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1972 F-250 2wd to 4wd build


Jun 23, 2020
Member Number
Chandler, AZ
Ongoing build of my 1972 Ford F-250 Explorer. I'm too lazy to provide full back history/thread re-hash so :flipoff2:.
You can find what happened up to this point over at the old place. So a quick over view:

Old school looking 4x4 with modern capabilities. Stock looking interior. Since most miles will be pavement and dirt roads to/from wheeling areas, I want it to handle and ride decent. I live in the desert so terrain is rocks, washes, sand. Needs to be able to haul/tow and not just look cool in gym/mall parking lots. Low as possible to fit 40s. Loud pipes and audio system. Use for camping, hunting, burnouts, and general shenanigans.

The high level plan;
-460; 9.25:1, ported heads, 213/227-0.550 cam, Holley EFI. 425hp/525tq. 500/650 with a whiff of nitrous.
-Wet plate nitrous system, 0.041/.028 75 hp
-C6 built for above with higher stall converter. 6R80, quick 6 controller, Speed gems/AA adapters
-NP205, married, twin sticked
-D60, ‘94 BJ, discs, spartan locker
-10.25 Sterling LS 4.10
-Front: Custom radius arms, Fox 14" 2.0 coilovers, bumps, straps
-Rear: custom Alcan 63" leaves, Fox 2.0 smoothies, 5' floating traction bar
-Cross-over steering, Sky High steer arm, 1T TREs
-40x13.50-17 Nitto MT on 17x10 US mags slots
-Relocate fuel tank, new fuel system
-Upgraded electrical system
-Custom Plate bumpers, winch
-A/C, heat, defrost, wipers

Trying to keep budget reasonable.

Starting point. 390 gas hog with all the usual half broken stuff. Triple green.
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Drank beer and took stuff apart until I got to this point. What could go wrong?
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Urinated away a bunch of cash to get to here
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Oh, and :flipoff2:
:flipoff2:Some more pics of build from PBB:flipoff2:






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Rebuilt the transmission kick down bracket to improve cable alignment and add a throttle return spring attachment. Cut up the old and extended it. I wanted to be able to adjust spring pre-load, so I drilled and taped a piece of solid rod and milled a flat for mounting on the bracket. Cut the head off a bolt and cross drilled for the dual springs.

Also added an analog fuel pressure gauge
Decided to go ahead and upgrade alternator while I am redoing the entire electrical system. The externally regulated 55A unit is noisy and under sized for winching duties.
Went with a large case 3G unit rated at 240A. Non-single wire, so can run sense wire to battery. This way the ECU reports the commanded voltage regulator voltage. When winching the alt is current limited so doesn't matter much were sense wire is, it will just rail field current trying to regulate. I hope that I can deliver around 150A@ 9V to the winch itself with this setup using 2 Ga wiring.
My boat has a GM based self-excited alt, and you have to rev it up to get it to charge once warm, don't like that.

The large case 3G is physically larger so the mounting brackets needed some mods. I cut a wedge out of the lower slotted bracket to align the arc and center in the adjustment range. The pulley ratio is 8/2-5/8 = ~3, which is fairly high given the big crank pulley. This allows 2000 alt rpm at engine idle speed of 650 and should make 100A. At 5500 engine rpm, alt is around 16k which is about max for this type.

The axial alignment was sightly off with the spacer I made for the old alternator, so I cut 50 thou off. I had to use washers to space the bracket for the old, now everything fits properly with no spacers.
Since I'm deep in electrical mods, the time seemed right to address the instrumentation. I'm cheap but my better half thought a Dakota digital VHX analog gauge set would make a nice father day gift. Not convinced I'm worth it, but it does solve some issues and offset some cost.
I need reliable, accurate gauges for my new motor to be run hard in the middle of nowhere. I've repaired the factory gauges a few times now and would not consider them robust or accurate given no actual values on the faces. So I needed get the following anyhow:
-oil pressure
-water temp
-trans temp
-fuel for GM sender
The VHX system can support all this plus a tach, and is expandable. Can add up to 16 more data channels that can be displaced on little LCD. I added a temp channel for the transmission. The fuel gauge is programmable so can connect directly to in tank sender plus calibration.
But can't put the new panel in the old bezel. All chrome was gone from 48 years of UV, now just yellow plastic.

I masked and painted black and grey. Came out OK.

Goods arrived and test fit. 2 and 3 wire diff sensors and PHX style removable connectors. Can ditch mech speedo cable plus calibrate. Into the 21 century now.
Started into mod and repairs on factory harness. Uses as an excuse to upgrade my wiring quality and tooling.
-a pair of new Kline strippers for 10 to 30 ga.
-Weather pack assortment from 1 to 5 pin and a crimper
-heatshrink crimp connector kit with crimper
-adhesive cloth and non-adhesive vinyl harness wraps
-12 different colors of quality 18 ga copper wire spools.

