A successful flathead-ectomy


MY FRIEND JOHN ROSS and I yanked the motor and transmission out of the old Ford Friday.

I bought a quarter-sheet of plywood and a couple of two-bys on Thursday, knocked up an engine stand. Now I can run the flatmotor this winter while the truck is down for rust repair and a fresh paint job.

Kinda loud with open pipes when the revs are up. Sounds nice at idle, though. In the next few days I’ll figure out how the video function works on my camera, upload a file of the engine running out here in my little sand lot/open-air garage.

With the engine out of the way it’ll be easier to get in there and tack weld the new floor pan and forward cab mounts; seems the surest way of getting the cab geometry right, in relation to the chassis. With the rusty parts cut out and new parts tacked in, nothing ought to change when I take the cab off to complete the welds and shoot a coat of paint on the underside.  The rockers on both sides have rusted free of the pillars, letting the old floor sag and rest on top of the chassis. Not good.

There’s John after we hooked up the engine hoist. John’s a Navy vet, served aboard a fast-attack sub, spent years in the briny deep sneaking up on Soviet boomers. He spent his Veterans Day working on this other bomb.  We borrowed the hoist from our friend Mike Connelly, in Warwick.

A straightforward task. No need to drag a loaded hoist around in the sand. Lift the motor high enough to roll the chassis out from under it…

… put the stand where the rails used to be and lower away. Install radiator, coolant, hook up a battery, stick the fuel line in a gas can and fire it up. (Motor, not gas can.)

High-tech, on-board instrumentation, 1949 style. I took the speedometer out. My engine stand won’t be getting any speeding tickets.

An enjoyable day ends, in long winter light. I must say, a 62-year-old flatmotor running in the front yard gives the humble manse a touch of class. Despite that, I hope to have a garage in my next life.

Tony DePaul, Cranston, RI, November 12, 2011


About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 62, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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12 Responses to A successful flathead-ectomy

  1. John Kendrick says:

    Seems that the Mig welder may need to come out of hibernation! Got the portable welder carb problem fixed, welded a leak in the kitchen Radiator with Stainless, worked like a charm!

  2. David Bright says:

    Bet the neighbors loved it when you fired it up with the straight pipes, although I guess if you’re going to make it sound like cannons booming in the streets Veteran’s Day is as good a day as any to do so.
    You might think about building a small greenhouse right over the motor and/or the truck.. It will keep the rain and snow out and on sunny days you find it quite comfortable to work in there. They’re considered temporary structures so there’s usually not a lot of zoning hassles. Two people can put one up in a day. I can give you all kinds of tips if you need them. We’ve got five of them in various configurations.

    • Tony says:

      Hey, Farmer Dave! Might be a good idea, I’ll check that out. In the words of the great Cosmo Castorini, “EVERYthing is temporary! That don’t excuse nothing!” I’d pay money to see Cosmo argue a zoning case.

  3. Greg Miller says:

    How are you doing FB hater ?:)

    Great pics we are currently redoing our 48 Chevy 5 window Pu. Will send pics to you. You friend has a good idea about a temp structures, strapping and poly or maybe a commercial canvas storage shed/garage. I see small ones in the $400 range and you could resell it in a year.

    Best to all and what a great story and pics!!!!


    • Tony says:

      Thanks, Greg. Get a picture of Pam in front of that Chevy! She’s in Bangor until Tuesday. BTW, Dave Bright was one of my editors at the Bangor Daily in the early 80s. Dave’s a good egg, no farm pun intended. Best to Julie and Cody!

  4. Denise says:

    Hey Tony!
    You know I dont know all that much about car engines and all like that, but wow! That engine looks so simple compared to engines of today. That is really quite cool. I always try to live a simple life ya know…my old Toyota is going on 400, 000 miles…but that old ford is a classic! Wouldn’t it be fun to take a x-country trip in it!! Such a simple looking design of a vehicle!
    I had build a small PVC greenhouse while living in Utah a bunch of years ago to grow food in. It added on two months of growing time i the place I lived at 8000 feet elevation; where winter goes on forever…It was pretty bomb-proof and inexpensive! I used to go sit in it just to get warm! You might look into it for a temporary shelter to work under! Cheerio! Denise

    • Tony says:

      Hi, Denise,
      400k, that’s impressive! Down below on this list of comments my friend Dave Bright recommended a greenhouse setup and provided a link to one. I have room in the backyard (which is where I did the first restoration on the truck in 1995) but there are plenty of tree branches to cause havoc with a greenhouse frame and whatever kind of cover I had on it. Will definitely give it some thought, though. It’s private back there, I’d make myself less of a nuisance to the neighbors!

  5. Chris Whitney says:

    Kinda disappointing – those two forward facing rocket launchers under the engine seem to have turned out to be radiator hoses. Ah well. Consider some tasteful armament supplementations for left lane bandits – it’s easier to install them while the truck is apart.

    • Tony says:

      It’s got just one on-board armament that I’m aware of, Chris, and it’s aft-facing, for such threats as tailgaters. When you deploy the aptly named “choke” device, the guy behind you starts choking, passes out, goes off the road, it’s pretty cool.

  6. Tarquino F. Flores says:

    you can be everything but lazy. is a LOT of work done there! blessings from México!

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