Chassis Chop


The "Hot Rod" version of the K and KB truck

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Post Tue May 15, 2018 4:30 pm

Chassis Chop

This is my first time posting but have been watching this site for a while now. The amount of knowledge and help on this site is amazing and I couldn't do my project without it. That being said, here's my story.

I'm restoring a '48 KB1. I'm dropping a sbc 400 in it with a 700r4 behind it. I've got a Ford Exploder 8.8" axle for the rear end. Here's my dilemma, I started out wanting to use the original chassis, then moved toward an S10 chassis so I could have all the conveniences of disk brakes and rack and pinion steering on the front end. I've moved away from that because I don't like the shallow bed that that chassis requires. So then I graduated toward a Dodge Dakota because from what I've read, you only have to give up a couple inches of bed space. But you've still got to remount all the fenders, cab, etc. onto that chassis, which intimidated me a bit. So now I've read a couple posts elsewhere about chopping the front end of an S10 so my cab and bed would still mount just fine to the old chassis, and I'd have all the bells and whistles on the front. Would still have to do some work to mount the front fenders and grill, but not as intimidating as the rest.

My question is, have any of you tackled a project like this and how difficult is it. Seems to me like getting things lined up exactly would be the hard part, but once that's done overkill on the welding would have me a nice optioned truck. Needless to say, I've changed my mind so many times on this subject a can't even remember what I'm working on anymore. :-) Any and all opinions and help is greatly appreciated.

BTW-Mamma didn't give me a budget to include a Mustang II front end. I can only wish.

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Post Tue May 15, 2018 8:37 pm

Re: Chassis Chop

Have considered a 4x4 stance so as to not lose bed depth? Just a thought. No matter what you tackle, it will not be super cheap. My Thoughts: study before all else, as you have already found, many things change many things in a build. Consider, perhaps building your own(or having built) frame so you can put the components on you need/want. I have no Idea what these costs are, just a thought.

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Post Tue May 15, 2018 9:09 pm

Re: Chassis Chop

I've thought about doing that, but again, trying to get by without dropping a boatload of cash. I've got access to a couple junkyards so could get a donor front end for nothing. Would just have to spend the better part of a day disassembling it and a small fortune on mosquito spray. I just don't know how practical cutting off the front end of 2 vehicles would be and then hoping they match up. Lots of measuring I guess.

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Post Tue May 15, 2018 9:32 pm

Re: Chassis Chop

Do yourself a big favour and scrap that 400 SBC. That engine is well known for overheating unless it has a massive radiator. Even then there are problems in a hot-rod situation with the Siamese cylinder walls. If you cannot get rid of the heat, the block will likely fail. Old IHC "K" series probably do not have enough frontal radiator area to adequately cool a 400 SBC.
I had it "laying around" is not a good reason to make this mistake.
There are very few persons who have the skills and with the skill have the tools to do a frame swap. Old IHC used a straight ladder style frame and while it is possible to flop the sheetmetal onto a more modern swooping frame, there is more to lose than to gain. If "frame swap" is said quickly enough is sounds easier. It is not.
A straight ladder frame is a good base to hang axles from and leave the original OHC sheetmetal on. Consider a solid front 4X4 axle. The spring pads will most likely have to be moved to match the IHC springs. Easy poesy. the same applies to the rear axle swap. Transfer cases like the NVG 241 come in left and right front drive shaft placement and there are models that fit Dodge, Ford and GM. If you need/want a divorced transfer case, look for an NP 205.
I had a visitor this week. The guy was driving a 1930 Ford Model "A". He had all Ford drivetrain. The engine is a turbo four cylinder from a Ford Merkur XR4Ti. That engine overpowered the traction that was available to the Old Ford.
I know how to spend lots of money and with my brain back on leash, I know how to budget build. You will have to spend some cash to do a build safely and reliably. I built an R120 on the cheap and I was out-of-pocket just over $20,000. I just finished a 1940 Ford and I have receipts for about $125,000. In that amount there Is a perfect body and paint job for $24,749.03
This has become an expensive hobby. Budget your time and money. If you are in a rush, the project will fail a little in appearance. Count on $20K as a good start point.
My son and I have started to build an L110. We have a Cummins 4bta/automatic, Dana axles and thousands of dollars of other bits and pieces that go into building a truck. The first !
$15,000 is gone.
I would rather have tools I do not need than to need tools I do not have