I printed 1972 schematic to identify and plan mods. Going to add a 6 fuse/6 relay power block under the hood for the various needs. The factory harness will do only lighting, wipers, cigar. Instrumentation, ignition and HVAC will have their own harnesses that integrate with connectors so each piece is removable.
With distribution block re-orientated, I re-bent the output lines to match up. Much cleaner. I tried to position the block inside the frame as best possible in case the front drive shaft u-joint fails and the shaft flops all over wrecking things. It should never come up high enough to get inside frame, but you never know.

Committed to the front brake hose locations. Finish welded, painted. The brake system is almost complete. Just need to hook up pedal, tighten all fittings, bleed and check for leaks.
I'm glad you started a thread here. I had been following the other thread, and am impressed with your work.
I like the old bumpsides.
Glad you made it over:smokin:

It was time...

Put in the new dash to see how it looks. The face isn't curved like the original but it looks good. Happy enough with rattle can job on bezel.

The truck had a CB radio mic bracket on the ash tray, so I re-purposed to hold the Holley EFI monitor. Machined a bolt head to pop on and off easy. Plan to not need this display one motor had some miles on it.
Added bung for 02 sensor into left bank exhaust pipe. Drilled a bung hole Bevis would be proud of. Used the lathe to turn down a shoulder on the bung to fit a 7/8 hole.

Mig welded in and paint touched up.

Picked a spot that would allow a more vertical orientation and out of the way of other stuff.
Got the bed put on the chassis. Used the 2 post lift to install.

The toolbox interfered with the relocated front spring hanger, so had to remove it for now. Plan to use the toolbox but will have to section and modify to fit. The wheel well is too small for these tires, and needs to be modified to get full up-travel. I want to keep the wheel well lip, not just hack a bigger hole. The toolbox was in the way anyhow.

Need to move the top of the wheel opening up to match the inner wheel well. This will inherently make the bottom wider, so may shrink toolbox opening as needed.

Tailgate is at 41.5". would like to lower this but have to do sheet metal work first.

With most of body on, the relation of the various parts below frame can be seen. No plan for heavy skid plate. Break-over angle is decent for 133" WB. Driveshafts will follow link bars.
Dang man... this is my favorite build thread right now. Primarily because theres a bunch of older Fords in the fam I really need to tear into and get fixed in the near future. Your workmanship kicks butt.
Dang man... this is my favorite build thread right now. Primarily because theres a bunch of older Fords in the fam I really need to tear into and get fixed in the near future. Your workmanship kicks butt.

Thanks brother. I suggest you start pouring time and money into them!
Welded in a bung for transmission temperature sensor. C-6 has a non-lockup converter and will run hotter pushing against 40" rubber and 1960's aerodynamics. Although there is a port in trans body, best place to sense is in fluid reservoir.

I'm not a good enough welder to do a 360 weld, so I do 90 at a time the best i can. Cam out ok shouldn't leak. One can see how start/stop creates hot spots.

I hammered a few more dents out of the pan and fixed up the paint. Need to run a hard line to the trans vacuum actuator.
Fitted and installed the plug wires. Taylor spiro pro's. Used some 5/16 SS tubing clamps to secure wires. Kind of a redneck solution, but cheap and effective. Goes with my camo arrow radio antenna.

Tried a few schemes, ended up clamping only the rear-most wire and using the separators to hold the rest. Since actual distributor clocking positsion is unknown, I had to guess and make sure the wires were long enough to allow rotation in either direction.
Started fitting (aka hacking) the front inner fenders to clear the coilover towers. Hung the fenders and valence/bumper temporarily just to see how things would look. Sometimes I have to waste time on stuff like this to provide the illusion of progress.

I moved the front axle forward about 2" for cab mount clearance and improved approach angle, with the plan of opening up the front of the wheel opening for the larger tire. There is enough clearance behind and above the tire, by design. I back calculated 'ride height' from a mock-up tire while truck was at this height on the lift. Most things don't quite go to plan but somehow I didn't manage to mess this up.
So the plan is to section the already dented fender and move front half of opening forward 2", then raise the front section up a bit too. Needs to clear when at full steering lock and bump. Have to trim valence to match and mod bumper.
Made some progress on right inner fender. Had to hack it up for coilover tower.
Started by chopping a hole and re-install/trimming until it fit with minimal gap.

The rear section was bumped out for clear the factory exhaust manifold. This created a large gap and defeats the purpose of the inner fender in this area.

I contemplated cutting it all off to let the heat out and to view the headers, but decided to flatten the piece and keep the protection. I cut at the bend and welded it back up, then used the press brake to put a crease in for header clearance.

I left a 1/2" gap all around towers to have adjustment room. I made card board templates and then transffered to 18 ga.

I made provisions for a fuse/relay box on the fender. Basically a spacer for all the wiring that exits below.

At least one battery blew up in this truck, so I treated the rust with sand blast, wire wheel, and rust converter. Then some seam sealer over booger welds and rattle can paint job.


