck?  Even trucks that are otherwise rust free often have holes in them, they like to collect leaves and dirt down deep where you can't see it until you take them apart.

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