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 9:03 am

Re: Chassis Chop

I had never considered the 4x4 option until Ibesq brought it up. I'll definitely have to research that further. This is my first attempt at a resto and I'm quickly finding out that it's not going to be cheap. I initially started it as a hobby to get me off the couch and out from in front of the computer. (Which here I am again.) I'm not in a hurry as I don't get much time to work on it, so I tend to research things to death before pulling the trigger. Missed the 400 overheating memo though. Gonna have to figure that one out.

Back to the 4x4, are you saying to actually make it a 4x4? Is there the option of just using the front axle but not having a transfer case?

For what you've spent on that '40 Ford, that left the realm of "hobby" long ago.

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 10:27 am

Re: Chassis Chop

I will let Nikki answer on his own. For someone like me, I would rather spend the money to buy a vehicle already "on the road" at "north" of $20,000 than put the time in, but then, I no longer do the things I used to do when I was young. As for the 4x4 option, my point was to consider the "stance" of a 4x4. it gets all the sheet metal on the same level. You could then, later do the "conversion" to full 4x4 as money comes along. Something to think about: the fenders on a larger truck, say an L or R 150 are a little "taller" than the ones on the 110-120 trucks. They might help with the Look if you go with a higher body mount so it does not make it look so "high". Also, the running board on that larger truck, has taller brackets and verticals than the smaller trucks. Most of the 150 Size trucks I have seen where flat beds though. Just some additional thoughts.

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 10:51 am

Re: Chassis Chop

My recommendation is: KISS (Keep it simple) at least at 1st. If you don't have a lot of experience, simple is best, you can always move on after you have it running and driving.
A Explorer rear will give higher road speed, so that is where I would start. If the original flathead is a runner, than I would leave that in there for now. Get in running and driving before changing a bunch of stuff.
If the flathead is beyond hope a 220, 240 or 265 will bolt in with little trouble and get you a running truck. There are plenty of these engines around.
Lacking either of these two, a Ford, Chevy or AMC (Jeep) inline 6s wouldn't be hard to fit, and auto trans's abound for all of these. There is enough "engineering" to do to keep any 1st timer busy perfecting things with these simple swaps.
If after you have it running, driving and have some time in with it, you can look into the other things you mentioned.

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 11:26 am

Re: Chassis Chop

Copy and paste. For what you've spent on that '40 Ford, that left the realm of "hobby" long ago.
I spent less on my Ford in 14 years than many persons spend on booze and cigarettes in the same amount of time.
The 4X4 axles can be used as 2 wheel drive. The point here is to upgrade the axles to better brakes and available parts. The 4X4 is a bonus. A matching set of Dana 44 axles from a Jeep Grand Wagoner should fit and be inexpensive. I bought a set from Olympic 4X4, in Snohomish,
WA. .We will not be using these axles because of a change of plans. I will likely give the axles away so I don't have to deal with a bunch of dummies from CL.
Last edited by nikkinutshop on Wed May 16, 2018 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
I would rather have tools I do not need than to need tools I do not have

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 11:28 am

Re: Chassis Chop

I'm all about keeping it KISS but also want a truck with a little snort. Unfortunately, the green diamond 214 isn't running and I have a buyer for that already, so would like something that will bark the tires occasionally and keep up with traffic, thus the 400.

Through this flip-flop process that I've been on, I've gravitated many times back to simply keeping the original front end on the truck with the option of perhaps swapping it for a M II down the road. The KB front end appears to be extremely solid though not as convenient to drive as an ifs, but doable. That's kind of where I'm at now, like you said, just to keep it simple.

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Post Wed May 16, 2018 11:30 am

Re: Chassis Chop

Cornbinder89 has the "right" of it. Add this, there is a "disk conversion" that you can do to the front for better brakes. I am sorry that I have gotten off the path of "First, get it running, and Then look for changes". It used to be the first thing that was recommended. As you have already found, Putting the cart, before the horse, tends to get real expensive, real fast. Do not get discourage, and above all else HAVE FUN!
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