Spent way too long making a vacuum line for trans and running sensor wiring. Used some 0.25 hard line and bent to fit to some existing holes on the trans. Used flare tool to put nipples on the ends.

I decided to use the speed sensor on transfer case instead of VSS in rear diff. Don't have to run wires all the way back. Had to mod the clamp, chase threads and hit my head at least once. At least the truck is tall enough to sit up underneath. I had previously made a 3/8-16 to 1/4-20 stud adapter for 02 sensor wiring, then realized threads were 7/16. So I used it here on TC for wire clamp.

I was able to dual purpose the mount holes on both ends for both wiring and plumbing using clamps. With tube supported on both end it can't rattle. I'm avoiding zip ties and attaching things to one another unnecessarily. This wastes time now instead of later when I have to disassemble.

Trying to keep the firewall clean although there is a lot of wiring and crap going on. Using lots of clamps to keep things in their place. All senor wiring will go through same firewall hole to gauge controller. Vacuum system complete. I guess if I'm doing this type of stuff I can't be too far from startup and cam break-in.
Any plans for a brake upgrade? Hydro boost? Bigger master cylinder? Flintstone-mobile swap?

No not at this time. Will see how they work first and go from there. The new axle's brakes have essentially the same specs as the originals. With 32" tires it had excellent braking even for today's standards. I replaced the M/C and booster already. With 40s it will be degraded significantly.
Started on the ignition wiring. The coil driver's (aka MSD box) output spews high levels of electromagnetic radiation out as it is switching 550 V on and off with each spark. The change/edge of this signal is faster than the actual RPM/frequency and contaminates the rest of the electrical system with noise of all sorts of frequencies. The EFI system and instrumentation doesn't like noise so my plan is to combat in several ways just like routing a circuit board.
-shield/suppress the source
-Physical separation
-Route intelligently for minimal cross-coupling
All the spark plug wires themselves radiate noise too but at least the wires a suppression type. The distributor itself is noisy and is close to EFI.

Step one was to shield the coil output wires with braided tinned copper. I used 1/4 braid and grounded one end. Doesn't really matter which end for the noise source.

I ran the wires away from all others and made it as short as possible. The alternator wiring has to come through same area, including start+run signal that also goes directly to ECU. They will cross at 90* to minimize coupling.

I never really understood how electrons jump off the wires or an antenna. Must be magic.
i still cant get over how clean your work on this truck is :smokin:

really like how you cut and patched the inner fenders to clear the coil overs
i still cant get over how clean your work on this truck is :smokin:

really like how you cut and patched the inner fenders to clear the coil overs

Thanks. The inner fenders mods came out pretty well and the added sheet metal put a lot of rigidity back into them.
I’d have just left the gaping holes for the coil overs. It’s amazing to see what someone can do to one of these trucks with a little bit of skill and a lot of care. And it appears to be a pretty reasonable budget too. Not junkyard parts, but he’s also not just throwing his wallet at the thing

Hey I think you described pretty well. Making some cardboard templates and booger welding sheet metal isn't hard but most won't even try. Why do I care enough to spend/waste a bunch of time on stuff like this?
Because I like to build shit in my shop while blasting heavy metal and drinking beer, instead of staring at a little screen. I don't really care about what some shit bag politician said or what some rich bitch ate for lunch. But I do troll this site and steal fab ideas from others....

I see many wallet jeeps driving around. Shit load of expensive parts, owner has no clue. I've rebuilt almost everything myself, leaned some stuff, and should be able to fix what is possible when it breaks on the trail. Sure a 6 speed trans or an atlas would be nice but where does it stop?
Finished up the other inner fender mods. The left side also had a large gap and cutout where steering box was, and needed some metal work.

I added a scab of new metal to the area and used my new brake die to bend a zig zag at the bottom for rigidity and to match the others.

Then more cardboard templates and sheet metal around the coilover tower.

I filled a bunch of holes and gave the panel a once over with a sander before rattle can treatment.

Installed the radiator and core support to get an idea of how to deal with fan and trans cooler plans. So far I think I have accomplished my goal of a fairly stock looking engine bay. No red plug wires, chrome valve covers or out of place items. Lots of details left to go but list is getting shorter.
Stretched front wheel opening by sectioning the fender 2.5" The contour changes, but I planned to chop off the lower portion to clear tire anyhow so just went for it. Step one was to hammer the dent and creases out of the wheel lip.

Test fit after initial hack job

I don't own any auto body tools (or have any skills), so I made some dollies and other tools to make dents. Note the cheap claw hammer (gasp, oh my)... I was able to get 90% of the damage out of lip. good enough. Didn't do much to the dent above the 'bump' line as I have no paint for it Finished the lower edge with a roll like factory

The 'factory color match' rattle can I got wasn't even close but better than what's available at Home Depot. Good enough for now. Worked the upper trim piece to fit a bit better as it has damage too.
I chopped the valence to match the fender front edge. bumper will need mods or just make from scratch to match. Clearance will be close may have to cut some more later.
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